If you find your freedom in the previously unscaled, rugged terrains every weekend, then you know the ultimate Holy Grail for a hiker is an instrument that can do everything. Like Smartphone in urban jungles, the best hiking watch can be your savior in the wild. This device is decked with many features to counter the unpredictability of the hiking ranges: It does more than time-telling. It becomes a survival tool. The robust hiking watches are much more sophisticated than your average watch. A fancy Rolex is hardly going to tell you the directions and altitude when you are left clueless on the Appalachian trail. We have covered 10 of the best outdoor watches here which can keep you loyal company and make sure you stay out of trouble through long and invigorating hikes. “We have also written a complete guide about best military watches“.
What is a hiking watch?
Hiking watch is a durable, Rambo-style version of an ordinary watch. It is built to outlast the rigors and likely shocks from hiking. These are outdoor watches which are waterproof and cold-resistant. Some of them are also solar-rechargeable so they reduce your dependency on batteries. But most importantly, they have the following features: (ABC)
Altimeter: Altimeter is a device that measures your altitude above a certain reference level. Usually a hiking watch will give you the altitude above the sea level. These watches measure the height based on atmospheric pressure or GPS. The air pressure decreases as you go upwards and this change is used to estimate altitude level by the backpacking watch. Some altimeter watches calibrate themselves automatically. However, others need to be calibrated manually. For calibration, you can get your current altitude via Google Maps and match the altimeter reading to it. “We have also written a complete guide about best fleece jackets for hiking“.
Barometer: A barometer is an instrument to measure atmospheric pressure. When incorporated in a hiking watch, its reading helps in finding the altitude and forecasting weather. Reading weather on the hiking watch is not an exact science. Usually the air pressure at sea level is 1013 millibar. As you climb up, it decreases. One millibar change would indicate a height change of 8.3m. If atmospheric pressure is more than the calculated figure at that height, that usually indicates good weather. However, seriously lower pressure than the calculated number could indicate rain and snow. Low air pressure brings clouds and precipitation.
Compass: Direction is the most important metric when you venture into the nature. A compass got Columbus to America and Jack Sparrow to Isla de Muerta. So we can hardly emphasize its importance enough. Reading the compass involves taking hemisphere and daylight savings into consideration.
GPS: This is the technology which is slowly creeping into every device. Many of the best outdoor watches are equipped with GPS to help you track your location. It literally shows you the way when you are in a fix. No more dabbling with the compass. But this feature does cost you a lot more that the ABC sensors. If you already have one of the best hiking GPS, a regular hiking watch would do. So we have covered the top hiking watches with and without GPS.
All these sensors have limited accuracy when placed on tiny devices like outdoor watches. If calibrated correctly they can come close to the exact figures. And this is enough for the hikers to find their way to freedom. For a fruitful experience with the hiking watches, you need to invest in learning how to use them properly.
Hiking watches against individual devices like Compass, altimeter, hiking GPS etc.?
Many people are apprehensive about the accuracy of the data collected by even the best hiking watch. So should you invest in individual devices?
First off, if you are backpacking long trails, you want to reduce your load. A device with maximum features helps here. Hiking Watch 1-0. Once you learn to use the features correctly, the best outdoor watches can be pretty accurate, even by military tactical standards. The cost of one hiking watch compared to assorted hiking devices would be less in most cases. You should also look at the best hiking boots to bring you the best experience.
Individual devices would take up space and add weight. You can invest in a watch and buy the most important sensor on the list. If you are heavily dependent on hiking GPS then you can buy a simple ABC hiking watch and a hiking GPS.
Which is the best hiking watch?
There are many ABC watches that parade the market under different names. We have even covered some under the Best Military watches. We picked up the best hiking watch based on:
Durability: It is important that your hiking gear stays intact through the rough ride. The best outdoor watches are water-resistant or waterproof. They are shock-resistant, so they won’t break with the slightest impact. They are also dust-resistant and work in all temperatures.
Features: Features like Altimeter, Barometer, Compass, GPS etc differentiate hiking watches from regular watches. They boast of superlative battery life. Even time-telling is nuanced with capability to show multiple time zones. Display options like chrome display and negative display make reading the watches easier.
Budget: Hiking watches usually carry a high price tag. We checked to make sure that you weren’t paying exorbitant amount for paltry features. The best outdoor watches we picked have fully functional and relatively accurate readings that vindicate their prices.
Style and Comfort: Hiking watch is a wearable after all. The best ones are comfortable to wear over long hiking trips. They let your wrist breathe and do not have any pressure points that poke your skin. They also tend to look suave on your wrist. Just because you are a lone ranger, does not mean you shouldn’t hike in style!
Garmin Fenix 3 Sapphire straps on functionalities like a James Bond car. On an average day, it can replace at least 7 devices. It has a barrage of sensors at work, not just for hiking but also for running, swimming, gymming, any action sport you name it. It is also designed to connect wirelessly to many devices and gather personal data from them. It is hefty both in price and weight. But each dollar and gram translate to one more life-saving tool. It is also available as a performance bundle with Heart Rate Monitor(HRM) run strap. Wild horses couldn’t have kept this shining piece of technology out of the best hiking watch list. And to enjoy your hiking even more, check out the best hiking backpacks to bring with you.
Design and Time-telling
The Garmin Fenix 3 Sapphire hiking watch gets its name from the hardy scratch-resistant convex Sapphire lens on its dial. This lens can face the storms and perils of hiking without missing a beat. It shows a 1.2” high-resolution Chroma display that is readable no matter what the ambient conditions are. There are 7 watch/strap combinations in this. Most of them have metal straps but two of them come with leather bands. The metal versions also come with a rubber watch band which is much lighter than the total 185g including the metal band. The dial itself is 82 g only. The watch is water-resistant up to 100m.
