Hiking GPS, Walking GPS And Handheld GPS Units Guide
1 – Introduction On Hiking GPS And Walking GPS
GPS means Global Positioning System.
No matter what you call them, hiking GPS, walking GPS or handheld GPS units, they are small devices you hold in your hand to locate your position around the world and are particularly useful when hiking across landscapes with few features.
A hiking GPS receives signals that are transmitted by a number of satellites orbiting the globe and translates them into your precise location on the planet.
Some hiking GPS devices also enable you to follow a sequence of planned co-ordinates named waypoints, that is, co-ordinates of a location, and even record the actual hiking trip you take, know as a tracklog.
In addition, more advanced devices can give your distance hiked, hiking speed and more!
This video slideshow summarises the benefits and features of hiking GPS for navigation.
Contents On GPS Units For Hiking & Walking
Use the following guide to aid you in your choice of hiking GPS, walking GPS or handheld GPS units:
- 1 – Introduction On Hiking GPS And Walking GPS
- 2 – GPS Unit Activity Classification
- 3 – GPS Unit Design Classification
- 4 – Why Use GPS Units For Hiking & Walking?
- 4.1 – Safe and Secure Hiking
- 4.2 – Just To Enjoy Hiking
- 4.3 – For Emergencies
- 4.4 – As A Record
- 4.5 – Other Uses
- 5 – What A GPS Unit Cannot Do When Hiking & Walking
- 6 – GPS Categories
- 7 – GPS Physical Features
- 8 – Functional Features Of A GPS Unit
- 8.1 – GPS Accuracy And Portability
- 8.2 – Co-ordinate Systems
- 8.3 – GPS Map Datum
- 8.4 – Power Supply
- 8.5 – Display Screen
- 8.6 – Digital Mapping Or Not
- 8.7 – Planning With Digital Mapping Software
- 8.8 – Memory Capacity
- 8.9 – Additional Instrumentation
- 8.10 – Computer And Software Compatibility
- 8.11 – Map And Software Updates
- 9 – Tips On How To Select A GPS Unit
- 9.1 – Navigation Skills
- 9.2 – Organisation Skills
- 9.3 – Hiking Region
- 9.4 – Hiking Environment
- 9.5 – Other Features
- 9.6 – Your Budget
- 9.7 – Do Some Research
- 10 – Purchasing Strategies
- 11 – Brands Of GPS Units For Hiking & Walking
- 12 – Summary On Hiking GPS and Walking GPS
- 13 – Related Resources From HES
2 – GPS Unit Activity Classification
Let us first look at the three main activities GPS units are used for: recreation; driving and working:
- Recreation – A number of recreational activities on land, sea or in the air can be assisted by the use of a GPS unit such as: hiking/walking, mountain climbing, biking, camping, touring, hunting, fishing, boating, skiing, snowmobiling, flying and maybe others.
- Driving – A GPS unit within your car, van or lorry or on your motor cycle can give you directions and stop you getting lost in either cities or in the countryside. It could also provide you with the quickest, shortest or other type of route to your destination.
- Working – Various occupations may need a GPS unit within their day to day activities such as: tour guides, pilots, dispatchers, rescue crews, archaeologists, military personnel, firemen, geologists, surveyors, mapping specialists, boat captains and maybe some others.
3 – GPS Unit Design Classification
GPS units are generally designed with three main uses in mind: recreational navigation, automotive navigation and marine navigation:
- Recreational Navigation – These GPS units are usually small handheld devices that you can hold in your hand and usually fit easily in to your pocket or other place like a rucksack or mount easily onto your dashboard. A few are also designed to be worn on the wrist. Some of them have topographical (also known as topo) or Ordnance Survey (OS) maps built in or the ability to download or add maps to them to enable you to traverse the countryside.
- Automotive Navigation – These GPS units are designed specifically to be used for motor vehicle road navigation. They usually have road and street maps built-in or have the capability to enable you to download maps to them. They are usually mounted within the vehicle and some even have voice directions.
