Finding the best handheld GPS for hunting these days is quite a daunting endeavor because it’s normally flooded with flawless and much-alike models on the market.
Keep this matter at bay by taking a peek at the following top list. We’ve narrowed down to 6 finest options and here they are:
Here are the best handheld gps for hunting (Dec 2023 Update):
- Best Overall: Garmin inReach Explorer+
- Sturdiest: Garmin Montana 680
- Longest Battery Life: Garmin eTrex 30x
- Affordable: Garmin eTrex 20x
- Multi-Purpose: Garmin GPSMAP 66st
- User-Friendly: Garmin GPSMAP 64s
|Top 6 Best Handheld GPS For Hunting|
|Garmin inReach Explorer+||Read Our Review|
|Garmin Montana 680||Read Our Review|
Longest Battery Life
|Garmin eTrex 30x||Read Our Review|
|Garmin eTrex 20x||Read Our Review|
|Garmin GPSMAP 66st||Read Our Review|
|Garmin GPSMAP 64s||Read Our Review|
Best Overall: Garmin inReach Explorer+
- Built with a two-way satellite messaging to communicate back and forth with family or loved ones
- Have an “SOS” button to let you call for help in an emergency
- Upload quickly waypoints and routes to easily navigate in the backcountry
The Garmin inReach Explorer+ might be the most expensive in our test fleet but that’s the well-worth price for your safety.
It’s the only handheld GPS that allows for nearly-comprehensive communications. So if you’re out on a hunting trip to remote areas or in the backcountry where your cell phone mostly disconnects, this will help you stay in touch with loved ones, making them feel peace in mind.
Or during a serious emergency, you can use it to call for assistance. Or press and hold the “SOS” button in 5 seconds, the Garmin’s emergency center will help you.
Aside from the two-way satellite messaging, it also provides full GPS functionality, especially the ability to upload waypoints and routes – it makes navigating much, much easier.
|Garmin inReach Explorer+ Specifications|
1.5 x 2.7 x 6.5 in
100 hours at 10-minute tracking intervals
Number of maps
DeLorme TOPO maps but you can load more
0.5 lb; 1.5 x 2.7 x 6.5 in
Screen Size: 2.3 in
Built with many superior practical features to excel the user’s safety, the Garmin inReach Explorer+ is one of the most favorites of wildlife or survival hunters.
Sturdiest: Garmin Montana 680
- Ultra-big screen size with touchscreen interface – easier usage
- Have an 8MP camera to quickly take a shot instead of making notes – quickly sharing information between hunter groups
- Load up the screen more quickly than other navigators
- The touchscreen can’t be used with gloves
- Bigger and bulkier than another touchscreen Garmin GPSs
If you find it’s frustrating to squint into a petite handheld GPS, the extra-large screen of this Garmin will make you smile happily. It particularly comes in handy when typing descriptions or making notes of the waypoints.
Or you can take advantage of its 8-megapixel camera to take a shot and that’s it.
This feature would be flawless for a large hunter group to share navigational waypoints and information together. It’s quick and extremely convenient.
We also find the Montana 680 itself a powerful receiver thanks to its WAAS-enabled GPS receiver, Hotfix satellite prediction, and GLONASS support. According to that, it takes little to no time for loading up on the screen to get your bearings through the field. Very time-saving!
Featuring a look-alike smartphone interface, this unit is ideal for beginner low-tech people who usually struggle to work on the normal text-entry GPS devices.
|Garmin Montana 680 Specifications|
2"W x 3.5"H
16 hours (lithium-ion)
22 hours (AA batteries)
Number of maps
250,000 preloaded worldwide geocaches from Geocaching.com
Water rating IPX7
If you’re looking for a powerful handheld GPS for hunting with the sturdiest construction to hold up well even the harshest abuse, the Garmin Montana 680 should be your next big guy.
Longest Battery Life: Garmin eTrex 30x
- More compact and lightweight than other Garmin touchscreen GPS devices to sit effortlessly in your palm
- Glove-friendly interface
- Ready for all adventures because of its ultra-long battery life
- Complex settings and the menu combines with button and thumbstick handling – not ideal for beginners
The best thing about this Garmin handheld GPS is the glove-friendly interface that you can conveniently use it during frost-bite cold weather without having to take off your gloves.
Compared to the Montana 680, this touchscreen GPS receiver is much more lightweight and compact if that’s your biggest concern. Besides, the class-leading battery life offers up to 25 hours of work to get ready for all adventures.
The eTrex 30x also gained very good scoring from our tests in terms of the screen display.
Thanks to the built-in TFT transflective screen and 240x320 pixels resolution which supports up to 65k color, it is excellently sunlight readable.
|Garmin eTrex 30x Specifications|
2.1" x 4.0" x 1.3"
Number of maps
240 x 320 display pixels
Getting out on a long-term hunting trip frequently will ask you for a handheld GPS device with a longer battery life. In this case, we highly recommend the Garmin eTrex 30x.
Affordable: Garmin eTrex 20x
- The most affordable basic GPS device with no compromise of performance out there
- Equipped with a proximity alarm to tell you when you get close to a waypoint
- Lack of an electronic compass and a barometric altimeter – not as accurate as other Garmin GPS devices when you constantly move from here to there
This and the eTrex 30x are quite identical.
The biggest difference is that eTrex 30x comes with an electronic compass and a barometric altimeter. These two features give you more accurate results when determining your altitude and position.
If you’re standing still, like scouting deer from a treestand, and just hunt in flat terrains, this version is just enough for your needs. It’s also cheaper than the eTrex 30x - a good consideration for budget-minded hunters.
|Garmin eTrex 20x Specifications|
2.1 x 4 x 1.3 in
Number of maps
Basic base map
2.2” 65K color sunlight-readable display
Large 3.7 GB of internal memory and microSD card slot
Display size:1.4 x 1.7 inches
Some hunters don’t ask for anything more than just a solid, basic GPS device without the bells and whistles. For them, the Garmin eTrex 20x is an economic offer for a bargain.
