Best Handheld GPS For Ice Fishing – 2020 Top Picks

Planning an ice fishing expedition requires a lot of prior planning. You need proper gear and warm clothing to keep out the cold. One more essential thing that you need is a handheld GPS. And not just any handheld GPS, but the best one.

Winter is an ideal time to fish. All the catchable species are available, and they are easier to reel in. That’s because the cold temperatures naturally slow them. But once you have found the perfect fishing spot, you don’t want it to be crawling with other ice fishing enthusiasts. That’s why having a GPS is important. You can use it to find your way and save the location of your perfect hole without leaving any noticeable markers.

In this article, we have listed some of the best handheld GPS for ice fishing. Read on to learn more and find a suitable one for yourself.

Our Top Picks for Best Handheld GPS For Ice Fishing

  • Large internal memory
  • Dual battery
  • Extra features
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  • Quick position finding
  • Safe to use
  • Long battery life
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  • Best for the Money
  • Extra features
  • Dual battery
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Comparison of the Best Handheld GPS For Ice Fishing

IMAGEPRODUCT
  • Large internal memory of up to 4 Gigabytes
  • Uses the dual battery system while batteries can be charged while installed
  • Temperature sensor and heart rate monitor are only some of the many extras included
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  • WAAS GPS receiver included for enhanced position finding option
  • Store waypoints to help you keep track of progress
  • Batteries will last for up to 20 hours
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  • Best for the Money
  • Temperature sensor and heart rate monitor are included among others
  • Uses the dual battery system for longer battery life
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  • Sonar scanning included to show what is in the water
  • Make use of the waypoint map to view locations
  • Built-in flasher for improved versatility
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  • Comes with the fish finder technology included
  • Uses the LED beacon for better visibility
  • Very accurate sonar readings as deep as 135 feet
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When Would a Handheld GPS Come in Handy While Ice Fishing?

Ice fishing requires familiarity with the location. While maps are the traditional method, this familiarity can be best achieved by using a handheld GPS. With one of these, you can easily learn about the territory and its water bodies even if you are there for the first time. And this is not the only time when it is useful. Some other instances when a handheld GPS would come in handy are discussed below. 

Show Bottom Contours in Precise Detail

Modern GPS maps drafted nowadays are very detail-oriented. Not only do they show the lake and its surrounding territory, but they also showcase every nook and cranny underneath the water surface, that, too, in great detail. Using one of these, you can easily locate the spots that have a large concentration of fish. 

Keep Tabs on Your Favorite Spots

Moving towards your favorite fishing spot only to find that you are unable to relocate it is certainly frustrating. That’s where a handheld GPS comes in handy. Every GPS device allows you to create markers. So using it, you can easily pin your favorite fishing spots and save them for future reference. 

Help You Find Your Way to Them

Once you have saved your favorite fishing spots, you can also use your GPS unit to get back to them. It will generate an accurate and convenient route for you to follow. That way, instead of wasting time uselessly roaming about, you can actually reach your spot quickly and spend more time fishing. 

What to Look For in a Handheld GPS While Shopping

One of the important skills in fishing, in general, is the ability to navigate properly. That is possible when you have a reliable handheld GPS. Navigators come in all shapes and sizes, but not every model is the right one for ice fishing applications. So what should you look for when you’re shopping for a handheld GPS? Here are some factors to look out for:

Big Non-Reflective Display

Ice fishing is a sport that is enjoyed during the day. And since you will use your device outside, it should have a non-reflective display screen. Such a screen is very convenient as it is easily readable even under the direct sun. This way, you don’t have to go to the shade every time you want to check it. Also, a bigger screen is easier to read. 

Base Map

Carrying maps around, especially when you are fishing, gets tiresome. That’s why GPS units feature in-built base maps. Using these, you can easily spot the important landmarks and water bodies surrounding you. An in-built base map can also help you view satellites quickly, improving your fishing adventure.

