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The Best GPS for Hiking – Garmin GPSMAP 64st

The Best GPS for Hiking

I admit there’s a thrill in getting a little lost. Note I said “a little.” Realizing on mile 10 that I’m nowhere near where I thought I’d be? Not a happy camper. To avoid becoming a tragic headline, you need the best GPS for hiking.

And yes, I know you have a phone that has maps and stuff on it. It’s not the same as having a solid GPS device. So what’s the best one to get? There are a few brands out there, but Garmin seems to have the game beat. Now it’s just a matter of which Garmin. I choose the GPSMAP 64st. Here’s why:

Superior Positioning

You probably know that GPS means Global Positioning System. That’s the network of satellites that your GPS device uses to tell you where you are on the planet. Signals bouncing back and forth, triangulation, math, all that stuff.

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All GPS devices use GPS. The Garmin GPSMAP (and many other devices) goes one step further and also uses GLONASS. That’s the Russian satellite navigational system. Using both GPS and GLONASS satellites means this device can find where you are quicker and more accurately than using GPS alone.

 

The Garmin GPSMAP also comes with an internal electronic compass. Any GPS device can tell you in which direction you are heading when you’re moving. But only devices with an electronic compass can tell you which direction you’re facing when standing still. The Garmin GPSMAP 64st has a 3-axis compass inside. 3-axis? It basically just means that it’ll give you your heading even if you’re not holding the device completely flat.

Dual Battery System

What to do when your device battery dies? Plug it in! To…uh…that tree over there. Right. Out on a 3 day backpacking trek means electronic things are going to lose their juice. That’s why I love how the GPSMAP has both the a rechargeable NiMH battery pack, but can also be powered by 2 traditional AA batteries. Carry a few extra double As and you’ve got positioning power all trip long.

Size

It’s not the smallest, not the largest. The GPSMAP 64st only clocks in at 8 ounces with batteries, so not terribly heavy. The screen comes in at 2.6” on the diagonal, which is readable but not trying to offer you an IMAX presentation of your waypoints.

And speaking of the screen, it’s not a touchscreen. It’s one of the things like about it. It’s button operated with buttons that are intuitive and easy to use without taking off your gloves.

Part of the reason the GPSMAP is larger than, say the Garmin eTrex is because of the larger, external quad helix antenna. A larger antenna gives you more receptions, especially when you’re under trees and in canyons and such. It’s not a huge difference, but every little bit helps when you’re out there on your own.  

Features and Specifications

  • Size: 2.4″ x 6.3″ x 1.4″
  • Weight: 8.1 oz with batteries
  • Water rating: IPX7 (handles splashes, rain, snow, quick drop in a puddle)
  • Display resolution: 160 x 240 pixels
  • Battery life: 16 hours
  • Display size: 1.43″ x 2.15″ (2.6″ diag)
  • Memory: 8GB

What People Say About It

Everyone likes how quickly it can pinpoint your location and how accurate it is. The fact that it comes preloaded with TOPO U.S. 100K maps makes many adventurers very happy. The GPSMAP 64st is always showing up in the top five of everyone’s best-of lists. Tech heads love how it plays so nice with all the other gadgetry (uses ANT+ wireless technology to pair the GPS with the Garmin heart rate monitor, Tempe temperature sensor, etc).

For some, the larger size is an issue. I can see that. If you’re willing to sacrifice a little bit of accuracy in location sensitivity, the Garmin eTrex is quite small, but still quite good.

If you’re going anywhere off the beaten path where road signs do not tread, you need a good GPS. Considering the power of the positioning, the durability of the unit and the extensive features, the Garmin GPSMAP 64st is my sincere recommendation.

Who I Think Should Buy The Garmin GPSMAP 64st

Backpackers, serious hikers, mountaineers, anyone going way out yonder. This is also a very popular favorite among those modern-day treasure hunters, geocachers.

Who Shouldn’t Buy It?

No need invest in one of these if you never go far outside of town. Your phone is a brilliant positioning device that will almost always work in the city.

Conclusion

With its huge range of features, including an electronic compass and preloaded maps, and the option of AA batteries, this hard-to-kill GPS device will serve you well. Get the Garmin GPSMAP 64st and find camp quickly, easily and with much less backtracking.

One final note: Even the best GPS for hiking can get crushed, lost, stolen by badgers or just die on you. Please always remember to also bring a good old paper map and a real life compass. You are now ready to head off into the wilds.

 

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