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Garmin vs TomTom: Best GPS for the Car, Hiking, Marine and More!

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Person driving with GPS in carBack in the “old days,” commercial GPS (Global Positioning System) systems were mainly developed for use in your car, but oh how times have changed. These days, you can find a GPS device for almost any kind of activity you’re interested in — hiking, hunting, boating, biking and more. See what we’ve discovered in our comprehensive GPS reviews to learn what the best GPS system is for your individual pursuits. And you may even find there are some newer bells and whistles that make these a good upgrade from Google Maps or your smartwatch.

Best GPS System Winners

You’ll notice that the majority of our best GPS winners are Garmin products. Why? Garmin dominates the GPS market. We’ve done our research to make sure, and most of their products are simply that much better than competing manufacturers. We chose our best picks based on several factors, including pinpoint location accuracy, smart features, included maps, pricing and more.

Best GPS Device for Car| Best Overall Handheld GPS | Best Hiking GPS | Best Hunting GPS | Best Golfing GPS | Best Marine GPS

Best GPS Devices for the Car

We had a hard time narrowing down a single winner for the best GPS device for your car, so we’ve chosen three of our top picks — one for the latest smart technology, one for advanced driver assistance and the last for those of you looking for a budget-friendly alternative.

Garmin DriveSmart 61 Review

Garmin DriveSmart 61 NA LMT-SView on Amazon

The Garmin DriveSmart 61 NA LMT-S is a smart gadget lover’s dream and our pick as one of the best GPS devices you’ll find for your car. This sleek navigator features a large, bright screen, driver alerts, voice recognition and easy-to-follow directions. But where this GPS device shines is with its smart features. When you sync your smartphone to the WiFi-connected Garmin DriveSmart, you get live traffic and live parking services, Bluetooth hands-free calling, text notifications and much more.

Pros

Cons

  • Easy-to-use 6.95-inch capacitive touchscreen
  • Built-in WiFi and Bluetooth connectivity
  • Real-time services, including live traffic, weather and parking
  • Voice-activated navigation
  • Detailed maps of North America with free lifetime updates
  • Foursquare and TripAdvisor integrated with excellent points of interest (POIs)
  • Battery life is only one hour
  • Plastic ball and socket mount isn’t the most attractive

Pricing

Garmin DriveAssist 51 Review

Garmin DriveAssist 51View on Amazon

If you’re looking for driver’s assistance in a GPS device, the Garmin DriveAssist 51 is the best GPS navigation for car. How does this product differ from the Garmin SmartDrive? You get many of the same features, but this device gives you a built-in dash cam and advanced driver alerts for sharp curves, school zones, red light and speed camera warnings and more. And camera-assisted features include forward collision warnings, lane departure warnings, garage park assist and more. If you spend a lot of time in busy traffic conditions, this device could be a perfect solution.

Pros

Cons

  • Easy-to-use 5-inch capacitive pinch-to-zoom touchscreen
  • Built-in dash cam continuously records your drive and automatically saves files on impact
  • Real-time services, including live traffic, weather and parking
  • Voice-activated navigation
  • Detailed maps of North America with free lifetime updates
  • Includes FourSquare POIs
  • Doesn’t have Bluetooth connectivity
  • Battery life is only 30 min

Pricing

Budget Pick: TomTom VIA 1515TM Review

TomTom VIA 1515TMView on Amazon

Are you looking for a budget-friendly but reliable GPS system? The TomTom VIA 1515TM is an excellent low frills option. This GPS device gives you free lifetime map updates (U.S., Canada and Mexico), free live traffic updates, advanced lane guidance, tons of POIs, and a split screen that displays a 3D view of road signs with arrows indicating which exit to take and a ‘birds-eye’ view of upcoming complex intersections. While the TomTom 1515 vocalizes directions, it doesn’t have voice recognition. And you don’t get Bluetooth connectivity with this model.

Pros

Cons

  • Great value
  • Three screen sizes to choose from
  • Free live traffic updates
  • Free lifetime North America map updates
  • You can save your travel routes
  • Includes POIs
  • Doesn’t take voice commands
  • No Bluetooth connectivity
  • Doesn’t have a touchscreen
  • Some users report slow loading times

Pricing

  • Available screen sizes: 4.3″, 5″ or 6″
  • 1-year limited warranty

Best Handheld GPS Overall: Garmin Oregon 650t Review

Garmin Oregon 650tView on Amazon

We’ve chosen the Garmin Oregon 650t as the most accurate handheld GPS. Garmin Oregon is a great multi-purpose GPS device for hiking, hunting, biking, birding and many other outdoor activities. This model has a three-inch touchscreen that can even be used with gloves in freezing or wet weather. Using both GPS and GLONASS satellite positioning, the Garmin Oregon quickly and precisely pinpoints your exact location. It also features a three-axis compass, accelerometer and barometric altimeter and comes loaded with 100,000 topographical maps. The 650t model has a built-in digital camera and 4MB of memory, expandable with a microSD card to load more maps.

Pros

Cons

  • Dual-band GPS/GLONASS satellite positioning
  • Touchscreen adjusts for bright sunlight, and you can use it with gloves
  • Rechargeable battery pack lasts up to 16 hours (or use AA batteries)
  • Can wirelessly share routes, tracks, waypoints, geocaches, custom maps and photos between units via Bluetooth
  • Auto switching between landscape or portrait views
  • Water resistant
  • Can expand memory via a microSD card
  • Touchscreen can be a bit sensitive
  • Some users complain about slow map loading and toggling between views
  • Additional maps are expensive

Pricing

  • Oregon 650t: 
  • 1-year limited warranty

Best Hiking GPS: Garmin GPSMAP 64st Review

Garmin GPSMAP 64stView on Amazon

The Garmin GPSMAP 64st gets our nod for the best hiking GPS device. This handheld GPS navigator shares a lot of the same features with the Garmin Oregon and eTrex models. We love this device for hiking for its compact size and the fact that you get a one-year BirdsEye Satellite Imagery subscription, which is a serious hiker’s dream, on top of 100,000 pre-loaded topographic maps. BirdsEye details include national, state and local parks/forests, trails, terrain contours, elevation information, rivers points of interest and more. Plus, you get ANT+Bluetooth connectivity, a 3-axis electronic compass and barometric altimeter, all for a competitive price.

