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Being one with nature is fun. It’s a great way to go on adventures, unwind, or even discover one’s self. However, exploring the wilderness can be quite overwhelming when you start to lose your way.
Unfortunately, your phone will not be enough to help you once you’re off your cell’s site. This is why it’s essential to have the best hiking GPS with you when you go out trekking the mountains or exploring canyons.
Due to its importance to mountaineers, hikers, campers, etc. it is vital to know what features are included in the best outdoor GPS. Since this technology has been around since the 1990s, several upgrades have been made. Knowing and understanding everything can be overwhelming.
This is why we have designed this article to help you get a grasp of what you need to consider before purchasing your device. We will also give you a rundown of the top 20 best GPS for hiking.
Let us help you narrow down your options further by presenting you with the best outdoor GPS in the market today. We have pinpointed twenty of the best brands, tested these devices, and collected the reviews from actual users. These reviews are meant to help you weigh the good with the bad and will hopefully guide you in choosing the best.
View The Best Hiking GPS Below
1. Lowrance iFinder GO Waterproof Hiking GPS – The Basic GPS
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The Lowrance iFinder GO is a good hiking GPS to use. It comes in a bright yellow housing that would be easy to spot inside your bag even when it’s getting a bit dark. Additionally, it is also waterproof, so it’s safe to use even when there is rain. Unfortunately, we’re not quite sure of its ability to absorb shock. It also has a 2 inch backlit LED screen with a 200×140 resolution. This makes it perfect to use during the day or night.
This handheld device comes equipped with both GPS and WAAS technologies, making it pretty accurate in pinpointing your location. You can also use this device to plan trips, as it offers customizable plans wherein you can choose specific routes. This ability is possible because it has in its memory about 100 plot trails.
The Lowrance iFinder GO comes with a preloaded map of the US and has updated data regarding coastal navaids, wrecks, and obstructions that you need to know about when hiking.
It’s 32 MB built-in memory supports about 1000 waypoints, 1000 event makers, and 100 routes. This is great to have as you are guaranteed data wherever in the US you may be.
+ It has a large memory capacity
+ It has a bright yellow housing
+ It comes with a waterproof casing
+ It has a GPS and WAAS technology
+ This is a lightweight product as it only weighs about 8 ounces
+ It’s a good starter GPS for those who are doing light hikes
– This is a very basic unit and hardly has any add-ons that more advanced devices have
Getting acquisition of the location is hard when you’re moving. You will have to be still to get an accurate position.
– Loading of your data can take long, ranging 15 to 20 minutes.
– Smaller roads are not accessible, just the major roads are seen
– The screen is not clear when the light is bright
Why We Like It – This GPS has relatively comprehensive data despite it being a basic device. Although lacking other excellent features, it does the job by offering you up to 100 plot trails, 1000 waypoints, 1000 event markers, and up to 100 routes that could be customized for your first hike.
2. Garmin GPS II Plus Waterproof Hiking GPS – The Aviation-based GPS
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Garmin is already known for its smartwatches that encourage you to have a healthier lifestyle, so it makes sense that they also dabbled on GPS device systems that will take your activity to the next level. Only weighing 8 ounces, this piece of equipment could very well accompany you to your next hike. It has a solidly constructed waterproof casing that allows you to use this, whether it’s sunny or raining up in the mountains.
Garmin boasts of accurate data, especially when it comes to pinpointing your location. The speed in zeroing in on points is also quite good, making this a great companion in your next backpacking adventure.
It comes with a widescreen where maps can be viewed vertically or horizontally. It also has keys that will enable you to zoom from 0.2 to 320 miles. This ability also assures you that the resolution used for the screen is good.
It also comes equipped with 12 parallel channels, so you can easily communicate with your friends who have the same device. It has 500 user-defined waypoints that will prove to be useful in any of your hikes.
+ It is lightweight.
+ It is effortless to set up and use.
+ It has 12 channels that allow you to communicate with your friends who are hiking with you.
+ Its accuracy is on point.
+ It is able to absorb shocks when dropped.
+ It can zoom in up to 0.2 miles and zoom out to 320 miles.
– The waypoints are only 500, while others offer to as much as 1,000.
Why We Like It – Garmin boasts of using technology used by aviation pilots. This is why its accuracy and speed in pinpointing is excellent. It is perfect to use, whether you are hiking mountains, driving in the city, or sailing the seas. This technology is so crucial to have, especially when you get lost or exploring a new location.
3. Magellan CX0310SGXNA eXplorist 310 Waterproof Hiking GPS – The Explorer’s GPS
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It makes sense that a GPS device that is used for so many adventures and explorations is named after an explorer – Magellan. The Magellan Explorist comes in a sturdy waterproof casing. It also has a colored screen that’s easy to use. It also comes equipped with a tracking system that records your ascents, distance traveled, and speed.
True to its brand name, Magellan, the Explorist 310 boasts of having superior mapping technology that already has a world map edition. It also allows for updates and new map uploads, thus allowing you to incorporate the specific maps of the location you are visiting.
It is an easy to use device with a simple enough menu that readily shows the most important info you may need, like routes, maps, and POIs.
It also has a digital journal that records your adventures, and even your step count, thus ensuring that you continually live an adventurous and active lifestyle.
