Whether you're a geocaching enthusiast, a hunter, or a wilderness explorer, one thing is true; you need to know where you are, and where you're going.

Back in the day, outdoorsmen had to rely on laminated maps and analog compasses that were easy to damage and difficult to navigate. Today, you have technology-based options that are rugged, lightweight, and highly accurate.
 
If you're new to the world of GPS, let us help you out by reviewing some of the top products available. We've weeded out the gimmicks and focused on the products that'll keep you safe.

We've even selected what we consider the best hiking GPS. Here's everything you need to know to select the best hiking GPS for your own personal needs.

Comparison Table

Product FAQ

1. What Is a Hiking GPS?

A hiking GPS is a receiver that accesses the Global Positioning System (GPS), which is a navigation system, comprised of multiple satellites.

The GPS was developed by the Department of Defense and was initially designed for military use. In the 1980s, it was made accessible to civilians.

The hiking GPS triangulates multiple satellites to determine the user's position and displays the information. The best hiking GPS will display your location on a topographical map.

2. What Features Should I Look for in the Best Hiking GPS?

It's important that your hiking GPS provides the functionality you need to find your way out of the woods or through the wilderness effectively.

The best hiking GPS should have accurate maps of your region so you can see your location in relation to your environment including water, elevation changes, and weather conditions.

The best hiking GPS will also include a compass, a watch, and access to an SOS monitoring system.

3. Where Can I Purchase the Best Hiking GPS?

You can purchase a hiking GPS at an outdoor store, a store that specializes in electronics, and of course, online. Each product description includes a link to purchase the product on Amazon.com.

How We Reviewed

a boy holding a gps unit

Image via Flickr

We reviewed the products in this article by comparing their features, customer reviews, and prices. We analyzed their construction and took into account any additional features they may have.

All the products carry a one-year warranty so that did not affect our selection. Our choice for the best hiking GPS was determined by functionality, durability, and design.

Overall Price Range

Pricing for the hiking GPS' reviewed in this article range from $88 to $546. Less expensive GPS systems have lower resolution screens that may have black and white displays; they will not access as many satellite systems, and they will not have 24/7 SOS monitoring.

More expensive products will have access to multiple satellites, provide two-way messaging functionality, and incorporate other features such as compasses and barometric altimeters.

What We Reviewed

  • Garmin GPSMAP 64st, TOPO U.S. 100K
  • Garmin eTrex10 GPS
  • Garmin Foretrex 401 Waterproof Hiking GPS
  • Garmin inReach Explorer+
  • Bad Elf 2200 GPS Pro (Black/silver)
  • Garmin inReach Mini (Orange) Satellite Communicator Bundle with Hiking Backpack Tether
  • Garmin Oregon 650t 3-Inch Handheld GPS with 8MP Digital Camera
  • Garmin etrex Touch 35
  • Magellan eXplorist 310 Summit Series Topo Map Bundle
  • Casio Men's "Pro Trek" Outdoor GPS Resin Sports Watch
  • Garmin 010-01772-00 Foretrex 601

11 Best Hiking GPS Solutions

Garmin GPSMAP 64st, TOPO U.S. 100K


Garmin GPSMAP 64st, TOPO U.S. 100K with High-Sensitivity GPS and...
  • Sunlight Readable 2.6 inches color display. Display size : 1.43 x 2.15 inches and 2.6 inch diag (6.6 centimeter)....
  • 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...

Features

The Garmin GPSMAP 64st TOPO U.S. 100K features a 2.6-inch color display that's easy to read in sunlight. The display resolution is 160 x 240 pixels. It has a battery life of 16 hours.

The unit has 8 GB of expanded internal memory and a high-speed USB interface.

The dual battery system allows the user to choose between using two AA batteries or an optional NiMH battery pack. The unit weighs 8.1 ounces with batteries.

The unit will interface with optional sensors such as heart rate, speed, and temperature monitors. Data can be uploaded to Garmin Connect and viewed on your smartphone.

Warranty

This product carries a one-year limited warranty from the manufacturer.

Pros

  • Display can be read in the sunlight
  • Battery life of 16 hours
  • Upload data to Garmin Connect

Cons

  • Inadequate base map
  • Batteries drain even when unit is off
  • Poor instruction manual

Garmin eTrex10 GPS


Sale
Garmin eTrex 10 Worldwide Handheld GPS Navigator
  • 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

Features

The Garmin eTrex 10 is a handheld navigation device that comes pre-loaded with a worldwide base map that can be viewed on the 2.2-inch monochrome display.

It is WAAS enabled, and it has HotFix and GLONASS support to ensure a reliable signal and quick, accurate positioning. The unit is waterproof to IPX7 standards, so the unit will not be damaged by rain, splashing water, or dew.

