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10 Best Hiking GPS Tracker for Backpacking

GPS is the abbreviation for Global Positioning Unit. It is a technology that is used to show locations, latitudes, longitudes, and compass bearings. Such information is vital for hikers as it helps them to keep track of their location. Moving on, some GPS trackers are used alongside maps and compasses although modern-day models feature in-built ones. The best hiking GPS tracker is adapted for rugged outdoor terrain and harsh environments. That might explain why they are created to endure thermal stress, resist water or absorb shock.

That’s not all, a GPS should come with revolutionary attributes to boost convenience and safety. This could be in the form of topo maps, cameras, tracking apps, and so on. Most importantly, trackers ought to be more portable, accurate, and reliable. Check out the exclusive review below. It breaks down everything you need to know about these navigation devices for hiking.

What is the best GPS unit to buy for hiking?

premium pick
top pick
top pick
Garmin GPSMAP 64st, TOPO U.S. 100K with High-Sensitivity GPS and GLONASS Receiver
Garmin eTrex 30x, Handheld GPS Navigator with 3-axis Compass, Enhanced Memory and Resolution,...
Garmin Foretrex 401 Waterproof Hiking GPS

Garmin GPSMAP 64st, GPS and GLONASS Receiver

With ANT, Bluetooth and US TOPO,
Display : 2.6" diag, Battery Life : 16 hrs,
Internal memory : 8 GB,

Garmin eTrex 30x, Handheld GPS with 3-axis Compass

Display : 2.2" diag, Internal memory : 3.7 GB,
With microSD card slots,
With previously loaded base maps,

Garmin Foretrex 401 Waterproof Hiking GPS

GPS with HotFix,
Display size : 1.42 x 0.91 inches,
Battery Life : 17 Hours,
Dual Batteries,

premium pick
Garmin GPSMAP 64st, TOPO U.S. 100K with High-Sensitivity GPS and GLONASS Receiver

Garmin GPSMAP 64st, GPS and GLONASS Receiver

With ANT, Bluetooth and US TOPO,
Display : 2.6" diag, Battery Life : 16 hrs,
Internal memory : 8 GB,

top pick
Garmin eTrex 30x, Handheld GPS Navigator with 3-axis Compass, Enhanced Memory and Resolution,...

Garmin eTrex 30x, Handheld GPS with 3-axis Compass

Display : 2.2" diag, Internal memory : 3.7 GB,
With microSD card slots,
With previously loaded base maps,

top pick
Garmin Foretrex 401 Waterproof Hiking GPS

Garmin Foretrex 401 Waterproof Hiking GPS

GPS with HotFix,
Display size : 1.42 x 0.91 inches,
Battery Life : 17 Hours,
Dual Batteries,

best hiking gps tracker

1. Garmin GPSMAP 64st GPS

“Ideal for hiking, trekking, and mountaineering.”

Premium Pick

Garmin GPSMAP 64st GPS

Main Features

  • Rugged construction with ample display
  • Easy to use: Wireless data upload
  • Color display size: 1.43 x 2.15 inches 2.6-inch diag.
  • Battery: 16 hrs., Weight: 8.1 oz., Routes: 200.
  • 8 GB expanded internal memory
“Your number one GPS tracker!”

The Garmin GPSMAP 64st is a revolutionary model that is designed to keep you on track at all times. Some of its unique features are outlined below:

Accurate tracking features

It features a reliable helix antenna that concurrently tracks GLONASS and GPS satellites with utmost precision. That’s not all; the model comes along with a BirdsEye Satellite Imagery subscription for a single year. Plus, it includes the TOPO U.S. 100K maps for seamless navigation.

Extra convenience boosting features

What’s more captivating about this tracker is the Bluetooth chipset which makes it possible for the device to wirelessly link with other devices. Together with that comes a set of other life-saving features including an altimeter, barometer, and a 3-axis electronic compass.

Large display

Its advanced display system allows you to view alerts, text messages, and missed calls among other vital notifications. The display is readable even in scathing sunlight thanks to a large multicolor interface.

Dual battery system

A set of dual batteries ensures 17 hours of service.

Robust construction

Most importantly, the GPS tracker incorporates rugged construction adapted for unforgiving outdoor conditions.

The Garmin GPSMAP 64st is a convenience-oriented GPS tracker that will have you safe.


  • Long battery life
  • GLONASS support
  • Includes extra features
  • Adequate storage memory


  • Bulky

2. Garmin eTrex 30x, Handheld GPS

“Excellent for long-distance hiking.”

