7 Best Handheld GPS Reviews, Tips & Guides
- 1 7 Best Handheld GPS Reviews, Tips & Guides
- 2 Features one must look before buying Handheld GPS
- 3 Best Handheld GPS of 2021
- 3.1 Garmin GPSMAP 64st, TOPO U.S. 100K with High-Sensitivity GPS
- 3.2 Dual Electronics XGPS160 Multipurpose Universal Bluetooth GPS Receiver
- 3.3 Magellan Triton 500 Waterproof Hiking GPS
- 3.4 Bad Elf 2300 Bluetooth GPS+GLONASS Receiver and Data Logger
- 3.5 DeLorme InReach Explorer Two Way Satellite Communicator
- 3.6 Garmin Foretrex 401 Waterproof Hiking GPS
- 3.7 Garmin eTrex 10 Worldwide Handheld GPS Navigator
- 4 Frequently Asked Questions
Remember those days when people use to carry a map and a compass on a trek to navigate tracks. With changing times and technology, handheld GPS has taken over maps and compasses.
With new and advanced features, it is a powerful combination of all these old techniques, combined together into one piece. Now, they before way more beyond just navigating direction.
One cannot overlook the importance of handheld GPS trackers while heading out for hiking or camping. These GPS devices not only track your information but also gives you other vital information necessary on a trek.
Features one must look before buying Handheld GPS
Their basic and main function is to navigate. These days apart from giving navigation, GPS units are equipped with a wide range of settings and features. Let’s take a look at some of the other features:
- Electronic compass: It tells you which direction you’re heading to, while you’re standing still. This is an amazing feature as a maximum of the times the user plans his route during resting time.
- Barometer– It helps to track changing weather conditions. In simpler words, it tells precise and accurate altitude based on satellite data.
- Communication system– A few of the hand-held GPS devices are equipped with two-way satellite communication systems. This feature is useful if you intend to plan long trek trips into completely wild unknown locations wherein safety and an emergency device is needed.
- Screen Display– Go for a high resolution colored screen as it gives crisp and clear access to images and data. Whether to choose a touchscreen or a buttoned unit, totally depends upon the user preference.
- Data-transfer– It lets you to wirelessly transfer data. The user can easily communicate with compatible GPS units and can share waypoints, tracks or routes with family or fellow explorers.
- Maps– All GPS trackers are preloaded with a simple base map. Garmin units come equipped with full-fledged topo maps. You can always download third-party maps online easily. Every GPS unit provides a software program that allows you to manage all your maps and plan your future adventures.
Best Handheld GPS of 2021
Purchasing a GPS can be a daunting task. To simplify your purchase, we have listed down 7 best handheld GPS of 2021. Take a look:
Garmin GPSMAP 64st, TOPO U.S. 100K with High-Sensitivity GPSB00HWL9BQ4
Garmin as a brand needs no introduction when it comes to GPS trackers. They are industry experts and have been producing some of the best GPS devices.
Garmin GPSMAP 64st features a bright 2.6-inch sunlight-readable color screen that offers a TFT transflective display. Offering 65K color measures it has 240 x 160 pixels for a crisp and detailed image. The Garmin GPS MAP 64s is only 7.6 oz. and features a thin and sleek design.
The built-in worldwide base map can easily add more maps and includes 8 GB of internal memory and a microSD card slot. It includes a 3-axis electronic compass with barometric altimeter indicates your exact location even when you are standing still. The barometric altimeter tracks changes and warns you about the changing weather conditions.
It comes with a preloaded Topo map that gives full coverage of the United States, including Alaska, Hawaii, and Puerto Rico. The map detail includes national, state and local parks and forests, along with terrain contours, elevation information, trails, rivers, lakes, etc.
It also includes a 1-year subscription of BirdsEye Satellite Imagery that gives you unlimited access to download stuff. GPSMAP 64st also connects to compatible Garmin devices, including VIRB™ and accessory sensors, including tempe™, foot pod, and heart rate monitor.
It includes a high-sensitivity GPS and GLONASS receiver with quad helix antenna that locates your position precisely even in case of extreme bad weathers. It also gives you access to paperless geocaching with 250,000 preloaded caches and locations from geocaching.com.
It includes a Smart Notification feature that lets you wirelessly receive email, texts, and alerts from your compatible iPhone 4s or later. It simply eliminates the need to take out your smartphone while traveling.
It features ten large and easy-to-use buttons that work amazingly well in all weather conditions. This device comes with an active battery life of up to 16 hours and works on 2 AA batteries.