The unit is powered by two AA batteries that provide for up to 20 hours of use. It is easy to store waypoints along a route to estimate distance and time between the start and finish points.

The display is easy to read in direct sunlight or deep shade. The unit supports geocaching GPX files, so the geocache can be downloaded directly into it.

This product is the first consumer GPS that tracks both GPS and GLONASS satellites at the same time.

Warranty

This product carries a one-year limited warranty from the manufacturer.

Pros

  • Pre-loaded with a worldwide base map
  • Uses both GPS and GLONASS satellites
  • Geocache can be downloaded directly to the unit

Cons

  • Does not include topographic maps
  • Display is black and white
  • Very basic functionality

Garmin Foretrex 401 Waterproof Hiking GPS


Garmin Foretrex 401 Waterproof Hiking GPS
  • Features high-sensitivity GPS receiver with HotFix for improved performance and reception in heavy tree cover or deep...
  • Keeps track of routes, tracks and waypoints, and heart rate with add on heart rate monitor (sold separate). Uses...
  • TracBack feature retraces user's path on the easy-to-read LCD display;Display resolution 100 x 64 pixels;Battery life Up...

Features

The Garmin Foretrex 401 Waterproof Hiking GPS has excellent reception in heavy tree cover and deep canyons due to its high sensitivity GPS receiver with HotFix.

It will record routes and waypoints. It runs up to 17 hours on two AAA batteries. The unit has a TracBack feature that will retrace your path. The LCD display is easy to read with a display resolution of 100 x 64 pixels.

The unit supports dual position readout, so your current location can be viewed in multiple formats.

It includes an electronic compass, a barometric altimeter, a trip computer, sunrise and sunset times, and hunting and fishing information.

Warranty

This product carries a one-year limited warranty from the manufacturer.

Pros

  • High sensitivity GPS receiver
  • TracBack feature retraces your path
  • •Dual-position readout

Cons

  • Confusing to use
  • Incomplete user's manual
  • Small display

Garmin inReach Explorer+


Garmin inReach Explorer+, Handheld Satellite Communicator with TOPO...
  • 100 percent global Iridium satellite coverage enables two way text messaging from anywhere (satellite subscription...
  • Trigger an interactive SOS to the 24/7 search and rescue monitoring center
  • Track and share your location with family and friends. Water rating : IPX7. Battery : Rechargeable internal lithium ion

Features

The Garmin inReach Explorer+ arrives pre-loaded with DeLorme TOPO maps, a barometric altimeter, and a built-in digital compass.

It features 100% global Iridium satellite coverage that will allow two-way text messaging from anywhere (with a satellite subscription).

The unit is capable of triggering an SOS to a 24/7 search and rescue monitoring center, so you know you'll be able to contact first responders in the event of an emergency.

The unit will pair with mobile devices via a free Earthmate app that allows you to access NOAA charts, maps, and aerial imagery. The unit runs on a rechargeable, internal, lithium-ion battery and has an IPX7 water rating.

Warranty

This product carries a one-year limited warranty from the manufacturer.

Pros

  • Pre-loaded DeLorme TOPO maps
  • TracBack feature retraces your pathTriggers SOS to search and rescue

Cons

  • Does not integrate with Garmin maps
  • Difficult to download maps
  • Poor customer service

Bad Elf 2200 GPS Pro (Black/silver)


Bad Elf 2200 GPS Pro (Black/Silver)
  • Connect up to 5 devices at a time via Bluetooth technology. Now also compatible with the iPhone 5, new iPad, iPad mini,...
  • Large LCD screen with backlight for night operation
  • Standalone GPS datalogger stores 100+ hours of tracking data

Features

The Bad Elf GPS Pro uses Bluetooth technology to share location information simultaneously with up to five iOS devices. It features a large LCD display that indicates a location, power level, connectivity, and trip data.

The unit will record up to 100 hours of trip data. The battery will provide up to 16 hours of Bluetooth connectivity and up to 35 hours of data logging. The enclosure is splash-proof and rugged enough for backcountry use.

Under normal operating conditions, you can expect a hot lock in 2 seconds, a warm lock in 15 seconds, and a cold lock in 33 seconds. Units and settings can be customized using the Bad Elf Utility App.

Warranty

This product carries a one-year limited warranty from the manufacturer.

