If the idea of searching for a buried lot has always appealed to you, there’s no need to wait until a mysterious pirate map falls into your hands while cleaning out the attic.
For the modern-day treasure hunter, there’s geocaching.
Geocaching is a great way to get active, explore nature, and have fun while searching for hidden treasures.
While it’s unlikely, you’ll strike rich with this hobby, but the thrill of finding something buried is what makes it worth pursuing.
Now, if you take your geocaching hobby seriously, you’ll need a device to help you find your way to the next cache.
Today, most smartphones have some GPS capacity, but I wouldn’t recommend them for geocaching.
First, they don’t have the same accuracy and capabilities as a traditional GPS does.
Also, geocaching is mostly done outside cities, away from the cell range, and so they might not be a great option for locating a cache.
This is not to mention most cell phones aren’t designed to handle the rugged outdoor terrain.
The solution would be to get the best GPS for geocaching.
GPS for geocaching are invaluable handheld GPS devices that make it more efficient and easier to locate your next cache.
If the idea of a GPS for geocaching sounds good to you, here is a list of the top 5 GPS in the market.
Table of Contents
The Best GPS for Geocaching For The Money
#1 Garmin eTrex 32x - EDITOR'S CHOICE
The Garmin eTrex 32x is a mixed bag. More importantly, it’s a solid and reliable GPS tracker that works well.
There’s not a ton of bells and whistles on this GPS, but if you’re in search of a purpose-built tracker to help you navigate on the trail, this bad boy might just be for you.
In particular, the tracker has proven to be a popular choice amongst the geocaching community.
Features and Benefits
Two of eTrex’s strengths are weight and size.
Garmin 32x, with a dimension of 5.4 x 10.3 x 3.3 cm and 5 pounds, is hardly noticeable in your pockets or backpack.
It fits pretty much in any bag, as it does in the palm of your hands, and will not bog you down even during the long geocaching trips.
Despite the shrink in size, the GPS remains reliable and robust. While it won’t stand up to a dip in the water for long, the IPX7 rating allows you to use it in light rain conditions and even subject it to occasional water splashes.
It will also take on a few fits or drops without breaking down.
eTrex 32x offers much better evolution over the earlier models in this format.
The straightforward and easy to 2.2″ screen with 240 by 320-pixels display is bright and provides the user with excellent readability even in the brightest sunlight.
It even has an adjustable backlit screen, which can be adjusted to suit your viewing needs.
Handling and Functions
There’s not anything sexy or snappy using the Garmin 32X.
When you switch on the device, you get the feeling that you’re stepping back in time- it’s a reminiscence of the old Nokia phones.
The menu system consists of five keys and a thumbstick, which might take some time to get used to, but can be learned quickly.
It’s also easy to operate the device with a single hand, even with my gloves on, which many touchscreens fail.
Explore the Terrain
Garmin 32x comes preloaded with TopoActive maps featuring streets and trails.
The map is based upon the OpenStreetMap database, which provides a whole range of information to help with your geocaching planning. Now you can know your surroundings much better, including locating waterways, natural features, and even finding thousands of interests.
It’s also road-routable, so you can use the device to find some interesting routes and trails without the need to return home to hook it up to the computer.
Garmin 32X uses both GPS and GLONASS to provide you with a better GPS fix.
User experience shows that track recordings on this device are generally accurate, even when under heavy forest cover.
Of course, you shouldn’t expect precise accuracy like the military-grade device do, but you shouldn’t be far off from the exact location.
Another 32x’s strength is how fast it provides the location. It doesn’t take long for the device to display the navigation features.
Garmin 32x is a great handheld GPS to bring with you while geocaching.
It supports paperless geocaching, so it’s easy to download the geocaches directly onto the device, making it easier to track the treasures than if only using your phone.
#2 Garmin eTrex 20x - Simple Option
The Garmin eTrex 20x is a reliable, all-around handheld GPS, without all the fancy bells and whistles found on more expensive alternatives.
It’s built for ease of use and durability and comes complete with all the functions you would expect in a GPS.
The device works well for non-tech-savvy and anyone who likes to keep it simple while geocaching.
Features and Benefits
eTrex 20x is the perfect device for outdoor enthusiasts.
It’s a sturdy and reliable option that easily weathers all the outdoors.
The device survives a few drops, dings, and knocks without breaking down.
Geocachers will also not have to worry about getting caught in a storm or the device getting splashed by water because it has great waterproof capabilities.
