Sunday, March 18, 2012

Handheld GPS buyers guide

Best handheld GPS

What is the best handheld GPS for you?

Listed below are our choices for the best handheld GPS receivers, from entry-level models to the cadillacs of the backcountry. I’ll make a recommendation in each category, based upon value, feature set and user reviews. Any prices listed are current as of the last update of this page.

Keep in mind that most handhelds don’t come with detailed maps. Fortunately for Garmin owners, there are many free maps available, including 1:24,000 scale topo maps or most states.

Budget handheld GPS receivers

Garmin-eTrex-10-smallOur choice: Garmin eTrex 10

  • Monochrome screen
  • Will not accept detailed maps
  • Paperless geocaching
  • The retail price is $110, but I often see the Venture HC on sale for $99

Other budget units:

  • The Garmin eTrex 20 adds a color screen and the ability to load detailed maps. As of this posting the eTrex 20 can be found for about $170. If you can swing the price, this is the one to get.
  • The Garmin eTrex Venture HC is a discontinued model, but it can accept detailed maps, unlike the eTrex 10.

Mid-range handheld GPS receivers

Our choice: Garmin Oregon 450


Other mid-range units

  • The Garmin Dakota 20 is a smaller version of the Oregon.
  • The eTrex 30 is more compact and lighter weight than the Oregon
  • The Delorme PN-60 can accommodate aerial imagery and real USGS topos. It has a smaller screen than the Oregon (albeit more legible in most daylight conditions) and comes with powerful but complex software. Available for around $260 at the time of last update.

High-end handheld GPS receivers

There are several units to consider here; all have a barometric altimeter and tri-axial electronic compass.

  • Garmin Oregon 600 or 650 – The latest and greatest from Garmin, these units offer a capacitive touchscreen and a huge array of customization options. The 650 adds an 8MP geotagging camera.
  • Garmin GPSMAP 62s – Perfect for those who don’t want a touch screen unit. It brings all the latest features such as paperless geocaching, BirdsEye aerial imagery, custom maps and advanced track navigation. Step to the 62st for pre-loaded 1:100,000 scale topo maps of the entire US.
  • Garmin Montana series – I bought the Garmin Montana 600 and have been very impressed with it. Yes, it’s a bit on the big side, but it’s the best dual-use unit Garmin has ever offered.
  • The DeLorme PN-60w with SPOT Satellite Communicator is a special case. This combo allows you to comunicate with the outside world, even where there is no cell signal. If you venture far off the beaten track, or go it alone, this one is hard to pass up.


Other high end units:

  • Another option is to get a couple of Rino 650 units for you and your outdoor adventure partner. That way, you get most of the advantages of the 62s, plus you can see their position on your screen (and vice versa)!

Related posts:

Still have questions? Chime in below and let us know how you plan to use yours, and we’ll try to find the best handheld GPS for you.


  1. Davis,

    Glad to help. There are good tutorials on for loading their maps. We’re here to help too.

  2. Hi. I am looking for a GPS that I can attach to my keys to find my car in a large parking lot. I was looking at the Bushnell as a gift but the reviews were mixed. Any suggestions?

  3. As a forester, I’m looking at upgrading my GPS with the biggest biggest importance on map creating purposes. Accuracy, topo navigating, and ability to create maps very important (often create personal maps for lots from 10-1000 acres in size). For Garmin products I was drawn to the Oregon 450 and eTrex 30 (Cabelas has a very good sale on the Dakota 20 Bundle but still leaning to the Oregon over Dakota), and to the Earthmate PN-60w. Any thoughts between the three for this niche area? Also have you had an experience/ could you recommend and mapping software for emphasis on creating topo maps and boundary maps of individual lots?
    Thanks for your time!

