Best Low Cost GPS For Hiking, Hunting, Biking & Wilderness Survival

Use The Garmin eTrex 22x GPS For Wilderness Adventures, Fishing, Geocaching & More

The Garmin eTrex 22x Navigator is the best inexpensive GPS for hiking, hunting, mountain biking & wilderness survival.

Best Inexpensive Handheld GPS For Backpacking & Survival - Garmin eTrex 22x GPS Navigator

A perfect choice for hikers, hunters, mountain bikers and geocachers, the Garmin eTrex 22x GPS Navigator is a rugged water resistant hiking GPS that is a breeze to operate and is armed with a sunlight-readable, 2.2-inch color display and a world region basemap (North America, Europe, or Middle East/Africa) depending on where you purchase your Garmin. is reader-supported. When you buy via the links on our site, we may earn an affiliate commission at no cost to you. Learn more.

The Garmin eTrex 22x Has A Built In Compass & Tracks Your Trip

The Garmin eTrex 22x GPS has compass and elevation features plus can plot your current track like dropping bread crumbs and then guide you back.

Why you might need it

While hiking or mountain biking in the wilderness, knowing where you are and where you are headed next could make a huge difference in your survival. Whether you’re in deep woods or just near tall buildings and trees, you can count on the Garmin eTrex 22x Handheld GPS Navigator to help you find your way when you need it the most.

With this GPS, you'll know your surroundings and boundaries such as rivers, lakes, seasonal creeks and other natural features such as buildings, roads, trails and more. You can also find thousands of pre-loaded points of interests including parks, campgrounds, scenic lookouts, picnic sites, stores, gas stations, restaurants, hospitals, hotels and more.

One of the very cool features of the Garmin eTrex 22x is "Tracks". It plots your current track (like dropping bread crumbs). You can go to "Where To?" and select "Tracks" then select "Current Track" then push Menu button and select "Reverse Track". It will guide you back along the route you just took.

The Garmin eTrex 22x handheld GPS devices come already loaded with road-routable TopoActive maps for all kinds of outdoor activities and include streets and trails so you can be on the road or head off the grid. If you purchase this device in North America, it will be loaded with North American TopoActive Maps, and with the ability to add additional Garmin maps or any other maps you need.

The Pre-Loaded Garmin North American TopoActive Map Has Pretty Extensive Detailed Coverage

The Garmin eTrex 22x handheld GPS devices come already loaded with road-routable North American TopoActive maps if purchased in North America.

You can obviously spend more for a better handheld GPS, but you won't find a better value than the eTrex 22x for basic navigation and topo maps to get you from point A to point B confidently during your backcountry excursion or wilderness adventure. Do you really want to spend more than a couple of hundred dollars on a more capable GPS, or is this capable navigator the sweet spot for you like it is for us?

The next in line Garmin upgrade is the eTrex 32x. Keep in mind that the eTrex 22x includes a compass and provides elevation. The eTrex 32x is basically the same as the eTrex 22x but includes an additional sensor for more accuracy than the eTrex 22x's compass and elevation which are more than capable enough for navigating in and out of the wilderness in our opinion.

If you really need that additional accuracy, it will cost approximately $100 more to get an eTrex 32x. At that point, consider getting one of the top of the line Garmin 66 series handheld GPSs which are really the best GPS handhelds you will find.

The "Where To?" Functionality Leads You To Your Specified Location, Waypoints & Thousands Of Points Of Interest, Plus Can Reverse Trace Your Steps With Bread Crumbs

The handheld Garmin eTrex 22x GPS has easy to use "Where To" & "Route Planning" functionality for hiking & wilderness survival.

Garmin eTrex 22x Key Features

  • Support for GPS and GLONASS satellite systems allows for tracking in more challenging environments than GPS alone

  • 2.2 in. sunlight-readable color display with 240 x 320 display pixels for improved readability

  • Preloaded with TopoActive maps with routable roads and trails for cycling and hiking

  • 8 GB of internal memory for map downloads plus a microSD™ card slot

  • Battery life: up to 25 hrs. in GPS mode with 2 AA batteries

  • Easy to use "Where To" & "Route Planning" functionality

  • Area calculation

  • Hunting & fishing calendar

  • Sun & moon information

Garmin eTrex 22x Technical Specifications

The Garmin eTrex 22x GPS has an impressive list of technical specifications making this a great GPS for backcountry wilderness survival.

The unit does have backlighting, but just note that it puts a drain on battery usage. As a handheld, it’s plenty portable, weighing only 5 ounces with batteries.

With its high-sensitivity, GPS receiver with GLONASS support , the Garmin eTrex 22x will locate your position quickly and precisely, maintaining its GPS location even in heavy cover and deep canyons.

Comparison Of Garmin's Lowest Cost Current Line Of Handheld GPS Navigation Devices

Comparison chart of Garmin's lowest cost handheld eTrex 10, 22x and 32x GPS devices shows they all include GPS and Glonass satellites.

