Best Handheld GPS – Reviews and Top Picks for 2017

Looking for the best handheld GPS? Read our in-depth handheld GPS reviews, comparison charts and top picks for 2017 to help you make the right buying decision.

For an ultimate hiking experience, a hiking backpack and a handheld GPS are a must, A global position system or GPS unit is a great way to get where you want to go when you are short on time. Having a hand-held model is an excellent idea because it allows you to have the world of GPS control at your fingertips for hikes, walks, and even car trips. There are many different types that you can choose to purchase, including those from some of the top manufacturers on the market today.

In this review, we are going to identify the seven best handheld GPS units for 2017. Each of these items is tested and approved to work simply and efficiently. In each write-up, you will learn more about each unit in a precise manner. For example, you will learn about the different features of each model and how they benefit you. In this way, you will have the best GPS experience possible.

So what exactly should you look for in a great GPS system? First of all, it is important to gauge the area they cover. Some GPS systems will be more limited than others. It is also crucial to understand the features that each has because some will be feature-laden while others will have very few. For some people, the most important consideration is likely to be the cost.

A Look At The Best GPS Units For 2017

Handheld GPSScreen Best FeatureBudgetRating
Garmin GPSMAP 64st2.6'' ScreenBluetooth Connectivity with phonePremium4.9/5
DeLorme AG-008727-2011.8'' ScreenEasy SOS TriggerPremium4.7/5
Garmin Foretrex 4012.2'' ScreenTracBack feature to retrace pathPremium4.5/5
Garmin E-Trex 10 Worldwide GPS2.2'' ScreenLong Battery LifeBudget4.3/5
Garmin ETrex 20x2.2'' ScreenGLONASS Satellites -
20% faster than GPS
Premium3.8/5

#1 Pick: Garmin GPSMAP 64st Handheld GPS and GLONASS Receiver

Since 1989, Garmin has been producing high-quality electronic devices designed for a wide variety of purposes. These days, their most accessible units are like their GPS devices. Each of their models has been carefully designed to provide you with the highest level of control with the easiest possible maintenance method.

In fact, this particular model might just be their best choice yet.  It is one of the most expensive items on this list, but it is more than worth it. The features and benefits of this particular model far outweigh the few minor inconveniences that it provides.

Garmin GPSMAP 64st

Dual Battery System

The worst thing that could happen when driving somewhere new is running out of batteries in your GPS unit. While many models plug into a cigarette lighter, others require batteries. This fact is particularly the case of hand-held GPS units for hiking. In hiking situations, getting lost without a GPS can even be a life-threatening situation.

Thankfully, this model comes with two different battery systems. It uses two traditional AA batteries and an optional rechargeable NiMH battery pack. As a result, it is easy to swap out these batteries when one set dies and avoid getting lost. This feature is perfect for people who are taking off to the middle of nowhere and who need a little help getting home.

Garmin Connect

When you’re exploring the world with your GPS, you need to make sure you have the most up-to-date maps. Failure to have the highest-quality and most accurate maps will potentially leave you in a dangerous or even deadly situation. Thankfully, this Garmin GPS system avoids that by creating a wireless upload system. Garmin Connect is designed to upload data and display it on your Smartphone.

It can also share activities with Live Track and provide you with an easy way to show off your new travels. This fact is true if you hook it up to a high-quality Smartphone, as mentioned above. You can connect to social media sites, like Facebook, and upload pictures of your newest hikes or even videos as you explore the woods.

BirdsEye Satellite

The satellite system that hooks up to GPS systems helps to make it easier to gauge your location without a lot of complicated work. This Garmin unit uses BirdsEye Satellite Imagery to create an accurate and high-quality topographical map. Though you do need to purchase a yearly subscription to get these benefits, they do provide you with a multitude of options from which to choose.

As a result, you can create a great map with a minimum of fuss. Simply by connecting to the satellite and downloading the latest information, you can get an accurate and high-quality map that you can trust. That’s a big part of why we chose this Garmin GPS unit as our top model for the year 2017. It simply has all the bells and whistles.

Final Thoughts

As we said above, this is our top pick for the absolute best GPS on the market for this year. While its price may be quite high for some people, we believe that most will be willing to find a way to pay for it.

It has an excellent array of features, many of which we didn’t even touch on here, that propel it to the top of the pack. That said, there are still plenty of great options from which you can choose.


