If you are an outdoor enthusiast who loves to go fishing you definitely need a handheld GPS. These are devices that store data on your location and the surrounding areas so that you can know where you are at all times.
I have found that the right handheld GPS devices come with different features but there is one thing that most of them have in common they can withstand all kinds of weather and they are usually waterproof.
You may be wondering why you need a handheld GPS at all why not just carry along a map and a compass? While it is true that maps and compasses are important when you are out hiking, there are certain tiles when they will be of no use at all.
A good example is during bad weather hikers often get lost when it rains or becomes foggy. A GPS will be able to guide you back to your intended route.
It will also tell you about your surroundings better than any map can. I recommend that you carry all three a map, a compass and of course a handheld GPS.
5 Best Handheld GPS
1. Garmin 72H Waterproof Handheld GPS with High-Sensitivity
This one is advertised as a lightweight, waterproof handheld GPS with sturdy construction. It comes with several excellent features:
On trying it I found that when it comes to acquiring satellites fast this is one of the top handheld GPS devices in the market. In fact, it is so good that it can give you locations under very thick canopies and in deep canyons.
You can use it on both land and water since it is waterproof. It has excellent memory it stores up 500 of your previous location and the next time you are in the vicinity of any of them the device will point you in the right direction.
You can also transfer data between your device and your computer by installing simple software. You connect it to your computer via USB and you can transfer maps that you created previously.
The device can show you tide details as well as sunrise and sunset times. You will also be able to see a hunting calendar. In addition to the device you also get a wrist wrap, an owners manual on a disc as well as a quick start manual.
My experience when downloading software to connect the handheld GPS wasn’t pleasant I had to do a lot of online searching to find what I was looking for.
It doesn’t have a backlight switch. To adjust the backlight, you have to press the On/Off button continually.
I felt that the manufactures could have come up with a smaller device with the same features.
This is also an excellent handheld GPS device. If you felt that the Garmin 72H Waterproof Handheld GPS with High-Sensitivity was a little too big then this one is perfect for you because it has a screen of only 2.6 inches. That is not the only pro here are others:
- Although small it is quite sturdy you can expect it to last a long time.
- It has an excellent sunlight-readable display.
- You get a built-in worldwide basemap with shaded relief.
It comes with a three-axis tilt compensated compass, and you get a barometric altimeter that you can also use for bearing and altitude.
Do you remember when we discussed GPS handheld devices that can share photos?
This is one of them. So long as the other person has a Gamin compatible device you can share photos and maps with them through wireless.
- It has lots of memory the device itself has 1.5G, and you can buy a microSD card if you need more than that.
- It has excellent reception facilitated by the Quad Helix antenna.
- It has a high-speed USB connection.
- As far as looks go this one is a looker.
Is there anything that’s not to like? As a matter of fact there are some cons:
- Some people have complained about the interface it does take some time to find the page that you are looking for.
- The barometer is not as good as it should be on rainy days it usually doesn’t give accurate readings.
- Some have reported that the camera renders some colors differently.
This handheld GPS comes with loads of features, the best of which is geocaching GPX files. With it you can download them all straight into the device. Here is more:
- It gives you more than just your location you can see terrain along with its difficulty and even tips on how to best manage it.
- The satellite is fast and precise.
- It can track both GPS and GLONASS satellites at the same time.
- It has a slow startup at least 2 minutes which is slower than many others in the market.
- It has no real maps, and some people feel that the interface is a bit out of date.
- It doesn’t have a pocket clip.
The biggest advantage you get with this handheld GPS is its accuracy it works even in the most difficult environments. There are other advantages as well:
- You can buy a preprogrammed SD card that has topographic maps, city streets and nautical charts.
- It comes pre-loaded with an American auto-route basemap.
- It has a color display and is highly readable even in bright sunlight.
- There is a turn-by-turn directions feature.
- It is quite well built and is water resistant as well.
The big cons in this model is that the manufacturer seems to have gotten rid of some features that were present in older models that users found useful.
This one is a touchscreen and the manufacturer refers to it as next generation. Here is what you get:
- It comes preloaded with topographic maps and 3D map views.
- It has a highly sensitive receiver that works in difficult terrains.
- It has a great user interface.
- It has a color display that can be customized.
- There are some accuracy issues for people who hike the same trail more than once.
- It is bulky, and it has short battery life.
What Should Look
There are dozens of different types of GPS and they all have different features. Here is what you should take into account when you buy your device:
What features does it have?
To determine the features you should be looking for you need to think about your needs. These devices come with tons of features and the more of them they have the more expensive they are likely to be.
Some of the features include maps, a compass, geocache options, photo viewer, track and waypoint, profile options, area calculator, alarm clock, calendar, stop watch and more.
Some even have features like best days for fishing, hiking and so on. Once you determine the kind of features you need you can then narrow down to a device that has them.
Touchscreens vs. Buttons
Touchscreens have become a way of life, and they have one significant advantage over buttons- they are faster to operate.
Buttons, however, have one major advantage over touchscreens: in handheld GPS devices that have buttons, the bat5tery tends to last longer.
I personally have both and the one I carry depends on where I am going and how long I plan to be gone. If I’ll be away from a power source for a long time I carry the one with buttons but if I’m going out for the day I carry the touchscreen.
There are 2 additional disadvantages that I have found with touchscreens when it is cold they sometimes freeze and it is also very frustrating to operate a touchscreen when you are wearing thick gloves.
You should not expect your touchscreen handheld device to be like your smartphone even handheld GPS is still far behind smartphones when it comes to tech.
Handheld GPS devices have a camera, a microphone and a voice recorder. These are add-ons, true, but I have found that they are great to have.
The thing I like most is that I can mark my route to a fishing spot instead of typing it in.
Also, I can take pictures of nice landscapes on the move and then use the voice recorder I can input what I like about a particular view, how I got there and so on.
While these are fancy additional features, they well come in handy if you want to save memories of your fishing trip. In fact, there are some handheld GPS devices that have Bluetooth that allows for sharing of images between different devices.
If you choose one like this make sure that whoever you want to share with has this feature as well both devices have to have Bluetooth for it to work.
If you spend a little more money you can get a handheld GPS that has smart notifications you can send and receive texts and social media updates while you are out there.
Electronic vs. Differential Compass
This particular feature determines just how powerful a handheld GPS is, and here is the difference.
On the lower scale is the differential compass which only shows you the direction you are moving when you move if you stop you cannot see the direction.
An electronic compass, on the other hand, will show you direction whether or not you are on the move. Electronic handheld GPS are important when you are hiking in places with lots of cliffs and poor weather.
If, for example, you are trapped in a fog and you have a differential compass you would have to move to get direction and may end up stepping off the cliff altogether.
There are many other features that you should take into account, and we cannot discuss them all here, but a quick look online will tell you what they are.
These are some of the best handheld GPS devices you will find in the market today. True, they have some cons but overall they all work pretty well and they are all of sturdy build.
If you choose any of them, you can be sure that it will serve you well for some years to come.
In addition to that, they are all affordable in fact, if you consider their value vs. how much you are paying you will see that you are getting excellent value for money.
- 5 Best Handheld GPS
- What Should Look
- Final Verdict