It is equipped with a 2-inch transflective screen, so it is easy to use even under direct sunlight. The best thing about it is it has a 500 MB memory that is perfect for storing your maps, journal, and whatever information you need.
+ Its memory is significant.
+ It has an outdoor journal that tracks your adventures.
+ It has a step count feature, which you can use every day.
+ It has a transflective screen so you can easily see maps even with bright lights.
+ It is very lightweight, weighing only about 5 ounces.
– The font used is not great, thus affecting readability.
– Turning it on and loading a specific location takes up to a few minutes.
Why We Like It – The Magellan Explorist comes with a preloaded world map. This feature includes a detailed road network, water features, and even urban and rural use. Since its memory is huge, you can also opt to add more specific maps depending on where you are going to go. This will be helpful as it gives you a big picture view of how to get to your destination and a specific picture of how to maneuver the exact place you want to visit
4. Magellan eXplorist 300 Water Resistant Hiking GPS – The Easy To Use GPS
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Another Magellan Explorist makes our list. This time, the Explorist 300 is in the spotlight. The GPS is housed in a sturdy, impact-resistant case. So even when you drop it accidentally, it will not affect the usability of your device. It also comes with a water-resistant case, so it can still be used during a heavy downpour.
The Explorist 300 also comes with a straightforward menu that makes a lot of relevant data available at your fingertips. It stores about 500 waypoints, 20 routes, five tracklogs that can accommodate up to 2,000 points.
It also has a WAAS/EGNOS enabled GPS that provides you with precise location information. This technology allows for accurate “satellite-signal acquisition and tracking.” So even in harder to reach areas, you are guaranteed to find a signal that will help you stay on track.
Additionally, the Explorist 300 also has a 14 parallel channel that makes it possible to communicate with other people who have the same device.
+ It is lightweight, and encased in an impact- and water-resistant case.
+ It has readable fonts.
+ It has a good backlight that will be useful at night.
+ The battery life is excellent.
+ As long as you’re within the covered area, the location stays locked in and is quite precise.
– The screen freezes when the GPS is outside of the map coverage area. Once frozen, the device does not – respond and is rendered pretty much useless.
Why We Like It – This might not be a good device to use for long rides or if you need detailed maps. The GPS seems only to cover main roads and highways, and does not indicate smaller roads or side streets. This would be great to use for already known terrains, and roads where the risk of getting lost is minimal.
5. Winterworm Outdoor Mini Handheld Portable GPS Navigation Location Finder – The Mini GPS
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The Winterworm portable device is a mini GPS location finder. It is a basic model that still offers you pretty good features such as displaying geographic coordinates, identifying velocity and altitudes, and recording distance and mileage.
This model is so compact that it can easily be used as a keychain. That being said, the screen is tiny, so it might make reading data quite tricky.
Since it’s a small gadget, its memory is pretty limited, too, only recording about 16 points. This will only be useful for short hikes.
+ It is lightweight, measuring only about 3 ounces.
+ It has basic functions, such as pinpointing locations.
+ Battery l lasts long.
+ It also comes with built-in rechargeable batteries. All you need is a USB cord to plug it on a laptop.
+ It updates even when you’re in motion.
– Its memory is minimal.
– The casing is not as sturdy as it is only made of ABS plastic.
– It can only record up to 16 points, which means this could not be used for more than a few miles.
Why We Like It – It’s a compact GPS. It’s so small that it can pass off as a keychain or a watch. The problem with it though, is that it is very basic, and its memory is so limited. It might be best to use only for short hikes within familiar territory, because it might not be the most reliable in the event of a mishap.
6. Garmin eTrex 22x, Rugged Handheld GPS Navigator – The Detailed GPS
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Garmin is a manufacturer that arguably produces some of the best GPS for backpacking. The eTrex 22x, in particular, is a pretty good model to use for bike rides and hikes. It has a 2.2-inch screen that is “sunlight-readable,” making this a great device to use at any time of the day.
This handheld device supports two technologies, GPS and GLONASS, which allows for precise and speedy location pinpointing. This dual satellite feature also gives you the opportunity to find places even harder to find terrains like dense woods and narrow valleys.
This model already comes with preloaded maps, but you have the option to add more because of its extensive memory – 8 GB! Its TopoActive maps come with detailed street features and trails so you can use this for your long hikes.
+ It is lightweight, measuring only about 5 ounces.
+ It comes with preloaded maps that have great detail.
+ It has an 8GB micro SD card.
+ It has a high-resolution screen.
+ It uses GPS and GLONASS for accurate and faster tracking.
– The overall design seems to be a bit too primitive for some users.
– The pre-installed TopoActive maps take about 80% of 8GB memory, so it leaves very little space for your own maps.
– The graphics used can be improved.
Why We Like It – Its use of the TopoActive maps is both good and bad. It’s good because it offers excellent detail and accuracy of streets and trails, making it a great device to use on hikes or long drives. Unfortunately, this same program takes up too much space, leaving you very little to work with if you want to download maps outside of the US.
7. Garmin 750T 3-Inch Touchscreen Handheld GPS with Topo U.S. 100K – The Connected GPS
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Another Garmin product makes it into our Top 20 best hiking GPS devices list. This time around, it’s the 750T, which features a 3-inch touchscreen display. It has a lot of incredible features, like an 8-megapixel camera, a 3-axis compass, barometric altimeter, and expanded wireless connectivity, among others. All these are meant to aid in on your next outdoor adventure.
