Home tools Buyer's Guides from tech enthusiast who loves technology and clever solutions for better living.
Best Hiking GPS Units 2018 – [Buyer’s Guide]Last Updated February 1, 2019
Best Hiking GPS Units of 2018
You can make a choice based on the my list as you shop. I have taken the initiative to educate you on the top three best hiking gps units that you can buy this year.
Here are my top picks with detailed reviews, comparison charts and buying guides to help you purchase the perfect item for your needs. I review the three best hiking gps units on the market at the moment.
Test Results and Ratings
|Ease of use||
Why did this hiking gps units win the first place?
The rear part fits perfectly! It is mounted really tight and reliable. The product is very strong. Its material is stable and doesn’t crack. I don’t know anything about other models from this brand, but I am fully satisfied with this product. I am very happy with the purchase. It is definitely worth its money. The product is top-notch!
№2 – Garmin eTrex 20x
Why did this hiking gps units come in second place?
This is a pretty decent product that perfectly fitted the interior of our office. Seems that the material is good. It has a very beautiful color but I don’t really like the texture. I recommend you to consider buying this model, it definitely worth its money. I really liked it. It is amazing in every aspect. It did even exceed my expectations for a bit, considering the affordable price.
Why did this hiking gps units take third place?
This price is appropriate since the product is very well built. It doesn’t squeaks nor bents. Looks great in my apartment. I hope that the good reputation of the manufacturer will guarantee a long-term work. I liked the design. We’ve been using it for 2 months and it still looks like brand new.
Hiking GPS Units Buyer’s Guide
Satellite Reception and Accuracy
The best hiking GPS devices offer you both excellent reception and accuracy. Strong reception is a must if you are going to be hiking out in the backcountry far from civilization. But accuracy can be important too, especially if you will be participating in activities where your precise coordinates are important to know down to within a few feet (geocaching being an excellent example).
Weight and Size
In general, you want to get a device which is compact and lightweight. But you may find that you prefer a slightly larger screen size. This is totally a matter of personal preference. Just choose something which will fit in your pack, be comfortable to hold in your hand, and which presents you with a readable display.
There are a whole bunch of extra bells and whistles which some GPS devices include. Each will increase the cost of the device—and some may also increase its size and weight. But they add functionality for hikers. For example:
Extra features like these can take their toll on your battery, so that is something else to think about while you are shopping. If you will be going on long hikes, you may decide that a longer battery life is more important to you than extra bells and whistles. Many GPS devices do allow you to disable features you are not using to conserve battery however. You can also bring extra batteries with you on your outings.
You now know all about the most important features to look for when you are shopping for a handheld hiking GPS. Scroll back up to the top of the page and take a closer look at our comparison chart. We have made it easy for you to compare the features and prices for highly rated hiking GPS models. Remember to read customer reviews and to ask yourself specific questions about where you plan to hike and how long your trips will be. This will help you to identify which features matter most in your hiking GPS!
The biggest improvement in this version of
Garmin’s eTrex is its display. Measuring in at 2.inches, eTrex’s screen is much bigger and brighter than it used to be. Also, the eTrex’s data storage capacity has grown as well. Now it’s got 3.gigs of internal storage plus a SD card expansion slot, giving you the ability to save very large, detailed map files.
Pinpoint accuracy. With HotFix and GLONASS support included, you’ll be able to get a GPS fix from virtually anywhere on the planet.
Rugged rubber shell. The eTrex 20x’s tough exterior allows it to survive accidents that would cause other GPS units to crack open.
Read geocache hints. Unlike some older handheld GPS units, this one can read and open geocache GPX files.
Free software. The latest version of eTrex is still compatible with the popular free trip planning software known as BaseCamp.
Batteries included. With its preloaded map and bonus set of batteries, eTrex 20x is ready to use right out of the box.
Bike computers are dead claim Bryton
The cycling GPS market is dominated by similar brands to the automotive GPS industry – Garmin is the key player, but brands such as Wahoo, Polar, Bryton, Suunto, Leyzyne and CatEye also offer GPS options.
A key factor, but one that’s easily overlooked, is how the device attaches (or doesn’t) to the bike.
Most GPS units attach to either the handlebar or the stem of the bike. Others, such as those designed for multisport, may be worn as a wrist watch, but this isn’t an ideal viewing position for cycling.
What mounting options the device has should be considered
Generally speaking, the more common the brand, the more mounting options it will offer.
Garmin is no doubt the leader in this area, with scores of aftermarket mount options allowing you to decide exactly how and where the device sits on your handlebar or stem.
The FFormMount is the neat Garmin mount you’ve been looking for
GPS for performance riders
In the past, performance riders would have had to use a separate heart rate monitor (watch or chest strap), a cycle computer and if really serious, a power measuring device to get this vital training information.
Now, GPS units offer a receiver and display for all of this information and more in a compact device.
