Laser Rangefinder vs GPS: Pros and Cons for Outdoor Activities Complete Guide

Want to engage in outdoor activities without getting lost? You must decide whether a laser rangefinder or GPS is better for you. Both of these cutting-edge tools provide advantages and drawbacks, so it’s important to understand which one offers the most value.

In this guide, we will uncover their pros and cons to help you make an informed decision.


For anyone who enjoys outdoor activities such as camping, hiking, hunting or golfing, understanding the differences between laser rangefinders and GPS can be vital. When choosing a device for an outdoor activity, it’s important to weigh the pros and cons of each device. This guide will explain the advantages and disadvantages of both devices so that you can make an informed decision on which option is best for you.

To begin with, it’s important to understand what each device is used for. A laser rangefinder determines distances by using lasers while GPS devices use satellite technology to accurately calculate their location in relation to other points on a map. Both devices have their own unique benefits and drawbacks which need to be taken into account when selecting a device.

We will start by discussing the pros and cons of laser rangefinders before moving on to discuss GPS systems in detail. We will also cover various accessories available for both types of device including addition features that make each one more versatile in outdoor environments. By learning about both options ahead of time, you can make sure that you end up with a device that suits your needs perfectly!

Explanation of Laser Rangefinder and GPS

A laser rangefinder and a GPS (Global Positioning System) are two essential tools for outdoor activities like camping, hiking, golfing, and hunting. However, they are quite different and used for different purposes. Knowing the features of these devices and their various pros and cons will help you decide which is best to use in certain situations.

Laser rangefinders are used mainly for target shooting or hunting because they can measure distances accurately up to several hundred yards. They emit a beam of light that is reflected back when it touches an object, allowing you to determine the exact distance from the object to your position. The laser rangefinder works better than the GPS when ranges are short but deteriorates with increased distances. It does not require internet access or cellphone coverage in order to work but it may be vulnerable to obstructions such as trees or buildings that could limit its effective range.

The GPS works better at long ranges by using satellites as triangulation points and is usually more accurate than the laser-based system. It also provides coordinates rather than actual distances so it’s easier to record multiple locations that can then be plotted on a map or charted after they have been logged into the device via an accompanying smartphone app or other program. However, GPS requires connectivity to the internet or phone networks in order for it to function properly so if these aren’t available then you won’t be able to use what is likely your primary navigation tool outdoors!

Laser Rangefinder

A laser rangefinder is a device that uses a laser beam to measure distances between objects. Generally, it measures distances in meters or yards up to about 600 yards. It’s an important tool for any number of outdoor activities, such as hunting and bird watching. Though effective, there are still some pros and cons to using a laser rangefinder over other methods of measuring distances—such as GPS devices or traditional tape measurements—in certain situations.

When trying to determine the distance between two points, the laser rangefinder has many benefits. It can be used at any time of day since the laser is visible even in low light conditions. Additionally, they can easily measure straight line distances without having trees and other objects blocking the view. Finally, because they do not rely on GPS signals, they tend to be more accurate than GPS powered devices when measuring in heavy foliage areas.

On the other hand, laser rangefinders have some disadvantages for certain outdoor activities. Since these devices use specialized optics and lasers, they tend to require frequent maintenance and occasional cleaning in order to ensure optimal performance and accuracy—something that can be time-consuming depending on the terrain where it’s being used. Additionally, if you’re outside working with your hands for long stretches of time, you may have trouble accessing your device due to its size and weight; this isn’t an issue with smaller GPS receivers or tape measurements which you could slide into your pocket during a break from field work.

Finally, if you’re trying to measure long-distance shots or very precise angles (like those required by elevation changes), this technology falls short compared to more precise forms of distance measurement like those available with special surveying equipment or optical sighting instruments made specifically for these tasks.

Overall, while it may have some setbacks in certain situations, lasers rangefinders offer greater accuracy than most other methods when measuring shorter distances, making them ideal for many outdoor activities including hunting, bird watching, golfing, archery or even simply finding out how far away an object is across open terrain. For this reason they remain popular tools among enthusiasts all over the world.

Definition and Functionality

Laser Rangefinder and GPS (Global Positioning System) are two different technologies that are used to measure distances and provide navigation support in outdoor activities, such as fishing and hunting.