Pros

  • Share information with up to five iOS devices
  • Records up to 100 hours of trip data
  • Battery life up to 35 hours

Cons

  • Lanyard loop is on the wrong end—data reads upside down
  • May lose GPS signal at sunrise
  • Does not support Androids

Garmin inReach Mini (Orange) Satellite Communicator Bundle with Hiking Backpack Tether


Garmin inReach Mini (Orange) Satellite Communicator Bundle with Hiking...
  • [GARMIN inREACH MINI HIKING GPS] - Garmin inReach Mini Handheld Hiking GPS, Garmin Carabiner Clip, Spine Mounting Kit...
  • [PLAYBETTER HIKER BUNDLE] - Garmin Hiking Backpacker Tether for inReach Mini
  • [SMALL, LIGHT, RUGGED HIKING GPS] - Measuring just under 4” tall by 2” wide and weighing a mere 3.5 oz, inReach Mini...

Features

The Garmin inReach Mini Hiking GPS is designed for hiking. It is small (4" x 2") and lightweight (3.5 ounces), and it will hang from an accessory loop or fit in an exterior backpack pocket for easy access.

It features emergency GEOS response to SOS signals. The unit allows family and friends to stay in touch globally with inReach technology and Iridium satellite network connectivity.

The unit is 100% waterproof. The unit comes with a Garmin Backpack GPS Tether that attaches the inReach's spine mount to the strap of your backpack, keeping it conveniently in reach.

Warranty

This product carries a one-year limited warranty from the manufacturer.

Pros

  • Emergency two-way GEOS response 24/7
  • Unit is 100% waterproof
  • Iridium satellite connectivity

Cons

  • Tracking and messaging functions require a paid subscription
  • Messages may be delayed

Garmin Oregon 650t 3-Inch Handheld GPS with 8MP Digital Camera


Sale
Garmin Oregon 650t 3-Inch Handheld GPS with 8MP Digital Camera (US...
  • 3-Inch sunlight-readable, touchscreen display with multi-touch capability
  • Dual-band GPS/GLONASS satellite positioning
  • Sensors (3-axis compass, accelerometer, barometric altimeter)

Features

The Garmin Oregon 650t Handheld GPS features highly sensitive GPS and GLONASS tracking and preloaded TOPO U.S. 110K maps. It includes a 3-axis compass, a barometric altimeter, and an accelerometer.

The touch screen can be used when you are wearing gloves, and it allows you to zoom in, pan out, and rotate maps. The screen has reflective display technology that makes the screen easy to see in bright sunlight as well as low light conditions.

The unit also has an 8MP auto-focus camera with automatic flash and digital zoom, so you won't have to carry an extra camera. Customizable buttons allow for waypoint marking and one-touch image capture. The unit will operate on 2 AA batteries or a NiMH battery pack.

Warranty

This product carries a one-year limited warranty from the manufacturer.

Pros

  • Uses both GPS and GLONASS tracking
  • The touch screen can be used with gloves and is visible in bright sunlight
  • Includes 8MP camera with flash and zoom

Cons

  • GPS not as accurate as other units
  • Location of camera lens causes fingers to be in the shot
  • May lock up and require a power cycle to reset

Garmin etrex Touch 35


Sale
Garmin etrex Touch 35
  • Touchscreen - 2.6-inch color, capacitive touchscreen display
  • Activity profiles - easy-to-use navigation for multiple activities, including climb, hike, hunt, bike, geocache, fish...
  • Electronic compass - all models offer a 3-axis tilt-compensated electronic compass, which shows your heading even when...

Features

The Garmin Oregon 650t Handheld GPS features highly sensitive GPS and GLONASS tracking and preloaded TOPO U.S. 110K maps. It includes a 3-axis compass, a barometric altimeter, and an accelerometer.

The touch screen can be used when you are wearing gloves, and it allows you to zoom in, pan out, and rotate maps. The screen has reflective display technology that makes the screen easy to see in bright sunlight as well as low light conditions.

The unit also has an 8MP auto-focus camera with automatic flash and digital zoom, so you won't have to carry an extra camera. Customizable buttons allow for waypoint marking and one-touch image capture. The unit will operate on 2 AA batteries or a NiMH battery pack.

Warranty

This product carries a one-year limited warranty from the manufacturer.

Pros

  • WAAS enabled dual GPS and GLONASS receiver
  • HotFix satellite prediction
  • Includes 250,000 pre-loaded geocaches

Cons

  • Inferior screen resolution
  • Finicky touch screen
  • Incomplete user's manual

Magellan eXplorist 310 Summit Series Topo Map Bundle


Magellan eXplorist 310 Summit Series Topo Map Bundle
  • The World Edition includes a detailed road network, water features, urban and rural land use, and a realistic shaded...
  • Brilliant, Sunlight Readable Color 2.2" Screen
  • Summit Series Topographic Maps

Features

The Magellan eXplorist 310 Series Topo Map Bundle includes detailed, high-resolution, topographic maps that cover 9 U.S. regions and include contour lines and digital terrain information.