It also has the IPX7 rating that gives protects the device against water till 1m immersion for up to 30 minutes. It offers wireless connectivity via Bluetooth technology or ANT+ that lets you share your locations or tracks easily with other compatible devices. The photo navigation feature enables you to download geotagged pictures from the internet and navigate them later.
The free BaseCamp software lets you view and organize maps, waypoints, routes and tracks, create and share adventures with friends and fellow explorers.
BaseCamp displays topographic map data in 2-D or 3-D on your computer screen, including contour lines and elevation profiles. Live Tracking lets you invite others and your friends can view your favorite adventure; you can send an invite via email or social media and followers can view live data on Garmin Connect.
Whether you are lost somewhere in woods or tall buildings, GPSMAP 64st helps you find your way when you need it the most. Offering excellent reception, this high-value unit is totally worth the consideration.
Dual Electronics XGPS160 Multipurpose Universal Bluetooth GPS ReceiverB00E65TNYE
This unit connects to both GPS (USA) & GLONASS (Russian) systems and to various other satellites that provide accurate and precise GPS coordinates within the range of +/- 2.5m CEP. Offering a wide area augmentation system, it has maximum speeds of 1,150 mph and the maximum altitude of 65,600 ft. It is compatible with iOS, Android & PC devices.
It includes high-sensitivity WAAS GPS technology and works with most Bluetooth-enabled devices. It easily connects up to 5 devices wirelessly via Bluetooth as it remembers all the paired devices so it will automatically pair for future use.
However, the devices must use the same operating platform. It can provide real-time accurate GPS coordinates with up to 10 position samples per second.
With a weight of 2.5 ounces, it is highly compact and portable. This device offers a Bluetooth range of 33 feet. It has a built-in rechargeable battery with up to 10 hours of battery life even after continuous use and will fully recharge within 3 hours.
It includes an adjustable strap, 12-30 volt car charger, USB charging cable, and non-slip dashboard pad. It is compatible to over hundreds of applications ranging from car, marine & aerial navigation, hiking, fitness, social media and much more.
The non-slip dashboard pad allows you to securely affix the device to numerous platforms such as your car dashboard, bike handle, boat or inside the console of the airplane. It features one year warranty with excellent customer service.
This extremely versatile device with its ability to provide accuracy of location is one of the top-selling GPS receivers in the market. It truly justifies its price tag and is a great purchase for people who want to keep track of their location.
Magellan Triton 500 Waterproof Hiking GPS
Triton features the best expertise of thousands of GPS users and nearly 20 years of precision positioning technology from Magellan. With this product, Magellan has totally reinvented the way handheld GPS is used to be.
Featuring a rugged and waterproof construction, Triton 500 can withstand intense water and tear. It adheres to IPX-7 waterproof standards and can handle immersion in one meter of water for up to 30 minutes.
With its easy-to-use interface, Magellan Triton 500 is perfect for the first-time GPS user. The interface has been intelligently designed that makes navigation simply effortless.
This unit features a full- coloured 2.2″ display that is bright and sunlight-readable. With a scratch-resistant screen, you can view maps or other data easily on this screen in amazing color quality.
It comes with a 3-axis electronic compass, which lets you track the exact location no matter where you are or how you hold your GPS. In fact, even when standing still it can detect the location.
It has a rubberized mainframe that is easy to grip. The strap loop facilitates attachment to packs or clothing.
The SD-card compatibility feature enables you to store maps, audio, pictures and more. The memory can be expanded and the user can upload an infinite number of marine cartography and topographic maps.
It has a barometric altimeter that analyzes pressure differences to determine accurate elevation; thereby helping the user to forecast weather conditions.
It also offers compatibility with National Geographic TOPO, which is simply amazing as it is the first handheld GPS to do so. It features an exclusive VantagePoint software that allows the user easy management of stuff.
Be it maps or any other content it is easily manageable. It also allows you to save routes and tracks that can be customised for future reference.
Offering the fastest GPS positioning, it is equipped with a strong SiRFstarIII chipset that provides rapid and reliable satellite signals even in narrow valleys, deep woods and canyons.
With a built-in wide area augmentation system and an integrated multidirectional antenna, this device provides accuracy to within 3-meter. It is powered by two AA batteries that are sold separately and features an average battery life of 10 hours.
It comes with a pre-loaded base map of the continental United States, Alaska, and Canada along with worldwide geographic boundaries.
