For anyone who enjoys hiking, a high-quality hiking watch is a must. The best hiking watches are durable and have features that will make your life more convenient. This guide will tell you what to look for in a hiking watch then list the best options on the market today so you can get ready to hit the trail.
Quick Answer: Best Hiking Watches
- Suunto Core
- Garmin fenix 6X Sapphire
- Garmin Instinct
- Casio Pro Trek PRW2500
- Suunto 9 Baro
- Casio Pathfinder PAG240
- Garmin Tactix Charlie
- Timex Expedition Grid Shock
- Suunto Traverse Alpha
- TomTom Adventurer
What to Look for in a Good Hiking Watch
You should consider the following before you purchase your new watch:
1. Battery Life
Your watch needs to be able to follow you throughout your adventures. Some watches have batteries that last at least a year, while others have batteries that need recharging every evening, and others still are charged with solar power. Consider that the more you use certain features, like the GPS, the quicker your battery will die. If you have a watch with a battery that frequently needs recharging, it’s wise to bring along a portable charger to make sure your watch doesn’t die in the middle of a hike.
If you take enough hikes, eventually you’ll get rained on. Purchasing a water-resistant watch will prevent you from having to buy a new one every time it gets wet. If you want to go in the water with your watch then be sure you know the water-resistant depth and make sure it fits what you want to do. Some watches are only water resistant up to 30 meters and others are water resistant up to 300 meters. If you want to go paddle boarding with the watch then 30 meters should be fine, but not if you want to go deep sea diving.
You want the band to be comfortable while you’re hiking and you want to make sure it won’t irritate your skin. Bands that are soft and promote airflow help prevent sweat build up. Another thing to consider is the weight. To make sure you don’t feel weighed down by the watch, a watch less than 60 grams (around 2 ounces) is most comfortable.
Make sure you’re comfortable using the watch. Consider whether it’s a touchscreen watch or if it has buttons. Both options have pros and cons.
- Touch Screen: These are usually easier to navigate, especially if you already have a touchscreen smart watch you’re familiar with. However, wetness may prevent you from being able to select things on the screen. Also, if you’ll be hiking in cooler weather and wearing gloves, you’ll need to make sure you can use the touchscreen with your gloves on, otherwise you’ll have to go through the hassle of taking off a glove everytime you need to use the watch.
- Buttons: Buttons are easier to navigate for some people, but others find them more difficult because typically they have to be pressed in a specific order to get the result you want. On a positive note, wetness won’t impact the buttons like it will a touchscreen watch.
5. Extra Features
Do you want a simple watch or one with all the bells and whistles? Here are some common features included with many watches for the outdoors. Keep in mind that these features will increase the price but they also add convenience.
- Music: A common feature on some hiking watches is the ability to download music and connect your true wireless earbuds via Bluetooth.
- GPS: A GPS signal helps you with trail directions and shows your coordinates in real-time. This is particularly necessary if you’re going hiking in the backcountry, or if there’s a chance of getting lost. Many of the best GPS watches for hiking will also allow you to record and save information about your hikes like distance and elevation change. However, tracking can be hindered if you’re in a heavily wooded area with lots of trees impacting the signal, and these watches have a significantly shorter battery life.
- Compass: Almost all of the best GPS hiking watches include a compass. If a compass is important to you, make sure you know whether you prefer a 2D or 3D compass.
- Heart-Rate Monitor: If tracking your exercise is important, you’ll want a hiking watch with a heart-rate monitor. It will tell you how hard you’re working and you can use it to create personalized workouts to control your heart rate at different points in your hike.
- Weather: Hiking watches with thermometers are super convenient, especially on multi-day hikes, just make sure the watch actually reads the temperature outside and isn’t impacted by your body temperature. These watches tend to measure the outdoor temperature better when not being worn. One way to avoid this issue is to buy a watch that can sync with your phone to give you more accurate weather data, including times of sunrises and sunsets. This can be convenient for camping trips so you know how many layers to put on before you emerge from your backpacking tent.
- Altimeter: Watches with altimeters track the altitude of your hike and can be helpful when trying to locate your position on a map.
