These days, GPS receivers are common navigational add-ons in vehicles. But if you’re looking to utilize this cutting-edge satellite positioning technology out of the car—while geocaching, for instance—you’ll need a more compact, handheld unit.
The wide array of options may be intimidating, but it also gives you tremendous flexibility in selecting a receiver that fits your needs and budget.
Bare-bones units run for as little as $50 used. For higher rollers, more money can score you fancy graphics, bigger screens, more memory, preloaded map data, wireless capability, a stronger antenna, and waterproof certification.
1. Garmin eTrex
This entry-level offering from Garmin—easily the most popular brand among geocachers—will help you hit the ground running. With a mantra of simplicity, the eTrex provides basic GPS features with a no-nonsense user interface.
The Lowrance iFinder Go2 is another solid starter model and comes stocked with U.S. marine map data.
2. Garmin Vista HCx
Moving up a few steps from the eTrex, Garmin’s Vista HCx has a more powerful antenna to maintain satellite connection under a variety of conditions, and its microSD card slot allows you to upload map data to complement the built-in basemap. The bright color screen is a nice touch as well.
3. Garmin 60CSx
One look at the 60CSx and you can tell why it’s been a favorite among geocachers. It offers all the virtues of the HCx as well as a more sensitive antenna, certified water resistance, and added buttons for quicker navigation through its features.
4. DeLorme Earthmate PN-40
This spanking-new model from DeLorme is meeting with rave reviews from the GPS community.
Purchasers of the Earthmate PN-40 can look forward to the latest satellite acquisition chipset, storage capabilities, and global basemap data, as well as high-resolution aerial imagery and photo geo-tagging options. In addition, DeLorme customer service receives high marks.
5. Garmin Oregon 400T
Want your GPS receiver to look more like your iPhone? Then the Oregon 400T is the unit for you.
The touchscreen interface, 3D terrain displays, and photo viewer really set this one at the head of the class. Create a profile based on your activity—geocaching, driving, boating, etc.—and the Oregon 400T will automatically sort through its myriad features to help you locate the ones you’ll need most often.
What’s more, its specialized geocaching function enables you to download cache information from geocaching.com and access it during the hunt.
Interested in geocaching? Check out Geocaching 101: Introduction to a 21st Century Sport