GPS systems for hiking have changed the face of outdoor activities giving the walker so much information at their fingertips. Handheld hiking GPS units allow the easy setting of multiple way points, show distance walked, distance to target and many more features at a glance.

Not all GPS systems are suitable for the hiking, car/handheld GPS units have big displays but generally have a short battery life and are more likely to get damaged by the elements or physical shock.

The Magellan eXplorist 110 Handheld GPS comes with over 2 inch of color screen and a very respectable 18hr battery life.

Fully waterproofed against the elements this is a good example of a GPS system designed with the long distance walker and hiking in mind.

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Magmellan 110 Handheld GPS
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As with all the electronic equipment I take into the outdoors extra precaution should always taken to prevent them from getting wet even if it is something as basic as keeping them in a resealable clear plastic bag when not in use.

The Benefits of Using a Dedicated GPS Over a Smartphone App

There are a few well designed GPS apps for mobiles and some phones even come with some good GPS mapping software as standard but even though the programs can be effective there are drawbacks to using a smartphone compared to a purpose built GPS unit.

Built for the job

Handheld GPS systems are designed to take a bit of punishment and have a good degree of waterproofing.  Accidentally giving your GPS a quick wash in a pond is unlikely to damage it, do that to your smartphone and you’ll be crying all the way home.

Battery life

Adding the power drain of a GPS app on top of  all the stuff already running on a typical smartphone is going to drain its battery very quickly, where as a quality handheld GPS with give 10hrs + of full tilt operating time.

Most GPS units will take standard batteries so even if you exhaust the first set they can easily be swapped out with a fresh ones where a smartphone with its specially constructed power source is going to need a few hours wired into the mains before functioning again.

Additional features

Hiking GPS systems come with a whole range of wireless connection options for data transfer and syncing to any number of devices that are set up to take the same wireless protocol…. Digital pedometers, heart rate monitors, computers etc.

If you require a more specialized map for your outdoor activities these can easily be purchased for a one off payment and installed on the handheld unit.