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Best Hiking GPS

Best Hiking GPS

A handheld GPS used for hiking has to meet a range of criteria before you can be sure that it will safely guide you through uncharted terrain.

This page will help you determine what you need to look for and how to choose the best GPS watch for hiking.

Something to Keep In Mind

The Hiking GPS market is dominated by one major name: Garmin. Why? Because their handheld GPS devices are simply incomparable to other brands that try to stand up to them, and here’s why: mapping is outstanding, software features are very advanced, and they also have units that cater to every budget. What more could one want?

With that being said, it’s time that we showed you what your options are. We’ve rounded up 8 of the best hiking GPS’s out there, with the aim of helping you choose a model that’ll suit your budget and needs.

7 Best Hiking GPS’s

Garmin GPSMAP 64s

Weight - 8.1 ounces

Screen - 2.6 inch color

Runtime - 16 hours

Internal Memory - 4GB

Garmin GPSMAP 64s

The Pros:

  • Very durable
  • Accurate mapping and navigation
  • Long battery runtime

The Cons:

  • The buttons are a pain in the behind
  • The antenna is a little too bulky

The Garmin GPSMAPS 64s has a great price, offers superb accuracy and operates with software that won’t drive you insane with bugs. The device has the ability to pair with your mobile devices, which is great if you want to keep up to date with notifications. It also sports an electronic compass and barometric altimeter. It ticks all the boxes such as GLONASS and GPS mapping, but it’s a little bulky and heavy, which might disqualify it for a lot of folks.

Garmin Oregon 600

Weight - 7.04 ounces

Screen - 3.0 inch color

Runtime - 16 hours

Internal Memory - 1.7GB

Garmin Oregon 600

The Pros:

  • Boasts a lot of cool, useful features
  • Has a high quality touch screen
  • Less bulky and lighter than the GPSMAPS 64s

The Cons:

  • More expensive
  • The touch screen is hard to use when you’re moving around

Coming in with a price tag that’s slightly higher than the GPSMAPS 64s, the Garmin Oregon 600 is essentially Garmin’s take of a smart-phone-like GPS device, and it’s pretty close to being totally awesome. Its sized right, and its controls (as well as the software) are user-friendly. Sure you don’t get oodles of internal memory, but there’s always the microSD slot which can help you out a little. For the balance of usability and technology it comes with, we reckon that the Oregon 600 is one of the best touchscreen hiking GPS devices out there.

Garmin eTrex 20x

Weight - 5.0 ounces

Screen - 2.2 inch color

Runtime - 25 hours

Internal Memory - 3.7GB

Garmin eTrex 20x

The Pros:

  • Great, budget friendly price
  • Offers a long battery life
  • Sports a few very useful features

The Cons:

  • It doesn’t have a barometric altimeter or an electronic compass

If you’re looking for something a little cheaper than our two top picks, the eTrex 20 is a good option that still offers great features and usability. The eTrex is simple in design and has only essential features, which keeps it user-friendly, and as such, is a preferred option for folks that don’t want overcomplicated devices. It’s not a touch screen and it might lack with features such as an altimeter, but on the other hand, you get a whopping 3.7GB of internal memory and an impressive 25 hours of battery life. It’s also durable and water-resistant, not to mention accurate.

Garmin Montana 610

Weight - 10.2 ounces

Screen - 4 inch color

Runtime - 16 hours

Internal Memory - 4GB

Garmin Montana 610

The Pros:

  • Very easy to use
  • Has a large color screen
  • Comes with 4GB internal memory

The Cons:

  • Expensive
  • The touch screen is crappy
  • It’s a little too bulky

Hunters and outdoorsmen tend to love the Montana 610. This is mostly due to the fact that it boasts a large touch screen and has been designed to withstand the wear and tear of the outdoor environment. We don’t think it’s a GPS device that’s going to work extremely well for hikers, because size really does matter, and the Montana 610 doesn’t comply with that factor. If you can get over the fact that the touchscreen in subpar however, this might be your thing.

Garmin eTrex Touch 35

Weight - 5.6 ounces

Screen - 2.6 inch color

Runtime - 16 hours

Internal Memory - 4GB

Garmin etrex Touch 35

The Pros:

  • Has a great quality touch screen
  • It’s priced decently
  • It offers enough internal storage

The Cons:

  • It has a few software issues

The eTrex 35 Touch is an improvement from the eTrex 20, or at least its Garmin’s attempt at it. As the name states, this device has a touch screen, and a good quality one at that. The screen size is also larger than that of the eTrex 20. It sports all the features you’ll need like a barometric altimeter, an electronic compass, and sharing between Garmin GPS units. The firmware however, is proving to be a real pain in the ass. Dropped waypoints and screens that freeze up are the last you need out in the backcountry. We reckon that without these issues, the eTrex 35 might just become the new leader of the eTrex range from Garmin.

Garmin Monterra

Weight - 11.7 ounces

Screen - 4 inch color

Runtime - 16 hours

Internal Memory - 6GB

Garmin Monterra

The Pros:

  • Has a lot of internal memory
  • Has the ability to merge with Android
  • Can run on lithium-ion or AA batteries

The Cons:

  • It has software snags
  • It’s expensive

Sitting at the top tier of Garmin’s handheld GPS models, the Monterra is also labeled with a top class price tag, which kind of puts it out of range for most hikers. Why is it so great? Well it runs on Google Android operating software, which means that it can do Wi-Fi, it can download apps, and its display can be totally customized. In fact, it actually looks much the same as an Android Smartphone. You’ll love the 1080p video that geotags locations instantly, and the 8MP camera is great. The user experience just doesn’t match up with appearances since there have been a lot of reports of bugs on the firmware.

Magellan eXplorist 310

Weight - 5.2 ounces

Screen - 2.2 inch color

Runtime - 18 hours

Internal Memory - 2GB

megallon explorist 310

The Pros:

  • It’s very affordable
  • Offers geocaching
  • Very functional and accurate

The Cons:

  • The design is outdated
  • The technology isn’t updated when compared to Garmin models

As our only GPS unit pick that doesn’t bear the Garmin name, the Magellan eXplorist 310 is proof that other brands might catch up with Garmin’s tech one day, but perhaps it is not this day. The eXplorist is an entry-level hiking GPS, and as such, it does pretty much what you want and need a hiking GPS to do, without the frills and complications. It is geocache-ready and sports a few nifty graphic features on its base map. The color screen is easy to read, even in direct sunlight, and the device is also easy to use. We’ll admit that navigating between menus can be a pain at times, and sure, the maps might not be as up to date as they need to be, but for its price, this GPS is a great value buy.

And there you have it: 7 of the best hiking GPS units that the market currently has on offer. We hope that you’ve found this post useful and that you are now equipped with the knowledge you’ll need to make an informed choice and invest in the best hiking GPS for your specific use.

Have any other recommendations? Feel free to let us know what experiences you’ve had and what you’d recommend. We’re always open for suggestions!

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About the author

Joey Shonka

Joey Shonka is a mountaineer and adventurer who has spent more than a decade traveling in Latin America. Throughout his pursuit of isolated peaks, remote beaches and spectacular reefs, he has come to know and love the diverse cultures and kind people of these countries. Shonka is a professional biochemist, a former Division 1 rugby player, one of few individuals to complete the Triple Crown of Trails in North America, and has recently finished a 3-year solo trek across the entire Andes Mountain Range during which time he successfully climbed many of the highest peaks in the Americas. More About Joey

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