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I have been using Garmin products for about 20 years now. My first unit wasn’t nearly accurate enough for my overland surveying needs so my measuring tape (in tenths of feet not inches), Sunto compass and inclinometer had to do. During the 1990s, the US government intentionally degraded civilian accuracy of GPS units with what they called Selective Availability. To have a GPS unit with useful accuracy you needed equipment that could pick up local radio signals that basically unlocked your GPS unit’s full potential.

Jump forward to May 2000. President Bill Clinton directed the U.S. government to end the use of Selective Availability and overnight the GPS proliferation began. You gotta love the American marketplace when the government backs off.

Which brings me to the Garmin Foretrex 701 with Applied Ballistics. Basically its a wrist-mounted GPS unit with a ballistics computer preloaded with a huge catalog of loads. It does what you would expect, create profiles, customize loads, account for environment conditions and output a firing solution.

It can calculate solutions out to 10,000 yards. Pretty impressive. I’ve owned a Garmin Foretrex series before and tested its waterproofness and durability by taking it rafting. It quickly failed when submerged, but putting it in a Pelican case filled with rice revived it.

On a second outing my Foretrex came undone due to weak Velcro, I suspect. Down the river it went. Expensive lesson learned.

I have to admit I’m geeking out over the new Foretrex 701. I like the idea a lot, and figure it’ll be perfect for hiking and long range hunting situations. At $599.99 they are not cheap but quality rarely is. I’m working with Garmin to get a test unit ASAP. I will not be taking it rafting, though, so my kitchen sink will have to do. You can get one here.

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  1. So you’d suggest a Sunto compass? I’m looking to buy a new compass, the Brunton Engineers I have lacks good luminescent markings and the needle doesn’t lock when closed.

  2. I’ve never found any hook and loop/velcro that works well in swift water. The water always seems to work it loose. I would make sure there is some other mechanical method of securing any device for white water use.

    • That has been my experience as well. If I like the Foretrex 701 and buy it I will change the strap to something with no Velcro.

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