Garmin Fenix HR
Timex Expedition Grid Shock
Garmin Fenix 5X
If you love hiking as much as we do, get your hands (or wrist) on one of the best hiking watches around today. These do everything you’d expect of a regular timepiece, but go one step further, providing important data regarding your hike. Here, you’ll find watches with compass and GPS features, and those with an altimeter, a barometer, pathfinders, map markings, and many other features crucial for enjoying your hike, and not getting lost in the wilderness, because who wants that?
The Best Hiking Watch
1Garmin Fenix HR Hiking Watch
An indisputable pick for the best GPS watch for hiking, the Garmin Fenix HR is just the balance between style and functionality, something you don’t always find, even with best hiking watches. It’s durable, which means it’s a little heavier than you may like, but this at least gives you confidence it can survive extreme conditions.
The GPS is remarkably accurate, and with the barometer and altimeter functions, you’re entirely supported on hikes both short and extensive. The forty-hour battery life is massively convenient, but this will vary depending on the features you use. Even if you’re not a hiker, its multi-sport functions make it a fantastic and functional watch for everyone. This is a perfect sports watch for you.
Omnidirectional EXO antenna with GPS/GLONASS reception
Up to 40 hours of battery life
Fitness tracking including heart rate monitor
Outdoor navigation with barometer and altimeter
- Weight3.2 ounces
Sunlight-readable 1.2-inch display
Highly accurate GPS reading
Heavy and bulky
With its minimalist, unassuming display, this Suunto Traverse outdoor watch is ideal for those who hate drawing attention to themselves, while also knowing exactly where they are and where they’re going. It boasts GPS, GLONASS, and POI capabilities, which gives you multiple options for adventure and eases your group’s fears you’ve got them lost.
For longer hikes, the weather trend and sunrise/sunset times are crucial for keeping you in the loop and right on track, and the large display is easy to read, even in low light. With a lightweight design, it won’t cause you much hassle (if any at all) on your trips, keeping you focused on the winding, sometimes a little sketchy, path ahead. Make sure you also check our guide to the best dive watches.
GPS, GLONASS, and POI navigation capabilities
Weather trend and sunrise/sunset times
Vibration alerts keep disturbances to a minimum
Water resistant to 100 meters (330 feet)
- Weight0.8 ounces
Rugged and easy to use
Poor battery life with smartphone sync
The thing we most love about the Casio Pathfinder is its solar-powered operation, which – as long as you don’t hide away in a hole – will keep charge whenever you’re wearing it. Unlike other watches which have multiple great features but less-than-awesome battery life, this provides reliability on long treks into the middle of nowhere.
There’s more to it than this, though. It’s water resistant to 100 meters, so you can take a dip to cool off on longer hikes. The multiple alarms and countdown timer are also great for keeping you on track, informing you when it’s time to make camp or head back. Its dual-layer LCD provides a lot of information, too, but this could feel a little cluttered when you’re first getting used to it. Be sure to also check out our list of the best field watches for more great items like this.
Solar-powered operation charges on the go
Digital compass, altimeter, barometer, and thermometer
Multiple daily alarms and countdown timer
Water resistant to 100 meters
- Weight11.2 ounces
Backlight switches on automatically
Dual layer LCD displays lots of information
Characters on alarm are sometimes hard to read
The Garmin Foretrex comes with a slightly unconventional design that many hikers may not be too keen on, but this unique design shouldn’t put you off it, especially when you understand what it can do for you. It’s a watch that has been gifted from the hiking gods but is still perfect for a range of outdoor activities including camping and even in the military.
The path tracking feature ensures you stay on track and you can save specific locations as waypoints using Google Earth to make sure you know where you’re going. The 17-hour battery life isn’t great compared to others, but it’s not terrible either, and you can take spare batteries for longer trips. There’s also the option for expanding the memory through microSD cards, which if you’re planning on mapping a wide expanse is an excellent addition. Our handy guide to the best Victorinox Swiss Army watches features more great products like this.
Keeps track of your path and displays dotted line
Electronic compass and barometric altimeter
Save locations as waypoints
17 hours battery life
- Weight3.04 ounces
Durable construction in a variety of conditions
Reliable GPS readings
Low power consumption compared with other watches
Bulky design is kind of awkward and could be uncomfortable
The Casio Pro Trek is a remarkable GPS outdoor watch that’s perfect for serious hikers. Its full-color display is vibrant and easy to read regardless of the surrounding conditions, and the GPS, altimeter barometer, and compass are reliable and accurate. For ultimate connectivity options, it’s compatible with both Android and iPhone to transform it from a hiking watch to a smart watch.
We’re also partial to the location memory function, which allows you to make notes and memos on the map so you can remember important information you’re able to access any time. The battery life is excellent on timepiece mode, but when using the GPS feature, you’re only likely to get 25 hours, but this should be enough to ascend and descend. Don’t forget to also check our guide to the best Luminox watches.
