I do not think that exist a single answer to the question-What is the best GPS for hunting?
I’ll be honest and admit that I am not a hunter and do not think that it would be able to shoot a nice doe. On the other hand, the fish is also a living creature, but I like fishing very much.
OK, this time we will leave alone an ethical side of these hobbies, and I would like to try to find out so popular search term as „GPS for hunting.“
Old fashioned way hunters could wonder for what reason the GPS is needed? Hundreds of years could do without GPS and so on.
Definitely, the GPS device or smartphone application is not the primary hunting tool like shotgun or hunting knife and many hunters today still not using any navigation devices except a dog to not get lost in woods.
If I ever go for hunting, then definitely look for a GPS device for many reasons.
Why not feel safer and be smarter not to cross private property boundaries or national reserve limits.
Knowing your exact position in the woods or another place of the hunting can be sure that will not get in trouble, including to avoid financial losses in various forms of punishment by violating hunting rules or different restrictions.
Well, let’s assume that you and I are that company who prefers to keep in a pocket or backpack a kind of backup tool not to get lost in woods or accidentally cross angry neighbors private property boundary.
What actually a GPS market offering for hunter’s needs.
Before we start the search find out what we are looking for, how a GPS device could help in the hunting process.
So, this tool has to be lightweight.
There are so many other hunting accessories which are carried by a hunter. I assume that we are looking for a handheld GPS device and who cares is it weight 8 ounces (228 g) or 9 ounces (255 g). Just for comparison for smartphone app lovers, iPhone 6s and iPhone 6s Plus weigh 143 grams (5.04 ounces) and 192 grams (6.77 ounces) respectively.
The next important feature is a battery.
It must run in heavy duty mode at least 24 hours or to be easily replaced by spare one. This feature, agree with me, is almost not available for smartphone supporters.
It is the most important thing in my view. Yes, you could get back to your car even without any cartography just by putting the pinpoint at a car’s position in any GPS unit before you disappeared into the woods. How long time it takes and how hard or easy it could be? I am sure that after a hard way back to the car, you will hurry to look for the perfect hunting maps source.
Here the Hunt onXmaps come on the scene.
The mission of onXmaps is to provide customers with the most current and accurate land ownership mapping information available, and present this information in user-friendly and intuitive ways; with the ultimate goal of creating confidence for our map users.
Here is product description on Amazon.com for HUNT Montana by onXmaps – Public/Private Land Ownership 24k Topo Maps for Garmin GPS Units (microSD/SD Card)
„We’ve combined BLM, Forest Service, USGS Topo Quad, and PLAT book maps to give you HUNT Montana for Garmin GPS, the most informative GPS map of Montana ever created! This microSD Chip gives you a color-coded map of Montana showing public & private land boundaries with land owner names, hunt districts, topo information, roads, trails, and much more. Map data is collected from multiple sources and organized in a way that makes our HUNT Montana Map intuitive and helps you reduce map clutter and get back to hunting! Endorsed by numerous State and Federal agencies, including many Game & Fish Departments, HUNT Montana for Garmin GPS by onXmaps is the most reliable source for Montana land ownership maps on the market!“
About the Product
„HUNT by onXmaps is uniquely different than any other product out there. What makes our product unique is the fact we have taken the time to find the best data from the most reliable sources. In many cases, we have gathered and organized data from over 15 different sources to make a single statewide map. The maps have many detailed layers of information that would be way too cluttered to try to display on a paper map. But with the layering and zooming capability of the GPS, we’re able to fill the map full of useful names and property information, yet keep the display clean and organized. It’s this quality of data, amount of data, and organization of it all that sets us apart.“
Now we are found the correct mapping solution only left to choose the right GPS device for it.
There are two choices either Garmin GPS units or smartphone app. Actually, maybe it could be used for other brand GPS devices but I will skip these for now.
I found on Appstore the same coverage, e.g., Hunt Montana is for $29.99 but SD card for Garmin GPS units in Amazon.com for the same area for $ 99.99. From the first sight no more questions, why to spend extra seventy bucks for the same product.
Are they equal?
I suppose that the coverage is the same and updates could be even cheaper. All in all, the choice of iPhone looks cheaper and even more convenient. Is it so?
No matter how big a fan of the iPhone I am, in this case for a serious hunting I would refrain from an option of a smartphone as a hunting accessory.
Why? As I mentioned above, even with an extra power bank for your beloved iPhone, a battery is not enough for heavy duty. Instead, the most Garmin eTrex or Garmin Montana series handheld GPS devices battery life is 20 to 29 hours.
Even with the so-called protective case, I do not believe that you will easily hang it on the neck or the belt clip.
In other words, I am sure that the use of the smartphone for hunting environment is not the best choice though; theoretically, it can fulfill all necessary GPS functions for hunting activities.
Garmin Handheld GPS devices loaded with Hunt OnXmaps is the most advanced and user-friendly solution for hunting in the USA.
