Garmin Foretrex 201 Review

Get fGIS here

The Garmin Foretrex 201 fits comfortably of the bill of a hat.

Positioning the GPS receiver as shown improves satellite reception by moving it out of your shadow and giving the unit a view of the sky.

Make a slit in the hat bill, and then loop the Velcro® wrist strap as shown to secure it to the cap.

The Garmin Foretrex™ 201 has become my favorite GPS receiver for forest reconnaissance and general field navigation. As shown in the photos, the advantage is its small size and ability to be attached to a baseball cap. The Foretrex was designed to be worn on a wrist or upper arm, where it works reasonably well most of the time (but signal strength will drop if the receiver isn't oriented skyward, especially in the woods). Put it on the bill of your hat, however, and the unit will maintain solid 3D satellite reception even among trees. The Foretrex 201 is so light in weight that you won't even notice it. I also like my hands and arms unencumbered.

Be sure to choose a GPS receiver that's right for the task you are doing. If you need to reference  your position on basemaps frequently, a hat-mounted Foretrex isn't for you. Likewise, if you collect a lot field data with GPS coordinates, you'll want a hand-held mapping grade unit instead. People who do not reference the GPS screen very often will, however, find the Foretrex ideal. I prefer a good Silva® compass for quick navigation, but the GPS unit is indispensable for checking my position relative to cataloged positions or property boundaries. The GPS is also essential for recording plot waypoints, which you can enter without looking at the unit by listening to audible beeps. Just note the waypoint number or time on your field sheet or PDA and then correlate the cruise data back at the office.

The Foretrex 201 comes with a serial data cable for transferring information to and from your PC. To use it, snap on a separate accessory cradle to the back of the Foretrex. The unit is otherwise flat and smooth and no bigger than a couple packs of chewing gum. An AC recharging cable also plugs into the same snap-on jack.

The rechargeable lithium-ion battery in the Foretrex 201 works well for me, lasting an entire field day. You do need to remember to recharge the unit before going out again. That takes two to three hours. Some people might prefer the Foretrex 101, which uses two AAA batteries (you can carry extras), but is otherwise identical in function. The added thickness of the 101 is barely noticeable. The 101 model does not require the snap-on accessory cradle (which might be easy to misplace) used by the 201. You must, however, purchase the serial data cable separately if you intend to use the 101 with your PC. That and the price of batteries will make the net cost of the two units nearly the same. I've read in New Scientist that current lithium-ion batteries may be limited to about 200 recharges, and so that could add repair costs to the 201 after a few years.

As for the track and waypoint data saved by the Foretrex, it's just as good as the bigger Garmin GPSMAP 76, eTrex and Geko models that I also use. The Foretrex has WAAS differential correction that reduces the positional error to less than a few meters when you have a clear view of the southern horizon, available only out in the open in my northern latitude. Considering the small size and overall freedom and convenience in the field, the Foretrex will be the first unit that I reach for. Its relatively low price is also attractive.


Return to GPS Page / About

- Copyright © 2007-2011 -
Web Statistics