Attach Your Garmin eTrex 22X To Your Backpack Or Belt Loop

The Garmin eTrex 22x has a handy carabiner clip on the back to attach it to your gear while you are hiking.

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Recommended accessories

The Garmin eTrex 22x Has 8 GB Internal Memory Plus A microSD Card Slot

Install up to a 32Gb Class 10 microSD Card in the Garmin eTrex 22x for map downloads.

The Garmin eTrex 22x also has a Waypoint Manager to store, select, and delete waypoints along your path. The eTrex 22x is ready for a wide array of detailed maps, many of which are free.

You can add U.S. 24K topo maps before you hit the trail, BlueChart g2 preloaded cards for a day on the water, or City Navigator maps for turn-by-turn routing on roads. It has up to 25 hours of battery life on two AA batteries (rechargeable NiMH or Lithium batteries work great), and is easy to zoom in or zoom out on a map.

For an annual subscription (approximately $30), you can add Garmin's BirdsEye Satellite Imagery. Use your BirdsEye Satellite Imagery subscription with BaseCamp™ to quickly transfer an unlimited amount of satellite images to your device, with frequent updates, and seamlessly integrate those images into your handheld’s maps whenever you need them.

The Garmin eTrex 22x & 32x Will Accept Garmin's Birdseye View Satellite Maps

The handheld eTrex 22x Navigator GPS accepts Garmin's BirdsEye Satellite Imagery for an annual subscription fee.

The eTrex 22x also supports geocaching, a high-tech version of hide-and-seek where you explore the outdoors in search of hidden “treasure” and wilderness adventure. Geocaching is a real-world, outdoor treasure hunting game using GPS-enabled devices.

Participants (members) navigate to a specific set of GPS coordinates and then attempt to find the geocache (container) hidden at that location. The eTrex 22x is the perfect way to get started.

The Garmin eTrex 22x Is Very Rugged & IPX7 Water Resistant

The Garmin eTrex 22x has a durable IPX7 water resistant shell with buttons so it works hiking outdoors in challenging wet conditions.

The eTrex 22x can hold 2,000 GPX files, 2,000 waypoints, 5,000 geocaches, 200 routes, 250 points per route, 200 saved tracks, 2,000 archive tracks, 10,000 points per track, 100 custom map tiles, 250 BirdsEye Imagery files, and approximately 3,000 mapping segments.

The Garmin eTrex 22x also has "Area Calculation" in the menu. You just walk the perimeter of the area and this unit will calculate the size of the area. The Garmin eTrex 22x Handheld GPS Navigator is simply an excellent choice and value in a hiking GPS.

The Garmin eTrex 22x Has A Sunlight-Readable Color Display That Provides Key Information

The Garmin eTrex 22x has a bright 2.2 inch color display with 240 x 320 pixels for improved readability while hiking in sunlight.

Added Tips

If you do add additional memory, Garmin suggests no bigger than a 32GB class 10 microSD card. If you do venture into the wilderness, always take a compass and topo map with you as a backup. The eTrex 22x does provide GPS elevation that gives you a fairly good representation of your altitude and also provides a GPS based analog compass.

If you want a true barometric altometer and 3-axis digital compass, then you will want to upgrade to the Garmin eTrex 32x. Note: A lot of people may prefer an analog compass and the accuracy of the GPS elevation will be adequate, so the eTrex 22x is a great choice for most people.

Note that you have to be moving (even a very slow walk) for an analog GPS compass to work.

YouTube Videos

Watch these several videos to get a good feel for several of the features & functionality of the Garmin eTrex 22x GPS Handheld Navigator.

Additional resources

The eTrex 22x Has A Long Battery Life Up To 25 Hours In GPS Mode With 2 AA Batteries

The Garmin eTrex 22x GPS lasts up to 25 hours with 2 AA batteries.  Take spare AAs and get days or weeks of use in the wilderness.

Sample Amazon Feedback (click to expand)

"Works as advertised. Simple, accurate, gets you back out of the woods hassle free."

"Solid Option For Bike Touring Navigation. I used ride with gps to create a track that I could upload to the etrex. Works pretty well; doesn't give turn by turn directions, but gives a route you can follow on the map. Would recommend for bike touring navigation."

"Storage capacity. Never used a gps before but I’ve been able to load all 150 stands in out club skk on I’ll know where every stand is located in our 16,000+ acre hunting club."

"Great for rockhounding! Works great for rockhounding! Took me right to the spots."

"Great all around! Accuracy, battery life, value! I bought 2 for our vacation mushroom hunting in Michigan without it I can’t even imagine. So we could find our way back to the truck! There easy to use and accurate! The woods looks the same up there no land marks to go back to. The batteries last about two days nonstop witch is good but that can get expensive with week long hikes or using them a lot! I feel the one trip that we have used them paid for them! Well worth the money!"

