Garmin eTrex 20x Hiking GPS Review

Full review and more detailed info on the website here:

How to plan routes and send to your device here:

The Garmin eTrex 20x is your best bet for a dedicated, outdoor ready hiking GPS. There are more expensive models, and smartphone alternatives, but for a lot of hikers, the eTrex 20x will give you the best bang for the buck. Here’s why I recommend it.

The eTrex 20x is a small, outdoor ready mapping GPS unit. You can follow a pre-made track or route, or navigate to a waypoint. Or you can navigate by looking at the loaded maps on the small color screen. It’s waterproof, rugged, and outdoor ready (so unlike most phones, you can drop it without shattering the screen).

If you read the reviews for the eTrex 20x (especially on Amazon), you’ll see that many people give it low stars and complain about the maps. Garmin’s marketing makes it seem like you can start mapping hikes out of the box with this thing, and it’s not true.

Garmin includes a base map, which will basically tell you what city you’re in and what interstate is close to you. It’s pretty worthless, BUT BUT BUT you can get free topographic maps and load them on the unit very easily. No need to buy expensive Garmin maps. And Garmin provides a free program called Basecamp (Windows and Mac) that’s a great tool for planning routes and loading them onto the unit. I use it all the time.


Justin Chavez says:

Thanks for the great review. That was really informative and well done.

Justin Abbott says:

I bought the Garmin Etrex30x based on your reviews. My problem is getting the free maps to work. It seems like there is no way to use the Openstreet hiking maps because I have Mac instead of a PC. Is there a map that Garmin sells that you would recommend? I live in Northern California but plan to take a trip to Denali, Alaska and hike there in another month. I want to practice using it here where I know the area before I take it where I have never been.

Jesus Z says:

this is a great review, thank you!

kenny cadarett says:

I have the etrex 30   do you have it set up gps/glonass    sometimes the Russian satellites  come up first    or some times I only get the Russian satellites   you also enabled the WAAS right to get rid of the errors of jumping from satellite to satellite   did you know that   you mark the way point and the batteries die   the way point is saved in the memory   so you ALWAYS can find your way back when you put new batteries in    the battery life is great I left mine on for 19 hours and it was still at half battery  you looked like you were in Irvine  walking by looking at the buildings  horse around with it a lot great device I have a belt pouch on my backpack  waist band   that’s where it stays  talk to you soon

wakingthestorm says:

Ha! I was watching this thinking it might be from a bit ago but It was today! So quick question, on the track you said it more or less tells you if you are on the track. Is that a method of saving battery? or would you consider it just a down grade from the trail? More or less why would you select one over the other?

Yannick Banville says:

The battery life is supposed to be 25 hours.. is that 25 hours of tracking? from what I understand, after 25hours of use you have to change the AA batteries?

Jurica Grčević says:

I bought my first GPS device Garmin eTrex30x. So far I’m just amazed how this device works well but I got to the point where I need more data that I can’t get right out of eTrex.

I’m a MTB cyclist that likes to explore new paths and this is the main reason I bought this device. I got curious and started thinking about steeps and agnles so if I see a trail that goes over the hill and I’d like to know how steep it is so I could check out my current position altitude and subtract it from the highest point of the path and now I have a cathetus of a regular triangle and for the hypotenus dimension I would use distance between the two points and then I’m measuring the Sin alpha = opposite cathetus divided by hypotenus = a / c = 43m altitude dvided by 363 m distance = 0,115702479 which in calculator INV 0,115702479 SIN = 6,6441° TAN 11,6 % and get the angle in grades and percentage. The problem is that I can’t figure out how to get this information directly from eTrex and I can’t make eTrex calculator to do this math – it just displays error message
or if I input 0,115702479 SIN TAN I get a not so accurate result.
Please, help.
Thank you, Jurica

The Trail Hunter says:

Hi Cris, by the way. I’m starting my own hiking and travel website any tips and words of wisdom? I’d be delighted to return any favours, endorse or collaborate.

