What’s The Best Handheld GPS? Top 10 Revealed

a man using the best handheld gps

If you spend a lot of time out in the backcountry, whether you are hiking, hunting, camping, or just plain getting lost, you have a lot to gain from owning your own handheld GPS receiver. With the best handheld GPS receivers, you can enjoy your outdoor activities without the fear of getting completely lost. Wherever you go, you will know exactly where you are and how to get back to safety.

In this article, we will help you find the best handheld GPS receiver for your needs, whether they are professional or recreational. We will answer some of the most common questions about these devices, and then we will take you through our reviews of the 10 products we consider to be the best handheld GPS receivers on the market. In one quick read, you will have all the information you need to be an expert on the market.

Comparison Table

What We Reviewed

best handheld gps on top of a map

Image Source: Unsplash.com

1. What Is a Handheld GPS?

2. What Can I Use a Handheld GPS For?

3. Why Should Someone Use a Handheld GPS Instead of Their Smartphone?

4. Where Can I Buy One?

5. What Features Should I Expect from the Best Handheld GPS?

How We Reviewed

handheld navigation device on a kayak

Image Source: Pixabay.com

The following products were reviewed based on the following parameters: Features, Pros & Cons, Price, Where to Buy, and Warranty. We chose these parameters because we want to save you the hassle of having to try out different products. We want to ensure that you have the necessary information to buy the best handheld GPS receiver for your needs in one try. With these criteria, we can make our reviews comprehensive and unbiased.

Overall Price Range of This Product (and Similar Products)

These handheld GPS navigators range in price from $70 to $900. The main price determinants include the overall build quality, durability, the screen quality, the viability of the software, the user interface, the battery life, the internal storage space, and the quality of the provided maps.

What We Reviewed

  • Garmin GPSMAP 64st
  • Garmin Oregon 650t 3-Inch Handheld GPS
  • DeLorme AG-008727-201 Two Way Satellite Communicator
  • Garmin eTrex 30x 010-01508-10 Handheld Navigator
  • Magellan eXplorist 310 Summit Series
  • Garmin Montana 680 Touchscreen GPS/GLONASS Receiver
  • Garmin etrex Touch 35
  • Garmin epix
  • Garmin eTrex10 GPS
  • Garmin Monterra Wi-Fi Enabled GPS Navigator

Garmin GPSMAP 64st

Garmin GPSMAP 64st, TOPO U.S. 100K with High-Sensitivity GPS and GLONASS Receiver
  • Sunlight Readable 2.6 inches color display. Display size : 1.43 x 2.15 inches and 2.6 inch diag (6.6 centimeter). Battery life : 16 hours. Water rating IPX7
  • Expanded Internal Memory 8GB.Display resolution 160 x 240 pixels. Interface: high speed USB and NMEA 0183 compatible
  • DUAL BATTERY SYSTEM Use with 2 traditional AA batteries (best with Polaroid AA batteries), or the optional rechargeable NiMH battery pack that can be charged while inside the device.Weight 8.1 ounce (230 grams) with batteries
  • Receive Smart Notifications* and pair with optional ANT+ sensors, such as heart rate monitor, Tempe temperature sensor, speed/cadence, or use to control your VIRB action camera (64s/64st only)
  • Wirelessly upload data to Garmin Connect and view on smartphone, plus share activities as they happen with Live Track (64s/64st only). 3 axis compass with barometric altimeter.Routes:200

Features

The Garmin GPSMAP 64st comes with a sunlight-readable 2.6″ color display. It has a battery life of 16 hours and water rating of IPX7. Its expanded internal memory is 8gb. Its display resolution is 160px x 240px. It is equipped with a dual battery system: two traditional AA batteries and it can also be used with an optional rechargeable NiMH battery pack that charges while inside the receiver.


It features smart notifications, and when paired with ANT+ sensors, it provides extra information like temperature and speed.

Pros

  • Gets signals quickly
  • Detailed built-in map
  • Comes with lots of memory

Cons

  • Disappointing battery life
  • Unhelpful manual

Price

This product can be found on Amazon for around $200.

Where to Buy

Warranty

It comes with a limited 1-year warranty.