" Great GPS. This device is great, especially for the money. I'm pretty sure if you spend $400 + on another gps it might be better but for someone who is an average hiker/camper who doesn't want to get lost in the woods you can't beat this. I hike around the Appalachian mountains and it works great."

" Awesome rugged GPS that doesn't break the bank. No it doesn't have as many features as your $1,000+ smart phone and cannot increase its accuracy using WiFi triangulation like your phone. However, I use this device about 3x a week for anywhere between 45min to 2 hours a session for running, hiking, and/or kayaking. The GPS has customizable profiles for each activity. I can go over a month without changing the batteries, because the screen can be seen clearly without the backlight in the daytime. I can carry this device in my hand or clip it to myself without the worries I would have if I was using my phone as a GPS (i.e. losing it, or draining my battery). I prefer the small size; fits in my pocket and light enough to keep in my hand when running. Maybe I'm old-school, but I actually prefer the joystick/pushbutton interface over a touchscreen. Overall, I am very happy with this sub-$200 GPS."

"Works beautifully. I bought this to replace my old Rhino. This works very well, is intuitive, and I can see the screen in the field. It has all the functions I need and has sufficiently long battery power that I am not always changing batteries. It fits in the front pocket of my shirt or jeans. Google any questions you have and there are usually YouTube tutorials. I am very happy with this. It quickly finds the satellites and narrows down to 2 to 3 meters on a regular basis."

"Reliable basic GPS. 4 stars because 5 would be perfect. NO NAVIGATION INSTRUMENT is 100% perfect 100% of the time.

I have used this for a couple weeks walking and driving around town and hiking in The White Mountain National Forest. It DOES A GOOD JOB FOR THE MONEY!

NEED TO KNOW. My unit would not work until updates were installed. The Open Source map is a GLOBAL (the entire planet) shaded relief map. That is a colossal amount of data. Plan on adding a micro SD card for extra memory, connecting to a computer and allowing LOTS of time for updates before using. After updating you may choose only the map regions you need to save memory. I like having the whole planet! Also, there is NO "lock safety" for the toggle and buttons. Be careful not to have them pressed while carrying the unit in a pouch or case.

A little about me. I have been hiking/camping for over 50 years and never been "lost" for more than a short time (99.9% who say they never get disoriented occasionally either never goes out or lies). I could always get back to a known point in a reasonable time with map/compass, with both or only one (paper maps & magnetic compasses can be off too!). I do know how to get around in the woods. I do NOT backpack without paper map & magnetic compass.

I have been using a handheld GPS for several years. They are good tools when properly used (always with paper map & magnetic compass). This Etrex 22x replaces my Garmin Oregon that was dropped & lost in a National Forest (Lesson learned, keep it tethered).

In some ways I like the Etrex22x better.

It has a nonslip side and fits my hand nicely. It is one hand usable (I think light weight gloves will be ok with it). The included Open Source map is more than adequate for basic navigation. This map is updated by users and in some places provides info only a user would be able to contribute. This map has some points paper maps do not have. You can add micro SD cards for specific maps. It's helpful to compare information on several maps while backpacking.

Etrex 22x has all the basic features/functions needed for general navigation.

There is, of course, a learning curve. Garmin support is VERY HELPFUL. Be sure to use their expertise and learn the device BEFORE you go out.

Some product info is confusing because the manual is for two GPS units (and, of course, some YouTubers are not correct).

Etrex22x does NOT have a 3 axis compass or barometric altimeter. The compass only knows direction while moving (remember your magnetic compass!). The altimeter DOES know elevation from the satellite beacons. I have a barometric altimeter and have compared it to the etrex22x. I find the 22x more reliable. In TRACK MANAGER and ROUTE PLANNER you will find an elevation plot.

Etrex 22x CAN BE used for automotive navigation. It WILL relocate route on roadways. It can also plan routes for bicycle and pedestrian. You must select mode of travel.

Etrex 22x Open Source map DOES have some boundaries for state and federal lands. These boundaries are not as detailed as what is provided with micro SD cards, but do give the general area. Open Source maps are updated as new info becomes available. Check for updates every once-in-awhile.

Overall, I am confident that the etrex 22x will track my hike and give me the info I need to navigate The White Mountain National Forest and Wilderness areas (some impressively varied terrain!), on and off trails (again, along with a magnetic compass and paper map). This replaces a much more expensive GPS unit that had a map specific card installed. It was a tough act to follow. It does well. For the money, I am impressed. "

The Garmin eTrex 22x Supports Paperless Geocaching. Upload GPX Files Straight To Your Device And View Key Information Such As Location, Terrain And Hints.

The Garmin eTrex 22x GPS supports geocaching with GPX uploads allowing you to see key geocache information.

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