Best Handheld GPS For Hiking In 2020

If your hobby is mountaineering, trekking, or hiking, then having a handheld GPS device will be very helpful as it helps you to effortlessly find your way. Unlike Smartphones, handheld GPS devices are equipped with better functionalities which are normally utilized for navigation.

Moreover, such devices are usually sturdier and possess better battery life. Also, most of the time, handheld GPS are incorporated with batteries that can be replaced with disposable batteries, which is pretty advantageous if you are doing adventures in remote areas.

But it’s not easy to find the best handheld GPS for hiking because there are a lot of selections in this day and age. Looking for one might took you a lot of time and effort. And worst, waste your hard-earned money. But that’s why we’re here. We want to help you get the best handheld GPS for your needs.

So, without further ado, allow us to share you the best handheld GPS you can get today. Also, along the way we will share you some tips so make sure to stay tuned till the end!

Quick Summary

The device that got our number one spot is the Garmin GPSMAP 64st, TOPO U.S. 100K. This particular device comes with high-sensitivity GLONASS and GPS which are also incorporated with quad helix antenna. With this feature, the users are ensured to get the best signal reception.

The Garmin eTrex 30x on the other hand features a worldwide base map along with shaded comfort. Such feature is pretty unique when it comes to handheld GPS devices. Moreover, the Garmin eTrex 30x comes with a 2.2 inch sunlight protection display. Also it features a 65K color display.

Lastly, the Garmin Foretrex 401 is a unique handheld GPS because it can be worn on the wrist. Aside from that, it is incorporated with highly-sensitive and waterproof GPS receiver. Moreover, it comes with a barometric altimeter and electronic compass. Also, the Garmin Foretrex 401 enables effortless and wireless sharing of the user’s waypoint to fellow hikers.

If you usually do hiking in certain areas that you’re not familiar of, then a handheld GPS is really necessary. A handheld GPS is very helpful because GPS from smartphones are not that accurate. Moreover, with a handheld GPS, you’ll be able to get signals that even Apple Maps or Google Maps won’t be able to reach.

Regardless if you’re just a newbie when it comes to hiking or an experienced one, a GPS is very essential. In particular, a handheld GPS is a smart choice because it is very portable, which perfectly fits hiking. With such tool, you’ll be able to reach your destination without wasting too much unnecessary time and effort.

Aside from that, the durability of handheld GPS is pretty good, which make them perfect for individuals who want to get serious about hiking.

What to Consider?

Positioning Technology

Aside from GPS, certain units also support GLONASS which is actually an alternative to GPS. In particular, units that support both GLONASS and GPS can locate your current position more accurately and much faster.


GPS nowadays are now incorporated with advantageous features which include barometric altimeter and electronic compass. Such features are very useful especially if you don’t have GPS signal. In particular, these features are perfect if you are hiking in dense woods or narrow valleys where getting signal is quite difficult.

Planning Software

It would be very helpful if you get a GPS device that is incorporated with planning software because this factor will enable you to effortlessly make waypoints and routes which can then be transferred to the unit. But in this review, we will be focusing more on software that is from Garmin.


If you want a decent map overview, then get a handheld GPS device that is incorporated with at least two inch display along with a decent resolution. Again, you don’t need to worry about this factor because all of the products we will feature here have high-quality displays.

Battery Life

If you hate changing battery all the time, then get a handheld GPS that can last for at least ten hours. But worry not because all of the handheld GPS devices we will feature in this article have great battery capacity. Also, take note that a handheld GPS that has solar charger is also a cool feature and if you can get one with this feature, get one.


When it comes to handheld GPS devices, you should look for one that has solid design and crafted from materials that have excellent abrasion and shock resistance. Also, it would be excellent if the device is water-proof.

Best Handheld GPS for Hiking in 2020 (Garmin Map Updates Free Download)

Garmin GPSMAP 64st GPS and GLONASS Receiver

High-sensitivity GLONASS

We put this handheld GPS device in our number one spot because it features high-sensitivity GLONASS and GPS that is incorporated with a quad helix antenna, which ultimately ensures best reception. Regardless if you’re miles away from civilization or having some adventure in the woods, for sure, this unit won’t let you down.

Preloaded TOP U.S. 100K Maps

It comes with a three-axis electronic compass along with preloaded TOP U.S. 100K maps as well as a barometric altimeter. In particular, its barometric altimeter monitor transitions in pressure in order to accurately tell the user the approximate altitude, which can help you to determine if the weather will be bad or not..

Great Convenience

This unit is a perfect GPS device if you want to do some short day trips no matter where you are. Its accurate, built-in map is very helpful for anyone who loves hiking and related recreational activities. Moreover, with this device’s Bluetooth connectivity, you can download a GPX track on your phone and conveniently send it to the device. Lastly, it comes with 8 GB storage and you can also level it up by inserting a micro SD card.