Top Choice

Garmin eTrex 30x

Main Features

  • Compact and lightweight, Weight: 12 oz. 
  • Water-resistant with top-class battery life
  • Affordable price with Versatile functionality.
  • Display Size: 1.4″ x 1.7″ and 2.2″ diag.
  • Display: 65K Color, Routes: 200
“A must-have outdoor gear!”

Unmatched battery life and a superb display are what you get for choosing the Garmin eTrex 30x. Other attributes that make this design sensational include:

High-resolution display

It boasts a remarkable resolution of 240 by 320 pixels. Therefore, you will not have to struggle when making readings even in bright sunlight.

Strong structure

The model is meant for the unforgiving outdoor terrain. This is owing to its tough structure that happens to be shock and water-resistant. Side buttons enhance usability.

Compact design

It is amazing to know that the model has a compact size for easy storage. Moreover, you will not struggle to fit it in your hand.

Feature loaded

Other than the GPS tracker feature, the model also comes with a 3-axis compass, clock, alarms, and a trip computer. On top of that, it also has a barometer, altimeter as well as wireless connectivity. Wireless connectivity allows one to pair the tracker with other devices such as heart rate monitors.

The Garmin eTrex 30x is a remarkable model that you can bank on for any outdoor activity.


  • Swift satellite reception
  • Feature loaded
  • Sturdy construction


  • The interface is not user-friendly

3. Garmin Foretrex 401

“The Garmin Foretrex 401 is a versatile gadget great for all extreme outdoor activities.”

Best Value

Garmin Foretrex 401

Main Features

  • Long-lasting and reliable ergonomic design. 
  • User-friendly interface with LCD display
  • Display Size: 1.42″ x 0.91″ and 1.7″ diag.
  • Battery: Up to 17 hrs. and weighs 3.1 oz.
“Your safety is our priority!”

The Foretrex 401 is a classic battery-powered one that guarantees a safe and convenient hiking experience. It is loaded with multiple advanced attributes to make things easy for you:

Reliable helix antennae

The helix antenna is one of a kind. It can simultaneously track GLONASS and GPS satellites at an impressive clock speed making it exceedingly dependable.

Convenience-boosting features

For convenience and safety in the jungle, the model is fitted with extra features. This includes a Bluetooth chipset for wireless connectivity, an altimeter, a barometer, and a 3-axis compass. On top of that, the model supports notifications and alerts.

Unmatched tracking capabilities

This is boosted by a 1-year subscription to the BirdsEye Satellite Imagery. In addition to that, it incorporates the TOPO U.S. 100K maps.

Resilient structure

The model is designed to stand the harshest outdoor conditions owing to its resilient structure.

If you love button-operated trackers then the Garmin Foretrex 401 is an excellent choice for its reliability and revolutionary tracking technology.


  • Numerous outdoor-oriented features
  • Supports wireless connection
  • Water-resistant


  • Button-operated trackers are not as fancy as touchscreen models

4. Garmin Montana 680t

“Good for rugged outdoor activities.”

Reliable Pick

Garmin Montana 680t

Main Features

  • Superior mapping capabilities. 
  • Robust construction with waterproof case.
  • Glove-friendly Color display.
  • Display Size: 2″ x 3.5″, 4″ diag.
  • Weight: 10.24 oz., Battery: up to 16 hrs. 
“Your ultimate hiking partner!”

The Garmin is your ultimate outdoor companion thanks to a ton of helpful features.


Water should be the least of your worry with this model. Its tough casing is waterproof to ensure a worry-free hiking trip through any weather or terrain.

Dual satellite coverage

It utilizes GLONASS and GPS to provide accurate tracking. Nonetheless, the tracker incorporates Hotfix and WAAS to pick up and maintain signals effectively. In addition to that, it boasts free access to TOPO 100K maps.

Ergonomic design

Of course, the model is handheld for easy access to its interface. Still, its touchscreen display is very glove-friendly.

Adequate storage space

The boasts of an 8 GB storage capacity that will not only preserve notifications and alerts but also store photos as well as map data.

Notable battery life

This runs on a rechargeable lithium-ion battery that lasts for an enviable duration. Alongside that comes a section for three AA batteries for backup.

The Montana 680t is a worthy design with modern features to help hikers stay on track.


  • Adequate storage space
  • Integrated 8-megapixel camera
  • Fairly priced
  • Extra features


  • Bulky

5. Garmin Oregon 600

“Recommended for avid outdoor enthusiasts.”

