Open main menu

GPS Receivers

Types of GPS Receivers

photo of a handheld gps receiver

Handheld GPS Receivers

photo of a gps watch

GPS Watches

Top Picks

How we choose: The best gps receivers highlighted here were selected based on 358 reviews of 112 products. Our top picks are those that are readily-available in the United States and have received the highest overall ratings from reviewers.

How we test: Trailspace is powered entirely by our community of readers. The reviews posted here reflect the real-world experiences of outdoor enthusiasts just like you.

If you've used a gps receiver that you think should be listed here, please share your experience.

Disclosure: Trailspace never accepts payment for gear reviews, product placement, or editorial coverage. When you buy through affiliate links on our site, Trailspace may earn a small commission, which helps cover the costs of running the site.

Top Locator Beacon / Handheld

Garmin inReach Explorer+

user rating: 4.5 of 5 (3 reviews)

If you're looking to combine your messaging and GPS needs into one device, this is it.

Reasons to Buy

  • Rugged design
  • Trustworthy mapping
  • Detailed maps
  • Good battery life

Reasons to Avoid

  • Not as user friendly as some Garmins
  • Not as many bells and whistles
  • Almost exactly the same as the older one?

I've acquired this GPS for a solid price of $300 through incentives of my workplace, and its the best $300 I've spent on gear. This GPS has accompanied me on any challenging hike, backpacking trip, backcountry skiing, or any trip into the mountains.  Communication (Requires subscription) As shown in some pictures I've uploaded, this GPS doesn't anything special in terms of features. But what it does do it does well. The communication aspect of this GPS is easy if you have a phone, and still very manageable when only using the device.

Read more: Garmin inReach Explorer+ reviews (3)

Top GPS Watch

Suunto Ambit3 Peak

user rating: 5 of 5 (1 review)

A terrific durable all purpose watch for whatever activity you happen to be into. I used a AMBIT 3 PEAK SAPPHIRE HR for this review.

Reasons to Buy

  • Comfortable
  • Intuitive controls
  • Fashionable
  • Versatile

Reasons to Avoid

  • has a few bugs
  • Auto-move feature doesn't work well

So I used a Ambit 3 Peak Saphhire HR for this review. The non-saphhire Peak model is a little tiny bit less durable, and fashionable but otherwise the same. The sport model is the same operating system but is less accurate for altitude. The run is just a timepiece with the run function pre-programed into the watch with no adjustments.  Overall I love this watch. Flipping through settings is easy. The silicone strap is comfortable, and weight is on the heavier side, but very reasonable. Less then most deluxe watches on the market.

Read more: Suunto Ambit3 Peak review (1)

Top Handheld GPS Receiver

Garmin eTrex 10

user rating: 4 of 5 (6 reviews)

A quality entry level GPS that will will satisfy any expert.

Reasons to Buy

  • accurate and reliable
  • easy to read
  • easy to use
  • good battery life (~25 hours)
  • inexpensive (~$115)
  • durable
  • waterproof
  • light weight

Reasons to Avoid

  • not all functions are covered in the user manual
  • joist stick needs improvement

The Garmin eTrex 10 is a great product. It's best used in conjunction with a map and compass as it lacks extra features such as detailed, color maps that are available on more expensive models. But let's face it, you should never haphazardly wander into the wilderness relying solely on a GPS to begin with, so get a map as well.  It has a fairly small B&W screen but it is not so small that it hinders ease of use or readability. The unit fits in hand comfortably and is small enough to place in your pocket when not in use.

Read more: Garmin eTrex 10 reviews (6)

Handheld GPS Receiver / Dog Gear

Garmin Alpha 100

user rating: 5 of 5 (1 review)

When used with the TT15 or T5 dog tracking collars this is a great tool for those off-leash moments when hunting or just enjoying recreation with your dog. The Alpha 100 receiver can also function as a stand alone GPS with mapping.

