The Best Handheld GPS in Australia [2019]

Man hiking or trekking in the mountains

When you're out on a hiking or camping trip, you always travel with the right gear. A map, compass, and the skills to use them are invaluable pieces of gear for any adventurer. In addition to these low-tech navigation tools, a reliable handheld GPS can make finding your way into the mountains and back again the easiest part of your journey.

That being said, choosing a GPS can be a difficult chore. There are so many different models available that it might not be obvious which one is best for your needs. To help you out, we’ve reviewed the best handheld GPS units on the market and created this buying guide.

After the summary table below we discuss the key things to consider when choosing a handheld GPS, followed by reviews of the best products on the market.


iMAGE
PRODUCT
Our #1 Rated
Garmin Handheld GPS
OUR #1 RATED

Garmin eTrex 30X

  • Light (5oz/141.7g)
  • 25-hour battery life
  • Can add maps and extra storage
  • Durable


Garmin Montana Review

Garmin Montana 680T

  • Glove-friendly touchscreen
  • Large internal memory (8GB)
  • Can add maps and storage


Garmin GPS

Garmin eTrex 10

  • Light (5oz/141.7g)
  • 25-hour battery life
  • Inexpensive
  • Durable


GPSMAP Review

Garmin GPSMAP 64st

  • Many additional features
  • Wireless connectivity
  • Preloaded maps


Inreach GPS review

Garmin InReach SE+

  • Up to 100-hour battery life
  • Global Iridium satellite coverage for two-way messaging
  • Can instantly share location with others

How to Choose the best handheld GPS

The best way to buy a GPS is to know what to look for. When you’re choosing your next device, keep an eye out for these key characteristics:

Screen type

These days, some GPS units come with touchscreen interfaces while others rely on the classic button design. While some of us can't imagine devices without a touchscreen, it's important to remember that they are difficult to use with gloves on and can freeze during the winter.

Weight

If your GPS weighs more than a sack of bricks, you probably won’t want to carry it. Thus, it’s important to get a unit that is a reasonable weight. Remember, however, that weight savings often come at a higher price.

Advanced features

Some GPS units are barebones devices with minimal additional features while others are loaded with barometers, electronic compasses, geocaching, and texting capabilities. If these types of features are important to you, just keep in mind that you’ll likely pay more for these conveniences.

Now that you know what to look for, let’s turn to the reviews. Coming up, five of the best handheld GPS units on the market.


Handheld GPS Reviews

#1 Garmin eTrex 30X Review

TOP PICK

Garmin Handheld GPS

BUY AT WILD EARTH

The eTrex 30X combines all the great features of the durable, yet easy to use eTrex 10 (our #3 pick), with some updated technology and extra features. The eTrex 30X has a full-colour, sunlight-readable display that is both durable and water resistant.

It has an electronic compass, barometer altimeter, and a microSD card slot which allows you to load more maps and expand the device’s already impressive 3.7GB of internal memory. The eTrex 30X is a great all-around device for hikers who want something that’s simple, yet reliable in the backcountry.

Pros
  • Light (5oz/141.7g)
  • 25-hour battery life
  • Can add maps and extra storage
  • Durable                                                    
cons
  • A bit more expensive than simpler options                                               

#2 Garmin Montana 680T Review

Garmin Montana Review

BUY AT WILD EARTH

​Tech-savvy hikers will rejoice with the Montana. This excellent GPS unit is built with a glove-friendly touchscreen and has an electronic compass, barometer altimeter and wireless capabilities.

It is also preloaded with Australia and New Zealand TOPO maps, so you can get right into the mountains. Plus, the Montana can connect with both GPS and GLONASS satellites for speedy and improved positioning for faster fixes.

Pros
  • Glove-friendly touchscreen
  • Large internal memory (8GB)
  • Can add maps and storage                   
cons
  • Expensive
  • Heavy (10.2 oz/289g)                              

#3 Garmin eTrex 10 Review

best value

Garmin GPS

BUY AT WILD EARTH

​The eTrex 10 is Garmin’s basic, yet reliable GPS unit. With a monochrome display that can be read in all light and an easy-to-use interface, the eTrex 10 is great for all hikers. It’s built to withstand whatever you can throw at it as it is both durable and water resistant.

If that wasn't good enough, the eTrex 10 even supports geocaching and file sharing so you can get out into the mountains with the latest information. The eTrex 10 is a simple, yet durable handheld GPS unit for the adventurous hiker.

Pros
  • Light (5oz/141.7g)
  • 25-hour battery life
  • Inexpensive
  • Durable                                                    
cons
  • Monochrome
  • Few additional features                            

#4 Garmin GPSMAP 64st Review

GPSMAP Review

BUY AT WILD EARTH

​The GPSMAP is a full-colour, powerful handheld GPS unit designed to get you where you want to go. Preloaded with Australia and New Zealand topographic maps as well as a worldwide basemap, the GPSMAP is ready to use right out of the box.

Plus, the GPSMAP is built with a barometric altimeter, electronic compass, and wireless connectivity so you can share your routes and geocaches with other devices. The GPSMap is ideal for someone who wants a reliable GPS with a few other convenient features.

Pros
  • Many additional features
  • Wireless connectivity
  • Preloaded maps                                     
cons
  • Expensive
  • 16-hour battery life                                 

#5 Garmin InReach SE+ Review

Inreach GPS review

BUY AT WILD EARTH

​The Garmin InReach SE+ is the world’s foremost handheld GPS/communication unit for remote travel. The InReach is designed to keep you connected and on route no matter where you are in the world.

With global coverage, an easy-to-use button interface, and the ability to exchange text messages with any mobile number or email address, this is one powerful GPS. The main drawback of the InReach is that it requires a payment plan to access all of its features.

That being said, if you frequently travel in remote areas and value the ability to communicate with the outside world, then the InReach might be for you.

Pros
  • Up to 100-hour battery life
  • Global Iridium satellite coverage for two-way messaging
  • Can instantly share location with others
cons
  • Expensive
  • Requires payment plan                         

Verdict

​​At the end of the day, you can only choose one GPS unit. For its unmatched durability, additional features, and affordability, our top pick is the Garmin eTrex 30X. Regardless of which GPS you choose, be sure to pick the one that has the features that are most useful to you. Additionally, as with any piece of outdoor gear, be sure that you know how to use your new GPS before taking it into the hills for its inaugural adventure.

Also, depending on your needs, a GPS enabled Sports Watch may be more suitable, so be sure to check these out as well.

About THE AUTHOR:

Gaby Pilson


A professional mountain guide and experienced outdoor educator, Gaby enjoys travelling and exploring the world’s most remote locales.


As a writer and editor, Gaby has written for a variety of climbing and travel blogs, news sites, and climbing magazines.


She is currently finishing a master’s degree in outdoor education but in her free time, Gaby loves a strong cup of coffee and searching for the next great adventure.

Categories Hiking