Five Best Handheld GPS for Ice Fishing – Our Top Choices Compared

One of the important skills in ice fishing, and fishing, in general, is the ability to properly navigate. However, it is difficult to do this on your own, you need a device that could help you find the best, safest, and easiest route to a good fishing catch: a handheld GPS.

In fishing, handheld GPS is important as it prevents you from getting lost, especially when the place is unfamiliar for you. More essentially, in cases when you can’t be able to trace back a favorite spot for fishing, a handheld GPS could surely help you find your way. It also tells you where you are and could give you an idea on newer fishing points.

But what would be the best handheld GPS for you? What should you look for when you’re getting a handheld GPS? Here, we have five various products that could help you decide what to use in navigating the waters to make your fishing experience fun, worthwhile, and safe.

What to consider in buying handheld GPS

When you’re buying a handheld GPS, there are quite a few features that you need to check to make sure that the device you are buying is of great quality and could surely help you in your fishing. Ice fishing requires familiarity in the location and this can be best achieved using a handheld GPS. These are some of the things that you need to consider when you’re buying one:

Screen Display

Because you would be bringing your GPS outside, you need to make sure that your GPS screen is readable even under the sun. This can be convenient for you, as you don’t want to go to shades just so you could read the display. The size of the screen also matters as it allows you to see things clearly. Also, there are handheld  GPS devices that are now touchscreen, making it easier to use.

Base Maps

You don’t want to bring maps around you when you go fishing. An in-built base map would really be helpful in navigating, as it allows you to see important landmarks or water bodies surrounding you. An in-built base map can also help you view satellites quickly, improving your fishing adventure.

Waterproof Design

Using handheld GPS when fishing means the possibility of getting your device soaked or wet. This is why you need to know if the device you are choosing is waterproof. There are some devices that could float in water, which would be helpful for you as well. Water resistance would also make sure that the handheld device is durable and could last long even after many exposures.

GPS Receiver

Handheld devices that have high-sensitivity receiver should be considered in buying your GPS machine. You want to make sure that your device can locate quickly and accurately. These devices usually are those with Wide Area Augmentation System or WAAS.

Top-Rated Handheld GPS for Ice Fishing

ImageNameDimensionsWeightBattery RequiredView on Amazon
Garmin GPSMAP 64s2.4 x 1.4 x 6.3 in9.3 oz2 AA

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Garmin eTrex10 GPS1.3 x 4 x 2.1 in5 oz2 AA

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Garmin Oregon 6004.5 x 1.3 x 2.4 in7.4 oz2 AA

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Garmin GPSMAP 78sc2.6 x 1.2 x 6 in7.7 oz2 AA

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Magellan eXplorist 3107.1 x 10.6 x 7.2 in3.68 oz2 AA

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Garmin GPSMAP 64s

Featuring a sunlight-readable screen at 2.6”, Garmin GPSMAP 64s is a high-sensitivity GPS with high reception because of its quad helix antenna. Its 3-axis electronic compass is tilt-compensated and could allow you to see your heading despite that you’re standing still and not holding it level. With this device, you don’t need to worry about getting lost or forgetting your favorite fishing spots, as it can also determine your precise altitude by tracking pressure through its barometric altimeter.

What makes this device great is that your tracks, routes, geocaches, and waypoints can be shared with devices compatible with yours. By simply hitting send, you can transmit information to another same device. You may also receive texts, emails, or alerts through Smart Notifications from iPhone 4s or later versions. Even when you’re hidden in deep canyons or you’re covered by different terrains, this handheld device could quickly locate your position, helping you find your way in case you get lost.

Pros:

  • Acquires signal quickly
  • Convenient waypoint markers
  • Free app
  • Good for hunting because of its flexibility
  • Detailed built-in map

Cons:

  • Short battery life
  • Manual is not very helpful

Those who have used this device expressed that the detailed map of Garmin GPSMAP 64s is very helpful, as it makes navigation easier. While the device relies so much on the users’ phone coverage, receiving texts and email through its Smart Notifications makes the device remarkably great compared to other handheld GPS.


Garmin eTrex10 GPS

With its 2.2” monochrome display, Garmin eTrex10 GPS is very readable even under harsh light. This device also allows you to download details and geocaches to your unit, which means you don’t have a print or manually input coordinates to get a display of important information, such as the terrain, location, hints, descriptions, and difficulty.

Garmin eTrex10 can also precisely and quickly identify your position because of its high-sensitivity GPS receiver. You don’t have to worry about being lost even if you’re in canyons or covered forests. Its body is also very durable and is waterproof, so it is great in ice fishing where contact with water is unavoidable and is most likely to happen. Garmin eTrex10 GPS has a 25-hour battery life, powered by any two double A batteries.

