How to Choose a Hiking GPS

No hiker wants to get lost in the wild. As you plan your next hike, make sure to first invest in a quality hiking GPS.

Designed to help you keep track of your location, these devices provide powerful tracking services that can keep you safe. With the right hiking GPS, you’ll be able to better prevent and solve some emergency situations.

But investing in the right hiking GPS isn’t as easy as it sounds. Though there are more GPS systems available now on the market than ever, you must be sure to choose one right for the job. As we will see, this eliminates phone and other GPS systems not specifically designed for traveling.

For this reason, finding the right GPS can feel a bit overwhelming. Now, it doesn’t have to. Below, we’ve put together the ultimate comprehensive guide to finding the right hiking GPS to suit your needs.

Keep this information in mind as you prepare for your hike. In doing so, you can start selecting the GPS best for you.

Why Buy a Hiking GPS?

Hiking GPS

Hand held outdoor GPS and a hiking map of a mountain range.

The answer to this question doesn’t seem to be as straightforward as in the past.

Once, buying a hiking GPS felt like a necessity for many travelers. Now, with access to a wealth of information on our mobile phones, it can prove all too easy to feel secure without one.

Don’t let this provide you with a false sense of security. Investing in a hiking GPS offers several powerful benefits that can help keep you safe. With the right hiking GPS you can monitor where you are and where you have been, helping you keep track of your location.

And as every hiker knows, getting lost can prove dangerous.

With this in mind, you’re probably wondering why you should invest in a stand alone GPS device. After all, it’s not like you don’t have a phone. Especially for the budget traveler, relying on your mobile device can be a particularly-attractive option.

So why is this not a good idea? Let’s take a look.

Why Do I Need a Hiking GPS? Can’t I Just Use My Phone?

Keep safety your number-one priority.

When it comes to safety, you can never go wrong with investing in a brand-new hiking GPS. These powerful devices offer several benefits over mobile apps and other GPS tracking systems.

And trust us: these benefits can come in handy if you find yourself in a tough situation. Some of these powerful benefits include:

  1. Hiking GPSs Have Better Reception

Simply put, you shouldn’t put your safety in any device that doesn’t offer maximum GPS reception—which is the number one reason why you shouldn’t use your mobile phone.

Look, we get it: the convenience of doing everything from your phone can seem to outweigh the risks. But it doesn’t.

While hiking, you’ll often find yourself in remote areas, and these prove infamous for their lack of any type of cell reception. This includes GPS satellite reception.Hiking GPS Safer Than Phone

With a hiking GPS, you can preclude this probability. Designed with more powerful technology, these GPS systems can offer reception even when your cell phones can’t.

Remember, your phone isn’t designed to be a GPS—but a hiking GPS is. Increase your safety by investing in one before your next hike.

  1. Hiking GPSs Better Weather the Elements

When hiking, few things prove more useful than durability.

And that’s something your cell phone likely isn’t.

Chances are, if you drop your phone—especially in water—you’re going to be up the metaphorical creek.

By investing in a waterproof hiking GPS, however, you can make sure that your tracking system is intact. Because of this, hiking GPSs boast powerful durability that your phone simply can’t match. You won’t need to worry about losing your connectivity due to minor issues—making it the perfect choice for your hike.

This proves especially true for those wishing to hike in otherwise extreme terrain or conditions. By having a more durable device, you can add extra layers of protection to your trip.

  1. Hiking GPSs Last Longer

As noted, you’ll certainly be using your phone for more than just tracking your whereabouts. This means that you’re going to use more battery than you otherwise should.

This can put you in the tricky situation of having to shut off your GPS in order to save phone battery. You should never have to sacrifice your security for battery life.

Hiking GPS Garmin

Garmin Hiking GPS

With hiking GPSs, you won’t have to. These devices boast incredible battery life—and even when they do die, you can change the batteries there on the spot.

This instant charging mechanism makes them a much safer alternative than mobile phone GPS tracking systems. By staying connected at all times, you can maximize your safety on your trip.

Additionally, by having constant access to your GPS, you can streamline your hike and help avoid any unwanted occurrences.

  1. Hiking GPSs Are Designed for the Outdoors … Your Phone Is Not

Finally, keep in mind that your phone wasn’t made to be your hiking companion.

A hiking GPS is designed with your hike in mind, and this can be seen in more than just its battery life and increased connectivity.

These devices come equipped with a number of features that make them perfect for outdoor use. Below, we’ll go into more detail about what features your hiking GPS should have so that you can buy the product that’s best for you.

With careful consideration and evaluation, you can select the right hiking GPS. And remember—no matter what you do—don’t leave out on your next hike without one. Don’t attempt to use your mobile phone as a substitute, as you may find that you wind up in a situation where it can’t help.

With this in mind, let’s take a closer look at the features that make up a good hiking GPS. Keep this information in mind to choose from the several different hiking GPS brands on the market.

What Makes a Good Hiking GPS?

