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Hiking GPS - Reviews & Guides For 2024

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Hiking GPS Buyer’s Guide

Hiking is a refreshing activity that allows you to explore the countryside. You can harmonize with nature, explore its local flora and fauna, and come across magnificent sceneries. However, while you're exploring the arena, you should always know where you're going.

The position of the sun or a compass would only tell you the general direction. A hiking GPS could help you get a detailed map with routes. It's the best choice to prevent yourself from getting lost. Indeed, your phone comes with a GPS, but it is not as powerful.

Your smartphone or other devices have several different functions that negatively impact GPS tracking. A hiking GPS is explicitly designed to track and provide a location, with other similar features. It has become an indispensable tool, and adventurers across the globe love it!

In this guide, we will help you get the best GPS from the countless options available in the market. Forget about the claims that a particular GPS is the best. Use this guide to decide what's the best hiking GPS for you!

What is a hiking GPS?

GPS stands for Global Positioning System. By connecting through the satellite, a GPS showcases your location. The most accurate GPS Systems can track you up to 10 feet around your exact location in the most restrictive places.

Due to its potential, many devices come with GPS systems for a specific function. Other companies have found a way to use GPS in your device to track you. For example, Google may use it to bring you more local and relevant search results.

A hiking GPS is a device designed for a specific function to provide directions to the users. It is compact and usually looks like a mini walkie talkie for ease of holding. If you compare it to a GPS on your phone, you will learn that it is more accurate.

Your hiking GPS is built for robust performance. It can withstand the trials of weather and other elements such as extreme temperatures, water, and potential drops and falls. Due to GPS-specific functions, it has longer battery life.

Often, for user convenience, they utilize something similar to AA batteries that are easily disposable and available in the market. Therefore, if you are in the location for camping for several days, you can conveniently carry these batteries to power your GPS consistently. Thus, maintaining seamless connectivity and tracking.

Smartphone vs. hiking GPS

A smartphone has several functions, and it is not designed to provide you a precise location. Due to multiple functions, the first drawback of using it for GPS is the lack of battery power. Power backups for smartphones are generally broader, and despite how much power backup you get, a GPS can last for hours while working with AA Batteries.

Hiking GPS comes with several features and user-convenient options that are related to tracking. You can explore the route, keep track of where you came for, and find easy reroutes. Often, a GPS has the option to download the map of the region that is pre-explored to ease up your trip in case you find yourself lost.

There are apps available for smartphones. However, most of them are premium and heavily rely upon the GPS connectivity of your phone. In the era where you get trouble getting Network for your smartphones, GPS might also face similar obstruction.

Let's not forget that your smartphone is more fragile than a hiking GPS. It is not built for rough handling. Most of the phones are not waterproof, temperature proof, or crash proof. That is where a GPS indeed thrives on bringing you great leisure.

Benefits of using a hiking GPS

To break it down in short, a hiking GPS is similar to using a tech-advanced compass that brings you accurate options to keep track of your locations. Modern hiking GPS brings you several convenient features that put it on part with Smartphones for efficiency, convenience, and performance.

Let's take a better look at different advantages of using a GPS device for hiking:

Know where you are

A hiking GPS brings you a continuous flow of real-time data regarding your altitude and coordinates. You'll know which direction you are headed towards, thanks to satellite connectivity. It tracks your trail so far, and you can retrace your steps back if you found yourself stranded from the intended path.

Even if you lack a map or have no idea where to go, you can get a reroute option from the GPS. It can provide you alternative routes to reach your destination. Often, if you pre-planned your hiking, it will tell you if you're on an incorrect path and show you the right way.

Overall, you will never get lost with a GPS device by your side.

Easy hiking plans

The latest hiking GPS provides you an option to download maps and plan your route. You can decide which course to take and establish checkpoints (resting points) on the device. Upon reaching these points, your device will alert you.

Correlatively, GPS often has access to a vast database regarding the map of the area. It can show you the trails that hikers have taken, and you can choose one of those trails, as well.

Many advanced hiking GPS further showcase possible hurdles. They have components that allow you to learn about the weather, temperature, and other statistics. With collective data, you can make a better decision.

Great for connectivity

If you plan on hiking with your family or friends, having a GPS device brings you uninterruptible connectivity. Many GPS devices have cross-communication options for texting and sending alerts. If your smartphone can't find a network in a specific area, you don't have to worry. With GPS, you will remain connected.

You can plan and share the route with the group. If you're lost, you can share the path you're on and much more. This is one of the best features a GPS device brings you. Thus, making group hiking a fun activity without any hustle and bustle.