The device is also light and compact, easy on the hands, and pleasant to use. You’ll hardly notice its presence when carrying it, and you’ll love the ergonomic design, which feels comfortable in your palms.
While the eTrex 20x is simple in design, it’s a quality device when it comes to the display resolution.
It holds a similar pixel resolution to the more expensive eTrex 32x of 240 by 320 display pixel ratio.
Many users find it easy enough to read without being over the top.
Additionally, the 2.2-inch color display is large enough and easy to read even in bright sunlight conditions. It also features a 65K color technology for a more modern display experience.
Handling and Interface
The simplicity of this GPS is a real winner here.
Garmin 20x lacks any touchscreen, so it’s great for users who prefer buttons.
The menu buttons, placed along the edge and a joystick-style button mounted on the device’s face, are large enough for easy use, even with gloves on.
Users find it easy to navigate the menu on this no-fuss device, and beginners should find using it a breeze.
Another aspect that makes this device stand out from the crowd is the internal memory of 3.7 GB.
Storage might be underwhelming, especially compared to the 8 GB we saw earlier of our editor’s choice, but it’s enough to load extra maps.
Anything from TOPO 24K, City Navigator NT to HuntView can be at your fingertips, so you never have to struggle to determine the geographical features or waypoints in your location.
It’s easy to attain signals in both covered and wide-open spaces.
The device utilizes both GLONASS and GPS satellite navigation to allow you to lock on to a position accurate within feet.
However, the reception tends to suffer a bit in covered terrains such as the thickly dense forests.
Nonetheless, the device is fast to attain a signal.
Geocache in the Wilderness
Whether you’re new to geocaching or a veteran, this device is here to support you with passion.
With the support for geocaching GPX files, the Garmin 20x lets you download geocaches and eliminate paper to find caches.
It can store and display geocache information, including terrain, hints, location, and difficulty, so you don’t have to enter coordinates or even carry around paper printouts.
If you need a navigator to serve you for several days, this might not be the best option. Rather, you might need to bring a power source with you.
The average estimated battery life of this device is 25 hours on GPS, so we would advise that you only use it when you need it.
However, nothing would stop you from using it for two or three days if you take a power bank with you.
#3 Garmin eTrex 10 - Budget Option
The Garmin eTrex 10 is, in our opinion, the best budget option GPS device for geocaching.
It’s a small, lightweight device with excellent battery life.
You get a straightforward and simple device that won’t win you any design prizes.
As you would expect with the device at this price point, it’s not loaded with plenty of features, but guess what? We think it can still do a pretty amazing job for geocaching and other outdoor activities.
Features and Benefits
eTrex 10, with a distinctive black and yellow color scheme, is small and compact.
It’s lightweight, too, so many users find it easy to carry the device.
The GPS is further surrounded by a thick plastic casing, with an ergonomically designed grip on the side, which feels pleasant to hold.
Despite being a budget purchase, it doesn’t cut corners with the ruggedness. It has an IPX7 rating to easily survive getting exposed to water for up to 30 minutes. In reality, it’s a waterproof device that can even be used in the rain.
As with our previously reviewed Garmin GPSes, this option has a 2.2” display, sufficient to accommodate all your geocaching data.
Unfortunately, it has a low resolution of 128 by 160 pixels, which doesn’t provide the detail and clarity of the other more expensive devices.
While the readings are a bit blurry, they’re not in all un-readable. It’s easy to read, and the display is transflective, so you can even read in bright sunshine.
By now, you’re already familiar with the eTrex range, and you know their GPSes are button-operated.
They all have an iconic joystick on the face of the GPS for scrolling the different menus.
Additionally, the GPS has buttons on the sides for zooming in and out and returning to the homepage. The side buttons are also responsible for regulating the level of brightness.
If you’ve used the button-type controls before, you’ll find operating the Garmin eTrex10 a bit awkward and clumsy. After a few days, though, you’ll find that it becomes straightforward, and I dare say, intuitive to use.
Plus, the buttons are more resilient than touchscreens as they don’t easily get affected by the conditions. They’re also easy to operate even with your gloves on.
Straight up, we’ve to address the elephant in the room.
The eTrex 10 lacks any mapping whatsoever. Instead, you get a Worldwide Basemap.
This means if you’re to go on geocaching, you’ll have to pre-plan all of your routes.
Fortunately, the device can store up to 50 routes, 1000 waypoints, and 100 tracks. But this is all you can store on this device since it only has a measly 6 MB of memory and lacks an internal SD slot for extra space.
The eTrex 10 might have lacked on the mapping, but it makes up for that with navigation.
