The Top 5 Hiking GPS Units
Hiking is such an invigorating and exciting hobby to have. If you enjoy going on long hikes, then you’re probably well aware of the importance of a hiking GPS. With one of these units, you’ve got something that lets you improve your navigation skills. It tells you where you are and lets you find out the best routes to take.
It’s fair to say that you need the best hiking GPS if you want to enjoy hiking without getting lost! They can really help you out of tricky situations, and some of them come with a whole host of incredible features. Lucky for you, we’re here to make life a little bit easier by showing you the top five hiking GPS units you can buy right now:
For those of you in a hurry, our choice for the Best Hiking GPS is the Garmin Oregon 700.
Best Hiking GPS
We’ll start our search for the best hiking GPS by looking at the Garmin Oregon 700. Instantly, there’s a feature we love; a sunlight-readable screen! When you look at it, the Garmin Oregon 700 is a small device that comfortably fits into the palm of your hand. But, it contains so many essential features that really make it an excellent option. There’s an electronic compass that helps point you in the right direction and even gives a prediction for how long it’ll take you to get to your selected destination. You also have a barometric altimeter that tells you how high up you are and the current air pressure. In conjunction with this, there’s an Active Weather feature that shows you what the current forecast is like so you can prepare for any rainstorms!
This device can connect via Bluetooth, Wi-Fi or ANT+, so there are lots of possibilities here. The antenna has actually been redesigned in this model – compared to others in the Garmin Oregon range, so it offers more accuracy and far better reception than ever before. So, no matter where you are, you can count on your GPS to help you out.
The Garmin Oregon 700 certainly falls into the high-end category, but this is a brilliant investment for regular hikers. It has all the features you need to stay on top of things while on a long hike, and you will definitely get a lot of use out of it to justify the price.
- Touchscreen - 3-inch sunlight-readable touchscreen display with Dual orientation (landscape or portrait view)
- Abc sensors - 3-axis tilt-compensated electronic Compass with accelerometer and Barometric altimeter sensors
- Ruggedized for the outdoors - ergonomic, rugged design that Stands strong against dust, dirt and humidity -and it is water-rated to Ipx7
- Activity profiles - simplified multi activity menu interface - including climb, hike, hunt, bike, geocache, fish and more
- Connect IQ - connect IQ compatible to customize the Device with data fields, widgets, and apps; find what you like or build your own
While this might not be as stylish as the previous product, the Garmin GPSMAP 64st has a lot going for it. The design is very practical in that it’s effortless for you to hold, and the screen size is big and bright. Speaking of the screen, it has the all-important sunlight readability that you’re after, and it’s a color screen too. You don’t get touchscreen capabilities here, but you do have some big and easy-to-use buttons that make it simple to get around the GPS system.
There’s a quad helix antenna built into the top of this hiking GPS, and it’s protected by a sturdy casing to ensure you get maximum accuracy with minimal problems. It’s very sensitive as well, and you will be able to pinpoint your location in a matter of seconds. What’s really excellent about this antenna is how well it works when you’re in the middle of nowhere or surrounded by trees. Once again, you’ve got an electronic compass to help you find your bearings, and a barometric altimeter as well. Another neat feature comes in the form of BirdsEye Satellite Imagery, which provides you with a photo-realistic view of the map. The BaseCamp software built into this device is also impressive as it allows you to plan routes, plot points, and connect the device to your computer.
This hiking GPS is very well built and is full of some handy features that you’ll get lots of benefits out of. Again, it’s more in the high-range bracket, and is perfect for someone who doesn’t perhaps enjoy touchscreen options and wants something more robust and traditional!
- Sunlight-Readable 2.6" color display. Display size-1.43 x 2.15 inches and 2.6 inch diag (6.6 cm). Battery life-16 hours. Water rating IPX7
- Expanded Internal Memory 8GB.Display resolution 160 x 240 pixels. Interface: high-speed USB and NMEA 0183 compatible
- DUAL BATTERY SYSTEM Use with 2 traditional AA batteries (best with Polaroid AA batteries), or the optional rechargeable NiMH battery pack that can be charged while inside the device.Weight 8.1 oz (230 g) with batteries
- Receive Smart Notifications* and pair with optional ANT+ sensors, such as heart rate monitor, Tempe temperature sensor, speed/cadence, or use to control your VIRB action camera (64s/64st only)
- Wirelessly upload data to Garmin Connect and view on smartphone, plus share activities as they happen with Live Track (64s/64st only).3-axis compass with barometric altimeter.Routes:200
Simplicity is the keyword when we look at the Garmin eTrex 20x. The design is very easy on the eye, and it’s a nice size to slip in your pocket and take out whenever you need it. The screen has been upgraded from previous models, and it now features a vibrant color display so you can see maps with ease. Yes, it’s sunlight readable, but you don’t get touchscreen functionality.
Perhaps the best feature of this device is the fact it boasts a very impressive battery life. At around 25 hours, you can literally spend the whole day hiking and not have to worry about your GPS giving in. To use all the features, you have 6 buttons that toggle between different things. This doesn’t overcomplicate things, making it such a simple device for people who don’t want something too technical or complex. The receiver is WAAS-enabled and can locate you in a matter of seconds – while also ensuring you know where you are if you’re in deep cover or remote canyons.
