- The best overall GPS device on earth today is the Garmin GPSMAP 66st.
- Our choices for the 5 best GPS devices today include driving, walking, wearing, tracking, and survival options.
- Some modern GPS devices are so accurate they can pinpoint your location within one centimeter.
- GPS technology is being integrated into numerous devices, including cars, watches, and wearables like clothing.
- Choosing the best GPS device for you primarily depends on how you plan to use it.
GPS devices are a huge market that is even delving into wearables like clothing! More than keeping us safe and on track, modern GPS devices save time, make us more efficient, and provide early warning of obstacles in our path. Our choices for the best 5 GPS devices on earth today each offer users a heightened ability to go wander without becoming lost on a variety of adventures.
Here are our top 5 picks:
- Best Overall GPS Device: Garmin GPSMAP 66st
- Best Portable Car GPS Devices: Garmin DriveSmart 66
- Best GPS Satellite Messenger: Garmin InReach Messenger
- Best GPS Watch: Garmin Fenix 7
- Best GPS Vehicle Tracker: Vyncs Vehicle Tracker
Best Overall GPS Device: Garmin GPSMAP 66st
- Garmin Bird's Eye satellite imagery without a subscription
- Includes topographical maps
- Multiple satellite connectivity
- Unparalleled reception
- Connect to a smartphone for additional features
- Easy-to-view 3-inch display
The Garmin GPSMAP 66st is the premier handheld GPS device and is perfect for the ultimate outdoor enthusiast. Connect to multiple satellite GPS systems for superior connectivity and find your way in the most rugged environments. Users will enjoy the large, easy-to-see screen, easy-touch buttons, and reliable connectivity to keep you on track and locatable no matter where you roam.
This high-end handheld GPS is perfect for field researchers and extended expeditions due to its rugged construction, impressive connectivity level, data-sharing, and 16GB of internal memory. There is plenty of storage space for maps and users can enjoy access to Garmin’s Bird’s Eye Imagery without a subscription fee. Check out the Garmin GPSMAP 66st on Amazon.
|Unparalleled reception in rugged areas||Pricey|
|Garmin Bird’s Eye Satellite Imagery without a subscription||Somewhat heavy|
|Topographical maps included|
|Multiple satellite support|
|Connects to smartphones for more features|
Best Portable Car GPS Devices: Garmin DriveSmart 66
- 6-, 7-, or 8-inch Display Screen
- Hands-Free Calling
- Traffic and Weather Updates
- Built-In Alexa
- Built-in WiFi for Automatic Updates
- Compatible with Garmin Backup Camera
The Garmin DriveSmart 66 is easily the best portable car GPS for those wanting a dedicated guide that leaves their smartphone free. Garmin has long held the top honors for portable GPS devices. The DriveSmart 66 is by far their best overall product to date. Users will enjoy clear audible and visual directions with loads of extra navigational aids to keep you traveling smart. The DriveSmart 66 is easy to see at-a-glance with its high-res display available in six, seven, and eight-inch sizes. Drivers can clearly hear driver-friendly instructions to keep their eyes on the road more often.
Many useful extra features are included, like Amazon Alexa connectivity and compatibility with Garmin’s own backup camera. Users will also find handy resources that provide weather and traffic updates, data about area traffic cameras and parking options, in-route smart notifications, and driver alerts. You can even enjoy a built-in directory of the National Parks system. Check out the Garmin DriveSmart 66 on Amazon.
|Build-in WiFi allows instant updates without a computer||Pricey|
|Dual USB charger for connecting other devices||Maps outside North America cost extra|
|History database of notable sites|
|Easy multi-touch interface with zoom|
|Compatible with Amazon Alexa|
Best GPS Satellite Messenger: Garmin InReach Messenger
- Global Two-Way Messaging
- Highly Accurate Positioning
- Easy to Use
- Rugged Construction
The Garmin InReach Messenger is the most reliable, best-selling satellite beacon device available today. The longer battery duration means more time exploring and the larger antenna means you stay connected in the roughest terrain. The Messenger is lightweight so it doesn’t add measurably to your gear, while still providing seamless two-way messaging and an easy interface to use while on the move. No cellular service is required.
Use preset messages to communicate with others on the Messenger app and share your GPS location easily so you don’t need to pause while moving. Users can enjoy 28 days of battery life and even provide an emergency charge for their smartphone when necessary. The Messenger also pairs seamlessly with other Garmin products. Stay connected in the backcountry when your cell phone has no service. Check out the Garmin InReach Messenger on Amazon.
|Durable||Smaller screen than some other models|
|Global GPS capability|
|Easy to use|
Best GPS Watch: Garmin Fenix 7
- Accurate GPS Locating
- Easy-to-Use Touchscreen
- Health and Wellness Features
- 57-hour Battery Life in GPS Mode
- Thousands of Preloaded Maps
- Multiple Satellite Connectivity
Outdoor enthusiasts and even beginning hikers can depend on the Garmin Fenix 7 GPS Watch for numerous features and durable construction. Explore the great outdoors with this premier GPS watch that features all the navigation tools you need to stay connected and blaze a trail. This easy-to-use smartwatch has all the normal features you expect in a watch, plus multiple satellite connectivity to pinpoint your location in the most desolate and remote regions.
