Shopping for a GPS? Do some research

Whether you’re getting ready to ask for a Global Positioning System receiver for Christmas, give one to someone else, or just buy one for yourself, you need to do some homework.

If you’re shopping for a new GPS, whether it’s for you or for a gift someone else, you need to think about a few things other than just price.

First of all, what’ll it be used for? GPS units can be pretty flexible these days. I use mine for just about everything. I strap it to my bike when I ride, I use it when I’m driving to get me places I’ve never been to before and tell me how long it’s going to take, and I use it when I strike off on foot across the backcountry.

If I find a good place to fish or need to be able to find a downed big game animal, I use my GPS receiver to mark the location. I can also use it to navigate to a place I’ve never been to before, as long as I can get the coordinates off a map or another reference.

But not everyone’s going to want a GPS that can do all that. Some folks just like to be able to find the truck after a hunt. You don’t need a mapping GPS to do that. You just need a basic model.

Once you’ve determined what it’ll be used for, you can decide which unit to buy. For help with that, you might check out one of the many GPS review sites on the Internet.

Just do a Google search for GPS reviews, and you’ll get all the reviews you could want. An outfit called is a great one, but it’s mainly for in-car units, rather than the ones you can take into the backcountry. They do a few of those, though, and those reviews are thorough and informative.

You can also read customers’ reviews at These reviews are written by people who have actually bought the units. Whether you buy from REI or not, the reviews can be extremely helpful.

There’s a lot to think about when picking out a GPS, but if you do your homework, you or the intended recipient should be perfectly happy for years to come.