Many GPS devices work with ANT+ and/or Bluetooth wireless technology. this allows use of additional accessories such as heart rate straps, cadence sensors and power meters. many devices are available with a ‘bundle option’, including the heart rate strap and cadence/speed sensor as a value package
Heart rate, cadence, distance, speed and power meter compatibility is quite common, with many devices using the ANT+ protocol. Most popular GPS units will be offered as the device alone, or in a value bundle with the heart rate strap and cadence/speed sensor.
GPS for long-distance tourers
Touring GPS units have recently popped onto the market, from both Garmin and Magellan. These offer greater mapping and direction capability along with increased battery capacity.
Some units will also have replaceable batteries, however internal rechargeable lithium-ion batteries are more common because of their lower weight.
Serious touring cyclists may which to use use dynamo hub generators or solar technology to keep the batteries of these units topped up. External battery expanders are another option if you’re seeking directions for an overnight journey.
While digital map coverage is often still limited to developed countries, or at most the large urban areas of developing countries, the vast majority of cyclists will find no flaw in the function of these units.
In any event, in more obscure parts of the world, you may well struggle to get hold of good quality GPS maps just as you would struggle to get hold of good quality paper maps.
GPS for town riders
Touring-based computers offer a range of features that town riders will also find useful, however, a smartphone may prove just as useful for casual riding.
If you’re after basic speed, distance or even navigation, there are endless mobile phone mount options to put your phone on top of your handlebars.
Additional ‘plug-in’ displays such as the BeeLine are also an interesting option that are beginning to pop up.
GPS for multi-sport
Like performance riders, multi-sport riders will likely be after the heart-rate, cadence and even power data. However, if you do more than cycling, you may want to be able to use the device for running or perhaps even swimming, too.
These watch-based devices can usually be unclipped from the wrist strap and clipped straight into a bike mount making for a quick transition.
Best GPS watches for cycling: how to choose the right one for you
GPS device glossary
ANT+: The most common wireless protocol in cycling GPS and electronics. This is used for communication between sensors such as power meters, cadence, speed and heart rate monitors and the head unit device.
Barometric altimeter (barometer): Where some devices will use maps to give an estimate of elevation, the better options use a barometer to accurately measure elevation. In some devices, this is also used to provide more accurate co-ordinate tracking.
Bearing/heading: Bearing is the compass direction to the next waypoint, heading is the actual direction of travel (which is usually expressed in degrees)
Bluetooth: A form of separate wireless receiver/transmitter that is the standard in smart phone technology. Now becoming more popular in GPS units to sync with phones.
Geocaching: The GPS equivalent of a treasure hunt, using given co-ordinates to find the location. Arguably this feature has had its day, but is still given in some devices.
GPX: Also known as GPS Exchange format, this open data format is free to use and is widely accepted as the standard way to share ride, track, waypoint and other GPS based data.
GLONASS: Stands for Global Navigation Satellite System, it provides alternative satellites to GPS (Global Positioning System). Units that offer GLONASS often have more reliable map coverage and recording along with faster start-up.
IPX7: This refers to the water resistance rating. IPXis a standard benchmark of many electronic devices and means the item will withstand incidental exposure to water of up to one meter for up to 30 minutes. This means that use in the rain will be of no concern
Odometer: Measures the distance you’ve travelled since it was last reset
Route: Predetermined points, which are known as waypoints (see below), linked together in the order you intend to travel to them
Strava: Website and mobile app used to track fitness activities via GPS. It offers a ‘cloud’ to upload your ride data and compare your fitness with riders in the same area.
Track: The record the GPS unit makes of your actual course over the ground on any journey that you undertake
Waypoints: Specific locations that are stored in the GPS – usually used to navigate to or linked together to form a route. May also be known as Points of Interest (POI), or by the more traditional term, Landmarks.
Why you should use a handheld GPS
What’s the point of using a handheld GPS? Why is it so acclaimed and popular among hunters? We’ve discovered at least four activities that can be performed better and safer as long as you’re using a handheld GPS. Let’s look at each of them.
Tramping and hunting
If you want to get a GPS for hunting, you’ll have the pleasant surprise of realizing that several models have been specially designed for this task. Tramping and hunting units are lightweight and small enough and features a good enough battery life. Non-mapping models are more affordable compared to the ones that have street maps. In addition, some units come with GPS collars that can be utilized with dogs. These are extremely helpful when it comes to localizing your companion and furry hunting assistant.
Although there is a high chance of not finding the absolute perfect model, buyers nowadays can select the characteristics that best suit their needs and requirements. It’s extremely important to assess your expectations before buying a certain unit, as this way you won’t make the mistake of choosing the wrong one. Geocaching might be another task you might be tempted to use your device for. However, virtually any type of outdoor GPS unit is capable of geocaching, so it might be worth noting that this detail should not be a deal-breaker.
