With the recent growth in technology and the desire for cyclists to go further, GPS units have become a must have on your handlebars for any bikepacking adventure. In my search to find the best device for navigating the Colorado and Arizona trails, I soon realized that the majority of people use one device, and for good reason. It is a small and light, AA friendly, simple enough to navigate and most importantly, easy to load waypoints and files to. I looked no further than the Garmin Etrex Series. The Device: I’m the type of guy that needs the best thing on the market, so the Etrex 10 and 20 were out of the picture for me. This does not mean that those are not great devices. The Etrex 30 comes in at 5oz with two AA batteries. The device feels great in the palm of my hand, with the navigation button on the top right making it more right-hand friendly. The power button, as well as a few navigation buttons, are on each side of the unit – making things less cluttered and easy to access. Flip the unit over and you will see a silver lever to turn and open the back cover where the batteries and micro SD port live. The lever provides a secure piece of mind as it is easy to tell when the back is locked or unlocked. In general, the unit is strong and has rubber edges which provide shock protection in case of a fall. The screen produces 176 x 220 pixels in color. The attachment point for mounts is on the backside of the device connected to the battery plate. Garmin designed a sliding motion mount that is simple yet extremely reliable. User Friendly Programs: The best feature of the Etrex is the mapping programs that it is compatible with. Personally, I have had a horrible time with non-Garmin units and figuring out how to upload maps and waypoints. If you have Windows, Topo Fusion is your go-to mapping program. If you have an Apple computer, you will be using Garmin Basecamp. I am an Apple user, and I love how user friendly Basecamp is. I download free maps from http://www.gpsfiledepot.com/, I tend to download maps by state. I then use Garmin Map Install/Manager to load the map onto the device. This takes away the step of having to physically drop the file yourself. From Basecamp you can open each map under the maps tab once they have been uploaded. Basecamp allows you to easily import GPX files- you can also export the GPX file to Google Earth, giving you a 3D visual of the route which is extremely helpful when studying your upcoming ride. Once you have the GPX file uploaded you can drop your waypoints at ease. Make sure to save your route to your Etrex and you’re good to go. On the trail: The device is very easy to use especially if you are following a track. Once you are ready to go, find the track manager category under the main screen, select your track and then click “start track”. Your waypoints and track will show up making sure you don’t miss a beat. One thing to be aware of is if you are too far zoomed in you may not be able to see your waypoints on the map. Be sure to either put the waypoints directly on the route, or make sure you are zoomed out far enough to see each waypoint. As far as durability goes, the Etrex is a beast. I have tested it in every condition you could think of. It has functioned well in Arizona, where temperatures top off at 100 degrees, as well as on the Colorado Trail where it was completely soaked in numerous rain/hail storms. Although it may have run a bit slower than usual, it also functioned in -40 degree temperatures in Northern Minnesota for the Arrowhead Ultra. The Garmin Etrex series is the most user friendly GPS device and is the standard for bikepackers. If you have any questions please feel free to send us an email or comment. We would love to help you figure out your next adventure.