The thrill of hunting is an unparalleled feeling. Scouting out the territory, tracking down your quarry, stalking him, cocking your gun or bow, and then pinning him down……until you realize that you no longer know where you are.
This is a common scenario for the vast majority of hunters, even the most experienced ones, given that most hunting territories are located outside civilization.
Consequently, you can’t even depend on your cellphone to show you the way when you’re lost, since you’ll be outside the reception area.
The best GPS for hunting, however, can make all the difference.
So that’s what we’re going to look at today, along with a comprehensive buying guide to help you with your purchase.
The 8 Best GPS for Hunting Reviews
So we’re jumping right into our top picks for the best GPS devices currently available on the market. We’ve put a lot of thought into this, so you can rest assured you’re in good hands!
1. Garmin GPSMAP 64s Worldwide – GPS for Bird Hunting
Garmin is a brand that has been around for a solid 3 decades, and there’s a good reason why they’ve come so far. You may already know them for their highly accurate GPS products, and you might also have been pointed in this direction if you’re looking for the best Garmin GPS for hunting.
Now, that might be a bit of an exaggeration, or it might not. This little 90s cellphone-looking device is one of the most reliable GPS devices out there, thanks to its having both GPS and GLONASS integrated into it. Furthermore, the quad-helix antenna enables this thing to have a great reception.
The word “worldwide” in the name owes itself to the extremely useful topographical maps in this thing that cover almost the entire globe. And it manages to store all that info thanks to the 4GB internal memory. Impressive!
We’re also a big fan of its lightweight design, along with the easily readable 2.6″ screen and the accessibility of the buttons and navigation system. Another great feature is the device’s ability to send you smart notifications and sync up with Garmin Connect.
With all of the great features we’ve discussed, we do have some issues with the battery life; we don’t think it’s entirely suited to relatively longer hunting trips. While that can be a deal-breaker for some hunters, it’s good to remember that the device does come equipped with a dual power mode, which we think compensates nicely.
And on that note, if you’re out hunting for easy quarries like birds and rabbits, then we have reason to think you won’t really find any disadvantages while using this thing.
2. Garmin Foretrex 401 Waterproof Hiking GPS – Garmin GPS For Hunting
Yep, another Garmin product (and certainly not the last). This retro-looking thing with its extremely convenient wrist-strap is on our list for a lot of reasons – keep reading to find out what they are.
Equipped with dependable and super-sensitive GPS receiver technology, this stylishly monochrome little device is the perfect companion for those venturing out into deeply shaded forests and echoing canyons: basically, if you’re a hiker, you’re gonna love this thing.
That’s also due in part to the integration of HotFix technology.
What’s that? Well, HotFix, a feature available exclusively on Garmin devices, is basically jumped-up satellite prediction technology. Its purpose is to drastically lessen the acquisition time of your satellite positioning, which enhances up the device’s overall performance in terms of accuracy.
Also included in this device is the TracBack feature, which, as the name might suggest, allows you to trace your route backward. Another very convenient feature is that this thing is waterproof, which only adds to its overall reliability.
Plus, with a display resolution of 100 x 64 pixels and display dimensions of 1.42″x0.91″ inches, visibility is easy. If you’re out till dark though, you might need a secondary light source to see what’s going on.
We think this device would be almost perfect if not for the fact that it uses only one power source option. Since it’s powered by 2 AA batteries, you’re sometimes going to burn through them pretty fast. So if you’re going on a particularly long hiking trip, remember to come prepared with extra batteries!
3. Garmin eTrex 20x, Handheld GPS Navigator – GPS For Elk Hunter
The Garmin eTrex 20x is a favorite of many who have been committed to buying Garmin products for years now. Even with an extremely lightweight and portable body—weighing only 5 ounces—this little guy definitely packs a punch.
First up is the 65K color display, measuring 2.2 inches. We appreciate it for its high readability, meaning you’ll have an easy time reading this thing even on the sunniest days out on the hunt. It’s easy to see why many claim this is the best handheld GPS for hunting, given the impressive features despite its size.
And despite its size, this thing packs an impressive 3.7 GB of internal memory. That’s what allows it to carry a pre-loaded global base map while also allowing you to load a number of maps, including BirdsEye satellite imagery and HuntView (although you will have to pay a subscription fee for the former, we think it’s an important addition).
Do note, though, that if you are someone who prioritizes their GPS device’s ability to sync information up with your computer, you might get a little frustrated with this thing. The interface isn’t exactly the most intuitive, and there is definitely a bit of a learning curve. However, given the price, we think it’s a small price to pay!
