What is the best current walking outdoor handheld GPS unit currently on the market in the UK
Fri 23rd September 2016
What is the best current walking outdoor handheld GPS unit currently on the market in the UK?
Updated September 2016
In the past we always did reviews and looked at which GPS (Global positioning system) unit is the best outdoor handheld GPS unit currently on the market for walking with? But over the last 12 months this has changed with many units now being ‘multi activity’. The advent of prominent profiles on outdoor GPS units enabling you to change the way the outdoor GPS acts when you are doing different activities (i.e. walking, cycling, geocaching etc) has certainly made many models far more than just a GPS made to walk with.
We also get people who come on our GPS Training Courses who frankly have been sold the wrong GPS unit. They were wrongly advised in the shop (not from us I may add) and then they realise so.
They then wish they had sought some advice first. GPS units are not cheap, so it does worry me when people have been sold an incorrect product. Advice is free and if you are reading this article you are doing you research so well done, it is time well spent. So here are my thoughts about the GPS units that are currently on the market which hopefully will answer the question – Which is the best walking GPS for me and my budget? By offering good independent GPS advice we are now the largest independent retailer of Outdoor GPS units in the UK so what have we learnt over the years?
Make of GPS Unit - Garmin, Memory Map or SatMap?
Here at Shepherds Walks we sell all of the three main brands of GPS units – Garmin, Memory Map and SatMap. Our sister company, GPS Training, also train people to use all of these different units (on separate courses I must add) and by a long way Garmin is the best brand. Being a large US company they are literally miles ahead of their competitors.
To compliment this over the past few years with the advent of free software (called Garmin BaseCamp) that enables you to transfer your mapping from your GPS to your PC why look any further than Garmin. In the past you had to subscribe to OS or buy your computer mapping from Memory Map but that is all a thing of the past. Garmin now give you everything so you can plan routes on your PC or Mac and transfer these to your Garmin GPS. Alternatively, you can plan your routes directly on your GPS.
Garmin GPS units are good products, great product support, affordable mapping and very easy to use. They have developed over years and products have got better and better.
You will see we also take trade in of old units so every day we speak to many people regarding their GPS experiences. With many of the other makes many people have just given up and are looking for the experience they initially sought and this they will get from Garmin.
GPS Screen - Black and white or colour?
The only black and white Garmin GPS unit on the market is the e-Trex 10.
Unless the only reason you are buying a GPS unit is to mark fixed points or geo-caching (and then I would still think about spending a little more for a colour screen one) I would steer away from a black and white screen GPS unit.
Black and white screen GPS are the most commonly miss sold GPS units because people solely buy on price.
People think they are getting a bargain and then realise later down the path they should have spent a little bit more and bought a colour screen unit.
The joy of a colour screen GPS that you can add affordable Ordnance Survey mapping to them, either at the time of purchase, or at a later stage.
So please do spend that extra few pounds. Units with colour screens – e-Trex 20x, e-Trex 30x, eTrex Touch 25, eTrex Touch 35, GPS Map64s, Oregon 600, Oregon 650, Oregon 700, Oregon 750, Montana 610 and Montana 680
Data Input - Touch screen or buttons?
The basic e-Trex Garmin range has buttons, also the GPSMAP64s (one of the top models) also has buttons, the rest of the Garmin GPS units are touch screen. When we do our Shepherds Walks GPS training courses we give participants waypoints that they manually put into their units.
The people who have touch screen units are twice as quick. They easily input the data and off they go. The button driven units take a lot longer to input the data BUT the reason the Garmin GPSMAP64s has buttons (i.e. a high end unit) is if you are into high level and winter walking and you wear gloves buttons are certainly worth looking at as touch screen units can be hard if you wear gloves (i.e. you will need to take them off). If you are an average hillwalker I would stick with a touch screen GPS unit. We are all used to using smart phones these days, so if you are wanting that same experience I would very much look at getting a touch screen GPS unit.
So unless you do lots of winter walking (and wear gloves) go for a touch screen. If you do lots of winter walking the best GPS for you is the Garmin GPSMAP64s
Mapping on the screen of your GPS
You can put mapping on all the colour screen GPS units (please note I am talking about the current generation units - e-Trex 20x, e-Trex 30x, eTrex Touch 25, eTrex Touch 35, GPSMAP64s, Oregon 600, Oregon 650, Oregon 700, Oregon 750, Montana 610 and Montana 680 and when you see an Ordnance Survey Map on the screen you will not be disappointed.
