Garmin eTrex 30
Source: bought it new
Price Paid: $250
The Garmin eTrex 30 is a versatile, featured loaded, budget friendly GPS. It has many of the bells and whistles of the nicer models, but with a much better price.
- Feature loaded
- Easy to use
- Budget friendly
- Good battery life
- Free maps available
- Small screen
- Pre-loaded with poor base map
I've been using some form of the Garmin eTrex series for many years, according to my geocaching account I've been a member there since 2005, which is around the same time I received my first Garmin eTrex Legend. Since that time I have been a huge fan of the eTrex series, owning the original Legend, a Legend H, Venture Cx, Legend HCx, a 20, and now the 30, as well as other makes and models.
The Garmin eTrex 30 is a color screen geocaching friendly unit, displaying info for paperless caching. Including a list of the geocaches, types, difficulty and terrain ratings, descriptions, recent log entries, hints, and you can log whether you found it or not and a short description of your found/not found to upload later when you get back to your computer. This feature works with the more popular geocaching.com site, as well as Garmin's own opencaching.com website.
Premium features of the Garmin eTrex 30 include a barometric altimiter, tri-axial compass, wireless sharing, ability to add a heart rate monitor, speed/cadence sensor, tempe sensor, and can work with the Garmin Chirp technology. If these features aren't of interest to you, you can save even more cash (about $75 - $100) by dropping down to the eTrex 20.
Other features include Auto-Routing with additional maps, which cost an additional fee to purchase and are limited to one unit. There are some free option out there as well. I don't use my eTrex for Auto-Routing though, so I can't really comment on that. I do know that it is not a voice read auto-route, you only receive a beep and on screen message.
You will also find options to save or follow a track using the GPS. A track is essentially a way for the GPS to save or follow "bread crumbs" so you can know where you have been or where you are going along a trail. Save features for this include automatic, time, and distance. So, when you aren't using the auto-save option you can program is to save a point ever x number of seconds, or after every x number of feet down to 0.01 miles (about 53 feet). Garmin claims the GPS can handle 200 saved tracks with 10,000 points each.
It also includes several waypoint options as well. You can save a waypoint, either by quick saving with a push and hold of the joystick on the front of the GPS, average the waypoint for a more accurate location fix, or project a waypoint to another location. You can also load and navigate to a waypoint by either manually inputting the point in by hand, or by transferring the information from Garmin's Free BaseCamp software available on their website. You can also use the GPS to view and navigate to photos that have been geotagged with GPS coordinate information, so someone can send you directly to that beautiful view they photographed and you're dying to see in person.
The eTrex 30 can find and maintain an accurate location due to it being able to calculate positions from both US based NAVSTAR satellites, as well as the Russion based GLONASS satellites. This gives the GPS several more satellites to choose from when calculating a position, so it will almost always have a good number of satellites overhead to pick from. The GPS also picks up the Wide Area Augmentation System or WAAS, a correction issued to reduce inaccuracies caused by atmospheric interference.
The included base map that comes with the GPS is pretty useless however. Luckily, Garmin does sell several different maps including 100k and 24k topographic maps that can be loaded directly to the GPS, as well as street maps like you find on the Nuvi Car Navigation units. Those of course are at an additional cost. Even luckier for us, there are actually many great FREE maps available from site like GPSfiledepot.com. I have downloaded the free 24k topographic maps from that site and easily loaded them to my GPS using the Garmin BaseCamp software. As I mentioned earlier, there are also free street maps on the internet at other sites that will allow you to do automatic street routing, but I have not used those maps and do not know how accurate they may be.
I have used the eTrex 30 for about a year now, and a year prior to that I used the eTrex 20. I use GPS units fairly often for both hobby and work. I've been using the eTrex series for several years now and I have never been let down. I believe they are a great reliable GPS unit. The size makes them easy to fit in your hand, and with additional mounts available (caribiner clip that slips on the back, bike mount, marine mount, Auto-Friction Mount, after market RAM mount) it can be carried almost anywhere on any vehicle or backpack.
I would and have recommended this GPS to several of my friends. If you are looking for more bells and whistles, Garmin makes other GPS's with nicer items, such as pre-loaded topo maps and built in cameras. Those of course cost a bit more. Also, if you want a nice GPS and want to spend less they have the eTrex 10 (black and white) and eTrex 20 models. Both great GPS's.
