Once revolutionary, GPS technology is present in everything from dog collars to drones. Nonetheless, a portable GPS tracker remains a vital outdoor tool for hiking and other backcountry adventures.
Our top pick for the best GPS tracker for hikers is the Garmin inReach Explorer+ Handheld Satellite Communicator. With its navigation features, weather forecasts, SOS button, and reliable text messaging, it is perfect for extended hiking trips anywhere in the world.
A GPS tracker can give hikers vital information about where you have been, where you are, and where you are going. This guide compares the 6 best hiker GPS trackers that are designed for different types of hikers.
Table of Contents
- Best GPS Tracker For Hikers – Comparison Table
- Why Should I Consider GPS for Hiking?
- What to Look for?
- Best GPS Tracker for Hikers
- Key References
Best GPS Tracker For Hikers – Comparison Table
Why Should I Consider GPS for Hiking?
A portable GPS device is beneficial for hiking because it allows you to quickly find your way, even when visibility is poor, or the landscape has no or little distinct features.
- Portable GPS devices have many advantages over smartphones, often used by recreational hikers for navigation.
- Satellite tracker for hikers should have a much longer battery life and are more durable.
- Also, they are often equipped with batteries that can be replaced with single-use batteries (typically AA batteries) when it is not possible to charge them, for instance, in sparsely populated and remote areas.
What to Look for?
A) Battery Life
For a stress-free hiking experience, the satellite GPS tracker for hiking must have admirable battery life. While some options run on rechargeable batteries, others use AA batteries. Advanced models work with both.
This brings us to the debate between the touchscreen and the buttons. It’s no secret that touchscreen displays execute commands faster. The main disadvantage, however, is that it drains the battery significantly. Button-operated units, on the other hand, are more reliable but slower. Now it comes down to your preferences.
You need a GPS tracker that can withstand extreme weather conditions. Fortunately, these hiking devices are shock resistant and waterproof. Ensure your GPS tracking device is rugged and can withstand the coldest or hottest weather conditions since you will use it outdoors. So it is essential to choose a waterproof or drop-proof tracking device.
Top-notch reliability and accuracy are attributes that you should look for when shopping for the best GPS tracker for hikers.
- WAAS (Wide Area Augmentation System) and GLONASS (Global Navigation Satellite System) are the most commonly used satellites. High-end GPS devices can track both satellites at the same time.
- Some best handheld GPS trackers transmit data over a cellular network. So if you enter an area with a limited network signal, your device cannot transmit data in real-time, which is vital for outdoor enthusiasts. This is not a problem if you are just hiking in the city.
However, suppose you’re like the others who prefer to hunt for new trails in remote locations. In that case, you should opt for a GPS tracker with wider network coverage.
E) Mapping Capability
In addition to basic base maps, you should look for hiking GPS tracker with topographic maps or other downloadable resources for smooth navigation. Ensure your maps can track, route, organize data, mark landmarks, and display other important information.
F) Sufficient Storage Memory
The best GPS tracker for hikers should be able to hold an enormous amount of data on waypoints, maps, and more. Accordingly, it would be nice to have a GPS device with lots of storage space.
G) Compatibility with other devices
Find a hiking GPS locator that is compatible with other devices for seamless data sharing. The sharing can take place via special applications or mainly via Bluetooth. You can use this data to track personal statistics and trips.
Best GPS Tracker for Hikers
Here are the best GPS trackers for hikers on the market today:
Known for its ease of use and durability, the Garmin eTrex 22x Rugged Handheld GPS Navigator is packed with features that you can’t expect from such an affordable device.
- Users especially like the impressive screen resolution, which offers an easy-to-read display even in direct sunlight.
- The eTrex 22x saves energy and provides excellent runtime, especially when using AA lithium batteries.
- This GPS locator for hikers also comes with plenty of storage space, so you can download a wide variety of maps.
- The waterproof and lightweight Garmin eTrex 22x Rugged Handheld GPS Navigator is an affordable and reliable GPS device ideal for hiking and geocaching.
- Easy to use
- Lightweight design
- Reliable pushbuttons
- Long battery life
- Great screen quality
- The base map is limited.
2. ACR ResQLink 400 GPS Personal Locator Beacon
Designed to withstand the harshest conditions, the ACR ResQLink 400 GPS Personal Locator Beacon can get hikers rescued quickly in various environments.
- You can trust this buoyant, compact, and light GPS tracker to put a request for rescue in your hands.
