A handheld GPS device is important to guide you through the wild and assist you in your hunting trips. There are many people who still use a map & compass, even though the timeworn method is convenient for some it had its limitations and many ask themselves “where the heck am I?”. With best hunting GPS device at your disposal you would never ask such question. Also GPS devices like inReach Explorer+ that allow you to send messages and your location to not only family & friends but also to rescue teams to help you even in the middle of a forest. There are different GPS units with various features like these which are required for different hunters.
However, there are plenty of GPS devices available in the market and it’s quite difficult to sort them all that suits your requirements. For that reason, we have listed 7 different GPS devices for you to select one. Also, check out our Hunting GPS Buying Guide before choosing a device.
- 1 7 Best Hunting GPS for Your Hunting Gear List
- 2 Hunting GPS Buying Guide
7 Best Hunting GPS for Your Hunting Gear List
Garmin eTrex 20x – Affordable
Garmin eTrex 20x is chosen as the best GPS for hunting in the list due to its affordability and availability of major features required for hunters. The 2.2” 64k color display is visible & readable even in the sunlight. Positioning in eTrex 20x is very accurate as it is supported by both GPS and GLONASS with WAAS & Hotfix which helps in more accuracy. Satellite reception is so accurate that it can locate you even in deep jungles & canyons.
The size of the unit is very portable and weighs just 5 ounces making it easy to carry. With 3.7 GB of internal storage and ability to expand with a micro SD card makes it easy to upload huge data of maps. We can upload maps like TOPO 24k, 100k, HuntView, Birdseye Satellite imagery, City Navigator NT and Blue Chart G2. With detailed maps like TOPO 24K, it will guide you through roads with Automatic Routing (turn by turn routing).
Garmin eTrex 30x comes with electronic compass, & barometric altimeter sensors.
Garmin eTrex Touch 25 is similar to eTrex 20x which had touchscreen display which is easier to use.
- Sunlight readable color display.
- GPS + GLONASS support.
- 3.7 GB internal storage.
- Ability to upload maps.
- No electronic compass & navigation sensors.
Garmin Montana 610 Camo – Easy to Use
Montana 610 Camo comes with a camouflaged panel which is very stylish and liked by most hunters and also may be useful. Coming to the features of the device it holds a 4” sunlight readable color touchscreen display which is glove friendly and had dual orientation. Similar to most Garmin models it supports both GPS & GLONASS making it much more accurate. The touchscreen display allows Garmin to load up more features which can’t be used on a buttoned unit and also easy to use for consumers.
With 8 GB internal storage and ability to expand with micro SD allows uploading a lot of maps with ease. They also come with a 1-year subscription for BirdsEye satellite imagery which provides much easy to use and detailed maps. The 3-axis compass also called electronic compass allows to find directions quickly and barometric altimeter sensors are also available.
Montana 610 Camo is IPX7 water rating which means it is water resistant for up to 30 minutes at 1-meter water depth. Battery life is 16 hours with lithium-ion battery pack and up to 22 hours with 3 AA batteries. Users can charge directly with the cable making it convenient to use and less weight to carry.
If you are okay with an expensive unit which had all the features from fast and reliable positioning, easy to use interface, navigational sensors, quality build for rough usage, water resistant, decent battery life, ability to upload maps and stylish camouflaged panel then this is the best hunting GPS for you.
Montana 610 had same features except for the camouflaged panel.
Montana 680 comes with 8 MP camera which is used to take pictures and mark waypoints with pics.
- 4” Sunlight readable touchscreen display.
- IPX7 water rating.
- Dual battery system.
- Expandable storage.
- Software could be better.
Garmin GPSMAP 64s – High Quality
Garmin GPSMAP 64s is the bestselling GPS device not only because of its decent pricing but also due to its features. This 12 button unit comes with 2.6” sunlight readable color display and 250000 preloaded geocaches for unlimited fun. The quad helix antenna which receives GPS+GLONASS signals is very sensitive and provides with precise location even in deep forests.
