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 5 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 rock 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.
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!
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.
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.
The Garmin Dakota 20 was discontinued by the manufacturer so we linked to a newer version the Garmin E-Trex.
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.
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.
The Bushnell is a pretty straight forward GPS device. It doesn’t wave fancy features in your face that you probably don’t 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 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?
No matter if you want a fancy and colorful GPS with many functions and detailed maps, or just want to go with one that doesn’t require you to pull out the king’s ransom out of your pocket, we got you covered with 5 of in our opinion the most suitable GPS units for hunting.
Many GPS device models out there are produced by the good old Garmin company, but you can also choose a Magellan or Bushnell that will do the job just as good. You have a good chance to find what suits you best by reading this review. So if you decided that your next GPS for hunting will be one on this page, go on, make the purchase with confidence.