Garmin GPS Tracker vs. Garmin Handheld GPS

Understanding the Garmin GPS Tracker

Anyone from keen hikers, campers, boaters, or dedicated outdoor enthusiasts should consider bringing a Garmin GPS tracker with them, especially when venturing beyond the reach of traditional cellular networks so that their geolocation and coordinates can be logged and their precise location monitored by anyone with a device connected to the internet. Garmin trackers are compact, and robust, and serve to ping their own location to a centralized online dashboard which can be accessed and viewed by people back home, for example, friends, family, or online followers. Some Garmin satellite trackers also offer additional features like two-way communication, SOS alerts, geofencing, and integration with mobile apps. These devices are popular among outdoor enthusiasts, travelers, and individuals who need reliable location information and communication in areas with limited or no cellular coverage.

Exploring Garmin Handheld GPS Devices

Appealing to much the same audience as trackers, Garmin handheld GPS devices come with one main difference apart from their size and shape: real-time navigation. Aiding the avid hiker, hunter, camper, geocacher, and anyone else who requires accurate and reliable navigation in remote or unfamiliar areas, Garmin handhelds come with preloaded, detailed topographic mapping software to give the device carrier a crystal clear picture of their surroundings and its terrain. These durable devices give explorers a digital route to follow from point to point, allowing them to track and plan their route through foreign landscapes.

Comparing Features: Garmin GPS (Tracker vs. Handheld)

It might be easy to confuse things between the two types of satellite devices, but Garmin trackers and Garmin handhelds come with some key aspects that differentiate each other and need to be considered before purchasing.

Garmin Satellite Trackers

Tracking and Messaging:

Garmin satellite tracker UK devices are primarily designed for tracking and communication in remote areas where traditional cellular networks may not be available. They often offer two-way messaging capabilities through the globally connected Iridium satellite network, allowing users to send and receive messages regardless of mobile network coverage.

Emergency SOS:

Garmin trackers come equipped with an SOS button that, when pressed, sends an emergency distress signal with the user's GPS coordinates to emergency response centers.

Battery Life:

Due to the nature of their usage in remote environments, Garmin trackers come with long battery lives, often lasting for several days or even weeks on a single charge.

Limited Mapping:

While some satellite trackers do offer basic mapping features, they generally have limited mapping capabilities compared to Garmin handheld GPS devices.

Garmin GPS Handheld Devices

Navigation and Mapping:

Garmin handhelds are designed for navigation and mapping purposes, providing detailed topographic maps, waypoints, routes, and tracks. They often have larger screens and more advanced mapping features, including the ability to load custom maps and detailed points of interest.

Geocaching and Outdoor Activities:

These devices cater to various outdoor activities like hiking, geocaching, hunting, fishing, and more, offering specialized features for these pursuits.

Advanced Features:

Some higher-end GPS handhelds include features like barometric altimeters, electronic compasses, wireless connectivity, camera integration, and expandable memory.

Battery Life:

While Garmin handheld devices offer good battery life, they are generally not as long as satellite trackers due to the more power-intensive nature of the advanced features and larger screens.

When To Choose A Garmin GPS Tracker

Embarking on a personal challenge of any sort, whether crossing the Atlantic in a rowing boat or running across Australia, requires the need to be reliably tracked via satellite. A tracker from Garmin such as the inReach® Messenger or inReach® Mini 2, for example, could be the perfect solution due to their compact size, weight, and global abilities. They will ensure your location is accurately logged to an online dashboard so that safety teams, colleagues, or friends and family back home can easily see where you are at any given time. These trackers ping their location at different intervals which can be changed on the fly from anywhere to every two minutes to every half an hour. 

When To Opt For A Garmin Handheld GPS

Anyone who requires accurate and reliable navigation, tracking, and location-based data would benefit from a Garmin handheld GPS device. Such activities could include things like geocaching where accurate GPS coordinates are needed to find hidden containers or 'caches' in outdoor locations. A handheld GPS tracker can provide precise coordinates and help you engage in this treasure-hunting activity. On the other hand, if you are into boating, fishing, or sailing, a Garmin handheld GPS tracker designed for marine use can help you navigate water bodies, mark fishing spots, and track your routes on the water.


The overall difference between Garmin trackers and handheld GPS devices is navigational requirements. Handheld devices come with screens that display real-time route mapping and waypoint marking. Whereas their trackers are smaller and do not show anywhere near as much detail, however, they serve to pinpoint their own location so that if you are carrying it on your person while hiking through the wilderness, your location can be monitored reliably through an accessible online mapping portal. Trackers can also initiate SOS rescue missions should a situation turn dangerous.

As always, our team of experts is here to help. So, if you need any advice about Garmin GPS trackers and Garmin handhelds, contact us via:

    Leave a comment

    Other Articles


    Stay Safe at Sea: An Overview of Ocean Signal PLBs and EPIRBs

    Posted On May 15, 2024 By Guy Arnold | 31 min. read

    Taking to the water for whatever reason demands the need for reliable safety equipment so that you don't become stranded at sea should you run into difficulty. The need to be able to communicate quickly, wirelessly, and with precision is...

    view more

    SPOT 10,000 Rescues and Counting

    Posted On April 25, 2024 By Guy Arnold | 9 min. read

    Leading satellite emessaging and emergency notification technolgies provider, Globalstar, recently announced their latest rescue count has hit 10,000. This incredible milestone reflects Globalstar’s enduring commitment to safety and preparedness with their range of powerful and portable SPOT satellite messengers leading the trend. The SPOT...

    view more
    We use cookies to improve your experience on our website. Read about how we use cookies in our Privacy Policy. By browsing this website, you agree to our use of cookies. privacy policy
    accept reject

    Your cart

    Wish Lists