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 Button machines are often a little more outdated.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
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.
Garmin Oregon 600
Another great model from Garmin, this handheld satnav is great for walkers who need something accurate and reliable for their expeditions.
This particular model features a glove friendly touch screen, so you can use it in cold weather without getting frozen fingers.
The screen is also readable in all lighting. It has a built-in three-axis, compass, accelerometer, and barometric altimeter. It also allows you to share routes, geocaches, and custom maps wirelessly. A great model, despite the large price tag.
Garmin Oregon 650T
The touchscreen on this nifty little handheld GPS is glove friendly, preventing frozen fingers while you are out on a hike. It also has dual orientation views and a preloaded European recreational map, so you won’t miss out on any of the fun while you are out.
It also features a digital camera with a LED torch for those quick snapshots that you really don’t want to miss. This model also features wireless sharing of routes, photos, and custom maps between units. With a large price tag, it’s one for the dedicated hiker.
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.