Best Hunting GPS Reviewed & Rated for Quality
A handheld hunting GPS device falls into the category of something you might not need, until you really, really need it. Or it could be one of those tools that you come to rely on as much as the GPS in your car. But ultimately a handheld GPS will be judged on its ability to add value to the hunting experience. And hunters are notoriously picky. After all, part of the appeal of hunting is getting away for a screen and spending long hours in the peaceful outdoors and waiting patiently for dinner. But let’s be honest with ourselves about being safe, and being smart. When you go out on any hunting trip, especially one in an area that you’re not entirely familiar with, it’s always a great idea to bring along a handheld GPS for hunting. These devices are made explicitly for hunting trips, and today we have a list of devices that should find a place on your belt carabiner, keychain or in your backpack.
- GARMIN Etrex 20
- HotFix satellite prediction
- GARMIN GPSMAP 64
- TOPO 100K Mapping
- GARMIN GPSMAP 62
- Worldwide map with shaded relief
The handheld GPS market is a highly niche market, thus it comes as no surprise that there are only a few brands that produce these tracking devices. Specializing in GPS tracking technologies these brands have proven to be the most reliable and consistent in providing customers with continuous innovation in the industry. When it comes to hunting GPS brands also provide specialized solutions and devices, helping hunting enthusiasts know where they are located at all times and keep within legal hunting boundaries. Here are the two main best hunting GPS brands.
Founded as early as 1989, Garmin is widely known for their specialization in the development of GPS technology. While they provide with different solutions for a range of industries, including automotive, aviation, marine and more, their handheld devices are most renowned to be the best on the market. Aiming at delivering a great satellite tracking solution for outdoor activities, Garmin developed one of the first ever handheld GPS receives. Their first handheld GPS solutions were used in military action as early as 1991, in the Gulf War, and by the early 2000s, Garmin felt confident enough with the technology, that they released the first device of their compact eTrex series in 2000. Today, the eTrex line of devices continues to be one of the most widely used handheld devices on the market.
When it comes to hunting activities, Garmin has specialized teams that help turn their outdoor and sports-related handheld GPS devices into a truly helpful tool for the hunter. They do so with specialized software and mapping, which is usually accessible on their devices via their official website. Garmin users that are also hunting enthusiasts also have built a reliable community that further provides Garmin devices with new and exciting GPS solutions for the hunter via the use of software and mapping. The hunter community build around the Garmin GPS devices also help it become one of the best hunting GPS brands in the industry.
Founded even before Garmin, in 1986, Magellan Navigation is an American satellite tracking company, named after the infamous explorer Ferdinand Magellan. While some may say that the company is overshadowed by their competitors, Magellan Navigation has been focusing on innovation and affordability of their devices, which make it a great option and also one of the best hunting GPS brands. Focusing more strictly on the handheld market, they also design customized mapping software.
What’s great about Magellan Navigation is the fact that they invest in new technologies with confidence. For example, their devices were one of the first ones to incorporate the Russian GLONASS system. Furthermore, the company delivers a wide range of handheld products each focused in a specialized niche area. Magellan is also considered to be one of the best hunting GPS brands providing people with specialized handheld devices strictly for the hunting enthusiasts.
One of the most worrying issues for people, when they are about to purchase a handheld GPS device, is the mapping accuracy and battery life. For those who are mainly concentrated on hunting and won’t necessarily use their GPS device for other adventures, such as survival, a device that has about 10 meters accuracy is great. Furthermore, most people get irritated at devices that take longer when updating your position. This shouldn’t be a problem for the hunter as urgency in the pinpointing of your location is not that vital to the success and enjoyment of your hunting GPS experience. When it comes to battery life, anything that is able to sustain you fifteen plus hours is decent. However, you can even go for options with a lower battery life, as long as replacements of the batteries are possible, as hunting trips without access to electricity during the day are a rare occurrence.
Hunting GPS devices can greatly increase your hunting experiences, allowing you to fully enjoy the nature surrounding you and focus on your pray. With a hunting GPS by your side, you won’t need to constantly check the maps or keep track of the path you have taken or how to get back to your hunting hut, as the GPS will keep track of this for you. Furthermore, you won’t have to worry whether or not you are within the legal hunting boundaries, as your GPS companion will be able to easily remind you when you are getting close to them. On top of that such devices can provide you with an array of additional features, such as hunting maps that will give you important information about the areas you are in, electronic compass and even barometer. That way you will always know where you are located and how to get back, even if you don’t know where you are headed. Following your prey around, you will be certain that you won’t get lost with a hunting GPS device by your side.
