Owning and using the best handheld GPS for hunting can make the difference between a hunting experience you love and one you fail to be impressed with. Purchasing a dependable model nowadays is oftentimes a daunting endeavor, as the market’s overflowing with good units for reasonable costs.
Take a look at our reviews to find the best hunting gps for your needs and your wallet.
1. Garmin Oregon 600
Judging by the reviews it has gathered over time, the Garmin Oregon 600 is the best hunting gps for the money. The model comes with a touchscreen display that measures 3 inches. Some of the most appealing features of this unit are the dual-band GPS/GLONASS satellite positioning, the three sensors, and the ANT or Bluetooth technology.
Thanks to the Bluetooth technology, connectivity is a core feature of the Garmin Oregon 600, as it can be utilized for sharing routes and waypoints via a wireless connection.
The package includes the actual unit, a worldwide basemap, a USB/charging cable, a carabiner clip and the documentation destined for the user. Since this alternative works with traditional batteries, it’s extremely versatile. A NiMH pack can be purchased separately and can be charged while the GPS unit is connected to a power source, including a computer or a laptop.
The Garmin Oregon 600 is easy to use and comes with all the features one might ever be looking for.
2. Garmin GPSMAP 64s High-Sensitivity
Unlike the model we have showcased above, this one can be purchased in a wide array of styles and featuring various extras. For instance, while the base model can be bought for around two hundred dollars, the one featuring ANT, Bluetooth, and the United States Topography can be as expensive as three hundred dollars and more.
While it might not feature the touchscreen of the Garmin Oregon 600, the display of this model definitely does the trick, as it’s sunlight-readable and resistant to a broad variety of elements.
The model works with the same traditional AA batteries mentioned above and is compatible with a NiMH pack.
The Garmin GPSMAP can be used for sharing the tracks routes with other Garmin users in the area. In addition, the product can be connected to smartphones in order for the user to read his or her emails and messages.
The GPSMAP has a built-in electronic compass and works with a range of Garmin devices, from heart rate monitors to foot pods.
3. Garmin Approach G6
The Garmin Approach G6 is an excellent option for people who aren’t looking to break their budget over getting a new GPS. Most of the marketplaces we’ve consulted sell it for less than two hundred dollars, as is the case with Amazon, one of the world-known online retailers out there.
A low price doesn’t mean low quality if you go for this alternative, as it has anything from a touchscreen display to a slim, yet waterproof design. The Garmin Approach G6 is easy to utilize and features a rechargeable battery that can last for up to fifteen hours at a time.
It is true that it might not be the most advanced product ever to have been invented, but it will do what it is supposed to do.
Furthermore, it has gathered a fantastic reputation over time, as it has acquired lots of positive reviews.
4. Garmin inReach Explorer+
Designed to meet and even exceed the requirements of the most demanding GPS users out there, the inReach Explorer+ can get you out of a tricky situation exactly when you need it the most. The product comes fitted with a rechargeable internal Lithium Ion battery, so you needn’t worry about anything in terms of reliability or consumables.
This device is actually both a GPS and a communicator, so you can use it to text and send messages from virtually anywhere as long as you own a satellite subscription. Besides, you can trigger an interactive SOS to a 24/7 search and rescue center – that is, if the weather conditions, your status, and other circumstances endanger your health and safety.
Furthermore, the Garmin inReach Explorer+ can be paired with any type of mobile device so long that you install the Earthmate app. Using this application, you can download various maps, color aerial imagery, as well as US NOAA charts.
What we liked:
- Use it to trigger an interactive SOS to the 24/7 rescue center
- It pairs with mobile devices
- It includes navigation – from waypoints to routes
- You get weather information to make sure you stay out of trouble
What we didn’t like:
- It doesn’t have a barometric altimeter or a compass
5. Garmin eTrex 20x
If what you need is just a navigator and there’s no need for you to signal your position in the environment because you’re a hunter that’s experienced enough, perhaps the eTrex 20x might be a good choice for you. It comes with an upgraded display and its screen measures 2.2 inches. What makes it stand out is that it’s backlit and it boasts a great resolution, so you can benefit from its reliability.
The unit comes with a 3.7-GB internal memory, but you can use the card slot to expand it even further. You can upload a wide array of maps, including BlueChart g2, BirdsEye Satellite Imagery, HuntView, or TOPO 24K.
In case you do not want to go through any hassle, you can simply use the preloaded worldwide basemap that this unit comes with. With this device, you can take charge of your next hunting adventure. You can even use it to plan your trip along with other hunters.