This hiking watch can be used as a time-telling gadget alone. It also features stopwatch and timer. The battery lasts 20 hours in GPS mode, 50 hours in UltraTrac Mode and 6 hours in watch mode. In the UltraTrac mode, the GPS turns off intermittently to save power and is replaced by an accelerometer.
The Garmin Fenix 3 Sapphire backpacking watch is equipped with GPS and GLONASS. GLONASS helps increase the accuracy of GPS reading. The watch hides an omnidirectional stainless steel EXO antenna for the purpose. When checked in the satellite mode, the GPS is accurate. You can turn the GLONASS on from the settings. The Altimeter, Barometer and Compass of this ABC watch are instantly available via the up/down buttons. The Altimeter has both auto and manual calibration. Barometer shows short-term patterns in air pressure and also triggers the Storm alert, if enabled. The compass points directions whether you are stationary or moving.
As you move through the hiking trail, the Sapphire outdoor watch allows you to create a digital trail and mark points of interests on it like campsites and start/finish etc.. You can mark up to 1000 locations. It is a multisport watch. From sleep tracking to open water swimming training, it has a tracker and counter for everything. It will continuously monitor your form, calories and fitness. It supports a Heart Rate Monitor even though it doesn’t have one of its own. With an HRM, it can give you advanced metrics on your running speed, heart rate variability, VO2 max etc. While running with the HRM bundled with its combo pack, you can get vertical oscillation, ground contact time, cadence etc..
And if running is not your only physical activity of choice, this Garmin Fenix 3 Sapphire hiking watch is a proficient swimming and ski trainer too. Both pool and openwater swim can be tracked using this ABC watch. For pool swim, it asks you the length of the pool and starts recording your pace with an accelerometer. It tries to determine your stroke type and gives you distance and stroke counts. During openwater swims, it tracks your path using GPS and creates an approximation. Skiing can be tracked based on speed, distance vertical drop etc.. It can also trigger the Garmin VIRB and VIRB Elite action cameras remotely. This is especially useful when you are skiing and have gloves on your hands. The cherry on the cake is that almost all of this information can be relayed from the watch to Garmin Connect smartphone app via Wi-Fi. You can see your data on a bigger device anytime.
The Fenix 3 Sapphire outdoor watch is an extremely friendly device when it comes to connecting with other gadgets. It is both ANT+ and Bluetooth Smart-capable. That’s right, Bluetooth! You can use these services to share routes and locations. You can receive notifications from your phone even while swimming in open water. Bluetooth doesn’t drain Fenix 3 as fast as the Fenix 1 and 2. You will get text, emails and alerts. One advantage of Fenix 3’s size is that it allows you to read texts on its screen. This hiking watch also features ConnectIQ platform which allows you to personalize the apps, widgets and face of your watch just like your smartphones.
Exceptionally robust and water-resistant
Multisport tracker and running, swimming skiing trackers
Garmin Fenix 3 Sapphire hiking watch itself is such an intensely technical device. We didn’t think more could be added. The Fenix 3 HR hiking watch proved us wrong. This beast packs a Heart Rate monitor and Golf GPS functionality that the new-age users are sure to find appeasing. Not only does it eliminate an arm band with bulky heart rate monitoring apparatus, it does so without compromising the aesthetics of Fenix 3. It packs on a few more grams than the Fenix Sapphire but the difference is not evident. All the dynamic features of Sapphire are intact in the Fenix 3 HR. We wasted no time in launching it to our best hiking watch list.
Design and Time-telling
The Garmin Fenix 3 HR hiking watch is impossibly more feature-rich than Fenix Sapphire. This is a watch for the active life with sensors to track the most common sports and activities. The model we check was a sharp charcoal grey specimen. The dial weighs 90 grams and looks the part. It is a chunky accessory and looks better on a heavily-built person. But it’s not a heavy load for the average Joe either. The lens is durable sapphire. Shock absorption is second nature to it. This ABC watch is water-resistant up to 10 atm or 100m water. A removable silicone band with ventilation gaps straps it around your wrist. We prefer this to the metal band and it can easily go with your professional demeanor. The underside of the dial has the bright optical sensors for heart rate monitoring.
This outdoor watch tells the day and date, sunrise and sunset times, apart for regular time. It lets you set multiple alarms for multiple days of the week. This is a big win over most watches which allow only 1 alarm per day or per week. The battery life is awe-inspiring. It coughs out 2 weeks in smartwatch mode even with 24×7 HRM. In GPS mode, its 16 hours and 40 hours on UltraTrac mode.
The feature set of Garmin Fenix HR hiking watch is puffed to rip at the seams. Garmin flaunted their Elevate optical Heart Rate Monitoring technology here which is live 24×7 unless disabled. The data gathering is done frequently if you are active and only intermittently if you are asleep. It is chest strap-free and works only off your wrist. You can view it as a four-hour activity graph or a 7-day graph. The readings seem to be fairly accurate. They are displayed either on the watch face itself or on your phone through the Garmin app. This optical HRM is instrumental in giving you intensity minutes. These help you make sure that you get the required amount of exercise per week. The Move alert feature bugs you to get up and walk if you have been sitting too long.