Other buyers seem to prefer getting a GPS for street driving and 4WD. Unlike the handheld variants, the models that can be used in a car are somewhat heftier and have larger dimensions. The main drawback of choosing one of these is that you’ll be able to use it strictly in your vehicle or at least somewhere with a roof over your head. The vast majority of these units are not waterproof and are therefore suitable only for urban navigation.
Another task that can be performed with the help of a GPS system is biking. The traditional handheld model won’t be much help in this case, as the GPS has to be installed by using the handle-bar mount. As long as it has the right size, virtually any type of outdoor unit might be the right one for biking. The main thing to keep in mind when shopping for a GPS for biking is that the device has to be able to withstand a high amount of vibration.
Most of the models we have come across use the 2satellites owned by the United States Department of Defense. This means that a handheld model is capable of using the formerly mentioned satellites to provide details regarding the area you’re transiting. Some of the units on the market today have a better satellite reception than others, and a number of these manage to 3D lock the position of the user in a timely fashion.
Believe it or not, the larger the antenna of the unit, the faster it will be able to lock your position. The accuracy of the displayed image and the user’s position depends on the number of satellites that are present in the same area.
Even though there’re a plethora of online sources you can use to determine the speed of the model you want to buy, we recommend going to a store near you and testing some models. For example, if you’re interested in purchasing a new handheld GPS but find it hard to make up your mind between two models, ask the opinion of a seller or consultant.
At a store, you can take two units and place them one next to the other. Then, simply search for your location and figure out which one’s the fastest. Use the buttons to type the location and estimate the speed of the processor by understanding just how long it takes for the device to interpret your message.
Speed might also refer to how much time it takes for a model to startup.
Every handheld GPS comes with its own mapping software. Most manufacturers will claim that theirs is better, but that may not be true. The simplest way of figuring out the advantages of a mapping software over another one is by checking the specs and capabilities. Will you be able to share the waypoints or route via Google Earth? Will you have the freedom to utilize social networks and thus let your friends and acquaintances where you’re going?
Aside from social media integration, it might be a good idea to check whether the platform is intuitive and works with several devices. From what we have seen, there’s a limited number of GPS software that works with the Mac OS X. If this is a requirement, you might need to start browsing for a Garmin unit, as BaseCamp, its branded platform, is Mac compatible.
In addition, it might be worth considering that checking whether the GPS you intend to purchase is compatible with open-source mapping software is the right way to go about things. There’s a myriad of free platforms you can use to update your maps with new and improved data.
Number of maps
Some models are just more convenient than others, in that they come with a higher number of maps. Others, on the other hand, can be used solely in the United States and Canada. Just remember, updating the maps is very important, regardless of whether you want to buy the maps from the manufacturer or not. If you don’t use a trail in the woods for several years and forget to update your device, you might be in for a nasty surprise.
The only downfall of using free maps is that you’ll need to learn your way around them. On this account, they might be less comfortable to use compared to the ones provided by the manufacturer. It boils down to whether you’re prepared to pay for the maps or not.
Some of the standard accessories of a handheld GPS are rechargeable batteries, carrying cases, USB cables, and mounts. A mounting system does wonders when it comes to using the unit for anything other aside from hunting. Therefore, you might be able to use it in your vehicle.
A USB cable might not be the norm for some users, as most smart electronic devices come with a USB cable nowadays. Thus, you’re likely to have one around the house.
Rechargeable batteries are amazing if your budget allows it and if they’re offered in the same package. Needless to say, the end-price of the model has a say in terms of the number of accessories you’ll be receiving along with the device.
Garmin Oregon 600T
Boasting a clean and straightforward design, the Oregon 600T is a handy multi-touch navigation assistant that’s both reliable and highly intuitive. It utilizes dual-band GPS/GLONASS satellite positioning and features a 3-axis compass, an accelerometer, and a barometric altimeter in addition to its standard functionality. Also, users can wirelessly share routes, tracks, waypoints, geocaches, and custom maps thanks to its Bluetooth connectivity features and, with a simplistic dual battery system (AA batteries), keeping this device powered up is as easy as it is to navigate.
We’ve all played the game where you contemplate being stranded in the woods or in the desert. I think the most popular is a deserted island. Then you ask yourself or the other person, “if you could only have one item what would it be?” Logical thinkers pick something that will help them achieve any of
Maslow’s hierarchy of needs, such as a fire starter. Fighters will think of something they can use to hunt or defend themselves with, such as a weapon of any kind. Others will choose something that aids in their rescue or ability to reach civilization such as the best hunting GPS available.
Why GPS Units are the Better Option
There are many reasons why, as a hunter, you should spend the money on a nice GPS unit. Aside from never being “lost”, you can plot points such as bait piles, scrapes/rubs, tree stand/ (yours or not), and so on. They can also help you communicate between multiple hunters in the same few mile radius. You can mark or favorite fishing spots and upload countless geocaches.
What makes a GPS unit a better option than say, a cell phone with accurate apps (maps, location, gps, compass, etc.), or traditional means of traveling such as a map and compass?
