This website is all about camping because I’m a camping nut. I absolutely love waking up in the woods and not hearing anything. I love going to sleep when it’s completely pitch dark outside because there is no artificial light from cities around. But, to let you in on a little secret, my first love was fishing.
I’m a fisherman first and foremost. If you’re talking Northern Pike, Large Mouth/Small Mouth Bass, then I’m all about it. Hell, I’m still trying to get a Muskie catch here and there. Of course, that one doesn’t happen nearly as frequently!
But, because I’m a fan of fishing, I’m often looking to go camping at small little lakes that no one has ever heard of. In my experience, since no one has heard of them, they aren’t fished as much. For that reason, there tends to be a much better stock of fish in them since there aren’t other fishermen and fisherwomen carrying out the fish!
Since these lakes are much more remote though, it means I often need a way to get in and out without getting lost! That’s where the GPS comes in.
(If you are a GPS nerd, there’s a really cool book called Pinpoint that is all about GPS. It’s actually super interesting and makes a good case that GPS is the biggest weakness in our national defense)
For this post, I’ll highlight:
- A buying guide of what you should be thinking about when looking at a GPS for fishing
- The five best options in 2020
- A FAQ section on key questions you might have regarding GPS setups while camping
So, let’s get started!
Handheld GPS for Fishing Buying Guide
When buying a GPS system, there are a few things you absolutely need to think about. GPS is one of those things you absolutely can’t go cheap on, just like a compass. If you are putting your life into its hands, it better be damn good at its job.
- Reliability: The last thing you want or need is the GPS to suddenly stop working or break when you are in the woods. If the thing has a history of failures, then you don’t want it.
- Battery Life: If the battery dies quickly, then it’s practically useless. The battery on these things should last at least double the length of time you are going camping. Meaning, if you’re going out for a week, it should have two-week battery life. If it doesn’t have that good of battery life, then it should be easy to recharge.
- Off-Road Capabilities: A lot of people like the idea of using an iPhone because Apple Maps and Google Maps provide GPS functionality. That’s true, but those are geared towards people who are on the major roads. They don’t work that well when you are in the woods, which is a problem when there are no roads. Also, there’s no guarantee you’ll have cell service.
- Durability: As with everything you take out camping, these things have a habit and a history of getting banged around in backpacks. The unit you buy should be hardy enough to be taken out camping and should be able to withstand a drop or two.
- Weight: Regular readers know that I always talk about weight and believe it to be an extremely important component of every piece of equipment you bring camping. These are small, but weight can add up in a backpack very quickly. Always go for the lightest possible option!
So with those criteria in mind as some of the most important things to be thinking about for a handheld GPS for fishing, let’s dig into the five best on the market
Best Fishing Handheld GPS
Best handheld GPS for fishing: Garmin High-Sensitivity
Could it have been anyone else but Garmin?
This handheld GPS from Garmin is one of the most popular GPS currently available in the market and for good reason. If you go to any serious campsite or fishing spot, you absolutely see people with this in their hands and pocket.
The best thing about this GPS is that it is sunlight readable, which means you can easily read it even in the warmer or brighter areas. If you’ve looked at your iPhone in sun, then you know that glare is a problem.
It features a 2.6 inches color screen that shows all the metrics and details properly. This GPS comes with a long battery life of 16 hours, which is very high in comparison to other options. The internal memory of this GPS can be expanded to 8 GB and the display resolution is 160×240 resolution, which is currently very trending. It features a high-speed USB and it is also compatible with NMEA 0183.
This handheld GPS comes with a dual battery system, you can use the traditional AA batteries. To get the best performance, it is recommended to Polaroid AA batteries. Though if you don’t have them, then you can go with NiMH battery pack, you can recharge them inside the device. You can pair it with ANT+ sensors such as temperature sensors, heart rate monitors, etc.
Pros of Garmin High-Sensitivity Handheld GPS:
- Comes with more “bells and whistles” than the other ones on this list
- It is easy to read in the sunlight
- Dual battery support
Cons of Garmin High-Sensitivity Handheld GPS:
- Higher price point
Best Price Performer Handheld GPS: Walfront USB Rechargeable
If you are looking for a multi-functional handheld GPS in a budget-friendly cost, then this Walfront USB Rechargeable Handheld GPS is the best option for you. It is very effective and perfect for all the outdoor activities such as outdoor adventures, hiking, cross the dessert, etc. The best thing about this GPS tool is that it has different kinds of applications and you can apply it for geology, agriculture, area calculation, network planning, and a lot of other activities.
This A6 GPS is specially designed to meet all of your requirements by fully upgrading and optimizing the operation process, satellite navigation, etc. It can be used in various industries and the good thing is that it is equally useful for all of them. When you buy this product, you will get a fully organized kit, which means you won’t have to spend extra money on purchasing additional accessories. It comes with a cd, USB cable, a user manual, and a wall plug.
