We are living in a high-tech age, and there is no reason modern hunters shouldn’t use technology to their advantage. A dedicated GPS unit can be an invaluable tool, especially if you’re headed into the backcountry. These devices help you track animal movement, find your favorite hunting spot, follow a blood trail, and find your way back to camp. Some modern GPS devices even provide information on the weather, moon cycles, and barometric pressure.
With so many options to choose from, finding the best hunting GPS can be a confusing and time-consuming effort. We’ve compiled a list of some of the best units for hunters. Use this guide to help you make a faster, more informed decision about which device to pack with your hunting gear next season.
Table of Contents
- How Does GPS Work?
- More Than Just Location
- Best Hunting GPS on the Market Reviews
- Final Thoughts
How Does GPS Work?
The Global Positioning System (GPS for short) was created in the 1970s for military purposes. GPS is a network of more than thirty satellites constantly circling the Earth and transmitting signals. A GPS unit listens to those signals and then calculates the distance from at least four satellites to determine exactly where you are.
Modern GPS tracking is incredibly accurate. Even an inexpensive GPS device can accurately calculate your location to within 7.8 meters 95percent of the time.
More Than Just Location
Most modern GPS units provide far more information than your current location. Although not every model provides all of these features, here are just a few extra tidbits some units provide:
- Elevation above sea level
- Barometric pressure
- Waypoint marks
- Breadcrumb trails and route tracing
- Preplanned routes
- Topographical maps
- Satellite images
- Electronic compass
- SOS signaling
- Bluetooth and Wi-Fi capabilities
Best Hunting GPS on the Market Reviews
Not sure which device to get? Here is a list of our favorite GPS units for hunting.
Best Garmin GPS
Garmin is practically synonymous with GPS, and it’s easy to understand why. The company dominates the GPS market and offers the best-rated devices on the market. Their GPS watches and handheld devices set the bar for others in the industry, and that bar is incredibly high.
The Garmin Rino 755t conveniently combines the technology of a handheld GPS with a two-way walkie-talkie. The two-way radio feature has an effective range of up to 20 miles and allows you and a hunting buddy to easily communicate via voice or text.
The position reporting feature lets you see the location of other users on the same channel, a handy safety feature on tough backcountry elk hunts or organized deer drives.
The Rino 755t also uses GPS and GLONASS satellite reception, which allows you to easily track your exact position, even when your adventures take you through dense cover, rocky canyons, or ultra-remote locations.
The Rino 755t has a sunlight-readable touchscreen, landscape or portrait orientation, and an 8-megapixel autofocus camera. The device operates on a dual battery system that offers up to 14 hours of use between charges when powered by the included lithium-ion battery pack. For longer hiking adventures, you can get up to 18 hours of use with a set of quality AA batteries. You’ll just have to purchase those separately.
The GPSMAP 66i is one of Garmin’s simplest handheld GPS models. The menu is uncomplicated and easy to navigate, and its push-button controls mean hunters can easily use it with gloved hands.
The GPSMAP 66i comes pre-loaded with topo maps of Canada and the United States. It also provides birdseye view satellite imagery, so you can locate your position in relation to nearby landmarks.
With this handheld device, you can access multiple global navigation satellite systems. This allows you to accurately track your course, even in challenging environments where GPS alone could fail.
You can also pair their Garmin GPSMAP 66i with your smartphone, which allows you to get real-time weather information or exchange text messages with friends and family.
Other cool features include an onboard LED flashlight, night vision compatibility, and up to 200 hours of battery life.
The Garmin eTrex 22x is super lightweight, ultra rugged, and surprisingly affordable. With a price tag just under $200, this handheld GPS device offers plenty of value for the money. If you want all the reliability of a Garmin, but your budget can’t afford a premium Garmin handheld, this is the device for you.
We admit the 2.2-inch screen is pretty small. Although the size can make interpreting topo maps and satellite images challenging, the screen is easily visible, even in bright, sunlight conditions. However, you may need to bring along your reading glasses to adequately see map details.
Garmin has several mounts in their line-up that allow you to easily attach your eTrex 22x to your ATV, bike, or fishing boat, allowing you to easily keep up with your GPS location, no matter how you got there.
The Garmin Montana 700i is packed with a ton of high-tech features. It has a five-inch, glove-friendly touchscreen and an eight-megapixel autofocus camera that automatically geotags photos.
The Montana 700i gives you access to street maps, interactive topographic maps, real-time weather updates, and detailed satellite views. The device also displays federal public land boundaries, so you don’t accidentally wander onto private land.
Rugged enough for rough use in tough environments, the Montana 700i is water-resistant and tested to military standards.
If you hunt with dogs, you can sync the Montana 700i with transmission collars to easily locate your dogs in the field.
The Garmin Oregon 750T has a high-performance antenna designed to improve satellite reception. It also has dual-sensitivity dual GPS and GLONASS satellite reception, allowing you to safely travel well off the grid without losing satellite reception.
