Enjoy your trip without getting lost with the best handheld GPS navigation systems. While smartphones already have GPS applications, they aren’t comparable to handheld GPS devices. These have multiple capabilities and features you won’t find in your smartphone. Handheld GPS systems will allow you to have a detailed terrain view, detect locations, insert checkpoints, and plan your route. Moreover, you can save your data for your next trips.
Handheld GPS devices are common among travelers. There are many know brands such as Garmin. In this read-up, you’ll find Garmin handheld GPS review in addition to reviewing other similar brands. So, stay tuned if you’re planning for an adventure to know the best GPS devices to get. And don’t forget to check the buying guide and common questions at the end.
Table of contents
- Garmin eTrex 32x
- Garmin eTrex 22x
- Garmin Foretrex 601
- Spot X Handheld Portable 2-Way GPS Messenger
- Bad Elf 2200 GPS Pro
- Garmin InReach Mini
- Garmin Oregon 700 Handheld GPS
- Garmin Overlander
- Garmin Montana 700i
- Garmin Rino 700
- Garmin GPSMAP 66st
- Garmin eTrex 10 Worldwide Handheld GPS Navigator
- Garmin Instinct 2 GPS Outdoor Watch
- How To Choose The Best Handheld GPS Navigation Systems?
- What is an Altimeter in handheld GPS navigation systems?
- Should I get a handheld GPS device rather than using a smartphone GPS?
- What is the best handheld GPS device to get?
Garmin eTrex 32x
Before we start with the first product, we have to tell you that Garmin is the dominating brand name here. It has done a lot in this field, so most handheld GPS navigation systems are Garmin ones. Garmin eTrex 32x is the first option we have on the list. This GPS navigator comes with a 2.2-inch color display and a three-axis compass. This compass works at any orientation and mostly all around the globe.
Besides, the device has an integrated eight Gb of internal memory. This is where you’ll store maps and even your data. If eight Gb isn’t enough, no worries; you still have an SD card slot for an external memory of any size.
- High-quality display
- Barometric altimeter
- Water-resistant coat
- Internal and external storage
- The user interface isn’t the easiest
Garmin eTrex 22x
Garmin eTrex 22x is similar to the previous 32x option, but as you can guess, it’s a former version. The reason why it’s included in Garmin handheld GPS reviews is that it’s cheaper than most other devices with acceptable features. So, it’s a preferable option for many people. The size is 2.2 inches to be placed inside a small backpack or crossbody bag. The accuracy rating ranges somewhere plus or minus seven feet.
As for the screen, it’s 240 x 320 display pixels, and it’s easy to navigate using the toggle button. The internal memory is 8 Gb, including the Topo maps with cycling and hiking routes and trails. In brief, this is a good option for low budgets and beginner hikers.
- Affordable price
- Compact and lightweight
- Suitable for beginners
- No barometric altimeter or three-axis compass
Garmin Foretrex 601
Garmin Foretrex 601 is available with or without the batteries. Those batteries last for around 48 hours in navigation mode. This is pretty much more than enough for such a small device. The GPS navigation system is designed to be worn around your wrist like a watch. This is very useful to free your hands from holding other hiking gear. The size of this device is just two inches, suitable for a good view and not too large on your wrist.
Speaking of the display, it’s very easy to view during sunlight. If you have tried trekking or hiking in the morning before, you probably know how annoying it’s not being able to read your smart devices because of the sun. Hence, Garmin took care of this in this Fortex GPS.
- Good battery life
- Readable in sunlight
- Not very advanced
Spot X Handheld Portable 2-Way GPS Messenger
Spot X Handheld Portable 2-Way GPS Messenger looks like the very old mobile phones with buttons we used to have before introducing the touchscreens. The device is useful for hikers who want simple navigational features such as determining the location and saving their positions. Also, it can send messages to other devices either to ask for help or to share your location.
