You have set out for hunting on a bright sunny day and find yourself near your target and have the game in sight. You can feel your nerves exploding with excitement when you are taking the shot, you concentrate, hold your breath and fire. Sometimes it happens that you don’t hit the vital point and the animal runs frantically. You decide to run after it and find it deep in the woods. But suddenly you come to realize that you are far from your tree stand and you don’t know how to get back. You find yourself lost, but this didn’t need to happen if you had a trusted GPS with you.
If this a regular case with you, then it is time you did something to prevent yourself from getting into these awkward situations. You only end up losing your time and energy because of it. So, to ensure that something like this never happens with you again, I have made a list of the best GPS devices for hunting, in my opinion. It will give you peace of mind to chase after the animal without having to worry about getting lost, so you have the freedom to focus on your hunt.
- Garmin GPSMAP 64st, TOPO U.S. 100K with High-Sensitivity GPS and GLONASS Receiver
This GPS from Garmin is the perfect choice for all your hunting needs. It is quite a powerhouse. It does not have a touchscreen, but the accuracy of its maps makes up for it.
Garmin is a quite popular brand which manufactures top quality GPS. Every GPSMAP 64st comes with TOPO US 100k maps with 5000 waypoints. It also has built in worldwide base map, and the GPS and GLONASS systems are extremely accurate because they use high sensitivity technology exclusive to it. The receiver has a quad helix antenna, and it is built to last a lifetime as there is no fancy touch screen which might break.
It comes with a bundle of features including sharing your location and creating custom trails, but the coolest feature of this GPS device is that it connects with iPhones so that you can receive all your texts and emails on it.
It locks into the satellite signals more quickly and accurately and gives an average of 8-9 feet accuracy most of the time. Even though the screen is small at 2.6 inches yet it has a resolution of 160×240 pixels allowing you to view the maps in color in both low and bright light conditions.
The Garmin 64st comes with a Bluetooth function which is useful for transferring routes to other people. It has a battery run time of 16 hours which is perfect for one-day trip. Remember to stock up on batteries if you plan on staying for longer. You can install maps and updates in the 8GB of built in memory. Although if you want more memory space, a micro SD card can be bought separately.
- It’s a tough, sturdy GPS which can be used even while wearing gloves.
- It allows you to connect with iPhones and receive text and emails.
- It is waterproof and can take some splashes.
- The altimeter is not accurate even though you may have calibrated it.
Overall if you want the best GPS with accurate maps that is reliable and sturdy and a good value for the money than this Garmin is the perfect choice for you.
2. Garmin Foretrex 401 Waterproof Hiking GPS
When you are hunting, you already have something heavy to carry with you- your gun. You would not want to carry anything extra to make your job harder but the Garmin Foretrex is on the item you don’t want to leave behind! In fact, you don’t even need to carry it as it can be strapped to your wrist and you will have access to all the valuable information you need by just glancing at it.
This handy device keeps track of the routes and waypoints so you can choose and plan your next trip conveniently. Some of its features include sunrise and sunset times, trip computer, fishing, and hunting information. It has a high sensitivity received which allows quick signal acquisition. It locks the signal for reception in dense tree covers, narrow valleys and near streams. It can be connected to your laptop or computer so you can load waypoints and routes directly on it via USB.
The Garmin Foretex is equally popular among the army because of its watch like shape and ease of use. It is fairly good GPS device which provides valuable information to you when out hunting.
- It is shaped like a watch and can be worn instead of carrying it around.
- It has a touchscreen and connects with laptop or PC to download routes.
- It displays sunrise and sunset times.
- It is a fairly basic GPS device as compared to others in the market.
- The display is black and white and does not support colors.
We consider the Garmin Foretex to be a good device that you should consider when deciding what to buy as your next GPS.
3. Garmin eTrex 20x
Coming in as Garmin’s most lightweight option, this GPS has a very popular following. It is the best entry level GPS and is also the least expensive option available in the category. It replaces the older Vista models which were on the market several years ago. It is a handy unit has it uses a little battery and easily fits into your pockets for a day in the hills.
If you are old school and do not like fidgeting with a touchscreen than this GPS comes with buttons and it is easy to operate while wearing gloves. The eTrex 20 is the hardest to learn GPS as all the menu options run through 2-3 buttons. You will need some time to practice and familiarize yourself with all the features such as making waypoints.
