Garmin eTrex 20x, 30x, 22x, 32x Setup, Settings & How-To Guide

March 02, 2016
by Joachim Bardua
Garmin eTrex 20x, 22x, 30x, 32x Settings & How-To Guide
eTrex 30x Menu 1
eTrex 30x Menu 2
eTrex 30x Menu 3

Garmin eTrex 20/20x/22x/30/30x/32x Settings: System

eTrex 30x system
Choose “GPS + GLONASS“, “GPS” for a better 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 20/20x/22x/30/30x/32x 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 20/20x/22x/30/30x/32x 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 20/20x/22x/30/30x/32x 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 20/20x/22x/30/30x/32x 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 20/20x/22x/30/30x/32x 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 20/20x/22x/30/30x/32x 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 20/20x/22x/30/30x/32x 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 20/20x/22x/30/30x/32x Settings: Time

eTrex 30x Time
Your choice
Automatic” is recommended.

Garmin eTrex 20/20x/22x/30/30x/32x 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 20/20x/22x/30/30x/32x 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 20/20x/22x/30/30x/32x 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 20/20x/22x/30/30x/32x 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 20/20x/22x/30/30x/32x 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 20/20x/22x/30/30x/32x Settings: Marine

eTrex 30x marine
Depends on the used maps (e.g. Garmin BlueChart) and the activity („Fishing“, „Nautical“)
Different map settings (sorry, no experiences!)
Different marine alarms, e.g. anchor drag alarm

Garmin eTrex 20/20x/22x/30/30x/32x 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 20/20x/22x/30/30x/32x 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 20/20x/22x/30/30x/32x Settings: About

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

Garmin eTrex 20/20x/22x/30/30x/32x: 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. when i select screenshot mode, how can i adjust screen light ? Because light button turns out screen shot button.

    • only before / after activating screenshot mode

  2. Lebanon Map

  3. hi, etrex 20,When out hiking is there any way of recording the running mileage on the garmin screen, I only seem to be able to gather the total mileage after downloading the walk onto base camp..

  4. I would like to know if the eTrex 20x, purchased in the US, can use Japanese street maps.

    Also, please tell me what maps are already included with the eTrex 20x (US version). I cannot find this information anywhere.

    Thank you!

    • I think it can use Japanese street maps, but I do not know if e.g. the address search is working; the 20x has only a worldwide basemap.

  5. I want to enter a destination by coordinates but when I try to do so the coordinates already entered on the “Enter Coordinates” screen won’t clear. I can type over them, but unless the new ones have the same number of digits, ie two letters 6 digits, the old ones remain. Also, some coordinates in the uk start with SU or SP and so on. There seems to be no way to enter these? What am I doing wrong? garmin etrex 30x

    • go with the arrows to the coordinate you want to change and type the new one – works!

    • The coordinates in the UK that start with SU, SP etc are for ordinance survey maps, I’m not sure that the Garmin can work with that system so you may need to convert them to normal GPS coordinates.

  6. I too am a complete Garmin novice, so greatly appreciate this website. The Etrex 32x has no off switch so far as I can see! Is there any way to turn it off entirely (eg so that everything stops running) apart from removing a battery?

    • Hi, you must press the lower button on the right side for some seconds…!

  7. Hi, I am new to the world of Garmin. I am planning to walk the entire 610 mile route of The Western Front. Starting at Dunkirk and finishing at Pletterhouse on the Swiss, German and French borders. I have been given a Garmin 30x to record my journey. I don’t want to use it to map read but I do want a record of my route to review when I finish the walk. How can I do this please. I am setting of from Dunkirk on 4th August 2019 (in 4 days time)

    • Hi Alan,

      the 30x is a great choice for long distance hiking!

      – Every day

      before hiking

      1: calibrate the altimeter: setup > altimeter > calibrate altimeter
      2: start logging: setup > tracks > track log > record > show on map.
      3: clear the track log: reset > clear track and trip data.

      after your daily hike

      1: turn the track log off (= do not record)
      2: save the track: track manager > current track > save track.

      General settings

      1: as recording method & interval you can choose auto /normal or distance / 0,01 km = every 10 m.
      2: activate auto archiving: setup > tracks > auto archive > when full
      3: altimeter settings as in the description above

      Have fun!

  8. I have the etrex 30x. I have turned off the proximity alarms, but how do I turn off the arrival alarm?

    • Hello, can you test folllowing issue may have your device to?

      I have issue with trip computer, i walked some minute without stopped in deep forest then my etrex trip computer said i stopped little bit, gps signal if very strong.

      • Hi. I just got mine and don’t know much about it. I tested the trip computer outside and whenever I stopped for 3 seconds, the “stopped time” would begin counting. Then I walked around inside a brick building. The “stopped time” began counting again even when I was walking . I always had good GPS signal.

        Maybe its just the deep forest?