Laser rangefinders use laser technology to measure distances between two points, while GPS units measure a user’s exact location by using Global Navigation Satellite Systems (GNSS). Both technologies have distinct advantages and disadvantages for outdoors activities, which should be taken into account when selecting the best one for your needs.

Laser Rangefinder A laser rangefinder utilizes the time of flight principle to determine the distance from point A to point B. The unit will emit a laser signal from its center point, which is then reflected off of a distant object and sent back to the unit. This return time is then divided by light speed, which provides an accurate measurement of distance within + or – 1 yard in most cases. Some models are capable of measuring horizontal distances as well as slope distances up to 800 yards away with accuracy similar to surveyed divisions on maps (1:24k). Advantages of laser rangefinders include quick measurements with high accuracy and compatibility with most optical scopes such as rifle scopes or spotting scopes.

GPS GPS units use signals from orbiting GNSS satellites exchanging location data based on Common Positioning Service (CPS) algorithms. It is estimated that there are 31 GNSS operating around the world with 24 available in clear view of most places on Earth at any given time. A GPS unit will collect signals from at least 4 distinct sets at once in order to determine its position relative its surroundings within 10ft-30ft accuracy depending on various factors, like type of unit or atmospheric conditions. GPS units can also be used for navigation purposes like plotting courses, setting waypoints or storing coordinates for future reference when needed. Advantages of using a GPS unit versus a Laser Rangefinder include having multiple features conducive for navigational support as well as better distance accuracy over longer spans than Laser Rangefinders (up to Thousand meters/ miles).


  1. Pros

When comparing GPS to laser rangefinders, there are several clear advantages to using a laser rangefinder:

  1. Higher Accuracy: Laser rangefinders typically provide readings that are accurate to within one yard or meter, whereas GPS devices may be less accurate (within 5 meters or so or 16 feet). This is a significant advantage when you need very precise distance measurements for golf, hunting, and other outdoor activities.
  2. Faster Measurement: Because they do not utilize any signals from satellites or third-party sources, laser rangefinders’ readings can be taken almost instantly – up to 50 times per second in many models, offering more time and better convenience for taking an accurate reading on the go. On the other hand, some GPS devices can take up to 30 seconds to acquire the necessary signals for providing a location reading.
  3. Extended Range: Laser rangefinders’ maximum ranges may extend as far as 4 miles away whereas the maximum distance of most GPS devices is much lower at usually no more than 100 meters or 328 feet in open spaces with no tree coverings obstructing the signals. This makes them ideal for measuring across large bodies of water, sports arenas and fields (e.g., football fields).


GPS, or Global Positioning System, is a technology used by many people to track their exact location on the planet. The system is made up of 24 satellites that continuously orbit the Earth, sending radio signals back to GPS receivers that can be installed on a variety of devices. GPS receivers use these signals to pinpoint the exact coordinates of its location in relation to the satellite network. GPS has become an extremely popular tool for outdoor activities like hiking and camping because it allows you to easily monitor your position and plan routes through an area before you actually set out for your adventure.

Pros Of Using GPS -Detailed mapping: Accurate coordinates enable highly detailed maps that also show elevation profiles, body of water boundaries, road types, terrain features and much more. -Navigation assistance: With an integrated compass guiding you along your way, navigation becomes a breeze no matter how remote the terrain is. -Store variety of information: Navigation software allows users to store waypoints (symbols indicating points of interest on a map) which makes it easy for hikers to remember where their car is parked or other points along their route. -Location detection: Whether you need first responders in an emergency or just want others to know where you are at all times, modern GPS units provide users with real time geolocation information that can be broadcast via cellular networks for tracking purposes.

Cons Of Using GPS -Draining power resources: Power consumption from GPS units can quickly drain batteries if precautions are not taken properly when powering up devices. -Distortion in coverage areas: It may be challenging in some cases to get reliable signal data as transmissions traverse bulky objects like tall buildings or mountains which can cause signal distortion resulting in unreliable positioning readings or other errors.

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Definition and Functionality

When it comes to finding your exact location and the distance between you and your target, there are two technologies available: laser rangefinders and GPS (Global Positioning System) devices.

