A handheld GPS can be an incredibly useful tool, but you have to know how to find the right one and how to use it to your advantage. The good news is that it doesn’t take too long to learn how to use a GPS correctly. In no time at all, you’ll be able to navigate and communicate as needed.

Here, we’re diving into the basics for how to choose the right GPS device, how to set up your device, and how to use a handheld GPS. You’re in the right place for information on getting the most from your GPS.

Choosing Your Handheld GPS

Before you head out away from cell service, you’ll need to select the perfect handheld GPS device for your needs. In order to do that, there are a few things you’ll want to consider. Think about the following features when you’re shopping for the perfect handheld GPS.


When you’re looking for the perfect GPS, you’ll have to consider the way you want to engage with the device. Touchscreen options are everywhere, but they may not work as well in wet conditions or for those who need to wear gloves. Think about these aspects as you select a device, so that you’ll be able to use it as easily as possible.

Device Size

For the most part, those who are planning to head out into the wilderness want something pretty small. It needs to be able to be carried easily without adding too much bulk. However, you’ll also want to consider a device that will be large enough for you to read pretty easily. If you have trouble making out what’s happening on the device screen, you’re going to have a hard time navigating anywhere.

Extra Features

Many GPS devices also offer extra features that you may want. These include things like the ability to share your location with friends and family, receiving notifications like text or email, and SOS options like being able to contact monitoring centers that work with search and rescue. These can be fantastic choices when you want to focus on safety.

What You See on the Map

Before you head out, it’s a good idea to make sure that you understand what’s happening on your GPS map. Understanding this can make navigation easier and can aid in providing important information to emergency services if an accident should happen along the way. Keep these basics in mind while you learn the features and map.

Tracking and Positioning

When you turn on your GPS device and take a look at the map, there are a few things you’ll be able to see. The first is often you; you’ll be able to see where you are on that map, usually in the form of a small arrow. Additionally, you may also be able to see the most recent path you’ve traveled, which is helpful when you need to find your way back. Finally, your coordinates should also be present.

Trip Data

For each trip, you should also be able to see the measurement for how much you’ve traveled. You may have options for how that will be displayed and what measurement. On top of that, you may also be able to see the elevation you’ve made it to, which will be useful when you’re climbing a mountain or hiking up a larger hill.

How To Use A Handheld GPS - hikinggpszone.com

Tips for Using a Handheld GPS

These tips can help you to get the most out of your handheld GPS device. Make sure to keep them in mind when you’re starting up your device, trying to connect to satellites and preparing for a trip. They can be incredibly helpful for navigating and staying safe!

Have a Routine

To begin with, you’ll want to make sure that you get your handheld GPS prepped and ready for a new trip. There are a number of different things you need to do in order to ensure this is the case. One of the first things you should be doing is making sure batteries, and extra batteries are charged up and ready to go.

After that, make sure to clear out older trip data, make sure you have important waypoints set and ensure that the compass is set correctly and ready to go. Finally, if you have an altimeter or barometer that you want correctly set, you’ll want to check that out as well. The more prepared you are, the easier your trip will be!

Battery Life

You won’t be able to do much at all with your GPS if the battery goes dead, so you’ll want to be absolutely certain that doesn’t happen. Think about how long you’re going to be out in the wilderness and plan accordingly, but make sure to bring extras whenever possible.

Furthermore, you can make sure that things like your backlight and screen timeout options are shortened. That way, you’ll be able to help the battery to last longer. If your GPS uses a USB cord to plug in, having something like a battery bank can also be very useful.


If you’re traveling in an area that is heavily wooded, you may find that your GPS signal gets lost from time to time. The good news is that resolving this issue usually includes finding a clearing and allowing the device to be under the open sky for a short period of time. The maps and service should return pretty quickly.


Using a handheld GPS doesn’t have to be frustrating. With a little bit of time spent learning how the GPS works, what it’s showing you and how to connect in the ways you want, it’s sure to become a useful tool while you’re away from civilization.

Just make sure that you have everything you need for the device prepared before you head out, and you’ll be able to navigate just about anywhere. A quality handheld GPS is sure to become your new favorite tool while you’re out in the wilderness.


We hope you love the products we recommend! Just so you know, HikingGpsZone may collect a share of sales or other compensation from the links on this page. Oh, and FYI-prices are accurate, and items in stock as of time of publication.