Best Hiking GPS

Thinking of buying a GPS for your next hiking trip? That is a really good plan. A Global Positioning System tool can be the thin line between having an awesome hiking trip over a lovely road, and getting utterly lost and having to call for help!

GPS receivers are vital tools for some outdoor activities, like camping and hiking. They will ensure that you know exactly where you are, the road to your destination and feedback on how you are progressing.

A lot of people will claim that you only need a smartphone for that. This is only partly true, while you can obviously use GPS apps to figure your way, a dedicated GPS receiver will offer you better quality, better performance and better battery life.

There is much less risk of your battery conking out and leaving you stranded to call for help, or rain or other weather making it impossible to get your phone out.

With a dedicated hiking GPS you will also get other features like a barometer to tell you what the weather conditions are. Our list of products here is varied and will give you an idea about what you really want out of your hiking GPS.

How to Choose the Best Hiking GPS?

When looking at all the products in the market, it is easy to get confused, so it’s good to have a little list of essential features. Take a look at what are essential features on a GPS 

Durability

This is obvious, hiking trips need durable materials. Your boots have to be strong, your backpack has got to be hardy, and so does your GPS. If you can’t get it out during snow or rain, or risk dropping it in the mud, it’s not going to be of much use in the long term.

Affordability

You don’t want to drop a great deal of money on something that is going to see hard use. Even GPS receivers that have a long life should be at a price that doesn’t make you wince every time you take it out of the pocket. Make out a budget and see what falls in your range.

Size

You have to carry it over a long time, over terrain that might not be friendly. As with most advice about the stuff you carry while hiking, make sure it’s lightweight so that it isn’t more of a burden than a help.

Quality of Performance

How well the GPS works is obviously the most important factor in buying the GPS. If it doesn’t work well, no matter how durable or cheap it is, there is just no point in it.

What to Look For In a Good Hiking GPS

Ease of Usage

How easily can you turn it on or turn it off?

This is a very basic question and should be followed by other considerations like how easy or difficult it is to program your destination into the GPS. Similarly you will need to consider whether it is a simple matter to find out where you are in your GPS.

Is the GPS intuitive?

If it isn’t and you are not using it very often, you might have to pull out the manual every time you go out and that is a lot of hassle.

Mapping

Figure out whether you’re getting a little bit extra for your money. What sort of mapping you have is important. Units might have topographic, road and waterway mapping. Other types of mapping might have to be bought.

Wireless

Most navigators will allow a wireless exchange of certain types of data like coordinates and geocaches. You might also be able to connect wirelessly to other devices, like computers or heart rate monitors. Figure out what you’re getting.

Coverage

This is what ensures that you will get the data you need in every place. If the satellites aren’t in the right position, or you are not in an area of coverage, then you will need to whip out a map and a compass and get to work. How much coverage you have and the speed of the coverage are vital.

Garmin eTrex 10 Worldwide Handheld GPS Navigator

The Garmin eTrex 10 is a handheld Global Positioning System Navigator that is marketed as being for use worldwide. Their worldwide base-map is part of the features that come with the system, although there are no other maps loaded.

Loading maps and using the eTrex 10 allows hikers all over the world to plot their routes.

It is an excellent navigator with intuitive controls, and it is easy for beginners to pick up on using it. It is on the lower side of the price range for navigators, and without giving fancy extras, gives excellent quality on its offered features.

Features

  • WAAS-enabled GPS receiver, with a 2.2 inch display
  • HotFix and GLONASS support—gives fast positioning as well as reliability
  • Battery life will last up to 20 hours
  • Waterproof to IPX7 standards, that is a standard of waterproof to immersion to one meter for half an hour
  • It supports spine-mounting accessories from Garmin
  • A worldwide base map is preloaded on the navigator
  • Paperless geocaching is supported

Advantages

  • The two AA battery setup allows for the batteries to last for 20 hours at the maximum
  • The waterproof capability is an excellent feature that is necessary for any serious hiker
  • The boot time is fast, and the time until positioning is fixed is also very quick, enough for most purposes although for those particular about speed of positioning it may not be sufficient
  • It is inexpensive but gives worthwhile quality of performance, especially as compared to other products with similar features
  • It is a hardy system, capable of taking a rough ride

Things to Be Aware Of

It is a handheld navigator, which may get tiresome over a long hike since you cannot simply clip it to you or your bag

It does not have a lot of useful maps preloaded, but you can download and load a lot of maps. The Garmin maps are excellent but somewhat expensive. But the eTrex 10 will allow maps from many free sites as well.

