You find yourself in the tree stand and have the game in sight. You concentrate, stand still, stop breathing, and finally, take the shot. You didn’t hit it in a vital point and the adrenaline rush makes the animal run frantically. You go after it and luckily find it, way deep in the woods. But wait, you ran so far from your tree stand that you have no idea how to get back. You are lost, but this didn’t have to happen. Not if you had your trusted GPS on you, that is.
It’s time you did something to prevent these awkward situations that only cause you to lose energy and time. So I made a selection of, in my opinion, the best GPS devices for hunting. Having one of these, you won’t be bothered by the thought that you ever get lost, and instead, have the freedom to focus on your hunt.
Initially, the handheld GPS systems that we use today were first used by the military. Using the Russian Sputnik satellite, US physicists discovered that due to the Doppler effect, they could track the location of the satellite by measuring the location and distance of receivers on earth. After years of developing the new technology, we can enjoy today’s GPS systems that are very easy to operate and offer great convenience for people in virtually any spot around the world.
- The Top 15 Best GPS Devices for hunting
- BEST BUY
- 1. Garmin GPSMAP 64st, TOPO U.S. 100K with High-Sensitivity GPS and GLONASS Receiver
- 2. Garmin Rino 755t, Rugged Handheld 2-Way Radio/GPS Navigator with Camera, and Preloaded TOPO Mapping
- 3. Garmin GPSMAP 66st Handheld Hiking GPS with 3” Color Display
- 4. Garmin Oregon 650t 3-Inch Handheld GPS with 8MP Digital Camera (US Topographic Maps)
- 5. Garmin Oregon 700 Handheld GPS
- 6. Garmin Montana 680t Handheld GPS
- 7. Magellan eXplorist 310 Waterproof Hiking GPS
- 8. Magellan eXplorist 350H Handheld GPS
- 9. Garmin ETrex 30X
- 10. Garmin Foretrex 401 GPS
- 11. Garmin inReach Explorer+
- 12. Bushnell 360500 Back Track Hunt
- 13. Garmin 750T 3-Inch Touchscreen Handheld GPS with Topo U.S. 100K
- 14. Garmin eTrex 10 Worldwide Handheld GPS Navigator
- 15. goTele GPS Tracker Mini Portable Off-grid Real-Time GPS Tracking Device
- How to Choose A GPS Device For Hunting – Buying Guide
- What should the hunting GPS have in a nutshell?
- Why are satellite reception and speed essential?
- Mapping software & number of maps- they make all the difference for your GPS hunting device.
- Functionality and ease of use- can you have both?
- What does the quality of display mean for the GPS hunting device?
- Is it durable? Is it going to take the use for a long time?
- How many accessories does it have?
- How much money should you pay for it? Does it come with a warranty?
- Frequently Asked Questions about Hunting GPS Trackers
- Q: Why use GPS and not your phone for navigation?
- Q: What information will a GPS unit give you?
- Q: Are GPS and GLONASS different in any way?
- Q: When do you need both GPS and GLONASS?
- Q: Can a GPS device run for many hours?
- Q: Why the antenna quality matters for the GPS unit’s performance?
- Q: What’s the role of sensors for the GPS units?
- Q: What makes a good map display screen of a GPS unit?
- Q: Does the GPS unit have to be rugged and waterproof?
- Q: How fast do you need the GPS unit to be?
The Top 15 Best GPS Devices for hunting
As the best buy in our selection, this hunting GPS from Garmin is quite a powerhorse. While it does not feature a touch screen it is a very reliable GPS in terms of maps and accuracy.
It comes preloaded with high-quality TOPO US 100K maps and Birds-Eye (3d) Images. The built-in GPS and GLONASS systems are dead accurate because they use a high-sensitivity technology that is not available in every regular navigation system.
In terms of build quality, this is a very sturdy hunting GPS, and since it features no fancy touchscreen, there is nothing to break (at least not so easy). It features a plethora of features like the sharing of your current location, creating custom trails that you wish to cover and much more. A feature that stands out for me, however, is the ability to connect with iPhones past and including the 4s, so you can receive texts and emails straight to your GPS. Isn’t that cool?
Overall if you want a quality GPS with good maps, a sturdy build, and a good value for the money then this Garmin is the one that most people would choose.—-> Click for prices and more reviews on Amazon.com
Not only that, you get a GPS device, but you also get a two-way radio providing extended range, up to 20 miles. By voice or unit-to-unit text messaging is how you communicate with the device.
The device comes with high-sensitivity GPS and GLONASS satellite reception, tracking even in challenging environments. It has several features, and the position reporting function is helpful when hunting with your friends. The function will show the location of other Rino users on the same channel.