Featuring advanced features, this unit is extremely easy-to-use. The price to features ratio is simply amazing and this product is highly recommended.
Bad Elf 2300 Bluetooth GPS+GLONASS Receiver and Data Logger
This high-performance device receives Bluetooth signal from both the GPS + GLONASS receiver. With wide area augmentation system, this device provides accurate signals to up to 2.5 m and up to 60,000 ft and 1000 mph.
It simply enhances the utility of your paired device. This device adheres to IPX4 waterproof standards, which makes it water- resistant and a perfect unit to carry for outdoor adventures.
The best part is that it can function without an internet connection or a monthly subscription. The built-in digital barometric sensor gives you rough barometer readings and barometric altitude.
It features advanced USB connectivity to PC or Mac that allows streaming NMEA GPS data. It lets you access the recorded data logs that have up to 200 hours worth of storage, i.e. it can record up to 200 hours of data logs. This GPS appears and functions just like a USB thumb drive. It features a 24-hour battery life.
With a weight of about 3.2 ounces, it is lightweight. It can instantly add GPS location support easily via Bluetooth. You can even connect up to two devices at once. Without any cell tower assistance, satellite locks can be quickly acquired.
Overall, it delivers high performance and does its job well. The price-to-feature ratio is adequate and this one can go on your consideration list.
DeLorme InReach Explorer Two Way Satellite CommunicatorB00I6EY01C
Powered by Iridium, this is the first satellite communicator in the world that offers two-way communication and worldwide coverage. It comes with a built-in navigation.
It allows its user to send and receive text messages with up to 160 characters and it has GPS coordinates linked to cell numbers or email addresses worldwide. The user can also post updates on social media via this device.
With this device, you can easily trigger an interactive SOS in case you face an emergency. You can easily communicate with the other person via GEOS, their 24/7 search, and rescue monitoring center.
A message confirmation will keep you informed about the help on the way. It can be easily paired with the devices having Bluetooth.
Make use of its Explore portal and plan your next adventure well-in-advance. It lets you create multiple color-coded routes and waypoints. It has adjustable tracking intervals ranging from 10 minutes to 4 hours that allow you to track your trip and share your location.
Pair this unit with your mobile device and use their Earthmate mobile app for easy downloading of free topo maps and U.S. NOAA charts for easy navigation of routes. With this app, you can even view all the essentials of your key trip statistics.
However, only the inReach users get free access to the Earthmate app in paired mode.
You can even share your journey with family or friends via MapShare. It also lets you share your waypoints and exchange messages with other people. This device is also equipped with a digital compass, barometric altimeter, and accelerometer.
It lets you view the route details such as trip distance and bearing to the destination. It has 100 hours of battery life in 10-minute tracking mode and comes with a wall charging adapter and USB cord for easy charging.
Overall, this durable device is equipped with some advanced features that make this one highly recommended. Well-constructed, this one is a perfect choice for anyone looking out for a communicator and safety device. Given the functionalities and performance, the price tag is truly justified.
Garmin Foretrex 401 Waterproof Hiking GPSB002EOSQII
This wrist-mounted GPS navigator is perfect for users that indulge in activities that require the use of both the hands. It is extremely comfortable to wear for extended periods of time, and there is no hassle of carrying it in your hands all the time around.
It features a high-sensitivity waterproof GPS receiver that keeps track of your path. It also includes HotFix that gives you improved reception of signals even in deep canyons or urban jungles. It is water resistant to 1 atmosphere.
It is powered by 2 standard AAA batteries (replaceable) and features an average battery life of up to 17 hours in GPS mode. It has an easy-to-read LCD display with display resolution of 100 x 64 pixels.
The best part about this display screen is that it supports dual position readout, which enables the user to view current location in multiple formats. Plus it has audible tones. It is extremely lightweight with a weight of just 3.1 ounces.
With Foretrex’s TracBack feature, and you can retrace your steps, i.e. you can head back to where you started. The compass feature of this device is amazing with an electronic compass, which gives you the access of the exact and precise location.
It also has a barometric altimeter that keeps track of your bearing and altitude. You also anytime share the waypoints, routes, and tracks wirelessly with another Foretrex 401.
To get a detailed analysis of your activities, connect your Foretrex to your PC or Mac with USB and simply use Garmin Connect to view your previous activities.
This feature also lets you explore some other routes uploaded by other customers and you can ever share your experiences on social media. You can always buy a separate add-on heart rate monitor to keep track of your heart rate. It also gives you other useful information including trip computer, sunrise/sunset times and hunting/fishing information.
