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Garmin eTrex 20 Worldwide Handheld GPS Navigator
Edition: Color Display & Expandable Memory|Change
Price:$186.99+ Free shipping

on March 1, 2017
This device (the eTrex 10) is a gem. Thus the five star rating. I've been studying it and using it on bicycle rides for the past two months. I've read several of the Amazon reviews for this product, and few do a good job of informing the consumer. I think this is because the product caters to so many different endusers: boaters, kayakers, walkers, hikers, off-road cyclists, and on-road cyclists. My review is written from the perspective of an on-road cyclist. And I'm not going to write a review as much as merely answer a series of questions.

1. Can you charge this device using a USB cable? >>No. The device uses two AA batteries for power. They can be cheap alkaline, or the more expensive rechargeable NiMH or lithium. Alkaline work ok if the weather is warm or hot. If you go the rechargeable route, don't buy cheap ones that have less than 2000 capacity. I didn't know rechargeables came in different capacities. Duh! The rechargeable batteries you need to recharge in a separate recharging device.
2. What do you use the USB cable for that comes with the device? >>To connect your device to your PC or Mac so you can update software or move GPX files on or off the device. GPX files are what tracks and waypoints are stored in. I use a Web site called RidewithGPS to create my TCX files. Then I use other software to convert them to GPX files. Think GpsVisualizer dotcom.
3. Can you load maps into this device? >>Not really. There is an almost nonexistent base map that comes with the unit. It is supposedly possible to overwrite it with a different map. However, for you to add maps to this device you would need to be able to insert an SD card which is where you would store extra maps. Since you cannot install an SD card into this device, you cannot add maps.
4. Can you use this device on long bike rides so you don't get lost? Is it good for bicycle touring? >>Yes. This is why I purchased this device.
5. Can this device aid one in navigating a city walk? An outdoors hike? An off-road bicycle ride? An on-road bicycle ride? Yes to all four questions. I use the device for GPX files I create using a free online service called RidewithGPS dotcom. The GPX files are the end-product of designing a route. Some of the routes are through city streets. Some are through trails in the various outdoor parks near my home. Some are mountain bike trails. And some are 200k brevet rides on roads. I copy the GPX files into the GPX folder in my device and I'm ready to go.
6. Can an SD card be installed into this device? >>No. Not on THIS device. Pay a little more to get the eTrex 20x or the eTrex 30x and you will be able to install an SD card in those devices.
7. Is it easy to read this device in sunlight? At nighttime? >> Yes. Yes. I have found it easy in both daytime and nighttime. Of course, I have to wear glasses that correct my vision well. The viewing screen is somewhat small.
8. Is this device good for long distance bike rides like brevets? >>Yes. GPS navigational devices designed for cyclists typically have internal rechargeable batteries that will die after 10 to 12 hours of constant use. Since the eTrex 10 uses two AA batteries, when they die they are easily replaced while riding the bike. As long as you have extra AA batteries along during your rides you will never be without a functioning eTrex 10.
9. How long does it take to find satellites before it starts working? >>Depends. It always cranks up quickly (within a minute) for me. However, I have both kinds of satellites enabled in my system setup. Uses more power this way though.
10. Is the user manual instructive? >>It is OK. The problem with the manual is the uses the device can be put to are so broad: boating, walking, hiking, biking off-road, and biking on-road. There really should be a manual for each type of user – and there just isn't. Furthermore, do you want to use the device to mark geocaches? To merely be a navigation tool? Or to record where you have gone so you can retrace your steps? I'm really only interested in using the device as a navigation tool.
11. Does this device track pace and distance traveled? Can it double as a bike speedometer? >>Yes. Yes. You can configure the view screen to tell you how far you have traveled at any point in time. And you can configure it to tell you how fast you are going in mph or kph.
