A GPS can offer useful location-based information that you can’t get with your own eyes. Hunters use it to mark where their tree stand may be or where the trailhead is. If you fish out on the ocean then you can use it to see how deep the waters are and where maybe to find a good fishing spot.
The key question to think about when purchasing a GPS device is whether you need a touchscreen. Touchscreens are beneficial because they offer faster operation than traditional screens. However, they’re normally more difficult to see in bright sunlight, perform slow in colder temperatures, many require bare fingers to operate, and they suck up more battery than a normal screen.
Here’s a list of some good GPS units:
GARMIN ETREX20—MOST LIGHTWEIGHT GPS DEVICE
Garmin’s least expensive option, this entry level GPS has found a very popular following. This GPS unit is inexpensive, lightweight, uses little battery juice, and easy fits into your pocket or pack for a day in the hills. It has up to 25 hours of continuous battery life, a bright screen, and a light load for your pocket book and pack.
GARMIN GPSMAP 64S—MOST CONVENIENT GPS DEVICE
The 64s is the newest replacement for one of Garmin’s most popular models ever, the GPSMAP 60 version. With an incredibly easy-to-use menu and bright screen, the 64s has become a very popular model. Weighing in at 8.1 oz it is slightly heavier than the Oregon 600 but usually has better battery life even though its specs say 16 hours. If you want a GPS that has physical buttons instead of touch screen then this is your only other choice besides the eTrex 20. It also comes with a ridiculous amount of internal memory at 4.0 GB. The 64s is the go-to GPS unit if you don’t want a touchscreen.
GARMIN OREGON 600—MOST POPULAR GPS DEVICE
With the second largest screen size at 3.75 square inches, the new screen has a reflective display technology that keeps the screen bright and readable even in direct sunlight which was one of the main drawbacks of the old Oregon 450 models. This GPS is very sleek and slim and comes in at 7.4 oz. And little less than 16 hours of battery life. Battery life can vary from GPS to GPS even for the same models so try to get a good gauge on how fast your unit uses battery so you can prepare ahead of time for what you will need. The Oregon 600 GPS also boasts a touchscreen with a simple to use navigation. Overall this is one of Garmins most popular units and has a good balance of weight, screen size, and cost.
GARMIN MONTANA 600—LARGEST SCREEN GPS DEVICE
The combination of size (hard to misplace) and large, 7 square inch screen (easy on old eyes) made it the perfect combination for him. The easy-to-use touch screen menu and interface was simple for him to pick up after a quick 5-minute tutorial from me. Basically you can move forward or backward on each screen though buttons/arrows. The large screen makes it easy to see maps and use the GPS. As with all of the GPS units, the more you practice on the couch, the more you will use it in the field. With the second-most memory at 3.0 GB this unit is the second heaviest at 10.2 oz, only the Rino is heavier. Another nice feature is the rechargeable lithium ion battery pack which saves on buying batteries. However when out for an extended stay you can grab a handful of double AA batteries as the Montana 600 can just as easily run on 3 AA’s right out of the box.
GARMIN RINO 650—MOST COMMUNICATIVE GPS UNIT
If you are looking at the Rino 650 you just need to ask yourself one question, do you want a GPS with a built in radio? What does this radio do you ask? Well three main things. First it allows you to use the GPS unit as a walkie-talkie, you can easily communicate with other members of your group who have a radio as well. Provided you are in range, that is the big question. The quoted range is up to 20 miles but we all know that is under perfect conditions. This is a nice silent tool for communicating with your party and sending messages back and forth. Finally the third feature, and one of the nicest, is the ability to ping your location to another Rino so that your friend or family member can see your location on their map. This GPS also runs on a rechargeable lithium ion battery pack but if you want to use AA batteries.
A couple of things you ca think about when buying a GPS is how much you want to spend and if you need a touchscreen. Then think about if it is in your budget. Happy shopping!