Best Garmin Handheld GPS

garmin handheld gps

Whether you are going on a camping trip or simply out for a day hike, having a GPS is a good idea. If not, you run the risk of getting lost, and/or taking a wrong turn somewhere on your journey. While many modern day cell phones have GPS capabilities, they aren’t anything to write home about.

Instead, consider a Garmin handheld GPS. Garmin is the industry leader by a wide margin and makes incredible devices packed full of features to help you on whatever outdoor journey you decide to embark on?

But with so many Garmin handheld GPS options out there, which should you choose?

Quick Summary

  • If you want an all-around option that offers a variety of features many hikers or campers appreciate, the Garmin GPSMAP 64st might be the right option for you. A clear and detailed screen, sensitive GPS and sufficient storage for thousands of maps make this a popular option.
  • If one of your main concerns is communicating with others and protecting yourself during your adventure, consider the Garmin inReach Explorer+. Of course, the device still acts as a traditional GPS device in every sense, as well.
  • If you’re after a simple and economical handheld GPS device, a great option is the Garmin eTrex 30x. It still functions like a standard GPS, lets you download a variety of different maps and also lets you wirelessly share maps or waypoints.

Who Should Get This?

As you could imagine, a Garmin handheld GPS is perfect for those who like to get outside and explore. If you’re a camper, hiker, kayaker, runner or anyone else who may get lost at some point in your journey, a handheld and portable GPS could be right for you.

It can help keep you safe and give you the peace of mind to know you can always find your way home. In addition to keeping you safe and on-track, many Garmin GPS devices contain other features. They could include weather information, heart rate monitors and even allow you to communicate with your loved ones so they know you’re safe.

Of course, if you don’t like to head into the outdoors for adventures, a Garmin handheld GPS might not be something you need.

Best Garmin Handheld GPS: What to Consider?

Screen Quality and Size

One of the most important things to think about when choosing a Garmin handheld GPS is the screen. It is where you will see all the different routes, maps and other information. The screen should be easy to read, clear and a decent enough size so you don’t have to squint. The displays vary between each Garmin device, so finding one that works for you is imperative.

Battery Life

When using your GPS device, you are relying on it to help you from getting lost. Because of this, you need it to last as long as your adventures do. Battery life is a major consideration most people should think about before buying any device, but especially one that keeps you from getting lost. While some Garmin devices can use a rechargeable battery pack, many will simply use batteries.

Optional and Additional Features

While the primary goal of these GPS devices is to prevent you from getting lost, they can do so much more. Some can let you communicate with others, share maps, create routes and even tell you the weather in your area. Ultimately, decide which of these features are most important to you, and choose a model that features them.

The Best Garmin Handheld GPS: Our Picks

1. Garmin GPSMAP 64st


If you want a GPS device that is rugged and offers great all-around performance, this might be the one for you. It has a decent-sized screen that is very responsive and snappy. It comes pre-loaded with a ton of topographic maps, as well.

Smart notifications and the ability to share wirelessly are also great features to have. The battery life of 16 hours means this device can keep on track all day long.

Pros

  • Long lasting battery
  • A responsive screen, to make zooming and moving easier
  • 8 GB internal memory

Cons

  • The screen can show scratches quite easily
  • The interface isn’t intuitive and isn’t very attractive

>> Check Price on Amazon <<

2. Garmin inReach Explorer+


When out on the trail, communicating with your loved ones and letting them know your status is important. This device makes doing that easy. It features satellite coverage that can allow for two-way messaging, no matter how far off the grid you are. Sharing locations and activating an interactive SOS is also possible.

Of course, this device still excels as a GPS with its routing, digital compass, and altimeter. It also features many pre-loaded topographical maps, with the ability to download several more.

Pros

  • Incredible communication tools and assistance
  • Locations tracking and sharing
  • Digital compass and altimeter

Cons

  • Messages aren’t always sent as quickly as they should be
  • Some of the communication benefits require a separate subscription

>> Check Price on Amazon <<

3. Garmin eTrex 30x


This is a great Garmin handheld GPS device for those who don’t need all of the bells and whistles that many GPS devices come with. The device features all of the benefits that you need to stay safe and on course, and none that you don’t. It includes a preloaded base map, nearly 4 GB of storage for additional maps and numerous built-in sensors.

Pros

  • Simple and easy to use
  • Light and very easy to take with you anywhere
  • Strong signal that is maintained nearly everywhere

Cons

  • Some may find the display too small
  • The basic included map isn’t as detailed as some would like

>> Check Price on Amazon <<

Useful Tips and Resources

Of course, if you are going to bring your Garmin on a trip with you, you need to make sure it is charged up or has new batteries. A portable GPS that is out of juice will do you no good if you get lost.

Before any trip, you’ll want to make sure that the correct and accurate maps for the area you’re going have been loaded onto the device ahead of time. There are few better ways to get confused quickly than using an incorrect map.

Also, some models can have a lot of features and for some, and the learning curve could be high for some people who haven’t used similar products before. It is a good idea to familiarize yourself with the product before you go on your adventure. Most functions are quite simple and straightforward, but it’s better to be safe than sorry.

For example, watching a video that features the basic instructions for using a GPS device is a good idea if you’re new to the space.

Final Words

When you’re out on an adventure, the last thing you want to do is get lost. Carrying a Garmin handheld GPS can keep you safe and ensure you always know where you’re going. Hopefully, this guide has been able to help you choose which one best fits your lifestyle and the adventures you take.

Do you have a Garmin handheld GPS that you feel deserves to be included in this article? If so, let us know in a comment below!

Influenced by the startup culture in the Silicon Valley, Jessica loves building things from zero to one and is keen on following news related to the Big Five tech giants and many SaaS startups.

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