Gear reviews, GPS / Navigation » Garmin eTrex 10/20/30

The eTrex 10/20/30 series is an update to one of the most popular bikepacking GPS units, the eTrex VistaHCx, featuring a faster chipset and totally redesigned software. Major new features of interest to bikepackers are the track manager (much easier uploading of routes), custom raster maps and new track following software. In general the unit is easier to use and runs faster than the older VistaHCx line.


Unit dimensions, WxHxD: 2.1″ x 4.0″ x 1.3″ (5.4 x 10.3 x 3.3 cm)
Display size, WxH: 1.4″ x 1.7″ (3.5 x 4.4 cm); 2.2″ diag (5.6 cm)
Display resolution, WxH: 176 x 220 pixels
Display type: transflective, 65-K color TFT
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)
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
Track log: 10,000 points, 200 saved tracks
Custom maps compatible: yes

Unit differences

eTrex 30 – top of the line unit includes altimeter and electronic compass
eTrex 20 – all features of the 30, but no compass and altimeter. Still same internal memory and custom maps ability.
eTrex 10 – cannot load maps (base maps or custom maps) and has no internal memory. Can still accept tracks for following, however.

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Comments (21)

mikeAugust 17th, 2011 at 5:30 am

looking for some real world reviews on this, its on my b-day list.

velomattAugust 22nd, 2011 at 9:39 am

Me too…

Mike RSeptember 28th, 2011 at 6:31 am

REI, has them in stock now.

Scott MorrisSeptember 28th, 2011 at 10:41 am

Ordered mine. Will put it through the paces ASAP and post a review.

tucsonprerunnerOctober 6th, 2011 at 3:49 pm

Got mine last week. Very similar to the Garmin 62s, but in a smaller package. Just downloaded some custom maps and they’re great. Visibility in direct sunlight awesome. The only problem is that is projecting the release date for they’re heavy duty bike mount until Januaryish. Garmin does have a bike mount, but it looks pretty flimsy. In my opinion, my Etrex 30 is the most bang for my buck! Very happy with it…

DanielOctober 16th, 2011 at 9:44 pm

Ended up buying the Etrex 20, because it’s not worth the extra money for the Etrex 30. The technology is daunting for a first timer but after playing with it for a week I’ve mostly got it sorted. I was out MTB riding yesterday and broke the hanger, so thanks to the Etrex, I was quickly able to find the start. The bike mount is a beast, I can attach it too my bikes with the big, strong electrical cable ties. The only thing I’ve got to do is sort out this custom mapping, I wonder if this unit has a 100 tile limit like all the other older Garmin handhelds.

DanOctober 20th, 2011 at 12:50 pm

Is the trip computer on these new Etrex’s similar to the one on the Garmin Edge’s? This is kind of a deal breaker for me as I use my Edge to log every ride/mile I do.
Cheers for any info, Dan.

cartographerOctober 20th, 2011 at 2:04 pm


I haven’t found a similar ease of tracking every ride with the etrex 20 as the edge. As far as I’ve found, as soon as the unit is turned on, it’s tracking. I’ve been trying to reset the trip counter and clear the track at the start of my rides, and save and reset things after, but have almost always ended up with some extra point at home, or from the last ride stuck to the start/end of the track. This is probably user error, but I haven’t found a way to turn on the unit and have it record only when I tell it to.

I’d be happy to hear that my methodology is wrong, but it may be that the device has a different intent. I think I just need to clean my tracks a bit and they will be fine. And they definitely work for showing where I’ve been, just not quite in the same focused way that the edge (lost after one too many soakings in a rain storm) provided.

I know the etrex will win for multi-day rides and trips w/o a plug to recharge with. I just want to find out if I should get a little bike computer as well to supplement it with some of the trip info I’m used to seeing.


DanOctober 20th, 2011 at 3:00 pm

Thanks for that Cartographer. I thought it might not have the features I was looking for, especially with it not having the start/stop and reset buttons on the front. I’ll wait until more stores have them in stock and see if I can have a play with one before deciding to purchase.

tucsonprerunnerOctober 22nd, 2011 at 1:56 pm

To start/stop tracking got to “Main Menu”. Select “Setup”, select “Tracks”, select “Track Log”. From here you can decide “Do not record”, “Record, do not show”, or “Record show on map”. As far as reseting the Trip computer go to the “Trip Computer” screen, push the “Menu” button located on the left side of device, select “Reset”, then select “Reset Trip Data” it will then say “Are you sure you wish to reset all trip data (timers, averages, distances, etc.)? Select “Yes”. There you go it’s clear. Make sure when you’re done with your track that you save the “Current Track” so you don’t have extra points at home. I’ve pretty much got it figured out and operating the way I want it to, so feel free to ask me some questions.

