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GPS: Garmin Etrex 30 or 62s?
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Gerald Magnes

Locale: Upstate NY
GPS: Garmin Etrex 30 or 62s? on 05/06/2013 11:35:09 MDT Print View

I'm considering buying a GPS and wondered if folks have recommendations. I'm considering one of the two noted in the subject line, although could be persuaded otherwise by a good reasoning. I do hiking and wilderness paddling. I'd use it as:
--a backup to map/compass navigation,
--when a trail is lost,
--not sure how far you are on a particular trail from target point,
--occasional double check (where are we? are you sure? did we miss that trail junction?),
--just fooling around, etc.

In the past, with a very old Etrex, I would mark way points on National Geographic's Topo! map before leaving for the trip, download the waypoints to my gps, and when needed, check my position in relation to the nearest point or even just in relation to the grid on the map. I'd like to be able to do the same now.

I do most of my wilderness activities in the Adirondacks. For hikes, there's often a heavy foliage canopy. On the water of course, it's pretty clear. I do some multi day trips, so battery life is a concern. I'd prefer not to spend the extra $100 or so dollars for the 62s if there's nothing special to recommend it over and above what I've noted below.

From what I can see from what I've read, the main differences between the two are:
**Etrex can access Glonass??- the Russian sat system--supposed to be more accurate
**Etrex has slightly smaller screen/ Etrex is smaller and weighs about 4 ozs. less
**62s has more buttons/ some say it's a little easier to navigate through the menus
**Etrex has somewhat longer battery life
**Have seen contradictory info on how fast/slow either works
**Even with the 'bigger' antenna on the 62s, I'm not sure how much difference it'll make. Solid and prompt readings under canopy is a concern.

Would appreciate whatever wisdom folks have to offer.


Bob Gross
(--B.G.--) - F

Locale: Silicon Valley
Re: GPS: Garmin Etrex 30 or 62s? on 05/06/2013 12:00:10 MDT Print View

"**Etrex can access Glonass??- the Russian sat system--supposed to be more accurate"

I wouldn't put too much faith in that.

Which side are you going to take in the event of World War III ?


Gerald Magnes

Locale: Upstate NY
--Etrex 30 or 62s--WW III on 05/06/2013 13:57:54 MDT Print View

Chances are I won't be backpacking or kayaking if WW III breaks out.

Adam Rothermich
(aroth87) - F

Locale: Missouri Ozarks
Re: GPS: Garmin Etrex 30 or 62s? on 05/06/2013 14:33:03 MDT Print View

We've got lots of tree cover here in the Ozarks and I haven't had problems with my eTrex 20 losing signal. In fact the only time its lost a signal is in the elevator at work. I was also debating eTrex vs GPSMAP 62-series and for my needs settled on the eTrex 20. Sometimes I wish the screen was bigger but you can zoom in pretty close with the GPSfiledpot maps I've got. I think the only thing I gave up from the eTrex 30 was the barometric altimeter and electronic compass. I don't dive into the menus much, the only things I really do are mark good campsites, view the elevation graph, and zoom around to look for water sources. I can't really compare the two since I only played with a GPSMAP for a few minutes in the store but the only real bummer with the eTrex is that the map can be slow to reload if you're scrolling around. Sometimes it takes a second or two to refresh the screen if you zoom way in or out or scroll over fast. I've been happy with the battery life though. My normal routine is to turn it off during lunch and once I get to camp and it will last a whole weekend without worry. It normally rides in my pants pocket and while the button almost always gets bumped it only moves the cursor and one button click centers it back up. Speaking of which, some people seem to hate the joystick. It works fine for me, I can hold the device and operate all the buttons and the joystick with just my right hand. For me the extra features on the GPSMAP weren't worth the extra weight and price.


Anton Solovyev
(solovam) - F

Locale: Colorado, Utah
Re: GPS: Garmin Etrex 30 or 62s? on 05/06/2013 14:36:58 MDT Print View

I used to have Etrex Vista HCx and now have Etrex 20. I think 62s is a much older unit from a different product line. You can find some comparisons on specialized GPS forums, but as far as I remember the conclusion was that 62s/76-whatever and Etrex series were pretty equivalent in reception and other things.