The HRM functionality of Fenix 3 HR watch responds in only some activities like walking, running and cycling. It doesn’t work while swimming. While working out, it will bring you Beats per minute and factors like Cadence. But other figures like Vertical Ratio and Ground balance can only be obtained from a dedicated HRM. The VO2Max figures and Recovery advisor are available while running just like Fenix 3 Sapphire. The same metrics that Sapphire collected while swimming and skiing are noted by the Fenix HR as well. Additionally, it supports golf and rowing as well. It performs the basic deeds of a golf watch by telling distances to the front, back and middle of the greens for one course downloaded from Garmin Connect. While rowing, this outdoor watch counts strokes and notes stroke rate and stroke distance.
The Fenix 3 HR hiking watch features Altimeter, Barometer and Compass just like Fenix Sapphire. It shows both altimeter and barometer graphs. An auto-climb function recognizes changes in altitude intuitively. Apart from Storm alert, this ABC watch can tell you about incoming or past storms. It also has the GPS+GLONASS capability through a small antenna. You can create your hike trails and mark locations. Smart Notifications, ANT+, Bluetooth, Wi-Fi syncing for Garmin Connect are all enabled here. A whole ton of information is accessible through both the watch and its Garmin Connect interface.
Optical wrist based heart rate monitor 24×7
Outstanding battery life
GPS and GLONASS
Move alerts and multiple customizable alarms
Running, swimming, gymming, rowing tracks
Can be used as a golf watch for a selected course
Bluetooth, Wi-Fi, ANT+ enabled
HRM cannot keep up with rough vigorous motions which don’t occur in a pattern
Suunto Ambit3 Peak GPS hiking watch is the priciest of the Ambit line and hulked to match with it. It is more focused on the outdoor hiking needs rather than athletic and activity tracking needs like Fenix 3 HR. The GPS accuracy is closer to home than the Fenix watches. Altitude and Barometer readings are easy to infer information from. It has the capability to connect to sensors that monitor activity rate via Bluetooth. It is also a heart rate monitor and comes with an optional chest strap to measure heart rate under water. Suunto Ambit3 Peak is an excellent hiking watch and substantiates its usability with activity trackers. It straps on its honor badge of the best hiking watch easily enough.
Design and Time-telling
One thing that Garmin does relatively better than Suunto is packing more in less. The Suunto Ambit3 Peak hiking watch measures 1.9” in diameter and 87g on the scale. It looks a little too proud on leaner wrists. It comes in black and Sapphire version. The latter has a sapphire lens that is extra strong in the face of physical impact. The display is properly visible in the sunlight. The strap is light and breathable, nothing like the weapon-grade metal one with Fenix Sapphire. An optional Chest strap is available which connects with the Ambit3 Peak watch for HRM.
This hiking watch packs a countdown timer, an alarm, a stopwatch and an interval timer. You can sync up with the location time through GPS as well. The battery lasts 30 days on simple time mode. When the GPS is activated, the life goes down to 22 hours. While it compared favorably with Fenix 2, Fenix 3 hiking watch does way better.
Suunto Ambit3 Peak hiking watch is a hiker’s dream. It’s very reliable in its readings and hence a backpacker’s best friend. This is an ABC watch. The altitude and pressure information is updated every 15 minutes. A 24-hour rolling graph of the readings is readily available. This allows you to see patterns in data and predict weather. You can also set profiles to maintain what values you are seeing at any point of time, altitude or atmospheric pressure. In the automatic mode, the watch automatically switches between altimeter and barometer, based on whether you are changing locations vertically or horizontally. The barometer also facilitates a Storm Alert. You can see the storms entering or leaving the area. This helps when you are planning your hike.
The GPS functionality of this outdoor watch helps with the backpacking and then some. The GPS distances came close to exact. You can use the companion smartphone app Movescount to log a location and navigate to that point. A FindBack feature allows you to venture freely and then navigate your way back to the starting point. A trace of your movements is preserved for future considerations. The compass is functional and doesn’t need to be held level to give your bearings.
The progressive feature of the Suunto Ambit3 Peak hiking watch is the Chest strap. This is a proprietary piece that monitors your heart rate when you go swimming. Other swim metrics like stroke count, stroke distance etc are also measured. The strap communicates to the watch using Bluetooth Smart. Other sensors can be integrated with Ambit3 Peak if they are Bluetooth Smart-enabled. You can select sports like running, trekking, triathlon, cycling etc. The watch will then search for corresponding sensors like footpod, bike pod or power pod. It does map speed, pace and distance on its own though. With Movescount, you can customize the way you get your information. You can log multiple sports together or create laps while running.
Highly accurate GPS
Profiles to display either barometer/altimeter data
Navigation to a selected point on map through Movescount app
Findback feature navigates you back to the starting points
Dependency on Bluetooth Smart to connect to different sensors
The Sunnto Traverse hiking watch is made much along the lines of Ambit3 Peak. But it sports a far more elegant design and hides the antenna better. The feature set of Suunto Traverse is wide but still smaller than that of the Garmin watches. For those of us who are mildly impressed by technology, but not total geeks, this will do just fine on a backpacking trip. It is equipped with top class ABC, GPS and GLONASS. It has an intuitive way of switching between the sensors. Its multiple colors swathe a lightweight body. Suunto Traverse has a perfect balance of weight and features. It navigated itself straight into the best hiking watch list.
Design and Time-telling
Suunto Traverse hiking watch is a handsome-looking gadget. Even though Ambit3 Peak is expensive and armed to the teeth, the Traverse has a beautiful dial. Its color display can be converted into a negative display for easy reading in sun’s glare. The steel bezel and the clear display give it a suave look that you can easily carry to a professional environment. The watch weighs 79g with the strap off, but the size is close to that of Ambit3. There are the black, graphite, white and amber models. They all feature a mineral crystal lens that is sturdier than the normal lens. There’s a Sapphire black model which sports the Sapphire lens. The band is silicone. While it’s perforated for ventilation on one side, the other side can warm your hand up in a hurry. It is water-resistant up to 100m.