Pros

Cons

  • GPS and GLONASS satellite
  • One-year BirdsEye Satellite Imagery subscription
  • Internal memory of 8GB
  • 2.6-inch color, capacitive touchscreen display
  • Small and lightweight
  • Dual battery system
  • Water resistant
  • Velcro backpack attachment add-on
  • MicroSD card slot
  • Screen may be too small for some
  • Several customer complaints about a poor user manual
  • Some users report a short battery life

Pricing

Best Hunting GPS: Garmin eTrex 35t Review

Garmin eTrex 35t Handheld GPS NavigatorView on Amazon

The Garmin eTrex 35t Handheld GPS Navigator is our pick for the best GPS for hunting or biking, although it’s also another great multi-purpose GPS device (it includes activity profiles for climbing, hiking, hunting, biking, geocaching, fishing and more). The eTrex shares many of the same features as the Oregon, including dual GPS and GLONASS, a three-axis compass and barometric altimeter, and it too comes loaded with 100,000 topographic maps. But several features may appeal to hunters, namely its smaller size (2.6-inch touchscreen) which can fit into a pocket or be used with a handy backpack tether add-on.

Pros

Cons

  • GPS and GLONASS signal receiving through a hotfix antenna
  • 2.6-inch color, capacitive touchscreen display
  • Small and lightweight
  • Has breadcrumb/backtrack capability
  • Fits in your pocket or optional velcro backpack attachment add-on
  • Water resistant
  • MicroSD card slot
  • Expensive
  • Screen may be too small for some
  • Doesn’t have Bluetooth connectivity (only ANT)
  • Doesn’t have a rechargeable battery pack

Pricing

Best Golf GPS Device: Bushnell Neo Ion Golf GPS Watch Review

Bushnell Neo Ion Golf GPS WatchView on Amazon

Yes, there are even GPS devices to assist you with your golf game, and our top pick is the Bushnell Neo Ion Golf GPS Watch for its solid set of features at a competitive price. Like other golf GPS watches, the Bushnell Neo Ion gives you the yardage to the front, middle, and back of the green, but it also provides an impressive battery life and robust features like a shot distance calculator, auto hole advance, auto course recognition and more. Another big plus? This GPS golf watch is tournament legal.

Pros

Cons

  • Pre-loaded with 35,000+ courses in 30+ countries
  • Battery life lasts for three full rounds
  • Easy-to-read front/center/back distances
  • Hazard/Layup distances (up to 4 per hole)
  • Comfortable sports band
  • Shot distance calculator
  • No additional fees
  • Large face may not appeal to some
  • Doesn’t keep track of scoring
  • Some users complain that the charging cable falls out easily
  • Several customer reports that it stops working after a few months

Pricing

  • Available in black, charcoal or white
  • 1-year limited warranty

Best Marine GPS: Simrad Go7 Xse Chartplotter Review

Simrad Go7 Xse ChartplotterView on Amazon

The Simrad Go7 Xse Chartplotter is our pick for the best boating GPS system. As you might imagine, marine GPS systems are a whole different breed from other GPS devices. Features you might want include a chart plotter, a fishfinder, sonar for shallow waters, waypoint management and more. The Simrad gives you all of these features and more. This device functions as a full-featured chart plotter, with support for the widest available range of cartography options including C-MAP MAX-N, Navionics, Insight, Insight Genesis, and NV Digital charts. And you can set and record your destinations with its easy-to-use waypoint management.

Pros

Cons

  • Large 7-inch, easy-to-use LED touchscreen
  • Excellent chart plotter features
  • 2D sonar and fishfinder features
  • NMEA2000 compatible
  • WiFi and Bluetooth connected
  • Stores 10,000+ waypoints
  • Split-screen views
  • Waterproof and comes with sun cover
  • Very expensive
  • Some customers complain that the transducer cable isn’t long enough for larger boats

Pricing

Garmin GPS in Motion

In our GPS comparison reviews, we’ve included many Garmin products. Want to know how easy it is to update your Garmin system? Watch the brief video below, which shows you how simple it is to update all of your maps.

What Else Do You Need for Your Adventures?

Whether you’re hiking in the wilderness or on a long road trip, it’s better to be safe than sorry. Make sure to remain in contact with your loved ones in case something goes wrong. In case of emergencies, it’s important not to let your smartphone’s batteries die. A smart choice is to carry an external battery charger with you at all times. So, be sure to check out our external battery pack reviews to see which ones we recommend.

Many of the latest smartwatches also have powerful GPS features, including the Apple Watch. Be sure to check out our picks for best smartwatch to keep you on the map, even if you are off-roading!

Which GPS system would you recommend and why?

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Sally is a passionate writer but her interests do not stop there. She spends a lot of time daydreaming about the beach, however, she spends most of her time taking advantage of all the activities her town has to offer in the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains.

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1 Comment on "Garmin vs TomTom: Best GPS for the Car, Hiking, Marine and More!"

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Anonymous
Anonymous
Don’t most phones have good enough GPS in them? And smart watches now too!
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