No Monthly Fees, Just Peace of Mind!

Discover the freedom of Moto Watchdog GPS trackers — where tracking meets security without the hassle of monthly subscriptions.

✓ No Subscriptions
✓ No Renewal Fees
✓ No Activation Fees

Privacy Notice: We don't sell or share any data with any third parties which includes insurance companies or advertisers.

No activations fees
No monthly fees
No renewal fees
Jul 6, 2024

Hunting GPS: Essential Guide and Top Picks for 2024

Hunting GPS: Essential Guide and Top Picks for 2024

In today's advanced era, many hunters rely on technology to enhance their experience in the great outdoors. Among the various tools available, a hunting GPS stands out as an essential device, offering unparalleled benefits to both novice and experienced hunters. It ensures accurate navigation, improves safety, and ultimately increases the chances of a successful hunting trip.

A hand holding a hunting GPS device, with a forest background

With a hunting GPS, hunters can mark precise locations of interest, such as game trails, water sources, or treestand locations. This contributes significantly to effective planning and reduces the risk of getting lost in unfamiliar terrain. Detailed maps and real-time tracking features allow hunters to move confidently through dense forests or rugged landscapes without second-guessing their path.

Additionally, many hunting GPS devices come equipped with features tailored to outdoor enthusiasts, such as weather forecasts, sunrise and sunset times, and even communication capabilities. By integrating these functionalities, a hunting GPS transforms into a comprehensive tool that can handle various aspects of outdoor adventures, making it an indispensable companion for anyone serious about hunting.

Understanding Hunting GPS Units

A hunter holding a GPS unit, navigating through dense forest with trees and a clear sky in the background

Hunting GPS units have developed to become indispensable tools for hunters, offering precise navigation, reliable mapping, and robust features that smartphone apps sometimes can't match.

Evolution of GPS Technology

GPS technology has significantly evolved over the years. Initially used for military applications, it now serves civilians with incredible accuracy. Modern hunting GPS units rely on an array of satellites orbiting the Earth, providing real-time positioning data. Early devices were bulky with limited functionality. Today’s units are compact, more accurate, and feature-rich, enabling hunters to track their paths, set waypoints, and find hunted game with precision.

Key Features for Hunters

Hunting GPS units come equipped with features tailored for outdoor and rugged conditions. Key attributes include waypoint marking, which allows hunters to tag important locations like campsites or hunting spots. Robust construction is crucial; these units are often rugged and waterproof, surviving harsh environments. They also offer detailed mapping and navigation tools, such as topographic maps, route planning, and even satellite imagery. Battery life is another critical factor, ensuring the GPS remains operational throughout extended trips.

Comparison: Handheld GPS Vs. Smartphone Apps

Handheld GPS units and smartphone apps each have their strengths and weaknesses. Handheld units are designed for rugged outdoor use, often featuring superior waterproofing and durability. They provide dedicated functionality and better battery life.

In contrast, smartphone apps are convenient, offering advanced features like connectivity and easy updates. However, smartphones are more fragile and dependent on cellular reception and battery life. Many hunters prefer the reliability of dedicated GPS units but appreciate the versatility and user-friendly interfaces of apps for supplementary purposes.

Top Hunting GPS Devices

A hunting GPS device lies on a mossy log in a dense forest. The sun filters through the trees, casting dappled light on the rugged, weather-resistant device

These devices offer hunters essential tools for navigation and safety in the field. From budget-friendly models to high-end options, each has unique features that cater to specific needs.

Garmin's GPS Solutions for Hunters

Garmin is widely recognized for its reliable GPS solutions. The Garmin inReach Mini 2 and the older inReach Mini are compact, rugged devices offering satellite messaging and emergency response.

For those needing more advanced functions, the Garmin GPSMAP 66i and Garmin Montana 700i integrate topographic mapping, GPS/GLONASS support, and touchscreen displays.

Garmin also offers smartwatches like the Garmin Fenix 7 Sapphire Solar and Garmin Alpha 200i, providing additional features such as heart rate monitoring and solar charging. User reviews often highlight durability and dependability, making Garmin a top choice.

