Hiking is not an easy trip to plan. In fact, you would have to make a lot of preparations before heading for such kind of trip. Aside from just making sure that you have packed all of the essentials, you also have to ensure that the backpack that you are taking can be found if it gets lost somehow.
Alongside that, you might want to keep track of all of the hiking buddies that are tagging along. And you should get the best GPS tracker for hiking no matter what or whom you are trying to track.
These devices are not like the regular trackers that are out there. They are capable of withstanding harsh environments and can offer you location information in places where the network coverage is generally low.
7 Best GPS Tracker for Hiking Review
As we have mentioned above, the ones that you would want to get for hiking trips are different. And if you end up getting the regular ones, it would be challenging to get the location information of something or someone.
To ensure that does not happen, we have compiled a list of the devices that we believe are ideal for these trips. The list goes something like this:
1. Garmin GPSMAP 64st
The sun on the hiking trail can be extremely harsh. And most of the screens suffer from visibility under direct sunlight. But that is not really the case for this device that is being offered by Garmin.
So, what made it the best hiking gps tracker for backpackers?
To start with, it features a 2.6 inches TFT screen. The display utilizes a unique technology, which makes it highly readable under sunlight. So, even if the sun is scorching, you will not have any trouble reading the texts and the garmin gpsmap on the screen. Also, it is 160×240 in resolution.
Aside from the screen, the unit has internal memory. It is 8 GB in size and will enable you to save maps without any issues. Also, it can transfer the maps and the collected data using the USB port that it has on the bottom. The USB transfers data at high speed as well.
Other than that, you will have the ability to upload the data directly to the cloud. After that, those can be viewed on the smartphone. And it sends live signals as well. You can track it using the smartphone that has Garmin connect.
Alongside that, it has a dual battery system. You can either opt for the traditional AA batteries or choose the rechargeable NiMH battery. Also, the housing is reasonably sturdy too. It has an IPX7 rating, making sure that no moisture or water gets inside the internals.
It is compatible with ANT+ sensors. You should be able to connect a temperature sensor, heart rate sensor, speed, and cadence sensor with it. It can send smart notifications for the data that it will receive from the sensors that it is paired with.
- Packs a sunlight-readable display
- Display is 160×240 in resolution
- High-end GPS GLONASS receiving capacity
- Boasts an 8GB internal storage
- Housing has an IPX7 rating
- Compatible with ANT+ sensors
- Included maps are not enough for trail routing
- Battery life 16 hours is lower than this quality item
2. Garmin inReach Explorer+
Navigation features are something that most of these devices are going to offer. However, if you want something that can send text messages from anywhere, you should have a look at what Garmin inreach explorer is offering here. This is a handheld GPS device that comes with packs of features.
First of all, the device has a built-in chip that can receive Iridium satellite systems coverage from anywhere in the world. So, even if you manage to get lost in a place where there are no cellular connections, it can send rescue texts to anyone who is capable of helping you find your way back to the trail.
Aside from the chip that it packs, there is an interactive SOS feature. It is trigger-activated, and it offers 24/7 access to the rescue monitoring center using that. For that reason, there would be no need to worry about being lost for a long amount of time, even if the territory is unknown to you and your friends.
Alongside all of the rescue mechanisms, what made it the best handheld GPS device is the sturdy housing. The housing has an IPX7 rating. That means it would be able to resist water and moisture exceptionally well. Also, it does a great job in resisting dust from the internals.
Other than the IP rating, you can pair this Garmin inreach explorer GPS unit up with mobile devices. After pairing it up, it will offer access to different downloadable Garmin gpsmaps. You can load the device up with them. It should also offer access to the Earthmate app, making routing a bit easier.
Besides that, it has a digital electronic compass. With that, it will be easier to find your way back to the trail if you get lost.
- Offers 100 percent Iridium satellite coverage
- Features an interactive SOS trigger
- Housing has an IPX7 waterproof rating
- Comes with an electronic compass and barometric altimeter
- Can be paired up with mobile devices
- The UI is not user-friendly
- Some of the preloaded maps do not have that many details
3. Garmin eTrex 30x
The manufacturer Garmin has a lot of devices to offer to hikers that are highly reliable. And this one that we are going to take a look at is not an exception in that regard.
Unlike some of the other devices that are available in the market, this one has a beautiful screen on the front. The screen has a 65k color rating, and it is highly readable under direct sunlight. You will not face any problem while trying to read this under the sun. And the resolution is 240×320 pixels.
Aside from the screen that it has on the front, it also has a decent chunk of internal storage. The 3.7 GB of internal space can store different maps. Also, you will have the option to attach an SD card to it. After doing that, you are going to have more storage space to work with.
Alongside that, it comes with BASEMAP preloaded. It includes all of the regions of the world, and each of the small portions has shaded relief. So, it will be pretty easy for you to view and locate different parts on it.
