Best Hunting GPS | Reviews and buyer’s guide

Best Hunting GPS Review

Best Hunting GPS

It’s easy to get lost in the woods…

If it’s not your backyard, it’s unlikely you are familiar with your surroundings.

When you are out for a day of hunting in an unfamiliar location, the fun would start to fade once you can’t find your way back home.

This is why you need the best hunting GPS that you can find!

We have reviewed the BEST 5 hunting GPS you can buy in 2018.

Before we go into details, let’s take a quick look at what we recommend:

Mike's Top Choice

(The one we like the best)

Magellan eXplorist 350H Handheld GPS

Waterproof

Preloaded TOPO maps for USA and Canada

Preloaded hunt calendar

Notifications when entering or leaving a hunting zone

 

Cheapest Option

(Check current price down below)

Garmin eTrex 20x

 

Water-resistant

Easy to Use Buttons

With microSD slot

Crisp display, large font on a small screen

 

Here are the FULL reviews:

The BEST 5 Hunting GPS

If you are ready to look for the best hunting GPS for you, Mike’s Gear Reviews has come up with the top 6 hunting GPS that you can find online. The price and specs are from Amazon unless stated otherwise.

Garmin Oregon 600 3-Inch Worldwide Handheld GPS

Garmin Oregon 600 3-Inch Worldwide Handheld GPS

From Garmin, the American company known for its GPS technology-based products, the Oregon 600 3-Inch Worldwide Handheld is one of the most popular and best handheld GPS units of the company in recent times. It uses both GPS and GLONASS navigational satellites, and comes with one-year subscription to BirdsEye for satellite imagery downloads.

Here are the pros and cons:

ProsCons
Dual battery systemProne to crashes
With 3-axis compassScreen only 3 inches
With barometer, altimeter, accelerometer
GPS and GLONASS satellites

Specs:

  • 3-inch sunlight-readable, touchscreen display with multi-touch capability
  • Dual-band GPS/GLONASS satellite positioning
  • Sensors (3-axis compass, accelerometer, barometric altimeter)
  • ANT or Bluetooth technology – wirelessly share routes, tracks, waypoints, geocaches, custom maps and photos between units; Dual orientation – auto switching between landscape or portrait views
  • Dual battery system – 2 AA batteries or NiMH battery pack charged by the Oregon (battery pack included with 650/650t; optional with 600/600t)

The Oregon 600, the first of the four Garmin units included in this list, is a reliable small piece of gadget that is pre-loaded with topographic maps. Its dual battery system — 2 AA batteries and NiMH battery pack — makes sure that your device stays turned on all the time.

It has all the extras and features that you would expect from a high-end handheld GPS, including a barometric altimeter, accelerometer, Bluetooth and 3-axis compass. As it uses GPS and GLONASS, it ensures that you are seen and covered wherever you are.

There are a few setbacks, though. According to some hunting GPS reviews, the Oregon 600 is prone to crashes. It starts again easily, but it’s something that bugs the device. The 3-inch screen is perfect as a compact device, but with all the gadgets having bigger screens these days, you might feel that it’s a little bit small.

Still, this is one of the best hunting GPS units that you can find at this price point.

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Garmin GPSMAP 64st

Garmin GPSMAP 64st

Where to start with the Garmin GPSMAP 64st? This is the second of four Garmin units on this list, and one of the best handheld GPS devices that you can own. This nifty little thing has it all: dual battery system, GPS and GLONASS satellite systems, touchscreen and key pad options, and lots of pre-loaded topographic maps. It can also receive emails from your smartphone or other devices. It’s like a bigger smartwatch that does it all.

Pros and cons:

ProsCons
Dual battery systemOnly 2.6″ screen
With 8 GB internal memoryRelatively low battery life
With microSD card slot
With 3-axis compass
With barometric altimeter
GPS and GLONASS satellites
Has both touchscreen and keypad
Can be paired with any ANT devices

The specs:

  • Sunlight-readable 2.6″ color display
  • Expanded internal Memory 6GB; Display resolution 160 x 240 pixels; Interface: high-speed USB and NMEA 0183 compatible
  • DUAL BATTERY SYSTEM: Use with 2 traditional AA batteries (best with Polaroid AA batteries) or the optional rechargeable NiMH battery pack that can be charged while inside the device; Weight 8.1 oz (230 g) with batteries
  • Receive Smart Notifications and pair with optional ANT+ sensors, such as heart rate monitor, Tempe temperature sensor, speed/cadence, or use to control your VIRB action camera (64s/64st only)
  • Wirelessly upload data to Garmin Connect and view on smartphone, plus share activities as they happen with Live Track (64s/64st only); 3-axis compass with barometric altimeter