This outdoor watch gives you the sunset and sunrise times. As a hiker it’s important to know how long the daylight will be available. This information is also readily available. You can set a single daily alarm, see GPS time and daylight savings time. The battery life depends on the GPS interval setting. With the 60s interval of collecting data, the watch lasts only 8 hours. Without the GPS on, the watch can run through 2 weeks.
Perhaps the odd but critically useful feature of the Suunto Traverse hiking watch is that its display doubles as a flashlight. In the flashlight mode, the display of the watch is set at high brightness. This turns it into a mini torch. This is especially useful when you are groping through your backpack in the night. The altimeter and barometer work in conjunction. They have the individual profiles or automatic profile which switches between the two sensors based on whether you are moving up/down or horizontally. The Altimeter of this ABC watch can show pressure-based altitude, GPS altitude or Fused Alti. The last one uses both GPS and barometric readings to determine altitude.
The barometric graphs of this outdoor watch shows you weather patterns and storms in an area. It issues a Storm Alert as soon as pressure drops drastically. The graphs are easy to peruse, just not as high-end as the Garmin color graphs. The compass is a tilt-compensated entity with a bearing lock. Both GPS and GLONASS collude on this device to give you more accuracy on the distance reading. GPS is primarily used for navigation in Traverse, unlike other watches which have a horde of fitness trackers. It allows you to store route maps and create a Breadcrumb trail for you to follow later. You can add points of interests on this. Like Ambit3 Peak, you can use the heatmap to find paths and destinations that other Movescount users have followed.
Smart notifications are enabled on the Traverse hiking watch as well. It has the basic activity tracking stats of steps walked and calories. The fewer features make it easy to use but require more button presses than Fenix3.
Display doubles as flashlight
Can turn the display negative for reading in the sun
Fused Alti fuses GPS and barometric reading for accurate altitude
GPS and GLONASS-capable
Smart looks with inconspicuous antenna
Breadcrumb trail creation
Heatmap for discovering new routes and spots via Movescount app
Garmin Tactix Bravo is actually a military watch. But we were pretty impressed by its new features so it hiked right into the best hiking watch list. If you are all for understated looks, the Bravo is all you need. It has almost the same feature set as the Fenix 3. But there are a couple of more interesting display and tracking options, as required by military ops the GPS and ABC functions work to precision. Like its Fenix brothers, it stays pretty much unfazed in the light of physical shocks or water exposure. The price is steep, but Garmin makes it worth your every penny.
Design and Time-telling
The Garmin Tactix Bravo hiking watch is a good-looking watch in spite of the mono color. The all-black contours of the watch are strangely attractive. The dial and case are non-reflective ensuring that it’s not revealed from a distance during the covert ops. The sapphire lens of the watch keeps it out of trouble, even with the gruesome usage during hikes, military or otherwise. There are two strap options. You can either buy the model with a silicone band or with a nylon straps. Both are interchangeable. It’s water-resistant up to 100m underwater.
Perhaps the most alluring aspect about this hiking watch is the display. Apart from being easily sunlight readable, you can switch to it Night-Vision mode. If you have Night vision goggles on, the backlight display ramps down to be easily visible. Night hikers will appreciate this feature. Battery life is up to 50 hours on UtraTRac mode, 20 hours on GPS mode and 3 weeks on smartwatch mode.
Like the Fenix 3, the Garmin Tactix Bravo hiking watch is GPS, GLONASS-capable as well. The navigation and tracking capabilities are quite elaborate. The most useful of these is the TracBack feature. This way if you stray too far from the beaten path, it will navigate you back to the starting point. You can also create your own courses and mark them with point of interest, like rest points for future reference. You can mark up to 1000 such waypoints for both land and aerial navigation. Direction and elevation are also aided by the GPS. GPS coordinates are shown in dual format on the same 1.2” screen. Military Grid Reference System(MGRS) used by NATO is supported.
The Altimeter elevation data is monitored for both ascent and descent. Barometer gives you weather patterns, storms in the area and storm alerts. The compass is tilt-compensated and has a bearing lock. Some tactical features have been added to the Tactix Bravo outdoor watch based on its military cred. The most notable amongst these is the Jumpmaster mode. This allows you to coordinate jumping from an aircraft. While not relevant to trekking, it could aid your other hobbies. It also has fitness tracking and advanced running features that are based on Fenix 3’s playbook. Swimming, hiking and trail-running activities can be tracked on this ABC watch.
The Garmin Tactix Bravo watch is smart as advertised. It gets Smart notifications wirelessly from your cellphone about email, texts and other alerts. You can even read your texts on the watch face, a facility that we have seen only with Garmin yet. It is also compatible with ConnectIQ which is used to design the watch interface and download apps on to it. Using Wi-Fi you can connect the phone to Garmin Connect app for updates.
While GPS is quite the catch on a hiking watch, it is possible you don’t like to operate it on a small screen with your sausage fingers. An ABC watch with some useful survival features can be enough. Because why pay for fancy GPS and tracking features if you don’t need them. The Casio Pro Trek Tough Solar hiking watch is an economic hiker’s top wearable. This sporty watch is equipped with the ABC sensors and many different time-telling features. It is also solar-rechargeable so you won’t be slaves to battery in the wild. Its multiple time and sensing options make it a perfect fit for the best hiking watch list. And to keep you hydrated throughout your adventure, make sure to have with you the best hydration packs.