What we liked:
- 2.2-inch backlit screen lets you see where you’re going during the day and at night
- 3.7-GB internal memory
- microSD slot card lets you expand the memory and add new maps
- The unit comes with a preloaded basemap with shaded relief
What we didn’t like:
- The interface has a steep learning curve
6. Garmin Montana 680
When it comes to performance, the Montana 680 is definitely a model worth taking into account since it is capable of locating your position in a timely fashion, and will maintain it even in deep canyons or heavy cover.
The unit comes with a track manager, with the assistance of which you can organize and navigate through track logs, routes, waypoints, or anything else. It has even been equipped with an eight-megapixel camera that can allow you to take pictures of your hunting pursuits.
Furthermore, the device boasts 250,000 preloaded worldwide geocaches, and as if that weren’t enough, this particular model includes one year of Birdseye Satellite Imagery. It’s also worth noting that unlike some of its competitors, the Montana 680 includes a 3-axis compass with a barometric altimeter. The battery life is around 16 hours when you’re using the rechargeable Lithium-Ion one and up to 22 hours on AA batteries.
What we liked:
- 4,000 waypoints, 200 saved tracks, 10,000 points (track log)
- One year of Birdseye Satellite Imagery subscription
- It comes with a 3-axis compass complete with a barometric altimeter
- Great battery life
What we didn’t like:
- It is not compatible with SD cards larger than 32GB
7. Garmin eTrex10
If you’re only starting out with your hunting adventures and you don’t have a lot of cash to spare to invest in a high-end navigator, perhaps the eTrex10 might be a reasonable choice for you. It’s a handheld rugged navigator that comes with a preloaded worldwide basemap. It boasts a 2.2-inch monochrome display, so don’t expect to see any scenery.
The fact that it is waterproof to IPX7 standards is a benefit in itself as the model is definitely capable of withstanding anything from rain to splashes. The WAAS-enabled GPS receiver complete with HotFix and the GLONASS support that this product includes render the signal reliable and the positioning quick.
If you have no intention on going hunting just for one day, this model might be a good alternative since it works with AA batteries, in which case it can provide you with a battery runtime of up to 20 hours. That means that if you bring a spare pair along, you can use it for two or more days.
What we liked:
- You can store waypoints along a track
- It’s waterproof to IPX7 standards
- It comes with a 2.2-inch monochrome display
- It works with AA batteries
What we didn’t like:
- It doesn’t come with an electronic compass or a barometric altimeter and you can’t add new maps
8. Garmin 750T
Slightly bigger than some of the other units we’ve showcased here but still a handheld alternative, the Garmin 750T is a great choice if you’re looking for a model that comes with virtually anything you might need. For example, this unit boasts a 3-axis tilt-compensated electronic compass complete with a barometric altimeter and accelerometer, and that’s something you might fail to find in similar models.
The rugged build, as well as the fact that it is waterproof to IPX7 standards can give you a pointer as to whether it will stand the test of time or not. With the 8-megapixel camera that it has been equipped with, you can capture your hunting adventures as best as possible. It even comes with an LED flash.
Use the 3-inch screen to check out the info provided by TOPO US 100K, Active Weather, or the Geocaching website. It’s also a winner when it comes to connectivity as it is Bluetooth, ANT+, and WiFi capable.
What we liked:
- 3-inch color backlit screen
- 8-megapixel camera with LED flash
- It comes with an electronic compass with accelerometer and barometric altimeter
- Active Weather, Geocaching website, and TOPO US 100K info
What we didn’t like:
- The battery life indicator has been reported to be rather inaccurate
Why you should use a handheld GPS
What’s the point of using a handheld GPS? Why is it so acclaimed and popular among hunters? We’ve discovered at least four activities that can be performed better and safer as long as you’re using a handheld GPS. Let’s look at each of them.
Tramping and hunting
If you want to get a GPS for hunting, you’ll have the pleasant surprise of realizing that several models have been specially designed for this task. Tramping and hunting units are lightweight and small enough and features a good enough battery life. Non-mapping models are more affordable compared to the ones that have street maps. In addition, some units come with GPS collars that can be utilized with dogs. These are extremely helpful when it comes to localizing your companion and furry hunting assistant.
Although there is a high chance of not finding the absolute perfect model, buyers nowadays can select the characteristics that best suit their needs and requirements. It’s extremely important to assess your expectations before buying a certain unit, as this way you won’t make the mistake of choosing the wrong one. Geocaching might be another task you might be tempted to use your device for. However, virtually any type of outdoor GPS unit is capable of geocaching, so it might be worth noting that this detail should not be a deal-breaker.
