Gone is the time of printed maps that hikers used to take on hiking adventures back in time. Nowadays, everything is using the newest digital technologies, and navigation systems are no exception. Today, you can go wherever you want while staying on the right trail using a handheld GPS. And if you don’t know what are handheld GPS for hikers, here is all that you need to know.
In this article, we’ll introduce you to the best hiking handheld GPS on the market. You’ll also know how to choose the right GPS for your needs. The list below has a couple of options where Garmin is the top brand name making the best handheld GPS hiking devices. Hence, expect to see a lot of them here.
Table of contents
- Garmin GPSMAP 66i
- Garmin eTrex Vista C Waterproof Hiking GPS
- Magellan eXplorist 110 Handheld GPS
- Garmin GPSMAP 65
- Garmin Montana 700
- Garmin eTrex 22x Handheld GPS Navigator
- 2Packs goTele XQUAD GPS Trackers Hiking Map
- Garmin Rino 750
- Garmin eTrex 20x
- Garmin Instinct Tactical Edition GPS Watch
- Garmin Montana 680t
- Garmin Fenix 6 Pro
- Garmin inReach Explorer+
- How To Choose The Best Hiking Handheld GPS?
- How much does a good handheld GPS for hikers cost?
- What are the top features of the best handheld hiking GPS?
- Do handheld GPS devices need WiFi?
Garmin GPSMAP 66i
Garmin GPSMAP 66i is a perfect handheld GPS device to start with. It’s a relatively large GPS navigator for hikers, but it’s still small enough to hold in your hands. The device has buttons, including a menu button, to easily navigate the features and choose from the multiple options available. So, it’s recommended for freezing weather conditions when clicking on a touchscreen is impossible.
This handheld GPS for hikers comes in two options; one with topo maps and the other without. Another additional feature is the ability to send messages using this device. However, this feature is paid as you have to subscribe to get a quota of messages you can send to different mobile numbers.
- Can send SOS messages
- Rechargeable battery
- Needs subscription
Garmin eTrex Vista C Waterproof Hiking GPS
The eTrex series for Garmin is very common among hikers, and they are considered the best handheld GPS navigation systems ever. Garmin eTrex Vista C Waterproof Hiking GPS is one of the ideal handheld GPS for hikers. It’s a sleek device in a waterproof case for different hiking conditions. Further, the screen size is the average size of most similar devices, allowing a good view without being too bulky.
The best thing about this device is the price. The device comes at a lower price than most Garmin products, but it isn’t loaded with features like those expensive ones. However, the basic maps are all available, and the saving feature is also available.
- Waterproof case
- Low price
- Electronic compass and barometric altimeter
- Small internal memory
Magellan eXplorist 110 Handheld GPS
Magellan eXplorist 110 Handheld GPS offers one of the best handheld GPS hiking devices you can go for, whether you’re a professional or a beginner hiker. The device is very easy to operate and select from the available options. The menu is straightforward without too many complexities, yet, the available features are many. You can track your movements, search and select routes, save waypoints, and have an overview of the surrounding.
Regarding the device itself, the screen is 2.2 inches. It’s transflective for better readability in sunlight. Moreover, it’s waterproof for use in rainy weather. Above all, it has a microphone if you want to speak to the device instead of using the buttons.
- Easy to use
- Has a microphone
- Not the best connectivity
Garmin GPSMAP 65
For those who want a larger display to have a better view, Garmin GPSMAP 65 is a good option. Garmin GPSMAP 65 has a slightly larger screen that reaches 2.6 inches. Further, it’s a transflective screen for readability in direct sunlight. It also has buttons for easier use. Some hikers prefer buttons to touchscreens, especially hiking on snowy trails.
The device, like most Garmin devices, is compatible with the app. This app gives you access to your saved data as routes and waypoints. This GPS navigator is backed with multiband technology to offer better connectivity and more accurate geolocation regarding the maps and routes.
