Best Hiking GPS Trackers For 2024 – Buyer’s Guide
Are you planning an outdoor adventure and are not sure if you should bring a GPS device on your hunting, fishing, or camping trip? Well, you better think again! Like sleeping bags or hiking boots, GPS personal trackers are an essential piece of equipment for any outdoor adventurer. Why? They provide hikers with accurate location information, topographic maps, and other advanced features to help them navigate the wilderness safely and confidently. In this article, we will review some of the best hiking GPS trackers on the market, including Garmin’s Inreach, Garmin’s Montana, and other popular satellite messengers. Which ones made our list of the best handheld GPS units for 2024? You are gonna have to read further to find out!
What Is A GPS Tracker For Hiking?
A hiking GPS tracker is a device that you can use to determine your location in the wilderness using Global Positioning System (GPS) technology. These personal locator devices are designed for outdoor enthusiasts who want to track their location, mark waypoints, plan routes, and share their trip details with others. Some of the features of hiking GPS trackers include topographic maps, a digital compass, barometric altimeters, and a rugged design that is built to withstand the harsh conditions of any outdoor activity.
10 Awesome Features Of Hiking GPS Devices
- GPS and GLONASS receiver: This feature allows the device to receive signals from both the Global Positioning System (GPS) and the Russian Global Navigation Satellite System (GLONASS) for more accurate and reliable location tracking.
- Topographic maps: Many GPS trackers for hiking come preloaded with detailed topographic maps that display elevation data, landforms, and other important information for hikers.
- Altimeter and barometer: These sensors measure altitude and atmospheric pressure, respectively, providing hikers with information on their current elevation and weather conditions.
- Compass: A digital compass helps hikers navigate and orient themselves in the wilderness.
- Long battery life: GPS trackers typically have long battery life, so hikers can rely on them for extended periods without needing to recharge.
- Water resistance: Many GPS locators are water-resistant, making them suitable for use in rainy or wet conditions.
- Lightweight and compact design: Outdoor GPS systems are designed to be lightweight and compact, making them easy to carry and use on the trail.
- Durable design: GPS tracking solutions for hikers and hunters are built to withstand the rigors of outdoor use and are often rugged and durable.
- Waypoint and route tracking: This feature allows hikers to mark waypoints and create routes, making it easy to navigate back to a specific location or retrace steps.
- Satellite messaging and SOS: Some GPS trackers for hiking include satellite messaging and SOS capabilities, allowing hikers to send text messages or distress signals in case of emergency.
Check out Hiking Guy’s 11 Tips For Beginners
Garmin’s Inreach – Best Satellite Communicator With SOS For Remote Areas
Garmin's Inreach - Key Features
First up is the Garmin Inreach. This GPS tracker is a personal locator that uses satellite technology to provide hikers with messaging and SOS capabilities. The device is lightweight and compact, making it easy to carry on long hikes. The personal GPS also has a color touchscreen and advanced features such as a 3-axis compass, GPS and GLONASS satellite systems, and topo maps. Garmin’s Inreach also includes a built-in altimeter, barometer, and electronic compass. The device has a long battery life of up to 100 hours in GPS mode, making it a great choice for extended backpacking trips.
What Buyers Are Saying: Garmin Inreach has a 4.7 out of 5-star rating on Amazon by 1,547 verified buyers as of January 26th, 2023.
Garmin Montana 700i – Best Glove-Friendly Handheld GPS For Hikers
Garmin Montana 700i - Key Features
Next is Garmin’s Montana. This GPS device is a rugged handheld GPS navigator that offers a variety of features for outdoor enthusiasts. The Montana 700i features a large color touchscreen, barometric altimeter, and 3-axis electronic compass, and supports GPS and GLONASS satellite systems. It also includes topographic maps and Birds-Eye satellite imagery. The device is water-resistant and has a long battery life of up to 16 hours in GPS mode. The Garmins Montana is also compatible with the Garmin Connect app, which allows you to share your location with friends and family and track your progress on a map.
What Buyers Are Saying: Garmin Montana has a 4.3 out of 5-star rating on Amazon by 497 verified buyers as of January 26th, 2023.
Garmin GPSMAP 64sx – Amazon Choice For Handheld GPS With Altimeter and Compass
Garmin GPSMAP 64sx - Key Features
Another great option for hikers is the Garmin GPSMAP 64sx. This handheld GPS unit is a top-of-the-line device that offers a wide range of advanced features. It includes a color touchscreen, 3-axis compass, GPS and GLONASS satellite systems, and Birds-Eye satellite imagery. The GPSMAP 64sx also includes a barometric altimeter, and electronic compass, and supports topographic maps. The device has a long battery life of up to 16 hours in GPS mode and is water-resistant, making it a great choice for rugged outdoor adventures.
What Buyers Are Saying: Garmin eTrex has a 4.5 out of 5-star rating on Amazon by 757 verified buyers as of January 26th, 2023.
