Handheld GPS devices have become an essential tool for outdoor enthusiasts, providing accurate location information in remote areas. However, with so many options on the market, it can be difficult to determine which one is the most accurate, and whether handheld GPS are worth it in the first place.
In this article, we’ll review whether or not handheld GPS are worth it, take a closer look at some of the top handheld GPS devices available and compare their features and accuracy, to help you make an informed decision when purchasing a GPS for your next outdoor adventure.
Without further ado, let’s skip to the main section.
Are Handheld GPS Worth It?
Yes, they’re worth it and can even save your life one day. Handheld GPS devices can be a valuable tool for outdoor enthusiasts, providing accurate location information in remote areas and helping to ensure safety and navigation. They can be especially useful for activities such as hiking, camping, hunting, and geocaching.
Better yet, Handheld GPS devices offer a variety of features that can be beneficial in the wilderness, including the ability to track your route, mark waypoints, and navigate using a built-in compass and altimeter. Many also offer built-in memory and USB ports, allowing you to upload and download maps and waypoints.
Even more, handheld GPS devices are generally reliable and more accurate than smartphone GPS apps. Poor signal quality and battery drain have all been known to affect Smartphone GPS apps. They also have a much better battery life and will work impressively in outdoor conditions.
However, it’s worth noting that handheld GPS devices can be expensive, and they do require a significant investment. They also require batteries, which you will need to replace or recharge.
Next, we’ll take at some of my favorite handheld GPS. They’re the same ones I recommend when anyone in my life asks for a recommendation.
Which Handheld GPS Is Most Accurate? 3 Of My Favorite Handheld GPS Units In The Market At The Moment
When it comes to handheld GPS devices, accuracy is key. A GPS that can’t provide a precise location can be more of a hindrance than a help in the wilderness. In this section, we will take a closer look at some of the most popular handheld GPS devices on the market and compare their features and accuracy.
One of the top options on the market is the Garmin eTrex 30x. This device boasts a high-sensitivity receiver and a 2.2-inch color display, making it easy to read in any lighting conditions.
It also offers a built-in compass and barometric altimeter, which can be useful for navigation and tracking changes in weather. The eTrex 30x has an impressive battery life of up to 25 hours and has a reputation for accuracy and reliability in the field.
2. Suunto Traverse
Another popular choice is the Suunto Traverse. This device features a built-in altimeter, barometer, and compass, as well as a large, easy-to-read display. It also offers a range of navigation and tracking features, including the ability to track your route and mark waypoints.
Hikers worldwide know the Suunto Traverse for its rugged design and long battery life, making it a great choice for those who plan on spending extended periods of time in the wilderness.
3. The Magellan eXplorist 110
The Magellan eXplorist 110 is another option worth considering. This device offers a simple, user-friendly interface and a 2.2-inch color display. It also has built-in memory and a USB port, allowing you to upload and download maps and waypoints. Experts know the eXplorist 110 for its accuracy and ease of use, making it a great choice for those who are new to using GPS.
4. The Bushnell BackTrack D-Tour
Finally, the Bushnell BackTrack D-Tour is a budget-friendly option that offers basic navigation and tracking features. It has a simple, user-friendly interface and a 2-inch display. Two AAA batteries power the BackTrack D-Tour, which explains why most people praise it for its durability, it’s water resistance, and dust-proof nature.
When it comes to accuracy, all of the above-mentioned GPS devices are extremely accurate. That said, the Garmin eTrex 30x, Suunto Traverse, and Magellan eXplorist 110 are generally the most accurate handheld GPS devices of the four and deserve your focus more. It’s also important to keep in mind that the quality of the maps, the strength of the signal, and the environment can all affect the device’s performance.
Next, we’ll take a look at how accurate handheld GPS units are in general. This will give you a great idea of what you’re working with.
Related: 8 Fun Things To Do After A Hike
How Accurate Are Handheld GPS?
Handheld GPS devices are quite accurate. Most of them use the Global Positioning System (GPS), which is a network of satellites the U.S. government uses and operates to provide location information. What determines the accuracy of a GPS device? Easy, the number of satellites it can connect to, as well as the quality of the device’s receiver.
You’ll also notice that experts measure the accuracy of a GPS device’s accuracy in “meters” or “feet”. In general, most handheld GPS devices have an accuracy of around 3-5 meters (10-15 feet). This means that the device’s location reading should be within a 3-5 meter (10-15 feet) radius of the actual location.
Factors That Can Affect The Accuracy Of Handheld GPS Devices
However, it’s important to note that the accuracy of a GPS device can be affected by a number of factors, such as the quality of the device’s receiver, the number of satellites it can connect to, and the environment.
That’s what I’d like to expound on in this section of the guide.
- The number of satellites:
The more satellites a device can connect to, the more accurate its location reading will be. A GPS device uses signals from multiple satellites to calculate its location. The more satellites it can connect to, the more data it has to work with, which can increase its accuracy.
However, factors such as trees, buildings, and other obstacles can block the signal from satellites, reducing the number of satellites a device can connect to and reducing accuracy.
- Quality of the device’s receiver:
The quality of a device’s receiver can also affect its accuracy. A high-quality receiver will be able to pick up a stronger signal from satellites, which can increase accuracy. A GPS receiver with higher sensitivity will be able to detect weaker signals, which can increase its accuracy.
- Signal interference:
Interference from other electronic devices can also affect the accuracy of a GPS device. This includes interference from electronic devices such as cell phones, radios, and other wireless devices. This can cause errors in the GPS signal, which can reduce accuracy.
The environment can also affect the accuracy of a GPS device. Factors such as dense trees, tall buildings, and mountainous terrain can block the signal from satellites, reducing accuracy. In urban areas with tall buildings, the GPS signal can bounce off buildings, causing errors in the location readings.
- Atmospheric conditions:
The ionosphere and the troposphere can also affect the signal from satellites, which can cause errors in the GPS signal. The ionosphere is a layer of the Earth’s upper atmosphere that contains ionized particles, which can cause errors in the GPS signal.
The troposphere is the layer of the Earth’s atmosphere closest to the surface, which can cause errors due to changes in temperature and pressure.
- Multi-path errors:
Signals can also be reflected off buildings, bridges, or other objects and reach the receiver by different paths. This can cause errors in the GPS signal. This can happen when the direct signal from the satellite is weaker than the reflected signal.
- Map Quality:
The quality and accuracy of maps that are loaded into the device can also affect the accuracy of the device. If the maps that are loaded in the device are out of date or inaccurate, the device may not be able to provide accurate location information.
- Battery Life:
Low battery levels can also affect the accuracy of the device, as the device may not be able to pick up as many satellite signals. The device may not be able to pick up weak signals if the battery is low, which can reduce accuracy.
It’s important to keep in mind that these factors can vary depending on the device, the environment, and the conditions under which you’re using them in. However, most handheld GPS devices are designed to be very accurate and reliable in most conditions.
Are Handheld GPS Obsolete?
So, to conclude, are handheld GPS Obsolete? Not in the slightest. Handheld GPS devices can be a valuable tool for outdoor enthusiasts, providing accurate location information and helping to ensure safety and navigation.
They offer a variety of features that can be beneficial in the wilderness, including the ability to track your route, mark waypoints, and navigate using a built-in compass and altimeter. Many also offer built-in memory and USB ports, allowing you to upload and download maps and waypoints.