Sunday, March 18, 2012


Garmin eTrex Venture HC review


UPDATE: This model has been discontinued. For more current recommendations, please refer to our handheld GPS buyers guide or our Garmin handheld GPS comparison chart.

The Garmin eTrex Venture HC is the entry-level mapping receiver in Garmin’s eTrex H-series lineup. With a high-sensitivity receiver for superior reception under canopy, a bright color screen, and the ability to load topo maps (purchased separately), this is an excellent backcountry GPS.

The Venture HC has 24 MB of memory, and will accommodate 500 waypoints, 50 routes and 10 saved tracks.

Related units

  • The Summit HC is identical except that it adds a barometric altimeter and electronic compass
  • The primary differences between the Venture HC and the Legend HCx are twofold — the Legend HCx has an expandable micro-SD memory card slot instead of on-board memory; it is also routable, allowing you to generate turn-by-turn directions when optional highway maps are loaded
  • Going the other direction in features, the monochrome Garmin eTrex H cannot accept maps and, unlike other eTrex units, doesn’t come with a cable for transferring data between the GPS and your computer; it also lacks the click-stick of the other H-series models, making for a less user-friendly interface
  • To see how the Venture HC stands up against other Garmin models, check out my Garmin handheld GPS comparison chart

More Garmin eTrex Venture HC reviews

Other Garmin eTrex Venture HC resources

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About Rich Owings

Rich is the owner, editor and chief bottle-washer for GPS Tracklog. Connect with him on Twitter, Facebook or Google Plus.


  1. How much map data will 24 mb hold? I’m looking to purchase either this GPS or the Legend HCx. It sounds like the biggest difference for me is how many Topo maps I could load. Can you give a rough estimate of square miles of detailed maps per megabyte?

  2. Eli,
    What state or area are you in? I’ll see how much of the region will fit and report back.

  3. thank you

  4. Can the etrex series (specifically the Venture HC) display the cool elevation shading effects? I see screen shots of it on the Colorado and Oregon series and it makes it so much easier to read then just a bunch of contours.
    Another question too. I noticed on Garmin’s web site it says the battery life for the Venture HC and Summit HC is 14 hours, but the Venture HCx and Vista HCx say 25 hours. Why such a big difference in battery life?

  5. No, the eTrex series won’t do this, nor will the 60/76 series, just the Oregon and Colorado models.
    In regards to your second question, it’s a great question, but I have no idea!

  6. I just got the Venture HC and thought I’d give my two cents now that I’ve played with it a bit.
    1. Saved track logs are “simplified” this means they reduce the number of points (primarily by leaving out points that were all in a straight line) and don’t contain timestamps. If you want all your points or you want timestamps you have to leave your data in the active track log. This isn’t so bad, the active track log is where your breadcrumb trail goes automatically anyway and 10,000 points is more than enough (100 miles even with the highest setting of a point every .01 miles). My complaint is that when using it on multiple day hikes I would like to be able to save a separate track for each day, BUT I want the timestamps so I can automatically geotag my pictures. I’m out of luck with the Venture HC. It turns out that the Vista HCx and Legend HCx let you save track logs WITH timestamps to the microSD card, which would be nice.
    2. I knew this before I bought it, but it still kills me. Garmin quotes a 14 hour battery life for the Venture HC and Summit HC, but the Vista HCx and Legend HCx have a 25 hour battery life. I haven’t come across any explanation for this, but it is a substantial difference. But I figure the $70 price difference between the Venture HC and the Legend HCx can buy me a lot of batteries.
    Other than these two minor gripes I absolutely love my Venture HC. It’s easy to use, has great reception, and the 24Mb of built in memory is enough to hold 1:24k topo maps for about a third of Colorado, which is more than I will ever use in a single outing. For a basic hiking GPS you can’t go wrong with the Venture HC.

  7. Brian,
    Thanks for sharing that. BTW, almost any mapping program that downloads tracks will preserve the full, untruncated track, along with timestamps.

  8. I have a Venture HC myself. Does anyone know if there are any city mapping discs that will work with this device. The old 2008 discs wouldn’t. Or at lease I couldn’t get them to. When you select a region, in my case SoCal, it highlights a whole portion of the region that would exceed the 24 MB by 1 or 2 MB is some cases. Anyone know anything different about 2009? Is topo still the only thing available? Was there a way to minimize something other than tracks with mapsource included software to flash over to device rather than selecting these entire regions?

