Unraveling the Garmin Foretrex 401: A Comprehensive Review

Check out the reviews and videos for the Garmin Foretrex 401 and you decide if it is good enough to become a part of your daily field gear.

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The Foretrex uses triple AAA batteries which are easy to find in the local convenience store. If you want more juice for a longer period of time use the lithium batteries.


I used this device during a land navigation course taught by a Navy SEAL in Montana. This gps device has been used in combat with excellent results. Speaking to a few guys who were  deployed in Afghanistan and have used the Garmin Foretrex 401 Waterproof GPS during combat patrols.

I have found that it performs perfectly. It is easily configured for MGRS, the metric system, and the compass can be set for Mils which makes calling for polar fire missions very easy.

I love the fact that I have a 10-digit grid on my wrist. I purchased mine at a bass pro shop in Montana. I had read online several reviews and it got good ratings from military guys.


It cuts down on weight, not having to lug a DAGR (The de facto standard military GPS receiver) around, as I am helping to set a navigation course in the mountains. I can grab the grid right off my wrist as I write notes about the trail.

So far it has stood up to the insane temperature differences from day to night. It has stood up to the dust (which gets into EVERYTHING – and has ruined two of my digital cameras [including a so-called dust-proof one]) with flying colors.

The batteries last about 8 hours and it takes AAAs which are easy to carry. You can easily beam waypoints from one GPS to another. Several guys in our group carry the Garmin Foretrex 401 Waterproof Hiking GPS which makes it very easy.

I am looking forward to using this when I get home to track my runs. So far I have found nothing wrong with this to speak of. I would definitely recommend it for whatever purpose you would use it for. It works just fine despite tons of sweat from my body – in light to hard rain and can even survive getting dunked in water briefly.


This device features a high-sensitivity GPS receiver with HotFix. This is a satellite prediction technology that you find featured on automotive devices. It decreases satellite acquisition time dramatically.

By using data collected over the period of a few days of regular use, the device will predict the position of the satellites for up to 3 days.

If the GPS device has not been used for a few days it will acquire the satellites normally. This means you can get improved performance and reception in heavy tree cover/canopy or deep canyons.

The device keeps track of routes, tracks and waypoints, and heart rate with add on heart rate monitor which sold separately. It uses two standard AAA batteries which you can find at any convenience store or gas station.

It has a TracBack feature (think of bread crumbs) that retraces a user’s path on the easy-to-read LCD display. The display has a resolution of 100 x 64 pixels. It does have a long battery life Up to 17 hours in GPS mode with a track Log of 10000. It has a display size : of 1.42 x 0.91 inches which is a good size to put on your wrist and view.

The gps device supports dual position readout that way the user can view their current location in multiple formats. It has audible tones but I did not use those as I thought it may be annoying. When you are using the compass you want to make sure you hold the compass level when navigating to ensure maximum accuracy.

I like that it also features a trip computer, sunrise/sunset times, hunting/fishing information, electronic compass and barometric altimeter. These are key things to know if you are out hunting and navigating in the woods.


It is lightweight and you can wear it on your wrist or put it in your backpack strap so you can look down easily and read it. The Garmin Foretrex can be used for hiking, running and mtn biking. Any time you need to plot a course and get directions.


I would like to see it as USB rechargeable so that you could have more options for keeping it powered in the field. I also use a Garmin Etrex 30 and that is also powered by triple AAA batteries and has no USP port.

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Does this handheld GPS work well in the mountains?

Yes; I used this gps unit in the mountains of Montana and it worked fine. I have also used it in the swamps of Florida. It sometimes takes a while to load up but eventually it gets up and tracking.

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