Best Garmin GPS

In a Hurry? Editors choice:
Fenix 5 Watch
Test Winner: Fenix 5 Watch
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When it comes to GPS technology and units, one brand comes directly to the mind and that is Garmin. Garmin has been a powerhouse in the GPS industry for years and for good reason as they make quality GPS's that are accurate and get you where you need to be. Now, if you are in the market for a new GPS for your car or perhaps you are planning on doing some off the grid hiking this summer season and want to keep track of your coordinates than Garmin is definitely a brand to take a look at. If you have been researching and have not found a Garmin GPS that appeals to you, the guide below may be able to shed some light on a great option for you and your adventures this summer season.

Standout Picks

Garmin Fenix 5 Sapphire
The Garmin Fenix 5 is a superb multi-sport GPS watch that has been engineered to be extremely visually pleasing, versatile, and it also offers great tracking. It offers you advanced metrics to measure your fitness and tracks information like none other.
Amazon Link
$399.00
Garmin inReach Explorer+, Handheld Satellite Communicator with TOPO Maps and GPS Navigation
This GPS from Garmin was built for the outdoor enthusiasts out there that like to adventure off the trail and go exploring. This GPS is jam-packed with features and will have Garmin technology and accuracy behind it to ensure you get where your going and can get back to where you came from without issue.
Amazon Link
$599.99
Garmin Forerunner 935 Running GPS Unit
The Forerunner 935 is a premium GPS watch built for running and triathlons. It's features that track your fitness will help you to fine-tune your workouts, achieve goals, and can even aid in your recovery time.
Amazon Link
$272.79
Garmin Montana 600 Waterproof Hiking GPS
Do not worry, Garmin can make impressive GPS devices that are not watches. One such device is the Montana 600 Waterproof Hiking GPS. Once again, outside of minor display issues, it is nearly impeccable through every sense of the word.
Amazon Link
Garmin GPSMAP 64st, TOPO U.S. 100K with High-Sensitivity GPS and GLONASS Receiver
What is paramount above anything else with the GPSMAP 64st from Garmin is its accurate and quick GPS capabilities. This is thanks in large part to its GLONASS receiver and it makes it worth the money alone.
Garmin Nuvi 57LM GPS Navigator System
Garmin has made multiple versions of their Nuvi GPS Navigator and although the 57LM is not the best, it is one of them. With only one major drawback to speak of, the 57LM will make a great accomplice on your next road trip.
Amazon Link
$84.00
Garmin Edge 520 Bike GPS
Hikers and bikers may not want to invest in a GPS watch for their intended needs. If not, then the Edge 520 Bike GPS could not be a better alternative as it will fulfill all GPS needs for bikers and hikers (without needing to be worn on your wrist).
Garmin DriveSmart 61 NA LMT-S with Lifetime Maps
This GPS is a powerhouse of features by Garmin. Not only does this GPS come with lifetime updates, a large screen, live services, and a variety of other features to ensure you get where you're going fast and efficiently. If you are in the market for a GPS this is one to defiantly check out.
Amazon Link
$299.99
Garmin Foretrex 401 Waterproof Hiking GPS
The Foretrex 401 Hiking GPS from Garmin is the perfect example of a device that may not blow you away visually, but one that has impeccable quality.
Amazon Link
$249.99
Garmin nüvi 55LMT GPS Navigators System
This list is capped off with yet another Nuvi GPS and it is clear that it is one of Garmin’s best models in the world. It has the same issue as the 57LM, but the 55LMT is able to hurdle it thanks to its plethora of other outstanding features.
Amazon Link

Criteria Used for Evaluation

Features

Quick question, is there a purpose to a GPS device that struggles when it comes to GPS? That is the same as having a basketball that does not bounce. As such, you need to ensure that the device you are looking at has, if nothing else, adequate GPS capabilities. In general, there are some specific types of receivers and implemented GPSs that you can look out for.

For example, any that claim they have a high-sensitivity GPS receiver will lock onto satellites quicker. The same can be said for the devices that combine this with HotFix or a GLONASS receiver. Any of these are guaranteed to provide you excellent reception and fast coordinates, even under heavy tree cover. Past this, there are other important software features. For people looking for a GPS to fulfill their fitness needs, you may be more interested in devices that provide calories burned, steps, heart rate information, sleep, distance, and various other metrics.

