View Full Version : Garmin Foretrex GPS - Opinions req...

2008-08-18, 06:38
Hi everyone,


Just wondering if anyone owns and uses one of the wrist-mounted Garmin Foretrex 201 or 101 GPS systems. Are they any good as a GPS? Are they a pain in the A$$ to wear and use? Are they water and shock resistant enough to survive some abuse in the boonies? What is the battery life like on the rechargable 201?

I've tentatively put one on my list, but I'd appreciate any opinions before I splash the cash, because this purchase will be inextricably linked to the purchase of a small Silva solar panel charger for AA batteraziz.


2008-08-18, 20:23
I owned one in the army, suggested by my bro when he was in fallujah. For what it is, it worked fine. It will get you to where you wanna go Pretty basic stuff. Mine wasnt rechargeable, it took the AAA batts. I could get a couple days worth out of it, depending on how long I used the backlight.
It is a rugged piece of gear. The best qualities of it are that its ALWAYS on your wrist, and you dont have to free a hand to use it, and its nice & small. Now the downsides;
First, compared to modern GPSs, this one is a bit of a dinosaur. It can be slow to locate, and can lose lock fairly easily (compared to newer models). Second, no map. But, if you are skilled at map reading, take that, and you're fine. Third, AAA batts. It was the ONLY thing I carried that took these; everything else is AA. Not really compatible. But, for a simple, no-nonsense piece of gear, its not bad. It is definitely an aid to land nav.

2008-08-26, 05:29
Thanks for the advice oldsoldier.

Based on that as well as some buds of mine's I decided to go with the Foretrex 101. I like the rechargable 201 better, but at the end of the day, an 8 pack of AAAs is lighter and cheaper than a silva solar recharger. Also, I use a lot of AAA batts in my LED headlight and flashlights - I've been out bush for three weeks solid on one set of LED flashlight batts, so I rarely take spares for them.

Bells and whistles - Quick and dirty nav is all I am after with the Foretrex 101 - the ability to go to a given set of coordinates and maybe save the route. The rest of the basic features inside the unit are a bonus.

Sat fix in my area is outstanding. I've been sitting in my living room with the curtains drawn for the past 20 mins typing on the computer and I'm getting a solid 3D fix with 7m accuracy.

Setup was pretty cool - it has all of the major datums I use, even the obscure AGD66 grid which a lot of our older Aussie maps are based on. Plus, you can select degrees or mils. Nice.

About the only thing I'm not terribly happy about is the fact that it uses watch-style spring pins to hold the GPS to the wrist strap. These are weak. I don't want to lose the GPS because the pins failed. I lost a watch like that once. No dummy cord point is not a good omen either. I hope they fix these on subsequent models.

I'm looking at mine right now so I'll post a review after I've blooded it on the trail.

One question though... How do you get the backlight to work? I've got it set on 1 min auto-off, but light no worky. Any assist appreciated.


2008-08-26, 07:52
I think if you mash the power button, it should come on. I havent used mine in a LONG time, but I recall thats how it worked.
As for it falling off; I used mine on patrols in Cuba all the time, and took some pretty good diggers with it. I never experienced failure on mine. I havent heard of others having theirs snap off either. Of course, I only know of about 4 other users. All in all, I liked the idea, a great, rugged unit, that works very nicely with a map.

2009-07-18, 11:35

I really LIKE my Foretrex 101. I have been getting some incredible accuracy with it in really close country. By incredible I mean between 4m and 6m accuracy under a thick rainforest canopy.

There are two ways I carry it.

1. Strapped to my wrist beside my watch. This works OK but I do worry about retention.

2. Wristband threaded through the PALS webbing on the front of my vest. This is very convenient and no major problems yet.

Awesome piece of gear with a quite reasonable average battery life.