Garmin eTrex 20 (x) & 30 (x) Settings & How-To Guide

Garmin eTrex 20(x)/30(x): Setup Menu

eTrex 30x Menu 1
eTrex 30x Menu 2
eTrex 30x Menu 3

Garmin eTrex 20(x)/30(x) Settings: System

eTrex 30x system

Choose “GPS + GLONASS“, “GPS” only to get more battery life.
For outdoor activities you usually do not need WAAS/EGNOS signal corrections (WAAS is only available in North America, EGNOS in Europe). WAAS/EGNOS can provide a better accuracy in certain situations and is recommended for pilots and mariners.

BUT: Activate it, if your preference is “Enable all and hope the best!” (= GPS / GLONASS / WAAS / EGNOS).

Your choice
Depends on your preferred battery type:

Garmin” is recommended:

  • The gps device is supplied with energy when connecting to an external power source (e.g. AC charger).
  • Connecting the handheld to a PC you get the screen “USB Cable Detected. Would you like to go to Mass Storage?“. “Yes“: Activiting the mass storage, you get access to the file system and can copy data or install maps (e.g. with Garmin BaseCamp); “No“: Device is powered by the external source. “Mass Storage“: Mass storage is activated immediately when connecting to a PC.
Screenshots (left to right): “Satellite System” and “WAAS/EGNOS” different settings

  • GPS (WAAS/EGNOS off) Satellites: 05 – 28 GPS
  • GPS & GLONASS (WAAS/EGNOS off) Satellites: 05 – 30 GPS, 65 – 92 GLONASS
  • GPS & GLONASS & WAAS/EGNOS Satellites: 05 – 30 GPS, 36 EGNOS, 65 – 92 GLONASS; “D”: device receives and calculates EGNOS signal corrections
eTrex 30x GPS

Garmin eTrex 20(x)/30(x) Settings: Display

eTrex 30x Display
Turns the backlight off after a given time. Choose a timeout as short as possible for battery saving, timeout depends on your activity and profile.
Mode“: Choose between “Auto, Day, Night“:

  • Auto: Automatic switch between day / night colors (at sunset/-rise)
  • Day: Color as defined in “Day Color Scheme
  • Night: Color as defined in “Night Color Scheme
Capturing screenshots, turn “off” except you need it (tip: after a tour you can capture your trip computer for saving the statistics!)(screenshots are saved in the device folder “Garmin\scrn“)

Garmin eTrex 20(x)/30(x) Settings: Tones

eTrex 30x Tones
Recommendation: Tones “On
Choose one, the message beep keeps you informed e.g. when the battery is low or the gps signal lost.
Annoying, turn “Off” (“off” is at the end of the list)
Choose different tones; warnings when navigating with routes from waypoint to waypoint or for autorouting (turn “Early / Final Turn Warning” off when you do not need it)
Different options, e.g. when approaching a POI (turn “Proximity / Speed / Tones / Alarms” off when not in use!)(highly sophisticated topic, have a look Garmin warnings and alarms, in German)

Garmin eTrex 20(x)/30(x) Settings: Map

eTrex 30x Map
Map orientation, depending on your activity (and profile):

  • North Up: North is always at the top of the display / page, independent of the device orientation (e.g. recommended for hiking without active navigation).
  • Track Up: Direction of travel is always at the top of the page (recommended for active navigation and / or activities like cycling)
  • Automotive Mode: Three dimensional look, direction of travel is always at the top of the page (recommended for automotive use)
When navigating, a guidance text with usefull informations like “Arriving at …” appears at the top of the map (not when using “Routing > Activity > Direct Routing“). “Always” should be avoided, because the text “Ready to Navigate” covers the map, even without active navigation. Best choices are “When Navigating” or “Never“, depending on you activity or profile.
Choose between different informations (data fields, graphics) on top of the map. Depending on your activity and preferences, e.g. “Dashboard > Geocaching” for geocaching. Our preference is “Custom“: “When Navigating > 4 small“, “When Not Navigating > 0” (while navigating you have four data fields as an overlay; when not navigating the map is completely visible).
  • Auto Zoom: Turn off (except for car driving)
  • Zoom Levels: Use “Auto
  • Text Size: Use “Small” or “Medium“, “Large” is usually too much.
  • Detail: “Normal” map detail level is usually enough
  • Shaded Relief: The shaded relief provides a better visualization (e.g. hill-shades), but in deep woods the darker map screen can reduce the visibility. For a better readability use “Do not show“. When you need the relief choose “Show if Available” or at least “Auto” (shaded relief disappears when zooming in the map).
Enable/Disable maps

Garmin eTrex 20(x)/30(x) Settings: Tracks

eTrex 30x Tracks
  • Do Not Record: Recommended setting when you do not need a track log, e.g. automotive profile
  • Record, Do Not Show: Starts the track log, but the log is not visible on the map.
  • Record, Show On Map: Starts the track log, track is visible on the map. Recommended settings for your outdoor activities (Tip: At the start point, always reset the track and trip data; see next topic).

