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In-Depth Garmin eTrex 32x Review & How-To Guide | List of best hand tools

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The Garmin eTrex 32x (and 22x) is a mixed bag. Most importantly, it’s a solid, rugged and reliable handheld GPS that simply works well. There’s not a ton of bells and whistles, and there are some downsides to consider, but if you’re looking for a purpose-built GPS that can keep you on the trail or help you navigate, the eTrex 32x might be for you.

If you find this guide helpful, you can help support this site by buying your eTrex with the links above to REI or Amazon. If you buy atr REI, you get a discount of up to 10% with an inexpensive REI membership and free shipping. It usually ends up being cheaper than buying from Amazon, there are benefits to buying from REI, and you help support my free hiking guides for everyone.

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48 Comments

  1. Question… I have that garmin GPS I just bought so I don’t get lost on the archery elk hunt. I was giving it a test over the weekend last week and I stopped to check my GPS and location and I got a notice that my batteries were going to die. Thankfully I knew exactly where I was and how to get out, I’ve hiked this trail many times. My question is, what happens if your hiking and and you have your GPS on your pack and the batterie die? Will it still save my current tracks even tho I have to replace the batteries so I can use the ‘trackback’ option to follow my breadcrumb trail to get back the way I came from? It makes me nervous to think that I could be hiking with the confidence of not being lost using a GPS just to have the batteries die and my current track that it’s been following is now gone

  2. I'm still very new into gps devices for hiking, I ordered the 32x. I usually look at Alltrails App to find hiking trails, am I able to find that trail searching pre-loaded maps or do I need to load the trail onto device. Also does the device do tracking, like every 5 mins, and if I get lost want to go back to previous location or is that what way point is use for. Thanks.

  3. Thank You for sharing your Knowledge. A GPS is like the first time I used a PC intimidating. Your a good teacher —- Hugo Atlanta, GA

  4. Hey, how do you show your current location? is there a way to show the NGR of your actual location?

  5. Hello hiker guy, excellent review esp as you have those other models to use as baselines for comparison… Is the 32 able to be mounted on dirt bike using a factory Garmin bracket, & are they suitable for that kind of thing given the vibrations & shocks involved?????
    Great job!!!
    Regards,
    Bazz…

  6. I have the 32x and discovered a few times that after not using it the batteries were completely flat. I discovered when I went in to “manage tracks” and discovered that 70% of the 32gb card was full. So I found that I hadn’t turned the unit off. This is easy to do when powering off because in strong sunlight it’s hard to see the power off symbol on the screen.

  7. Hey dude! Got a 32x…I go to "where to" select addresses but it asks for my state or province but none found. Says to adjust search parameters. I'm confused.

  8. Garmin cheaps out on hardware – using that old style USB port is just pathetic. Also, that cpu is horribly slow. I wouldn't be surprised if it's the same one used in the Etrex 20 from 2011.

  9. Hello Sir. I just purchased the 22x, but in the where to? "address" screen, it asks you for the "state" or "city", but nothing comes up. No state, what so ever, so I can't punch in an address. Can you please help me with this issue, thank you so much.

  10. Thanks from Scotland! Got mine a few months ago then straight into another lockdown, but getting to use it for an 18 mile hike tomorrow for the first time :)

  11. thanks, great review, just upgraded from Etrex 20 to Etrex 22x (from MEC in Canada) because i wanted better maps

  12. How do I get the map to follow my location? I have to use the joystick to manually move the map to follow the arrow, or it goes off the edge?

  13. I'm quite impressed with my first reading of a HikingGuy.com equipment review. The thing that interests me is the possible use of file outputs from say an eTrex 32 device to enable incorporation of GPS information onto my photos. Increasingly few compact cameras suitable for tough hiking treks have on board GPS ability, and based on experience I had some years back that might be because it isn't easy to do all that well, not least in terms of speed of locking on location. It occurred to me you could simply take a picture of the satellite page of the eTrek 32 and you'd have both location and location accuracy in a time stamped photo in your compact camera but then you'd have to enter the data on the photo files manually after-the-fact. A better way would be to have a file capable of being analyzed on an automated basis after the fact. But I'm not sure any of the files produced by this device have that potential: a file of waypoints does have time information embedded, but I doubt that either files of tracks or routes contain intermediate times between start and end. Further Garmin seems dedicated to proprietary file formats that I'm not readily able to read word by word (byte by byte?). What about exporting or creating a standard GPX file with embedded timing information with each location you can export from the device? Garmin please! Does anyone have any helpful comments?

  14. I glued a rubber tap washer around the joystick to keep the device from exiting saving mode. You can still use the joystick, but it's a little bit more protected. I glued it to the screen protector, it's not permanent glued on.

  15. I have a piece of foam around the joy stick held with Velcro to keep it stationary in my pack.

  16. I have a eTrex10 to give me piece of mind and prevent getting lost but I usually go to the same few places only.

  17. my etrex 32x came with memory almost full so i cant upload much tracks.. there are two files "gmamprom" and gmapprom1 which are the largest. Can i delete them and is it going to affect the software somehow?