Water-Proofing

Ice fishing is a water activity. It means that all of your gear runs the risk of getting wet and, worse, soaked. So when you are out shopping for a handheld GPS, make sure to purchase a water-resistant one.

This ensures the durability of your device. Waterproofing also means that the device will last long, even after multiple exposures. 

Floating Design

GPS gadgets made for water sports feature a floating design. This ensures that even if you accidentally drop it in water, you can still get it back. Such devices don’t sink to the bottom. Instead, they keep floating on the surface so you can easily locate and regain them.

ReelSonar Wireless Fish Finder can be synched to your phone.

Quick Take | Best Handheld GPS For Ice Fishing

Just looking for the three best handheld GPS units for ice fishing? Here they are:

  1. Garmin GPSMAP 64s
  2. Garmin eTrex 10
  3. Garmin GPSMAP 64st

Review of the Best Handheld GPS Units For Ice Fishing

Knowing your way around is very important in ice fishing, especially when you are in unknown territory. Yet, not every GPS unit is designed for ice fishing. For this purpose, you can only rely on a quality unit. But what would be the best handheld GPS for you?

Here are some products that, we believe, will make your upcoming fishing experience fun, worthwhile, and safe. 

Best Overall:
Garmin GPSMAP 64s

Garmin GPSMAP 64s Worldwide with High-Sensitivity GPS and GLONASS Receiver

PROS

  • Features a high-quality and robust build
  • Compact size fits in the palm of the hand
  • Non-reflective and colored display screen
  • Equipped with an extra sensitive quad-helix antenna 
  • Contains a microSD card slot and 8GB internal memory

CONS

  • Supplementary 24 maps have no updates
  • Shows different moving and stopped time readings

What Recent Buyers Report

This little device has a ton of feedback backing it up. Users are mostly happy and more than satisfied with its performance. It acquires signals quickly, is very easy to use, and does not take much time to figure out the current location. Users also like that it comes with a year subscription to Bird's Eye View Satellite.

Why it Stands Out to Us

We really like it for the high-sensitivity GPS and GLONASS receiver. It works with a quad-helix antenna and defines your position accurately, even under a heavy cover or amongst dense forests or canyons.

It features a 2.6-inch full-color screen. You can easily read it in the brightest sunlight, thanks to the non-reflective display. The device itself is very durable. It handles rough usage under tough circumstances without having any issue. 

Although it has an 8GB built-in memory, you can further increase it by inserting a microSD card in the respective slot. Garmin's intelligent creation also has a three-axis compass with a barometric altimeter and a heart rate monitor so you can determine the directions and examine yourself with this little device.

Bottom Line

If you are planning an ice fishing trip soon, we strongly suggest that you take this unit with you. With its quick navigation, not only can you find your way more easily, but you can also save your waypoints and related data inside its vast storage. It is a versatile device that not only helps you navigate your way but also keeps your health in check, which is very important when you are ice fishing. 

Runner-up:
Garmin eTrex 10

Garmin eTrex 10 Worldwide Handheld GPS Navigator

PROS

  • Very easy to use
  • Has a long battery life
  • Preloaded with a worldwide base map 
  • Features rugged construction and is waterproof
  • GPS and GLONASS support improves speed and accuracy

CONS

  • Mapping capabilities are lacking
  • Monochromatic display is difficult to read in the sunlight

What Recent Buyers Report

Garmin eTrex 10 is a popular entry-level GPS. Buyers have been using this amazing little device flawlessly. They really like the compact size and the functional joystick. The useful tool makes it very easy and fun to use. The land navigation is spot-on, and it has a long battery life. It only has a bit of a learning curve before you can use it effortlessly. 

Why it Stands Out to Us

The unit caught our attention with its rugged design and budget price. It features a simple 2.2-inch monochromatic display. The lower resolution makes it very easy to read. It also features a big toggle button on the front panel that you can use to navigate the menu and to pan maps. 

