Geocaching is one of subtler forms of adventure racing, mostly because it relies on a navigator’s sense of direction and his ability to use waypoints as guides. In essence, geocaching is a treasure hunt, but the prizes are not valuable trinkets but more of bragging rights within the hiking community. Given the nature of the hunt, this sport relies on the best GPS unit for hiking to scan an area for the geocache and compile the checkpoints needed to get to the geocache.
Given its access to the same technology and the same devices, geocaching has always been linked with hiking and majority of geocache can be found in the wild. Garmin, being one of the pioneers in navigational devices has come up with the Garmin eTrex 30x Handheld Navigator, which is an updated brother of the Garmin eTrex 30.
The Garmin eTrex 30x, while it retains most of the functionality of the eTrex 30, comes with a more readable display and expandable memory. The eTrex 30x is made to last and can be used while cycling, boating, hiking or even while on a hot air balloon!
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- Electronic Compass – the eTrex 30x comes standard with the patented 3-axis tilt compensated electronic compass that almost all Garmin models have. This technology gives you a more accurate reading as it does not change direction even if being used while at a skewed angle.
- Large Internal Memory – the eTrex has an internal memory of 3.67 gigabytes which can be further expanded by using microSD cards.
- Sunlight Readable Display – the 2.2-inch display is an improvement from the earlier eTrex model, and it lets you read maps even while under the blazing heat of the sun.
- Built-in Sensors – the Garmin eTrex 30x comes with sensors for the barometric altimeter that informs you of your current elevation.
- Wireless Connectivity – the eTrex 30x can automatically transfer data from its internal memory to other Garmin compatible devices via Wi-Fi or Bluetooth. All you need to do is hit “send.”
- Preloaded Maps – this unit comes with a pre-loaded base map of the entire world that has a color-coded relief for elevation changes.
- GPS and GLONASS Support – the Garmin eTrex 30x is the first handheld navigation device to have the ability to track both GPS and GLONASS satellites at the same time.
- The Garmin eTrex 30x Handheld Navigator acquires geocache data including details, hints, and difficulty faster and its accuracy is much better compared to similar models. Its “track wander” is very minimal, another way to prove that your readouts are accurate and much better than the rest.
- The internal memory of the Garmin eTrex 30x Handheld Navigator lets you download customized maps, as well as Garmin produced maps and other information related to geocaching. This lessens your impact on the environment as you need less paper to write these details on.
- The Garmin eTrex 30x Handheld Navigator has a good battery life and will only consume two sets of batteries on a 10-day trip. Rechargeable batteries are preferred to minimize trash and toxic waste.
- The Garmin eTrex 30x Handheld Navigator suffers from a little lag while being used but this is very minimal, and it does not affect the speed in which it gathers and records data during a geocache hunt.
- The eTrex 30x is lightweight and fits right in your pocket for hassle-free carrying. Although it is larger than its predecessor, the eTrex 30, the display screen of the eTrex 30x is still too small for comfort, especially when zooming in on maps. It is suggested that a Garmin produced map be purchased so that the image stabilizers can support the image being loaded.
- As a standard with Garmin devices, the menu can take some time to get used to with several menu options to go into and no shortcut keys for going back to where you were on the screen. Troubleshooting technical issues can be a hassle as well as there have been reports of quirky error messages, but these can be immediately be resolved by calling customer support.
The Garmin eTrex 30x Handheld Navigator is the perfect upgrade from the eTrex 30 with its larger display screen and expandable memory. The wireless connectivity also allows it to sync data to other connected applications and its seamless transfer between GPS and GLONASS tracking makes it perfect for professional geocaching teams. The high sensitivity of the WAAS-enabled GPS systems let satellites track you even while under a dense foliage cover or inside deep canyons.
The electronic tilt compensating compass and preloaded base maps let first-time explorers experience geocaching at the base level while the wireless connectivity also downloads more advanced geocache and details straight to the device. The details it can download include waypoints, hints, terrain and even the difficulty of the geocache.
Comparing the Garmin eTrex 30x Handheld Navigator with the eTrex 20x and eTrex 10x, the 30x comes out as the better option with its electronic compass that compensates for any tilting that might happen while on the move. The barometric altimeter is also a nice addition to the eTrex 30x’s predecessors.
Other than the aforementioned difference in features, the eTrex has the same display size, the same display type and the same route logs as the eTrex 20x. It is far more superior compared to the eTrex 10x though with more routes and more customizable maps.
The Garmin eTrex 30x Handheld Navigator is a clear winner, especially if you are looking for a handheld navigator that is lightweight and not too bulky. The eTrex 30x is very compatible with geocaching with its large internal storage that can hold more maps and waypoints than other handheld units.
The ability to simultaneously track both GPS and GLONASS satellites is a definite advantage while out on the field and looking for waypoints. The large display combined with a large number of stored maps equates to more success in geocaching.