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Best GPS for Hiking

Best GPS for Hiking

A GPS device is an essential part of any hiking equipment. But which are the best models, that provide functionality and durability at a decent price? Read on to learn the best GPS models for hiking.
ThrillSpire Staff
The wind at your back, sand and sun in your eyes and the mountain or road ahead...for hikers and outdoor explorers, the thrill is not in reaching a destination but the journey there. While hiking, it is important to have the right equipment and hiking gear to help in this arduous activity. Just like the compass is the quintessential mariner's equipment, a GPS is the necessary device for the avid hiker.

For hiking, the best GPS device allows easy updation of maps to and from a PC or another GPS. Look for any pre-loaded maps and built-in maps as well. Design plays a role too. The device should be hardy enough to withstand the toll of the elements of nature. It should be waterproof or at least water resistant and capable of handling bumps and scratches. The GPS screen is perhaps the most important part of the device, as you will view all information through it. Check the readability of the screen in bright sunlight. Look for a trans-reflective color screen ability. The accuracy and reception strength of the GPS is another important feature. Keeping these factors in mind, here are a few contenders for the title of "best GPS for hiking".

Best GPS for Hiking 2011

I. Magellan eXplorist 310 Waterproof Hiking GPS
  • 2.2 inch color QVGA screen
  • Waterproof build with sturdy design
  • Device comes pre-loaded with World Edition Map
  • 3-5 meter GPS accuracy factor using the SiRFstarIII™ GPS system
  • Up to 18 hours of battery life with 2 AA batteries
  • Built-in memory of 2GB with 500 MB RAM
  • Features like Suspend Mode, Track Summary and geocaching
  • Connect device to PC with USB port and see your location on computer screen (possible with VantagePoint software)
  • Price: $200
II. Garmin Oregon® 450
  • Large, rugged 3 inch trans-reflective (sunlight-readable) touchscreen
  • Waterproof and bumpproof navigator with barometric altimeter
  • Built-in worldwide basemap with 3-axis tilt-compensated compass
  • TOPO U.S. 24K maps can be added to navigator
  • Share data (maps, waypoints, trails) easily through Garmin Connect™ or through wireless connection
  • Battery life of 16 hours on 2 AA batteries
  • Built-in memory of 850 MB; memory is expandable using SD cards
  • Plan trips on computer using BaseCamp™ software, then transfer data easily to navigator
  • Connects to computer through USB port
  • Price: $330
III. Magellan Triton 1500 - North America
  • 2.7 inch touch screen with color
  • Record voice notes and data with built-in microphone
  • 48 in-built maps and adding of additional detailed maps allowed
  • Designed for the outdoors with rugged, waterproof design and LED flashlight
  • Listen to music with headphone jack, using included music player
  • Uses the SiRFstarIII™ GPS chipset with 3-5 meter accuracy factor
  • External antenna can be added to increase signal reception
  • Expand built-in memory with SD slot
  • Up to 10 hours of battery life using 2AA batteries
  • Price: $300
IV. Garmin Montana™ 650t
  • Spacious 4 inch touch screen with color
  • 5 MP camera allows picture and video capture with geotagging
  • Waterproof and very tough, designed for the road
  • Connect device to PC with USB and view data as well as form location on existing map
  • Expandable memory with SD slot, add more maps to your device
  • Share info between other Montana 650ts using wireless transfer
  • Battery can be charged or used with 2 AA batteries
  • Geocaching, preloaded BlueChart® g2 maps and support for BirdsEye Satellite Imagery (sold separately)
  • Hard disk of 3.5 GB and HotFix® satellite prediction feature
  • Price: $700
V. Garmin Foretrex® 401
  • 1.4 inch black and white LCD screen
  • Waterproof device, can be strapped to wrist or hand-held
  • TracBack® feature shows your complete path, so you can retrace your steps easily
  • Connects wirelessly to another Foretrex 401 or to other devices like heart rate monitor
  • Connect to PC with USB port or use wireless Internet access to access Garmin Connect™ site
  • Up to 17 hours of battery life with AAA batteries
  • Price: $200
VI. DeLorme Earthmate PN-60w
  • Capable of sending SMSs to others using SPOT Satellite
  • Tough and hardy-waterproof, humidity tested, bump and shock resistant
  • TOPO North America 9.0 included with this device
  • Built in storage of 3.5 GB with dual core processor
  • Uses 32-channel STMicroelectronics Cartesio GPS chipset
  • Expandable memory with SD card slot
  • Built-in barometer and paperless geocaching support
  • Illuminated screen, power saving and stealth mode with button locking control
  • Price: $450
It is easy to see from the above best GPS for hiking models, that this sort of specialized equipment is not cheap. And it shouldn't be, since any compromise in quality could lead to a faulty GPS device and lack of trust in its bearings and data. For hiking enthusiasts, the cost of this device should be proportional to its specs matching their needs. So choose wisely, based on the listed features and try testing the GPS device before any major trips or events. Happy trailblazing!