- Barometric Altimeter: Many altimeters are barometric. Barometric altimeters measure air pressure. The higher your elevation, the lower the atmospheric pressure.
- Barometer: Barometers show changes in air pressure. Watches with barometers also tell you your estimated elevation and detect upcoming weather. If the pressure increases then you can expect good weather, however if it drops rapidly it’s time to grab your rain gear and take cover.
Best Hiking Watch Reviews
Many of the following watches are not only excellent for hiking but are high-quality options for other outdoor adventures as well.
Equipped with an altimeter, barometer, and compass, the Suunto Core Watch is a good choice to help you track performance, direction, and weather. This digital watch has an average battery life of one year and a face diameter of 1.875”. If bad weather is on the way, an alarm will sound and flash to let you know. The barometric altimeter is accurate to 29,500 feet and records your hikes so you can look back at them later. It has buttons you can use underwater, is water-resistant up to 30 meters, and gives you accurate depth readings up to 10 meters. Whether you’re hiking or mountaineering, the Suunto Core Watch will give you all the data you need on hikes.
One of the best Garmin watches for hiking, the fenix 6X Sapphire lets you add music, mapping, and more to your outdoor adventures. The watch has a 1.4” display and the face is made of a durable, scratch-resistant sapphire lens. It has satellite navigation and tracking functions along with a 3-axis compass, barometric altimeter, and gyroscope. The watch features training bonuses like a wrist heart rate tracker and a pulse ox which senses blood oxygen saturation for altitude acclimation and sleep monitoring. If you love skiing you’ll definitely appreciate the preloaded topographic and ski maps for more than 2,000 ski resorts worldwide. The watch also includes music storage and Garmin Pay™ contactless payment. In terms of battery life, you’ll have up to 15 hours in GPS and music mode, up to 21 days in smartwatch mode, up to 46 days in expedition GPS activity mode, and up to 80 days in battery saver mode. Without a doubt the Garmin fenix 6X Sapphire is the best smartwatch for hikers.
If durability is your main concern, this is the best hiking watch with GPS on the market. The Garmin Instinct was created to the US Military standard 810G for shock, thermal, and water resistance up to 100 meters, and the fiber-reinforced polymer case adds durability and strength. It allows you to observe your estimated heart rate, stress, and activity as well as train with preloaded activity profiles. Built in is a 3-axis compass, barometric altimeter, and TracBack® feature to track your same route back to where you began. The watch is compatible with your smartphone so you can stay updated with notifications and uploads to the Garmin Connect™ online fitness community. The battery life of the watch offers up to 16 hours in GPS mode, up to 40 hours in battery saver mode, and up to 14 days in smartwatch mode. The Garmin Instinct has a 1.2” display and can handle just about any adventure you take it on.
There are several reasons why the Casio Pro Trek PRW2500 is praised as one of the best outdoor watches you’ll find. The first is that it’s powered by the sun. The battery can last up to five months without needing to be recharged and it doesn’t require much light to recharge. Secondly, its time is kept based on the atomic clock. You can be confident your watch will remain on time as it automatically gets its time signals from England, Germany, Japan, and the United States. Third, if you love hiking to lakes or rivers to go swimming or kayaking, you’ll appreciate that this watch is water resistant up to 200 meters. The watch has a 1.5” display and is equipped with a thermometer, digital compass, altimeter, and barometer. The Casio Pro Trek PRW2500 is an impressive high-performance watch that’s great whether you’re on the trail or in the water.
The Suunto 9 Baro supports more than 80 activities in sport modes and is geared towards everything from cycling to racing to multisports. It has a battery that can follow you through all of your outdoor adventures. It’s compatible with a variety of apps like Suunto Movescount, MapMyFitness, Strava, and TrainingPeaks. The watch allows you to create a breadcrumb trail and if you’re in the water you can track distance, pace, and interval laps. If a storm’s coming the alarm will let you know, and the watch also gives you weather trend data so you can decide whether or not you want to throw on your hiking bag and head out on the trail. Performance mode offers the best GPS accuracy and most complete data, and it lasts for up to 25 hours. In endurance mode you’ll get up to 40 hours of battery life, and you’ll get up to 120 hours in ultra mode. If you’re working out and the battery is running low, the watch will suggest you switch the mode to maintain a charge. If you want to track all of your outdoor adventures with your watch, the Suunto 9 Baro is an ideal choice.