Other Brands and Models

While Garmin dominates the hunting GPS market, there are other noteworthy brands. The Humminbird Helix 7 stands out for its versatile use in both hunting and fishing, featuring detailed mapping and a high-resolution screen.

Brands like Bushnell and Thorlo offer simpler, cost-effective alternatives. These models may lack some advanced features but provide dependable navigation and ease of use.

Each brand caters to different preferences and budgets, allowing hunters to select the one that best fits their specific requirements.

Features Comparison

When comparing hunting GPS devices, several key features should be considered. Touchscreen vs. buttons can influence usability in different weather conditions.

Look for devices with GPS/GLONASS support for more accurate location tracking. Digital compass and barometric altimeter features enhance navigation precision.

Battery life varies significantly; models like the Garmin Fenix 7 with solar charging can extend operational time. Durability and water resistance are also crucial, especially for harsh outdoor environments.

Budget-Friendly Vs. Expensive Models

Expensive models like the Garmin Montana 700i or Garmin Alpha 200i offer comprehensive features including detailed maps, satellite communication, and emergency response. These are ideal for serious hunters needing advanced capabilities.

Budget-friendly options, such as the older Garmin inReach Mini or offerings from Bushnell, still provide essential navigation functions at a lower cost.

Shoppers should determine their primary needs and budget constraints to select a suitable device. Expensive models often have more robust features and better durability, whereas budget options can be more accessible for new hunters.

Utilizing GPS for Different Hunting Types

A hunter using a GPS device in a forest, with a rifle and camouflage gear, tracking prey

Hunters can maximize their success and safety by leveraging GPS technology tailored to their specific hunting type. This ensures precise navigation, efficient scouting, and better planning.

Big Game and Backcountry Hunting

For big game and backcountry hunting, GPS units are invaluable. Topographical maps help hunters navigate challenging terrain and identify prime hunting locations. Preloaded topo maps and map layers offer detailed information on elevation and land features.

Hunters can use public land maps to avoid restricted areas and ensure compliance with hunting regulations. Waypoint marking allows tracking of significant locations, such as water sources, feeding areas, and campsites. Routes can be planned and saved for return trips, enhancing efficiency.

Emergency features like SOS functions and route sharing enhance safety in remote areas. Reliable basemaps help identify access points and trailheads. GPS technology ensures that hunters have vital data at their fingertips.

Fishing and Angling

Fishing GPS units provide anglers with precise data to locate prime fishing spots. Fish finders integrated with GPS technology can mark underwater structures, drop-offs, and fish habitats, improving catch rates. Preloaded waterway maps help identify navigation channels and potential hazards.

Waypoints are useful for marking successful fishing locations, which can be revisited in future trips. Topographic maps and water depth charts assist in understanding the underwater landscape. Public land and water access maps are essential for finding legal fishing areas.

GPS units enable route tracking, capturing the boat's traveled path. This feature helps anglers revisit productive spots and avoid past navigational challenges. Combining GPS with sonar technology enhances the overall fishing experience.

Scouting and Trail Exploration

Scouting new hunting grounds or exploring trails becomes more efficient with GPS. Preloaded topo maps help identify promising areas and track movement through various terrain types. Map layers showing vegetation types and land boundaries are particularly useful.

Waypoints and routes can mark important locations like game trails, watering holes, and observation points. These markers build a valuable database for future hunts. Public land maps aid in navigating legal hunting areas and avoiding private properties.

Trail exploration is safer with GPS, as hunters can monitor their location in real-time. Bread crumb trails ensure a safe return to the starting point. Having detailed basemaps and the ability to load custom maps increases versatility and preparedness in the field.

Mapping and Navigation Features

A hand-held GPS device displays a detailed map with navigation features, including waypoints and tracking, in a forest setting

When using a hunting GPS, the quality and variety of mapping and navigation tools can significantly influence the experience. These features can include detailed map overlays, 3D views, and integration with satellite imagery.

Map Layers and Basemaps

High-end hunting GPS devices, such as the Garmin GPSMAP 66i, often support a range of map layers and basemaps. Users can switch between different basemaps to access various types of information, such as topographical details or public/private land boundaries.

Map Layers: Devices like the onX Hunt app allow hunters to layer data including property boundaries, hunting zones, and wildlife management areas. These layers provide critical information without cluttering the map.

