The Best Handheld GPS Devices for Hiking in 2023

At HikeTrekZone, we understand the significance of reliable handheld navigation tools when embarking on adventurous journeys into the wild. In 2023, the technology for GPS and navigation devices has advanced to a remarkable extent. With an overwhelming array of options available, it can be challenging and overwhelming to choose the right one. So, we’ve done the bulk of the research for you and compiled a comprehensive review of the best handheld GPS devices available today categorized by various preferences and needs. Refer also to our essential guide on Navigation Tools.

Best Overall

Garmin GPSMAP 67i, 66i and Garmin inReach Mini 2

When it comes to the best overall handheld navigation tools for hiking in 2023, Garmin takes the crown with three exceptional models – the Garmin GPSMAP 67i, 66i and the Garmin inReach Mini 2.

Garmin GPSMAP 67i

The Garmin GPSMAP 67i offers an impressive combination of mapping, tracking, and communication features. It boasts an ultra-sensitive multi-band GPS receiver that provides quick and precise location data. With its preloaded topographic maps, you can confidently navigate even the most challenging terrains. What truly sets it apart is its inReach technology, which allows you to send and receive messages and access weather updates via the Iridium satellite network. It’s a lifeline for safety and convenience during your hikes.

• Highly accurate multi-band GPS receiver.
• Preloaded topographic maps for detailed navigation.
• InReach technology for two-way messaging and SOS capabilities.
• Rugged and durable design, built to withstand the outdoors.

• Higher price point compared to budget models.
• Slightly heavier due to its robust build.

Garmin GPSMAP 66i

The Garmin GPSMAP 66i combines excellent GPS navigation with inReach satellite communication. It’s perfect for adventurers who want reliable navigation tools while staying connected to the world. The large display and long-lasting battery make it a favorite.

• InReach messaging and SOS.
• Impressive battery life.
• Detailed mapping features.

• Higher price point.
• Slightly bulkier.

Garmin inReach Mini 2

If you’re looking for something more compact and lightweight, the Garmin inReach Mini 2 is an outstanding choice. This device is a satellite communicator with two-way messaging, so you can stay connected with your loved ones and call for help in emergencies. With a simple and intuitive interface, it’s a breeze to use, making it a perfect companion for any hiker.

• Compact and lightweight, perfect for minimalist hikers.
• Reliable two-way messaging via the Iridium satellite network.
• SOS button for emergencies.
• Long battery life.

• Smaller screen size may not be suitable for those who prefer larger displays.
• Limited map display capabilities.

Best Budget Options

For hikers on a budget, there are several options that won’t break the bank while still providing essential navigation capabilities depending on your preferences. Our recommendations are the Bushnell Back Track Mini, Garmin eTrex SE, Garmin eTrex 10, Garmin eTrex 22x, and Magellan eXplorist 310.

Bushnell Back Track Mini

The Bushnell Back Track Mini is a no-nonsense GPS device that helps you mark waypoints, find your way back, and track your progress. It’s compact and easy to use, making it a great budget-friendly choice.

• Affordable and budget-friendly.
• Simple and straightforward operation.
• Compact and easy to carry.

• Limited navigation features compared to more advanced models.
• Basic display may not provide detailed mapping.

Garmin eTrex SE, 10, and 22x

Garmin offers a range of budget-friendly eTrex models, including the Garmin eTrex SE, Garmin eTrex 10, and Garmin eTrex 22x. These devices provide reliable navigation tools, including a basic map, compass, and waypoints, without the frills, making them suitable for those who want essential features.

We recommend the Garmin eTrex 10 as the best option for beginners.

• Variety of budget-friendly options to choose from.
• Essential navigation tools like maps, compass, and waypoints.
• Durable build for outdoor use.

• Limited advanced features found in higher-end models.
• Smaller screens compared to touchscreen models.

Magellan eXplorist 310

The Magellan eXplorist 310 is an affordable handheld GPS device with a rugged design. It offers a straightforward user experience with essential features for navigation, making it a great choice for budget-conscious hikers.

• Affordable and budget-friendly.
• Rugged design for outdoor use.
• Preloaded worldwide base map.

• Limited connectivity features.
• Smaller screen size.

Best for Minimalists

If you prefer a minimalist approach to hiking gear, the Garmin eTrex SE fits the bill perfectly. It’s small, lightweight, and focuses on essential navigation features without unnecessary extras. The easy-to-read screen and long battery life make it ideal for those who appreciate simplicity.

Garmin eTrex SE

• Compact and lightweight, ideal for minimalist hikers.
• Basic navigation features without unnecessary extras.
• Easy-to-read screen and long battery life.

• Lacks some advanced features found in higher-end models.
• Smaller screen size.

Best GPS/Satellite Messenger

For hikers who want the added safety of a satellite messenger, the Garmin inReach Mini 2 stands out once again. It provides reliable two-way messaging, weather updates, and SOS capabilities, ensuring you’re well-prepared for any situation.

Garmin inReach Mini 2

• Reliable two-way messaging for communication in remote areas.
• SOS capabilities for emergency situations.
• Compact and easy to carry.
• Long battery life.

• Limited screen size for detailed mapping.
• Higher cost compared to basic GPS devices.

Best Touchscreen

If you enjoy a more modern, touchscreen experience, the Garmin Montana 700 is an excellent choice. It features a large, responsive touchscreen, preloaded maps, and versatile navigation tools, making it a joy to use in the great outdoors.

Garmin Montana 700

• Large, responsive touchscreen for easy operation.
• High-resolution camera for capturing memories.
• Preloaded topographic maps for detailed navigation.
• Versatile features for a variety of outdoor activities.

• Larger and heavier compared to some models.
• Higher price point.

