Which is the best - Garmin or Satmap?

Garmin, satmap -

Which is the best - Garmin or Satmap?

The question we get asked all the time is which is best, Garmin or Satmap?

Garmin and Satmap are the two leading makes of outdoor GPS devices for both walking and cycling with, but which is best, Garmin or Satmap?

One thing I will tell you though, if you talk to a Garmin user, they will say they are the best and it you talk to a Satmap user they will tell you that theirs is the better GPS unit.

But in our eyes Garmin and Satmap are two very different GPS units. One is not better than the other but they both have their strengths and weaknesses.

If you have not already seen our walk and talk series what better way to see the navigational experience on both the Garmin and Satmap GPS units than coming on a walk with me with each of them. In the following videos I give an honest review on both the Garmin Montana 700 and the Satmap Active 20. Is this a fair comparison, in screen size, GPS features, yes? But in price maybe not as the Satmap is significantly cheaper than the Garmin Montana 700.

So, let us first take price out of the equation, but we will come back to it later.

Review video looking at the best large screen GPS unit.

Now let us look at each of the units in a little more depth, let’s take the Garmin Montana 700 and the Satmap out for a walk and talk, first the Garmin Montana 700.

Walk and talk - Garmin Montana 700

Pros of the Garmin Montana 700

1. Large screen
2. Great screen quality in bright sunshine
3. Good build quality
4. Very reliable
5. Great navigational experience if you plan your route on PC/ Mac before heading off
6. The ability to transfer gpx files (pre planned routes) from your phone or tablet using the Garmin Explore App.

Down sides of Garmin Montana 700

1. Screen resolution
2. Price of Ordnance Survey maps
3. Price of GPS unit
4. Little more complicated to use than the Satmap Active 20.

Now lets take the Satmap Active 20 out for a walk

Walk and talk - Satmap Active 20

Pros of the Satmap Active 20

1. Stunning HD screen
2. Both touch screen and buttons
3. Great value for money
4. Ease of use
5. Xpedition 2, Satmap’s route planning software (subscription required)

Down sides of the Satmap Active 20

1. Build quality
2. Screen hard to see in bright sunshine
3. Xpedition 2 (route planning software) is subscription based
4. Not as sophisticated as the Garmin GPS unit

Price comparison - as stated earlier is it fair comparing two units with such different price tags, especially if you are looking at a GPS unit with Ordnance Survey 1:25k maps.

If price is a big part in your decision let’s instead compare the Satmap Active 20 with the Garmin Oregon 700, let’s take that unit for a walk and talk.

Walk and talk with the Garmin Oregon 700

Pros of the Oregon 700 compared to a Satmap Active 20

1. Better navigational experience
2. Screen looks better in bright sunshine
3. Tethers with your mobile phone

Pros of a Satmap Active 20 compared to a Oregon 700

1. Larger screen
2. Better screen resolution
3. Both touch screen and buttons so four-season GPS unit

So, which is best, Garmin or Satmap?

1. If budget is not a problem and you are looking for a large screen GPS unit, I would look at the Garmin Montana 700 series.
2. If the Garmin Montana is beyond your budget and you are still looking for a large screen GPS unit, I would certainly recommend the Satmap Active 20.

What to do next?

1. Get a personal GPS recommendation

2. Watch - never had a GPS before

3. Book an online consultation. If you want to discuss your GPS options please do book a free online GPS consultation.

4. If you have any further questions, or you want to talk over your options, please do get in touch with us here at GPS training.


  • Steve Bloxham

    I recently replaced an ancient Garmin GPsmap with a SatMap Active20, it’s not a nice to use as the old garmin but compared to ViewRanger on an iphone11 both are positively Stone Age.
    You can tell the SatMap is based on the appalling and obsolete WindowsCE, the damn thing can’t even connect to a personal hotspot on my phone, so no downloading a route outside of a home Wi-fi network.
    The stunning hires screen is like 405lines TV compared to a modern phone.
    The Xpedition2 route planning is web based so online only and is not a patch on ViewRanger or the slightly less good OutdoorActive that has now taken over ViewRanger.
    It needs maps on a SD card, haven’t worked yet if you can back up onto another card, if not it’s a costly replacement if it gets corrupted.
    It’s a good dedicated GPS but surely someone can come up with something vaguely modern based on current mobile phone quality screens and firmware and software somewhere close to the quality of ViewRanger?

  • Kevin OSullivan

    I have Satmap 20 Garmin 66 and 32×. Garmin wins hands down for ease of use, quality and reliability. All my satmaps, 10, 12 & 20 apart from screen size and pixels have been unreliable at times. Garmin data transfer is also far simpler to manage👍

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