As like most Garmin products, the GPSMAP 64st includes 1-year BirdsEye Satellite Imagery subscription. It also uses GPS and GLONASS satellites. It is marketed as a smart device, and with all its features and capabilities, it does indeed feel like a smart device. As some handheld GPS reviews have noted, it has functions of a smartwatch as well. It can connect with any smartphone so you can receive and read emails. You can also pair it with any ANT devices to share your heart rate monitor, speed and more.

It has a generous 8GB internal memory and a microSD slot should you need to expand it some more. The pre-loaded topographic maps includes coverage of the full US, including Alaska, Hawaii and Puerto Rico. You would need to download more if you are outside the US, though.

The problem, if you are bothered by it, is that it only has a 2.6″ screen. It’s even smaller than the Oregon 600’s 3″ screen. It’s adequate as a handheld GPS device, but you still would wish it was a bit bigger. Battery life is also a bit low.

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Garmin eTrex 20x

Garmin eTrex 20x

More affordable than the two Garmin units above, the eTrex 20x is the perfect economic hunting GPS that offers basic functions. It is lightweight, easy to use and has long battery life. If you are looking for simplicity, this is it.

Pros and cons:

ProsCons
GPS and GLONASS satellite networksLimited base map
Easy to use buttonsOnly 2.2″ screen
Crisp display, large font on small screen
Lightweight
Water-resistant
With microSD slot

Specs:

  • UPGRADED DISPLAY – Features a 2.2″ 65K color sunlight-readable display offering increased resolution (240 x 320 pixels)
  • LOAD MORE MAPS – Large 3.7 GB of internal memory and microSD card slot lets you load a variety of maps, including TOPO 24K, HuntView, BlueChart g2, City Navigator NT and BirdsEye Satellite Imagery (subscription required)
  • PRELOADED BASEMAP – Includes a worldwide basemap with shaded relief. Display size: 1.4 x 1.7 inches
  • KEEP YOU FIX – With its high-sensitivity, WAAS-enabled GPS receiver, HotFix satellite prediction and GLONASS support, eTrex locates your position quickly and precisely and maintains its location even in heavy cover and deep canyons

The Garmin eTrex 20x lacks the modern features and extras of newer and fancier models. It does not have a compass or barometric altimeter, wireless share technology and even touchscreen. What it has is a reliable GPS tracker for hunting, and that’s what you really need.

Probably the best hunting GPS at this price point, the eTrex 20x is perfect for navigating the backcountry as it is both lightweight and water-resistant. With a 2.2″ screen, it has the smallest so far. But despite that, it has a crystal clear display and large font.

You might want to download maps from other free sources for more detailed map navigation, though, as according to handheld GPS reviews, it has limited base map.

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Magellan eXplorist 350H Handheld GPS

Magellan eXplorist 350H Handheld GPS

The least expensive item on this list, the Magellan eXplorist 350H is jam-packed with features that a hunting enthusiast would love. A contender for the best GPS for hunting, this tough and waterproof device in camouflage skin gives you not only navigational directions, but hunting guidance as well.

Pros and cons:

ProsCons
WaterproofCan’t create or navigate waypoints if you don’t start a trip
Pre-loaded TOPO maps for US and CanadaNo touchscreen
Pre-loaded hunt calendar
Programmable alarm notifications when entering or leaving a hunting zone

Specs:

  • GPS Designed for the hunter
  • Hunt specific waypoint icons
  • Hunting Boundary information (GMU’s/WMA’s) for 40 states
  • Topographic Map contour layer
  • Boundary Alerts keep you in an authorized hunting zone

The Magellan eXplorist 350H comes with a one-year subscription of DigitalGlobal, allowing you to download satellite imageries. It is also pre-loaded with topographic maps for most of US states and Canada. It has no touchscreen but its buttons, particularly its little joystick at the center, are so easy to use even if you are wearing gloves.

What is so exciting about the eXplorist 350H is its many hunting features. Magellan probably assumed that you are either a hiker or a hunter if you bought this, and so it included quite a few features for hikers and hunters.

You can start a trip, review a trip or plan a trip when using the device. You can add waypoint icons while on trip. However, you can’t create or navigate the waypoints unless you start a trip.