Best High-End

For those who demand the best and are willing to invest in high-end navigation devices, Garmin offers two premium options – the Garmin Oregon 700 and the Montana 700i.

Garmin Oregon 700

The Garmin Oregon 700 is a high-end GPS device that comes equipped with a touchscreen, high-resolution camera, and preloaded topographic maps. It’s a powerhouse of features that will cater to the needs of the most adventurous hikers.

• Advanced GPS device with touchscreen operation.
• High-resolution camera for photos and geotagging.
• Preloaded topographic maps.
• Durable and rugged build.

• Higher price point.
• Larger and heavier compared to smaller models.

Garmin Montana 700i

If you want even more capabilities, the Garmin Montana 700i adds inReach technology to the mix. It’s a top-tier, all-in-one solution that combines a GPS device, satellite communicator, and multimedia center for the ultimate hiking experience.

• All-in-one solution with GPS, satellite communication, and multimedia features.
• Iridium satellite connectivity for global coverage.
• High-resolution touchscreen and preloaded maps.

• One of the most expensive options.
• Heavier and bulkier than smaller models.

Best for Offline Maps

When you’re exploring remote areas without cell signal, having offline maps is crucial. The Garmin eTrex 32x provides offline maps and a wealth of navigation features, ensuring you won’t get lost even in the most isolated terrains.

Garmin eTrex 32x

• Offline mapping capabilities for remote areas.
• Wide range of navigation features.
• Durable design for outdoor use.

• Smaller screen size.
• Heavier than minimalist models.

A Serious Contender

Motorola Defy Satellite Link Two Way Messenger

The Motorola Defy Satellite Link Two Way Messenger is a noteworthy addition to the world of handheld navigation devices. This rugged and resilient device combines advanced GPS navigation with two-way messaging, ensuring that you can stay connected and informed even in the most remote locations.

The Motorola Defy is built to withstand harsh conditions, making it a suitable choice for adventurers seeking durability. It features a long-lasting battery, offering you the peace of mind that it won’t run out of power during your extended hikes. With its compact and lightweight design, this device is a dependable companion for hikers who require a robust and reliable communication tool in the great outdoors. Whether it’s sending messages to loved ones, checking weather updates, or staying connected during your wilderness adventures, the Motorola Defy Satellite Link Two Way Messenger is designed to meet your communication needs while exploring off the grid.

Best of the Rest

In this category, we have several other notable handheld navigation GPS devices worth considering, depending on your specific needs:

Suunto Traverse Alpha: Ideal for hunting and fishing enthusiasts, this device offers specialized features for outdoor activities.
DeLorme inReach SE: A reliable satellite communicator with two-way messaging capabilities.
Casio Pro Trek Smart: Combining smartwatch features with GPS navigation for tech-savvy hikers.
Spot X: Another satellite communicator with robust messaging and tracking abilities.
TomTom Adventurer: Perfect for those who enjoy hiking as well as other outdoor activities like skiing and snowboarding.

Suunto Traverse Alpha

• Specialized features for hunting and fishing.
• Rugged build and water-resistant design.
• GPS and GLONASS for accurate tracking.

• Limited touchscreen functionality.
• Relatively higher price point.

DeLorme inReach SE

• Reliable two-way messaging via satellite.
• SOS button for emergency situations.
• Durable and waterproof design.

• Smaller screen size.
• Limited advanced navigation features.

Casio Pro Trek Smart

• Smartwatch features combined with GPS navigation.
• Durable and rugged design.
• Full-color map display.

• Limited battery life in smartwatch mode.
• Relatively higher price point.

Spot X

• Robust two-way messaging and tracking capabilities.
• Durable build for outdoor use.
• SOS button for emergencies.

• Smaller screen size.
• Subscription required for full functionality.

TomTom Adventurer

• Suitable for a variety of outdoor activities, including hiking and skiing.
• Reliable GPS tracking and heart rate monitoring.
• Durable build.

• Smaller screen size.
• Limited app and accessory support.


When choosing the best handheld GPS device for you, it’s helpful to make a list of the functionalities you need as a minimum and then think about your budget. This should start to narrow down the potential options and make your choice easier to make. One thing’s for sure, with the extensive variety of handheld GPS devices available today, there’s undoubtedly a perfect fit for every hiker, regardless of budget, preferences, or desired features.

FAQs (Frequently Asked Questions)

1. Do I really need a handheld navigation device for hiking?
Yes, a handheld navigation device can be a crucial tool for hikers, providing accurate location information, mapping, and communication features in remote areas where cell signals may not be available.

2. What’s the advantage of using a GPS device over a smartphone for hiking?
GPS devices are purpose-built for outdoor navigation, offering longer battery life, ruggedness, and specialized features that smartphones often lack.

3. Are the budget options mentioned in the article reliable for hiking?
Yes, the budget-friendly devices listed in the article provide essential navigation features and are reliable choices for hikers on a tight budget.

4. Which GPS device is best for beginners?
Garmin eTrex 10 is an excellent choice for beginners. It’s easy to use, budget-friendly, and provides essential navigation features.

5. What is the key feature to look for in a handheld navigation device for hiking in 2023?
The key feature to look for is the device’s ability to provide accurate GPS location data and mapping, ensuring you can navigate and track your progress effectively.

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At HikeTrekZone we're passionate about experiencing the great outdoors in a safe and compassionate way, whether that be on your own or with family and friends as well as pets. Getting out into nature is one of the best mood boosters and also improves health and fitness levels at the same time. What's not to like! Our aim is to help you enjoy your hiking and trekking experience in the safest and most enjoyable way possible and the way to do that, in our opinion, is to be armed with correct, up-to-date information and products. We hope you enjoy reading our content. Additional information is added regularly so be sure to come back and see what's new! Happy Hiking!

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