2017 Black Friday and Holiday season had some nice buys for those wanting to upgrade a dedicated GPS unit. I’ll mention low, medium and high price options to consider buying. I talk mostly about Garmin as this is what is dominating the sales charts, store availability at my local big box stores and general word of mouth.
If you are sure what you want, buy now. Otherwise wait until January when new models for spring are announced.
My predictions for 2018
I expect to see not much change in the wearable space for runners. Incremental updates, focusing on the round watch face will dominate. For handhelds, I think we are due for a number of updates as we have not seen any major updates in a few years. Hikers wanting the latest and greatest may want to wait, but there are several good models available and at attractive price drops.
BEST GPS FOR HIKERS / HUNTERS
Low cost choice – eTrex 30x or map 64s
The 20 used to be my recommendation but price drop on the 30x is worth a look due to additional sensors. Firmware appears to not have been updated in a while as compare to map 64s.
GPS map 64s has a handful more features and winning design for 10+ years. Think about your fingers if you are going to be outdoors in the winter.
Medium Cost- fenix 3 HR
Fenix 3 is on the way out to being discontinued but still able to find a good buy. For those wanting a watch for hiking but other activities like trail running this is a good option. Firmware updated as of November 2017. May not use latest connect IQ watch faces or widgets.
High Cost – inReach Explorer+
inReach is in a category of it’s own. You have to decide about
- Which GPS functions do you really use? waypoint / navigation / tracks
- Garmin maps
- Buying a Subscription
BEST GPS FOR RUNNING
Low Cost – Forerunner 35
Small form factor, great for all day use. Contains basic running functions for 10k range casual running and offers daily tracking and smartphone notifications.
Medium Cost – Forerunner 235 or Vivoactive 3
FR235 – runner focused watch, very good at what it’s supposed to do.
Vivoactive 3 – multi activity types that want a stylish option with daily tracking and notifications.
High Cost – Forerunner 935
Most features for running and biking & triathalons. Serious types that uses strava and considering doing iron man type training, this is what you want.
BEST GPS FOR GEOCACHING
Low Cost – eTrex 20
Medium Cost – Oregon 650t
High Cost – Montana 680
Geocachers I’ve seen over the years like a different set of features for their GPS units. But these features are common with all devices in this section which ends being important.
- SD card
- Load Garmin or custom maps
- Paperless Geocaching