Garmin ETrex 20 Handheld GPS

A powerful handled GPs unit that will help you stay safe no matter where you are, having the Garmin ETrex 20 in your pack allows you to tackle unfamiliar landscapes with little concern at all. Smartly designed and accurate, this is a must have for anyone looking to do some serious backpacking.

Garmin ETrex 20 Handheld GPS Review

There are a couple of things that you expect from a handheld GPS unit. First of all, it needs to be simple to use and easy to read. Secondly, it needs to be smartly designed and relatively lightweight. Thirdly, you need to know that has a battery you can trust when you’re out in the woods. And the last thing they need to count on with your new GPS is that it will actually keep you from getting lost.

But how does the Garmin ETrex 20 stack up?

Garmin ETrex 20 Review — First Impressions

One of the best values you’ll be able to find in the GPS market, especially from GPS technology titan of the industry Garmin, the Garmin ETrex 20 the kind of unit you can trust with your life. Relatively inexpensive, super durable, and offering some of the best battery life in the entire GPS device world, you have a real winner on your hands when you need it most.

Garmin ETrex 20 Handheld GPS Video Review

Super smooth interface

The first thing you need to know about this GPS unit is the fact that it has been designed from the ground up to be completely and easily usable from just about anyone. Understanding that most people who venture out into the woods will be doing so with young people with people who may or may not be trained on the specific safety gear, Garmin has made it a point to make the Garmin ETrex 20 is easy to use as humanly possible.

Using only six buttons (physical buttons that you can actually feel in the dark) to navigate the interface, everything is simply laid out and intuitive to use even if you’ve never used GPS system in your entire life. Configuration is super easy to set up and manipulating the machine to figure out just where you are and just where you need to get to be has literally never been easier everything can be manipulated with one hand, and thanks to the screen’s intelligent brightness levels this is a breeze to use even in lowlight or complete darkness situations.

If you have used GPS in the past, especially one from Garman, you’ll find the same thing is true as most other Garmin ETrex 20 reviews have stated: using it is just the same as most all of their other devices. The interface this super simple shouldn’t be changed and tweaked just because of the new model update, and the folks at Garman have luckily left things untouched.

Never lost again

Thanks to the new global access to the GLONASS satellite system, your very own brand new handheld Garmin ETrex 20 will give you the most accurate and up-to-date positioning of any system on the planet. While I didn’t notice anything too terribly different from older models of GPS handhelds from Garman, it’s nice to know that they are continually upgrading the system to make sure no one is lost.

As well as having super detailed maps to get you in and out of the woods, you’ll also have access to proprietary topography maps helping you better maneuver your path and get yourself out. There is a secondary Birdseye satellite imagery system that you can subscribe to for just $30 a year, but you can almost as easily find your very own free and totally custom maps in various places on the web.

When size really matters

While most ultralights and daytrippers will be super pleased with the small form factor in the lightweight of the specific GPS unit, the Garmin ETrex 20 reviews are quick to point out the simple fact that this GPS unit suffers from some degradation in its reception and accuracy just because it’s a smaller unit. This is to be expected, and while it’s not a deal breaker by any means it is a significant drawback that you need to be aware of.

Garmin ETrex 20 Review Specs

Weight 5 oz (141.7 g) with batteries
Battery 2 AA batteries (not included); NiMH or Lithium recommended
Battery life 25 hours
Waterproof Yes (IPX7)
Floats No
High-sensitivity receiver Yes
Interface USB
Basemap Yes
Preloaded maps no
Ability to add maps Yes
Built-in memory 1.7 GB
Accepts data cards microSD™ card (not included)
Waypoints/favorites/locations 2000
Routes 200
Track log 10,000 points, 200 saved tracks
Automatic routing (turn by turn routing on roads) Yes (with optional mapping for detailed roads)
Electronic compass No
Touchscreen No
Barometric altimeter No
Camera no
Geocaching-friendly Yes (Paperless)
Custom maps compatible Yes
Photo navigation (navigate to geotagged photos) Yes
Sun and moon information Yes
Tide tables Yes (with optional Bluechart)
Area calculation Yes
Custom POIs (ability to add additional points of interest) Yes
Unit-to-unit transfer (shares data wirelessly with similar units) No
Picture viewer Yes
Garmin Connect™ compatible (online community where you analyze, categorize and share data) Yes
MSRP: $199.99


GPS units have totally changed the way we tackle the wilderness, and if you’re serious about getting into the most intense and exciting adventures you’ll ever have out-of-doors you need to access the leverage provided by machines like the all new Garmin ETrex 20. Smart explorers will always have a redundant backup, but you can’t beat this bargain GPS unit.

Written by Stan Tyan