Which is best GPS for walking in Outdoors and Countryside in UK - Garmin, Satmap or Memory Map
Tue 17th February 2015
Updated - April 2015
At GPS Training our phone rings everday and the same question gets asked - What is the best GPS to walk with in the UK? Garmin, Satmap or Memory map and what is the best model?
Yes, it is a loaded question but it is certainly worth looking at the GPS units and options that are currently on the UK market.
Also on our GPS courses we lead all over the country we meet people who sadly have been given the wrong advice and therefore have bought the wrong GPS unit
Many people have buy their GPS on price, the problem with this in the world of outdoor GPS units is that it sometimes can be a false economy as buying maps at a later stage can cost you considerably more, but more about that later ......
What make of GPS should I go for?
Here at GPS Training we stock the three leading brands of Outdoor GPS units. These are Garmin, Memory Map and SatMap GPS units.
All of these three makes of Outdoor GPS units are very good in different ways, but which is the best make of Outdoor GPS unit.
We really like the Garmin GPS units with Satmap GPS units a close second. So when it comes to which is best Garmin GPS or Satmap GPS units it is very close but Garmin just beats the Satmap GPS to the post.
The reason for this is the screen quality of the Garmin units. They simply look great outdoors where the Satmap and Memory Map units really do suffer in bright sunshine.
Garmin GPS units are good products and have great product support and as they are such a big business the product improves liteally on a monthly basis. Garmin GPS units are just like waterproof computers so you update the software and they just keeep getting better and better.
Touch screen on buttons, which is best?
Are you someone who walks lots in winter and wears gloves?
If you are a winter walker and you wear gloves you have no option but to go for a button GPS as you will really struggle to use a touch screen GPS with your winter gloves on.
If you are someone who just walks in summer or not in extremer temperatures we prefer a touch screen GPS unit. Data input with a touch screen GPS is quicker and with us all using smart phones with touch screens it somehow is just more natural.
When you see the icon 'map' for instance on the screen you just tap on it and there is the map, then just pinch and zoom and you zoom in, but as you will appreciate you need warm hands to do this.
Button GPS units -
Garmin - GPSMAP64s, eTrex 30 and eTrex 20
Satmap - Active 12
Touch screen units -
Garmin - Oregon 600, Oregon 650, Montana 600, Montana 650 and Monterra
Memory Map - TX3 and TX4
Which Outdoor GPS has the largest screen?
Big is not always best, but to be honest this totally depends on you eyesight. If you wear reading glasses you more than likely don't want to be wearing these on the hills.
I personally wear 1.25 strength reading glasses and I don't need to wear them to read the screen on the following Outdoor GPS units.
Best GPS units with larger screens -
Garmin - Oregon 600, Oregon 650, Montana 600 and Montana 650
Satmap - Active 12
So letís look at the Garmin range of Outdoor GPS units, which is the best Garmin Outdoor GPS?
Ordnance Survey Maps on the screen of your walking GPS
You can put mapping on all the colour screen current GPS units (please note the word current as this has not allways been the case).
Ordnance Survey Maps on outdoor GPS units are something walkers have wanted for years and now it is here, you literally see yourself pass accross the map on the screen, truly brillaint.
Now this is one of the biggest mistakes people make - Buy your maps bundled in with the GPS unit, or else it is a costly mistake.
The mapping cards that you get bundled in with higher GPS units reatil for £200.00 as a stand alone product, but if you get it bundled with new units for just £50.00 above the unit price. A big saving, but please note not all retailers sell bundled mapping, when I mean bundled I would get nothing less than full UK mapping at 1:50,000.
I must add that GPS Training have these bundled offers online or in our GPS Store, but many online retailers donít (as Garmin likes to put them into Ďbricks and mortar retailersí).
Again this is one of the big mistakes people make. Buying their GPS cheaper elsewhere and not realising it does not come with mapping. At least at GPS Training you can speak with a real person before your purchase and we can make sure you get the right product.
It is often a hard phone call to make when the customer rings up very proud that they have bought there GPS £50.00 cheaper elsewhere then they then find out they have to now spend another £200.00 on mapping (when they could have had this bundled in for the £50.00 they thought they had saved).