Some other features to think about, and determine if you want/need them, include wifi capabilities, memory, battery life, customizing places (points of interest), and step by step directions.
Now that I’ve thrown a bunch of knowledge your way let’s look at the top best hunting and hiking handheld GPS units.
Garmin Oregon 600
Garmin Oregon 600 is a sweet GPS choice. It has a large inch touch screen with the ability to detect multiple points of contact on the screen. This is “multi-touch” technology, and it basically allows for an increase in functionality. For example using two fingers to zoom in and out. Being as it has a larger screen, Gamin took precautions to make sure the display is brilliant and easily readable even in sunlight.
The Oregon 600 also features the three-axis compass to give you precise directions and this added feature lets you know your direction even when not moving at all. This also has the barometer altimeter technology which can sense the pressure in the air and accurately determine your elevation. This GPS has increased satellite detection and prediction technology so you can get your location fast and stay connected regardless of where are.
Garmin Rino 650 is a next-gen handheld GPS exclusively featuring a strong
2-way radio along with superb GPS technology. This feature alone makes this one of the best around, because you can not only stay in communication with your hunting party, the Rino 650 also sends your exact location to them as well. You can see everyone’s position and in the most perfect conditions they are rated up to 20 miles for radio transmission, but that is far from average. In more open and flat lands people report getting 5-miles consistently and in the mountainous areas 1-miles.
Regardless of the average distance it is still a great tool and a unique feature. This handheld unit is not only one of a kind, but also the best GPS for hunting out west. This is because out west provides some of the best conditions to utilize the 2-way radio feature, maximizing your distance.
Say your hunting predator on state land hundreds of square miles, and you’re in a party of four. You spread out and know your at least pushing a mile from another, however; as you move from one location to another that distance can get closer. Unless you all know exactly where you are at all times, it may come in really handy to have communication regardless of cell service.
Of course this is only when the feature is used responsibly and ethically, so please check with your state laws and hunting regulations.
The Garmin Rino 650 has a sensitive touch screen which is able to accurately accept commands even while wearing gloves. It too has the three-axis compass and the ability to determine elevation based on air pressure. It has a powerful antenna so it can locate satellites faster and maintain connection through all types of terrain and environments.
Other cool features that make this an amazing GPS unit include the (National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration) radio built in, so you can monitor and avoid nasty weather
This is a great GPS with a ton to offer in terms of safety, features, applications, and practicality.
How long do you usually go for your hiking adventures? The answer will probably depend on which hiking trail you decide to traverse. Think of your hiking’s most usual duration and then look for a GPS unit that has a battery that can last longer than your usual hiking duration.
Most handheld hiking GPS devices today have a battery life of more or less 1hours per charge. Some come with the option of putting AA batteries in cases of emergency while some use rechargeable lithium batteries. During our hiking GPS reviews we make use of the devices and we’ve checked the actual battery-life.
A common feature among most GPS devices for hiking today comes with a barometer to help track weather conditions and better assist hikers while in the wilderness. Other common and helpful features are electronic compass, altimeter, wireless connection/sharing, heart rate monitors, and other ANT-enabled devices.
If you are into other sports, then you might want to choose the GPS unit that comes with more features suitable to all your needs. Doing so is also more practical as compared to purchasing different GPS units for every sport you do.
The mapping options that are commonly included are topographic, road, and even waterway mapping and satellite imagery. Other options can be availed for a specific price or a membership fee.
If you are particular about the images and trails, you probably would want a high-resolution colored screen especially if you will be using topographical maps. Check also for antiglare feature and if the screen can be viewable even under bright light or extremely low light.
Given the fact that you are hiking your way up mountains and hills, you do not want to make anything harder than it is. Choose a hiking GPS unit that feels totally comfortable in your hands. If touchscreens are not your thing, make sure to choose one with buttons that are well spaced for you to be able to select the functions easily.
Look for a quality constructed device made of durable material to ensure that it lasts longer and stands the test of rugged terrain, bad weather, and water. In addition, it needs to have been designed with some resistance features because, in such expeditions, the device is bound to drop to the ground and may get damaged. It will be an advantage if the device is made of waterproof material.
There are 3US satellites and 2Russian satellites orbiting the earth. Devices that are WAAS-enabled use both types of satellites for accurate, fast positioning satellite imagery. This makes it very easy to find your way through thick terrains.
Some Extra features include
Will A Smartphone Make A Good Replacement Option For A Handheld GPS?
While both the smartphones and the GPS handheld devices have their pros and cons, by far the greatest and worthwhile advantages handheld GPS for hiking over mobile phones or GPS enabled watches are:
Battery life. With all the GPS Apps you will need to install on your phone to use it like GPS during your trip, your charge may only take you a few hours due to the overload. With GPS batteries going for up to 100 hours, there’s clearly no comparison as far as power is concerned.