  9. I *think* the non-NT maps have smaller segments. I’d call Garmin and ask. You might also try these maps, which do have smaller segments…

  10. I got the Venture HC for a week and later found out that the save track function does not save all samples (only 500 samples in my experiment), and no timestamp. I found this out after I bought the unit.
    Yy primary usage for the this unit is geotag the photo, it does not work well for a multiple days trip as I will have to bring a laptop and download the data daily.
    I saw previous posting that Vista or Legend can log the entire track and timestamp to MicroSim, I would trade-up. The unit is well built, if you don’t mind for the “de-graded” track log save function, it is a good unit.

  11. This is true for most Garmin units (though I believe it has changed in the Colorado and Oregon).
    The problem is with “saving” tracks. It gets rid of timestamps and truncates to 500 points. But as long as you download the active track, it will retain timestamps and up to 10,000 points. Don’t hit save!

  12. I am looking for a advise to which GPS I should purchase. I have no experience with a GPS. I am looking for one that I can use for marking my fishing spots, hunting locations (so I don’t get lost), and use for directions while driving. Can you recommend one?
    Thank you

  13. Its difficult to get a GPS to serve as both an auto and outdoors unit. There are inevitable compromises. If you do get a dual purpose unit, you might go with a handheld and pay extra for highway maps, but it won’t be ideal for use on the road.
    A better solution might be a low-end handheld, like the Venture HC AND a low-end auto unit, like the nuvi 200.

  14. The old Garmin Legend had a key combination that (on startup) would tell you the temperature of the unit and other stuff. It doesn’t seem to work on the HC. Anyone know of any test key sequences?

  15. Try this…
    Start the GPS by holding down the joystick and pressing the on/off button on the right at the same time. Once the system flashes on you can then release the buttons and it should go right to the diagnostics page.
    Pasted the above from… http://forums.groundspeak.com/GC/index.php?showtopic=206913

  16. I just received the eTreck Ventura HC as a gift and am a little confuse on what I can expect from the base map, what I have to download for more detail ( like shoreline and islands around the gulf coast or north eastern lakes and streams), and the cost associated with the maps. It appears that you have to buy a costly map of a region, not a single map of an area for more detail. Is that correct?

    Also, if I zoom in on an area where I am standing, will the base map give me detail or just show rectanglular shapes of water and islands.

    I need to find out what I can download as my storage is 24 MB. Do I need to move up to a unit that has a card or will this do the trick for .

    I am a little confused and would appreciate any feedback.

    Thank you,


  17. I forgot to submit note of notification of follow up comments. Thank you.

  18. Rich Owings says:


    First of all, check out the free maps at http://gpsfiledepot.com

    You’ll need MapSource to transfer them (which will show you how many MB of space they will use as you select segments to transfer), which you can get for free…


    It looks to me like the newer Garmin marine maps are limited to pre-programmed cards, so yes, you may need to trade up or go to a discontinued product…


    I’m not a marine expert, but yes, I think they only sell regions.

    You can pan and zoom the basemap, but I’m not sure it will even show small islands.

    Hope this helps.

  19. I’m looking a good basic handheld gps that I can use for multiple purposes (kayaking, camping, hiking, biking, xc skiing, skateboarding) . I already have a nuvi.

    I need it for waypoints/breadcrumbs, speed (max, slowest, average), distance.

    Also, I’m now due to economy low budget. I was looking at this unit (venture HC) and this Garmin GPSMap 60. I like that the 60 has long battery life.

    Which of these is preferred? Both get good reviews at Amazon.

    Anything else I should consider?

  20. Rich Owings says:

    The Venture HC is much better. The GPSMAP 60 is monochrome and harder to see in sunlight, will get poor reception under canopy and won’t accept maps (and there are lots of free maps at http://gpsfiledepot.com ).

  21. Yeah, I agree with you Rich. Thanks for sharing this review. It really works.

  22. JOSE BAEZ says:


  23. Bob Petersen says:

    I have a Etrex Venture HC. When I’m walking it registers stop time even thougt I haven’t stopped. It also appears that this is more severe when in the woods, canopy cover. Is this normal ? Is there anything I can do to prevent this ? It seems that it is some what useless for hiking ect. when you can’t tell the speed you are moving at.

  24. veronica says:

    can any one tell me how to connect my Garmin eTrex Venture HC to the computer??? it did not come with a usb is there any were that i can buy a cable???