4. Spot Gen3 Satellite Messenger – Best Satellite GPS Messenger
SPOT is a name that has become almost synonymous with satellite messaging. This little GPS device from them that we’re going to review today is one such manifestation of their satellite messaging technology.
With an extremely lightweight and compact body, this little thing exemplifies all that you would need from a decent satellite messaging device. What that basically means is, not only does it track your location, but it also shares that information with your loved ones.
The usage of the device to send updates and messages to previously selected contacts about your whereabouts is simple, easy, and effective.
Its main use for many, though, lies in its ability to send SOS alerts. These will obviously come in handy in emergency situations, which makes this messenger almost a necessity to own for those hikers and hunters who are venturing into remote places where cellular reception doesn’t reach.
The interface of the SPOT gen 3 is simple and easy to navigate, with clearly marked buttons and no confusing functions. Getting help on the way is as easy as 1-2-3.
Having said that, you should know that the accuracy and effectiveness of satellite messaging, no matter the effectiveness of the device, can often differ greatly depending on where in the world you are.
One of the drawbacks of using this device is undoubtedly the fact that you have to pay for an annual subscription in order to continue using it. It’s not really an unreasonable requirement, however, given that you will be using their messaging system.
5. Garmin eTrex 10 – Handheld GPS For Hiking
Yep, we’re back with another Garmin product. Remember the eTrex 20 from earlier? Well, this is basically a lower-performing version of that, but don’t let that make you believe it’s not worth your time. Here’s what we like about this little yellow GPS.
The eTrex 10 is a simple, straightforward and to-the-point little machine. With a very compact body that will barely take up any space in the palm of your hand, it nevertheless comes with a 2.2-inch monochrome display that allows you to access all the information you need whenever you need it.
Quite impressively, this device also incorporates WAAS-receiving capabilities (WAAS stands for Wide Area Augmentation System, originally developed to aid in air navigation). Together with the device’s GPS and GLONASS support, you’ll rarely be plagued by concerns about accuracy while using this device.
Not just that: like most other Garmin GPS devices, this one also incorporates HotFix, which as you may know by now, is a technology that greatly enhances accuracy.
The eTrex 10 also stores the information it gathers while tracking you. This means you can look up elevation points on your specific route, along with plotting waypoints on that route.
There is an obvious lack of some of the features you might expect from a more heavy-duty GPS, like topographic maps or a dual battery. If those features are important to you, it’s probably best to skip this one; however, all the features we have just discussed, pretty much make this the best hunting GPS for the money; don’t burn a hole in your wallet!
6. Garmin Oregon 600 3-Inch Worldwide – Best Handheld GPS
This sleek little GPS from Garmin looks like one of those very first touchscreen smartphones that would make you look cool to your friends if you had one back then. But it doesn’t just look great; it performs admirably too, and it does so at a pretty impressive price point.
Equipped with a host of impressive features, this GPS is bound to be a worthy companion on your hunting/hiking trip. With a barometric altimeter, accelerometer, and 3-axis compass, you’ll always have your bearings in every way possible, no matter where you are.
And of course, by now, you already know that the vast majority of Garmin devices integrate both GPS and GLONASS reception capabilities. This increases the accuracy of the device’s positioning capabilities.
Also available in this device is Bluetooth and ANT technology (which stands for Adaptive Network Topology). This allows you to share, wirelessly, your tracking information, the routes you are taking, and specific points along your route, as well.
We do agree that the battery life could be improved upon. That might seem like a common issue with Garmin products, but we would argue that, once again, it’s a small price to pay for such high-performing products at affordable prices. And once again, you can enable the dual battery system.
7. Bushnell D-Tour Personal GPS Tracking Device – GPS For Tracker
Yes, we hear you: enough of Garmin, already! There are quite a few decent GPS devices out there that don’t come with a more recognizable brand name tag, and this one from Bushnell is certainly a good example of that.
So what do we like about this thing? Well, first of all, it’s surprisingly accurate despite incorporating only GPS. Its ability to track and store information regarding temperature, distance and location are also quite helpful.
But what really makes it stand out is its back-tracking capability (which is in the name!). This thing can identify and record up to 5 different locations and also stores a maximum of 48 hours of trip data. And it does this with dependable accuracy.
And yes, this product is endorsed by Bear Grylls, the world-famous adventurer, and survival instructor. That might seem like a big deal, but it’s good to remember that celebrities do get paid to endorse products.
