Best Garmin Handheld GPS For Hiking, Hunting And Off Roading (How To Choose The Best 2020)

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Regardless if you want to go on for a day hike or a camping trip, bringing a GPS along with your outdoor activities is always a wise decision. Without a GPS, you might get lost. Yes, for sure smartphones today come with GPS capabilities, but the problem is they are not anything to write home about.

Rather than a modern day cellphone, or even a regular GPS, why not get yourself a Garmin Handheld GPS? If you’re not aware of, Garmin is a prominent brand that manufactures amazing devices that boast a myriad of features to aid you on various outdoor activities you do.

But what do you do if there are just too many Garmin handheld GPS selections out there? Do you know which one to pick for your needs? Well, that’s why we’re here! In this article we will share you the best handheld GPS for hiking in 2020 along with Garmin Map updates. So without further ado, let’s get this started!

Quick Summary

If you’re looking for a versatile handheld GPS for hiking that can provide you a lot of functionalities, then the Garmin GPSMAP 64st can be your perfect companion. Aside from possessing a detailed and clear screen, it also features a highly-sensitive GPS as well as enough storage for a number of maps you want to load onto it.

Now, if you just want to get yourself a simple as well as economical handheld GPS device, then what you want to get is the Garmin eTrex30x. Apart from functioning like a standard GPS, it also allows you to download various kinds of maps. The Garmin eTrex also enables you to wirelessly share maps or routes to the same Garmin model.

And lastly, if you’re the type of an adventurer who doesn’t want to bring a lot of his or her stuff then the Garmin Foretrex401 is the perfect choice for you. You see, this GPS model is like a sports watch that you wear on your wrist. However, this unit doesn’t provide any detailed maps considering its compact size and design. But overall, when it comes to guiding you throughout your entire adventure then it will surely help you keep safe.

Who Should Get This?

Even though a lot of us are already equipped with GPS devices through the use of modern cellphones, GPS from Garmin are much more innovative in many ways. With a smartphone, it could take a while just to load and buffer. However, Garmin Navigation Systems are already incorporated with everything preloaded.

In fact, unlike smartphones, GPS from Garmin don’t require access to internet. Furthermore, Garmin GPS have better battery capacity.

Aside from that, Garmin has been an expert when it comes to the GPS industry for many years now. Modern cellphones try to compete, however smartphones don’t really come with various convenient features like those of Garmin GPS. Moreover, sharing features can be quite hard when it comes to smartphones because they need connections such as Bluetooth, Wi-Fi, or some Internet source,

To sum it up, Garmin GPS is perfect for those people who always travel a lot and want to have a certain directions whenever they need it or wherever they want to go.

What To Consider?

Battery Life

When you are utilizing your GPS device, you’re depending on it so you don’t get lost. Due to this fact, you must make it last long relative to how long your adventures will last. You see, battery capacity is a primary factor that most users must think about before even acquiring GPS devices. Now, while there are some Garmin GPS that can utilize rechargeable battery pack, there are also some models that can utilize batteries.

Screen Quality

The screen quality is one of the most essential factors to consider when picking a Garmin GPS. Obviously, screen is where you’ll see all the various maps, routes, and certain information necessary to get into your location. When it comes to screen quality, it must be easy to read and understand.

On a side note, if you have more time to spare then you should definitely check the outdoor products.


As for the size factor, it’s important that your chosen device has decent size so you don’t squint a lot. For Garmin devices, the displays usually vary a lot so make sure to look for one that works for your needs.

Extra Features

Even though the main purpose of GPS devices is to make you not lost on your way, they can also do a lot more than just guide you. There are some Garmin units that enable you to communicate with others, create paths, share maps, and some units can even tell you the current weather in your location. So, what you want to do is choose a GPS that has the feature that will benefit you the most.

Anyways, here’s a video on how to plan routes using your Garmin.

Best Handheld GPS For Hiking In 2020 (Garmin Map Updates Free Download)

1. Garmin GPSMAP 64st, TOPO U.S. 100K With High-Sensitivity GPS And GLONASS Receiver

High-Sensitivity GPS

This GPS comes with a high-sensitivity GPS as well as GLONASS receiving in conjunction along with a quad-helix antenna that keeps your location while adventuring through deep valleys. Its 250,000 Preloaded Worldwide Geocaches as well as its capability to support extra mapping only implies that this GPS is not suitable for your normal user.

Buttons and Dimensions

If you’re the type of a consumer you likes buttons rather than a touch screen, then this GPS is perfect for you. Aside from having the best button features, it has incredible reliability. Moreover, it is portable and lightweight since it only weighs around 260 grams included the battery and has a dimensions of 1.4” x 2.4” x 3.3”. It is also rated IPX7 for its waterproof capabilities, making it is perfect for water-based adventures as well.

Convenient Connectivity

Since this unit is incorporated with Bluetooth as well as ANT + wireless connectivity, it can also serve as your activity and health tracker. When it comes to cons though, it doesn’t come with an emergency locator. However, for its reasonable price, this unit is pretty awesome for its overall capabilities. With the Garmin GPSMAP64st as your GPS, for sure you’ll be able to make and share your adventure’s geocaches, routes, tracks, and waypoints to your friends and family.

