GPS technology… many of us don’t leave the barn anymore without our GPS because more and more we’re logging our trails for mileage programs like Top Trail. So you probably already know it’s a habit worth developing for many reasons— but primarily for safety and trail documentation. If you’re considering equipping yourself with GPS technology your next question will probably be: “What’s the best GPS out there for trail riding?” There are many options and answers to this question. First you need to determine if you want to carry a device, such as a Garmin handheld, or if your smartphone with a GPS app installed makes more sense. Another consideration is where will you be riding, and for how long? There are pros and cons for both GPS options and only you can determine what makes the most sense for you based on your objectives and riding style.
Handheld GPS devices are powerful, reliable, and battery life beats the smartphone hands down. If you plan to ride the back country on trails you’re not all too familiar with for an all day trek, you will want to invest in a handheld GPS like Garmin. You can expect to pay about $100 for a basic unit up to $700 for all the bells and whistles in a handheld. Saddle up, power it on, stow it away in your saddle bag (with extra batteries just in case), and ride off into the sunset! However, if you want to get into GPS riding at a lower cost (or free), value the convenience of being responsible for one less gadget, and don’t ride more than 8 hours or so in familiar territory without needing to juice up, consider installing a GPS app on your smartphone. iPhone and Android smartphone GPS app options are seemingly endless and are free or nearly free. There are several apps available now. The apps are comparable in accuracy with the handhelds however, the downside to the GPS app is the drain on your battery.
Many of us have our favorite app or device so it really comes down to what are your objectives and will work for you? Talk to your friends and fellow trail riders who never leave the barn without their GPS, join our Facebook group where we discuss GPS options and help guide you. I have several GPS apps on my phone but I always come back to EasyTrails. EasyTrails GPS allows me to directly upload my completed trails to my Top Trail account so that I can easily document lifetime miles on the trail (for my horses and myself). We use GPS to navigate trails, to help us find our way home in the event we get turned around, and also for mileage tracking—just a few good reasons to own and make use of GPS technology on horseback.