The 4 GB internal storage and expandability with microSD allow uploading maps from the computer. When you buy the unit you are also provided with 1-year BirdsEye satellite imagery maps subscription which is much detailed. It also had an electronic compass for easy navigation along with barometric altimeter sensors.
Wireless sharing and Smart Notifications are present only in this model of Garmin at this price range. Wireless sharing allows users to share waypoints, tracks, routes and other data with compatible devices. When paired with your smartphone all the notifications on the phone will be shown on the unit display.
Garmin 64s uses 2 AA batteries which provide up to 16 hours of battery life, it is a bit bulky in size and weighs 8.1oz along with batteries. Overall it is one of the best handheld GPS for hunting and one of the most reliable hunting GPS you could find.
- GLONASS Support.
- Ability to upload maps.
- Wireless sharing & Smart Notifications.
- 1-year Birdseye satellite imagery subscription.
- Only 16 hours battery life.
- Bulky in size.
Garmin Rino 750 – 2-way Communication
Garmin Tino 750 is another GPS model suitable especially for hunters in groups, it comes with 2-way radio communication via voice & text. This makes easy to hunt in teams as you can stay in contact with other members of the team. The range for 2-way radio is 20 miles which is very large and sufficient for most. Users can also send their location to other compatible units in the channel and let them know where you are.
Other than the 2-way communication Rino also had plenty of navigational features. It comes with 3” sunlight-readable touchscreen with dual orientation. High sensitive GPS+GLONASS satellite reception provides high accuracy. 3-axis compass allows faster navigation and barometric altimeter calculates elevation and pressure in the region.
Dual battery system allows you to use either AA batteries for 18 hours or rechargeable batteries for 14 hours. Wireless sharing allows you to share data like waypoints, routes & tracks between friend. Smart notification feature allows you to connect to a smartphone and receive notifications directly on the GPS unit.
1.7GB internal storage and SD card support makes it easy to upload maps from the computer and by connecting to basecamp you can send routes and tracks. It can also sustain very rough and heavy usage and also water resistant.
Overall the ability to communicate easily via voice makes it has one of the best hunting GPS. The navigation features that come with the device are also very useful for your hunting trips.
Garmin Rino 755t comes with an additional camera and preloaded TOPO 100k US maps.
- 2-way communication.
- Share location via radio.
- 20 miles radio range.
- Sunlight readable display.
- GLONASS reception.
- Only 3” touchscreen.
Garmin inReach Explorer+ – Messaging & SOS
If are a person who goes on hunting for days in a very remote area where you wouldn’t have any mobile signals, then you need to check Garmin inReach Explorer+. This device lets you send messages & location to anyone from anywhere on the planet. This way you could get in touch with your family and let them know you are safe. inReach units connect to a constellation of satellites called IRIDIUM which is similar to GPS except they allow you to send messages & SOS. Yes, you can also send SOS message using a button to the nearest emergency center along with your location.
Coming to the other features of the device it comes with a transflective sunlight readable display. Uses GPS or Global Positioning System to provide your location and inbuilt TOPO 24k maps of US and Canada. The unit features are limited in navigation & positioning, it can store only 500 waypoints, & 20 routes.
inReach Explorer+ is built for rugged usage and also had IPX7 water rating which means it can stay in the water for 30 minutes under 1-meter depth. Breadcrumb trail allows users to see the path you have used. Navigation sensors include barometric altimeter sensors along with an electronic compass.
Another important feature Explorer+ have is 100+ hours battery life which is 5 times higher than normal GPS units. It comes with inbuilt rechargeable battery and should be charged using the USB cable.
Other similar Devices:
Garmin inReach SE+ had all the features in the Explorer+ device except TOPO maps which could be uploaded later if necessary, barometric altimeter sensors and comes with a differential compass in place of an electric compass.