Secondly, phones tend to get affected by bad weather, water, cold temperature, and some other environmental factors.
You have basically choices here, and each has its own set of pros and cons. You can have a touchscreen, and for many this is a good choice because the controls are easy and familiar and you don’t need to go through the tedious procedure of going through menu options.
On the other hand, with buttons the battery lasts much longer, it’s more likely to work in even freezing conditions, and you can use it more easily even when you’re wearing gloves.
DeLorme inReach SE Satellite Tracker
If you’re really into hiking and biking on a regular basis, you’ll need a GPS that’s a bit more advanced. That’s certainly the case with this unit, and that means it’s a lot more expensive than starter GPS devices.
Garmin Fenix GPS Watch
In fact, it’s so useful that you can find it helpful for more than just hiking. You can use it for running, swimming, and biking as well.
There’s really no end to the kinds of data you can see here, as you can get just about every kind of information about your activities. The watch is also a GPS tracker, and it also offers the capability to store 1,000 waypoints and 10,000 tracks.
If we were heading off somewhere remote then we’d want the Garmin inReach Explorer+ in our kit.
It’s a solidly built device with decent GPS performance but it’s the two-way satellite comms that clinches it.
Being able to send and receive text messages and your location, especially in an emergency situation, makes this device stand out from the rest.
Garmin Oregon 600 3-Inch Worldwide Handheld GPS
This is one of the better touch screen handheld GPS units we’ve seen. The touch interface is very responsive and works well even while wearing gloves.
The menu interface is easy to use and loading maps and setting waypoints is simple too. The screen is a decent size and performs really well in bright sunlight.
It runs from AA batteries with a quoted battery life of 1hours. That’s more than a little optimistic and we’d recommend taking an extra set of batteries along because this unit chews batteries.
What We Don’t Like
Magellan CX0310SGXNA eXplorist 3Waterproof Hiking GPS
While Magellan don’t make the same quality high end handheld GPS products that Garmin do, they do produce some solid mid-range budget options like this one.
The GPS accuracy is excellent although getting GPS lock takes a while. It uses the SiRFStarIII GPS chipset along with WAAS, MSAS and EGNOS to give you up to 3m accuracy.
The battery life is better than average at 1hours which is plenty for a few days of careful use.
It comes preloaded with the World Edition map but also has 500Mb of internal storage if you want to upload Summit Series topo maps.
Once your GPS gets lock on at least satellites it can give you your elevation but it’s not always going to be accurate.
Having a barometric altimeter built in will give you a better idea of your elevation. Because it’s barometric its accuracy will vary with the weather though.
Electronic 3-Axis Compass
With a standard GPS compass you need to hold the device horizontally in order for it to work. Some of the more expensive models will come with a 3-axis electronic compass.
These will work in any orientation and can be handy if you need to hold the GPS up to get a better signal.
When your GPS turns on it takes a good few minutes to locate the position of the satellites. It needs to find satellites to get your position and needs a further to get elevation and speed info.
The HotFix feature built into some Garmin devices kicks in after around 30 minutes of use. It gathers info about the satellites it has got a fix on and can predict where those satellites will be up to three days later.
This means that if you switch your device off and then switch it on a few hours or a day later it gets a fix on your location a lot faster.
Most handheld GPS units will use AA batteries with some opting for AAA. Manufacturers will claim battery life figures of between 1and 2hours but these are really optimistic.
Used carefully you may get somewhere near those figures but it’s always a good idea to pack extra batteries.
Some models will also support rechargeable battery packs. These are a good idea but you’ll need a means to recharge them. A small solar panel or power bank is a useful bit of kit to have if you’re going to be out for a few days.
Mapping on the screen of your GPS
You can put mapping on all the colour screen GPS units (please note I am talking about the current generation units – e-Trex 20x, e-Trex 30x, 64s, Oregon 600, Oregon 650, Montana 600 and Montana 650) and when you see an Ordnance Survey Map on the screen you will not be disappointed.
If you get a chance to buy maps at the same time as buying the unit (i.e. bundled in with unit) buy them. You will get them at a massively reduced price, but don’t be conned by small areas of mapping, if you are offered a bundle of maps I would expect full UK mapping at 1:50,000, don’t go for anything less.
These mapping cards that you get bundled with higher end GPS units normally retails for £200.00 but you get it bundled with new units for just £50.00 above the unit price. A big saving, but please note not all retailers sell bundled mapping, when I mean bundled I would get nothing less than full UK mapping at 1:50,000.
I must add that Shepherds Walks have these bundled offers online or in our shop, but many online retailers don’t (as Garmin likes to put them into ‘bricks and mortar retailers’).
Again this is one of the big mistakes people make. Buying their GPS cheaper elsewhere and not realising it does not come with mapping.