Garmin Oregon 650t 3-Inch Handheld GPS

Sale
Garmin Oregon 650t 3-Inch Handheld GPS with 8MP Digital Camera (US Topographic Maps)
  • 3-Inch sunlight-readable, touchscreen display with multi-touch capability
  • Dual-band GPS/GLONASS satellite positioning
  • Sensors (3-axis compass, accelerometer, barometric altimeter)
  • ANT or Bluetooth technology -wirelessly share routes, tracks, waypoints, geocaches, custom maps and photos between units Dual orientation - auto switching between landscape or portrait views
  • Dual battery system -2 AA batteries or NiMH battery pack charged by the Oregon (battery pack included with 650/650t; optional with 600/600t) 8MP autofocus camera (650, 650t only) with LED flash/torch and digital zoom

Features

The Garmin Oregon 650t 3-Inch Handheld GPS comes with 4GB of memory, topographic maps data, and a digital camera. It has a 3-inch sunlight-readable, touchscreen display and dual-band GPS/GLONASS satellite positioning.


It features 3-axis compass, accelerometer, and barometric altimeter sensors, and ANT or Bluetooth technology, which allows you to share your routes, tracks, waypoints, geocaches, custom maps, and photos wirelessly. It uses a dual battery system (two AA batteries or chargeable NiMH battery pack). It also comes with an LED flash/torch.

Pros

  • Comes with an 8 mega pixel autofocus digital camera
  • Compatible with Bluetooth
  • Pre-loaded with U.S. TOPO 100K maps
  • Batteries can charge via USB

Cons

  • Not water resistant
  • Expensive at $500
  • Poor battery life

Price

This product can be found on Amazon for around $200.

Where to Buy

Warranty

It comes with a limited 1-year warranty.

DeLorme AG-008727-201 Two Way Satellite Communicator

Spot X 2-Way Satellite Messenger
  • Message- exchange messages with any cell phone number or email address from virtually anywhere in the world
  • S. O. S. - send an S. O. S. To the 24/7 search & rescue center, message back and forth about the nature of your emergency, and receive confirmation when help is on the way
  • Tracking- Select from 21/2, 5, 10, 30 or 60 minute tracking intervals, and let family, friends and other Adventurers follow your progress with SPOT easy-to-use google maps interface
  • Check in - quickly and easily let everyone know you're ok
  • Post to social- Link your social accounts to keep your friends and family in the know wherever you go

Features

The DeLorme AG-008727-201 Two Way Satellite Communicator comes with built-in navigation, SOS functionality, two-way GEOS texting, a digital compass with a barometric altimeter and an accelerometer, and a route planning and sharing feature. It can maintain a robust satellite signal, even in the most difficult GPS areas. Full use requires a subscription, ranging from $12 to $100 a month.

Pros

  • Excellent tracking capabilities
  • Durable
  • Comes with many safety features
  • No cell reception needed for companion Earthmate app

Cons

  • Requires a monthly subscription
  • Poor customer service

Price

This product can be found on Amazon for around $600.

Where to Buy

Warranty

It comes with a limited 1-year warranty.

Garmin eTrex 30x 010-01508-10 Handheld Navigator

Sale
Garmin eTrex 30x, Handheld GPS Navigator with 3-axis Compass, Enhanced Memory and Resolution, 2.2-inch Color Display, Water Resistant
  • UPGRADED DISPLAY Features a 2.2” 65K color sunglight readable display offering increased resolution (240 x 320 pixels). Physical dimensions: 2.1" x 4.0" x 1.3" (5.4 x 10.3 x 3.3 cm)
  • LOAD MORE MAPS Large 3.7 GB of internal memory and microSD card slot lets you load a variety of maps, including TOPO 24K, HuntView, BlueChart g2, City Navigator NT and BirdsEye Satellite Imagery (subscription required)
  • PRELOADED BASEMAP Includes a worldwide basemap with shaded relief
  • BUILT IN SENSORS eTrex 30x adds a built in 3 axis tilt compensated electronic compass and a barometric altimeter which tracks changes in pressure to pinpoint your precise altitude, and you even can use it to plot barometric pressure over time
  • WIRELESS Wirelessly share your waypoints, tracks, routes and geocaches with other compatible devices simply press “send” to transfer your information also wirelessly connects to compatible Garmin devices, including VIRB and accessory sensors

Features

The Garmin eTrex 30x 010-01508-10 Handheld Navigator features an upgraded 2.2″ 65K color, sunlight-readable display with a resolution of 240px x320px. It comes with an internal memory of 3.7GB and a microSD card slot that allows you access to a wide variety of maps, like TOPO 24K, HuntView, BlueChart g2, City Navigator NT, and BirdsEye Satellite Imagery.


It comes with a built-in worldwide base map with shaded relief. Its sensors include a 3-axis tilt-compensated electronic compass and a barometric altimeter.

Pros

  • High-quality display
  • IPX-7 waterproofing
  • Around 24 hours of battery life
  • Comes with an alarm clock
  • Easy to use
  • Excellent value at $200

Cons

  • Slightly unresponsive joystick
  • Screen could be more durable

Price

This product can be found on Amazon for around $200.

