It sucks to get lost in the woods, not knowing which way to go. You might slightly head off path to check something out and then you forget the way back and waste your time trying to get back to your path. Regardless of the scenario, getting lost is not something that is fun to do, which is why gps devices designed for hunters exist. What sets these GPS apart from regular ones in the car frequently comes down to build quality to resist nasty weather and long battery life. Hunting GPS’s also have geocache, can pull up altitude profiles, track your routes as well as do other useful functions. But enough talk, let’s get into the best hunting GPS reviews.
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Garmin Oregon 650t
The Garmin Oregon is the newest entry in its highly praised Oregon series. And just like its younger cousin 550t, the 650t has a lot of great features that make it one of the best hunting GPS. Let’s start off with the new features, first of which is the GLONASS (Global Navigation Satellite System) satellite reception as opposed to the typical GPS system. We have found this reception to be very reliable, matching and even beating the GPS at times. Secondly the new android interface shows a lot more data on screen at once and makes the GPS customizable and fluid. We also liked the unlimited geocache support that is included on this device, no need to choose which geocaches to load or not. You can download geocaches from here. This unit also has a rechargeable battery pack which comes in pretty handy. It uses a NiMH battery pack but if you run out of juice you can supply it with dual AA batteries instead as both battery packs will work with this device.
This unit also comes with an IPX7 rated 8 MP camera. The camera was pretty good, and did manage to capture some nice pictures. Additionally this unit comes preloaded with TOPO 100K which, in our opinion isn’t the best topographical map but it gets the job done. And if you want to get custom maps, you can do that too. For hunters, it has an included hunt/fish calendar. It also has a nice 3 inch display which has a resolution of 240 x 400 pixels.
Something to note about this device is that it is designed more for people who have some experience with Garmin devices before. Newcomers might get frustrated at the way that the UI works since it is pretty sophisticated. But apart from that it is a great hunting GPS.
Another Garmin entry, this GPS is a great value for its price. It runs off 2 AAA batteries (which are sold separately) which is good since you can get those anywhere. The Foretrex keeps track of your routes, tracks and waypoints, just like any other good hunting GPS and also features a TracBack feature which allows you to retrace your steps back. The 0.5 inch display supports backlighting which makes it easier to read in the sun. The unit is very compact, weighing in at only 3 oz. You can choose to either use it like a normal handheld GPS or put it on like a watch thanks to its size.
It can withstand a pretty wide range of temperature and with its waterproof rating of IPX7 (1 m depth for 30 minutes) it is a very durable device. In addition to that, it is also pretty accurate and can track your altitude down without much issue. After your hike you can upload everything to BaseCamp which is Garmin’s pc software, to see a minute-by-minute recording or your elevation, time and movement speed. All this recording doesn’t mean that the device dies quickly, in fact, from our tests, the Foretrex held up to its rated 17 hours of usage.
As you can tell by now, Garmin is pretty much the leader in hunting GPS. And this is no accident, quite simply, it’s hard to find better hunting GPS. The eTrex 30X features a 2.2 inch 65,000 color sunlight readable display. The display is also sharp with its 240 x 320 resolution. Now, in case you’re thinking that it’s still a low resolution considering we have 1440p smartphones right now – more resolution means more pixels to drive requiring more power and wasting more battery. Additionally, it’s a small display so even with the low resolution, it remains sharp. The other benefit of a small display is that it is compact- making it so that you can carry it without many issues.
The eTrex also offers 3.7 GB of internal memory in addition to its included microSD card slot (supporting up to 64 GB). It also comes preloaded with a worldwide basemap with shaded relief. It’s accurate too thanks to its dual GPS system using both GPS and GLONASS. GLONASS is a system developed by the Russian Federation and it approximately is 20% faster at locking on to position as opposed to GPS. Paired with WAAS, you can track your position very quickly and accurately without any issues.
Unlike the 20X version, the eTrex 30X also has an electronic compass and a barometric altimeter. It can store up to 200 routes and 10,000 points. Like all good gps systems it is also waterproof and rated at IPX7 which is 30 minutes at a depth of 1 meter. Finally, it is compatible with custom maps.