  4. have purchased the Dakota 20. Do you have an opinion on whether to use Li-ion rechargeables or the pre-charged NiMH (Eneloop?) rechargeables? Want to maximize battery life, but other than initial cost, there could be some other differences with which I am not aware. I would primarly use rechargeables, then keep a pkg of non-rechargeable lithiums on hand in case the unexpected occurs. Thanks,LD

    • Are you talking about an external li-ion pack? I haven’t tried it. I prefer Eneloops myself, but Lithiums will last longer. I use Eneloops and keep a 4 pack of freshly charged ones with me (but then I’m usually toting multiple GPS receivers!).

  5. Today I hoped to download some maps. I connected the Dakota 20 to my computer for the first time. I downloaded the Garmin Communicator & my computer ‘recognized’ the GPS. However, after this, nothing. The Dakota sits in my hand with a screen showing a computer connected to a GPS. I tap on Dakota screen & nothing.
    The Dakota on-line ‘manual’ gives very little information. It’s a little frustrating since the Basemap isn’t very useful. Figuring out operation of the unit itself has gone smoothly. Trying to figure out how to download something or to even get the computer to interact with the Garmin has been frustrating.

  6. Thanks for info. I’ll stop tapping the screen now. 😉
    mapsdepot and dnr sent me a google earth map with a trail they placed on it. I’ve saved that to my Photoshop and would like to download that, too.
    I did try to ‘open’ the garmin communicator file but my computer did not have the software to open it?

    • The Communicator file should have just installed Communicator on your computer.

      This should help in terms of loading maps from

      For the Google Earth map, you’ll need to follow the instructions here (click the Instructions tab)…

      • Nothing working.
        The Communicator plug-in test reports it recognizes the Dakota.
        Today: Oh! I need to downloaded Basecamp to my PC.
        Downloaded Iowa topo (.exe) from gpsfildepot and attempted to follow directions from your link above.
        I had to select ‘Global Map’ to enable the ability to R click on Dakota 20 and have option of “Intall maps on dakota 20”.
        Dialog box appears…’MapInstall could not find installed products…’ then another box announcing Runtime error for MapInstall appeared.
        *I’ve never tried to install MapInstall & never had a box appear giving me that option*
        Not sure where my missing link is. I’m spending hours trying to find it. Not sure if I should take this problem to Garmin or gpsfiledepot or ?? I don’t expect you to solve all my gps problems but providing me a direction on where to go would be apprreciated. thanks.

        • Did you run the .exe file? That should install it on your computer. It sounds like this could be what the issue is.

          MapInstall comes with BaseCamp and will come up when you try to install a map.

          Garmin won’t help with this, but we can or I’m sure the folks on the forum would too.

          • Thanks, you led me in the right direction. I tried to ‘run’ and ‘open’ the file, but all it ever wanted to do was re-install it. I did re-install several times from my pc and from the gpsdepo website. No luck.
            I found another map and installed it, causing MapInstall to pop up. So, maybe problem specific to this first map I”ve ever tried to install?
            I’ve registered on forum at the depot as flyangler and posted a question in the general section. I’m hoping for a solution. Really want a topo map and the 2ndary map is a transparency, so plan to wait to ‘download’ it until after topo is on-board.

  7. Great! I see you’re getting good support over there. It’s a great group of folks.

  8. I am looking for a GPS tracking program that will allow me to keep logs of my whereabouts. But I need to be able to go back and look at a specific days travels often long after it takes place. The GTU10 seems like it has this capability but the tracking logs cost a lot and you can only review 7 days worth of info. There is software from Instamapper you can use on an iphone or Android and you can see history there but it isn’t packaged well. Does anyone know of a device or software (pay or free) on a smartphone that would do this. The only thing i’ve seen that comes close is some of the “spy” softare like mobistealth which i assume you could install on your iphone but i have no idea if it actually works. Any ideas ??

  9. Joe Roggow says:

    I am looking for the verry best GPS to mount on the handle bars of my dirt bike. i want the biggest screen and the easyist to use. price does not matter. it needs to be able to take some shock as well. thanks

    • TheOfficeMaven says:

      Hands-down the Garmin Montana 600/650 wins that one IMHO.

