A Guide For Choosing The Best Hunting GPS
When you leave home to head out on the hunt, you tap into a set of primal skills. You don’t have to rely on human ingenuity and skill to be a successful hunter, though. With a hunting GPS system, you have better odds of locating game. You also decrease your chances of getting lost far from civilization. Regardless of your hunting goals, investing in a GPS is an excellent idea.
As you likely know, there are dozens of hunting GPS devices on the market today. Not all are a good use of your hunting funds, however. How do you know the difference between an exceptional GPS and an inferior one? That’s where we come in.
In this article, we provide some general information about how to choose the best hunting GPS for your needs. We also review of few excellent devices. Continue reading to see which systems made our rankings.
Hunting GPS FAQs
Our goal is to provide you with honest, reliable and useful information. Before identifying the best hunting GPS, you should know a few things about these systems. Here are answers to five of the questions we hear most frequently.
1. What Is a Hunting GPS?
A global positioning system uses satellites, a receiver and a mathematical algorithm to determine location and speed. When used for hunting, these systems offer detailed location, navigation, tracking, mapping and timing information to the sporting enthusiast. The data delivered by a hunting GPS can also help emergency responders locate hunters during crisis situations.
2. How Does a Hunting GPS Work?
Earth has hundreds of satellites circling it. Some of these satellites send signals to a GPS receiver located on the planet’s surface. These receivers can be in vehicles, hand-held devices or other places. For the GPS receiver to display accurate information, it must receive a signal from at least four satellites. As satellites orbit the planet, they relay information to the device. The device uses an algorithm to process data from multiple satellites and deliver accurate geospatial information to the GPS user.
3. Why Do Hunters Use GPS Devices?
Hunters often venture far from civilization in search of the perfect game. Because wilderness areas can be vast, maze-like places, hunters need assistance navigating them. They also use technology to track game. Moreover, if hunters get lost during their outdoor adventure, they use GPS information to notify emergency services of their locations. While old-fashioned paper maps are useful, they often fall short of the effectiveness of modern GPS devices.
4. Where Can You Buy a Hunting GPS?
Hunting GPS devices are available for purchase in a variety of places. Most sporting goods stores sell these systems. Likewise, virtually all big-box stores have some hunting GPS equipment for sale. If you prefer to shop online, you can likely purchase your GPS directly through the manufacturer’s website. Alternatively, you may choose to browse for a hunting GPS on a third-party site, such as Amazon or eBay. If you do, be sure you only order from a reliable seller.
5. How Much Does a Hunting GPS Cost?
GPS devices vary in cost considerably. Not all systems are appropriate for hunting enthusiasts, though. Even among hunting GPS devices, price tags range from as low as $100 to more than $500. To help you budget effectively for your next device, we discuss overall pricing in greater detail later in this article.
How We Reviewed Hunting GPS Devices
For hunters to succeed, they must have the right equipment. In the modern era, a hunting GPS device is essential equipment. We understand there are dozens of devices on the market. Since not every device is worthy of your time or money, we developed a ranking of the best hunting GPS devices. We want to give you useful information, so we didn’t only look at published materials and marketing information for the hunting GPS units on our list. Instead, we read through dozens of professional and amateur reviews. Whether an actual user of a device loves or hates it, we tell you about it.
For a hunting GPS to be good, it must work in remote areas. Still, connectivity isn’t the only criteria we considered when developing our rankings. To earn a spot on our list of the best hunting GPS devices, each unit must excel in the following areas:
- Being easy to use is important, as hunters must keep their attention focused on safety and accuracy.
- Having good satellite reception is necessary for devices to deliver reliable, accurate information to hunters.
- Delivering fast information is critical for helping hunters find trails and locate game.
- Having updated mapping software is vital for keeping hunters on the right track.
- Featuring a variety of maps is essential for hunters to venture into areas that are off the beaten path.
- Providing additional accessories is advantageous for hunters to get the most out of their GPS devices.
- Costing a reasonable price and including a decent warranty is important for allowing hunters to have the right gear for meeting their hunting goals.
Our list ranks the best hunting GPS devices. To give you even more information, we have assigned each device with a ranking on a five-point scale. You can use these ratings to see how closely we think a device is to the one before and after it on our list.
Overall Price Range of Hunting GPS Devices
We mentioned in our FAQ section above that hunting GPS devices vary wildly in cost. As you may suspect, the more a device costs, generally the more features it has. If you fork over hundreds of dollars for a GPS unit, you can likely expect it to have the following options:
- Large screen
- Water-resistant case
- Modern mapping software
- Detail mapping information
- Linking capabilities
- Additional accessories
- Impressive warranty
While you can spend nearly $1,000 for a hunting GPS, you don’t have to invest a small fortune in a good one. Most of the devices we reviewed cost between $150 and $400. To get the most bang for your buck, you must think about your GPS needs. You likely don’t need a military-grade unit. Instead, you should probably choose a device that is good at mapping the areas you go to most frequently.
In our rankings, we give you a pricing estimate for each device. Remember, though, you should only use our pricing to get a general idea of how much each GPS costs to buy. Since pricing changes frequently, plan to check with a device seller for accurate, real-time pricing information.