The 750T is also equipped with both the GPS and GLONASS technologies for more accurate and faster location tracking. It offers a one-year subscription to BirdsEye Satellite Imagery that will help you have a better idea of what terrains await you.
The expanded wireless connectivity is also useful as it can help you download stuff onto your device, upload pictures, and data to your Garmin online community, and even send live tracking data to your family and friends.
+ It comes with rechargeable batteries.
+ It is equipped with GPS and GLONASS.
+ It has so many other features that are essential to outdoor adventures.
+ It has satellite pictures that might prove to be useful to hikers.
+ It has a high definition 3-inch touch screen.
+ The camera is great to use.
– The battery life indicator is not so accurate.
– The interface is quite difficult to use.
– There is no percentage indication as to whether the device has been completely charged or not.
Why We Like It – This Garmin 750T is one of the best GPS for backpacking. What we particularly love is its ability to connect to several other compatible devices so you can share pictures, data, and even your location. This will be great to use for hikers who are planning to go through more difficult terrains.
8. Garmin Oregon 700 Handheld GPS – The Weather Resistant GPS
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Garmin Oregon 700 makes our list as well. It’s a rugged device that is perfect for activities outdoors. Its casing is created with materials that protect it against dust, dirt, and humidity. It is also water-resistant, so it can be used even during wet weather conditions.
What’s great about the Oregon 700 is its simple interface that features a lot of great programs like a 3-axis compass, barometric altimeter, and an accelerometer sensor. All these make your hike or ride safer.
Like other new Garmin GPS, this model also has a highly sensitive GPS and GLONASS technology that will give you accurate locations even when you’re on the move.
+ It has great features that are essential to outdoor activities.
+ It’s a small device with a big screen.
+ The touch screen menu is pretty easy to learn, but the details of the programs can be a bit more complicated.
+ Classier design, and has a sturdy housing.
– Creating waypoints is a bit more complicated than other GPS models.
– Somewhat complicated and non-intuitive to use.
– Garmin’s compatible maps are not as detailed and can be quite expensive. It would be better to avail of other maps aside from what Garmin offers.
– Batteries don’t last as long.
Why We Like It – The Oregon 700 has an active weather program that gives you real-time updates on weather conditions. This is a great feature to have, especially when a change in weather is imminent. This will help you make better decisions and take the necessary precautions if harsh weather conditions are expected.
9. Magellan eXplorist 350H Handheld GPS – The Hunter’s GPS
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The Explorist 350H handheld GPS device is built for the hunter. It sports a brown fatigue design to help it blend in with one’s outfit and surroundings. Its housing is durable and waterproof, allowing you to use it under different weather conditions. Buying this model also entitles you to a one-year subscription to DigitalGlobal satellite imagery. Although not meant for hikers, this model offers you some of the essential features of a hiking GPS like maps.
The Explorist 350H has an easy to use interface and a highly sensitive GPS that is somewhat accurate in pinpointing one’s location. Its preloaded maps also come in great satellite images, featuring even contour elevations, city centers, bodies of water, etc. that would be great to use when backpacking in the country. This also makes for easier and faster navigation.
Another useful feature this handheld device has is that it can navigate back to start. This allows you to go back and track your treks, allowing you to keep a record of necessary data that you may want to use for future reference.
Most of the features of this GPS are hunting related. It has 30 waypoints specific to hunting and GMU/WMU hunting areas that specify what the approved hunting zones are for each state. It also has a preloaded hunting calendar that gives you alerts on the best seasons to go out. More importantly, it comes with boundary alerts that notify you when you are approaching or leaving a hunting zone.
+ The topographic maps come with great satellite images.
+ It’s an accurate GPS that gives you an excellent estimation of your location.
+ Easy to download satellite imagery.
+ It’s small and lightweight, but very durable.
+ All the buttons are responsive.
+ Perfect to use when hunting for the first time or trying out a new spot.
– If you’re a hiker, this GPS will not be so useful as most of its features are hunting related.
– Coordinates take a while to download.
– The interface is confusing and somewhat challenging to understand.
– The joystick is made of rubber and can easily get destroyed when used too much.
Why We Like It – This is not a hiking GPS per se; rather, it is best used for hunting. Most of its features are focused on this activity. If you plan on using this for a hike, you will have limited use for it – mostly just to pinpoint locations, check terrains, and keep a record of your journey. Other than that, there will not be much you can tinker with.
10. Garmin Montana 680 Touchscreen GPS/GLONASS Receiver, Worldwide Basemaps – The Organized Person’s GPS
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The Garmin Montana 680 GPS is another great device to use for your outdoor activities. It’s a great and sturdy device that comes with a 4-inch touch screen and an 8-megapixel camera. Purchasing this unit comes with a free one-year subscription to a BirdsEye Satellite Imagery, which will give you a great view of terrains you are about to embark on.
Like most of the Garmin units on our list, the Montana 680 also comes with a 3-axis compass and barometric altimeter. These applications will help you find your way even when you lose your signal. However, this is highly unlikely to happen because this unit also comes equipped with GPS and GLONASS software. So whether you’re in a canyon, deep woods, or valleys, you can still manage to find the signal you will need.