It used both GPS and GLONASS satellites to achieve a better position of your bearing.
And that’s not all!
It employs HotFix satellite prediction to find and obtain a satellite lock on your position faster. The technology works by collecting your previous data and using this to predict your location. However, it may take longer if you’re thousands of miles away from your last location.
In addition to HotFix, this device also uses WAAS or a Wide Area Augmentation System, to provide better positional accuracy. The result is that your location is accurate within 3 meters, over 95% of all time.
Garmin eTrex10 is a fantastic option for those who plan to do some geocaching because it supports Geocache GPX files’ uploading.
This way, you get all the information you need for your next treasure hunt, including a map, feature, location, hint, and so much more.
#4 Garmin Oregon 700 - Touchscreen Option
It’s easy to mistake the Oregon 700 to be a smartphone.
After all, the device looks and feels like a smartphone, especially with its touchscreen and dual-orientation features.
While everything points towards a smartphone, it’s far from it when you dig deeper.
There’re a few stand out features that make the Oregon 700 a true handheld GPS device.
Features and Benefits
There’s no getting away from the fact that Oregon 700 closely resembles a smartphone.
It’s much smaller, though with its dimensions of 2.4″ x 4.5″ x 1.3″, it makes it better suited for carrying by hand while walking.
Oregon’s casing also has some rubberized grips, which help with grip and add to the device’s overall sturdiness.
It’s waterproof too, and with an IPX7 rating, you should be comfortable bringing the device even in a storm.
The 3-inch color display is larger than most of the models we’ve already reviewed and is easier to read.
The 240 x 400 pixels resolution is also higher, and while it can’t directly compare with that of the latest smartphones, it’s ultra-vivid.
It lets you see the screen with greater detail and clarity, even when you’re out in direct sunlight.
Oregon, continuing with its smartphone theme, particularly the touchscreen feature, is easy to use and user-friendly.
Users find it easier to operate the device compared to the traditional button and joystick design.
Another pretty cool aspect of the screen is the dual orientation function that lets you move the screen around.
The display rights itself as it tilts and turns in your hands, meaning the screen will always be the “correct way up” as you travel.
As with the eTrex 10, Oregon doesn’t come preloaded with maps.
It’s a deal-breaker, but if you’re only looking for some geocaching fun, it doesn’t matter that much.
However, before you make your next trip, you’ll first need to pre-plan your route.
The Oregon 700 uses both GPS and GLONASS satellite systems to give you a bearing of your location.
It has an amplified antenna that allows the device to lock into position much faster, so it won’t keep you waiting for long.
Another plus with Oregon is the smartphone connectivity that allows users to receive messages on the screen. It’s useful when you need to keep in touch with the rest of the world when deep in the jungle.
More importantly, this feature lets you utilize other features such as live tracking data, and active weather reports.
There’re numerous methods of finding geocache with the unit, but the most effective is uploading the GPX files directly from your home computer to the device.
Alternatively, you can connect the GPS to the geocaching website wirelessly.
Finding a geocache with the device is pretty straightforward as the uploaded files have all the information you need. You’ll access hints, descriptions and even get notified when you’re in the vicinity of a chirp.
#5 Magellan eXplorist - Waterproof Option
The final pick on our list of the best GPS for geocaching is an option tailored to suit the outdoor adventurers’ needs.
It comes with everything you would need for geocaching, and most importantly, it’s available at a budget-friendly price.
Features and Benefits
One of the selling points of the Magellan is the rugged build.
This option is super sturdy and built to take on the severe outdoors.
It takes on the hits, bumps, and falls like a champ and rarely breaks down.
Magellan’s IPX7 rating also gives you confidence in using the GPS even in the wet and rainy conditions as it’s not easily compromised.
Magellan eXplorist features a 2.2” screen display, a standard size among many GPS devices.
It’s large enough to see details with ease, yet, small enough for portability.
The device is compact and lightweight, perfect for those who have to trek for long distances for geocaching.
Unfortunately, the manufacturer hasn’t indicated the actual pixel resolution in the description, but what we know is that it’s clear enough to allow users to see all the details.
Even better, it has a transflective display type, so it’s even easier to read the screen even in brighter, sunny conditions.
Using the Magellan eXplorist is a delight, and beginners will find it a breeze operating the device.
Magellan eXplorist’s operating system consists of easy-to-use simple controls and menus.
The buttons are easy to push, even when your gloves are on.
The Magellan eXplorist comes preloaded with a map, but it’s very basic, even for simple hiking treks.