Design and Time-telling
Like many a hiking watch, the Casio Pro Trek Tough solar remains a beefy watch. Its dial is 1.9 inches in diameter and 0.6 inches thick. But this includes the thick edge which holds the button. It is done up in complete black with some amber highlights. The black resin band is comfortable to wear over long hours. It shows water resistance up to 200m under water as opposed to 100m of the previous best hiking watches. The display of the watch is duplex LDC. It allows more information to be arranged meaningfully on the screen. It has backlight with afterglow for nighttime watch reading.
This Casio hiking watch employs Multi-band atomic timekeeping which gets you the accurate time right out of Fort Collins. You can set 5 daily alarms, hourly time signal, supports 31 time zones, city code display, daylight saving and stopwatch. One of the best advantages of non-GPS watches is the battery life. The Pro Trek Solar works 5 months on full charge and 23 months on power saving mode.
The Casio PRW-2500 Pro Trek Tough Solar hiking watch gets its name from its solar-rechargeable capability. It can be powered indefinitely by the sun. This is handy when you are out hiking and the battery is about to die. Otherwise also, it has humongous battery life compared to the GPS watches. It has one-touch operation of Altimeter, Barometer, Compass and Thermometer. The altimeter is best-used with manual calibration against elevation found online. The altimeter is completely dependent on barometric sensor for elevation changes because of the lack of GPS support. So you might see altitudes changing even if you are stationary. The altimeter automatically captures the height every 5s for the first two minutes and every 2 mins for the next 24 hours. You can find the altitude difference between two points. You can also record your uphill journey with up to 14 waypoints.
This outdoor watch has a Barometer which captures data every 2 hours. A 10 hour trend of air pressure change is maintained. Sudden dips in pressure are signified on the screen. It displays barometric graphs which helps you predict the weather. The compass needs to be held level to point correctly. It is not tilt-compensated like the GPS watch models. It is more of an estimating tool than an accurate accessory. Use one of the best hiking compass in conjunction with this watch for serious navigation help. The thermometer gives you a fair idea of the ambient temperature. But you need to take it off your wrist and place it somewhere to get the reading. Otherwise your body temp will mess with it.
The Casio Pro Trek Tough Solar hiking watch also features a 6-segment Tide graph and 8-segment Moon Phase data. These help with sea kayaking and fishing. This ABC watch integrates a countdown timer and a full auto-calendar. It can display time in both 12 and 24-hour formats. It has a power-saving mode if you want to shelf it. A battery level indicator keeps you appraised about the battery status.
The Suunto Core hiking watch is one of the most discussed watches. It is a lightweight model that has all the basic functions of an outdoor watch. It takes the regular Altimeter, Barometer and Compass features and adds a number of data interpretation functions that make it hugely popular with the hikers. Its altimeter is perhaps one of the best implemented and utilized amongst other watches in the market. The unbeatable battery life makes the lack of GPS worth it. It has a number of color options. The steep price can be combated by buying it during the sale. Suunto races against time to land on the best hiking watch list one more time.
Design and Time-telling
Suunto Core hiking watch has a very clean design. They have many variants with black or silver bezels. The screen is usually black, white or grey. It is connected to a silicone strap which is soft and comfortable on your wrist. The display is 1.9 inches in diameter but it weighs only 64g. This is much lighter than the other watches covered on the best hiking watch list till now. The bezel is aluminum. The screen is easy on eyes but can be difficult to read in bright glare.
Apart from regular time-telling Suunto Core keeps you aware of the sunrise and sunset times. It also packs a stopwatch, a timer and up to 3 alarms. The stopwatch/timer allows you to see the current time simultaneously. The battery life is up to one year. This bests that of Casio PRW 2500.
The most noteworthy feature of the Suunto Core outdoor watch is its altimeter. This is a highly accurate sensor which can almost banish the need for GPS. The altimeter and the barometer collaborate to bring you intuitive information about height and pressure. The altimeter updates the height change after every one meter climb. Its functionality is based on the air pressure change. Most watches get confused about whether the pressure change is because of weather conditions or because of altitude difference. But the Core realizes if the pressure is changing at a fast pace, it is possibly because of altitude change. If it’s changing slowly, it counts it as barometric pressure change. It shows both altitude and pressure patterns in the form of a graph.
The altitude is also recorded for up to a week. It will calculate your total ascent and descent metrics. In case of skiers it will check the number of laps made on the mountain. It can keep 100 such records. Its weather trend indicator helps you plan your hike. It also sounds a Storm alarm if pressure dip is registered. The compass here is accurate to a point. But it’s not for the hardcore off-path travelers. You can pinpoint locations using the compass. It has a thermometer for -5°F to 140°F. This hiking watch has to be taken off your wrist for the temp measurement. It also has a depth meter for snorkeling.
Suunto Core is a tough hiking watch with a much more concise repertoire than the Ambit3 Peak and Traverse watches. But it has executed its core functionalities well. Its altimetry is second to none. With competitive watches by Casio and Garmin, the expectations are high so we find the Core a little expensive for its use.
Epix hiking watch is where Garmin takes the next step. This is a touchscreen watch meant to counter the Apple watch in everything except style. It provides phenomenal support to many outdoor activities apart from the regular survival sensors. It includes all the major and most of the minor features of Garmin Fenix 3 Sapphire. Additionally it comes preloaded with shaded world relief map and the US or Canada topographical maps with better details. Navigating the screen can be a pain for people with thick fingers. But having all your smartphone functionality on the watch is exciting. Garmin has a masterpiece here for the best hiking watch list.