Reasons to Buy

  • Waterproof
  • Outstanding durability
  • Reliable
  • Good maps
  • Excellent range
  • Tracks up to 20 dogs
  • Has training mode

Reasons to Avoid

  • Pretty expensive

The Alpha 100 with the TT15 tracking collar allows you to track up to 20 dogs within a 9-mile range. It displays the track of each dog in a different color and lets you know when the dog has stopped and when the dog is barking. It has a training mode that can deliver a variable vibration or shock to the collar BUT I caution against using the shock unless you really understand dog training. Most dogs will never need such a correction. 2024 Update: I lost my hand unit in 2022 during a leek picking outing.

Read more: Garmin Alpha 100 review (1)

Handheld GPS Receiver

Garmin Oregon 600

user rating: 4 of 5 (2 reviews)

Mixing performance, size and features makes the Garmin Oregon a win in my books. Overall, I am really happy with this unit. It fulfills the need I have to be able to accurately see where I am, find where I am going, and give me interesting information along the way such as watering holes, sunset times, elevation and other helpful details. It lasts a long time on a set of good quality batteries and will hold up over the long run for me.

Reasons to Buy

  • High mix of thoughtful features, like profiles, battery type adjustments and profiles
  • Size and feel, not too heavy and comfortable to use in the hand
  • Visibility—in good and bad light, screen is easy to see
  • Quick GPS signal lock
  • Reasonably accurate and signal coverage impressive
  • Battery Life

Reasons to Avoid

  • Screen gets wonky when moisture present
  • Back cover slightly difficult to get back on
  • Rail to use accessories challenging to learn at first
  • Base camp could use work (not specific to this unit though)

REI had these on a deal earlier this year and couldn't pass it up. I had been looking for a GPS unit to take backpacking as well as using it to track extended mountain bike rides into the back country of Arizona, where the trails can get sketchy. This GPS has really impressed me since I got it. Especially coming from really early generation etrex 10s, and the likes. Let me tell you why. Ease of Use: First of all, one of the things that makes this really easy to use is Garmin's new user interface.

Read more: Garmin Oregon 600 reviews (2)

GPS Watch

Garmin Forerunner 645

user rating: 4.5 of 5 (1 review)

A modest looking GPS, heart rate monitor, and smart watch that delivers reams of training information. Pairs with a mobile phone to deliver loads of other features and is fully customizable. A good choice for athletes engaged in systematic training, it also works well for more casual users that can put the smart watch features to use.

Reasons to Buy

  • Compact and modest design
  • GPS and HR monitor combine to record detailed info on training activities
  • Scrollable screens give real-time training info when on the trail, road, or mountain
  • Customizable with thousands of watch faces, apps, and screens available on line
  • Phone syncing and smart watch features and apps extend utility into the rest of life

Reasons to Avoid

  • HR monitor not always accurate
  • Battery life shorter than spec
  • Strap broke within two months, possibly defective, replaced under warranty

I (almost) never would have bought this watch for myself. I’m not that serious or systematic about training. I just go out and run by feel, and these days that usually means keeping a moderate pace, enough to be breathing easy on flats and downhills and work up a bit more steam on the uphills, which there are plenty of in my backyard. SO what’s a guy like me doing with a fancy training watch? Well, back in 2013, my ultrarunning daughter gave me a Forerunner 245 as a timely birthday present, a few weeks before we started together in the Oslo Skogsmaraton, wherein she dropped me after about 20 km.

Read more: Garmin Forerunner 645 review (1)

GPS Watch

Garmin fenix 3

user rating: 4.5 of 5 (1 review)

More accurate measure of your distance traveled than distances shown on hiking maps! It lets you see and know via a slight vibration when you are off trail.

Reasons to Buy

  • Comfortable to wear even on small wrists
  • Logical menu tree
  • Easy to upload data to activity tracking websites

Reasons to Avoid

  • Must spend extra money to buy maps from Garmin
  • Illumination of screens is weak, but perhaps can be changed, am not sure

I have only used this on a 3-day hike through the White Mountains, but am pleased enough to write a first impressions review. I did recharge the Fenix each night using an external battery so cannot comment on whether one charge holds ups over a three-day period. I downloaded my routes to the Fenix and did not buy the Garmin maps. I may buy maps for future hikes but wanted to see how the Fenix worked before spending more money. It is possible to download routes, and not buy the maps, but takes some maneuvering between websites.

