Best GPS Trackers for Hiking

Best GPS Trackers for Hiking


Surrounding yourself with nature is undoubtedly a source of making yourself feel good. Hiking is one way to do so. You get to experience scenic views, serenity, and all the fresh air you need. Along with that, hiking also helps in lowering your stress levels, giving an immediate mood boost, and the clarity to think better.

In the early days, people used to follow the sun for navigation all around the world. However, with the passing of time and advancement in technology, cartographers developed virtual maps which helped in determining the route and location. While hikers were also making use of the compass and topographic maps to determine their locations, that only lasted until the innovation of GPS tracking systems. These tracking systems not only help you determine your exact location but also allow you to send a real-time location to your friends and family, and help you navigate your way as accurately as possible.

Today, these GPS tracking systems are being implemented worldwide in almost all industries. They are being used by hikers who can get multiple benefits from these GPS tracking devices for their trips.

While there are uncountable brands with various types of GPS devices, each with different specifications, features, and prices. We are going to list down the top 5 GPS devices, each with its own pros and cons, that are being used and are rated well by users. 

5. Satmap Active 20

Satmap Active 20

The Satmap Active 20 is probably the product you are looking for. Customers have claimed for this product to be flexible, with a combination of a touch screen familiarity and the precision of a glove-friendly keypad that works well in harsh weather with the IP68 water resistance rating, which allows for the device to be submerged up to 1.5 meters.

Additionally, the device keeps a 3.5” 480×320 high-resolution display that is readable in the sunlight. Along with that, compared to the previous Satmap handsets, the Active 20 has dramatically improved and now comes with a toughened Gorilla Glass screen.

However, as perfect as it may seem. It has been discovered that the device does not come without flaws and may not deem suitable for every user. 

The Satmap Active 20 has the following are the pros and cons:


  • Big Screen
  • Buttons
  • Compact


  • Insufficient battery life
  • Confusing functionality

Dual Combination: The dual control combination feature of the product makes it the first outdoor GPS that can be controlled by touch, buttons, or both. The size of the buttons is large enough to be used with gloves on or with cold numb fingers, and the touchscreen can be disabled from the settings as per the user’s preference.

4. Garmin Oregon 750t

Garmin Oregon 750t

The Garmin Oregon 750t is a sophisticated 3-inch all-rounder navigation device with plenty of space for maps, a variety of satellite systems like GLONASS/WAAS/GPS/EGNOS, a barometer for weather updates, and an altimeter for elevation data.

The Garmin Oregon 750t has the capacity of storing up to 4 million Geocaches. The Geocaches can be sorted by size, terrain, and difficulty with the help of filters. This device comes with Topographic maps and additional maps can be uploaded easily. The descriptions and hints are displayed directly on the device.

Although the customers think it would be much better if they update the track navigation system as it seems to be outdated in terms of required features which can enhance the user experience.

The Garmin Oregon 750t has the following pros and cons:


  • User-friendly
  • GLONASS Support
  • Readability


  • Hard to use with gloves on
  • Insufficient battery life
  • Outdated navigation features

Connect IQ Platform: The Connect IQ platform feature in this product makes it unique and allows the users to customize their devices with widgets, apps, and data fields according to their preference, which can prove to be helpful whether used for hiking or cycling.

3. Garmin eTrex 30x

Garmin eTrex 30x

The device is featured with a 3-axis electronic compass that helps navigate directions even when the device is not completely leveled. Also, positioning with this device becomes a lot fast and easy with the help of WAAS and HotFix features.

Not only is it perfect for hiking, but it is also an impressive device for mountaineers, trekkers and for plenty of other outdoor enthusiasts. Its compactness makes it easy to carry, and it provides great water and shock resistance, hence, it can easily be used in heavy rains.  Although the small size has been claimed to make the display small, it still provides sufficient readability.

The eTrex 30x supports satellite images and can display images instead of maps, however, a subscription is required to enable this feature. Additionally, the device can be paired with accessories such as heart rate monitors and external thermometer via a wireless connection.

The Garmin eTrex 30x has the following pros and cons:


  • Compact
  • Shock/Water-resistant
  • Side Buttons


  • Small Screen
  • Difficult readability

Handiness: Garmin eTrex 30x is rated quite high in terms of handiness as it is the lightest and smallest device as compared to all others in this review. The compactness of this device makes it easy to carry–can easily be stored in your backpack’s hip belt. This device also fits perfectly in your hand.

2. Garmin GPSMAP 64st

Garmin GPSMAP 64st

As compared to the eTrex 30x customers have reviewed this device to be slightly bigger because of the screen which a 2.6” inch color display with a resolution of 160 x 240 and device length as it has buttons placed right below the screen which in turn makes the device heavier and less handy.

However, the construction of the device is considered robust and that its ability to withstand harsh weather conditions is high, which makes the device quite durable in rugged situations.