Design and Time-telling
Garmin Epix hiking watch sports a square dial of 1.4 inches. Garmin keeps the design more utilitarian to accommodate all its fiercely technical features. It is an all black model with black strap. There are 5 buttons surrounding the color touchscreen display. It weighs 85g, which is middle-of-the-road for GPS watches. It has a silicone band with enough holes for good ventilation.
The time-telling features are pretty elaborate just like the Fenix 3. It goes to the extent of supporting MGRS as well. The battery life is pretty good considering the touchscreen and topographical map functions. It lasts around two days with GPS on and 2 weeks without it.
Clearly the show-stealer in the Garmin Epix hiking watch is the topography map. Instead of depending on GPS, you can use the built-in maps here. These will give you trails, nearest highways, waterbodies, parks, forests and waypoints all by themselves. That’s why all other navigational features on this ABC watch take a backseat. Navigation does not require data connection. The screen is big enough to peruse the maps. You can zoom into the map up to 1:1,00,000-scale to locate places and they can literally take you out of any remote area. The Topo US 100k version has a detailed map of the US topographies showing elevation and geographical relief. It also has 8GB internal memory to add more maps.
This hiking watch is equipped with GPS/ GLONASS, altimeter, barometer and compass. Locking in on satellites for GPS/GLONASS is fairly fast. A stainless steel EXO antenna is built-in for both. But we found ourselves using the GPS and altimeter less because of in-built maps. Barometer behaves much the same like that of Fenix 3. You get Storm alerts and rolling graphs with data points of altimeter and barometer. The Epix is also a meticulous activity tracker. It tracks your running and swimming, both pool and openwater. It tracks advance running metrics. When paired with a heart rate monitor via ANT+, it tracks all calorie and heart rate details. Using ANT+ it can act as a remote control for a music player or Garmin VIRB action camera.
Swimming in a pool with this outdoor watch will look at metrics like number of laps, stroke count, stroke type etc. While during the outdoor swimming path is tracked. It also watches ascent/descent and laps during skiing. Biking and climbing are other activities that Epix can catalog. It keeps you on your toes with a Move alert if you have been sitting for too long. It relays data to your phone using the Garmin Connect app. Like Fenix 3, it also supports Connect IQ which can further expand its sensing and measuring capabilities.
At present, the Garmin Epix hiking watch costs the same as the Fenix 3 Sapphire or HR. If you are comfortable navigating through a small screen, we would definitely recommend this watch for the avid hiker. There have been some software glitches in the implementation of this proportion. But Garmin keeps working on improving it. So you can wait for the next model for a better catch.
Casio PAG240T-7CR hiking watch is widely acclaimed as a military watch. Due to all its survival-friendly features, it makes a great hiking watch. This is a lightweight watch with Titanium build instead of steel. It is solar-rechargeable which can be a huge advantage if you are an avid and regular hiker. It features dual layer LCD display which is used to arrange data across the two screens. While it doesn’t look as high-end as Fenix Sapphire, Pathfinder 7CR is sturdy but prone to scratches. With offers on, it is an excellent deal, great enough to be on the best hiking watch list.
Design and Time-telling
The Casio PAG240T-7CR Pathfinder hiking watch is a brawny watch. It is almost 2 inches in diameter. But once on the wrist, it feels lightweight. Resin plastic and titanium form most of the body. The band is entirely titanium. The backplate is the only part made in steel. The underside of the case has soft plastic which provides support at the joint of the dial and the strap. We liked the grey watch with a black bezel. It is water-resistant under up to 100m. It can stand low temperatures as well. The screen needs some improvement. Its low-contrast does not help visibility from different angles and bright light.
This hiking watch shows the time in both 12 and 24 hour formats. The screen shows day of week, year, calendar date and daylight saving status. The battery lasts over 6 months with regular use. This is only middle-of-the-road compared to other watches on the list.
Casio PAG240T-7CR hiking watch is almost an austere watch compared to the Garmin watches. But no-nonsense hikers who only want limited features will rejoice. This ABC watch is solar-rechargeable. That is one of the first reasons we picked it up. It charges indefinitely when you hike out in the sun. It is also equipped with altimeter, barometer and compass. A radial dial rests over the normal dial. This shows the major compass axes. The altimeter is based on barometric pressure change. It measures the elevation every 5 m. It also has an altitude log. You can record up to 40 records of altitude and the date, month and time. The altimeter depends blindly on the barometric readings. It can’t differentiate whether the pressure change is because of elevation or weather conditions. Although the altimeter readings are fairly decent; they may be way off-mark during a storm or rain.
The barometer of the PAG240T-7CR outdoor watch is one of its best features. It measures the pressure and creates a barometric graph. This trend-telling graph is also displayed as a small icon on the time-keeping screen. It keeps you aware of the upcoming storms by showing the sudden dips in pressure. The compass is more of a reference feature that a trustworthy aid here. We would recommend that you use a dedicated compass if you are venturing far off from civilization and the trail.
This hiking watch has a number of small tricks up its sleeve. It features a backlight with afterglow to read the display at night. It can adjust your time to daylight saving time. You can set up to 5 daily alarms on this, where many watches allow only one. It also shows a battery power indicator. If its nearing a full discharge, just hold your hand out to the sun and watch it recharge. It shows world time for 48 cities across 31 timezones. It throws an hourly time signal to remind you how fast the time is passing. It also features a stopwatch and a countdown timer in case you are planning to race your friend downhill.
