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The Best Hiking GPS Units

written by: Om Thoke•edited by: Rhonda Callow•updated: 5/19/2011

It is tough to label a particular navigation unit as the best GPS hiking unit, but there are some clear-cut leaders in each segment. So, let us take a look at some of the best hiking GPS units, based upon pricing, performance, additional capabilities and several other parameters.

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    What is the Best GPS Hiking Unit based on Pricing?

    If a basic GPS for hiking is all that you want, then Garmin eTrex H is one of the worthy options – it is a no-frills hiking GPS device available in a reasonable budget.

    Garmin eTrex H

    Garmin eTrex H Don’t count out the Garmin eTrex H even if you’re looking for some impressive features rather than low pricing. It comes with a high-sensitivity receiver capable of locking in satellite signals literally everywhere be it under a tree or in canyons!

    Garmin eTrex H not only handles basic navigation reasonably, but also comes with excellent battery life, as it lasts up to even 17 hours or more (depending upon the usage).

    Just like any other Garmin GPS unit, the Garmin eTrex H Garmin eTrex H is extremely easy-to-use, with rare exceptions of advanced features like ‘marking a waypoint’ (there’s no separate external button for this task).

    The eTrex H is definitely one of the best hiking GPS devices based on pricing – an ideal pick for beginners. However, the advanced users will feel stranded without a basemap and sufficient map details. Far worse, there’s no provision for loading maps on to the device at all!

    So, Garmin eTrex H may go off your list, if you’re not a newbie.

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    Which is Best Hiking GPS based on Value for Money?

    Coming to the answer of “what is the best GPS hiking unit" based on value for money, you may consider the DeLorme Earthmate PN-40, which comes with DeLorme Topo USA software that gives you free access to the entire U.S. topography, and of course the street maps too. Indeed, this means you’re free to download as many detailed USGS quads, resolution aerial imagery, and nautical charts as you want, by paying a meager annual subscription of $29.95 to the company.

    DeLorme Earthmate PN-40

    DeLorme Earthmate PN-40 The DeLorme Earthmate PN-40 comes with 500 MB onboard flash memory, 1GB SD MMC unit, and is expandable up to 32GB.

    And, that’s not all! The DeLorme Earthmate PN-40 also comes with several advanced features under its hood, such as a barometric altimeter, tri-axial compass, dual-core processor for fast map redraws, and much more.

    Keeping all the aspects into consideration, the DeLorme Earthmate PN-40 is surely one amongst the best value GPS for hiking, but it doesn't match the caliber of Garmin Oregon 400 by any means.

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    What is the Best GPS Hiking Unit based on Advanced Capabilities

    When you try to look for a GPS navigator that has bunch of powerful features, which are not available in most of the hiking GPS devices, then Magellan Triton 2000 & Magellan eXplorist 400 are possibly amongst the top deals.

    Magellan Triton 2000

    Magellan Triton 2000 The Magellan Triton 2000 comes with a 2.7 inch touch screen (operated by stylus) to help you in taking notes on-the-move. But, there’s more to it; you get a 2 megapixel camera with LED flashlight, for enjoying a photo shoot, sound recorder, MP3 player, and earphone jack, to enjoy non-stop music and much more.

    Coming to the navigation features, the Triton 2000 features barometric altimeter, electronic compass and compatibility with most of the popular mapping programs.

    The only bad thing about the Triton 2000 is its complex navigation menus (but you’ll get used to them as you operate it more and more).

    Note: Initial release of Triton had PLENTY of bugs, but most of the software problems have been taken care of, in the latest generation models.

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    Garmin Oregon 400T

    Of course, you’ve got money to burn, you’re bound to get a top notch Garmin GPS navigator. Well, Garmin Oregon 400T is the answer to all your hiking needs from a GPS device (though pretty costly).

    Garmin Oregon 400 Featuring the HotFix technology that helps the device predict your whereabouts even before you turn it on, this powerhouse navigator comes pre-loaded with seamless topographic detailing, and lightening fast satellite acquisition. Depending upon the version (US/Europe) you can also find 3D maps of the respective regions too.

    The Garmin Oregon 400T has a 3-inches wide touch screen (of course colored) that allows you to zoom/pan the map view and do lot more.

    What’s more, it can share data wirelessly with other Oregon or Colorado units, and it comes with almost everything that all above-mentioned GPS units offer (including electronic compass, and barometric altimeter). While using this GPS navigator in challenging terrains, you also have the option of minimizing waypoint labels and hiding other unwanted details to facilitate easier viewing.

    Despite its advanced features, the Garmin Oregon 400T has highly intuitive navigation menus and turns out to be child's play, even for the first time users. The Garmin Oregon 400T is also optimized for geocaching use, and the device comes with a mammoth 850MB internal memory capacity, which is more than enough to even store several pictures, and user data.

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    And, the Winner Is?

    After analysing various contenders for the spot of the "best GPS hiking unit", you may have realized how tough it is to really state what is the best hiking GPS unit. Well, we're are also interested to hear which is the best GPS hiking unit according to you; so do let us know - drop a comment and share your views!

    You can find more budget GPS devices, and cool Garmin GPS units in low budget here