Rangefinder for Hiking: How to Use Distance Measurements on the Trail Complete Guide

Are you an avid hiker who wants to know how to measure distances on the trail? You need to equip yourself with a rangefinder for hiking. In this comprehensive guide, we will show you how to measure distances on the trail accurately and efficiently.

Get your rangefinder ready and let us explore the wonders of using this essential device!


One of the most useful tools for a hiker is a rangefinder, which uses lasers to measure the distance to objects on the trail. Distance measuring rangefinders can help with route planning, estimating time and energy needed for hikes, and determining when to stop for breaks.

This guide will provide hikers with an overview of how rangefinders work, what features and benefits they offer, as well as provide basic instructions on how to use them safely and accurately. Knowing how to properly utilize the full potential of a rangefinder is essential for any serious hiker.

Types of Rangefinders for Hiking

In addition to basic laser rangefinders designed specifically for hikers, there are several types of rangefinder you may encounter while shopping. These come in various shapes and sizes with their own special features that may or may not affect your decision making process. It is important to understand the purpose and function of each type before making a purchase, as some rangefinders are better suited for certain uses than others.

Optical Rangefinder Binoculars: Optical rangefinder binoculars are a combination of two traditional devices; binoculars and a laser rangefinder. These two devices work together to provide you with accurate ranging information on any object within their field of view simultaneously. Features can vary from model to model, but these type of binoculars offer excellent accuracy in close-range scenarios due to their wide field of view.

Laser Rangefinders: Laser rangefinders are high-end, specialized devices used primarily by professional surveyors and military personnel. They use laser pulses that reflect off objects in order to measure distances up to several miles away (accuracy can vary). This type of device is ideal for long-distance ranging scenarios such as scouting deer or other wildlife over open terrain. Laser rangefinders come in many shapes and sizes including handheld monoculars and tripod adjustable models.

GPS Rangefinder Combos: GPS/Rangefinder combos combine the convenience of a digital map display with the accuracy of a laser rangefinding monocular or binocular into one compact unit which makes them great for all types of outdoor activities like hiking, hunting, shooting, etc.. GPS/Rangefinder combo units come packed with extra features such as waypoints saves coordinates for future visits or target locations up top 12 miles away.. These units give you access to reliable GPS maps wherever cell service is unavailable making them an essential tool for outdoorspeople who explore remote areas often.

Optical Rangefinders

Optical rangefinders are the most commonly used type of rangefinder, and they use an optical device to measure the distance between the user and their target object. The process is relatively simple: the user points the unit at a distant object or landmark and uses an internal mechanism to measure its size in or degree of angular deviation from their line of site. The rangefinder then calculates the distance to the target – usually determined by counting how many steps it takes for a light beam to travel that far. Optical rangefinders can be further broken down into two types: laser and prism.

Laser Rangefinders: Laser rangefinders make use of an infrared (IR) laser beam to measure distances between two points, accurately determining how far away objects are from 3 meters all the way up to several kilometers. They operate on a much more reliable scale than traditional surveyors’ tape, with more exact distances at longer ranges of up to 2 kilometers away. Laser rangefinders are typically used when large areas need extensive coverage or when precision is key, e.g., in shooting games where targets may be located hundreds of yards away from shooters.

Prism Rangefinders: Prism rangefinding is based on similar principles as laser rangefinding but requires direct eye contact between user and target object’s reflective prism-based surface which reflects back light irradiated by built-in LED bulbology technology projecting against it’s properties with specific wave length ratio corresponding incrementally suitable spectrum also called “green colour” easier seen across greater than 30m visible area imitating human-sight spectrum’s composition frame using rainbow class inductive technology nodes comfortable for viewers eyesight receptors networking effectively OSTN protocol offered by major radar sensing products matching HRPD-CDMA patterns so allowing them capture those wider variety frequency pattern connecting multi hubs custom levelized probability designed especially for man in field scenarios requiring.

