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on 29 March 2016
I have used this for 4 years now when in conducting geological fieldwork in the UK, Spain, France, Greece, Russia, Norway, Arctic, Saudi Arabia, Australia and more. I have had no problems whatsoever when in all weather conditions, and this is a truly great product. The GPS measurements are very accurate, and it is possible to add expandable memory also. When in remote and barren areas, this is essential when marking out areas which you have been and safe paths which you have created. This is a must buy for any geologist who goes on frequent fieldwork. Both GPS and Glonass satellites are used, ensuring the maximum liklihood of getting a location connection.
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on 8 July 2014
As a complete novice I read a lot of reviews on the eTrex 30 before buying. I noted the remarks from quite a few people that the compass was hard to calibrate and didn't work very well. I went ahead and purchased one anyway and have not been disappointed. The unit is sturdy easy to use and as for the compass simple to set and works every time. If you are holding off buying because of the negative comments about the compass don't because if you follow the simple set up procedure you should have no problems. I also purchased maps from 'talkytoaster' on line and use the unit as a satnav when walking and on my bike.
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on 27 June 2015
Works fine but you need to buy a map, talky toasters maps work well
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on 18 October 2013
This was a replacement for my Garmin Venture HC. Tremendous improvement in the battery life, the sensitivity and options of the device. All of which in a slightly smaller device. Only one slight drawback a poor manual
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on 1 August 2015
It works.
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on 5 June 2014
Garmin eTrex 30 for Walkers and Trekkers - What does it actually do and how does it do it?

The eTrex 30 is a hand held GPS device which may be used by walker/trekkers, drivers, cyclists and on board boats.

I am an avid walker and walk routes that I have either found in books or downloaded from the internet. However, I have found on many occasions that instructions and maps found in this way are not always accurate or may be a little vague. Nothing is worse during a walk than getting lost or simply not knowing where you are. I wanted a device that could assist me during my walks and to enable me to ensure my walk is more enjoyable. Additionally, I wanted to know exactly where I had been, how far I had walked and other statistical information. I also saw on walking web sites that you could download GPX files: I assumed these were walking routes that you could load onto the eTrex but wasn't really sure. Geocaching interested me also.

I looked at the Garmin web site and quite frankly it didn't really help me. Also, I couldn't find anything elsewhere on the internet that would give me a good overview of what the eTrex 30 did, and how it did it. I thought the eTrex was what I wanted but wasn't quite sure. However, I took a gamble and bought the eTrex 30 and I couldn't be happier!

This document provides a general overview of what the eTrex 30 actually does for walker/trekkers and how it does it.

The eTrex 30 at a glance:
1. Tracks and records your route - you can save this and download to your computer. It is saved as a GPX file.
2. You can view your walked route on a map. This is constantly updated as you are walking.
3. Provides walking statistics such as walking speed, average walking speed, walking time, stopped time, distance walked, altitude etc.
4. Load downloaded GPX files onto the eTrex from web sites for Walking Routes or Geocaches.
5. Has a compass. Please note that the Compass on the eTrex 30 is a "real" compass whereas the compass on the eTrex 10 and 20 only works whilst you are moving.
6. Comes with basic but useable base maps for the UK and Ireland.
7. You can purchase other more detailed maps such as Ordnance Survey 1:25000 and 1:50000 maps or use Garmin Birdseye maps. These have various costs. Additionally there are some free open source maps available for the more IT literate of you out there!
8. Connects to your PC to use with the Garmin Basecamp software. Basecamp allows you to create and save your own routes and then copy them onto your eTrex.
9. Mark a location as a "Waypoint".
10. Save a Waypoint location on your eTrex so that you can navigate to it later.
11. Has a colour LCD that can be seen in bright sunlight.
12. Waterproof
13. Batteries can last up to 25 hours.
14. May be used for Geocaching but be aware that there is a caveat that I will come to later.