Reliable Pick

Garmin Oregon 600

Main Features

  • Excellent Color Display with touch screen. 
  • Top-notch mapping capability.
  • Long-lasting battery.
  • Display Size: 4.5″ x 1.3″, 2.4″ diag.
  • Weight: 7.4 oz.,  
“Navigate the deepest canyons with a top-class product!”

In case you are fond of extreme outdoor excursions, you need the Oregon 600. Here is why:

Dual battery system

The last thing you need is a power system that will bail out you. In spite of that, this model has an exceptional dual battery system that is meant to keep the tracker operational for a long. You can either use a rechargeable NiMH battery or the regular 2 AA batteries.

Responsive touchscreen

Unlike the old-fashioned button-operated GPS trackers, Oregon 600 has brought something different to the table. Its 3-inch touchscreen is ideal for top-class convenience. It is very responsive and glove-friendly too. 

Reliable tracking system

It comes with an accurate tracking system. Plus it is possible to import extra maps into your device. Together with that comes an integrated 3-axis electronic compass, altimeter, and barometer.

Wireless connectivity

With wireless connectivity, you can easily share waypoints, tracks, geocaches, routes, and other vital data.

A perfect choice for any trail, which is simple yet highly effective.


  • User-friendly interface
  • Supports wireless sharing
  • Priced reasonably


  • Unreliable software

6. Garmin 010-01772-00 Foretrex 601

“An all-around GPS tracker.”

Reliable Pick

Garmin Foretrex 601

Main Features

  • Heavy-duty construction with large display. 
  • Exceptional battery life of up to 48 hrs.
  • The ergonomic design weighs 3.2 oz.
  • Display Size: 0.9″ x 2.9″, 1.7″ diag.  

The wrist-mounted Foretrex 601 is worth every penny you spend.

World-class performance and notable functionality and supreme functionality are what you get from the Foretrex 601. All this is courtesy of the features below:

Unique design

The Foretrex 601 stands out for its unique design. It is among the few products with a wrist strap. This makes it more portable. Additionally, it is crafted to fit military standards for unparalleled resilience and optimal durability. 

High-resolution display

The outdoor environment is very unpredictable which can sometimes culminate in a low vision for cheap class products. However, the Foretrex 601 has an incredible resolution. You can make reading in low light and in the sun too. 

Advance additional features

This includes a barometer, altimeter, smart notifications, a 3-axis compass, and a 3-axis accelerometer. They are exemplary safety features that will warn you in the event of adverse weather. That’s not all, they ensure that you are headed in the right direction.

Locate your position accurately under heavy cover with the reliable Foretrex 601 tracker!


  • User-friendly
  • Advanced features
  • Extraordinary mapping capabilities


  • No wireless connectivity

7. Garmin Rino 750

“The Garmin Rino 750 is a worthwhile navigation device.”

Reliable Pick

Garmin Rino 750

Main Features

  • Better mapping support with color display. 
  • Great resolution and a large display.
  • The high-sensitivity receiver weighs 1.49 oz.
  • 14-hour battery life.  
“A one-stop device for all your tracking and navigating needs!”

There are several reasons why you should get the Garmin Rino 750 US GPS tracker:

Accurate tracking

The device incorporates a wide array of features to elevate tracking accuracy. To begin with, it has a highly sensitive receiver. Likewise, the model utilizes a quad-helix antenna to find and maintain locations. Integrated 3-axis compass, altimeter, and barometer further heighten the tracking capabilities.

Standby weather alarms

This model is built with the interests of avid hikers at heart. It comes with the NOAA weather radio to keep hikers alert in the event of harmful weather conditions.

User-friendly display

Other than being a touchscreen, the tracker’s interface is wide and glove-friendly.

Advanced mapping features

It has auto-routing and displays area calculations. The model is also capable of producing location reports for easy navigation. Plus, it allows one to add maps and view routes, tracks, and waypoints.

A notable tracker for hiking, geocaching, backpacking, and mountaineering.


  • Integrated NOAA weather radio
  • Viewable base map
  • Waterproof


  • Bulky

8. Garmin inReach Explorer

“Suitable for rocky and chilly outdoor terrains.”

Reliable Pick

Garmin inReach Explorer

Main Features

  • Supports weather forecast services. 
  • Heavy-duty construction and affordable price.
  • Cloud storage with Color display.
  • Display Size: 2.3″ diag and weighs: 8.0 oz.  
“Reliable satellite communicator!”

The Garmin inReach Explorer+ stands out for the following attributes:

Two-way text messaging

With an Iridium satellite network connection, you can enjoy two-way text messaging.

User-friendly design

It has a simple design with conveniently placed buttons. The power button is ergonomically placed to eliminate the risk of accidental shutdown. Similarly, the same goes for the SOS button. Everything else on the menu is straightforward.

