Only two decades ago, personal and portable GPS devices for hiking struck the hiking world, allowing anyone to know their exact position on the planet, in a country, and even at a specific location. However, as the world of technology so often sees, another product has emerged that has turned the market upside down for hiking GPS, smartphones and connected watches.

What is a GPS device?

GPS is a satellite navigation system used to determine the ground position of an object. GPS technology was first used by the U.S. military in the 1960s and was extended to civilian use in the coming decades. Today, GPS receivers are included in many commercial products, such as automobiles, smartphones, connected watches, and GPS for hiking.

Connected watch and handheld GPS

Hikers are evenly split on the use of their smartphone or GPS, but there are certainly advantages on both sides. Hiking GPS devices have many features, such as accurate altitude readings, mileage, speed, altitude changes and even programs that tell you in advance about topographical features that might interfere with your hike, whether it's canyons, rivers or other obstacles. Smartphones have become an accepted form of navigation for many hikers. Connected watches are also reaching more and more people. Those equipped with GPS combine triangulation from cell towers and GPS satellites to calculate your position. Like traditional GPS units, smartphones can also accept downloaded topographic maps, which are then available on connected watches

GPS basics and usage

Don't be intimidated by the setup or operation of your GPS unit. A small practice in a city park or along a local hiking trail should be enough to familiarize you with its capabilities. The features differ from device to device, so the basics are the same. First, make sure the navigation device is fully charged whether it is a hiking GPS, in this case your connected watch. Next, synchronize it with the satellites and erase any remaining trip data from previous trips. Next, set the beacons and waypoints along the route you wish to take and program additional features (such as barometer and compass). It is strongly recommended that you practice in an open space free of dense tree cover or any other object that might interrupt your signal. Refer to the user manual supplied with the unit for more information.