The eTrex 30 in a little more detail:
1. Compass - the eTrex 30 has a compass, what more can I say?! It is a 3-axis tilt-compensated electronic compass, which shows your heading even when you're standing still, without holding it level.
2. "Trip Computer" - constantly updates and displays elevation, odometer (walked distance), current speed, maximum speed walked so far, moving time, moving average, stopped time and overall average speed.
3. Maps: Pre-loaded with TOPO UK & Ireland light and worldwide base map. This is basic but very useable. When you see the cost of other maps such as Birdseye and Ordnance Survey I am sure you will be able to use the pre-installed TOPO maps, certainly to begin with. If you find over time you want more detail and more information then you are going to have to take the plunge and spend some more money. Birdseye Select GB: This can be very expensive however you can download very small areas for free, but you every time you download a free section, you lose the last you downloaded. This is OK if you only want to use it for one route every now and again but if you are going away for a holiday and want to create several routes using Birdseye maps (and display them on your eTrex) you will not be able to for free and therefore you will have to use the free TOPO maps or purchase an Ordnance Survey map. Garmin GB Discoverer Ordnance Survey 1:50000 - available for around £135 from some online retailers. Expensive but identical to the paper versions.
4. Track Manager: Records your route taken. You can save your route and download to your PC to save and/or share.
5. Create A Route: The easiest way is to connect your eTrex to your PC and use the Basecamp Software. The best way I have found is to create a "Track", then convert it to a Route and download to your eTrex.
6. Download and use GPX files. GPX files are routes created by other users. You can download them, connect your eTrex to your PC and copy the route to your Garmin. Then get in your car, go to the start point, select your route and away you go!
7. Mark Waypoints: What is a Waypoint? A waypoint is simply a location, usually using standard longitude and latitude. You can tap this into your eTrex and then navigate there.
8. Geocaching: What is a Geocaching? It is like a treasure hunt. Fellow geocachers will hide a "cache" which may be very small and almost unnoticeable or sometimes very easy to find. It will usually contain a logbook to record your visit. Sometimes it will contain little artifacts or toys or badges etc and sometimes they will contain trackable items which geocachers are supposed to remove and place in a different geocache - these are trackable via the website and can travel all around the world! You can hide your own geocaches and log them on the website for others to find. It's is actually great fun once you get involved.
9. Where do I find Geocaches? The best place to look is on the geocaching dot com web site. You must register. If you have a paid subscription (£25 per year) you can download GPX files and copy them onto you eTrex. You can then view all the Cache information on your eTrex and use it to navigate to the precise location of the cache.
10. How do I use my eTrex to locate a Geocache? If you have a pad subscription at the Geocaching web site please see above. Otherwise you will have to make a note of the longitude and latitude information and manually type it into your eTrex - you can then locate your geocache and log your visit on the web site when you return home. If you have a smartphone you can use this without subscribing as long as you have an app - the best for Android is "c:geo", however, not all caches are available to you but there are still millions to find this way! The problem with this however is that you really need a data connection and that can be expensive, especially outside of your home country. Using your smartphone is a free way of geocaching and if you find you enjoy it, it is best to subscribe and then use your eTrex.

I hope this answers any questions about the capabilities of the eTrex 30. There is much, much more that the device can do. This review is only written from a walker/trekkers perspective. Buy one and have fun.
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on 31 December 2015
I did overpaid and there is now good map. '
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on 16 March 2012
The 2 star review is so wrong - the reviewer obviously did not check out first what he was actually buying.

The eTrex 30 is a very sophisticated piece of kit - incredibly quick to locate your position and very accurate (it can tell if you are on one side of a road or the other and the isosceles triangle icon on the screen not only shows your location but also the direction you are facing). The features and menu options are also very intuitive and the buttons and "toggle / joy-stick" are very easy to operate - you can do eveything with your thumb, even when wearing mits.
The features such as the "trip meter" are brilliant (even tells you how long to sunset) and loading routes to and from your computer is a doddle.It has a three dimensional compass that very few GPS have - which means it works even when you are standing still (this is the only difference from the slightly cheaper eTrex 20). The altimeter is also very accurate. Phone apps are no-way comparable to what this piece of kit can do (also, using your phone as a GPS will run the battery down very quickly).

Two AA batteries do last the 25 hours advertised - Iam getting three days walking out of them.

I bought it so that I could download 1:2500 maps of specific areas as I need them. Two problems with this: 1) It works out very expensive (e,g. Lake District = £100) and 2) as the 2* reviewer says the "base map" on "BirdsEye" is so poor that you can not accurately identify the area that you you are purchasing - which means that you can make expensive mistakes. This is a pity as the "purchase only what you need" feature is supposed to be a big selling point - I have been told that my email complaining about this has been passed on to the boffins at Garmin.

Given the above, and the small screen size, I would advise purchasing the SD card of the 1:50,000 OS Map for the whole of the UK - this will add another £200 to the purchase price so you need to take this in to account when comparing with other products (although,if you see other reviews and comments for Etrex 20 and 30,there is advice on downloading maps for free).

The ETrex 30 is a sophisticated but easy piece of kit to use, it is nice and compact and durable for walking and running. However, if you need a larger screen (e.g. for the handlebars of a bike)I would go for the less sophisticated, older technology, but larger screened SatMap Active 10.(It is only because of the screen size that I do not give it 5 stars - but there has to be compromises!?)

