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When it comes to hiking, having a reliable GPS is essential for navigation and safety. There are many handheld GPS devices and hiking apps for smartphones on the market, so choosing the best GPS for hiking and for your needs can be difficult.
This article will discuss the different types of GPS for hiking, including handheld devices and apps, factors to consider when choosing a GPS for hiking, and an overview of the best GPS apps.
Factors to Consider When Choosing the Best GPS for Hiking
Here are some things to consider when selecting a GPS for hiking:
- Accuracy: The most important factor in a GPS is its accuracy. Look for a device that uses both GPS and GLONASS (Global Navigation Satellite System) for the most accurate location tracking.
- Battery life: When you’re out on the trails, you don’t want to run out of power. Therefore, long battery life is crucial, or the device should allow you to easily swap in new batteries. It’s a good idea to bring a backup power source or a battery pack to ensure you have enough power for your hike.
- Durability: A GPS unit for hiking should be able to withstand rugged conditions, including water, dust, and drops. Look for a device with a durable design and good water resistance.
- Ease of use: The best GPS devices are easy to use, with clear instructions and a user-friendly interface. Consider the size and weight of the device, as well as the size of the screen and buttons.
- Navigation features: Some GPS devices come with built-in maps and the ability to plan and follow routes, while others rely on you to bring your own maps. Consider the features that are most important to you and choose a device that meets your needs.
- Additional features: Some GPS devices and apps come with additional features such as altimeters, barometers, birdseye satellite imagery, barometric altimeter, GPS navigator, gear review, topo maps, GPS tracker, satellite communicator, and compasses. These can be useful for hikers, but keep in mind that the more features a device has, the bulkier and more expensive it might be.
Types of GPS for Hiking
There are a variety of devices available for hikers, including GPS devices, smartwatches, and smartphone apps. Here is an overview of each.
GPS devices are standalone devices that use satellite technology to track your location and provide navigation.
The GPS receivers can be useful for hikers who want a dedicated device for navigation and don’t want to rely on their smartphone.
GPS units can vary in terms of size, durability, battery life, and features, so it’s important to choose one that meets your needs.
The best handheld GPS devices include Garmin GPSMAP 66i’s, Garmin inReach Mini 2, Garmin InReach Explorer Garmin, eTrex 30x, Garmin Montana 700, Garmin Oregon, Garmin GPSMAP 64sx, Garmin Foretrex 601, Suunto 9 Baro, Garmin GPSMAP 64st, and the Magellan eXplorist 310 among others.
Many smartwatches have GPS capabilities and can be used for hiking. They can provide real-time location tracking, navigation, and other features, such as the ability to track your speed and distance.
Smartwatches can be a good option for hikers who want a device that can do more than just track their location. If you are into running, too, consider a running watch with GPS mode.
Some of the best GPS watches for hiking include Garmin Instinct 2 Solar, Coros Pace 2, Garmin Forerunner 995, Garmin Fenix 7, Polar Vantage V2, Polar Grit X, etc.
There are many GPS apps available for smartphones that can be useful for hiking.
These apps can provide detailed topographic maps, the ability to plan and follow routes, and real-time location tracking.
Some apps also have additional features, such as tracking your progress and sharing your location with friends. Below is an overview of the best GPS apps for hiking.
Best GPS Apps for Hiking
There are many GPS hiking apps available for smartphones that can be useful for hiking. Some popular options include:
This app provides detailed topographic maps, the ability to plan and follow routes, and real-time location tracking.
Gaia GPS has various additional features, such as the ability to track your speed and distance and the option to download maps for offline use.
The app allows you to find and follow trails near you or other areas, with the option to view topographic maps and elevation profiles.
It also has features such as the ability to track your progress and share your location with friends.
MapMyHike allows you to track your hikes, view maps and elevation profiles, and set goals for your training.
A social aspect of the app allows you to connect with other hikers and share your progress.
Hiking Project provides detailed topo maps and the ability to search for and follow trails, with the option to download maps for offline use.
Furthermore, it has fun and safety features such as the ability to track your progress and share your location with friends.
View Ranger provides detailed topographic maps, the ability to plan and follow routes, and real-time location tracking.
This app also has various additional features, such as the ability to track your speed and distance and the option to download maps for offline use.
When using a GPS app on your smartphone, keep in mind that your phone’s battery life may be limited.
Therefore, you may want to bring along a backup handheld GPS device or a power bank.
It’s also a good idea to download maps for offline use in case you lose cell service while on the trails.
Advantages of Hiking Apps
Hiking apps can provide a variety of advantages for hikers, including:
- Navigation: The most obvious advantage of a hiking app is the ability to track your location and navigate the trails. Many hiking apps provide detailed topographic maps and the ability to plan and follow routes, making it easier to find your way and stay on track.
- Safety: Some hiking apps have features that allow you to share your location with friends or emergency contacts, providing an extra layer of safety while you’re out on the trails.
- Training: Many hiking apps have features that allow you to track your progress, set goals, and monitor your fitness. This can be especially useful if you’re training for a specific hike or event.
- Information: Many hiking apps provide information about the trails you’re hiking, including details about the terrain, difficulty level, and points of interest. This can be especially useful when exploring a new area or deciding which trails to hike.
- Social aspect: Some hiking apps have a social aspect, allowing you to connect with other hikers and share your progress and photos. This can be a great way to meet new people and get inspiration for your next hike.
A GPS device can be a valuable tool for hikers, as it can help you navigate unfamiliar terrain, find your way back to your starting point, and track your progress.
When choosing a GPS device for hiking, consider the most important features, such as durability, display, battery life, maps, navigation features, size, and weight.
Some popular handheld GPS devices for hiking include the Garmin eTrex, Garmin GPSMAP, Magellan eXplorist, and the Suunto Ambit, while some of the best GPS apps for hiking include Gais GPS, MapMyHike, and Alltrails, among others.
It’s always a good idea to do some research and read reviews before making a purchase to ensure that you choose the best GPS unit for your needs.
Ultimately, the best handheld GPS device and app for hiking will depend on your specific needs and preferences.
Consider the factors outlined above and do some research to find the GPS device that best meets your needs.
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