Read more: Garmin fenix 3 review (1)

Garmin Foretrex 601

user rating: 4.5 of 5 (1 review)

This is an excellent GPS for outdoor, hunting, fishing, hiking, biking, backpacking, and military type use. The small form factor, good battery life, and ease of use along with the ability to customize some screens to give you exactly the data you want at a glance makes this unit my #1 pick for outdoor adventures.

Reasons to Buy

  • Compact
  • Durable
  • Easy to use

Reasons to Avoid

  • A bit pricey, but you get what you pay for
  • Not able to load map overlays

I purchased this GPS to use primarily on hiking and backpacking trips. Opening the box and removing the device is pretty straightforward. Setup was easy and the system and button layout is pretty intuitive. After a few minutes scrolling through the pages I was all set to start adding waypoints and navigating. Since receiving this GPS I have used it on a few short day hikes and one overnight trip. All three outings were excellent. I was able to mark the location of the car before heading out.

Read more: Garmin Foretrex 601 review (1)

GPS Watch

Garmin Instinct

user rating: 4.5 of 5 (1 review)

The Garmin Instinct is meeting my needs and lifestyle.

Reasons to Buy

  • Very lightweight
  • Comfortable and not bulky
  • Handles cold weather
  • Easy to use when you get the hang of it
  • The Garmin Connect app is simple.
  • Lots of features for an active lifestyle
  • Battery life is pretty decent.
  • Garmin Livetrack provides another layer of security for those of us who play alone.
  • Can be paired with newer InReach devices
  • Quite a few colours to choose from. I went with graphite.

Reasons to Avoid

  • There is a bit of a learning curve to use the Instinct. There are some excellent videos on YouTube that walk you through it.
  • The charging cable that’s included is very short. I ended up buying a two pack of bases for home/car use. The short cable is in my pack with a portable charger.
  • Doesn’t pair with older InReach devices. I was planning on upgrading anyhow but for someone with an older device it might be an issue.

I’m quite happy with this purchase...happy enough that I‘m contemplating getting a second one when they’re on sale again. I‘ve only had this watch for about six weeks but in that time I’ve come to appreciate it. All the features that come with it seem pretty accurate when I compare them to other devices/known points of reference. This is one of the most comfortable watches I’ve ever worn...I really don’t notice it’s on my wrist. The silicone straps are supple, easy to adjust, and have two loops to secure the band.

Read more: Garmin Instinct review (1)

GPS Watch

Garmin fenix 6 Pro

user rating: 4 of 5 (1 review)

The Garmin Fenix 6 Pro is a fantastic data tracker for the person who needs immediate information at the click of a button. Great for hiking and backpacking if you have the time to figure out how to work it.

Reasons to Buy

  • Large face
  • Easy to read
  • Minimal buttons
  • Relatively accurate
  • Lots of data tracking
  • Battery Life

Reasons to Avoid

  • Less useful if you aren't "techy"
  • Altimeter has never been accurate

I received my Garmin Fenix 6 Pro as a gift from my wife the week it was released (what's it been, 2 years?) to replace my 1st Gen Apple Watch. As a person who likes to spend a great deal of time outdoors, the purchase just made sense. Maps, Altimeter reading, Barometric Pressure, steps, etc...all things I wanted in a compact package, which also allowed me to leave my handheld Garmin E-trek at home. I spent the first two days trying to get it all set up and calibrated, while learning where to find certain pages on the fly.

Read more: Garmin fenix 6 Pro review (1)

More GPS Receivers

Trailspace reviewers have shared 358 reviews of 112 different gps receivers. Narrow your search and view more specific gps receiver recommendations in these categories:

Handheld GPS Receivers

GPS Watches

All Navigation Tools

Other Types of Navigation Tools

Find more navigation tools reviewed in these related categories:




+2 more types

Review Your Outdoor Gear

If you've found this site helpful — or if we've missed something important — please consider paying it forward by some of your favorite outdoor gear.

Why? From professional gearheads to outdoor novices, everyone has an important point of view to contribute. will support the outdoor community and help others find the best gear.

Trailspace reviewers are outdoor enthusiasts like you: hikers, climbers, paddlers, backcountry skiers, and trail runners who share our experiences with the gear and clothing we rely on to get outside. Learn more about Trailspace