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Best GPS For Rockhounding: 3 Best GPSes of the Year 2021

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Rockhounding is a favorite pastime of rock enthusiasts of all ages across the country. It’s both active and intellectually engaging. You need little else than good weather, a hiking backpack, hiking shoes or boots, a guidebook, and a good GPS system to locate rocks.

The best GPS device for rockhounding is the Garmin Oregon 750T (Amazon link) for the simple fact that it comes with more advanced features compared to other models.

Handheld GPS devices have come a long way in recent years. Let’s compare this device with two others to show why it is the best GPS on the market for this activity. Based on the capabilities and more complex features, you will see why this GPS system rocks the market!

If you are interested in checking out the best GPS for rockhounding you can find them by clicking here (Amazon link).

The Top Three GPS Devices for Outdoor Activities

Best GPS For Rockhounding
Best GPS For Rockhounding

There are a lot of GPS devices on the market with a wide array of capabilities and prices. Based on market research and product reviews, there are three devices that are highly recommended for outdoor activities like rockhounding. They are (Amazon links):

Garmin Oregon 750T

The many virtual and physical features of the Garmin Oregon 750T (Amazon link) make it the best device for rockhounds. Its many capabilities enhance the whole experience of hunting for rocks, documenting interesting finds, and recording the whole adventure.

Physical Features of the Oregon 750T

This model has a lot of great physical features that make it durable and user-friendly for outdoor activity. These features include:

  • 3-inch screen
  • Shaded relief
  • 8 megapixel autofocus camera with led flash/TORCH
  • Customizable buttons for 1-touch waypoint marking
  • Reflective display technology for use in the sunlight
  • Best readable touch screen on the market
  • Impact resistant screen body
  • State-of-the-art dual battery system
  • Optional rechargeable NiMH pack (not included with purchase of the device)
  • Built-in 3-axis electronic compass with accelerometer tilt compensation to show where you are heading even when you are stationary or not holding it level
  • Barometric altimeter tracks changes in pressure to pinpoint your precise altitude

One of the benefits of the barometric altimeter is that it can be used to plot barometric pressure over time to track real-time changes in weather conditions.

The 8-megapixel autofocus camera also gives users the ability to take clear and detailed images of their geologic finds.

Virtual Capabilities of the Oregon 750T

The satellite, tracking, and software technology this GPS device offers is a must-have for “rock jocks” on the hunt.

The Oregon 750T is a high-sensitivity GPS and GLONASS (Global Navigation Satellite System) provides real-time position and velocity determination (for military and civilian users).

GLONASS is the technology used by the Russian space program. It is a bit excessive for rockhounding but fun if unnecessary to use. However, it is recommended to stick with GNSS (Global Navigation Satellite System)  when navigating:

  • Mountains
  • Cities
  • Forests with a high density of trees.

This GPS system comes with a worldwide base map that includes political boundaries and major cities. Oregon 750T users can load TOPO U.S. 24K maps, add Trailhead Series TOPO maps and explore such renowned treks as the Appalachian Trail and the Pacific Crest Trail.

The WASS (wide-area augmentation system) air navigation aid developed by the Federal Aviation Administration to augment the Global Positioning System (GPS)- improves the accuracy and integrity of tracking and positioning.

This feature also enhances the Garmin Oregon 750T’s (Amazon link) ability to maintain position in both heavy cover and deep canyons for the most serious of rockhounds.

Oregon also has the following capabilities:

  • Holds up to 4 million images
  • Downloads all caches on OpenCaching.com
  • Loads caches from GSAK
  • Filters caches by
    • Size
    • Terrain
    • Difficulty
    • Type
  • Connects to chirp-enabled caches
  • Records your logs in the field

All of these features allow you to chart your course and save your maps for future visits or to share with friends. Serious rockhounds will have the ability to save images and detailed information about each trek.

One of the benefits of the barometric altimeter is that it can be used to plot barometric pressure over time to track real-time changes in weather conditions.

Additional features and capabilities

This device allows you to share wirelessly. You can share:

  • Waypoints
  • Tracks
  • Routes
  • Photos
  • Maps

The 750T geocaches are up to 50 times faster compared to other wireless compatible Garmin handheld devices. Users can also add more maps and custom maps.

The plug-in BlueChart g2 includes preloaded cards for a day on the water. While the City Navigator can be loaded to provide map data for turn-by-turn routing on roads.

All paperless geocaching gestures will be there for every cache.

