How to Choose a Handheld GPS for Hiking
Are you looking to upgrade from your smartphone’s GPS to a real handheld hiking GPS device for your next backpacking adventure?
Here are a few things you should consider, when shopping for a handheld GPS device for Hiking:
Good satellite coverage and reception is the backbone of any GPS. After all, that’s what it was designed to do. Hiking GPS equipped with GPS, GLONASS, and HotFix capabilities are unbeatable. These guarantee consistent coverage in less than ideal areas. Think about it, with a feature like this, you can venture a little farther than you might not normally have, and more importantly, should you inadvertently find yourself in the “gray” area, you’ll be more than covered.
We as hikers traverse all types of terrain and in all kinds of conditions. Durability is relatively high on our priority list where GPS hiking devices are concerned. Luckily, the majority of waterproof GPS devices are built to last. With rugged, durable, waterproof exteriors, these handheld GPS will outlast most smartphones and even some of the best waterproof GPS watches.
This should go without saying, and for a few reasons. The easier your GPS device is to use, the more motivated you will be to get out onto the trail, or summit. The size of the display plays an integral part as well. How easy are the maps to read? How easy will it be to download additional maps? How straightforward will it be to navigate the device’s menus and settings?
This is, for obvious reasons, a very important thing to consider when buying a hiking GPS. Most handheld GPS internal power sources usually provide anywhere between 16–22 hours, but we personally think the possibility of adding external batteries is a great option. Being able to connect your GPS to an external source of power, such as a vehicle’s cigarette lighter, or a portable charging source is an even better option, to avoid hiking around with a “juiceless” GPS.
Software & Other Accessories
Most of the handheld GPS we researched and reviewed came equipped with preloaded geocaches, or preloaded maps. This is important to consider especially based on the areas you intend to explore.
Additional features such as compasses and altimeters always come in handy. Good situational awareness in the outdoors increases safety tenfold. Altimeters that keep track of the atmospheric pressure are great for weather trend monitoring.
If you can get your hands on a GPS that comes equipped with a built-in radio, then that substantially increases your chances of survival, should an emergency occur. A built-in camera is always useful and proves for good fun. Leaving home your extra camera works out better because it’s one less thing to lose.