        • I am face to face that issue just deep forest, i tested again in city today, under the bridge, under the one of big tree i facing that issue.

          What is your firmware version?

  9. Hello, i have etrex 30x latest firmware v3.0

    I have issue with trip computer, i walked 60 minute without stopped in deep forest then my etrex trip computer displayed 58 minute for stopped time, gps signal if very strong.

    What is problem? Am i tweak something on my device?

    • You walked too slow 🙂
      The eTrex recognizes speed below (approximately) 2,5 km/h as “stopped” (only devices like the Oregon allow to turn this auto pause feature off)

      • Hello, I am not i am sure 🙂
        I walked about beetween 4 km/h or 5 km/h.

        • Hi,
          that`s the only explanation I know; the eTrex has some kind of algorithm to count a “slow speed” as stopped.

  10. Hello,
    Very detailed informations.

    How can i mark my camp area before long trip in deep forest, then i wanna go back to my camp area.


    • Hi,
      when you are at the camp press the thumbstick for a while and create a new waypoint, later you can select this waypoint a destination. Otherwise move the Cursor with the stick on the map to the camp, press the stick, choose one item from the list and save it as a waypoint.
      I hope this helps!

      • Great, thanks.

  11. Thank you so much for putting this together! I was wondering if you might know if turning track recording off conserves battery life?


    • Hi,
      no, I don’t think that turning track recording off saves battery as the GPS chip is still refreshing the position (only ultratrac mode would help = GPSMAP 66s/66st, fenix 5 …).

    • If i test it then i will wrote.

  12. How to set Garmin 30x to show co-ordinates to identify the position of a survey stake ?

  13. Do you know if there is a way to make roads darker and/or bolder when looking at the map?

  14. Joachim, I had given up hope of finding useful online advice, presented in a clear and systematic manner . . . until I found this site. I heartily congratulate you for your clear thinking and your interest in assisting users of these devices.

    • Hi John,

      thanks for your reply, I appreciate it. Feel free to ask if you have questions!

  15. What a wonderful resource! Thank you so much for making it available and maintaining it. I just started using an eTrex 30x, I had an eTrex Vista HCx before (but it recently got broken). On the HCx I had a time of day datafield in the Trip Computer that showed hours, minutes AND SECONDS which is important for my use. On the 30x, seconds are basically shown nowhere. The only option I could find is to add a large data field to the map. But that data field takes 1/3 of the screen! Is there any other place where I can display (or set it to display) the current time INCLUDING THE SECONDS? Thank you!

    • Hi, e.g. in the trip computer; open this application, press the MENU button, choose “change data fields”, select one, click with the thumb stick and select “time of day” for one field.

      • Thank you but I tried that already. It displays hours and minutes but not seconds.

          • It is indeed different on my unit. You seem to have Big Numbers enabled, in which case the top field is wide enough to display also seconds. (Maybe it also works when Small Numbers is on.) If I enable Big Numbers on the 30x, there are two Big Number fields at the bottom of the page, like in your image. The top row remains split in two fields. Each one of these four may be set to Time of Day, but displays only hh:mm. I also notice from the screenshot on this page that most pages have a battery indicator, Time of Day including seconds, and Satellite reception strenght. How useful! My 30x displays at the top of the Trip Computer page “Sunrise in 7h 9 min”, with a quite large image of a rising sun. Blingbling that I don’t need. If only this was a changeable data field, but it isn’t.
            Thanks again for trying to help me. My question remains if there is any way on the 30x (except on the Map page as described) to display current time including seconds. I guess there isn’t. 🙁

          • Just to clarify, by “from the screenshot on this page”, I mean: “from the screenshots higher up on this webpage”

          • Etrex 30X. Software Version 3.00.

            In COMPASS or TRIP COMPUTER page: Press the MENU button and select “Change Dashboard” then “Large Data Fields”.

            You will now have battery indicator, Time of Day including seconds, and Satellite reception strength on top of the pages.

  16. Hi. When zooming-in to obtain more map detail while navigating the current position and track/route often disappear from the active screen. Is it possible to always centre on current location when changing the zoom?

    • Hi, you can center the map by pressing the BACK-button. Cheers

  17. Hi Etrex 20x
    How can I measure distance between 2 waypoints in feet?
    I have UNITS …distance and speed = Statutebut I still get distance in “miles” like 0.2 and 0.4 mi.
    I prefer distance this small to be in feet.

    thanks tom

    • Hi, checked it with an eTrex 30; setting = statute; when the distance to a point is about 500ft you get e.g. in the data field “distance to destination” feet, when the distance is > 520 ft you get miles.

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

  19. 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

  20. 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.

  21. Very useful piece of material.

  22. 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.

  23. 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!

  24. This is a most helpful website!

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

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

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

  26. Wow, clear and concise. Great page.

  27. 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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