What We Like:

  • Integrated worldwide base map and high-sensitivity GLONASS and GPS receiver
  • Incorporated with quad-helix antenna for excellent signal reception
  • Great construction, slim, and lightweight
  • Features three-axis compass with barometric altimeter
  • Comes with 8GB worth of internal memory as well as micro SD card slot

What We Don’t Like

  • The software seems a little bit ambiguous and the tech support is not that great
  • It’s not really recommended to use it for long five days hike

Garmin eTrex 30x Handheld GPS Navigator

Worldwide Base Map

The Garmin eTrex 30x features a worldwide base map along with shaded comfort, which is quite unique to handheld GPS devices. This particular unit also offers a 2.2 inch sunlight protection display but aside from that it also features a 65K color display.

Easy to Read

Such feature brings plenty of design and color to the device which ultimately makes it more convenient to read. Moreover, similar to the previous handheld GPS we mentioned above, this unit also features a three-axis compass as well as barometric altimeter that aid those hikers who usually climb gauge altitudes.

Extra Features

Furthermore, this unit provides a myriad of features that make this unit pretty convenient to use. On the flip side, people who have poor and aging eyes might have difficult times using this device.

Perfect for Tech-savvy Hikers

On the other hand, its screen is bright and can be utilized in certain locations with high brightness. Moreover, this unit uploads information more efficiently compared to a regular device. All in all, this handheld GPS is a good pick especially for those tech-savvy hikers.

What We Like:

  • Features barometric altimeter for mountain climbs and hikes
  • Incorporated with sunlight-readable screen for enhanced viewing when in brighter locations
  • Comes with 2.2 inch screen with 65K color display
  • Excellent resolution through a decently sized screen
  • Integrated with three-axis electronic, internal compass

What We Don’t Like: 

  • Can be a little bit complicated if you’re not familiar with technology
  • Would be great if it comes with a lanyard for additional portability

Garmin Foretrex 401 Waterproof Hiking GPS

Essential Features

Garmin Foretrex 401 is your simple handheld GPS device that only displays the geographical coordinates and direction. This particular GPS features extra functionalities that a regular GPS doesn’t have which include sunset/sunrise timings, hunting and fishing information, and many more.

Convenient Design

This unit has a unique design because it can be worn on the wrist which is perfect if you’re the type of a person who hates bringing a lot of stuff. The Garmin Foretrex 401 is also incorporated with highly sensitive and waterproof GPS receiver, electronic compass, and a barometric altimeter. All of these sensors are loaded in a lightweight and compact encasing. Also, this GPS device allows easy, wireless sharing of the user’s waypoint with other fellow hikers.

TracBack Feature

Furthermore, this unit is preprogrammed with Garmin’s most recent technological innovation which is called as TracBack feature. This particular program enables tracing of the user’s step back to the starting line of the adventure. The Garmin Foretrex 401 is also incorporated with a trip computer that enables you to create or store your favorite locations, routes, and certain GPS information.

What We Like:

  • Has modern and solid design while being lightweight and compact
  • Easy to use because of its five ergonomically positioned buttons
  • Highly-sensitive GPS transceiver
  • Incorporated with barometer and electronic compass
  • IPX7 rated water resistance

What We Don’t Like:

  • It would be great if it comes with a rechargeable battery
  • Not very compatible with Google maps coordinates

Frequently Asked Questions

Is Touch Screen GPS Devices Better than Buttoned Ones?

The big difference between buttoned-GPS devices and touch screens is their battery consumption. Since touch screen GPS devices are usually brighter and bigger, they tend to eat battery juice much faster.

On the other hand, if you don’t need any kind of detailed field, then a buttoned-GPS device is good enough. Also, you need to consider the weather because touch screens are quite hard to use when the screen is damp.

Should You Use Rechargeable Batteries Instead?

Yes, you can bring rechargeable batteries. But in particular, you should opt with GPS devices that use AA batteries so you can easily hike or travel. Not to mention that these kinds of batteries are environment-friendly. According this site, don’t use battery pack for recharging internal batteries because the charging process takes a little bit of time.

Do You Need to Pay for Maps?

Well, we’re talking about handheld GPS devices here with preloaded maps, so not really. You don’t need to pay for maps. But if you want more maps from different locations or countries, then most of the time you need to pay. In addition, what you might probably end up paying are the software that allows you to make routes for uploading on your GPS.

Closing Words

It doesn’t really matter if you want to go backpacking for a week or geocaching for the afternoon because a handheld GPS for hiking will aid you find the right path. For sure you’ll be able to get the best device for you because they come in various styles, sizes, screen types, and multiple map formats.

But if you’re not so sure and still confuse, just opt with our top three best handheld GPS for hiking that we featured above, and surely you’ll get the best for your outdoor needs. Hopefully, this review can help you in your buying decision.

Please leave any comment about our topic today. Have a great day!

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