- Multiband technology
- Compatible with Garmin’s app
- Good screen size
- Doesn’t include all countries’ maps
Garmin Montana 700
Garmin Montana 700 is sold as a complete package of the handheld GPS navigator and the power bank bundle, including the cable. So, you won’t need to pay an extra penny after buying this thing. Honestly speaking, this handheld GPS is very expensive. However, it’s worth every penny because you just buy it once and it lasts for years.
The handheld GPS has a large touchscreen for those who love wide displays. It’s durably constructed to withstand different environmental conditions such as dust, rain, shocks, and heat. Also, it supports all geographical navigation systems to produce accurate maps using the 3-axis compass and barometric altimeter. Plus, it has WiFi and Bluetooth connection to access the birdseye viewing angle.
- Includes the power bank bundle
- Large screen
- WiFi and Bluetooth connection
- Durable construction
- Very expensive
Garmin eTrex 22x Handheld GPS Navigator
Another model from the eTrex series with the same rugged construction and durability is the Garmin eTrex 22x Handheld GPS Navigator. This is a small hiking handheld GPS navigator. It’s compact and lightweight. Yet, some users believe it could be larger as the display is a touchscreen with no buttons. Rather than this, the GPS is a good option for many people and an affordable one.
The device supports GPS and GLONASS satellite systems for better and more accurate navigational features. Furthermore, it has an internal memory of 8 Gb. If it isn’t enough, you can use the external SD card slot and insert a larger memory to load more maps.
- Compact and small
- Value for money
- SD card slot
- The screen size could be bigger
2Packs goTele XQUAD GPS Trackers Hiking Map
At less than $400, you’ll get a pack of two handheld hiking GPS trackers. This is the offer of 2Packs goTele XQUAD GPS Trackers Hiking Map. The GPS navigator or tracker is a wrist-mounted one for easier mobility. It doesn’t need any WiFi connections to work yet; it can connect to 15 other devices. If you’re a team of hikers, you can get a couple of those GPS trackers so you will never get lost.
Moving to the construction, the device is durable and can withstand different weather conditions. It’s also waterproof for rainy weather conditions. On another side, the GPS device gives alerts and notifications similar to those of smartwatches.
- Pack of two devices
- Connects to up to 15 devices
- No advanced navigational features
Garmin Rino 750
Garmin Rino 750 is a two-way radio and GPS navigator at the same time. The navigator simply connects to other devices and sends or receives text and voice messages when the other device is around. The average range for this connection is about 20 miles. Regardless of the radio function, the device uses GPS and GLONASS satellites for higher sensitivity.
One of the distinctive features of this device is that it can locate other similar devices easily. For example, if you and your friends are using the same Rino devices, you can easily locate each other. As for the screen, it’s three inches with dual orientation and touch functions.
- Radio and GPS tracker
- Uses multiple satellites
- Not many maps
Garmin eTrex 20x
Garmin eTrex 20x is very common among hikers, mountaineers, and adventurers. It’s the best hiking handheld GPS device for basic navigational needs and many more. First, the display is 65K for better resolution and clear view. Second, it has a memory that exceeds three GB in addition to an SD card slot if you want more maps and downloadable items.
The device also has a worldwide base map preloaded on the device. It accepts other options like topo maps, BlueChart, and satellite imagery. Yet, you need to subscribe to get a birdseye view of satellite imagery.
- Good value for money
- Large internal memory
- Sd card slot
- Many mapping options
- Not the most accurate Garmin GPS
Garmin Instinct Tactical Edition GPS Watch
Are you looking for a GPS watch for hiking? Garmin Instinct Tactical Edition GPS Watch is the option we have got for you today. The watch is simply a smartwatch for monitoring your activity and a GPS navigator for locating your position. It powers with a battery, but many people believe the battery isn’t long-lasting. Yet, the watch comes with a wearable power bank, so part of the problem is already solved.
Other features include the night vision, enabling a clear display view, water resistance, and multiple navigational systems. The watch is available in different colors and versions, and the price is good for what you get.