For pure GPS navigation, though, it is nice when the device can speak the directions to you. This way, you can spend more time looking at the road rather than the GPS.

Battery Life

Unless you are utilizing a piece of technology while plugged into an outlet or power source, chances are you will need to be concerned with the battery life. Guess what, GPS devices are no different. However, depending on the type of GPS that you are looking at, the battery life is going to vary a little. Take, for example, GPS watches.

No matter if it is from Garmin or any other manufacturers, GPS watches will last depending on how you use them. Typically, sellers will list three categories of battery life including when in GPS mode, in normal watch mode, and in an UltraTrac-type mode. Obviously, you will want to specifically pay attention to how long it will last when using the GPS on it. Just because you may overlook it lasting up to three months, it will be significantly shorter when using the GPS technology on it.

For any handheld device that requires external batteries, you may find the rated battery life to be off. It solely depends on the brand of batteries you use and if you use a cheap brand (such as Alkaline), it may be less than you think.

Effectiveness

The display can either be extremely important and absolutely needed to be advanced and fluent, or good enough as long as you can see what you are looking at. Honestly, this is all about user preference. So, if you fall into the former category and refuse to accept anything less than a superb and hi-definition display, here are a few factors to look for.

One, consider a larger screen size with a touchscreen interface. When you have a device that is controlled via touchscreen, it allows more free space on the interface for the screen. Because you do not need any room for buttons, the entire face can be the screen. Secondly, look at display features such as LED backlighting, the amount of color, and the overall resolution. However, if you are someone who is simply happy with being able to easily view what is on the screen, you do not need to concern yourself with this criterion.

When it comes to how effective the unit will be that you have your eye on, it is best to research the unit and also have a look at the customer reviews. By researching the unit you will get all the facts about how the unit is supposed to perform and what it will do for you. By checking the customer reviews, you will get an inside look at how the unit performed in the field from other customers. That way you ensure you are getting a quality product that you can rely on. By checking these two factors you will without a doubt end up with a reliable and efficient GPS from Garmin that will get you where you need to be.

Color

No matter what you are searching for, variety is the spice of life. It will not fix any performance issues with a product, but it allows you to contemplate different versions of the same product. With Garmin GPS devices, they tend to give their users a variety of options to choose from. Typically, this either consists of a different color, size, and package options. Color only really comes into play when talking about watches, as mounted and handheld GPS units do not typically have many options.

When it comes to size options, you tend to see this more with mounted versions. Often times, Garmin gives you the option for two or three different screen sizes. The price will, most likely, vary from size to size but a larger screen can make for a better experience. Then, there are the different package options that you will see. From device to device, this can be anything from ordering the base model with Bluetooth functionality, with preloaded maps, with a camera, with a cadence sensor, or any combination of two. Of course, if you could care less about extra features, you are usually given the option for the base model.

Top Ten Garmin GPS'S

1. Fenix 5 Watch

Where to buy
Amazon Link
$399.00
Garmin Fenix 5 Sapphire
Amazon Link

The Garmin Fenix 5 is a superb multi-sport GPS watch that has been engineered to be extremely visually pleasing, versatile, and it also offers great tracking. It offers you advanced metrics to measure your fitness and tracks information like none other.

Read more

Software
You can use Garmin Express to keep your software up to date, and this watch comes with Beta Software, which is downloadable at the Garmin website.

Battery Life
The battery in this watch will last up to two weeks if it is in smartwatch mode. It will last up to 24 hours in GPS mode, or up to 60 hours in UltraTrac battery saver mode.

Display
This watch has an outdoors sensor that includes GPS and GLONASS satellite reception and a compass that is 3-axis with a barometric altimeter.

Seller Options
There are a few different options in the Fenix 5 Series that you can choose from, and the wrist bands are interchangeable.

Bluetooth and Wireless Capabilities
Fenix 5 is basically a smartwatch. It can receive emails, texts, and other alerts directly to your watch

Overall
This watch can do it all. It receives emails, messages, is a GPS system, and can track and monitor your fitness and heart rate. It really is a great little system to keep on the wrist.