If you are patient enough to learn all the features of eTrex20, it will reward you with a reliable route finder, 25 hours of battery, a bright screen and be light weight in your pocket or bag pack.
- It is the least expensive option available in the market.
- It is also the lightest weight GPS.
- It is suitable for people who are just getting into mapping technology.
- It has a battery life of up to 25 hours.
- It is hard to navigate and requires a lot of practice to familiarize with all the functions.
It is perfect for someone who is on a budget but does not want to sacrifice on quality; it is a tremendous value for money and will not break the bank.
4. Garmin eTrex Handheld GPS Navigator
The Garmin E Trex 30 is a fully water-resistant model and comes with a color LCD which is readable even without backlight. It uses standard AA batteries. It comes with a preloaded base map which covers many main streets and highways. But it is not that effective in covering mountain trails, forests or lakes. However, this problem can be solved by downloading the Topo 2008 maps. You don’t even need to keep connecting to your laptop because it comes with a micro SD slot so you can just save the maps on your GPS.
It has a built-in memory of 3.7 GB, and the 3-axis tilt compensated electronic compass is present in the eTrex 30. The barometric altimeter is useful for approximating on your location and height.
It has a long battery life of up to 25 hours, similar to eTrex 20. It weighs only 4.8 oz. And has a display screen of 2.2 inches.
- It is completely water resistant and light weight.
- It has a long battery life.
- It does not come preloaded with topos maps.
Garmin eTrex 30 is a small advanced GPS with a touch screen. It is a fairly good option to look into when considering buying a GPS for hunting.
5. Garmin GPSMAP 64 Worldwide Receiver
This is another masterpiece by Garmin, a handheld GPS with wireless connectivity. Garmin GPSMAP 62 has a high sensitivity quad helix antenna which gets unparalleled receptions. It works extremely well and catches signals easily even in deeply covered areas. No matter how dense the forest is, you will still get a solid signal. Whether you are under a tree or a large metal object, this GPS has excellent accuracy which is about 9 feet. If you enable the WAAS, you may even get an accuracy of 5 feet.
This handheld GPS is incredibly accurate in measuring your speed be it walking, biking or driving a car. It weighs about 9.17oz and has a display resolution of 160×240 pixels. The Garmin GPSMAP 62 can navigate within 60 seconds and as soon as it gets booted.
The screen size is a modest 2.6 inches which are 65-K color display and is sunlight readable. The interface is user-friendly, and the menu bar allows you to add shortcuts making different functions easier. It has an amazing battery life of 20 hours and supports BirdsEye satellite imagery, although you do require a subscription for it.
It has a built-in storage of 1.7GB, and there is a microSD card slot available. It includes a built- in worldwide base map with shaded relief as well. This handheld GPS supports geocaching files for downloading, so you don’t need to enter the geocache coordinates by hand. It will automatically download it by itself, saving you a huge amount of time. It is suitable for hunting and adventure as it is waterproof and durable, it can withstand most conditions including heavy rain. Although it has a 3-axis compass, it does not support Bluetooth function.
- It will get a solid signal even in dense forests.
- It is rugged and can withstand heavy rain.
- GPSMAP 62s only accepts up to 4 GB of MicroSD card storage.
- Removing caches from the unit may prove to be a hassle as the manual does not provide guidance on it.
- The USB cable is only 19 inches and the power button squeaks when pressed.
If you plan to buy this device, remember that the user manual is found on the device itself as a pdf file, in a folder labeled “Documents.” This GPS is simple to use and will help you find your way when you need it the most!
6.Garmin Oregon 650t GPS
The Garmin Oregon 650t is a smart choice if classical buttons are not your thing and you want a great touchscreen hunting GPS. This device boasts a 3-inch touchscreen which is readable in the sunlight. Because of an array of useful features, it is more expensive than all the above devices. The display screen has a vertical and horizontal orientation. It also comes with a 8 MP camera and 3-axis compass. The Oregon weighs only 7.4 oz. And has a cool feature in the form of a flashlight. This can serve as a backup light if you forget or run out of yours while hunting.
The Oregon allows data to be shared via Bluetooth or ANT. The size of the device is ideal to fit into your pockets yet at the same time the display screen is large enough to get a good understanding of the maps. It also features state of the art dual battery system by allowing you to use either AA batteries or two lithium batteries. The battery life can last a whole day.
The camera allows users to take quality pictures with autofocus and flash and each photo is geotagged. One thing I love about this GPS is that you can use the touchscreen even while gloves, which is ideal for winters.
