Hiking GPS, also named Walking GPS or even Handheld GPS, are little gadgets that you can hold in your hand that enable you to establish your physical location around the globe. They are especially beneficial when you are traversing terrain that does not have many distinguishing landmarks to aid navigation. Depending on the GPS model, it may display a series of coordinates on the screen called waypoints that you can follow. Some models also allow you to make a record of your hiking route. Hiking GPS have the main benefits as outlined below:
- Improved Safety – Getting lost can be annoying, more importantly it can be dangerous. A walking GPS gives an accurate position called a grid reference so that you know where you are. Higher end walking GPS Units show your exact position on a digital map display.
- Greater Pleasure – Before you go on your hiking trip, you can use your handheld GPS to assist you in the route planning stage by storing a series of waypoints within the GPS unit. When you get to your hiking location, instead of focussing on detailed paper map reading, you can relax more by using your handheld GPS to aid navigation and enjoy the journey. A word of warning though! Make sure you have enough battery power for the complete route. Also, any electrical gadget can actually fail, even a GPS unit! For these reasons it is always recommended to take a traditional topographical paper map with you, along with a traditional magnetic compass. Also, you should maintain your navigation skills to utilise then properly.
- Emergency Situations – In emergency situations a hiking GPS can literally save your life by enabling you to accurately identify where you are. It is highly advantageous to have your exact location at hand in case you encounter an emergency situation or an accident. This may be for your own situation or for people you meet along your route. It is especially beneficial if you are hiking up in the mountains and particularly if the weather conditions take a turn for the worse.
- Recollection Record – Handheld GPS units are great for storing waypoint information. This means you effectively have a permanent record of your hiking route which can be used again at a future time, should you wish to relive the journey, and can be shared with others. In addition, some models enable you to make notes along your route and associate it with a waypoint. Thus, if you encounter a view or landmark you particularly like, you can make a note of it and the location and return it another time and also share it with friends. On top of that you can make a record of favourite places like restaurants, pubs, accommodation, etc.
A few extra benefits of a hiking GPS are that you can use it for other specialist activities such as geocaching, which involves locating treasure hidden outdoors in containers called geocaches. Some hiking GPS units can also be used as a SatNav within your motor vehicle or by specialist groups like mountain bikers and canoeists for route finding when travelling off the beaten track.
Please be aware that a hiking GPS does not actually do the navigation for you. A hiking GPS only connects a series of coordinates together. If the lines between coordinates should take you through dangerous areas, such as over a cliff edge, then that is where the hiking GPS will take you. The fundamental important point here is that you should be alert to this potential danger and always make sure you check GPS routes for the possibility of obstructions and for hazards before commencing your hiking journey.
To summarise, a hiking GPS can give you an improved feeling of safety whilst on your hiking trips and they are particularly useful for emergency situations. You can also get greater enjoyment from hiking and make a record of your adventures.