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If you are getting ready to make a hunting trip in unfamiliar territory, it is best that you have a way to figure out exactly where you are and keep track of where you have been.
You could try a map but that isn’t as easy and precise as a GPS. Hunting is an activity where this type of technology comes in very handy since you are traversing large areas of land in pursuit of your game. It is also easy to become turned around and lost.
Here, we will discuss the importance of having a GPS when hunting and also detail some of the best models available.
Comparison Chart of the Best Hunting GPS
Garmin Foretrex 401 Waterproof Hiking GPS
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Garmin GPSMAP 64st, TOPO U.S. 100K with High-Sensitivity GPS and GLONASS Receiver
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Garmin Fenix 3 HR, Gray
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Garmin eTrex 30x 010-01508-10 Handheld Navigator
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Garmin eTrex 20x
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Magellan CX0310SGXNA eXplorist 310 Waterproof Hiking GPS
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BREADCRUMB Bluetooth Trackable Technology Hunting Nock for Arrow or Bolt
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Garmin in Reach Explorer+
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Garmin GPSMAP 62St
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How to Choose a GPS For Your Next Hunting Trip
GPS devices are more useful then they appear. Once out in the wilderness, it can determine not only the success of your hunting trip but also your safe return home. Since they are very important, it is necessary to look into some features that make or break a good GPS device. Below, we discuss some of these.
Quite clearly, the one thing demanded from a GPS device is accuracy. This includes the accuracy of the user’s current position as well as the next point on the map he or she wishes to reach. A GPS equipped with an internal compass, a wide map database, altimeter, and accelerometer enhance the accuracy and the ability of the device to pinpoint locations.
The design of the GPS greatly affects its usability depending upon the conditions. Although long battery life is deserved under all weather conditions, the choice of touchscreen or button varies.
A button pad is useful under all weather, but the input is slow, and navigation is not as easy as with a touchscreen. With a touchscreen, the fast data entry and easy pinch and draw navigation are accompanied by the difficulty of use with gloves or in the rain or snow.
Good satellite coverage possible through connectivity with multiple satellites is a great advantage for any GPS device. The more the satellites, the more accurately the data is plotted out. With wide coverage, the GPS might be used for any region of the world with the same accuracy and detail to map.
Perks of Having a GPS While Hunting
A GPS is a navigational system that is about the size of a flip cell phone. These are devices which use satellites to provide information on your position in the world. These devices are used in many different areas to keep data on where things are and how you can get there.
The most important thing to consider, especially for hunting uses, is how well it gets satellite reception in very remote areas and its ability to stay connected consistently to the satellite.
It is important to have good satellite reception so that you can easily track where you are and use the maps and locations saved within your unit.
Aspects to Consider Before Buying a Hunting GPS
When looking for the perfect hunting GPS to take on your adventures there are some main features to consider.
This is an extremely important feature to consider when buying a GPS to use in remote locations on hunting trips. You need a device that can stay connected to a satellite even when you are deep in the woods.
The whole point of a GPS is to know where you are. Be sure to consider whether you can add more maps and drop pins on your location in your GPS device to avoid getting lost.
If you are planning some long trips, you will need something that has a long battery life, whether this is a rechargeable battery that comes with a spare or something else, you don’t want your battery to die while you are trekking through the woods.
Review of the Best Hunting GPS
The main features of a GPS can decide its quality and usefulness for the consumer based on the accuracy and connectivity with satellites. It is also important to know how many maps it contains, whether you can add maps of your choosing, insert markers into them, and how long the battery will last because it needs to be usable for the duration of your trip.
Best Overall & Best Garmin Hunting GPS:
Garmin ForeTrex 401
This system is one of the best for satellite reception coverage. You can maintain a strong satellite signal even when in remote, heavily wooded areas and deep canyons. This product uses a high-sensitivity receiver with HotFix to improve and maintain its strong reception.
Another main feature that sets this device apart from the competition is the TracBack feature that retraces the user’s path. It also keeps track of waypoints, tracks, and routes while in use.
The battery can last up to 17 hours and uses two AAA batteries. It also includes a wrist strap and can be worn like a watch while you are hiking and following game in the backcountry.
The Garmin ForeTrex 401 is an excellent option if you are looking to spend time in unfamiliar, very remote locations. Whether it’s the woods, mountains, or canyons, this device has powerful satellite reception.