Units with full UK bundled mapping options
Garmin – GPS Map64s, Oregon 600, Oregon 650, Montana 600 and Montana 650
Satmap - Active 12
Memory Map - TX3 and TX4
Just one thing here about mapping - I started off saying I believe the best make of GPS to go for is Garmin, but on the mapping front one GPS unit stands out above the rest .... The Satmap Active 12 .... Why?.......... Because the mapping is HD, so when you zoom in it does not go pixelated. Truly stunning (as long as the sun is not shining ;-)
Three axis Electronic Compass on a outdoor GPS - essential
Most GPS units these days come with built in electronic compasses.
Why I hear you ask when you should get this directional information from the sattelites.
As GPS units work from satellites with are thousands of miles above you when you rotate the unit through 90 degrees it does nothing and why should it as the GPS unit has only moved two or three inches? Well as a walker if it is pointing in the wrong direction it makes a massive difference as you don't walk a few feet in the direction and fall off a cliff.
The other thing to bear in mind is a 3 axis comoass, now what is this I hear you ask? A three axis compass means you do not have to hold the unit flat like a traditional compass so you can hold it at whatever angle. Now for walkers this may not be a big issue (holding you GPS flat) but if you are thinking about also mounting your GPS on a pushbike you must have a three axis compass as you bike will very rarely be flat.
Therefore with a unit with a built in electronic compass your Ordnance Survey map, on the screen, will automatically orient itself and your compass will be correct when you move your GPS unit around.
The units without electronic compasses do still have a compass BUT you have to be moving for these to work, as it needs to be processing location data from the satellites.
Units with an electronic compass –
- Which is the best Outdoor GPS? -
Fingers crossed the information has helped you make the right choices, but which is the best Outdoor GPS on the UK market?
I would try to keep away from the Garmin eTrex range (eTRex 20x and 30x). These models come with no full UK mapping it turns into an expensive mistake if you have to buy it seperatly.
Therefore if you are a summer walker (i.e. don't wear gloves) I would buy the Garmin Oregon 600. Look at this online here.
If you are a winter walker I would personally go for the Garmin GPSMAP 64s. Look at this online here.
If you have the money – It may be worth looking at the Oregon 650. This is the same as the 600 but it comes with Garmin rechargeable batteries and a built in camera. Worth the extra money if you can afford it. Look at this online here.
I know all the recomended units are Garmin's and I really do like the Satmap 12 (and feel a bit guilty for leaving it out), but it is that screen in bright sunlight that lets it down, especially with the stunning screen you find on the Garmin Oregon range.
Please call GPS Training to talk over the options - 01669 621558 - and talk to a friendly GPS expert.
- GPS Training is open 7 days a week, so please do call to talk over the options we have. You can even trade in your old unit and upgrade to a newer model. Our telephone number is 01669 621558
We can talk you through the options and answer any questions you have. Or please do call into our shop in Northumberland to see the GPS units in action.
We donít just sell you the unit, we teach you how to use it in with the price.
- Free Webinars - worth £39.98 - to get you to grips with your new Garmin GPS you get FREE places on our two Webinars - Getting started with your Garmin GPS and Getting to know BaseCamp. You participate in a live training session, all you need is a computer, broadband connection and some speakers.
- Receive a FREE copy of our factsheet - Garmin BaseCamp explained Please enter in the Additional Comments box in Shipping Details at checkout, if you require Windows or MAC version of our BaseCamp Factsheet
- FREE getting started with GPS guide, with step by step instructions of how to use your new GPS unit - compiled exclusively by GPS Training
- Receive FREE access to the Garmin GPS training - online resource (worth £11.99)
- FREE set up of your GPS unit (including installing and checking mapping card and setting unit up for UK) before it leaves Shepherds Walks. So you take it out of the box and can start using it straight away.
- FREE ongoing support from our GPS training experts - just a phone call away.
- Part exchange available on this item, just call us to discuss this further.
- Buy any GPS online from us and pay just £3.95 delivery. All GPS units are kept in stock and is sent out Royal Mail Special Delivery, so it will be with you the next working day (if ordered before 16.00).
You can see our shop details and contact details here.
What is the difference between on Garmin Outdoor GPS and the other products on the market. Well this is!