Seas and lakes can be tough places to operate it. Only the best handheld GPS can help you find your way in case you get lost in the open water. Besides providing you with a mapping system, GPS gadgets help increase enthusiasm shore-bound. Most importantly, they help you maximize your catches. Not all GPS systems are equal, though. As it turns out, there are quite a few facts you need to take into account to make an informed decision.
|01||Garmin Oregon 550T Handheld GPS 3-Inch||2.3 x 1.5 x 4.5 inches||6.9 ounces|
|02||Garmin eTrex 10 Worldwide Handheld GPS Navigator||1.3 x 4 x 2.1 inches||5 ounces|
|03||Garmin GPSMAP 64 Worldwide with High-Sensitivity GPS||1.4 x 4.2 x 6.3 inches||9.3 ounces|
|04||Garmin 72H Waterproof Handheld High-Sensitive GPS||1.2 x 2.7 x 6.2 inches||7.7 ounces|
|05||Garmin GPSMAP 62S Handheld GPS Navigator||6.3 x 2.4 x 1.4 inches||7.4 ounces|
|06||Garmin eTrex 20x||2.1 x 4 x 1.3 inches||5 ounces|
|07||Garmin Oregon 650t 3-Inch Handheld GPS||4.5 x 1.3 x 2.4 inches||7.4 ounces|
1. Garmin Oregon 550T Handheld GPS 3-Inch
Garmin Oregon 550t is one among the four siblings of the Oregon family. The 550t is particularly known for being well-rounded. It comes with pre-loaded topographical maps for the entire USA. You’ll also find maps of quite a number of coasts and inland lakes pre-loaded. The gadget works seamlessly in any kind of outdoor conditions.
From boating to kayaking and even to geocaching, the Garmin Oregon 550t has got you covered. What’s more, it comes with a built-in electronic compass. 550t also has an altimeter which offers much-needed navigational support.
One of the most interesting attributes of Garmin Oregon 550t is that it enables you to explore in topo maps. Even if you’re not sure how steep a hill is, you can cross-check it remotely. Thanks to enhanced functionality, you can get a better perspective of what is right ahead of you. In fact, the map is so detailed that you can track details such as forests, state, rivers, lakes and trails. You thus get to see the world just the way it was meant to be.
The best handheld GPS in town, 550t packages key features you’d require of an advanced system. It has packages like maps, routes and even trip computers. We like the fact it can store up to 200 saved tracks, 1000 waypoints and 200 routes. Its built-in picture viewer is also a nice addition. You can therefore load your photos into the system. That of course complements the presence of a 3.2 megapixel digital camera.
Just to make sure you keep going for many more hours, the 550t comes with an AA battery charger. That’s alongside carabiner clip and 2 AA NiMH batteries. Running on full charger, this device can operate for several hours. The GPS receiver itself is so advanced that you don’t need to manually key-in coordinates.
- Barometric altimeter which tracks pressure changes
- Encased in durable, waterproof containers
- Enhanced with 3-axis title compensated electronic compass3.2 MP 4X digital zoom autofocus camera
- Colored touchscreen display housed in a sunlight-readable screen
2. Garmin eTrex 10
The eTrex 10 ranks as one of the new entry-level units in the vast eTrex series. The GPS system offers paperless geocaching, monochrome screen and advanced track navigation. Recommended as a beginner’s choice, it’s still a major milestone in the eTrex family. A significant change has to do with the USB connectivity doing away with the old serial port. The GPS system offers paperless geocaching. That makes it easier to key-in descriptions, logs and hints. Its display looks a little laid back compared to its colored cousins.
Its monochrome functionality, though usable, is a hard to read in direct sunlight. But it is not all doom and gloom for this unit. It has a sensitive WAAS-enabled receiver complete with GLONASS and HotFix support. Such support is all that is needed for fast positioning. What’s more, the eTrex 10 is equipped with worldwide basemap, making it easy to identify locations.
Its battery-life is also above board as it can deliver up to 20 Hours on single charge. Weighing only 5 ounces (with batteries), the system is easy to mount on a boat, bike or anywhere else. Its menu, though simplistic, is quite easy to customize. One only needs to press the menu button thereby unlocking the main menu.
The page sequence can be accessed via the back button. Data fields can be accessed through the Menu > Change Data Fields route. As for the Dashboard, you can customize depending upon page. Choices include small or large data field, stopwatch, automotive, compass, recreational and geocaching. eTrex 10 features IPX7 waterproof rating making it ideal for everyday use. This is just the kind of protection you need to operate in rain and tides.