Amazon Link
$399.00

2. Garmin inReach Explorer+

Where to buy
Amazon Link
$599.99
Garmin inReach Explorer+, Handheld Satellite Communicator with TOPO Maps and GPS Navigation
Amazon Link

This GPS from Garmin was built for the outdoor enthusiasts out there that like to adventure off the trail and go exploring. This GPS is jam-packed with features and will have Garmin technology and accuracy behind it to ensure you get where your going and can get back to where you came from without issue.

Read more

Software
This GPS comes with Garmin's Famous and accurate technology. Even if you do not have a cell tower or phone service you will still be able to use this GPS. That is why it is a true adventurers friend when it comes to a GPS.

Battery Life
This GPS comes with a rechargeable battery. This GPS will last 3 days on a fully charged battery at constant use. So it is safe to say that you can rely on this GPS no matter where you are in the world.

Display
This GPS has a colored screen that is easy to read and use. The graphics are well developed for outdoor GPS. If you are in the market for a GPS for your next outdoor adventure, definitely check this one out from Garmin.

Seller Options
There are two options when looking to purchase this GPS. One comes in orange and is the basic Reach+, while the other option is yellow and is the SE+. The difference is that the reach+ comes with preloaded maps and extra features such as a built-in compass, altimeter, and accelerometer.

Bluetooth and Wireless Capabilities
This GPS can connect to your phone so you can receive and send texts. You also have the ability to use SOS mode which will connect you immediately to help if needed.

Overall
Overall this is a great GPS from Garmin and is built for the outdoor enthusiast in your life. If you or a loved one is planning on going out into the wilderness this summer season this is a great GPS to equip them with to ensure they know where they are going and stay safe.

Amazon Link
$599.99

3. Forerunner 935 Watch

Where to buy
Amazon Link
$272.79
Garmin Forerunner 935 Running GPS Unit
Amazon Link

The Forerunner 935 is a premium GPS watch built for running and triathlons. It's features that track your fitness will help you to fine-tune your workouts, achieve goals, and can even aid in your recovery time.

Read more

Software
Thank you to the GPS and GLONSASS coverage of this watch, you can head where ever you like and keep track of exactly where you are. Along with this, there is a built-in barometer that tracks the real-time elevation of where ever you are. This watch's software can track your basic triathlon activities, but it also has a built-in system to track hiking, rowing, skiing, golf, and stand up paddleboarding, but that is just the beginning. It can track more, too.

Battery Life
Garmin states that this watch will last up to 2 weeks in watch mode, 24 hours in GPS mode, and up to 50 hours in UltraTrac mode.

Display
This watch is made with chemically strengthened glass, and it is sunlight visible.

Seller Options
The Forerunner GPS will automatically sync to Garmin Connect, which is an online fitness community that allows you to review your progress and share it on social media.

Bluetooth and Wireless Capabilities
The Forerunner 920XT can be synced with Garmin Connect in a few ways. One, you can download the Garmin Connect mobile app and use Bluetooth to sync it. Secondly, you can set up a Wi-Fi hot spot and it will automatically connect to the service when applicable.

Overall
As long as you do not covet a super-advanced interface, this GPS watch will fulfill your fitness needs. In every other area besides display, it excels.

Amazon Link
$272.79

4. Montana 600

Where to buy
Amazon Link
Garmin Montana 600 Waterproof Hiking GPS
Amazon Link

Do not worry, Garmin can make impressive GPS devices that are not watches. One such device is the Montana 600 Waterproof Hiking GPS. Once again, outside of minor display issues, it is nearly impeccable through every sense of the word.

Read more

Software
It has a built-in high-sensitivity WAAS-enabled GPS receiver. This provides accurate and quick signal locations for your convenience. Even if you are covered under a mountain of trees or rocks, this GPS can still adequately find your location.

Battery Life
You can choose to use the lithium-ion battery and AA batteries. With only the lithium-ion, expect up to 16 hours and if you add the AA batteries that could jump up to 22 hours.

Display
This sports a 4-inch dual-orientation touchscreen display. While it is a solid interface, the resolution is not the greatest.

Seller Options
There are two separate versions of the 600 that you can choose from, one with camo and one without.

Bluetooth and Wireless Capabilities
With other compatible Garmin GPS users, you can wirelessly share your tracks, routes, waypoints, and geocaches. When you find someone compatible, it is as simple as hitting “send”.