Multi-Purpose: Garmin GPSMAP 66st
- Deliver many notably high-end features: 16 GB of memory, multiple connectivities, and ultra-rough frame to serve your navigating needs better
- Come with preloaded Australian/NZ Topographical maps for extra convenience
- The most expensive in this list
Many hunters are confused about which to choose between the Garmin GPSMAP 66s and the 66st. Let us tell you.
The Garmin GPSMAP 66st is essentially a turbocharged version of the 66s.
It beefs up the frame to military specifications for shock resistance and thermal. It adds connectivity, using 3 different satellite systems - GLONASS (Russia), Galileo (EU), and GPS (North America) – for unsurpassed accuracy to 10 feet when navigating.
Besides, this unit doubles the internal memory, up to 16GB, to ably record 250 routes and 10,000 waypoints on its own.
Like other “t” models, Garmin provides preloaded Lite topo maps and Australian/NZ Topographical maps to enhance the users’ experience.
|Garmin GPSMAP 66st Specifications|
6.4 x 1.4 x 2.5 in
Number of maps
TOPO U.S. and Canada maps, Australian/NZ Topographical maps
1.5 W x 2.5 H inch
Three-axis compass and barometric altimeter
20,000 points per track log
10,000 waypoints; 250 routes
The GPSMAP 66st is an excellent choice for a really multi-purpose GPS unit. It’s ideal for serious hunters who readily invest in a qualified product.
User-Friendly: Garmin GPSMAP 64s
- Big interface improvement for easier access, using and working on
- There is click feedback when pressing the buttons
- Built with Garmin IQ connection platform for better customization
- Big and bulky – difficult for small hands to use & hunters to use it with one hand
- No 2 data field options for map page
For intermediate hunters, the Garmin GPSMAP 64s is just a sufficiency.
It has all the features that we like, such as Active Weather for constantly updating forecasts and EPO downloads for quicker satellite reception.
One of the most interesting functions is the Garmin IQ connection platform. If you have never heard of this feature, it allows the user to customize his GPS receiver with apps, widgets, and data fields, which is appreciated by many expert hunters.
While map driving is slightly faster than its predecessors, we particularly love the significant interface improvement, especially the power key, recording controls, trip computer, and page ribbon.
They are more convenient to press, access, and use, all makeup for its bulky silhouette that small hands might feel a big struggling when handing it on.
|Garmin GPSMAP 64s Specifications|
6.4 x 1.4 x 2.5 in
Number of maps
TOPO U.S. and Canada maps
1.5 W x 2.5 H inch
65k color TFT
Display size(inches): 1.43 x 2.15; 2.6" sunlight-readable color screen
Find yourself not a big fan of complex stuff? Don’t worry, the Garmin GPSMAP 64s featuring a user-friendly construction will help you with that.
How To Choose The Best Handheld GPS For Hunting?
- Consider carefully before choosing between a text-entry and a touchscreen GPS design.
- A text-entry model is not convenient and quick for setting access though. It highlights the versatility that you can use in whichever weather, seasons, and even light conditions if you have got used to its keyboard.
- But a touchscreen can’t do that. It requires more accuracy to access the desired setting and most of the touchscreen GPS interfaces aren’t glove-friendly, which is a struggle to use during snowy weather.
- Most hunting trips are in the field or wildlife that there won’t be available electricity sources or grocery stores to buy some backup batteries. Even there is, it’s still frustrating if you have to charge or replace batteries too many times.
- So long battery life is paramount for a handheld hunting GPS.
- On average, somewhere between 15 to 30 hours is ideal.
- While operating your handheld GPS device, the screen display quality will be the thing you’re looking at. So it should come in a reasonable size with a good resolution.
- Consider if you’re going to use it frequently in direct sunlight to choose a sunlight-readable model. Otherwise, either you have to squint all the time or find a shady spot when you want to use it, which is so inconvenient
What is the easiest GPS to use for hunting?
The Garmin Montana 680 is our highest recommendation as to the easiest GPS device to use for hunting because of these good reasons:
- It features ultra-big screen diagnose with touchscreen interface so that you can easily type, make a note, or access to a setting
- If you’re too lazy to type description for each hunting trip but don’t want to lose all essential information, it provides an 8MP camera to take a shot.
How long should a handheld GPS for hunting last?
Averagely 15 to 30 hours.
How does a handheld GPS work?
A handheld GPS works based on the “triangulation” rule, including 3 main elements:
- A main satellite in space
- A handheld GPS receiver
- A control center on the Earth’s surface
When the main satellite transmits signals from space to the control center on the Earth’s surface through antennas and monitors. This receiver will listen, pick the signals, calculate, and send you the precise location that you want to know.
Can you use a handheld GPS in the car?
Yes, you can.
This device is considered a more economical way than using a car-based navigation system. But take note that it would not be as safe and accurate as of the fixed model.
Can a car GPS be used for hunting?
A car GPS literally can be used for hunting but you should know that it won’t be convenient or optimal.
First off, most automotive GPS devices come with a flip-up antenna which you HAVE TO open for the unit to run, meaning that you can’t put it in your pocket.
The most inconvenience is the shape. It’s very awkward to be used as a handheld GPS receiver for hunting. And the last reason is the built-in batteries that you can’t replace them on your own.
In a nutshell, to find out the best handheld GPS for hunting, you should firstly what aspects you want to consider before making a choice.
The things you have to focus on are input method, battery life, ease of use, display quality and topographical details. Some extra time for reading online customers’ reviews is always a well-spent. So don’t regret it!