Garmin eTrex Vista HCx Color High-Sensitivity Mapping Handheld GPS
List Price: $299.99

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Product Description

Deep foliage, nor canyons phase the rugged eTrex Vista HCx. Its high-sensitivity receiver holds a GPS signal in the toughest environments. Similar to the Vista Cx, this handheld navigator also has a bright color screen, barometric altimeter, electronic compass, microSD card slot and automatic routing for wherever adventure takes you.With its high-sensitivity, WAAS-enabled GPS receiver, eTrex Vista HCx locates your position quickly and precisely and maintains its GPS location even in heavy cover and deep canyons. The advantage is clear - whether you're in deep woods or just near tall buildings and trees, you can count on Vista HCx to help you find your way when you need it the most.The Vista HCx has a built-in electronic compass that provides bearing information even while you're standing still, and its barometric altimeter tracks changes in pressure to pinpoint your precise altitude. You can even use the altimeter to plot barometric pressure over time, which can help you keep an eye on changing weather conditions.Adding maps is easier than ever with Vista HCx's microSD card slot. Conveniently plug in optional preloaded microSD cards with MapSource data for your land and sea excursions. Just insert a MapSource card with detailed street maps, and Vista HCx provides turn-by-turn directions to your destination. The card slot is located inside the waterproof battery compartment, so you don't have to worry about getting it wet.Like the rest of the eTrex series, Vista HCx is lightweight and compact - the perfect size for all your travels.

Neither deep foliage nor steep canyons will faze the rugged Garmin eTrex Vista HCx navigator. Equipped with a high-sensitivity, WAAS-enabled GPS receiver, the unit locates your position quickly and precisely and maintains its GPS location even in heavy cover. The advantage is clear: whether you're traipsing through thick woods or strolling near tall buildings and trees, you can count on the Vista HCx to help you find your way when you need it the most. The Vista HCx also includes a built-in electronic compass that provides bearing information even when you're standing still, along with a barometric altimeter that tracks changes in pressure to pinpoint your precise altitude. You can even use the altimeter to plot barometric pressure over time, which can help you keep an eye on changing weather conditions.

Adding maps to the Vista HCx is easier than ever thanks to the device's microSD card slot, which accepts cards preloaded with MapSource data for your land and sea excursions. Just insert a MapSource card with detailed street maps, and the Vista HCx will provide turn-by-turn directions to your destination. Plus, the card slot is located inside the waterproof battery compartment, so you needn't worry about it getting wet.

Besides appreciating its small size, users will also be happy with the Vista HCx's unique button layout, with five buttons located on either side of the unit. The benefits of this design are twofold: First, the Vista HCx is a breeze to operate with just one hand, and, second, with the buttons on both sides of the unit, the bulk of the front is dedicated to the 256-color, sunlight-readable TFT display. This makes it easy to distinguish map details regardless of the time of day.

The Vista HCx basemap, meanwhile, contains lakes, rivers, cities, interstates, national and state highways, railroads, and coastlines--in short, a host of helpful details for your outdoor adventures. Other details include an IPX7 waterproof housing, 1,000 waypoints with names and graphic symbols, a built-in patch antenna, a USB interface, a hunt/fish calendar, sun and moon information, and a geocaching mode. The Vista HCx, which runs for up to 25 hours on a pair of AA batteries (not included), measures 2.2 by 4.2 by 1.2 inches (W x H x D) and is backed by a one-year warranty.

What's in the Box
eTrex Vista HCx, basemap, MapSource Trip & Waypoint Manager software, USB cable, wrist strap, quick start guide, user's manual.

  • High-Sensitivity, WAAS-Enabled GPS Receiver Provides Peak Performance In Any Environment
  • Lightweight, Compact & Waterproof
  • Features A 1.7-InchH X 1.3-InchW Screen With 256-Level Color Tft
  • Built-In Basemap With Automatic Routing Capability
  • Connects To Computer'S Usb For High-Speed Map Downloads

Customer Reviews:

  • I don't get it! ONE STAR not FIVE!
    I own a auto GPS by Garmin and I have been very happy with it so I thought this would be a good purchase as well. With the auto GPS you turn it on and off you go! This GPS device is not the same thing. Firstly, you will need to purchase TOPO maps for hiking or city maps for use in roads and residential areas. Plan on spending at least another $80-$200 for one or both which you can get at Amazon. Nothing mentions this in the on-line literature or anywhere. This GPS can be used for geocatching right out of the box as it does give your the coordinates but not much else. You will need AA batteries as this thing does not include a rechargeable batters. Also, you need to get a MicroHD card to store the maps that you purchase on. I purchased an 8GB card. When I called tech support (who were rude)they told me that an 8GB card was not compatable and I could only use a 2GB card with this unit. Nowhere is this mentioned in the provided literature, manual, or the web site. I haven't tested this but this is what the tech support woman told me with her bad attitude. By this point I had had enough of this little gizmo and I packed up my Garmin eTrex Vista HCx and back it went to Amazon who was most cooperative with the return. ...more info
  • Disappointed
    I am very disappointed with this purchase. It was supposed to work better than my older model but the only thing that works better is it locks onto the satillites quicker. It was supposed to work better under the trees but seems to work worse. ...more info
  • Great Intuitive GPS
    This is my second eTrex and I bought this one after seeing one of my hiking friend using one and reading the reviews. Very pleased. I expecially like the ability using the topo software to download my hikes, bike rides, and kayak trips to Google Earth and share them with my friends.

    The battery life and the sensitivity are greatly improved over the older one....more info
  • Garmin e Trex Vista HCx
    the actual GPS portion of it works pretty good thats the good thing. What all of these things lack despite who makes them or the price you pay is an easy to use, easy to understand menu structure. If the Blackberry or Cell phone folks can make a product you can use without consulting and reconsulting a manual in detail then surely one day Garmin or some other GPS company will get a clue. Yes it works fine, does what its supposed to do but every one of these things despite how cute the color screen looks has a lousy user interface. I say it is worth the money I paid for it, and functions reliably doing what you want it to do but its slow going through the menues and the lack of a touch screen or keyboard makes it a throwback to yesteryear. I had seen it at a couple of retailer for $100.00 more so the Amazon price was good. Overall its probably the best you can do in 2009 for a relatively inexpensive handheld GPS system. ...more info
    I got this to use for hunting and I've found it is useful for much more than just hunting. You can lock on waypoints when you find deer poo, watering holes, trails, rubbed bushes, etc...then you can come back and look at the computer and almost visualize the deers movements thus allowing you to put a stand up in a great place. I also use it to drive in unfamiliar areas. It's not as good as a car GPS but for a good overall use for everything it's great. However, you will need to buy the topographical and city navigator maps on the chip. Its easy because you just plug it in and go. The darn thing is almost idiot proof and tough as nails. I live in the mountains and it works great here in NC! Definetly would buy again since Amazon sold it for $212 and wal mart sells it for 299....more info
  • Great all-purpose GPS
    I purchased this GPS to use both on my bicycle and in my car. I also own a 60Cs from Garmin.

    The Vista HCx is a better GPS in every way. It is smaller, the screen is higher resolution (though physically slightly smaller), the arrangement of buttons is better for one-handed operation, battery life is at least twice as long. The Vista also has a micro-SD slot which is a great feature. The 60Cs has 64MB of memory, enough to load say northern Illinois and part of souther Wisconsin. I put a 2GB micro-SD card in the Vista and was able to load maps of the entire U.S. and Canada. No more switching map sets before long trips!

    The high-sensitivity receiver is great, it receives signals and maps my position while sitting on my couch! I used the 60Cs a couple years ago on a bike trip and found it lost reception when the trees extended over the road or trail. I rode the same route this summer with the Vista HCx and reception was perfect.

    I have the City Select maps for North America which I loaded on my 60Cs. Garmin allows their maps to be loaded onto two devices so I was able to load and activate the maps for the Vista.

    I also purchased the bicycle handlebar mount for this unit and it works great as well (though a bit pricey for what it is).