    • Absolutely agree – I have the 650 (I suggest the 650T to get the 100K maps) and I purchased a mount for it at REI – good handle bar connection and a water resistant clear window pouch. I mounted this to my dirt bike and cruised the Colorado Rockies. It is really a good unit – I was still learning it and have not mastered it. Check REI for the mount.

  10. Biggest screen = Montana. Easiest to use is up for debate. One advantage of the 62s is that you can switch pages using the buttons without having to look at the screen. I like it for mtn. biking for this reason.

    If you do go with the Montana, here’s my preferred mount:

    And I’d choose the 600 or 650 rather than the 650t. There are plenty of free 24K maps available at and Garmin’s 24K maps are also a good choice. The preloaded 650t maps are 100K scale.

  11. hi sir i looking for my fishing long line traking gps bouy

  12. Nick Beatty says:

    Hi, I work for a non-profit organization called Teton Valley Trails and Pathways ( We are looking for an easy to use handheld GPS unit that will do the following:
    *Create tracks and elevation profiles that we can upload over a topo map/areial photo to our website.
    *Be able to create and print basic trail maps for our Nordic trails and mtn. bike trails.

    Do you have a suggestion for a GPS unit? What other software would we need to do this?

    Nick Beatty

    • Almost any handheld GPS will give you the ability to record tracks. Elevation data isn’t as accurate as getting lat/long, but for the best results, I’d choose a recent model with a barometric altimeter. Good choices would be (roughly in order of cost) the Garmin eTrex 30, Oregon 450, GPSMAP 62s or the Montana 600. I’ve got pages up for all of them on this site.

      To create an elevation profile or layer the track on top of a topo map, I’d suggest National Geographic TOPO, though I’m not sure what their policy is re: publishing the maps. For aerial photos there are lots of options; the simplest might be a screen shot from Google Earth. More info here…

  13. Tracklog for photographers?
    There seems to be no specific sites for GPS as far as photography goes. I would like to find a small and light device that can tracklog, producing a stream of data with location/time pairs so that it can be synchronized with the time a photo was taken and hence the photo can be assigned a location using the new program Lightroom 4 from Adobe, now in beta. I know very little about how to do this, having before only used a map-based GPS in my car. Any advice on what to look for? It needs to work in Europe as well as North America, preferably OK worldwide.

    • Yeah, I don’t have much info on that. The search term you need to use is GPS data logger. They should work worldwide. Battery life is one concern I hear from people, but mainly if they are backpacking or otherwise going to be away from power for extended periods.

  14. After looking at GPS trackers for months now , I am finally writing your company as you seem to be the foremost in this field.

    I have the Longitudes and Latitudes of my property in Fiji and I need to only find the original pegs.

    Do you have any GPS tracker that would denote or be programmed for the capacity to find longitudes and latitudes?

    ] 179 degrees, 48 minutes and 56 seconds, but we need to go a bit further, like 56.34 seconds… I make up numbers here but seconds reading in 00.00 is what I am looking for.

    I appreciate your time and help.

  15. After looking at GPS trackers for months now , I am finally writing your company as you seem to be the foremost in this field.

    I have the Longitudes and Latitudes of my property in Fiji and I need to only find the original pegs.

    Do you have any GPS tracker that would denote or be programmed for the capacity to find longitudes and latitudes?

    ] 179 degrees, 48 minutes and 56 seconds, but we need to go a bit further, like to the second set of seconds..example 56.34 seconds… I make up numbers here but seconds reading in 00.00 is what I am looking for along with the rest.

    I appreciate your time and help.


