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The Best GPSes For Geocaching and Hiking in 2021

November 18, 2019| Gear

Hiking has always been a popular activity, not only for those who live in the city and want some fresh air and a nice view, but also for explorers who just love to discover things. Geocaching is the perfect way to take your hike to the next level.

With literally millions of geocaches hidden around the world, this activity has been gaining popularity for years. What makes geocaching and hiking a challenge, however, is that it can be hard to rely on a map to get around.

Luckily nowadays we have the Best GPS for Geocaching and Hiking navigators to help us out, and below in no particular order are our Best handheld GPS.

Best handheld GPS for Geocaching and Hiking Reviews

Garmin eTrex H Handheld GPS Navigator review

Our first GPS comes in a bright yellow color with a high-contrast 2.1-inch x 1.1-inch screen that provides bright back lighting to ensure that you have no issues reading it no matter what time of day it is. With five buttons located on either side of the device it can be easily used one handed, allowing you to always have one hand free when hiking in precarious terrain.

This GPS stores up to five hundred waypoints for easy retrieval and twenty routes with up to an amazing 125 waypoints per route. This makes it easy to access different waypoints and makes them easy to track by assigning them to a route.

Finally, this device is extremely lightweight and waterproof, meaning it will function perfectly in any weather, all without becoming a burden, something that heavier models suffer from.

The main issue with this GPS is the simplicity of the display. It comes with a compass on screen and will display the coordinates and direction you need to head in, but it does not offer a map view.

Due to this, this model is more suited towards experienced hikers and geocachers as people who are newer to the activity may have trouble getting to where they need to be.

Also, this device does not come with any batteries included, while this is a minor point it is worth mentioning so that you can be prepared by purchasing some AA batteries to go with it.

What we like:

– Lightweight

– Waterproof

– Easy to read screen

– Ability to store large number of routes and waypoints

– Easy to use one handed

What we don’t like:

– Screen only displays simple images like coordinates and compass instead of a map making it more suited to experienced hikers

– No batteries included

Garmin GPSMAP High Sensitivity GPS and GLONASS Receiver review

With a 2.6-inch color display that has a resolution of 160 x 240 pixels, this model will not only display the coordinates and the distance to your destination, but it will also show a color map of the area you are in in addition to the built in 3 axis compass and barometric altimeter.

It has an internal memory capacity of 8GB and is compatible with both high-speed USB and NMEA 0183. This GPS can also be set up to receive smart notifications and can be paired with optional ANT+ sensors such as a heart rate monitor, a temperature sensor, and an accelerometer.

Finally, you can also wirelessly upload data to Garmin Connect which allows you to view it from your smartphone as well as share activities as they happen with Live Track and it can store up to 200 different routes. It is also waterproof up to 1 meter for up to 30 minutes.

The biggest issue we have with this device is the battery life. It uses a standard dual battery system, taking two traditional AA batteries, however, while it promises a batter life of 16 hours, if used regularly it will likely not last this long.

To avoid any issues with this GPS you should simply make sure you carry a few extra sets of fresh batteries when you head out on a hike.

What we like:

– Bright and easily readable color display

– Shows maps

– Includes a compass and altimeter

– Can be paired with a smartphone and other devices

– Stores up to 200 routes

– Waterproof

What we don’t like:

– Battery life is not great and requires you to always carry a few spares to be safe

Garmin eTrex 22x Rugged Handheld GPS Navigator review

Next up is the Garmin eTrex 22x Rugged Handheld GPS Navigator. It uses a 2.2-inch sunlight readable color display with a resolution of 240 x 320 pixels to ensure a high-quality picture that can be seen in any weather conditions.

It comes preloaded with Topo Active maps with routable roads and trails for cycling and hiking and has support for GPS and GLONASS satellite systems which allow for tracking in even the most challenging of environments where GPS alone would not suffice.

also has the standard 8GB of internal memory but also has a micro SD card slot so you can upgrade the memory as much as you like to store more maps.

It comes with five buttons in total spread out over both sides of the device to allow for easy use in one hand and has an improved battery life of up to 25 hours using two standard AA batteries. Finally, it is also water resistant.

Overall this is a great little GPS that has very few issues, the main problem we found is that the preloaded maps take up a large chunk of the 8GB internal memory. This makes it almost a necessity to purchase a micro SD card along with your unit if you want to load your own maps up.