Though the design is pretty simple, this is a very sensitive device. The receiver is WAAS-enabled and features HotFix satellite prediction. So it can track your location much faster with high accuracy. Regardless of the cover, this will keep constant track of your position even in dense woods and deep canyons.

The Garmin eTrex 10 also allows you to switch between different profiles. It comes preloaded with geocaching, recreational, fitness, and marine profiles. You can switch amongst these without having to scroll through the screen a lot. And you can even draft customized profiles to keep up with your unique demands. Hence, it is one of the most versatile handheld GPS. 

Bottom Line

This is the most cost-effective option in our review. Although it is a basic unit, it boasts impressive speed and accuracy. The size, durable construction, waterproofing, and long battery life make it a smart choice. You can use it in the nastiest of weather without worrying. With its great land navigation capability, it will take you wherever you want to go, just as long as that destination is pre-planned. 

Best for the Money:
Garmin GPSMAP 64st

Garmin GPSMAP 64st, TOPO U.S. 100K with High-Sensitivity GPS and GLONASS Receiver

PROS

  • Lightweight and very easy to carry around
  • Features a sunlight-readable full-color screen
  • GPS and GLONASS support makes it very sensitive
  • Receives email, texts, and alerts from compatible smartphones
  • Smart Notification, wireless connectivity through ANT or Bluetooth

CONS

  • User manual is very lacking
  • Battery does not last very long 

What Recent Buyers Report

Garmin GPS products have a cult following, and the GPSMAP 64st is no different. Buyers mostly like it and report that it is fast and very accurate, has never lost signal on them, and is very sturdy and reliable. The multiple connectivity options are also something noteworthy. 

Why it Stands Out to Us

The first thing we noticed about this unit is its external antenna. This feature not only improves its sensitivity but also adds an element of design to the overall look. The antenna is quad-helix and greatly improves satellite reception. This way, regardless of the cover, you can easily learn about your position whether deep inside a cave or lost in a dense forest. In addition, you can use it as a hassle-free outdoor guide. Simply start putting your waypoints from the beginning and it will draft a route for you to follow on your way back. 

It has an in-built, three-axis compass and a barometric altimeter. The compass is extremely accurate and the altimeter lets you know about altitude. This is a very good feature, especially if you are planning to sneak off-route for some mountain or rock climbing during your ice fishing adventure. It also enables you to keep a check on weather and time.

Bottom Line

Overall, this unit is a good GPS to plan your next ice fishing trip with. It keeps you updated about the location, pressure, and temperature. It allows you to set a route prior to setting out or mark your own route with waypoints. It is very easy to use and comes with the built-in worldwide base map and preloaded TOPO U.S. 100K maps. 

Garmin 010-01550-00 Striker 4 with Transducer, 3.5' GPS Fishfinder with Chirp Traditional Transducer

PROS

  • Waterproof unit is safe to use
  • Backlit LCD is very easy to read
  • Battery life is reliably long-lasting
  • Features a built-in high-sensitivity GPS
  • Water temperature log and graph make ice fishing easy

CONS

  • Imaging quality could be better 
  • Does not have proper NMEA connectivity

What Recent Buyers Report

Buyers really like the intuitive and user-friendly interface. They say that it is a great GPS, and they particularly like the fish finding feature. It is very accurate in both deep and shallow water, so they are very happy with its performance. It has a lot of attractive features for such a small price, making it a great investment. 

Why it Stands Out to Us

This is one essential gadget for you to have on your next ice fishing trip. It is highly equipped for better navigation with a 3.5-inch (diagonally), full-color touch screen so you can enjoy crystal clear images. This comes in handy when you want to correctly detect underwater surroundings, topography, and fish locations. 

It comes with a very sensitive built-in GPS. The handheld device uses it to navigate efficiently and to detect likely fish locations. With its high-precision GPS module, it can find the right fishing spots accurately. 

One of the reasons it is very popular amongst anglers is its modes. The different modes help you fish better under different circumstances. The traditional mode allows you to observe the bottom surface and underwater objects. Meanwhile, the flasher mode works with the sonar beams to understand the depth of the water and measure the strength accurately.  