#2 Pick: DeLorme AG-008727-201 InReach Explorer

DeLorme with over 11,000 associates and 60 offices around the globe has become a popular brand in the GPS navigation and wearable technology industry. The aim of the brand is to offer durable, well-designed and high tech products that offer value for money and the AG-008727-201 InReach Explorer is exactly that and while it’s on the higher-end of the price range it’s a buy you won’t regret and here’s why.

DeLorme AG-008727-201 InReach Explorer

On the go SOS Button

With the InReach Explorer getting rescued in case of an emergency is easier as it comes with an SOS emergency that helps you communicate with GEOS, a 24-hour search, and rescue center using a Two Way Text Messaging feature that comes with preset texts for faster response and also notifies you for every message sent successfully.

You can type about 160 characters and connect with people through email or mobile numbers or best of all even make a few social media updates. The Iridium powered GPS System guarantees 100% connectivity.

Route Planning and GPS

The Explorer portal makes it easier to plan your hike or trek much in advance. You can color code the shorter and simpler paths and waypoints and then sync it with your device. For a topographic view of the route and easy tracking sync the device with the Earthmate app and connect it to your smartphone using Bluetooth.

The MapShare allows you to send your exact location to your loved ones using GPS coordinates, course, elevation and speed. You can also send and receive messages, upload details about the route taken along with the waypoints on your blog, social media account or website using MapShare.

Final Thoughts

Well if you’re a newbie or planning for a dangerous hike and are worried about things turning ugly, the  DeLorme AG-008727-201 InReach Explorer offers the perfect solution but only if you’re willing to pay the price which is our opinion is justified due to top notch features like 100% coverage, 2 way messaging system, accurate GPS navigation etc. 


#3 Pick: Garmin Foretrex 401 Waterproof Hiking GPS

This model is the last Garmin we will highlight on our list, but it is one of the best. Garmin simply never does wrong with their GPS models. This specialty hiking GPS system is designed for campers who plan on spending a lot of time in the woods. Though more expensive than the cheapest Garmin examined, it is less pricey than the most expensive.

Garmin Foretrex 401 Waterproof Hiking GPS

High-Sensitivity GPS Receiver

This great GPS system comes with HotFix, a system that helps improve its performance and reception. It’ll be easier for you to go under heavy tree cover and in deep canyons without having to worry about losing reception and getting lost.

Heart-Rate Monitor

When you’re hiking, it is important to make sure you aren’t working yourself too hard. That’s why the built-in heart-rate monitor of this GPS system is so great. While sold separately, it can be used to track your health and avoid the kind of heart problems that can be dangerous when hiking.

Route Tracking

Hikers love seeing where they have gone and knowing where they will go on their next hike. By using route tracking with this GPS, you can track your path in a way that makes it easy to follow. In this way, you create a fun and engaging GPS system that is easy to understand and useful for planning fun trips.

Final Thoughts

If you’re a big hiker that wants a GPS system that won’t get ruined in the rain, you can’t do much better than this model. Garmin is excellent at identifying a need and a particular group with their products. By investing in this product, you are getting a GPS that you can trust for a long time.


Budget Pick: Garmin E-Trex 10 Worldwide Handheld GPS Navigator

If you want a Garmin unit that is a little easier to afford, this model is typically available for less than $100. It is designed to provide you with a streamlined, but effective, GPS experience that will keep you safe and bring you home after a journey. It is also designed to fit comfortably in the palm of your hand to make it easier to display and control.

As a result, we have picked this as our budget choice for your GPS systems in 2017. While we know its features won’t be quite as exciting or as fulfilling for some people, we think that this model is still an excellent choice for anyone who is looking for an inexpensive GPS system that still provides a comprehensive and high-quality experience.

Garmin E-Trex 10 Worldwide

Preloaded Worldwide Map

One of the best features of this cute little GPS unit is its pre-loaded global map. This plan is designed to provide a base on which you can download your various maps from the GPS satellites. Using a base map like this helps to streamline the operation of the system by making it easier to install the data on the map and to display it in a useful way.

While this GPS unit doesn’t typically offer the option to download customized maps, it will regularly update the base chart. In this way, you don’t have to worry about spending extra money buying or designing your plans. Instead, you can get an adaptable and easy-to-read map that provides you with the best display possible.

