Whether you are travelling somewhere in the country-side or across the busy city lanes, it is necessary to be able to navigate properly. To make that possible, a proper idea of the route of your trip, finding the right tracks or discovering the geocaches is essential.
Therefore, you need to have access to a durable and long-lasting navigator with you always, preferably one of the best handheld GPS available in the market.
The use of traditional maps never goes out of date however having access to a handheld GPS device seems like a good idea when it comes to exploring unknown places. The price of each of these products varies greatly depending on their features and levels of sophistication.
For example, a touchscreen handheld GPS device is likely to cost you more than the one with buttons on it, so you need to choose according to your budget and requirement.
Things you should consider before purchasing a handheld GPS device
In this guide, we are discussing a few of the primary features that you need to consider before purchasing of a handheld GPS device.
Touchscreen or Buttons:
Similar to smartphones, these handheld GPS devices also work with a touch screen mechanism. They are easy to use and work on both landscape and portrait orientations. However, some models for these touch screen devices aren’t the best when it comes to built quality and the software.
Neither they are as durable as you would expect them to be. There are a few touchscreen devices where harsh weather conditions have also caused problems. Furthermore, if you are wearing gloves, using a touchscreen handheld GPS device might be troublesome to use.
However, there are also advantages of using touchscreen devices. It becomes quite hectic with the on-screen keyboard to type in something. Using the buttons is much easier when it comes to using the device with your gloves on. Vast improvements are being made to the touchscreen devices as well since people are more inclined towards the sleek and low profile design nowadays.
One of the main reasons to choose an upgraded version of these handheld GPS devices is its screen size. A large screen will allow you to see all of the necessary information without any difficulty. Having the feature of viewing all of the data on a large screen, preferably of size, not more than 3 inches, seems to be quite enough for a handheld GPS device.
There are some important considerations which you might need to make such as the brightness of the screen as well as the readability. Some of the best handheld GPS for hiking is equipped with an anti-glare screen with a good backlight so that the user can decipher the maps with ease.
GPS receiver types
There are two types of GPS receiver types, namely GLONASS and WAAS.
The GLONASS receiver-type uses its GPS network with the latest Russian-based technology which improves the device’s performance in deep canyons and crowded areas with less clarity of view. The network is connected to 24 additional satellites for attaining the maximum accuracy for all of the latitudes and longitudes within the area.
However, you need to turn on the GLONASS setting on your preferred device, which is likely to drain the battery out much faster than usual.
With the WAAS-enabled receiver type, the network uses Wide Angle Augmentation System which is used for managing any troubleshooting during a GPS tracking session. It uses a network of satellites in addition to ground-based stations for achieving the maximum accuracy and also to smooth out any of the errors which might have occurred.
The standard version of the best handheld GPS devices uses AA batteries which provide decent battery life and come at a cheaper price. They can be easily swapped once they are drained and can be replaced with a new pair of AA batteries.
While AA batteries remain the primary source of power for most of the handheld GPS devices in the market, the modern devices are bringing in rechargeable battery packs as an alternative.
The main advantage of these rechargeable batteries is that you need not replace them once they get drained out. You can recharge the batteries instead. Also, with these, you can charge your device on the go if you happen to have a power bank or a solar panel.
The costs of these lithium-ion batteries are a bit excess than the traditional AA battery models, but they also come with an advantage. It causes much lesser wastage of batteries being thrown in the dumpsters and also provides you with an efficient solution for charging up batteries within no time.
Dimensions and Size:
The dimension and size of your handheld GPS device is totally dependent on the amount of comfort you are looking forward to while using the same during your trip. Various models are there with different screen sizes, and the dimension and weight of the same is also dependent on the model which you are likely to choose.
For you to navigate through unfamiliar routes, forests or even open waters, you will need the best handheld GPS so that you do not lose your track of path while travelling through unknown places. We have made a comprehensive list of some of the best handheld GPS devices available in the market. Each of these devices has its own unique features and price range, so be sure to choose the best one from them according to your needs and budget.
Top 10 Best handheld GPS devices available in the Market
1. Garmin eTrex30x, Handheld GPSNavigator with 3axis Compass
The Garmin eTrek 30x comes first in this list of the best handheld GPS. This is quite a handy piece of equipment when it comes to navigating around unknown places with ease.
This product has a compact screen size of 2.2 inches with a 240 x 320-pixel display. The display can be used in bright spaces without any trouble. It has an additional memory of 3.7 GB in its system, and this storage space can also be increased by the insertion of a memory card if needed.
It has a three-axis tilt which works quite accurately when it comes to working as an electronic compass and a barometric altimeter. If we are about to talk about its location services, then its GPS receiver and HotFix satellite works wonders even if you are in deep canyons or inside the wild forest.
- It has upgraded display features which can easily radiate off any sunlight offering readable display.