Evaluate your performance

While you're hiking, you will get real-time updates regarding your performance. How fast or slow were you, how many miles have you covered, and so on? This information is recorded for you, and after you return from your hike, you can review it.

By replaying your tracks and evaluating your data, you can understand how many miles you have covered, was there a chance in elevation, and what was your average speed. All of these are great for a person who seeks to improve their hiking skills.

How this guide will help you?

In this guide, we have divided the guide further into different segments or sections. Each one of these is a guide that is tailored for a specific purpose. You will find:

  1. Important things to consider to provide you in-depth details regarding the factors to consider.
  1. The easiest way to buy is intended for users who have trouble choosing between two similar GPS devices.
  1. The quick list segment is for those who don't want to go in-depth but quickly pick a hiking GPS

At the bottom, you will also find some frequently asked questions to help you out. So, let's get down to the buyer's guide:

Important things to consider before buying hiking GPS

This segment has a list of essential factors that you should consider. We've prioritized them from first to last in the list. However, each one of them is indispensable, and you can't compromise on any of these.

We're just trying to help you understand what you should consider the most, and which factor should you consider the least. So, let's begin:

Battery support

GPS devices have a significant battery life to operate for around 10 hours. However, there are different types of batteries. Some support lithium or li-ion batteries. Others work with AA batteries.

Rechargeable batteries are better for hiking during days. For extensive trips, lithium would be better. You can get AA batteries and replace them during your hike as they are portable and don't require you to recharge.

The battery of a hiking GPS should be replaceable, and you should carry a spare with you. If your GPS has battery-saving features such as brightness adjustment and screen cuts, it would be a great addition, as well.

Model design and construction

Ease of carrying a GPS device is paramount for a comfortable hiking experience. You should see if the model has extra support or portability like straps or mounts for body parts. Alternatively, it could be easy to carry in a pocket. A lightweight body is a must-have.

The grip material is vital as you will often carry it in your hand and look at it for directions. Similarly, it should have shock and abrasion resistance to withstand accidental drops and reckless handling, which is unavoidable during a hike.

Weather and temperature resistance is pivotal. Look for GPS devices with at least IPX7 waterproofing. If you can find a better one, that's great. The case should be strong, and the battery shouldn't fly out if you drop the GPS device. A high-grade material for hiking GPS is indispensable.

Position tracking capacity

Of course, a hiking GPS would have the GPS integrated. However, other additions could make it more accurate or versatile to carry. GLONASS (Global Navigation Satellite System) would provide better accuracy at higher altitudes. WAAS (Wide Area Augmentation System) could further enhance GPS's accuracy.

These are great options for lesser-known or more challenging hiking trails. A standard GPS may have trouble in denser locations such as caves, underground, or dense forest. That's where GLONASS and WAAS can play a prominent role for enhanced accuracy.

Some GPS devices showcase directions (North, South, East, and West), altitudes, and work like a compass that can prove a handy addition in position tracking.

Compatibility and connectivity

Many GPS devices would have an option to pair or connect with other devices. There are two reasons for it. It could either be for planning the trip through Windows, iOS, or Android platform (Smartphone apps and such). Alternatively, it could be to connect with the people that are traveling in groups.

Both of these connectivity options are important. Compatibility with other devices such as smartphones will allow you to customize the GPS tracking capability further. It can provide you with two robust GPS systems in place of one, making it cost-effective.

Display size and capability

GPS devices come in LCD, touch, and segment type options. A Segment LCD would save battery, but LCD with color would be easier to read. GPS's display capability is crucial.

There's no point in having a GPS if you can't see where you are. So you need a device with apt brightness and display capabilities. The size of your screen may matter as well. Most of the GPS comes with a 2-inch display.

Touch screen displays provide you the modern convenience of technology for efficient functions. However, button commands would be better in extreme temperatures where you have to wear gloves. Correlatively, there are GPS devices with a touch screen that works with gloves, and you can check them out.

Additional features

Features are important to consider, but they should be last on the priority list to buy a suitable hiking GPS device. There are countless features, such as a compass, altimeter, and satellite communication.

You will find some that come with cameras and scanners like heart rate monitors for better data provisions. Temperature, weather detection, and all of these features are also available. However, these should be last on your list to consider.

All of these are intended to make your GPS device more convenient. None of these matters if other factors are not on-point. So, make sure to understand that.

Easiest way to buy a hiking GPS

If you find the above-given guide a hectic task to consider, this section will help you with quick vital points that you can consider before purchasing the GPS device. The previous list was according to priority and functionality.