Other than that, the Garmin etrex handheld GPS navigator unit has different built-in sensors. You will find a 3 axis tilting compass, which is combined with the barometric altimeter and GLONASS satellites. Both of them would be able to offer location information faster. The location that it shows will be exceptionally precise as well.
Besides that, there is a wireless chip. It will let you pair it up with different mobile devices. Sending different data is pretty easy for that one. With just one click, it can send data to other Garmin devices.
- Features a beautiful display on the front
- The handheld GPS device has a decent battery life
- The GPS units are water-resistant
- The display is highly readable under sunlight
- This Garmin etrex come with preloads basemap
- Boasts internal storage of 3.7 GB
- Features different sensors
- UI is a bit clunky
- Some of the SD cards are not supported
4. Garmin Oregon 600t
When you are shopping for these handheld GPS devices, you might want to get something that has topographic maps. Well, in that case, you should have a look at what is being offered by Garmin here.
First of all, there are a couple of different versions available. Depending on how much storage space is needed, you can opt for the 1.5 GB, 3.5 GB, 4 GB, or the 300 MB version. However, there is no external storage support. So, you would be stuck with what it comes with.
No matter which option you pick, you will end up with something that will have a beautiful display on the front. The touchscreen display is 3 inches in size and highly responsive to touch. You are not going to have any trouble navigating through the different functions in the system that it integrates.
Aside from that, the screen is highly readable under direct sunlight. You will not have any trouble reading the texts and viewing the map, even under direct sunlight. It sports a plethora of sensors as well. The 3 axis electronic compass that it has with the barometric altimeter will send faster location information.
Additionally, the altimeter of these handheld GPS devices is going to make sure that the location information that it sends is accurate. With the birdseye satellite imagery, you can get the most out of it. Also, as it has a Bluetooth chip, it can connect with different devices. The ANT support will enable the device to connect different sensors with it too. You can connect a heart rate sensor, temperature sensor, and other sensors.
Other than that, the dual battery system that it has will enable it to work with regular AA batteries. It would also work with rechargeable NiMH batteries.
- Different storage versions available with these handheld GPS devices
- Comes with a 3 inches screen on the front
- Comes with 3-axis electric compass
- The display is highly responsive to touch
- Comes with Trailhead Series TOPO maps
- Supports Bluetooth
- Can connect to different ANT sensors
- Does not have external card support
- Rechargeable battery consist of life 18 hours is on the lower side
- The geocaching system is not that polished
5. Suunto Traverse
You might not want to carry a handheld device while being on a hiking trip. Instead, you might want to get something that is wearable. In that case, you need to check out what Suunto is offering here.
To begin with, it is available in three different colors. Depending on the outlooks that you are shooting for, you can choose the black, white, or black/red version. All of them look modern and should look relatively sleek on hands. The weight of the device is reasonably low too.
Aside from that, this Suunto GPS integrates a barometer sensor. That sensor is highly capable of predicting weather changes. For that reason, you will not have to be in uncertain about the condition of the weather with this excellent GPS watch. Also, it will sound an alarm when there is a sudden dramatic change in the weather.
Alongside that, the GPS and GLONASS chips that it packs will offer precise location information. It can even process the movements exceptionally fast. Navigating through different unknown tracks will be an easy task because of those chips.
It also has a user-friendly UI. Because of how simplified the UI is, navigating through the different functionalities it has to offer will be a breeze. It even shows all of the information in bold texts, which will make it easier to view them. There is a smart notification system that will keep you up to date.
Other than that, the battery that it packs has a large capacity. And as the display and the chips inside are quite efficient, worrying about poor battery life is something that you would not have to do.
- This hiking GPS comes in three different colors
- Integrates a user-friendly UI
- Packs a barometric sensor
- Battery life is excellent with up to 100 hours
- Battery lasts for a long amount of time
- Lightweight backpacking GPS devices for hiking
- Some of the apps are fairly outdated
- The temperature sensor is not that precise with these GPS devices
6. HogoR Spot Gen4
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The time spent on the hiking trail is something that can not be said accurately. And the devices that you will carry might not run for the amount of time that you are going to be on the trail. But if you get this one, you will not have to worry about battery life that much.
Unlike some of the devices that are out there, this one bundles with a power bank. The power bank has a large capacity. It even has a dual USB port that will let you charge two devices simultaneously. And it has the ability to fast charge as well. So, the amount of time that you would have to wait would be pretty minimal.
Aside from the power bank that it bundles along, the device you are going to get is baked with features. It is capable of sending a pre-programmed text message to the numbers or networks that you will select. It can store up to 10 contacts at a time. And once the button is pressed, it can send and receive messages with your location.
Other than the pre-programmed 2-way satellite messaging system, the SPOT account will store all of the waypoints you will travel to. You should be able to access them later in your account. Also, you can send the waypoints to your friends and family.
Besides that, there are various tracking systems. You can choose the way you want to track your movements. Also, it has an option that will allow you to choose the motion-sensing tracking even when the other settings are off. For that reason, you will not have to worry about being lost in the hiking tracks.