- It can now load more maps with its built-in 3.7 GB storage capacity.
- The capacity of this GPS device can be increased with the help of an external memory card.
- It has built-in three-axis sensors which provide more accurate data.
- You can now wirelessly transmit data over compatible devices without any hassle.
- It does not have a “key-lock” function. This causes trouble when users misplace certain waypoints while using the device.
- The joystick button becomes a bit unresponsive at times.
In addition to the 8 MP camera attached to this device, there are more than 10,000 top maps already pre-installed in this device along with 25,000 worldwide geocaches. You also get an additional one-year subscription to Birdseye satellite imagery without any extra cost. Battery life on this device is quite amusing since it can provide up to 16 hours of runtime without any problem.
Therefore, without any second thought, you can call this device to be one of the best handheld GPS for hiking or for other activities and can totally rely upon the same for your unknown trips and vacations.
2. Garmin Montana 680t
If you are really looking forward to one of the best handheld GPS at a budget friendly price, the Garmin Montana 680t might just be the device for you. You can perform various kinds of activities with this handheld GPS device at very affordable pricing.
Navigation is super easy with this device as it can pick up both GPS as well as GLONASS networks. The manufacturer happens to provide some of the best GPS services available in the market with this device.
However, the four inches dual-orientation and glove-friendly touchscreen display offer a lot more to the human eye to catch just a glimpse. There is only one button at the side of this device which is needed for turning the device ON or OFF. Other than that, the whole piece of equipment is touchscreen, which means that you need only one finger to operate the same.
- It has preloaded geocaches.
- You can view your surroundings easily with the help of 1 year Birdseye satellite subscription.
- The device is able to receive both GPS as well as GLONASS signals for maximum accuracy.
- It has the feature where you can keep track of all of your previously visited waypoints.
- The 8 MP camera allows you to capture any moment on the go.
- The loading time required for the maps is little slow
- Sometimes the zooming feature gets incongruous.
- The screen is too sensitive to touch
With the 8 MP camera attached on to this device, you will also be getting more than 10,000 topo maps and 250,000 worldwide geo-caches. The presence of the three-axis compass along with the barometric altimeter and automatic geo-tagging of photos comes in quite handy when you need to speed things up with your work. The weight of this handheld GPS device is around 10.2 ounces which is slightly on the heavier side.
3. Garmin eTrex 10
If you are looking for the best handheld GPS which meets the standard of IPX7 standards, then you have come looking for the correct product. This device has some unique features which are worth considering whenever any users think of buying a heavy-duty GPS device for their day to day trekking experience.
The waterproof coating on this device works truly great since it can be immersed in water for about 30 minutes and can still be used without any hassle. So you have your peace of mind that you GPS trackers would not be getting damaged by any sort of heavy rainfall or splashing since this device is made in such a way to withstand such outdoor conditions.
- This is the best waterproof handheld GPS tracker which can be used for all sorts of outdoor trekking activities without any problem.
- WAAS is enabled on this device which allows it to receive signals both from HotFix and GLONASS.
- It runs on dual AA batteries which provides up to 20 hours of runtime.
- You can easily point out the high and low points in a waypoint with the help of this device.
- It is loaded with very basic world maps of only the major cities in the world.
- There are no landmarks available on this device.
The device is quite lightweight as compared to other devices. This only weighs 9.1 ounces and has a compact screen size of 2.2 inches, for people who like to carry small devices with themselves. The 20 hours of battery backup is quite a plus for long hours of continuous use.
In addition to all of this, the WAAS-enabled HotFix and GLONASS support provides a reliable signal and fast positioning of any location. The product happens to comes with a one year warranty. Thus, you can opt-in for purchasing this device if you are looking for an ultimate beast for trekking purpose.
4) Garmin inReach Explorer+
This device is an updated model of the popular inReach series of the Garmin handheld GPS devices. It is one of the best handheld GPS for hiking, and also has the capability of sending out SOS signals and satellite messenger.
The device is considered to be one of the best handheld GPS available in the market with a compact screen size of 2.4 inches. The explorer+ models come packed in with preloaded 24,000 maps. For the trekkers who have been looking for SOS services in their GPS devices along with GPS navigation and off the grid 2-way messaging, this might just be the device for them.
- This device provides quite a huge battery life of 100 hours.
- The internal memory consists of 2 GB.
- All three features in one device is available, that is, handheld GPS, satellite messenger and SOS device.
- It has a rechargeable lithium-ion battery.
- The maps sometimes take a lot of time to load.
- You cannot add maps to this device.
- Creation of waypoints is possible but seeing the actual lay of the land is not.
With its built-in 24k maps, the device still falls short of its predecessor models where new maps can be added to the device without any hassle. This product has a fixed internal capacity of 2 GB. Also, it does not include any slot for microSD cards.