If you are a hunter, this hunting GPS can notify you if you are approaching or leaving a hunting zone. It also has a pre-loaded hunt calendar, which can remind you about the prime hunting hours and days.

This is the best handheld GPS for hunting that you can buy at just a little over $100.

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Garmin Oregon 650t 3-Inch Handheld GPS with 8MP Digital Camera

Garmin Oregon 650t 3-Inch Handheld GPS with 8MP Digital Camera

Originally the most expensive item on this list, the Garmin Oregon 650t is the top-of-the-line hunting GPS that you need. It is on the pricey side, but it’s the best hunting GPS that Garmin currently has to offer. It is, by the way, the upgraded model of the Oregon 600 discussed above.

Pros and cons:

ProsCons
GPS and GLONASS satellite networksSuper sensitive touchscreen
Dual battery system
Pre-loaded US topo maps
With camera

Specs:

  • 3-inch sunlight-readable, touchscreen display with multi-touch capability
  • Dual-band GPS/GLONASS satellite positioning
  • Sensors (3-axis compass, accelerometer, barometric altimeter)
  • ANT or Bluetooth technology – wirelessly share routes, tracks, waypoints, geocaches, custom maps and photos between units; Dual orientation – auto switching between landscape or portrait views
  • Dual battery system – 2 AA batteries or NiMH battery pack charged by the Oregon (battery pack included with 650/650t; optional with 600/600t) 8MP autofocus camera (650/650t only) with LED flash/torch and digital zoom

The Oregon 600 above is the base model, while the 650t is the premium model Out of all the handheld GPS for hunting devices here, the Garmin Oregon 650t is the only one with a digital camera. It’s not a DSLR, but at 8MP, it’s a decent camera.

As with the other Garmin units, this also has dual battery system and uses GPS and GLONASS dual band. It is also pre-loaded with 100K scale topographic maps. If you prefer 24k scale, Garmin sells 24K scale or you can just download them from free map sites online.

While a sensitive touchscreen is ideal, the 650t has, according to handheld GPS reviews, extremely sensitive ones. You might want to turn off the screen when you aren’t looking at it.

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Mike’s Top Choice

Among the list above, Mike’s Gear Reviews has surmised that the best hunting GPS is the Magellan eXplorist 350H. It is truly a handheld GPS device made for hunters and even hikers. It has everything that you need and a whole lot more to make your outdoor adventure more convenient and enjoyable. It doesn’t hurt that it’s also the least expensive item on the list. It has a couple of cons, but the pros outweigh those easily.

But if money is not a great concern, the second best hunting GPS is the Garmin GPSMAP 64st. It gives accurate direction and a whole lot more extras. It is like having a smartwatch as well.


What to look for in a Hunting GPS?

If you are convinced to own one already, you should take note of the following when making a purchase.

Best Hunting GPS Review

The best handheld GPS for hunting should be easy to use and has quality display, has a number of topographic maps, good satellite reception, dependable power sources, storage, and accessories and extras. You should also look up where it is made. It’s quite a few things to consider, but they all make a handheld GPS efficient.

Ease of Use and Display Quality

You would think that everything is touchscreen these days because all our phones are. But even some of the best hunting GPS devices today still use buttons. Although touchscreens are easier to use and the preferred input option, it doesn’t mean that buttons are antiquated when it comes to handheld GPS. When you’re exposed in harsh weather like snow or rain, touchscreens wouldn’t normally work if you use them while wearing gloves. This is where key buttons come in handy.

Nevertheless, there are screens that can be operated using gloved hands.

As for the screen, the rule of thumb is the bigger the screen, the higher its resolution and therefore better. But because it should be handheld, a hunting GPS should be small enough to fit in your hand comfortably. Is the display multi-touch as well? It’s not necessary for a multi-touch and dual orientation touchscreen, but the screen is easier to operate if it’s multi-touch and has dual orientation.

Also, the display quality is imperative. The resolution that is enough for indoor viewing is not enough for outdoor viewing. Can you read the screen in the sunlight? Backlight is also crucial for night use.

Satellite Reception / Data Source

The name GPS is in its name, so it should be no surprise that a GPS tracking for hunting uses global positioning system. Some devices, however, gather their data from two sources, the other being the GLONASS system. GLONASS stands for Global Navigational Satellite System, which is deployed by Russia. While the GPS is more popular in the US, GLONASS is just as effective. The best hunting GPS devices have both so they can rely on one when the other hits a dead spot.