Bottom Line

A good buy for those looking for basic features with quality of performance but not wanting to shell out a lot of cash for extra features. Inexpensive for its quality.

 

Garmin Foretrex 401 Waterproof Hiking GPS

The Foretrex 401 has a lot of satisfied customers. This wrist-mounted highly sensitive GPS navigator can be used on a wide range of terrain for tracking one’s path over rough and unknown ground.

Data sharing is easy, and can be done through the USB cable that is part of the in-the-box contents, or through the Foretrex 401’s wireless capabilities.

The connection capabilities of the Foretrex 401 make it the ideal device for those who love to stay connected. You can use Garmin Connect to check out your activities from your hiking on a map using Google Earth.

Explore the world without getting lost with the Foretrex 401!

Features

  • Wrist-mounted GPS navigator
  • An LCD display which adds ease of reading
  • Backlight with customizable screen that can show up to four types of data, like latitude-longitude, total distance and so on
  • Uses 2 AAA batteries, to about 17 hours battery life maximum
  • It keeps track of routes and paths, the TracBack feature will keep a track of the user’s path with a dotted line when it is activated
  • HotFix for reliable and fast positioning
  • Can keep track of heart rate with aid of a heart rate monitor that can be bought separately
  • Has multiple additional features like an electronic compass, a barometric altimeter, sunrise and sunset times, hunting and fishing information, and others

Advantages

It is light-weight and very portable, since it is kept on the wrist, there is no fear of dropping it and losing it and it can easily be carried over long distances

It has multiple useful additional features like the sunrise and sunset timings and the barometric altimeter which will help find out where you are on a vertical pane

The TracBack feature is an excellent addition which means that the user is never truly lost, even in the worst case scenario the user only has to retrace their steps and go back to whichever point they remember

Dual readout support allows the user to read their location in multiple formats for ease of understanding

Waterproof to decent amounts

Things to Be Aware Of

The device is not precisely intuitive, before using it you need to spend some time figuring it out

The wrist strap is not of the best quality, although the navigator itself is hardy

Bottom Line

Although a little pricey, this little device offers you bang for your buck. The snazzy wrist-mount device is perfect for those who like to carry around a little extra something just in case.

You get some useful additional features like the barometric altimeter, along with really good basic features like swift positioning once the feature is called.

 

Garmin Fenix 2 GPS Watch

The Fenix 2 has been marketed as an athlete’s GPS device, for very good reasons.

With two athlete modes, the Ski Mode and the Swim Mode, the device allows users to track their performance in minute detail with things like measuring time and distance being the least of what they do.

For athletes who use hiking as a part of training or relaxation, this makes for a perfect gift. They will never get lost again, and while hiking over some beautiful trails they can also get some training done.

Features

  • It has a Ski Mode which measures things like time, vertical drop, 3D speed with auto run detection and auto pause feature
  • Ski Mode specific data pages with history of performance
  • Battery life in UltraTac mode is fifty hours, in watch mode can be up to five weeks, while only twenty hours in GPS training mode
  • If it is used with the HRM-Run monitor, this little gadget will provide multiple details on running dynamics like calculation of ground contact time, number of steps per minute and other things, like advanced features which include recovery advisor and race predictor
  • It has performance data including running time, distance, calories and others
  • It has a Swim mode that records the pace of strokes, distance, time and other features
  • Automatically uploads data wirelessly to Live Track, Garmin Connect and whatever social media platforms are chosen.
  • Smart Notification lets users receive emails on the Fenix 2

Advantages

  • The waterproofing allows for a swim mode
  • Excellent battery life, even with the GPS training mode it has twenty hours of battery. In UltraTac or watch mode the battery is extensive
  • Very lightweight and portable, and can be carried over long periods
  • It has several training modes, with Ski Mode, Swim Mode and performance data and so on, which allows users to track various types of training
  • It is a multiple use device, not only is it useful as a GPS hiking navigator, it is extremely useful as a training device for athletes
  • It is very useful for people who love to be connected; the social media connectivity is great on this device

Things to Be Aware Of

If you aren’t an athlete or in training, most of the extra features on this device are going to be useless for you

If you aren’t an athlete and you aren’t interested in being out there on social media platforms, nearly all the extra goodies are useless.