Basemaps: A proper basemap serves as the foundation for all other map data, providing the essential geographical layout. Quality basemaps ensure that overlaid data is accurately represented, making navigation simpler and more reliable.

Topographic Maps and 3D Views

Topographic maps give detailed information about the land's contour and elevation, essential for navigating rugged terrain. Devices like the GPSMAP 66i often come preloaded with topographical maps, providing an advantage for off-trail navigation.

Elevation Data: Knowing the elevation changes can help in planning routes that avoid steep climbs or descents. For hunters, this is crucial for positioning themselves relative to game movement patterns.

3D Views: Some advanced GPS units enable 3D viewing modes. This mode offers a more realistic perspective of the terrain, aiding in better visualization and decision-making during the hunt.

Satellite Imagery Integration

Satellite imagery integration gives hunters the ability to examine the land more closely. Birdseye Satellite Imagery is an example that provides high-resolution aerial views, enabling the identification of features like clearings, trails, and water sources.

High-quality satellite imagery helps in verifying on-ground conditions, especially in unfamiliar areas. With apps like onX Hunt, users can download satellite maps for offline use, ensuring they have access to critical details even in remote locations without cellular coverage.

Utilizing Waypoints and Trails

Waypoints and trails are fundamental for managing and retracing hunting routes. Users can mark waypoints at specific locations of interest such as game sightings, camp sites, or stand positions.

Waypoints: Setting waypoints ensures critical spots can be easily revisited or shared with others. This feature is vital for recording precise positions that are frequently returned to.

Trails: Tracking trails records the path taken, allowing hunters to follow the same route back or use the data for future expeditions. Accurate trail tracking is particularly critical in potentially hazardous or complex terrains where getting lost can be dangerous.

For hunters, the seamless integration of waypoints and trail management with map layers and basemaps is key to a successful and safe outing. Using comprehensive mapping and navigation features ensures they are well-equipped for any challenge the wilderness might present.

Advanced GPS Features for Expert Users

A GPS device displaying detailed topographic maps and advanced tracking features, with satellite signal strength indicators and waypoint management tools

Advanced GPS units provide capabilities that go beyond basic navigation, offering features like satellite messaging, weather tracking, and emergency services. These enhancements are aimed at improving safety and efficiency during hunting trips.

GPS and Iridium Satellite Networks

Expert hunters might rely on devices like the Garmin Montana 700i, which uses the Iridium Satellite Network for global coverage. Satellite messaging and two-way messaging capabilities enable constant communication, even in remote areas where cellular service is unavailable.

Using a barometric altimeter, these devices can provide precise altitude readings, essential for tracking elevation changes in rugged terrain. The integration with the Iridium Satellite Network allows for real-time data exchange and connectivity across the globe.

Weather Tracking and Forecasts

Advanced GPS units can receive weather forecasts and track weather conditions in real-time. Devices like the Garmin inReach Explorer+ offer detailed weather updates, helping hunters make informed decisions based on impending weather changes.

These units utilize satellite connections to download accurate and up-to-date forecasts, enabling hunters to avoid hazardous conditions. Real-time tracking of weather patterns ensures safety and enhances planning efficiency during long hunting trips.

Emergency Features and Location Sharing

Safety is a priority, and advanced GPS units provide essential emergency features. Emergency SOS capabilities, coupled with location sharing, ensure that help is reachable in critical situations. The Garmin inReach Explorer+ allows users to send distress signals and share their exact location with rescue teams.

Location sharing also keeps team members informed of each other's whereabouts. This can be lifesaving in emergency situations, allowing for quick assistance.

Power Options and Battery Life

A hunting GPS device with power options and battery life indicators displayed on the screen

When choosing a hunting GPS, power options and battery life play a crucial role in determining reliability and usability in the field. Key factors include battery types, longevity, and solar charging capabilities.

Battery Types and Longevity

Hunting GPS devices typically use different types of batteries, each with its benefits. AA batteries are common and easily replaceable, allowing hunters to carry spares and swap them out as needed. Devices using AA batteries are often lighter but can vary in runtime depending on model and brand.

