Top 4: Best Handheld GPS for Hiking 🏆

There are various GPS devices out there, but some of the best handheld GPS systems are made by Garmin. On my list, I have collected only the best-rated GPS devices that are available on the market today and not discontinued by the manufacturer. GPS units with a bad rating and angry customers reviews are not included in this list also. So pick any GPS from this list that you like and according to your budget.

Best Handheld GPS for Hiking No.1: Garmin Foretrex 401

Best Handheld GPS for Hiking No.1: Garmin Foretrex 401

The company Garmin is a world leader in the development of navigation devices designed for car owners, athletes, fishermen, travelers. Garmin Foretrex 401 is a simple, but at the same time, very smart device, specially designed by Garmin engineers for military, travelers, skiers. The device has compact body dimensions (75x43x23 mm) and a lightweight (87.3 grams), this navigator can be worn on the wrist, like a wristwatch.

Despite its compact size, the Garmin Foretrex 401 supports a wide range of functionality. The device includes a highly sensitive modern GPS-receiver, barometric altimeter, electronic compass and all this is enclosed in a rugged, waterproof case (class IPX7).

With the Garmin Foretrex 401 navigator, when going on a long trip you do not have to worry about finding the way back home. The Foretrex device will completely record the whole tourist route and display it on the built-in liquid crystal screen (display size 36×23 mm, black and white, supported resolution 100 × 64 pixels) as a line. After the end of the hike, in order to find the way back to the camp for tourists, it is enough to turn on the TracBack function and the device will show the way home (the device remembers up to 500 waypoints, 20 routes, and 10 tracks).

Image 2: Best Handheld GPS for Hiking No.1: Garmin Foretrex 401

Due to the presence of a barometric altimeter and an electronic compass in the Garmin Foretrex 401, a user can see his altitude and azimuth. The navigator allows not only to make routes to your favorite places of rest but also provide the travelers with other useful information: the time of sunrise and sunset, fisher/hunter information and the trip computer.

In addition, the device supports wireless communication and therefore it can connect to a wireless heart rate monitor or bicycle cadence sensor (sold separately). Also, you can buy the special mount and use in on your bicycle. The USB interface allows you to connect the device to a laptop or personal computer and transfer recorded waypoints, tracks, and routes to their permanent memory. As a source of power supply navigator uses 2 AAA batteries format, whose capacity is sufficient for 17 hours of operation.

If you don’t mind about black and white screen, then this GPS is one of the best to buy for a hiker, fisherman, hunter and for a military.

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Best Handheld GPS for Hiking No.2: Garmin eTrex 20x

Best Handheld GPS for Hiking No.2: Garmin eTrex 20x

Navigator Garmin eTrex 20x continues the line of navigation devices from the company Garmin, supporting simultaneous work with two systems of satellite navigation: GLONASS and GPS. The operation of the GLONASS system allows the use of 24 more navigation satellites, which increases the accuracy and speed of determining the coordinates.

Unlike the basic model the Garmin eTrex 10, the Garmin eTrex 20x gives the user an improved graphics display, thanks to the built-in (65,000 colors) LCD screen with a diagonal size of 2.2 inches and a supported resolution of 240 x 320 pixels. The screen of this quality ensures the highest quality of the resulting graphic image even in bright sunlight.

The compact dimensions of the device (54x103x33 mm) which make this device a great portable GPS, the small weight  (141.7 grams with batteries) and the waterproof (IPX7) design, combined with high dust and dirt protection make the Garmin eTrex 20x navigator suitable for the hikers/walkers.

Image 2: Best Handheld GPS for Hiking No.2: Garmin eTrex 20x

Great handheld GPS for hiking.

This GPS unit supports WAAS function and uses HotFix technology, which allows the owner of the device to predict the current position of navigation satellites and increases the speed of determining the coordinates and stability of the received signal (even when the device is in a deep ravine or under a tree crown).

GPS navigator the Garmin eTrex 20x is equipped with a high-speed USB interface for transferring information, which makes it possible to connect the device to a computer or laptop. Also in the navigator, there is a connector for installing an external microSD memory card, which makes it possible to download and use various types of maps.

The Garmin eTrex 20x can be successfully used for geocaching (search for caches and treasures). The device will provide all the information needed for this: coordinates, terrain, tips, descriptions, and level of complexity. Engineers of Garmin 20x has developed a number of different mounts allowing to use this device with various types of vehicles: quad bikes, motorcycles, boats, cars, bicycles.

This GPS unit uses two AA batteries, the charge of which is enough for 25 hours of operation of the device. Other features of this GPS are the calendar, hunting and fishing information, the lunar and solar calendar. Navigator allows you to save information about 2000 waypoints, allows you to create up to 200 routes and 200 tracks. This is the best GPS device you can buy in the price range of under $200. Another great choice is the eTrex 30x which is the same as the eTrex 20x but have added two features – barometric altimeter and electronic compass. If you need these features then buy eTrex 30x, if not then eTrex 20x is the way to go also it’s around $30 cheaper.

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Best Handheld GPS for Hiking No.3: Garmin GPSMAP 64S

Best Handheld GPS for Hiking No.3: Garmin GPSMAP 64S

Garmin GPSMAP 64s is a new device included in the range of portable travel navigators developed by the world famous company Garmin. This model is equipped with a high-precision GPS receiver, a three-axis electronic compass, a barometric altimeter and provides high accuracy of determining the user’s coordinates and its positioning. In addition, this model is able to work with satellite images of BirdsEye, and support custom maps. Like all Garmin products, the Garmin GPSMAP 64s is distinguished by its original design, compact dimensions, rugged waterproof body and capable of supporting wireless connections to other Garmin devices.