Factors to Consider When Choosing a Rangefinder for Hiking

Finding the right rangefinder for hiking can be a challenge as there are many types and models of rangefinders to choose from. There are several factors to consider when selecting the best rangefinder for your needs. Here is a list of what to look for:

  1. Magnification: You need to determine how much magnification power you need in order to accurately take distance measurements. Some units offer adjustable magnification levels, while others have fixed zoom levels. If you need greater accuracy or precision, then opt for one with adjustable zoom levels. Also make sure it fits comfortably in your hand and can fit inside your pocket or backpack easily before making a purchase decision.
  2. Range: Range is an important factor as different models vary in their capabilities of taking measurements over distances up to 1000 yards or more in one shot accurately and consistently. It’s important that the model you buy has enough range capability; otherwise you might find yourself running out of range too quickly when it comes time to take measurements on longer hikes and trails.
  3. Laser technology:Rangefinders use either laser-enabled technology (Better accuracy, but slower) or line-of-site technology (Faster but less accurate). The laser-enabled technology provides better accuracy due to allowing scanning capabilities – unlike regular line-of-sight devices, which only allow one shot readings at certain distances at a time; whereas laser allows multiple readings at various distances at the same time – this makes it easier and faster if the hiker is on the run or rapidly changing elevations on their hike or trail run route! The other benefit is that laser technology provides better precision since it ‘projects’ an image close up even at long distances; usually provided in high quality optics too!

4.Durability & Weather resistance :Hiking may require varied weather conditions, thus it’s important that any device taken with you can withstand water/fluid splashes, dust/wind storms etc., Therefore ensure that your ideal device has good weather resistance so that its internals remain functioning well despite varied weather conditions while on the trail!

  1. Battery life :Lastly, battery life determines just how long the device will function nonstop before requiring a recharge/replacement – so it’s wise to check reviews regarding battery life performance prior to making purchase decisions! Models equipped with efficient batteries may last up to 12hrs without requiring complete recharge during extended trips away from home – this could give hikers an extra added cushion against unexpected interruptions during their trips due unforeseen circumstances!


When it comes to purchasing a rangefinder for hiking, there is a wide range of choices depending on your budget. If you are on a tight budget but still want quality, there are many good options in the $75-$150 range such as the Nikon 16228 COOLSHOT 40i Golf Rangefinder. This unit has 6x magnification and can display yardages up to 800 yards with ± one-yard precision. It also has an ID technology which makes it good for measuring overlapping objects and provides consistent readings regardless of which angle it’s held. Other budget-friendly options include Bushnell Tour V4 Patriot Pack Laser Rangefinder, Sig Sauer Kilo 2000 BDX Kit, vortex razor hd 2700 laser rangefinder, and Leica Rangemaster CRF 1600-B (8×21).

For those who are looking to purchase a more advanced unit that measures further distances and provide higher accuracy, expect to pay between $250 – $750. Some of these higher end models include the Garmin XeroLine 8200i laser rangefinder with 8x magnification up to 4 km precision distance measurements, Leica Rangemaster CRF 1000-R (7×24) , Vortex Fury HD 5000 Laser Rangefinder that uses an Advanced Ballistic Compensation technology/metre or yard calculations up to 2 miles with 0.1m or 1yd accuracy , and Swarovski Optik EL 11-2 Limited Edition Rangefinder that has 7x mag and 2200 meter maximum distance for measurement .

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How to Use a Rangefinder for Hiking

Using a rangefinder for hiking is a great way to help you plan and navigate your route. Whether you’re a beginner or an experienced hiker, having access to accurate distance measurement can be invaluable when navigating the trail. By using a rangefinder, hikers of all levels can stay safe by knowing exactly where they are and how far they need to go.

Rangefinders come in many forms and sizes, with prices ranging from relatively inexpensive devices to costly, sophisticated models. No matter which type you choose, understanding how to properly operate your rangefinder will make all the difference in your hike as it will save you time, energy and give you peace of mind that your measurements are accurate.

Here are some key concepts and tips on how to use a rangefinder for hiking:

  • Select the right type of device – Depending on what type of terrain you will be covering on your hike, it may be necessary to select a rangefinder with specific features or capabilities suitable for what is expected on the trail. For example, if there is water ahead of you then one with waterproof capabilities should be chosen over one without such features.
  • Practice using the device – Before setting out on your hike it is important to practice using the device so that it doesn’t slow down progress when out in the field. Spend some time familiarizing yourself with all features or buttons because nothing ruins an otherwise perfect day outdoors faster than accidentally taking wrong reading or missing something due lack of knowledge in operating the gadget!
  • Measure distances accurately – Take several readings while aiming at different objects before taking an average value result from those measurements as this captures any misfires enough times. Additionally, ensure that scans are done at standing still point for most reliable results. This makes sure no extra motion adds up during measurement, producing distorted figures.
  • Get started – Once confident enough with maneuvers, start attaining measurements per requirement purposefully; small distances between destination points can easily get missed otherwise making navigation cumbersome ultimately.

