Garmin Foretrex 601 Review
Foretrex 601 (©Garmin)
The Garmin Foretrex 601 is the latest outdoor wearable from Garmin. The rugged Foretrex 601 is designed for military operations, hunting, scientific field work, but also for outdoor usage like hiking and dog sledding.
Compared to the Foretrex 401, the new model provides some upgrades and improvements, e.g.: increased battery life, USB port in battery compartment, GPS & GLONASS & GALILEO satellite systems, now with 2″ display and a higher resolution, 3-axis compass, Bluetooth LE, more saved tracks, …
We tested the Foretrex 601 on tour and found some pros and cons. What we especially like is the hands free navigation – you can focus on the trail ahead – and the physical buttons for operating the device with mitts. Foretrex 601 weights only 101 g (3.6 oz) with strap and batteries. That’s not featherweight, but in the same ballpark as the much smaller fenix 5X (98 g, 3.5 oz), another exceptional hands-free navigation device by Garmin (but more expensive …).
In addition, another strong feature is the amazing battery life. We tested the Foretrex with eneloop batteries and found, that it can run between 20:15 hh:mm (power mode: backlight always on, GPS & GLONASS, active navigation, track recording) and 45:30 hh:mm (energy saving mode: backlight off, GPS only, no navigation, track recording). With lithium batteries or in UltraTrac mode it will last even longer (Garmin claims up to one week).
On the other hand we found some quirks like missing features (e.g. waypoint averaging, automatic track archiving, barometric pressure plot), waypoint names with maximal 8 characters or the visibility of the track breadcrumb while navigating.
Our map provides some tracks recorded with various Garmin devices (Foretrex 601, GPSmap 64s, fenix 5X, eTrex 10). You can use this for GPS accuracy data comparisons and making up your own mind.
In our opinion the GPS accuracy of the Foretrex can not be compared with a handheld like the GPSmap 64s, but it is a tad better than the fenix 5X.
Rating: IPX7, MIL-STD-810 compliant
Weight, size: 88 g / 7,4 x 4,3 x 2,3 cm / 3.1 oz / 2.9″ x 1.7″ x 0.9″
Display: 2.0″, 4-color gray, 200 x 128 pixels, no touchscreen
Battery: Two AAA batteries
Battery life: 48 hours in GPS mode; up to 1 week in UltraTrac mode; up to 1 month in watch mode
Satellite systems: GPS / GLONASS / GALILEO / WAAS / EGNOS
Interface: ANT+ / Bluetooth LE / USB
Memory: 8,4 MB (7,7 MB free for user data)
- 500 waypoints (names max. 8 characters)
- 20 routes (125 waypoints each)
- 100 saved tracks (GPX: 500 points; FIT: 10.000 points)
- Active track log max. 10.000 points
Sensors (build in): Barometric altimeter, compass
Sensors (ANT+): Heart rate, bike speed, bike cadence, temperature, Garmin virb
Wireless: Sending & receiving data from compatible devices (e.g. waypoints, tracks)
Smartphone: Smart notifications, live tracking
Foretrex 601, QuickFit watch band
Foretrex 601, battery compartment with eneloop batteries
(Ultra) Trail Running
Dog sledding, snowmobiling, …
Scientific field work, e.g. biologists & geologists
Garmin Foretrex 601
SUMMARY: We really love the Garmin Foretrex 601 – even with all drawbacks! It’s a rugged hands-free navigator allowing you to focus on the trail ahead while hiking or running. In addition, we like it’s strong battery life, saving some weight, as you can go on a multi-day trip with one set of batteries!
The Foretrex 601 is highly recommended for various outdoor activities and all outdoor friends searching for a hands-free navigation device, but living on a tight budget.
Rugged & waterproof
Physical buttons for operating with mitts
Sensational battery life
Great display readability in various conditions
Several satellite systems
Quite easy to use
QuickFit strap compatible
Low internal memory
Few configuration options (e.g. no custom menu order)
Missing features like waypoint averaging & track archiving
Visibility of the breadcrumb track line on the map
Limited barometric functionality
- GPS 80%
- Battery 100%
- Display 80%
- Handling 60%
- Navigation 60%
- Features 40%
- Maps 0%
- Final Verdict 70%