How to Choose the Right GPS Receiver

There are many different GPS units for a large variety of uses. Which GPS receiver will be right for you will depend on your needs.

Steps to Choosing the Right GPS Device

Where and When – Determine where and when you will use the GPS receiver. There are GPS units designed for a variety of different uses and activities.

Determine where and when you will use your GPS device most. Some examples of possible uses are:

  • While driving a vehicle on the road such as a car or motorcycle
  • While doing water activities such as boating, fishing or kayaking
  • While enjoying outdoor activities such as hiking, skiing, hunting, cycling
  • While flying an airplane or helicopter
  • While enjoying geocaching which is navigating your way to specific reference points in order to find treasure

Size – Decide what shape and size you would like your GPS receiver to be. This will directly relate to how you will be using it. There are certain shapes that are ideal for vehicle use that come with a mount and there are smaller, more convenient shapes that are convenient for outside use… such as a handheld GPS receiver.

Mount – Do you need your GPS unit to mount to a vehicle? If you plan on mostly using your GPS device while driving, boating or cycling then you will need a mount. Things to consider are the mount locations, the antenna configurations and the unit size. Consider how easy it is to read the screen while driving.

If you prefer a handheld GPS device then consider these factors:

  • How big do you want the screen to be and do you want a color screen (these are more expensive but sometimes easier to read)?
  • What are the battery specifics? For example how many batteries does it take and how long do the batteries last?
  • What features are most important to you? For example do you need a compass, a barometric altimeter, lots of maps, data entry options, extra memory capability, etc.
  • Do you need your handheld GPS to be waterproof?

It can take a little bit of research to find the right GPS receiver that will fit your needs as well as your price point.

I did a lot of research on this subject myself while helping a friend to choose a waterproof handheld GPS device that he could use for kayaking, hiking and outdoor activities. After a fair amount of debate and research he chose the Garmin GPSMAP 76 Waterproof Handheld GPS.

The great think about a handheld GPS unit is that it can often be multi-purpose. It can be used for outdoor fun but you can also purchase a mount and use it in any vehicle as well. Good luck with your own research!