Vancouver eh says:

Excellent video

MrMcIntyre1220 says:

Awesome video! You saved me alot of time and money as I have decided that theese GPS’s are simply not for me. I need one I can simply turn on and use without purchasing other maps or spending Time on a pc loading data to my “gps”. I was interested in one for very remote hunting in northern Ontario but I have decided to stick to my maps and compass as they have never let me down

kermit1 says:

Other than your site do you know where else I can download some additional GPX files for hikes?

kenny cadarett says:

it’s also more accurate than google maps trust me

tygroach says:

Hi Chris, you video was SO helpful. I just got the Garmin etrex 20 and based on your demonstration, was able to figure out how to build a route and track. Can you do a video showing how to download a free topo map (say of the Colorado area) and load that onto the device (ideally to the micro-SD card)? Also be nice if (in that same video) you could show how to use someones GPX file, put it on your device (Garmin etrex 20) and see it ontop of the topo map that was downloaded.

Thanks again for put this video together. I’m subscribing!

Chris Conatser says:

Loved the video, seriously changed the way I look at GPSs. So I bought one! Question, Can you (in Basecamp) put an overlay, over a map you already have downloaded? I’m needing topo and trails for the Superstition mountains in AZ. Any help would be appreciated. Thanks bro!

Tony Triolo says:

Enjoyed this video very much but I wished you touched a bit on the backtracking function, if the 20x even has it. Basically,how do you get back from where you started if you are not using tracks or routes and are just out wandering aimlessly as I do as a photographer. Also, I assume smartphone gps programs only work if you have cell coverage. Correct? A handheld gps using a satellite signal seems like a smarter option.

entropyhappens says:

Got one on your recommendation. Thanks.

Ole Puggaard says:

Hold that camera still getting seasick

Mother Fucker says:

Stop shaking.

Dave T says:

I’m new to handheld GPS, just purchased an eTrex for hiking purposes, and have watched several videos on how to use it. This video by HikingGuy is by far the best. His website is also excellent, although I’ve only seen a small part of it so far. I downloaded free regional maps from Open Street Maps, as he recommended. Unlike the ones that come with the eTrex, these free ones are very detailed. I see no reason to purchase maps from Garmin. I did, however, have a problem getting those maps installed on my Garmin device, so e-mailed HikingGuy and he was kind enough to reply and help me resolve the problem. He added some info on his website on how to get the free maps installed for both Basecamp and the GPS unit, so check that out if you have not installed maps before.

T Sizzle says:

Thanks for the review. I have the 30x, but for whatever reason the trip odometer and overall the distance recorded in the GPX files seems way off! Has the trip odometer and other stats been pretty accurate for you?

Steve X says:

Love your work! I’ll be buying one of these soon based on this review. Thanks

Cochise231 says:

Enjoyed the video very much Finally someone helps me use my1st  gps I bought a 30 but thought I was getting something that I could understand never could find anyone that showed me the difference between the different functions Thank you I have enjoyed your other videos I have watched and subbed Thanks

The Trail Hunter says:

Awesome video, Cris. Really helpful and just what I was looking for.

Josedav says:

I enjoyed your clear presentation without the distracting sound of music in the background that too many videos use. Very instructive and peaceful. Wish you would have shown how and where to get the free maps…
Thank you- says:

Full review and more detailed info on the website here:

How to plan routes and send to your device here:

Piyush Pratik says:

What’s the accuracy of the etrex range (in meter)?? pl reply

Amurican Brent says:

This video has been so helpful. Thank you for a great review, and a look into the way it works with Basecamp

Tim Cumpton says:

Thank You! Thank You! Thank You! I have searched the internet exhaustively for a basic review/demonstration of the Garmin extrex 20x. Your video is by FAR the best I have found. Really appreciate you taking time to share this information in an easy to understand way.

Mother Fucker says:

GP “X” files?

Brent Holloway says:

good video and solid product but not convenient at all. Been planning a day hike through the diablo range in california and i have found no maps that detail the range inless you want to pay 100$ more. i did manage to find 1 map from GPSfiledepot for free but the trails were inaccurate to the point of being useless. i think this product really shines when you are looking for maps in common areas such yosemite, yellow stone, grand canyon ect…. but for smaller lands such as regional wilderness not very good inless you have the money

Carlos Lluch says:

Great info, thanks

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