An Ultimate Guide on Hiking Navigation Tools

Hiking in the backcountry can sometimes be daunting for a few people. Exploring is a part of hiking, but if you see no way to get ahead, then there are chances of getting lost in the wilderness. At times, many hikers find themselves lost in the backcountry, but what makes them face that situation is the skill to navigate through the dense or maze-like terrains.

Whether you are a first-time hiker or an experienced hiker, you should always carry a navigation tool with you while hiking in the isolated regions. This is to ensure your safety when the conditions turn nasty, or the path chosen by you is not worth crossing. You will find various navigation tools in the market with features that are specially designed for the hikers.

In this article, you will gain information about the hiking navigation tools, which will help you choose one as per your preference. Once you find the right tool, you can gain knowledge about using it in difficult situations.

Hiking Watch:

The technological inventions have made outdoor activities more exciting by creating hiking watches with GPS (insert naked url here). Most of the GPS watches are specially designed for hiking that contains extra features for outdoor adventures. These watches are programmed to show reliable information such as time, date, altitude, air pressure, location, sunrise/sunset times, etc. All these essential features offer great help while hiking in the backcountry and keep you aware of the surroundings.

It contains a compass, barometer, and altimeter that provides useful information for trekking, hiking, mountaineering, and backpacking. This type of GPS watch can help you navigate, plan, and determine the weather conditions with the utmost accuracy. The impressive designs with sturdy build quality attract the hikers to opt for these watches rather than following the traditional map and compass methods.

If you want to get a GPS watch for hiking, then ensure to look for the following features in it:


A barometer detects the changes in the atmospheric pressure, which helps you to predict the weather conditions. If the atmospheric pressure rises on the watch, it means the weather is improving, whereas if it falls, it means the weather condition is decreasing. If there is a rapid drop in the atmospheric pressure, there will be chances of a rising storm. Most of the watches have a storm alarm for such cases, which helps you to take immediate action for your safety.


The altimeter shows your position above the sea level based on the GPS data or the barometric pressure.


The hiking watches are created with sturdy material to keep them secure and durable in tough conditions. Most of them have Sapphire glass lenses that are scratch-resistant but are expensive as compared to other watches. You also need to look for the one that has durable straps and tight clips to fit in your wrist.


The most vital feature of a hiking watch is GPS, which allows you to navigate and track the route. It shows the coordinates of your current location, speed, ascent, descent, distance, and various other information. 

Heart Monitor Rate:

The hiking watches show and record your heart rate, helping you maintain a steady pace while hiking.


The inbuilt compass in hiking watches provides you the four cardinal directions, which helps you in navigation. 

Smartphone Navigation Apps:

Nowadays, smartphones have replaced traditional navigation tools such as a map or a compass, but one risk that comes with it is the battery life. Even though you rely on technology, you have to keep enough battery backup to use the navigation apps in the backcountry. The most important thing about smartphone navigation is that it is convenient, easy-to-use, affordable, and reliable for everyone.

All you need to do is find the right app that serves your purpose of finding the correct routes in the backcountry. You don’t have to worry about the network because these apps work on the satellite signals to show the routes. Sometimes you may face issues with the mobile map because you won’t get clear GPS signals in dense forests. Hence, you need to download the offline map before you enter into such regions.

If you want to use the smartphone navigation apps, then you need to be mindful of the battery and mobile usage. You can follow these basic things to conserve the mobile battery and use the app for prolonged hours without any worries.

  1. Keep your phone in the airplane mode and low power mode to conserve the battery.
  2. Close other apps, and remember to switch off your phone when not in use.
  3. Make sure to download the offline maps to use in dense regions.
  4. Cold temperatures usually drain your mobile battery even when it is switched off. Hence, keep your phone covered in the bag when not in use.
  5. Add a portable charger in your hiking list to recharge your mobile batteries while you rest.

GPS Device:

A GPS device comes with detailed information about the maps, routes, and various other things that are helpful while visiting a backcountry. But, you have to gain proper knowledge of the GPS device so that you can use it efficiently. It is a satellite navigation system that allows you to pinpoint your location accurately. 

The handheld GPS device provides you with all the information like the altitude, direction, and your current location. Additionally, it allows you to communicate with civilization or emergency services via a two-way radio, which makes it the most efficient navigation tool for hiking. Although there are complexities for a new hiker as it takes time to learn all the functionalities and map reading techniques, but once you learn, it can save your life in difficult situations.


If you are opting for the handheld GPS device, make sure to gather all the proper information and test its functionalities near your surroundings. Every navigation tool offers the same benefits but comes with certain limitations. Hence, you need to try your hands on them and see which one suits you best. 

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