Units with full UK bundled mapping options – GPS Map64s, Oregon 600, Oregon 650, Montana 600 and Montana 650
Reasons To Invest In A GPS
Here are some benefits of carrying a backpacking GPS:
Added Safety: Now backpackers can go on thrilling adventures without getting lost. Losing your way can get infuriating and possibly become hazardous. A portable GPS provides accurate directions to your location. This ensures you know exactly where you are and what direction you should head in.
Recollection Record: Did you know that some GPS units can permanently record your hiking or backpacking route? This feature is excellent for hikers and backpackers who are always ready for an adventure and want to take their favorite route. You can take note of your favorite location and bring along your friends and family next time.
Better Outdoor Experience: Having a GPS unit eliminates the need for you concentrate on rigorous paper maps. You spend less time worrying about getting lost and thus get to enjoy your outdoor adventure. Backpacking GPS aids navigation and cuts down time you spend on reading a paper map.
Things To Consider While Purchasing A GPS
Here are a couple of factors you should consider before purchasing a GPS:
Two-Way Communications: Some GPS units offer two-way communication for satellite systems. These units are especially handy for users who are headed to far off locations.
Weather Resistant: Ensure you invest in a reliable GPS system that won’t stop working when it rains and is resistant to water damage. This feature will allow you to enjoy your journey no matter what the weather forecast says. ditional Features: Some high-tech GPS units offer advanced features that might prove useful. This includes an area calculator, alarm, calendar, stopwatch, and compass. However, if you are not tech savvy, you would probably benefit from a simpler device.
Battery Life: You don’t want your GPS to die out after only a few hours of backpacking, do you? Well, then invest in a unit with a long battery life, at least a minimum of 1hours. ilt-in Memory: This feature will allow you to save your favorite routes for later. Some models also allow you to save pictures, videos and audios.
Who this is for—or when a phone isn’t enough
For day-to-day navigation, however, a smartphone can work well for most people, especially if you have a car charger and a car mount to keep it where you can easily see it. Google Maps, Waze, Apple Maps, and other good nav apps will typically get you to your destination just fine. And their crowdsourced, up-to-the-minute traffic information is hard to beat. Also, the ease with which you can search for something on your device (a restaurant, a park, the office of a personal contact) and then make it your destination with a simple tap—or a copy-and-paste—makes phones hugely convenient.
Though people may reach for their smartphones for a short jaunt, stand-alone GPS units are better, especially for longer trips.
As a result, though people may reach for their smartphones for a short jaunt, we think stand-alone GPS units are better, especially for longer trips. And so do many of our readers. When we polled readers in 201about car GPS devices, a majority (5percent) said they wanted something that could still guide them through cell-service dead spots and wouldn’t drain their smartphone’s battery too fast (5percent). About a third (2percent) told us that using navigation apps on their phone used too much of their data plan. Notably, most respondents (5percent) said they wouldn’t want to use a smartphone app, even if it had all of the same features they wanted in a dedicated GPS device.
The better GPS devices, such as Garmin’s, are great at guiding you through interchanges with 3D views that show you what lane to be in and which highway sign to follow.
Flaws but not dealbreakers
The Garmin Drive 5LMT-S has a few quirks that we’re not fond of. For one thing, the TFT screen—which the unit has instead of a capacitive touchscreen similar to what you find on a smartphone—lacks real sensitivity, so you have to get used to tapping with a bit of oomph, and scrolling with your finger through menus is far from smooth. We often accidentally activated whatever menu option our finger landed on rather than successfully scrolling. Fortunately, the unit has big up/down arrows to the left that you can use if you don’t like the finger scrolling.
The DriveSmart 5LMT-S has a multitouch screen with pinch-to-zoom capability.
The DriveSmart 5LMT-S (left) sports a 5-inch screen, while the DriveSmart 6LMT-S gives you a huge, 6.95-inch display.
The TomTom Go 50 S is a good basic navigator that will get you to your destination. Though it doesn’t provide as much on-screen info as the Garmin models, it does let you know when you’re going over the speed limit with a bright red speed display.
If you want reliable navigation for considerably less cash, we recommend the TomTom Go 50 S. It’s a fully functional, if basic, navigator that has many of the hallmarks of modern devices, including lane guidance, traffic (through a smartphone connection), and free lifetime maps of the US, Canada, and Mexico. The Go 50 S also has the same inches of screen real estate as our top pick, and in many metro areas it will display familiar landmarks in 3D mode so you can more easily orient yourself with the map.
Though it will alert you to safety-camera locations (speed and red lights), the Go 50 S doesn’t provide the array of alerts the new Garmin devices do. It’s slightly bulkier than the Garmin models, and for us its processor was a bit sluggish in response time when we tapped on the screen. And overall, we didn’t find TomTom’s interface to be quite as driver-friendly or helpful as Garmin’s. But the TomTom Go 50 S will reliably take you where you need to go for less money.
