Last Updated MAY 2018
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.
Best Handheld GPS for Hunting plus Reviews
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.
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.
The Garmin Oregon 550 is among the most advanced units we have stumbled upon during our research. It can capture locations and memories with the help of a 3.2MP digital camera with a 4x digital zoom. The display of this unit is touchscreen and sunlight-readable, which makes it better than the vast majority of other products in the same line.
Getting bearings is a piece of cake with the Garmin Oregon 550, as it features a barometric altimeter and can be utilized for estimating barometric pressure and therefore, predicting the weather.
Adding maps on the GPS is remarkably easy, particularly since the unit features a microSD slot that can be used precisely for this task. The neat thing about the model is that it is compatible with a large number of open-source maps.
As is the case with the other two models we’ve described earlier on, this one can be used for sharing tracks, geocaches, and waypoints.
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.
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 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.