Full color display and offline map storage
GPS, activity tracking, altimeter, barometer, and compass
Location memory and memo writing on map
iPhone and Android compatible
Water resistant to 50 meters (165 feet)
Fast and responsive with accurate GPS feature anywhere in the world
Up to one-month battery life on timepiece mode
Only 25 hours max battery life on GPS mode
The Suunto Ambit3 is a great mid-range hiking watch that delivers a solid amount of features while not overwhelming you with too much as you could see with more expensive options. It delivers a full range of navigation options that are stable and reliable, providing everything you need to know on long hikes (and short hikes), without sending you around in circles.
The GPS lock is fast and accurate, and with up to 200 hours of battery life, you can enjoy this watch on multiple trips without worrying about losing power. The casing is durable, which means it’s bound to be a little bulky, but the whole design of the watch means you’re unlikely to care, and it’s still sleek enough to fit comfortably under your sleeve. For more great sports watches check out our guide to the best golf GPS watches.
Stable and accurate altitude and weather information
Full navigation features
Smartphone syncing for customization and connectivity on-the-go
Water resistant to 100 meters
- Weight3.84 ounces
Up to 200 hours of battery life
Durable casing with sleek design for outdoor environments
Speedy GPS lock
Strap not as durable as we’d like
Our premium pick for the best mountaineering watch is the Garmin Fenix 5X, which provides full-color TOPO U.S. mapping, routable cycling maps, and other activities. The built-in GPS and GLONASS functions are perfect for casual hikes and more expansive, demanding scenarios, with the GPS working alongside a 3-axis compass, barometer, and altimeter for unrivaled accuracy and information.
This information, along with key stats and performance data is readily available at your fingertips. The Fenix is highly intuitive and easy to use even if you’ve never used a hiking watch before. It’s also comfortable and perfectly weighted while still offering the durability required for intensive outdoor treks. You may also consider buying a watch winder, so you can store your watches safely.
Full-color mapping with cycling maps and other outdoor navigation features
Built-in navigation sensors including GPS and GLONASS
Key stats at your fingertips with performance data
Garmin Online connectivity to share and customize
- Weight3.5 pounds
Durable, rugged design ideal for the outdoors
Easy to use and intuitive interface
Perfectly sized and weighted
Different charging cable than standard USB is a little inconvenient
If you’re more of a casual hiker who doesn’t need all the fancy features of more expensive options, consider the Timex Expedition Grid Shock as our best value product. It boasts a 10-year battery life which matches perfectly with its rugged construction including shock resistance, making it perfect for anyone who’s a little clumsier than they should be.
The multiple time zones are great for travelers and it’s an ideal going away gift for your kid’s first adventure out by themselves. However, the lack of GPS function means it’s perhaps not great for longer treks, but for short hikes up and down a trail, this is inexpensive and practical, which are two things we love to hear.
Rugged and durable construction with shock resistance
Vibration alarms with hydration alerts, stopwatch, and countdown timer
Up to a 10-year battery life
Water resistant to 100 meters
- Weight4.8 ounces
More lightweight than you’d expect
Multiple time zones ideal for travelers
Indiglo backlight for easy low-light reading
No GPS function
Our final pick for the best hiking watches is the Suunto Core, which offers sunset/sunrise times in over 400 locations around the world. Like the Timex, this is a fantastic option for travelers both budding and experienced. However, also like the Timex it doesn’t have GPS capabilities (although you can purchase upgrades), which for the price may put you off it.
That’s not to say it’s not a good watch. The display is easy to read, and it’s not too heavy it feels uncomfortable as the day progresses. The dual time, alarm, and countdown functions are useful for keeping track, and you can use the altimeter to check elevation and ascent and descent speeds.
Weather information and tracking with a barometer
Sunset/sunrise time displays for over 400 locations
Altimeter displays elevation and ascent/descent speed
Dual time, alarms, and countdown timer functions
- Weight6.7 ounces
Easy to read display
Comfortable to wear all day
Straightforward setup with minimal hassle
Scratches relatively easily
Hiking Watch Buying Guide
Features To Look For In Hiking Watches
Design - Mens outdoor watches should be functional, but they should also look good, too. Designs range from the stylish to the robust, and depending on your level, you may prefer one over the other. If you need a watch purely for hiking, then we’d recommend robustness over style, but if you need an everyday watch, you may be better off looking at something more unassuming.
GPS - GPS functionality is important for long hikes to prevent you from getting lost in the wilderness while also helping you navigate sufficiently. Accuracy and speed are key factors here, as the more precise it pinpoints your location and the faster it can do this, the more efficient your hikes will be.
Heart Rate Monitor - Heart rate monitors are not entirely necessary in a hiking watch, but it’s always a nice feature to have, especially if you’re looking for a multi-sport watch to use for running, swimming, and other intense activities.