Additionally, the device supports notifications like missed calls, text messages and other alerts from your smartphone with help of Bluetooth that can connect the device with your smartphone wirelessly and display notifications directly on the device which gives an added benefit of quick-access.

The Garmin GPSMAP 64st has the following pros and cons:


  • GLONASS support
  • Buttons


  • Size
  • Insufficient battery life

Durability: The GARMIN GPSMAP 64st device is featured with a helix antenna that can track GPS and GLONASS satellites simultaneously. This increases the speed of satellite lock and positioning accuracy, which enhances both precision and performance with single system results.   

1. Garmin Foretrex 401: Waterproof

Garmin Foretrex 401: Waterproof

If you are an avid hiker and looking for a device the works well with your passion for hiking, the Garmin Foretrex 401 is just what you are looking for. This device is sturdy, durable, and waterproof and survives through hikes in extreme weather conditions. It checks all the hiker requirement boxes and is a perfect investment for outdoor adventures.

With the Foretrex 401, you no longer have to stress about losing your way as it guides you with accurate navigation by keeping a track of your route and waypoints and displays it as a dotted trail on the device screen. It also allows you to save location in its memory, so you can always find your way back.

The Garmin Foretrex 401 has the following pros and cons:


  • Durable construction
  • High-sensitivity receiver
  • IPX7 waterproof


  • The compass needs to be recalibrated often to keep the tracker working accurately
  • The display is not great at showing your location in greater detail

Reliability: The wrist-mounted Garmin Foretres 401 is a light-weight GPS device that is featured with a high-sensitivity GPS receiver with HotFix for improving reception even in deep canyons or heavy tree covered areas.


1.  What is the easiest handheld GPS device?

As a beginner, a few of the easiest handled GPS devices are Garmin Oregon 600, Garmin GPSMAP 64st, Magellan eXplorist XL, Garmin eTrex 20, DeLorme inReach Explorer and Garmin Rino 750. However, always look at other options and choose the one that serves all your requirements.

2.  Can phones be used as GPS devices?

Although phones cannot perform as well as a GPS device because of the moderate battery life, however, yes. Phones are considered as a valid and capable source of GPS trackers and can be used under certain limitations.

3.  What is the best GPS device for hiking?

The Garmin eTrex 30x is considered the best GPS out there due to its size and weight, also it is considered as a great device to deliver great value functionality for a cheap price. Beginners and professionals both can use this device.

4.  How do I choose a GPS?

When choosing a GPS device, it is important that you consider your daily routine and habits. Along with that, the basics to keep in mind include the screen size, onboard maps and POIs that can allow navigation to be convenient for you.

5.  Are hiking GPS worth it?

Undoubtedly, yes. Losing your way is easy for hikers, mountaineers, trekkers, and other outdoor enthusiasts. However, with the use of a GPS device, you can always track your way back to the campsite or your car even if there is poor visibility or the landscape has little to no distinct features for you to mark your location.

6.  Should I get a GPS for hiking?

With the help of a hiking GPS device, you can always keep on track and know your exact location, which will not only keep you safe but also make your trips free of stress. So, yes you should get a hiking GPS device for a stress-free and safe trip.

7.  Why are GPS devices so accurate?

Tracking systems use GPS signals emitted from the device and received by the satellite network. Over the years, there has been quite some advancement in the technology sector, GPS satellites and cellular networks which have aided in making GPS devices as accurate as possible.

8.  Is GPS WiFi?

The difference between a GPS and WIFI is the method of how the location data is gathered. While GPS uses satellites that orbit the earth to determine and regulate a user’s location, WIFI’s locating technology uses network signal strength gathered at access points.


Considering the 5 devices, each one of them offers a variety of options in their own uniqueness. Hence, all of them will prove to be useful according to the user’s preference. However, the Garmin eTrex 30x seems slightly more promising than the others as it is one of the lightest, most reliable devices. Other than that, it has a variety of features including accurate readings a quick positioning system. Not only is the Garmin eTrex30x device budget-friendly, but it is also in fact the lowest price as compared to the others reviewed in this article.

On the other hand, the Garmin Foretrex 401 is better in terms of handiness because of its size and weight. As it is a wrist-mounted GPS device, it is easier to carry. However, as compared to the other devices, it surely is on the pricier side.

As a customer, understand that choosing a GPS system depends entirely on your requirements. Although, there are a few points to keep in mind when opting to buy a hiking GPS device, which includes devices with a battery life that is long-lasting and survives throughout your journey. Moreover, the size and weight are one of the key aspects of the device. It should neither be too big nor too heavy for you to carry it easily. Along with that, the features offered in the device. Modern devices not only display the location but have other useful features like an electronic compass and a barometric altimeter. These additional features are helpful in case of no GPS signal, especially in narrow alleys and dense woods. Last, we must observe the durability of the GPS whether through reviews or through research. As investing in these devices can cost a little extra, hence, the durability should be high enough for the device to work through flexible conditions and additionally give you at least a couple of years.

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