On top of the dual satellite software, the Montana 680 also has a WAAS-enabled receiver and HotFix satellite prediction that also allows you to enjoy enhanced precision and fast location tracking.
+ The imagery is vivid and colorful.
+ It has a nice geotagging feature that you can use for the pictures that you take.
+ The batteries last long provided that you don’t use heavy backlight all day long.
+ It has fast and accurate location tracking.
+ It can save the name and route of each hike that you can use for record-keeping or tracking.
– High definition maps are only available in the specific locations that you choose.
– The viewing angle is not so wonderful.
– Although it’s a touchscreen, it does not reply to pinching for zooming in and out. It’s just the basic up and down, left and right scrolling.
Why We Like It – Something most Garmin models enjoy is a free BaseCamp software that lets you download, view, and organize your maps, waypoints, routes, and tracks. This also serves as a planning software that helps you create the best routes and share it with your family and friends. The map data can also be seen on your laptop screen in 2D or 3D.
11. Garmin 66st, Handheld Hiking GPS – The Battery Saving GPS
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The GPSMAP 66st is another excellent handheld hiking GPS device. It has a 3-inch color display, a sunlight-readable screen that allows for easier viewing. The unit also comes with a one-year access to BirdsEye Satellite Imagery that also will enable you to do direct-to-device downloads. Additionally, it has preloaded topographic maps for both the United States and Canada. If you plan on visiting another continent, you can easily download the maps of other countries into your device.
The Garmin GPSMAP 66st comes with a multiple global navigation satellite system (GNSS) that will help you traverse more challenging terrains that a GPS alone cannot support. Like all other Garmin models, this device also has the 3-axis compass and barometric altimeter that you can use even when out of the satellites’ coverage.
The model also has expanded wireless connectivity that provides Active Weather data and forecasts, and even offers an animated weather radar. It keeps a record of your tracks, routes, and waypoints that will be beneficial if you’re the type to go back to your past outdoor activities.
The battery life of the device is also long. Even when using the backlight, it can still last up to 16 hours, provided that it is on GPS mode.
+ The device is durable and strong.
+ The screen is big enough, and the resolution is high.
+ The accuracy of the location tracker is also excellent.
+ It’s great for keeping track of past backpacking trips and hikes.
+ Satellite photos are downloaded in just a few seconds.
– Although the battery life is extended when on GPS mode, it can get drained pretty fast when you engage all the other applications.
– The graphics and topography maps could use more improvement.
– It is not a touch screen device, so it takes a long time to scroll up and down or to write anything.
– The maps look very basic and of poor quality. Contour elevations are not even seen.
Why We Like It – This model is one of the sturdier models in the market today. It’s perfect to use for hikes because of its strong battery life, LED flashlight, and sturdy casing. Despite having a large screen and a strong backlight, the battery life of the GPSMAP 66st lasts for 16 hours when on GPS mode, and up to a week when on expedition mode. Its LED flashlight is also something special because it can be used in the dark or signal for SOS without draining your battery. Lastly, its casing is built to military standards as it is thermal, shock, and water-resistant. This is one of the best hiking GPS devices available in the market.
12. Garmin GPSMAP 64st Worldwide Handheld GPS – The Smart GPS
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Garmin’s GPSMAP 64st is another great hiking GPS device. This model comes with a 2.6-inch screen and a quad-helix antenna that ensures your connectivity to the satellites. It has several features that you can use for hikes. Like the other Garmin GPS devices, this also has a 3-axis tilt-compensated electronic compass. It also has a barometric altimeter that tracks any changes in pressure, so you have an idea what the precise altitude you are in.
This handheld device comes with a worldwide base map and is preloaded with TOPO 100k. This already includes the full United States topography, Alaska, Hawaii, and even Puerto Rico. The map detail also includes national, state, and local parks, forests, terrain contours, elevation, trails, rivers, and even points of interest.
Just like all the Garmin models on our list, the GPSMAP 64st also has a GPS and GLONASS technology that makes it possible to identify your coordinates, even when you are in hard to reach areas. It’s perfect to use when you’re lost or just checking out a new area.
+ The buttons are very easy to use and extremely responsive.
+ The TOPO is very handy as it allows you to see the terrain ahead.
+ There have been no reports of a signal issue, thanks to the GPS and GLONASS technologies.
+ The battery does not drain fast.
+ It picks up satellite signals even when you’re indoors.
+ It’s compatible with an iPhone, and you can send messages through this device.
– Its interface is rather difficult to use.
– The screen is small.
– It’s not a touchscreen, so inputting data can be tedious.
– The GPS looks like an old model.
– Not all the maps that have been preloaded are up to date, and you might have to pay fines just to get the most recent updates.
Why We Like It – What is special about the GPSMAP 64st is its expanded wireless coverage that allows you to share your waypoints, tracks, routes, and geocaches with other compatible devices. It also has a Smart Notification technology that makes it possible for emails, text messages, and alerts to be sent to your iPhone. Now you can stay communicated with your friends and family by just using one device.
So this device not only gives you the gift of accuracy but also the gift of convenience. This feature definitely makes it one of the best backcountry GPS devices available for purchase today.