12. How relevant are street signs when using this device? >>Street signs are not really relevant because maps are not really relevant. With this device and your GPX file you will have a track (breadcrumb trail) and waypoints (usually along the trail). I create my GPX file so the names of the waypoints are street names. When the device is functioning a cursor shows up in the view screen indicating where I'm actually planted on the earth. As it moves along the track and I approach a waypoint I know it'll be time to make a turn. I can make the turn without even knowing the name of the street. And when riding in the middle of the night I rarely look for street signs to verify a turn. Of course, it is nice to see a street sign that matches the waypoint title. Waypoint titles show up in my view screen as I ride.
13. Does the view screen easily scratch? >>Yes. This is a problem. Invest in a $10 screen saver.
14. Does this device provide turn-by-turn instruction when being used? >>No. You only get turn-by-turn instructions when a GPS device uses an installed map to "calculate" your route. This device doesn't even have a map. But the eTrex 20x and eTrex 30x models do have maps. However, those units don't use the maps to calculate routes. The maps are just background images to the tracks and waypoints that appear on the respective view screens. All three units allow you to create proximity warnings around your waypoints. And when you get within a certain proximity of a waypoint you can be warned. This function works kind of like turn-by-turn instructions. Unfortunately, I have found them not to be too helpful. They tend to clutter up my view screen.
15. Can you insert a pre-loaded route? >>Yes. See answer to Q12.
16. What kind of battery life can one expect? >>With two rechargeable NiMH AA batteries with capacity of 2600 each you'll probably get more than 20 hours. This has been my experience while having both types of satellites accessed and leaving the backlight on constantly.
17. Does this device have touchscreen features? >>No. If it did you wouldn't get 20 hours of battery life. See answer to Q16.
18. What memory does this unit have? >>Only internal. This device does not let you install SD cards. The eTrex 20x and eTrex 30x does allow for SD cards. Those units cost more.
19. What kind of batteries does this device use? >>AA batteries. See answer to Q1.
20. When the batteries die do you lose your current track and any waypoints? >>Nope. This is because information is saved as you go along, and the route is not “calculated” during your ride. The track is static information, as are the waypoints. When you turn the device back on after changing the batteries the cursor in your view screen shows your current location just like when the power went out.
21. What file formats does this device read? >>Only GPX files, which are XML text files with a .gpx extension. Won't read TCX or FIT file formats. To create GPX files I download my routes from Ridewithpgs and then use one of a few free online converting Web sites to convert the TCX file to a GPX format file.
22. Does this device have an audio component? >>Nope. If it did, then you wouldn't get 20 hours of battery life. However, pay a little more and get the eTrex 20x or eTrex 30x and you will have some audio capability. For example, the proximity alarm in the eTrex 10 will not produce any bells or beeps, but the other two units do.
23. Does this device have a mapping function? >>It will record where you have gone if you want it to. Save the file when you are done, and you can upload it to RWGPS, Garmin Connect, Strava, or MapMyRide.
55 comments| 66 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you?YesNoReport abuse
on September 1, 2017
Lame 1970's LCD display/graphics but, tons of settings, options and tools. Maps, Geo-caching and USB connection for PC included (with USB cable). Takes a while to learn how to zoom, manage and orient the LCD display so it's friendly. Runs on two AA batteries which is nice as you don't have to worry about proprietary batteries. Seems waterproof as battery compartment has an o-ring and twist-lock cap to keep out moisture. Once you get used to the lame, monochrome, LCD 1970's display it could have unlimited applications.
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on June 24, 2013
After playing with this for about a week now I must say for the price I'm very impressed with what you get for your buck. It's not as fast loading maps as some high end Garmins, but it's not slow either. Plus the fact that you can load custom maps onto it is nice. Rather than going out and spending $100 on new maps, you can just load on free slightly outdated maps you download off the internet and they work fine. Battery life is pretty decent on it too, I accidentally left it on all night after using it all weekend and it still had battery life left, so I'd say roughly 16 - 20 hours of use out of 2 normal AA's, probably get better if you used lithium or the like.