  16. Looking through the different ways of denoting coordinates, would a DDM and /or UTM be more precise than the standard DMS (Degrees/Minutes/Seconds): This is the standard way of listing latitude and longitude:

    DDM (Degree Decimal Minutes): A decimal version of DMS, DDM is used by geocachers and a growing number of other GPS enthusiasts. In this format, coordinates look like this:
    Example: N47° 37.216′ W122° 19.75′.
    The north/south and east/west position remains unchanged. The difference is that the seconds part of the location is converted to a decimal by dividing the seconds by 60.
    UTM (Universal Transverse Mercator): This military-derived grid system is not tied to latitude and longitude.

    None of the GPS s anywhere are listed with a high sensitivity chip set..except one and I dont believe this is what I am looking for to find LAT/LONG degrees/minutes/seconds and decimas of seconds.

    Ive Google this advanced chip set….to no avail.

    This is why Im back to the Forum to see if anyone knows what I am looking for.

    Thanks for your patience.


    • Yes, decimal minutes seems to be becoming the most widely used format.

      Just about any GPS receiver introduced in the last few years will have a high-sensitivity chipset. It will mean faster acquisition and improved reception under difficult conditions.

      • I hear that the Garmin new H series e-trek can denote points up to 20 feet accuracy.

        What is the newest Garmin product in this series?

        Can they calculate total area between points? dimensions?

        And do they have electronic compasses incorporated into the unit?

        Thank you.


        • Could this one answer my needs?

          Found it at a Survey company. Allen Instruments so Im thinking it can.

          Not sure it has my above requirements.

          Thank you

          Garmin GPSMAP 62

          • GPS Map 76 or 76 sc

            Im not sure what the major differences are between these units.

            Again , all that Im looking for in a GPS receiver is accuracy within 1-10ft.

            And if possible a electronic incorporated compass as I do have bearing degree numbers.

            and total surface between 4 perpendicular points.

            Please advise

            thank you

        • I’d stay away from the eTrex H; the newer eTrex 20 or 30 would be a better choice.

  17. The 62 series is good; the 76 models are older and don’t have a high-sensitivity chipset unless they have an x in the model name/number.

    Consumer grade handhelds will get you 10-30′ accuracy most days. It varies depending upon terrain and how the satellite constellation appears each day. There are prediction tools that can help you choose a better day for the latter.

    If you can live with that accuracy, I’d probably go for the eTrex 30, which uses GPS+GLONASS and has an electronic compass. It does area calculation as do most of the Garmin units.

  18. Hello!

    I really need some help please! Im going to Costa Rica for some jungle/rain forest hiking and im looking for the best GPS for the job. The problem is im very bad with directions and orientations (im very knew to hiking as well)…(some hiker i know -_-‘) So what im looking for is a GPS that will track my movement from point A to point B —> save the route –> and get me (safely, easily, and accurately) back from point B to point A…i know absolutely nothing about GPS but i hope some of them are fit for the job 🙂 Thank you!

    • Nothing will work unless you know how to use it. Always carry a map and compass and know how to use them too. If you go the GPS route, use it in an area you know well before going off into the wilderness. With those caveats…

      Handheld GPS 101 series:

      • Thank you so much for all that information Rich! Yeah, i kinda understand that there is no escaping a compass and a map 🙂 But what i was really wondering about is a GPS model that is the most jungle-friendly…im assuming this means waterproof and very sensitive receiver (due to high tree coverage); i’ve done some research and i was thinking Garmin Dakota or Oregon series, something along these lines. How jungle-compatible are they? Is there a better option? Thank you

        • or maybe GPSMAP 62s would be better?

          • I would prefer the 62s; it’s brighter than the Oregon and less fragile than the Dakota), but any of them would do the job. You’re going to want to find some local maps to load to the GPS too.

            Handheld GPS are complex beasts, much more so than auto units. Expect a learning curve.

          • great! Thank you so much for all your help! 🙂

  19. Marie Davis says:

    Hi, I am thinking of jumping into geocaching but would like a gps that is not only good for that but also for hiking in the woods AND navigating in a big city….Too much to ask for? hope not! Since I am not sure I am going to enjoy geocaching, would really like to keep the cost down. I have looked at the Garmin eTrex 20 but am not sure it will work in the city with the ability to have a city street map. The more I look, the more confused I get! Thanks so much for any advice!

