Best Handheld GPS Devices Reviewed

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Next time take a different trail, and don’t worry about getting lost. Here is our guide on the best handheld GPS units on today’s market.

Just another amazing result of our strides in modern technology, one that many take for granted, is the fact that it is nearly impossible to get lost, if you are equipped with the right gear.

Our Top Pick

Garmin GPSMAP 64st
  • Garmin GPSMAP 64st
  • 5 out of 5
  • High-sensitivity GPS and GLONASS receiver
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Garmin Foretrex 401
  • Garmin Foretrex 401
  • 5 out of 5
  • Rugged, accurate and extremely portable unit
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DeLorme inReach SE
  • DeLorme inReach SE
  • 5 out of 5
  • SOS option for emergency monitoring and GPS location
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There are quite a few options of how you can bring this technology along with you, such as GPS watches. However, today we are going focusing on the best handheld GPS units that we could find readily available on the current market.

5. Magellan Triton 400

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Magellan offers us this no frills, yet very capable and useful GPS device, the Triton 400.
This is a practical, rugged and waterproof design that meets IPX-7 standards. Although there are products listed on this page which have many more gadgets and fancy functions, this one works very well doing exactly what it was made to do.
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The Tritan 400 is designed with a very simple and user friendly layout and operation. With simple menu options and instant access buttons, the user can easily navigate their way with feeling like they need an intensive training course to know how to use the thing.

The 2.2 inch screen displays your maps with clear graphics and excellent color. This may not seem like a huge deal to some, but it definitely matters when you are trying to navigate your surroundings.

Connect to your PC to download update, upgrades, add more well detailed maps and even managed your own custom generated content. All of this can be done to Magellan's VantagePoint software. There is also a slot for an SD card, allowing the ability for additional storage.

The accuracy is quite good, thanks to the SiRFstarIII chipset and integrated multidirectional antennae contained in the device. This allows accurate positioning within 3 meters.

The unit runs on two AA batteries. Similar to some other products that are powered by the same means, the battery life is shorter than many would like.

In all, this is a simple and easy to use design. Perfect for those who do need or want to spend the extra money on those extras that they may not use.
Pros
  • Easy to use design and interface
  • large screen with clear and colorful display
  • rugged and waterproof
  • SD card slot for additional storage
Cons
  • Short battery life
  • No wireless connectivity

4. Garmin Oregon 600

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Here's one from Garmin. The Oregon 600 has a slightly larger screen, when compared with other handheld models of this type. This is a great piece of gear to help you navigate you way through deep trails, or even a hike through the hills.
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Getting right into it, the Oregon 600 operates with a 3 inch (7.62cm) display that doesn't get washed out under bright sunlight. Multi-touch capability allows faster data entry and searching.

The navigation runs with Dual-band GPS/GLONASS satellite positionin, and is also equipped with Garmin's HotFix. This is a saltelite prediction technology that allows quicker and more precise location of the unit's position.

Connect the unit to your PC and set up your upcoming trip or route with 2D and 3D maps. Plus the Oregon will hold just about all of the geocaches that you can download.

Like almost all Garmin GPS devices, you can add more maps to the unit's database. In addition, you will be able to share your tracks, routes and waypoints with other wirelessly compatible Garmin devices. You can even send larger files like custom maps and images. You can do it all, just by pressing send.

The Oregon is powered by 2 AA batteries or a rechargeable NiMH battery pack. There is a bit of feedback stating that the battery life doesn't last as long as many would like.
Pros
  • Wireless connectivity
  • Able to load third party and custom maps
  • Holds a ton of geocaches
  • 3 inch sunlight readable screen
Cons
  • Short battery life
  • Customer complaints of the device freezing

3. DeLorme AG-009871-201 inReach SE

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DeLorme, actually a Garmin brand, produces some pretty reliable products. One of those being their inReach SE handheld "Satelite Communicator". This isn't simply a map or a directional way finder like the other devices on this list, but a useful tool with critical, or even life saving features that will absolutely come in handy if your find yourself lost or experiencing a problem in the middle of nowhere.
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Although the inReach SE does track your location, its key features go a whole lot further than a simple GPS. This device can be paired with a smartphone to download topographical map content, but its communication capabilities are what really caught our attention.

