A handheld GPS is one of the greatest inventions ever created for hiking. Though some may argue it takes the fun out of exploring the wilderness, serious hikers rely on a GPS to allow them to hike safely. That being said, not all GPSes work as well as others. When you get down to evaluating each GPSes capabilities, these products are easily at the top of list. Before you invest in your GPS, take a good look at what your options are.
1. Garmin eTrex 30X
The Garmin eTrex 30x is probably the best bang for your buck. This GPS has incredible reviews, which note its weightlessness and long battery life. It has an enhanced screen resolution and more memory space so you can store as many maps as you need to. It’s more durable then the versions before it, waterproof, and has a sunlight-readable display. It has a 3-axis tilt-compensated electronic compass, so you can easily find where you are and where you’re going. The reliable barometric altimeter let’s you keep an eye on the weather as you go. Lastly, it can track GPS as GLONASS satellites at the same time, which ultimately means you can get a faster and more accurate location.
2. Magellan eXplorist 610
The Magellan eXplorist 610 is a more simple version of the typical handheld GPS, which might be better for first-timers. Though, that doesn’t mean it doesn’t have just as much capabilities as the others. It’s just as durable and waterproof as the others, and its high-sensitivity GPS reception allows for easy map reading. You’ll like its ability to record voice notes along with images you take of your hike with the built-in camera. The device lets you filter up to 20 categories on the “World Edition” maps included within. You can use this GPS out in the wild or in your car on the way to the trailhead.
3. Garmin Oregon 700 Series
The Garmin Oregon 700 Series is brand new, and thus a little more pricey than the others. However, users can expect to find a comfortable touch screen which is similar to that of a smartphone. The menu is customizable, so it’s easy to search what you’re looking for. The battery is long lasting and it has wireless connectivity so you can access the information you need.
Some cool features are the 800-megapixel camera built in, so you can take geotagged photos along the way. Another is that the device can be updated automatically with fresh caches from geocaching.com. Additionally, it has great ABC (altimeter, barometer, and compass) capabilities, and the option to view whatever you’re looking at in landscape or portrait. It comes with the awesome BaseCamp software as well, so you can plan your next trip at home and upload when you’re ready to go.
4. Satmap Active 12 Solo Edition
The attractive feature of the Satmap Active 12 Solo Edition is its large screen. Users can easily view their maps on a high resolution interface. This GPS comes with peer-to-peer data sharing capabilities, so the other members of your hiking group can follow along with the trip. It has a barometric altimeter that you would expect to find in any handheld GPS system. Users can also enjoy the heart rate monitor, as well as the toggleable mapping.
Price: $600 (approx.)
5. Garmin GPSMap 64st
Has it occurred to you yet that Garmin makes some of the best GPSes out there? With so many great devices, it’s not easy to recommend which one you should actually go for. However, the Garmin GPSMAP 64st is definitely a favorite among Garmin users. Like other versions of Garmin handhelds, it comes with the worldwide BaseCamp app, a 3-axis tilt-compensated electronic compass, and “Smart Notification,” which allows you to receive texts, emails, and alerts from your compatible iPhone, without needing to go searching for it in the hidden dungeons of your backpack.
6. Suunto Ambit3 Peak
So, the Suunto Ambit3 Peak is quite different than the other ones on this list, mostly because it’s a watch. However, the GPS system on this smaller device is just as useful as a handheld GPS. This GPS hiking watch is ideal for sport hikers, who want to have a workout or an intense hike completely hands free. In addition to the weather functions and mobile connections, the user can store routes and way points, which will sync onto the watch. It also comes with the Suunto Movescount app, which lets the user turn his or her hike into an animated journey, complete with pictures on a 3D map.
If you’re considering investing in a GPS (which any good hiker should!) then go for one of these amazing products.