If you want to save a few bucks and don’t need Garmin’s newest features, our previous Garmin picks—the Drive 50LMT, DriveSmart 50LMT, and DriveAssist 50LMT—are discounted while supplies last. They’re essentially the same as the newer 5LMT-S models, with some exceptions. The Drive 50LMT lacks the ability to connect to Garmin’s Smartphone Link app via Bluetooth for live traffic, weather alerts, and parking info. The DriveSmart 50LMT doesn’t have the DriveSmart 5LMT-S’s built-in Wi-Fi. The DriveAssist 50LMT also lacks Wi-Fi, as well as the ability to automatically text a contact if it detects a crash. And all omit the 5LMT-S line’s TripAdvisor ratings, parking info, and location-sharing features.
Garmin’s DriveLuxe 5LMT-S is the highest-priced 5-inch model we looked at, and though it offers some features that aren’t available on other Garmin models, we don’t think they are compelling enough to recommend the DriveLuxe as a pick. It has the same functionality as our top pick and runner-up, as well as a higher-resolution display, a handy powered magnetic mount (just hold the DriveLuxe close to it, and the mount will snap the unit into place), and, like the Garmin DriveAssist 5LMT-S, the ability to automatically text a contact if it detects a crash. The DriveLuxe also has a sleek metal housing (rather than plastic), which is elegant looking; some owners, however, complain that it gets pretty toasty while sitting in the sun.
Magellan’s forward-collision and lane-departure warnings use smaller icons and less attention-getting sounds than Garmin’s alerts, which reduces their effectiveness.
TomTom will be introducing some new models soon and phasing out older ones, including our budget pick, the Go 50 S, and its larger sibling, the Go 60 S. For now, both models are discounted and still available through some outlets.
An outgoing model we tested is the TomTom Go 500, which is still available at a discounted price. Its features are similar to those of our top pick, and it has a multitouch capacitive screen that permits pinch-to-zoom, which makes exploring the map easier. The Go 500’s traffic data is available only when you tether the unit to a smartphone, however, and we didn’t find its screen info and voice directions as driver-friendly as the Garmin models’.
The TomTom Via 1515M was the least expensive model we tested, but currently it is only slightly cheaper than the Go 50 S we chose as our budget pick. The Via 1515M does give you up to three hours of battery life (an hour more than the Go 50 S), but it doesn’t allow you to receive traffic alerts, which is a critical feature for many drivers.
What to look forward to
At the CES 201trade show, TomTom introduced several new GPS models, including the Go 520 and 620, and the Via 1425, 1525, and 162The new 5- and 6-inch Go models have built-in Wi-Fi support for easier updates, capacitive pinch-to-zoom touchscreens, and Bluetooth capability, which when linked to a smartphone allows hands-free calls, the ability to have texts read aloud, and the use of a smartphone’s personal assistant. The Via models, available with 4-, 5-, and 6-inch screens, respectively, are lower-priced, budget navigators. We’ll test the new models when they’re released and let you know how they stack up in a future update.
Do check the type of batteries a unit operates on and its lifespan. A backlit display on a unit means that it will make use of more batteries, especially if you are fond of nighttime hikes. Lithium batteries will also last longer as compared with the rechargeable ones, as well as keep well in colder climes.
There are also batteries which have sleep-mode functions which conserves battery lifespan and in turn, save you plenty from buying extra ones.
A conventional GPS device can get the approximate elevation from where you stand, however it can be erroneous. Thus several available units have included a barometric altimeter. An altimeter can also provide users air pressure deviations, therefore alerting them of changes in the weather.
There are three kinds of antenna designed for this particular device; the external, internal and the plug-in. The external can be tweaked to improve intelligibility but is more prone to damage while the internal kind has few chances of being broken. Whereas the plug-in is advantageous for drivers and boat users.
SIRF Star III
If you want your antenna to function even more, you have to get a GPS that’s designed with this. It is a chip that can enhance the antenna’s performance.
Maps are the most crucial feature of a GPS device. There are models out there with great map detail and a vast storage capacity for your maps and of course. Keep in mind that the more map features a model can contain, the bigger its price on the market. Check the map particulars that you always use and then pick a certain model with the needed details.
Units with color displays are usually recommended for hikers who rely on geographical maps whereas users who rely on way points can make do with designs featuring a simple, no-fuss display.
Another factor to consider is the resolution of the display. Those with superior resolution and bigger display layouts are steeper in price, but more ideal for those with problematic eyesight. In addition, units designed with backlit features will benefit hikers who trek at night.
Sunlight is also a main factor to consider since the too much light can reflect on the device and obscure the display. If you’re the type who does daylight hikes, there are GPS devices available in the market which can curb this annoyance.
So if you are on the hunt for your own GPS hiking unit, do not hurry up and get whatever’s on the display rack. Look up units like you would a car and do your research first. Keeping this in mind will not put your time and money to waste.