Display - Your display should be easy to read in all conditions because you never know when you might need to check your watch. A large display is good for reading at a glance, but this could also result in having too much on the screen which leads to a clutter display. Likewise, a too-small screen can suffer from the same problems.
For day hikes, a sunlight-readable display is your best bet, as it will reflect glare, allowing you to read it despite the brightness. If you’re hiking into the sunset, look for a watch with back-lit capabilities.
Battery Life - The battery life of hiking watches will vary depending on the brand and the functions you use. Some watches boast as much as 200 hours of battery life but are often much less if you use GPS and other features. Depending on the length of your hike, you need a watch which has the substantial battery life to ensure it doesn’t run out in the middle of your trek.
Durability - While you may be the most careful hiker around, you never know when you might suffer a fall and damage your watch. A durable watch will survive through all environments and scenarios, which is great for intense, demanding treks far off the beaten track.
Water Resistance - Anyone who’s hiked or camped knows you should always be prepared for rain. Hiking watches are water resistant to a maximum of 100 meters, but some are less. Water resistance is also good for multi-sport activities, so you can use it swimming or snorkeling as successfully as you do hiking or running. However, it may not be capable of surviving deep water sports.
Wi-Fi Connectivity - With Wi-Fi connectivity, your hiking watch can function much like a smart watch. It gives you the chance to upload, store, and share your data of hikes and performance, while also giving you the chance to customize it and download maps and trails for new hikes. You can connect it to your smartphone and compatible apps by the brand, such as Garmin Connect.
Altimeter - A hiking watch with altimeter functionality gives you information about your elevation. It can also provide information about the speed of ascent and descent.
Barometer - With a barometer, you can measure the atmospheric pressure to determine whether a storm is on its way. This is an excellent feature to help you figure out whether to keep going, turn back, or camp out.
Compass - The compass is the most useful feature on your hiking watch, and every decent hiking watch will come with a compass, either 3D or 2D to help you find the right direction
Thermometer - While you won’t find a thermometer on all watches, it is still useful to have, especially when hiking to high altitudes. However, they aren’t too accurate just yet, and your body temperature can influence them negatively.
Hiking Watch FAQ
Q: Why is Hiking Watch Necessary?
A: A hiking adventure watch isn’t always necessary, especially if you’re only doing short hikes. But it’s always good to be over prepared when going hiking, just in case. If you want to get serious about your hiking, here are the reasons a hiking watch is necessary.
Safety - A hiking watch is crucial for ensuring safety when on a trail. The number of features you can use means you can pinpoint your location to anticipate weather changes, observe your altitude, and use a compass if (or when) you get lost. These features are not available in your standard watch, and so it’s in your best interests to invest to ensure you return from your hike safely.
Multi-functionality - A hiking watch is not just a hiking watch. The best options also provide the chance to track your heart rate, running speed, and other performance statistics for skiing, swimming, running, rowing, and other exercises. Hiking watches that are less bulky and more streamlined can also double as everyday watches, which is useful if you don’t want or need to spend money on multiple timepieces.
Data - If you like to keep track of where you went and how far and fast you walked, the data tracking ability to hiking watches will allow you to do this. This gives you the chance to revisit previous hikes and aim to improve, which is especially useful if you’re training for intense activities.
Exploring - So say the trail you picked out wasn’t as arduous as you’d hoped. Without the best watches for hiking this would mean heading back early, disappointed and still itching to explore. Top quality hiking watches can provide you with information on nearby trails you otherwise wouldn’t know about, which not only means you can scratch that hiking itch but also enjoy a relatively quiet hike all to yourself.
Q: Why should I use a Hiking Watch if I have a GPS on my phone?
A: While a GPS feature on your phone is useful, it isn’t reliable enough to use on hikes and is too temperamental to trust. Your phone battery is unlikely to last the length of longer hikes whereas a GPS watch will have a sufficient battery life for both your ascent and descent.
Your GPS watch will also be easier to access by just looking at your wrist instead of taking your phone from your pocket, which will soon get tiresome.
Q: How to take care of my Hiking Watch?
A: If you buy the best outdoor GPS watch, you will want to keep it in the best condition. This includes keeping it safe from scratches and case damage (although we know this isn’t always possible). You should also take efforts to keep the strap clean, and not put too much strain on it, as this can damage the notches which could cause the strap to break.
If you want your hiking watch to perform at its peak capacity, especially on longer hikes, charge it as often as needed, and if you can replace the batteries as you can with the Foretrex, take spares with you to put in if the battery runs down.
- How Hikers Can Benefit from the GPS Tracking System - Trackimo
- 3 Features You Must Have In A Hiking Watch - Mens Big Face Watches
- The Most Important Features of an Altimeter Watch - Outdoors