The GPS system features detailed topographic maps which are very accurate.
- It has a 3-inch display screen.
- It comes with a 8 MP camera which majority of the GPS lack.
- It has dual battery system allowing more convenience for the user.
- It is more expensive than other GPS on the market.
All in all, Oregon 650t is one of the best hunting GPS I have found on the market. It is well designed, sleek has a great display, and it does not cost a fortune.
7. Garmin Montana 680 Touchscreen GPS/GLONASS Receiver
Garmin Montana 680 is a bulkier GPS device weighing 10.2 oz. It has a large 7-inch touch screen display, making it easy to study even the smallest details on the map. It also has an 8MP camera just like the Oregon, and it also boasts an autofocus feature. The Montana 680 comes in a rugged black case which can withstand shocks, water, dust, humidity, and dirt.
The touchscreen of Montana has dual orientation and a built in 3 axes electronic compass and barometric altimeter. This unit is highly versatile and can be mounted on anything including car, ATV, and boat. It comes with rechargeable lithium ion battery, but because of its dual system, it can also use three standard AA batteries, making it an ideal choice for extended trips.
It comes with preloaded 100K US topographic maps, with lots of trails and details. The BaseCamp software allows you to view waypoints, routes, and tracks in 2-D and 3-D. The 4 GB internal memory helps you store large data including pictures with ease.
- It has the largest size of a display screen which has dual orientation.
- It can withstand water, dirt, shocks, and humidity.
- It has a dual battery system for extended hunting trips.
- It is hard to carry because of its size and weight.
Garmin Montana can submerge in water, drop on the ground and still navigate back to the checkpoint. It is a great handheld GPS to take with you while hunting, hiking, biking, etc.
8. DeLorme inReach SE Satellite Tracker
When going through this guide, you may ask yourself, why do I need a GPS when my smartphone app can do so the same thing. Even though you can use various navigation apps on your smartphone yet, you will find lots of inconveniences that a dedicated GPS will not cause.
A standalone GPS is made specifically to help you with all your navigation needs where as a phone app only provides basic navigation. Another fact to remember is that a phone will lose its signals in densely covered areas such as forests or terrains, but a good GPS will always have a solid signal. You can get lost with a phone app, but with a GPS you will always find your way home.
The DeLorme satellite tracker has few cool features that other GPS don’t have, such as triggering an SOS, on its 24/7 search and rescue monitoring center. It also allows you to send and receive 160 text messages with GPS coordinates to phone numbers anywhere in the world.
You can even set Adjustable tracking intervals from 10 minutes to 4 hours so you can track your trip and at the same time share your location. The DeLorme provides 100% worldwide coverage through the satellite network and even sends you delivery confirmation for text messages and SOS signals sent from it. It comes with a color screen which is small in size but readable in sunlight.
- It has a unique feature for sending SOS signals in case you get lost.
- It provides 100% global coverage.
- The screen size is fairly small.
- The display is not touch screen and typing messages can take longer.
DeLorme is a portable GPS which allows you to share your location after regular intervals including GPS coordinates, speed, and elevation, so you never have to worry about getting lost.
9. Garmin eTrex Waterproof Hiking GPS
The Garmin eTrex is probably one of the first GPS manufactured by the brand. It is very basic, and the display has no color and is only black and white. This GPS model tracks and uses up to 12 satellites which are far less than what other models are capable of utilizing. It has some decent features such as calculating the average speed, sunset and sunrise times and trip distance. It automatically logs and saves up to 10 tracks so you can retrace your path in either direction.
It has a tough exterior case, making it waterproof, shock proof and dirt proof. It has an impressive battery run time of 18 hours and only requires 2 AA batteries to function. This model does not have any memory space, and there is no slot for microSD card. Therefore, you are quite restricted regarding the number of routes and waypoints you can store.
It also lacks Bluetooth, which means it cannot be connected to your laptop or PC so you are limited to the functions already on this device and cannot download any apps to enhance your experience.
The Garmin eTrex is compatible with a mapping software called MapSource. It is provided by the manufacturer and can be downloaded to save your trip and waypoint data.
- It has a tough, rugged exterior case for protection.
- It is waterproof.
- It is affordable to buy.
- The display screen is very basic and does not have colors.
- It does not have camera or Bluetooth.