Other buyers seem to prefer getting a GPS for street driving and 4WD. Unlike the handheld variants, the models that can be used in a car are somewhat heftier and have larger dimensions. The main drawback of choosing one of these is that you’ll be able to use it strictly in your vehicle or at least somewhere with a roof over your head. The vast majority of these units are not waterproof and are therefore suitable only for urban navigation.
Another task that can be performed with the help of a GPS system is biking. The traditional handheld model won’t be much help in this case, as the GPS has to be installed by using the handle-bar mount. As long as it has the right size, virtually any type of outdoor unit might be the right one for biking. The main thing to keep in mind when shopping for a GPS for biking is that the device has to be able to withstand a high amount of vibration.
What to look for when choosing the best hunting GPS
After you have decided on what you intend to use your handheld unit, you may proceed to select the features you’re most likely to be using. On this account, you may want to check for sensitivity, mapping capabilities, storage for additional maps, voice prompts, bluetooth hands-free, an external antenna connector and an external power connection, an internal compass and altitude sensor, and virtually any info you might come across regarding battery life.
Details such as the price, the number of customer reviews, and the product rating are three other things you might need to take into account. Sometimes, the negative opinion of a buyer can let you know just what to expect in terms of the capabilities of the GPS model and the customer support offered by the manufacturing brand.
With the vast array of models that now exist on the market, any buyer can end up feeling just a little baffled as to which one is the best handheld gps for hunting. Since we enjoy giving out a helping hand to customers who might be struggling with separating the wheat from the chaff, we’ve put together a short buying guide with the most important features and benefits that you need to analyze before deciding on a model.
Selecting the right product is sometimes a matter of trial and error. Your GPS has to be small, lightweight, easy to hold, and easy to use. Check out the crucial considerations when purchasing the best alternatives.
1. Satellite reception
Most of the models we have come across use the 24 satellites owned by the United States Department of Defense. This means that a handheld model is capable of using the formerly mentioned satellites to provide details regarding the area you’re transiting. Some of the units on the market today have a better satellite reception than others, and a number of these manage to 3D lock the position of the user in a timely fashion.
Believe it or not, the larger the antenna of the unit, the faster it will be able to lock your position. The accuracy of the displayed image and the user’s position depends on the number of satellites that are present in the same area.
2. Ease of use
On some accounts, the looks and functions of a handheld GPS are somewhat limited compared to the one you’re likely to use in your car. However, although the product design might be less impressive, these models take the cake when it comes to usability.
When assessing the ease of use of the model you want to buy, you should look at a series of details such as the screen type and the button configuration. The vast majority of handheld models still feature buttons, although some modern alternatives come with a touchscreen.
It’s easier to use a touchscreen if you want to enter text as quickly as possible. Nevertheless, buying such a model is complicated, because most of the ones we’ve stumbled upon are rather imprecise and hard to see and use. Although advancements have been made in the last few years, the quality of the displayed image can’t even compare to the one of a smartphone. Consequently, you might be better off with a unit that simply has good-quality buttons.
It’s true that some Garmin variants are pretty worthy of considering if you’re really keen on the idea of a touchscreen. Yet extensively researching the topic doesn’t hurt all that much, so we recommend you get informed before making this decision. Many models feature large keyboards instead of the classic circular-style button menu. This feature makes it easier for the buyer to type, and he or she can still enjoy the quality of a traditional display.
Some users find it easier to use a handheld unit that comes with a larger screen and thus displays a larger picture. By contrast, others prefer a small model that does what it is supposed to do and does it well, even though it comes with a rather small display.
Even though there’re a plethora of online sources you can use to determine the speed of the model you want to buy, we recommend going to a store near you and testing some models. For example, if you’re interested in purchasing a new handheld GPS but find it hard to make up your mind between two models, ask the opinion of a seller or consultant.
At a store, you can take two units and place them one next to the other. Then, simply search for your location and figure out which one’s the fastest. Use the buttons to type the location and estimate the speed of the processor by understanding just how long it takes for the device to interpret your message.
Speed might also refer to how much time it takes for a model to startup.
4. Display quality
Since you’ll probably be looking for a waterproof alternative, there’s a high chance you will stumble upon a broad variety of models of which the display is made of plastic. Plastic is a good choice even with units that feature a touchscreen, because it’s built to last and can withstand the elements.