13. Garmin Montana 680t – The Geocaching GPS
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The Garmin Montana 680t is a great device to use for the outdoor recreational activity, geocaching. This product comes with 250,000 preloaded geocaches from geocaches.com. To make your activities more fun, the Montana 680t has a 4-inch dual-orientation touch screen that is glove-friendly. This means you can use this device even in cold weather and high altitudes because you can manipulate its screen with your gloves on.
The Garmin Montana 680t has the GPS and GLONASS technologies for precise location tracking. It is also WAAS-enabled and has a HotFix satellite prediction so you can continue using the device even in hard to reach areas.
It comes with an 8-megapixel camera that automatically geotags your photos, and preloaded TOPO US 100k maps. This way, you can plan your routes and tracks ahead of time, and take real-time pictures to send to your friends who have compatible devices. Aside from sharing photos, you can also share your preferred routes, tracks, and waypoints to other people.
Additionally, the Montana 680t also comes in a durable case that is resistant to bumps, humidity, and water, thus making it a great companion for the great outdoors.
+ This device has a big enough screen and provides clear pictures.
+ It has excellent backlighting, which makes it easy to view even under direct sunlight.
+ It comes with adequate storage capacity, so you can store your tracklogs and maps.
+ The battery life is also great, as it can last for several hours.
+ It has good signal and an accurate location tracker.
– The map loading takes longer than expected.
– When you zoom in on a specific part, the page moves from your location. This makes it impossible to see – how far you are from a particular position you are interested in.
– The screen is a bit too sensitive.
– The menu layout is not intuitive and somewhat hard to learn.
– The required apps are only compatible with laptops and not phones.
Why We Like It – The Montana 680t is a geocaching GPS. It supports paperless geocaching GPX files that aid in this fun recreational activity. You no longer have to manually enter coordinates or print out paper. This device can easily store the information you need, which include the location, terrain, difficulty, and hints that you need to find the exact area.
14. Magellan eXplorist 200 Water Resistant Hiking GPS – The Easy To Use GPS
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The Magellan Explorist 200 is one of the best hiking GPS devices we’ve come across. It’s a special piece of equipment that comes in a bright yellow, rubber case that is impact- and water-resistant. Its color makes it easy to find in your backpack. Of course, its durable case makes it possible to use even after being dropped or getting wet, which are likely to happen when you’re enjoying the great outdoors.
The Explorist 200 has a TrueFix technology that has precise tracking for up to 3 meters. It also comes with built-in maps and a customizable screen that you can use to save waypoints, plot routes, save tracklogs.
Its built-in maps already include the whole of North America and some major areas in Europe. This makes it great to use for city or long drives, backpacking trips, and hikes. The maps feature city centers, airports, major roads, waterways, and common points of interest.
The navigation screen is also customizable, so you can readily make your favorite applications note accessible. This feature makes it easy to use and faster to control.
+ It’s a reasonably priced device that gives you an accurate location.
+ It connects to satellites well, even on a cloudy day.
+ It comes with a tracking application that allows you to revisit your hike to check how far you walked and what route you took.
– The maps only cover major roads and points of interest. If you need more details like side roads, you will need a different device.
– Setting a waypoint is somewhat tricky.
– The joystick has a learning curve and will take some time to get used to. This is an essential tool, as you will need it to browse maps and type.
Why We Like It – The interface of this device is very easy. Firstly, the buttons are strategically placed so a left or right-handed person can quickly get the hang of using it. Additionally, it has one-touch access to all of your important and favorite programs. The joystick controller also makes it easier to scroll through the maps, thus eliminating the need to continually press buttons just to see the needed details of your terrain.
15. Garmin eTrex 10 Worldwide Handheld GPS Navigator – The Monochromatic GPS
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Garmin, yet again, has made it onto our Top 20 best outdoor GPS list. This time, we feature the eTrex 10 that has a 2.2-inch monochrome display. The eTrex series has been around for some time, but this particular model comes with an updated interface that is relatively easier to use. Although improved, this device still comes in the trademark rugged and durable case that Garmin is known for.
The dual satellite capability of this model makes it possible to track your location fast and accurately – whether you’re in an area that has sufficient satellite signal or in harder to reach areas. This is great to have if you’re about to embark on an adventure in a new place or if you find yourself lost in the mountains.
The eTrex also has sufficient memory capacity to store vital information that you need, and organize waypoints and routes, thus allowing you to be better prepared for your trip. It also makes it possible to plan ahead and view terrains that you are likely to face. All of this is possible, thanks to the BaseCamp software that comes preinstalled in this device.
+ Its batteries are excellent and can run for up to 25 hours.
+ It’s great to use for geocaching.
+ It has fast and accurate tracking of location.
+ It connects to satellites fast, much like more expensive and advanced GPS devices.
+ It is weather-resistant – works well in areas with high humidity and even torrential rains.
– It comes with a monochromatic display.
– Custom maps are not compatible with this device.
– It comes with a basic map that only identifies major roads. It might not be the best unit to use if you will need specifics about smaller roads or side streets.
– The memory cannot be expanded.
Why We Like It – Although advanced in the software, this eTrex model still comes in a monochromatic display. This will make it harder to appreciate the satellite images that are provided by BirdsEye Satellite Imagery. It can also be more challenging to pinpoint slopes and valleys, since everything is on grayscale. This device could have more potential if Garmin upgrades its interface to a colored one, thus giving its user more vivid pictures.