It lacks some of the basic features you would expect for a map for casual geocachers, leave alone the professional hikers or backpackers.
Nonetheless, it still offers a decent guide of your location, but you would be better at pre-planning your route.
The navigation capabilities of Magellan eXplorist aren’t the best on our list because it only relies on GPS satellites.
It’s ideal for basic navigation capabilities and will give a pretty accurate orientation, especially in wide-space open areas.
However, it may struggle a bit to achieve orientation if you’re in densely-covered areas.
The Magellan eXplorist, like most of the reviewed items on the list, supports outdoor paperless geocaching along with providing a continuous wireless connection.
It allows you to upload Geocaching GPX files, which give you a pretty detailed description of where to find geocaches in the wild.
Best GPS for Geocaching Buying Guide
While you could do geocaching with any handheld device, numerous features separating these devices.
In the text below, we shall provide a guide outlining everything you need to know when selecting your next GPS for geocaching devices.
What to Consider When Selecting a GPS for Geocaching
Your geocaching GPS must be durable and waterproof.
It should be able to withstand elements and survive through rigorous activities.
If you’re worried about its integrity, you can even add a protector and case for extra cushioning.
Your GPS is of no use if it has short battery life.
Suppose you’re in the wilderness looking for the cache, and your GPS dies. Absolute nightmare, right?
So, when choosing a GPS, consider the battery life to avoid such mishaps.
Most of the GPS devices run with AA batteries, although some of them have rechargeable batteries.
Either way, if you’re into the rigorous no-stop hunt for your cache, then we suggest you choose a device that offers at least 20+ hours of runtime to keep you covered.
The bigger the screen, the more easily you can read it to see where you are.
However, bigger screens also translate to a bulkier device overall, so it depends on your priorities.
Some of the GPS devices also offer extra features on their screens, such as backlighting and essential features in low light conditions or higher contrast for readability in bright sunlight.
When geocaching to far-off locations, you don’t want to be weighed down by your GPS.
The least you can do to keep light is investing in a compact, lightweight, and portable GPS.
Your choice of GPS should be easy to stash into your backpack or even pocket. It shouldn’t also be hefty to bog you down.
Remember, you’ll also be carrying water, snacks, and other essentials, so a lightweight device is a huge plus.
Your choice of GPS receiver should sync well with the available satellite.
Generally, most of the devices are compatible with GPS satellites, but there’re also other navigation systems such as GLONASS.
Screen Size and Type
While we’re all-in captivity of the touch-screen devices, there’re actually some amazing GPS with buttons that provide performance just as good as the touch-screen ones.
We’ve reviewed both options on our list, so you simply need to weigh out the pros and cons of yourself to figure out which is a better option for you.
The price varies on the higher side for the touch screens, though.
Buttoned GPS also tends to be more durable and are easier to operate.
Some of the high-end GPS come pre-installed with maps.
Others will even allow you to download a map of your choice from the web.
We recommend GPS with topographic maps, which are quite different from the street maps we generally see.
The topo maps will show you various details, including the actual topographic features in your locality.
Storage is crucial when deciding on the perfect GPS as it determines the amount of information you can store in the device.
However, GPS storage isn’t similar to your smartphone storage. It won’t allow you to store your movies, games, or audio files. Rather, it only stores the Geocaching maps, routes, and waypoints.
When choosing a GPS, it’s always a good idea to consider the number of accessories or, rather, extras the GPS comes bundled with.
It may be in the form of a carry case or extra batteries.
But what you should consider most is the number of extra features it has.
Today, many of the GPS comes pre-loaded with various extras such as altimeters, compass, temperature sensor, and much more.
A barometer is handy in helping you determine the pressure of the atmosphere around you, while the electronic compass gives you an accurate bearing of your location.
While some of these features aren’t always necessary for geocaching, they might prove quite handy in emergency situations.
Finally, you need to choose a GPS that fits your budget.
But remember, you get what you pay for.
Most of the higher-priced GPS has lots of features and are reliable too.
But it doesn’t mean the budget options are flimsy; it all depends on what you want.
Fortunately, we’ve compiled a range of products from affordable to premium options.
Wrap Up: Our Choice
Our list of the best GPS for geocaching has some exciting options, but you would be hard-pressed to find anything better than the Garmin eTrex 32x.
It’s a true performer, and in between the double-navigation, easy handling, to geocaching capabilities, you’ll find delight using the GPS tracker.
It runs a bit expensive, though, but the pricing is reflective of the performance. It will cater to your geocaching needs even in the most rugged conditions.