- Marine Navigation – These GPS units are designed especially for vessels that traverse water and have a robust and waterproof design, or may even float on water. Consequently, they have offshore maps and maybe also onshore maps. They have functions for chart plotting and other marine relate functions.
4 – Why Use A GPS Unit For Hiking & Walking?
There may be more reasons for using a hiking GPS but the main benefits are as follows:
4.1 – Safe and Secure Hiking
It can be quite annoying if you get lost, not to mention dangerous, particularly at high altitude or in poor weather conditions.
A standard hiking GPS provides you with an accurate grid reference to show your position. More costly hiking GPS devices display your precise location on a digital map.
4.2 – Just To Enjoy Hiking
You can plan your route before you start hiking by recording it on your hiking GPS. Then when you start hiking you don’t have to concentrate on finding your route on a paper map.
Be warned that the batteries and even the Hiking GPS unit can fail. It is therefore very important to also take a paper map together with a compass and keep up your ability to navigate.
4.3 – For Emergencies
A Hiking GPS can be a lifesaver for pinpointing your precise position should you have an accident or any form of emergency situation whilst out on the hill or in the mountains, especially if the weather conditions are bad.
4.4 – As A Record
A Hiking GPS device can be really good for recording waypoint information. If you come across a marvellous view then you can record the location and revisit it or share it with friends. You can also build your own database of favourite places such as attractions, pubs, restaurants, etc.
4.5 – Other Uses
Other more specialist uses of Handheld GPS units include:
- For Geocaching – You could join many others in this activity which involves using your GPS unit to locate outdoor hidden “treasure” in containers termed geocaches. You can also share your experiences with others online. To find out more information visit www.geocoaching.com
- As A SatNav – Some GPS untis can also be used as a SatNav in your car. Specialist groups such as canoeists and mountain bikers use them to find routes away from the usual beaten tracks.
5 – What A GPS Unit Cannot Do When Hiking & Walking
A Hiking GPS unit only links a sequence of co-ordinates together. It doesn’t actually navigate for you. For example, should a straight line between co-ordinates direct you over the edge of a cliff, then that is the direction it will take you. It is therefore vitally important to be aware of this and check your routes for potential obstacles and danger spots prior to starting your hike.
6 – GPS Categories
There are two main categories of GPS units which can be used for hiking.
The right one for you depends on several criteria, such as the length of your hiking journey, the severity of the weather likely to be encountered, the type of navigational features wanted, and your budget:
- Dedicated GPS Units – A Dedicated GPS unit is usually more robust, has a lot more navigational functionality together with a longer battery life.
- Multifunctional GPS Units – The multifunctional GPS unit category includes the mobile phone and personal digital assistant (PDA). There is also the portable navigation device (PND) which can be used either on the hills or in a car. Most people already own a device in this category which is generally a cost effective option and may be considered the best portable GPS unit option. However, if you want to use it as a hiking GPS in bad weather conditions, consider how the mobile phone or PDA or PND would cope. Also, your mobile phone battery may run out of power if you use it as a hiking GPS device and you will then have lost two devices that are important to your safety at the same time.
7 – GPS Physical Features
GPS units come in all shapes and sizes with different physical features.
Prior to acquiring a GPS unit suitable for your hiking trips, consider the physical features of a hiking GPS:
- Back Case & Power Source – The back of the case usually opens up and has space for batteries as the source of power. The battery compartment should be completely sealed to prevent the entry of water and thus prevent damage to the inner components of the device.
- Front Case & Display Screen – The front of the case is usually made from robust plastic and includes the display screen. The display area of each device can differ greatly, from restricted position information to full colour three dimensional maps of your nearby environment and route.
