If you are an avid hiker then you need the best hiking watch. A good hiking watch will provide you important information such as location, air pressure, altitude, and sunrise/sunset times so you can plan your hike efficiently.
Other very important features are the altimeter, barometer, and compass. An altimeter shows you how high above sea level you are which makes it easier to find your precise location on a map. A barometer allows you to predict the weather by showing you changes in atmospheric pressure. When the atmospheric pressure is falling that means the weather will worsen, while if the atmospheric pressure increases then the weather will improve.
The compass shows you the four cardinal directions which are important for you to navigate your route. Another great quality a watch should offer its user is durability. Most watches have robust cases which allow for extra protection, especially on a long trip or hike. There are also many different materials used for watches that can provide extra protection, such as sapphire glass lenses, which are resistant to any scratches or wear and tear.
For hikers who want to make their hiking experience even better, make sure to pick the best hiking watch for you. Below is a list of the top-rated watches on the market.
Top 13 Best Hiking Watch List
1. Garmin Instinct
The Garmin Instinct has many features and is a great choice for your hiking adventures. It has three navigation systems which are GPS, GLONASS, and Galileo, so you can enjoy your hike without the fear of getting lost. These features allow the watch to direct you back to your starting point if at any time you have wandered off route.
It also has the ability to let you plan your own route through the Garmin website and connect it to your watch. The Garmin Instinct is also water-resistant up to 100 meters, has a 3-axis compass, and a barometric altimeter. The battery of this watch is also another upside, offering 16 hours of charge in GPS mode, 14 days of charge in smartwatch mode, and 40 hours of charge in battery saver mode.
Sample customer review… It is a brilliant watch for the price. I’ve had an Apple Watch, Fitbit Charge, Blaze, Versa, and a couple of earlier models I forget the name of. This beats them all thanks to how it is built. I’m not scared it’ll break or the screen will shatter if banged against something, dropped, or submerged in water. The 24/7 heart monitoring is what I need on my watch face at all times and this does it brilliantly and it can also be easily paired with chest straps.
It took me a couple of days to set everything up and get it how I want it to function. The button control will take getting used to if you are coming from touchscreens but it is worth it. The amount of activities this thing can track is insane. The battery life is outstanding. With it vibrating for every alert from my phone and me constantly messing around with it and tracking workouts, it can easily pass a full week before needing to be recharged which I love.
I’m more of the type that records gym workouts/runs and everyday activities than the outdoors person that goes hiking and requires a compass and other sensors the watch provides but the style appealed to me more than the other Garmin models and it didn’t disappoint in terms of performance.
The only thing I’ve still to figure out is the sleep tracking as it doesn’t really seem to be accurate for the time I am awake during the night. The Garmin connect app for your phone is also brilliant if you’re a geek that wants detailed stats and information about your day/workouts.Read more reviews at Amazon.com
2. Garmin Fenix 6
The Garmin Fenix 6 is a smartwatch that is designed with many sports, including hiking, in mind. It is designed to withstand harsh outdoor activities and conditions. The bezel of the watch is made with stainless steel, titanium, or DLC steel, and the lens is made from sapphire glass which allows for the watch to be durable and resistant to abrasion.
The Garmin Fenix 6 also features a 3-axis compass, barometer, thermometer, and altimeter which is calibrated automatically through GPS. It is important to note that you need to connect it to an external temperature sensor, like the Garmin Tempe, for a more accurate temperature reading. The GPS in the watch allows your watch to automatically set the time based on where you are and offers tracking and navigation tools.
The hiking watch can connect to your smartphone through the Garmin Connect mobile app which is available for both iOS and Android devices. This allows you to not only use your watch for your outdoor/sporting activities but also to receive texts, emails, alerts, and other important notifications throughout your day.
A useful bonus feature is that the watch has a Bluetooth connection to pair with your Garmin Virb action camera, granting you the ability to control the camera directly from the watch. The Garmin Fenix 6 watch comes in two different models, Base and PRO, along with the three different sizes such as 42 mm/1.7 in, 47 mm/1.9 in, and 51 mm/2.0 in.
You are also able to personalize your watch with apps such as the weather forecast and whatever you think would be useful to you to have in the palm of your hand. The watch is available in three different sizes and comes in two models. There is a PRO model that allows for Wi-Fi, music, and maps to be connected to your watch.
This watch is not only great for the outdoors but stylish enough for you to wear on an everyday basis. Aside from all the features mentioned above, the watch can connect with your phone in order to pay wirelessly through the Garmin Pay feature.