16. Garmin eTrex 20 Worldwide Handheld GPS Navigator – The Innovative GPS
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The eTrex 20 is another great handheld GPS device from Garmin. Much like the eTrex mentioned above 10, this particular model has a rugged and robust case and a 2.2-inch screen display. The difference it has from the eTrex 10 is its display is colored, and it is compatible with custom maps.
This handheld device is equipped with GPS and GLONASS satellites for faster positioning and accurate tracking. It is superior to other GPS devices because it also has the WNASS and HotFix technologies that allow your location to be pinpointed even in dense woods and deep valleys.
The eTrex 20 is also excellent to use for paperless geocaching activities since you can easily download data straight to your device. It also allows for advanced planning of hikes and other outdoor activities because of its free-trip planning software. To sum it all up, this is a great device to use when you want to explore outside.
+ It has a fast and accurate locking of location.
+ It comes in a durable case.
+ It is compatible with other custom maps.
+ The battery life is excellent.
+ It acquires signal very well even in massively dense woods.
+The screen is easy to see even under direct sunlight.
– Like other Garmin products, the interface is still confusing and a bit difficult to learn.
– It is hard to measure one point to another if you’re moving because the GPS won’t lock in one particular area if you’re walking around. You will have to stay still for this to work.
Although GPS and GLONASS are fast, all other software being used is slow. It still counts miles from one area to another even when the device is turned off. This is because it records the last location that it was on and computes for the distance traveled. Even when off, it takes into account the new location where it was turned on. This makes the odometer useless, since it takes into consideration even the data you do not want to be recorded.
Why We Like It – According to Garmin, the eTrex series is one of, if not the first-ever “consumer-grade receivers” that make it possible to track both GPS and GLONASS satellites simultaneously. Usually, it is only one or the other. With this innovation, locking in on a particular position is now 20% faster than using just the GPS.
17. Garmin eTrex 30x, Handheld GPS Navigator With 3-axis Compass – The Advanced Etrex GPS
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Another improvement in Garmin’s eTrex series makes our list. This time, it’s the eTrex 30x. Like the 10 and 20 models, the 30x has the sturdy, weather-resistant casing making it great to use in any country or state. It also has a 2.2-inch color display. This time, however, this device comes with an enhanced memory that can accommodate more maps and data.
The eTrex 30x comes with a preloaded worldwide base map with shaded relief. Aside from this, you can still add more up to date maps of specific areas and countries you want to visit. Its expanded memory, which can accommodate up to 3.7 GB, makes all this possible.
Other features it includes are TOPO 24k, HuntView, BlueChart g2, City Navigator NT, and BirdsEye Satellite Imagery. All these make your outdoor activities, whether it’s a leisurely hike or a hunting adventure, more enjoyable and safer.
The eTrex 30 also has the wireless capability of the more advanced Garmin models that have the capacity to share waypoints, tracks, and routes to other devices.
+ The battery life is great, especially when the screen is set at the dimmest possible setting.
+ It is very lightweight and compact.
+ It has a water-resistant and robust casing.
+ It comes with an alarm clock that may come in handy when you’re going to be gone for a few days and need to wake up early to start trekking.
+ Its relatively easy to upload, download, and transfer data.
+ Accurately pinpoints the location.
– It has no lock function, so you can accidentally mark areas as waypoints that you did not intend to mark.
– The joystick sometimes has a 2-second lag before responding.
– Although a newer and more advanced model, the screen resolution is still not as great as one would expect.
– Maps are not very detailed.
Why We Like It – Not present in the other eTrex models is the 3-axis tilt-compensated electronic compass and barometric altimeter. These help you get a better idea of ascents and descents you need to be mindful of, as well as pressure changes that will help you determine the specific altitude you are about to traverse.
18. goTele GPS Tracker – The Wireless GPS
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The goTele GPS Tracker is a great device and is one of the best hiking GPS out in the market today. It is known for being an off-grid tracking device, which means all its features are specifically catered to maximize your outdoor adventure while still guaranteeing your safety.
This particular device has no hidden charges. It requires no sim card or network for it to be used. The GPS tracker allows you to communicate directly with other goTele users, even without any Wi-Fi or cell service.
It has real-time tracking, SOS features, offline maps, and messaging abilities that make it easy to use when you’re out in the wilderness. All of these are essential as well when you find yourself in an unfortunate situation.
It also comes in a sturdy case that is water, shock, and dustproof. All these make this unit truly one of the best outdoor GPS devices.
+ It works well even without cell service.
+ It is compatible with both iOS and Android devices.
+ It has an SOS sending capability that is perfect for emergencies.
+ It is effortless to use and convenient to handle.
+ The device is made of sturdy material.
+ The device hooks up to satellite signals quite easily.
– Signal interruptions might happen in harder to reach areas.
– GPS only works outdoors.
– Accuracy is good but could be more accurate.
– It will require two units to work.
Why We Like It – Out of all the devices we’ve reviewed, this is the only one that is compatible with both iOS and Android units. Its compatibility with mobile phones makes it easier to communicate with each other via text. You can now send real-time updates, SOS signals in an emergency to anyone even when you have no access to cell service or data.