- Rubber Gasket – The rubber gasket is a waterproof seal and ensures that your handheld GPS system is a waterproof GPS unit. It also gives the user a good grip to enable the use of buttons with a single hand. In addition, it serves as protection for any computer cable connector on the back. Most dedicated hiking GPS units are waterproof and sufficiently robust to withstand some knocking about but most mobile phones and PDA’s will probably suffer should they get wet and could easily be damaged if placed within a rucksack or pocket.
- Weight And Portability – When choosing a hiking GPS unit you may be considering minimizing the weight of your overall hiking equipment. However, if you choose a hiking GPS unit based on the criteria of lightweight then you will find that the features available will suffer. For example, you may get a small screen size and minimal advanced features.
8 – Functional Features Of A GPS Unit
Before you purchase a GPS unit for hiking you will definitely need to think about the functional features you want:
8.1 – GPS Accuracy And Portability
The theoretical accuracy of all GPS units is to approximately 15m. However, more recent devices can be a great deal more accurate.
If you buy a GPS unit that is WAAS-enabled (Wide Area Augmentation System), which is a US-based satellite network, accuracy can be up to five times greater.
There is also a European version called EGNOS (European Geostationary Navigation Overlay Service) in operation.
- Accuracy – If you need to pinpoint your location to within a few feet then accuracy is an important selection criteria for you and you will need a WAAS-enabled GPS unit. However, there is no point acquiring a WAAS-enabled device if the region in which you intend to use the GPS unit does not have the WAAS service available.
- Portability – If portability is an important selection criterion for you then you may need to compromise on accuracy. This compromise may come in the form of poorer GPS unit signal acquisition, software that is not so useful or maps with less detail.
- Correction Services – Services such as OmniSTAR provide extra correction information for GPS unit receivers and this enables then to increase their accuracy. Accuracy can also be improved by using a Differential GPS (DGPS) service, usually to within about 3 to 5 meters. However, to get a corrected signal, your device needs to have both a differential beacon receiver together with a beacon antenna as well as the GPS unit. The market leader in this field is OmniSTAR.
- Channels – When tracking satellites a GPS unit utilises a numbers of channels. These days the most common are 12 or 16 channel parallel receivers which are better than 6 or 8 channels because they find satellites more easily, especially in woods or in areas that are built-up. Choose a 12 channel GPS unit so you get good reception when in mountainous terrain or covered by trees.
8.2 – Co-ordinate Systems
Maps have a grid so you can identify a location using a grid reference. The most common co-ordinate systems in the world are Lat-Lon and UTM:
- Lat-Lon – This is an angular co-ordinate systems with latitude and longitude and has been designed to suit 3D objects like our planet. In this system lines do not cross each other at a 90 degree angle, except along the Equator, and therefore is not a grid system.
- UTM – Universal Transverse Mercator is a rectangular co-ordinate system and has been designed for 2D objects like a map. In this system lines cross each other at a 90 degree angle, and it is therefore a grid system.
Neither co-ordinate system is more or less accurate than the other. They are both just different methods for locating a point. However, you must set the co-ordinate system of your GPS unit to one that matches the co-ordinate system on the map you are using.
8.3 – GPS Map Datum
The beginner GPS unit user often fails to consider the notion of a map datum. The earth has an elliptical shape, not a perfectly round shape, and map makers have attempted to correct for this fact with a map datum. Various map datums have been developed and used as points of reference on various maps around the globe.
You need to make sure the GPS unit you are using is set to the same datum that your map is referenced to, usually displayed on the bottom left corner of the map. If you forget to set your GPS unit datum to the same one as your map then this could give you a potential error difference of 200 meters, about 600 feet, or possibly more regarding the position shown on your display screen.
The potential error difference might be no problem in a large open area where it is possible to see your destination from some distance. However, imagine the dire consequences it could have if you are in a mountainous area. The difference in these two points has the potential to result in a vertical separation of thousands of feet. This may be an even bigger issue if you are hiking in weather conditions that result in poor visibility.
You should reference your GPS unit manual to find out how to set the correct datum to match the datum on your map. Also make sure the GPS unit you select has all the map datums you need to use.
