How to Compare Hiking GPS Systems

How to Compare Hiking GPS Systems
Getting lost out in the wilderness can turn your fun hiking adventure into a potentially dangerous ordeal. With a global positioning system (GPS) you don't need to worry about forgetting where the trail is or how to get back home. GPS units come in a huge range of varieties, and each one has different features that may or may not be useful to you. The specific GPS unit that you need will depend on where you are hiking and how long your journey will be.


Difficulty: Moderate

Step 1
Consider where you will be hiking and what sort of terrain you will be covering. Choose a waterproof GPS unit like the "Garmin ETrex Vista HCX" if you plan to be near a river or lake.
Step 2
Decide if you need a visual map that shows the terrain and lists monuments and trails. Go with a cheaper unit such as the "Garmin ETrex H" that only displays latitude, longitude and the direction you are facing if you don't need a visual map.
Step 3
Check the overall battery life of the unit and the type of battery that it uses. Use a GPS such as the "Lowrance Endura Sierra" if you want a device that uses normal AA batteries that can be replaced easily.
Step 4
Decide how you want to upload map information to your GPS unit. Choose a unit such as the "Garmin Oregon 200" if you want to transfer new maps to an SD card from your computer's card reader. Pick a more advanced model such as the "Garmin Oregon 300" if you want to wirelessly transfer map information from your computer or another GPS unit.
Step 5
Make sure the GPS unit lets you input your own waypoints and check to see how many waypoints it can store. Choose a unit such as the "Cobra GPS100," which can store up to 500 waypoints, if you will be making frequent changes in course.
Step 6
Take into account any extra features you'd like to be able to use directly from your GPS unit instead of having to carry multiple devices. Choose a GPS such as the "Magellan Triton 1500" if you would like to have the features of an MP3 player and voice recorder included with your GPS unit.

Tips & Warnings

Different models of GPS units have different amounts of storage space. You may want to pick a model that has a larger storage space if you will be hiking in many different areas so that you can always have a map for each location.
Always carry a backup map and compass when hiking long distances in case your batteries die or the GPS unit is damaged.


Article Written By Ty Arthur

Ty Arthur has been writing technical and entertainment-related articles for a variety of online sources since 2008. His articles have appeared on and many other websites. Arthur attended the Great Falls College of Technology and studied both computer science and creative writing.

Keep Me Informed

Weekly newsletters, announcements and offers from to your inbox.

Sign me up!

We HATE spam and promise to keep your email addresses safe and secure.