Planning A Hike? Try These 5 Best GPS Devices


Anytime you're planning a long hiking and camping expedition, it's a good idea to bring along a GPS. Of course, you can go rouge and pretend you're Daniel Boone, but you may wind up lost. Better to play it safe, and better to make the most of your time, and bring along one of these 5 GPS devices, each with their own perks.

Garmin Oregon 650t: The Best Of The Best

Garmin Oregon 650tGarmin Oregon 650t

Garmin is the leading name in GPS manufacturers, and its Oregon 650t is its pride and joy of the handheld line. It comes equipped with a 3" touchscreen display with dual orientation, an 8 megapixel autofocus, digital zoom camera, a 3-axis compass with accelerometer and barometric altimeter sensors and preloaded TOPO U.S. 100K maps. The touchscreen is also sunlight-readable and extra strong to withstand impact. 

With the Oregon, you can also share your waypoints, tracks, routes and geocaches at a super-charged speed. You can also create your own adventures with the free software, BaseCamp. Bottom line, you won't be wanting for features. The Oregon 650t is the Cadillac of the handheld GPS devices, but you will be paying Cadillac prices at around $550, and you can find them on Amazon.

Magellan eXplorist Series: Best Series

Magellan eXploristMagellan eXplorist

Magellan is another well known and reputible name in GPS devices, and its eXplorist Series offers some of the best handheld hiking and camping GPS devices. From the basic eXplorist 110, to the hunter's favorite eXplorist 350H to the most advanced eXplorist 710, you will have a myriad of features to choose from. 

The 110 is the most basic model with basic model with basic GPS map features and a nice 2.2" screen. Adding more features will bring you to the 310, with which you can upload TOPO maps and geocache. The 510 and 610 are the next upgrades, both with cameras and the 610 with a barometric altimeter. The 710 is the most advanced and most expensive (around $500) and comes with a 3-axis electronic compass and City Series USA turn-by-turn navigation. 

There are also special editions, like the 350H (designed for hunters) and the GC (100% dedicated to geocaching. You can find all of these GPS devices on Amazon

DeLorme Earthmate PN-60: Best Value

DeLorme Earthmate PN-60DeLorme Earthmate PN-60

Yet another big name in GPS is DeLorme. DeLorme's Earthmate PN-60 is a great handheld hiking and camping GPS device that won't break your bank. Around $200-$250, you can get the Earthmate PN-60 on Amazon (and if you trust a used device you can get it even cheaper). 

The DeLorme Earthmate PN-60 offers a 3-axis compass with a barometric altimeter, 3.5GB memory, TOPO maps, elevation profiles and much more. It doesn't come with a camera, but it may be the most durable of the GPS devices. It is military standard and has been tested in some of the world's most extreme conditions. It was with John Houston and Tyler Fish during their '09 North Pole Expedition. In short, this little guy is tough and reasonably priced. 

Bushnell BackTrack: Most Basic And Affordable

Bushnell BackTrackBushnell BackTrack

The Bushnell BackTrack GPS may not offer a touchscreen or a camera, but it will get you where you want to be. It is the cheaspest and most basic GPS out of this group. It offers a self-calibrating digital compass, a highly sensitive GPS receiver, the latest digital technology and a LED backlight. 

You can locate and store up to three locations with the BackTrack. This device is also super compact--similar in size to a stopwatch. You can get these basic yet effective GPS devices on Amazon for as low as $50. 

Garmin tactix: Awesome Wrist-Worn GPS

Garmin tactixGarmin tactix

Another GPS option offered by Garmin is the wrist-worn option. Garmin has a few wrist-worn devices, but the tactix is the most advanced one geared toward hikers. Again, Garmin is the elite brand when you're talking GPS, so you'll be spending some dough on its devices. The Garmin tactix is no exception. You can find these devices on Amazon for around $450. 

What you're getting with that $450 is a highly sensitive GPS receiver with automatic calibrating altimeter, barometer and 3-axis compass. With the tactix, you can create routes, navigate to points along those routes, save up to 1,000 waypoints, track personal information (like pace, distance and calories burned) and more. You can also use the BaseCamp app to share data with family and friends. The Garmin tactix is a durable device as well. It's waterproof up to 50m, has a scratch resistant lens and has a battery life of 50 hours in GPS mode and over 5 weeks in watch mode. 

With all of these devices, it is important to consider what you need, what you have to have and what you can live without. When I say the Garmin Oregon 650t is the "best of the best," I mean that it offers the most (quantitative) and often the most advanced features, but it may not be the best for you. Maybe you don't need a camera. If that's the case, there are other options. Find a device that best suits you and enjoy your adventures. 

Sources: Garmin 650t, Magellan eXplorist, DeLorme, Bushnell, Garmin tactix 

Some of the sites we link to are affiliates. We may earn a small commission if you use our links.