If you love exploring new territories and routes, this article is meant for you. When hiking on new routes, you need to carry navigation equipment with you to ensure that you don’t get lost. An effective navigation equipment is one of the best handheld GPS.
Handheld GPS have many features that you can use to identify your location and identify the paths you need to follow to arrive at your destination.
The GPS also records your trip or hike. Handheld GPS devices are ideal for use in the backcountry. However, you should always have a map to go along with a handheld GPS for better navigation. This is because a GPS relies on satellites to navigate. In case of a poor signal, you may end up getting inaccurate information. This post will review the ten best handheld GPS units that you could rely on during your hikes.
Features Of A Handheld GPS
Before you venture into the market to buy yourself a handheld GPS, you have to consider some of its important features. It is important to note that some GPS devices have basic features while others are packed. You have to establish which device suits you and check whether its price fits your budget. Here are some of the features to look for in the best handheld GPS devices.
- Trip computer
- Photo viewer
- Track and Waypoint Managers
- Geocache options
- Mark Waypoint
- Route Planner
- Sun and moon (sunrise and sunsets)
- Profile options
- Alarm clock and much more.
The Best Handheld GPS Reviews
If you are planning a hike that involves exploring unfamiliar routes this year, you might consider accessorizing with the Garmin GPSMAP 64st. This handheld GPS comes with ideal features to help you pinpoint your location and map out the path you should follow. This device is fitted with a sunlight-readable 2.6-inch color display for easier visibility. The display has a resolution of 160 x 240 pixels. It also comes with an 8 GB expanded internal memory, which is enough storage to store your maps.
The Garmin GPSMAP 64st also comes with a dual battery system. You could either use the optional NiMH battery pack (can be charged when inside the GPS) or traditional AA batteries (2) to power the device. It is also fitted with technology that allows you to upload data wirelessly to Garmin Connect. You also do not have to worry about losing the data as you can review it from your phone any time. Moreover, this device supports Bluetooth connectivity or ANT+, and it comes with a 3-axis compass with a barometric altimeter to give you better bearing.
• Comes with easy-to-understand directions and support resources
• Has all the features you’d need in a handheld GPS
• It quickly reads signals
• It doesn’t have a good battery life.
• The menus may prove hard to reset
Are you embarking on your annual hiking escapades but you lack the necessary accessories to navigate unfamiliar tracks? If you are, you might consider getting yourself the Garmin Foretrex 401 Waterproof Hiking GPS. This small, magnificent device is fitted with a high-sensitivity GPS receiver that includes HotFix to help it read signals even when you’re hiking under deep tree cover. You also do not have to worry about losing your way with this device as it records your routes, tracks, and waypoints.
To keep the Foretrex 401 powered, you will need two standard AAA batteries. When in GPS mode, this device has a battery life of up to 17 hours. Moreover, it comes with a good LCD display, which has a resolution of 100 x 64 pixels. Another impressive feature on this handheld GPS is the TracBack, which retraces your path and displays it on the LCD. With a dual position readout, this device allows you to view your current location in several formats. Extra features include hunting/fishing information, trip computer, electronic compass, sunrise, and sunset times.
• You can easily beam waypoints from one GPS to another
• Has a good battery life
• Is easy to use
• Goes for a fair price
• Downloads maps slowly
• If you want to use BirdsEye on this GPS, you have to pay for the subscription
When it comes to navigation, you want to get yourself the best equipment in the market. The AG-008727-201 Inreach Explorer does not fall far from that tree. This device serves both as a satellite communicator and a navigator. It lets you plan your hikes because it allows you to create a couple of color-coded routes and waypoints before undertaking your adventure. The AG-008727-201 Inreach Explorer also links you to the Earthmate mobile app that lets you download free topo maps or NOAA charts to your smartphone.
Interestingly, this handheld GPS lets you upload contacts, both phone and email, so that you can send and receive 160-character messages. What’s more, it lets you post updates on your social media accounts. This device also lets you see the details of your planned route. If you are in an emergency situation, the AG-008727-201 Inreach Explorer lets you trigger an interactive SOS to communicate with the search and rescue center. Added features on this device include the barometric altimeter, a digital compass, and accelerometer.
• Allows you to send text messages and emails to your family members
• It is quite weather resistant
• Allows you to post on your social media accounts
• In cases of emergencies, its SOS feature lets you call for help
• The interface to input texts requires you to move all over the screen to select letters
• When the network is down, the device is inactive and you may be forced to inform your contacts that you are in no emergency situation.
It is impossible to talk about the best handheld GPSs without mentioning the Bad Elf 2300 Bluetooth GPS. This device receives reverence because it includes a Bluetooth GPS plus a GLONASS WAAS Receiver with a proximity of 2.5m. You can connect it to your Bluetooth enabled devices, such as your iPhone or iPad, without having to rely on an internet connection or a subscription.
This handheld GPS is also fitted with digital barometric sensors that calculate the barometric altitude for pilots and raw barometer readings for boaters. It can also store recorded data logs of up to 200 hours. Moreover, it is designed to have USB connectivity that lets you stream NMEA data directly into your laptop. This small but efficient device also has an excellent battery life of up to 24 hours.
