The Foretrex uses a larger patch antenna, requiring a larger plastic case than that required for a loop antenna the Suunto X9 uses a loop antenna allowing for a smaller size but with poor GPS reception and slower fix times. The Foretrex is much larger than the X9 and can interfere with clothing layers, gloves, and elastic cuffs on jackets. To alleviate interference, Garmin includes an extension wrist strap that can extend the strap allowing for the unit to fit over clothing layers. This solves the problem for warmer conditions, but having the unit exposed to the cold in winter conditions greatly shortens battery life. If battery life is a concern in cold conditions, we suggest that you keep the Foretrex in a warm pocket. The maintained good satellite contact on trail runs and hikes in forested areas.
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The Foretrex uses a larger patch antenna, requiring a larger plastic case than that required for a loop antenna the Suunto X9 uses a loop antenna allowing for a smaller size but with poor GPS reception and slower fix times.
The Foretrex is much larger than the X9 and can interfere with clothing layers, gloves, and elastic cuffs on jackets. To alleviate interference, Garmin includes an extension wrist strap that can extend the strap allowing for the unit to fit over clothing layers. This solves the problem for warmer conditions, but having the unit exposed to the cold in winter conditions greatly shortens battery life. If battery life is a concern in cold conditions, we suggest that you keep the Foretrex in a warm pocket.
The maintained good satellite contact on trail runs and hikes in forested areas. Fast movement of the unit, antenna position, and clothing layer coverage did not appear to affect reception. Each of these fields can be customized. The Foretrex pares the number of main pages on the unit to five screens six if the Timer page is enabled. This contrasts with the overwhelming number of menu pages on some other small GPS units. It is possible to change the displayed fields for the Trip Computer, Satellite, and Navigation pages, which is a useful feature.
We liked customizing the Trip Computer page to include the trip odometer and overall speed, which displays average speed. The Trip Computer page is actually larger than the screen size containing four different sub-screens that can be chosen as the displayed screen for the Trip Computer page by simply scrolling up or down.
Once a certain page is chosen, it is stored and displayed later as the contents of the Trip Computer page. The Satellite page gives the user the option to choose between a Normal and Advanced Skyview. The Advanced Skyview displays the satellites oriented in the sky with signal bars for each satellite and accuracy with indication of a 2D or 3D fix. It also allows the satellite graphic to be oriented with the direction of travel. The Normal mode has only one signal bar and an accuracy value.
We think that Garmin should have scrapped this Normal Skyview page and simply used the Advanced Skyview, which provides more useful reception information. These buttons are well designed and provide a good tactile response, allowing for easy manipulation. The Power button is slightly receded into the Foretrex case to prevent an accidental power-on. Holding the Power button turns the unit on and off while a quick depression toggles the backlight on and off. Browsing between the five main pages is done by simply hitting the Page button.
This action only advances to the next page in one direction, so if the Page button is accidentally depressed at the wrong time, the next main page will appear. To get back to the main page of interest, the user has to go through the remaining pages. This proved to be an inconvenience, which might be alleviated by having a Page Back button or giving the GoTo button two functions. The menu levels in the Foretrex usually do not extend past two sub-levels, which makes operating the unit straightforward.
One gripe is the process to turn off the GPS receiver, which requires at minimum six button presses. This would eliminate the need to carry an additional timepiece. This brings up a waypoint window letting the user type a descriptive name six characters maximum selected using a scrollable alphanumeric list as well as choose a symbol for the waypoint. If default names and symbols are accepted, marking the waypoint requires only two button presses.
The waypoints are stored in a list that can easily be browsed to find the point of interest. Routes are created from the waypoints by selecting from the waypoint list, which proved to be relatively easy, yet also time consuming.
Downloading routes to the Foretrex from a PC is much faster. Individual waypoints can also be downloaded, which is superior to manual entry of waypoints in the Foretrex. People who buy the Foretrex must purchase a Garmin proprietary PC cable to connect to a computer. An optional page within the Foretrex is the Timer page, which must be enabled to be displayed as one of the main pages.
This page has a settable countdown timer, which is supposedly useful for sailing. Once the timer counts down to zero, the elapsed time begins. This countdown feature proved to be cumbersome when trying to simply record elapsed time, which we often wanted to do while hiking. Beyond the countdown issue, the Timer page had another drawback: the timer maxed out at 99 minutes and 59 seconds, as the display is unable to fit an additional hour digit.
A similar timer exists within the Trip Computer page that measures moving time, although it requires the GPS to be turned on to determine whether the unit is moving. Timing functions are not normally found on handheld GPS units, but because the Foretrex is a wrist mounted unit we expected more chronographic functions. A simple stopwatch function in the Foretrex would be desirable. Menu showing the GPS modes The Foretrex can also be used without the wrist strap, making the unit comparable in size to the Geko However, the absence of the strap made button presses less ergonomic.
The overall size of the Foretrex without the strap is smaller than the Geko and nearly an ounce lighter. We found the unit more comfortable in the pocket than the Geko With Energizer e2 Titanium batteries we would expect the to have a battery save mode life in the range of 25 hours.
This is comparable to the Geko in battery save mode. The Foretrex has the capability to record a track while hiking, which is useful if conditions warrant leaving an electronic breadcrumb trail to backtrack later. Computer Interface and Software As mentioned, the Foretrex is capable of interfacing with a PC to download and upload routes, waypoints, tracks, and trackpoints. Computer download is the preferred way to enter waypoints when planning a trip since entering navigation information manually from a paper map can be tedious.
Some type of mapping program e. National Geographic Topo! Note: according to National Geographic there is currently no support and may never be support for the Foretrex series in versions 2. Display The Foretrex uses the same screen as the Geko series, except that the Foretrex uses landscape orientation. The x 64 pixel screen size allows enough information to be displayed on each screen to minimize the need for multiple screens and deeply nested menus.
A quick press of the power button toggles backlighting on the Foretrex. A feature that we like is that once turned on, the backlight turns off after a user-defined period of time. When subsequent buttons are pressed, the backlight turns back on, illuminating the display.
To turn the backlight off, press the power button quickly. We found the backlighting on the Foretrex effectively illuminated all parts of the screen.
We believe that the Foretrex is a great value at this price. The Foretrex only differs by the type of battery used and the inclusion of the PC cable. When compared to the similarly priced Geko , which has identical features, the Foretrex is lighter with the strap removed , smaller, and has wrist-mounting convenience if desired. The benefits of the X9 are a smaller size, an electronic compass, and an altimeter.
Recommendations for Improvement Some recommendations for future iterations include: More watch-like attributes such as a stopwatch and the ability to turn off the GPS receiver more easily when only a time display is needed. Inclusion of a barometric altimeter and electronic compass.
Possibly the Foretrex ? Reduce the size of the unit so that there is less interference with clothing. Get ultralight backpacking skills, gear info, philosophy, news, and more.
Garmin Foretrex 601 – Settings & How-To Guide
Waypoint names and symbols are also shown on the map. Map Page To use the Map Page while moving around: 1. Press the button until the Map Page is displayed. Press the button to zoom in for a more detailed view of the map. Press the UP button to zoom out for a view of a larger map area.
Garmin Foretrex 101 - Hiking GPS Receiver Manuals & User Guides