    • When you say navigating in the city, do you mean on foot or by car? The eTrex 20 will work, if you add street maps to it. There are better choices for auto nav though.

  20. I need a GPS that is accurate to within one meter. I know there are GPS that run in tractors and cars that are accurate to within 2cms however they use a base station.

    Is there a handheld version that can acheive one meter accuracy? I have been looking at the Garmin GPSmap 62s but cannot find any details.

    Can someone please help

    • The best you will do with a consumer GPS at this point is about 9 feet, and that will depend upon the environment you’re in and the position of the constellation on that day and time.

      Otherwise you will need commercial/high precision GPS.


        • I’m not sure which one we spoke about then. I’d look at the eTrex 20/30 which can use GPS + GLONASS. Realize that on some days you may get closer to 20-30′ accuracy though.

          • Mikette says:

            Thanks Rich for your response
            Yes we spoke of either the new steak world 10 /20 /30

            If the accuracy is the same then the 10 would do as I need to buy 2 units

            Preloaded with maps. Is not my concern as I doubt they have Fiji in their maps

            I would need a normal compass for bearings but I BElueve. Not sure , the
            e trek might have a bearing setting .

            I get the 20. 30 feet accuracy on some days. We are close to new Zealand so there’s hope we might reach a satellite or two

            Thank you again

    • EUAN, please dont feel bad about not finding the accuracy you need.
      I have been going through this dilemma since January.
      9 ft is better than 3 meters aka 36 feet as before the GPS s could offer.

      Lets see what Rich has to say. I personally do not need maps etc and doubt they would have any built in maps for Fiji in any event.

      Im doing the boundary thing as well. however I am battling over 12 meters or 36 feet; so even at 9 feet this would help me.

      Good luck.

  21. Thanks everyone, much appreciated.

  22. @mikette – The eTrex 10 has no maps, nor can you load any to it. The eTrex 30 is the only one of the three with an electronic compass.

  23. I am going to be traveling In Italy and France this summer and want a handheld gps for driving and walking. What is the least expensive model that will serve that function?

  24. Thanks Rich.

    Does the etrek world 20 or 30 come preloaded with maps for Viti Levu Fiji or Vanua Levu Fiji?

    You say electronic compass- how about a plain compass giving bearings like 204 degrees or 4 degrees?

    Thank you >

  25. I am Shamsun Naher. I collected gps rating of pregnant mothers house of a location(Name: upazila). Now i want to make cluster as much as possible with 8 pregnant mothers gps rating. There is a condition that clusters have distance between them are at least 1 kilometer. How can i get this ?can you please help me?

    Many many thanks

  26. Bob Higgins says:

    My wife & I are going to buy our 1st gps. We only want it for flying commercially to see what we are flying over. Could you please recommend 2 or 3 to look at? We do not need a camera with it.

    • Perhaps the Oregon 450t. It has preloaded 100K scale topo maps. Or you could use any of the Garmin nuvi auto units if you don’t need topo maps. Remember though, not all airlines allow GPS use. It’s usually listed in the back of the flight magazine. This list is dated but may be of some help…

      For best results, use the GPS on the way to the airport so that it downloads satellite location info. And get a window seat. You may need to hold it up to the window initially to get a good lock.

  27. i want to buy a GPS for an upcoming hunt in Idaho. We will be 4 hours off road by horse. I want something easy to use, with a screen big enough to see and don’t need a bunch of stuff I won’t use. What’s my best choice. I have a gps in my truck and I have had a Magellen handheld before.

  28. i want to buy a GPS for an upcoming hunt in Idaho. We will be 4 hours off road by horse. I want something easy to use, with a screen big enough to see and don’t need a bunch of stuff I won’t use. What’s my best choice. I have a gps in my truck and I have had a Magellen handheld before.

