The best Handheld GPS for Hiking and Trekking

best gps navigation compass review camping things to bring trekking guide to gps map reading

Navigation by the stars was good enough for our adventurer forefathers, and while it’s a great skill to have if you’ve got the time and inclination, having a compass and GPS map tracker on hand can make life a lot easier, and save you a lot of time when it comes to getting where you’re going.

For serious explorers, a solid GPS Navigation system and 3-axis compass are essential pieces of kit for staying safe and on track. We’ve picked a few of our favourite navigation devices, which combine a high-quality compass, GPS, altitude and barometric pressure indicators. There’s something here to suit every budget, and as always at Camping Things, we combine quality and value, to ensure you get the best, whichever one you pick.

Garmin eTrex 32x Outdoor Handheld GPS Unit with 3-axis Compass and Barometric Altimeter

‘Intelligent navigation from the experts in GPS.’

The eTrex 32x handheld device comes preloaded with road-routable TopoActive maps that feature streets and trails so you can take the journey off the grid. Now you can know your surroundings — such as waterways, natural features as well as buildings, international boundaries and more. You can also find thousands of points of interests, including shops, restaurants, universities, car parks and accommodations.

Superb Build quality

With an array of compatible mounts, eTrex is designed as a handheld  and for use on ATVs or bicycles or boats. Wherever you think you might take eTrex, it has the mapping and mounts to get you there.


  • 3-axis Compass and Barometric Altimeter
  • 2.2” sunlight-readable colour display
  • Preloaded with TopoActive maps with routable roads and trails for cycling and hiking
  • Support for GPS and GLONASS satellite systems
  • 8 GB of internal memory for map downloads plus a microSD™ card slot
  • eTrex 32x adds a 3-axis compass and barometric altimeter
  • Battery life: up to 25 hours in GPS mode with 2 AA batteries

Best for
The technical trekker. If you already own any Garmin gear, you’ll know that this is one for accuracy nuts.

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Cammenga Official US Military Tritium Lensatic Compass

‘Official US military compass, used by the Marines.’

If total accuracy is what you’re after, and you’re not worried about add-ons like barometers and altitude meters, then the Cammenga Tritium is for you. This is the official compass used by the US military, and while other users have said that it takes a second or two for the needle to settle, that’s really not a concern, as once it does settle, you can trust that it’s totally accurate.

Build quality
Simply outstanding quality. The Tritium is built to accompany the Marines into the most extreme environments on Earth, so wherever you’re taking it, you’re assured a solid performance. The bezel, which used to be metal, is now plastic, which according to Cammenga, makes it easier to repair, should you manage to break it.

This is really simple; you’re looking at a world-leading analogue compass, which is designed and built to tell you which direction you’re going in. That’s all it does, and it does it very well.

Best for
Ultra-reliable navigation under extreme conditions.

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The Garmin GPSMAP 66s Navigator

‘Stay on track and connected.’

The Garmin GPSMAP 66s range is one of the first to receive and use multiple satellite navigation frequencies. Combined with up to 16 hours of battery life in GPS mode and active weather forecasts, you shouldn’t be traveling without Garmin’s rugged GPSMAP 66s.

Worrying about the unpredictable weather is a thing of the past with Live Weather Radar (WSR). You can go further with live weather forecast information directly on your compatible smartphone.

The GPSMAP 66s range receives and uses information from GPS, GLONASS, Galileo, QZSS and IRNSS satellite systems, giving you greater accuracy no matter what challenging environment you’re in.

Build quality
The device has been through many environmental and climatic conditions using laboratory testing methods, it really can stand-up to the challenge


  • Precise and fast positioning thanks to GPS, GLON and GALILEO
  • 3-axis comp, barometric altimeter with auto calibration, Bluetooth and WiFi
  • Long battery life: up to 16 hours in GPS mode and one week in expedition mode
  • MicroSD slot allows you to download alternative maps for use on your device.
  • Connected Features – Smart Notifications, Active Weather, Live & GroupTrack,
  • Geocaching Live, Connectivity to Garmin Connect, Connect IQ and Explore App

Best for
Adventure trekking.

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Fitbit Versa 4 Fitness Smartwatch with built-in GPS

‘Ultra-accurate portable GPS.’

Track more exercises than ever right from your wrist with 40+ exercise modes including strength training, HIIT, running and kayaking. Plus, never miss a beat with calls, texts and notifications right on your wrist. With built-in GPS and a battery life of 6+ days, Versa 4 is also compatible with Android and iOS. All of this from a thin, lightweight fitness smartwatch that’s designed for comfort during workouts, sleep and more.

Wirelessly connect to your smartphone, and get away from the beaten track with TracBack.

See real-time pace & distance without your phone using built-in GPS during outdoor runs, rides, hikes and more.

The 64S also features:

  • Compatible with Android and iOS
  • 6 days battery life
  • Water resistant & Swim-proof
  • Heart rate monitor & Pedometer
  • Distance & Accelerometer
  • Receive emails & social network notifications.

Best for
Fitness montoring

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Garmin eTrex 10 Outdoor Handheld GPS Unit

‘Comprehensive and accurate navigation.’

Awesome for hiking, cycling and mountain climbing, the eTrex 10 takes one of the most popular and reliable GPS handhelds and makes it better.

Redesigned ergonomics, an easier-to-use interface, paperless geocaching, the addition of a worldwide basemap and long battery life add up to serious improvements for an already legendary GPS handheld.

eTrex 10 is versatile. It’s tough. And it’s built to handle whatever Mother Nature can dish out – and more.

Go Global
The new eTrex series is the first-ever consumer-grade receivers that can track both GPS and GLONASS satellites simultaneously. GLONASS is a system developed by the Russian Federation that will be fully operational in 2012. When using GLONASS satellites, the time it takes for the receiver to “lock on” to a position is (on average) approximately 20 percent faster than using GPS. And when using both GPS and GLONASS, the receiver has the ability to lock on to 24 more satellites than using GPS alone.


  • High-sensitivity, Egnos-enabled GPS receiver and HotFix satellite prediction
  • Supports geocaching GPX files for downloading geocaches and details straight to your unit
  • Easy to use interface
  • Durable and waterproof, eTrex® 10 is built to withstand the elements
  • 2.2-Inch monochrome display that’s easy to read in any lighting situation

Lock onto 24 more satellites than GPS alone, making global navigation even more accurate and comprehensive. This is one serious upgrade, meant for serious trekkers who love to travel.

Best for
Technical trekkers in need of highly accurate European navigation.

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Best GPS Navigation

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Our Choice - Garmin eTrex 32x
  • Quality
  • Functionality
  • Weight
  • Value


This is a high-quality piece of kit. The Garmin eTrex 32x outdoor handheld GPS unit is feature rich, reliable and extremely rubust. (Check the latest price and stock levels)

User Review
5 (2 votes)

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  • The Garmin Fenix watch is an exceptional device, still a massive fan of a conventional compass but when the rain is coming at you and you just want off that mountain the watch is a great aid.

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