Garmin Foretrex 601 – Settings & How-To Guide

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Garmin Foretrex 601 / 701 – Settings & How-to guide: Recommendations, tips and informations for beginners and advanced users – your guide for a perfect Garmin Foretrex setup!

Menu – Setup
  • Time Format: Your choice, e.g. 24-Hour
  • Time Zone: Automatic is recommended
  • Show Timer Page: Activate this page only if needed
  • Count Down From: Choice between 10:00 / 6:00 / 5.00 / 4:00 / Count Up / Custom (e.g. 3 minutes)
  • When Expired: Choice between Stop / Count Up / Repeat
  • Expired Tone: Your choice
  • Interval Tone: Your choice
  • Light Timeout: Choice between Stays On (= always active) or a specific time; setting depends on your activity (e.g. cycling stays on, hiking 30 seconds)
  • NVG Mode (night vision goggles, Mode): On / Off; deactivates the backlight independent from you settings in Light Timeout; our preference is off; probably better to activate the NVG mode by pressing the power button (function Enable NVG Mode)
  • Contrast: Use the standard setting
  • Backlight: Choice between Low / High; low is sufficient for most activities
  • Position Format: Format for coordinates; for geocaching and marine use H D’M.M', otherwise UTM/UPS is the standard
  • Position Format 2: Your choice; 2nd position format is available e.g. on the trip computer page (Location2 field)
  • Map Datum: Use WGS 84, except in combination with paper maps (choose the same format as the paper map)
  • Distance / Speed: Your choice
  • Elevation: Your choice
  • Temperature: Your choice
  • Vertical Speed: e.g. M/MIN (Meter per Minute)
  • Pressure: Your choice, depending on you region, activity, … (hpascals = hectopascals: international unit)
  • Display: Degrees / Mils; use degrees (MIL for miltary use)
  • North Reference: True / Mag / Grid / User; only relevant when navigating with compass and paper map (use the standard True)
  • Compass: Auto / Off; we recommend auto
  • Calibrate Compass: Calibrate the compass at the starting point or if necessary (e.g. after changing the batteries)
  • GPS Mode: GPS / GPS + GLONASS / GPS + GALILEO / Ultratrac / Demo; use GPS (or for special use case like trail running Ultratrac) for a better battery life; GPS + GLONASS (or in future GPS + GALILEO) for a better accuracy (e.g. alpine environments, urban canyons)
  • WAAS/EGNOS: On / Off; 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 especially recommended for pilots and mariners

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

  • Beeper: Key and Message / Message Only / Off; message only is our preference (especially for system messages like low battery or lost satellite reception)
  • Battery: Alkaline / NiMH / Lithium; depends on your preferred battery type

    Recommendation: NiMH for daily use, Lithium for long distance trips in cold environments or if the best battery life is required.

  • Language: Your choice
  • Spanner: Yes / No;
  • Yes is our recommendation:
    • The Foretrex is supplied with energy when connecting to an external power source (e.g. AC charger)
    • Connecting the Foretrex to a Desktop-PC / Laptop you get the screen USB Cable Detected. Would you like to go to Mass Storage?:
      • Yes: Activiting the mass storage, you have access to the file system and can copy data (e.g. with Garmin BaseCamp)
      • No: Foretrex is powered by the external source, you can play with the device
  • No: Device is powered by the external source
  • Owner Info: Add your personal data, when you choose at power up: show you data is shown when the device is powered up
  • Recording: On / Off; standard should be off, activate the recording only if needed
  • Recording Interval: Distance / Time /Auto; our recommendation is Auto (good choice for most outdoor activities); Distance is especially recommended for hiking
  • Resolution: Number of points in a track; depends on the recording interval; the Foretrex lacks an automatic track archiving feature, so be careful (track log can be overwritten); in the menu tracks you get the information track memory used (upper corner of the display)
    • Auto: highest is the best resolution (most track points) and is recommended for short trips (active track log < 10.000 points)
    • Distance: For hiking e.g. Distance / 00010.0 m
  • Wrap When Full: Yes / No; when you choose Yes the active track log is overwritten when the limit (10.000 points) is reached; recommendation is No in combination with a lower resolution
  • Route Leg Transition: Auto / Distance; Auto should be your standard setting
  • Map Orientation: North Up / Track Up
    • North Up: North is always at the top of the display / page, independent of the device orientation
    • Track Up: Direction of travel is always at the top of the page (recommended for active navigation)
  • Auto Zoom: On / Off; Off is probably the best setting
  • Go To Line: Bearing / Course; Bearing is recommended for most activities; Course is suitable for activities like sea kayaking
  • Auto Calibration: On / Off; 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 auto calibration On
    • 3rd choice: Use only auto calibration On
  • Calibrate Altimeter: Elevation / Barometric Pressure / GPS Altitude (best: elevation or barometric pressure)
  • Reset Trip Data: Deleting all data from the current trip, e.g. fields like trip odometer, total ascent (but not the odometer = all recorded distance by the device). Should be done before starting a new trip
  • Delete All Waypoints: Deletes all waypoints on the device
  • Restore Default: Restores the Foretrex to factory default settings
About Foretrex
  • About Foretrex: e.g. software versions
More Settings
  • Foretrex stops responding: Hold POWER button for 10 seconds
  • Master Reset: User data will be erased!
    1. Turn off Foretrex
    2. Press and hold the PAGE, ENTER and POWER buttons simultaneously
    3. Once the device is powering on release POWER, on 1st beep release PAGE, and on 2nd beep release ENTER
  • 500 waypoints (names max. 8 characters)
  • 20 routes (max. 125 waypoints each)
  • 100 saved tracks (GPX: 500 points; FIT: 10.000 points; tracks are saved simultaneously as GPX- and FIT-files)
  • Active track log max. 10.000 points
Optimizing Battery Life
  • Heading: Compass off
  • Light Timeout: Select a short time
  • Backlight: Low
  • Use the NVG mode
  • GPS Mode: GPS or Ultratrac (special purpose, e.g. ultra trail running)
  • Beeper: Message only
  • Map Orientation: North Up; Auto Zoom: off