19. Garmin GPSMAP 64st, TOPO U.S. 100K With High-Sensitivity GPS And GLONASS Receiver – The Dual Battery GPS
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Another Garmin GPSMAP 64st makes our list. Much like the other GPSMAP 64st (#9 on our list), this device also comes with a 2.6 inch colored screen and a quad-helix antenna that makes acquiring a satellite signal fast. It also comes with a 3-axis tilt-compensated electronic compass and a barometric altimeter.
Another similarity between the two models is it both comes in preloaded TOPO US 100k maps that feature full coverage of the US, Hawaii, Alaska, and Puerto Rico. Details include national, state, and local landmarks, terrain contours, elevation data, waterways, and other common points of interest.
Despite these similarities, the two models are also different. For instance, this particular device has a dual battery system that can accommodate two traditional AA batteries or a rechargeable NiMH battery pack. The latter, however, will add weight to the device.
Another difference is the weight of the items. This model is significantly lighter than the other. It is also smaller and more compact.
+ It has a very accurate and fast-tracking of locations.
+ It comes in a sturdy and waterproof casing.
+ It is readable even under direct sunlight.
+ It is compatible with ANT+ sensors and iPhones.
+ It is easier to learn compared to other Garmin units.
+ It is lightweight and compact.
– It is very reliant on your phone coverage.
– The preloaded maps are not routable. You will have to spend more money if you want maps that update routes as you move along.
– Since it has several apps running, it could quickly drain your battery.
Why We Like It – This GPSMAP 64st is a special unit because of its Smart Notifications that allow you to send and receive emails, text messages, and alerts to and from your iPhone. Additionally, this device can be paired with ANT+ sensors like heart rate monitors, temperature sensors, and speed sensors. All these might just be crucial if you’re going to be sending a lot of time outdoors.
20. Garmin Foretrex 401 Waterproof Hiking GPS – The Best Hiking GPS
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Number one on our list is the Garmin Foretrex 401. This is an extremely lightweight and compact device that still has some of the best features Garmin devices have. It has the electronic compass and barometric altimeter that will prove useful in the event that a signal is hard to find.
Another great thing about this device is its ability to retrace your steps. It takes into account the path that you choose and records dots on the screen so you can easily find your way back in case you get lost.
Despite it being small, its capacity is sufficient. You can save waypoints, create and store routes, keep track of sunrise and sunset times, store hunting and fishing information, and so much more. With these capabilities, it is clear that you can use this device for a whole slew of outdoor activities.
It can also track more data by connecting it to a heart rate sensor or cadence sensor. You can also share information with other users of the Foretrex 401.
+ It has provisions for wireless syncs.
+ It can pinpoint locations accurately.
+ It is lightweight and compact.
+ Although small, it is a very solid piece of equipment.
+ It locks up with satellites very quickly.
+ Easy to set up and use.
– The manual is useless. It might be better to have an experienced Garmin user to teach you how to use it.
– Since its a small unit, the screen is also small.
Why We Like It – What we love most about this device is the wrist expansion strap that comes with it. You no longer have to hold on to your GPS while you’re hiking. You can easily attach it to the strap and wear it like a watch. This feature and everything else we mentioned earlier makes this device the best hiking GPS in the market today.
Hiking GPS Buyer’s Guide
How To Choose The Best Hiking GPS?
The GPS, or Global Positioning System, is an important tool to have when you love hiking or camping. Its signal is not limited to particular sites because it relies on satellites overhead to collect and deliver data to your device.
This gadget is crucial to have because it helps you keep track of your routes, identify critical points, and enables you to maneuver in the wilderness. Your GPS could very well be the thin line between life or death.
This is why choosing the right gadget is extremely crucial. To aid you in choosing your device, here are some things you need to consider when buying the best GPS for hiking or backpacking.
1. Construction / Case
Anything can happen when you’re out of the country backpacking or when you’re up in the mountains hiking. Especially if you’re traversing rough terrains, slips and falls could very well be expected. This is why it is so crucial that your handheld GPS device should have a robust and sturdy design.
Ideally, you will want to choose one whose materials are shock and abrasion-resistant. Additionally, you will also want one that is water-resistant too so it can stay alive even during heavy downpours.
2. Battery Life
Since you never know when you might need help, it is vital that your handheld GPS device has at least 10 hours of battery life. That way, you won’t have to go through too many batteries in just one trip. At the same time, it will also save you some time from having to change batteries too often.
You may also want to consider getting a device that is compatible with rechargeable batteries. That way, you won’t have to keep disposing off alkaline or lead batteries – it’ll be better for the environment!
Another consideration will be to check if it works with a solar charger. That way, if you’re going to be out on a trip for an extended period, you can be better prepared for whatever circumstances might arise.
3. Display / Screen Size
To be able to have a good overview of the map, your GPS should have at least a 2-inch display with high resolution. There are even bigger screens available in the market today – some ranging even up to 5-7 inches. Some modern devices are also equipped with touchscreens making it easier to manipulate.
These will be perfect in more tropical climates but will be harder to use when you’re going to a place with cold weather or at high altitudes because it would be quite impossible to use with gloves on. Despite this, touchscreens will still help you operate your GPS faster.
Please note that just as important as the size of your screen is the resolution of the picture you will see. It will be entirely pointless to get a large screen when the maps that will be shown will be unclear or pixelated.