  25. my question is that how can I find my geographic situation by GPS? and how can we use the GPS for military map? and how to use it for finding ways and roads?. the other problem that I have faced is that I do not know how to save several geographic situations and statuses at the same time?
    By the way, I want to use this GPS in the country such as Iran and Iraq.
    with regard

  26. I’m thinking of getting the Venture HC and was wondering whether you could please clarify a couple points for me. First, to load and read free trail maps, such as those available at TrailsNW, do I need any software except MapSource? In other words, if I’m fine with just trail maps, do I need Topo 2008?

    The next question is a little harder. On your model comparison chart, you say that you can’t load custom maps. Does this include software I’ve obtained from another source? The source I’m thinking of is a Windows folder I customized with my own itinerary using Georando Liberte, a DVD from the French National Institute of Geography. (If you’ve never seen this, and you plan to hike in France, don’t miss it–the whole country is mapped on one DVD, and you can zoom in, plot trails, get trail reports, and export sections of it.) They push the $450 Evadeo GPS as compatible, but who needs all that just to load one intinerary? You might also wonder why I don’t ask Georando, but customer service isn’t their best feature. So I was hoping you could tell me whether–in theory–there should or shouldn’t be any earthly reason I can’t transfer my folder from Georando to the Venture HC. Or does this qualify as a “custom map,” and therefore impossible?

    Many, many thanks.


  27. Sorry, forgot to ask for notification of your reply.

  28. Say — does anyone know of a way to capture screenshots of the eTrex Venture HC? Unfortunately the screen shot feature in DNR Garmin is not supported on this model. I’m in desperate need to be able to capture some screen shots of this unit!


  29. im fairly new to backpacking and I was debating between getting this Venture HC or the vista HCx. Which would be better for backpacking/hiking? I just want good reception (in thick tree cover seeing as how I live in the southeast) and fairly detailed maps. Or is there another gps I should be looking at?

  30. I just bought the eTrex to take to Africa to record GPS and Altimeter readings in Uganda.. do I need a special ‘map’ downloaded before I go?

  31. Quite possibly one of the worst buys I’ve ever made. This thing has terrible maps and is overly complicated to use. Find that my iphone GPS is more user friendly. Are the Garmin folks trying to be obtuse?

    • You can get free, detailed maps at http://gpsfiledepot.com. The basemap is indeed very basic. Handheld GPS are by their very nature complex beasts. The newer models, such as the eTrex 20, have improved significantly in terms of the interface. You may indeed be better off with your iPhone for simple GPS-related tasks, but then your iPhone isn’t ruggedized or waterproof, nor did it cost only a little over $100 like the Venture HC.

  32. Antony Lynam says:

    Is it possible to download waypoints with date and time recorded from the Venture HC? Is this model compatible with GPS Babel?

  33. hello, i’m from bangladesh. i’m fond of trekking, hiking other nature adventure. what gps tool will come to my use? i mean, finding unknown places & routes. & can you say if those tools will work in my country?

  34. how can I find how much memory I have left in my garmin eTrex Venture HC after uploading an over lay of a Canadian destination?

    • From the Setup menu > Interface, there should be a mass storage option. Connect it to your computer in mass storage mode and you should be able to use your file explorer to tell.

      • Thanks for responding.

        No Interface icon in Setup Menu. eTrex Venture HC has no microSD™ card. Only 34Mb of internal memory.

        I have installed an overlay for a Canadian location (White Lake, ON). Works well. Now I would like to know how much space is left. Have to believe there is a way.

  35. Sucks. One option is to go in and reinstall the maps. In MapSource (and I assume BaseCamp), it will tell you how much data you are sending to the unit when you do this. Remember though that waypoints, tracks and routes consume some memory too.

  36. Mahzabin says:

    I bought a secondhand Garmin eTrex Venture Not HC. Model is (http://www.amazon.com/dp/B000058BCO).
    I have used it in Edmonton,Canada and it was fine. later I tried to use it Toronto when I was in the way to back home, it cant detect the place.

    Now I am in Bangladesh, and I cant use it. It cant find the place. Is it possible to track in Bangladesh using this device?

    Can you please, advice me how can I use it here?

    • Leave it on, under open sky for 30 minutes. It takes a long time to lock satellites after moving a unit so far, especially an older unit like that without a high-sensitivity chipset.


  1. […] Garmin eTrex Venture HC review – GPS Tracklog – Aug 27, 2007 · Garmin eTrex Venture HC review including comparisons to similar units, links to other reviews, price comparisons, owners manual, message forums and more… […]

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