FAQ – Frequently asked questions about hiking GPS
Why should I buy a hiking GPS?
Google Maps is super handy, and you can definitely go a long way with a paper map and compass. But if you don’t want to rely on (good) weather conditions, and do want to determine your position as accurately as possible at all times, however long your trip is, then it’s time for a hiking GPS. These hand-held navigation systems are controlled by no fewer than 31 satellites, so the risk of you getting lost is minimal. And they run on batteries, so you don’t need to rely on wall sockets. Simply take some extra batteries with you to be on the safe side.
How does a hiking GPS work?
A hiking GPS receives signals from 31 satellites orbiting the earth to calculate your position. This is done using ‘points’: geographical notations consisting of coordinates. All hiking routes are comprised of these points, which we call trackpoints and waypoints.
- Trackpoints: hiking with trackpoints can be compared to following a trail of breadcrumbs. Your GPS automatically saves these points during your hike. A series of trackpoints forms a track, which you can share with others to follow the same route.
- Waypoints: these are the points saved in your GPS receiver where your chosen route passes. You can also set your own waypoints in certain places, for example to help you get back to a hike’s starting point.
- Routes: just like the navigation system in your car, your hiking GPS can work out the best route for you. And if you go a different way, the GPS will recalculate the route (as long as it has the right digital map for the area).
Which hiking GPS should I buy?
GPS hiking navigation equipment is quite an investment, so you want to get it right first time. Take the following factors into account in your decision:
- Battery life: how long does the device last on one set of batteries? Handy to know for your longer trips.
- Easy to use: is it easy to plot a route? Does the device show the route clearly?
- Screen: how big is the screen? Can you easily read all the information?
- Map updates: can you easily update the integrated maps? Hiking routes can change, so it’s useful if you can update the map quickly via Wi-Fi or Bluetooth.
- Hiking area: are you staying in the Benelux region or going further afield in Europe? Make sure your GPS has the right maps or can upload the ones you need.
- Functions: do you want a simple device that only determines your location, or do you need advanced functions such as a barometer or automatic routing?