Our Current Favorite
Dont have time to read our in-depth article? We believe the Garmin Fenix GPS is the best overall Hiking Watch you can buy in 201Lots of features make it perfect for day hikers, trekkers or even mountaineers while offering all the features you need. It has ABC, GPS, High Resolution Display as well as other great features.
Whether you are heading out on a short day hike or a longer multi-day hike knowing your location and correct time is critical to your safety. Another key feature to help keeping you safe is being able to predict upcoming changes in the weather, depending on when you are hiking this could save your life.
Hiking Watches have come a long way over the last years where previously a good hiking watch probably only told you the time and maybe had an inbuilt compass. In 201hiking watches can tell you everything from GPS Coordinates to Altitude to barometric pressure.
The best Hiking Watch come in a wide range of prices from entry level to luxury watches, and each watch will offer a different set of features. Remember that high cost of the watch doesn’t always means quality, some of the budget hiking watches available will have all the features you need.
Remember when buying a hiking watch – the most expensive watch is not necessarily the best. Look for the features you need for your style of trekking.
When setting out on a hiking expedition of the Annapurna Region of Nepal I decided that I would replace my existing watch with a new hiking smart watch. I spent over 30 hours researching different watches from different hiking brands to find the perfect one. buyers guide of the Best Hiking Watches you can buy online in 2017.
The Garmin Fenix GPS is the overall best hiking watch we reviewed and also a great option for other sports like running and cycling. This watch is perfect for all hikers although the price range would probably scare off people looking for entry level.
This watch has all the key features you can find in a hiking watch including ABC (Altimeter, Barometer and Compass) as well as added GPS functions including being able to set markers, track your course and mark up to 1000 locations making it easy to find your way back to camp. The ABC sensors are automatically calibrated by GPS meaning you do not have to worry with pesky manual calibration.
Featuring a high resolution color LED display that is easy to see even in sunlight and features a backlight for night viewing, this watch has the perfect user interface to access all your hiking data quickly and easily. The battery is rechargeable and allows up to weeks in watch mode and up to 20 hours while the GPS is functioning.
You can connect easily to a series of Garmin apps available online and included WIFI and Bluetooth make it easy to share data to and from the watch.
The Garmin Fenix has a stylish design and is available in different models including the Sapphire and is perfect to take on your next hiking adventure. We highly recommend this model while the budget conscious could look for the cheaper Fenix which is still available to buy online. This model is the Best Garmin Hiking watch currently available.
As mentioned previously barometers are used to detect changes in the atmospheric pressure which enables you to predict how the weather will change. If the air pressure is increasing then it is likely that the weather will improve. Dropping air pressure indicates a low pressure system is approaching which could also bring clouds rain or snow. Being able to track the atmospheric pressure is vital to your safety especially if you are hiking in remote wildness areas or areas like mountains that are prone to rapid weather change. Any sudden drop in atmospheric pressure usually means that a storm is approaching which could bring dangerous wind or flooding rains.
A built-in compass is a good feature for a hiking watch and provides basic information on the direction you are traveling. Compasses have been widely used in hiking for a long time and indicate the directions of North, South, East and West.
Anyone with basic compass training can use compass reading to triangulate and determine their current position on a map. Knowing the direction of north is a crucial part of navigation although GPS technology has reduced this reliance.
Different hiking watch models offer different types of compass technology including 2D and 3D. With a 2D compass you must hold your wrist and watch flat to be able to tell the direction, a 3D compass allows you to get an accurate reading of your direction regardless of the angle your wrist is facing, this means it is a lot easy to use while on the move. back to menu ↑
Heart Rate Monitor
A growing number of manufacturers are adding heart rate monitors to their hiking watches. This feature is used for more advanced hikers or trail runners to monitor their pulse and heart rate to ensure they are maintaining a steady pace. This feature is not required for the average hiker and in some instances turning this feature off will actually maintain battery life.
Thermometers can be used to determine the outside air temperature and may come in handy on longer hikes. I always found the watch thermometers kind of useless as they can give off inaccurate readings due to also detecting your body heat. If you remove them from your wrist for minutes they become more accurate, however this kind of defeats the purpose.
A rechargeable battery is a great feature for any hiking watch, especially if the watch also offers a lot of other features like GPS or bright displays. Like cell phones, power drain can occur quickly if more features of the hiking watch are being used so I suggest turning off unnecessary features.
Carry a power bank with you while hiking keep all your devices including phones, handheld GPS or watches fully charge throughout the entire hike.
First of all thanks for reading my article to the end! I hope you find my reviews listed here useful and that it allows you to make a proper comparison of what is best to fit your needs and budget. Don’t be afraid to try more than one product if your first pick doesn’t do the trick.
Most important, have fun and choose your Hiking GPS Units wisely! Good luck!
So, TOP3 of Hiking GPS Units
- №1 — Garmin eTrex 10 Worldwide Handheld GPS Navigator
- №2 — Garmin eTrex 20x
- №3 — Garmin Foretrex 401 Waterproof Hiking GPS