- Powerful battery, capable of lasting over 25 hours
- Mini-USB cable functionality
- GLONASS + GPS support
- Excellent tracking accuracy
- Paperpless geocaching functionality
3. Garmin GPSMAP 64 Worldwide with GLONASS Receiver
If you are looking for expanded internal memory, the GPSMAP 64’s 8GB got you covered. It has a sunlight-readable 2.6 inch color screen display. Operating on a dual battery system, this unit runs on two traditional AA batteries. You still have the alternative of NiMH rechargeable battery. Among the best handheld GPS for fishing, the Garmin GPSMAP provides smart notifications.
It can be paired with optional ANT + sensors which means it can work alongside your heart rate monitor. Just to make sure you have all the data needed to navigate like a pro, this unit comes with cadence/speed sensor and VIRB action camera. What’s more, you can always upload data wirelessly. You can also track everything from your smartphone. That’s in addition to the fact that you can share activities as they happen. Thanks to 64s/64st Live Track functionality.
Its GPS and GLONASS capability provides you with everything you need to locate positions easily. Not just that, but the level of precision is also clearly above board. So, whether you’re navigating further ashore or hanging out near the coast, this the kind of backup you need. Keep in mind that it comes with a 4GB onboard memory which is expandable through Micro SD slot.
Best of all, you can download anything from 100k MAPS and Top 24K. That’s the kind of assurance you need to have a great day on the open water. Moreover, this GPS has a BirdsEye satellite imagery which lets you load images with ease.
- 250,000 preloaded caches with detailed descriptions at Geocaching.com
- Displays key information ranging from hints to descriptions and terrain difficulty
- Powered by Base
- Map software letting you organize maps, routes, tracks ad waypoints
- Maps displayed in both 3D and 2D formats including elevation profiles and contour lines
4. Garmin 72H Waterproof Handheld High-Sensitive GPS
At a glance Garmin 72H looks more or less like a cheap GPS system. However, a closer look at it reveals some interesting details. For starters, it has a highly sensitive GPS with a high degree of accuracy. It acquires satellite easily and effortlessly, tracking your location even in challenging conditions.
The simplistic handheld GPS can be used on both land and water. The device itself is able to save a maximum of 500 places and effectively point you to them.
The GPS 72H is ranked the best handheld GPS for fishing for a reason. For starters, it is MEA 0183 compatible. It allows you to transfer data even to a computer thanks to USB port included. For those long trips sea bound, the GPS 72H’s celestial data equips you with all you need from sunset/rise times to tide information. And in case of accidental drops, the tool offers IPX7 waterproof features.
That level of rating means in can withstand accidental falls into lake or sea water. Its screen is however quite small. Offering 120 x 160 pixels, the grayscale may not stun like its colored competitors. On a positive note though, its limited display means longer battery life. You can run non-stop with this for 18 hours.
One thing that makes Garmin 72H a perfect bet is its ease of operation. You can operate it with one hand through a simple press of a button. You can even operate the buttons with a thumb without having to block the screen view. It has 8 labeled pushbuttons with a single rocker key with advanced controls.
- Rated IPX7 waterproof standards meaning it can be submerged for 30 minutes with no damage
- Pretty lightweight at 8.0 ounces even when loaded with AA batteries
- Operates on 120 x 160 pixel resolution upon a 4-level gray scale screen
- Has 12-channel WAAS enabled GPS receiver which is highly sensitive
5. Garmin GPSMAP 62S Handheld GPS Navigator
The GPSMAP is loaded with a worldwide basemap with photo navigation and shaded relief capabilities. It has advanced navigation functionality as well. This allows you to download photos from the Garmin site. These photos can be pretty useful in your navigations. That’s of course in addition to the fact that you can always purchase more maps. Anything from road maps to marine maps is available.
Despite its laid back look, this unit actually supports BirdsEye satellite imagery. This is indeed a wonderful way to watch over the world. Worth noting is the clarity and increased resolution to colored images. Such functionality comes in handy especially given you can easily load geocache details. Gone are the days of when you had to write everything down. The only thing you have to note is that it does not feature a touch screen.
That notwithstanding, there is still plenty room to play around with. Its screen for instance is backlit meaning you can view it at any time of the day. This unit boasts extremely high accuracy levels comparable to others within 10 meters of the exact location. That’s on average a very high accuracy level.
The machine has an impressive battery life. It provides you with about 20 hours of non-stop work on full recharge. This is quite rare with colored screens – two thumbs up to GPSMAP 62s. Another significant improvement in the GPSMAP is that it comes with an SD card slot. That means, in addition to the 1.7GB provided on the GPSMAP 62, you can expand the memory with your own SD card. This is the kind of freedom you need with the best handheld GPS systems.
