There aren’t many things more terrifying than finding yourself lost in the woods with no idea which direction to turn. Thankfully, a good hiking GPS tracker can keep you in the game before you die of exposure or get eaten by Bigfoot. So, the next time you find yourself out on the trail, make sure you have one of the best hiking GPS trackers on hand because they will potentially help save your life.
In the GPS tracking game, Garmin pretty much has absolute rule (2/3 of this list is Garmin) and the eTrex 10 is pretty much their most basic model – and the most affordable. It’s waterproof with a preloaded worldwide basemap and it will almost certainly get the job done for all but the most pinpoint needs.
This is the eTrex 10 on steroids. As you can see, the screen resolution is much more detailed, and it comes pre-loaded with a variety of different maps plus more memory so you can make and save your own. You can even pinpoint your altitude and the barometric pressure with this.
Sometimes, you don’t need all the bells and whistles and just need a basic GPS locator that will get you from point A to point B without falling off a cliff or something. This little guy only stores three locations, but in a pinch that’s all you really need. The size of a pocket-watch, this is unobtrusive, easy to use, and, perhaps most importantly, doesn’t cost nearly as much as its ritzier cousins.
This model is similar to the other eTrex models, with one key difference: it’s a touchscreen. That means that if you’re comfortable using your phone, you’ll probably be more comfortable using this than one with lots of extra buttons. Of course, it’s also loaded with maps, barometer, altimeter, etc.
This is basically an advanced version of the BackTrack discussed earlier. Still simple, without any frills, this one stores up to five locations instead of three and adds altitude and temperature readings for a little more sophisticated GPS experience.
This is listed as “Amazon’s Choice” and with good reason. It has all the features of the Garmin trackers discussed earlier, but it also adds some of its own, like connectivity. Bluetooth enabled, it will allow you to link your GPSMAP to your phone or to any other Garmin product. It also comes pre-loaded with 100,000 maps (you can choose either U.S. maps or Canadian maps depending on where you’ll be) and includes a year’s subscription to BirdsEye Satellite Imagery.
On the completely opposite side of the spectrum, you have this mini GPS tracker, which is so small you can use it for a keyring. You can set up to 16 away points and it will track your location and your altitude for you.
You can wear this GPS tracker as a watch, and while the display may not be as pretty as some of the handheld models, it will still keep track of everything you need it to from location to altitude. It even includes sunrise/sunset times along with fishing and hunting information and is designed so that it will still work well deep in the woods or in a canyon that normally doesn’t get a good wireless signal. All this adds up to one of the highest rated GPS trackers on Amazon.
This bad boy is an even more sophisticated GPS watch, which includes just about all the features of the bigger handheld models including 100,000 preloaded U.S. maps and connectivity to your smartphone or other Garmin devices. It’s basically a smart-map/watch hybrid.
We kick things up a notch, which takes other top-of-the-line Garmin models and integrates them with a sort of smartphone interface so that you can easily keep track of everything you need to on your trip while also sending and receiving text messages. If you have a satellite subscription (sold separately) you can use this to text from the top of Mt. Everest. This is a hardcore piece of equipment for hardcore hikers.
This satellite GPS device is a nice alternative if you don’t want to pay Garmin prices. The only drawback is that you need a satellite subscription sold separately. That’s because this doesn’t require a signal to work. It’s motion-activated and will work anywhere in the world. Think of this like you would your phone: you buy the phone and then you add a plan so that it will, you know, work. It’s the same concept.
This basically gives you everything you would get with the Garmin Inreach only at a much lower cost. Again, you need a satellite subscription, but you can get a basic one for as low as $12/month. You just have to decide if the Garmin promise of quality is worth the extra money or if this still well-regarded alternative is good enough for you and your needs.
This killer device comes pre-loaded with topographic maps for the entire United States and gives you all the top-shelf features of other high-end Garmin brands. But it also adds an 8MP digital camera which allows you to take kick-ass photos while you hike.
This is the king of the GPS tracker world. It’s basically the Oregon 650t only with bigger and badder features. 250,000 preloaded geocaches, including 100,000 U.S. maps, mean you’re set no matter where you find yourself. The 8MP camera lets you take all the pictures you need and the included one-year Birdseye Satellite Imagery subscription takes care of all connectivity for you. This is the total package.
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