The Best GPS Devices of 2013
Magellan eXplorist 510 Topo Edition
BEST FOR: Outdoorsmen, Geocachers, and Adventure Racers
If your outing requires serious backcountry navigation, there’s no substitute for a traditional, dedicated GPS unit. It has more user-friendly features and will find more satellites when you’re in a canyon or forest. Magellan’s up-armored, waterproof eXplorist lets you attach photos and voice memos to your waypoints and comes bundled with full-color National Geographic topo maps that you download via (Windows-only) computer.
BEST FOR: Workouts
While the Ambit is a fully functioning GPS device, it isn’t going to help you in the car (no streets or directions), and its face is a bit small for intensive route finding. Instead, the easy-to-use Ambit is all about tracking your movements (running, cycling, and hiking) and calculating pace and vertical gain while integrating heart rate and calorie-burn estimates. Plus it can lead you home and comes with free upgrades: simply plug it into your PC to download new features.
Garmin Nuvi 3597 LMTHD
BEST FOR: Drivers
While smartphone mapping apps get the job done, they also burn through data plans, run down your battery, and cause havoc when your boss calls. For seeking out new locations, exploring unfamiliar towns, and traffic-clogged commutes, a windshield-mounted PND (personal navigation device) with a colorful, responsive touchscreen like the 3597 is still your best bet. Commuters will love the HD Digital Traffic feature, which pings you with updates every 30 seconds, allowing for quick, hands-free rerouting if an accident occurs up ahead.
Trimble Outdoors Navigator App
BEST FOR: Fast-and-Light Missions
Trimble Outdoors’ free Navigator app (available for all Android and iOS devices) taps into your phone’s built-in GPS to let you navigate even when you don’t have cell service. It doesn’t have as many bells and whistles as a dedicated GPS, and you’ll run out of juice sooner, but it turns your phone into a legitimate, reliable, backcountry-worthy route finder.