What We Like:

  • Sleek, rugged, high-performance handheld Garmin GPS
  • Reliable wireless connectivity through Bluetooth technology and ANT +
  • Features three-axis compass with barometric altimeter
  • Comes with 8GB of internal memory and a micro SD card slot
  • Accurate GPS and GLONASS receiver with quad helix antenna

What We Don’t Like

  • The product’s documentation is not that great – even with its downloadable PDF
  • GPS tracking is good enough for geocaching but not that amazing

2. Garmin ETrex 30x, Handheld GPS Navigator With 3-Axis Compass

Dimensions and Compactness

First of all, the Garmin eTrex30x comes with dimensions of 2.1 inch x 4.0 inch x 1.3 inch which is pretty compact and certainly much smaller compared to a regular modern phone. Also, thanks to its 65k color sunlight readable display, users don’t actually need to shade the device or even hold it over just to comprehend the displayed directions.

Preloaded Base World Map

One of the most amazing features of this unit is that it is already incorporated with a pre-loaded base map of the whole world. Thus, you don’t need to sit and wait for the GPS to buffer. This is quite an edge compared to modern phones that has GPS because they still need Wi-Fi or internet just to give you your desired information. Moreover, it comes with an innovative compass on the front, which is perfect wherever you are.

Additional Features

Aside from that, it also comes with extra features such as distance and speed to your following destination which makes things easier. In fact, you can even view the actual hours, minutes, or mileage left before you arrive to your destination. This GPS also enables you to share your location, adventure progress, and certain information with other Garmin devices that you’re linked to.

Superior than Modern Phones

Overall, we like this GPS model because it simply proves that individual handheld GPSs are still far superior compared to modern tablets in terms of getting accurate directions.

What We Like:

  • It comes with a myriad of features dedicated to displaying how soon you will arrive at your desired location
  • It utilizes larger buttons for fast functionality for different age bracket
  • When it comes to GPS models, it is one of the most compact and lightest designs out there
  • Features worldwide base map with shaded relief
  • Comes with three-axis compass and barometric altimeter

What We Don’t Like

  • Sadly, this unit doesn’t come with any key lock function
  • Its 240 x 320 pixels doesn’t look so great

3. Garmin Foretrex 401 Waterproof Hiking GPS

Basic Features

Out of the box, this Garmin unit also comes with a warranty card, brief instructions in various languages, a safety manual, a USB cable, e-version of the manual in CD form, a spare bolt for fastening the strap, and an extra elastic strap extension. The Garmin Foretrex 401 is a wrist-mounted GPS which makes it easy to use and reliable.

Ease of Use

Its ease of use is one of its strong aspects. It will only take around 5 to 10 minutes to understand it even if you don’t know a single thing about GPS functions. Moreover, setting up this unit is quite easy. Speaking of settings, it has MGRS, longitude, latitude, grid reference, local time, and even sunset that can be mounted on the user’s wrist. This unit also comes with solid bolts incorporated to the base that enables a watch band fitting.

Unusual Design and Features

For the most part, this unit is quite unusual especially because you wear it on your wrist, which make it look like a sports watch. Well, this unit is perfectly suited for those users who want to lessen backcountry gear weight and bring a device that provides convenience as much as possible. Furthermore, due to its very compact design, it comes with the inability to add detailed maps to the unit. But that’s a give considering that it is only manufactured for basic GPS purposes only.

What We Like:

  • It features barometric altimeter, electronic compass, fishing or hunting information, sunrise or sunset times, as well as trip computer
  • Compatible with dual position readout so you can view your current location in different formats
  • Its TracBack feature retraces your path on its easy-to-read LCD display
  • Incorporated with high-sensitivity GPS receiver with HotFix for enhanced performance and reception
  • Very compact and perfect for adventures who don’t want to bring a lot of stuff

What We Don’t Like

  • It’s not that fancy and doesn’t come with a myriad of functions but still good as a GPS
  • Due to its minimal features, you might have difficulty using it under heavy tree canopy

Useful Tips Or Tricks And Resources

Obviously, if you want to carry your Garmin on a trip with you then you must ensure that it is charged to the fullest or comes with new batteries. It’s just like bringing a stone which is of no use.

Moreover, before going to any adventure, you must also ensure that the right and precise maps for the place you’re going to go have been loaded on your chosen GPS before even packing your things. You don’t want to go in the wrong place, right?

Aside from that, there are some GPS units that can have much functionality, and for some users, learning how to utilize these particular functionalities might take some time. That’s why; it’s always a smart idea to accustom yourself first with the item you bought before even launching yourself to a great adventure. Of course, most GPS functions are pretty easy to understand.

However, it’s always better to be prepared than sorry later on. Lastly, if you’ve already chosen your preferred GPS then make sure to check out some Garmin Map updates just to make sure. (Source)

Closing Words

When we’re out for some deep outdoor activities or adventures, we don’t want to get lost, right? That’s why bringing a Garmin handheld GPS can guarantee us that wherever we go, we’re on the right track. Not to mention that it always keep us safe.

So, with that said, we hope that this review has been able to aid you pick the best handheld GPS for Hiking in 2020. Also, if it’s okay for you, please share your past adventures with us using a Garmin GPS. Did using one made your adventure successful? Did you have fun so much fun because you feel secured?

Any thoughts or feedback are all welcome, so hope to see you in another review!

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