7 Best Hunting GPS Devices
1. GARMIN Etrex 20
An affordable option, the GPS tracker has almost 4 GB memory and a microSD slot for additional memory, where you can store a number of maps. Furthermore, it supports a huge variety of map version, including the HuntView, TOPO 24K, City Navigator NT, BlueChart g2, and BirdsEye Satellite Imagery. This makes the item ideal for hunters, who'd like to have a sense of safety and security, while doing any wilderness activity.
- 2.2-inch 240x320 pixels 65K Display in color
- 3.7GB of Internal Memory
- Support of a huge map variety
- Preloaded Worldwide BaseMap
- High-Sensitivity WAAS-Enabled GPS Receiver
- HotFix Satellite Prediction and support of GLONASS
If you are looking for the best lightweight GPS on the market, you should definitely go for the Garmin eTrex 20x. While its small size impacts its accuracy, the device should be perfect for your hunting trips. And while the interface does require some getting used to, the BaseCamp software integrated on the device adds a whole another level of experience to your hunting.
Preloaded basemap WAAS-enabled GPS receiver for high-sensitivity HotFix satellite prediction and more.
2. GARMIN GPSMAP 64
- A 2.6-inch, 240x160 pixels, 65K Display in color that is Sunlight-Readable
- Dual Traditional Double-A Battery System
- Smart Notifications-ready, compatible with a number of optional ANT+ Sensonrs
- Wireless Data Upload
- Preloaded with a number of TOPO 100K Mapping, including Full Coverage of the US
- Water-Resistance Rating of IPX7
- Weight of 9.2 Ounces
- Position Accuracy of 3 Meters
- High-Sensitivity Quad Helix Antenna
The Garmin GPSMAP 64st is a great hunting companion for those who would like for their GPS to find them no matter where they are and no matter of the weather conditions they are in. Packing with a number of amazing features, the GPSMAP 64st provides its users with new additions, such as wireless and bluetooth connectivity, which allow for the better handling of your mapping. While some MAC users might experience some software problems, as they'd be required to install a plug-in for the downloading of new maps via Safari or Firefox, the GPSMAP 64st nonetheless works perfectly even out of the box, with its pre installed TOPO maps.
16 hours battery lifetime
Precise even in extreme weather conditions
Lack of support for Safari and Firefox
3. GARMIN GPSMAP 62
- 6.3 by 1.4 by 2.4 Inches of Size
- Weights about 9.3 Ounces
- Works with Double-A Batteries
- Features a 2.6-Inch Transreflective 65K Display in Color
- Built-In Worldwide Map with Shaded Relief
- Supports BirdsEye Satellite Imagery
- Waterproof Design
The Garmin GPSMAP 62 is one of the best hunting GPS systems to ever come out. Even though the device lacks an SD card extension slot, its onboard storage should be good enough for your hunting maps and any additional one you would like to purchase. Purchasing those maps is easy and simple through the Garmin website and loading them on your device is even more simple. Furthermore, with over 20 hours of battery life, you will be able to fully enjoy your hunting trip, without having to worry about the batteries. The device is able to locate you with 10 meters of accuracy and is a perfect handheld for the average hunting enthusiast.
Pre-packed with a worldwide basemap
BirdsEye satellite imagery
Transreflective display technology
20 hours battery life
Doesn't support SD cards
4. GARMIN Oregon 600
- Device Size: 4.5 by 1.3 by 2.4 inches
- Display Size: 3 Inches
- Device Weight: 7.4 Ounces
- Sunlight-Ready Display with Touch Screen Technology
- Dual-Band GPS/GLONASS Satellite Tracking
- A Number of Sensors, including 3-axis Compass, Accelerometer, Barometric Altimeter
- ANT or Bluetooth Wireless Technology
- Double-A 2 Battery System
The Garmin Oregon 600 is the perfect high-tech handheld GPS tracker for the hunting enthusiast. While adventurers do find its inability to sustain cold temperatures quite worrying, this should not be the case for the hunter community. Furthermore, while the price of the device is quite steep, the handheld GPS Oregon 600 provides you with amazing value for the money, packing almost every feature a hunter would need from their GPS device. With great battery life, amazing display and being extremely easy to use, the Garmin Oregon 600 also provides its users with access to amazing mapping on the official Garmin website, which can truly help you out on your hunting trips.