Hunters will appreciate the Oregon’s 750T’s eight-megapixel camera. This feature allows you to take pictures of your trophies right in the field, and the device automatically geotags the location. You can also take pictures of buck scrapes and rubs when you’re scouting, and then easily find your way back to the exact spot when the hunting season opens.
The Oregon 750T comes with Garmin’s patented BaseCamp software. Perfect for planning out-of-state hunting trips, BaseCamp allows you to scout potential hunting areas from the comfort of your own home. This software lets you organize maps, mark waypoints and routes, and then share them with other members of your hunting party.
If the thought of adding one more piece of gear to your backpack makes your knees buckle, this device is the answer. The Garmin Foretrex 701 provides all the features of a handheld GPS, only this one conveniently straps to your wrist, just like a watch.
The Foretrex 701 is super tough. It is built to military standards of thermal, shock, and water resistance. It even has a jumpmaster mode and is compatible with standard night vision goggles.
This device lets you easily keep track of your favorite hunting spots, trails, and travel routes. It also provides sunrise and sunset times, so you can anticipate when game will be most active.
The Foretrex 701 even has a built-in altimeter to help you keep track of elevation and an electronic compass to help keep you from getting turned around in the woods.
In addition to standard GPS features, this device also has Applied Ballistics Elite software. This integrated software is basically a ballistics calculator that automatically configures point of aim for those tough, long-range shooting opportunities.
If you’re headed to the backcountry, the Garmin inReach Explorer + has features that will help keep you safe. It provides two-way satellite communication, so you can send messages to your loved ones from anywhere on Earth. You can also pair the device with your smartphone so you can access your contact list for faster messaging.
The inReach Explorer + also has a tracking function that lets your family and friends track your progress through the backcountry on their desktop or phone. Your device sends waypoints at scheduled intervals to keep them updated. You can even embed a MapShare page to your website, blog, or social media accounts so your followers can literally follow your hunting adventures.
If you get in trouble, the inReach Explorer + also has a trigger for you to send an SOS and coordinates to the 24/7 search and rescue monitoring center.
The inReach Explorer + has all the standard Garmin features, including preloaded topo maps, on-screen GPS routing, a digital compass, and a barometric altimeter.
Best Non-Garmin Hunting GPS Devices
Garmin is definitely the industry leader in GPS devices. However, there are some other quality options that don’t bear that recognizable Garmin name. Here are a few of our favorites.
The Bushnell HuntTrack handheld GPS is a pretty no-frills option. However, it provides all the information the average hunter needs for success.
With the HuntTrack, you can log up to 48 hours of hunting data and up to 25 locations. It displays longitude and latitude coordinates, distance, elevation, time, and temperature. It also keeps track of sunrise and sunset, moonrise and moonset, and barometric pressure. The HuntTrack can even predict peak animal activity based on changing weather, moon phase, and other data.
Like all Bushnell products, the HuntTrack is built for the rugged outdoors. It is plenty durable, performs flawlessly in bad weather, and is backed by a one-year warranty.
Magellan GPS devices offer many of the same features as popular Garmin offerings. The Magellan eXplorist 510 handheld features high-sensitivity GPS reception, pre-loaded maps, intuitive touchscreen navigation, and an auto focus camera that geotags photos with coordinates or waypoints.
The device also has a speaker and microphone, so you can record voice notes and reminders.
The Magellan eXplorist provides highly detailed maps with either 2D or 3D contours. It also provides boundary alerts to keep you safely within your legal hunting area.
Tough and durable, the eXplorist is submersible and tested to IPX-7 standards. That means if you accidentally drop your GPS device in a puddle, stream, or shallow pond, it will still work reliably, even if it sat in water for up to half an hour.
Priced well under $100, the Magellan Triton 200 is perfect for hunters on a shoestring budget. This device definitely doesn’t have any fancy bells and whistles. It offers only basic navigation features, but the features are all well-implemented.
The Triton 200 has a built-in map database, a full-color screen, and intuitive navigation. You can easily store and access routes and waypoints, and the device clearly shows water features.
The Triton 200 has a fairly rugged design that includes a tough plastic exterior with rubberized accents that help absorb shock if the device is dropped. It is built to IPX-7 standards, which means it can survive being submerged in one meter of water for up to thirty minutes. With this level of waterproof performance, you can safely take the Magellan Triton 200 with you duck hunting or on your next fishing trip.
A GPS unit can be a literal lifesaver when you’re hunting, keeping you within boundaries, helping you locate landmarks, and leading you back camp if you wander too far off the trail. However, even the best hunting GPS is not foolproof. Batteries die, technology fails, and devices get broken. Relying too heavily on technology can get even the saviest hunter into trouble.
If you’re planning an extended trip, especially one that is far from modern civilization, you should always have a backup method for finding your way home. A good old-fashioned map and compass (and the ability to use them) is an important backup to have with you in case something goes wrong with your technology.