The only downside to this watch would have to be its price and short battery life, but if you are looking to invest in a good watch that will last you a long time then this watch is worth the money!
Sample customer review…This is a really great workout tracker. It gives you far more information and data on your workouts than anything else out there. Battery will go a long time between charges depending on how much GPS time you use. I’m primarily a swimmer, working out 3 or 4 days a week and downhill skiing on other days. It tracks them both very well. I’m also doing indoor cycling with my bike on a stand for the winter.
I put a Garmin speed sensor on the hub and the watch reads that without any issues. I’ll be hiking and using the maps in the spring. I like the Body Battery feature. I was skeptical at first but it really seems to work. The sleep tracking is so-so. It’s really not an important feature to me. I know when I have a bad night sleep. This watch thinks I’m sleeping sometimes when I’m watching TV in the evening.
This isn’t my first fitness watch. I’ve owned a couple of older model Garmin’s and also an Apple Watch. This is far superior if you’re serious about tracking your workouts and improving.Read more reviews at Amazon.com
3. Garmin Fenix 5X
The Garmin Fenix 5X has every feature a hiker could ever want and more. It has the basic necessities like navigation systems (GPS, GALILEO, and GLONASS), an altimeter, a barometer, and a compass. On top of that, the watch includes Bluetooth capability, a heart rate monitor, a gyroscope, and a pulse oximeter.
Pushing the Garmin Fenix even higher than other watches are its topographical maps that appear in full color and display surrounding natural features. The LED backlight helps this watch be readable in any type of weather. With the ability to resist water up to 100m, this watch is built to withstand harsh conditions while keeping you on track as you hike and camp.
While the Garmin Fenix 5x is loaded with useful tools and abilities, it leans more on the pricier side. However, for the quality and breadth of use, this watch is a great investment for avid adventurers if you plan to use all of its available features.
I got this watch on Prime Day for 50% off. It’s an amazing purchase. The fact that the GPS works anywhere in the world is unparalleled, from the US to the ROK-DPRK DMZ. Battery life is amazing. However, activity tracking drains it, so I turned it off – I don’t find the steps or stairs climbed or heart rate particularly useful to me. I charged the watch to 90% about 11 days ago and it’s still at 23% with daily or near-constant use of timer, stopwatch, notifications, activity tracking on runs, etc.
If you wish to go for the Fenix 6 series, by all means, do, as the 6X Solar looks particularly amazing. However, I find the 5X goes above and beyond in its abilities. Once, I got lost in South Korea and I had to find my way back home (30-minute walk). I used the GPS, and luckily I had done a workout where I was staying. Therefore on the map, my home showed up as a ‘significant’ location, and I was able to find the directions to get home.
CONS: Sometimes the directions for the routes are a little confusing. I have trouble sometimes figuring out where the GPS is telling me to go but I find that zooming in/out appropriately fixes this. I rarely take it off, it’s waterproof, the Sapphire glass has yet to get any scratches, I have one small scratch on the metal casing from regular use, it doesn’t bother me.Read more reviews at Amazon.com.
4. Casio Pro Trek PRW-2500T
The Casio Pro Trek PRW-2500T has many features such as a compass, barometer, thermometer, and altimeter. The battery of this watch is a definite plus, with a solar-rechargeable battery that lasts up to five months. The watch also shows pressure changes and has extra features such as a stopwatch, countdown, and calendar alerts.
The time on the hiking watch is maintained by calibration radio signals that are received 6 times per day. The barometer shows a trend graph so you can predict the trend of the weather. This barometer feature can come in handy during long hikes.
The only downside to this watch is that it does not have a GPS, so it is a little withdrawn from technology. But if you are looking for a standard watch without the frills then this is definitely a good option for you. The Casio Pro Trek PRW-2500T comes with a titanium band and is water-resistant up to 200 meters.
Sample customer review…I use this watch for hiking. It’s well built (stainless steel case and titanium band) and has a good weight to it. The display is very clear in direct sunlight and when it’s dark. It goes into power save mode when it’s not in the presence of sun for X number of days in a row (I left it in my closet for a week). The compass, barometer, and altimeter all work as expected for a watch – it’s a guide but don’t bet your life on it. Always use an analog compass.
The default watch face displays the current barometric pressure so you can see if it’s going down (a storm is coming). The thermometer works well but you have to take off your watch and give it a few minutes or it will display your body’s temperature (unless that’s what you want). This is a great watch.Read more reviews at Amazon.com
5. Casio Pathfinder
The Casio Pathfinder is one of many watches that does not come with a GPS but has many other features that make it an excellent watch. Usually, watches without GPS offer you similar features as other watches at a lower price with longer battery life. The watch has a solar-rechargeable battery that would give you up to six months of battery life if not exposed to the sun.