- Send & receive messages.
- 24/7 SOS for emergency.
- TOPO maps for US, Canada & Mexico.
- Water resistant.
- 100+ hours battery life.
- Limited maps.
- Unreliable Positioning & Navigation features.
Bushnell BackTrack D-Tour is the only unit in our list and it is nowhere in the league of the devices reviewed in this article. It is a simple location tracker that just points the direction to a location saved before. This is useful to save locations of your camp, hunting spot, nearby water source and similar locations and find the direction when you need.
BackTrack D-Tour can store up to 5 locations and shows the distance to the location pointing the direction on the display. It provides details like altitude, time, temperature, and stores last 48 hours data. Users can upload data to the computer and save the routes and it is also water resistant. It can also be used for everyday activities like running, finding your way back to parking, hotel, and similar.
Overall it is best hunting GPS for those who just need a device for simple navigation and saving locations for few spots.
- Easy to use.
- Provides altitude & temperature data.
- Low cost.
- Upload data to a computer.
- Can save only 5 locations.
- Low battery life.
Garmin Oregon 700 – Touchscreen
Oregon 700 is a very easy to use touchscreen which makes it most convenient & easy to use hunting GPS unit. The 3” display is not only easy to use but also transflective color TFT which means you can comfortably read even in sunlight. It had satellite support to both GPS and GLONASS which makes the unit much faster to lock on to the satellites. Also, it is water resistant and the build quality is very durable and tough to break.
The navigational sensors include a barometric altimeter to calculate pressure which lets you know the altitude of the location. Even though this feature isn’t much use for hunter this pressure calculation can tell us the weather changes. Oregon 700 had 3-axis electronic compass which provides much quicker directions, unlike the traditional differential compass.
Users can share data wirelessly with other compatible devices through Bluetooth or ANT+. The dual battery system allows you to use either AA batteries or rechargeable Lithium batteries for up to 16 hours. With 1.7GB of internal storage & expandable storage with microSD allows you to upload maps from a computer.
Other Similar Models:
Oregon 750 comes with an additional 8MP camera with a flashlight & automatic geotagging.
Oregon 750t the “t” at the end of Garmin devices means it comes with preloaded TOPO 100K maps. (Users could find & upload TOPO 24K maps for free which are much detailed than TOPO 100K).
- Sunlight readable display.
- Dual battery system.
- Expandable memory.
- GLONASS support.
- Only 16 hours battery life.
Hunting GPS Buying Guide
Why do you need a Hunting GPS?
GPS is not an essential device for hunting, but having one would eliminate plenty of work that could be done using a simple GPS device. These are not just useful for navigation but they could do a lot more, here are few points why you need to use a GPS for hunting. Also many consider a handheld GPS device as one of the important items in a hunting gear list.
- As a navigation device, it would allow you to plan your route into the jungle and find a way back if you are lost.
- Proximity alarm, many units comes with this feature. You can draw a geofence on the map or mark the homes of wild animals and whenever you are nearby or crossing the geofence you will be notified.
- With a hunting GPS, you can mark points like water sources, power stations, hunting grounds, using trees for high grounds, and more for future needs. This helps you to easily go to those points whenever you need and you would never need to remember a place or route.
- Some units come with 2-way radio communication allowing you to communicate with other units in the channel. This is helpful if you are hunting in teams.
- There are also units that allow you to send messages to your family or friends even when you are in a dense forest with no signs of technology or signals.
- Devices with the ability to send SOS for emergency rescue teams. If you are hurt severely in the middle of nowhere then you can simply press an SOS button and emergency teams will receive your location. This could be a lifesaving feature and very essential if you are a solo adventurer or going too deep into the wild.