- Rugged design and display running on 160 x 240 pixel resolution
- Comes fully-loaded with worldwide basemap shaded relief maps
- Effectiveness can be increased by simply downloading photos from Garmin website
- Makes it possible to share tracks, routes, geocaches and waypoints with other Garmin users
6. Garmin eTrex 20X
If you are shopping for an inexpensive handheld GPS with great value, the eTrex 20X might just be the unit you need. The lightweight unit (weighs 5.1 oz) provides a whopping 25 hours of battery life. Besides that, it has a powerful internal memory of 3.7 GB with all the basic functions of a handheld GPS. Even more interesting is that this unit can hold a max of 200 routes and 2,000 waypoints. Although it comes with a basic base map, it actually provides you with the ability to upload topo maps.
One awesome thing about this GPS system is that it has a high degree of accuracy. It operates both GLONASS and GPS networks complete with WAAS compatibility. This promotes high levels of accuracy reaching up to 9 feet in some areas. The simplicity of this unit makes it ideal for navigating through the backcountry.
It however lacks some features available in high-end models including. Examples being barometric altimeter, electronic compass and wireless share technology. Truth be told, the eTrex 20 may not be a super-sophisticated GPS system. However, it has just enough features to keep you going. It offers plenty of room for customization. Its data fields can be adjusted in dozens of ways. You can even set up profiles like geocaching, biking, boating, hiking and so forth.
- Operated on 5 buttons located on the side for easy maneuvering
- Weighing only 5 ounces, the GPS is light enough for everyday use
- Boasts high-tech display through its 65K color sunlight readable screen with 240 x 320 pixels
- Provides highly sensitive GPS which is WAAS-enabled
- Locates positions quickly and precisely
7. Garmin Oregon 650t GPS w/8MP Digital Camera
Garmin Oregon 650t is perhaps one of the best things to have come out of the famed manufacturer’s warehouses. It boasts a highly-sensitive GPS and GLONASS satellite tracking. Besides, it provides preloaded TOPO US 100K maps with shaded relief. The maps are not only easy to read but also convenient to interact with. You can zoom in and out and even rotate with a simple touch. It is also wonderful to note that the touchscreen is compatible with many hand gloves.
The device offers reflective display technology which boosts your machine’s brightness. The screen is so bright that you can view it even in full glare of the sun. And in case you want to preserve some photos for future reference, this machine has an 8MP autofocus with digital zoom. You therefore don’t need to carry a separate camera to capture some quality photos. Moreover, if you run out of the provided internal memory storage, there is a microSD handy to expand that capacity.
- Engineered for outdoors use with brilliant, readable touchscreen
- Topographical data including that of Puerto Rico, Hawaii and Alaska
- Built-in 3-axis electronic compass showing where you are heading to even when you’re stationary
- Displays 2D as well as 3D map data on computer screen, this includes elevation profiles and contour lines
- Easy transfer of satellite images when paired with BirdsEye Satellite Imagery subscription
The Buying Guide
In order to find the best handheld GPS system, you need to base your search on particular metrics. But first things first. You need to find a unit that is built to withstand all conditions typical of a rough fishing mission. Obviously, you want to go for GPS that is highly accurate, and one that is light enough for day-to-day use. Here’s what you should know.
You can choose from monochrome screen, colored screen or colored touchscreen. Monochrome is cheaper but offers limited information. It may not accept detailed maps. Colored screens allow you to view slightly more details. They also provided a more realistic view of what’s on the ground. Colored touchscreens on the other hand offer advanced imagery capability. They allow you to zoom in and navigate by a simple touch. Monochrome offers a simple, budget-friendly option. Its colored counterparts are pricier but definitely more sophisticated.
Some older versions of GPS systems do not provide USB ports. However, with technology advancement, you want to find a unit with this port. This is the port you need to load images into your computer. Likewise, this is the port needed to recharge the device.
Apart from the internal memory provided in your handheld GPS system, it is crucial for a unit to come with a MicroSD slot. MicroSD gives you the ability to expand memory space. That way, you can venture deeper and wider and even download more stuff into your system without worrying.
The best handheld GPS for fishing is one that provides you with an built-in camera. Camera functionality means you can capture and save some images which the device can then use to guide you better. This is a big plus as you don’t have to take photos using a separate device. That can also translate to more savings on your part. You don’t have to incur additional expenses of buying and maintaining a separate camera.
Experienced anglers know the importance of being prepared prior to venturing out. Likewise, in case you are planning to explore unfamiliar territory, it is important to be armed with the best handheld GPS. Talking about “the best”, our preference goes to Garmin Oregon 650t. The advanced GPS device is not only technologically advanced. It is also quite rugged and sleek. Its 3D and 2D functionalities add to an already beautiful package. The 650t is capable of transforming every tough journey into a breeze.