The world edition features a detailed road map, urban and rural land use, water features, and a shaded relief background for realism. The screen measures 2.2 inches, and it is easily readable in bright sunlight.

The unit can download paperless geocaching points. Batteries last up to 18 hours.

Warranty

This product carries a one-year limited warranty from the manufacturer.

Pros

  • Detailed, high-resolution topographic maps of 9 U.S. regions
  • Screen is easy to read in bright sunlight
  • Up to 18 hours of battery life

Cons

  • Display font is difficult to read and can't be changed
  • Cannot directly input GPS numbers
  • Screen is small

Garmin 010-01772-00 Foretrex 601


Casio Men's "Pro Trek" Outdoor GPS Resin Sports Watch, Color: Black &...
  • Wear OS by Google, GPS, 5 Bar WR, Mil-Standard 810 G Durability, 50M Water Resistant
  • Digital compass, Altimeter, Barometer, Activity Tracker, Dual Layer LCD Structure, Original Watch Face, Casio Moment...
  • Quartz Movement

Features

The Casio Men's "Pro Trek" Outdoor GPS Resin Sports Watch features Android Wear 2.0 software. The full-color map display can be downloaded for offline use. 

You can write memos on the map and mark your current position. The unit is compatible with smartphones running at least Android version 4.3, and iPhone 5 and later running iOS 8.2 or above. 

The quad sensors support activity tracking as well as barometer, altimeter, and compass settings. The unit is water-resistant to 165 feet.

Warranty

This product carries a one-year limited warranty from the manufacturer.

Pros

  • Android Wear 2.0 software
  • Full-color map display
  • Water-resistant to 165 feet

Cons

  • Short battery life
  • Screen freezes up
  • Unreliable Bluetooth connection

Casio Men's "Pro Trek" Outdoor GPS Resin Sports Watch


Casio Men's "Pro Trek" Outdoor GPS Resin Sports Watch, Color: Black &...
  • Wear OS by Google, GPS, 5 Bar WR, Mil-Standard 810 G Durability, 50M Water Resistant
  • Digital compass, Altimeter, Barometer, Activity Tracker, Dual Layer LCD Structure, Original Watch Face, Casio Moment...
  • Quartz Movement

Features

The Casio Men's "Pro Trek" Outdoor GPS Resin Sports Watch features Android Wear 2.0 software. The full-color map display can be downloaded for offline use.

You can write memos on the map and mark your current position. The unit is compatible with smartphones running at least Android version 4.3, and iPhone 5 and later running iOS 8.2 or above.

The quad sensors support activity tracking as well as barometer, altimeter, and compass settings. The unit is water-resistant to 165 feet.

Warranty

This product carries a one-year limited warranty from the manufacturer.

Pros

  • Android Wear 2.0 software
  • Full-color map display
  • Water-resistant to 165 feet

Cons

  • Short battery life
  • Screen freezes up
  • Unreliable Bluetooth connection

Garmin 010-01772-00 Foretrex 601


Sale
Garmin 010-01772-00 Foretrex 601, 2 inches
  • Durable, constructed to military standards (MIL STD 810G); night vision goggle compatible
  • Works with GPS, GLONASS and galileo satellite systems to provide accurate positioning
  • Know where you are with navigation sensors, including 3 axis Accelerometer, 3 axis compass and a Barometric altimeter;...

Features

FeaturesThe Garmin Foretrex 601 is a GPS navigator that is worn on the wrist and is built to military standards. The unit access GPS, GLONASS, and Galileo satellite systems, allowing you to keep your bearings with accurate positioning.

The unit features a barometric altimeter, a 3-axis accelerometer, and a 3-axis compass. The exceptionally long battery life exceeds 48 hours in navigation mode and lasts up to a week in UltraTrac mode. Emails, texts, and alerts are received on your wrist for convenience.

Warranty

This product carries a one-year limited warranty from the manufacturer.

Pros

  • Built to military standards
  • Accesses GPS, GLONASS, and Galileo satellite systems
  • Battery life up to one week

Cons

  • Watch does not have an alarm
  • Watch mode turns off GPS functionality
  • Uncomfortable strap

The Verdict

Based on our research, we believe the best hiking GPS is the Garmin Foretrex 601. This wrist-worn navigator is built to military standard and accesses GPS, GLONASS, and Galileo satellite systems to determine your location with the highest level of accuracy.

With a battery life up to a week, the Garmin Foretrex 601 will keep you on course and allow you to navigate the wilderness successfully. Don't hesitate to purchase the Garmin Foretrex 601 for geocaching, hunting, or exploring the wilderness.

You'll reach your goal, even if it's only finding your car at the mall, with ease and military accuracy. You can't go wrong with this GPS system.

Featured Image via Flickr

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