The world's most in-depth and scientific reviews of outdoor gear

Garmin eTrex 20x Review

This economic unit offers basic functionality for a bargain.
Garmin eTrex 20x
Best Buy Award
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Price:  $200 List | $147.07 at Amazon
Compare prices at 2 resellers
Pros:  Inexpensive, lightweight, easy to use, great screen quality, long battery life, reliable push buttons.
Cons:  No electronic compass, basemap is very limited, small screen, owner's manual lacks detail.
Manufacturer:   Garmin
By Amber King ⋅ Senior Review Editor  ⋅  Jan 15, 2016
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73
OVERALL
SCORE


RANKED
#6 of 7
  • Reception - 20% 6
  • Ease of Use - 20% 8
  • Display Quality - 20% 7
  • Speed - 15% 6
  • Weight and Size - 15% 10
  • Versatility - 10% 7

Our Verdict

If you want a solid, GPS without the bells and whistles that drive the price up, look no further than the Gamin eTrex 20x. Despite only being 5.1 ounces, and $200, this device packs 3.7 GB of memory, and hold up to 2,00 waypoints and 200 routes. It comes with a basic base map like all Garmin units, but it has the option to upload more detailed topo maps. The eTrex 20x is light, fast, accurate, and with 25 hours of battery life, it won our Best Buy Award. If you want an inexpensive GPS unit that packs a lot into a little, we think this is an excellent choice.


Compare to Similar Products

 
Garmin eTrex 20x
This Product
Garmin eTrex 20x
Awards Best Buy Award Editors' Choice Award Top Pick Award  Top Pick Award 
Price $147.07 at Amazon
Compare at 2 sellers
$449.99 at Amazon
Compare at 2 sellers
$254.99 at Amazon$289.99 at Amazon$449.99 at Backcountry
Compare at 3 sellers
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Pros Inexpensive, lightweight, easy to use, great screen quality, long battery life, reliable push buttons.Excellent reception, large buttons, big screen, smart notifications and connectivity.Fantastic reception through thick coverage, affordable, large buttons, share wirelessly features, smart notifications (connect to your smartphone)Smartphone-like touch screen, solid reception, activity specific profiles, wireless messaging and communication, tons of waypoint storageEasy and affordable two-way messaging, great smartphone app, feature loaded, proven global network
Cons No electronic compass, basemap is very limited, small screen, owner's manual lacks detail.Expensive, bulky, complicated connectivity between devices.Weak basemap, larger size, non-rechargeable batteriesMore waypoint storage and features than most need, battery hungry, hard to use with glove, can freeze up in coldExpensive initial purchase, largest and heaviest messenger
Bottom Line This economic unit offers basic functionality for a bargain.A reliable and accurate GPS unit chock full of features.This is your best bet for four-season reliability when it's too dirty or cold out to take off your gloves.Straightforward function meets glitzy features in a unit that's great for a range of activity in reasonable weather conditions.Fully featured and arguably more reliable even than commonly available satellite phones.
Rating Categories Garmin eTrex 20x Garmin GPSMAP 66st Garmin GPS MAP 64s Garmin Oregon 700 Garmin inReach Explorer+
Reception (20%)
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6
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Ease Of Use (20%)
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Display Quality (20%)
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6
Speed (15%)
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Weight And Size (15%)
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9
Specs Garmin eTrex 20x Garmin GPSMAP 66st Garmin GPS MAP 64s Garmin Oregon 700 Garmin inReach...
Battery Life (hours) 25 16 16 75
No. of Waypoints 2,000 10,000 5,000 (250,000) preloaded geocaches) 500
Saved Tracks / Points per Track 200 / 20,000 250 / 20,000 200 / 10,000 20 / 500
Preloaded Maps Simple Basemap US and Canada Simple Basemap 1:25k U.S. and Canada
Dimensions (in.) 2.1 x 4.0 x 1.3 2.5 x 6.4 x 1.4 2.4 x 6.3 x 1.4 2.7 x 1.5 x 6.5
Weight w/ Batteries (oz.) 5.1 8 7.6 6.8 7.5
Display Size (in.) 1.4 x 1.7 1.5 x 2.5 1.43 x 2.15 1.4 x 1.9
Display Resolution (pixels) 240 x 320 240 x 400 160 x 240 200 x 265
Built-in Memory 3.7 GB 16 GB 4 GB 2 GB
Accepts Data Cards microSD microSD microSD No
Touchsceen or buttons? Buttons Buttons Buttons Buttons
Electronic or Differential Compass? Differential Electronic Electronic Electronic
Barometric Altimeter No Yes Yes Yes
Wireless Communication? No Yes Yes Yes
Satellite Systems Used (GPS, GLONASS) Wide Augmentation System Present (WAAS)? All All All All
Ability to add maps? Yes Yes Yes Yes
Automatic Routing Yes Yes Yes Yes
Vertical Profiling Yes Yes Yes Yes
Camera/Video No No No No
Photo Viewer Yes Yes Yes No
Geocaching (paperless) Yes Yes Yes No
Hunt/Fish Calendar No Yes Yes No
Sun and Moon Information Yes Yes Yes Yes
Area Calculator Yes Yes Yes Yes
Battery Information 2 AA Batteries 2 AA Batteries 2 AA batteries Rechargeable lithium ion
Online Connect Communities No Garmin Connect Garmin Connect Garmin Earthmate
Screen Info transflective, 65K color TFT transflective color TFT transflective, 65-K color TFT, transflective transflective, color TFT
Interface Information USB high-speed USB and NMEA 0183 USB, NMEA 0183 compatible USB
What Comes in the Box? USB cable, documentation, bird's eye sattelite imagery, carabiner clip -1 year BirdsEye satellite imagery w/ international coverage
-USB data cable
-Carabineer clip
-Documentation
-inReach Explorer+
-Preloaded with TOPO
-USB cable
-Carabiner clip
-Documentation