Where to Buy

Warranty

It comes with a limited 1-year warranty.

Magellan eXplorist 310 Summit Series 

Magellan eXplorist 310 Fishing Hot Spots Bundle
  • The World Edition includes detailed road network, water features, urban and rural land use
  • Brilliant, Sunlight Readable Color Screen.A vibrant 2.2" color transflective screen provides the best readability in direct sunlight
  • Topographic map of 9 US Regions
  • Paperless Geocaching
  • 18 Hours of Battery Life

Features

The Magellan eXplorist 310 Summit features a sunlight-readable color 2.2″ screen, a detailed road network, water features, urban and rural capabilities, and a realistic shaded relief background. Its battery life is 18 hours.

Pros

  • Waterproof
  • Decent battery life (18 hours)
  • More affordable than competitors

Cons

  • Display can be difficult to read
  • Somewhat slow performance
  • Confusing interface

Price

This product can be found on Amazon for around $160.

Where to Buy

Warranty

It comes with a limited 1-year warranty.

Garmin Montana 680 Touchscreen GPS/GLONASS Receiver

Sale
Garmin Montana 680t
  • PRELOADED GEOCACHES - 250,000 preloaded worldwide geocaches from Geocaching.com
  • SEE YOUR SURROUNDINGS - Includes a 1-year Birdseye Satellite Imagery subscription1
  • GPS AND GLONASS - With its high-sensitivity, WAAS-enabled GPS receiver, Hotfix satellite prediction and GLONASS support, Montana locates your position quickly and precisely and maintains its location even in heavy cover and deep canyons
  • TRACK MANAGER - Ability to organize and navigate through waypoints/routes/track logs (easily start/stop recording track logs)
  • CAPTURE THE MOMENT - 8 megapixel digital camera for higher quality images and better resolution; geotagged with coordinates automatically, allowing you to

Features

The Garmin Montana 680 is a GPS/GLONASS receiver with a 4″ dual-orientation, glove-friendly touchscreen display and an 8MP autofocus camera with automatic geotagging. It features a 3-axis compass with barometric altimeter. The Garmin Montana 680 comes with a 1-year BirdsEye Satellite Imagery subscription.

Pros

  • Large 4″ display
  • Glove-friendly
  • Battery life of 16 hours

Cons

  • Large (some may find the Montana cumbersome)
  • Somewhat slow performance
  • Confusing interface

Price

This product can be found on Amazon for around $430.

Where to Buy

Warranty

It comes with a limited 1-year warranty.

Garmin etrex Touch 35

Sale
Garmin etrex Touch 35
  • Touchscreen - 2.6-inch color, capacitive touchscreen display
  • Activity profiles - easy-to-use navigation for multiple activities, including climb, hike, hunt, bike, geocache, fish and more
  • Electronic compass - all models offer a 3-axis tilt-compensated electronic compass, which shows your heading even when standing still, without holding it level
  • Built-in mapping - all models feature worldwide base map with shaded relief, while the 35t comes preloaded with either topo u.s. 100k or topo Canada maps
  • Barometric altimeter - smart notifications - ant+ connectivity

Features

The Garmin etrex Touch 35 features a 2.6″ color, capacitive touchscreen display, an electronic compass with a 3-axis tilt-compensated electronic compass, built-in mapping with shaded relief, and a barometric altimeter. It provides smart notifications and is compatible with ANT+. It provides a variety of activity profiles for easy, specialized navigation (climb, hike, hunt, bike, geocache, fish, and more).

Pros

  • Comes with 4GB of memory
  • Decent battery of 16 hours
  • Affordable for the quality
  • Accurate

Cons

  • Difficult interface
  • Clumsy software
  • No route reversal feature

Price

This product can be found on Amazon for around $250.

Where to Buy

Warranty

It comes with a limited 1-year warranty.

Garmin epix 

Garmin epix
  • TOUCHSCREEN : 1.4 inch high resolution, sunlight visible color Chroma touchscreen display
  • EXPANDED MEMORY : 8 GB internal memory lets you load a variety of maps, including TOPO U.S. 24K and City Navigator NT
  • CONNECT IQ APP : Customize your watch with a variety of watch faces, data fields, widgets and applications (view more information on page 2)
  • STAY CONNECTED : Automatically uploads data wireless to Garmin Connect, LiveTrack and social media (using Garmin Connect Mobile app on smartphone4),plus features Smart Notification4 so you can receive emails, texts and alerts directly on your watch
  • MULTI ACTIVITY : Easy and quick access to multiple activities, such as hiking, navigation, running, mountaineering, swimming, indoor workouts and more

Features

The Garmin epix is a GPS receiver in the form of a watch. It comes with a 1.4″ high-resolution, sunlight-visible color touchscreen, an expanded memory of 8GB, and a Connect IQ app. It automatically uploads data wirelessly to Garmin Connect, LiveTrack, and other social media platforms. It provides smart notifications, meaning you can receive emails, texts, and alerts, all from your watch.


