Guide Before You Buy GPS For Outdoor Activities
If you love hiking and exploring the nature, you must be familiar with handheld outdoor GPS. Due to the convenience it offers, many outdoors man feel unsafe about going to the wilderness without a dedicated GPS on their hand, accompanying their maps and compasses.
There are so many types of outdoor GPS in the market nowadays. Each and every one of them comes with different price and features. If you want to make sure that the device you choose is suitable for your needs, make sure to take a look at these tips before making a decision.
The Advantages of Outdoor GPS over Phone Apps or Maps.
Nowadays, smartphone comes with a remarkable and accurate GPS. It has similar features and capabilities with dedicated GPS. So, does it mean that using your smartphone is enough and you don’t have to spend money for a handheld GPS?
While smartphone GPS apps and maps are accurate and simple, it is not always the best option for hiking and other nature exploration activities. So, if you often go hiking, it is best to invest in a reliable dedicated GPS. Here are some reasons why handheld GPS are superior compared to smartphone’s GPS.
1. Dedicated GPS is More Durable
Using smartphone GPS is indeed more convenient because you don’t have to bring too many electronic devices to the great outdoors. However, dedicated outdoor GPS is specially designed for demanding outdoor activities. It means, even if the device falls, shaken vigorously or splattered with mud, it will not break easily. This is different with smartphone that is more vulnerable to such things.
2. Long Lasting Battery
Smartphone nowadays have long lasting battery. However, you have to share it with other features which makes the battery usage for navigation use will not be optimal. Besides, GPS and navigation is a processor-incentive activity. If you use this feature for a long time, which you definitely will when you are hiking, the battery will run out faster, not to mention that it will affect your data plan as well. Handheld GPS on the other hand, is specifically designed for navigation purposes so the battery can last for days.
3. Features Specifically Designed for Outdoor Use
Smartphone’s GPS can only show you where you are and the nearest route to your destination. Dedicated outdoor GPS has way more features than that. It comes with barometer, various preloaded maps, topographic maps and advanced geocaching features, which will help you survive in the wilderness.
4. Dedicated GPS Is Not Dependent to Cellular Signal
You will need internet to activate the navigation features of your smartphone. This is certainly not the best device to bring if you go hiking to remote mountains that don’t have stable internet connection and cellular signal.
How to Choose the Best GPS for Outdoor Activities.
Now that you know why you should choose handheld GPS over smartphone’s navigation system, let’s find out some of the things you have to look for when buying an outdoor GPS.
When you are out in the wilderness with only your GPS, map and compass to show you the way, you certainly need a durable GPS device. So, make sure that the device of your choice is made of durable material. Furthermore, don’t just look for something waterproof. The device is not only going to be used under heavy downpour but also scorching hot sun. So, make sure to look for weatherproof product.
2. Accuracy and Basic Features
You have to make sure that the GPS comes with all the necessary basic features. Besides accurate maps, the GPS also must be able to display your current position, tracking feature, point to point navigation and also the trip data. It is the most basic features every outdoor GPS should have. If the product comes with something lesser than this, it is best to look for something else.
3. Touch Screen or Not?
Touch screen also has arrived to the world of outdoor GPS. While this feature is truly more convenient, touch screen is not always suitable for every occasion. If you often go hiking during the winter, touch screen GPS is not the best idea. This is because using touchscreen while using glove can be a hassle. In this case, you might want to consider the good old GPS with buttons.
4. Additional Features
GPS nowadays is more than just a navigating device. There are plenty of advanced features that can make your hiking journey less challenging. Some devices come with geotagging camera while some others can be used as a two-way radio. There is no right and wrong when it comes to choosing additional features for your GPS. Just choose something that you are going to need because the more features the device has, the more expensive the price will be.
The Best Outdoor GPS Brands.
Besides the features above, the brand of the GPS is also one of the most important things to consider when choosing an outdoor GPS. Here are some of the most recommended brands that produce the best handheld outdoor GPS.
