Garmin Foretrex



Weight:2.75 oz / 78 g

Dimensions: 3.3 in x 1.7 in x 0.9 in / 8.4 cm x 4.3 cm x 2.3 cm

Display size:1.4 in x 0.9 in / 3.6 cm x 2.3 cm

Display resolution:100 x 64 pixels

Display type:Black and white LCD

Battery:2 AAA batteries (not included)

Battery life: 15 – 17 hours

Waterproof: yes (IPX7)

Included In The Box:

  • Garmin Foretrex 101
  • Garmin Foretrex 101 Wrist Strap
  • Owners Manual
  • Quick Start Guide

Manufacturer Information

Category: GPS Units
Type: Outdoor GPS
Announced: November 30, -0001
First Shipped: May 26, 2004
Weight: 1.400 lbs.



Nothing can replace a reliable compass, a topo map and good navigational skills but there are times when a GPS can make your life considerably easier and safer. All of us who have spent any amount of time in the mountains will know how quickly the weather can turn, reducing visibility, and making even the simplest navigation tasks very challenging. Imagine for example, that you are trekking through unfamiliar territory during the winter and within minutes a thick fog sets in covering any discernible landmarks around you. Continuing in a direction you are unsure of even for a few minutes can easily get you completely lost and with the added risk of fading light and dropping temperatures this situation can quickly turn from bad to worse.  For a recreational backpacker, similar situations can occur when hiking normally well marked trails during the winter when the trail markers are often covered by snow. These are times that a GPS unit would come in handy, and provide a backup navigational option.

There are many types of GPS devices on the market depending on your own individual requirements. Probably the most common use of GPS these days is to help drivers navigate safely to predetermined destinations without having to take their eyes off the road. Distance runners sometimes use GPS to track their speed and distance of travel, hunters often use GPS for marking the location of their hides, traps etc. for backpackers a GPS unit is most useful to reorient yourself and locate/confirm your exact position before resuming map and compass navigation.

Almost everyone these days own a smartphone with GPS capabilities built in to the device, and since most of us don’t ever go anywhere without our phone,  purchasing a dedicated GPS unit is often not really necessary. Even recreational hikers will often do fine with just their cellphones, and if you primarily walk on trails or on well-marked routes a smartphone app is likely all you need.

(Unlike android phones, iPhones need data to be able to use the GPS feature but did you know that you can set your route to a particular destination on the map app while using data, turn off data and the iPhone will continue to guide you along the predetermined route as long as you do not deviate from this set path?)

However, if you often find yourself on long back country treks off-trail, in low vis conditions then I would highly recommend looking into purchasing a reliable GPS unit. GPS units typically have better satellite reception, more powerful navigation features and are more suited to the often unpredictable elements.

This write -up is not meant to be a product review but more of product highlight to provide some info to those unfamiliar with the Foretrex series.

Feature Highlights:

The Garmin Foretrex is a very compact, GPS unit that is perfect for backcountry trekking. The 101 (pictured here) is the earliest model in the Foretrex series, (Garmin 101, 201,301, 401). The Foretrex is a slim wrist-mounted GPS navigation unit perfect for outdoor activities that require the use of both hands. It combines a high-sensitivity waterproof GPS receiver, electronic compass and barometric altimeter into a lightweight device ideal for hikers, skiers and campers.

The Foreterx has a ‘breadcrumb’ feature that keeps track of your path and displays it as a dotted trail on the screen. By simply turning on the TracBack® feature and you can retrace your path back to where you started. The Foretrex keeps track of your bearing and altitude with Foretrex’s electronic compass and barometric altimeter. Multiple locations can be stored in the memory as waypoints, so you always can find your way back to any important place, such as your campsite or vehicle.

Additionally, the Foretrex lets you create and store routes to all of your favorite places and provides other helpful information, including a trip computer, sunrise/sunset times and hunting and fishing information.

Later models, can be connected to a wireless accessory, such as heart rate monitors or cadence sensors. The 401 has an added feature to allow it to be connected to your computer via the USB cable to store waypoints, routes and tracks, and share them wirelessly with another Foretrex 401. By connecting the 401 to a computer with Internet access, you can get detailed analysis of your activities using Garmin Connect™. It allows you to view your activities on a map using Google™ Earth. Explore other routes from other Garmin users and share your experiences on a variety of social media sites. BaseCamp™ lets you view and organize your maps, waypoints, routes, and tracks and send them to your device. It displays topographic map data in 2-D or 3-D on your computer, including contour lines and elevation profiles.

The Fortrex uses 2AAA batteries and has an average run time of about 8 hours and a standby time of upto 17 hours.


Those used to other beefier GPS units such as those with downloadable onboard maps and fancy graphic features may find the Foretrex a bit too basic but will learn to appreciate its compact size and adaptability. Bear in mind that the Foretrex is designed to be used in conjunction with a map, but can also provide the user with everything one would need to find out where they are, and get them to where they are going and back; nothing more and nothing less.

Typically, if I have access to the GPS coordinates to my destination I pre-program those into the Foretrex as ‘Waypoints’ and use the Foretrex to guide me there using the digital directional arrow on the electronic compass . I like to look at the trip speed and distance from time to time and keep an eye on my pace. Keep in mind that the estimated distance is calculated ‘as the crow flies’ so that number is not always accurate. I primarily use the Foretrex to ensure that my bearings are still correct, that I am still on target and to mark waypoints at landmarks to easily trackback to them.

When first turning on the Foretrex, after an extended period of having it powered off, especially if you have moved further than a 100 miles since when you last used it, can take a while for the Foretrex to acquire the satellites. When travelling though densely treed areas I found that it will aoccasionally experience weak satellite signal or lose connection with the satellite altogether but it quickly re-acquires the satellites as soon as its view of the sky becomes unobstructed. In my experience, heavy fog, rain and snow did not significantly affect the GPS signal.

The Foretrex can be easily attached with the included strap to your wrist, rifle stock, backpack straps or webbing. If you plan on wearing the Foretrex on your wrist,  I would recommend purchasing the strap expander, available from Garmin for around $8. There are also several gear manufacturers that make aftermarket pouches for the Foretrex for added attachment options and protection from the elements.

 Above, Tactical Workshop Foretrex pouch also compatible with Molle webbing.

 Above: Fortrex attached to my backpack strap


The Garmin Foretrex GPS is a sturdy, user friendly device, that has all the features any outdoorsman would require. In my opinion it is the perfect choice for all of your backcountry navigation needs, whether you are merely trying to find your way back to your beer cooler or your grid LOC when calling in a CAS “9 Liner” the Foretrex has you covered .

 Above; Navy SEAL, Aaron Carson Vuaghn seen here with a Foretrex attached to his Crane Stock

A printable PDF user’s manual for the Foretrex 101 is available online:

(close air support (CAS) 9 liner: Ground units use the following 9 line format when communicating with pilots. (1) Initial Point (2) Heading (3) Distance(4)-Target Elevation (5) Target Description (6) Target Location (7) Mark type (8) Friendlies (9) EGRESS. Time on Target (TOT)

  Above: Fortrex mounted to plate carrier shoulder strap

 Above:Wrist mounted Foretrex w/ pouch


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