  18. Is this model recommended for hiking in a mountain for a month? No cellphone signal in the mountain and the hike is for a biodiversity survey. Thanks.

  19. Love the etrex series; I still have and use my earlier etrex 30 bought ca. 2012 though I mainly use mine for MTBing and road cycling.

    They're damn bullet proof; even though the membrane over the main two buttons eventually wears through. I got a bit creative with a craft knife, a hot glue stick and some quality insulation tape as good as new. Now it's even more un-sexy to the latest & greatest $$$$ gadget junkies 😆

    There's aftermarket silicone skins and mounts available via the ebay/aliexpress.

    Quality of fit for the cheap mounts isn't 100% the quality of OEM Garmin stuff; but as necessary I add a strip of tape or lick of superglue to add friction/grab where required to firm things up. Having said that…. I've always have had a string lanyard doubled around the bars or frame tube; even with my first couple of OEM Garmin mounts.

  20. Q please: Touring cyclist here, The Great Divide Mountain Bike Route (GDMBR), Banff, to MX border. Adventure Cycling Assoc (ACA) sells the route GPX file, I have their paper map set. Have used ACA maps to cross U.S. twice on roads, along with Google and phone. I have no experience with GPS devices, but need one for the many turns on criss-crossing dirt roads along this route. I'm older, not racing the route, touring speed is about 50 miles per day. Covering miles and remoteness of route, cannot afford to add 10-20 miles with a wrong turn. In researching, riders use 32X, Wahoo Roam is popular, or iPhone to save extra weight. I'm ok with navigating backpacking loops in the Eastern Sierras, or Anza Borrego with topo map and compass.. The Great Divide is a different problem for navi on the many dirt roads in backcountry. Any advice on easiest to learn unit, easiest to download ACA GPX file, and how to teach myself is much appreciated. Great video, thanks, Mike

  21. Just wondering… is there any way to lock the joystick to prevent accidental presses when it's in a backpack? That is one of the things I would be concerned about. Aside from Galileo, how is the 22x different from the 64x (possibly also 32x and 64sx)? I think weight, screen size/resolution, battery life, and just ease of use with buttons on the 64 series. Just wondering your thoughts. The etrex button setup really does not seem very intuitive (coming from a person who does not have years of experience with Garmin). Thanks for doing this and all of your other reviews. Also, when you are not carrying around 8 GPS units on a hike to compare them, what is your usual setup for hiking as far as GPS/paper map backup? There are just so many options out there.

  22. I have the 20. It seems just fine, I still need to put a memory card in it with the maps. One thing I have a need for is to be able to see the time with seconds displayed. Not sure what the best method would be for that.

  23. Great review! I think I'll get the 32. I'm tired of struggling with touchscreens under the snow and the rain. Thanks for your great job!

  24. Hello! Fantastic review, so much better of the garmin help stuff. I would like to ask you about the "Share wirelessly" function, I tried to pair the 32x with my mobile phone but I couldn't, should I be able? Or what is the purpose of this feature then? Nice work!

  25. This will be my first time purchasing a device like this and I appreciate your thorough review! Quick question for the newbie… can I just plug in a GPS coordinate (like a waterfall off trail) into the device or do I need to create something using the Garmin website/maps and then download that onto the device? I'm planning on getting the 30X. Thanks in advance for your help!

  26. HI great review and i have a question.
    I'm currently in Europe and planning to hike/travel in Asia next year and i'm going to buy etrex 32x (europe) edition which contains western european countries preloaded.
    Is there any way to install detailed map of Asian countries without paying 100s of bucks?

  27. I personally believe that ALL GPS units are extremely over priced. Especially when you can buy a basic cell phone with even more capabilities for less than $100 at Walmart.

  28. Hi…great review…thanks. I have a question, I'm struggling to find a way to be alerted when following a "route" – if I have gone off that route. I have read things about the "Marine" feature in Set Up>Marine>MarineAlarmSetUp and the off course alarm…..is this correct? Is this feature a way to trigger an alert/alarm when you have deviated from the route you are following?

  29. Great video. I have a question. If I’m recording a track and battery is slow, can I pause or stop the recording, change batteries and resume the recording?

  30. Hi there, just curious, is there any way to display the Grid Reference numbers in a permanent, big and bold display on the screen on this piece of kit please?

  31. The best plus for etrex units are AA batteries, with few sets in your bag you can't run out of power in ages. Which is not true for smartphone that sucks battery within hours especially when cell signal is bad so it increases power to compensate.. yeah I know it can be disabled but still battery is always problem with phone when being in nature environment. I have a question though. Is responsiveness of maps better on 32 compared to 30? On my 30, map is slow to move around/update on screen when moved/zoomed, etc. Does 32 make improvement on that? Also, is screen more readable on 32 than on 30 in bright light?

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