Can add Custom maps
Good Battery Life
Can customize the menu to your liking
Screen is super easy to see, even in direct sunlight.
Acquires signal very well, even in deep canyons.

Small, if you want a big screen don't get this.
Little slow to load custom maps while zooming or scrolling, but it's fast enough for me.
The "Joystick" can be a bit hard to manipulate at times.

Overall I'm very happy with the purchase.
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on May 31, 2017
I have been using this GPS for Geocaching for a few month now and have been very impressed with it. Can log finds and view logs on it, durable product and I would recommend this to a beginner Geocacher (like myself). This works a lot better than the app on my iPhone. I have coverage in the strangest of places....
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on March 2, 2013
I needed to keep track of newly blazed hiking trails as well as chart distance on existing trails. I tried to use an Android smartphone which had low reception sensitivity and impaired accuracy. I also tried to use an automotive nuvi GPS unit with tracking function which worked OK but the embedded rechargeable battery only supported limited field use (2 hours max). The eTrex 30 was exactly what I needed; easy to repower via 2x AA cells, good GPS sensitivity, transflective screen works GREAT in bright sunlight, and reasonable accuracy. I also wanted the embedded altimeter and compass, although I find that the compass is easily overwhelmed by nearby metal.

There are many online sources for map data in addition to the embedded maps; I was able to fit a routable street map as well as topo maps covering most of continental North America on a single 4G micro SD card.

Automotive mode routing works great, the only minus is limited screen real estate.

The Garmin touchscreen product lines have bigger screens but they perform worse in outdoor light. I also didn't want to mar a touchscreen with dirty hands out in the field. The eTrex is exactly what I want.
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on February 16, 2016
I have so many Garmin products it's ridiculous. A few of them have died over the years due internal batteries going dead.
I bought this product instead of getting a dash-mount type model. I figured, why not get a device that can be taken out of the car as well?
I like the construction, the feel, the usefulness, the quick locking of satellites and so on. The pixel resolution could be better. It's a bit grainy, but not that big of a deal...
My only concern is that the main big button might get mooshed over too much and break or get stuck or something. That big button thing seems fairly fragile.
The menus are easy to understand. It's easy to change the batteries. It works like a gps you would expect. You can zoom in and out. I feel the zoom in and out should be reversed though, I always get it backwards....
All in all, it's a sturdy little GPS, great for hikers and backpackers and stuff like that. I would buy this again...but I worry about that little button....Will it hold up?
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on April 24, 2017
Used for Geocaching and regularly puts me within a few feet of the cache. I'm still learning how to best use this, but so far, I'm very happy with this.
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on August 7, 2016
The Garmin etrax 10 GPS is PERFECT for Geocaching, hiking, boating. It does take a little to familiarize yourself with this unit. The instructions are rather vague. When downloading gpx waypoints into your unit you do have to go into the "drive" on your computer to make sure the files are under "gpx" in the unit so that they show up under the geocache on the unit. But there are great features such as it tells you sun rise/set with options to choose the day. It has fishing time Windows. Most importantly, you can put out a "man overboard" signal, not that I've tested it yet, and I hope I never have to. It includes a calculator for puzzle caches. It also allows for different profiles! So far I've really enjoyed using it for caching and can't wait to use it this fall hunting!
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on May 22, 2014
Using the Garmin GPS on my car dashboard couldn't be more user-friendly. Its cousin, the Garmin eTrex 20, not so much. I had to spend about 20 hours on my home computer just to get the specific topo map I needed downloaded to the eTrex 20. An investment of 20 hours, just to have a handheld GPS to take along for a hike in the woods. If you're willing to make that kind of commitment on the front end, the eTrex 20 is a good tool. Just know that going in, so you can decide if the game is currently worth the candle. You might decide to wait for a while and see if the Garmin folks can get the handheld's user-friendliness closer to the level they have created for our car dashboards. And make do with an old-school, paper topo map in the meantime.
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I'm so glad I bought this, and wish I had used the $20 I spent on a pedometer toward this device.

I'm a power walker and hiker, and want to know my distance and time walked. Mapping and waypoints are not imperative to me.

I find this to be very accurate here in the open Midwest. It gauges my mileage within 23 feet, according to the satellite page. Hugely accurate. Nicely equipped for this, time of walking, moving time (documented separately from just total time -- great if my neighbor stops me to talk while I'm supposed to be walking).

Downsides: large (after all these years, nothing smaller---I know, Foretrex and Forerunner, but pricier and foolish looking on wrist for the cheap version), and the light comes on with a simple flick of the upper right front button. So, if you plan to put it in your pocket, it will wear out the batteries b/c the light comes on all the time from movement. There's a way to shut off the light deep in the menu, but then how can I see it in low light conditions? As others have said, the contrast on the display is weak, so you will need to use the backlight. So, you will need the belt clip just to keep the light from coming on in any storage pocket (backpack, etc) with vibration and rubbing against the side. I have ordered the twelve dollar clip out of necessity more than desire.

Also, annoyingly, you can reset the trip meter but the clock starts running immediately. So, before you run/walk, you will need to page to trip meter, reset it, and then start walking right away. There's no way to turn off the clock with buttons...it just keeps going until you reset the trip meter again. Also, the odometer does total accumulated miles. The trip odometer does miles for a trip. This is not bad, but another reviewer mentioned it, and it is confusing (or useful, for instance, if you are walking the AT from Georgia to Maine).

DO I like it? Yes. ore accurate than pedometer. I like that it has sunset and sunrise times so that I can gauge my training times accordingly. It has some shortfalls.
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