This GPS system can display topographic map data in 2-D or 3-D on your computer screen. It includes contour lines and elevation profiles for an accurately detailed image.

BaseCamp software, which is free to use, allows you to organize the following features for your next rockhounding trip:

  • Maps
  • Waypoints
  • Routes
  • Tracks

Finally, the Oregon 750 device is outfitted with the Connect IQ Platform, making it Garmin’s first non-wearable device to include this feature. The Connect IQ Platform enables users to access to utilize more apps than ever before.

Check out the latest prices for Garmin Oregon 750T on Amazon here (Amazon link).

TIP: Not only GPS devices are suitable for rockhounding. You can also try using a metal detector or a Geiger counter. Find out more about these two devices in the articles below:


How to Actually Find Gems with a Metal Detector? It is Easy!


How to Pick and Use a Geiger Counter for Rockhounding


Garmin Montana 680t

The Garmin Montana 680T (Amazon link) is also a popular choice for outdoor enthusiasts. While it has a lot of great features, it isn’t as fully loaded as the Oregon 750T.

Physical Features of the Montana 680t

The physical features of the Montana 680t device include:

  • 4 inch touch screen display
  • Dual orientation
  • Wide array of available mounts make it versatile.
  • Durable- can withstand bumps
  • Water-rated to IPX7
  • 8 megapixel digital camera for high quality images, excellent resolution, automatically geotags photos with coordinates to navigate back to the exact spot in the future.
  • 3-axis compass
  • Barometric altimeter

The large, 4-inch screen with dual orientation, touchscreen display, and a wide array of available mounts lends this GPS versatility. It is also glove-friendly.

Virtual Capabilities of the Montana 680t

Like the Oregon 750T, the Garmin Montana 680T (Amazon link) is a highly sensitive GPS that holds a position even in deep cover. It also has access to both GPS and GLONASS satellites for enhanced positioning and faster fixes.

Also like Oregon GPS, Montana GPS has the capability to wirelessly share: 

  • Waypoints
  • Tracks
  • Routes
  • Geocaches

Other features include:

  • Preloaded with TOPO U.S. 100K maps
  • Option for 1-year BirdsEye satellite imagery subscription
  • Expandable memory

The Montana 680t falls short of the Oregon 750T as it only comes with 250,000 preloaded geocaches.

Check out the latest prices for Garmin Montana 680t on Amazon here (Amazon link).

Garmin Inreach Explorer+

While the Garmin Inreach Explorer+ (Amazon link) device will certainly guide you on your rock hunt, it is not nearly as well outfitted as the Garmin 750T.

Physical Features of the Garmin Inreach Explorer+

The physical features include:

  • A water rating IPX7
  • Rechargeable internal lithium ion battery
  • Built in digital compass
  • Barometer
  • Altimeter
  • Accelerometer

Virtual Capabilities of the Garmin Inreach Explorer+

The virtual capabilities include:

  • Can be paired with a mobile device using the earthmate app
  • Access to downloadable maps, U.S. NOAA charts, and color aerial imagery
  • Includes preloaded Delorme TOPO maps with onscreen GPS routing
  • Includes preloaded Delorme TOPO maps with onscreen GPS routing
  • Share locations with friends and family
  • Provides interactive SOS to the 24/7 search and rescue monitoring center.

The Garmin Inreach Explorer+ has 100 percent global Iridium satellite coverage. With an additional subscription, this allows users to perform two-way text messaging anywhere.

Check out the latest prices for Garmin Montana 680t on Amazon here (Amazon link).

The Best Garmin for Serious Rockhounders

Based on the specs, it is easy to see that the Garmin Oregon 750T (Amazon link) is the best GPS for rockhounds. It is the most rugged and durable and is equipped with several amazing digital tools as well.

The other Garmin models can certainly get you where you need to go and have some great capabilities, but the Oregon 750T is the most complex.

Its camera alone makes this a great GPS system for geo enthusiasts because they can take amazing photos of their rocks and other geologic finds and share them with friends and family.

The Oregon 750T stores more maps and images than other models and allows for recording logs in the field to document your rockhounding adventures!

TIP: And now is the right time to go find some rocks or minerals. Don’t know where to go? Don’t worry, I’ve prepared a series of articles for you with the best places on rockhounding for individual states in the USA. And if you’re not sure what rockhounding equipment he needs, click on the second link below:


Where to find rocks and minerals in the USA


Recommended equipment and tools for rockhounding