Where to Buy
Here's what other sites are saying:
Memory, mapping, a color screen and new internals, the Garmin eTrex may have a familiar name, but it's a totally new GPS for your adventures.
The Garmin eTrex 30 Topo GPS bundle combines the user-friendly eTrex 30 with TOPO U.S. 100K mapping, 1-year BirdsEye subscription and a handy carrying case. With a 3-axis compass, full-color display and geocaching, the compact Garmin eTrex 30 offers a fun and easy GPS experience for outdoor enthusiasts. TOPO U.S. 100K mapping and a built-in worldwide basemap with shaded relief that helps you navigate with ease. 1-year subscription to BirdsEye Satellite Imagery adds a high-resolution satellite view. 3-axis, tilt-compensated electronic compass shows your heading even when you're standing still and holding the unit upright or at an angle. Features a 2.2 in., 65k color display that can be viewed in bright sunlight. WAAS-enabled receiver locates your position quickly and maintains reception under heavy cover. Compatibility with Russian Glonass system allows about 20% faster and more reliable satellite acquisition, helpful in challenging spots such as deep canyons or tall buildings. Allows wireless unit-to-unit transfer of routes, tracks, waypoints and geocaches; works with Montana-series, Oregon-series, Dakota 20, GPSMAP 62S, 62ST, 78S and 78SC devices. 1.7 gigabytes of memory make it easy to add maps; choose from Garmin TOPO U.S. 24k maps, BlueChart(R) g2 marine maps and City Navigator(R) road maps (sold separately). Altimeter tracks changes in barometric pressure to pinpoint your altitude while you're on the trail. Supports geocaching GPX files for downloading geocache locations and details straight to the unit using the high-speed USB connection. Stores and displays geocache location, terrain, difficulty, hints and descriptions-no more manually entering coordinates or toting around paper printouts! MicroSD(TM) card slot for storing additional data. Operational buttons are located along the sides of the device for easy 1-hand operation. 2 AA batteries (sold separately) provide up to 25 hrs.
Garmin takes one of its most reliable and popular handheld GPS devices to a new level with the eTrex 30 GPS. It's equipped for everything from hiking to geocaching with a high-sensitivity GPS, a 3-Axis compass and barometric altimeter, and a preloaded worldwide basemap - all of which can be read on a bright 65K color screen. Plus, you can store additional map data with 1.7 GB of memory space and wirelessly share your routes and waypoints with others.
- Mountain Gear
You're looking at one of the best values in the personal GPS game today-- the Garmin eTrex 30. This bombproof GPS unit features a 2.2 inch color screen, which gives you a complete view of the basemap, which can be overlaid with downloadable topo, marine and city maps, to help you keep tabs on exactly where you are. The 3-axis compass is highly accurate and easy to use, even while moving. There's a handful of other useful features, like a barometric altimeter, a customizable dashboard, and easy sharing of data between similar units. Don't let the fear of getting lost hold you back.Tucked into the durable body is a 2.2 inch backlit color screen, which is easily visible in all light conditions. In addition to the included worldwide basemap, you can load the 30 with TOPO 24k maps, BlueChart marine maps, and CityNavigator maps of urban areas via the MicroSD port. The result is that you can understand precisely where you are, without having to carry a map. If that wasn't enough, you can download BirdsEye satellite images, and overlay them on your map for even more information. Waypoints can be selected off of the mapping feature, or by importing them wirelessly from compatible devices. It's easy to save, modify, and index your routes for future trips. By downloading a geocaching .GPX file, you'll have access to hidden caches, for more options on your next outing. And you're able to select the profile of your trip, which helps you to organize your information between recreation, driving, boating, and training. By using both GPS and GLONASS satellites, the eTrex 30 is able to determine your location 20% faster than GPS alone, and maintain it with greater precision. To ensure that your information is presented in a way that works for you, the dashboard is customizable with a 3-axis compass, barometric altimeter, and configurable data fields, among other tools. The Garmin eTrex 30 GPS is available in the color Black, and includes a USB cable and startup guide.