On our Garmin Foretrex 401 waterproof hiking GPS review, we will help you decide whether Foretrex 401 is a good fit for hiking. Or any other outdoor activity, for that matter!
Below, we’ll have a look at the features of 401, drawing parallels with other members of the Foretrex family. Let’s get started with our overview of 401’s advantages and features!
As a mid-end model in the Foretrex line, Foretrex 401 offers middle-range quality and durability. It’s quite durable and tough, but we wouldn’t advise it for avid outdoorsmen. But, on the other hand, it’s far better than the low-end 101 or 201.
In terms of water resistance, Foretrex 401 is rated IPX7 – like all other members of the Foretrex family. If you didn’t know, IPX7 implies that the device will withstand exposure to water at depths down to 3.3 feet for up to 30 minutes. You definitely shouldn’t take this thing swimming, but it will survive splashes just fine.
Navigation is why you would get something like Foretrex 401 in the first place, so let’s dwell in this section a little longer.
Here is what Foretrex 401 offers in the navigation department:
In terms of overall accuracy, this Garmin hiking watch is solid. It’s way better than in 101 or 201 as well. All in all, its accuracy isn’t point-to-point as in the very best GPS units you can find, but it’s stable, consistent, and doesn’t seem to give weird jumps, like cheaper units do.
Although Foretrex 401 is primarily aimed at navigation, it has some clock features as well. Among them are:
As you can see, Foretrex 401 has all the clock essentials one would need. With that, this device is pretty much a GPS watch!
Foretrex 401 sports a 1.6-inch black and white LCD. The display in this GPS unit isn’t the biggest in the Foretrex line – 701’s display is sized at 2 inches and is also color – but it’s pretty nice.
The UI is particularly good in Foretrex 401. The elements here are large and clear, and you can even customize what’s displayed on the LCD! You may create multiple pages too, each with its own arrangement of elements.
No GPS unit is perfect. In the case of Foretrex 401, we would like to point out 2 downsides – short battery life and non-rechargeable battery.
The battery life in this Garmin hiking watch is only 17 hours in GPS mode. For some perspective, the low-end 101 has a 15-hour runtime, while 601 or 701 reach a whopping 48 hours! For a mid-range Foretrex product, 17 hours isn’t that impressive.
Foretrex 401 appears to not have any electric circuitry that would allow you to recharge the 2 internal AA batteries, even if you insert rechargeable ones. Though AA batteries are easy to find and replace, it would be nice if there was a way to recharge them while inside the GPS unit.
With that said, when hiking, just replacing the batteries with fresh ones can be easier than recharging. So although rechargeable batteries are common in modern GPS units, for the use cases of Foretrex 401, non-rechargeable batteries aren’t a huge downside.
For the money, Garmin Foretrex 401 offers an excellent feature set. We would really want to see longer battery life in it, but since swapping AA batteries isn’t too difficult, this isn’t that big of an issue for hiking.
What’s much more important is that you are getting navigation and timekeeping essentials along with a pretty rugged water-resistant build. 401 also fits quite nicely in the Foretrex line, offering good value for the money. For limited-budget hiking, Foretrex 401 is an excellent choice.
You can find 601 for a little more money than 401, so if you do want its benefits, it may work out better for your hiking needs. As for Foretrex 701, it’s really expensive, but its aiming aid might be nice for some people.