Here is the list of Handheld GPS devices:
All Montana Series
All Oregon Series
All Colorado Series
GPSMAP 60CSx, 60 Cx, 62, 62sc, 62st, 62stc, 64, 64s, & 64st
GPSMAP 76CSx & 76Cx, 78, 78s & 78sc
Astro 320 & 220
eTrex 20, 20x, 30 & 30x series
eTrex 25 & 35 Touch
eTrex Legend HCx, Cx
eTrex Vista HCx, Cx
eTrex Venture HCx
Which one better fit for you, it’s your decision. There is not so much difference. Touch screen or buttons, bigger or smaller screen size and even battery life are not eternal for any device.
My choice is Garmin eTrex series handheld GPS devices.
Friendly price, up to 25 hours of battery life, button navigation, waterproof to IPX7 standards for protection against splashes, rain, etc. are enough. Remaining features I can easily find in my iPhone 6S Plus app in the case of necessity and keep expensive smartphone safe in the inner pocket.
I’ll be glad to read your, more experienced hunters, the point of view regarding a topic What is the best GPS for Hunting and Good Luck!
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Hello and thank you for your article. Being an avid hunter and fisherman I do appreciate your post and the factual information provided which seems to be completely based on product information obtained through the web and not first hand experience. So to this end I appreciate the agglomeration of literature to help make a decision. Unfortunately this lack of firsthand experience with any of the devices leads to somewhat of a credibility loss because we all know that things like dirt and grime and product feel and portability make huge differences in the woods. Having first hand experience would help me a lot choose the product that you endorse.
Hi and thanks for the great comment.
Actually, I had an opportunity to test Garmin eTrex 20 last year when I was ice fishing. The weather condition was close to extreme as the temperature was around -20 Celsius (-4 Fahrenheit), the device was lost and found in the snow but performs just perfect. It is one of the reasons why I choose Garmin eTrex series if I ever go hunting.
Interesanti vai priekš Latvijas medniekiem arī ir šādas Garmin GPS navigatoriem radītas kartes. Cik paskatījos Hunt onXmaps mājas lapā, tad tikai priekš ASV. Varbūt ir kāda alternatīva?
Latvijā, ka jau pareizi nokonstatēji, onXmaps nav pieejams, bet ir samērā laba alternatīva tieši Garmin ierīcēm Jāņa Sētas Topo Kartes. Es pats konkŗeti šīs neesmu lietojis, bet man ir maksas abonents iPhone aplikācijas veidā. Lai gan ir reizēm dažādi gļuki softā, tomēr kartes kā tādas ir samērā labas un detalizētas. Kaut ga medību robežas jau nāksies pašam iezīmēt. Tāpat privātās teritorijas jau arī nav uzrādītas, skaties zīmes un brīdinājumus uz vietas. Toties jebkuru mājas nosaukumu, kaut vai ķūļciema meža teritorijā, varēsi atrast bez problēmām. Lai veicas! Kaut gan nošaut kādu skaistu stirniņu ga es nenovēlu, labāk jau tad ar foto šauteni.
I am really glad I found this post! My dad is an avid hunter, along with my brother. Both of whom tend you have everything and shopping this time of year gets to be a little hard trying to find something that they can use, and don’t have. This is something they both need, and I think they would both love. I never knew there was such a thing!
Hello, Leah Rae and thanks for the interest.
I think that GPS for hunting like one of mentioned in my post could be a good Christmas Present for your brother and dad. If you can not afford a device, then try Hunt onXmaps smartphone application for your region if you live in the USA. It comes only for $30.
I’ve used the eTrex 10 in the past and found it to be the best value for money. Not the cheapest option but it does have many features I enjoyed and a rugged casing.
The eTrex 20 is obviously better but i wonder if it really is worth the extra money?
Garmin eTrex 20 definitely worth the extra money but it depends on of your needs. Even excluding other features more available data storage ability is the feature what you have to have to download new topo maps or even Hunt onXmaps. For eTrex 10 memory may be insufficient.
Wow very informational, great topics. Love the navigation of the site. No pun intended.Every thing is easy to use. Easy to use and easy on the eye’s. Never really thought there where so many different GPS’s. I myself have never used a GPS for hunting. But now I’m thinking about getting one. You site is truly helpful. Cant wait to see whats next!
Hi David and thanks for stopping by.
I think that GPS for hunting is very useful when using Hunt onXmaps. You can see the private owner land boundaries not to get in real trouble. Better use rugged Garmin handheld GPS devices than smartphone apps.
I’m not a hunter myself, but I know a friend who is a hunter, he still does it in the old fashion way, with a map and compass. Now with these kind of GPS I think it is safer to know where you are going and more.
I have a question, it is not about the GPS, because I already see this is to have more safety, and you find the way easier, but do you still know the old times when you have to figure out where you are by looking to the stars, and hoping you were on the right track?
I will share this post with him, and demand he really looks for this GPS, so his wife can be calm when he goes out to hunt again in Bulgaria!
Hi Emmanuel and thanks for stopping by.
Good question and I am glad that someone interested in traditional navigation. To answer this read my post ”How To Navigate at Sea without GPS’‘.