It is suitable for a wide variety of activities, including hiking, navigating, running, mountaineering, swimming, indoor workouts, and much, much more.

Pros

  • High-resolution color touchscreen
  • 8GB of internal memory
  • In a convenient watch form
  • Excellent build quality
  • High level of durability
  • Fantastic battery life (multiple days)
  • Catches signals quickly

Cons

  • Somewhat clunky interface
  • Has a learning curve

Price

This product can be found on Amazon for around $400.

Where to Buy

Warranty

It comes with a limited 1-year warranty.

Garmin eTrex10 GPS

Sale
Garmin eTrex 10 Worldwide Handheld GPS Navigator
  • Rugged handheld navigator with preloaded worldwide basemap and 2.2 inch monochrome display
  • WAAS enabled GPS receiver with HotFix and GLONASS support for fast positioning and a reliable signal
  • Waterproof to IPX7 standards for protection against splashes, rain, etc
  • Support for paperless geocaching and Garmin spine mounting accessories. Power with two AA batteries for up to 20 hours of use (best with Polaroid AA batteries)
  • See high and low elevation points or store waypoints along a track (start, finish and high/low altitude) to estimate time and distance between points

Features

The Garmin eTrex10 GPS is an affordable handheld navigator that comes with a built-in worldwide base map and a 2.2″ monochrome display. It is WAAS-enabled with HotFix and GLONASS support, allowing it to provide quick positioning and consistent connections. It features IPX7 waterproofing, making it resilient against splashes, rain, and more. It uses two AA batteries, providing 20 hours of use at a time.

Pros

  • Affordable at $70
  • Excellent battery life of 20 hours
  • Performs basic functions well

Cons

  • Confusing interface
  • Basic world map (no street names or shops)

Price

This product can be found on Amazon for around $70.

Where to Buy

Warranty

It comes with a limited 1-year warranty.

Garmin Monterra Wi-Fi Enabled GPS Navigator 

Garmin GPSMAP 64SC, Rugged Handheld with GPS/GLONASS, Wireless Connectivity and Digital Camera
  • Sunlight-Readable 2.6" color display
  • Expanded Internal Memory 4GB
  • DUAL BATTERY SYSTEM Use with 2 traditional AA batteries, or the optional rechargeable NiMH battery pack that can be charged while inside the device.Weight 8.1 oz (230 g) with batteries
  • Receive Smart Notifications* and pair with optional ANT+ sensors, such as heart rate monitor, Tempe temperature sensor, speed/cadence, or use to control your VIRB action camera (64s/64st only)
  • Wirelessly upload data to Garmin Connect and view on smartphone, plus share activities as they happen with Live Track (64s/64st only)

Features

The Garmin Monterra Wi-Fi Enabled GPS Navigator features a 4″ dual orientation, sunlight-readable, mineral glass touchscreen display and an 8MP autofocus camera capable of recording 1080p HD videos. It provides precise positioning with high-sensitivity GPS/GLONASS, and multiple maps in 3D with the 3D MapMerge function.

Pros

  • Extremely durable
  • Bright display (easy to read)
  • Accurate GPS and speed readings
  • Can take 1080p HD videos

Cons

  • A bit bulky
  • Can be inconsistent in catching signals
  • Difficult to find in stock
  • Extremely expensive at $900

Price

This product can be found on Amazon for around $900.

Where to Buy

Warranty

It comes with a limited 1-year warranty.

The Verdict: The Best Handheld GPS Navigator

a gps mounted on a bicycle

Image Source: Unsplash.com

By our assessment, the best handheld GPS navigator is the Garmin eTrex 30x, which sells for $200 (price rating: $), making it one of the more affordable navigators on our list. Despite its relatively low price point, it provides reliable performance and a high-quality build. It comes with an easy-to-read display. It has an impressive battery life of around 24 hours. It is waterproof and, all in all, is extremely sturdy. With an internal memory of 3.7GB and a microSD slot, you will have plenty of room to input your own data.

Overall, the Garmin eTrex 30x is a fantastic navigator for the price. If you plan on heading out into the backcountry and want the security of a handheld GPS navigator, the eTrex 30x should definitely be on your list. If you opt for this navigator, though, we recommend you get a screen protector to increase its longevity.

Featured Image Source: Unsplash.com

About the Author: Danny Williams

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