Last Updated:  November 15th, 2020

Garmin Foretrex 401 vs 601 vs 701- How Big Is The Upgrade?

garmin foretrex 401 vs 601-701

The Garmin Foretrex 401 has been a staple for many an outdoor lovers for years. And the upgrade to the 601 / 701 is something most people might be considering or wondering if it is worth the money. 

In this post I am going to take a quick, but detailed dive into the main differences between these two models to see if the upgrade is worth it – for you.

To start with, I have compared the two models (401 vs 601) and their main specs below, so you can see what is the same and what has changed with the 601. Following that, I will quickly show you what is in the 701 – (hint:it is basically the 601 with a few additions).

Below the comparison table I will take a look at the main differences, and whether they matter.

Garmin Foretrex 401 Waterproof Hiking GPS
Garmin 010-01772-00 Foretrex 601, 2 inches
GPS
GPS
GPS / GLONASS / Galileo
Barometer Altimeter
Compass
Waypoints, Routes, Track log
500, 20, 10,000
500, 20, 10,000
Dimensions
2.9″ x 1.7″ x 0.9″
2.9″ x 1.7″ x 0.9″
Weight
3.1 oz
3.1 oz
Water Resistance
IPX7
IPX7
Battery Life
17 hours in GPS mode
More than 48 hours in GPS mode; up to 1 week in UltraTrac™ mode; up to 1 month in watch mode
Battery Type
2 x AAA (not included)
2 x AAA (not included)
Screen Size
1.6 inch Black & White
2.0 inch 4 Color Gray
Screen Resolution
100 x 64 pixels
200 x 128 pixels
Smart Notifications
Garmin Foretrex 401 Waterproof Hiking GPS
GPS
GPS
Barometer Altimeter
Compass
Waypoints, Routes, Track log
500, 20, 10,000
Dimensions
2.9″ x 1.7″ x 0.9″
Weight
3.1 oz
Water Resistance
IPX7
Battery Life
17 hours in GPS mode
Battery Type
2 x AAA (not included)
Screen Size
1.6 inch Black & White
Screen Resolution
100 x 64 pixels
Smart Notifications
Garmin 010-01772-00 Foretrex 601, 2 inches
GPS
GPS / GLONASS / Galileo
Barometer Altimeter
Compass
Waypoints, Routes, Track log
500, 20, 10,000
Dimensions
2.9″ x 1.7″ x 0.9″
Weight
3.1 oz
Water Resistance
IPX7
Battery Life
More than 48 hours in GPS mode; up to 1 week in UltraTrac™ mode; up to 1 month in watch mode
Battery Type
2 x AAA (not included)
Screen Size
2.0 inch 4 Color Gray
Screen Resolution
200 x 128 pixels
Smart Notifications

The Main Difference Between the 401 & 601

Garmin has been making great GPSs for decades and it is no surprise that they do not sit still with model upgrades like this.

Sure, you don’t have to get the new Foretrex 601 (and 701), but they have made some quite significant changes that I think are worth it for anyone spending a lot of time in the outdoors.

The Battery Life

This is perhaps the biggest and best change they have made.

Still using 2x AAA batteries, Garmin have taken the battery life from 17 hours to over 48 hours while using the GPS. There are other modes in the Foretrex 601 which will give you even more life (1 week in UltraTrac™ mode; 1 month in watch mode) so if you really want to keep this running, but not use the GPS “all the time” you can use it for a seriously long time.

If you are like me, and sometimes head into the woods for days on end, it’s great to know you won’t need to charge your batteries, or bring extras. Although, I suggest always carrying spares – because you never know!

GPS Systems & Compass

The original US GPS system is reliable and often enough to get you where you are going. However, sometimes satellites are blocked by trees, mountains or just not in view. That is where having a number of GPS systems at your disposal comes in handy.

The Foretrex 601 adds not only the Russian GLONLASS system to your arsenal, but also the European Gallileo system. That way you have a huge array of satellites you can rely on and use to get more accurate GPS information.

The 601 also has an upgraded 3 axis compass that can be used on the go or while standing still and does not need to be held flat. This is always a better option than the standard compass on the 401

Screen Size & Quality

Not the biggest winner in this upgrade but worth mentioning nonetheless. The screen on the 601 is bigger and of higher quality than the 401. It’s 2 inches compared to the 1.6 but more importantly twice as detailed in terms of pixels and has 4 shades of grey for better details, instead of just black on the 401.

So, overall, the Foretrex 601 has a far better screen than the 401.

Smart Notifications

For those of you wanting to connect to your phone and use the Foretrex more as a “smart watch” there is good news with the 601. You can connect to your phone via the Garmin Connect mobile app which uses Bluetooth to constantly talk to your device.

This means you can now get SMS, email and other smart phone notifications. It also means you can connect from your GPS to the web via Garmin and have people follow your progress, as long as you have cellphone connectivity of course (which is often not the case, let’s face it).

Other Noteworthy Additions On The 601

A couple of other noteworthy additions to the 601 include a weather indicator using the barometric sensor (something I like on my Suunto Vertical).
Another thing hunters and those in the military are going to love is its compatibility with night vision goggles AND top level/military weather & environment resistance (MIL-STD-810 Compliant: thermal, shock, water).

The Difference Between The 601 & 701

The Foretrex 701 is basically the 601 with the addition of an Applied Ballistics calculator. This may only be one thing, but contained in that calculator is not only a huge amount of memory, but some of the following functions that hunters, military and anyone show shoots a lot will love:
  • Capable of calculating solutions past 10,000 yards.
  • Gun Profile Management – Build & Edit profiles directly (can store up to 100 profiles)
  • Saved Targets – Can store up to 10 Targets
  • Ballistic Calibration – Capable of up to 6 DSF (Drop Scale Factor) Calibrations.
  • Muzzle Velocity Calibration
  • Sight Scale Factor – Ability to true the firing solution the actual movement value of your scopes turrets
  • Custom Drag Models
  • Aerodynamic Jump, Spin Drift, Vertical Coriolis Effect, Horizontal Coriolis Effect, Max Ord, & Max Ord Range – are all calculated in the system
  • Muzzle Velocity Temp-Table
And quite a few more handy features. This is one of the best balistics calculators on the market and is built right in to your handheld (or wrist held) GPS. Together with the extra GPS accuracy, battery life and military grade (MIL-STD-810) resistance, the Foretrex 701 is almost the perfect outdoor companion.
Garmin Foretrex 401 Waterproof Hiking GPS

Garmin Foretrex 401

Garmin 010-01772-00 Foretrex 601, 2 inches

Garmin Foretrex 601

Garmin 010-01772-10 Foretrex 701 Ballistic Edition, 2 inches

Garmin Foretrex 701

Which Is The Perfect Garmin Foretrex For You?

For me it’s a no-brainer. The Foretrex 601 is a huge improvement over the 401 and is definitely the one I would buy. And if you are someone who always has a gun with you, the Foretrex 701 with its applied balistics is a worthy addition too.

However, there is always the question of price. The Foretrex 401 is about 100 dollars cheaper in a lot of stores, so it begs the question: do you need all the fancy additions that the 601 comes with?

If you are just getting into GPS navigation and are low on cash, the 401 is a good place to start for anyone spending time in the outdoors. But, if you spend more time in the woods or plan on doing so in the future, the 601 is way more accurate, lasts longer and has some cool smart phone features I would grab for sure.

 

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