Best Handheld GPS for Walking and Hiking? UK Reviews

What is the Best Handheld GPS for Walking and Hiking? UK Reviews

When we go out hiking and walking it can be nice to get a little lost. However, no one wants to end up completely stuck in the middle of nowhere and not know how to get back. A handheld GPS can come in very handy for guiding us back to our chosen routes, as well as planning them in the first place.

They have a wide range of functions that can really add to your hiking experience. We have gathered a number of handheld GPS reviews for you to read through in hopes that one of our carefully selected models turns out to be the best walking GPS for you. Take a look and see if you find it.

How to Choose a Handheld GPS Device

The main manufacturer of handheld GPS devices is Garmin, but even with limited manufacturers, there are still a large number of models to choose from. It’s not always easy to make a choice, and you really need to take some things into consideration.

The first question you need to ask yourself is, do you need a handheld GPS? Where will you be going that requires you to use one? Can it replace the traditional map and compass?

Generally, handheld GPS can certainly replace a traditional map or compass to aid in locating your chosen location. They are all-in-one and also far more compact than regular means. In addition to this, they are also made to withstand harsh weather conditions such as rain and snow. So you won’t end up with soggy equipment or your map blowing away if you have a device like this.

A handheld GPS that uses both American GPS and Russian satellite systems is generally advised when you go to purchase. This is because the device will offer you far more coverage and so you are less likely to lose signal at any given point.

It also means that pinpointing your location can be achieved faster and more accurately than with GPS alone.

It is also advised that you select a model that uses a touchscreen instead of buttons. This is because the touchscreen devices tend to be much faster in terms of navigation as well as processing. Button machines are often a little more outdated.

You are also usually able to use the touchscreen devices with gloves, meaning that you don’t need to risk freezing hands just to find out where to go next.

Always take the time to read through the reviews before you make your purchase. If you aren’t sure which is best, the reviews from other customers can tell you a lot about the general level of satisfaction others have felt.

This can aid in your decision making and help you with a potentially tricky decision. It’s also important to remember that while the most expensive items are often more reliable, this is not always the case.

Things to Look for

There are a few things to look for when you go to purchase a handheld GPS for walking or hiking. The first of these is taking the extras you might need into consideration.

Some devices come with preloaded maps that will show you where interesting outdoor or fitness activities are taking place, so you can be part of it and join in with the experience. This can be very beneficial.

If you are visiting the coast, some will give you live tidal information if you are into surfing. They can also tell you when the sun rises and set each day to give you plenty of time to plan. Related to this is the fact that some of them come with torches. This can be very useful for walking at night, keeping you and other road users safe.

You might also want a camera built into the device. It allows you to take quick snapshots if you can’t reach your main camera in time. Similarly, some handheld GPS devices have wireless sharing.

This means that you are able to share your custom maps, downloaded routes/maps, photos, and so much more with other devices. So if a group of you are heading off together, this can be a really handy tool to have in case someone gets lost, or you need to share vital information.

The Advantages of a Handheld GPS

Here are some of the advantages to using a handheld GPS when you go walking or hiking:

  • Tends to be less expensive than larger GPS models
  • Tends to have far more features than standard GPS
  • Versatile for a range of activities
  • Self-contained with no attachments. Everything is there
  • Help to prevent you from getting lost
  • They offer detours if the main path becomes unavailable
  • You can often retrace your steps and used advanced mapping to find your location
  • Many are linked to American GPS in addition to Russian satellites, so you always know where you are

All that’s left is to choose the perfect device for you. Take a look at our handheld GPS reviews for some of our favourite models.

Best Handheld GPS for Walking and Hiking - Comparison Table





Garmin eTrex 30x Review

From £165

garmin logo
Garmin Montana Review

From £325

garmin logo
Garmin eTrex 20

From £210

garmin logo
Garmin eTrex 20x

From £135

garmin logo
Garmin eTrex 10

From £85

garmin logo
Satmap Active 12 Plus

From £400

satmap logo
Garmin Oregon 600

From £230

garmin logo
Garmin Oregon 650T

From £310

garmin logo

Best Handheld GPS - Summary Reviews

Garmin eTrex 30x Review

Editors Choice

Garmin eTrex 30x Review

Garmin is a trusted brand, and the eTrex 30x is one of their latest handheld GPS models.

With a range of great features, this portable device certainly comes in handy when you’re out and about. Take a look at the reviews and see if this is the right model for you.

The Good

This model has a 3-axis compass as well as an enhanced display that can be read in any lighting conditions. It is also durable as well as waterproof because it was designed to be able to withstand the elements.

Even humidity and dirt/dust have no effect on it. It also comes with preloaded maps of Europe. This includes a recreational map, so you know where all of the great activities are in each of the places you visit.

It is able to track using GPS and GLONASS satellites simultaneously, which is 20% faster at determining your location than GPS alone. It has a barometric Altimeter built into it that tracks changes in pressure in order to pinpoint your altitude accurately.

It can also help you to keep an eye on changing weather conditions. It also has wireless sharing across compatible Garmin devices.

When reviewing this product, straight away, it was clear to see the map is brightly coloured and easily readable. I like that it reacts well when zooming or scrolling, which makes it easy to use. There's a useful night mode, which uses specific colours to make it clear to see clearly after dark.

The Not So Good

It can take a while to set up and has a slow processor alongside small internal memory.