If you get a chance to buy maps at the same time as buying the unit (i.e. bundled in with unit) buy them. You will get them at a massively reduced price, but don’t be conned by small areas of mapping, if you are offered a bundle of maps I would expect full UK mapping at 1:50,000, don’t go for anything less.
These mapping cards that you get bundled with higher end GPS units normally retails for £200.00 but you get it bundled with new units for just £50.00 above the unit price. A big saving, but please note not all retailers sell bundled mapping, when I mean bundled I would get nothing less than full UK mapping at 1:50,000.
I must add that Shepherds Walks have these bundled offers online or in our shop, but many online retailers don’t (as Garmin likes to put them into ‘bricks and mortar retailers’).
Again this is one of the big mistakes people make. Buying their GPS cheaper elsewhere and not realising it does not come with mapping.
It is often a hard phone call to make when the customer rings up very proud that they have bought there GPS £50.00 cheaper elsewhere then they then find out they have to now spend another £200.00 on mapping (when they could have had this bundled in for the £50.00 they thought they had saved)
Units with full UK bundled mapping options – eTrex Touch 25, eTrex Touch 35, GPS Map64s, Oregon 600, Oregon 650, Oregon 700, Oregon 750, Montana 610 and Montana 680
Electronic Compass – Worth the money?
Some GPS units come with built in electronic compasses. Why, and is it worth the extra money? As GPS units work from satellites with are thousands of miles above you when you rotate the unit through 90 degrees it does nothing.
Why should it, it has only moved 2 or three inches? Well as a walker if it is pointing in the wrong direction it makes a massive difference.
Therefore, they started putting in electronic compasses and it gets even better. With any new generation unit you don’t even need to keep them flat as they are what you call 3 axis compasses.
Therefore, with a unit with a built in electronic compass your Ordnance Survey map, on the screen, will automatically orient itself and your compass will be correct when you move your GPS unit around.
The units without electronic compasses do still have a compass BUT you have to be moving for these to work, as it needs to be processing location data from the satellites.
So the extra few pounds for an electronic compass is certainly worth the money. Units with an electronic compass – e-Trex 30x, eTrex Touch 25, eTrex Touch 35, GPS Map64s, Oregon 600, Oregon 650, Oregon 700, Oregon 750, Montana 610 and Montana 680.
- Summary -
I hope the above has helped you out in helping you choose your GPS unit. So which GPS unit should you go for?
If you can afford it I would try to keep away from the Garmin eTrex range. As they come with no full UK mapping it turns into an expensive mistake.
Therefore, I would buy the Garmin Oregon 700. Look at this online here.
If you have the money – It may be worth looking at the Oregon 750. This is the same as the 700 but it comes with Garmin rechargeable batteries and a built in camera. Worth the extra money if you can afford it. Look at this online here. You will not be disappointed.
Please call Shepherds Walks to talk over the options
- Shepherds Walks is open 7 days a week, so please do call to talk over the options we have. You can even trade in your old unit and upgrade to a newer model. Our telephone number is 01669 621044.
We can talk you through the options and answer any questions you have. Or please do call into our shop in Northumberland to see the GPS units in action.
We don’t just sell you the unit.
You can see our shop details and contact details here.
We don't just sell you a GPS unit. In with the price we teach you how to use it (via a webinar) and our online training course (online resource), give you free facsheets and training manuals (in with your unit) and are only ever a telephone call away if you ever need any help.
Buy and Learn from the experts – Shepherds Walks and GPS Training.
PLUS - Free Webinars - worth £39.98 - to get you to grips with your new Garmin GPS you get FREE places on our two Webinars - Getting started with your Garmin GPS and Getting to know BaseCamp.
PLUS - Receive a FREE copy of getting started with Your GPS guide - compiled exclusively by GPS Training for our customers.
PLUS - Receive a FREE copy of our factsheet - Garmin BaseCamp explained. Please enter in the Additional Comments box in Shipping Details at checkout, if you require Windows or MAC version of our BaseCamp Factsheet
PLUS - Receive 12 months FREE access to the whole of our online GPS training resource GPS training - online resource (worth £25.00)
PLUS - FREE set up of your GPS unit (including installing and checking mapping card and setting unit up for UK) before it leaves GPS Training. So you take it out of the box and can start using it straight away.
PLUS - FREE ongoing support from our GPS training experts.
PLUS - Part exchange available on this item.
PLUS - Buy any GPS online from us and pay just £3.95 delivery. All GPS units are kept in stock and is sent out Royal Mail Special Delivery, so it will be with you the next working day (if ordered before 16.00).
We are the largest independent retailer of GPS units in the UK, please do give us a call.
eTrex Touch 25 with full GB mapping - more here
You can view all the GPS units reviewed above here.