This Garmin handheld GPS is probably the cheapest one available in the market at the moment. It is sturdy and good for basic hunting needs but cannot provide you with a satisfying hunting experience as it lacks a lot of functions and apps other competitive handheld GPS units are offering. Although we recommend looking into more advanced options for a better hunting experience.
10. Garmin eTrex 10 Worldwide Handheld GPS Navigator
Garmin has specifically made the eTrex ten so that they can provide a GPS to people who are on a budget. It is a cheaper GPS compared to all the others in the list. It comes with HotFix and GLONASS to provide support for quick positioning and providing strong signals.
The Garmin eTrex 10 would show an accuracy of 7 feet and can lock on to 18 satellites in the sky with no obstacles. It acquires satellite signals within 30 seconds even fresh out of the box. It performs accurately even in thick forests, heavy clouds or canyons.
The display resolution of eTrex 10 is 128×160 pixels and has a decent 2.2 inches monochrome display screen which is easy to read in sunlight.
You are in for a surprise when it comes to the battery life as it lasts for about 20 hours. You will need two AA batteries to use this receiver and if you want the battery to last longer for up to 25 hours than you can lower the backlight.
The annoying thing about this GPS is that there is no built-in memory and there is no slot for microSD card either. It only had 2.3 MB available which is extremely less.
The Garmin eTrex 10 is an ideal choice for someone looking for a basic GPS. As is comes preloaded with a worldwide base map which allows you to mark and enter waypoints. This base map has 100 saved tracks, 10000 points of interest and up to 1000 user programmable waypoints.
Another interesting fact about this GPS is that it comes in a rugged & waterproof case. So, you can take your eTrex 10 on any adventure since the water-resistant case repels moisture. It also offers paperless geocaching so you can store detailed information about caches including terrain, location, hints, and descriptions.
- It is a very budget friendly GPS.
- It is water and shock resistant.
- It has an impressive battery run time of 20 hours.
- It does not have any built-in memory.
- There is no slot for microSD card so cannot increase its memory space.
A great companion for a beginner the Garmin eTrex 10 is great for marking waypoints while viewing routes. With its ability to store about 1000 waypoints, it can take you to many places.
Factors to Consider When Buying GPS For Hunting
Once you have decided what your basic requirements are for your GPS device, you may proceed to select the features you’re most likely to be using. You may want to check for mapping capabilities, storage, sensitivity, reception, Bluetooth, camera, internal compass, external antenna and connectivity to other devices. You also need to find out any information you might come across regarding battery life.
Other elements such as product rating, price and customer reviews should also be taken into account. Sometimes reviews can provide an insight into how good or bad a product is and let you know just what to expect regarding the performance of a particular GPS model.
With a ton of different GPS available on the market, a new buyer can feel baffled as to which one is the best handheld GPS for hunting. So, we have put together a short buying guide analyzing ten models of GPS with details about their features and benefits so you can make an informed decision.
Choosing the right model can be tricky and may require you to go through some trial and error. But you to have remember to look for a unit which is small, lightweight, easy to hold, and easy to use. Given below are the crucial considerations when purchasing the best GPS for yourself.
1. Satellite reception
The majority of the GPS units use 24 satellites which are owned by the United States Department of Defense. Although some GPS models have a better satellite reception as compared to other and a few of these can manage to 3D lock in the position of the user.
We also found out that they myth, larger the antenna, the faster it will be able to lock your position, is true. The accuracy of the user’s position depends on how many satellites are present in that area and how strong the reception is.
2. Ease of use
The functionality of a handheld GPS is limited as compared to the one in your car, but what it lacks in product design, it makes up for it regarding usability.
To determine the ease of use of the model you want to buy, you need to check out its screen type and button configuration. Most of the models available now come with a touchscreen although few models still feature buttons.
It is no doubt easier to use the touchscreen for typing quickly, but most of the ones we have come across are rather imprecise and hard to see and use. Even with all the advancement in the last few years, the quality of the displayed image is still not as great as that of a smartphone. Consequently, you might be better off with a unit that simply has good-quality buttons.
Garmin’s has manufactured quite a lot of handheld devices which feature large keyboards instead of the circular button menu, making it easier for the user to type so that he can enjoy the quality of the traditional display.
For some buys, a large display is necessary because it displays a larger image while other prefer a smaller unit which is easier to carry and don’t mind a small display.
Even though there are a lot of buying guides and reviews online, but we recommend going to a store and testing the GPS model you wish to buy. So, you can get a taste of what it is like to use a GPS, and if you are finding it difficult to make up your mind and are feeling confused, you can compare different models and also get the opinion of customer representative.