    Currently I have only one complaint about the Vista HCx. The backlight does not automatically stay on when running on external power. You must press the On/Off button briefly to activate the backlight. With the 60Cs if the GPS was running on external power the backlight automatically came on and stayed on. This is a minor complaint but since it could be fixed with a firmware update it would be a nice feature to include.
    ...more info
  • Amazing
    I was bought a few months ago, And using in Turkey. i was updated Turkey map. It's very usefull....more info
  • Great unit
    I just received this unit a few days ago. I was planning on comparing it to Magellan Tritton 500 in some field tests, but there's no comparison. Out of the box, the user interface is so much better. The satellite locking so much faster. And believe it or not, no freezes or half finished bits of functionality - which was the case with Tritton. I love it. ...more info
  • Best Unit for Biking or Hiking
    I spent 2 weeks surfing the Net for reviews of GPS units before I settled on this one. Couldn't be more satisfied. After I learned how the thing works, I mounted it on my mountain bike and went to a trail I had never been to before. I fell 3 times before I even got to the 2.5 mile marker. Fell 2 more times after that. Walked up half the hills, and spent the last 3 miles of the 15.5 mile trail riding in a major thunderstorm to get back to my van. Throughout all this, the Garmin never blinked, and never lost track. It's one rugged unit. Never had any of the problems people have reported in other reviews. If you are into biking, this is the one to get. ...more info
  • So Far So Good
    I haven't had any freeze-ups or lock-ups with my unit. I wanted the high sensitivity, the mass storage capability, and I thought the compass would be nice. So the Vista HCx fit the bill. Everything has worked as expected. I know the compass is a small feature, but I really like it, and my wife will like it when trying to tell me where to go. Occasionally, I can even get satellite signal in my office at work, which is like a cement basement with no windows. I knew that the mapping software was going to cost extra, so that wasn't a surprise. I recently found some legit and legal free road maps that work on this device though. The free maps won't offer nearly as much as City Navigator does, but it will work until I want to spend another $100. Cloudmade offers OSM maps in the img format. Create a folder on your MicroSD card called Garmin, download the map into the folder, then rename the map "gmapsupp.img" Then load the MicroSD card back in. I think doing it this way only allows for one map at a time. I don't know much about computers and have a mac so this was the easiest way for me to do it. It does take some playing around with to get used to all of the features. But I bought this as a toy not as something I need, so it's fun. This manual is pretty useless, but I have heard that some of the other manuals for different models that you can find online are much better. If I start experiencing lock-ups I will definitely add to my review. ...more info
  • Nice GPS but sub par software
    I bought this GPS mainly for use while kayaking in Minnesota and Wisconsin. The GPS itself is very nice, with tons of usable features, and is an excellent value. The color screen works great, and a lot of thought went into making this fine handheld GPS. Of course the GPS is only minimally useful without the optional maps, as are almost all similar GPS units, and I have no complaints about that, but the fact is, their Inland Lakes software is not up to par, and that flaws an otherwise excellent GPS unit.

    The first thing that's missing from the software is that only 1200 Minnesota lakes are included. I'll give them credit that the lakes they do include are the major ones, but they could at least provide a simple outline of most of the rest.

    Another problem I have with their lake maps is that they don't show where many lakes link to each other, such as where Lake Calhoun connects with Lake of the Isles via canal in Minneapolis. This seems true of every lake that doesn't have a half mile wide connection with another, and makes exploring new lake chains more difficult, since you would have to guess whether or where there is a connection, and that is a serious flaw in the software.

    The final problem I found was missing sections of rivers and creeks, including sections that connect to lakes. It's puzzling that the software wouldn't show the entire river if they show a part of it.

    These flaws make me consider selling my new GPS and buying a DeLorme PN-20 which comes STANDARD with Topo USA including topographic, lake and street maps, and comes with a $100 credit for USGS Quad maps, aerial and satellite maps for about the same cost as the Garmin Vista HCx and one set of flawed optional maps. I really like my GPS unit, but the maps aren't in the same league as the GPS is, and that's not good enough. Besides, Garmin doesn't even have USGS Quads, satellite or aerial maps....more info
  • eTrex Vista HCx
    Great product. It's simple to use but finding cities and other locations (not waypoints) not within your area is difficult. Other wise, a great product. Very good for geocaching, allthough it seems to jump around when near buildings. I like how it fits in one hand and how I can use that hand to press the buttons....more info
  • Bad UI makes an OK GPS painful to use
    If all you want is a GPS, sure it works fine, even with reasonably heavy tree cover. I've only seen one glaring track error, on a recent ride out and back along a shoreline trail, where two miles of one leg is shown a few hundred yards out into the lake.

