Garmin eTrex H

An expensive compass

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Garmin eTrex H
  • Garmin eTrex H
  • Garmin eTrex H
  • Garmin eTrex H
  • Expert Rating

    2.25 / 5

Pros

  • Simple to use, IPX-7 casing, configurable routes and waypoints

Cons

  • No base map or detailed maps, monochrome LCD, serial PC connection, inadequate control of navigation

Bottom Line

Although the eTrex H might suit those hikers who want nothing except the bare minimum, most will find it largely unusable. Inadequate functionality and no base map makes the unit extremely hard to use for anyone except the most experienced hikers, and the slightly more expensive Magellan Triton 200 is probably a better option.

Would you buy this?

With a monochrome LCD, no built-in maps and only basic GPS guidance, the Garmin eTrex H isn’t for hiking novices. Still, even for more experienced hikers there’s no compelling argument to choose this over the much more functional Magellan Triton 200.

Features are minimal on the eTrex H. The unit is capable of storing up to 500 waypoints and 20 routes, as well as an automatic track log. As with the Triton 200, the eTrex H provides basic sunrise/sunset information based on the user’s location, as well as optimal hunting and fishing times.

Running on two AA batteries, the eTrex H can last for up to 17 hours of constant use. A PC connection is possible through a serial port, though Garmin doesn’t provide the required cable with the unit.

The unit is smaller than the Triton series, but has a similarly rugged build. The plastic and rubber case is built to IPX-7 standards, making it water-proof and dust-proof, and the five soft-touch control buttons are built into the rubber sides for extra protection. The control system is much simpler than Magellan’s, with a single 'page' button to switch between the unit’s various functions.

The monochrome LCD will be an immediate deterrent to frequent use for most users. The unit doesn’t actually use maps for navigation. Instead, the eTrex H simply plots a geolocational route, with north as the only reference point. In this sense, the unit is essentially an advanced compass, with GPS data provided as a way of determining speed, position and direction.

Thankfully, the unit is fairly simple to use. Waypoints are easy to mark, with configurable elevation and geolocation data for altering existing waypoints and adding new points for a pre-determined route. Routes are also easily configured using the device, the eTrex H automatically determining distance between listed waypoints for easy navigation.

Even without a base map for guidance, the navigation screen is restricted to either zooming in or zooming out, eliminating any possibility of control and viewing the planned route in any great detail. The highest zoom of 12m viewing radius is adequate for most hiking purposes, but without the ability to see other parts of the route in the same detail, users might have trouble.

A cold start-up took just over a minute — reasonable for a low-end GPS device — and warm start-ups took just 10 seconds. The receiver is WAAS-enabled, allowing accuracy within 12m, which should be accurate enough for use while hiking.

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