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Which GPS device do you need?

OS Team • Gear guides • Feb 11, 2022 • 5 mins

GPS buying guide from Ordnance Survey

If you’re considering buying a GPS device, you’ll be probably be comparing dozens of models with hundreds of features. Here’s our guide to finding the best GPS. We look at handheld and wearable GPS devices for walking, hiking, running, cycling and off-grid adventures.
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A GPS device is a great piece of technology for any outdoor adventurer. While you can get GPS apps on a smartphone, the durability, long battery life and range of functions available on a dedicated GPS unit still make them appealing – as well as preserving phone batteries for emergencies. If you're set on using a smartphone for GPS navigation, you can use a device designed to be more rugged like the Land Rover Explorer Smartphone.

GPS for the occasional walker

Garmin eTrex Touch 22X GPS

Garmin eTrex Touch 22X GPS

Garmin eTrex Touch 22X GPS

If you are looking for something to give you assurance or to increase your confidence when following a planned route, have a look at the Garmin eTrex Touch 22X GPS

The Garmin eTrex Touch 22X GPS is an mid-to-entry-level GPS suitable for walking, cycling and an array of other activities such as boating and quad biking.

It has a 5.6cm (2.2") sunlight readable, full colour screen, and comes pre-loaded with Garmin TopoActive Europe maps, which show roads and key off-road trails. You can also use the 8GB memory and microSD™ card slot to add additional, more detailed mapping, including OS Maps! It’s durable, water resistant and built to withstand the elements on your next adventure. The battery lasts up to 25 hours in GPS mode with 2 AA batteries.

The hard-core walker

Garmin Montana 700i

Garmin Montana 700i

Garmin Montana 700i

If you are searching for a device for frequent walking and you enjoy multi-day trips or summiting mountains, you’ll probably want a GPS device with more features. Naturally, the GPS device will also need to be tough, waterproof and able to last all day.

The Garmin Montana 700i is a great high-end GPS device with plenty of advanced features allowing you to explore longer and further. It provides comprehensive navigation from the palm of your hand and combines the flexibility of on and off-road navigation with global messaging and interactive SOS via inReach satellite technology and messaging and 24/7 SOS (subscription required). This lets you wander wider and still stay in touch, making it the perfect companion for any exploration.

It comes with a built in 3-axis compass with accelerometer and barometric altimeter sensors, to measure your elevation, while never getting caught off guard in a storm. Battery lasts up to 18 hours and it’s waterproof (can be submerged in 1m).

The route logger or avid jogger

Garmin Fenix 7 Series

Garmin Fenix 7 Series 

Garmin Fenix 7 Series

Are you only looking to log routes, either to keep a record or to compare performance? Almost all GPS devices can log a route and if that’s all you need you can look at the cheapest options, such as the Garmin eTrex Touch 25.

Wearable GPS devices are especially popular with runners and cyclists and so naturally there are several designed specifically for them. These have the advantage of recording as many performance-related stats as you can throw a stick at, such as heart rate, pace and oxygen levels. Top-end GPS wearables come with full mapping for easy navigation when on the move, most others have basic navigation.

The best Garmin GPS watches on the market at the moment are the Garmin Fenix 7 series.

The cyclist

Garmin GPSMAP 66s​r

Garmin GPSMAP 66s​r

Garmin GPSMAP 66s​r

If you love clocking up the miles, the Garmin GPSMAP 66sr won’t let you down with up to 36 hours battery life in GPS mode. It's built to military standards for thermal, shock and water performance (MIL-STD-810), offering fantastic protection from the elements so you can continue cycling in all weather.

This device can be used across multiple activities such as cycling, hiking, hunting, climbing, geocaching, kayaking or mountain biking. It's pre-loaded with TopoActive Europe maps to provide a detailed view of routable street and off-road networks, waterways, natural features, land use areas, buildings and more.

When paired with a smartphone, you can get real-time forecast information and live weather radar, so you’re aware of the surrounding conditions, helping you carefully plan your coffee stops!

It includes access to the Garmin Explore mobile app to review and sync data, including waypoints and routes & tracks.

The off-grid explorer

Garmin InReach Mini 2

Garmin InReach Mini 2

Garmin InReach Mini 2

The Garmin InReach Mini 2 is a lightweight, compatible satellite communicator that adds two-way communication and interactive SOS capabilities (subscription required) to your adventures, so you can communicate with loved ones at home and have piece of mind going off-grid. Using the Iridium satellite network, this device can send an alert message from anywhere in the world, even places out of the reach of mobile networks. Another handy feature is the track back routing which navigates you back to your starting point the same way you came.

The digital compass allows you to understand the direction you're heading even when you're not moving.

There's up to 14 days of batter life in 10-minute tracking mode, helping you reach the furthest corners of the globe. You can also sync the Garmin InReach Mini 2 with Garmin Explore for trip planning and topographical mapping, and create way points, courses, activities and collections, all available to sync to your device.

If you're in need of some more information on how GPS devices work and what features are available, take a look at our beginners guide to choosing a GPS device.

Published: Feb 11, 2022 Edited: Feb 11, 2022

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