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on April 27, 2013
After combing through reviews for a good hiking GPS, I couldn't decide whether to buy the Garmin Foretrex 301 or 401, so I bought both. The reason I bought the 301 was because I had read a review from someone saying that the barometer on the 401 wasn't accurate and that this person had returned the 401 for this reason and bought the 301 instead, which is the older version. The 301 has not barometer, just a GPS.

After buying the 301, I realized that it was absolutely useless to me because it didn't track elevation change, one of the most important things for hiking.

I have been very pleased with the 401. I find the barometer and the compass to be extremely accurate. You can set both for automatic calibration but I usually calibrate the compass before each use for optimal performance. It only takes a few seconds. I haven't really needed to calibrate the barometer.

The 401 tracks elevation and distance very well. I took it to the Catskills last weekend, where max elevation was 3700 ft and it was dead on. It has a lot of cool features and you can change the items it shows you on the screen to fit your needs. The main page has a little map of where you've gone, the second page has the compass and average speed (customizable), then you have the screen where it shows you elevation change over a certain number of miles, which is pretty cool; and lastly you can see specific stats like elevation gain, elevation loss, moving speed, average moving speed, current elevation, moving time, stopped time, actual time etc.

When you're done with a hike or walk, you upload the data to BaseCamp, Garmin's free software, and it shows you almost minute by minute data on what elevation you were at, what time it was, and you're moving speed. You can also open your hike in google maps for a 3D view, which is pretty cool and save all of your information to keep track of what you've done and where you've gone.

GPS tracks really well even under tree cover in the woods. Had no problem connecting to satellites in the Catskills with no phone reception for 20 minutes around, for example. Didn't drop the signal once during the whole 8 miles we were hiking. Also has good reception when walking in the city, ie Brooklyn or Manhattan, though it does take longer to connect to satellite. Still under a minute though.

My only complaint is that I haven't been able to get the 401 to transfer wirelessly to BaseCamp but it's not a big deal. I just plug it in via USB. I'll update if I figure this feature out.

Battery life is good. I only go on day hikes so it hasn't been an issue. I've used it for approximately 10 hours this week and I'm still at two bars. Investing in rechargeable batteries is a good idea.

The wrist strap is pretty sturdy and the device isn't heavy. Really convenient way to be able to see where you are going/how fast/and at what elevation while you are moving or when you are stopped. I wear it higher on my wrist and find that to be the most comfortable way.

Another issue I should address is that a review I read was complaining that the GPS doesn't have a stop function, which threw me off when I was trying to decide whether to buy it. It's true that the GPS does not have a "stop" function to record when you aren't moving but that sort of function isn't necessary, precisely because it IS a GPS. It syncs with satellites so when you ARE at rest it ISN'T recording you. This makes sense because it's a GPS and it can only record you when you are moving. At the end, it even gives you total moving time and total time at rest, which is great. For this reason too, it is more accurate in tracking distance than devices like iphones or simple pedometers. When we're done, I can see the mileage for only the time we were moving without stopped time while my friends see both stopped and moving time, which makes their mileage inaccurate and always longer than mine.

Overall, I am very happy with the 401. I immediately returned the 301. I'd say strictly for hiking/walking purposes it is accurate and convenient. I love it.

Wanted to share my own experience for folks like me who are on the fence about which hiking GPS to buy and can't decide between the 301 or the 401 from posted reviews. Hope this helps!
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on December 18, 2010
I am currently deployed in Afghanistan and have used this GPS during my combat patrols for about two weeks now. I have found that it performs perfectly. It is easily configured for MGRS, the metric system, and the compass can be set for Mils which makes calling for polar fire missions very easy. I love the fact that I have a 10-digit grid on my wrist. It cuts down on weight, not having to lug a DAGR around, and as I am taking notes during Community Engagements I can grab the grid right off my wrist as I write. So far it has stood up to the insane temperature differences from day to night. It has stood up to the dust (which gets into EVERYTHING - and has ruined two of my digital cameras [including a so-called dust-proof one]) with flying colors. The batteries last about 8 hours and it takes AAAs which are easy to carry. You can easily beam waypoints from one GPS to another. Several guys in my platoon carry the same one which makes it very easy. I am looking forward to using this when I get home to track my runs. So far I have found nothing wrong with this to speak of. I would definitely recommend it for whatever purpose you would use it for. I haven't tested its water-proofness yet; however, it stands up to my sweat very well.
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on October 16, 2017
I returned this product. There was nothing wrong with it but it did not fit my needs. The display is too small for me to read - the tracking made no sense and you cannot download maps to it. If all you need is a fancy pedometer or compass, it might work for you. I like the small footprint and wrist band. It seems sturdy enough. It does not, however, replace the Garmin ST I lost so ordered a new one. Amazon refund policy is awesome. They refunded my money as soon as the post office scanned upon receipt.
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on March 9, 2017
Works great! Easy to use, even without reading the online manual. Once or twice it took a few minutes to locate satelites, but I imagine all units would at one time or another. Perfect size, small to easily fit on wrist or attach to pack, but still able to read screen well. Love it!
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on June 26, 2017
Extremely easy to use rugged GPS. I use this for search and rescue to mark my path as well as locate clues.

Simple, accurate, and great battery life make this a no brainer. It's no reason so many military units use this around the world.
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on January 24, 2016
I use it for the military. It has the ability to plot military grid coordinates, create checkpoints, and work as a compass. As a reservist, we don't get all the cool gadgets for training that you might find in a active unit. For a leader/NCO/Officer that needs to get from point A to B without getting lost, this is the item for you.
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on August 8, 2014
I ordered this in anticipation of a mission trip to Nicaragua but that has been postponed until January where I will need to record location information out in the boonies. Instead, I tried it out on our trip to Rocky Mountain National Park. Like everyone says, there is a learning curve. To really use it, you need to get it out of the box and play with it. My best learning experiences were after I had carried it around hiking for a day, then sitting down and watching You Tube videos from other people who had used it too. In fact, the Wife said I was paying more attention to it, than I was to her, but what the heck, it was my birthday. You can expect significant differences in elevation readings since it is barometric pressure based. I went to the same spot in the mountains on two separate days and got elevation readings that differed by 50 ft or so. One day was high barometric pressure with sunny blue skies, and the next day was cold, snowy and rainy. Granted, these elevations I used to measure my elevation were around 12,000 ft. or so, but it always seemed to be consistent within that range. My daily readings where I was staying, varied around 8200 to 8250 or so. It will get you in the ball park, but it is not a substitute for an expensive GPS unless you need absolute accuracy and precision.
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on January 14, 2016
Packed with helpful features. I don't use it hiking because of the battery life, but it is great for skydiving. I don't use it as a primary altimeter during free fall of course, but under canopy you can more accurately track your altitude than you can with an analog alti. It also gives you glide angle, forward speed, decent rate, and a slew of other useful stuff.
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on April 19, 2016
My husband loves hiking and also volunteers for search and rescue, I ordered this for him to keep him safe when he's out there alone. It's very good quality, one issue we had was the first one broke right out of the box where the wrist band attaches the plastic must have been cracked, but it was replaced right away and they were very good about getting it back to me quickly. It's very useful and easy to navigate , I would highly recommend this to hikers and search and rescue people .
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on June 18, 2016
It's freaking handy. I use it all the time trekking through the woods.
It's also very popular around the military community for its compatibility with MGRS, accuracy, and route trace.
Battery life is acceptable but if you need to make them last the GPS fixes fast enough that turning it off when not in use is acceptable - you just don't get the route trace.
Have purchased 2 of these (first was stolen) that's how much I like it.
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