It would be best to use lighter equipment when you are hiking, mountaineering, or backpacking. This is why getting a lightweight GPS is also important. It will make your journey faster, easier, and more hassle-free. When buying your device, make sure to find something that will not make a significant contribution to the weight of your bag. The lighter it is, the better.
5. Planning Software
One of the features of a great GPS device is its planning software. This program will help you plan, identify routes to take and what to avoid. It can also share with you advanced information, so you can better prepare yourself for the trip.
It can give you information such as the distance of one point to the other, the ascents you have to consider, etc. You can even check aerial photos and topographic maps to understand the terrain you will be traversing. All information is essential, as these will contribute to your overall preparedness for the trip.
Another vital thing to consider when buying your handheld GPS device is its other features that will prove helpful in the event of an emergency. Some will come equipped with an electronic compass and a barometric altimeter. These are important because even without a GPS signal, these are still going to work.
Knowing how to read a compass and barometric altimeter are crucial. It will come in handy when you are going through canyons, valleys, or deep woods where the signal could temporarily be interrupted.
Other features you may want to consider are the GPS’s ability to connect to smartphones and cameras, monitor heart rates, and its sensitivity to temperature changes.
7. Positioning Technology
The positioning technology your device uses will determine just how fast and precise your location will be pointed out. Most tools use GPS, some support GLONASS, while some support both technologies. Those that have both are likely to be more accurate in pointing out your exact location even when in challenging terrains.
It is good to note that positioning accuracy can be further increased with a WAAS feature as it will provide corrections to your GPS signal. If you want speed, you can also enhance it with the Hotfix feature, which will calculate the positions of satellites for as much as three days.
8. Preloaded Maps
Another consideration you may want to have is the availability of onboard maps and POIs in your handheld device. Most GPS systems already come with preloaded maps of the United States. If you’re backpacking in another country, it would be best to buy and download the country’s maps so you can study it in advance.
Since constructions and road closures could happen on any given day, it is also vital to keep all your maps up to date. Some manufacturers, however, require you to pay an amount for every update. To avoid bills piling up, check the map-update policy of your chosen GPS before purchasing it.
9. Wireless Data Transfer
Some GPS models can communicate with compatible GPS units. This will be a great way to provide data with others. This feature is crucial as it can send the pertinent information to other people in the event of a mishap during your hike.
The higher your memory capacity, the more information you can store. This will come in handy if your trip is going to last for several days. To be able to store all the maps and navigation data you need, make sure you have a big capacity or a micro SD card to expand your GPS’s memory further.
11. Two-way Radio
Another bonus feature you may want to consider is the ability of your handheld device to do unit-to-unit calls that will allow you to communicate with nearby friends. This will help you identify the exact location of your group. It can also be an instrument used to receive weather updates and search and rescue operations if needed.
Lastly, consider your budget. While it is nice to have all of these features, it will just get overwhelming if the model you will choose will not fit your budget. To ensure that what you purchase will not break the bank, identify early on what amount you’re willing to spend, and what features you want to prioritize. From there, you can narrow down the best hiking GPS models that you need to choose from.
After having gone through our buying guide, you now probably have an idea of what kind of device you need for your trip. Once you know what features you want to prioritize and have determined the amount of money you’re willing to spend, the choices for handheld GPS devices will be shorter.
Frequently Asked Questions:
1. Can A Car GPS Be Used For Hiking?
The function of a car GPS is different. For instance, the details included in the maps mostly cover streets and landmarks, and the data it provides usually refers to traffic. Hiking GPS devices, on the other hand, is focused more on offload navigations, maps with elevation contours and bodies of water, etc.
2. Will My GPS Work Without Cell Service?
Yes. GPS devices are reliant on satellite signals more than they are dependent on your cellular phone’s service. This is a great feature since you can use your GPS without finishing up your data, or if you find yourself in an area that has a weak cell signal.
Nowadays, most phones come with a built-in GPS chip that gets location updates from satellites, thus rendering it useful even when there is no cell service.
3. How Accurate Is My GPS Without Data?
This will depend on the device’s ability to use up the available satellite signals. Some are pretty accurate, pinpointing locations within 3 meters. It will ultimately depend on what model you are using and where you are.
The downside of this, however, is the location update is slower. It will not cover any rerouting options either if you take a wrong turn. Although the GPS will work best with data, it can still be beneficial without it.
4. Do I Need A GPS For Hiking?
Ideally, yes, especially if you are traversing terrains that are new to you. Using a GPS will help you prepare better as it can show you ascents and descents that you have to be mindful of. It will also give you a better idea of how long the journey will be.
Additionally, having a GPS on the actual hike will help you make better decisions and can help you get back on track if you find yourself lost. If an accident happens, your GPS could very well save your life. Some models are capable of sending out messages or SOS signals that will prove useful in finding you.
Choosing the right GPS device will ultimately boil down to a few factors. First, determine what kind of outdoor activity you be doing. Next, determine your budget. Third, identify what features are important to you. Is it the weight?
The accuracy of the location? Or maybe it’s the other features like the barometric altimeter, the capability of sending messages, or the tracking feature. Identifying these three crucial factors will determine the kind of device you will purchase. Since GPS units are not cheap, it is essential that you do your research, check reviews, and consult hiking experts on what model would best fit you.