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Hiking GPS units information and comparison

GPS or the Global Positioning System is a satellite navigation system that operates by transferring high-frequency radio signals. These radio signals cover the time and positions of the satellite. Devices like a GPS receiver capture these signals and calculate the location of the user on Earth.

A fully functional GPS unit is a must-have for hikers since it can provide accurate information. Maps can be terribly outdated but with an electronic device, you’ll be provided new data in terms of routes and other stuff that you need to be well-versed of while trekking.

The best unit for hikers is one that’s functional yet effective. These days, majority of the units are small in size but there’s a sizable chunk of these devices in the market that it can be quite difficult deciding on one that will cater to you the most. Below are some tips that should assist you in choosing a proper model.

ModelBattery
(hours)
Weight
(ounce)
Screen size
(inch)
More Information
Garmin Oregon 650t
Garmin Oregon 650t 3-Inch Handheld Hiking GPS device with 8MP Digital Camera  and comes with US Topographic Maps
167.43.0Check here
Garmin GPSMAP 64st
Garmin GPSMAP 64st Hiking GPS, with TOPO U.S. 100K and High-Sensitivity GPS and GLONASS Receiver - backcountry mountain navigation unit
169.32.6 Check here
Garmin Montana 650
Garmin Montana 650 Waterproof Hiking GPS device with 5 Megapixel Camera - mountain hikes backcountry information
1610.24.0Check here
Garmin Dakota 20
Garmin Dakota 20 Waterproof Hiking GPS device - directions backcountry hikes, car routes
205.32.6Check here
Garmin etrex Touch 35t
Garmin etrex Touch 35t Hiking GPS device with TOPO US 100K maps - backcountry mountain hikes
165.62.6Check here
Garmin Oregon 450t
Garmin Oregon 450t Handheld Hiking GPS Navigator device - car route directions  backcountry hikes information
166.93.0Check here
Magellan eXplorist 710
Magellan eXplorist 710 Waterproof Hiking GPS device - road directions
156.93.0Check here
Magellan eXplorist 510
Magellan eXplorist 510 Waterproof Hiking GPS device - backcountry mountain geocaching road directions
1615.23.0Check here
Garmin GPSMAP 62St
Garmin GPSMAP 62St Handheld Hiking GPS Navigator device - backcountry directions
209.32.6Check here
Garmin etrex Touch 25
Garmin etrex Touch 25 Hiking GPS device - backcountry mountain hikes
165.62.6Check here

What is a Hiking GPS?

A GPS meant for hiking activities has the ability to reveal the user their existing whereabouts. Majority of this unit include a number of coordinate terminologies. It has various methods that you can use in order to know your location: the DMS (Degrees-Minutes-Seconds) Method, the DDM (Degree-Decimal-Minutes) Method and the UTM (Universal Transverse Mercator).

The GPS is considered as one of the most resourceful innovation in electronics today. GPS units are particularly made for use with travel; vehicles, motorcycles, bikes, ships and boats are all equipped with this system. If you’re an avid backcountry hiker, this device is even more feasible to tote along as compared with old-school navigational tools like maps and compass.

Why Use a GPS for Hikes?

This device is like a modern-day map and compass all rolled into one. It has the ability to track how far you’ve hiked and know the distance that you have to cover. Also, you won’t have to hassle yourself looking for landmarks or path junctures since it is all contained in your nifty unit.

It will also save your life if you are fond of hiking out-of-the-way places and unfamiliar areas. Some areas have complex landmarks that are not easy to keep track of, and this navigating unit will help you immensely in bringing you or getting you out of your destination.

What is a Good GPS for Hiking?

Prior to buying one, you have to first check your necessities. If tracking your mileage and detecting way points is more your speed, then a simple unit will have to do. However, if you’re fond of getting your maps from your computer and uploading copies of it, then something a lot more complex will be a lot more practicable.

Here is a list of factors that you need to consider first before a purchase:

  • Battery power

Do check the type of batteries a unit operates on and its lifespan. A backlit display on a unit means that it will make use of more batteries, especially if you are fond of nighttime hikes. Lithium batteries will also last longer as compared with the rechargeable ones, as well as keep well in colder climes.

There are also batteries which have sleep-mode functions which conserves battery lifespan and in turn, save you plenty from buying extra ones.

  • Altimeter

A conventional GPS device can get the approximate elevation from where you stand, however it can be erroneous. Thus several available units have included a barometric altimeter. An altimeter can also provide users air pressure deviations, therefore alerting them of changes in the weather.

  • Storage capacity

If you upload and acquire maps, chances are you need a unit with more storage. Majority of devices are designed with a MicroSD port so you can obtain your maps on your computer before expeditions.

  • Antenna

There are three kinds of antenna designed for this particular device; the external, internal and the plug-in. The external can be tweaked to improve intelligibility but is more prone to damage while the internal kind has few chances of being broken. Whereas the plug-in is advantageous for drivers and boat users.

  • SIRF Star III

If you want your antenna to function even more, you have to get a GPS that’s designed with this. It is a chip that can enhance the antenna’s performance.

  • Maps

Maps are the most crucial feature of a GPS device. There are models out there with great map detail and a vast storage capacity for your maps and of course. Keep in mind that the more map features a model can contain, the bigger its price on the market. Check the map particulars that you always use and then pick a certain model with the needed details.

  • Waterproof/Durability

A good number of these hiking GPS devices are hard-wearing. However, be certain that it can hold up to your trekking situations. To protect your unit even more, it is advisable that you get a rubber/waterproof shelter for it.

  • Display

Units with color displays are usually recommended for hikers who rely on geographical maps whereas users who rely on way points can make do with designs featuring a simple, no-fuss display.

Another factor to consider is the resolution of the display. Those with superior resolution and bigger display layouts are steeper in price, but more ideal for those with problematic eyesight. In addition, units designed with backlit features will benefit hikers who trek at night.

Sunlight is also a main factor to consider since the too much light can reflect on the device and obscure the display. If you’re the type who does daylight hikes, there are GPS devices available in the market which can curb this annoyance.

So if you are on the hunt for your own GPS hiking unit, do not hurry up and get whatever’s on the display rack. Look up units like you would a car and do your research first. Keeping this in mind will not put your time and money to waste.

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