Using a traditional GPS requires you to carry it around in one hand while you do something with the other one. For activities that require the use of both of your hands, a wearable GPS receiver is ideal. Enter the Garmin Foretrex 401. Garmin’s wearable GPS mounts on your wrist like a sci-fi gadget from the future. But does it perform like a gadget from the future?

Features of the Garmin Foretrex 401 Hiking GPS

The feature that is readily apparent is the nature of Foretrex 401’s form factor. It straps on to your wrist like a normal wristwatch. With the display facing towards you, it provides you all the necessary information at a glance. This is perhaps Foretrex 401’s biggest competitive advantage.

While we are on the subject of form factor, the display on this device is a 1.7 in a monochrome panel with a resolution of 100 x 64 pixels. The resolution may not be anything to write home about, but if it gets the job done then we have no complaints with it. And for the most part, it does.

The GPS receiver itself has an official IPX7 rating meaning it can be submerged in up to 1.5 meters of water for a total of 30 minutes.

When it comes to sensors, all the usual suspects are present here. An electronic compass paired with a barometric altimeter ensures that you always know where you are headed and what kind of weather is headed towards you.

Aside from having the usual navigation oriented sensors, Foretrex’s TracBack feature is here to get you back home in case you get lost. Once you turn on TracBack, Foretrex 401 starts logging in your footsteps and later shows it as a dotted line to get you back to your starting spot.

Waypoints are an easier way to remember important locations such as the location of your car.  Mark a location as a Waypoint which can then be used to access the accurate location information of that spot. Not only that you can also transfer Waypoints between your Foretrex 401 and your PC or Mac.

A GPS receiver is no good without a good antenna. Thankfully, the Foretrex has a very sensitive antenna which can pick up signals in almost every situation.

It currently retails under a $150

Pros

  • Exceptional battery life
  • The sensitive antenna provides excellent signal strength
  • Built-in waypoint tracking and TracBac features are excellent
  • Ability to transfer waypoint and location information to a computer

Cons

  • No GLONASS support
  • A memory dump is needed to store more waypoints

With the Foretrex 401, Garmin has created a capable little gadget that can make your hiking trouble free. It does what it says, and does it extremely well.

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