8.4 – Power Supply
An external power supply facility is only useful if you need to use your GPS unit within a motor vehicle or indoors. When hiking in the hills you need to rely on batteries for a power supply.
If your chosen device takes replaceable batteries, either throw away or rechargeable, then it is best to make sure they are of the long life type.
If you consider a GPS unit that uses its own design of rechargeable battery that is fixed in place then make sure it also has a long life. You don’t want to run out of power on the hills, especially in poor weather conditions.
8.5 – Display Screen
A display screen needs to be bright with a high definition so it is easy to read, especially when there is bright sunlight.
As a general rule, a colour screen makes reading the detail of a map much easier and therefore a color handheld GPS unit is superior to black and white.
As a general rule, the more expensive the GPS unit, the larger and clearer the screen will be. Although you can save money if you choose a simple display screen, if you are unable to read the information then the GPS unit is useless to you.
Note that if the GPS unit has a backlight, the life of the battery will be influenced by it so try it with the backlight both on and off.
8.6 – Digital Mapping Or Not
Digital mapping can display contours details on the display screen of your GPS unit. You can obtain a GPS unit that provides either mapping or no mapping. If you choose mapping you can get either complete OS (Ordnance Survey) mapping, or built-in topographical databases and base maps.
Before you purchase a hiking GPS, consider what standard maps are included and how much additional maps cost, if they are available:
- Non-Mapping – You can obtain a non-mapping GPS unit which provides accurate grid references which you can immediately transfer to your paper map.
- Built-In Topographical Mapping – This does not usually provide sufficient detail to navigate accurately in hills and mountains. Basic mapping does not usually display contours details, just your location between roads. More detailed topographical maps can be purchased for some devices, but it’s fairly costly and still does not provide as much detail as OS mapping.
- OS Mapping – Before you purchase a GPS unit with OS mapping consider whether or not you need this feature as it is more costly. Even though OS mapping is advantageous when undertaking complicated low level hiking, this advantage is not as important on simple trails or big mountain trails where landscape features are prominent. As well as expensive, OS mapping can be difficult to see on small screens. It also uses up more battery power and thus reduces battery life.
8.7 – Planning With Digital Mapping Software
There are various features with digital mapping software to facilitate the planning and recording of your routes and this will differ from device to device.
A good hiking GPS unit should be capable of storing at least 20 routes and have the ability to store at least 500 waypoints.
The main planning features are:
- View Maps And Download Planned Routes – Viewing OS maps on your computer to plan hiking routes and download them from your computer to your hiking GPS unit, in order to make planning your hikes easier.
- Upload Actual Routes – Recording and uploading tracklogs of where you have actually hiked, from your hiking GPS unit to your computer, in order to make the storage, edit and review of your hikes easier.
- Other Features – Some devices may have additional advantageous features such as:
- Gradient profiles
- Estimate hike time
- Print maps
- Print route cards
- 3D or Aerial views
- 3D Virtual Fly-through of routes
- Search through OS by feature or place name
8.8 – Memory Capacity
Many GPS units have a memory card slot for storing extra mapping data. Should the GPS unit not have a memory card slot, consider whether or not it has sufficient built-in memory capacity to store waypoint data for more than just one hiking trip at any one time.
Built-in memory capacity is especially useful for hiking holidays or multi-day trekking? 20 MB of memory is sufficient for a GPS unit with mapping, even though you could get away with only 2 MB if you only use local topo maps on your hikes.
8.9 – Additional Instrumentation
The two most common additional items of instrumentation you will find on a hiking GPS unit are a compass and an altimeter:
8.9.1 – Compass
There are generally two types of compass: a standard GPS unit compass and an electronic GPS unit compass.
Many hikers carry a separate magnetic compass, which does not require batteries, and do not feel that they are directionally challenged as a consequence. Therefore ask yourself the question of whether or not you actually need a compass with your GPS unit.