    • That depends on your budget. Want a big screen? Go with the Garmin Montana series, but it’s pricey. Otherwise, the Oregon 450 would be my next choice, although the smaller screened GPSMAP 62s is easier to use with one hand.

  29. I am looking for a GPS to use while backpacking. Im planning on doing this in the Middle East and North Africa could you point me to a GPS that would allow me to do this most GPS’s that Ihave seen are only good in the US.

  30. Hi Rich,

    I’m looking for something usable in deep woods – country of Lithuania. I want to get my dad a gps as a gift, easy to use and perhaps with Lithuanian language built-in if possible, but that may not be necessary. Also would be nice to have an option to upload data to google maps and vice versa. Don’t really want a high end one as my dad is not going to use all the options available. He will most use it for fishing and mushroom picking, so he will park his car and will need to find his way back.

    Thanks in advance. 😉

  31. Rick Blanchard says:

    I’ve had the eTrex 20 for 3 days now. I’m already quite comfortable using it and must say I’m impressed. The Basecamp software is also fairly easy to use and great for exporting/importing .gpx files.

    I went for a walk the other day along a wooded trail with reasonably heavy tree cover. No problems keeping satellite signals. I created a few waypoints, easy enough. Also created a route (joining multiple waypoints), and saved a track (i.e. cookie crumb trail). The screen itself is quite readable, so no issues there.

    Two points I’d like to make though, that in my opinion are oversights by Garmin:
    (1) Tracback: this is a very handy feature that my 16 year old Garmin could access with a mere scroll and click. This feature allows you to retrace your steps (tracks, that are automatically created by the gps) to get back to your starting point. Now, I have to access it deep within the menu system, 6-7 clicks. They should have made it more accessible, or allow you to make a shortcut function, considering how handy Tracback is. I can see people easily missing this feature, as it’s not very intuitive where it’s located.
    (2) Waypoint management: many older models allowed you to delete waypoints by symbol type. On the eTrex 20, you have to delete waypoints one-by-one, or all of them. Obviously you wouldn’t want to ditch all of them. Since a route is comprised of many temporary waypoints that users like to enter (i.e. at a path junction,during a hike), you can see how all these waypoints would be cumbersome.
    You’re left with cleaning up your waypoints back on your computer via Basecamp. That’s ok, but a pain when you’re in the field for awhile and need to create multiple routes, each with multiple temporary waypoints.

    I’m happy with the purchase, yet am disappointed by the points above. I’ll live with it, but would be thrilled if Garmin would address these points in a firmware update.

    • You must be the first person I’ve ever seen say that BaseCamp is fairly easy to use! Of course most of those complainers were using MapSource before they had to transition to BaseCamp.

      I agree that Trackback can be a bit buried. It should be directly under the Where To Menu. Now you have to go to Where To > Track > Current Track.

  32. Mike Rubner says:

    I downloaded the tracks and waypoints from my Garmin Dakota 10 to my laptop thru Google earth. Worked like a champ on my main computer. ON my Dell only the tracks downloaded. I can’t print either. I wanted to print 11×17, but can’t seem to get it to fill the paper what’s up with that?

  33. Any input as why one would choose Garmin Oregon 450 or the eTrex 30 or the eTrex 20? I’m down to these three. Thanks for the help.
    And is it easy to add maps?

    • Depends on how you plan to use it (hiking, mountain biking, driving, etc.).

      EDIT: And yes, it’s easy enough to add maps, assuming you’re semi-technically literate and take the time to read some tutorials if you run into any issues.

  34. Hi Rich,

    Great info! Thanks for all of the feedback!

    Any recs on a handheld I could use for bowhunting as well as general backpacking in the Rockies? I like the Etrex 30, but not sure about the price. The thing I like is the barometric pressure and compass, but not convinced I need those functions. Thoughts? Etrex 20? Other?