Pros:

  • Paperless geocaching
  • Locates precisely
  • Waterproof
  • Long-lasting

Cons:

  • Manual not very specific

Anglers who have tried this handheld device said that the device is very efficient and rugged. They liked how the device is inexpensive but at the same time could still provide them with accurate locations. They recommend the device as it allows the users to upload and download more and more routes.


Garmin Oregon 600 GPS

This three-inch device has a touchscreen display and can be read clearly even under any light. It has different sensors, such as a barometric altimeter, a 3-axis compass, and accelerometer. Its screen is also manufactured to have resistance to impacts and comes with a dual orientation view. Its battery system contributes to the effectiveness of the device. You may choose between using a NiMH pack which can be recharged or double A batteries.

Even when you’re not holding its level or you’re just standing still, this device could still show you the direction where you’re heading because of its 3-axis electronic compass. Because of its barometric altimeter, the pressure change can also be tracked, allowing the device to specify your altitude. Using the same feature, you can also track changes in weather conditions. Not only can you locate yourself precisely, but you can also tell when it is the right time to fish and what to prepare to fit the weather condition.

With this device, several pieces of information like your tracks, waypoints, and routes are shareable with other devices compatible with Garmin. Not only this, but you can also share files like maps and photos. You can also download geocaches easily using Garmin Oregon 600 by loading it from GSAK through opencaching.com, making a paperless geocaching.

Pros:

  • Sunlight readable display
  • Great user interface
  • Great packaging

Cons:

  • Crashes sometimes
  • Malfunctioning elevation

Reviews about this product are mostly positive, with users emphasizing on how the device is still readable even under the sun. The backlight of the device is also easily adjustable. While they say that the device sometimes crashes and lags, they admire how it’s very easy to use and manipulate.


Garmin GPSMAP 78sc

This device is made especially for boating, water sports, and ice fishing because it floats in water and is waterproof with IPX7 standards. Weighing on 7.7 ounces, this handheld device is lightweight, easy to carry, and very handy. Garmin GPSMAP 78sc also allows you to transmit your tracks, routes, and waypoints to other compatible devices.

Garmin GPSMAP 78sc has three-axis electronic compass that is tilt-compensated, with a barometric altimeter that can be used for heading, altitude, and weather. With this, you won’t get lost as you can precisely locate yourself. Also, knowing the weather condition would be very helpful in ice fishing, as it allows you to identify what to expect. Information like your tracks, waypoints, routes, and geocaches can also be shared with other devices compatible with Garmin GPSMAP 78sc. This can be powered by two double A batteries. This device comes with a microSD card slot that would allow you to load additional maps.

Pros:

  • Waterproof
  • Floats in water
  • Fits in the hand
  • Autopilot commands

Cons:

  • Bad screen resolution
  • Screen too small

Using this device has been a great experience for those who have already used this product. They recommend this for boating and fishing because of its waterproof features and because it could float in water and stay durable. Although the screen is too small and sometimes the resolution is not that good, those who have tried this found using this device sufficient in pointing out one’s location.


Magellan eXplorist 310

This device has many helpful features that could help you in fishing and in finding great locations. It comes with a World Edition map that contains sufficient road networks in Canada, United States, Australia, and Western Europe. Aside from these road networks, Magellan eXplorist is also preloaded with maps that include water features. Its colored screen is transflective, meaning it is sunlight-readable and very vibrant. You can also accurately point out exact locations of geocaches and your favorite fishing spot because of its SiRFstarlll GPS chipset that is accurate within 10-15 feet. You can use this device for 18 hours by simply putting in two double A batteries. This device is also durable, waterproof, and could be submerged on water, so you don’t have to worry about using it during your fishing adventure!

Because it is small, it can easily be carried around. In fact, you can just hand it around your neck with its optional lanyard. Accurate and detailed, Magellan eXplorist might be the device that could make your ice fishing more rewarding!

Pros:

  • Fits in the hand perfectly
  • Geocaches
  • Detailed and accurate
  • Updated maps

Cons:

  • Display difficult to read
  • Moisture might get inside the screen

This device is very great for geocaching according to those who have already used this. Because of its small size, it’s very handy and easy to carry around, with it detailed and updated maps. There are huge improvements from its previous versions, which anglers have appreciated a lot.


Conclusion

Ice fishing is fun and rewarding, especially if you have found a perfect spot. However, instances, when you get lost or forget your favorite spots, are unavoidable. You need a device, an assistance, a tool that could help make your fishing more rewarding and efficient. Handheld GPS devices are always helpful in providing you with these needs. There are different types of handheld GPS, and this review features the best five. By reading the features of each device, you can choose which best fits your needs. You have to make sure that your choice is durable and effective, and that you can use your device for a long time. Just make sure that no matter what device you choose, you take good care of it, for you to be able to use it still in your future fishing adventures!


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