Best Handheld GPS Devices


Whether you’re deep in the backcountry, high in the mountains, or on open water, proper navigation is a must. Having a handheld GPS device is crucial so you can easily find your way during hiking, trekking, backpacking, or mountaineering. It’s because, in these areas, visibility can be weak, and the landscape can have no distinct features to help you remember where you’ve been. Smartphones with GPS can do nothing if the area can’t be reached by cell signal.

Plus, GPS devices are more durable and have a much longer battery life than smartphones. Most of them are typically equipped with batteries if recharging isn’t possible, like in remote and sparsely inhabited areas. And in comparison to GPS-enabled watches, handheld GPS devices can offer a better overview of the terrain, and they can show detailed maps and satellite imagery while watches can show only your location and direction. These things can also allow you to insert new waypoints and plan the route on the device.

Where to Buy

Garmin GPSMAP 64s Worldwide with High-Sensitivity GPS and GLONASS Receiver

Garmin 750T 3-Inch Touchscreen Handheld GPS with Topo U.S. 100K

Garmin eTrex 20x, Handheld GPS Navigator, Enhanced Memory and Resolution, 2.2-inch Color Display, Water Resistant

Garmin Montana 680 Touchscreen GPS/GLONASS Receiver, Worldwide Basemaps

Garmin Oregon 700 Handheld GPS


Garmin GPSMAP 64s

The midrange Garmin GPSMAP 64s is still one of the best GPS devices in the market, even with its large size, bulky antenna, and presence of buttons. While most new handheld GPS devices are ditching the buttons, the Garmin GPSMAP 64s remains a holdout because of its excellent and very accurate performance. Plus, it’s robust construction means it can easily withstand harsh conditions. This GPS device works consistently than its popular predecessors, and the “s” on the name means it can be paired with your phone so you can receive notifications.

This device includes an electric compass for precise position detector and a barometric altimeter for accurate weather prediction. It also comes with an external antenna that is compatible with both GPS and GLONASS satellites. It allows clear reception when you’re in heavy coverage areas.

What’s more to love about it is it’s preloaded with world-wide basecamps with shaded topography, 100,000 maps from the TOPO US, and 250,000 geocaches. It has Bluetooth and ANT compatibility, a 16-hour battery life, 8 GB internal memory, and a microSD slot.


  • Durable and rugged
  • GPS and GLONASS support
  • Buttons
  • Can be paired to a phone
  • Electric compass and barometric altimeter
  • Comes with 8 GB internal memory plus microSD slot


  • Not so handy when it comes to size


Garmin Oregon 750T

If you’re looking for GPS devices with the best extra features, the Garmin Oregon 750T is the one to pick. This is a sophisticated GPS device equipped with a three-inch touchscreen. Its screen has good readability and supports multi-touch and dual orientation views. It has a rugged built designed for outdoor use. It’s water-rated up to IPX7, and it can withstand dust, dirt, and humidity.

This handheld device uses high-sensitivity GLONASS and GPS satellite reception that retrieves the location quickly and accurately. It can store up to 4 million geocaches, and you can sort them by size, type, terrain, and difficulty. It’s also preloaded with 100K topographic mapping data of the US. Equipped with a 3-axis tilt-compensated electronic compass with an accelerometer, and barometric altimeter sensors, you can truly rely on this device.

In terms of other pictures, this device comes with a built-in 8-megapixel digital camera with autofocus and geotagging. You can also use Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, ANT+ to download software programs and receive a notification. It also includes a menu with profiles for climbing, hiking, fishing, biking, hunting, and more.


  • Rugged built
  • GPS and GLONASS support
  • User-friendly
  • Electric compass and barometric altimeter
  • Waterproof up to IPX7
  • Comes with a camera
  • Wi-Fi accessibility


  • Touchscreen hard to use with gloves on


Garmin eTrex 20x

Garmin eTrex 20x is a simple and excellent GPS device to bring on any trip. It’s one of the best budget GPS devices that don’t come with the bells and whistles that other GPS devices have, making it a great choice for someone who just needs a GPS device for its sole purpose – location tracking. It packs the most features at a budget price.

This GPS device has a high-sensitivity GPS receiver and GLONASS support, so the device can accurately locate your position even in heavy coverage areas or deep canyons. It’s also compatible with the Wide Angle Augmentation System (WAAS), enabling the receiver to leverage a proven network of ground stations and satellites to even out inconsistencies that result from relying only on satellites overhead. This is what makes geocaching and route-finding easy with this device, which is helpful for both the casual and serious adventurers. However, it lacks a barometric altimeter.

The eTrex 20x may not have touchscreen capabilities, and it may have a smaller 2.2-inch screen, but for a lower price, you can get 3.7 GB of internal memory, a microSD card slot, 25 hours of battery life, plus tough, water-resistant construction.


  • Affordable
  • GPS and GLONASS support
  • User-friendly
  • WAAS-enabled
  • Water-resistant and tough


  • No electronic compass
  • Small screen


Garmin Montana 680

If it is the extra features that matter to you, the Garmin Montana 680 is a perfect choice. It’s one of the best handheld GPS that money can buy. Speaking of money, you’ll be kind of splurging in this device, but it offers some of the best reception available on a handheld GPS device available for civilians.

This GPS tracker comes with a spacious four-inch touch screen with a 480 x 272-pixel resolution, plus the touchscreen is glove-friendly and has a dual-orientation. It also comes with an 8-megapixel camera that automatically geotags photos with coordinates for your references. Garmin got this device preloaded with 250,000 geocaches, more than 100,000 topographical maps, and a one-year subscription to Birdseye satellite imagery.

Other important features include GPS and GLONASS satellite access, a tilt-compensated compass, barometric altimeters, and WAAS compatibility. This device also has a track manager that allows explorers to start and stop recording tracklogs to navigate routes and waypoints.


  • Impeccable reception
  • Large, glove-friendly touchscreen
  • GPS and GLONASS support
  • WAAS-enabled
  • Electric compass and barometric altimeter
  • Track manager


  • A bit heavier
  • Expensive


Garmin Oregon 700

No GPS tracking device has put it all together, but the Garmin Oregon 700 has come close. It offers a smartphone-like user experience while bringing you solid reception and tons of waypoint storage. It’s properly sized for a job, thanks to its 3-inch touchscreen display that’s easy to see, yet still small enough to stuff in a pack. It’s easy to use, thanks to its simple menus and dedicated profiles for various activities such as hiking, hunting, biking, fishing, cycling, paddling, and more.

When it comes to the satellite connection, this device is equipped with high-sensitivity dual GPS and GLONASS reception. It has a three-axis compass with accelerometer and barometric altimeter sensors. This device supports multilink wireless connectivity via Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, and ANT+. You can also enjoy a one-year Birdseye satellite imagery subscription.

The screen has dual orientation: landscape or portrait view. It’s also ruggedized for outdoor use and has an ergonomic design. It can stand strong against dust, dirt, and humidity, plus it’s water-rated up to IPX7. However, it can have the tendency to freeze up in the cold, so this unit is great for use only in reasonable weather conditions.


  • Activity-specific profiles
  • Wireless messaging enabled
  • GPS and GLONASS support
  • Wi-Fi connectivity
  • Electric compass and barometric altimeter
  • Tons of waypoint storage


  • Touchscreen hard to use with gloves on

Battery hungry

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