With good battery life and the TracBack feature to easily retrace your route, this is a great choice. It also holds different routes and drops waypoints on the map so that you can keep your camp labeled.
The only possible downside is that the wrist strap can wear, become uncomfortable, and may not last as long as you would like. However, that is a fairly small downside compared to all the great features. So if your plan is to go hiking and hunting in a new, remote place, then the Garmin ForeTrex 401 is one of the best choices for you.
Best Handheld GPS for Hunting:
This unit is a great choice if you are looking to have lots of maps kept on your device and want to be able to pinpoint locations on them. The device has an 8GB internal memory space and a microSD slot to add maps that you need.
It has two satellite systems it uses to provide high-sensitivity reception. It has a dual battery system that allows you to use either a rechargeable battery or AA batteries to give you options while on a trip.
This GPS also has the Garmin Connect feature that you can use to upload data to smartphones for real-time viewing of what you are doing and where you are.
The Garmin offering is a great option for someone who needs excellent satellite reception and lots of space to add whatever maps they need for a new adventure. It is also a great option for someone who likes to be able to share where they are and what they are doing with others using the Garmin Connect system.
The one downside to this device is its battery life. While it has a dual battery system that can either use AA batteries or a rechargeable battery, either power option results in a short life. This is a rather unfortunate downside, but overall, if you aren’t looking to be out on multiple day trips, this device is still an excellent choice.
Best Hunting GPS Watch:
This device is a step above many others if you need something that has a dual purpose and works well. Functioning as both a smartwatch and a GPS, the Garmin Fenix 3 has many features.
It has great satellite reception that comes from using both the GPS and GLONASS systems to stay connected. Its battery life is greatly dependent on what mode is mainly being used. In GPS mode it can last for up to 16 hours, which gives you plenty of time to explore somewhere new.
In smartwatch mode, it can perform for up to two weeks. Another feature of this watch is that it uses Wi-Fi to use Garmin Connect wirelessly. This allows you to upload data and broadcast a live feed directly to your smartphone.
The Garmin Fenix 3 HR. Gray is a great device for someone looking for a multi-use gadget that works as both a smartwatch, which can take your heart rate right from your wrist, to a fully functional GPS that can stay connected to satellites even in remote areas that are unknown to you.
The one downside with this device is the screen size. Because it is a watch, the screen only measures 1.2 inches, which can make it a little hard to see where you are and read the information. However, this is a small downside if you are ok with looking a small screen and have good eyesight to help you out. Overall, this is a watch and GPS for a person who wants to be on the go and explore new places.
Best Hunting GPS Under $200:
Garmin eTrex 30x
This unit is perfect for someone who is looking to use a lot of different maps and wants to be able to change the ones they have access to. With 3.7GB of internal memory space and a microSD slot, there is a lot of space to load and store maps. Whether you are in familiar hunting places where you have a certain camp staked out or if going somewhere entirely new, this product has you covered.
This product also comes with a built-in electronic compass and barometric altimeter so that you know how high you are getting and which direction you need to go. Another useful feature is that you can wirelessly transfer data to compatible devices, so if you are in a group, you can all share the same map with all the necessary waypoints in case you get separated.
The Garmin eTrex Handheld Navigator is an excellent device for someone looking to be able to store many maps and keep track of where they are. It is also great if you are traveling in a group of people who have compatible devices so you can all have the same map to make sure everyone knows how to get back to camp and is on the same page.
However, a downside is that while it comes with a preloaded map, said map may not be up-to-date with trail changes and shutdowns. Overall, this is a great unit to have with groups and gives you lots of space to add any maps you desire.
Best for the Money:
Garmin eTrex 20x
This GPS is a great choice for many reasons. First, it has strong satellite reception even in very remote locations with thick tree cover because it uses a few different systems to help pinpoint your location.
It has 3.7GB internal memory space and a microSD slot that allows for you to load a variety of maps onto it. It also comes with an easy-to-use preloaded worldwide base map to make getting started on a trip easy. These features make it an easy and accurate device whether you are in familiar forests or on a new trip into canyons and remote locations.
