If you’re into hiking, you should definitely consider investing in a hiking GPS if you haven’t already. These devices allow you to easily find your way around even the most inhospitable or wild environments, which is great when hiking through a landscape with little visibility and no distinct features to guide you. Often used for navigation by recreational hikers and wildlife professionals alike, hiking GPS devices have come a long way over the years and are nowadays built to incorporate a wide galaxy of additional features along their basic functions. It is for this reason that you should perhaps check out our list of ten best hiking GPS devices the market has to offer before making a purchase.
Best Hiking GPS Of 2018
10Magellan Triton 1500 Waterproof Hiking GPS
Being light and small in design, as well as shock and water-resistant, this GPS device is ideal for trekking, mountaineering, hiking, and also other outdoor errands since it conveniently fits in the hand and it is easy to store in your backpack’s side pocket. What’s more, its HotFix and WAAS features deliver positioning speed and precision, which is precisely what you want from a Hiking GPS device.
9Bushnell Backtrack Point-3 Personal GPS Locator
This interesting GPS supports smart alerts like text messages, missed calls, and other notifications from your smartphone to be displayed on the GPS device directly. It comes with integrated TOPO U.S. 100K maps as well as 1-year BirdsEye Satellite Imagery free subscription. Moreover, it has a robust construction that withstands harsh elements. Considering its long-lasting battery life, this particular GPS locator is definitely one of the very best.
8Magellan Triton 400 Waterproof Hiking GPS
What makes this device stand out is the fact that its descriptions and hints are clearly readable on the device, while featured filters allow you to quickly sort the Geocaches by terrain, size, type, and difficulty. It also allows you to easily plan your trips thanks to a pretty ingenious app. As you would expect, the device also includes pre-installed maps and more maps that you can upload to the device easily.
7SPOT 3 Satellite GPS Messenger
Although not a hiking GPS per se, the SPOT 3 is surely one of the best GPS devices when it comes to tracking and positioning. Small and easy to use, this GPS Messenger enables you to benefit from a pinpoint tracking feature that works even in places with no cell service. Equipped with a USB power input, this device benefits from an impressively long battery life that is sure to come in handy in the long run.
6Magellan eXplorist 710 Waterproof Hiking GPS
With a rugged, waterproof construction, the Magellan eXplorist 710 is another great GPS device any adventurer can count on. Thanks to its ultra-compact design, it perfectly fits in the hand. eXplorist 710 has a convenient 3-inch touchscreen for clear information display. It also features a barometric altimeter, 3-axis electronic compass, microphone and speaker, and a 3.2-megapixel camera. This device is ideal for successful navigation during hiking adventures as well as maneuvering through the city labyrinthine thanks to its turn-by-turn directions. It also supports 2D and 3D viewing angles, covering the globe with articulate roads and landmarks. Additionally, eXplorist 710 provides you with sun and moon information, hunting and fishing calendar, and Geocaches worldwide. It is a greatly reliable device for mountaineers, hikers, as well as other outdoorsmen, and one of the best options in its class.
5Garmin eTrex 30x 010-01508-10 Handheld Navigator
An upgrade of the famous Garmin eTrex 30, the eTrex 30x is a new generation version featuring greater screen resolution to provide a more convenient display. Also, its internal memory has been expanded for more maps holding capacity. Like its predecessor, it is easy to use, durable and affordable, and suitable for use on bikes, cars, ATVs, boats or hot air balloons. The 2.2-inch enhanced display has a 65K color resolution. Even with an upgraded interface, eTrex 30x inherits the toughness to resist dust, water, dirt, and humidity.
4Garmin Montana 680t
Montana 680t is yet another feature-rich GPS device developed by the iconic Garmin. A little bigger and heavier compared to Garmin Oregon 650t, it also provides a large touchscreen display with even greater resolution. This display is responsive even when used with light gloves on, and supports convenient double orientation. Moreover, this GPS device has a digital compass, barometric altimeter, sun and moon information, 8-megapixel camera, tide table, hunting and fishing calendars, and turn-by-turn routing. Since the Montana 680t tracks GPS and GLONASS satellites both, and also utilizes the WAAS and HotFix features, it delivers high-speed signal retrieval and location display precision. Despite its weight and size, Garmin Montana 680t is powerful and highly reliable navigation tool for hikers and other outdoor enthusiasts.