And on that note, we do think that you could find a better GPS for the price. For starters, this one doesn’t have a color display, which is something we’ve come to expect most GPS devices in this price range to have.
Now, while that does sound like a definite drawback to some of us, the fact still remains that this is a highly accurate tracking device with the capability to record up to 48 hours of trip data. Plus, the grayscale screen also means that there is little to no concern regarding battery life.
8. Magellan eXplorist 350H Handheld GPS – GPS For The Money
Although now discontinued, the Magellan Explorist is undoubtedly one of the most intuitive products to come out of GPS technology specifically geared towards hunting. Don’t worry; it’s still available through Amazon Renewed, and here’s why we think it would appeal to you.
What we love about this product is that it’s straightforward. With clearly defined and easy-to-use navigation buttons (numbering only 5 on the whole device), this handheld GPS is ideal for American hunters who require only basic information about their surroundings.
Designed with the hunter in mind, this thing comes with all the features an experienced hunter might require. It’s equipped with hunting boundary information for up to 40 different U.S. states and a topographic map to enhance usability.
The screen is extremely easy to use, with the ability to track the number of important pieces of information while hunting, such as animal prints, stool, sightings, and even secondary data such as your bedding area. Once again, this is a pretty straightforward device, and it’s for straightforward hunters who know what they’re doing.
Now, the simplicity can actually be a pitfall for many tech-savvy hunters of today who want a little more information to work with. You can’t expect any fancy features from this thing like the other devices we’ve reviewed thus far, but we think that for the experienced hunter, this amount of information is good enough.
Buying Guide for GPS for Hunting
In the nearly 5 decades that it has been around, GPS technology has come a very, very long way; the highest-end GPS trackers on offer today can be very sophisticated, while some are simpler.
The process of finding the right GPS tracker for hunting, therefore, can be a little confusing. So here are a few of the things you need to look out for.
Interface / Display
How the interface of the GPS is designed dictates how usable it will be. Some GPS models have large and clearly visible buttons that allow you to access the functions swiftly.
On the other hand, more sophisticated models tend to have a more complicated interface with more buttons. This is due in part to the fact that they have a larger number of features.
Some GPS devices also have a backlit display, which allows for higher visibility. This is ideal for those who are hunting or hiking in the dark. If you’re only out during the daytime, however, you can obviously skip this part.
Additionally, certain devices will also allow you to toggle between a portrait and landscape viewing mode. We personally think that this isn’t an entirely necessary feature, and such features usually tend to add to the price tag.
What works for each user obviously varies, so choose according to your needs.
The majority of GPS devices source their location data from the widely-used GPS system, while many others use GLONASS (Global Navigational Satellite).
While both are equally efficient in aiding you to figure out where you are, some users opt for devices with both options. This increases the overall accuracy of the device.
However, if you go for such a device, then be prepared to shell out a little extra.
The whole point of using a GPS is to help you accurately track your location, right? And this is difficult to do without a GPS that has a proper map to plot the sequences on.
Generally, most GPS devices will come configured with basic maps with high-land areas and water bodies mapped out, and we think that’s good enough.
However, if you’re going on a particularly long hiking/hunting trip, you might benefit from a higher-quality topographical map. Once again, this will usually increase the price of the device.
Frequently Asked Questions
Q-1. What does a GPS for hunting do?
Ans: GPS stands for “global positioning system,” meaning that it shows you your location. But a small handheld GPS, such as the ones you will be using for hunting and hiking, have many more great features.
Q-2. What is the purpose of a GPS for hunting?
Ans: Being able to track your location will not only help you to keep your bearings but also enable mapping your route both backward and forwards. Higher-end GPS devices also record information about your movement, which is essential in emergency situations.
Q-3. Is GLONASS more efficient than GPS?
Ans: GLONASS has a position accuracy of up to 10 meters, while that of GPS is 3.5-7.8 meters. Other than this, there aren’t many marked differences.
Q-4. What is a topographic map, and do I need it?
Ans: Although they increase the accuracy of the map, some users tend to think it’s a bit of a hassle to navigate. If minimalism isn’t a concern for you, though, we think it can be immensely helpful.
Q-5. What is the best GPS for hunting?
Ans: Even though we really like all of the GPS devices we have reviewed, the Garmin Foretrex 401 definitely stands out.
As we have seen, many devices could contend for the title of best GPS for hunting. Having said that, we are particularly impressed by the Garmin Foretrex 401 for both its features and price.
If you can spend a little extra, though, the Garmin GPSMAP 64s is also a great option.
Good luck, and may you always stay on track!