Hiking is a great way for someone who enjoys being outdoors to experience the freedom and satisfaction that it brings. But with this freedom there are also inherent dangers associated with enjoying the wilderness including losing ones way and becoming lost during a hike in unfamiliar territory. With the advent of the Global Positioning System (GPS) and the technology surrounding it getting lost in the wild is no longer as great a danger for those who carry a portable hiking GPS unit. These portable units allow hikers to plan their trips before they leave and keep track of where they are once they hit the trail. Portable GPS systems have the capability to show a hiker where they are, where they are going and how to get there, and probably most importantly a bread-crumb trail of where they have been that allows them to back-track their route. These units also have the ability to download background images such as topo maps of the area in which they are hiking. Here are a few things to keep in mind if you’re thinking about buying a portable GPS for your hiking adventures. First you want to consider battery life. Most GPS units are notorious battery eaters with the best getting 15 to 20 hours of life out of a set of batteries. For shorter hikes this isn’t much of a problem but for longer hikes and backpacking trips it is a good idea to carry spare batteries. The second thing to take into account is the size and weight of the GPS unit. Because you are going to be carrying the unit as you hike you don’t want something that is overly bulky or heavy. It should fit your hand comfortably and most portable GPS devices are small enough that they easily slip into a pocket. The last thing to look for is toughness and resistance to moisture and bad weather. The chances of a portable GPS getting dropped or whacked into something while on a hike are greater then you might think. Hiking grade units usually have some form of rubberized armor encasing that lessens the impact of drops and other harsh treatment. They are also water resistant to withstand wet weather and the occasional drop into puddles of water. Staying safe while out hiking is all about being prepared, from the shoes you wear to the extra food and water in your day pack. Having the right equipment is paramount and the proper portable GPS unit to do the job will keep you on the right track whether you are on the trail or bushwhacking your way through new terrain.

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