Our Analysis and Test Results

The Garmin eTrex 20x won our Best Buy award and stands out as a light and affordable handheld GPS.

Performance Comparison


Chris is looking to find a powder stash he found a while back. The eTrex 20x tracks where he's been and where to go next.
Chris is looking to find a powder stash he found a while back. The eTrex 20x tracks where he's been and where to go next.

Reception


For how light it is, this thing is darn zippy when it comes to finding a signal in both open and covered areas. It was a little slower than some of the higher end units, like the GPSMAP 66st, especially coming out of a slot canyon, but still performed adequately. Like most of the Garmin units, the eTrex 20x uses both GPS and GLONASS networks to lock onto a signal. It was pretty accurate but in more covered areas, it did suffer a bit.

We also performed navigation tests to better determine the accuracy of the units. We flagged out an area and marked a waypoint. We then walked away and had the device navigate us back. All devices navigated us back within 40 to 98 inches of our original waypoint. The eTrex 20x navigated within 85 inches of the original position. Overall, the device is fast to attain a signal, but not as accurate as higher performing devices.

Dan (our main tester) marks a way point as a storm begins to roll in.
Dan (our main tester) marks a way point as a storm begins to roll in.

Ease of Use


The simplicity of this Best Buy winner is what we fell in love with. This device does not support fancy wireless sharing options, an electronic compass, or barometric altimeter, but it is quite easy to use. It's a no-nonsense GPS unit for basic map and orienteering functions.

Unlike the similar eTrex Touch 35, the eTrex 20x doesn't have a touchscreen. Instead, the face of the device has a toggle that works for both scrolling and selecting, as well as scrolling buttons and a menu button on the left side, and a back button and light/power button on the right. Without a touch screen, this allows better cold weather use, both because of the buttons, and simpler controls reducing battery use.

The eTrex 20x has six buttons in total. On the left there are three - one for quick access to the menu  and the other two to zoom in/out. On the right is a button for quick access to the back light and to go back. The main push button on the front functions as the cursor directional and enter. All are simple and easy to use - especially when wearing a pair of gloves.
The eTrex 20x has six buttons in total. On the left there are three - one for quick access to the menu, and the other two to zoom in/out. On the right is a button for quick access to the back light and to go back. The main push button on the front functions as the cursor directional and enter. All are simple and easy to use - especially when wearing a pair of gloves.

This device has a similar menu layout to other Garmin devices. Its simple features make the menu easy to navigate. One big downside of the unit (and consistent with most of the Garmin GPS units tested) is the base map.

The menu layout is simple  icon-based  and easy to use.
The menu layout is simple, icon-based, and easy to use.

We could not fully rely on this map to navigate from point to point as it only really contains road (not trail) information. It would be helpful to download maps from other sources like GPS File Depot to supplement your navigation. A 25K topo map for trails is a perfect size for navigating all kinds of terrain features. We liked the quick access to change the battery. The back cover features a simple turn gate screw that is very easy to take on and off.

The back cover comes off easily with a turn of the screw. This makes it quick and easy to change out batteries in all sorts of conditions. There is also a girth-hitch point at the base of the unit if you prefer to have it attached to a lanyard.
The back cover comes off easily with a turn of the screw. This makes it quick and easy to change out batteries in all sorts of conditions. There is also a girth-hitch point at the base of the unit if you prefer to have it attached to a lanyard.

Display Quality


The eTrex 20x is the smallest device we tested and therefore has the smallest screen at 2.2 inches. Still, the backlight is easy to adjust and makes it easy to read in direct sunlight, and dim enough to not blind us at night.

We found it to be readable, but if you want a bigger screen, a touchscreen eTrex model might be for you, or even the Oregon 700 or Montana 680, but you will end up spending more.

