Never be Lost with the Best Handheld GPS Devices

If you love the outdoors and revel in the adventure of getting lost, you’ll want to check out the best hand-held GPS devices you can buy. The best handheld GPS devices will help you find your way back to safety without having to spend hours trying to find a signal.

There are many GPS devices on the market today (or even DVRs or cell phones), but many of them only work for one region or country. What if you want to use your GPS to find a trail to hike, or a campsite, or just to get from point A to point B without getting lost? If that’s you, you need to check out some of the top handheld GPS units for 2013.

Take a trip to the wilderness and you may want to take a handheld GPS unit. Whether you’re hiking with family or friends, or having a quiet evening picnic in the mountains, a GPS unit makes it possible for you to know exactly where you are at all times, no matter where you’re at in the world. These units are more than just navigational tools, though. Most units can also be used to access up-to-date weather information, and many can even be used to track the exact location of your friends and family.

05.26.21 Cuenco, Luke

It’s one thing to go camping on a well-traveled path. If you’re searching for an experience that’s off the beaten road, it’s a completely other ballgame. The Global Positioning System (GPS) was originally introduced in 1978 and was primarily utilized for military activities at the time, but has since been widely used by civilians. GPS devices on the civilian market were bulky and primitive when I was growing up, but today’s gadgets are almost as light as mobile phones and have batteries that can last all day. Let’s take a look at three of the finest portable GPS gadgets on the market right now to help you navigate back home if you get lost.

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Contents Table of Contents

Editor’s Choice: Garmin GPSMAP 66i

Garmin GPSMAP 66i - Editor's Pick

The 66i is the most recent version of Garmin’s self-contained GPS system, having been superseded by the GPSMAP 64sx and 64st models. The GPSMAP 66i has an SOS function as well as the ability to send and receive messages even while out of cell tower range (both require a subscription). The inbuilt lithium ion battery has a claimed average life of 35 hours (200 hours in power saving mode) before having to be recharged, while the device itself has 16GB of storage capacity for maps and other data. 

With a 3” display with a 240400 resolution, the 66i has one of the best displays on the market, making it easier to see when outside in the sun. Topographic maps are pre-loaded on the smartphone, and it can also download BirdsEye Satellite images. The 66i can also connect to WiFi networks and other devices within its range, which may become confusing fast. 

The GPSMAP 66i also enables you to save up to 250 routes, save up to 10,000 waypoints, and designate favorite and other places if you want to go back to someplace you’ve visited previously. The gadget is both water resistant and IPX7 certified, which means it can withstand a small quantity of water as well as most dust and dirt. At $599.99, the Garmin GPSMAP 66i is one of the most costly versions available.

Pros/Lots of features, long battery life, and texting capabilities

Cons/When compared to its pricing, it is not the most accurate gadget on the market.

Bottom Line/The Garmin GPSMAP 66i is ideal for the serious explorer who need or desires a lengthy list of capabilities.

2. Garmin eTrex 10 – Affordability

Garmin eTrex 10 - Budget Pick

If you’re looking for a budget-friendly portable GPS gadget, let me introduce you to a fantastic option. Unless you’re a die-hard fan of all the bells and whistles of higher-priced GPS devices, they’ll be mostly worthless to you. My last item on this list is a gadget that I believe is more appropriate for most people’s wallets and purposes. The eTrex 10 is a compact, no-frills GPS gadget with an excellent 20-hour battery life and the ability to change out batteries on the go simply changing two AA batteries. 

Even with the batteries inserted, the gadget weighs just 5 ounces and includes a 4-level Gray LCD, a pre-loaded WW basemap, and geocaching capabilities, which has been a continuously increasing popular activity and is likely many people’s initial motivation for purchasing a portable GPS device. The price of the eTrex portable GPS gadget is $99.99.

Advantages/Affordable and easily changeable batteries

Cons/There are no message or SOS capabilities, no internal memory, and no color map display.

Bottom Line/A fantastic first GPS gadget that will also serve you well as a backup or for recreational geocaching.

3. Garmin Montana 700i – The Longest-Lasting

Garmin Montana 700i - Most Durable

The Garmin Montana 700i combines the functionality and simplicity of use of your smartphone with the durability of the rest of your kit. The Montana 700i’s most notable feature is its huge 5-inch touch screen. The 700i gets its “I” design from inReach Technology, which enables it to function even when it’s out of cell phone range.