Pros of Wal front USB Rechargeable Handheld GPS:
- Hanging ropes and USB charging makes it very convenient
- Very versatile
Cons of Wal front USB Rechargeable Handheld GPS:
- A little complicated to use
- Durability is a question mark, which is a big one for me.
Best Handheld GPS for Hunting: Magellan Handheld
Growing up in Wisconsin, we both went fishing and went hunting. If you did one, you did both.
If you are hunting more frequently than you go fishing, then the Magellan might be the best fit for you.
This Magellan Handheld GPS features a very rugged look, which is perfect for people whose main priority is the look. It comes with pre-loaded maps that show everything, all road networks, and city centers. But, what makes it really great for hunting is the easy ability to add in waypoints based on animal tracks and droppings.
This feature is very useful for people who go to different cities for fishing and other outdoor activities. The best thing about this GPS tool is that it provides boundary information for more than 40 states and it will give you alerts when you will move to unauthorized boundaries. This tool is very easy to use and provides all the features that you will need to make your fishing or hunting experience better. With this handheld GPS, you will get a 12-month subscription to DigitalGlobe with which you can download detailed high-quality images and choose better locations.
Pros of Magellan Handheld GPS:
- Comes with boundary alerts
- One year free DigitalGlobe locations
- Strong design
Cons of Magellan Handheld GPS:
- Smaller screen
Land Mass/GPS Combo: Te-Rich Handheld
This Te-Rich Handheld GPS is best for people who are under a tight budget but still want a GPS tool with decent features. The best thing about this GPS navigation is that it supports all the useful applications. It supports GLONASS Navigation Satellite System and also provides an accurate location. With this GPS, you can explore the darkest woods without the fear of getting lost. It is a must-have tool for all adventurous junkies. This tool also comes with amazing measurement capabilities, you can easily measure any area and length of all kind of shapes. From mountainous land to flat field, it provides exact metrics. It features a 2.4-inch screen (128 x 160), which makes it very easy to see details and location information in bright places. It provides all the useful features for all sectors including forest and agriculture.
Pros of Te-Rich Handheld GPS:
- Comes at a cost-effective price
- It provides accurate details
- It features a good quality display
Cons of Te-Rich Handheld GPS:
- Average design and durability
- Is best for land-mass work
Good Entry Level Option: Bushnell Waterproof
This GPS Navigation from Bushnell is very popular among hikers and fishers. It has all the features that are required to have better fishing experience. The best thing about this GPS navigation is that it is one of the first handhelds GPS that comes with satellite photography, navigational aids, and XM weather on a single device. It allows you to make custom user-profiles and you can use them according to your needs and preferences. It features a screen layering option and you can easily layer a satellite photo, compass and other features on a single screen. Another great thing about this handheld GPS is that it comes in a rubber case, which makes it completely waterproof. Apart from this, a GPS tool is also given that shows the accurate details of the wind so you can dress according to the weather. It will work perfectly fine in all types of weather. Be it sunny or rainy, you can count on it.
Pros of Bushnell Waterproof GPS:
- Comes with a waterproof case
- All in one GPS tool
- High-quality display screen
Cons of Bushnell Waterproof GPS:
- Average durability
Hope this was helpful!
Handheld GPS for Fishing FAQ’s
And now it’s time for everyone’s favorite session, the FAQ’S. I’ve done my best to answer some of the more common questions I’ve heard about handheld GPS’s from around the campsite. However, this list is definitely not complete and I’ve definitely missed some. Please let me know in the comments of what I forgot and I’ll try to get to them ASAP!
How to use a handheld GPS?
It’s the most basic and important question to ask!
This is actually one of the reasons to get a high quality unit like the Garmin. They’re very easy to use; I actually taught my dad how to use a Garmin very quickly.
I found this video on Youtube and I think it’s pretty good to describe.
What is the best handheld GPS for ice fishing?
It’s a great question. It’s important to know that it’s actually easy to get lost when ice fishing as the snow cover can make the topography all look the same.
I stand by my earlier claim that the Garmin is the best option, regardless of it’s regular or ice fishing.
What to look for in a handheld GPS?
I wrote a whole section above on what the key things to think about are, but a brief recap is that the most important things are:
- Reliability: It can’t fail
- Battery Life: Long battery life
- Off-Road Capabilities: Works outside of cities
- Durability: It can take a hit without breaking
- Weight: Low weight
How accurate are handheld GPS units?
Many people are a little hesitant about handheld units because they believe that they cant be as accurate as they need to be, based on the size. However, they are actually extremely helpful. There are stories that the military has used handheld sets for years.
In my book, if it’s good enough for our brave troops overseas, then it’s good enough for us going camping.
See you at the campsite