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Do you really need a GPS when you're out on the trail? If you hike in perfect conditions, on trails you know like the back of your hand – maybe not. After all, Global Positioning Systems (GPS) can be pricey, and many hikers wouldn't consider them a necessity. However, if you're heading out to uncharted territory, or the weather is changeable, they could be your ticket to getting back home safe and sound.
Several manufacturers make hand-held GPS units especially for hikers and backpackers. Some will pinpoint your exact location, so you can locate it on a topographical map (that you should always carry), and allow you to know exactly where you are at any second. Others allow you to program in your route, so you never veer off the beaten track. If you tend to explore new hiking areas all the time, a GPS is a necessary piece of hiking equipment. Get lost just once, and you'll see how handy they can be!
Even if you don't invest in a GPS as part of your standard hiking equipment, don't leave home without a compass and topographical map of the area you'll be hiking. Hiking may seem like a safe sport, but you can get lost in a second. Know your trails, carry a compass or GPS, and never hike after dark or in a brand new area without maps and knowledge of how to get back to your vehicle.