The 3” touchscreen is easy to read in sunlight, and you can use landscape or portrait view function.
The device includes preloaded TOPO US 100K maps, which are so handy for a hunter. It also features an 8megapixel autofocus camera with LED flash/torch for storing your locations.
The dual battery system powers the device for 14 hours until you need to charge the Li-Io pack. You can also use A.A. batteries, in which case the device runs for 18 hours.
The rugged build makes it reliable for great use when hunting.
Let’s take a second look at the best parts:
- It has high-sensitivity GPS and GLONASS satellite reception
- The touchscreen is easy to read in the sunlight
- It features a two-way radio
- It’s accurate and dependable
The inherent issues aren’t major:
- The screen resolution could be improved
- Learning how to use it can be challenging for some
Bear in mind that this GPS device is a reliable and sophisticated tool to use, taking your hunting experience to the next level.—-> Click for prices and more reviews on Amazon.com
The Garmin GPSMAP 66st Handheld Hiking GPS is the new model from Garmin GPSMAP 64st and it manages to overcome some of the minor flaws of the previous model.
This one is still Premium GPS handheld that features Birdseye Satellite Imagery subscription and TOPO maps. It includes Multiple Global Navigation Satellite Systems (GNSS) support, tracking your experiences in the more difficult environments. It also includes barometric altimeter and three-axis compass.
You may access to Birdseye Satellite Imagery and download with no annual subscription. It comes with preloaded TOPO US and Canada maps.
The wireless connectivity sustains Active Weather so you can get the up-to-date forecasts. You may also benefit from the animated weather radar and Geocaching Live for the updates and mobile syncing.
Compatible with Garmin ExploreTM website and app, the device allows you to manage your tracks, waypoints and routes. You may also take a look at the statistics from the field.
The device comes with a large 3” sunlight-readable color display, so using it is going to be easy even in the light of day. It also features flashlight function which is great for signaling. The battery life is good and the device works pretty fast.
The buttons differ from the previous model and they have a better click feel. Even though this one is a bit bulkier than the previous 64St, the menu is really similar. It’s made to military standards when it comes with shock, thermal and water performance. You may even use it with night vision goggles.
Let’s have another look at the good things:
- It comes with preloaded TOPO US and Canada maps
- It’s compatible with Garmin Explore website and app
- It has a large display and flashlight functions
- It has a good build
The downsides aren’t major:
- It doesn’t take external antennas
- It’s a tad bulkier than the previous model
Regardless of the minor problems, the new Garmin GPSMAP 66st is still a great device which is going to make the whole hunting experience a lot safer.—-> Click for prices and more reviews on Amazon.com
If classical buttons are not your thing and you want a hunting GPS with a great touchscreen, then the Garmin Oregon 650t is a smart pick. Speaking of the display, this unit features a 3-inch touchscreen that is readable in the sun and has multi-touch capabilities, meaning that you will be able to make more complex gestures on the screen, as opposed to other GPS systems in this price range.
A thing that I love about this hunting GPS from Garmin is that you can use the display’s touchscreen with gloves on. Most hunters in cold environments regularly use gloves so this is a big plus in the convenience department.
The GPS system is accurate and features topographic maps which are very detailed in places you wouldn’t expect them to be, exactly what hunters need.
There are a bunch of other sensors included, like a 3-axis compass, an accelerometer and an altimeter for height estimations.
All in all, this is one of the best hunting GPS I have found on the market. It is sleek, well designed, has a great display and it does not cost a fortune. Way to go Garmin!—-> Click for prices and more reviews on Amazon.com
If you liked the Garmin Oregon 650, chances are you’re going to like the Garmin Oregon 700 Handheld GPS too.
The new model of Garmin Oregon comes with a responsive 3in touch screen which is quite easy to read in sunlight. It comes with Dual Orientation (portrait or landscape). The new Garmin Oregon comes with a simple activity menu interface that includes hunt, fish, climb, geocache, hike and many more.
We notice the Garmin Oregon 700 comes with an ABC sensors- 3 axis tilt-compensated electronic Compass with barometric altimeter sensors and accelerometer. The compass is going to help you maintain your bearing, even if you’re not moving, whereas the built-in altimeter is going to offer elevation data. This way, you may keep an eye on your ascent/descent. The barometer is going to keep you posted with the weather changes, showing you short-term trends in air pressure.
Garmin Oregon 700 is IQ connectible so you may customize the device with widgets, data field, and apps. It has a rugged construction and an ergonomic design, taking dirt, dust and humidity very well. It presents an IPX7 waterproof rating.
