geocaching gpsGeocaching is a fun hobby with a single hefty requirement for participating: a GPS. If you’re getting a GPS for geocaching and nothing else, You only have to worry about a few things.

  • Can I read it
  • How long is the battery life?
  • Is it durable?
  • What features does it have?
  • How much will it cost?

Are you in the market for a GPS but not sure what to look for? Here’s what you need to know when choosing the perfect geocaching GPS.

Why Can’t I Use My Phone?

You can. Phones are a viable option for anyone getting into geocaching. They’re convenient, always handy, and many phones now have a GPS chip in them. If your phone supports geocaching, this might be the option for you.

Downsides

But there are a few downsides. If you’re in love with geocaching, you’ll eventually be doing it outside of a city or while traveling. Phones aren’t rugged enough for outdoor excursions, and they may have poor reception in an area with a cache.

Worst of all, their batteries may not last long enough to get you to a remote cache. The last thing anyone wants is to be stranded with a dead phone in the middle of nowhere.

If you’re geocaching, a handheld GPS is the way to go.

Screen Size and Functionality

Readability is important since some caches are so well hidden that you’ll need a GPS to show you exactly where they are. I’ve been within a few feet of a geocache and still couldn’t find it until a friend’s GPS got us closer.

Make sure the screen is big enough to make out everything, but maybe not too big. The GPS should fit in your hand and shouldn’t be too big that it can’t be attached to a bag. Remember, you’re going to be hiking with this in hand. Try to find a good balance between size and weight.

The Garmin GPSMAP 60 is a good choice if you’re looking for something that is simple, large, and easy to read. It has a monochrome display that is sunlight readable thanks to a backlight.

Find the user interface that’s right for you. Are the settings customizable? Is it a touchscreen? Can you adjust the screen size? Is it in color or black and white?

But be careful when it comes to too many features. They may drain the battery…

Battery Life

This might be the most important feature of a geocaching GPS. Nothing puts a damper on things quite like being out in the middle of nowhere, looking for a geocache and having your GPS die.

Many modern GPS units are rechargeable and have a battery life of over 20 hours. That’s plenty of time for geocaching in the city, but it may not be enough when you’re out hiking. When you’re camping trip, you might want to consider a GPS that runs on replaceable AA or AAA batteries.

Keeps on Ticking

If you’re taking your GPS hiking, make sure it’s waterproof or at least water resistant. You never know when it could rain or when you might drop it in a puddle. The Magellan eXplorist 310 North America GPS is waterproof and features paperless geocaching.

Whether you’re geocaching in the city, forest, or swamp, you’re going to eventually drop your GPS. Make sure it’s designed to stand up to a beating.

Just like a phone, you’re going to want to protect your GPS. If your GPS isn’t waterproof or rugged, you should invest in some sort of housing to protect it.

Getting a Signal

This shouldn’t be too much of a problem as many new GPS devices are good enough to get a signal regardless of weather.

People love to hide geocaches underneath trees, but a lot of trees can hamper a signal. If you are worried about the signal, you can get a GPS with an external antenna jack. This will ensure that you have a signal no matter if you are under tree cover, in a moving car, or in the middle of nowhere.

For the paranoid geocacher in all of us, the Garmin Inreach Explorer uses 66 satellites to ensure that you always have coverage. This isn’t a cheap option, but you’ll also be able to send and receive messages and send SOS alerts. This is geocaching at its safest.

Geocache Right out of the Gate

Many new GPS devices come specifically designed for geocaching. You can download coordinates directly from websites. They can also log your caches for you after you’ve found them, essential for knowing which caches you’ve already found.

Garmin has even partnered with Geocaching for Garmin Express. You can download lists of caches to your device, and your device will keep track of everything you’ve visited.

How Much Does It Cost?

A GPS device can cost anywhere from fifty bucks to hundreds of dollars. But one of the many draws of geocaching is that it is an inexpensive hobby.

You don’t need much. You need a device that can reliably direct you to coordinates. If you can go without all the bells and whistles of more expensive GPS devices, you can get a reliable GPS for under a hundred dollars

You should be on the lookout for if your GPS requires a subscription of any kind. Try to get a geocaching GPS that comes with all the base maps you’ll need and includes the cost of updates in the initial purchase cost.

Get the Geocaching GPS that’s Right For You

Geocaching is a fun and affordable hobby. All you need is a geocaching GPS that will tell you where you are and where you’re going no matter the conditions.

If you’re a geocacher in the market for a GPS, visit Hiking GPS Zone. We’ve got all the latest product reviews and news to make buying a GPS a breeze.

Geocaching is like being on an adventure and finding buried treasure. But to get that treasure, you’re going to want a reliable treasure map. Stay active in life and this community, and find the geocaching GPS that’s right for you.