Can You Use A Garmin Edge For Hiking? (TOP 5 Limitations)

Garmin is one of the leading brands and manufacturers when it comes to GPS technology and the manufacturer is one of the top brands preferred by cyclists looking for a decent bike computer. The Garmin Edge Bike computers work on all bikes and cover almost every terrain, but you might be wondering if can you use a Garmin Edge for hiking.

Can You Use A Garmin Edge For Hiking?

While the GPS component of the Garmin Edge might make it an attractive option for hiking, the main purpose of the GPS is not specifically intended for hiking. The bike computer tends to filter out lower speeds and can struggle to record low-speed movements. This means that the data and stats might not be accurate.

If this does not bother you too much, the Garmin Edge can be used for hiking, and with the GPS, you will never get lost. To help you understand why it cannot be used for hiking, we are going to look at many of the limitations of the device. These limitations could severely hold you back in terms of overall performance and stat tracking.

Garmin Edge For Hiking

Top 5 Limitations Of The Garmin Edge For Hiking

As mentioned, there are a few drawbacks and limitations that hinder the Garmin Edge from being used for hiking. You must take note of these limitations before buying one of these expensive devices. If cycling is your main activity, it should be a great investment. However, here are a few drawbacks in terms of hiking:

  1. Cycling Software

One of the biggest issues you would face is related to the software. The Garmin Edge features software dedicated to cyclists and this includes using the average speeds to ensure accurate distance tracking and stat tracking. If you move at a slower speed than a bike would, you could confuse the software.

In one case, we have found that the automatic pause feature kicks into action. This means that the GPS computer might think you are standing still and will pause the tracking. Even when you turn off this feature, it could still cause possible issues and the data tracking would only be effective when moving at cycling speeds.

  1. Stat Tracking

One of the main reasons that people prefer cycling and hiking with a GPS is to track and monitor some of the stats. Having used the Garmin edge a couple of times, we noted that it only records about half the stats when hiking. This means that you will not have an accurate representation of the progress you are making.

The calorie feature is one of the main differences and since it is dialed in to account for cycling, it will not give you an accurate representation of the calories you are burning. You might find that you are burning far more calories than the system indicates. It is best to understand how the GPS works with the software.

  1. Incorrect Distance

Hikers rely heavily on GPS and computer technology to give them an idea of the distance they are hiking and how far they need to go. The problem with the Garmin Edge is that all the components are made for the bicycle and this often reduces the overall distance on the display when compared to reality when hiking.

We have found that the Garmin Edge records about 25% of the overall distance, which means that the other 75% is unaccounted for. Unfortunately, this means that your stats could only be 25% and you can never rely on them to ensure you see improvements in your hiking. You might need a computer designed for hiking.

  1. No Hiking Profiles

While the Garmin Edge can help you understand the profile of a specific course and assist you with the gradients, the hiking gradients are often too low. Additionally, you will have to fiddle with the bike computer when climbing, which means that the stats will be different. Some of the top models can do this automatically.

Since the gradients when hiking are much lower, you will hardly see any real changes in the data tracking. The GPS might see the entire route as being flat and this will cause significant disruptions in your performance. You will need to change some of the settings to have the optimal performance or find a different bike computer.

  1. Usability

The final problem lies in the usability of the GPS and there are so many changes you will need to make to have it in perfect working order that it could be hard to use the computer. It can take a long time to figure out how you will need to change the configurations to have it set up optimally for your performance.

We would recommend that you simply stop trying and you will find that having a different GPS specifically designed for hiking might serve you much better with your hiking goals in general.

hiking in the forest

Does This Affect Every Garmin Edge Model?

While it might be easy to criticize the Garmin Edge models, you should not think that every Garmin Edge model is the same. Fortunately, there are a variety of models on the market today and many of the older models did include a hiking mode. The hiking mode would reset the software to account for the slower speeds.

Models like the Garmin Edge 500, 800, and even 1000 are some of these older models that included the hiking mode. It is only the newer models that have shifted their focus more toward the cyclists and often find it harder to accommodate the walking mode. With so many new tracking modes and sensors, it becomes harder to track your data.

How Can You Use The Garmin Edge For Hiking?

If you still want to use the Garmin Edge for hiking, there are a few workarounds that you can rely on. Unfortunately, these would take some time to figure out and you might need to fiddle around a bit with the bike computer to use it for hiking. The following tips are what we would recommend for those that want to use it for hiking:

  1. Use The GPS Only

One of the things that you can try to do is to use only the GPS. Even with the software problems, the mapping on the Garmin Edge still works as it should and this will enable you to track your location and plot routes. By plotting routes, you can easily use them to give you directions and ensure that you never get lost.

We would also mention that it might lag a bit when you are doing live tracking of your movements. It is best that you focus on the GPS map like you would focus on any route map that you could be using for your movements.

  1. Forget About Stats

As mentioned, the stats can be very inaccurate and in terms of tests, the accuracy is around 25%. With such a low level of accuracy, it becomes increasingly difficult to be accurate and this will drastically affect your overall performance. Instead of focusing on the tracking of stats, you should rather estimate or buy a different computer for this.

  1. Consider An Older Model

If you like the Garmin Edge and you are serious about cycling, you might want to consider using one of the older models mentioned. While they might not have the latest stat software that enables you to track the cadence and power output, it does have some of the basic features that many beginners can use on the bike.

The main reason for considering one of these older models would be to use the walking mode feature. The walking mode feature is integrated to assist hikers to recalibrate the software to compensate for slower speeds of movement. You will notice a significant increase in the accuracy of stat tracking and other data.

hiking on the mountain

Should You Buy A Garmin Edge For Hiking?

The Garmin Edge is not the best stat and tracking tool you could buy for hiking. There are more specific tools like smartwatches that will be easier to use and have more accurate stat tracking in terms of hiking. We would not recommend buying a Garmin Edge bike computer specifically for your hiking trips.

However, using the tool for cycling would be one of the best investments you could make. If you are planning to use the bike computer for cycling, you can easily mount it to your bike and have all the benefits that many professional cyclists have.


The Garmin Edge Bike Computer is one of the best investments you could make for your cycling journey. The bike computer is often rated as the top model and some of the models will enable you to be on par with the pro riders. However, it should not be heavily relied on when it comes to hiking and you might find that it does not provide accuracy.

About Martin

I am Martin, I am the author of this blog. My main interests include cycling. That's why this blog was created. I have always been interested in technology and how bicycles are made, so I built one myself.

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