What are the best electronic navigational tools for wilderness camping in the UK?

Navigating through the wilderness can be a challenging yet rewarding experience. However, the task is made significantly easier when equipped with the right tools. Among the vital tools for wilderness exploration are electronic navigational devices. The advent of digital technologies like GPS has revolutionised the way we explore the wild. In this guide, we will be focusing on the best electronic navigational devices that are ideal for wilderness camping in the UK.

Why Use Electronic Navigational Tools for Camping?

Electronic navigational tools are becoming increasingly important in the realm of outdoor adventures. These tools, often GPS-enabled, provide a level of security and convenience unachievable with traditional means like compasses and maps. Here's why they're worth considering.

Firstly, these tools provide precise location information, assisting in mapping your route and ensuring you stay on course. Secondly, they offer a plethora of additional features such as weather updates, SOS signals, and tracking capabilities. Lastly, they are often compact, making them a convenient addition to your camping gear.

Garmin - Leading the Way in GPS Technology

When it comes to GPS technology, Garmin is a name that stands out. The brand has been a leader in the field, offering a range of devices tailored to the needs of outdoor enthusiasts.

One of their standout products is the Garmin GPSMAP 66i. This handheld GPS and satellite communicator is perfect for wilderness camping. Its detailed topographic maps, combined with aerial imagery, provide an enriched navigational experience. The device also boasts a battery life of up to 35 hours in 10-minute tracking mode, ensuring you'll remain powered throughout your excursion.

Another versatile tool from Garmin is their Instinct Solar GPS Watch. This device combines the best of both worlds – the convenience of a wearable with the functionality of a handheld GPS. It features a built-in three-axis compass and barometric altimeter, providing you with essential navigation data right on your wrist. The watch can last more than a week in smartwatch mode thanks to its solar charging capabilities, making it a perfect companion for long camping trips.

Navigation Apps – A Smarter Way to Navigate

In our digital age, smartphones are becoming increasingly efficient in fulfilling the role of a navigational device. Various apps provide top-notch navigation services, often at a fraction of the cost of standalone devices.

One such app is the ViewRanger, a free navigation app with premium features. It allows you to download offline maps, create routes, and share your location with friends. Its Skyline feature provides an augmented reality view of the landscape, identifying peaks, places, and other points of interest.

Another worthy contender is the OS Maps app, the digital version of the Ordnance Survey Maps. The app offers detailed, high-resolution maps of the UK, allowing you to plan routes, find places of interest, and even record your tracks. It also offers a 3D fly-through feature of your planned route, giving you a unique perspective of your upcoming adventure.

Go Pro with Mapping Tools

For those who want to go a step further in their mapping and navigation, professional mapping tools offer advanced features that can greatly enhance your wilderness camping experience.

A popular pro mapping tool is the Memory-Map. This software allows you to navigate using Ordnance Survey maps on your PC, tablet, or smartphone. You can plan routes, print maps, and even sync your planned routes to your GPS device. It also offers a 3D World function, which displays your route in a 3D landscape.

Another robust mapping tool is the Anquet Maps. This software provides detailed Ordnance Survey maps, includes a vast library of routes, and allows for advanced route planning. It also offers a unique ‘live weather’ feature that overlays weather data onto your map.

Handheld GPS Devices – Your Reliable Wilderness Companion

While smartphones and watches come with their unique conveniences, handheld GPS devices remain the go-to choice for many outdoor enthusiasts.

The Garmin eTrex 10 is a reliable, budget-friendly option. It tracks both GPS and GLONASS satellites and has a battery life of up to 25 hours. While it lacks fancy features, its rugged design and reliable GPS make it a solid choice for wilderness camping.

For more advanced features, the Garmin GPSMAP 64sx is worth considering. With a high-sensitivity GPS and GLONASS receiver, a 3-axis compass, and a barometric altimeter, it provides comprehensive navigational support. Its wireless connectivity allows for easy sharing of tracks, routes, and waypoints with other compatible devices.

When selecting your electronic navigational tool for wilderness camping, consider factors such as functionality, cost, battery life, and durability. Remember, the best tool is one that suits your specific needs and enhances your outdoor experience.

Satellite Communication Devices – Stay Connected in the Wilderness

Safety should always be a priority when embarking on wilderness adventures. In the UK, where mobile signal can be patchy or non-existent in remote areas, a satellite communication device can offer peace of mind. These devices allow you to send and receive messages, access weather forecasts, and call for help in emergencies, all via satellite networks.

A standout choice amongst satellite communicators is the Garmin inReach Mini. This compact lightweight device offers two-way texting, interactive SOS alerts, and location sharing capabilities. And with a battery life of up to 50 hours in 10-minute tracking mode, you will be connected even on more extended expeditions.

Another excellent device is the Spot X, which provides 2-way satellite messaging when you’re off the grid. It also has a built-in compass and programmable waypoints to help you navigate, adding another level of safety to your wilderness camping.

Wearable GPS Devices - Convenience at Your Wrist

Wearable GPS devices are a fantastic option for wilderness camping, offering both convenience and functionality. They provide essential navigational data, track your activities, and even monitor your health – all from your wrist.

One of the best hiking watches available is the Garmin Fenix Pro. This high-end outdoor watch offers GPS, GLONASS and Galileo satellite system support. It also includes a compass, barometer, altimeter, heart rate monitor, and even a pulse oximetry sensor. It's durable, water-resistant, and offers a battery life of up to 14 days in smartwatch mode.

For Apple fans, the Apple Watch Series 6 is another excellent choice. With its built-in compass and always-on altimeter, it provides fundamental navigational support. And with the addition of various hiking apps, it can also serve as a useful GPS unit.


Navigating the wilderness during your UK camping trips can be made significantly easier and safer with the right electronic tools. Whether it's a handheld GPS device like the Garmin GPSMAP 66i or eTrex 10, a GPS watch like the Garmin Instinct Solar or Fenix Pro, or even your smartphone equipped with navigational apps like ViewRanger or OS Maps, there's a solution that fits everyone's needs.

Remember, not all devices are created equal, and what works best for you will depend on your specific needs and preferences. Some may prefer the durability and battery life of a handheld GPS, while others might opt for the convenience of a GPS watch or the multi-functionality of a smartphone.

No matter your choice, these devices can greatly enrich your wild camping experiences, providing peace of mind, ensuring your safety, and offering a wealth of information at your fingertips. So gear up, plan your route, and embark on your next adventure with the confidence that you're well-equipped to navigate the UK's wonderful wilderness.

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