Not all hiking GPSs are created equally.

Investing in the right product for your trip can make it as convenient as possible. Trust us: this will make it a much more enjoyable experience in the long haul.

To do so, however, a GPS must meet certain requirements. Generally speaking, a hiking GPS should meet three standard criteria. These are:

  1. A Comfortable Interface

Touchscreen and traditional options are available. Make sure that you choose the one that you are most comfortable using, as this will make your hike even more convenient.

  1. The Right Size

Like your cell phone, hiking GPSs come in a variety of different sizes. Generally speaking, you’ll have to find the right balance for you. If you’re looking for a larger screen size, for example, be aware that it will come with added weight.

  1. Functionality

Whether you go with a straightforward GPS or one filled with incredible features is up to you. However, those looking to get the most bang for their buck may want to consider getting a hiking GPS that comes with outdoor features. These can further assist you in your hike.

Want to know more about the great features offered by quality GPS devices? Check out the list below!

Qualities of a Good Hiking GPS

If you’re looking to get the most from your hiking GPS, consider getting one that’s equipped with some of the following great features:

  1. More Mapping Options

Though all GPSs come with a simple preloaded map, you can up your device’s functionality by choosing one that has more mapping options. Some of these will have different topo maps already built into the system, making it easier than ever before to get a feel for the land.

At the very least, make sure to choose a hiking GPS that allows you to download other maps. Though your device might not come with maps preloaded, you may be able to download them yourself. This will give you the ultimate flexibility in choosing your device.

  1. Wireless Capabilities

Planning on going hiking with a group? Consider investing in a GPS system that features full-scale wireless capabilities.

This functionality will allow you to connect with others in ways never before possible. Send your location and share destination locations with others in your party so that you never get lost.

This proves a powerful safety feature that many like in their devices. If you’re concerned that you may get separated from the group, be sure to choose a hiking GPS with wireless capabilities. Equally as important, make sure that the other members of your party will be able to pick up on the wireless functionality as well.

  1. More Memory

Ideally, you’ll want to get a device with as much memory as possible. The more memory you have, the more information you’ll be able to store in your device.

This will allow you to access the needed maps and other information you need to safely navigate your hike.

Additionally, consider getting a hiking GPS that allows for added memory card storage. This will increase the amount of information you can store, allowing you to keep more information that’s important to you.

  1. Built-In Barometer and Other Capabilities

A good hiking GPS can do more than just tell you where you are.

It can also tell you the current air pressure and how high you are. That’s right—many hiking GPSs come equipped with a fully-functional barometer and altimeter so that you can keep track of key weather information around you.

  1. Built-In Radio

If safety is your top concern—as it should be—consider investing in a hiking GPS with a built-in two-way radio. These radio signals will allow you to keep in touch with other nearby hikers so that you never have to worry about getting lost.

If by some chance you do manage to get separated, however, these hiking GPSs can still come to your aid. If search and rescue teams are sent, for example, you’ll be able to contact them and relay your location when they get in range of your radio.

This radio, however, can do more than that. You can even receive weather forecasts so that you can make adjusted hiking plans on the fly. Not only does this help you avoid any uncomfortable situations, it can even aid in your safety. By knowing the weather conditions at any particular time, you can better avoid suddenly-dangerous activities.

Other Tips to Consider

Though hiking GPSs offer a powerful way to keep track of your location on your hike, be sure that they’re not all you rely on.

Simply put, there’s a place for everything—even a good old-fashioned map and compass. Though certainly not the most fashionable bit of hardware now, these handy tools can help keep you safe in the rare event of equipment failure.

By coming to your hike fully prepared, you’ll cut down on the number of chances of encountering any unfortunate opportunities.

A good hiking GPS is a must-have for all hikers—not just those who are directionally-challenged.

By investing in a quality hiking GPS, you can streamline your hiking experience by making it both more convenient and safer. This allows you to better enjoy your hike, as well as stay safer even while traveling long distances.

When selecting a GPS for your hiking trip, be sure to select one that’s specifically designed for hiking and outdoor use. This means no cellphones.

By using devices that are specifically designed for your situation, you can maximize your safety and your convenience.

With that in mind, it’s important to remember to choose the hiking GPS that’s right for you. Because there are several factors that can determine the quality of a hiking GPS, be sure to keep the above information in mind. By doing so, you can streamline your purchasing decisions and choose the device that’s best suited for you.

Best Selling Hiking GPS List on Amazon

Ultimately, choosing the right hiking GPS can save your life—so be sure to keep these tips in mind as you make your purchase.

We have put together some great Hiking GPS reviews for you to read:

Garmin eTrex10 Hiking GPS Review 2019

Garmin Foretrex 401 Waterproof Hiking GPS Review 2019

Garmin GPSMAP 64st Hiking GPS Review 2019

Garmin Montana 680 Hiking GPS Review 2019

Magellan Triton 500 Waterproof Hiking GPS Review 2019

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