The accuracy of determining the coordinates is at a high-level, thanks to the included in its composition a GPS receiver with high sensitivity and a built-in quad helix antenna. The device also supports the HotFix function, which allows the device to predict the current location of satellites, which significantly increases the speed of finding their location. In addition to working with GPS satellites, the GPS receiver supports working with the GLONASS.

This GPS unit has TFT screen with a size of 2.6 inches and a supported resolution of 160 × 240 pixels. The navigator already has built-in base maps of the world and in addition, Garmin has developed a number of cartographic software for users, targeting different users: sailors, fishermen, car owners, hikers. All this software can be easily installed in the navigator thanks to the built-in memory of 8 GB or you can use external microSD card. In addition to the usual navigation maps, you can download satellite images of BirdsEye by additional subscription and use them together with cartographic software.

The memory of the Garmin GPSMAP 64s is enough for storing about 2000 waypoints, 200 routes, and 200 tracks. This GPS unit has composition three axial compasses which can determine the necessary direction. The barometric altimeter built into this great GPS unit allows determining the current altitude value.

Garmin GPSMAP 64s can be successfully used in such an interesting way as the search for treasures and hidden places. The device supports geocaching GPX files, which can be loaded directly into the memory of the navigator. Also, a distinctive and important feature of the device is its ability to maintain wireless communication with other navigation devices from Garmin. Using the wireless connection, the user can easily exchange routes and maps with other Garmin users.

Returning from an exciting hike, the data recorded during it can be downloaded to the laptop or computer. The body of the navigator is compact (61x160x36 mm) and has a lightweight (260 grams together with batteries). The Garmin GPSMAP 64s uses set of two NiMH or lithium AA batteries that provide autonomous operation of the device for 16 hours. In addition, the navigator is reliably protected from moisture and water (protection class IPX7), which makes it almost all-weather and allows you to constantly have this useful for the tourist device with you.

Price for this device in not cheap but this is the best long-term investment as this GPS will last you a long time. And it has features suitable for everything you can think of. This GPS unit available in many variations (you can even buy with inbuilt camera) so check them out and pick the one, that has features that you need.

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Best Handheld GPS for Hiking No.4: Garmin Montana 650

Best Handheld GPS for Hiking No.4: Garmin Montana 650 - good for hiking and motorcycle traveling

Before I begin – this GPS unit has the glove-friendly touchscreen and this GPS device is waterproof and durable. This is why motorcycle travelers call this device – the best GPS for a motorcycle and almost any serious motorcycle traveler has the Gramin Montana 650 on their handlebar. In addition to motorcycle adventures, this device for sure a great choice for any activities including hiking and boats. Now let’s start with the overview or review whatever you call it.

To perform navigation tasks, the Garmin Montana 650 is equipped with a high-sensitivity GPS module that provides a reliable reception of signals from the satellites. High accuracy and speed of determining the coordinates are provided by the support of the WAAS technology and HotFix. The HotFix technology allows the device to predict the location of navigation satellites, so they are more quickly found by the device. The signal reception quality of the navigator is so high that this device provides confident operation when the user is under a dense crown of trees in a dense forest or in a deep ravine.

Another great feature of the Garmin Montana 650 navigator is its large built-in color screen, where you can easily and conveniently browse cartographic information. The screen has a size of 4 inches diagonally TFT screen with a resolution of 272 × 480 pixels. Also, the built-in screen supports touch technology, which makes it easy to control the functions of the navigator.

The Garmin Montana 650 bundle includes basic maps of the world. Thanks to the presence of the MicroSD slot, a user can download an additional map and navigation software at any time. For example, owner of this GPS unit can download TOPO U.S. 24K maps with hiking routes, BlueChart® g2 maps for sailing the seas or City Navigator maps containing instructions for driving on the road. Also, the functionality of the navigator allows using the function BirdsEye Satellite Imagery to load into the device satellite images of the terrain and use them together with cartographic support.

Built-in memory of the Garmin Montana 650 navigator is 3 GB and it allows you to save detailed information about 4000 waypoints, 200 routes or 200 tracks (10,000 points each).  The Garmin 650 has three axial compass and barometric altimeter to determine the azimuth, altitude, and atmospheric pressure. Another feature of this GPS is the inbuilt 5 megapixels camera.

The body of the Garmin Montana 650 navigator has compact dimensions (7.48 × 14.42 × 3.64 cm), lightweight (289 grams together with batteries). The device is durable, waterproof (IPX7 water protection class). The Montana 650 includes has the USB interface for connecting it to a laptop or a computer and has a wireless interface for organizing wireless communication with other Garmin devices. As for power source, this GPS can be used with either a lithium-ion battery (up to 16 hours of battery life) or three AA batteries (up to 22 hours of battery life).

This is the best GPS for everything so you can’t go wrong with this one. Only one downside of this device is – it’s expensive.

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Additional Information

GPS devices can be different, depending on their use. Road navigation systems have become very popular over the last few years. Such devices are very useful for those who love to travel. Sports navigation systems are also quite popular for bikers, golfers, sailors and obviously hikers. Some GPS systems can also be found as pet accessories. By placing a GPS transmitter on the pet, the owner can be able to trace the animal wherever it gets lost.

Which features should you look at in handheld GPS systems?

So, which are the best handheld GPS systems? Well, this mostly depends on your budget and on your familiarity in using such devices. If you have never used a GPS beforehand it might take some time to get most of the functionality of some high-end GPS devices.

Pricing is not the only thing that you should take into consideration. For example, other features that might also be important are the size of the device and the battery life. However, if money is not a problem and you really want the best handheld GPS systems then you should look no further than the Garmin Montana 650 or the Garmin GPSMAP 62St.


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