However, if you are looking forward to a handheld GPS with SOS feature,, then you can easily opt-in for the inReach. This device is truly the best and simple alternative for any other handheld GPS device in the market.
5) Garmin GPSMAP 64st Worldwide Handheld GPS
Most of the popular handheld GPS devices have been removing their buttons, but this model of Garmin GPSMAP 54s truly looks wonders when it comes to the traditional look of the best handheld GPS. Anything that would truly astonish any user is the price range this device comes in along with its accuracy and the firmware which it provides.
The firmware of this device is quite smooth and is completely free of bugs. Therefore, this device would be the ultimate saviour for people who need to use a handheld GPS device for their trekking often.
The conventional methods of bringing a compass and a backup map cannot be matched ever. However, this device here has both of these pre-installed into the system.
- The battery backup provided is 16 hours.
- The device has an internal memory capacity of 4 GB which can be increased up to 32 GB with the help of a micro SD card.
- This device is proven to be quite reliable when it comes to fast loading of maps.
- It is quite accurate with the data it provides.
- The presence of the antenna makes the whole device look bulky.
- Manual buttons are not appreciated by many users.
The main reason why you should consider this device on your shortlist is owing to its consistency as compared to any handheld device available in the market. This device can also be paired to your mobile phone so that you can receive notifications and it also has a pre-installed compass and barometric altimeter. The size and weight of the product is also just right and can be handled with ease, anywhere.
If you can manage with the external antenna then this could be a great pick for you. Compatibility with GLONASS and GPS satellites is what sets this handheld GPS device apart from its competitors. There is barely any handheld GPS device, available, in the market, with all these features, at this price range.
6. GarminGPSMAP 78S Marine GPSNavigator and WorldWide Chartplotter
This product is quite popular among users who like watersports or go trekking through waterways. These enthusiasts would always want a hardy device like the Garmin GPSMAP 78S to be with them all the time.
This handheld GPS device is packed in with a 3-axis compass, barometric altimeter and also with a highly sensitive receiver which can pick up signals even at places with fewer reception services. It has a brand new moulded rubber grip so that users can hold the same without any hassle. The feature to insert a microSD card for increasing the internal memory of the device can also be done.
- This device has a waterproof coating around its surface so that it can be used without any problem for people who are water sports enthusiasts.
- The storage can be increased with the help of a microSD card.
- It can stay afloat in water.
- It has a built-in 3-axis electronic compass along with a barometric altimeter.
- You can store up to 2000 waypoints in the device, but sometimes it might crash because of the heavy load implied into its firmware.
- It might be difficult for some users to load maps into this device since the interface is a bit tricky to use at first.
This device is truly one of the best handheld GPS for trekking as it comes with a built-in worldwide base map which makes navigation easier like never before. IPX7 waterproof coating is what makes this device all the more interesting to use in harsh weather conditions outdoors.
You can share your waypoints with other compatible devices with ease. The WAAS-enabled GPS receiver and HotFix satellite prediction make the output more accurate than any other handheld GPS receiver in the market.
7. Magellan eXplorist 350H Handheld GPS
For people who have been looking for the ultimate power in the grasps of their hand, the eXplorist 350H would be an absolute beast for them. It is a powerful and rugged handheld GPS device which even has an IPX7 waterproof coating so that it can be used hassle-free in harsh weather conditions.
This device happens to be one of the best handheld GPS available in the market since it is equipped with high-sensitivity SiRFstarIII GPS. The accuracy of this device is approximately up to 3 to 5 metres of range and includes over 30 specific waypoints. Its preloaded GMU and WMU detailed maps provide the user with all of the contours elevations which are possibly available within the area, making it easier to trek across the journey. The free one-year subscription to DigitalGlobe satellite imagery acts like an icing on the cake.
- Its GPS navigation system is specially made for the Hunter
- The waypoints are Hunt specific.
- This device provides the user with a complete topographic map contour layer.
- You will also receive boundary alerts whenever you are close to any restricted hunting zone.
- The loading time of the maps is a bit slow.
- Its small screen size might be an issue for some people.
With this wonderful piece of GPS tracker, you can easily track back and forth of already visited tracks and never lose the trail of the places you have visited. The complete track summary for your journey is available within one click, and it has never been so easy in keeping tracks of the useful statistics.
The device runs on dual AA batteries which can be changed as per your requirement and provides a battery backup of 18+ hours. Thus, if you are looking for the perfect tool to help you out with your hunt, then this is the GPS tracker you should opt for.
8. Garmin GPSMAP 66st
Hiking, trekking, cycling, geocaching, all these have never been so easy once the GPSMAP 66st came in the market. The more you use this premium 3-inch handheld device, the more you are available for exploration. It has the feature of the BirdsEye Satellite Imagery which helps you to find the way to your trekking path with much ease.