The high-sensitivity dual GPS and GLONASS satellite reception explain its accuracy and reliability. It also features Bluetooth-enabled smart notifications a various automatic uploads to Garmin Connect online community.
Let’s see the pros:
- It comes with an easy to read 3 inch touch-screen
- It’s accurate and fairly easy to use
- It includes multilink wireless connectivity
- It has a rugged build
The cons aren’t deal breakers:
- The hook on the back could use a better design
- The risk for freezing isn’t null
All things considered, the new Garmin Oregon 700 is an accurate, rugged and useful device which isn’t going to let your down when hunting.—-> Click for prices and more reviews on Amazon.com
Reasonably you may ask yourself, ‘Why do I need a standalone GPS? Wouldn’t a smartphone app do exactly the same thing?’ Yes and no. Although you can use a navigation app, you’ll find lots of inconveniences that I will highlight later to show that a dedicated GPS is an overall better choice for hunting.
The Garmin Montana 680t Handheld GPS is a great device to take with you in every situation. Be it hiking, hunting, and even on the water, this GPS will handle it. Featuring a bold high-res 4 inches sunlight-readable touchscreen display with dual-orientation and a built-in 3 axis tilt-compensated electronic compass and barometric altimeter, the device comes in a rugged case covered in stealthy black color to suit the rest of your gear. It is made to withstand shocks, dust, dirt, humidity and water.
The Montana 680t is pack full of useful features:
- It comes with preloaded 100K (24K maps can also be installed and used) US topographic maps, with lots of trails and details. These maps have come a long way and may surprise you with the level of detail, but even when they don’t include a trail in the area you’re interested in, the topographic data will still help you get a good grip on the terrain.
- Organize your trip with the BaseCamp software that lets you view waypoints, routes, tracks and also display the map in both 2-D and 3-D.
- Another advantage of having a Garmin GPS is the ease with which you can share points and routes wirelessly with other Garmin users.
- Interface that’s intuitive enough to allow you to spend more time hunting and less on searching info.
- Garmin provides several different mounts for the Montana 680t: for the car, the ATV, or the boat. You can easily use it in the city, with an auto mount and a City Navigator map from Garmin.
All in all, this is a very good navigator to help every hunter find his way out of the woods or other tangled environments. To come back to our smartphone comparison, let me ask you this: can you submerge your iPhone in water, drop it on the ground from face level and still navigate back to your checkpoint? You can easily answer this yourself.
If you require a GPS with digital camera, you may want to have a look at the Garmin Montana 650 Waterproof Hiking GPS with 5 Megapixel Camera. Or a birds-eye view of all the Garmin Montana models. Alternatively, you can have a look at the 3” screen counterpart, the Garmin Oregon models.—-> Click for prices and more reviews on Amazon.com
The Magellan eXplorist GPS is a pretty modest GPS, but for what it does, it does well. In a nutshell, it features a color LCD, traditional physical buttons for easy navigation, high impact resistance, great updated maps that include lonely roads, parks, waterways and even airports, and overall great dimensions that help it fit in most pockets.
You can see its LCD as a drawback if you are all into fancy touchscreens. However, if you concentrate more on your hunting process and you only want something resistant that at the end of the day helps you get back to your tree stand, all without spending a fortune, the Magellan is surely a wise choice.
A thing that you may consider important before buying this unit is that it does have a direct PC interface so you won’t have to worry about connecting it to your computer and updating your maps directly.
So comes the verdict. Do you want a reliable GPS that does its job well and costs as little as a restaurant meal for 4? Then this is the right device for you. If, however, you want another device, Magellan has the eXplorist XL, with 3.5 inch Full Color display and with a SD card slot for virtually limitless map storage.—-> Click for prices and more reviews on Amazon.com
Especially designed for hunters, the Magellan eXplorist 350H Handheld GPS brings plenty of good features to the table.
Rugged and strong, the eXplorist 350H has an IPX7 waterproof rating and it’s made to handle the outdoor conditions when hunting. Its interface is user friendly and the device comes with high-sensitivity SiRF star III GPS with 10-16ft. precision.
The dedicated hunt features include more than 30 hunt specific waypoints, a detailed base map with contour elevation to use when going to the backcountry, and preloaded GMU’s and WMU;s.
You may view your tracks and even leave digital bread crumbs. The Track Summary is a nice feature, whereas the Suspend Mode and the 2 double AA batteries provide 18+ hours of battery life.
The 350H also includes a pre-loaded hunt calendar and pre-loaded maps with complete city centers, road network, water bodies, trails and contour elevation and land use.
The eXplorist 350H comes with dedicated menu to choose specific USA or Canadian hunting zones, according to the GMU and WMU supplied date for every state/province.