    • Neither feature is critical. They can be nice though. Short of the new Garmin fenix watch for backpackers (which is $400 and doesn’t support detailed maps), the new eTrex line is probably the best bet.

      • Thanks Rich! I was thinking the barometric altitude might be a good idea for keeping an eye on weather changes. Is that the only benefit you see with the 30 as well?

        • It’s nice to be able to stand still and use the compass. And the altimeter can give more accurate elevation readings, although that is somewhat weather dependent.

          The downsides are that you need to calibrate the compass each time you change batteries (at the least; some people do it more often). And there may be a slight hit to battery life.

  35. Dena Newcomb says:

    Looking for a good lake hand held gps we are searching for my nephew who went missing on Laurel Lake outside of London Ky. The family is using a mining camera that we got from a cousin that can reach into a patch of underwater trees so we need something that can help us keep track of where we have already searched and give us coordinates Please advise.

  36. Could you recommend a budget hand-held GPS for calculating area/ acreage?

  37. I am looking for a gps to use in my Forestry job. Is there any out there that you would recomend for this purpose?

    • If you are going to be entering a lot of waypoint names, a touchscreen unit is the way to go. The Montana (I like the 600) is best, but it is pricey and bulky. The Oregon 450 is cheaper, but is less customizable and takes more steps to do things.

      If you won’t be be entering many waypoint names in the field, I’d look at the eTrex 30 or GPSMAP 62s.

      If you want one that has a camera and can geotag photos, look at the Montana 650, GPSMAP 62sc or Oregon 550.

  38. I recently purchased the Oregon 450 and now need to get some mapping software for the computer. I will be creating some simple closed traverses with a few named waypoints with the idea to print out maps over the air photos. What might you recommend? I read in one of your other comments that Basecamp can be somewhat cumbersome. Is there something more basic?

  39. Lonnie Harvey says:

    Hi, I have a Garmin GPS478 now and is very hard to use. I spend alot of time way offshore so I will use this as a backup to my onboard electronics. In addition, I am a old car hunter/restorer and do alot of driving around the Southeast US so would like a unit that I can use on the road also. Any thoughts? Thanxxxxxxxxxxx

  40. Guy Hamman says:

    I ride a dual sport motorcycle. Occasionally I get in situations where I need to figure out where I am and how to get back to civilization but mostly I want an accurate speed and distance and current location functions. The Dakota 20 looks good. A bigger screen would be nice but not necessary. Price is important at the moment. What is your recommendation?

  41. Jeff Johnston says:

    I am looking for a good quality GPS that I can use in deep ravines, around tall mountains, and under the forest canopy. I have used the Garmin etrex, and Rhino 120 and have had difficulties losing reception.

    • Newer models have high-sensitivity chipsets which will be dramatically better than the Rino 120 and original eTrex. The eTrex 20 might be a particularly good choice since it gets GPS + GLONASS signals.

  42. Guy Hamman says:

    Thanks for your response to my previous question. This may be outside your area of interest but I was wondering if you know the +/- of the DUAL XGPS251 Portable GPS and Battery Cradle for iPod touch. Can I download maps from gpsfiledepot and use them with this adapter on my iPod?

  43. Wow!!! You are 1 knowledgeable guy!!! Surprised you haven’t taken all of your knowledge down to Silicone Valley here in California & approached 1 of the big wig companies to develop an APP. (or have you??? 🙂 )
    Anyways, my hubby just started working in a field where he is on the road moving from 1 destination to the next & though he has a Thomas Guide( i know, I know…Dinosaur) it OBVIOUSELY is not the most effecient or user friendly, but it’s all he has now. In fact he just called me from our car which was still parked in the our parking spot and asked me to get him an address off Mapquest for a dsetination 7 (yes, that’s right) SEVEN MILES AWAY!!!!
    Didn’t mind helping him, but at that moment I definitely felt his pain.
    Money is tight right now, but his birthday is coming up & as I am starting an Etsy shop to sell my custom handmade jewelry I am feeling pretty positive that I will have around $200 to spend. But I am directionally challenged by birth & Gps ignorant. Help!!!!
    What do you think are my best options at that price? Do these units come with adaptors that can plug into the car cigarrette lighter? And most important, are we going to have to sighn up with a provider & pay monthly fees like we do for our cellphone???