- Smartwatch and GPS
- Multiple satellite systems
- Night vision
- Comes with a wearable power bank
- The battery isn’t long-lasting
Garmin Montana 680t
Although you’ll pay quite a lot for this GPS device, you’ll get a lot of features to compensate for the money you paid. Those features are found in most handheld GPS navigators, but this one has a couple of extra features that make it one of the best handheld hiking GPS. Garmin Montana 680t comes with preloaded topo maps for viewing the surroundings clearly and accurately.
In addition, it enables you to have a birdseye look in the middle of your hiking trail. Yet, this feature needs a subscription. The good news is that you have a free one-year subscription once you buy the GPS navigator. Another special feature is the camera, and the better is that this camera is eight megapixels for good-quality photos during your hiking adventure.
- Birdseye view
- eight megapixels camera
- Very accurate GPS receiver
- Complex to use
Garmin Fenix 6 Pro
Hikers will usually go for the smallest and the most compact option whenever possible. Garmin Fenix 6 Pro offers one of those easy-to-use and easy to handle GPS for hikers. It’s a watch similar to smartwatches from Apple and other brands, but this watch is a GPS device and other features of smartwatches. The best thing here is to wear it around your wrist and free your hands from hiking the trails.
This watch supports multiple navigation systems such as GPS, GLONASS, and Galileo’s navigational features. Plus, the battery is well-suited to power all these features. However, a new hiker will find it a more than enough deal as it includes so many features they won’t need at the beginning.
- Navigational features and smartwatch features
- Supports multiple satellites
- Long-lasting battery
- Easy to wear
- Not for beginners
- A bit heavy
Garmin inReach Explorer+
Garmin inReach Explorer+ is the best handheld hiking GPS we have found. This navigator shows routes and weather forecasts and sends messages. If you need help at any time, you can send an SOS message, and don’t worry about the connection because it’s magnificent here. It also sends and receives messages, but you need to subscribe to use this service.
Like a GPS navigator and tracker, you can send your location to different family members to allow them to track your location. Also, the device is pairable with other smart devices to download more maps and aerial images. Also, it comes with built-in navigation sensors such as a digital compass and an accelerometer.
- Weather forecast
- Sends and receives messages
- Pairs with other devices
- Advanced navigation features
- Texting is difficult
How To Choose The Best Hiking Handheld GPS?
Choosing a handheld GPS for hiking isn’t a difficult mission, provided that you know how it should work. Handheld GPS devices for hiking simply work like compasses (You may want to check those best compasses for survival). They provide real-time locations and destinations. To get the best options, follow the below points.
Ease of use
Don’t get a complicated handheld GPS for hikers because it’s full of features. Try to search for easy-to-use handheld GPS devices because you don’t want to spend all the trip figuring out how it works. Only get the devices with the features you need.
GPS devices are either devices with replaceable or rechargeable batteries. Replaceable batteries are usually better if you plan to hike for long hours. These won’t burn out quickly. Yet, you always need to have spare ones. On the other side, rechargeable batteries are cheaper but may die in a few hours, so you have to have a power bank all the time, which means more load.
Construction here is about the durability of the GPS device. Also, remember that you might hike in rainy weather, so it should be waterproof, and the screen should be gloves-friendly. All these features will make your hike easier and your handheld GPS for hikers device more comfortable and long-lasting.
How much does a good handheld GPS for hikers cost?
The price ranges from $200 to $600 according to the features of the device. You can find below $200 options with very basic navigational features if this is what you need.
What are the top features of the best handheld hiking GPS?
You primarily need accurate geolocating, high-sensitivity, and stable and fast connection. Other additional features include external memory, uploading different maps as satellite imagery, and sending and receiving messages.
Do handheld GPS devices need WiFi?
No, they work without WiFi or cellular data as the maps are pre-loaded, and this is the point of having a GPS device rather than using your smartphone.