Garmin is one of the leaders in GPS industry. This company produces GPS devices for various purposes from sports, marine and even aviation. But its outdoor GPS is still the most popular. Garmin has myriads options of outdoor GPS. So, no matter what type of handheld GPS you want, you can find it from Garmin. Unfortunately, the price of its higher end models, like the Montana and GPSMAP, are expensive and some of its maps require subscription.
Named after one of the most renowned world explorer, Ferdinand Magellan, it is clear that this brand aims to be the best GPS device manufacturers in the world. One of the best outdoor GPS from Magellan is eXplorist 710 that comes with 3.2 MP camera and 3-inch touchscreen.
Bushnell is the most popular for its personal weather station for hikers, WeatherFX and XM Weather. It has been integrated to some of its handheld GPS, for example the Onix 400 Waterproof Hiking GPS. Bushnell’s products are great and come with plenty of advanced features. Unfortunately, the models are still limited so buyers don’t have plenty of choice.
Best Outdoor GPS Garmin.
Garmin is one of the most reputable brands of outdoor GPS. This brand has launched dozens of high quality dedicated GPS that it can be very difficult to choose one. To help you pick the most suitable GPS for your next hiking adventure, here are two of the best outdoor GPS Garmin that you can choose.
– Garmin eTrex 30x
Garmin eTrex has been around for years and the 30x series is the modern rendition of the popular GPS model. eTrex 30x comes with waterproof 2.2 colored display with perfect visibility under bright light. This small and compact GPS has 3.7 GB internal memory and also microSD slot so you can easily load various maps if you don’t really fond of the device’s preloaded maps. This GPS doesn’t load very fast, but with barometric altimeter, HotFix tracker and GLONASS enabled, Garmin eTrex is definitely a very capable GPS.
– Garmin Montana 680 Touchscreen GPS
Montana 680 is a high-end handheld GPS for serious hikers. It comes with 4” display and dual orientation. It is also preloaded with over 250,000 geocaches and comes with 8 MP camera with geotagging features. It has plenty of advanced features like barometric altimeter, data sharing capability and also 3D display for photographic data. Unfortunately, the touchscreen feature is not perfect since it doesn’t support pinching and zooming.
Handheld GPS Reviews.
Since dedicated GPS is more suitable for outdoor activities over smartphone apps or maps, make sure to purchase a reliable handheld GPS if you want to go hiking. We know that Garmin is the most popular choice for outdoor GPS. But if you want to look for some alternatives from the other brands, you can take a look at these following handheld GPS reviews below.
– Magellan eXplorist 310
This Magellan GPS is an excellent and affordable entry level handheld GPS. It has all the basic features of a great outdoor GPS such as creating and retracing routes, marking a route and providing details of your journey. Moreover, it also come with great colored screen which looks very clear in direct light. It can take a while to access the satellite, but it does a great job for simple navigation purposes.
– Bushnell Backtrack G2
This is a lightweight handheld GPS with a unique shape that resembles compass. It can record and mark three different locations and it also can lead you back to those locations. The best thing about this device is it doesn’t rely on cell phone coverage so you can take it practically anywhere. Unfortunately, it needs clear access to sky so it can only be used in outdoor environment.
GPS Tracker for Backpack.
When you go hiking, there is a possibility that you will be separate from your friends. Being alone in the wilderness definitely can be a terrifying experience. To avoid this problem, besides bringing handheld GPS, you also can use GPS tracker for backpack. It is a small device that allows you to track the location and movement of a person or a thing. Simply put the device on the backpack of your hiking mate and you can easily find him when you get lost no matter where you are.
Amcrest AM-GL 3000 is one of the best backpack tracker devices that you can choose. With a size of cigarette lighter, this device will fit perfectly inside a backpack without taking too much space. You can easily set a specific geo-fencing zone and you will be alerted when the tracker moves outside the zone. It also comes with durable weather-proof magnetic casing, which is perfect for hiking journey.
Spytec STI GL300 also can be a perfect choice. This compact device cannot only be used to track person but also fast-moving vehicles since it provides location updates every 5 seconds. It also features an accelerometer which automatically turn off the tracker when there is no motion detected. This way, the battery can last very long and you can rely on it to find you hiking buddies.