A clever way of checking the speed of any two units is to go to a store and place them next to one another. Then you can search for your location, and this will reveal to you which one is the fastest. You can estimate the speed of any device by understanding how long it takes for it to interpret your message.
4. Display quality
If you are an avid hunter, you will probably want to have a handheld GPS with a waterproof display, and it is highly likely that you will stumble upon many models which have a plastic display. Plastic is built to last and can withstand water, dirt, and humidity making it a good choice even with units that feature a touchscreen.
There are some other differences between display unit’s worth considering, one of them is if the screen is backlit or not. This feature alone can make a world of a difference when it comes to looking at your handheld GPS in direct sunlight. You may need to bear in mind that most of the devices have screens which are much harder to read as compared to the ones in smartphones nowadays.
It has become fairly easy to select a handheld device now because some users go to the trouble of taking shots of their units while in the field so you can assess whether or not you can view and understand the image or not.
5. Mapping software
Nowadays all the models of GPS come with its mapping software. Every manufacturer claims that theirs is best, but this may not be true. So how do you find out the advantages of a mapping software over another? The simplest way to do this is by checking the specs and capabilities. Do you want a software which allows you to share the waypoints or routes? Does it give you the freedom to utilize social networks allowing your friends to know where you’re going?
Aside from connectivity with social media, it is a good idea to check whether the platform works with several devices. From what we have gathered, there is only a limited number of GPD software which works with Mac OS X. the Garmin units come with BaseCamp, its branded platform, which is Mac compatible.
It is also worth checking if the GPS unit you want to buy is compatible with open source mapping software. It allows you to update your maps with new and improved data regularly.
6. Number of maps
Some models come with a higher number of maps and are more convenient than others. However, there are some devices which are only functional within the United States and Canada. It is important to remember that updating maps is imperative regardless of your choice to buy the maps from manufacturer or not. If you don’t use a trail for few months and forget to update your device, you may easily get lost.
While some users may not mind paying $30 a year for map subscription but others may not want to pay anything on top of the GPS actual price. Fortunately, many websites offer maps and imagery for free and some sources even allow you to download high-quality maps and free spatial data.
The only disadvantage of using free maps is that you will need to learn how to use them. And for this particular reason, you may prefer buying them from the manufacturer.
Most of the GPS model has standard accessories such as rechargeable batteries, USB cable, carrying case and mounts. A mounting system allows you to set up your GPS in your car which is helpful while driving on new routes.
Rechargeable batteries are extremely budget friendly and make an amazing bargain if they are offered in the same package. The end price of each model varies depending on the number of accessories it comes with.
8. Price, recommendations, and warranty
Although most models are cheaper than two hundred dollars, they are not even worth considering. If, however, your budget is not allowing you to spend more than two hundred dollars than we recommend you wait and save a little bit more money and then buy an extremely capable model which gives you excellent user experience. Some high-end models cost four hundred dollars or more. So, be prepared to invest $300+ if you plan to get the best GPS for hunting.
Try to read as many reviews as you can before you make up your mind. Have a look at the best and worst ratings and try to understand the buyer’s perspective. You may even ask your friends what models they have been using for themselves.
Many models come with an at least 1-year warranty, so you have plenty of time to realize whether or not you are happy with the way the unit performs. Always make sure to check whether the brand you are buying has a subsidiary in the United States or not and always report any issue you may encounter to the customer services.
Best Hunting GPS Summary
All in all, if you would like to make an informed decision and buy the right GPS for your needs, then you should consider the satellite reception, speed, mapping software, number of maps, accessories, price, and reviews that a specific GPS device has gathered over time. Make sure you do your research and read up as much as you can about the device you want.
Reviews whether good or bad are the best way to find out how the GPS devices perform individually. It also gives you an insight into which unit is offering the best price, more accessories or best functionality. Going to store and testing different models is recommended for making comparisons and assessing how quickly they boot up and catch signals.
Although touch screens are the rage, these days hunting often requires you to wear gloves, especially during winter months so it is better that you opt for button-style GPS as you can use it while wearing gloves. We also recommend buying that model which is versatile regarding battery system and usage.
We highly recommend the Garmin GPSMAP 64st, GPS since it has over 100k maps stored in its 8GB memory. It also has a microSD card, 16-hour battery run time and allows connectivity to other devices so you can exchange text messages and emails on it.