    Really appreciate your time & relying on your expertise.

    A little “LOST” in California

  44. Derek Wells says:

    I have saw you listed the eTrex Legend HC as your top budget handheld gps. Is it still on the top of your list for a budget one? I have found a used one, in new condition for $60 locally in the classified ads. I am new to GPS and would use this mostly for hiking and hunting. Is the base loaded map worth while for this or will I need to be purchasing more maps to download onto the gps?


    • Actually the recommendation is for the Venture HC. But if you can get a working Legend HCx (one step up above the Venture HC) for $60, that’s a pretty good deal. There is not a decent basemap, but you can add free topos from

      • Derek Wells says:

        Oh, I mistyped it. The ad is for the Venture HC, so with that being fixed, would you still think that $60 is a good deal for a used Venture HC?

        • It’s not bad. I’ve seen them sale for as little as $100 new, and it’s not as user friendly as the newer eTrex 20, but then that one costs $100 more. So if it’s in good shape and works, yeah, it’s a pretty good deal.

  45. Hello! Earlier you had responded to a question I had about Garmin hardware update schedules and said the Oregon might be next. Any thoughts on what might be upgraded? I’m thinking a higher megapixel camera, and maybe GLONASS like the new Etrex models. Maybe Wifi? What are your thoughts?

  46. My dad is looking for a gps that will be good to track property lines in a close range. He is getting a little older so he might need one with the bigger screen but anything you can recommend would help. Thank you so much.

    • First of all, realize that consumer GPS is only accurate to about 10-30′ at best, and it can be worse depending upon terrain or how the satellite constellation appears on a given day.

      Having said that, the Garmin Montana is the best big screen unit out there, but is pricey. Otherwise, for best visibility, I’d recommend a non-touch screen unit such as the GPSMAP 62 series or the eTrex 20. The latter can receive GPS + GLONASS and may improve accuracy a bit.

  47. I live in the Caribbean Sea in northwest Panama. I received a Navionics Marine Chart SD card and microchip for Central and South America as a gift, along with a console mounted fishfinder. The fishfinder was not compatible with my boat, since it has a rear-end motor and no console, so I returned that and refunded my sister’s credit card with the purchase. But I still have the chip and am wondering which handheld GPS system would work best for us. Waterproof is a must. Price does not matter. Please advise! And thanks so much.

  48. Hi I ride dirt bikes and our club cuts trails, I am looking for a Gps unit that will record those trails as we cut or ride them. I would like to then print those trails on a map that can be printed. Can you help me.

    • Just about any GPS will collect the data, but I do recommend a newer model with a high-sensitivity chipset. National Geographic Topo (discussed here) is probably best for printing maps. It has recently been discontinued, but is still widely available.

  49. I urgently need help choosing a new GPS for the following uses:
    1. Travel by boat, car, foot travel throughout ALASKA–including coastal marine areas and remote inland regions.
    2. Travel by car and on foot) in AUSTRALIA–including main road and outback areas throughout the country.
    * I don’t need full-scale topo maps, just maps that show roads, rivers, lakes, seacoast, and perhaps basic unshaded contour lines.
    * Would you recommend something like the Garmin eTrex 20 or 30, Dakota, or Legend)?
    * What about the small portable auto/motorcycle GPS? The larger screen size seems like a plus.
    but do they all have a short battery life and do they all use proprietary batteries instead of ordinary AA’s?
    * Are there crossover models between auto and handheld GPS that might fit my needs?

    I’ve spent countless hours researching this online and I’m still bewildered. Any suggestions would be hugely appreciated. And thank you SO much for your incredibly valuable website!


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