Some advanced units, like the Garmin Fenix 7 Sapphire Solar, feature rechargeable lithium-ion batteries. These offer longer life between charges, reducing the need for constant replacement. Users can expect these batteries to last up to several days on a single charge, though higher battery life often translates to slightly increased weight.

The longevity of battery life is crucial for extended trips. Always check the manufacturer's specifications to understand the expected runtime under different conditions, as usage patterns (e.g., continuous GPS use versus intermittent checks) can significantly impact longevity.

Solar Charging Capabilities

Another important feature is solar charging capabilities. Devices equipped with solar panels, like the Garmin Fenix 7 Sapphire Solar, can extend battery life by harnessing sunlight. This can be especially beneficial for long hunting trips where access to power sources is limited.

Solar charging provides a supplemental power source, reducing the reliance on extra batteries or power banks. While it doesn't fully replace traditional charging methods, solar power can add several hours of use per day in sunny conditions.

Considering the sunlight availability and device's exposure, this feature can be a game-changer for those spending extended periods in the wild. It's essential to evaluate the solar charging efficiency, as partial sunlight and foliage can affect performance.

Practical Tips for GPS Use in the Field

A hunter holds a GPS device, navigating through dense forest. Trees, bushes, and a clear trail are visible in the background

Using a GPS in the field can greatly enhance navigation and overall hunting success. Accurate waypoint management, knowledge of land ownership, and the inclusion of back-up navigation methods are essential practices.

Creating and Managing Waypoints

Creating waypoints is critical for efficient navigation. Hunters should mark key locations such as trailheads, hunting spots, and parking areas. Using a reliable device like the Montana 700i ensures accuracy.

Organize waypoints by naming them clearly and categorizing them. For instance, hunters can use different symbols for various landmarks. Regularly updating waypoints helps keep track of new and changing conditions.

Waypoint sharing can be useful for group hunts. Export waypoints to share with fellow hunters to synchronize plans and ensure everyone is on the same page.

Landowner Information and Public Lands

Hunters must be aware of land ownership to avoid trespassing. GPS devices can often access landowner names and public land boundaries. Use this information to plan hunts on legal grounds.

For example, integrating maps that show Montana’s public lands can help hunters find vast areas open to the public. Respecting private property by checking landowner names ensures a responsible hunting experience.

Visibility options for land boundaries in GPS settings can aid in distinguishing between public and private lands. This reduces the risk of illegal access and enhances overall safety.

Back-Up Navigation Techniques

While GPS devices are dependable, having back-up navigation techniques is vital. Traditional methods like using a compass and topographic maps can serve as a fallback.

In the event of a GPS failure or signal loss, hunters should be prepared to navigate using these tools. Marking major landmarks physically can reinforce the digital information.

Learning basic orienteering skills provides an additional layer of security. Practicing these skills periodically ensures they remain sharp. Combining modern and traditional methods fosters a versatile and reliable navigation strategy.

Accessories and Additional Tools

A hunting GPS device placed alongside other outdoor accessories and tools

When considering accessories and additional tools for hunting GPS units, durability and functionality are paramount. Protecting the device and enhancing its capabilities can significantly impact the experience.

Cases and Protection for Rugged Use

For hunters navigating challenging terrains, a robust case is essential. Cases designed for Garmin inReach Mini 2 or similar units offer impact resistance and waterproofing features. These cases frequently use high-grade materials like polycarbonate and silicone to shield the device from drops and water exposure.


  • Basecamp Rugged Case: Known for its durable build and firm grip.
  • Garmin InReach Mini 2 Protective Cover: Offers a snug fit and excellent shock absorption.

Choosing the right case ensures the longevity of the GPS unit, even in harsh outdoor environments.

Additional Sensors and Attachments

Enhancing a hunting GPS with additional sensors can provide valuable data. Temperature sensors, altimeters, and even heart rate monitors help hunters stay informed about environmental conditions and personal health.

Popular Options:

  • Temperature Sensors: Help track weather changes.
  • Heart Rate Monitors: Useful for hunters needing to monitor physical exertion.
  • Altimeters: Crucial for understanding elevation changes.

These attachments can integrate seamlessly with the main device, expanding its functionality and providing critical information during hunting expeditions.