Categories: Gear GuideHiking

Review of the Garmin eTrex 30x Hiking GPS

The Garmin eTrex 30x is certainly one of the best GPS for outdoor use.

I know it’s a little dated, I know it’s at the bottom of the list of devices on the Garmin website and I know it doesn’t have an eye-catching design but believe me it’s one of the most used devices for hiking.

Easy to use and thanks to a specific environment, this model can be used for hiking, as a bicycle GPS, or as a navigational aid on boats.

Specifications of the Garmin eTrex 30x

The Garmin eTrex 30X hiking GPS weighs 142 grams and its dimensions are 2.1” x 4.0” x 1.3” (5.4 x 10.3 x 3.3 cm).

Waterproof, it has a 2.2-inch, 65,000-color display with anti-glare technology, providing a world map background with shaded relief.

Operating with two AA batteries, its battery life is up to 25 hours. It has 3.7 GB of internal memory and can host a 4 GB microSD card. It also includes a card slot for microSD™ and can load additional maps such as Topo maps, BlueChart g2 marine maps, or City Navigator NT maps.

The Garmin eTrex 30x Hiking GPS also supports BirdsEye satellite images for downloading and integration into maps (requires subscription).

Finally, it is equipped with a storage case that is resistant to dust, humidity, or water.

eTrex 30x Key Features

The eTrex 30X GPS has many features.

The new Garmin TopoActive maps (not pre-installed on the eTrex 30!) provide useful information for bike racing, hiking and mountaineering by displaying changes in altitude.

In addition, these Garmin TopoActive Maps cover all continents (separate package for each one) such as North America, Europe, South America, Africa, Australia – New Zealand.

It is also equipped with a 3-axis electronic compass which is integrated with tilt compensation. This compass displays the heading even when stationary.  It includes a barometric altimeter that tracks changes in pressure so that the altitude can be determined very accurately.

The eTrex 30x hiking GPS also has a high-sensitivity receiver that is EGNOS compatible and a HotFix satellite prediction system. As a result, it quickly and accurately calculates and maintains its GPS position even in densely forested areas and valleys.

The eTrex 30X GPS allows you to exchange routes via a wireless connection with other compatible devices. It also connects to compatible Garmin devices. Finally, the GPS supports geocaching files, which allows you to view the description, field log. It also allows filtering geocaches, giving the possibility to search by size, difficulty, terrain.

Strengths of the Garmin eTrex 30x


In the menu there are all the basic functions to make the best use of a GPS, I never felt the need to have more functions that were really necessary.

Compared to a more modern GPS, it obviously lacks connectivity, but it’s an accessory aspect you can easily do without.

If we display the map, we immediately notice that the monitor is readable but not so big, an aspect that must be taken into account if you have vision problems.

As we can see by trying it out, the processor can handle Open Street Maps without problems.

If I go to the Satellites page we see how this device can acquire data from GPS and GLONASS satellites, it should be one of the first models with these features.

The tracks manager is the same as for the newer models, as is the customizable travel planner.

This means that the software part and the internal menu in the mid-range Garmin products don’t seem to have changed much over the years, so you can also find it in older, less expensive devices.


The robustness of the case and the glass are indisputable and very resistant to shocks. It is a very robust GPS, both on the sides, where there is a rubber coating, and on the back, where the belt clip and the battery compartment are.

It is equipped with simple and interchangeable batteries that are very easy to find.

This GPS is not tactile and is characterized by the presence of a small joystick with which you can navigate through all the available functions.

I can assure you that during my use, this eTrex 30x, which has taken a considerable number of shocks and scratches, has proven to have remarkable resistance, perfect for outdoor use.

There are also side keys, one for on/off and keys with other basic functions, always in comfortable positions.

Battery life and autonomy

The two AA batteries are easy to install. Alkaline, NiMH, or lithium batteries can be used as an option.

NiMH or lithium batteries are recommended for longer battery life because alkaline batteries are less resistant to cold.

If the GPS is not used constantly, the autonomy can be 25h (4 days of walking), otherwise, it is much less.

Rechargeable batteries (NiMH) have less impact on the environment but they also require you to take a solar panel and/or a battery charger when hiking.

Note that the backlight of the screen can be adjusted by pressing once on the light button. To change the level, use the Thumb StickTM (joystick) on the left or right.

Also, the backlight delay can be adjusted from the config/screen menu. This is important to optimize battery life.

The only weak point is the lack of a standby function that would allow you to record only the track while locking the GPS.


This is perhaps the most important aspect that makes it fully eligible among the best GPS for outdoor use, its reliability. It never gets stuck and works under any conditions. A real war machine.

Weak points

Let us now analyze what are the weaknesses of the Garmin eTrex 30x :

Screen size

The color screen is small and if you have vision problems, it can be a problem to follow a track.


It must be said that it is a little slow. If you’re going to install particularly detailed maps, it gets very slow when you scroll the card.


This little piece of plastic in the top right corner is the Joystick. Ideal for those who often use gloves or who have dirty hands, but it must be said that it is not practical and you have to get used to it especially when you have to press on it.

Our opinion on the  Garmin eTrex 30x Hiking GPS

The Garmin eTrex 30x is a user-friendly and robust GPS for all types of hikers and outdoor enthusiasts.

Waterproof, with an autonomy of almost 25 hours with all options on and its advanced functions, barometric altimeter, and 3-axis electronic compass in mind, it proves to be an efficient instrument in the field and an excellent value for money despite the recurring bugs in the software and the few functions we would like to see added (but who doesn’t?).

Don’t forget to follow the software updates and hope that Garmin fixes the bugs.

The best price of the moment for the eTrex 30x from Garmin:

Garmin eTrex 30x, Handheld GPS Navigator with 3-axis Compass, Enhanced Memory and Resolution, 2.2-inch Color Display, Water Resistant
  • UPGRADED DISPLAY Features a 2.2” 65K color sunglight readable display offering increased resolution (240 x 320 pixels). Physical dimensions: 2.1" x 4.0" x 1.3" (5.4 x 10.3 x 3.3 cm)
  • LOAD MORE MAPS Large 3.7 GB of internal memory and microSD card slot lets you load a variety of maps, including TOPO 24K, HuntView, BlueChart g2, City Navigator NT and BirdsEye Satellite Imagery (subscription required)
  • PRELOADED BASEMAP Includes a worldwide basemap with shaded relief

Last update on 2020-11-25 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

Published by
Lara Sein

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