The displays graphics can also seem a little dated, but this is likely intentional to improve the overall battery life, a trade we are happy to make.

What we like:

– Bright and easily readable color display

– Shows maps

– Has the option to add a micro SD card

– Has compass and altimeter

– Water resistant

What we don’t like:

– Preloaded maps take up most of the internal storage making a micro SD card a necessity if you don’t want to delete the preloaded maps

Garmin inReach Explorer+ Handheld Satellite Communicator with TOPO Maps and GPS Navigation review

This model differs from the others included in this article in that it is not only a handheld GPS, but it can also be used to send texts and SOS signals. Using 100% global Iridium satellite coverage, it allows for two-way text messaging from anywhere in the world with the option of triggering an SOS call to the 24/7 search and rescue monitoring center.

It features a 2.3-inch color display that allows you to see maps in better detail, and can even be paired with mobile devices using the free earthmate app that provides access to downloadable maps, U.S. NOAA charts, color aerial imagery and more.

This GPS is also the first on our list to feature a built in, rechargeable, lithium ion battery so you don’t need to buy any batteries separately.

In addition to allowing you share and track your location with family and friends, the Garmin inReach Explorer+ is waterproof up to 1 meter for up to 30 minutes, ensuring that it will work in any conditions.

Finally, this model also comes with a 90-day limited warranty, allowing you to return or have it replaced should you not be satisfied in any way.

The biggest issue with this GPS is with the display. The font size and the size of what is displayed is rather small and cannot be adjusted, this means that anyone with less than perfect eyesight could potentially have trouble reading what is on screen.

It is also important to note that this model does not come with any marine maps preloaded so if you are planning to head out to sea for any amount of time, you will need to connect it to your laptop or your phone and download one yourself.

What we like:

– Two-way texting

– Built in SOS signal

– Color display

– Built-in rechargeable battery

– Can be paired with a smartphone

– Waterproof

– 90-day limited warranty

What we don’t like:

– Font size is rather small and cannot be adjusted

– Does not come with any marine maps preloaded

garmin foretrex 401 waterproof hiking gps review

The last GPS we will be covering is also the smallest, it fits on your wrist just like a watch and features a high-sensitivity GPS receiver that has been provides improved reception and performance in areas with heavy tree coverage or deep canyons.

It takes standard AAA batteries that have to be purchased separately and keeps track of routes, waypoints, and even your heartrate if you purchase the additional heart rate monitor. It has an easy to read LCD display with 5 buttons along the bottom for easy access. It also supports dual position readout so you can view your current location in multiple formats and has audible tones as well as a built-in compass.

Finally, the Garmin Foretrex 401 Waterproof Hiking GPS features a trip computer, sunrise and sunset times, hunting and fishing information, and a barometric altimeter as well as obviously being waterproof.

The biggest issue we have with this particular model is its set up. The set up is rather complicated and the user manual is not that helpful so unless you know what you are doing, it can get very confusing fast.

However, if you find yourself in too much trouble you can simply google your problem and there is plenty of advice on forums that will help you get your GPS set up and working,

What we like:

– Small and very portable

– Option to add a heart rate monitor

– Provides extra information on sunrise, sunset, hunting, and fishing

– Barometric altimeter

-Waterproof

What we don’t like:

– The set up is rather complicated and can be confusing if you are not familiar with GPS devices

best gps for backpacking and hiking & geocaching Buying guide

Battery life

We are talking about the number one thing that’s going to keep you going and have your watch function as you go. All batteries die, but there are some watches that save batteries more than others and that’s kind of gps divices we want you to buy.

Battery life Can Make It or Break It. Imagine your battery died in the middle of nowhere on a hike, and the only thing you’re counting on is your watch.

One of the only ways to keep yourself safe from this is to base your choice on reviews.

Durability

You are performing one of the toughest outdoor activities that might include climbing and digging in the ground. You want all the gear to be durable- your hammock, tent, backpack, shoes…, – especially your watch. Make sure that you go for a rugged GPS watch so you get the tough durability you need.

Waterproof

If the swatch you are trying to buy is not waterproof, just stop this deal right away and listen to this. Waterproof is 50% of your watch especially your hiking watch.

Hiking kinda puts your life on the edge. The only thing you’re counting on is your gear. No one wants to count on stuff that will not function in certain circumstances. Waterproofing is an essential feature in most of your hiking gear- be it a backpack, shoes or a watch- in order to be fully prepared for the hike.