We truly appreciate the Boundary Alerts function which is going to help you stay in an authorized hunting zone.
Long lasting and able to pick up signals even from inside the house, the device is a reliable tool for any hunter. The buttons respond very well and you may easily read it in the sunlight too.
Going over the good things once again:
- It’s made for hunters
- It’s rugged, waterproof and reliable
- It comes with Boundary Alerts and functions that help when hunting
- It’s easy to use and durable
The minor negatives shouldn’t stay in your way when buying:
- Some think that the screen is too small
- It seems that the subscription to the Digital Globe is out of date
Truth be told, the 350H isn’t all roses and rainbows but you should stay focused on the goods as they are so many.—-> Click for prices and more reviews on Amazon.com
The Garmin Etrex 30X is somewhat similar to the Montana 600t. To highlight some nice features, it has a color LCD display that is readable without backlight, uses standard AA batteries and it’s fully water resistant.
The GPS comes with a base map that is covering many main streets and highways but is not so good at mountain trails, lakes or forests. You can, however, fix this really quick by downloading the Topo 2008 maps that cover most of these. And because it comes with a micro SD slot it’s even easier to get the maps you prefer right on the GPS without having to connect it to the PC.
The 3-axis tilt compensated electronic compass is present on this unit as in the Montana 600t and also comes with a barometric altimeter that helps a lot approximating on your location and height.
You can now lookup all the features of the Etrex 30X, and decide whether this GPS will help you on your next hunt. I think it surely will. Have a look at our Etrex 32x review as well.—-> Click for prices and more reviews on Amazon.com
As a hunter, you already have something heavy to carry with you – your gun. Why would you need another thing that would just make the job overall harder? Well, the Garmin Foretrex is not going to be a burden because it can be carried just by strapping it to your wrist and have all the valuable information you need just by checking it in a glance.
It keeps track of routes and waypoints to help you choose your next trip program. It features a trip computer, sunrise and sunset times and hunting and fishing information that will prove useful at times.
Its high-sensitivity receiver delivers fast signal acquisition and lock for reception in narrow valleys and under dense tree covers, situations you find yourself in many times as a hunter. Also, it is computer compatible and it allows you to load waypoints and routes directly from your PC via USB.
The Garmin Foretrex is not only used by hunters, army men are actually having good use of this GPS, due to its watch-like form factor and ease of use. It is a good and reliable device that will provide the most valuable information you’ll need when out hunting. We consider it a very good unit that you should consider when deciding what to buy as your next GPS if you didn’t already do.—-> Click for prices and more reviews on Amazon.com
User friendly and lightweight, the Garmin inReach Explorer+ is one great device to take with you when hunting.
The GPS comes with 100% global Iridium satellite which is able to enable two-way text messaging, no matter where you and the other person may be. Even though you’re going to need a satellite subscription, it’s easy to connect/disconnect when using the Garmin inReach Explorer+.
You may track and share your location at one time with your friends and family. You may easily pair it with your mobile devices using the free Earthmate app for accessing the downloadable maps. You may also download color aerial imagery, US NOAA charts and many more.
InReach Explorer is also giving you the possibility to add preloaded DeLorme TOPO maps with GPS routing. It features a built-in barometric altimeter, digital compass and accelerometer.
You may even use all of the inReach features from the paired mobile device. As you can also sync the inReach with your phone’s contact list, it’s only natural that you’re also able to message your friends with few keystrokes.
The build has a durability feel to it. The device has an IPX7 waterproof rating. It comes with a rechargeable LI-Io battery which lasts pretty long.
The transmit/receiver speed is good and the device is easy to use. It’s lightweight and accurate, so you should throw it in your backpack when hunting.
Here’s what we like the most about it:
- It comes with 100% global Iridium satellite compatibility
- You may track/share your location with friends
- You can also use the two-way messaging feature
- It has a good build and it’s easy to use
Let’s not make a drama out of the inherent flaws:
- It doesn’t come with Glonass
- You need to be outside in order to be able to it
Reliable, accurate, lightweight and useful, the inReach Explorer+ is a wise investment of your money any given day.—-> Click for prices and more reviews on Amazon.com
The Bushnell is a pretty straight forward GPS device. It doesn’t wave fancy in-your-face features that you probably don’t even need.
It has a simple display with a blue backlight that shows sunrise/sunset and moonrise/moonset times as well as barometric pressure.
A very nice feature that many hunting GPS units lack is the accurate prediction it makes during periods of peak animal activity based on a variety of data, and as a hunter, this is surely a useful feature. Also, it logs up to 48 hours of trip data and stores up to 25 locations.
