Hiking GPS

I am looking to purchase a GPS unit for day hikes in the Northeast “mountains”, from the Poconos to the Whites and everything in between. I have tried an older model that I use for kayaking but it kept losing signals on hikes in the Catskills. Can anyone give a recommendation? Thank you in advance.

DeLorme PN60 is a nice unit and it comes with free topo software. The older PN40 is also a good unit, but the battery life really stinks with the PN40.

Or if you can find one used, the Garmin 60CSX in my opinion was one of the best handheld units ever made. The newer version, the Garmin 62S has more bells and whistles but doesn’t have as good reception as the older 60CSX.

Definately Garmin 60CSx

– Last Updated: May-07-13 10:24 AM EST –

You can still find them new. But, WOW, the price has gone up for a new one. Just did a price check and they are going for over $600 bucks new. I know I only paid $300 for mine quite a few years ago.

Anyway, I did a lot of research before purchasing it and the Garmin 60CSx seems to be the benchmark.


– Last Updated: May-07-13 11:22 AM EST –

Garmin has discontinued the 60 line, but I guess the demand is still there, hence the skyrocketing price.

They shouldn't be too expensive used though.

The new Garmin eTrex line (10, 20 and 30) is pretty good now that most of the bugs have been worked out. When they first came out they were full of problems, but Garmin has addressed most of them with firmware upgrades. Once really nice thing about the eTrex line, both the old and new eTrex models, is the compact size. Great for hiking for those who want to shave a little bulk and weight.

or Garmin Etrex 20 or 30
Etrex seems largely as able but smaller with better battery life. I’ve used it well for hiking, paddling and it mounts on my bike nicely. Curious in what way the 60CSx is better.

Any simple units that just track how far you have gone? I know my friend has a wristwatch that tracks how far she has run and I would like to keep track of how far I hike, paddle, or bike? Really don’t need the GPS function.

distance calculations, etc
All handheld units do that and they obtain the info via the GPS function.

A cheap, basic unit that will get it done is the Garmin eTrex 10.

If you want something for your wrist, there is the Forerunner series, but they are a bit more pricy than the eTrex 10

I was able to get a Garmin Dakota 20 for less money than the typical price for an Etrex 20. The dakota has slightly larger screen but overall size is actually less since it has a touch screen were Etrex models dont. So dont rule out a dakota 20 if you find a deal on one. Also keep in mind NON of these models, maybe the 60 series ?? come with maps. Just base map which is almost usless BUT you can download a ton of free maps off http://www.gpsfiledepot.com/index.php if you buy any of the Garmin models.

smart phone ?
With either of these two and an iphone or android, there is no need for a stand alone gps.



smart phone
No reason for a GPS other than battery life (and cheap, readily available field replaceable AA batteries when they do die), superior reception, and water and shock resistance

GPS Site
You probably should check out this site and this page for GPS recommendations:


Generally it seems to have very fair reviews of handheld GPS devices.

I have been using an Oregon 450 for the last year and have been very happy with it and have been using for biking, kayaking, local park hiking, as well as geocaching with my daughter. I live in the hilly region south of the Poconos and never had a problem with it keeping a GPS signal or getting strong locks even in the woods.

Smart Phone vs GPS

– Last Updated: May-07-13 4:09 PM EST –

The smart phone is fine choice for basic use, if you don't really have to maintain a signal or worry about getting lost. I used to use it for Geocaching and wouldn't be able to keep a signal just walking down a tree covered path.

I used to use my cell phone GPS in my car, bike, and kayak just to keep track of speed, distance traveled, elevation etc. It really wasn't very accurate.

Even biking at the shore on the boardwalk on sunny day, it claim I biked 6 miles when the section I did was marked on the boardwalk to be 4 miles.

But for basic fun use the GPS is fine or as a car GPS it is almost as good as a stand alone. Hiking in the mountains it is at best a backup after a handheld GPS, compass, and maps.

If you’re doing a non-wilderness sort of walk then a phone is fine. But otherwise I think the phone battery should be conserved in case of an emergency. I will bring a phone on a hike but I keep it off and fully charged until needed.

the new ones include maps
The new Garmins include maps, where the older ones you had to buy separately. The 62CSx comes with topo maps where the 76CSx comes with Bluecharts. I think they come with 1 region for each (not entire areas).

Back to the OP’s comment about his old GPS losing signal - the x on the CSx means it has the better chipset, which will hold the signal longer. I have older Garmins and a 60CSx, and the CSx definitely holds signals much longer. Not much of an issue on open water paddles, but makes a difference for hikes and mountain bike rides. My phone’s GPS seems to hold signal as well, so maybe uses the better chipset also?

The older GPS units
did not have nearly as good reception as almost any newer model, especially under the tree canopy. I bet you will be very pleased with almost any good newer model. My experience with my iphone is that it works pretty well if you are near cell towers. But for much of the hiking you might do that is away from cell towers I would not want to rely on an smart phone. They are not good in much of Vermont where I live and they are useless in northern Maine where I often paddle.

iphone gps
If you can’t get a lock with your iphone make sure it HAS a gps. The older ones didn’t and relied on cell tower triangulation. I’ve used mine in remote mountains in northern BC with no issues.

Whatever one you buy, take a paper map and know your position on that too.

the 60 series

– Last Updated: May-07-13 6:38 PM EST –

is my choice. I have had a basic sixty for about 10 years I think. I also have an e-trex, had a magellin, as well as a couple micro-logics. The Garmin 60 (I think they're 62 series now) has way better reception that the e-trex.It was as good or better than the micro logics on my sailboat, which was a base unit with remote antenna. I also have that fore-runner someone is mentioning above. Stick with the 60 (62) if you're doing anything that interferes with direct contact with the sky. My forerunner and e-trex will lose the signal in the woods, but the 60 stays locked on hiking. Mountain biking I'll lose the signal on occasion, but there's times the speed is much faster.
The 60 is also a very robust build, and has memory that won't disappear at battery change time. I lost my 60 on my sailboat for a couple years (when I bought the e-trex for a backup)and when I found it and turned it on, it locked on w/in 90 seconds which amazed me.