Dependable weather reports

One of the most revolutionary features of this model is weather reports. The reports – powered by DarkSky – are detailed according to subscription plans.

Has the SOS button

Another impressive aspect of this unit is that it allows you to send distress signals in the event of danger. This is possible thanks to the Iridium satellite network and an accessible SOS button on the side of the device.

The Garmin inReach Explorer+ is a revolutionary model designed to live up to your expectations for a GPS-orienteering device.


  • Wireless compatible
  • Supports sharing
  • Premium battery life


  • Costly compared to what it offers

9. Garmin GPSMAP 64s

“Ideal for short outdoor excursions.”

Reliable Pick

Garmin GPSMAP 64s

Main Features

  • Accommodates live tracking. 
  • Sensitive GLONASS and GPS receiver.
  • The robust design supports map addition.
  • Supports a wireless connection, and weighs 8.1 oz.
  •  65k Color display with battery: up to 16 hrs
“Navigate with the best!”

It is hard to come by a GPS tracker that is budget-friendly and effective at the same time. Nevertheless, the Garmin GPSMAP 64s has demystified that. It is a total package. Some of its unique features include:

2.6-inch display

Making readings from the tracker is pretty effortless owing to the wide display. Moreover, it features a heavy-duty screen that is unlikely to break even in the most unforgiving outdoor conditions. The screen is also good with gloves.

Sensitive receiver

It has a helix antenna which makes it sensitive to GLONASS and GPS receivers. This heightens satellite lock speed and tracking efficiency.

Share wirelessly

The unit is compatible with several devices such as heart rate monitors and accessory sensors. Besides that, you can share routes, tracks, and waypoints effortlessly, thanks to Bluetooth.

Excellent mapping features

With this tracker, you can navigate through any jungle seamlessly. An inbuilt base map, as well as a 1-year subscription to the BirdsEye Satellite Imagery, makes the model reliable. Still, it boasts photo imagery and TOPO U.S. 100K maps.

Additional tracking features

This includes an electric compass, altimeter, and barometer which helps hikers to keep track of direction, altitude, and pressure changes.

The Garmin GPSMAP 64s offers enviable tracking and navigation at a pocket-friendly price.


  • Easy to use
  • Sunlight readable
  • Supports notifications


  • Non-rechargeable batteries

10. Garmin eTrex10

“A tremendous paperless geocaching companion.”

Reliable Pick

Garmin eTrex10

Main Features

  • Water-resistant and shockproof. 
  • Portable and easy-to-read monochrome display.
  • Great battery life and stands up to 20 hrs.
  • Display Size: 2.2″ diag.
“A  reliable companion for your outdoor trails!”

The Garmin eTrex10 should be your go-to tracker if you desire a long-lasting model. Some of its prominent features are highlighted below:

Rugged design

It incorporates a rugged design that is well-suited for the rough terrain. You can hike worry-free as it is water-resistant and shockproof.

Easy to read

Whether you are in bright sunlight or blinding darkness, the eTrex10’s display will be crystal clear. It flaunts a 2.2-inch screen display for easy reading.

Tremendous geocaching capability

It is your number one geocaching device. Plus it is capable of cache filtering thus eliminating the need for paperwork.

Revolutionary track navigation

The model generates routes from track information. This prevents hikers from getting lost. Going on, the feature can store up to 1000 waypoints and 50 routes. On top of that, the device can accurately tabulate terrain distance.

The Garmin eTrex10 is a premium entry-level unit designed to provide great battery life, a wide array of features, and accuracy.


  • Budget-friendly
  • Supports paperless geocaching
  • GPS and GLONASS support


  • The joystick is not effective

best hiking gps tracker

How do you choose a GPS and use them while hiking?

1. Admirable battery life

It is vital for the GPS to have long battery life for a worry-free hiking experience. While some models use rechargeable batteries, others run on AA batteries. Advanced units run on both.

2. Great display

This brings us to the touchscreen vs. buttons debate. It is no secret that touchscreens execute commands more quicker. Yet their major downside is massively draining battery power. On the flip side, button-operated units are more reliable but slow. It is now up to personal preference.

3. Robust constructions

You need a tracker that will be able to withstand the most unforgiving conditions. Luckily, hiking GPS trackers are shock and water-resistant.

4. Reception quality

Top-notch accuracy and reliability are some of the attributes to look for in a GPS tracker. GLONASS and WAAS are the most commonly utilized satellites. High-end units can simultaneously track both satellites. Go for a unit with excellent reception.