Sleek and modern design
Fast signal-picking abilities with both GPS and GLONASS
Inability to sustain cold temperatures
5. GARMIN GPSMAP 60CS
- All-Purpose 12-Parallel-Channel GPS+WAAS Receiver
- Electronic Compass
- Barometric Altimeter
- Great Transreflective TFT Display, 256-color, 2.6-inch
- 56 MB of internal Memory
- 20-hour battery Life on a 2 AA Batteries
The Garmin GPSMAP 60CS is an extremely decent handheld GPS device. Even though it has been on the market for quite some time, it has managed to age extremely well, perfect for those who would like a device that has proven its reliability over the years. Furthermore, coming packed with all of the features you would need from a hunter GPS, the GPSMAP 60CS also has amazing user-generated hunting maps available for download through the Garmin store and while you are not hunting, it provides you with amazing fun geocaching games and activities you can check out. What's more the device is highly waterproof, has a long battery life and its display is amazing enough so you can see it under direct sunlight or in the dark, making the Garmin GPSMAP 60CS truly an outstanding and reliable handheld GPS perfect for hunters and enthusiasts.
Over 20 hours battery life
56 MB internal memory
6. MAGELLAN EXPLORINS 350
- Hunt-Specific Waypoints
- Topographic Map contour layout
- Boundary Alerts for Hunting Zones
- 2 GB Built-In Storage
- 500 MB User Available Storage
- 18 Hours of Battery Life
- IPX-7 Waterproof
- Color Transmissive QVGA Display
- GPS Accuracy of 3-5 Meters
The Magellan eXplorist 350H is one of those rare handheld GPS devices that is especially designed for the hunter. While it comes packed with some amazing features that can help you out on your hunting trips, the device nonetheless has its drawbacks. For example, having topographic maps and hunt-specific way points is great, but inability to use those features to the full extent might irritate some users. The device is pretty accurate when doing its GPS tracking and location duties and with an extremely easy to use user interface provides you with a great overall experience. The Magellan eXplorist 350H definitely has some setbacks, despite being an amazing handheld GPS device aimed at hunters, but especially having in mind its extremely low and affordable price, it is a device that is worthy buying.
Features Hunt specific waypoint icons, hunting boundary information and more
Trip planning options
2 GB internal memory
Slower satellite information acquisition
7. Garmin Etrex 30x
a pretty cool feature we must say. Garmin calls it a 3-axis tilt-compensated electronic compass. Okay. But what that means is that there are cool electronics in the 30x that compensate for acceleration and your orientation to the ground so you always know will certainty which direction you're heading. It doesn't seem like such a big deal but try getting a good reading on a hand held compass when you're bouncing down a steep slope.
Wireless Data Transfer
Now this might just be worth the uptick in price. If you're a geo-cacher or if you're sending some sweet hunting coordinates to a buddy well then this allows you to wirelessly send that info with the push of a button. Of course your buddy has to have a 'similar device' which means another Garmin. We here are Gear Hunt aren't fans of proprietary technology but this is a pretty cool feature.
Cost and Value
What does it cost to go 10 higher? Not too much. And for some of the bells and whistles on this baby it might just be worth the extra scratch. And for geocachers and lone wolves the wireless tech might be a huge help, and not that you'd ever get lost, or hike/hunt alone (because that'd be dumb) but if you get separated from your team the wireless send might just get you out of a jam.
• Wireless Send Capability
• Built in Compass
• Built in Barometric Altimeter
• Upgraded Display
• Have To Pay For Maps
• Old Technology
There you have it! While there may be a great number of good hunting GPS devices out there, these are the best hunting GPS-enabled gadgets that we were able to find. Whether you want extreme power, great affordability, or something right in the middle, these devices on this list are going to be your best bets. Good luck and happy hunting!
Factors to consider when buying a hunting GPS device
Handheld GPS devices are able to help greatly enhance your hunting experience. Providing you with accurate location tracking you will be able to know when you are within the legal boundaries, keep track and log the path you have taken and never find yourself out of place. However, with multiple options on the market and with hunting GPS products being costly devices means that you should consider a multitude of factors, so you can be certain that you have made your right choice before making a final purchase.
What is a hunting GPS handheld device?