Consider the differences:
- Standard GPS Unit Compass – GPS unit compasses are able to record the co-ordinates of where you have been hiking, and can monitor the co-ordinates you hike towards. As the co-ordinates change during hiking, the GPS unit performs calculations to give your direction of travel. Thus you can only obtain a direction if you have a GPS Fix and are already hiking.
- Electronic GPS Unit Compass – Electronic compasses function in a similar manner to a magnetic compass with the exception that some enable you to select the setting for the north reference as well. Most electronic compasses need to be held still and horizontal and pointed in the direction of travel. However, be aware that an electronic compass will consume battery power and reduce battery life. Some GPS units allow you to switch off the compass to conserve power. Without an electronic compass your GPS unit cannot tell you the direction in which you are hiking until you have begun hiking for a short distance.
8.9.2 – Altimeter
There are generally three types of altimeter: a standard GPS altimeter, a barometric altimeter and a combined altimeter. Consider the differences:
- GPS Altimeter – A GPS altimeter is usually based on satellite data received and can be a little inaccurate, up to 50 to 100 feet out.
- Barometric Altimeter – Barometric altimeters provide more accurate altitude readings than GPS altimeters. A barometric altimeter is simply a barometer which provides your altitude when hiking and also gives changes in pressure when you ascend and descend. In addition, barometric altimeters can be used to forecast changes in the weather conditions. For example, a falling barometer reading implies weather conditions are getting worse.
- Combined Altimeter – A combined altimeter, as the name suggests is a combined use of both a GPS altimeter and a barometric altimeter. The idea here is that the barometric and GPS data work together to give more accurate readings. For example, a precise position is given initially using GPS satellite data in order to assist with the auto-calibration of the barometric altimeter. Next the barometric altimeter gives more stable changes in elevation. In addition, a barometric altimeter provides elevation readings when there is no GPS signal available.
8.10 – Computer And Software Compatibility
If you intend to plan your hikes on your computer, ensure that your GPS unit, computer and digital mapping software you intend to use, are all compatible with each other.
The ability to upload and download waypoints using software such as Memory-Map, Anquet, Magellan Topo or Garmin Topo is essential for the regular hiker, as the task of manually entering waypoints is slow.
8.11 – Map And Software Updates
The ability to update your GPS unit software and maps, easily at reasonable cost, is another factor to consider during the selection process. A GPS attached to a PDA or mobile phone and dedicated handheld GPS unit is usually updated via computer. Updating maps for a dedicated hiking GPS unit is not as important as it is for a PND where the road networks are always changing.
Some software vendors provide map preparation solutions so that you can upload your own maps into your GPS unit. Many are based on Garmin’s Mapsource system which enables you to define your own maps, so that you get more use out of your GPS unit.
9 – Tips On How To Select A GPS Unit
It’s not easy to choose between all the different hiking GPS makes and models on the market. To aid you in your choice, consider the following factors:
9.1 – Navigation Skills
How do you intend to use a GPS unit during hiking?
- Occasional Use – If you only need to use it occasionally, to confirm your normal paper map and compass work or in an emergency situation then any GPS unit is suitable. You will be able to get a grid reference from any GPS unit. Then if you are competent at transferring that grid reference to your map you can find your location and continue with your manual navigation.
- Regular Use – On the other hand, should you want to use a GPS unit as a major aid during hiking, you will most likely need to undertake GPS navigation using a unit with some form of digital mapping.
9.2 – Organisation Skills
How organised are you before commencing for hiking trip?
- Well Organised – A hiking GPS unit that needs charging up could be used if you are organised enough to charge it up before you go hiking. However, hiking GPS units that require charging normally have the shortest battery life. PDA’s mobile phones and SatNavs fall into this category and are therefore more likely to run out of power on longer hikes. One solution is to carry a backup battery device such as a Power Traveller/Power Monkey. Take a look at PowerTraveller on Amazon.co.uk or PowerTraveller on Amazon.com. However, recharging a device during a hike, especially in wet or windy conditions can lead to problems.