Leave a Comment

22 thoughts on “Garmin Foretrex 601 – Settings & How-To Guide”

  1. I want to know of any software which I can use to transfer data between a PC (Windows 10) or Android device and Garmin Foretrex 601.

    I Know that maps aren’t downloadable/installable, I Just want to be able to plot points and routes on a map then download those points and routes to the Foretrex 601.

    Most other software is geared toward tracking which I’m not interested in. Unfortunately, even the Garmin software available is lacking in this department, specifically in relation to this model GPS unit.

    • Hi,

      unfortunately I do not have a Foretrex to try out there. Give Garmin BaseCamp a try, also it should be possible to copy data manually (e.g. Windows Explorer, copy gpx files in the Garmin/GPX folder). With Android it could be possible to copy files with the help of an OTG cable (you get access to the file system of Foretrex).

    • Just log a route in basecamp. Then create track points based on that route. Just make sure you select DRIVING option when’s creating the ROUTES

  2. Hello Joachim,
    Indeed your page is more helpful than the user manual.
    Las Sunday I was on a trip and took both my old Foretrex 401 and the newly purchased Foretrex 601 – the former on my left hand and the later on my right hand. I used walking sticks so that both my hands did the same movements.
    Foretrex 401 was set to Recording Interval=Auto
    Foretrex 601 was set to Recording Interval=Distance, Value = 20m
    At the end of the day the trip odometers read:
    Foretrex 401 odometer read 18.0km
    Foretrex 601 odometer read 19.5km
    When I downloaded the data to MapSource the track lengths were as follows:
    Foretrex 401 track lenght= 18.1km
    Foretrex 601 track lenght= 17.1km

    My firmware seems to be the latest one – 3.90.

  3. hello. Ive done an hard reset on the device and since then my compass is not working while im stationary. Is hardware problem? it only works while moving but its using the gps data. Need some help. Im trying to contact garmin but no response until now.

  4. On a recent hike in rolling hills with good GPS reception my 601 Trip Odometer indicates 11.7km with Recording Interval = Distance and Value = 10.0m, but the GPX record measures 10.2km and my 401 Trip Odometer indicates 10.4km with Recording Interval Auto / Medium Resolution. I am disappointed that the 401 seems to be more accurate and that the 601 would record track points with such a variation in total distance. Any ideas?

    • Update: there is an optional GPS update offered in BaseCamp Web Updater that helps. The Error is more like 3-4%. Other thoughts are still welcome!

  5. To whom it may concern,

    We are interested in buying Your Garmin Foretrex 601, 250 pieces. Could You please make us an offer?

    Looking forward to hearing from you soon.

    Best regards,
    Karolis Zubernis
    Purchase Manager

    UAB „Sentios“
    Address: Islandijos pl. 91, Kaunas, LT-49176, Lithuania
    Phone: +370 650 12 212

  6. Could you please tell me, if the wake up function is available on the FORETREX 601 ( hibernate mode to active mode)

    Thanks in advance

    • Hi, I did not test it, but I guess it can not be used as the foretrex has no further interface settings like the GPSMAP devices.

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