Garmin’s Foretrex 201 looks like a beeper. Measuring two inches wide, this beast is a little hard to get used to as a wristwatch, but I guess that’s the point. After all, the Foretrex is really a GPS unit with a monochrome LCD that fits on your wrist and weights lass than 2.75 ounces.
Boasting 15 meter accuracy in normal GPS mode, the Foretrex 201 adds the training functionality of the Forerunner 202 with the trekking and waypoint functions of the Geko 201. This means you can either set a destination coordinate and hit the road, receiving turn by turn instructions from the Foretrex, or measure your distance, speed, and time on the run.
The Foretrex is a waterproof block of green plastic with a high contrast, backlit LCD and 6 buttons on the bottom edge. From left to right, there is an on/off button that is slightly recessed next to a “Goto” button that changes the mode. Next to the Goto button are the page and enter buttons for handling menu pages and selections and finally there are a rocker switch for up and down in menus.
The interface is extremely intuitive, with average speed, time in motion, and a myriad of other readings available at the touch of one of the rubberized buttons. Telling the time, unfortunately, is rather difficult. I finally sussed out how to set one of the customizable readouts to show the hour. Quite a bit of work, considering this is also supposed to be a watch.
As a GPS device, the Foretrex is excellent. I was able to map my route on a run, get average speed and distance to a preset waypoint, and time my trip with only a five minute learning curve. For hiking and adventure travel, the Foretrex makes for a great primary compass and GPS device. As a watch, this bulky little fellow looks pretty funny on your wrist, but it will definitely keep you on, or off, the beaten track.
By John Biggs
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