One of the noticeable features of this GPS navigator is that there is a specific application for the device. You can download this application on your phone and connect the device using Bluetooth. Generally, we recommend this device for those who want simple navigation features without complex maps and routes.
- Spot X application is available
- Sends messages to mobiles and emails
- Cloud-based mapping
- App needs subscription
- Not many advanced features
Bad Elf 2200 GPS Pro
Bad Elf 2200 GPS Pro won’t guide you to your destination, but it has other fantastic features that urged us to include it on this list. This handheld GPS device is the best shareable device you can use for the whole family to keep track of each other. The device can connect to up to five devices at the same time.
Even more, you can record your trip and share it later on with your family or friends. The device is small and compact to hold in your hands. If not, you may use the neck strap to walk or run with the device updating your location 10 times every second. In terms of accuracy, this small GPS Pro device is unbeatable.
- Connects with up to five devices
- Very small and compact
- Connects with Bad Elf Utility App
- No route determination
Garmin InReach Mini
How about a navigation and a communication device at the same time? This is simply Garmin InReach Mini. The device is a GPS navigator like all the other Handheld GPS navigation systems here on the list. However, the extra feature is that you can send and receive messages using this device. Yet, you need to subscribe to use such a feature.
The messages you send and receive can be to and from other InReach Mini devices or traditional mobile phones. The subscription package determines what you can send and receive. In addition to this incredible feature, normal features such as saving waypoints and other navigational features. In short, a list of Garmin handheld GPS reviews should include this mini communication and navigation GPS device.
- Communication features
- Lightweight and compact
- Tracking feature
- Communication features are paid
Garmin Oregon 700 Handheld GPS
Garmin Oregon 700 Handheld GPS is a smart GPS device that looks modern, similar to the newest touchscreen mobiles. The user interface is perfect and developed with the user in mind. Navigating through the features can’t be easier. However, it misses the waterproof features as the screen won’t work if it rains.
We mentioned that this device is smart, and this is true. You can simply customize the device to be compatible with all your data. Moreover, there are different activity profiles to store your activities like hiking, cycling, etc.
- Smart device
- Dual orientation screen
- Battery life is short
- Not water-resistant
You might need a GPS navigation system for driving, not necessarily hiking or other outdoor similar activities. If this is the case, get Garmin Overlander. This smart GPS tracker and navigator has two modes; one for driving and the other for exploring. When driving, use the driving mode to get routes based on the dimensions of your vehicle.
Alternatively, you can use it as a handheld GPS navigation system to get routes while walking. You can also download more maps with more accurate routes and landmarks. Further, the device has a weather forecast feature, and it’s capable of sending SOS messages when in danger.
- Two operation modes
- Weather forecast
- Can send SOS messages
- Very expensive
Garmin Montana 700i
Hiking or kayaking or doing any outdoor activities in cold, freezing weather? You should be wearing some of these cold-weather gloves. But what if you need to navigate using one of the handheld GPS navigation systems? There is no need to take off your gloves if you have this Garmin Montana 700i. It’s a glove-friendly GPS navigator with massive capabilities such as connecting with WiFi and Bluetooth. Moreover, it works with many global navigation systems such as GPS, GLONASS, and Galileo.
Yet, everything comes with a price. Since it’s a high-quality device with fantastic features, it’s pricier than most other devices. Also, the internal memory is larger for accommodating those features. In a list of mostly Garmin handheld GPS reviews, the Montana option should have its place. So, if you don’t mind the price, this product is a perfect option for professional travelers.
- Advanced navigation features
- WiFi and Bluetooth connections
- Multiple global satellite systems
- Large internal memory
- Short life battery
Garmin Rino 700
Garmin Rino 700 looks like radio devices the cap uses for communicating with each other. You can also do so by communicating with other Rino 700 users located around the same area. The device isn’t only a GPS navigator and a radio that sends and receives voice messages for up to 20 miles. Moreover, you can send text messages if the voice signal is weak.
