Garmin - Boo!

Hello all,

Just a quick complaint about Garmin.

My e-trex turns out to not be waterproof. It was sitting in my day pack, on the bottom of my canoe (which had less than an inch of water in it). This resulted in it getting moisture behind the screen, effectively ending its life (a few hours later, it was totally unresponsive).

I called Garmin, waited 20 minutes, and was told that it could be fixed for $59, if I ship it to Kansas. As they claim it is waterproof (the fine print says up to one meter), I thought this was poor service. $59 seems like quite a cost for a $100 unit, that doesn’t perform to specifications anyway.

Has anyone else had good experiences with other GPS manufacturers? I am looking at Magellan now.

This has been a common
problem with Garmin units I and my friends have had. All E-trex variations.

In my opinion the waterproof claims are bogus. I am certain mine has never been totally submerged. Yet they all end up with moisture inside screen, with failure to soon follow.


after I drove over my etrex $60 looked like a good deal. Keep after them, or try and repair/dry it.

Lots Of Discussion About 6 Mo Ago
I was looking at what was available and trying to figure out the unit for me. I went to West Marine and looked at several of the units. To me, the hand helds all looked about the same.

The P.Net folks seemed to have a concensus that with the Garmins you should not depend upon them being waterproof. Some said that all would be right if you put a dab of vasoline on the battery/cable cover. And some said you should put it in a waterproof pouch.

I wound up getting a waterproof pouch for my map76.

Happy Paddling,


You should have gone through the
archives and you would have seen that four or five years ago there were several of us that warned about the Etrex.

With that said, if your Etrex was still under warrantee, they should have fixed it free or sent you a replacement (unless they have change their warrantee).

They replaced mine, but then instead of a new warrantee, the old one just continues which in my case was only six more months.

Over a period of time on the deck in the sun the glue on the case breaks down and just a little dunking will fry it.

After I fried the second one, I now keep mine in a little clear pliable plastic waterproof pouch made by Ewa Marine.



Had mine a few years, tumbled in the surf, my wife washed it inside my windbreaker, it still works fine.

Its not a brand problem
really, you just have to move up the product line and get a better model. If you look on E Bay, you will find a bunch of brand new, still in the box mid to high end models from Garmin and Magellan that have been discontinued and replaced by a newer model. On many models the only difference is that the newer model may have a color screen or memory has been added. Some are available for less than you probably paid for your ETrex and most are as much as half the original price. If you do a little shopping, you can find a bargain. Back in February, I found a Magellan Sport Trac Map for $75 brand new and it is definitely waterproof as we have been swimming together several times.

I would as a rule recommend that anyone get one of those waterproof GPS pouches that they sell or a small Pelican or Otter box to keep your GPS in, waterproof or not. It makes for cheap insurance.

Thank you all for your replies. I suppose it is just a lesson learned, relatively cheaply. I don’t think I will bother replacing it. The paddling I usually do is served well enough with the “old school tools”. I have pelican cases for my camera equipment, but the bulk and inconvenience of such a thing would make the GPS even less useful to me.

Thanks again for the tips.

I’m very very new to the world of GPS and recently Ebayed a Garmin Geko 201 and a Magellan Explorist 100. saw i could snatch a good deal on both so grabbed the 2 and figured i’ll decide later which i keep.

Explorist 100 is as basic as they come, but the satelite reception seemed better than the Geko. But. The battery cover seal on the Magellan seemed OK by feel, while with the Garmin i could tap on the battery cover and feel a tiny bit of play . Advantage-Magellan so i kept it. for the 70$ canadian it cost me, delivered, i think i got my moneys worth.

garmin legend
we have not had any problems with our etrex legends

No Problems
I’ve had my E-Trex Legend for over 2 years. I mount it on my deck in a foam block with no added protection. I’ve used it in the salt, surf, rain, rolling, etc. and the only hint of moisture was a tiny cloud on the screen once which disappeared quickly. I don’t use vasoline or any other kind of sealer.

To date, I am very pleased with the product.


I’ve had my Magellan for 7 years.

First used it on a powerboat and now on the kayaks. I never cover it or put it in a bag and have not had any problems. I care for it like I did my underwater cameras. I clean and lubricate the battery case gasket and relieve pressure when not on the boat or in use. I’m not saying Magellan is any better than any other but proper maintenance goes a long way.

Sorry too.
My bottom-of-the-line etrex has been treated horrendously, submerged every trip, once during an entire “combat” rescue, left in boiling hot car interior and used in sub-zero temps on salt water. After 4 years, not a hitch. I once dropped the battery cover overboard while changing cells, e-mailed Garmin for a price on a new cover and got a free one in the mail less than a week later.

Outstanding product and service.

The Rest of the Story —
I just noticed on the product review where you said you had owned the Etrex FOR A FEW YEARS. The warranty has expired, and the company certainly can’t be responsible for something lasting forever. I think they have every right to charge you $60 to fix an electronic device that is old and broken.

Wondered about that…
I worked where we sold Garmin and we pushed them as Garmin gave us the best service and fastest turn-around which made for happier customers.

BTW… Always better not to buy the cheapest model of ANYTHING as they are made to compete with someone elses cheapest model.

I don’t deny that they have the “right” to ask for $60 to fix the unit. I do, however, think it is unreasonbable for me to pay it, since the product did not perform as they claimed it would (i.e. it is not waterproof), and the damage to the product is a result of this misinformation. Had they original claim been “water-resistant”, I would have kept it dry, or blamed myself for its failure. I suppose I should have tested the waterproof-ness in the sink before the warantee expired, but I did not.

I appreciate your point of view on this, and it is possible that I am being unreasonable. Regardless, I still believe a reputable company would either not make false claims, or back their product better.

I will not be buying another Garmin product.

Perhaps I should
have been more clear.

My first e-trex (when model was first offered lasted just fine…I killed it in a motorcycle accident.

It is the replacement legend that lasted only 6 months before moisture was noticed on the screen, died shortly after. The vista I bought to replace the legend suffered the same fate, only this time it was a year later.

I got smart (er) with the vista purchase, and bought it from a retailer that offered one of those idiot proof warranties. Which is how the vista has been replaced twice now.

Hats off to you folks that have had trouble free service out of them. As for me…not the case.

And I know of several fishermen in the area that have had the same “luck” as myself.

We all agree we would by a different brand, if there were one that seemed to be as good as the Garmins in other respects.

They have in my opinion the best portable GPS out there. Leaks or not…(besides, just how many devices are actually WATERPROOF in the ocean environment for very long anyway? )

My 2 cents…and nothing more


(looking at the new color screen Garmins as I type this)

Well this sucks
I like my Etrex but I didnt realize they had water issues. My screen fogged up for a couple minutes the other day after we got caught in a downpour. I guess I’ll be shopping for a new GPS soon.

This is the standard.
Water resistant: IEC 60529 IPX7 standards If you google it you will find the definition. The test is done with still water and any movement of the unit or water can cause a leak. That statement came from a Garmin Service tech…

Mine stays in a aquapak and I don’t worry about it.

JT in Central Florida

I read the fine print, and now realize what it means. However, on the packaging and web-site product descriptions, the word “waterproof” is used a lot. I got the following quote from Garmin’s web-site.

“The eTrex is completely waterproof so it can take an accidental splash or dunk in the water and still continue to perform.”

Once again - I am not bothered that the E-trex isn’t waterproof. I am annoyed that they claim it is!