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It may appear at first that Recreation GPS units are all the same, but you’ll want to consider a few key differences before choosing one. Think about the activities you will be doing with your Recreation GPS unit. Activities will determine features.

Outdoor Use
Recreation GPS units are generally designed to be more rugged than navigational GPS because Recreation units are used for hiking, camping, hunting, fishing and many other outdoor activities. But if you are going boating or fishing, be extra careful to find GPS units that are waterproof and that float in case you drop them. Look for a Marine GPS unit. Some units are designed specifically for boating and are simply mounted on the dashboard of the boat.

Where Am I Exactly?
You must also consider the kind of accuracy that you will need. If you are hiking or camping, you may only need GPS units that are accurate to within 15 yards so you can find an area or keep track of your general whereabouts. But if you use your Recreation GPS for geocaching or similar activities you’ll want something considerably more accurate. If you get a GPS unit that can receive WAAS (Wide Area Augmentation Satellites) signals, then the unit can be accurate to within a few feet.

Packing It Along
One of the most important considerations in choosing a Recreation GPS unit is the balance of screen size and weight. Obviously a larger screen is easier to read, but it also makes the unit bulky and heavy. This might not mean a lot to some people, but it can be impractical on a long hike or when you’re backcountry skiing. If you have a dedicated pocket in your clothes or your pack, this can alleviate the problem, but not if you will be using the unit for extended periods of time as you would for geocaching. Consider your activities carefully.

GPS Attachments for Mobile Devices
You may also want to skip a dedicated Recreation GPS device and simply by a GPS attachment and software for your PDA or cell phone. This will turn your mobile device into a GPS unit, which is handy if you already take your PDA everywhere with you.

Conversely, you can get a Recreation GPS unit that comes with built-in memory, so you can store additional information, and play MP3s and audiobooks.

Battery Life
Finally, make a careful decision about the battery life you will need for your device. It might not be an important consideration for a day trip, but if you go camping for a week, you’ll want to find a way to recharge your Recreation GPS unit. Plan for the kinds of activities you will be doing and then find a one with a battery life that will accommodate them.

Other Considerations
There are several other features to consider, like Bluetooth connections, road and traffic maps and speech capability. These considerations can easily be taken into account after you have thought about the criteria above and narrowed down your list of choices. Once you have found the Recreation GPS unit that matches your needs, you’ll be well on your way to exploration and adventure.

Choose by Activity
If you’re having difficulty choosing between the different kinds of Recreation GPS units, consult the table below. We’ve created a chart that helps you identify the best GPS unit for you based on the activities you’ll be using it for.

Activity
Standard Recreation GPS Marine GPS
Mobile Device GPS Attachment
Hiking x
  
Camping
x
  
Hunting
x
  
Biking
x
  
Off Roading
x
  
Snow Sports x
  
Fishing
x
x
 
Boating
x
x
 
Water Sports
x
x
 
Vacationing
x
x
x
Geocaching
x
 x

For a comprehensive list and side-by-side comparison of the best Recreation GPS units on the market; including expert and user reviews from across the Internet, go to TopTenREVIEWS Recreation GPS Review. At TopTenREVIEWS— We do the research so you don’t have to.

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