Last Update: 13.Feb.2020
Dual battery system
Rugged, waterproof construction
Compatible with several mounts
Share wirelessly features
Quad helix antenna and high-sensitivity GPS/GLONASS receiver
Easy to use
Long battery life
Great screen quality
Basemap is very limited
While a tracking device is not going to replace your map, compass and adequate set of skills and experience in your backcountry adventures. This is because the latter will never run out of batteries. On the other hand, smartphones with GPS technology are not accurate enough but they get the job done for most recreational hikers.
If you love to hike off the main trail, you will find a hiking tracker very useful. Similar is the case for frequent bushwhackers and backcountry skiers.
If you are a climber and like to descend on poorly marked and unfamiliar trials, this unit is useful for you. It enables you to determine your exact location and reorient yourself to find your way back home.
Your tracker is going to be handy in bad weather conditions. It uses satellite navigation hence; it is not going to lose its signal even in heavy rain, fog or snow.
These devices work using satellite systems. Garmin is the true global leader in the world of GPS and it has introduced a technology called GLONASS that allows the device to connect with satellite systems.
Combining the GPS networking system with Russian based GLONASS, the receiver performance of the unit escalates even in deep canyons and under thick snow covers. The network connects 24 different satellites and improves the accuracy of the location in the northern latitudes.
The good thing is you don’t have to turn on GLONASS on your device, it is turned on by default. But there is a catch … it drains your GPS battery pretty fast.
A number of devices also feature WAAS receiver which is another technology to further improve the accuracy of tracking. WAAS (Wide Angle Augmentation System) was developed for the aviation assistance compensation of any tracking issues.
Again, there is a network of satellites involved as well as ground stations. The stations are helpful in keeping the technology working seamlessly if in case the satellites are not working. This means that WAAS smoothes out errors and it improves the accuracy of tracking services.
As there are so many manufacturers that have introduced their GPS devices, finding the right device can become pretty eschewing! You need to consider a lot of features to assist you in different scenarios.
To sort things out for you, we have developed this brief buying guide. We have highlighted what features you should consider before finalizing your purchase.
Many devices now come with a choice of 100k map preloaded. The name of these models has a “t” at the end of their name and you will notice a price hike as well.
You can skip these devices altogether. This is because you can upload your favorite maps from your computer using the internet.
Whereas, the 24k maps are a lot better with their contour lines and details, particularly regarding the slopes or steepness.
The screen size is getting bigger with the advancement in touchscreen technology. This means that users are getting more screen area and display size and it improves their readability.
The units now have a low profile and users can read the information on the screen more conveniently by zooming in and out. But small screen size also translates into lightweight hence; this is the best GPS for backpacking.
If you are a Geocacher or mountain biker, such a lightweight small screen device will work well for you.
Apart from the readability of the screen, daylight is critical. A variety of hiking devices these days come with anti-glare screens and excellent backlight systems that make deciphering maps and text easy.
AA has been a long-time standard when it comes to the longevity of batteries. These batteries are cheap and offer a decent battery life too. But you will definitely need extra batteries.
You can also go for rechargeable battery packs for extra backup. You can now recharge your battery on the go using a rechargeable battery pack or a solar panel.
All mid to high range GPS devices come with a 3-axis compass, altimeter, and barometer. An electronic compass can easily read directions regardless of the way you are holding your device.
In the case of standard compasses, you have to hold your device horizontally for proper orientation. This becomes very useful in a handheld GPS device because you have to keep it upright for signal reception.
Barometric pressure allows you to determine elevation because, with an increase in elevation, the pressure reduces but with changes in weather, the pressure also changes and this is where a barometric altimeter comes in to play its role.
This is a very useful device in the backcountry and mountainous trails and can provide you with approximate details on your elevation.
Many units are highly accurate in pin posting the location up to at least 10 meters. GPS devices with WAAS are accurate up to 3 meters.
If you are looking to improve your accuracy even further then you can go for a beacon receiver as well as an antenna for distance correction DGPS or differential GPS.
The modern smartphone offers a GPS accuracy that ranges between 4 to 9 meters. Weather and clouds don’t interfere with the satellite signals but trees, canyons, and buildings do.
So you need to keep your device out of your pack and in a waterproof layer (thin) to get maximum reception quality.
Weight and size directly correlate with the screen size. The smallest size is going to be the lightest in weight. How you are going to use your device is going to determine what should be the ideal weight and dimensions you should go for.
The high-end devices are heavy and large. They are not for you to carry in your hands but for placing them on the handlebar of your snowmobile or ATV.
You might have not heard about this term before! It is a new kind of outdoor activity that involves a kind-of-a scavenger hunt using a tracking unit.
The containers called caches or geocaches are hidden and sought by participants all around the world. These caches are placed in specific positions across the globe and are marked by coordinates.
With the increased use of smartphones and tablets, touchscreen grew in popularity. Hence, most of the gadgets and devices are coming with touchscreen and the same is the case with these tracking units.
With a touchscreen, interacting with the device becomes a lot simpler, but there is an issue! In cold weather and wet conditions, this touchscreen will not function very well. Although the touchscreen is simple to use, it has its limitations.
Buttons will provide you with a lot more authority in such conditions. You don’t have to take your gloves off and you can use these devices in extreme conditions as well.
But buttons have their own disadvantages too. They make the device bulky and you will frequently need to type. This eliminates the convenience of using touchscreen easily!
There are different aspects associated with buying the best handheld GPS for your outdoor excursions. You need to have a look at different features that will come in handy during your trips.
Be sure to buy the GPS device that aligns well with your requirements and helps in new expeditions.
In the Toptravelpoint Blog you will always find useful and up-to-date information about hiking and camping. & Bryce
Our experts will always help make your life easier.
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