gps for fitness

December 15, 2014

Choosing the Right Handheld GPS device

If you are looking at purchasing a handheld GPS unit, you would typically check for features and prices and not just the brand. It is always best to identify beforehand how you intend to use the device as well as what are the other things you’d use the device for.

Below are some of the current types of GPS devices available on the market:







Travelers and outdoor enthusiasts would most probably benefit from handheld GPS devices. These devices are becoming more and more popular because of the following reasons:

  • They can be procured easily.
  • Many units have waterproof features allows for use in nearly all outdoor sports and activities including skiing, cycling, hunting, kayaking and hiking.
  • They work really great for geocaching
  • They are very easy to attach or clip and some have optional attachments if any, some for laptops or cars or even an external antenna
  • A lot of devices can be used in a boat or vehicle by using optional mounting kits
  • They are really worth the investment and are less costly as far as GPS devices are concerned

Choosing a GPS device

When you research about GPS devices, you will notice that there are various GPS models available. You should know what you’ll be using the device for before you buy one. List down what are the features that you feel are most important or you’ll be using most often. High end models may look a little intimidating and do include a lot of features, but these might not be exactly what you’re looking for.

Basic handheld GPS gadgets will typically have the following features:

  • Time in 12 and 24 hour formats
  • GPS (satellite) location
  • Can compute distance
  • Can set and store reference points or waypoints
  • Can navigate routes
  • Allows retracing of steps
  • Built-in compass
  • Computes sea-level elevation

You might also want to check on these things:

  • Does it have WAAS capability? This is important if you are after better accuracy of signals
  • Does it have waterproof features?
  • How many available waypoints does it have? You might want to prefer models with at least 500 waypoints for outdoor sports or activities.
  • What are its built-in maps? Each model will vary in map options.
  • Does it have enough space if you’d like to upload more maps to it?
  • Would you prefer a unit with a colored or a black and white screen? Obviously units with colored screens will cost more.

Some of the features that might make a model more costly and yet these features don’t really get used a lot are:

  • Barometric altimeter
  • Heart-rate monitor
  • Electronic compass

Once you have identified what you exactly want in a handheld GPS device, you shouldn’t have any difficulty in finding the model that best suits your needs, aside from the budget considerations. Feel free to choose from the different manufacturers, although Garmin handheld units are usually the more popular choice.