It is a good all around performer in bad weather, however, if you abuse it too much the plastic back may eventually fail, the screw that keeps the batteries in place is also made of plastic and unscrewable by hand. So if you are a more active kind of hunter, like an uplander who hustles a lot, you should consider another unit, perhaps from those suggested above.
The Bushnell BackTrack Hunt GPS does its job pretty well and can be a handy companion for your next hunting trip. So why not make yourself a really useful gift?—-> Click for prices and more reviews on Amazon.com
There are many good things that the Garmin 750T 3-Inch Touchscreen Handheld GPS with Topo U.S. 100K brings to the table, and the camera helping you find out fishing and hunting spots is first to name.
The handheld GPS helps you concentrate on your hunting as it has preloaded topo U.S. 100K maps and Birdeye satellite imagery subscription.
The GPS includes a 3-in touchscreen that can be read even in sunlight. You can choose between the landscape or portrait display, according to your needs.
What you need in a GPS is accuracy, and this one doesn’t disappoint. The ABC sensors are precise, and the 3-axis tilt-compensated electronic compass has barometric altimeter sensors and accelerometer. The antenna is redesigned, and GLONASS satellite reception provides reliable tracking even in most challenging conditions.
You also benefit support for weather forecasts and Animated overlays on the map. The expanded wireless connectivity (Bluetooth, Wi-Fi, Ant+) and the geocache downloads are only a few to name. It’s possible to download software wirelessly, obtain smart notifications, or upload your adventures to the Garmin Connect online community. Should you like staying connected with your hunter folks, you can also share LiveTrack location data or geocache findings, unit-to-unit. However, the devices would have to be compatible.
Hunters love them stories, and this GPS will give you the chance to capture the moments. It features a reliable 8-megapixel autofocus camera with LED flash/torch. Every photo is also automatically geotagged so that you can easily navigate next time.
The GPS is made for outdoor use and rocks a rugged and ergonomic design, handling dirt, dust, and humidity. Additionally, it’s water-rated to Ipx 7, so it can take a splash.
Let’s give the pros a second look:
- The ABC sensors are accurate
- The antenna is redesigned, and the tracking is precise
- It has expanded wireless connectivity
- You can share LiveTrack location data with other compatible devices
- It features an 8Megapixeli autofocus camera with LED flash
- It has a rugged and ergonomic design and has Ipx 7 water rate
Far from being deal breakers, the downsides don’t worry us at all:
- The display for battery life isn’t accurate
- The interface could be better
Having said that, the GPS will make your hunting experience more productive, reliable, and memorable, over and over again.—-> Click for prices and more reviews on Amazon.com
The popularity of Garmin eTrex 10 Worldwide Handheld GPS Navigator speaks volumes, and it’s probably the ease of use and reliability why people like it so much.
The rugged handheld navigator comes with a preloaded worldwide base map, and it’s one of the most basic GPS that you could use for hunting. The 2.2 in the monochrome display is easy to read even in sunlight, and the GPS is speedy at tracking and marking points.
The device has WAAS enabled GPS receiver with GLONASS support and HotFix for quick positioning and accurate signal. Even if you get lost, you will benefit from immediate assistance. Unlike other sophisticated models, this one is relatively easy to comprehend, and using it will come effortlessly to many.
The GPS lets you see low and high elevation points, but also store waypoints along your track, with a start, finish, and low/high altitude as markings. You will be able to get an idea about the time and distance between some points.
The paperless geocaching and Garmin spine mounting accessories add to the list. You need two A.A. batteries for the device, which doesn’t need much power when running.
The build recommends it for outdoor use, as it has IPX7 waterproof grade, for safe use around water. It’s incredibly affordable, too.
Let’s have another look at the positives:
- It’s a basic GPS with a preloaded worldwide base map
- The monochrome display is easy to read even in sunlight
- It gives fast and accurate positioning
- It has a rugged build and IPX7 rating
- The batteries last and you get support too
For the buck you’re paying, some downsides may be expected:
- It has no beepers or alarms
- It doesn’t feature a clip or lanyard
A penny saved is a penny earned, and this device is a dependable, fast, and accurate model to use when hunting.—-> Click for prices and more reviews on Amazon.com
For the hunter that takes his dog out for hunting, a tracking GPS device is a great addition. Hunters who go together wanting to stay in touch, without using their phones or walkie talkies will also benefit from goTele GPS Tracker Mini Portable Off-grid Real-Time GPS Tracking Device.
