View Full Version : Garmin Foretrex

08-28-2009, 09:16 AM
Anyone have feedback on this?

Is it a Fobbit/Geardo gizmo, or is it a useful tool for elk hunting?


08-28-2009, 09:48 AM
I have a Foretrex 101, and love it. I use it frequently for navigating off-trail. Light weight, no unnecessary bells and whistles, wrist-mounted. One thing is that in thick overhead cover I've had some delay in acquiring a signal, i.e., heavy timber. Not all the time, but it has happened. For my travels, this has not been much of an issue at all. YMMV.

08-28-2009, 10:34 AM
For its nominal cost and small size and light weight it is a good tool for situational awareness. Presuming that you already did your research and are intentionally avoiding the 201 with its rechargeable battery, which is most definitely an issue.

Actual entry of data in the field is a PITA. Pretty much mark a point and manually record in your noteboook which waypoint. Antenna good but not great, far from the most sensitive/fast that Garmin offers. Signal hit & miss indoors and in Afghanistan-type valleys. Because of display size and antenna, not nearly as useful in vehicles as on foot.

For actually working in the field, and using a GPS as data acquisition/input/route guidance tool, the 60 and 76 series have few peers (I use a 60 series). Fast antenna, external antenna port for working from vehicles (especially if armored at all), easy to manage routes while in the field.

08-28-2009, 02:41 PM
Straps - is the jump up to $192 for a 60 series worth the extra size/weight to carry?


08-28-2009, 02:42 PM
Thanks for your input, Sawtooth - trying to weigh using it for elk hunt, but also for when I deploy overseas next year - your input cinches the elk hunting part


08-28-2009, 03:18 PM
Evan and I both have and use the Foretrex. I have used it for mtbiking, sking, hiking, hunting, boating, etc....if you want a map to look at you need to bring one, or get a different model. I just was never happy with the map display sizes or detail I saw on the other units before I bought the foretrex. So I went with the foretrex. It is very basic and no frills and Straps pretty much nailed the pros and cons.

08-29-2009, 02:29 PM
RE: the jump from WEIGHT of the ForeTrex to a 60/76. Difference is negligible. You can strap a Foretrex to the stock of an M4; harder to do with a larger unit.

Many units in deployed environs have GPSs in OPS/TOC, already programmed and set up. Some don't. It's worth it to me not to have to sweat the utility, convenience and life safety implications so I bring my own.

Re: the price. I don't use in-car GPSs like TomToms; I spent too much money on gear & guns last year to get the nav option on the Escalade ;) My trusty GPS60CSx finds me steak, Kifaru demos, hiking trails, campgrounds, mosques and quiet little ECPs on wayward FOBs (properly configured, a higher-end GPSs store classified info on the REMOVABLE memory expansion; another reason to go bigger/better).

Far as use for hunting/camping CONUS, there is a lot to be said for a GPS with a color (or at least large) screen and an appropriate electronic map. Many Garmins have US TOPO already built in. This is awesome. More detailed maps (trails, tighter scale, more accurate contour relief, water sources, bridges, etc.) are available; sometimes even free. I still plot my course on paper, but the GPS is, again, convenient and safe.

08-29-2009, 08:45 PM
I have had a Garmin Foretrex 101 for many years now.
I have nothing but the highest praise for this unit if it fits your operational requirements:

1. I use it as navigation tool NOT primary navigation that is what a compass is for :)
2. It is an accessory to your map NOT a replacement.
3. It is as quick and accurate as any larger/newer 12 channel GPS units that I have used.
4. 1 x set of 2xAA NiMh batts generally lasts me for a whole week in the field. (Remember I use it as an aid, it may only get used for a couple or hours a day at most). All up about 16-20 hrs use from one set of batts.
5. It is a rugged and reliable unit. Mine currently sports a large scratch across the display window when I & my ZXR took a 20 metre slide/tumble down a rock face and I used my primary arm (wearing Fortrex) to break my fall. The only weak point is the watch type pins that secure the unit to the wrist band (I have broken 2 of them over a couple of thousand kilometers, I now carry a couple of spares).

If your requirements are similar to mine then this is the unit for you, if not then something a bit more upmarket may be required.

Straps; perhaps I just am just of simple needs but I don't find data entry too much of a pain. (Us simple folk are easily entertained LOL :D )

08-31-2009, 10:51 AM
I really thought that I wanted one of the Csx units when I set out to buy my first GPS. After playing with them in the store, I decided that I would never be happy with trying to read topo on a little tiny screen, plus there are the implications of still needing paper for backup anyway. I went the way that Thommo (and Dick Blust) describe instead.

Still, I hear the siren's call of having enough storage to have topos for a couple of different states, rather than having to try to acquire the right paper whenever and wherever.

So, those of you using the base map style of GPS units, what is your experience with GPS base maps versus paper? Do you still use paper at all? Do you carry backup paper? What is your backup method? UTM coords in a notebook? Do you find yourself maybe over-relying on the electronic gizmo?

08-31-2009, 12:19 PM
So, those of you using the base map style of GPS units, what is your experience with GPS base maps versus paper?

Having used both non-mapping and mapping GPS receivers, I have to say that I'm a big fan of mapping receivers. You are correct that screen size is a limitation. Since I carry paper maps and a compass as my backup, I refer to the map for a wide overview of the area I'm hiking. The GPS receiver is used for all navigation, however. The reason why I like the mapping units so much is that you always know where you are instantly, which is important for me since I seem to be in new hunting units every year. No more deciphering topo and transcribing UTM coords to fix your position. I don't go anywhere without my mapping GPS receiver anymore.

Do you still use paper at all? Do you carry backup paper?

Yes, see above - it's the only way to get a wide view of the area.

What is your backup method? UTM coords in a notebook?

If I'm on established trails that show up both on paper and in the GPS unit, I don't do anything for backup, other than carrying my paper maps and a compass. However, if I'm off-trail, I'll either mark time and position on the map itself, or I'll note them in my hunting journal. Even if I don't have a recent note, I can usually determine my position by getting to a high point and comparing surface topo to map topo.

Do you find yourself maybe over-relying on the electronic gizmo?

No, I don't, but I can see how a young hunter/hiker who's never "kicked it old-school" could certainly get in trouble if the electronics fail and they don't have a compass/map and the skills to use them.


08-31-2009, 12:27 PM
Thanks for the great user feedback, guys - appreciate it!


08-31-2009, 12:39 PM
The lack of acqusation performance of the 101 compared to others isn't the antenna, but the outdated receiver chip. I'd get Foretrex 301 instead. Like 101, but with a 'high-sensitivity receiver', which will work much better under canopy. And USB connectivity.

08-31-2009, 01:46 PM
Wow, was not aware of the 301. Good catch mb.

And yeah, it runs on AAA so Garmin was listening, and didn't engineer the 201's biggest flaw into its successor.

08-31-2009, 02:22 PM
and the 401 for $50 more with compass and atmospheric barometer. Don't see much percentage in either of those things though.

On the other hand, a high sensitivity receiver and USB compatibility (I've never been able to get my 101 to talk to my computer).... repeat after me: "I don't need a new foretrex, I don't need a new foretrex".