Preparing the Rangefinder

Before you get out on the trail, you should take some time to familiarize yourself with your rangefinder and the features included with it. Most models have similar operating principles, but the layout and operations may vary according to each model. Ensure that you have included all of the necessary components before you embark on your adventure, such as a user’s manual, battery charger, wind speed indicator if applicable and cleaning cloth or lens brush if required.

When selecting a rangefinder suitable for hiking purposes, some important things to look out for include:

  • Durability: Select one that is designed to hold up in outdoor conditions even if dropped or exposed to moisture.
  • Ease of use and portability: You want one that is light enough that it won’t be a burden in your bag and easy enough to understand so that mistakes won’t be made while hiking.
  • Lens accuracy and clarity: Look for one with HD glass optics with high levels of magnification, so long-distance readings appear precise.
  • Battery life: A longer battery life indicates fewer interruptions due to charging needs throughout a multi-day trip.

Test out your device ahead of time so when you get on the trail you can start using it without further delay. Practice aiming at objects around your house or yard, noting what kind of data is available in comparison to reality (the higher then number of samples taken at different distances from different angles the better).

Tips for Using a Rangefinder for Hiking

Using a rangefinder for optimal accuracy and safety while hiking can require some practice. Here are some tips to help you get started with using a rangefinder:

– Measure your targets in direct line-of-sight. To avoid inaccuracies, make sure there are no obstructions between you and your target when measuring distances.

– Set the reticle configuration on the rangefinder properly. Make sure the unit is configured with the correct distance units, such as meters or yards, and have this setting set up before you start measuring distances on the trail.

– Try to avoid taking measurements from tall spots such as mountains, ridges or hillsides as these will be affected by gravity, which can cause inaccurate readings.

– Always keep an eye out for potential hazards when using a rangefinder. Make sure that objects like trees and rocks don’t block your line of sight when taking measurements.

– If possible, use steady hands while ranging to ensure that your measurement is accurate. If you’re having trouble with stabilization due to windy conditions, try using a tripod stand to minimize movement and thereby increase accuracy of readings from the unit’s internal stabilizer feature.

– Take measurements in both dry weather and wet weather conditions for different types of terrain; this helps develop accuracy in reading ranges at different elevations over time.

Practice with your Rangefinder

Using a rangefinder is simple and straightforward, but it takes both practice and experience to become proficient with it. To begin learning how to use a rangefinder for hiking, you will need to do some basic practice. The best way to practice is to find a spot in your yard that has an easy-to-identify landmark about 30 yards away and use the device to measure the distance between you and it. Once you have done this successfully, move on to using the rangefinder from farther distances.

Be sure that both your eyes and the rangefinder are properly lined up with the distant object before attempting a measurement. Also, be aware of any obstructions such as trees or clouds that might interfere with accuracy when taking measurements on the trail. Finally, become familiar with learning how bright sunlight can extend or shorten your measurement readings depending on current conditions.

With just a little practice under your belt, you’ll be well on your way towards becoming an expert at using a rangefinder for hiking!

How to Choose a Rangefinder | SCHEELS.com


We hope you’ve been able to take away some valuable information from this guide to use distance measurements for hiking. Whether you decide to upgrade your gear for more comprehensive tracking and better accuracy or just wanting to know how far it is from the entrance of one point of interest to the exit at another, using rangefinders to work out distances whilst out in the open helps you measure progress, plan your journey and keep yourself safe.

Rangefinders offer a vital tool in navigation, topography and exploration with the wealth of data they provide. Whether you opt for rangefinder binoculars with cameras, laser measuring devices or simply voice-command-operated applications GPS units, understanding how they work will give you an edge when it comes to discovering great sites outside of your comfort zone.

Overall, we want to stress that using distance measurements correctly can be a lifesaver when exploring in unfamiliar environments. Although accuracy cannot always be absolute when it comes to measuring distances outdoors, having an idea about what rangefinder works best for your needs allows for much better success when trekking on trails than if marking points by eye alone.

Happy exploring!

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