GoTele is an outdoor GPS tracker to use for communicating right from one device to another without relying on Wi-Fi or cell service. It has plenty of functions: Real-Time tracking, Geo-fence, SOS, message, and Off-line map. It’s really dependable and accurate, and anyone hunting, hiking, boating, fishing, or anything outdoor-related can use it.
The device has a good build, and it’s safe to use with kids and pets too. It’s also waterproof, so it’s able to handle some splashes.
The connection distance is 3-5 km in suburb and 1-3km in downtown. Mountain terrain/building/weather or electric devices may alter its performance.
You need Li-polymer batteries for powering the device. The battery should get you right for 20 hours or so.
The signal strength is impressive, and the device works with both Android and iOS devices. Keep in mind that you need at least two of them to make a connection.
Let’s have a second look at the best parts:
- It’s an outdoor GPS tracker
- You don’t need Wi-Fi for using it
- It’s accurate and has a strong signal
- It’s sturdy and water-resistant
- It works with Android and iOS devices
- It’s reliable for hunting and various outdoor activities
The downsides don’t pose a big problem:
- The app could be improved
- The performance with Android devices runs slow
Should you be looking for a GPS tracking device to use when hunting, without needing Wi-Fi, this one is a solid choice anytime.—-> Click for prices and more reviews on Amazon.com
How to Choose A GPS Device For Hunting – Buying Guide
Once you get into hunting, you will notice that many aspects count for your success. A good rifle or some scentless boots will help, but you are only as good as your hunting gear.
A GPS device for hunting will help you stay on track, stay focus, and get you out of trouble when, for whatever reason, things go south. The market gives you numerous options, so selecting your hunting GPS may become tricky, especially if this is the first time you will buy/use one.
What should the hunting GPS have in a nutshell?
The ideal GPS device for hunting is the one matching your needs and wallet the best. Having said that, it should come with mapping functions, voice prompts, additional maps, Bluetooth, an internal compass, and an altitude sensor. A perfect GPS device for hunting also comes with an external antenna connector and external power connection, informing you about the battery life.
The product rating, price, and customer reviews are also aspects to consider, especially when buying online and not getting a real feel of the device. It’s good to know the good and the bad about a hunting GPS device (or anything else that you buy for that matter).
The fantastic variety of models can become overwhelming so that a comprehensive buying guide will ease the selection process. Keep in mind that it may take you a while until you find the perfect model for your needs, so some trial and error isn’t excluded.
Why are satellite reception and speed essential?
No GPS device for hunting is useful if the satellite reception is abysmal. Many of the models out there utilize the 24 satellite property of the United States Department of Defense. It means that your hunting GPS will use the satellites to offer the details for your hunting areas. Like anything else in life, some devices will feature a better reception than others, with some of the best models even 3D locking your position.
This time, the larger the antenna of your device, the higher the speed with which your GPS unit will lock it. Your position and the displayed image’s precision will depend on the number of satellites located in the same zone.
The number of satellites that your GPS device utilizes will affect not only the precision but also its speed. You should get a GPS hunting device that uses at least 12 different satellites. Ideally, you want the number to be 24, as many as the United States Department of Defence uses. Any reliable GPS device for hunting will use at least 12 of these satellites.
If the device is utilizing less than 12 satellites, it’s going to need more time for calculating your position. When the GPS device for hunting is connected to at least 12 satellites, it will need around 20 seconds to identify your location. It may not seem long, but you never know when your life depends on your GPS hunting device’s speed. Less than 12 satellites and your GPS device will need up close to a minute to tell you where you are.
What affects the speed of the GPS device?
Even if your GPS device is connected to all 24 satellites, there are still some other factors affecting the speed:
- The performance of the software
- The size of the antenna
- The number of satellites present in the area
You may think that a large antenna is too bulky and difficult to manage, but it will increase the speed of your GPS device. If getting information fast is essential to you, you should be willing to sacrifice some of the larger antenna space. Reliable companies will value the fine-tuning, and testing the device, using the best software.
Mapping software & number of maps- they make all the difference for your GPS hunting device.
Every GPS hunting device will come with mapping software. Checking the specs and abilities will tell you about the performance of the mapping software. Will you be able to use social networks and inform your friends where you’re heading to? Will the device let you share the waypoints or routes via Google earth?
Functions for social media are essential, but you also want the platform to be intuitive and work with other devices. For example, not many GPS devices for hunting will be compatible with Mac OS X. Make sure to check if the GPS hunting device is also compatible with open-source mapping software. There are myriads free platforms that you may utilize for updating your maps with new and better data.
Another aspect to consider when selecting your GPS hunting device is the number of maps of the device. Some of the GPS devices work only for the United States and Canada, and you should be aware of the number of maps when buying. When you’re not using the trail in the woods for a couple of years and don’t update your GPS device, you’re in for an ugly surprise in the future.