Stay connected with Amazon Alexa while also tracking health and fitness. The battery lasts for up to two weeks when used as a smartphone. it also holds an impressive 36-hour life in GPS mode. Enjoy a wide variety of smartphone notifications and enjoy easy music control to make your outdoor journey pleasant. The Garmin Fenix 7 GPS Watch is also great for water sports, resisting water immersion up to 100 meters. Check out the Garmin Fenix 7 GPS Watch on Amazon.
|Always-on 1.3-inch display||Pricey|
|24/7 wellness monitoring||Bulky construction|
|Thousands of pre-loaded maps|
|Features a gyroscope, 3-axis compass, and barometric altimeter|
|Over 30 built-in sports apps|
Best GPS Vehicle Tracker: Vyncs Vehicle Tracker
- Requires No Charging
- Real-time Data Collection and Reporting
- Get Driver Data via Push Notifications and Email
- Monitor Mileage, Fuel Consumption, and More
- Easily Attached to Any Vehicle
- No Monthly Fees
The Vyncs GPS Vehicle Tracker device allows users to keep up with vehicle locations and activity, track mileage, and even help save on car insurance premiums. The real-time location and trip tracking device requires no battery or user fees. It collects data continuously and updates every three minutes for accurate, reliable tracking. Connect to the Vyncs GPS Vehicle Tracker via your computer, Android, or Apple smartphone for on-the-go use.
This smart GPS tracking device senses and reports speed, braking, rapid acceleration, addresses visited, trip history, and more, and sends all this and more information through push notifications and email alerts. Know when and how your vehicles are being used and store data in your own account to compare the driving histories and habits of multiple drivers. Check out the Vyncs GPS Vehicle Tracker on Amazon.
|Requires no charging||Requires an activation fee|
|Real-time data collection and reporting||Requires a cellular data plan|
|Get driver activity alerts immediately|
|Monitor mileage, fuel consumption, and more|
|Lightweight and easily attached to any vehicle|
How to Pick the Best GPS Devices: Step by Step
GPS devices are designed for specific uses, so users need to know how they plan to use them before picking the best one for their needs. Primary considerations when picking the best GPS devices include the following:
- Type of Device
- Ease of Use
Let’s examine each of these in more detail.
Type of Device
If you plan on driving to your destination, a handheld GPS device is a poor choice. Your planned use dictates the type of device you need to consider. Lightweight or beginner outdoor enthusiasts can likely get by with a simpler device like a GPS smartwatch, while extreme hikers, climbers, and explorers may want a satellite beacon or handheld device that provides more robust tracking and connectivity.
Routine travel or extended road trips can also determine which type of GPS device you choose. The occasional vacationer can get by with a basic device, but explorers will want more features, maps, heightened connectivity, and longer battery life.
Ease of Use
A GPS device of any type is useless if you cannot manage to use it. For example, drivers need voice commands and visual guidance at-a-glance without needing to take their attention from the road to press buttons. Users tracking vehicles need something to attach and forget without remembering to remove it and charge it daily or manually download data. Outdoor types want big buttons that are easily pushed when wearing gloves or on the go and simple setups to get notifications and updates.
Compare the best GPS device interfaces and displays to see which ones meet your needs and preferences. Some models major on easier use more than others. Each type should be tailored to specific methods of operation to make them simpler and more beneficial for their designed applications.
Size and Weight
The type of GPS device you need should also include size and weight considerations. Drivers need a large enough device to see easily without undue distraction. Wilderness adventurers want less weight while having all the features and reliability they need. No one wants to wear a bulky and heavy GPS smartwatch on a walk or swim. The key is to balance size and weight with a device that includes what you need for your intended use.
This is perhaps your main objective when picking the best GPS devices. What do you need in a GPS device? Is connectivity with your smartphone important? How reliable do you need the satellite connection to be? Modern GPS technology allows some high-end devices to pinpoint your location within one centimeter – but do you need that much accuracy? The capacity to connect to multiple satellite systems can improve accuracy and reliability, but the cost will be higher. Balance your desired features with other critical considerations like size, weight, and price.
Your budget is always a consideration when choosing the best GPS devices. Personal GPS technology is more affordable than in its early days, but users can still invest between $400 and $800 for quality devices. More affordable options can be found, but be ready to surrender many of the specialty features in more expensive models and brands.
What to Know Before Buying GPS Devices
The primary thing you should know before buying GPS devices is how you plan to use them. More extreme adventurers and professional researchers will need exceptional GPS positioning accuracy and reliability, and this will predominantly shape their purchasing decisions. Conversely, Road trippers can get by on less, as can exercise walkers and hobby hikers.
Loads of excess features may be cool, but do you need them for how you plan to use your device? Do you need a GPS watch or just a smartwatch? Do you need a high-end GPS tracking device to report continuous data or just something simple to track with your phone? Virtually anything is available in GPS devices. Smart consumers will think about what they need for their intended use and choose the best GPS device to fit.
Privacy is also a concern GPS users must address for themselves. A large percentage of Americans are concerned about vulnerabilities with GPS and other smart devices that could allow their personal information to be hacked. Bad actors could potentially use location data stored in GPS devices for nefarious purposes. If this is a concern for you, consider some alternatives to location tracking.
Using GPS Devices: What it’s Like
GPS devices are intended to help users navigate and be easily located in various scenarios and situations. Numerous options for enhanced navigation, entertainment, convenience, and health can easily overshadow their primary functionality. However, the best GPS devices for driving, wearing, walking, tracking, and survival offer easy-to-use interfaces, touchscreens, and buttons so users can find their way simply without pausing or pulling over to get their bearings. Once you become accustomed to your chosen GPS device, you’ll never leave home without it.
|Rank||GPS Device||Best For|
|#1||Garmin GPSMAP 66st||Overall GPS Device|
|#2||Garmin DriveSmart 66||Portable Car GPS Devices|
|#3||Garmin InReach Messenger||GPS Satellite Messenger|
|#4||Garmin Fenix 7||GPS Watch|
|#5||Vyncs Vehicle Tracker||GPS Vehicle Tracker|
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