Gear Guy

What is the best GPS for hiking, snowshoeing, and skiing?

What is the best handheld GPS on the market for hiking, snowshoeing, and skiing? Harlan Olympia, Washington

If "best" means "most bells and whistles," then you're probably looking for something like the Garmin GPSMAP 76CS ($589, www.garmin.com). It's pretty much the bomb when it comes to handheld GPS units, with a color screen, accuracy down to 15 meters, the capability to load 50 routes and 1,000 waypoints, and downloadable map software (detail isn't as good as a paper-based map, but it's not bad). It's also waterproof and runs off two AA batteries.

"Best" as in "best value" likely means a unit such as the Magellan eXplorist 200 ($149, www.magellangps.com), a basic, easy-to-use black-and-white-screen GPS unit that nevertheless has accuracy as good as higher-priced units, stores 500 waypoints, is waterproof, and has rubber armor for durability. I'd say it's just about perfect for all-around use as a navigational aid when doing your thing in the backwoods.

"Best" as in "coolest" probably means the Suunto X9 Wristop GPS ($699, www.suunto.com). I mean, how cool is having a pretty good GPS (500 waypoints; ten-meter accuracy), plus a compass, altimeter, watch, and more, all on your wrist. But, admittedly not as practical as a handheld model, simply because the small size makes it more difficult to read the screen, plus manipulate the buttons.

Myself, I'd get the eXplorist, and navigate happily with it.

More GPS units reviewed in Outside's 2004 Buyer's Guide .

Filed To: Snow Sports, GPS Devices

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