Etrex 20 on lithium batteries lasts me about 3 hiking days in always on mode. Reception of this (and previous) generation is very good. I often don't lose track even in a slot canyon. Losing satellites have not been an issue for me since pre- pre- current generation of Garmins. Etrex 20/30 is probably quite a bit smaller and lighter than the other one. The buttons are reasonably intuitive, although the old menu system in Etrex ("pages") was better that the current one ("tree like menu"), in my opinion.

I would not worry about GLONASS. I doubt it will ever be really usable. GPS is quite sufficient.

I have not tried my Etrex 20 under forest canopy other than on a few hikes on Olympic Peninsula, but I would be surprised if you had any reception issues. These modern GPS chipsets are awesome.

If you'd like to save another $100, you could get Etrex 20. The differences are relatively small, like barometric altimeter and electronic compass.

Garmin maps are going to be a big expense issue. Good thing, I am able to load into mine maps from like 10 years ago (the host software was designed for a long defunct version of Windows but still works).


I find that the most powerful use of a GPS is to put unit into UTM coordinates and use a topo map with UTM grid to navigate. The rest of functionality (maps, distances) is just aids.

I know that using a GPS is sometimes frowned upon, but for me it's a very important and essential tool.

wiiawiwb wiiawiwb
(wiiawiwb) - F
Adirondacks on 05/07/2013 05:43:53 MDT Print View

Gerald - I hike in the Adirondacks with an eTrex 30. I've never had any problems having it link to satellites even in the thickest canopy. I also haven't experienced delays when I scroll through the unit. The battery life is excellent for my needs and I always pack two extra batteries just in case.

I caught a $199 deal last year on the eTrex 30 with an online dealer that EMS matched.

I agree with and use UTM/NAD27 CONUS on my GPS unit as well as customized printed maps. I've also found that using free downloadable maps of the Adirondacks has been just fine for my use. You can buy Garmin or NatGeo software but that's another cost.

Edited by wiiawiwb on 05/07/2013 14:02:10 MDT.

Rocco Speranza

Locale: Western NC Mtns
Glonass is nice. on 05/07/2013 06:15:26 MDT Print View

I've used my friend's Garmin eTrex 10 and it finds satellites really quick thanks to Glonass. My older gps takes for ever. Battery life is really good as well. I bet you could track a 3 day trip with it with a good set of batteries. Probably a week if you had an extra 2 batteries.

Mike W
(skopeo) - F

Locale: British Columbia
GPS: Garmin Etrex 30 or 62s? on 05/07/2013 22:10:23 MDT Print View

I don't think you would be disappointed with either one as far as maintaining a lock goes. I also agree that the GPS constellation is all you need.

The 62s is a remake of the very popular GPSMAP 60Csx. Many people prefer the dedicated buttons as opposed to the joystick on the Etrex models. The quad helix antenna (pointy spike on the 62s) also works better in an upright position so if you were putting it in a cradle on your dash, it could be upright facing you and in the best position to receive a signal. The Etrex works best with the screen facing skyward. That said, they both maintain a lock so well that position is not really an issue.

The 62s will also accept an external antenna (MCX jack) which is a big deal if you plan to use it inside a vehicle cab with a poor sky view.

For hiking/backpacking I like the small form factor and the battery life of my Etrex 20.

Anton Solovyev
(solovam) - F

Locale: Colorado, Utah
Re: Adirondacks on 05/08/2013 09:57:22 MDT Print View

This reminds me. I was trying to buy National Geographic TOPO! Software some time ago and discovered that it has been discontinued. The Web based replacement did not seem very usable.

What are solutions to print maps from a computer, now that TOPO! is gone?

(I just print USGS topo maps from TIFFs downloaded from the Internet, but there are downsides to that compared to custom maps).

Billy Ray
(rosyfinch) - M

Locale: the mountains
buy both on 05/08/2013 12:18:14 MDT Print View

Buy both from REI... try them out on a trip and return the one you don't like as much. REI will take them back even a year or more later...


Hamish McHamish
(El_Canyon) - M

Locale: USA
maps on 05/08/2013 13:39:33 MDT Print View

Gerald: I used the eTrex HCx Vista for years plus the ForeTrex 401 and I recently got a 62s. For the purposes you described I think one of the current eTrex units would serve you well. There's not much in the way of discounts out there for Garmins so purchase it from REI and if you hate it you can return it.

>What are solutions to print maps from a computer, now that TOPO! is gone?


You can upload GPX data, print grids, use USGS topo maps, satellite images, etc. Lots of good features to explore. Totally free of charge.