    However, the UI is non-sensical and the "get started guide" useless. I don't get why Garmin supposedly has a reputation for good UI.

    Take the back-light button: who in their right minds makes a back-light button bring up the back-light UI and not the back-light?

    The clock is even funnier. You'd think a GPS would know where it is, and thus the time zone, but no, on the Idaho Panhandle twenty miles west of the Montana border the clock will be off not one, but two full hours.

    By the way, the top right button is the primary button you're supposed to use, and you'll just have to circle through 8 UI screens to go back and forth between the two screens you want.

    Finally, the MapSource Topo software is well past useless: it can't even provide driving directions to trail heads for the small fraction of logging roads it knows about (only some of which actually exist.)

    When you're in the woods you'll really wish the topo lines were distinguishable on screen from fire roads and you could toggle between a zoomed in and a zoomed out version of the map.

    The good news is I have yet to be eaten by a grizzly bear or any of the theoretically endangered wolves who've taken to howling at all hours of the night just up the hill from my house. ...more info
  • Best Trail GPS
    This is the best trail GPS I have owned. I have been using it for a few months now and here is what I have observed:

    1. Battery power is a big one for me. This gets the 25 hours that is says it gets. I often backpack camp for a few days at a time and don't like changing batteries all the time.

    2. Size is great. If you have a case with a clip you can attach this to your pack or straps and it's barely noticeable.

    3. The software and programming is a plus. You can easily make waypoints with the waypoint manager software. The on board software has many features as well. I tend to use tracking a lot. Geocaching management is built in. Maps are expandable if you use topo of street maps purchased seperately and are stored either on board or on the optional sd card card that can be put in.

    My recommended additions for this product:

    1. Get a solid case like the case from foarm. The one that comes with it is ok but if you do a lot of bushwhacking you'll was a more protective case.

    2. Get a screen protector like InvisibleShield. It's worth the investment.

    3. Since this is a trail GPS, buying the Topo 2008 DVD or whatever is current from Garmin is a plus and you won't regret it.

    So overall an excellent product with room for expandability and is very durable. This is a perfect companion for hikers and backpackers....more info
  • Does the job...
    This unit is not easy to use. It takes some time to get used to. Once you get used to - it is very detailed and powerful GPS. If you are outdoor person and you are not looking for fancy graphics - this is device for you. Very accurate on the road and trails. Battery last forever. You can transfer your tracks to google map or google earth with [...]. It does not come with detailed maps, be prepared to pay more. The detailed maps are not always up to date. And most important Garmin customer service is terrible!!! If you need to call them, you will spent 30 + minutes on the phone just waiting to talk to someone. This is my second Garmin unit - the first one (Garmin iQue 3600 never was working properly). With all of the downsides there is nothing better on the market right now....more info
  • high sensitivity seems to be worth the price
    I bought this GPS as a replacement for my Etrex Legend which is not a high sensitivity receiver and is useless for tracking under any kind of wooded areas. The Vista picks up signals from more satellites more rapidly and also holds the connection much better. Though I have only tested in during the winter months. The Vista also uses a USB connection and holds up to a 2Gb micro sd card. The user interface is pretty similar to the Legend, the color display is not that important to me except in denoting the different trails in the park. Compass and Altimeter require calibration every time you turn in on, but it only takes a minute. For the Legend, I was using EZGPS shareware to get information to and from the GPS. However, this shareware does not work with the Vista because of the USB interconnection. Though the files are still interchangeable. I use both the EZGPS and Mapsource from Garmin. Similar, but both have unique features that are useful. I have also recently purchased NAT GEO topographic maps and will be reviewing that product shortly. Garmin at this time does not offer a 24k map of New Jersey....more info
  • I can't complain...well maybe a little
    A nice little trail or road GPS. With the correct maps it'll navigate turn-by-turn or just wherever you walk. You can have multiple maps loaded on it at once (I currently have City Navigator 2009 and Topo. 2008.) Sensitivity is good. It can obtain a lock quite quickly and almost never drops it. Connectivity is basic mini-USB (no special cables for interface or external power) Two AA batteries seem to last forever.

    And now...a few bad things. Turn-by-Turn navigation doesn't seem to be quite as good as a car GPS. It'll even take different routes than another Garmin. Menu's are a tad confusing and take some time getting used to, especially going through the maps. Button layout is alright, but some of the keys seem a bit too stiff and are difficult to use without fumbling the GPS around a little (though I do have rather large hands).