Altimeter with altitude log
5 daily alarms
Lightweight Titanium construction
Compass use is difficult
Altimeter cannot differentiate between pressure changes from weather or elevation
If all the above outdoor watches seem out of your budget, the Casio SGW300HB hiking watch must be right down your alley. This is a relatively cheap two-sensor watch. It ditches the compass in favor of reducing its price. Many of us will grudgingly agree that it’s a smart move. After all most people depend on GPS handheld or compasses for hiking. This is a robust sports watch with the bare minimum functionalities used for hiking. If you are a light hiker or an avid hiker who travels with a separate compass, this is for you. The low price is an added perk. Since it has Casio’s mark of quality, we had no trouble putting it on the best hiking watch list. And if you want to camp out after a long hike, make sure you have with you your best backpacking tents.
Design and Time-telling
The Casio SGW300HB is a sports watch and it looks the part. It has a 1.96-inch dial case. It is done in black and military green. It connects on both sides to a woven Nylon band. This is also done in green. The whole look is quite cool and sporty. The dial case is made of resin plastic so it’s relatively lightweight. It features a mineral dial window which is resistant to shock. This same kind of dial is used in moderately-priced Suunto Core. The SGW300HB hiking watch is also resistant to water up to 100m. So you can go swimming and snorkeling with this on. But not scuba diving.
The atomic time-telling is done in either 12-hour or 24-hour format. Users do not have to reset the time. The digital display is aided by quartz movement for the correct time. The battery life is decent. And it is also solar-powered, so you won’t be left hanging with a dead watch. You might have to replace the battery every 5 years.
Although almost one-sixth as cheap as the next cheapest watch on the best hiking watch list, the Casio SGW300HB hiking watch is quite the overachiever. It markets as a twin sensor watch because it carries only an altimeter and a barometer, no compass. But it has a thermometer which can be useful during a trek. The altimeter needs to be calibrated regularly. It depends solely on the barometer sensor. It measures elevation based on air pressure every 6m. The accuracy is at par with moderately-priced outdoor watches like Casio PAG240T-7CR. The barometer is a highly useful device in this case. Whenever it senses an undue dip in pressure in the horizon, it will tell you how fast this low pressure area is approaching you. This information of approach is rated in five regions. Region 4 and 5 mean heavy precipitation, so you get time to take cover. This is brilliant way of warning the hiker.
The thermometer of any hiking watch will be affected by body temp when worn. So if you want to check the temperature, you have to lay it on a surface for 20 mins to refresh. Only then will it tell the atmospheric temp. The lack of compass did not strike us a tragedy. Most of the serious hikers carry a dedicated direction-telling device. Watch compasses can be grossly inaccurate some times, even in the expensive outdoor watches. At the price, SGW300HB bangs big for the buck, regardless of the compass.
The other minor features of this hiking watch keep your day organized and help you in a number of small ways. It tells you world time in different timezones, with and without daylight savings. You can set up to 5 alarms on it but they ring only once. It has a stopwatch and a countdown timer.
Barometer shows pressure dip and intensity of upcoming storm
Whether your hike is going to take you to an area with high tree density or you are going deep into the canyons, Garmin Foretrex 401’s high-sensitivity GPS receiver, which is accompanied with HotFix, will never let you get lost. This GPS device is lightweight and slim and thus can be comfortably worn on the wrist, which allows you to keep your hands free and comfortable. Since the GPS receiver is waterproof, this device is ideal not just for hikers and campers, but even for skiers. Barometric altimeter and electronic compass make the device more efficient and can be used by pro-level trekkers and hikers too.
When you are going for a hike, it is quite possible that you can get lost or forget your way back, but if you have Garmin Foretrex 401 you will never have to worry about such a thing. The Trackback feature of Fortrex keeps data of your hike and also displays it on the screen as a dotted trail. The device also allows you to save important locations like the spot where you parked your car or your base camp, etc. in the memory of the device itself. You do not even need to worry about the battery as Garmin Foretrex 401 gives you a long-lasting backup of 17 hours and also has the option for AAA batteries. You can easily carry the small size of AAA batteries with you, just in case you need your device for a longer duration even if there is no facility of charging.
With Garmin Foretrex 401 you get special features like information about hunting and fishing, and even the timings for sunrise and sunset. Another feature that is very helpful in a situation when you are going on a hike for the first time is that you can upload that route to your device from Garmin Connect. On this site, you can also analyze all your hikes and treks.
The device also allows you to add accessories like a heart rate monitor and cadence sensor. With the bike mounting accessory, you can also use this device for a bike road trip.
Lightweight and slim
The watch is waterproof
Great Battery life and also allows you to use AAA batteries
The Wrist Wrap is not so big and will not fit if you have bulky arms
Garmin Epix is one of the best-hiking watches with a touchscreen. The screen is 1.4″ and has a high-resolution display. Whether you are in bright light or a dark area, you will not have to put a strain on your eyes to see what is on the screen. The Garmin Epix also has a huge internal memory of 8 GB because of which you will be able to load different maps. You can even upload City Navigator NT, BirdsEye Satellite Imagery and TOPO U.S. 24k maps on this hiking watch. The watch is not just meant for maps but also allows you to connect your mobile device through Bluetooth so you can get the notification of your emails, messages, etc. and if you want this feature can even be turned off.
Garmin Epix is a multipurpose watch and perfect for active and regular hikers. You can easily access different activities like an indoor workout, running, navigation, swimming, hiking, mountaineering, etc. in this watch. This modern hiking watch will also let you share the data of your hiking, running, mountaineering and various other activities with people having similar interests on social media. You can do all this simply with the Garmin Connect app.