Designed from the ground up for the hunter, the Magellan eXplorist is one of the only hunting GPS systems that can come close to Garmin series. The eXplorist 350H comes preloaded with a base map that we found to be pretty detailed. You also get a free 1 year subscription to DigitalGlobe satellite imagery.
When we said designed ground up for the hunter we meant it. It comes pre-loaded with a hunt calendar so you can easily stay within legal hunting hours. You can also identify moon phases to find out what is the prime hunting time. You also get over 30 hunting specific waypoints to choose from. To find hunting areas you can find the zones in each state or province in USA and Canada thanks to data supplied by GMU & WMU. Another useful feature that we found was the boundary alert. It is easy to accidentally get off track and you don’t want to be paying any fines for crossing wrong boundaries.
The screen is also pretty good, and is visible even under sunlight. However, the build quality and durability of eXplorist 350H are probably its weakest parts. While they aren’t bad by any stretch of imagination, compared to something like Garmin eTrex 30X, the Garmin beats it out. But apart from that, it is a very solid tool of any great hunter. Requires 2 AA batteries to run which are included.
Featuring a 2.6 inch color non-touch display, this is a great hunting GPS for those who like it more old school. Having a touchscreen can be useful at times but when it’s improperly implemented it can cause more issues than a button GPS. The 64st was found be very accurate from our testing coming at around 4-5 feet of our location. This is a big plus as many other handheld GPS units are only accurate at around 15 feet or more which might be unacceptable to some. The altimeter was also accurate, coming in within 5 to 10 feet range after calibration. The battery life is also good and we found that it lasted about 16 hours, which is average. Talking about the battery, you can use either 2 traditional AA batteries or a rechargeable NiMH battery instead. The NiMH battery does cost a bit and must be purchased separately which is why we just stuck to the AA batteries.
Compared to Garmin 60CSx however, there are some ways that the new iteration falls short. The included manual was much shorter (18 pages vs 116 pages) which makes using this already complicated device even harder. The battery life also took a small hit. But in return you get a much nicer display and GLONASS. A fair trade I would say. The preloaded map is also much better than the one in the 60CSx.
Another feature that this GPS has is ANT+. ANT stands for Advanced and Adaptive Network Technology. Tech details aside, it’s basically something like Bluetooth and it allows you to transfer information if you are wearing something like a heart rate monitor, foot pods or power meters. This feature would come in most useful for those who participate in both outdoor and indoor fitness and would like to have their exercise data tracked from treadmills or spin bikes for example.
Like the Magellan, the 64s also comes with a 1 year BirdsEye satellite subscription. For those who like geocaching, 250,000 caches are already preloaded onto it from geocaching.com. All things considered, this is a great device and if you don’t mind the non-touch display, it is one of the best hunting GPS on the market today.
What to Look For in a Hunting GPS
The first thing to look for is reception. It can be the most beautiful GPS with the best battery life and downloaded maps but if it can’t track where you are you essentially have an expensive paperweight. This is something that varies on a per handheld GPS basis, so you might want to research deeper into that. The most accurate ones that we’ve tested usually had both WAAS and GLONASS included in them. However if you don’t mind the tracking being 10-20 feet off then you can purchase cheaper alternatives.
Weight and size are also very important. For example, the Garmin Foretrex 401 doesn’t necessarily have a big colorful display but it is very portable and can be worn on your wrist like a watch. Bulkier GPS can be more of a hindrance than help, especially for those people who don’t particularly care about having a super nice display.
But for those who do, screen size and resolution are also important points to consider. You might be interested in the Garmin Oregon 650t as it features a vibrant 240 x 400 pixel 3 inch display. If you want to go even bigger, you can get the Garmin Montana 680t instead. The camera can also come in useful if you don’t already own a camera. If you do use a camera, it is recommended to go for a higher base capacity model or at the very least go for one that has a microsd card slot. The microsd card slot can also come in useful if you decide that you will need more storage to load all of your data onto your device.
Each hunting GPS has its pros and cons, and analysis of all the available GPSs is recommended to make sure you get one that you will be happy with. With that said, the recommendations reviewed above are the best hunting gps in the market, so you can’t go wrong with any of them. Thank you for reading and we hope you will be happy with the purchase!