The Garmin eTrex 20x and Garmin GPSMAPS 64s are made from similar durable materials and do well in both high and low light conditions. GPS Units are beloved for their durability  battery life  and great reception.
The Garmin eTrex 20x and Garmin GPSMAPS 64s are made from similar durable materials and do well in both high and low light conditions. GPS Units are beloved for their durability, battery life, and great reception.

Speed


What we really loved about this device is how quickly it was able to pick up a new location. Even though the signal wasn't as accurate as other devices it was one of the fastest. Its processing speed was average when compared to higher performing devices.

In terms of draw and redraw capabilities, the device was surprisingly quick for its small size. Like many of the devices in this review, there was a quick pause between view zoom in and zoom outs. We also noticed that there was a bit of a lag when tracking a route. Entering waypoint information is also a slow process. This is because you have to select each letter with a toggle and hit enter before moving to the next letter.

Here we show the units keyboard. It takes a little longer to enter a way point as the toggle is used to select letters to form words and descriptions. If you prefer a faster unit  check out touchscreen options.
Here we show the units keyboard. It takes a little longer to enter a way point as the toggle is used to select letters to form words and descriptions. If you prefer a faster unit, check out touchscreen options.

Weight and Size


Weighing only 5.1 oz, this GPS is perfect for stashing away on long lightweight adventures. The unit is small enough to fit into a breast pocket or pant pocket for easy access. It also provides a point to girth hitch a lanyard if you choose to wear it around your neck.

Here we compare all units. From left to right: Garmin eTrex 20x  Garmin Montana 680  Garmin GPSMAPS 64s  Magellan eXplorist 510  Garmin Oregon 600  DeLorme PN-60. The eTrex 20x is our smallest and lightest unit.
Here we compare all units. From left to right: Garmin eTrex 20x, Garmin Montana 680, Garmin GPSMAPS 64s, Magellan eXplorist 510, Garmin Oregon 600, DeLorme PN-60. The eTrex 20x is our smallest and lightest unit.

Versatility


While a lot of the other units have all sorts of other things tacked on, as far as GPS functions go, this unit pretty much covers it. It doesn't have many (or really any) bells and whistles, but most of the other things can be covered with a smartphone, which we were usually carrying anyways. We would have liked a barometric altimeter and electronic compass, but even so, we found it quite useful.

Need a unit that works with varying glove thickness'? No problem - the eTrex 20x proved to be perfect for just that!
Need a unit that works with varying glove thickness'? No problem - the eTrex 20x proved to be perfect for just that!

Because it's so small, light, and durable, we found it really easy to toss into a pocket and take it with us skiing, biking, hiking, and fishing. The controls are easy, the batteries last for longer than the other units, and we could easily use it when it was wet, cold, or dark out. Some of the functions, like typing, take a little bit longer, and the lack of a barometric altimeter make some of the altitude readings less accurate, but all in all, we really think this device could be used almost anywhere.

This unit features a differential compass. Unlike a electronic compass you need to move in order to determine direction.
This unit features a differential compass. Unlike a electronic compass you need to move in order to determine direction.

Best Applications


You can use this device for any adventure. This is attributed to its small dimensions, 25-hour battery life, and crisp display quality. We also think this is one of the best winter devices tested. The buttoned setup makes marking a waypoint with thin or thick gloves accurate and easy. We would highly recommend downloading topo maps specific to your adventure before leaving, to make it a bit more useful as a stand-alone. Feel free to bring it with you on any or all adventures — especially long ones.

Planning a long adventure where you need to go light? This unit is perfect for those expeditions.
Planning a long adventure where you need to go light? This unit is perfect for those expeditions.

Value


A sticker price of $199.99 is pretty darn sweet. It carries out the same functions as any mid-performing GPS handheld with the luxury of a small and compact size.

Lightweight  reliable  and inexpensive. Take home our Best Buy award winner - you won't be disappointed.
Lightweight, reliable, and inexpensive. Take home our Best Buy award winner - you won't be disappointed.

The battery lasts 25 hours with a 3.7 GB internal memory. You can upload topo maps and utilize basecamp software to track and analyze routes. With such a low price point and so many features, this is a steal of a deal.

When purchasing the Garmin eTrex 20x  you are provided with the unit  a usb cable  and users manual. Batteries are not included.
When purchasing the Garmin eTrex 20x, you are provided with the unit, a usb cable, and users manual. Batteries are not included.

Conclusion


The Garmin eTrex 20x is lightweight, simple, and inexpensive. The batteries last forever, even in cold, and especially if you throw two lithium batteries in the unit. You can use it when wet, cold, and even when trying to go ultralight. Our Best Buy award winner is reliable and awesome, and useful pairing with a smartphone, especially when conditions make using a smartphone tricky. Need we say more?


Amber King