- Not So Organised – If you are less organised then a hiking GPS unit that takes standard batteries can be used. Batteries can be easily replaced during your hike if they run out, assuming you have remembered to take spare batteries with you.
9.3 – Hiking Region
All GPS units will pick up your location anywhere in the world. As long as your GPS unit is correctly setup it should convert your location into the correct grid format of the local map and country where you are hiking. Consider the following though:
- No Region Mapping Acquired – Should your hiking GPS unit have the ability to show digital mapping but you have not acquired the digital mapping for the current region you are in, then all you will to able to see is your location on a blank screen.
- Region Mapping Availability – If you want mapping then make sure that the hiking GPS unit you are considering has mapping available for the region in which you want to hike (e.g. Europe, USA, both, other).
9.4 – Hiking Environment
Consider what kind of weather conditions and environments in which you will operate the hiking GPS unit, how robust a design you need and how easy it will be to operate and view the screen:
9.4.1 – Operation
The hiking GPS unit you are considering may not be suitable for cold, wet or windy weather conditions if it has:
- Small Buttons – Pressing small buttons on handheld GPS units whilst wearing thick gloves can be quite difficult.
- Touch Screen – This will require you to use either a stylus, which can be difficult, or your bare fingers.
- Battery Change – How easy is it to change the batteries? Using long life batteries avoids the need to carry too many batteries or change the batteries when out hiking. However it is always advisable to carry at least one replacement set of batteries.
9.4.2 – Screen Readability
Viewing fine detail such as contours on a screen will depend on the size of the screen and your ability to read it. A black and white screen is fine for hiking and colour screens are often difficult to see in direct sunlight. However, some screens such as those with “Trans-reflective Colour” are more advanced and can be easily read in bright sunlight.
9.4.3 – Waterproof
Do you need your GPS device to be waterproof?
IEC 529 European (ECC) Water Protection Specifications are used to rate the degree of water resistance of GPS devices.
The GPS device is tested and given an IPX number.
IPX8 is the highest rating with IPX7 and IPX8 being classified as submersible, and therefore waterproof.
However, for most hiking situations, an IPX7 rating is sufficient.
Pop the GPS device into a waterproof ziploc bag when not in use to improve waterproofing.
9.4.4 – Robustness
How rugged or shock-proof do you need your GPS device design to be? Well, I think we all want them to withstand the potential knocks they may receive during hiking. However, there does not seem to be a standard measure or rating for the robustness or ruggedness of GPS devices. You can read the specification and reviews on GPS devices but at the end of the day this will be up to your own judgement.
9.5 – Other Features
Features needed on hiking GPS units can be considered a personal preference.
Here are a few more things worth considering:
- Size – Go for a compact and light unit for ease of carrying.
- Bearing – A feature which provides a bearing to your next waypoint is great for hiking.
9.6 – Your Budget
An entry level handheld GPS unit with a black and white screen and no mapping facilities could cost as little as £70. On the other hand, a high end handheld GPS unit with OS mapping will cost several hundred pounds.
How much you are prepared to pay may well depend on how much you intend to use it. You may opt for a multifunctional device which can be used both in the car and for outdoor hiking.
Should cost be your deciding factor, purchase the most expensive handheld navigation GPS unit you can afford that meets your hiking needs.
9.7 – Do Some Research
There are a number of activities you could undertake to help you make a decision on which device is the best GPS unit for hiking for you:
- Shops – Go to your local retailer or visit internet retailers to take a look at the variety of options available.
- Friends – Find out if any of your friends have a GPS unit already and ask if you can borrow it to help assess your own hiking needs.
