Are you looking for a global positioning system that will help you feel safe in the deep forest? There’s nothing like venturing into the wilderness with confidence, relying on the survival skills you’ve spent years honing—as long as you have a backup plan in case the impossible happens and you do find yourself lost. GPS systems are also fun to have around if there is a Geocache in the area. For your hunting trip, they can help you stay on track in case you wander off of land where you were planning on hunting, so that you don’t stray into private land. And these are important safety systems, so that you’ll know how far you have to go to get help can be critical in the event that someone in your party gets hurt.
When it comes to GPS units for hunters, you can’t do enough research. There are many different options out there, and the prices, features, and usability of these models can vary. Some of you might be looking for a cheaper model to take out with your kid and show her how to geocache. Others may want to journey deep into the backcountry, where a wrong step could send you a few dozen miles out of your way. Often, it takes a GPS unit beyond your iPhone app or Android device app; you need to look at a more substantial handheld GP device.
No matter what kind of GPS device you’re looking at investing in, you’ll want to keep a few things in mind. First, you’ll want to make sure that you can use the device, and some are tougher to figure out than others. You’ll want to consider screen size, whether you want a touch screen or not, and features you’d like. Do you want to be able to forward emails and texts from your phone to the device? Do you want preloaded topo maps? Do you want to use the device as a reference manual for different hunting seasons and other information, or do you just want something simple that has a long battery life and gets the job done? How quickly do you want to be able to get a signal?
Recording where you’ve been can open up a whole new world when it comes to hunting; with these you can look back at where you went in previous seasons, so that you have all the information you need to be more successful in seasons to come.
Here are the best hunting GPS units out there for 2017:
This model is one of our favorites. Garmin is known for having durable, easy-to-use devices, and this GPS is no exception. It comes with topo maps already loaded, and it has a rechargeable battery. There’s a touch screen display that’s easy to read in the sun, 300MB of data, dual-band GPS/GLONASS satellite positioning, and ANT or Bluetooth technology that allows you to share routes, tracks, waypoints, geocaches, custom maps and photos of your hunting adventures without having to plug it into another device. Pretty convenient, right?
We know this isn’t the newest model out there, but we’ve experienced a few issues with the most current model, so we’re going with the tried-and-true 600t. It’s a little more expensive than others on the list, but well worth it.
We like the topo gp map contour layer and the boundary alerts that come with this device, so that you always can be sure you aren’t straying out of legal hunting grounds. Includes a 1-year subscription to DigitalGlobe, hunting calendars that are preloaded (how convenient is that?), moon phases, sunrise and sunset times, and hunting areas in various states (land lines for BLM and private property, for instance). Some people found this to look a bit small at first, but quickly grew used to it. This is an excellent way for a person new to hunting to start without becoming overwhelmed by trying to find where and when to go.
This is an older device that we love. It has a 2.6” display (in color) that’s easy to read in the daylight, a dual battery system, topo maps, 8 Gigs of memory, smart notifications, a three-axis compass, and a wireless notifications sharing system. You can often connect it to your phone as well, so that you can receive emails and texts without having to dig your phone out of your pack. Easily add maps, use BaseCamp software for trip planning, and looking for some of the 250,000 preloaded geocache sights. This weights just over 9 ounces and uses two AA batteries. Great for recording your hikes, too! Some people did find that the battery life was a bit short, but we think that the speed with which it gets a signal makes up for that.
This is the most expensive model on the list, but we believe the price is worth it. It has a decent camera, does great at track managing (by this we mean it can easily navigate using waypoints/routes/track logs), and has a great variety of preloaded maps and other features. The grandaddy of GPS systems. The price includes Includes a one-year Birdseye Satellite Imagery subscription as well as Hotfix satellite prediction and GLONASS support. It weighs 10 ounces. Some users found it a bit large to carry, but others didn’t mind the small size. It’s known for accuracy, power, and great reception, and folks found the interface intuitive and pleasant to use.
This is a great, sleek little handheld device from a hunting company we love. It uses two AA batteries, it’s tiny, incredibly reliable, weighs next to nothing, and it’s simple to use (with only two buttons). You can store three different locations, and you don’t have to worry about getting it wet, as this guy is weather resistant. Because the unit is so simple (and not ideal if you want to store a bunch of different locations), it has a fantastic battery life. This is the hunting GPS for the minimalist. It’s the cheapest on our list, but we find it to be an elegant, high-quality item to take into the backcountry.