Handheld GPS vs Compass – Which Device Should I Bring When Hiking?

Are you wondering which of those is more useful for hiking? Why won’t you buy both? Well, not all of us has the luxury to waste money on things that are not very useful. Most of the time, we want to save money as much as possible. That includes when setting a budget for your hiking activities. Also, you want your hiking adventure to be as efficient as possible. Choosing between the two is quite confusing. There are a lot of best hiking GPS and best hiking compass reviews around the internet to choose from. Deciding whether to buy a GPS device or a compass is hard. That’s why you have to consider your options before diving in. Both has its advantages and disadvantages, which we will discuss in this article.

I bet you are thinking right now that GPS is much better since it is a product of modern technology. But wait, don’t get too hasty since we will try to look into their individual features so that you can finally weigh their worth.

Handheld GPS vs Compass – Which Device Should I Bring When Hiking?

1. Price

Of course, everyone wants to save money. Even rich people wants to save money. So which of these two are more affordable? Well, it depends on the quality of the device that you are eyeing on. But generally, GPS should be more expensive. Given that it uses a more advanced technology, it also gets its information from the satellites orbiting the earth.

Compasses are much simpler devices, you can get them at a lower price. Although, you do need to update your GPS device so that it will have the latest roads or map details. Updating the map will require payment but to be honest, it is not really a big deal, since you will have the most updated GPS device for your trip.

So for the price comparison, compasses are cheaper. But, it doesn’t mean that it is less reliable. It was used by a lot of renowned explorer in our history.

2. Reliability

Perhaps, the most important factor that you want to consider when choosing between these two, is the reliability. Which of them has the most accurate and detailed data? To start off, GPS devices get their data from the satellites the orbit the earth every day. It uses a method called triangulation to effectively find the location of the GPS device holder. So the fact that these satellites are orbiting the earth, it means that it can tell your location wherever you are around the world, and it will do that quickly and accurately. So there is no need to look and study a map like when you are using a compass.

Compasses are great companions of any physical map that you have. One of its advantages over GPS devices is that it doesn’t require an electrical source of power in order to operate. So you can rest assured that you can use it anytime without having the fear of draining all its power out. However, maps are specific to a certain area. Also, you have to study the intimately before going on a trip. Once you are travelling outside of the map’s coverage, it wouldn’t be able to help you.

3. Features

To be honest, you might need a device that needs to do more things than just tell you the correct direction. When it comes to features, GPS devices are no doubt a mile ahead than compasses. GPS devices have advanced features that well be a great help on your hiking trip. Some GPS devices even have a compass installed on them, so you wouldn’t need to bring a compass separately.

Of course, it is a given that advanced GPS devices are more expensive. However, compasses are still viable choices if you tight on your budget. They will still be able to tell you the right directions that you’ll need on your hiking trip. Remember also, that GPS devices will not work well if there are disturbances on its signal, like when there is a heavy rain or storm. Overall, it just depends on your personal preference.

Now, that you know the gaps between a handheld GPS and a compass, you might be well on your way on making your personal choice. Our basic suggestion is that if you are planning for a long trip, then a compass and a map will a good choice. They don’t rely on any electrical source of energy so you can use them on your entire trip. GPS devices commonly have an operating time of 15-25 hours. However, if your hiking trip is a short-term one, GPS devices are the best choices for you. They are really a game-changer when it comes to navigation’s of any kind.

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