Update (March 2014): It is now two years since I wrote the above review. My Etrex is still going strong and I still love it - and have relied on it in bad weather on a few occasions. The fact that the price is now down to £168 and the 1:50 map for whole of GB on micro SD card is now £137 (not withstanding comments that can get downloads for free)is , in my opinion, excellent value for money (I paid £230 for the Etrex when it first came out and remember the original - yellow - Etrex, which only provided a grid reference and a few "tracks" and no mapping capability, was around £120 over 15 years ago!
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on 24 June 2012
I have bought Garmin units for years, both in car and handheld units like this.
The new Etrex is a very nice unit. The display is better than the old Etrex, battery life is better and overall its smaller. The menu system is different and takes a few extra clicks to get to the screen you want, but overall it is a worthy upgrade from my Vista CX.
The only thing I don't like is that the joystick is now the other side of the screen, making left handed / left thumbed operation difficult. You either cover the screen when using the joystick or learn to use it in your right hand.

Now, all Garmins in-car units have superb mapping, far better than the competition. So, why are the base maps supplied in handheld units such utter rubbish? Unless you are happy walking looking at a blank screen, you are going have to dig deep in your pockets and buy some sort of mapping to install.

You have a choice. Birds Eye maps look a great idea, but the area you get for £20 or so is tiny. 600SqKm sounds big, but it isn't. And, be very careful when you do order Birds Eye maps because if you don't download and buy exactly what you want first time, your stuck with it. I know! They are also quite poor to look at on screen. Not nice and sharp, but a bit blurry. I kept expecting the image to snap into focus, but it doesn't.
Then you have Garmins TOPO maps, which are good, but expensive and the Discoverer range is again good, but expensive.

But, there is another option. OpenStreetMap. Its free, routable, and is similar to Garmins TOPO maps. Search for them and download one to a micro sd card. I have the whole of GB on a 2gb card.

So, now there is no excuse not to get a nice shiny garmin handheld and when you do, you won't be stuck with inferior built in maps or expensive add ons.
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on 11 October 2013
I bought an eTrex 30 after my venerable Garmin GPS 12XL was stolen and I needed a replacement. The eTrex 30 is a good, well designed machine and is pretty much ideal for its intended purpose which is mainly for walking and outdoor pursuits. I would also say that it is suitable for normal military use. It is a handy size, tough, waterproof, and has a great display which is readable in all pretty much all lighting conditions, even in bright sunlight. It is very accurate being able to use both GPS and GLONASS satellite systems. It finds satellites quickly and is ready to navigate within 30 seconds to a minute of being switched on. Battery life is good and the built-in software fit for purpose, although it takes a few hours of playing with it to become familiar. Regular Garmin software updates are easily installed using a PC with USB connection and the Garmin software obtainable from their web site.

There is a built-in compass although a lot of users seem to have had problems with it. As supplied, my unit did not calibrate properly and my attempts to recalibrate were met with a "fail" message. Even so, the compass still worked and was reasonably accurate when checked against my Francis Barker M73 prismatic compass (which does not lie). Recent software updates have eradicated the calibration failure although I have yet to test the durability of the compass over an extended period. In fact, I may never do so. Whilst it is nice to have a compass available on the GPS, the compass is not its main function and with a Francis Barker compass available (or any other decent compass) , why would I rely upon a battery-driven electronic device which may or may not be accurate? Any serious military user, walker or out-door type will always have a good compass with them.

The eTrex 30 can be used for car navigation, although this not its main purpose and anybody looking for a car navigation system should really look at dedicated car units or smart-phone software with touch-screen entry. The eTrex 30 cannot compete with the ease of use of dedicated car navigation systems, any more than they can compete with the eTrex for serious outdoor use.

So, given that it is such a good piece of equipment, why just three stars? Well, the built-in map is poor and arguably worse than useless. I have not checked them all, but I believe that the towns and cities shown on the map may be in the right places. However, the roads that join them together are not. According to the map, my house has a main road passing very close to it. In fact, there is no main road anywhere near and looking further afield the road network elsewhere fares little better. Garmin should be ashamed to have put this map on a machine of this quality. It is not up to their normal standards and this is the only reason I have not given the eTrex 30 five stars.

Happily, it is possible to put things right by downloading the free open-source maps available on-line from the likes of Talkie Toaster. With these maps loaded the eTrex 30 provides a superbly accurate and usable mapping system.

I have not used the Garmin mapping from the Ordnance Survey. It looks good but is far too expensive and, according to reviews, may not be up to the standard of the open-source maps freely available from the web.

If you are a walker, soldier or dedicated out-door activities type, the eTrex 30 is definitely worth a look.
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