Recommendation: “Auto” (good choice for most outdoor activities), “Distance” is recommended for hiking, “Time” when using the device as a data logger for geotagging.
Settings for the track log recording interval depending on the “Record Method“, the combination “Auto / Normal” is sufficent, for hiking e.g. “Distance / 10 m / 0.01 mi
Recommended “When Full
Track log color on the map, your choice!

Garmin eTrex 20(x)/30(x) Settings: Reset

eTrex 30x Reset
Deleting all data from the current trip, e.g. like “trip odometer, ascent total” (but not the “odometer” = all recorded distance by the device). Should be done before starting a new trip (alternative: “Clear Track and Trip Data” as described below).
Deletes all waypoints on the device.
Clears the actual track (active log). Should be done before starting a new trip (alternative: “Clear Track and Trip Data” as described below).
Resets the trip data AND the track log, should be done at the tour start point (immediately before leaving!).
Reset all settings (restores the gps device to factory default settings).

Garmin eTrex 20(x)/30(x) Settings: Page Sequence

eTrex 30x page sequence

Defining the page sequence (page order when pressing the “BACK” key on the device). You have two options:

  • Press the “MENU” key when you are in the “Page Sequence” menu: You can remove/include all pages or restore the defaults.
  • Select one element in the list with the thumb stick: Move / Insert / Remove single items or use the “Add Page” command.

Tip: Keep it simple, remove all pages you do not need!

Garmin eTrex 20(x)/30(x) Settings: Units

eTrex 30x Units
Your choice, depending on you region, activity, …
Your choice, depending on you region, activity, …
Your choice, depending on you region, activity, …
Your choice, depending on you region, activity, …
Your choice, depending on you region, activity, … (Hectopascals: international unit)

Garmin eTrex 20(x)/30(x) Settings: Time

eTrex 30x Time
Your choice
Automatic” is recommended.

Garmin eTrex 20(x)/30(x) Settings: Position Format

eTrex 30x Format
Format for coordinates. For geocaching and marine use “hddd°mm.mmm’“, otherwise “UTM UPS
WGS 84”, except for working with paper maps (choose the same format as the paper map)
WGS 84”, except for working with paper maps

Garmin eTrex 20(x)/30(x) Settings: Heading

eTrex 30x heading

Directional Letters” or “Numeric Degrees” are the best choices for many outdoor activities (“Mils” for special use cases)
Only relevant when navigating with compass and paper map (use the standard “True“)
Use “Bearing” (small / large is your choice) as standard, “Course (CDI)” (Course Deviation Indicator) e.g. for sea kayaking
Use “Auto” (“Off” when you do not need the compass, might save some battery)
Calibrate the compass at the starting point
Screenshots (left to right)

  • Compass: Bearing small, Directional Letters
  • Compass: Bearing large, Directional Letters
  • Compass: Course (CDI), Numeric Degrees

eTrex 30x Compass
eTrex 30x Bearing large
eTrex 30x CDI

Garmin eTrex 20(x)/30(x) Settings: Altimeter

eTrex 30x Altimeter
eTrex 30x barometer

Altimeter Settings (1st screenshot)

  • On: auto calibration activated
  • Off: auto calibration disabled

Recommended altimeter calibration methods for outdoor activities:

  • 1st choice: Manually by entering the elevation at your starting point and recalibration on tour (e.g. elevations from mountain tops)(auto calibration "off")
  • 2nd choice: Manually by entering the elevation at your starting point, on tour using auto calibration "On"
  • 3rd choice: Use only auto calibration "On"
"Variable Elevation" as altimeter
"Save When Power On" as altimeter on tour
"Elevation / Time" or "Elevation / Distance"
Calibrate the altimeter by using one of these data:

  • "Correct Elevation" (e.g. from a paper or digital map)
  • "Correct Pressure" (e.g. from weather data)
  • "Current GPS Altitude" (from your gps device; tip: wait some minutes after power on)

Barometer Settings (2nd screenshot)

"Off": auto calibration turned off
Use "Fixed Elevation"
"Save Always", reads pressure even when the device is turned off
"Barometric Pressure" (use preferably; ambient pressure calibrated to sea level, not compensate for humidity or temperature) or "Ambient Pressure" (sensor reading from the unit)
Calibrate the altimeter by using one of these data:

  • "Current Elevation" (e.g. from a paper or digital map)
  • "Correct Pressure" (e.g. from weather data)
  • "Current GPS Altitude" (from your gps device; tip: wait some minutes after power on)

Garmin eTrex 20(x)/30(x) Settings: Geocaching

eTrex 30x geocaching
  • Geocache List: Preferably choose "Show Names" over "Show GC Codes" (e.g. "Welcome to Bavaria" instead of "GC2NJG9")
  • Geocache Style: Select "Auto"
Number of found geocaches (automatically added, but you can manually edit the number by entering the menu item with the thumbstick)
Define filters for geocaches, e.g. for traditional geocaches
Search for a Garmin chirp
Programing a chirp