    Also, one thing I should probably bring up, the micro-SD slot seemed to get jammed once when I was putting a card in. I don't know if the lock got stuck in the locked position, but I couldn't get the card inserted. I finally did get it in, but I still don't think the slot feels quite right when putting the card in... But, all interfacing the card can be done by USB so it no longer needs to be removed...

    Well, all in all, I think this device deserves a strong 4 stars....more info
  • Good GPS Navigation Takes a Little Patience
    Driving this GPS is a little like I imagine learning to fly an F15 might be, but take your time and you'll learn to trust it. Del Carpenter...more info
  • Nice GPS
    I have only had this for one day, but first impression is great. Geocache options are awesome. Screen is very nice. Fast acquistion of satellites- even inside my house! Can't wait to get it to the desert!...more info
  • Very nice...
    ...I have been living with a very basic e-trex for the past five years and honestly it has done everything I needed it to do. I have used it for countless hours of deep woods hunting, fishing, hiking, attached to a canoe thwart for long distance paddling adventures and it has never let me down. But of course for some reason I wanted to upgrade, I think more for the electronic compass (a great feature) than anything else and the Vista HCx has met all my expectations (of course just like our vehicle units and the foretrex I own everything from Garmin is great). The electronic compass is really nice, you do not have to be moving to get a reading and the color is great. Another nice feature is the toggle to navigate while in screens. I have yet to use it for some serious backcountry adventures but will this summer.

    I would still strongly recommend using say National Geographic topo programs, or something similar, to plot routes and download to the unit versus buying the detailed topo for the unit and trying to do the same, the sreeen is much too small for that, really a waste of $99.00. It's much easier using your desktop computer.

    Anyway a great unit!...more info
  • Great performance for the price!
    I've owned this unit for about a month now and used it several times for geocaching. It's been working great for me and I love the color screen. If you are outside and you have WAAS enabled, this thing will be accurate to about 7 to 9 feet! The electronic compass is a nice feature too. The battery life is also very impressive. The basemap is not too detailed, but that's to be expected. It's a shame to have to spend another $99 for the street mapping software. I haven't shelled out the money for that yet, but I am considering it.

    I would also recommend getting some kind of clear screen protector for the screen. They also make a vinyl carrying case which has a clear plastic screen cover built-in. Anything to keep the screen from getting scratched.

    All in all, it's a great GPS receiver for the money....more info
  • garmin eTrex HCx Color
    i went walking with someone who has an eTrex vista purchased six months ago, and there was a THREE kilometer difference in the trip odometer on just a 14 km walk. our height measurements seemed to be closer, although not exactly the same. he said he would not have recommended me to buy the product after his own experience. the old eTrex (three years old) seemed to be intuitively more accurate, but its battery life made it inviable....more info
  • Love mine
    I bought this for use with my boy scout troop ( OK that's what I told the wife). The TOPO maps are a must. It doesn't work very well as a street navigator but that's not what it's for.
    We used it to navigate around Washington D.C. and while walking around it was great to be able to just pick a monument and walk right to it. Driving was another story. It wanted to take the shortest route and guided us to roads that were closed but that was before the TOPO software so I am unsure of how it would work for driving now. It was clumsy for driving though. We eventually bought a Garmin Nuvi for the car and now we have the best of both worlds. If you want it for the woods and your willing to drop another $90 for the map software this is for you. If your hoping to use it on the road too maybe its not the right choice it works but you could kill a fly with a hammer too....more info
  • good receiver needs maps (for free)
    the receiver works well, is small and light. (I even managed to get some signal through a corrugated roof and 6 inches of cement).

    The map that comes with the unit is useless if you want any detail. I recommend checking out gpsfiledepot dot com for TOPO maps if you want to use this for hiking as I do. The maps work with the garmin mapsource software. They are easy to install and show contours at 40 feet for some states. Best of all they are free. Make sure you buy the 2 GB micro SD card for loading maps....more info
  • Awesome GPS!
    Havent got out into the field to use it yet, just purchased it in dec. but wow, it picks up like 8 satellites within a min.from inside my house! Very easy to figure out the features. Cant wait to not be afraid to find new hunting spots....more info