Features - 
  • Brand : Garmin
  • Battery Life : 25 hours
  • Memory : 3.7 GB
  • Waterproof : Yes
Our View

This model is one of the more affordable from Garmin, and despite its flaws, it has a range of fantastic functions that are sure to make your trip easier. From quick city navigation, to discovering where all of the local sport and outdoors events are being held, this device certainly packs a lot of punch.


Q: Will the device show lat/long and speed when sailing offshore even if no chart card is loaded?

A: Yes, You will get position and speed info because this data comes from the GPS independent of any charts. You will also be able to track your route, but this probably won't mean much without a chart. 

 Garmin Montana Outdoor Review

Best Worldwide GPS 

Garmin Montana Review

Another model from Garmin, the brand continues to show its popularity and reliability with this nifty handheld GPS.

It has a larger screen than most other models, which can come in handy. Take a look below and see if this is the model that suits your needs.

The Good

It has a four-inch screen, for improved visibility, and this can be clearly read in all types of lighting. On top of this, the display is also glove friendly, so you don’t need to worry about getting frozen fingers just so you can use your GPS device.

This model also features easy wireless sharing between compatible devices, alongside Garmin’s Base Camp organisation software for trip planning.

It has 250,000 preloaded geocaches as well as a year of free BirdsEye Satellite Imagery.

In addition to this, it has a high sensitivity GPS receiver with hotfix and GLONASS, which works simultaneously with the GPS for faster and more accurate location pinpointing. It also has a barometric altimeter and compass installed. The system is also very easy to navigate.

When reviewing this product, straight away, it was clear to see the map is easy to read, with the bright backlight it's easy to read no matter the light while you're out on a hike.

The Not So Good

The Base Camp software needs a lot of work, and it can be a little tricky to set up initially.

Features - 
  • Brand : Garmin
  • Battery Life : 22 hours
  • Memory : 3.7 GB
  • Waterproof : Yes
Our View

This model is definitely one for the avid hiker, due to the large price tag, but it is worth every penny. It has a superb range of features to make your hike a memorable one.

With fast location mapping as well as 250,000 preloaded geocaches alongside easy wireless sharing, it’s a dream come true. All it needs is an updated version of Base Camp, and it’s practically perfect.

 Garmin eTrex 20 Review

Garmin eTrex 20

This Garmin model could be one of the best, as it is modern, easy to use, and loaded with handy features.

Plus, it all comes from a trusted brand. Have a read of the reviews below, so you can get a feel for this device and see if it’s the right one for you.

The Good

This model features paperless geocaching, which is really easy to set up and takes no time at all. It has an enhanced colour display that is readable in all lighting, making things easier for you when you want to see where to go in the sun or cloudy weather.

It is waterproof and durable, built to withstand the elements and deal with anything it’s thrown.

Alongside its 1.7GB of memory, it also has a micro SD slot so that you can add even more, which also means more maps can be uploaded and used. It also supports the BirdsEye system.

It has an ENGOS-enabled GPS receiver as well as hotfix, so your location can be pinpointed quickly and efficiently. There also an array of compatible mounts so it can go anywhere with you.

The Not So Good

It can be a little slow to render maps due to a lack of USB 2.0.

Features - 
  • Brand : Garmin
  • Battery Life : 20 hours
  • Memory : 1.7 GB
  • Waterproof : Yes
Our View

If you are looking for something affordable and practical, then this might just be the best handheld GPS on the market. Reliable, durable, and at a very reasonable price, the only real issue it has is a lack of speedy USB.

This model has a great range of features that make Garmin the great brand it is, and it’s not a model to miss out on.

Other Handheld GPS Models

Here are some other some other handheld GPS models in case the ones above did not suit your needs.

Garmin eTrex 20x

This nifty little handheld GPS has a bright colour display that allows you to read it in any lighting. It has been preloaded with

TopoActive Western Europe maps for recreational activities like cycling and hiking – so you’ll be able to find the fun wherever you go.

The GPS itself is high-sensitivity, so the satellite tracking is able to pinpoint your location quickly and easily. It’s also durable and waterproof as it was designed to withstand the elements on your hiking adventures. A great model at an equally great price.

Garmin eTrex 10

This highly affordable model from Garmin comes with a standard monochrome display that can be read in any lighting.

The interface is incredibly easy to use, and you can enjoy paperless geocaching via supporting GPX files. It stores and displays all of the relevant information you need to make your way through the area you are trekking in.

The GPS receiver is also highly sensitive, so it is able to pinpoint your location quickly and easily.

Satmap Active 12 Plus

This handheld GPS provides you with a high-resolution colour screen so you can see everything clearly no matter where you are.

This particular model comes with a rechargeable battery pack as well as a car charger, so you can make sure it has full power wherever you go. It has enhanced height accuracy thanks to the integrated barometric altimeter.

It also has Bluetooth connectivity for quick map sharing. It is one of the priciest models listed here, but certainly worth it for the dedicated hiker.

To Conclude

In this guide, we have looked at some brilliant handheld GPS models. Primarily from top brand, Garmin, as well as Satmap, there is definitely here that will match both your requirements and budget.

When it comes to determining which of these models is the best, it has to be the Garmin eTrex 20. It’s sturdy, reliable, and comes with a range of features that are sure to make your next hike a more exciting one. So for the best walking GPS, choose the Garmin eTrex 20.

What did you think of our handheld GPS selection? Are there any you would have added? We love hearing from you, so feel free to leave a message in the comments below.