Hiking can be a lot of fun, but it’s important to be well-prepared. Wherever you are hiking, whether it’s the Yellowstone National Park in the USA, or the Mount Parnitha National Park in Greece, you should consider getting a GPS device. With a GPS you’ll never get lost again. If you’re exploring the wilderness or you just want to know where you are on an established trail, a GPS can tell you.
GPS Tracker — Photo courtesy of Simon Carey
GPS stands for "Global Positioning System" and it allows you to pinpoint your exact location using satellites which are orbiting the planet. You’ll find that there are a wide range of GPS devices on the market specifically designed for hikers. Most of them are about the size of a smartphone and they generally feature long battery life and detailed topographical maps. You’ll also find that most of them are designed for the outdoors, so they can withstand the odd drop and exposure to the elements.
Two of the biggest names in the hiking GPS market are Garmin and Magellan. In general, devices range in price from around $100 up to $400. It’s quite a lot to spend for a hiking GPS, but there is an alternative.
If you have a mobile phone – an iPhone, an Android smartphone, or even a Symbian phone, then you can try out a service called ViewRanger. It is essentially a GPS app which can convert your phone into a dedicated hiking GPS. You can plan and share routes beforehand, download topographical maps, and use the system even when you don’t have a mobile signal. It’s a budget alternative to splashing out on a GPS device.