Garmin eTrex 10 outdoor GPS review: small and powerful, but limited


The Garmin eTrex 10 GPS is definitely not a new model from Garmin, but it does have a variety of points that make for one of the best hiking GPS systems for the casual user. Indeed, its combination of low price, rugged construction and ease of use has made it an industry standard outdoor backup device for emergencies. The very low RRP illustrates this – it’s almost hard to justify not having one. Read on for our full review of the Garmin eTrex 10 GPS.

Garmin eTrex 10 GPS Review: Design and Build

The design of the Garmin eTrex 10 GPS is simplicity itself – a rear battery cover conceals a pair of AA batteries, sealed with a D-ring closure that gives the unit an IPX7 waterproof rating – which is submerged in the water to a depth of one meter, for 30 minutes. The rubberized surround contains the up / down, menu, back, and power buttons, and there’s a thumb-operated joystick above the 2.2-inch mini display. The latter is monochrome only, a factor in compressing these AA’s claimed 25 hours of operation, and is therefore easily readable under most conditions. The screen has good backlighting for low light conditions, which can be easily flipped up or down via the power button, but thanks to the monochrome screen, it can be left off during the day, exhausting even more these batteries.

Garmin eTrex 10 GPS

(Image credit: Mark Mayne)

The best feature of the design is the size, which is perfectly judged to fit in the palm of your hand. Even with gloves on, the controls fall neatly and safely within reach. There’s no SD slot to add storage, so you’re stuck with the somewhat seedy 6MB of on-board storage, which is one of the weakest points of the device. There is a mini (not micro) USB port hidden on the back, so GPX files can be downloaded from a PC.

There is a handy (albeit somewhat sober) ‘man overboard’ feature, which immediately creates a waypoint and then begins navigation to that point, as well as arguably less useful features including a calculator, stopwatch. and a hunting and fishing feature that surely no one has ever used. A Sun and Moon function gives the daylight hours and the state of the moon, which is much more useful.

Garmin eTrex 10 GPS review: performance

There is good news and bad news here, and on the former, acquiring the satellite and fixing the position is blazing fast, especially if you’ve changed your settings to allow use of all satellites. Garmin claims that the eTrex series is the very first consumer receiver capable of simultaneously tracking GPS and GLONASS satellites, which essentially adds 24 more satellites to the GPS constellation – very useful indeed if speed is important to you.

The Garmin eTrex 10 GPS also keeps you well, even under tree cover and in built-up areas, thanks to the EGNOS-compatible GPS receiver and HotFix satellite prediction. Another good news is that uploading GPX files for paperless geocaching is supported and has a dedicated menu item to make the process quick and easy.

Garmin eTrex 10 GPS

(Image credit: Mark Mayne)

Another useful tool is the differential compass, which updates fairly quickly for navigation on foot and while hiking, but can be a bit slow for trail getaways. With sections for speed, ETA, distance, and time to next waypoint, this is where you’ll spend most of your Garmin eTrex 10 GPS screen time. Routing is relatively straightforward, although the keyboard can be slightly complicated.

The bad news is mapping. Garmin provides the Garmin eTrex 10 GPS with a worldwide basemap, and it is indeed a basemap. Waiting for the details to load takes a long time … until you realize that there is no details loading. Major landmarks such as rivers and borders are present and correct, but navigating them is more art than science.

However, as long as you’ve planned a route in Garmin’s base camp and downloaded it before, or following the waypoints you made on the outbound route, there is enough meat on it. bone, but for live map-based navigation in the field, this is not the device you’re looking for.

Garmin eTrex 10 GPS

(Image credit: Mark Mayne)

Garmin eTrex 10 GPS review: specifications

  • Physical size: 2.1 “x 4.0” x 1.3 “(5.4 x 10.3 x 3.3 cm)
  • Screen size: 1.4 “x 1.7” (3.6 x 4.3 cm); 2.2 “in diameter (5.6 cm)
  • Display resolution: 128 x 160 pixels
  • Display type: transflective, monochrome
  • Weight: 5 oz (141.7 g) with batteries
  • Battery Type: 2 AA
  • Battery Life: 25 hours
  • Water level: IPX7
  • Interface: Mini USB
  • Memory: 6 MB
  • Waypoints: 1000
  • Tracks: 100
  • Course: 50

Garmin eTrex 10 GPS review: alternatives to consider

As an entry-level model, it’s easy to outperform the Garmin eTrex 10 GPS – its eTrex siblings feature color displays, more storage, and useful additions like an altimeter, in the case of the Garmin. eTrex 32x. Likewise, for more professional users, the Garmin GPSMAP 65 series offers plenty of firepower for just a little more volume. However, keep in mind that you are more than doubling and then tripling the price of the little Garmin eTrex 10 to switch to these two examples respectively, so really a case of horses for lessons.

Garmin eTrex 10 GPS review: verdict

With the major caveat that there are much more powerful competitors out there, the Garmin eTrex 10 GPS is a small, high-end GPS system, ideal for beginners or occasional users. Satellite acquisition is fast, thanks to Garmin’s ingenious engineering, and for geocaching enthusiasts, it’s a perfect rugged alternative to a smartphone. As an emergency rescue device, it’s perfect, and as a low-investment entry point into a market that can get very expensive, it’s a solid choice.

The downside is often fairly basic functionality, especially noticeable in the basemap and mapping functions, which are minimalist at best. Storage is also extremely small, which limits shipping-style functionality quite quickly.


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