The Top 5 Best Hunting GPS Devices: Rankings, Ratings and Reviews
To avoid overloading you with information, we have limited our list to five hunting GPS devices. While our list is comprehensive, it is far from exhaustive. As such, you may decide to purchase a GPS that didn’t make our rankings. That’s fine. Our goal is to provide you with accurate information you can use to make a smart purchase.
Here are the five best hunting GPS devices in our opinion.
- 3-Inch sunlight-readable, touchscreen display with multi-touch capability
- Dual-band GPS/GLONASS satellite positioning
- Sensors (3-axis compass, accelerometer, barometric altimeter)
The clear standout hunting GPS is the Garmin Oregon 600. This system has a 3-inch touchscreen display. This makes it both readable and useful. Still, the device isn’t so large that it is difficult to carry. Instead, it comes in a compact, weather-resistant casing that easily packs alongside your existing hunting gear.
Technologically speaking, the Garmin Oregon 600 is formidable. This system uses dual-band GPS/GLONASS satellite position to help you quickly locate your position regardless of where you are. The GPS’s three sensors and ANT or Bluetooth connectivity make it ideal for hunters who want to pair the system with other devices.
When you buy the Garmin Oregon 600, you get a worldwide base map. You can, however, download dozens of other area-specific maps. The Oregon 600 runs on regular batteries, making it easy to keep the system charged. If you want, though, you can purchase a chargeable battery to power the device.
- Sunlight Readable 2.6 inch color display; Expanded Internal Memory 4GB
- Display type is transflective, 65k color tft; Display resolution is 160 x 240 pixels
- DUAL BATTERY SYSTEM Use with 2 traditional AA batteries, or the optional rechargeable NiMH battery pack that can be...
The second hunting GPS on our list could easily have been the first. The Garmin GPSMAP 64s high-sensitivity system is a good device. Interestingly, the device comes in different levels. You can buy the base model for a bare-bones GPS device or opt for a fully-loaded alternative.
We ranked the Garmin GPSMAP below the Oregon 600 due to a lack of touchscreen. We think nowadays most users expect devices to have touchscreens. Still, this device has some features that the Oregon 600 lacks. For example, you can share tracking information with other Garmin users with just the touch of a button.
The Garmin GPSMAP is compatible with most smartphones. It also runs on regular AA batteries, which are easy to replace. If you want, though, you can upgrade the power system to an NiMH pack. This pack charges when connected to a power outlet, computer or other devices.
- The World Edition includes detailed road network, water features, urban and rural land use
- Brilliant, Sunlight Readable Color Screen.A vibrant 2.2" color transflective screen provides the best readability in...
- Topographic map of 9 US Regions
The Magellan Explorist 310 is a basic hunting GPS. That’s what makes it so cool. You don’t have to worry about toggling through several screens or different features with this device. Instead, you get accurate mapping information that is simple to understand and analyze.
The Explorist 310 has a color LCD screen that delivers good contrast. It does not, however, have a touchscreen. If you prefer to navigate by touching the surface of your GPS, this isn’t the system for you. If, however, you want a waterproof, accurate, heavy-duty GPS at an affordable price, you will likely love the Magellan Explorist 310.
- UPGRADED DISPLAY Features a 2.2” 65K color sunglight readable display offering increased resolution (240 x 320...
- LOAD MORE MAPS Large 3.7 GB of internal memory and microSD card slot lets you load a variety of maps, including TOPO...
- PRELOADED BASEMAP Includes a worldwide basemap with shaded relief
The fourth hunting GPS on our list is another Garmin device. That makes sense, as Garmin has long been a leader in manufacturing top-notch tracking equipment. The company’s eTrex 30X gives you a basic map and decent functionality. Before you head out hunting, though, you must download a map upgrade, as the included map misses many wilderness trails.
We like this device for its three-axis tilt compass. This helps track your position precisely. Even better, the eTrex 30X has a microSD slot that allows you to input maps and other information without connecting the device to a computer.
- UPGRADED DISPLAY - Features a 2.2” 65K color sunglight readable display offering increased resolution (240 x 320...
- LOAD MORE MAPS - Large 3.7 GB of internal memory and microSD card slot lets you load a variety of maps, including TOPO...
- PRELOADED BASEMAP - Includes a worldwide basemap with shaded relief. Display size:1.4 x 1.7 inches
When you head out on a hunting trip, you take a significant amount of gear with you. When you are trying to find location information, you may not want to hold a device in your hands. The fifth hunting GPS on our list is the first one that straps onto your wrist. As such, the Garmin Foretrex 401 keeps your hands free to perform other tasks.
This device is both rugged and waterproof. It also has an industrial look to it. Therefore, you can’t expect a fancy colored touchscreen. Instead, you get the mapping information you need by looking at a readable yet black-and-white screen. In addition to the wrist strap, this GPS system shines with its precision and usability. Once you learn how to read it, you are virtually certain to navigate like a pro.
The Verdict: There Are Some Excellent Hunting GPS Devices On The Market Today
In our opinion, the Garmin Oregon 600 is the best hunting GPS available for purchase. Still, we honestly don’t think you can go wrong by choosing any of the devices on our survey. Each GPS unit we reviewed has some clear advantages. To choose the right one for you, you must think about your hunting style and navigational goals.
Again, while our list of the best hunting GPS devices is comprehensive, we wanted it to be brief enough to be useful. Therefore, whether you decide to invest in a GPS that made our rankings or a different unit, we hope you use the information in this article to make a confident purchase.