Features Required for Best Hunting GPS
All the handheld GPS systems by default use the Global Positioning System (GPS) maintained by the United States. However, some units use GPS along with GLONASS a Russian equivalent to US Version. GLONASS is 20% faster to connect to the unit and having GPS+GLONASS provides you with much more accurate positioning. Units with a big antenna mean it is more powerful as it can receive signals even in thick forest and deep canyons.
16 hours to 22 hours is the most common battery life you would see for a handheld GPS. Most of the units either use AA batteries or rechargeable batteries make it easy for you to power them up easily. There are also units with the ability to use both AA batteries and rechargeable batteries. Garmin inReach Explorer+ is one unique device with many features and a 100 hours battery life is one of them almost 4 to 5 times than a normal unit.
Ability to upload maps
Most units have the ability to upload maps unless the unit doesn’t have a color display. This feature allows you to upload a wide variety of maps like TOPO 24K maps which are the most preferred maps by hunters and most outdoor adventurers. Also if you are going on an international trip you can upload maps of any country. Users can also subscribe to subscription services like Birdseye Imagery which provide much more easy to use maps. With expandable storage option, then you can upload a huge data of maps for your long adventure.
Accessories are very important for a device like GPS as people use them for different purposes like cycling, fishing, hiking and hunting. So before you buy a one make sure they have accessories available that you need. Most common accessories for hunting units are carrying cases, batteries, straps, USB cables and mounts for some.
Size & Weight
Whenever you are on an outdoor adventure you need to be very clear on how much weight you could carry and need to add only which are essential for your trip. Most of the handheld units are very compact in size and would fit easily anywhere and weight 5 to 9oz only with batteries. Buyers should also consider the number of batteries you need if AA batteries or how to charge if rechargeable batteries are used. Batteries weigh a lot if you are on a long trip, a couple of battery pairs are sufficient for a short trip.
Ease of Use
GPS devices come with buttons or touchscreen to operate and I would say the touchscreen is much easy to use. However, the units with touchscreen are much expensive which should also be considered. Buttons are also good to use and you would get comfortable once you start using it. Another factor to discuss is display, all Garmin units come with a comfortable display to read even in sunlight, unlike our smartphones. So, overall most GPS units are fairly easy to use and if you are looking for a much easy to use the device then go for touchscreen units like Oregon or Montana.
There are two types of compass that comes with the GPS devices, electric or 3-axis compass and differential compass. Differential compass is the standard compass used in a handheld unit but to provide right direction it should be kept steadily in the horizontal position. This is a disadvantage for hikers & mountaineers but not so disadvantage for hunters. As you could understand by now electric compass is the latest technology which can be used as you like and provides us with the right direction. In hunter’s perspective both electric and differential compasses are good but buying electric compass would be an advantage.
Other Optional Features Available
2-way Radio allows users to talk or send messages & location between compatible devices in the radio channel. Garmin Rino series GPS devices are the only ones that come with this feature and can stay connected within the 20-mile radius. This feature is very useful for people hunting in teams allowing them to stay connected easily.
Communication & SOS:
Have you ever thought of contacting your family while you are in deep forest hunting for a long time? If so, there are devices that send messages and location to your loved ones anywhere on the earth. Garmin inReach series GPS connect with a constellation of satellites called Iridium which is similar to GPS satellites. This Iridium network connects with the unit and sends a message or your location whenever you need.
The same Garmin inReach series GPS also comes with an SOS button which sends your location to a nearby emergency team to rescue you. While you send the emergency response you can stay connected with the team via messaging.
Note: Users need to subscribe to a paid subscription to send messages or SOS.
Inbuilt TOPO 100k Maps:
Every Garmin model that ends with a “t” in the name means the device comes with inbuilt TOPO 100K maps. These maps cost you an extra 50$ than the price of the base model and useful for people who aren’t tech savvy. If you are good with a computer, then you may need to skip these. This is because TOPO 24K maps which could be available for free are much more detailed than TOPO 100K maps provided. So next time you see a Garmin device that ends with a “t” look for the base model and compare the price difference.