The Garmin eTrex 20x is an excellent choice for someone who is just beginning to use GPS devices or is experienced with them, as it has a large storage capacity for you to save different maps, excellent satellite reception to keep your location accurately pinpointed on your journey, and has the preloaded map for general use if you are just starting out
The main downside is that this system does have a bit of slower response time in connecting to satellite reception and loading your location. While this can be a problem if you are in a hurry to get somewhere and know where you are, it is still not horrible if you have the patience to use it. Overall, this is a great option for both beginners or pros to find where they are and get where they are going.
Best Magellan Hunting GPS:
Magellan CX0310SGXNA eXplorist 310
This device is a very high tech one, as it uses multiple systems to help keep it connected to satellite reception and accurately show locations on the map as it is being used. This device has up to 18 hours of battery life and has two different power saver modes that can be used to stretch the battery life further.
It is also built to endure the elements including going underwater for up to 30 minutes at up to a one-meter depth. It is also a great GPS if you are into geocaching as it allows you to download and view characteristics about the cache you are searching for.
The Magellan CX0310SGXNA eXplorist 310 is a great option for someone who wants to be able to go exploring in all sorts of places and weather conditions. It can even be used in rain and submerged under water if, for some reason, you need to take it for a swim.
While its battery can last up to 18 hours, the only downside of this is that it doesn’t have any alternative power sources. This unit takes two AA batteries so if you are planning on using it for more than 18 hours, you will need to pack spare batteries with you. Overall the need to bring spare batteries with you is a fairly small downside for the versatility of this device.
Best GPS Arrows for Hunting:
BREADCRUMB Bluetooth Arrows
This device is an attachable nock for bow hunting that will make your life easier for finding arrows that have gone astray after being fired. With a Bluetooth transmitter that is good for a 50+ yard range you will be able to use your phone to track down where it has gone after you shot it.
The accelerometer that is built into the nock is an important part as it uses motion sense to activate the Bluetooth once the arrow is fired. The main part of this technology is the PCB Processor that controls the LED light, sound, and Bluetooth functions so that you can find your arrow even in the dark and follow the sound to help even more.
The BREADCRUMB Bluetooth Trackable Technology Hunting Nock is a great device for the archer who is tired of wasting money on having to replace lost arrows. This is technology that helps you find your arrow with light, sound, and Bluetooth. You can just connect it to your smartphone and track it from there.
The main downside that comes with this nock is Bluetooth connectivity issues which you can expect from almost anything that has Bluetooth capabilities.
Overall, this device is really an impressive piece of technology that can help you keep track of your arrows and save you time trying to find them walking aimlessly around in the woods where an arrow could be covered up by so many things.
Best GPS for Elk Hunting:
Garmin in Reach Explorer+
What Recent Buyers Report
This product enjoys a wide range of users. From nature photographers to campers and, most popularly, hunters, it has satisfied everyone. Buyers were especially appreciative of the mapping system provided by the device. The system not only lets you locate your current position but would also chalk out a route to your next destination. This makes traveling in an unknown territory much safer.
Why it Stands Out to Us
The GPS surpasses all expectations of what such a device can do. Apart from well-fed maps, it comes with weather forecast updates, an altimeter, and a digital compass, etc. But even more importantly, it lets the users send and receive messages to anyone due to the two-way satellite connectivity.
In addition, when in need of help, the SOS button gets the Garmin search and rescue department up and running in no time.
This is an exceptional device in the line of hunting GPS gadgets. It expands your hunting terrains by allowing you to go to faraway places but still stay connected to the world in case of emergencies. It is a smart and very efficient device that is built to help hunters in many ways.
Best GPS for Duck Hunting:
Garmin GPSMAP 62St
What Recent Buyers Report
Most recent buyers report that the GPS device is very easy to use. It has a simple and easy to understand interface. The antennas on it are decent and locate positions quite accurately. Moreover, the maps are free and very easy to download. The database also holds worldwide maps, which made the device useful for areas outside the US as well.
Why it Stands Out to Us
This Garmin GPS device has an amazing setup for maps. It holds information regarding wide topographic arrays and detailed marine and road maps. These maps are not just limited to the US but also expand to many locations globally.
Not only this, but the Birds Eye Satellite imagery is also very helpful. In case you can’t find a map for your need, you can always convert paper and digital maps into downloadable ones via Custom Maps software.
A GPS device is useless if it does not have sufficient maps or a digital compass. This device has both. It supports a wide database for maps that cover parts even outside the States. Along with that, it is fully equipped with a very accurate digital compass and an altimeter. All in all, it makes for a great handheld GPS device for hunting trips that do not involve safety issues.