- Three levels of integrated signal technology (121.5MHz homing and 406MHz signal capability, as well as GPS positioning) relay your position accurately to a worldwide network of satellites.
- This best GPS communicator for hiking works with MEOSAR, Galileo GNSS, and GPS for worldwide coverage and instantaneous locating.
- It comes with built-in infrared and regular strobes that aid low-visibility and nighttime rescue.
- Wherever your hiking adventure takes you, rest assured the ACR ResQLink 400 GPS Personal Locator Beacon activates quickly.
- Small and lightweight
- No subscription required
- Multifunctional clips offer many wearability options.
- Long-lasting battery
- Relatively heavier
The Garmin eTrex10 Worldwide Handheld GPS Navigator should be your tracker of choice if you want a long-lasting model.
- This GPS locator for hiking has a sturdy design that works well on rough terrain. You can go on hiking trails worry-free as it is impact-resistant and waterproof.
- Whether you are exposed to blinding darkness or bright sunlight, the eTrex10 display is crystal clear. It has a 2.2-inch screen for easy reading.
- Besides, the cache can be filtered so that no paperwork is required. The unit can generate routes from the trail information, preventing you from getting lost.
- The devices can also save up to 50 routes and 1000 waypoints.
- The Garmin eTrex10 Worldwide Handheld GPS Navigator is a high-end entry-level device that offers a long battery life, a wide range of features, and accuracy.
- Robust design
- Easy to read and portable display.
- Tremendous geocaching capacity
- The joystick isn’t effective.
4. Garmin inReach Explorer+ Handheld Satellite Communicator
If you love hiking in the backcountry and always want to stay connected, Garmin’s inReach Explorer + ensures you are always up to date.
- This portable satellite communicator enables 2-way text messaging from anywhere, allows you to track and share your location with friends and family, and offers vital SOS functions in an emergency.
- With a built-in digital compass, accelerometer, and barometric altimeter, you can use it to orient yourself and navigate any route.
- These satellite trackers for hikers are also completely waterproof and has a high-resolution, sunlight-readable display for accurate navigation in all weather conditions.
- Easy to use
- Long-lasting battery
- Accurate navigation
- Sunlight-readable display
- Expensive initial purchase
5. Garmin inReach Mini Satellite Communicator
The Garmin inReach Mini Satellite Communicator is an easy to use and reliable GPS tracker.
- This best GPS tracker for hiking can mark GPS waypoints, track your route, text or email friends and family, send SOS messages in emergencies, and help you navigate when you are off the grid.
- Like its big brother, the inReach Explorer+, this unit notifies hikers when it has sent your messages successfully.
- Also, it can receive messages from other people, such as family, friends, and search and rescue personnel.
- Its small size makes it perfect for hikers, trail runners, and anyone who wants a lightweight GPS satellite communicator.
- The Garmin inReach Mini Satellite Communicator offers peace of mind to those who spend time in the backcountry.
- Compact and lightweight design.
- Mini user interface
- Reliable 2-way messaging
- Subscription is required to use this unit.
6. ZOLEO Satellite Communicator
The ZOLEO Satellite Communicator offers affordable peace of mind for backcountry hiking.
- It offers an improved experience for both the hiker and the user.
- The construction feels robust, and the subscription options are competitive.
- We like that conversation in the app are continuous across cell/wifi signal and satellite.
- The palm-sized device is durable, with a rubberized coating and impact-resistant and waterproof screen.
- This best GPS locator for hiking offers over 200 hours of battery life, which is enough for a long hiking trip.
- The ZOLEO Satellite Communicator is a near-perfect unit that offers polished, comprehensive, 2-way communications.
- Seamless communication
- Excellent network
- Waterproof and impact resistant.
- Flexible subscription plans
- Can’t send custom messages with the device itself.
Our top recommendation for the best GPS tracker for hikers is the Garmin inReach Explorer+ Handheld Satellite Communicator. With its navigation features, weather forecasts, SOS button, and reliable text messaging, it is perfect for extended hiking trips anywhere in the world.
BQ|Things can never go wrong on a hiking trip with the right navigation gear. The best GPS tracker for hikers should not only be durable and reliable, but it should also have exemplary functions.
- “Importance of Portable Hiking GPS Unit for Hikers – Trackimo”. Accessed November 05, 2020. Link.
- “Smartphones vs. GPS Devices on a Hike | Eastern Mountain Sports”. Accessed November 05, 2020. Link.