Mounting Options for the Garmin eTrex 10 20 30 GPS

During the second half of 2011, Garmin released a new generation of their 10-year old eTrex GPS line.  Options range from a basic black and white display on the eTrex 10 all the way to a color screen with nice additions like a compass and built-in barometric altimeter with wireless route sharing on the eTrex 30.  These units are very competitively prices and are marketed to hikers, bikers and geocachers for handheld use.

We all know that people will use these for more than simply handheld use, so without further ado, we present some thoughts for selecting a mount.  One important note is that the eTrex 10, 20 and 30 are completely redesigned from the older line that included the eTrex Summit, Vista, Venture and Legend.  Mounts manufactured for the older eTrex line will absolutely not fit the newer eTrex line.

First of all, Garmin does not provide any mounts in the box with your eTrex.  They are selling a handheld GPS and if you want to put it anywhere except your hand, you will need to fork over some money to buy a mount.  Garmin offers a few mounts for mounting your device onto a flat surface.

The weighted friction mount is a solid choice especially if using the eTrex inside a car or truck.  Just snap your eTrex onto the cradle and place the mount onto your dash.  It’s easy to install and remove.  This mount features the extremely popular Garmin friction mount which we reviewed here.  Garmin also offer a screw down flat surface mount.  You will potentially see these advertised for older GPS models such as a Rino or Colorado but they also fit the eTrex 10, 20 and 30 as Garmin often makes mounts that fit dozens of models.  This one screws down onto a flat surface.  Lastly, Garmin offers a stem mount.  It’s an inexpensive mount that uses twist ties to fasten it to your stem or handlebar.  Since the mount is permanent, be sure you like where you put it or you will need to cut the ties and buy new ones.  This mount is good for a bicycle, not a motorcycle.  A motorcycle has too much vibration and I don’t trust twist ties on anything other than a bicycle.  Garmin also offers a variety of accessories to hold your GPS in a variety of places on your body such as around your neck attached to your belt or clipped to a backpack.  These are especially useful if you are geocaching.

I find it strange that Garmin does not offer a suction mount option for the eTrex or one that can be used on an ATV or motorcycle.  Fortunately the folks at RAM offer a solid handlebar mount.  This is a well made mount.  Constructed of metal with a custom plastic cradle, this comes with a lifetime warranty from the manufacturer.  It fits handlebars up to a 1.25 inch diameter which is most motorcycle handlebars.  There is a 3″ arm in the middle and you can adjust the mount from the base and the cradle as it is built on a ball and socket design.

It’s also kind of a mystery on why Garmin would not offer a suction cup option on the mount.  Fortunately RAM has a custom suction mount for this line of GPS.  This includes a plastic mount and custom cradle with the typical adjustment points found on most RAM mounts at the base and cradle.  These are great for use in your car or SUV.  I’m not too keen on using these in high vibration environments such as a motorcycle or ATV.  That’s just my opinion.

On a related note, I have seen some dealers offering screen protectors for the eTrex 10, 20 30 models.  Please save your money and do not buy these.  Most GPS units made over the past five years use an anti-scratch lens and under most normal use will not show any scratches.  You will find a screen protector is unnecessary.