The Garmin Foretrex 401 GPS is an outstanding small, wrist-mounted GPS. I recently wore this GPS for a 3 mile walk/jog with my daughter. As you can see, the basic data you get just from using it while running or walking is quite informative. You don’t get your pace time, but considering all the other information that you do have at your finger tips, and the compact size of the Garmin unit, it is ideal for outdoor activities and adventures. The Garmin Foretrex 401 is extremely comfortable to wear for extended periods of time, even when sweating a lot.

Basic readout from a 3.2 mile hike
Basic readout from a 3.2 mile hike

The compass feature of the GPS is spot on with a standard compass. Even moving in a 360 degree circle, both units were on par with each other. The Garmin Foretrex 401 compliments a standard compass and map for navigation, and gives you that added confidence in difficult terrain. The Foretrex 401 stores up to 500 waypoints and 10 tracks, and the high-sensitivity GPS chip rivals those in more expensive GPS units. (For the technical specs of this GPS, please refer back to my first impressions review.)

Garmin Foretrex 401 and Compass Comparrison
Garmin Foretrex 401 and Compass Comparrison

Geared more for the military, the Foretrex 401 is about 20 percent smaller than the original 101 and comes with the same size backlit display. The 401’s ability to clone itself wirelessly with another 401 is quite handy for quickly sharing mission waypoints and routes among team members. It also sports a 2-axis digital compass, and a barometric altimeter. The “Jumpmaster” function for static, HAHO and HALO jumping will let you set data points for under-canopy guidance to an LZ. It’s got options for forward throw, windspeeds at altitude, and HARP to get you to the right place. Garmin also improved the GPS sensitivity so it will pick up a signal faster once out of the aircraft, but it’s still best as a backup to your primary altimeter.

MARSOC Marine with a Foretrex 401
Military SOF Operator with a Foretrex 401 (Image courtesy of raid-airsoft.com)

Other features include an electronic compass, and the ability to share GPS info wirelessly with other compatible Garmin GPS units. Expect about 12 hours average on the two AAA batteries. The 1.8-inch black-and-white screen is surprisingly readable in direct sun, making this a good option for desert environments or any other location where you might encounter bright sun. The only real downfall of this model is that you cannot store maps on it, but that’s not really what this particular model was made for.

Get it on Amazon for just $169.99.

-Scott


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