The Casio Pathfinder includes a barometer, thermometer, altimeter, and digital compass. It is also a great watch if you go into different temperatures as it was designed to work really well at temperatures as low as 14 degrees Fahrenheit. Added features of this watch include the calendar, alarms, world time, stopwatch, and backlight.
Sample customer review…I bought this product for ranger school 5 years ago and I am still using this watch. I have used this watch in the desert, extreme cold, high mountains and have banged the product really hard on all kinds of surfaces and the watch is functioning like it did when I first bought it. The compass feature is very handy and provides awareness on the general direction of travel, although I never used it to truly navigate from one location to another by using magnetic azimuth on the device.
Barometric pressure is measured in HPA and is close to accurate, but I always check if the watch barometric pressure is similar to what the weather app states and adjust as necessary to be sure information is accurate every time I travel to a different location. Overall, I am extremely satisfied with this watch and would buy it again without hesitation if I needed another, but I don’t think I will because the one I bought is still going strong!Read more reviews at Amazon.com
6. Timex Expedition Grid Shock Watch
The Timex Expedition Grid Shock Watch is a great choice if you are looking for a durable watch that can withstand different terrains. It is made with scratch-resistant mineral glass, is water-resistant up to 100 meters, and has a battery that lasts up to 10 years.
It has many features such as occasion reminders, a hydration mode that will send you reminders throughout your workout to drink some water, and vibrating and audible alarms. The Timex Expedition Grid Shock Watch is also shock-resistant due to its resin case that comes with a stainless steel top ring. If you are looking for a watch that will last you years, then this is the watch for you!
Sample customer review…I’ve been wearing this for about a week straight since I purchased, and so far I love it. It has quickly become one of my favorites for a few reasons. First off, I love the size of the display. With my aging eyes, I can quickly glance at the watch and clearly read the time and date with no problem. The night time visibility of the screen is also excellent. This is something that has been a struggle with come of my Casios lately. So, if you’re looking for a watch that’s easy to read…this is a great choice.
From a fit stand point, I have a smaller wrist and despite the large size, it doesn’t feel too big. It sits on my wrist well, and doesn’t move around. Part of the reason may be the shape. I think the other reason (for me) is probably under appreciated. There’s a little bump built into the underside of the band keeper which locks in to the holes in the band. It stays where you put it all day, without fail. Cosmetically, I really like it as well.
I wasn’t sure when I ordered it, but it won me over. Strangers have been regularly commenting on it as well. I’m not sure of the durability yet, but I’ll surely put it through it’s paces. Only time will tell (no pun intended). I would recommend based on my experience thus far.Read more reviews at Amazon.com
7. Casio SGW Hiking Watch
The Casio SGW-1000-1ACR is affordable and simple to use. It has a triple sensor that lives up to its name for rugged and dependable watches. The hiking watch is equipped with an altimeter, barometer, compass, and temperature sensor. The temperature sensor allows you to take the temperature of the area of the environment around you.
The watch has a water resistance of 100m which makes it highly durable underwater. It features an automatic calendar to keep track of your dates and provides daily alarms to ensure you wake up early for your next hike.
One downside about the Casio SGW is the triple sensor design – it needs to calibrate sensors often to maintain temperature accuracy. It can take some effort to master the watch, but once you do, the calibration process will be quicker and easier to use.
Sample customer review… This is a well made, inexpensive, tactical, hiking, and all round good watch. Lightweight, not too bulky, easy to read. Wanna buy a GPS? I get that, who doesn’t want the latest technology on their wrist? But this watch tells time, tells you direction and shifts in the weather as well as altitude. More than this you will need to double what you’ve paid for and for what? step count? heart rate? Again, i get it, those are important but this one is waterproof, durable, impact resistant, and fits well, weighs almost nothing and is a Casio.
I’m a commercial diver i wear a $44 Casio stainless dive watch that takes a beating. For THAT price i can afford a new one every time I destroy the one i’m wearing. (it happens diver’s go through watches like old socks) I’ve got NO regrets with this outdoor trail guide, ‘accessory.’ It’s accurate, helpful, easy to use and wear.Read more reviews at Amazon.com
8. Suunto Core Outdoor Watch
The Suunto Core Outdoor Watch is a great watch for any hike. It has features such as a compass, barometer, and altimeter. It will help you track your performance, see the weather, and track your direction. The watch has a battery life of one year, is water-resistant up to 30 meters, and can read depth up to 10 meters. It is a great watch to have on any hike, especially since it gives you weather alerts when bad weather is expected or fast approaching.