WAAS-Enabled Receiver

Have you picked up a GPS system in the past only to get sick of waiting for it to download maps or sync up with its satellite? This GPS system helps avoid that problem by providing you with a GPS receiver that uses what are known as HotFix and GLONASS systems. These programs are designed to help provide a reliable signal and fast positioning results.

As a result, it is possible to end up in a very remote area and still receive a satellite signal. For people who love going into dangerous terrain or who go off the beaten path, this option can be a lifesaver. In fact, we recommend taking some time to try it out before going out into the woods. This action can help make it easier to work with this unit later.

Paperless Geocaching Options

Geocaching has become one of the most popular pastimes for world travelers. It works by allowing you to search specific coordinates to find various items left by other people.

For hikers who love getting out into the woods and exploring the wild, this system compels them to get out and have a lot of fun. With this GPS model, you can use the pre-loaded map as a paperless geocaching system.

By using the 2.2-inch monochrome display, you can identify the coordinates of a geocaching system and use it to locate your item. Then, you can convert your GPS unit back to its normal mode and find your way home. The primary benefit of this system is that it makes your GPS unit a lot more fun than it would be otherwise. Instead of just being a navigation unit, it can be a fun hiking tool.

Final Thoughts

We like this cheap GPS system a lot. While it’s not the most dazzling or diverse system on the market today, the price is right here. We suggest it for those who love geocaching or getting out in the world. It has many navigation options, which may not be as compelling as our top pick, but which still make it a safe and efficient tool for nature exploration.


#5 Pick: Standard Horizon HX870 Floating Handheld VHF with Internal GPS

Standard Horizon is a Japanese marine electronic manufacturer that looks to create the best systems in the world for your needs. For example, they have produced a variety of communication devices, many of which are used in the various boats in the Japanese military. However, their high-quality hand-held GPS systems are also quite robust and reliable for both marine communication and navigation.

Standard Horizon HX870

Receiver For Digital Calls

One of the nice things about this GPS system is that it can work as a simple communications device. In this way, you can stay in constant contact with people and find your way home if you end up lost. While you can use this system when you’re out in the wilderness, it is designed for marine use. It is set up for all of the benefits of marine communication.

Noise-Canceling Button

In a desperate situation, clear communication is essential. It requires finding a way to avoid the kind of static that can be problematic when you need to get home. The noise-canceling button of this system helps eliminate dangerous noise and protects you from a cut signal. In this way, you can communicate more efficiently and reduce the chance of getting lost.

Comfortable Display Screen

Another important aspect of an excellent GPS system is the ability to see the screen. With a side and bright screen that still fits in the palm of your hand, this unit provides you with many benefits. Best of all, it has been waterproofed to avoid damage and has a light enough body to be buoyant in dangerous waters. This option makes it our top pick for water-bound GPS systems.

Final Thoughts

While we ultimately think that this GPS is rather expensive, we do think that offers you the kind of great GPS that is right for your needs. It is particularly useful for those who plan on getting out on the water and doing a little exploring. Try it out if you’re a boater who wants to explore the ocean without the risk of ending up hopelessly lost.


#6 Pick: Garmin ETrex 20x Handheld GPS

We already discussed a budget model variety of this particular model earlier. This particular option is a little pricier than that model but still reasonably inexpensive. It also has many great benefits that make it stand out from other models on the market today. Here’s why we think the ETrex 20x is worth your time and money.

Garmin ETrex 20x

Huge Storage Area For Maps

When you’re exploring with your handheld GPS unit, it is nice to know that you have a variety of plans to study. This unit has a massive 3.7 GB storage area and a microSD slot that lets you load a variety of maps. It accepts BlueChart g2, City Navigator NT, HuntView, and many others.

Great Display

Although the display screen is still just over two inches in width, it has been designed to be easier to read. For example, it is now in color and bright enough to make it easy to read in the sun. Even better, it has an improved resolution of 240 by 320 pixels.

Secure Position Fixing

We already discussed HotFix and GLONASS early. These positioning systems make it easy to find where you are and keep your location in stressful situations. Thankfully, this model possesses this same system and uses it to protect you from painful circumstances.

Final Thoughts

As you can see, this fun little navigation device has many of the same benefits of the ETrex 10x. However, it has a variety of other amenities that make it a more diverse and engaging unit. We think it is an overall better pick than that model, but its higher price keeps us from choosing it as a budget choice. That said, it is still cheap enough to make it easier to afford than other models on this list.