A handheld GPS unit is great for geocaching, hunting, hiking, camping, or just exploring the world around you. Unlike a car GPS, a handheld unit is designed for exploring more rugged terrain. If you’re in the market for a GPS unit, here are five of the best models on the market today. If you can’t find what you’re looking for here, you can learn about other GPS navigation products in our post on the best car GPS units.
1. Garmin Oregon 550T 3-Inch Handheld GPS Navigator With 3.2MP Digital Camera
Looking for a GPS unit with built-in camera and preloaded maps? This is a solid choice. While the display is a bit on the small side, it is easy to read, even in direct sun. The unit itself is waterproof, with a barometric altimeter that tracks changes in pressure to pinpoint your precise altitude. The built-in camera is a nice feature, particularly for backpackers who are looking to keep their pack weight down. A gadget that combines GPS and camera into one package is really handy. The camera here has a 3.2 megapixel sensor with 4x digital zoom.
Price: $469.99 for the model with maps and camera, $249.29 for the base model
2. Garmin eTrex 10 Worldwide Handheld GPS Navigator
Looking for a handheld GPS that’s a bit more affordable? With up to twenty hours of battery life, this monochrome display GPS unit is great for people who go on a lot of overnight trips into the wilderness. This unit is also waterproof, boasting an impressive IPX7 rating. This particular Garmin unit also possess WAAS-enabled GPS receiver with HotFix and GLONASS support for fast positioning and a reliable signal. If you need a cheap GPS unit that’s also rugged, this is a great option.
Price: $95.29 for the base model (21 percent off MSRP)
3. Garmin GPSMAP 64 Worldwide With High-Sensitivity GPS and GLONASS Receiver
If monochrome displays aren’t for you, this colorful display is a nice alternative. If you want extra features like ANT+Bluetooth or topographic maps for the US and Canada, you can add those features on to the base model. However, doing so will incur an extra fee. Still, it’s worth it for those who want to pair the GPS unit with supported heart rate monitors, Tempe temperature sensors, or speed/cadence measurement units. Another nice feature is the dual battery system, allowing you to use traditional AA batteries, or an optional rechargeable NiMH battery pack that can be charged while inside the device.
Price: $216.94 for the base model (28 percent off MSRP)
4. Garmin eTrex 20x
Unlike the Garmin eTrex 10 we featured earlier in this piece, the eTrex 20x has a color display. As of this writing, the Garmin eTrex 20x is the bestselling new release in GPS unit on Amazon. It’s not hard to see the appeal. In addition to the bright, colorful display, a winning feature here is the microSD card slot. That, along with just under 4GB of internal memory, lets you preload special maps, including TOPO 24K, HuntView, BlueChart g2, City Navigator NT and BirdsEye Satellite Imagery.
Price: $195.99 (2 percent off MSRP)
5. Garmin Foretrex 401 GPS
Want an even smaller form factor? This itty bitty GPS unit is great for backpackers and hunters. It has a high-sensitivity GPS receiver with HotFix for improved performance and reception areas that generally have very poor reception. Useful features for campers and outdoorsmen include a built-in sunrise/sunset times, hunting/fishing information, an electronic compass, and a barometric altimeter. If your forays into the wilderness involve visiting areas with deep valleys and lots of tree cover, this model may be your best option.
Price: $169.99 (15 percent off MSRP)