Garmin Explorer – Best Satellite Messenger
Garmin Explorer - Key Features
Satellite messengers are another popular option among hikers. These devices are designed to provide hikers with messaging and SOS capabilities in remote locations. Garmin’s Inreach Explorer is a great example of a satellite messenger. It is a lightweight and compact device that offers a variety of advanced features, including a color touchscreen, GPS and GLONASS satellite systems, and topo maps. The Inreach Explorer also includes a built-in altimeter, barometer, and electronic compass. The device has a long battery life of up to 100 hours in GPS mode and is water-resistant.
What Buyers Are Saying: Garmin eTrex has a 4.7 out of 5-star rating on Amazon by 1,547 verified buyers as of January 26th, 2023.
Garmin Oregon 750t – Best Touchscreen Handheld GPS Device
Garmin Oregon 750t - Key Features
Garmin’s Oregon 750t is another great option for hikers who are looking for a powerful GPS device. This device offers a variety of advanced features, including a color touchscreen, 3-axis compass, GPS and GLONASS satellite systems, and topoactive maps. The Oregon 750t also includes a barometric altimeter, and electronic compass, and supports Birds-Eye satellite imagery. The device has a long battery life of up to 16 hours in GPS mode and is water-resistant, making it a great choice for outdoor adventures.
What Buyers Are Saying: Garmin Oregon 750t has a 4.1 out of 5-stars rating on Amazon by 74 verified buyers as of January 26th, 2023.
Garmin eTrex – Best Worldwide Handheld GPS Navigator
Garmin eTrex- Key Features
The Garmin eTrex is a compact and lightweight handheld GPS navigator that is designed for outdoor enthusiasts who are looking for a reliable and easy-to-use GPS device. It features a high-sensitivity receiver and HotFix satellite prediction, which allows for quick acquisition and accurate location tracking in any environment. It also comes with a built-in compass, barometric altimeter, and support for both GPS and GLONASS satellite systems, making it one of the best worldwide handheld GPS navigators on the market.
What Buyers Are Saying: Garmin eTrex has a 4.3 out of 5-star rating on Amazon by 5,619 verified buyers as of January 26th, 2023.
Related Article: Best Geofencing GPS Trackers
Hiking Safety Device Testing – Why Should You Trust Us?
At GPS Tracking Review, when we are ready to evaluate hiking safety products the first thing we do is put them through outdoor testing. We take it out into dense forests, up mountainous terrain, and even in the middle of a city to test its GPS signal strength, accuracy, and reliability. We don’t stop there, we also test its battery life, durability, and user interface. We want to make sure that the device is easy to use and understand for any outdoor adventurer. Even those with little tech experience!
We also evaluate the device’s ability to display and provide information about topography, hiking trails, and other outdoor-related data. Our goal is to provide a comprehensive and unbiased evaluation of the device’s capabilities and features, as well as its overall performance in a variety of outdoor environments. So, when you read our reviews, you can be confident that you’re getting the best advice and information available.
Want to learn more about how we evaluate GPS products? Check out our testing and methodology page!
Hiking GPS Tracker – Frequently Asked Questions
How Accurate Are Handheld GPS Units?
Hiking GPS trackers are often referred to as GPS data loggers because they simply log locational data to the internal memory of the GPS receiver. These hiking GPS tracking devices are engineered with highly sensitive internal antennas, making the micro GPS trackers extremely accurate. In fact, the average hiking GPS tracker will pinpoint a location within 6 feet! This results in highly detailed route documentation.
Please note that even the best handheld GPS devices still must adhere to basic GPS principles. Therefore, accuracy can be compromised if the hiking GPS tracker is surrounded by metal or concrete, or if the location-based device is in an urban canyon environment, cave, or rugged mountainous region. In all of those mentioned circumstances, accuracy can be compromised to unknown degrees.
What Features Should I Look For In A Hiking Handheld GPS?
Consider features such as a high-sensitivity receiver, built-in compass, barometric altimeter, support for both GPS and GLONASS satellite systems, and the ability to download and display topographic maps.
How Long Does The Battery Last On A GPS Device For Hiking?
The battery life of a personal GPS can vary depending on the model and usage. Some devices can last up to 16 continuous hours in GPS mode, while others may last for up to 35 hours. You can extend battery life by placing handheld GPS devices in a low-power mode.
How Do You Track Someone While Hiking?
To track someone while hiking, you can use a personal GPS tracker. These devices allow you to mark a waypoint at a specific location and then track the progress of the person you are following by monitoring their movement relative to that waypoint. Some GPS locators also have messaging and SOS features, which can be used to communicate with the person you are tracking!
Can I Send And Receive Text Messages With A Hiking handheld GPS?
Some GPS devices for hiking, such as the Garmin InReach, have built-in satellite communication capabilities that allow users to send and receive text messages, even in remote areas where phone service is not available.
What Are The Steps To Mark A Waypoint On A Hiking Handheld GPS Device?
Setting a waypoint on a hiking handheld GPS is typically done by navigating to the location where you want to set the waypoint and then pressing a button on the device to mark the spot. You can then give the waypoint a name and save it for future reference.