It is important to balance GPS components with your needs, as GPS models with more components are going to be more expensive. Before you buy a portable GPS, think about how and where you plan to use it, and consider these important features.

Battery Life

If you are planning multi-trip excursions without access to an external power source, long battery life can be one of the most important features when considering a GPS. For example, The Garmin Fenix 6 Multisport GPS Watch has a maximum battery life of 46 days while in its expedition battery saving mode.


Larger portable GPS systems have specific buttons for each feature, which can make them easier to use, and they are often less expensive than the smallest portable systems. However, some small systems do feature oversize screens for better visibility.


The more channels your portable GPS has, the faster it will refresh. If speed is important to you, compare two models of GPS and see which one is faster at reloading and reconnecting to satellite signals.


The most expensive GPS watches can run upwards of $700 or more. If your hiking and camping plans mainly include day trips or areas with maintained trails, you might not need to spend additional money on an altimeter feature (which measures altitude). On the other hand, if you are a frequent backcountry adventurer, the extra money might be worthwhile. The Garmin Instinct is the best bang for your buck, with storm tracking, TrackBack® (for finding your way back home), a heart rate tracker, and a built-in MP3 player.

Sports Options

Most companies have come out with versions of models geared towards athletes which includes features such as water resistance, heartrate and oximeter measurements, and sports modes for running, biking, swimming, and more. For example, The Garmin Forerunner 245 GPS Running Watch, is "smart" enough to track your progress, your form, your training history, and your goals.

Whether you want a GPS to help you get around with your day-to-day activities or you want something to assist you on an off-trail mountaineering trip, GPS technology is getting better and more advanced as time goes on. Visit your local Sun & Ski Sports for expert advice on GPS models.