- Internet – Seek information and advice via GPS unit reviews and descriptions on the internet using websites like amazon.co.uk or amazon.com. Take a look at hiking GPS at Amazon.co.uk or hiking GPS at Amazon.com. Even if each GPS unit review is short, if there are lots of reviews then it can be an honest assessment as to which is the best hiking GPS unit for you. Another great way to compare hiking GPS units is to search under the terms “hiking GPS reviews”, “hiking GPS reviews”, “handheld GPS reviews”, “portable GPS reviews”, “best handheld GPS” or “GPS reviews”. You could even try the term “Garmin GPS reviews”.
10 – Purchasing Strategies
Firstly, take into account your immediate hiking needs together with what you may need in the next few years.
It may be very tempting to buy a cheap entry level hiking GPS unit but ensure you don’t waste your money on one that is without the features you will need, such as mapping, expandable memory or a built-in compass.
Avoid purchasing top of range hiking GPS units unless you are sure you will make full use of all the extra features. Top of the range handheld GPS systems for hiking are expensive and technology is always moving on at a rapid pace. Hiking GPS units may be very different in a few years time.
The purchasing strategy you undertake may depend on whether you already have a GPS unit, GPS software or neither:
- No Existing GPS Unit or Software – If you don’t have a GPS unit or GPS software then you can decide whether the features of the GPS software or the GPS unit are more important to you and buy that first. If the GPS software features are more important to you then use that software to determine which compatible GPS unit to buy. Likewise, if the GPS unit features are more important to you then use that GPS unit to determine which compatible GPS software to buy.
- Already Have GPS Software – If you already have GPS software, to minimise costs, you could find out which GPS units are compatible with it and buy a device with the features you want.
- Already Have A GPS Unit – If you already have a GPS unit, to minimise costs, you could find out which GPS software is compatible with it and buy software with the features you want.
11 – Brands Of GPS Unit For Hiking & Walking
Some of the best hiking GPS device brands are Garmin GPS, Magellan GPS, Satmap GPS, Bushnell GPS, Lowrance GPS and DeLorme GPS.
Each of these brands offers various handheld GPS units suitable for hiking.
Garmin offers the widest range of GPS units and the Garmin hiking GPS range is quite large.
Take a look at our list of handheld GPS brands in our post entitled Best Handheld GPS Brands.
12 – Summary On Hiking GPS and Walking GPS
Using a hiking GPS unit can provide you with a greater feeling of safety and security during your hiking trips, especially in an emergency situation. It can also enable you to get greater enjoyment from hiking. And provide you with a method of recording your adventures.
Once you’ve decided to acquire a hiking GPS, take a brief look at your local shop or internet retailer to see the various options available to you.
See if your friends already have a GPS unit that you can borrow to get a feeling for how they work and what your hiking needs might be. You could also seek information from product descriptions and reviews on the internet.
Firstly, decide if you want an entry level hiking GPS unit that gives just your location position via map grid references or whether you want a hiking GPS unit that provides mapping information.
Although cheaper with a longer battery life, the entry level device requires the use of a paper maps and a compass. They also have a limited capacity for storing waypoints and routes.
If you decide to go for mapping handheld GPS units, you then have to decide on which features you want: a gray-scale or colour screen; a built-in electronic compass; a barometric altimeter; expandable memory slots for extra maps, waypoints or routes; etc.
You may also want a recent development which is to include a two-way radio.
Although the hiking GPS unit is a fantastic development, if you choose not to use one and take advantage of its benefits, you can still continue to enjoy wonderful landscapes using your knowledge of how to use a traditional paper map and compass for your route finding navigation.
13 – Related Resources From HES
If you need further information about handheld GPS for hiking checkout the list of articles below:
- GPS TIPS – Which Handheld GPS for Hiking and Walking – Best Tips and Tricks – this post provides a categorized list of tips and tricks regarding handheld GPS for hiking and a downloadable PDF for you to take away.
- OFFLINE GPS CHECKLIST – Buy GPS Checklist, Compare Handheld GPS For Hiking Or Walking – this post provide a list of features to consider when selecting a handheld GPS for hiking and an offline PDF checklist for you to take away to assist you when shopping offline.