Types of GPS
GPS is short for Global Positioning System. It is a gadget that receives signals to measure coordinates. They are of 3 main types. These are discussed below.
Data loggers have an internal USB or a memory card. They might even work as a USB flash drive. Data loggers record the positioning of the gadget at regular intervals. This data is stored on its memory and could later be retrieved. These are usually used to keep track of a person’s, vehicle’s or object’s location.
These devices calculate coordinates from the data received via satellite and send it to other devices. Data pushers are usually used to track movements, and they send information alerts via messages. The information may include speed, route, and time taken to move between places.
Also known as data transponders, these trackers do not send the data to any devices but may be queried later to retrieve information. These devices are always recording data. If needed, they can be used to access it. An example includes the GPS associated with cell phones and mobiles, which is not necessarily sending data anywhere but might be queried for information any time nonetheless.
Pros and Cons of Hunting With a GPS
Hunting is revolutionized with the use of hunting GPS. The device brings ease and accuracy to the sport, making the experience worthwhile. Even though it makes a great addition to the hunting kit, there are a few drawbacks associated with them as well. Let’s take a closer look at both the pros and cons.
Let’s first go over the advantages:
Maps Out Route
Hunting usually requires going off-road to far places. Usually, these spots are away from civilization. In such cases, when roads are scarce and the terrains difficult, a GPS proves very useful in mapping out quick and easy routes to move from one place to another. If the device is well-equipped, it might also indicate the time required to travel between places as well.
Some GPS devices also allow you to share your location in real-time with other people. This might prove very useful in case of emergencies. The location of the user might be used by other team members or people back at home to locate them easily.
Maps and Compass
A GPS contains a digital compass and a wide database of maps. In some gadgets, the maps might even be downloaded if they are not present already. Such a feature gives an all-in-one solution to the hunter’s many needs and eliminates the need to carry separate compass and maps.
On the other hand, a few limitations include:
While they are efficient devices, they are powered by batteries that might run out of life. Although all GPS devices run for a very long time on a single charge, out in the wilderness, there are a few to no chances of charging your gadget. In serious circumstances, this might leave you stranded directionless in the middle of nowhere.
Throughout this article, you have read about the options and benefits of different GPS devices and how they can help you out. Make sure you find one that will stay connected and can accurately help you keep track of where you are and where you have been. Our variety of options is sure to give you a good start on finding a great device for your next hunting adventure!
People Also Ask
When you are looking for a GPS, many questions come to mind about why they are important and how they can help while you are hiking, hunting, or just looking to explore an area that you are unfamiliar with. Here are some of the common questions that consumers have asked while looking for a GPS.
What is GPS?
A GPS is a navigational device that uses different satellites to pinpoint locations loaded into an electronic device. They are used in many different fields for people who need to be able to track routes and find where they are. This type of technology is used in a variety of products including activity trackers, directional devices, watches, and cell phones.
What Does GPS Stand For?
GPS is an acronym for Global Positioning System. It uses many different satellites that are continuously orbiting Earth to accurately send signals and locate the device you are using. It then provides information about your surrounding area.
Who Invented GPS?
The Global Positioning System is a satellite-based navigation system that is finding uses in many fields of life. Three people are considered to be the Pioneers of the GPS, namely Ivan A. Getting, Bradford Parkinson, and Roger L. Easton.
How To Read GPS Coordinates?
There are three ways in which GPS coordinates are represented. They are read in almost the same manner. These ways are:
DMS (Degrees, Minutes, Seconds): In this representation, the space between each 1-degree line is divided into 60 minutes. Each minute is divided into 60 seconds. For example the format 42°22’12.3″N
5°11’26.5″E is read as Latitude 42 degrees, 22 minutes, and 12.3 seconds North. Meanwhile, the longitude is read as 5 degrees, 11 minutes, and 26.5 seconds East.
Degrees and decimal minutes (DMM): This system is the same as above, with the exception that instead of the minute divided into seconds, it is divided into decimal points.
So the format 42 22.123 5 11.265 is read as Latitude 42 degrees, 22.123 minutes North and the Longitude as 5 degrees and 22.123 minutes East.
Negative numbers represent the South of Equator, and positive numbers represent the North.