- Bundles with a power bank
- Can be programmed to send text messages
- Capable of saving 10 emergency contacts
- Boasts different racking mechanisms
- Saves the waypoint in the SPOT account
- The housing of the device is not that durable
- A bit heavy in weight
7. RADACAT GPS Tracker Two-Way
Though there are plenty of tracking devices out there, most of the systems are going to require a subscription fee. However, this one will not require any of that. That is why we think you should consider this one.
First of all, you will receive two of the tags in the package. As these are going to utilize a proprietary networking system, it does not require any sim card. And you will not even have to spend any monthly fee for the networking system as well. It will be a one-time purchase.
Aside from the networking mechanism, it utilizes a real-time tracking system. For that reason, the location information that it sends will be exceptionally precise. Also, there is going to be a minimal amount of delay on the updates. Each of the movements will show up almost instantaneously.
There is an off-grid messaging mechanism. It can send texts to your mates without any data charges. You can even communicate with them using the shake-to-talk feature that it boasts. It also has an SOS button, which will send an emergency signal to your hiking and backpacking buddies when you are in a tricky situation.
Alongside that, the messaging app that it bundles with is compatible with a wide variety of devices. You can pair the tags with most of the Android and iOS mobile phones. Also, the app has an anti-lost feature. That feature will enable you to find the tags if you somehow lose them while being on the trip.
Other than that, each of the devices has a reasonably large battery, which will last for up to 36 hours. So, you should not worry about the battery life that much.
- Utilizes a proprietary networking system
- Does not require a sim and subscription fee
- Allows sending off-grid messages
- The app is compatible with most devices
- Lasts for up to 36 hours with a single charge
- Housing does not have any IP rating
- Some of the functions on the app is a bit buggy
What to Look for Before Buying?
There are a couple of things that you will have to consider before making a purchase decision. By keeping these points in mind, the possibility getting something that is worth it would be high. And you will not end up with something mediocre. That being said, the factors are as follows:
First and foremost, you need to consider the overall build quality of the tags. As the hiking trail’s terrains are generally rough, you would want something that has a proper build quality. The higher the quality of the materials, the better the build quality is going to be.
And, the ones that have a good build quality will have a higher durability level. The higher the durability level, the better they will be able to withstand harsh environments. And you will eventually get extended use out of it. For that reason, you need to opt for the ones with good build quality.
Hiking trails are quite unpredictable. There is a high chance that you might have to pass through a water body when treading on them. And in those scenarios, if you have a device that cannot resist water, the chances of it frying up and getting damaged would be reasonably high.
For that reason, you should opt for the ones that have proper sealing on the housing. And the seal can be scrutinized using the IP rating. The higher the IP rating, the better the seal. And with a better seal, the device should be able to resist water and dust reasonably well.
One of the factors that most of the manufacturer is going to skimp on is the battery. Most of them will pack their offerings with a small-sized battery. And you will never know how long you will be on a hiking trail. Considering that, you would want to get something that has good battery life.
So, you should really stay clear from the ones that pack a small battery. Instead of that, you need to shoot for the ones that have a large capacity battery. Those should be able to operate for the entire time that you are on the hiking trail.
The accuracy of the location information is something that will differ from one device to another. It is going to depend on the network mechanism highly. If you want something that will send precise location information, you need to shoot for the ones that use a real-time networking system.
On the other hand, you would want to check whether the network chip is efficient or not. If you happen to get one that has an inefficient chip, you will find it suffering from signal loss. Also, it will not be able to connect to the network if you are in an area that has poor network coverage.
Some of these devices will sport a screen on the front. And you will have to rely on that to get all of the information and get access to the different features it has to offer. For that reason, you should consider whether the screen is large enough or not. Also, make sure that it is readable under bright sunlight.
Frequently Asked Questions
Q: Can I use any trackers for hiking?
Ans: It will depend on the device that you have. If the device has durable housing, it should be perfect for hiking. However, make sure it has the functionalities that you require.
Q: Is it possible to replace the battery of a tracker?
Ans: Yes, for most of the models, you should be able to replace the battery. However, if the one you have does not have any replaceable battery available in the market, you would not be able to replace it.
Q: Are all of the GPS locators waterproof?
Ans: Not really. Most of the devices will not have the proper seal that will allow them to resist water. If you want something waterproof, you must get the ones that have a high IP rating.
Q: Does Garmin offer good GPS trackers?
Ans: Almost all of the trackers that are being offered by Garmin are highly reliable. They are packed with features as well. Considering that, we would recommend you to check their offerings out before settling for other brands.
Q: What should I do to get a prolonged runtime from my tracker?
Ans: The easy process to elongate the runtime would be to attach it with a power bank. Many of the brands are going to even bundle their unit with one. Those can let you get a considerable amount of runtime out of your device.
To be fully prepared for the backpacking and hiking trip that you are going to make, you should get yourself one of the well-performing trackers. And no matter which one you pick from our recommendation list, we are going to assure you that what you will end up with will be the best GPS tracker for hiking.