A hand held GPS device can be a very useful navigation gadget for the walker.
GPS devices live in the jacket pockets of many walkers navigating their way through Scotland’s countryside.
Having a device that not only tells you where you are but also informs you where you have been and where you are going is something that walkers have benefited greatly from over the past 10 years.
The Garmin eTrex 20x
The eTrex 20x is a lightweight and compact unit (145 grams) that fits comfortably into your pocket. The unit is powered by two AA batteries which provide enough energy for up to 25 hours of constant use which is terrific for the walker.
The casing of the device has been designed and constructed to survive a few knocks through it’s life and it has a IPX7 rating meaning it can withstand immersion in water for short periods of time and remain functional.
Display & Controls
The 3.5 x 4.4 cm colour display is clean and crisp and can be backlit to improve visibility. The menu buttons are placed along the edge and a joystick style button is mounted on the face of the device.
The joystick serves multiple purposes but it’s main use to to allow the user to select the functions. The side buttons can be used while wearing light gloves on but you will struggle with heavy winter gloves but I found this to be a minor issue.
The high-sensitivity GPS receiver utilises both GPS and GLONASS satellite networks (with WAAS compatibility) for accuracy up to approximately 2.5m in open areas which is more than accurate enough for the navigational requirements that most walkers are likely to have and far superior to many smartphones. You can view a comparison video between an GPS device and GPS enabled smartphones here – https://youtu.be/MkyW-OcricM
Routes, Tracks and Waypoints
The eTrex 20x can hold up to 2,000 individual waypoints and 200 routes in it’s internal memory. The device accurately record tracks and waypoints without issue while on the move and once saved they can be extracted via the supplied USB cable.
You can view the tracks live as they are being recorded and the unit allows for the user to easily backtrack their recorded track should they require to do so which is a great feature missing on many smartphone apps. Follow routes saved to the device is equally as easy as backtracking.
The routes, tracks and waypoints can be managed through a PC or Mac using Garmin’s free mapping package. The Basecamp software is a basic interface that allows you to add, edit, delete and plan routes contained on the device easily and quickly. Geocaches can also be added to the device using this interface and the paperless geocaching function is well designed and easy to use.
The world wide base map supplied with the device is very basic but you can upgrade this by buying Garmin’s own topographic maps from them direct on micro SD card. These maps are of good quality but can be expensive to purchase but there are a few alternate vendors that offer mapping solutions that can be used with the device for a fraction of the cost (check out Talky Toaster).
The eTrex 20x doesn’t ship with any mounts. Shown right are the two mounts I often find useful – a highly sprung belt clip and a lanyard attachment. It would have of been nice if Garmin had provided one of these with the device but they can be purchased through online vendors easily. A bike mounting kit and a soft shell case is also available.
The Garmin eTrex 20x is lightweight, durable and affordable with dozens of useful features for the walker. It is an excellent entry level device that is is perfect for navigating through the wilds of Scotland and beyond. It packs a mighty punch.
Dimensions: 5.4 x 10.3 x 3.3 cm
Weight: 141.7 g with batteries
IPX rating: IPX7
Battery: 2 AA batteries NiMH or Lithium
Display: 240 x 320 pixels
Battery life: 25 hours
Available From: Amazon