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For hikers and outdoors enthusiasts, the Garmin Fenix 7 and Epix (Gen 2) offer a ton of functionality and tools, all packed into a small piece of metal on your wrist. But does the benefit of having one of these watches justify the steep cost? In this review and guide, I’ll take a look at the Fenix 7 and Epix from an outdoors and hikers’ perspective and make some recommendations on whether this watch is something you should invest in. I won’t cover the 2 billion non-outdoor things that this watch can do because this guide would take 100 days to read. My recommendations are based on my actual usage over hundreds of miles of hiking.
I just got my Garmin Fenix 7x Solar Sapphire yesterday and I was excited to test out the multi-band accuracy, so I went for a quick hike at the local slot canyon. In this video I’ll show you how the Fenix 7x multi-band positioning stacks up against the Fenix 6x Pro Solar, the GPSMAP 66i, and the iPhone 13 Pro Max.
Okay, spoiler alert, the Fenix 6 is a great, if not the greatest, outdoors watch so far. In this review and how-to guide I’m going to focus on the hiking and outdoors applications of the Fenix 6. I’ll be specifically using the Fenix 6x Pro Solar, which I’ve had on my wrist 24/7 since the day it came out. I’ve owned every Fenix model since the 3, and the 6 Pro Solar doesn’t disappoint.
I’ve been testing the Garmin Fenix 5x for over 6 months now, and it’s a great watch, but it might not be worth the money for some folks. Having a topo and trail map on your wrist is incredible. And the Fenix 5x is also a very powerful tool for anyone who loves the outdoors and/or fitness, with hundreds of features. But it comes at a price, a high price that is. This review shows you all the ins-and-outs of the watch, how to use it, and how to decide whether it’s right for you.
The Garmin Fenix 3 is my favorite piece of hiking gear, bar none. It’s like having an outdoors smartphone on my wrist, 24/7. The Fenix 3 has hundreds of features. Here’s what’s good, what’s not, and why you should get this awesome hiking watch.
I’ve been using the Garmin inReach Mini 2 on every hike I’ve done for several months, and overall, it’s a great unit that I trust my life with. But in relation to the family of Garmin inReach devices, it’s just a small step forward. In this guide, I’ll share my observations on how the Mini 2 performed on the trail, make recommendations on whether it (or another) satellite communicator is the best choice for you, and give you some tips on using it.
If you primarily use your smartphone as your outdoor navigation device, and are looking for satellite messaging and SOS when out of cell phone service (like with InReach), the ZOLEO is a great option. It’s a small box that you pair with your phone to send and receive messages over the Iridium satellite network. And the ZOLEO will automatically send over your phone’s data networks if they are available, saving you the cost of a satellite message. If your phone (or Bluetooth connection) dies, the ZOLEO will still function (SOS, check-ins, location sharing) by using buttons on the unit. It’s well thought out, rugged, and an effective tool.
The Garmin GPSMAP 66sr is the best consumer GPS out there. There, I said it. When I say “best,” I mean it has a very accurate GPS receiver, long battery life, a big and easy-to-read screen, and it’s all packaged in a MIL-SPEC case that you can thrash outdoors. I spent several weeks using the GPSMAP 66sr on the hiking trails, and in this review, I’ll tell you what my experience has been. I’ve even tested the 66sr in one of the most demanding environments to get a good positioning fix, within the walls of the Grand Canyon, and I’ll share my results in this review. At the end of the review, I’ll recommend whether the 66sr or another GPS model is the right fit for your needs.
Almost everyone understands that GPS uses satellites to pinpoint our position on earth. Whether you have a GPS unit or use a smartphone with GPS, understanding some of the principles behind how it works will help you feel confident when using or purchasing one. In this guide, I’ll demystify GPS using plain language and then share some tips to get the most out of your GPS.
One of the questions I get asked the most is, “is the Apple Watch good for hiking?” I review many hiking watches and GPS units, but not everyone wants to invest in another piece of gear, especially if they have an Apple Watch already. So to cut to the chase, the Apple Watch is suitable for hiking for most casual hikers, and in this guide, I’ll tell you the who’s and the why’s. I’ll also show you how to use it for hiking and go through some apps that are good for hiking with your Apple Watch.
A GPX file, also known as a GPS Exchange Format file, is simply a text file with geographic information such as waypoints, tracks, and routes saved in it. You can use GPX files to transfer that information between GPS units and computers. In this article, I’m going to demystify the GPX file in non-tech language so that you can use them effectively. I’ll also answer some common questions such as “what is the difference between a route and a track?”
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.
The GPSMAP 66i is Garmin’s top-of-the-line handheld GPS unit with InReach satellite communications built-in. It’s a solid device built for outdoor use and navigation. I’ve logged months of testing and use for this Garmin GPSMAP 66i review, and while it’s a solid unit, it’s also probably not for everyone. In this review I’ll give you my thoughts on what works and what doesn’t, I’ll compare it to devices like the InReach Explorer, I’ll give you my recommendations for the 66i, and I’ll show you how to use the device.
Don’t waste your money on hiking gear that’s no good; I’ve already done that for you! Here’s my trail-tested best hiking gear list, last updated . I only recommend hiking gear that I’ve used over hundreds of miles. I don’t do any paid or sponsored reviews, and I don’t waste your time with gear that doesn’t make the cut. This is only the good stuff.
The Garmin inReach Mini packs some powerful features into s small and reasonably priced package. You can send and receive your GPS location to anyone with a text or email (or another inReach Mini) in the backcountry where your cell phone doesn’t work. You can also receive messages, allowing you to communicate with family, friends, and emergency services. Additional features on the inReach Mini allow you to get weather reports, track your trip and share with friends, and perform navigation. There are some limitations, and I’ll cover that later, but all-in-all, the inReach Mini is a solid device that I highly recommend.
The Garmin InReach Explorer (formerly Delorme InReach) is a must-have in your pack. Outside of owning a satellite phone, it’s one of the only ways to have two-way communications with friends, family, and emergency services outside of cell service. Its navigation functions have some flaws, but don’t get the InReach for that; it’s worth the cost just for the messaging and weather features. For a few hundred bucks, the Garmin InReach could save your life. It’s a no-brainer.
The good news is that if you own a Garmin GPS device, there’s a way to get free Garmin GPS maps. And in most cases, the free maps are much better than the expensive Garmin maps. I’m a big fan of Garmin GPS devices, but I always found it disappointing that they charged extra for maps. Garmin doesn’t publicize it, but most of their GPS units are setup to take any maps in the correct format. Here’s how to get and install these free hiking maps in an easy, step-by-step process.
The Garmin eTrex 20x is your best bet for an inexpensive, dedicated, outdoor ready hiking GPS. There are more expensive models, and smartphone alternatives, but for a lot of hikers, the eTrex 20x will give you the best bang for the buck. Here’s why I recommend it.
Creating a hike and sending it to your Garmin GPS is easy when you pay Garmin for their maps, but not as obvious when you want to use the many free map options out there. The process is pretty straightforward, although not promoted by Garmin. Here’s how to plan a hiking route and track, and then send it to your Garmin GPS and navigate with it.