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Garmin eTrex Touch 35 Review

The Garmin eTrex Touch 35 introduces a nice touch screen and features to the lightweight eTrex line.
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Price:  $300 List | $169.99 at Amazon
Pros:  Lightest touchscreen, Responsive, Preloaded with Geocaches, Bluetooth connectivity, Intuitive touchscreen controls
Cons:  Minimal base maps, Battery life shorter than some, No preloaded topos,
Manufacturer:   Garmin
By Ethan Newman ⋅ Review Editor  ⋅  Jun 10, 2019
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68
OVERALL
SCORE


RANKED
#6 of 6
  • Reception - 20% 6
  • Ease of Use - 20% 6
  • Display Quality - 20% 7
  • Speed - 15% 6
  • Weight and Size - 15% 9
  • Versatility - 10% 7

Our Verdict

The Garmin eTrex Touch 35 is the high end of the eTrex series, which is the price point series of GPS units. The Touch 35 blends the lightweight and reduced bulk of the other eTrex models with the touch screen responsiveness of the Oregon series and is sort of a bridge between the two. We liked that the screen was large and easy to read for such a small device, and the touch screen is more intuitive than the button control of the other eTrex units. The touch screen and increased capability do eat up battery life and it is hard to type on. While this is a useful little machine, we think that there are better options for touch screen or lightweight units.


Compare to Similar Products

Our Analysis and Test Results

Performance Comparison



Even with the added touch screen and wider display  the eTrex Touch 35 is less than an ounce heavier than the eTrex 20x
Even with the added touch screen and wider display, the eTrex Touch 35 is less than an ounce heavier than the eTrex 20x

Reception


The reception on the eTrex Touch 35 is quite good for its size and lack of large antenna. It's fairly quick and accurate, using both GPS and GLONASS satellite networks to attain a strong signal. However, unlike some of the larger and higher end units, the Touch 35 doesn't utilize the Galileo network, nor does it have a big quad helix antenna, which makes it a little less reliable and slower in heavy tree cover or deep canyons. Still, for what it is, it works pretty well.

We found the base map on the eTrex Touch 35 to be lacking  as it really only shows roads. Topos need to be downloaded separately. This was true for most of the units we tested.
We found the base map on the eTrex Touch 35 to be lacking, as it really only shows roads. Topos need to be downloaded separately. This was true for most of the units we tested.

Ease of Use


With a touch screen added to the simple layout of the eTrex, the Touch 35 is pretty easy to figure out. After powering up, the unit offers a selection of different activities to choose from, which determines the layout offered. When on, the power button doubles as a menu button, and the touch screen otherwise reacts like a smartphone.

However, the size and resolution do make the touch screen use somewhat limited. The screen is about half the size of most modern smartphones, and far less sharp, which can make things like typing a pain. Occasionally the screen is also slow to respond, which results in double tapping or other fudged functions. Touch screens also aren't as useful in harsh conditions, where thick gloves or a wet screen prevent easy usage.

Typing on the eTrex Touch 35  despite the small screen  was a bit easier with the touch screen than having to scroll with a single button like other models.
Typing on the eTrex Touch 35, despite the small screen, was a bit easier with the touch screen than having to scroll with a single button like other models.

Display Quality


The display is 160 x 240 pixels on a three-inch screen, which is about half the display as opposed to a 240 x 400-pixel screen on the Oregon 700. Still, the display is adequate for pretty much any activity and is still quite readable in direct sunlight. The screen dims automatically after several seconds to prolong battery life. We hope that in the future the screen is expanded on the face of the unit, as there are already no buttons taking up any room.


Speed


When using the map after choosing an activity, the eTrex Touch 35 is quite responsive. The heading of the arrow indicating your location changes accordingly, thanks to its electronic compass. The base map redraws when scrolling is also fast and responsive and should be the same with any map downloaded onto the device. Occasionally the buttons were slow, which was annoying, but the basic functions worked well.

The power button doubles as a menu button on the eTrex Touch 35  and the menu was fairly easy to navigate.
The power button doubles as a menu button on the eTrex Touch 35, and the menu was fairly easy to navigate.

Weight and Size


At 5.7 ounces, the Touch 35 is the heaviest of the eTrex series, but a far cry lighter than most of the other devices, and certainly the lightest touch screen. It's about the same length as the other eTrex units, just a bit wider and thicker. It still fits nicely into the palm and is easy to manipulate the screen with a thumb while holding it in the same hand. Perhaps the Touch 35 isn't the most ultralight of units, but if you're carrying a GPS, are you really going ultralight?

The eTrex Touch 35 was easy enough to throw in a pocket whenever we were going out  and nice to have as long as the weather was good. Touch screens don't work great in the rain we found out.
The eTrex Touch 35 was easy enough to throw in a pocket whenever we were going out, and nice to have as long as the weather was good. Touch screens don't work great in the rain we found out.

Versatility


For the average user, the Touch 35 is a fairly versatile device. It's technologically capable enough to do things like connect to smartphones, share directly from one device to another (provided compatibility), and be a remote for compatible Garmin VIRB cameras. The preset profiles are nice and allow you to select a number of different activity setups from the get-go. It's not as capable as something like the Montana or GPSMAP series, but it can store twice as many waypoints as the other eTrex models.

The eTrex Touch 35 upon turning on presents a number of different activity profiles to get you started quickly.
The eTrex Touch 35 upon turning on presents a number of different activity profiles to get you started quickly.

Best Applications


The eTrex Touch 35 is suited for most outdoor activities; hiking, mountain biking, fishing, etc, but it is probably best suited for geocaching. With the 250,000 preloaded geocaches on this small device, it's set up for getting your scavenger hunt on right out of the box. The touch screen prevents it from being as useful in wet or really cold environments.

Value


While it is a useful little unit, $299 is a bit steep for something that tries to bridge two different unit styles. If you like the simplicity of the eTrex series, an eTrex 20x is $100 cheaper. If you like the touch screen, it is on the cheaper side, but we don't think that a touch screen is worth the extra $50-100 for an otherwise simpler unit.

Conclusion


While this is a useful little unit and the highest end of the eTrex series, we aren't sure that the touch screen adds much to the otherwise compact eTrex model beyond price. We think that it does work well, and the compass and barometric sensors are nice additions to the lightweight package. This is a bridge model, incorporating the small size of the eTrex line with the higher functionality of the Oregon 700 or Montana 680. However, we think that most users would slide one way or the other on the lightweight to highly capable spectrum, and this device falls in the middle.

The eTrex Touch 35 packs a lot into a little package  but if you want a touch screen or something lightweight  we think there are better options.
The eTrex Touch 35 packs a lot into a little package, but if you want a touch screen or something lightweight, we think there are better options.


Ethan Newman