• It eliminates the need to rely on internet connectivity or monthly subscriptions
• It is well constructed and the controls are well laid out
• Has a lightweight design
• Seamlessly connects to Bluetooth-enabled devices (iPad or iPhone)
• Only compatible with iOS devices that are Bluetooth enabled
• No technical support is offered
When you plan to go backpacking with a couple of your friends, you need to pack a GPS equipment to help you navigate. Might we suggest the Bushnell Backtrack Point-3 Personal GPS Locator? This handheld GPS is excellently constructed and has a beautiful design. It is made from quality materials that have been tested to increase its longevity. Moreover, it has an undeniably impressive HD clarity enhanced by its quality optics.
The Bushnell Backtrack Point-3 Personal GPS Locator is also weather resistant, and its compact design makes it fit into your pocket easily. An impressive feature of this handheld GPS is its ability to store and locate up to three locations. It also has a large LCD screen that has a backlight to increase visibility. This handheld GPS relies on two standard AAA batteries to operate. An added feature on this device is the fastening ring that enables easy attachment, and it comes with a 1-year warranty.
• Has a good battery life
• Its interface is easy to use
• It features a beautiful and sturdy design
• Slow in picking up signals
• It is not very accurate
One of the best handheld GPSs is the Garmin Oregon 650T 3-Inch Handheld GPS Navigator. This navigation equipment will enable you to enjoy your hiking and backpacking adventures. It has an impressive design, which is enhanced by its strong 3-inch diagonal display. Interestingly, it is sunlight-readable and features a color touchscreen. A unique feature of this device is its 8-megapixel autofocus digital camera that has a digital zoom.
You do not have to worry about the longevity of the Garmin Oregon 650T because of its sturdy build. Moreover, it is water resistant. You can also use it to check the barometric pressure and altitude of your tracks because it features a barometric altimeter. This handheld GPS also comes with a 3-axis tilt-compensated electronic compass to make navigation easier for you. The 650T also has internal memory to store the pictures you’ve captured. Alternatively, you can connect it to a USB to store the pictures online. It also has built-in U.S. topographic data.
• Durable and waterproof
• Its interface is easy to use
• Quite accurate and pick up reception fast
• The camera is a nice feature for taking pictures when hiking
• Has good topographic maps
• In order to access the camera card, you have to open the battery compartment.
• Recharging by removing the batteries is inefficient
Rule the tracks the next time you are hiking or backpacking with the Garmin eTrex 30x Worldwide Handheld GPS Navigator. This device comes with a worldwide relief base map, which can be viewed through its 2.2-inch color display. It is also compatible with marine, topographic, and roadmaps to keep you on track every time you go on an adventure.
Its display is sunlight-readable, and it comes with an internal memory and a micro SD card slot to offer optimal storage space. The eTrex 30x is also designed with a built-in altimeter and compass to help show the exact altitude and the direction you are heading to respectively.
The Garmin eTrex 30x Worldwide Handheld GPS Navigator also comes with wireless capabilities to share routes, waypoints, and geocaches with other GPS devices. The WAAS-enabled GPS receiver that includes HotFix and GLONASS provide seamless satellite reception. It has an ergonomic design with an easy-to-use interface to make navigation a lot easier.
• Has a relatively good battery life
• You can read the display even when you’re in direct sunlight
• It is possible to turn off its backlight to extend the battery life
• It does not charge batteries when connected to a USB
• Uploading maps takes considerably long
• The manual does not give clear directions of use
If you love hiking or are planning to go hiking in North America, you may want to equip yourself with the Magellan SporTrak Pro Waterproof Hiking GPS. This is because it features 9 MB North American base map of parks, waterways, and roads. This device also provides an extra 23 MB memory to store additional maps. This waterproof device is fitted with a 12-channel GPS receiver. Moreover, it is WAAS-enabled and is accurate up to 3 meters.
Its large display makes it easy to read maps, ultimately making navigation easier. The SporTrak Pro also features an ergonomic design with a 9-key keypad that lets you access the GPS’ features. It also features a rugged design and is fitted with an antenna for easier navigation in tough terrains. The Sportrak Pro is covered in tough rubber and impact-resistant plastic that allows it to float. It operates on two AA batteries.
• It’s waterproof and can float on water
• Has a good battery life
• Capable of receiving signals even in harsh environments
• Has an ergonomic design and a user-friendly interface
• It emits a high pitch sound when the light is turned on
• You may be required to update the database map
The last item on the list is the Magellan Meridian Water Resistant Hiking GPS. This outstanding device will barely disappoint you when you are out hiking in any region because it comes with a worldwide database of major cities and political boundaries. What’s more, the device is a 12-channel GPS receiver, and it includes a 2 MB base map.
It comes fitted with a digital memory-card slot to offer more storage space. Other impressive features on this handheld GPS are its rugged design and waterproof qualities. Visibility is not an issue with the Magellan Meridian Water Resistant Hiking GPS because it has a large gray-scale display screen that has a backlight. It is also WAAS and EGNOS-enabled for better reception.
• It’s durable and waterproof
• Has a lightweight design
• It is accurate and WAAS-enabled for enhanced reception.
• The printed manual contains limited information
• Accessories are pricey