GPS-watch for hiking and city orienteering: Recommendations, and ? General practical, technical and feature-wise Differences between Garmin's marketing product lines of watches


I have a Garmin eTrex 30x as my general device for maps-on-the-go and (pedestrian) routing on the go.

I saw that there are watches available with GPS and maps that have a much longer battery live than the eTrex 30x. (And I still see the big advantage of the eTrex of beeing powered by AA batteries!)

I am considering getting a watch to replace my eTrex in daily usage because of smaller size and longer battery live.

I see that Garmin offers many different watches with GPS, where some also can show maps.

But the different products and product lines are overwhelming, and you cannot narrow down by feature but only by “use case according to marketing”.

So I want to ask here – besides all that “fancy” special sport applications, which watches do you recommend (does not necessarily need to be Garmin, but for Garmin there are many ready-made OSM based maps on the Internet)

  • that is not running Android but – like the eTrex – tailored to the specific purpose of map display, location display and navigation,
  • for usage with custom maps (e.g. OpenStreetMap-based maps),
  • that can hold seveal Gigabyte of map data (microSD card would be really welcomed, but 16 GiB or better much more internal memory would also do),
  • that can handle different custom maps with custom filenames on the storage (not just gmapsupp.img, but like DE-OEPNV.img),
  • that can have maps on the storage individually activated or deactivated,
  • that can display more than one activated map at the same time – overlaying (e.g. overlaying public transport and countour lines layer over a basemap),
  • that has GPS and ideally also other geolocation satellite networks,
  • that can do on-device routing,
  • that supports adding waypoints and waypoint management,
  • that supports seach for POIs and Adresses,
  • that is weather protected,
  • that, under bright conditions, does not need to fight with it’s own backlight against the sun but can be read by the sunlight (“transflective” or “reflective” display. But maybe also OLED could be an alternative; it still fights against the sun but might be workable and enough power efficient?),
  • that has a backlight or frontlight to be readable in darkness,
  • for data transfer can act as a USB mass storage device,
  • no prorietary software, and no smartphone needed to use all functionalities (except “optional” features like display of watch data on Smartphone) of the watch and to configure it,
  • including altitude in tracks and in routing (if the underlying map has altitude data)?

(The above, all the eTrex 30x can do.)

Plus, but not necessary, would be

  • microSD-card,
  • ideally a “standard” charging connector (USB-C, microUSB),
  • magnetic compass,
  • touchscreen that can be deactivated and reactivated easily,
  • quick map rendering,
  • easy creation of routes,
  • easy routing from custom-set starting position (use case: To compare the length of ways from different possible public transport stops),
  • more RAM than the eTrex 30x,
  • easy management and split-up of recorded tracks,
  • show sunset and sunrise; moonset and moonrise and moon phase

There might be other features that I find interesting which come not into my mind now.

General use case would be hiking, orienting in cities, browsing map (on the eTrex it’s slow but reliable; while on the train there is time to plan for where to get off to go into the woods and put my tent).

I would opt for long battery and larger display.

Which Garmin product lines I should look deeper into, or maybe which other manufacturer’s devices are there?

Besides the marketing aspects that Garmin does, what are the systematic technical or feature differences, and most important, the practical daily use differences, between the Garmin product lines?

I am also happy with Open Source projects dedicated to those use cases ;-).


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