For many backpackers Garmin’s watch-like Foretrex 401 has been a hiking essential for years. However, Garmin has introduced some newer models in the shape of the 601 and 701. But what are the main differences between the Garmin 401 vs 601 vs 701?
If you are considering an upgrade from the basic 401 to the 601 or 701, this post will help you understand the main differences between the models and if the newer Foretrex models will enhance your hike.
To kick things off, we’ll look at the basics offered in each model along with their pros and cons. We’ll also be looking at the similarities between these three Foretrex models and the main differences that set them apart.
Garmin Foretrex 401 review
Weather-resistant and weighing just a little more than a watch, the Foretrex 401 stores up to 500 waypoints and 10 tracks. It also sports a barometric altimeter, electronic compass, and wireless sharing capabilities.
With just over 12 hours on two AAA batteries, this is an old-but-gold compact hiking GPS that doesn’t come with any preloaded maps or advanced onscreen navigation.
- Ultralight and weather resistant
- Wireless sharing with other Garmin devices
- Features a barometric altimeter
- No preloaded maps
- Nothing impressive about the battery life
- No advanced onscreen navigation (1.6-inch black & white display)
Garmin Foretrex 601 review
The 601 is a major upgrade from the 401 in more than just one way. Instead of just GPS (which is all the 401 has), the 601 is supported by GPS, GLONASS, and Galileo.
Although it’s the same size and weight of the 401, it provides up to 48 hours of battery life in GPS mode, a week in UltraTrac mode, and a month in watch mode. The screen is also better than the one featured on the 401.
The Foretrex 601 also features a 2-inch 4 Color Gray screen that also supports smart notifications.
- 2-inch Low-Res Gray Scale screen
- GPS, GLONASS and Galileo supported
- Impressive battery life
- No waypoint averaging capabilities
- No automatic track archiving
Garmin Foretrex 701 review
If you love everything about the 601 and you love all things hunting, the addition of an Applied Ballistics calculator on the Fortrex 701 will seal the deal for you.
This “seemingly small addition” to the 701 means a LOT more memory and some seriously impressive capabilities including Gun Profile Management, Saved Targets, Ballistic Calibration, Muzzle Velocity Calibration, and Sight Scale Factor, to name but just a few.
The Applied Ballistics calculator is one of the best out there, and with the Foretrex 701, it’s built right into your GPS!
- Built-in Applied Ballistics Calculator
- Great battery life
- GLONASS, GPS, and Galileo supported navigation
- If you don’t love shooting, this unit doesn’t offer much more than the 601
- Like the Foretrex 601, it doesn’t have waypoint averaging capabilities or automatic track archiving
Out with the old, in with the new?
Before we look at what the Foretrex 701 brings to the table, it’s important to respect the Foretrex range’s humble beginnings and the major improvements Garmin has made to this range. F.I.Y – the 701 is basically a replica of the 601 with some great tweaks for anyone that’s into guns.
But back to the point…
Garmin has been producing amazing GPS devices for decades, so here’s a summary of the improvements you’ll appreciate if you’re upgrading from the 401 to the 601.
While the original GPS is great for navigation, it’s not always the most reliable in adverse atmospheric conditions, which is why you need more than one GPS system.
The Foretrex 401 only features original GPS navigation, but the 601 uses GPS< GLONASS and Galileo. If that doesn’t spell out great accuracy, we don’t know what does.
Aside from better navigational software, the 601 is also fitted with a 3-axis compass that doesn’t need to be held flat like the standard compass on the 401.
The 601’s screen is bigger and better compared to the 401’s screen. Twice as detailed and at least four shades of grey (instead of just black and white), the 601 offers much more screen detail than the 401.
This is one of the most impressive upgrades Garmin brought to the proverbial table. Even though the 601 also relies on 2 AAA batteries (like the 401), battery life is up from a mere 12 hours to a whopping 48 hours in GPS mode. For more battery life, you can switch to UltraTrac mode or Watch Mode that offers a week and a month’s worth of battery life, respectively.
If you want to connect your 601 to your phone, getting it set up via the Garmin Connect app with the use of Bluetooth is a breeze. And that’s something the 401 couldn’t even dream of doing. Once you’ve paired your GPS with your phone, you’ll get notifications amount SMSs and emails.
The 601 also features a barometric sensor that indicates changes in the weather. It’s also worth mentioning that the 601 is MIL-STD-810 Compliant, making it completely thermal, shock and water-resistant.
Garmin 401 vs 601 vs 701 – Which is the best?
In our opinion, this is a no-brainer. The Foretrex 601 is worlds away from the 401 and upgrading from the older model is worth it. If you’re a hunter or just love shooting, the Fortrex 701 with its Applied Ballistics Calculator should be the obvious choice.
If you’re a budget-conscious hiker, however, the 401 is still a good starting point for a watch-like GPS. But if you’re looking for something more accurate in terms of navigation, something more powerful in terms of battery, and something that sports smart modern features, saving for the 601 is the way to go!
Matt Green, is an avid hiker and lover of the great outdoors. He is always planning his next big trip or hitting the trails for a solo hike.
He’s traveled extensively to many remote regions and has plenty of experience exploring various terrains, and stories to tell.