Bottom Line

Garmin 010-01550-00 Striker 4 greatly improves your chances of success in your ice fishing endeavor. It comes with advanced navigation facilities and clear imagery of the bottom structure so that you can enjoy your fishing trip to the fullest. It also has all the essential features that are a must for a fish finder.

ReelSonar Wireless Bluetooth Smart Fish Finder

PROS

  • Highly accurate
  • Does not consume a lot of power
  • Mobile fish finder is very easy to use 
  • Compatible with both iOS and Android devices
  • Portable device fits inside pockets, pouches, and bags

CONS

  • Can sometimes misread the depth
  • Loses connection with incoming calls

What Recent Buyers Report

People who have purchased it really like using it. They say that setting it up is a breeze as the instructions are clear and very easy to follow. It cut the time in half since they didn’t have to wait for fish to show up. The tool pinpointed the fish anchored on bars and drop-offs. They also liked the low power consumption, which, according to them, lasts all day on a single full charge. 

Why it Stands Out to Us

The ReelSonar fish finder is a unique device that allows you to see a graphic representation of the scenery below the surface of the water. Just attach it to a cast, and it will use sonar techniques to map the body of water and show you the fish. Using it really makes it easier to direct your efforts towards the spots with a high probability of success. 

The ultralight device easily syncs with both IOS and Android devices. You can use it for a variety of fishing settings. Furthermore, it has a casting range of 100 feet and can measure depths up to 135 feet. 

You can also use it to log the location and other related data and to read water temperature, rainfall, and wind speeds. It allows you to save a trip log with the location, type of fishing, and species of fish caught. This way, you will have a record that you can look back on. 

Bottom Line

All in all, the ReelSonar Wireless Fish Finder is a useful device, especially for people who own lighter rods. It has all the features of a great finder, and it doubles up as a handheld GPS that is very accurate and precise. Moreover, the cool features like the fish alarm really make this an attractive purchase.

Advantages of Investing in a Quality Handheld GPS For Ice Fishing

For decades, fishermen have relied on lake maps available from government agencies. As they were made before the advent of the navigation system, they bear little relation to reality. They only did as much to present a general idea of where certain spots could be. 

But today, thanks to computer-aided mapping technology, we have very realistic maps that are certainly handy in the form of a GPS unit. There are some more advantages associated with investing in a quality handheld GPS for Ice fishing. Let’s have a look. 

Prevent You From Getting Lost

As mentioned above, GPS mapping is more realistic. These gadgets display location coordinates in real-time with great accuracy, so using one of these on your ice fishing venture ensures that you are not lost. Even in a place, you have never been to before, this amazing device will help you place markers to find your way around as well. 

Help You Find New Fishing Spots

For creating GPS mapping technology, some private mappers worked hard to create very precise and detailed maps. Some of these maps are specially made for ice fishers. They show every nook and cranny on a huge lake and generate a map showing all of the subtleties in the bottom contours. So using one of these helps you find new fishing spots. 

Keep Track of the Older Ones 

Every fisherman has a favorite spot or two where he/she gets lucky all the time. Keeping track of such spots is very hard when you are ice fishing. But with a handheld GPS, you can easily mark, save, and relocate those spots for future trips. 

Pinpoint Hot Spots

As mentioned earlier, GPS shows detailed lake maps. Some of these maps even pinpoint the likely hotspots.

This way, instead of spending your day drilling holes, you can simply drive up to the spot and start fishing, and not only in the areas you know well. With one of these, you can easily locate likely ice fishing spots on lakes where you’ve never wet a line before. 

How Accurate Are Handheld GPS Units? 

The modern GPS technology we use nowadays has improved beyond recognition. A number of factors, like antenna position, signal strength, augmentation system, and the unit's positioning, also come into play when determining accuracy. 