A map subscription for $30 per year is a wise investment for many hunters, but some may not have the same perception. There are plenty of websites providing satellite imagery and maps for free, and you may download the free spatial data and imagery for free. The main downside is that you need to learn how to use them, as most of the maps are trickier to use than the ones provided by the manufacturer of your GPS device. At the end of the day, it’s only a matter of money: do you want to pay for the maps or not?
Functionality and ease of use- can you have both?
When it comes to functionality, you get to decide which functions count for you the most and choose a model accordingly. How easy to use is the device and the features it has to give the functionality. The best models will have various functions, without sacrificing ease of use. Many hunters like to mark a place for a route or mark a position as an exciting area to check later within the hunting day.
Some GPS devices will only help you with one of the mentioned functions. If you’re determined to mark the trails, identifying several points of interest may not be just as important.
Ease of use may be a constant problem with most of the GPS devices for hunting out there. Sometimes, the software is simply very complicated, so ease of use is completely compromised. Finding a model that provides both functionality and ease of use is rather difficult. All in all, you want a GPS device for hunting that gives you the functions and options you want but doesn’t require you to struggle to use it.
What does the ease of use mean?
Keep in mind that the functions and appearance of the handheld GPS may appear limited, especially when compared to the GPS in your car, for instance. Therefore, designing a GPS device for hunting will not be the first thing you notice, as usability is far more critical.
Ease of use for the hunting GPS refers to several details, such as button configuration or type of screen. Most of the GPS devices will come with various buttons, but you can also find models with a touchscreen.
Touchscreens are great, as it’s easier to enter the text. The downside of these models is the poor visibility for the display and the lack of precision. Progress was made over the last couple of years, but don’t expect the touchscreen to be as good as your smartphone’s. Most of the time, a GPS device with buttons makes a better choice.
It doesn’t mean that you’re not going to find models that come with great touchscreens. Some manufacturers did discover the key for making GPS devices that come with an excellent touchscreen, without sacrificing visibility or precision. Some models feature large keyboards and not the traditional circular-style button menu, so do due diligence before buying. It’s easier for you to type, without losing the quality of the typical display.
Some hunters like devices with a large screen for a large picture, whereas others will care less for the large image and go with small models with small display instead. Whatever floats your boat, in the end.
What does the quality of display mean for the GPS hunting device?
As you’re an avid hunter, the chance is you will look for waterproof models, with a flexible display. Plastic is the right choice, even if the GPS device features a touchscreen, taking the elements and the long time use.
However, some other factors will affect the quality of the display. For example, a backlit display will come in very handy when checking the GPS right in the sunlight. Many of the GPS devices out there aren’t effortless to read, especially when compared to smartphones.
It’s not a bad idea to start with the size you want for the display, checking the user’s review about its quality.
Is it durable? Is it going to take the use for a long time?
When you hunt, you know that any of your hunting gear should be long-lasting and ready to take a beat. For the GPS device, we’re talking both about the device and the battery itself. The last thing you want is to be in the middle of your hunting and realize that your GPS doesn’t have any more juice. The battery life is fundamental for the GPS device; always leave the house with a couple of spare batteries. The majority of modern models are rechargeable, but some may still use standard batteries. There are positive and negative aspects of both types of cells.
A good and reliable GPS device for hunting will take the rugged conditions of shooting and even handle a couple of falls. The GPS device for fishing has to handle also water and pressure.
Long story short, you want your GPS device for hunting to be both rugged, with resistance to pressure and high grade for the water-resistance. The battery should have a long lifespan, and packing a spare battery isn’t such a drag.
How many accessories does it have?
Rechargeable batteries, USB cables, carrying cases, mounts-these are all accessories you can find in a GPS device for hunting. Should you plan to use the GPS device for anything else than fishing, the mounting system will make all the difference. For example, you could use the GPS device for your car if it comes with a mounting system, but the possible applications are various.
USB cable isn’t fundamental, but it’s a worker miracle for the smart electronic devices as they come with one.
Rechargeable batteries are a wise investment in the long run, especially if they come with the initial package. The more accessories your GPS hunting device will have, the higher the price will be. So, check your wallet before shopping.
How much money should you pay for it? Does it come with a warranty?
Anything is coming for less than $200, isn’t going to get you very far. When $200 is the price you can afford to pay, it’s better to wait a couple of months and put some money aside for a better model. You don’t want to buy a GPS device every six months, and you’re going to sacrifice durability or even precision when getting a cheap model.