This unit features an SOS option, which alerts a monitoring center of your call for help and accurate grid location, with a push of a button. That certainly adds some extra confidence to an off-road run or hike.

Additionally, the inReach SE tracks your trip with data such as GPS coordinates, elevation, course heading and even speed of travel.

And a really cool plus, you can also send and receive text messages with this unit. This would be handy in a situation where you may somehow get separated from your travel buddy, or need to communicate important information in the event that you get seriously lost, and must be located.

The rechargeable internal battery will allow roughly 100 hours of continuous use when fully charged. That figure is based on tracking intervals of around ten minutes each in an open environment, with clear access to the sky.

Pros
  • Acceptable battery life for long treks
  • SOS emergency response monitoring
  • Send and receive text messages
  • Downloadable topographical map content
Cons
  • Mapping and navigation abilities are not the same as a unit dedicated to directional navigation

2. Garmin Foretrex 401

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Displayed as a dotted line on the screen, you be able to keep precise track of your traveled path, so you won't have to worry about getting lost while running those trails. Although the Foretrex 401 isn't as fancy as Garmin's GPSMAP 64, it is much more compact and convenient to take along. With its wristband, you'll have the luxury of keeping your hands free.
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This model operates with a high-sensitivity receiver, just like many other Garmin products. The Foretrex also features HotFix, which improves reception performance when moving through heavy woodland canopy, or even when traveling between rocks in a canyon type environment.

The display size is small, but the layout is pretty well organized. the user can view the dual position readout in several different formats. Some of the modes featured on this unit include sunrise/sunset times, electronic compass, barometric altimeter, trip computer and even fishing and hunting information if desired.

In addition to the normal stuff that a GPS unit does like tracking current location,travel routes and waypoints, the Foretrex also supports a heart rate monitor, which can be purchased separately. Another useful tracking aid is Garmin's TracBack feature that allows the user to retrace the traveled path steps to find their way back.

This unit runs on two AAA batteries, which do not last as long as some might like.

As for durability, this product has been used in combat situations, standing up to most of the riggers. So, it's safe to say that it will make it successfully through your run.

As mentioned before, this model doesn't have all of the frills that you may find in another model, but it performs exceptionally for what it was designed to do.

Pros
  • Adaptable to many different situations
  • Quite accurate in open environments
  • HotFix technology improve reception in covered or rocky locations
  • Compact and convenient to carry
Cons
  • Tends to easily get  snagged on things
  • May struggle a bit with reception in canyons or deep rocky environments

1. Garmin GPSMAP 64st

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If you haven't noticed, throughout these reviews Garmin seems to dominate the market, as far as attainable handheld devices that perform exceptionally well. And, their GPSMAP 64ST keeps that ball rolling with the best in flawless function as well as a practical design with a fairly straight forward layout.
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This unit's has a 2.6 inch (6.6cm) LCD screen, which is readable in bright sunlight, displays detailed maps at 160x240 pixels.

The accuracy is pretty on point with the device's GLONASS receiver and highly sensitive GPS, working with an internal quad helix antenna, which tends to be the most popular choice for many products that are similar in design.

The preloaded map package obviously depends on the particular region in world where it is purchased, but other maps can be downloaded to meet your specific mode of travel.
The GPSMAP 64ST also utilizes wireless bluetooth connectivity.

For those who like to hit the deep trails or higher elevations, this unit is also equipped with a 3-axis compass with a barometric altimeter.

In general, the construction is of durable quality, with a smooth outer design that is free from extruding parts that will easily get broken. The overall size is quite manageable as well, easily fitting in a pocket or small pouch.
Pros
  • Accurate reception
  • World base map included
  • 8 GB internal memory
  • Takes MicroSD cards for additional memory
Cons
  • Battery life is not as long as previous models
  • There are some complaints about the manual being less detailed in the operation than with other models

Global positioning is now a part of many modern devices, including smartphones and watches, serving several different purposes. The most important of those is the ability to locate and keep track of one’s whereabouts.

GPS has played a big role in the way runners can now move outside of their familiar territory, with the confidence of being able to find their way back. This has especially been a huge plus for those who like to take their run off-road, allowing them to even leave the trail when they want.

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