Decimal degrees (DD): In this format, each space between the 1-degree line is divided and expressed as decimals. The format 42.22123 5.11265 means Latitude 42.22123 degrees North and Longitude 5.11265 degrees East. Positive numbers represent the North of the Equator, while negative numbers represent the South.
How Much is a GPS?
The price of GPS devices varies from brand to brand and model to model. Different uses require different sets of functions to be supported by GPS. However, the handheld devices mostly fall in the range of $150-$800, covering almost all uses.
How Does the GPS System Work?
A GPS uses 24 to 30 satellites orbiting Earth at an altitude of 20,000 km to pinpoint your location. Your device draws its information from the three different satellites nearest to your device in order to accurately pinpoint your location.
How Accurate is GPS?
The accuracy of your GPS mainly depends on how strong your connectivity signal is based on whether the line of reception is obscured by trees or buildings. Overall, GPS signals are accurate within about a 4.9-meter radius of your location, which is about 16 feet.
OK, so you're from the 19th century and still trying to book that trip to meet Sacagawea with Lewis & Clark, promising them you'll bring a good compass, and that you can "read the stars," so you'll end up for sure West of the Rockies, and not in New Orleans. Guide Phil Schweik has used a compass continuously for decades. They're basic. They'll tell you what you're direction you're moving to or from, and they can save your life… also like chart-reading "by the stars".
More Information About GPS
But the pages of time and technology have turned. Yes, compasses are still small, cheap and useful. But if you want to save time and effort, turn the page and opt for a GPS unit. GPS stands for "Global Positioning System."
What a GPS does is literally pinpoint where you've been, where you are, and where you're going. Your position is established through the use of an orbiting satellite and tasked to put you within a short distance of where you want to be. Now, note we said "short distance of where you want to be." The GPS units available to the public are NOT as accurate as those provided to the military and governmental entities and deliberately so. You're not going to be able to program anything with absolute accuracy. You'll be close, but it's more a "scratch bull," then a total "bull's eye," if you get my drift. But it's good enough for hunters.
GPS units come in a wide variety of designs and capabilities. You can get vehicle-mounted units, portable units, combos of both types, and units which are part of other gadgets. You can buy a simple hand-held unit for between fifty and a hundred bucks. The more detail you want or need, the higher the cost. Units come with maps showing terrain, roads, streets, contours, elevations, and lakes.
For instance, if your unit shows tight contour lines you know you're going up a hill. If the contour lines are spread out, you're flat-landing it. Indeed, any number of these GPS units "talk to you." So if you're out in the woods and you're lonely, think how nice it would be to have some Hollywood starlet telling you which direction to head to get back to camp or your truck. As for me, I'd personally opt for George Clooney. The bottom line is that GPS units have long battery life, are rechargeable and can save you hours of time and exertion, as well as giving you total peace of mind.
As a hunter you may know a particular woody area then again, you may not. Either way a GPS is a real helper. You are able to lock in a position of a tree, a cabin, a stand, a blind, a vehicle, and then move out, having your GPS leave a "dotted trail" on it, which you can pull up at any time to see your position or how to get back to where you were, or where you'll mark a good hunting spot… all of it. In addition, let's say you've hit a deer, and are now tracking it -- you can easily lose sight of your buddies or become disoriented. With a GPS unit, you'll always be able to find your way back, and know exactly where you're going and where you've been. With a GPS, being lost is a thing of the past.
I've been told by many hunters that a GPS is almost a required accessory, particularly when there is heavy snow or pea soup fog. Even if you know a wooded area inside-out, heavy snow changes everything. Boughs bend, trees, outcropping, and reference points that you've always known and relied upon are now covered and hidden. Your GPS will remember the right way to go, and then the right way to return to where you want to. In fog, you can be turned around and become disoriented at every turn. And if there's an accident or someone needs assistance, and if you must go for help, you can assure your buddy that you will be able to return quickly right to where they are.
Guide Phil Schweik says that the GPS units that are sold by the major outfitter store where he works are becoming ever more complex in the type and amount of information that can be displayed and used; and he says, the units are really very simple to use. With technology changing rapidly, Phil suggests paying a few bucks more and getting the newest model; controls become friendlier, new types/kinds/formats of information are retrieved and can be used more quickly, battery life is longer, and contrasting colors literally bring things to life.
If "you're good to go," you'll be "better to go" by using either a basic compass or preferably a GPS unit.