GPS systems used to be reserved for only the wealthy, as they were larger units and were very expensive. These days, however, they are not only widely available to the general public, but they are in a vast array of items including cell phones and tablets.
Having a GPS means that you are much less likely to get lost when you are on a long trip and you can even choose to take the fastest route or the scenic route along the way. A good backpacking GPS can tell you about nearby gas stations, restaurants and much more in addition to being able to reroute you should you miss a turn along the way.
What is the Best Hiking GPS?
One sporting activity that finds GPS more useful than most is hiking and backpacking. It is absolutely crucial to be able to know your location, especially in unfamiliar territory, so a GPS is a handy item to have.
With that in mind, we are now going to take a look at the top five best GPS for hiking and backpacking. Hopefully, you will be able to look these reviews over and be better able to decide which one is best for you.
Garmin Foretrex 401 Waterproof Hiking GPS Review
Our first device is a Garmin Foretrex 401 Waterproof Hiking GPS. This high sensitivity GPS receiver includes HotFix which gives improved performance and reception even under very heavy tree cover or in deep canyons.
With the Garmin Foretrex, you can keep track of routes, tracks and waypoints and even keep track of your heart rate, with the add on heart rate monitor that is sold separately. This device features something called a TracBack feature that retraces the user’s path on the easy to read display, so you can easily get back to where you started should you need to do so.
This can alleviate the fear of going hiking in unfamiliar territory and getting lost. It also supports dual position readout so you can see exactly where you are in multiple formats. Other features include a trip computer, sunrise and sunset times, hunting and fishing information, an electronic compass and a barometric altimeter. With this purchase, you will receive the Foretrex 401, a wrist expansion strap, a USB cable and user manuals. This unit is a great GPS for hikers.
Garmin GPSMAP 64st TOPO US 100K High Sensitivity GPS Review
The second backpacking GPS we will take a look at is a Garmin Hiking GPS. This rugged, full-featured handheld GPS fetures GLONASS as well as wireless connectivity, has a 2.6 inch color screen that is easy to read even in the sunlight and has a built in 3-axis compass with barometric altimeter.
The quad helix antenna means that you will get superior reception no matter where you are. You can explore the terrain with a worldwide base map with shaded relief and preloaded maps and you also get a one-year subscription to BirdsEye Satellite Imagery as well.
These tools will really come in handy for the serious climber or hiker, as you get detailed maps of national, state and local parks including terrain contours, elevation information, trails, rivers, lakes and other points of interest.
Not only does the barometric altimeter track changes in pressure to allow you to know your precise altitude, but you can also use it to plot barometric pressure over a period of time, which can alert you to changing weather patterns and conditions. You can use your wireless connectivity to share waypoints, routes and geocaches with other compatible devices as well as using Smart Notification to receive email, texts and alerts from a compatible iPhone 4s or later. Adding other maps is another feature you can make use of to download detailed topographic, marine and road maps into the 8 GB of onboard memory.
With the microSD card slot, you can have even more memory, making use of the 64st and Garmin custom maps that will allow you to transform paper and electronic maps into downloads for your device.
Garmin eTrex 10 Worldwide Handheld GPS Navigator Review
Our next handheld GPS for hiking is another Garmin model. The Garmin eTrex 10 Worldwide Handheld GPS Navigator. This rugged handheld device comes preloaded with a worldwide base map that can be viewed on the 2.2-inch monochrome display. The WAAS-enabled GPS with HotFix and GLONASS support offers fast positioning with a reliable signal you will not lose when you need it the most.
This Garmin is waterproof to IPX7 standards so that you do not have to worry about splashes or rain destroying your device, supports paperless geocaching and has Garmin spine-mounting accessories. Two AA batteries will power this GPS for up to 20 solid hours of use. This is a great choice in handheld navigation for the hiker who likes to keep things in a tight budget.
Garmin eTrex 20X GPS Review
The Garmin eTrex 20X GPS has a 2.2 inch 65k color display that is easy to read in the sunlight and has 3.7 GB of internal memory on which to store a wide variety of maps, including TOPO 24K, HuntView, BlueChart g2, City Navigator NT as well as BirdsEye Satellite Imagery.
There is also a microSD slot for larger amounts of memory via a microSD card. This unit also comes equipped with high sensitivity WAAS enabled GPS, HotFix Satellite prediction and GLONASS support so that you can locate your position quickly and can maintain its location even in heavy cover and other unfavorable conditions.
All of these are very user-friendly, making it a very easy to use handheld GPS. You you can explore all kinds of unfamiliar territory without the worry of getting lost or not being able to get back to where you started. Two AA batteries will run this device, just make sure to take extra batteries if you plan to be out for a few days.
Garmin GPSMAP 62st Handheld GPS Navigator Review
The final GPS up for review today is the Garmin GPSMAP 62st Handheld GPS Navigator. This is a rugged, waterproof navigator with a 2.6-inch 65k color TFT screen with 160×240-pixel resolution that you can easily read, even in the sunlight. With a three-axis, tilt compensated electronic compass and barometric altimeter, you can easily get your precise bearing and altitude measurements
You are also able to download a wide array of topographic, marine and road maps for better routing and this unit supports BirdEye Satellite Imagery, which is a subscription service, for integrating satellite images along with your maps. The Garmin is also compatible with Custom Maps, a free software you can download that allows you to transform paper and electronic maps into downloadable maps for your device.
Along with all these wonderful features, the quad helix antenna provides unparalleled reception that you can read clearly and precisely with the signal strength meter. The USB connection is high speed and this new design connects wirelessly to other compatible Garmin handheld devices. Online reviews of this product are very good, with most customers saying they would recommend this unit to their friends and family.
My Vote for Best Backpacking GPS
Of these top five GPS devices, my personal top pick for favorite is going to be the Garmin Foretrex Waterproof Hiking GPS. One of the biggest selling features of this item is the fact that it is waterproof, which makes it possible to carry this even in less than perfect circumstances.
The reception under heavy cover and in deep canyons means that you are less likely to drop reception, lose your bearings and get lost. In addition, with added features like sunrise and sunset times, you are much less likely to be caught out after dark.
You can determine how much time you have left before the sun goes down, calculate how long you have been out which then will tell you how long you have to make it back, or to your destination.
The hunting and fishing information availability is a great thing for hunters and anglers to have available, also making it the best handheld GPS for hunting on the list. At the press of a button, you can have enough information to let you know whether to stay or to travel elsewhere for prime hunting and fishing.