5. Mapping capability

Besides the basic base maps, you should look out for models with topo maps or other downloadable resources for flawless navigation. Ensure that your maps can do tracking, create routes, organize data, mark waypoints, and display other crucial information.

6. Sufficient storage memory

The best unit should be able to accommodate a colossal amount of data regarding maps, waypoints, and more. With that in mind, it would be great to have a model with extensive storage space.

7. Compatibility with other devices

Look out for a model that is compatible with other devices for the seamless sharing of data. Sharing could be through specialized apps or mostly Bluetooth. You can use such data in tracking personal stats and trips.

Things to consider while choosing the Hiking GPS:

Portability of the set

There are different models in the market. The choice depends on preference. Nonetheless, the best unit should be easy to use and carry around as well. Handheld and wrist units are more portable.


If you look to venture into the deepest canyons, thick forests, or mountainous regions, you need a GPS tracker with powerful sensors or receivers.

Cost of the product

The cost can be a misleading factor although expensive models spell quality and top functionality. Most high-end GPS trackers incorporate more accurate features and tend to be more durable.

Customer review

Before choosing any unit, it is wise to go through reviews from other customers. This is possible for online buyers. Also, try to find out some of the pros and cons of the model you intend to select.


Things can never go south if you have the right GPS tracker. The GPS tracker should display exemplary functionality in addition to being durable and dependable.

To make the most of your GPS tracking, you should map out a trip that you are familiar with. This will make it easier for you to spot sights. Then, you should make a top-to-bottom plan, showing all of the landmarks that you would like to see on the trip. You should also take note of any access roads, phone numbers, or restaurants that you may want to have access to while on the trip.


How to use a GPS for hiking trails?

You can also create a single-piece GPS hiking or biking trail from a particular area of land using the auto-track feature of the GPS. For example, you might want to create a route that takes you from your home to the hills near your work. You can do this by selecting a button on the map that says, “Take a hallway shortcut.” On the screen that comes up, you would be asked to give the command for the hike. You would then see the results of your commands.

You can map out a visit to a national park using this feature. You would first choose a focal point from where you want to hike or bike, and then you would use the map screen to select a starting point and destination. You would then copy the path that you have just designed to create your route.

If you would rather create a single-day trip, you can map out the portion of the trail that you would like to take. First, you would take the portion that is north of the trail. Then you would head north following the trail. It is possible to combine a single-day trip with a multi-day trip. In this case, you would map out a multi-day trail, and then go back and forth using the trail as you would normally, except for the portion of the trail that you would like to take on.

How to use your GPS for walking and biking routes?

With your Handheld GPS, you can select walking and biking routes. You will even be able to print maps and print destinations if you are traveling with a large group.

As you are walking or biking down a street, you can use GPS to select a destination. To do so, first select a starting point. From the drop-down menu, choose a street using an arrow or select a direction ( northwest or northeast).

Once you have selected a destination, you can use the LCD display to select hotels, attractions, or restaurants. To do so, touch the map area on the LCD screen. It will be auto-assigned to you. If you do not want to map to a specific location, touch any of the options in the map view.

After you have done all of the above, you can use the street view feature of the GPS to select additional streets that you want to see. If your map view is not clear, clear it as best as you can. Each street will have buildings, overhanging trees, and people. So, be sure to clear as much of it as you can. For more details, you can refer to the user guide provided with the set.

How accurate is a handheld GPS?

Handheld GPS has what is referred to as recreational grade accuracy. Recreational grade accuracy is capable of indicating location, compass bearings, longitude, and latitude. The accuracy of such models lies between 10 and 50 feet.

Can I use my phone’s GPS for hiking?

It is possible to use your GPS-enabled smartphone for hiking. Phones utilize WiFi, triangulation between buildings, and cheap GPS devices to track locations. However, the GPS receivers might not be as powerful as what handheld GPS offer in areas of thick cover.

Is GPS time accurate?

GPS satellites rely on atomic clocks which happen to be very accurate. Atomic clocks produce time with an accuracy of up to 10ns.

What is the best handheld GPS on the market?

A Quick View:
1. Garmin GPSMAP 64st GPS (Premium Pick)
2. Garmin eTrex 30x, Handheld GPS (Top Choice)
3. Garmin Foretrex 401 (Best Value)
4. Garmin Montana 680t
5. Garmin Oregon 600
6. Garmin 010-01772-00 Foretrex 601
7. Garmin Rino 750
8. Garmin inReach Explorer
9. Garmin GPSMAP 64s
10. Garmin eTrex10 GPS
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