A Hunting GPS handheld device is considered to be any portable GPS product that is suitable for hunting tips and experiences. Whether the product would be solely aimed at the hunting market or will be a more general device marketed for both hiking and survival, a hunting GPS is a handheld tracking device that is able to accurately keep track of your location and give you further updates needed on your hunting trip.
Why do you need a hunting GPS handheld device?
Most hunters require a hunting GPS handheld device in order to be able to freely roam in the hunting areas, without having to worry about keeping track of their position. Furthermore, such a device would greatly improve your ability to be in the legal hunting zones and will give you further information about the hunting area of your choice, which you can use to analyze in order to get the best pray. Also, some hunting GPS devices provide you with amazing features that allow hunters to communicate about different areas and hunting paths.
What will you be using your hunting GPS handheld device for?
Most notably, you will be using your hunting GPS handheld device for keeping track of your location and finding your way around different hunting zones. With such a device by your side, you will be able to fully enjoy your trip, without the worry that you might get lost in an unknown area. Furthermore, you will be using your device to pinpoint important locations and waypoints on your trip and some devices will also help you plan out your trip and get familiarized with the area you will be hunting in beforehand. Also, you will be using your hunter GPS to be certain that you are within the legal hunting boundaries of an area.
Features to Consider
- Decent Backlit Screen with Great Direct Sunlight Visibility
- A Battery Life of 15+ Hours
- Accuracy About 10 Meters
- Decent Storage Space to Allow You To Upload Hunting Maps
- Availability and Support of Hunting Maps
- Availability and Support of Topographical Maps
- Ease of Use with One Hand
- General Ease of Use
- Decent Waterproof Rating
- Additional Features, such as Electronic Compass and Barometer
- Needed Mapping accuracy and Battery Life
Q: Will A handheld GPS keep track of where I’ve been as well as where I’m going?
Answer: If it doesn’t you should strongly consider whether or not you should buy that particular product. In FAQ terminology its the difference between tracks and routes. A track is a way to remember where you’ve been. Kinda like a running app you might have on your phone. It simply marks the time and distance and exact location of where you’ve BEEN. A route is going to be perhaps more valuable because it’s going to tell you where you’re going. The best products are going to allow you to create your own route by setting waypoints as close together or as far apart as you’re comfortable making them. Waypoints are points that you set on a map and your GPS will mark your progress towards each successive waypoint. Any handheld GPS device is going to do both for you.
Q: What kind of battery life should I expect?
Answer: It varies but each of our products should last a minimum of 16 hours of constant use. That seems like a lot of time and it is, unless you’re lost. And while we don’t want to load you down it might be worth considering carrying extra batteries or if you’ve got the room a solar charger. There are some high range products that advertise up to 100 hours of use time but none of them made our list.
Q: I’m notoriously clumsy, and I just dropped my GPS in a lake/river/ocean/puddle, plus it’s raining. Waterproof?
Answer: Again, we hate to sound all smartypants but it’s an OUTDOOR GPS device. If it can’t get a bit wet, well why the heck would we recommend it. That being said, unless you’re dealing with a device that is designed specifically to go underwater, don’t put it underwater! Most of these products should have wristbands included. Use them. But a bit of rain shouldn’t mean the end of your GPS, but it’s a handheld electronic device, don’t go out of your way to find out just how waterproof, waterproof really means. We know some of you would do that, but don’t do that.
Answer: Warning: Technical answer ahead! Every GPS device needs to be able to lock onto three separate satellites to pinpoint your exact position. It’s called triangulation and it’s been the foundation of navigation since… navigation! The problem is of course is that if you’re in a holler, sometimes a big old mountain is right smack dab between your GPS and a satellite so, it can’t do it’s work. So follow handheld GPS Rule #1 if you really need to get a lock on where you are, head to high ground. Actually heading to high ground (the only exception being during a lightning storm) seems to us to be a good life hack in general.
Q: Am I going to need to Update my handheld GPS?
Answer: In theory no, because the world is fairly immutable (at least in terms of our itsy-bitsy moments of time on the blue marble) and your device is going to come with a world map included. But just for the sake of knowing whether the mountaintop you’re heading towards has been removed or if you’re straying into private or public lands where hunting is verboten you need to do yourself and the world the courtesy of keeping your maps updated. Problem is of course that this is generally going to cost you somewhere between 50 and 100 bucks to get detailed topographical maps. Also there’s all kinds of cool add-ins if you’re interested in really tricking out your ride (in handheld GPS terms).