The Casio Pathfinder PAG240 features the time in 48 cities and 39 time zones making it a great choice for frequent travelers. The solar-powered battery can last up to six months, so even if you’re taking a short vacation to cloudy terrain, you don’t have to worry about your watch dying. The watch has a 1.5” LCD display and has sensors to detect temperature, direction, and altitude. However, the watch only operates in temperatures higher than 14°F, so if you enjoy winter-weather hiking, alpine climbing, etc. then this watch probably isn’t the best option for you. It also includes a barometer that shows you things like weather-change charts. The Casio Pathfinder PAG240 is a functional watch that gets the job done.
The Garmin Tactix Charlie is a premium GPS watch that combines smart features for outdoor navigation and training with specialized tactical functions. Jumpmaster, waypoint projection, dual-position GPS formatting, and preloaded tactical activity are the tactical-specific features this watch is equipped with. Smart features include smart notifications, automatic uploads to Garmin Connect™, and personalization through free watch faces and apps from the Connect IQ store. There are multiple preloaded activity profiles and topo mapping, and it has night-vision goggle compatibility. If you’re biking or running you can enter your desired distance and the watch will suggest routes and the guidance will show upcoming turns. The watch has a 1.2” high-resolution display, and the battery can last up to 20 hours in GPS mode, up to 35 hours in battery saver mode, and up to 12 days in smartwatch mode. Due to its functionality and tactical features, the Garmin Tactix Charlie is one of the best watches for outdoors.
Whether you want to hike around Cinque Terre or climb an active volcano in Indonesia, bring along the Timex Expedition Grid Shock. The face is made of a scratch-resistant mineral glass, the battery can last up to 10 years, and it’s water-resistant up to 100 meters. It even has a hardened resin case with a stainless steel top ring which makes it shock-resistant. When exercising you can track your personal records with the chronograph function for future reference. Also included are occasion reminders, vibrating and audible alarms, and a hydration mode to remind you to drink water during a workout. The Timex Expedition Grid Shock was specifically designed to give you the freedom to hike and explore the great outdoors with a high-quality watch.
If you’re going hiking, hunting, or fishing then the Suunto Traverse Alpha was created for you. These watches are handmade in Finland and can operate in temperatures from 5°F to 140°F. It has a smart Bluetooth connection and is night-vision goggle compatible for early morning or late night trips. The watch is water resistant up to 100 meters, the band is made of a water-repellent nylon, and the face is made of a scratch-resistant sapphire crystal glass. The GPS tracks your path and can create a breadcrumb trail so you can get back to where you started. The shot detection technology will keep track of when and where you shoot, and will map your coordinates so you can refer to them later. It also features a moon phase calendar that’s location-based to help you determine the best times to fish and hunt. Storm alarms and the barometric pressure graph allow you to track the weather before or during a trip. Searching for the best watches for hiking, fishing, or hunting? Check out the Suunto Traverse Alpha.
The TomTom Adventurer has multisport modes to keep up with you whether you’re hiking, cycling, snowboarding, or swimming. The real-time info you receive on the go includes calories burned, speed, pace, altitude, distance, and ascent and descent. Before you head out for a hike you can upload a trail and up to 3GB of music onto your watch. Sweat and weather-resistant TomTom Bluetooth® headphones that last up to 6 hours are included, so you can leave your travel headphones at home. For those who are looking to kick their training up a notch, this watch includes advanced training modes like Interval Training, Training Zones, Race Mode, Recovery Indicator, and more. Additional bonuses include water-resistance up to 40 meters and an automatic sleep tracker. For a watch that can keep up with a variety of your outdoor adventures, you’ll love the TomTom Adventurer.
No matter what’s most important to you in a hiking watch, whether it be GPS, recording your hike information, multisport modes, etc., if you pick a watch from this list it’ll make your hikes more enjoyable. With all they have to offer, your hiking watch will be one of your new favorite pieces of hiking gear.