This device is one of the premium models of Garmin where you are getting the BirdsEye Satellite Imagery subscription without any extra charge. The built-in topo maps have never been so easy to use in any other GPS tracker. The display is of 3 inches which is completely perfect for handheld functionalities.
The GNSS support system helps you to navigate through the toughest of tracks in your journey, and you can also keep a record of the travels which you have made.
- It has a GNSS support system which helps anybody to track challenging environments during their trip.
- The availability of birdseye satellite imagery is direct-to- device download. Also, no annual subscription is needed for the same.
- The device has preloaded topographical maps of the U.S and Canada.
- Its expanded wireless connectivity provides active weather updates.
- Battery backup is not up to the mark.
- The device is not so accurate in dense places consisting of trees and mountains.
Not many devices today, provide premium GPS handling along with BirdsEye Satellite imagery, so this device gets the brownie point when it comes to these features. The subscription is totally free of cost, and you also get access to preloaded topo maps of Canada and the U.S.
Its powerful sensors will help you to find your way anywhere since the accuracy is quite high on this device.
The live weather condition will keep you updated always and give you insights to choose the right days for trekking and exploring spaces. Also, the SOS beacon and flashlight surely does come in handy if you face some trouble anyhow.
Considering all the features mentioned above, if you are looking for the best handheld GPS for trekking, you can surely give this 3-inch powerhouse a thought.
The eXplorist 310 provides its users with a beautiful outdoor trekking experience with its high-resolution colour screen and waterproof design. It has superior mapping than most other devices in the market along with paperless geocaching. It has preloaded World edition maps, and new maps can be loaded in the device without any hassle.
The World Edition of the preloaded maps provides a detailed network of roads and waterways. It even provides its users with the kind of land he or she is trekking on or is about to explore. The 2.2 inches vibrant coloured screen provides a bright display when it comes to readability in sunlight. The devices come with an in-built storage of 500 MB.
- It provides great readability in bright sunlight.
- It runs for 18 hours when fully charged.
- The IPX7 standard provides a waterproof coating to the device.
- It has a paperless geocaching mechanism.
- The screen size might be an issue for some users.
- The font size is not changeable in the device.
- The availability of only 500 MBs of storage might be less for some users. Also, no microSD card can be inserted to increase the storage.
The main menu has quite a simple UI, and after a few days of using the device, it can be used without any problem. The 2.2 inches vibrant, colourful display is quite bright when it comes to reading in direct sunlight. In addition to all of this, the waterproof coating helps this device to go on for long hours even in harsh weather conditions.
The usage of dual AA batteries provides a battery backup of 18 hours which can easily run for a whole day. You can also keep track of your journey with one click.
10. Handheld GPS A6 Handheld Navigator, Outdoor Handheld GPS Navigation USB Rechargeable Hiking GPS Locator Tracker, AC110V US Plug Handheld GPS Navigation
This is one of the best devices in the market which happens to provide its users with excellent navigational functions along with super specifications. This is something that no other GPS tracker is likely to provide within a price range as this device. Its multifunctional GPS navigation ensures that the issue of navigation is well taken care of. People can easily find their way through rugged terrains during their exploration sessions.
This device is perfect for outdoor hiking experience and provides a complete detail orientation of the terrains which the user is visiting. You can even look for a campsite located in a particular area with the help of this device. It is a great device for outdoor adventure.
- This device is great for an outdoor hiking experience.
- The orientation is very accurate on this device.
- Navigating along the road has never been easier.
- You can even look for water sources with the help of this device.
- It has an IP65 waterproof grade coating.
- No touchscreen feature is available on this device.
- The antenna might be bulky for some users.
The GPs tracker installed within this device ensures that no users have any trouble finding his or her way through unknown places during their trekking session. You can easily find desert areas and water sources with the help of this device. Always be sure to keep your GPS tracker updated so that you can easily receive updates on the current location you are visiting.
Therefore, if you are looking forward to a high-value package with one of the best handheld GPS, then you have indeed made the right choice.
Whenever you are looking forward to purchasing the best handheld GPS for trekking or other outdoor activities, always keep in mind the following three major points before zeroing down on the device that you want to buy.
Battery Life: Always make sure that you check the battery life of your device. You will not want your GPS tracker to switch off in between an important trekking session. Make sure that you either carry a power bank or AA batteries as per your need so that you are never out of power.
Map Features: Some devices allow maps to be loaded externally. Make sure that you check this feature so that you are able to load maps in accordance with your needs and choice.
Weight: always make sure that you carry a lightweight GPS tracker, especially when you are doing outdoor activity in dense areas. A lightweight device is also easier to handle than most other average weighing handheld GPS trackers.
The handheld GPS devices mentioned in our guide are handpicked by our team and been verified to check the truthfulness of their claims. Thus, making this a credible source of information for you to pick the one that suits you the best.