Generally, handheld models manufactured these days can navigate the user through whiteouts, desert washes, bluebird outings, and fog-covered forests. Even the cheaper models available on the market can pinpoint the user’s location to at least ten meters. Meanwhile, commercial-grade units can obtain coordinates with a horizontal accuracy of approximately three meters. 

How to Use a Handheld GPS

Though GPS systems are relatively new technology, they have quickly become an essential part of any outlander’s gear. Whether you are a casual hiker, a professional hunter, or an avid ice fisher, you really cannot do without one. 

But one thing that you must know about these gadgets is that they are meant to accompany a map, and not to be used as a replacement. Since they completely rely on the signals, you can receive inaccurate information as you go in and out of service. 

There are two ways of using the GPS. One is to set out with a planned route to your destination. The other is to set out without a planned route. Here is how to use a handheld GPS in both instances. 

Planned Route

This method helps when you know your destination. Here is how to go about it. 

Download the Map

The best thing about a handheld GPS is that you can download the map in advance. Doing so enables it to generate multiple routes to your destination. This way, you can plan your route in advance before setting out.

Garmin eTrex 10

Set Your Destination and Choose a Suitable Route

Once you have the map, set your destination on it. Now put in your starting point. The GPS will highlight some possible routes to reaching your goal. Choose a route that you find more suitable.

Create the Waypoints on the Map

On this route, tag your starting point. Now choose some landmarks and other helpful pointers and set them as waypoints towards your destination. These will work as pointers, and the GPS will guide you from point to point as you go. 

Unplanned Route

This method is mostly used in outlander trips, especially hikes. Here is how to navigate your way on an unplanned route. 

Download the Map

The first thing you should do is download the map of the area you are planning to explore. This way, you will have the necessary information about the different landmarks and routes. 

Set Your Starting Point and Create Your Waypoints on the Way

Once you have the map, mark your starting point. This can be a spot where you parked your car or the beginning point of the trail you are taking. Now set out and create your waypoints as you go. You can mark a waypoint every couple of miles or when you hit a landmark. 

Handheld GPS devices also allow you to personalize these markers with a name or small description and sometimes a photo too. You can use the route planned to make your way back to the starting point at the end of your adventure. 

Handheld GPS devices are fairly easy to use. But if you are having problems, you can use the video given below to understand better. 

Conclusion

Contrary to what most people believe, the GPS on your cellphone is not as accurate as any proper handheld worldwide GPS. The accuracy also decreases when you are out of ice fishing on a promising lake, and the cellphone signals lose their strength. That’s why you need the best handheld GPS for ice fishing to guide you.

We have laid the best systems out for you now. The devices we have listed are certainly good for just about any outlander activity, but they are the best for ice fishing. These are high-quality, durable units that are very efficient and easy to use. So pick up any model and enjoy a stress-free ice fishing adventure. 

People Also Ask

A handheld GPS is certainly a handy piece of technology. But you may have some queries boggling your mind. Here are some frequently asked questions to help put your mind at ease. 

Garmin 010-01550-00 Striker 4

How Handheld GPS Works

Handheld GPS pick data from orbital satellites. They do so at the speed of light and determine the precise location using three major components: the main satellite in space, receivers on the ground, and the handheld GPS device you carry. 

The satellites rotate around the earth’s orbit and collect navigation data. At any one time, your handheld GPS will obtain data from either three or four satellites to improve accuracy.

The receivers are located on the surface of the earth. They are controlled at the main station by monitors and antennas. They pick up the data coming from the satellites. 

A receiver receives data from all satellites at the same time so it can become distorted. The master control station then processes it to determine your exact location, which is then displayed on your GPS device. 

Who Makes the Best Handheld GPS?

After thoroughly researching and testing different handheld GPS devices, we can confidently say that Garmin makes the best handheld GPS systems. It is an American multinational technology company that offers innovative GPS technology. Their range of products is spread across diverse markets like aviation, outdoor recreation, marine, fitness, mobile apps, and tracking. Their units are accurate and durable, with vast memory storage and long-lasting battery life.