Bottom Line

For an athlete in training who is also a hiking enthusiast, this is an excellent buy that will help in nearly all areas of training. If you’re only looking for a GPS navigator, this is not what you need.

 

Magellan CX0310SGXNA eXplorist 310 Waterproof Hiking GPS

The explorist 310 Hiking GPS is a navigator that provides hikers with essential navigation features with waterproofing, paperless geocaching and other features all projected on a high-resolution color screen.

The explorist 310 has excellent mapping capabilities and allows for maps to be uploaded although it only has the World Edition preloaded.

It provides outdoors navigation with beautiful graphics on a 2.2 inch LCD display with color. Along with a main menu, it has multiple contextual menus that are intuitive to use.

Features

  • Battery life that last eighteen hours or up to a full day with power-saving features
  • High sensitivity GPS receiver SiRFstarIII with color LCD screen
  • Paperless geocaching allows for download of over twenty characteristics of each cache and view and search and filter
  • Display is 2.2 inches
  • Available features include detailed road networks, urban and rural land use patterns, and water features
  • IPX7 standard waterproofing, or waterproofing that is proof against immersion up to one meter, for thirty minutes
  • Tracker for information like distance travelled, descent, average speed and others
  • Map with compass overlay
  • USB connected NMEA message output for users who wish to attach their gadgets to laptops running VantagePoint to observe their location on their laptops

Advantages

  • It is a durable device with excellent waterproofing capabilities
  • The SiRFstarIII GPS allows for high-sensitivity 3-5 meter accuracy
  • The mapping feature is excellent. Five hundred megabytes of space is available to store geocaches, waypoints, topo maps and tracks
  • The battery life is eighteen hours at a minimum, with advanced power saving features and a suspend mode that conserves power by turning off all features except GPS tracking
  • Easy to use menus and intuitive screens
  • Tracking features includes a way to back track your steps

Things to Be Aware Of

Despite the intuitiveness of the user interface, the device is still more advanced that basic GPS navigators, and will require some time to figure out

Bottom Line

This GPS navigator offers plenty of excellent features along with basic GPS navigation at a good price.

While this device is not perfect for the amateur, for users who have taught themselves to download and use geocaching and maps, this makes for a lightweight and easy-to-use device that gives value for money.

 

Garmin Montana 680 Hiking GPS with 8 Megapixel Camera

Go hiking over a beautiful mountain or near a gorgeous lake and take along the Montana 680 so you can click pictures with automatic geotagging, so no matter when you take them out to look at them you will always know exactly where you stood when you took each picture.

The Montana 680 has a beautiful 4 inch color display with a responsive touchscreen with both portrait and landscape orientation displays.

Even without the camera, the Montana 680 offers a range of features that are mouth-watering. It has a 3-axis tilter altimeter and support for City Navigator NT map, as well as shareable BaseCamp.

Features

  • 3-axis compass and barometric altimeter
  • 4 inch touchscreen
  • Color display screen
  • WAAS-enabled high-sensitivity GPS receiver
  • HotFix satellite prediction
  • 8 MP Autofocus digital camera, including automatic geotagging and both portrait and landscape orientations
  • Can use AA batteries or rechargeable lithium ion battery pack
  • Can support an auto mount and micro SD extendable storage for more space for photos
  • There are BlueChart pre-loaded charts as well as capability for loading more maps
  • City Navigator map data available
  • Support for paperless geocaching with GPX files
  • Free trip planning software BaseCamp that allows users to organize routes and waypoints to make a preplanned route, and also to create shareable ‘Garmin Adventures’

Advantages

  • This is a very durable device despite the camera
  • The dual battery modes can come in very useful, since both disposable and rechargeable batteries can be used
  • While hardcore photographers will still want to take their fancy equipment along, those who merely want to keep their memories will be very well satisfied with the 8 MP camera

Things to Be Aware Of

The 4 inch screen and 8 MP camera does not allow for an extremely lightweight device that can be carried in your hand but it fits easily into your pocket.

As well as that, the display quality could be better when comparing it to other modern devices.

Bottom Line

For people willing to shell out a little money, this is a great GPS navigator with extra features that are worth having. You can leave your digicam and the extra weight at home, the Montana 680 will fit in your pocket and take beautiful pictures.

The pre-loaded charts and City Navigator data can come in very useful.