Overall, this device gives you hands-free access to a GPS, making it perfectly ideal for outdoor activities and adventures. This highly-durable unit has been genuinely priced. For those who are looking out for a GPS with no extra-frills or features; just a simple device that is easier to use then this one is perfect for you.
Featuring a rugged, waterproof and dustproof construction. It is waterproof to IPX7 standards, i.e. it provides protection against light splashes, rain, etc. It has a 2.2″ of monochrome and lower resolution display.
The information displayed is easy to read in any light. However, it doesn’t have any camera and no maps can be added to it. With a weight of 140 gms, it is a basic device. The user interface is easier to use and navigate and this model offers advanced track navigation.
Offering a better reception, this unit connects to both GPS & GLONASS systems and to various other satellites that provide accurate and precise GPS coordinates. Garmin has added a worldwide base map to this model.
The BaseCamp software lets you view and organize maps, waypoints, routes, and tracks. It is a WAAS-enabled GPS receiver with HotFix and GLONASS support for fast and accurate positioning.
With BaseCamp software you can create Garmin Adventures that can be shared with friends, family or fellow explorers. BaseCamp displays topographic map data in 2-D or 3-D on your computer screen, including contour lines and elevation profiles.
You can always pair your device with BirdsEye Satellite Imagery subscription and transfer an unlimited amount of satellite images.
It supports full paperless geocaching GPX files for downloading. It features a 25-hour battery life, using rechargeable two AA batteries. This model supports spine-mounting accessories as it comes with little spine with a D-ring at the back that unlocks the battery compartment
Undoubtedly, this is one of the best and affordable devices available. This handheld GPS features enhanced capabilities and is highly recommended.
Frequently Asked Questions
What does a handheld GPS device do?
Satellites are the simple answer to how handheld GPS devices function. While we commonly refer to GPS as the device that allows us to access mapping information, GPS is a whole network of components.
NASA states that a GPS receiver or device searches for signals from up to 30 US satellites orbiting about Earth. GPS ground stations cross-check the satellite location from ground.
How accurate is a handheld GPS device?
Many modern handheld GPS devices can locate your location using a clear signal. This means that there is only a small error margin. This accuracy is ideal for geocaching, waypoint setting, emergency situations, and reliable waypoint setting. The accuracy of integrated altimeters and 3-axis compasses on handheld GPS devices is also higher than ever.
How do I use my handheld GPS to go hiking?
A handheld GPS is not the same as a mobile map. The use of satellite data makes a GPS more complex. To get it to work, you will need to first locate your location using trilateration. You can then pick the coordinates of your destination and set it as your ending point. Then, you can create waypoints. You can create waypoints to mark your destination, such as the source of water or a campsite.
Are Handheld GPS devices better than a phone?
Handheld GPS devices can be used to provide accurate navigation in areas where cell service is not available. Smartphones are less durable than purpose-built GPS devices.
Although smartphones are useful navigational tools, they don’t have the battery life or depend on cellular service to last long. They also lack the ability to perform expeditionary navigation.
What factors affect GPS accuracy?
Satellite signals are blocked by structures like trees, mountains, bridges, or bridges. Signal strength can also be affected by indoor and underground usage. Signals can be reflected from nearby structures in some cases. Multipath errors can occur when this happens. GPS accuracy can also be affected by radio interference and solar flares.
The GPS must be placed in a clear area of the sky to ensure the best reading. This is unfortunately not possible in all outdoor conditions. The GPS unit can be placed in a backpack’s outside pocket or in a handlebar mount when you are cycling. This will allow for better signal acquisition.
Is wind affecting GPS accuracy?
Handheld GPS accuracy levels are not affected by weather conditions such as wind, snow, or clouds. GPS signals are not affected by adverse space weather conditions. When the signals pass through ionosphere, this happens. A GPS unit’s accuracy can be affected by severe geomagnetic storms.
Standard calculations show that the loss of GPS signal due weather conditions is extremely rare. This has no impact on the accuracy of the unit. As snow can affect signal quality, make sure the antennas of GPS devices used for hiking are not covered.
Handheld GPS for Geocaching is good for you?
Although some geocaching sites can be accessed using a smartphone, a handheld GPS device for geocaching is the best. A handheld GPS device allows you to enjoy geocaching without the need for cellular service. You can also save waypoints so that you can return to certain locations repeatedly.