Hands-on Gear Review

Garmin eTrex 20x Review

Garmin eTrex 20x
Best Buy Award
Price:  $200 List | $151.47 at Amazon
Compare prices at 3 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.
Bottom line:  This economic unit offers basic functionality for a bargain.
Editors' Rating:   
  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5
Battery Life (hours):  25
No. of Waypoints:  2,000
Saved Tracks / Points per Track:  200 / 20,000
Manufacturer:   Garmin

Our Verdict

If you've been in the market for an inexpensive handheld GPS with fantastic value, the eTrex 20x may be a perfect fit. Featured as our Best Buy award winner, this unit weighs only 5.1 oz and is affordable at $200. Enjoy 25 hours of battery life, a large internal memory (3.7 GB) and all the basic functions of a handheld GPS unit. This unit can hold up to 2,000 waypoints and 200 routes. It comes with a basic base map with the option to upload topo maps. We are also very impressed with the accuracy of this device. It utilizes both GPS and GLONASS satellite networks (with WAAS compatibility) for accuracy up to nine feet in open areas.

This simple handheld GPS is perfect for navigating through the backcountry. It does lack some features that the higher performing models do, such as wireless share technology, electronic compass, and barometric altimeter. The Garmin Montana 680 provides a larger, easier to see screen.

Looking to Upgrade?
If you love the eTrex 20x but want a little more out of your Garmin, consider the Garmin eTrex 30x. This version of the eTrex comes with enhanced screen resolution and more internal memory storage for increased map holding capabilities.



RELATED REVIEW: The Best Handheld GPS Review

Our Analysis and Test Results

Review by:
Amber King
Senior Review Editor

Last Updated:
Friday
January 15, 2016

Share:

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


The eTrex 20x is fast to find a signal in both covered and wide open areas. With the option to utilize both GLONASS and GPS networks, this device is able to quickly lock onto a position within nine feet of accuracy in open spaces. However, reception can suffer in covered terrain (such as a stand of trees).

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.

The exterior of the device is equipped with a simple toggle that serves as a button for direction and entering. On the right are two buttons. One is a "back" button while the other is the backlight. On the left are three buttons. One for quick menu access, and the other two for zoom in/out. This device is not equipped with a touchscreen, which makes it a great option for those who prefer buttoned devices.

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 others 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


Of all the units tested, the eTrex 20x sports one of the smallest screens. The 2.2-inch transflective display does surprisingly well in high and low light conditions.

Even though the display is small, the font on the device is large enough to see. There are larger screens out there though if that's what you're looking for.

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 the side of a pant 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


We truly loved the simplicity and versatility of this unit. Even though it does not have the barometric altimeter, wireless sharing options, and electronic compass provided by the Garmin eTrex 30x, we were impressed with how easy it was to pack with us while skiing, mountaineering, backpacking, and fishing.

It is water resistant, doesn't lock up in cold weather, features a battery life of 25 hours, and is super lightweight. When performing our glove tests, we learned it was one of the easiest to use with very thick gloves. The simple toggle works as both a directional and enter button. Even though it took a little longer, all waypoints taken were marked and labeled accurately.

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!

Even though this is an extremely versatile and reliable unit, it comes with limitations. It does not have an electronic compass or barometric altimeter. This means altitude readings may not be as accurate. It also lacks fancy features like a camera or video recorder. But all in all, this is a great unit with many applications.

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 Uses


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. 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. Our Best Buy award winner is reliable and awesome. Need we say more?

Amber King


You Might Also Like

OutdoorGearLab Member Reviews


Most recent review: April 27, 2016
Summary of All Ratings

OutdoorGearLab Editors' Rating:  
  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5
 (4.0)
Average Customer Rating:  
 (0.0)
Rating Distribution
1 Total Ratings
5 star: 0%  (0)
4 star: 100%  (1)
3 star: 0%  (0)
2 star: 0%  (0)
1 star: 0%  (0)
Climber

Apr 27, 2016 - 03:27am
 
Jon Beck · Climber · OCEANSIDE

I swear by the Garmin 20x. Battery life is amazing, multiple days on a trip. I like that I can customize the display for the info I want to see all on one screen. If you minimize use of the back light you will get more life out of your batteries. I turn the backlight all the way down until sunset.




Have you used this product?
Don't hold back. Share your viewpoint by posting a review with your thoughts...