Typographic Maps

GPS is not an actual map.

GPS helps pinpoint where you are in the world, but it doesn’t help you identify where you are. This is where topographic (topo) maps come in. They allow you to see what street you are on, how you can get from point A to point B, and how far you are from your destination. Get a GPS tracker for hunting that has a number of topographic maps, especially of those where you are hunting or hiking.

It wouldn’t do if you have a map of downtown Miami if you are going to be hunting in rural Wyoming.

Power Source

Unlike GPS for vehicles, you can’t leave a handheld GPS for hunting charging in your car as you use it. You are on the move in the wilderness, and therefore probably don’t have a power outlet to charge it. This is why it should have a reliable battery system.

The best GPS for hunting even has two power sources: standard alkaline batteries and NiMH or Lithium-ion battery, in case one dies out first. Even if it seems superfluous to have two battery systems, it wouldn’t hurt to be overly prepared when you are outdoors and don’t have access to electricity.

Storage

The best handheld GPS devices can be used anywhere in the world. Ideally, that should happen. And that’s possible if you have topographic maps for every area that you are going to. More maps mean you need to store them in your device. It’s great if your GPS has plenty of storage available, but it’s better if it has expandable storage so you can add more maps as needed.

Accessories and Extras

Does your device have a 3-axis compass? An altimeter? Barometer? Bluetooth? These features are extras that would be great to have but not crucial. But again, if your device has them, then it must be a solid buy.

A subscription to a satellite image database is also an extra. It could cost you as much as $50 a year, depending on the subscription company. It is a steep amount for many, but it’s necessary.

Subscriptions to satellite imagery and maps are provide accurate and up-to-date information. But again, it’s an extra because you could download these for free from several legitimate websites, including the US Geological Survey’s Seamless Data Warehouse.

All these are of no use to you if your gadget isn’t durable enough for outdoors, though. The best hunting GPS should be shockproof and water-resistant. It should be able to withstand the harsh conditions of nature but still perform fast and efficiently.

Country of Manufacture

With many products coming from all over the world to the US these days, it’s hard-pressed to find anything that’s completely made in USA. Nevertheless, knowing where a product was made could help you make better decision before purchasing it.

Hunting GPS

A hunting GPS is a handheld GPS-enabled device that provides geolocation of the user.

GPS, of course, stands for Global Positioning System. You probably have GPS on your phone or in your car.

These days, it’s a given that everyone with a smartphone should have a GPS app. However, these apps usually require you to be online before you can use them.

And when you’re at a backcountry, Internet connection isn’t likely to come by.

A handheld GPS for hunting doesn’t require you to be connected to the Internet. It gets its data from other sources. Some devices use the GPS system that the US government owns, while others use GLONASS, or Global Navigation Satellite System, which is operated by Russia.

The best handheld GPS devices use both systems, just in case the users encounter a dead spot with one system.

For GPS in smartphones that don’t require online connection, you might also find them convenient to use as a handheld GPS for hunting as they function the same way. But you need to remember that smartphones aren’t built for rough conditions. They aren’t durable enough to be tagged along the rough terrains and sometimes-scorching, sometimes-icy conditions of the outdoors. Also, smartphones’ maps don’t go deep into the wilderness; they are built for cities and roads mostly. A smartphone GPS can give you accurate directions while on the run around town or during a weekend drive. But for backcountry adventures, you would need a hunting GPS.

Best Hunting GPS Review

A car GPS, like the two others, also give accurate directions. The difference of it from a handheld one is the screen size and design. A GPS meant for use inside vehicles have wider screens so the driver can easily see where they are heading on the map. A handheld one, on the other hand, looks more like a cellular phone. It has narrower screen and overall smaller size because, as its name says, it is handheld and supposed to be easy to hold by hand.

Do you need a Hunting GPS?

If you are a hunter, hiker, mountaineer or just plain camper, you need to get the best hunting GPS for you. If you are traversing unfamiliar territories, it’s even more crucial to carry one.

Best Hunting GPS Review

The best handheld GPS hunting devices cannot be replaced by your smartphone GPS app or your smartwatch GPS. They are just more powerful to use in the rough outdoors because they are meant for that purpose. They are built to withstand different conditions and weather, unlike delicate smartphones. They can record your route and can go deep into the wilderness. A hunting GPS is exactly the type that you need for hunting.