GPS Reviews – Which Handheld Unit To Buy Depending On Your Sport: Hiking, Hunting, or Long Distance Backpacking

gps reviews

Handheld GPS units come in all types. They range from basic units to ones with all kinds of bells and whistles (with accompanying thick manual). What many prospective buyers don’t consider is matching a unit to the activity that they do the most. Meaning, if you’re buying  a unit for weekend day hikes then you certainly don’t need the features that somebody through-hiking the Pacific Crest Trail would need. Here are my GPS reviews for handheld units, by activity:

GPS Reviews for Handheld Units By Activity

Weekend Day Hikes and Short Backpacking Trips:

Garmin Oregon 600 3-Inch Worldwide Handheld GPS

Why it’s the best for casual hikers:

  • Affordable price
  • Touchscreen of smartphone quality
  • Customizable menus make it very user friendly
  • Very long rechargeable battery life
  • Super fast map redrawing
  • Ability to upload maps
  • Compact dimensions
  • Dual-orientation Screen

For most people who dabble with hiking on the weekend, the Garmin Oregon 600 fits the bill. It has all of the features you’d want in a handheld GPS unit, without breaking the bank because of advanced features that you’d never use. Its ease-of-use is so refreshing in a world of thick product manuals and confusing settings.

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Long Distance Backpacking:

DeLorme AG-008727-201 InReach Explorer Two Way Satellite Communicator with Built in Navigation 

If I were planning a through-hike of the Pacific Crest Trail or Appalachian Trail, I’d buy this unit from DeLorme in a heartbeat. Here’s why:

  • Integrated website allows you to plan a route ahead of time, including waypoints, that can be shared with family or friends
  • Digital compass
  • Digital Barometric Altimeter
  • Digital Accelerometer
  • Ability to trigger an SOS signal in emergencies, which could easily save your life or the lives of others, in extremely remote wilderness areas.
  • Ability to send and receive text messages (up to 160 characters) with GPS coordinates to anybody’s cell phone or email address. Also: post updates to social media.


The base model does not include navigation features, so it should be noted that this technology was initially developed as an SOS beacon for backcountry emergencies rather than a navigational tool. However, this unit has superb navigational functions too. Its the best of both worlds: GPS navigation features coupled with a satellite communication device. When you’re stuck deep in a ravine with a broken ankle and no bars on your cell phone, this is exactly the handheld GPS unit you need.

Click Image Below to Buy From Amazon (affiliate link charges you nothing, but helps me pay for hosting this blog):


Garmin GPSMAP 64SC

For hunting trips, the 64SC from Garmin is my top recommendation, easy. It’s what I use. It’s main features are:

  • GLONASS receiver with Quad Helix Antenna
  • High-sensitivity GPS
  • 3-Axis digital compass with barometric altimeter
  • Wireless connectivity via Bluetooth or Ant+
  • 1-year subscription to birdseye satellite imagery
  • 8 megapixel camera with automatic geotagging

This is a rugged handheld GPS unit made with the hunter in mind. Like the DeLorme InReach Explorer, this unit combines communication features along with GPS. The preloaded maps cover the entire planet. It has 16 hours of rechargeable battery life. The birdseye camera subscription is particularly useful when scouting a new area to hunt.

Click Image Below to Buy From Amazon (affiliate link charges you nothing, but helps me pay for hosting this blog):

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