Garmin - eTrex 20x GPS

Category: GPS Systems

I had a Garmin Etrex vista for over 10 years, never a problem. I primarily use it for geocaching and marking trails and camp sites in the desert. I mount it on my dirt bike handle bars and review the data in the trip computer after rides. The standard maps it comes with are perfectly fine for me, no need to download additional maps. I bought this etrex 20x to replace my old one and love this new one. Mostly the same features, easy to use.

The user interface is clunky and difficult to use, and the program used to load the maps is even worse.

Works great for tracking my mountain bike rides and for camping and hiking. It also works with open street maps so I will soon be getting turn by turn street maps for driving.

This doesn't have a compass like the eTrex 30x, but you don't need one. If you just start moving in one direction the GPS will use the satellites to act like a compass. I have both the US and Russian satellite systems going simultaneously, and this thing is dead-on accurate. Learning to use it was a learning curve, but all the info I needed was online for me, in videos here and there. Just google. Those same websites will tell you how to get FREE MAPS. That's right - you do NOT need to buy maps.

Great device but difficult to see the screen kayaking in full sun...

This unit is billed as being lightweight, small, and powerful for the cost. However, it is very difficult to use, and the manual is exceptionally poor. Garmin has videos to help you learn to use it, but they are hard to take in the field. The toggle is also inaccurate. I have used Garmin's for years, but this one is going back.

I have tried using online forums and cannot figure out how to use this efficiently. It takes so long to get to what youre looking for and I still don't understand it.

I like this GPS but the user guide leaves a lot to be desired. It's especially difficult to download topo maps from the internet.



Hello all, so: 1) can you display battery life/bar/percentage and 2) if one were to pop in rechargeable batteries, is it as easy as just plugging device in to charge them or must that be done externally to the unit? Thanks in advance.

Yes, this device can display your remaining battery life. If you are using rechargeable batteries, you will need to remove the batteries from the device to re-charge them.


How do I set the back track so I can get back to my starting point.

To set the back track feature on the eTrex 20x, follow the steps below:


Can this device upload to Strava?

No, this GPS is not compatible with Strava.


Does the unit have an altimeter?

This unit doesn't have a barometric altimeter but it will show elevation based on location.


Will a City Navigator NT Europe 8gb micro sd work in this etrex 20x?

Yes, the City Navigator NT Europe 8gb microsd is compatible with the eTrex 20x.


Is there a hole or something so I could attach a small cord to it so I don’t drop it. My old one sunk in the sea. 

​Yes, there is a ring on the back to attach a lanyard.


Is there a battery saving mode? How low lasts the batteries then. Don’t like to bring a lot of batteries when I do my trips that lasts more than a day

The brightness of the screen can be adjusted to help save the battery. You can also decrease the backlight timeout to help save battery life. See the manual on Garmin's site for details.


I am looking at the ETREX 20x to be used in the forest in the West Indies/Caribbean. Would this unit work in these parts? Does it map your tracks/Distance?

​Yes, this GPS will work there and track distance and speed. The Garmin City Navigator South America NT can be purchased from Garmin's site will be needed for mapping details.


Going to be going on a solo outing later this month. Looking for a GPS unit that will also be able to send people an All-Clear or a SOS if needed. Haven't seen anything about a feature like that on this device. Does it support that capability?

​This GPS device does not have any personal locator beacon features. A device such as the Garmin inReach Explorer+ 2-Way Satellite Communicator is a better option.


Can I use it to back track my location to my car when I’m hiking? 

​Yes, the back track feature allows you to navigate back to your starting point.


can use for boat

​Yes, this GPS can be used on boats. Note that this GPS does not float and is rated that it can be submerged in one meter of water for up to 30 min before leakage may occur.

Trail mapper

Can I export gpx files for use in ArcGIS?

​Yes, you can export GPX files for use in ArcGIS.


Can I use this device to broadcast my location?

​This is a handheld navigation device and does not provide communication or emergency signal transmission. Please use the following link to view our selection of satellite messengers and personal location beacons:


Does this model have geocaching maps on it?

You are able to download and store geocaches and details to this product.


If I get street maps will this work on a motorcycle? What I mean is, I imagine mountain biking is just as hard on a GPS as a motorcycle would be. How well do you think it would work on a motorcycle?

This unit is designed for slower moving activities. It could work on a motorcycle travelling over smooth paved surfaces, but you may find that the maps do not load very quickly when you're moving at faster speeds.


Does this device record elevation as well?

​This GPS device does have a satellite-based altimeter to track elevation.

susan matthews

I am going on a 102 mile Cotswold Way walk. There are a few websites (gov and commercial) that have a gps (gpx) link for the trail. Can I upload via a usb cord from my computer...?

​You can upload waypoint files to this Garmin GPS using a USB cord.


Can I use rechargeable batteries with this unit? The manual says "replaceable alkaline or NiMH batteries" and it is unclear if only the alkaline need to be replaceable (and not rechargeable), or both alkaline and NiMH. 

​Rechargeable batteries can be used in this unit.


Do the topo maps that are available show trails, like the trails shown on Appalachian Mountain Club maps?

​Yes, the topo maps from Garmin will display thousands of trails and roads.


I attempted to instal a purchased map/chip. Had trouble doing this on my computer and now my new etrex20 will not turn on.  Frustrated!

​Please contact Garmin for technical support regarding your eTrex 20x GPS.


How do you set the etrex 20x to show contour lines? I have been trying to figure it out and can't find it in the manual. I bought this for bushwacking and that's kind of an important detail.

To view contour lines on the eTrex 20x GPS you need to have topographical mapping software. The preloaded base map does not include contour lines.


How detailed is the world base map that comes with the product? I'm hoping to explore through backroads and forests in many different countries so I would need a certain level of accuracy. 

The world base map preloaded on the eTrex 20x GPS has minimum detail. It shows city names and major roads but no topographical lines nor backroads or trails.


Say you can download maps, were from? 

Maps can be downloaded directly to the eTrex 20x from Garmin's website. You can also add maps to the unit from either a DVD or microSD card.


Hi, I would like to know if this GPS performs well at high altitude and low temperatures, regarding battery consumption and screen. I am planning to use it at the south-american Andes over 6000 meters. Does ir come with touch screen?

The eTrex 20x will function just fine at higher altitude. In terms of battery consumption, we would recommend using a set of Lithium AA batteries. Lithium batteries function better in cold temperatures compared to MiMH batteries. The eTrex 20x does not have a touch screen.

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