Garmin eTrex 20(x)/30(x) Settings: Routing

eTrex 30x routing
Choose one method, depending on your activity (e.g. "Off Road" for the last meters to a geocache)

  • "Off Road": Straight line from your current position to the destination (e.g. waypoint, geocache) or from point to point (e.g. waypoint to waypoint when navigating along a multipoint route). Direct routing is independent from trails, streets etc. on the map ("over hill and dale").
  • "On Road ...": Autorouting (= device automatically calculates a route) to the destination, along trails, streets etc. in the map database (requires a routable map), choose your preferred method.
  • "Prompted": After setting the destination you can choose the "Guidance Method".
Selection depends on the activity and your preferences.
"No", except for activities like road cycling or automobile driving (corrects your gps position to align with the road on the map).
"Auto" is normally fine

  • "Auto": automatic transition to the next point of a multipoint route
  • "Manual": manual transition to the next point of a multipoint route
  • "Distance": when you are within the entered distance the device leads you to the next waypoint of a multipoint route
Types of roads you want to avoid when using autorouting.

Garmin eTrex 20(x)/30(x) Settings: Marine

eTrex 30x marine
Depends on the used maps (e.g. Garmin BlueChart) and the activity („Fishing“, „Nautical“)(screenshots: top „Nautical“, down „Fishing“); otherwise turn it off. Garmin Bluechart g2: Kiel harbour, nautical Garmin Bluechart g2: Kiel harbour, fishing
Different map settings (sorry, no experiences!)
Different marine alarms, e.g. anchor drag alarm

Garmin eTrex 20(x)/30(x) Settings: ANT Sensor

eTrex 30x ant sensor
"Off", except you want to pair / use a heart rate monitor
"Off", except you need it
"Off", except you need it

Garmin eTrex 20(x)/30(x) Settings: Profiles

eTrex 30x profiles
Creating / Deleting / Naming / Moving profiles:

  • Recommendation: Leave the Garmin default profiles as is and create your own profiles.
  • How-to: Activate a default Garmin profile (e.g. "Recreational", function "Profile Change" in the main menu), go to "Setup > Profiles > Create Profile", your new profile has the same settings as the previously activated "Recreational" profile, then you can rename and tweak the new profile as you like.

Garmin eTrex 20(x)/30(x) Settings: About

eTrex 30x about
Software version, unit ID, licence informations

Garmin eTrex 20(x)/30(x): Trip Computer

eTrex 30x trip computer
Start the "Trip Computer" page, press the "MENU" key and customize the trip computer (change the dashboard, style, data fields etc.)


  1. Hi
    How to customize recording of waypoints in ascending order like A1,A2,.. using garmin etrex 20x rather than the numbers.
    thank you

  2. i have my Garmin 30x i have used it for 8 months but recently it just showing battery low no matter how i replace the batteries
    is there any solution for this?

    • I guess you did not setup the correct battery type in the system settings – so it does not show the real charging status

  3. Good info here thank you. How do I get the etrex 20x to display a stand alone elevation profile page of the route I am navigating? In my edge 800 I can easily swipe from the current active route/map page to a full page elevation profile of that route on the next page so i can see the hills approaching as I ride my bike. How do I get the etrex set up the same way please? Thanks.

    • Hi, as I remember this feature is only provided by the 30x, not by the 20x.

  4. Very useful piece of material.

  5. Ditched my etrex 20 when buttons disintegrated and bought Etrex 30x. Now have a 3 axis compass. So much easier to Geocache. Used this site to set it all up and reference for future tweaking. Thanks for the effort to create this site. Maybe Garmin should recommend it as much better than manual, IMHO.

    • Many thanks for your comment!

  6. I’ve had my Etrex 20 for several years & use it primarily for geocaching. When out with friends caching I often find my device takes much longer to settle down, is definitely NOT as accurate to getting to ground zero as my one friend who uses a Magellan & another who uses an older Garmin gps map series-the ones with the antenna sticking up. I’ve been told that the Garmin all use the same software & should be same accuracy, yet when they get to GZ I’m still several feet &/or yards away. Is there any way to either set up my GPS for greater accuracy or ???? Thanks.

    • Hi, you can try it with GLONASS (if deactivated) and hold the device horizontally for best satellite reception – that’s all you can do!

  7. This is a most helpful website!

    • Thank’s for your comment and a happy new year!

  8. We go to Europe , How. to program my Etrex 20 ?

    • Hi, nothing special, may be the units and the time format – that’s it

  9. Wow, clear and concise. Great page.

  10. Thank you very much for the detailed instructions. I just bought an etrex 20, and I’ll certainly use your site for reference.
    BTW, just for the fun of it, I used the coordinated shown in the photos to locate your home in Muensing in Google Earth. Nice garden you have there! 🙂


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