Hello, this is a great article although i do not know much about GPS and other devices used for GPS. Your article has really broken it down for me and be able to learn something about the GPS device. I look forward to equip myself with one when i go hunting or an adventure walk. Thank you very much, this post was very informative and helpful to me.
Thanks, Riza. GPS and other satellite navigation systems like Russian GLONASS and European Union Galileo help people not just to navigate on unknown roads but in many other everyday situations.
After watching many programs on living in the wild and living of the wild resources, I found this to be an extremely interesting subject.
A reliable GPS device, and one with long battery life, surely is a must have for a hunter going out into the wilds to hunt. As for the whole issue of hunting, that is a choice one makes. If the meat of the animal is used and sustains a family, I do not see the problem. That is unless one is a vegetarian or vegan.
It must be an really dreadful feeling to be lost in the wilderness without a GPS to guide you safely back to your vehicle or civilization.
This was a good overview of some really good products.
Hi Jill and thanks for the comment.
Today almost everyone has a smartphone with GPS navigation option, so life is a bit easier for occasional walking in the unfamiliar forest. All of this is subject to the condition that you know how to read maps.
If you are about to go for longer wild adventure than standalone GPS handheld device with long life battery and the waterproof option is essential. Hunting and fishing as examples.
Hi, you never know when you’re going to get lost. My husband likes to fish and likes to photograph wildlife so will often be off into the wilderness. I have had the odd phone call telling me he is going to be a little longer than expected and I’m pretty sure its because he’s got himself lost. ( Not that he would admit that ) I will be looking in to getting him the Garmin E-Trex and making him aware of your website as I think it will be of benefit too him.
Hi Emma. It’s so cute how You care about the husband. Actually, my wife is also always worried when I’m fishing in the sea.
Garmin handheld GPS is a great choice. Even though that almost every smartphone has a GPS navigation option standalone GPS devices are more suitable for outdoor activities.
Thanks for stopping by.
Thanks for helpful post on the Best GPS for Hunting.
To be honest with you I am not a hunter but I use to go to the nearby forest and mountains with my friends to spend a day and for sure GPS device is going to be a greater help.
“Why not feel safer and be smarter” using a GPS device is a great advice on your post. Indeed, mapping is very important. Last month, we lost our way and struggled for several hours in the woods going in the wrong direction. We use to keep signs but sometimes we lose it.
I am going to share this post with my friends and I think we will be happy to purchase your recommendation that is “Etrex”.
May I ask… What happens if we have a signal or network problem, does GPS devices use the internet? Please advice.
Thanks again for sharing the post.
Thanks, Paul for stopping by.
GPS does not use the internet so don’t worry about a GSM signal strength. As far as you are not hiding in deep caves or narrow gorge a device will show your position with high accuracy.
I am also not a hunter, but do love to go camping, hiking and fishing for days. I prefer remote wooded areas and I am going to be honest when I say my navigation skills suck. Twice I got so lost I thought I will never find my way back. It is time to get myself a good GPS.
For me battery life and waterproofing is the most important. I also like the look and features of the Garmin eTrex series. I like the eTrex 30x, but it is more expensive than the eTrex 20x. The only difference is the eTrex 30x has the following extras: Barometric Altimeter and Electronic Compass. Do you think it is worth the extra money?
You are right that those some extra features for eTrex 30 like tri-axial electronic compass, barometric altimeter and wireless data transfer to compatible units seems that not $100 worth deal. I would give about $30 but not a hundred buck, so take eTrex 20, and you’ll get a good GPS handheld device.
The forests and woods around where we live, deep South-West Wales, are well known for dropping off the face of the Earth when it comes to phone signals etc.
I’m wondering which of the choices you’ve covered here would be considered the strongest GPS signal overall? I quite like the look of the eTrex 20 but I’m wondering how powerful it actually is for these sorts of areas?
If we’re talking about the strength of the satellite signal, it’s actually about the same for any receiving device. The only you can do is check what satnav system a device is supporting. In our case, Garmin eTrex 20x has the dual receiver device. It is the US GPS and Russian GLONASS. It is well enough for high accuracy positioning almost in any place on the globe except very high latitudes.
I’m like you – never hunted but enjoy fishing, tho’ I throw them back in afterwards. I’m the type to release spiders out of the house after I catch ’em. Definitely not your hunter mentality!! lol
I have gotten lost in woods for about 15 minutes before. It’s kind of a scary feeling. GPS to the rescue indeed.
I wondered why, these days, people would still use a dedicated GPS unit, when smartphones are so ubiquitous. The issued of a long-lasting battery answers that question. Makes sense to use that over a phone app if you’re going to be out for hours on territory that is totally new to you.
I don’t think I’d last 25 hours though! 😉
Thanks, for the comment. If you really go on a longer fishing or hunting trip to an unfamiliar location, trusting only to a smartphone’s GPS wouldn’t be wise. Anyway, just one time out of a hundred, when a phone doesn’t show anything, you can be your life savior.