Neilp1October 30th, 2011 at 7:46 pm

Great info. I just spent an hour at the local REI checking out the differences between the 20 and 30. Been thinking about a dedicated GPS for hiking/biking since I dont want to risk my Android. Overall, im pretty impressed but there do seem to be a couple of quirks on the 20 that the 30 didnt seem to have. One of which was lack of an elevation graph page that could be placed in the ‘page sequence’ menu. You know, the quick access pages you can navigate to with the ‘back’ button. I found on the 20 you had to go to the tracks page and then scroll through the options there to find it. On the 30, you can have it within the main navigation page scroll cycle. Id like it if i could just push one button to return to the map- if you have 3 or 4 pages in the main sequence -map, trip computer, track manager, menu for example- it takes a few button presses to get back to the map. Similarly, a quick option for starting, stopping and saving tracks would be great- you have 4 or 5 button pushes in that sequence above.

I do like the new navigation engine that will follow an existing track and calculate the actual track distance to the next set waypoint rather than a straight line distance. im wondering though, how accurate you’ve found that to be and whether its possible to add a waypoint on the gps while in the field as opposed to on the computer prior to uploading to the unit>

None of these are deal breakers though- just waiting out the holidays to see how many REI gift cards I get and ill probably get one.

ThomasWarawNovember 17th, 2011 at 5:59 am

Is it worth to buy ??

StuDecember 3rd, 2011 at 2:05 pm

Ok, just got the Etrex 30 and I cannot get the 24k topo card to read on the maps. I have enabled the correct map, tried disabling all the others, I cannot get the detailed topo map to show??

GimmearaiseFebruary 8th, 2013 at 7:52 pm

Anyone know of a good bike mount for the etrex? I’ve heard the Garmin one kinda suck, any suggestions?


Jeff LyallFebruary 10th, 2013 at 7:16 pm

I used the garmin one on a 540km dirt Brevet last week and it was great.

BartJune 13th, 2013 at 8:30 am

It seems that i’m a total nerd with the etrex 30…….i managed to delete the trip computer of my device!!
Atm it seems that my purchase is a bummer for me….it’s just not user-friendly…..
Any help is welcome!!
thanx in advance

BartJune 13th, 2013 at 11:21 am

Problem solved…..found a manual guide on the Garmin site…..60 pages tho!! But everything is cleared out there!!……i stay with my point that the device is really difficult to use for noobs like me ;-p

stretchJuly 29th, 2013 at 6:55 am

hi – I HAVE A ETREX 10 and just using the trip odometer with speed and moving time – how do i set it up to start by pushing at “button” – using it for kayaking and mtbiking

Tom PurvisApril 28th, 2014 at 8:45 am

My eTrex 20 has let me down for the last time. It likes to lose my track logs, as Murphy’s Law dictates, usually the ones I really need or care about. Yesterday I rode my moto for 4 hours to get to the most remote part of my Salida Big Friggin’ Loop race course. I really need to know where exactly I was when I ran into a no trespassing gate. Tried to use USB to get the track off the unit just now and it’s corrupt. Now I will have to make another trip to figure out where I was. Just ordered a 62s, the eTrex 20 will become a spare, backup, loaner. But I would really enjoy chucking it into the river.

C JohnsonDecember 10th, 2014 at 9:27 pm

I have noticed that my eTrex 20 shows the current trip distance (odometer miles) on two different displays: the trip computer, and the current track. At the beginning of a hike or bike ride I always clear both the trip computer and the current track. I have noticed that at the end of my trip the odometer readings on the trip computer and the current track are NOT the same. For example, at the end of a recent hike the current track reported 4.8 miles, and the trip computer reported 5.21 miles. That is quite a difference! Does anybody know why? Which one is correct?

Junior LibbySeptember 9th, 2017 at 7:32 pm

I just bought the Garmin etrex 10 the other day, went out today and could only put down a waypoint, very confusing device. I believe this begins recording when you put it on, but I did go into tracks log and set it all up with the three selections there, but when I went to map and did some walking I could not see any line getting longer on the map. All I got was back track, and the more I moved away from the way point it kept point back to the way point…..just wondering if after setting it up to record tracks, did I screw that setting up when I did a waypoint? Also wondering if I select do not record, can I than manually mark my tracks as I hike, I just trust doing thin manually instead of relying on a device that not SHOW it in record mode.

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