Another reason this could be the best hiking GPS for you is the internal storage. It comes with 3.7gb of memory, which means you can store plenty of maps on the device. But, you also have the benefit of a microSD slot to expand the storage as much as you want. The eTrex also supports geocaching, which means you can download different details when hiking – such as info on the terrain, hints on the best routes from other hikers, and so on.
Here is an in-depth video review of this unit:
While it may not boast some of the more advanced features of other hiking GPS units, the Garmin eTrex 20x is an excellent option for hikers who want something affordable and simple. It’ll still help you figure out where you are and where you need to go, but it’s less flashy than the previous two candidates.
- UPGRADED DISPLAY - Features a 2.2" 65K color sunglight readable display offering increased resolution (240 x 320 pixels)
- LOAD MORE MAPS - Large 3.7 GB of internal memory and microSD card slot lets you load a variety of maps, including TOPO 24K, HuntView, BlueChart g2, City Navigator NT and BirdsEye Satellite Imagery (subscription required)
- PRELOADED BASEMAP - Includes a worldwide basemap with shaded relief. Display size:1.4 x 1.7 inches
- KEEP YOUR FIX - With its high-sensitivity, WAAS-enabled GPS receiver, HotFix satellite prediction and GLONASS support, eTrex locates your position quickly and precisely and maintains its location even in heavy cover and deep canyons
There’s a noticeable design difference in the Garmin Foretrex 401 in that it’s meant to be worn on your wrist. The device comes with a strap that you wear on your arm, making it so unbelievably convenient. It’s lightweight, so you don’t really notice it’s there, and you can easily look at the screen and use it to retrace your steps, track your data, or figure out how far you have to go until you reach your destination.
This GPS unit is fascinating in that it is straightforward and almost a throwback to the GPS units of old. You don’t have a color screen here that shows you detailed maps, but you do get a variety of features that help you out massively. This includes a high-sensitivity GPS receiver that pinpoints your location from miles away. Additionally, you get an electronic compass and barometric altimeter to tell you what direction you’re moving in, what the air pressure’s like, and how steep the terrain is. While you don’t get a map, you do get a fantastic feature called TracBack. Here, it shows you the path you’ve walked as a dotted line on the screen, so you can simply follow it back to base camp! You can also use this feature to save waypoints, ensuring you never get lost.
You’re able to create and share routes using this GPS device, and it’s waterproof as well. If you want a very stripped back hiking GPS, then this is great for you. Military personnel highly recommend it, and it’s an affordable option for seasoned hikers.
- Features high-sensitivity GPS receiver with HotFix for improved performance and reception in heavy tree cover or deep canyons
- Keeps track of routes, tracks and waypoints, and heart rate with add on heart rate monitor (sold separate). Uses standard AAA batteries. 2 required.
- TracBack feature retraces user's path on the easy-to-read LCD display;Display resolution 100 x 64 pixels;Battery life Up to 17 hours in GPS mode;Track Log 10000. Display size : 1.42 x 0.91 inches
- Supports dual position readout so user can view current location in multiple formats. Audible tones. Hold the compass level when navigating to ensure maximum accuracy
- Features trip computer, sunrise/sunset times, hunting/fishing information, electronic compass and barometric altimeter
Finally, if you’re operating on a strict budget and want something for under $100, then the Garmin eTrex10 GPS is right up your street. It comes with a black and white screen that’s already loaded up with a worldwide basemap for you to use. There’s a rugged design to it that makes the device feel durable in your hands, and there’s no risk of breaking it if you accidentally drop it.
Much like other Garmin devices, this one supports geocaching to let you download files that give more information about your hiking routes. It allows you to tap into the global community of hikers, with tips on specific routes, notes on difficulty, and so on. You can also get details on different routes, so you have all the waypoints and coordinates loaded onto your device, ready for you to use.
The GPS receiver is extremely sensitive, which means it picks up your signal and provides accurate coordinates for you. Of course, it lacks some of the other features that are in the more expensive devices. But, for the price, you get a lot of bang for your buck.
- Rugged handheld navigator with preloaded worldwide basemap and 2.2-inch monochrome display
- WAAS-enabled GPS receiver with HotFix and GLONASS support for fast positioning and a reliable signal
- Waterproof to IPX7 standards for protection against splashes, rain, etc.
- Support for paperless geocaching and Garmin spine-mounting accessories. Power with two AA batteries for up to 20 hours of use (best with Polaroid AA batteries)
- See high and low elevation points or store waypoints along a track (start, finish and high/low altitude) to estimate time and distance between points
Hiking GPS Buyer’s Guide
You’ve got five excellent options to look at, and your search should begin by figuring out your budget and needs. What features are essential for you? Do you need an electric compass? Are you looking for specific GPS technology? Think about what’s vital for you, and you’ll soon narrow down your search.
Then, weigh up the costs and consider how much you’re willing to pay. All the options come in at different price points, so there’s sure to be one that’s perfect for every hiker!