The colored maps with GLONASS make it easy to find different routes and spots. You can even zoom in and out with just a touch on the screen to get a more detailed view and information on the map. The watch has the EXO antenna which will make sure that the signal strength is strong and you can get the accurate information on the maps.
This hiking watch has various features, and one of the best amongst these is that it can work well even under water. The touch feature will not work so well when submerged in water, but you will be able to receive a strong GPS signal. The Connect IQ App allows you to change the faces of the watch, use widgets, and various other applications too. If you are going for a hike with other people, they can trace your location through LiveTrack. For this, they will have to be within a defined coverage area, and you will need to have Garmin Connect on your phone.
Can be used underwater
The compass is very accurate
You might get new software updates for this watch now
If you actively participate in sports and outdoor activities like running, swimming, hiking, etc. then the Suunto Spartan Trainer is the ideal watch for you. With this watch, you can get a battery backup of 10 hours while you use it in training mode. The design of the watch is beautiful and also practical at the same time. The watch’s design will not hinder any of your workouts or outdoor activities. You can track your heart rate, calories, steps you walked, the distance you ran, and much more on this watch and this will help you keep a track on your fitness on a regular basis.
The Suunto Spartan Trainer has 80 different sports modes and thus is perfect for any sports person. You can even use it for sports like swimming. There are specific displays for different activities like running, and also gives you real-time data about your training. You get the data in the form of graphs which makes it easy for you to analyze your everyday growth as a sports person.
The automatic breadcrumb view and strong GPS of the Suunto Spartan Trainer make the navigation on the watch also very strong. This will allow you to go out there and explore various new running trails, routes, etc. without the fear of not being able to find the way back to your home. You can even create your own routes on the Suunto Movescount service or even find new locations for training that are discovered by other users.
Suunto Spartan Trainer is designed for active sports people and is very simple to operate. This watch can help you stay fit as it collects the data of your heartbeat, calories, etc. The watch can also figure out your sleeping hours. For this, you will just have to wear the watch while you are sleeping. The Suunto Spartan Trainer also has a feature which gives you a proper summary of your activities, calories and heart rate of the entire week or month.
Accurate sensor for measuring heartbeat
Strong and durable hardware
Strong battery life
Simple operating system and easy to use while on the run
The button functioning is not so fast and gives a lag sometimes
If you are looking for a watch for outdoor activities, with a reasonable price tag and different styles, then Lad weather is the one you can opt for. It includes features like a digital compass, an altimeter, barometer, weather predictions, the temperature of the location, chronograph, alarm, stopwatch, and EL backlight system. The watch can accurately predict changes in weather conditions and also gives an update on the changes in weather and thus can be a useful tool if you are planning a cycling trip, camping, or even going out for a normal jog. The digital compass is also quite accurate and dynamic and thus can be used to find the way when you are lost during a hike or trek.
The altimeter in the Lad Weather can help you determine your altitude while you are climbing a mountain and thus give you proper stats about your current location. This is helpful in conditions when you have a doubt that you are not on the right trail. The watch also stores data about your activity over the past 34 hours. The watch helps you plan your route and whether you should go ahead or not. This is possible because of the accurate barometer which keeps you updated about the changing weather conditions.
The product is available in 7 different colors for a different style statement. The watch has german sensors which make sure that you get accurate data. You can easily figure the altitude you are at, what is the temperature there, and with weather predictions, you can decide if it is safe to go ahead or not. The chronograph in the watch also allows you to use this exercise to keep a check on your workout routine. For example, you can measure your lap durations and compare the improvement you have made. The watch also features daily alarm and is good enough to wake you up for all your planned outdoor activities. If you are traveling from one country to another, you can also use the dual time feature with just a click on the watch.
Different colors are available, and the watch is stylish
The strap of the watch is comfortable on the wrist
The temperature is not so accurate and keeps changing dramatically
If you have a Suunto Core hiking watch, you will not have to worry about keeping track of weather, sunrise, and sunset while you are on a trek. It will also warn you about extreme weather conditions like a storm, rains, etc. Along with features like a built-in altimeter, compass, depth meter, and barometer it is also sturdy and stylish too. The watch works underwater too and while diving, it gives you information about the depth you have reached.
The display is good and will not give you problems even when you are underwater. Since this watch has a strong built and has essential features like a compass, altimeter, barometer, etc. it is a must-have for all people who love to take adventure trips. With Suunto Core, you can rely on the accuracy of the tools like a compass, barometer, altimeter, etc. and be sure about your safety and successful trip.
While you are climbing a mountain, the altimeter will be able to give you accurate stats of the height you have reached. If you are taking a hike into the wilderness, you can always be hit by bad weather, but the barometer in Suunto Core keeps you updated about such bad weather conditions so you can easily take precautions and be safe. The compass of the watch is accurate and can be a great tool in terms of navigation.
The strap of the watch is very soft and feels comfortable on the wrist. The watch uses CR2032 batteries which is a great thing as the user will have no problems in replacing them.
The watch has a menu in different languages like English, Spanish, and French which makes it perfect for different users. The watch is preloaded with information on sunrise and sunset for about 400 different locations. This feature helps you to determine the right time to stop and set up your camp. You also get other features like current time, dual time, alarms, date, timer, and sports chronograph with the Suunto Core. The watch also has a depth meter which is a very useful tool while you are snorkeling.
Easily Replaceable batteries
Accurate compass, barometer, and altimeter
Alarms for storms and bad weather conditions
The watch does not have the feature of auto brightness
The temperature can vary according to the temperature of the wearer