Laser rangefinders carry out the same basic function as GPS units – providing coordinates for a location and measuring distance – but they do it much more accurately. Rangefinders work by emitting a beam of light, so you can get an extremely precise measurement of both distance and location. GPS devices, on the other hand, work by sending signals from satellites in space, which can have some inaccuracy when it comes to pinpointing exact locations or distances over long distances.

However, using both laser rangefinders and GPS units together can yield the highest accuracy when navigating in an unfamiliar environment or trying to determine the most efficient route while hiking, sailing or driving. In fact combining them can reduce errors significantly; because laser rangefinders only work with targets within line-of-sight, GPS will provide better location accuracy when in places where visual contact with objects is impossible (such as deep valleys).

Both of these technologies have advantages that make them beneficial for different activities: laser rangefinders are incredibly accurate even over long distances but are limited by obstacles such as buildings; while GPS is not so precise but has a much wider coverage area (even indoors).


Laser Rangefinder Pros

– Immediate and accurate distances to your target: When using a rangefinder for golf, for instance, you can get accurate distances quickly and accurately. Unlike GPS units that can be slow to acquire satellites or have incorrect readings based on trees or terrain, laser rangefinders give you precise readings between two points in a fraction of the time.

– Easy to use: Most quality rangefinders are very easy to use, enabling both amateur and professional golfers alike to enjoy the benefits of this device. The handheld technology is designed with intuitive buttons and easy-to-understand menus, so all you need is a single button press and you’ll know the distance to your target.

– Durable construction: Many quality rangefinders are built with durable materials like aluminum and rubberized coatings that help protect the device from knocks and shocks. This means you don’t have to worry about your rangefinder being damaged by drops or other unexpected events while out on a course or hike.

– Variety of features: Depending on which type of laser rangefinder you choose, some feature advanced options such as inclinometers for measuring angles, pinseeking capabilities for improved accuracy in tough conditions, built-in magnetic compasses, Bluetooth connectivity for data sharing with a smartphone or watch and more.

Comparison of Laser Rangefinder and GPS

Both Laser Rangefinder and GPS are devices used to record, measure, or navigate in the outdoors. When it comes to accuracy, speed of access, range location finding, and ease of use—each has its own unique advantages and disadvantages. We will compare both technologies and help you decide which tool is best for your specific need.

Advantages of Laser Rangefinder:

  • Easily measures long distances under any weather conditions
  • Highly accurate no matter the environment
  • Portable, lightweight design is perfect for hitting on the move
  • Quickly pinpoint exact target locations
  • Great when you need precise accuracy

Disadvantages of Laser Rangefinders:

  • Require line of sight between the object and laser unit to work properly
  • Costly compared to a GPS device

Advantages of GPS:

  • Wide-ranging coverage even in areas with limited visibility
  • Ability to accurately measure distance over varied terrainusing satellites triangulation technology
  • Easy to read display that provides information on speed, bearing, elevation, course & more
  • Ability to follow waypoints set by user
  • Ideal for hikers & navigators looking for a device with navigating capabilities

Disadvantages of GPS:

  • Potentially unreliable when signals are unavailable or not received well enough by satellites
  • Accuracy can be affected by environmental factors such as multiple trees or buildings
  • Not ideal if an exact distance measurement is required


The accuracy of a rangefinder depends on the altitude and atmospheric conditions. In general, laser rangefinders offer very accurate readings, with some capable of a one-meter radius. GPS systems can have up to five-meter accuracy, depending on the model and location.

The advantage of using a rangefinder is that you get an exact number for the distance between you and your target area or object. GPS devices rely on satellite signals, which can be interrupted by clouds or tall structures like buildings or trees. With a rangefinder, there is no need to worry about interference from other sources since it relies only on laser signals.

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As you can see, laser rangefinders and GPS units each offer various advantages and disadvantages. They both provide accurate distance measurement for different uses, making them an essential tool for engaging in many outdoor activities. When determining which device is best for you, the key is to consider your needs. Your budget might determine your choice if you have limited funds, but if you need a specific device for a specific purpose, then go with the one that matches your needs most closely.

If you need portability more than anything else and don’t mind some inaccuracy in measurements, then a GPS unit might be your best bet. However, if you require a great deal of precision or just want to know exactly where the target lies before taking action, then a laser rangefinder will be much more helpful. Weigh carefully what is more important to you and make the choice that fits best with your lifestyle and needs.

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