However, there are some differences between displays regarding the quality. For one, you should ask yourself whether the screen of the unit you want to buy is backlit. This particular feature means the world when it comes to looking at your handheld GPS in direct sunlight. You’ll have to take into account that most of the models have screens that are much harder to read compared to the ones in smartphones nowadays.
Start by picking the size you are most comfortable with. Continue by reading some buyer reviews to find out precious info regarding the quality of the display. Some users go to the trouble of taking shots of their GPS while in the field and these may help you to assess whether or not you’re likely to see and understand the image or not.
5. Mapping software
Every handheld GPS comes with its own mapping software. Most manufacturers will claim that theirs is better, but that may not be true. The simplest way of figuring out the advantages of a mapping software over another one is by checking the specs and capabilities. Will you be able to share the waypoints or route via Google Earth? Will you have the freedom to utilize social networks and thus let your friends and acquaintances where you’re going?
Aside from social media integration, it might be a good idea to check whether the platform is intuitive and works with several devices. From what we have seen, there’s a limited number of GPS software that works with the Mac OS X. If this is a requirement, you might need to start browsing for a Garmin unit, as BaseCamp, its branded platform, is Mac compatible.
In addition, it might be worth considering that checking whether the GPS you intend to purchase is compatible with open-source mapping software is the right way to go about things. There’s a myriad of free platforms you can use to update your maps with new and improved data.
6. Number of maps
Some models are just more convenient than others, in that they come with a higher number of maps. Others, on the other hand, can be used solely in the United States and Canada. Just remember, updating the maps is very important, regardless of whether you want to buy the maps from the manufacturer or not. If you don’t use a trail in the woods for several years and forget to update your device, you might be in for a nasty surprise.
While paying $30 per year for a map subscription may be the right thing for some buyers, it might look totally unacceptable for others. Fortunately, these days there are many websites that offer maps and satellite imagery for free. Some of these online sources can be used for downloading high-quality imagery and free spatial data, and two of the most acclaimed ones are the U.S. National Agricultural Imagery Program and the United States Geological Survey’s Seamless Data Warehouse.
The only downfall of using free maps is that you’ll need to learn your way around them. On this account, they might be less comfortable to use compared to the ones provided by the manufacturer. It boils down to whether you’re prepared to pay for the maps or not.
Some of the standard accessories of a handheld GPS are rechargeable batteries, carrying cases, USB cables, and mounts. A mounting system does wonders when it comes to using the unit for anything other aside from hunting. Therefore, you might be able to use it in your vehicle.
A USB cable might not be the norm for some users, as most smart electronic devices come with a USB cable nowadays. Thus, you’re likely to have one around the house.
Rechargeable batteries are amazing if your budget allows it and if they’re offered in the same package. Needless to say, the end-price of the model has a say in terms of the number of accessories you’ll be receiving along with the device.
8. Price, recommendations, and warranty
The vast majority of the units that are cheaper than two hundred dollars aren’t really even worth considering. If your budget doesn’t allow you to spend more than two hundred dollars, we strongly recommend you to save some more and purchase an extremely capable one that gets the job done and brings you an excellent user experience. Some high-end alternatives can be as expensive as four hundred dollars or more. Be prepared to invest in a good unit if you plan to get the best GPS for hunting.
Before making up your mind, try to read as many reviews as possible. Go through the best and the worst ratings and make an effort to understand the buyer’s perspective. Ask your friends and acquaintances what models they have been using and which ones are the best regarding the capabilities, convenience, durability, and battery life.
Three of the most popular GPS manufacturers in the United States are Garmin, Magellan, and Lowrance. This doesn’t mean you absolutely have to buy a unit developed by one of these brands. However, since it’s better to be safe than sorry, we advise you to at least check whether or not the brand you want to buy from has a subsidiary in the United States. This way, you won’t have any trouble regarding warranty and contacting customer support.
Many models are backed by a 1-year warranty, which should give you enough time to realize whether you’re content with the way the unit performs. Be sure to report any issue you may have encountered during this time to the customer service offered by the brand.
Best Hunting GPS Reviews Summary
To sum up, if you want to get the right GPS for your needs, you should consider satellite reception, ease of use, speed, display quality, mapping software, number of maps, accessories, and even the price and reviews the unit has gathered over time. Be sure to estimate your requirements before deciding on a certain product and read as much info on the topic as you possibly can. Time spent on research is never time wasted. In fact, it’s virtually the only way of buying the right unit.