Material

Material is important to know about. I suggest going for Gorilla Glass and rubber because these two are known to be the toughest when it comes to durability and withstanding heavy use.

Price

Pricing is important however should not be the center of the circle here. But you can get good hiking gps divice . Keep in mind that pricing does not always define the quality and performance of GPS divice . Rely on reviews and user experience.

BEST HIKING GPS TYPES

Simple GPS Systems

These GPS systems are, as you would guess, very simple. They typically offer just the bare necessities so they will not have a large display as they do not need to show things like detailed maps. They will always show things like your location, the distance from your destination and will usually include a compass.

Some models, like the ones mentioned previously in this article will provide more information, for example, they may include a barometric altimeter, a heart rate monitor, and extra information regarding the weather, sunset and sunrise times, and even information about local hunting and fishing.

Because of the fact that they are generally lower tech devices, they typically cost quite a bit less than models with large color displays.

They are great for experienced hikers and can provide more of a challenge since you can not default back to using the on-screen map. This does, however, also make them harder to use in general, hence why we recommend them primarily for more experienced hikers and geocachers.

GPS with maps

Alternatively, we have GPS systems that feature color displays allowing them to show detailed maps of the terrain you are traversing. These maps make geocaching and hiking in general far easier and safer as you do not have to simply rely on coordinates and your own experience. These GPS devices will also often have extra features to make them more versatile.

For example, some will come with the added feature of doubling as a satellite phone, allowing you to text or call family and friends and, in an emergency allow you to send out an SOS call for help.

In addition to storing routes and waypoints, you can also upload different maps to these devices including maritime maps that may not otherwise be available.

They also can often be paired with a smartphone to add even more features that their simpler counterparts simply do not offer. Because of the versatility of these systems and how useful and easy they are to use, they are perfectly suited for new and inexperienced hikers, although it is always a good idea to have some kind of emergency life line in case it is needed.

Best Type of GPS Map for Hiking

As we mentioned before, GPS devices with have simple screens that only display the bare minimum amount of information, such as the coordinates and the distance you have left to travel, are best suited for more experienced hikers.

Their lower price can be tempting for anyone new to the sport but it is always better to be safe than to be lost out in the wilderness wishing you had spent a little more money.

With that in mind, in our opinion, the best type of GPS map for hiking would be a device with a color screen to display a detailed map to help you find your way around the area and get home safely.

If you can get a model that also comes with the option to send out an emergency SOS signal, then we highly advise you pay the extra money to get it.

Even the most experienced hikers can have accidents and having a lifeline to fall back on could very well save your life.

Hiking GPS FAQ’s

Do I need a GPS for hiking?

Technically no. You can in theory get away with using old fashioned maps, however, we strongly advise that you use either an app on your smartphone or ideally a dedicated GPS device. Even if you want to challenge yourself and try hiking without one, it is always a good idea to keep one around in case you get lost.

How do you use a handheld GPS for hiking?

The first thing you will need to do is boot up your GPS and make sure that it has the route or map that you want. Most GPS devices will come with maps preloaded, but you will still need to check that it features the one you want. If it does not, you will need to plug it into your computer or pair it with your smartphone in order to upload the map you want.

This will vary depending on the device, so be sure to check the manufacturer’s instructions on how to do so and how to use the device itself.

Can a handheld GPS be used for driving?

Yes, you can absolutely use a handheld GPS for driving and it should function absolutely fine. However, remember that it is dangerous to hold it while driving so you will need to securely attach it to your dashboard before setting off.

Can a handheld GPS be used for hiking and geocaching?

Yes, it handheld GPS devices can absolutely be used for hiking and geocaching, and this is actually the best use for one. As long as you make sure you have the routes and waypoints setup on your GPS, you should have no issues hiking on any terrain.

Conclusion

The journey to your summit is what it is all about – whether it’s a mountain or else. Having the  Best GPS for Geocaching and Hiking and adventure on your wrist makes the experience less daunting and more enjoyable. Isn’t that what we all seek?

Choose a hiking gps that guides you through every step of the way, providing you with all that you need to progress and stay safe on your quest.

In this guide, we selected with care every GPS hiking device that will visually enrich, relive and help you throughout your adventure. we hope that was helpful to make your choice…


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