Overall
When the only real issue is a display that is not advanced, you know you have an impressive GPS device. Any lukewarm feelings about this screen are pushed to the side thanks to its GPS capabilities.

Amazon Link

5. GPS Map 64st

Where to buy
Garmin GPSMAP 64st, TOPO U.S. 100K with High-Sensitivity GPS and GLONASS Receiver
Amazon Link

What is paramount above anything else with the GPSMAP 64st from Garmin is its accurate and quick GPS capabilities. This is thanks in large part to its GLONASS receiver and it makes it worth the money alone.

Read more

Software
As mentioned, this is equipped with both a high-sensitivity GPS and GLONASS receiver with a quad-helix antenna. This will ensure that your device will lock on to satellites quickly and effectively, even under heavy cover. In addition, there are 250,000 preloaded caches for geocaching and preloaded 100,000 TOPO U.S. maps.

Battery Life
Garmin lists this device with a battery life of 16 hours, but it is always subject to fluctuate from time to time.

Display
While this does not sport a monstrous display due to its button operation, only 2.6”, it does provide color and is generally easy to view.

Seller Options
You have a few options at your disposal here, you can purchase the base model, one with a slipcase, and one with ANT+ Bluetooth functionality.

Bluetooth and Wireless Capabilities
With the appropriate option that you choose, you can receive smart notifications to view notifications, emails, and texts from a compatible smartphone on the device. In addition, you can wirelessly share your data with other compatible devices.

Overall
This is just another stellar GPS device from Garmin. If nothing else, this is worth it for its GLONASS receiver as when combined with a GPS receiver, it provides lightning-fast coordinates.

6. Garmin Nuvi 57LM

Where to buy
Amazon Link
$84.00
Garmin Nuvi 57LM GPS Navigator System
Amazon Link

Garmin has made multiple versions of their Nuvi GPS Navigator and although the 57LM is not the best, it is one of them. With only one major drawback to speak of, the 57LM will make a great accomplice on your next road trip.

Read more

Software
Using recognizable traffic lights, buildings and landmarks, through spoken directions, Garmin will lead you in the right direction. It is also preloaded with detailed maps of the lower 49 states and provides free lifetime map updates.

Battery Life
As this is designed to be used in a vehicle, it should be plugged in when using. Thanks to its rechargeable battery, though, it will last a few hours when unplugged.

Display
The 5” dual-orientation display provides you with an accurate means to view detailed maps. For extra convenience, it used brightly colored arrows to indicate upcoming junctions.

Seller Options
For screen sizes, you can either choose 5” or 6”. Besides this, you can choose a model with lifetime maps, lifetime maps, and a carrying case, and with lifetime maps and traffic.

Bluetooth and Wireless Capabilities
Unfortunately, there is not too much to speak of when it comes to this category. This device does not have Bluetooth capabilities meaning you can’t sync your smartphone in any way.

Overall
Besides the lack of Bluetooth, like a GPS, this navigator is fantastic. Thanks to its integrated software and solid display, it is worth an investment.

Amazon Link
$84.00

7. Edge 520

Where to buy
Garmin Edge 520 Bike GPS
Amazon Link

Hikers and bikers may not want to invest in a GPS watch for their intended needs. If not, then the Edge 520 Bike GPS could not be a better alternative as it will fulfill all GPS needs for bikers and hikers (without needing to be worn on your wrist).

Read more

Software
This GPS is compatible with Strava live segments and even comes with a two-month free trial of Strava Premium. What this provides is live feedback during your ride. Of course, the Edge 520 also sports all the essential metrics for fitness buffs such as distance, cadence, calories burned, elevation, heart rate, and speed.

Battery Life
Slated to last for up to 15 hours, if it does so for you, it has sufficient battery life.

Display
The display itself is large and easy to read. However, some may feel that using buttons for operation is a step backward as opposed to a touchscreen operation.

Seller Options
Do not be too picky here, as you have two choices at your disposal. These included the base model and the GPS with a speed and cadence sensor.

Bluetooth and Wireless Capabilities
When you pair the Edge 520 with a compatible smartphone and the Garmin Connect app, you can then view all sorts of features straight from this GPS. Features such as wireless uploads, notifications, social media sharing, and live tracking will be right at your fingertips.

