I am someone who likes the outdoors and I like to go out hiking every now and then. Usually I drive my car to a remote location and then just go out in the woods or climb a mountain. I am a pretty good navigator if I may say it myself and I don’t really feel like I need a GPS to stay on the map, but I do like to see how much I have travelled, and the most important thing is that having a handheld GPS with me, ensures that I don’t get lost. You shouldn’t rely 100% on a GPS since if it doesn’t work you are in trouble, but even so I think having one of the best handheld GPS units with you is a viable safety measure. If you are a bit uncertain about your navigation skills, it’s a excellent friend to have with you. The best thing about it being a portable GPS is that you can use it while walking, driving a car, or even while on a boat – though marine GPS units usually tend to have a different set of maps.
One thing that you should know about handheld GPS systems is that they come in very variant prices, and the first thing you should figure out when you are thinking of buying one, is your budget. Usually the cheapest units cost a little bit less than $100 and the most expensive consumer models go as high as $500 per unit. For someone who keeps it with them “just in case”, you definitely don’t need a high end machine, but there is no other reason why you can’t spend a little extra for quality. I personally like to purchase quality for the simple reason that it usually tends to last longer. A more expensive GPS unit will usually have better fall protection and even water resistance, whereas a cheap handheld GPS might just be like your standard mobile phone – when you drop it, it’s broken, and it doesn’t really take any water. These are important features if you are using the GPS for emergencies – when the surroundings get tough, the GPS should be functioning properly.
Do you mean to use it for geocaching?
Geocaching is a very popular treasure hunting game, where you hide certain containers in different places, and have the contestants find them based on the coordinates. Basically you are just looking at your GPS to see where you have to go once you have the location for the container. There is a world wide community playing it, and you can find literally millions of geocaches on the internet that are located all around the world. So if you are someone who likes to do that, and likes also to travel, having a the best handheld GPS for geocaching with you to is definitely something that will come of use.
There is an inherent problem with the game that origins from the fact that it is community driven. You would like to get a handheld GPS that gives you really good and accurate positioning, but since the person who initially found the geocache, used his or hers own GPS that might not have been that accurate, the coordinates might be wrong from the start. That brings a new element of fun to the game, but it takes out the advantage that you would get from the most accurate GPS units. Having said that I still recommend that you get oen that is accurate, because there are many hobbyists that also have accurate GPS, and if you are going to add to the list of geocaches you will want them to be on the spot.
The Best Handheld GPS for Geocaching?
I like to pick on guys that are Garmin fans as usually when you start to fan a manufacturer, you are limiting your options and end up not buying better equipment because it isn’t the correct brand. Anyone who spends time outdoors and likes to have a reliable and high quality GPS with them, should check this out.
First I have to say that some people are a bit reserved when it comes to touch screens on handheld GPS, but if you have tried Garmin and the Magellan eXplorist 610 you clearly notice that Magellan has taken care of that problem. The screen is the best that you can get on handheld GPS these days.
Are you looking for something that will serve you for years to come? Something that will have everything that you can dream of? A GPS which will always have exactly what you need? The thing is that most people shy away from a price tag of $400 and end up buying a significantly lower quality machine for $300 – in my opinion a $100 isn’t that much in that price range, and for the features you are going to get. The built is very rugged and is loaded with features like a 3.2 megapixel camera and a microphone. You can take voice memos, photos and videos even if it is raining, since the machine can last a half an hour when it is three feet under water. This baby can store 10 000 geocaches within the device – you don’t have to carry any papers with you to keep track of the coordinates!
For a long time handheld GPS devices where criticized for the fact that they had poor menus and they weren’t easy to use. Magellan took it to another level with their eXplorist series, and I can honestly say that the 610 has everything that you can think of. For geocachers it is exceptional as it is accurate, and it has a built in camera, so you can take a geotagged photo from the caches that you find!
You can geotag videos also, and when you see something that is astounding when you are hiking, you can just take a video and you don’t have to worry about finding that place again when you want to revisit it, or if you are looking at the video with your friends and family later on.
It has a built in memory of 500 megabytes, which by todays standards isn’t much, but because of the SD card slot, you can basically upgrade that to unlimited – you just have to have more than one card with you. This space is used for all the recording and pictures that you take, but it can also be used to track the route at which you were hiking – that doesn’t take much storage space though.
What makes it one of the best handheld GPS devices available are the maps that you get with it, and that you get 1:24000 topographic maps with high detail. You can be pretty sure that having a high detail map of 220 countries in your pocket will not be useless when you are traveling. The 3″ touch screen is readable in bright sunlight – I was really surprised of the brightness. The programmable buttons of the side are very useful and make it easy to use.
Some GPS come with a rechargeable battery which is in my opinion the dumbest thing that you can do. The Magellan comes with 2 AA batteries, and if you run out of them in the woods, you can just switch new ones in and you are ready to go. Even so it can be used non-stop for 16 hours – also another thing that I had to test the first thing I got it. We were hiking the whole day with my friends, taking video, photos and using the GPS and it still lasted over 15 hours. If you want to save the battery – which you should from time to time, you should put it on the battery saving mode. Because of the SirfStarII GPS receiver in this handheld GPS puts you within 3 meters on the map.
Delorne alse makes a few really exceptionally good devices, and if you aren’t a Garmin fan I suggest you have a look at their Earthmate PN-40 waterproof, which will be a good companion to any hike or bike trip.
I really like this small handheld GPS because it fits the palm of my hand really well, it’s nice to look at and works like a charm. On the top of that I feel like the construction is very rugged – I have dropped quite a few times (even while riding my bike) and still there is nothing more than a few scratches on the surface. In my opinion that is a sign of high build quality. It is a good price to quality and that is what really is important. For someone who isn’t ready to pay $400 for a GPS, it’s a good choice.
A cheaper model would no doubt have you search the bushes nearby for the battery and the antenna that came off. It makes the top of my best handheld GPS list, but if I was about to get the best machine available, I would go with the Magellan.