The Montana 700i also has an inbuilt camera, which is a useful feature. Most people would prefer to use their phone or bring a DSLR camera with them, but I believe it is a function that is well integrated into the device, particularly given its big screen. The battery life of the 700i is excellent, particularly when you consider its “expedition mode,” which gives it a 330-hour battery life as compared to the normal 18-hour battery life. 

Garmin describes the Montana 700i’s design as “military grade construction,” and analyzes internet reviews to see whether it comes up to that description. Like the GPSMAP 66i above, the Garmin Montana has 2-way texting and SOS features. If you’re interested in purchasing a Montana 700i, it will set you back $699.99.

Pros/Extremely Durable and Large Colorful Touch Screen

Cons/larger It’s and heavier than other versions, and it won’t be particularly helpful with gloves in cold weather.

Bottom Line/Excellent for lengthy off-grid excursions and simple navigation.

Cellphone GPS vs. Handheld GPS

Why do I need a GPS device when my phone has GPS? It’s a question that everyone seems to have. The first thing that comes to mind is that many of these GPS devices have considerably longer battery life and, in some instances, SOS or message capabilities in case you get lost or wounded and need an airlift out of a remote area where cell phone coverage may or may not be available. While the GPS in your phone or tablet would be adequate for an off-grid trip, your battery life would likely be less than ideal, and current smartphones are rather brittle in contrast to modern handheld GPS.


Second, the GPS app on your phone needs a mobile connection to function correctly. Satellite-based devices, such as your portable GPS, may be used almost anywhere as long as there is a clear view of the sky. That isn’t to say it won’t work if you’re in the middle of a forest, but it won’t function in a cave.

Surprisingly, the widespread use of GPS applications on smartphones has lowered competition in the portable GPS industry. Magellan, a major participant in the GPS industry, has moved its focus to other sectors, such as automotive and off-road GPS systems, and no longer manufactures handheld GPS devices.

How does GPS work?

The Global Positioning System (GPS) uses a network of 31 satellites now orbiting the Earth to monitor your location in two or three dimensions, depending on the number of satellites with which you are in touch.

In order to establish your position by measuring the distance between your device and the satellite, a GPS device must have contact with at least four satellites. The Global Positioning System is presently operated by the United States Space Force.

Connection that is required

Will my GPS gadget function if I don’t have access to a phone or the internet? Yes is the short answer. Other than a GPS-enabled gadget, you shouldn’t need anything else. Although having an internet or mobile phone connection allows you to download maps, waypoints, and other kinds of locations to your device, most GPS devices should give you with enough information to navigate effectively during your trip in their default setup.

Is it worthwhile to invest in a portable GPS?

A GPS offers a lot of functions that your phone doesn’t have. If you’re going on an outdoor trip and require navigation assistance, a portable GPS is a must-have.

Which GPS device is the most user-friendly?

The Garmin eTrex 10 is difficult to top for basic navigation. Simply press a few buttons and you’re ready to go, plus the price is hard to match.

Author Information

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Luke Cuenco

Luke works full-time as a writer for websites such as,,, and, of course,.com. Luke is a competitive shooter, a guns enthusiast, a reloader, an outdoorsman, and a general lover of all things related to the great outdoors. Luke is also a private certified pilot who is working on obtaining his commercial pilot’s license in order to pursue a career as a professional pilot. Luke’s other passions include aviation, aerospace, and military technologies, as well as conservation initiatives in the United States. @ballisticaviation on Instagram c/BallisticAviation on YouTube:

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I have a hard time believing that you could be lost in a truly remote area, yet I still feel uneasy being in one. When you are lost, you are vulnerable, and you are in a place where you do not feel comfortable. Without the right tools, you could be lost for a long time. With proper planning, you can avoid that problem.. Read more about best handheld gps 2021 and let us know what you think.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is the most accurate handheld GPS?

The most accurate handheld GPS is the Garmin eTrex 20x.

What is the easiest handheld GPS to use?

The Garmin Forerunner 645 is the easiest handheld GPS to use. It has a touchscreen and can be used with or without a heart rate monitor.

Is a handheld GPS worth getting?

A handheld GPS is a device that can be used to navigate your way around the world. Its not as accurate as a car GPS, but its still helpful for people who dont want to or cant use their phone for navigation.

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