Do due diligence about it and spend some time reading the reviews, asking your hunter friends before selecting your model. The more sources of information, the better the chance you can form a clear picture of what you want and what matters in the GPS device for your hunting.
Take a look at the most reputed brand, maybe a couple of reasons for which they sell the most GPS devices out there. Look for a company providing customer support and help when warranty issues occur. Most of the GPS devices for hunting come with a 1-year warranty, so any extra time there would be a plus.
Frequently Asked Questions about Hunting GPS Trackers
A: In all fairness, a smartphone comes with a GPS receiver and may also display maps. However, they’re not designed for harsh outdoor use. The majority of smartphones aren’t waterproof or rugged. The risk for screens to scratch or crack, or the batteries failing on you when you need it the most will happen. Should things go south, you would need the batteries for communication and not for navigation.
The most important reason for using GPS units is the hardware. Even if the smartphone has GPS, it’s not as reliable as the one in a GPS unit. A handheld GPS unit has numerous features that count when hunting. It can track your trails and waypoints without using a paid app.
Q: What information will a GPS unit give you?
A: A GPS unit will show the elevation, time, heading, location in coordinates, waypoints, trail cameras, and so on. More sophisticated models will also include preplanned routes, route recording and retracing, new route calculation in the field, satellite maps, and topographical maps. They can also feature sensors such as compass and barometric altimeter for precise elevation and heading data.
Q: Are GPS and GLONASS different in any way?
A: GPS, aka Global Positioning System, isn’t the single radio-navigation satellite network. It was developed initially for military use in the United States. After being declassified, GPS became available for civilians as well. The Russian Federation also created its model for GPS network, which is named Glonass, aka Global Navigation Satellite System.
Some units receive information from both GPS and Glonass, which increases accuracy and speed. When you’re not located close to the equatoraway from the equator, there aren’t many satellites far north or south. Using both networks will drain the battery rather fast, which is a crucial downside to mention.
Q: When do you need both GPS and GLONASS?
A: When you’re hunting in the South and don’t care for a slow location update, a receiver that only uses GPS is going to be just fine.
But if you’re hunting in Alaska, you will need fast GPS updates, especially when using an ATV. Therefore, a device with both GPS and Glonass is going to be the better choice.
Q: Can a GPS device run for many hours?
A: As a GPS unit will listen to four or more satellites continuously, and it will also measure your position with the data, the power will drain rather fast. Many GPS handheld units will run for 16 hours or so in the field. Even if it doesn’t seem much, you don’t need to use the GPS all the time, especially when you’re merely waiting for your game to show up.
Many GPS receivers run on A.A. or AAA batteries, which makes them versatile and easy to power up again. The longer the battery life, the better the chances to use the GPS when you need it the most.
Q: Why the antenna quality matters for the GPS unit’s performance?
A: Any hunting GPS utilizes at least one antenna for obtaining radio transmissions from the satellites. A large GPS unit will handle large and several antennas. It makes perfect sense that the signal reception will be better, helping the unit identify your location faster as well.
Q: What’s the role of sensors for the GPS units?
A: The GPS receiver can measure your elevation by measuring the satellite angles. Once you’re moving, it’s going to know which direction you’re going and inform your heading. A digital compass may also measure the heading by identifying which satellite is in front of your device. But these cases aren’t that accurate.
Get a hunting GPS that includes an atmospheric sensors for the better precision. A physical compass is more precise than a digital compass, and it’s the same for the barometric altimeter. For safety, you should carry a compass and an altimeter watch anyway so that you gain precision on your hunting trip.
Q: What makes a good map display screen of a GPS unit?
A: A GPS unit that doesn’t have a user-friendly screen or cannot be read in sunlight becomes rather useless. A reliable GPS device will show the information on a map and all the information you need without draining out the battery. When you’re using a GPS without a map display, you will win battery life and have to improve your navigation skills.
Q: Does the GPS unit have to be rugged and waterproof?
A: Almost all GPS units out there are waterproof and resistant to bumps and dust. It doesn’t make any sense to have a GPS unit that doesn’t handle the challenging weather and conditions. Even the touchscreen has to be more robust than the one of your smartphone.
If you’re going someplace rocky, the unit should come with a rubber cover for protection against falls.
Q: How fast do you need the GPS unit to be?
A: The number of satellites used by your GPS affects the speed and precision of your unit. Even a basic GPS should connect to at least 12 different satellites. When your unit doesn’t use many satellites, the unit will need more time for measuring your position, around 20 seconds. If your unit connects to all 24 satellites available, it’s going to measure faster. The antenna’s size, the number of satellites present in the area, and software efficiency will impact your unit’s performance too.