Overall
The Edge 520 will only suit specific people’s needs, but it does that extremely well. For any bikers, hikers or fitness buffs this could very well be the GPS for you.

8. Garmin DriveSmart 61

Where to buy
Amazon Link
$299.99
Garmin DriveSmart 61 NA LMT-S with Lifetime Maps
Amazon Link

This GPS is a powerhouse of features by Garmin. Not only does this GPS come with lifetime updates, a large screen, live services, and a variety of other features to ensure you get where you're going fast and efficiently. If you are in the market for a GPS this is one to defiantly check out.

Read more

Software
To assist in finding your location as quickly as possible, this GPS uses Garmin satellites and their system which has been improved since GPS technology first came out. This GPS also comes with live updates so you always have the updated roads and streets to ensure you get where you're going without any delay.

Battery Life
This unit has a 1-hour battery life and is made more for car use. So it is smart to have this unit plugged in at all times.

Display
This Garmin has a large display to ensure that you can see where you are going with no problems. The display is 6.95 inches.

Seller Options
This GPS comes with live updates, Bluetooth, map updates for life, and a variety of other features. It is safe to say this GPS comes with everything you will need and more.

Bluetooth and Wireless Capabilities
The unit has built-in wifi for easier map updates and Bluetooth for calling hands free.

Overall
This GPS is a great unit for the price and will be sure to last your years to come. It comes with the most updated technology so you know you will have everything you need for some 21st-century driving.

Amazon Link
$299.99

9. Foretrex 401

Where to buy
Amazon Link
$249.99
Garmin Foretrex 401 Waterproof Hiking GPS
Amazon Link

The Foretrex 401 Hiking GPS from Garmin is the perfect example of a device that may not blow you away visually, but one that has impeccable quality.

Read more

Software
This GPS features a high-sensitivity GPS receiver with HotFix to provide excellent signal reception even under heavy cover. For added convenience, the Foretrex 401 will retrace your steps and display it as a dotted line on the screen. Besides navigation, it also provides other helpful information including sunrise and sunset times, a trip computer, and hunting and fishing information.

Battery Life
It uses standard AAA batteries and depending on the brand, can last up to 17 hours.

Display
Honestly, the display is not as advanced as some would hope. However, it still remains an easy-to-read display.

Seller Options
What you see is what you get with the Foretrex 401. As great as it is, there really is not another reason for an alternative version.

Bluetooth and Wireless Capabilities
Using Garmin Connect, with a simple connection to the internet, you can receive a detailed analysis of your activities. In addition, you can wirelessly send data to another device.

Overall
Some may question why this takes the top spot. Although it is not loaded with Bluetooth and software features, its GPS capabilities and simple nature combine to make it ideal for everyone.

Amazon Link
$249.99

10. Nuvi 55LMT

Where to buy
Amazon Link
Garmin nüvi 55LMT GPS Navigators System
Amazon Link

This list is capped off with yet another Nuvi GPS and it is clear that it is one of Garmin’s best models in the world. It has the same issue as the 57LM, but the 55LMT is able to hurdle it thanks to its plethora of other outstanding features.

Read more

Software
As opposed to some smartphone GPS apps, this navigator is not affected in any way by cellular signals. Also, it provides you with spoken turn-by-turn directions for your desired destination. As an added bonus, it also has lane assist that will display upcoming intersections.

Battery Life
When this GPS is not plugged in, expect it to last for up to two hours. Anything past two hours and you should plug it in as soon as possible.

Display
This 5”, or 6”, the bright display offers you a vertical or horizontal orientation.

Seller Options
You can choose a base model, one with lifetime maps, and one with lifetime maps and traffic. In addition, you can choose a screen size of 5” or 6”.

Bluetooth and Wireless Capabilities
Much like the previous Nuvi GPS, there are no Bluetooth capabilities to speak of. But, you can use Garmin Express to keep your device up-to-date.

Overall
This and the Nuvi 57LM are eerily similar and both provide similar advantages and downsides. In specific, the lack of Bluetooth capabilities may steer you away from this model. But, its GPS functionality is superb.

Amazon Link

Sources

  1. Rudie Oblas, Best car GPS 2018, Article