This list is to help you distinguish between the GPS devices that look similar. So instead of mediocre things like GPS and battery life, we are talking about some striking factors that you can consider to distinguish between an array of different GPS devices easily.

Look at the size ratio

Most of the devices either have a bigger screen and a smaller body or vice versa. Make sure that it is easy to carry, portable, and notable. The bigger the GPS device, the more likely it is to have more weight. Ease of carrying is vital to consider when you hike.

Is the interface on point for you?

Make sure that the interface of the GPS device is according to your convenience. See if you can use it easily and browse through different functions. Interfaces should be easy to understand.

Correlatively, here's where you can impose a point of touch screen versus buttons. A button GPS is better for extreme temperatures where you will have gloves. Touch brings you more comfort and convenience to operate a device.

Check out the extra features

A sure-fire way to distinguish between GPS devices that look the same is by considering the extra features they offer. Most of the GPS devices will have different types of components. Get the one that you think meets your requirement.

Do you want a performance tracker? Maybe the one that shows you temperature and comes with a barometer, among other things? For health-conscious people, the one with a calorie meter or heart rate meter would be a better option. These are the features that clearly distinguish GPS devices.

A Quick Checklist To Buy A GPS

Maybe considering different factors according to priority was perplexing. Perhaps you don't want to distinguish between other GPS devices. Are you just looking for a hiking GPS that is great and gets the job done?

To save you some time, we are bringing you a quick checklist. These are everything that you should check for. This is a quick buying guide to help you get the best in the shortest time possible. So, check for:

  • Battery life, charging availability, and replacement alternatives for battery
  • The memory of the device and does it have an option to record and store history?
  • How long can it store the routes or personal data?
  • Does it have the option to download and scan a pre-existing map for the area?
  • Make sure that it is waterproof (IPX7 at least)
  • The touch screen is convenient. Try to get one that works with gloves.
  • If you don't want a touch screen, then the button ones are great for extreme temperatures.
  • Check for the compatibility with other devices and GPS systems it supports
  • It should be travel-friendly for you.
  • Connectivity and wireless communication with other GPS devices could be a good idea.
  • A camera for a GPS device could be a great add-on, but not a necessity.
  • Any extra feature is a perk.
  • It should be under your budget and cost-effective with a warranty, guarantee, or other similar options.

Follow this checklist, and you're good to go. There's nothing else you'd need.

FAQs: Best Hiking GPS

Q: Should you carry a compass or map with Hiking GPS?

A: If you have a GPS device, you shouldn't neglect the importance of a compass and map. Those are manual tools and act as a backup if you lose your GPS or run out of battery. It is always a good idea to carry a compass or map along with your GPS device.

Q: How should I carry the GPS device while hiking?

A: Your hiking GPS should come with a strap-on function, for example, a shoulder strap. There's no point in carrying GPS if it's in your bag. You should carry it conveniently to access it consistently. A pocket would be a good alternative for storage. However, please don't hold it while you cross trails like rivers or bridges. Keep it in the pocket.

Q: How does GPS communication work?

A: It depends on the model you get. You will have to check to see if it comes with communication, first. Most of the GPS devices use the satellite system to send messages and to stay connected. However, many modern devices of the same company have compatibility to connect with each other for communication. If you're talking about maps, then it uses satellites to communicate for the mapping system.

Q: Is hiking GPS a worthwhile investment?

A: In short, yes, it is. There are countless features for your convenience that a GPS device offers. To reinforce your security and prevent from getting lost, a GPS device is essential. You can indeed carry a compass and map, which you should, but a GPS device is easy to understand and operate with a comprehensive interface.

Q: How to use a GPS device better?

A: Learning to use a GPS device better strongly depends on how much you have already used it. A good idea to understand the potential of your GPS is to use it on a trail that you already know. By using it in known territories, you can see how precise your GPS is. Explore its functions to understand it, and that's the best way for you to use the GPS device.

Ensure that it is in sync with the satellite and that you've charged it to the full capacity before taking it for a hike. Explore additional features to see if they are according to your requirements.


GPS is prevalent in almost every device. It was once a revolutionary technology, now a necessity. Hiking is a fun recreational activity, but it can pose equally challenging dangers, especially if you're stranded.

Rediscover your way and explore without the fear of getting lost. A hiking GPS is not only great for hiking but other adventures as well. So, whether you want to have a bike ride or go on a road trip with friends, these GPS devices would provide in-depth data.

The convenience of GPS reassures you of safety. If you're new to hiking and exploration, then a GPS device is a must-have! / - © Copyright 2020