3Garmin Oregon 650t 3-Inch Handheld GPS
This is a sophisticated GPS device model that offers the convenience of a 3-inch touchscreen. Easy to read even in sunlight, the display supports dual-orientation and multi-touch view. However, it is difficult to use with your gloves on. Oregon 650t’s other top features include a 3-axis compass, barometric altimeter, accelerometer, and an impressive 8-megapixel camera for sharp snapshots. Moreover, this GPS device integrates a high-performance antenna, making it to easily and accurately retrieve the location from GPS and GLONASS satellites. It is also ideal for Geocaching since it supports up to 4 million Geocaches downloads.
2Garmin Foretrex 401 Waterproof Hiking GPS
This ingenious device features a high-sensitivity GPS receiver with a HotFix function for an improved performance and reception in virtually any environment. It also keeps track of routes, tracks, and waypoints, which is extremely useful long-term. Interestingly enough, it can also keep track of your heart rate with the help of a heart rate monitor that you can get and attach to the device. Furthermore, this hiking GPS supports a dual position readout that enables users to view their current location in multiple formats. Not only that but it also features a trip computer, an electronic compass, and a barometric altimeter.
1Garmin GPSMAP 64st
Featuring a bit larger screen than the eTrex 30x and buttons positioned below the display rather than on the sides, Garmin GPSMAP 64st is a slightly longer device than most. However, it features a quality helix antenna for simultaneous tracking of both GPS and GLONASS satellites, which definitely makes up for the unusual length. This improves the satellite lock speed and positioning precision. Other highlights include a barometric altimeter, electronic 3-axis compass, and a Bluetooth chipset that facilitates its wireless connection to other Bluetooth-enabled devices.
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What To Look For In A Hiking GPS
Unlike GPS-enabled watches, which are also quite popular these days, Hiking GPS devices have the advantage of showing detail maps and even satellite imagery of your surroundings. Sometimes, they can even show your location in relation to any of the waypoints you have chosen and provide alternative routes for you. It is for this reason that hiking GPS devices are still the preferred choice for campers everywhere, but this doesn’t mean that they can all be held to the same standards. To be more precise, here is what you need to consider when looking for a hiking GPS device:
The way such a device is built tells you a lot about the performance levels you can expect. As such, a Hiking GPS should enjoy a robust design and be made of sturdy materials that offer it a decent resistance to shock and abrasion. At the same time, such a device has to be water-resistant to some extent so that you can use it when the weather takes a turn for the worse. A big majority of hiking GPS devices are built up to an IPX7 water resistance rating, at least the popular ones.
A decent GPS device should be equipped with a 2-inch display at least, one that also preferably has a good display resolution. One common problem for modern GPS devices is the touchscreen that doesn’t seem to work well in cold weather when you have to use gloves. Other than that, GPS devices with touchscreens seem to work rather well for the most part, not to mention how much easier they are to navigate.
Given the nature of a hiking GPS, you want a device with a substantial battery life. As such, a decent GPS device should last at least 10 hours on a single charge. Preferably, you want a device that you only have to charge once a day. What’s interesting in this regard is the fact that while some of these devices are equipped with rechargeable batteries, others work just as well with standard disposable alkaline batteries that you can buy anywhere.
Another thing to consider when buying a hiking GPS is the overall weight of the device. Although you want a device with a good battery life and lots of features, you don’t want to compromise when it comes to the device’s weight. It just so happens that the more complex a device is the heavier it is, even though this doesn’t always apply to some high-end models that employ a few truly ingenious technologies.
Most modern hiking GPS devices are equipped with planning software that you can use to plan your route beforehand. You can also create a route that you can copy onto the device, a route that allows you to customize the waypoints you will be using and how many of them you will need. We should point out, however, that this software isn’t exactly universal and that manufacturers tend to use their own software.
In regards to positioning, you want a device that isn’t just capable of displaying your general position but to pinpoint precisely where you are in that particular environment. For this to happen, you might want to choose a hiking GPS with GLONASS support as well. For those of you who are unaware, GLONASS is a viable alternative to GPS, which is why high-end GPS devices tend to feature both positioning systems.
Depending on your budget, you could very well get a hiking GPS with a whole lot of additional features that you can use. Features like electronic compasses, barometric altimeters, and smartphone integration systems. As a matter of fact, you can connect some of these devices to not only smartphones and smartwatches but heart rate monitors as well. For the most part, you should be able to control all these additional features through the hiking GPS’ interface with no issues whatsoever.