Apart from the radio feature, the device connects to GPS and GLONASS satellites. It has preloaded maps of the whole world to pre-determine routes and destinations. Regarding the battery, it’s a rechargeable one that works for up to 13 hours. Did we mention it’s very easy to handhold too?
- Radio and GPS navigator
- Rechargeable battery
- Easy to hold
- Can’t download updated maps
Garmin GPSMAP 66st
A Garmin handheld GPS review can’t end without including Garmin GPSMAP 66st. This handheld GPS navigation system is packed with features you might not find in most other GPS devices. Yet, it’s on the pricey side, so you’ll invest a lot to get such a device. To entice you more, here are some of the features you’ll find in this device.
The display is three inches, and it’s readable in sunlight easily. In fact, it’s one of the best displays Garmin has made. The GPS device is a multi-satellite, so expect perfect connectivity and an always-online status. Moreover, the device is capable of telling you the weather forecast accurately. Besides, the battery is live for up to 36 hours.
- Accurate weather forecast
- High-quality display
- Bluetooth connection
- Very expensive
Garmin eTrex 10 Worldwide Handheld GPS Navigator
Garmin eTrex 10 Worldwide Handheld GPS Navigator is one of the cheapest options you can today. The device is very basic and can do basic navigational tasks such as determining waypoints and finding a route between two or more waypoints. The GPS navigator will determine the estimated time between the waypoints, and you’ll be surprised by its accuracy.
Moving to the hardware, the device is 2.2 inches like most Garmin devices. It’s also waterproof in case it rained while you’re trekking your way. The batteries are AA ones, but they last for 20 hours only. So, you better stay prepared with extra batteries.
- Cheap price
- Very accurate
- Batteries don’t last for long
Garmin Instinct 2 GPS Outdoor Watch
The last option we have is Garmin Instinct 2 GPS Outdoor Watch. As you can see, it’s a watch to wear around your wrist instead of handholding it. However, you can still use it as a handheld device if you wish. The watch is one of the best GPS watches for hiking ever. It’s the preferred option for many people and one of the high-rated ones.
That’s because it has a 3-axis compass and a barometric altimeter. In addition, it’s compatible with all global navigation satellite systems. The watch has other features than GPS navigation features, such as monitoring the heart rate, oxygen level, and other metrics. While the batteries can last for more than one complete day when used as a GPS navigator.
- GPS navigator and a smartwatch
- Several models and versions
- Multiple global navigation satellite systems
- 3-axis compass and barometric altimeter
- Battery life is questionable
How To Choose The Best Handheld GPS Navigation Systems?
Instead of using a primitive compass for survival (although you can always do it) when hiking for the first time in a desert or a mountain or anywhere, you can get one of those ideal handheld GPS navigation systems to help you find your way. Below is a short buying guide to choosing the best device.
What is the point of having a GPS device that can’t accurately detect your location? This will be completely useless. Thus, the first thing to check when buying a handheld GPS device is how accurate it can detect you. This is determined by the strength of its connection which is determined by how many satellites it can connect to and how strong the connection is.
Of course, you don’t want to get a GPS navigation system that you can’t operate. Always go for the user-friendly options with good display size, readable maps, and glove-friendly touchscreens if applicable. Not to forget that the lighter, the better for holding and using.
Most handheld GPS navigation systems run on AA or AAA batteries. These aren’t rechargeable batteries but will do the job anyway. The important point to check here is the life of the battery. Also, if you’re on a long journey, don’t forget to pack several spare batteries.
What is an Altimeter in handheld GPS navigation systems?
The altimeter is used to detect the altitude using pressure sensors. This is important for an accurate weather forecast while traveling.
Should I get a handheld GPS device rather than using a smartphone GPS?
In areas where there is no cellular data connection, a smartphone won’t operate. Thus, a handheld GPS device is a must here. Also, GPS devices have more advanced features than smartphones in this area.
What is the best handheld GPS device to get?
Garmin is the best, with no hesitation in creating handheld GPS navigation systems. You can check any of Garmin’s handheld GPS reviews above.