Do I Need a GPS for Hiking

Do I Need a GPS for Hiking?

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Humans have wanted to explore uncharted places since we crawled out of the primordial ooze, but never has that been so easy.

With the ever-changing technological world, many advancements have come into being that allow the natural adventurer to explore with more certainty.

This technology has been fitted into many different types of gear, but perhaps one of the handiest is the GPS.

No longer do you have to carry around big complicated maps that never fold back the way they started; instead, a small device or even your phone can help you find your way with ease.

But do I need a GPS for hiking a simple excursion? Let's take a look.

Should I Use a GPS Device? Pros and Cons of GPS

Unless you are a hiking purist or traversing a well-mapped trail, the answer is an emphatic yes! Without a good GPS device, you could very well end up lost, and that could lead to some potentially hazardous situations.

By adding one of these devices to your hiking kit, you will be able to know exactly where you are at all times. This will help keep you safe and will make your outings way less action-adventure movie and more a nice National Geographic documentary.

Pro tip: Make sure you also have your hiking guide and compass just to be on the safe side.

In case you are still on the fence here are a few pros and cons of using a GPS for hiking:



Mapping your course with a GPS is less complicated than attempting to figure out where you are with a guide.


GPS gadgets make finding the route simpler and allow you to orient yourself with more precision.


Many GPS devices come with additional functions like barometric altimeters, an e-compass, and time and date, which helps you lighten your kit load.


GPS can hold an assortment of guides and trails, which gives you more versatility when planning your excursion.



Since GPS devices depend on satellites, they are not always the most accurate when it comes to thick foliage, caverns, and such places in nature. These kinds of areas can cause interference and lead to spotty service.


Like any electronic gadget, GPS units are dependent upon batteries. That means that you will have to ensure you have enough juice or backup batteries so that it doesn’t die when you’re in the middle of the great outdoors (this is why we think you should still carry a map and compass … better safe than sorry).

Do I Need a GPS for Hiking

What Type Should I Use?

There are, as we have said, many devices fitted with GPS capability, but the two main ones that many have begun using for hiking are either a handheld GPs unit or their smartphones. Here is a quick look at each.


Handhelds have their place, especially if you are a hardcore hiker and like to venture away from the marked trails. If that sounds like you or that is where you want to take your new-found hobby, here is why this option is a good one.

  • Nice size screen in comparison to many smartphones. This will give you better details to navigate by
  • You can also get topographical maps. This will allow you to plan your gear appropriately
  • Smartphones tend to lose charge quickly when using heavy programs that use systems that need regular updating
  • This could leave you stranded with no way to get back to your base camp
  • They come with many extra features designed to keep you safe and on track


There are many that people feel the smartphone is just as viable an option. Here is a look at why this could be the case.

  • Budget-wise, handheld GPS devices are a little more than some might want to spend
  • Why add an extra bit of gear when you already have a GPS in your pocket?
  • Your smartphone is multi-functional. You can listen to music, post those amazing pics to IG, and still use it to navigate your path

Final Thoughts

So do you need a GPS for hiking? When it boils down to it, you really only need some sort of navigational device. The most convenient option is obviously the GPS, so we would highly suggest you invest in one.

If, however, you still want to rock a good old fashioned map and compass by all means do. We will be waiting at the crest of the trail for you when you get there.

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