Sample customer review… Great field watch but nice enough for dress up. Holds its luminescence well, and is very precise time piece. It’s a much better watch than one would be led to believe by the low price. Seems very sturdy, and it easily handled getting wet with dish and hand washing in a deep sink. I’ve kind of beat it up a bit but no problems have come up at all.
I spent 20 years in the military and I would have loved to use this watch as my everyday watch and especially my field watch, but it wasn’t available back then. Would recommend it to military and outdoors users. It’s big enough to fit my big wrist, but isn’t so big that an outdoorsy/military woman would find it too large. It’s a great watch!Read more reviews at Amazon.com
9. Suunto Ambit 3
If you are looking for a watch that provides great durability and functionality then this is the best hiking watch for you!
The Suunto Ambit 3 watch provides a GPS, compass, thermometer, barometer, and altimeter. It has a high-performance GPS antenna which provides the user great reception wherever they go. You have the option of connecting your watch to the Movescount app to show you data such as speed, elevation gain, and distance to keep track of your progress.
If you’re not keen on technology or this is your first smartwatch, Suunto Ambit comes with a user-friendly interface to guide users on how to use the watch. As a granted bonus, you can also create your own apps for the watch which adds more flexibility.
The Suunto Ambit 3 watch is Bluetooth compatible which allows you to connect to your Smartphone. This feature allows you to see incoming and missed calls, messages, and other important notifications from your phone once you connect to the Movescount app.
The watch comes in four different versions: the Suunto Ambit 3 Peak, the Ambit 3 Sport, the Ambit 3 Vertical, and the Ambit 3 Run. The information above is specifically for the Suunto Ambit 3 Peak which is geared towards hikers.
Sample customer review… I’ve enjoyed the watch for the past week and have been impressed with the watch’s utility. I’ve used it for running and cycling thus far. The fact that the watch links up to movescount.com and their app makes it easy to keep track of and plan workouts. It’s extremely comfortable and not nearly as bulky as I assumed it would be. I wear it daily whether or not I’m working out.
The watch displays your speed, altitude, location, and temperature among other stats. The only thing it doesn’t display is heart rate, unless you purchase the separate heart rate monitor. What I like about the watch is that you can download trail maps and other routes (cycling, running, mountain biking, etc.) straight to your watch from movescount.com, so that you can navigate in remote areas when without cell service.
I plan to use it for hiking and trekking. UPDATE: Almost a year later, I’ve continued to use this watch on a daily basis. It functions flawlessly. Still would highly recommend.Read more reviews at Amazon.com
10. Suunto Traverse
The Suunto Traverse watch is geared towards more recreational outdoorsmen, so it is very elegant compared to other watches from this brand. It does have some great features such as vibration alerts, flashlight backlight, step counter, and GLONASS navigation. These are all added features to the usual features the Sunnto watches come equipped with which are a barometer, altimeter, thermometer, and compass.
Just like other Suunto watches, you are able to connect to the Movescount app in order to show your workouts and plan your routes. The Suunto Traverse also allows you to connect to your Smartphone in order to receive notifications as well as manage settings and data right from your watch. The Suunto Traverse watch is available in both silicone or textile straps as well as either a sapphire glass lens or mineral crystal lens.
Sample customer review… This watch has been one great beast. I was considering the Traverse Alpha but decided I didn’t want to spend the extra bucks on features I wouldn’t use. Plus, i am not a fan of the nylon bands that the Traverse Alpha comes with; they get stinky when you sweat (so does the silicon, but you can use an alcohol wipe…can’t do that for nylon). Anyhow, all the features work great. Like most watches, the Altimeter needs a reference and/or some fiddling with.
The compass is spot on once calibrated, just make sure to set your proper declination for your area. The GPS functionality worked better than expected especially with Movescount app. The app is lacking in some features I would like to see but does the job. This is my first Suunto and I am glad I made the plunge. This is a great watch with a lot of features and a battery that will last 6-15 days depending on the settings. Remember, if your battery is depleting quickly, its probably a setting.
Make sure to set your GPS accuracy to “good” to retain decent battery life. All in all a great, yet comfortable watch that does not feel heavy on the wrist. Take the plunge…you wont be dissatisfied.Read more reviews at Amazon.com
11. Polar Grit X
The Polar Grit X is great for training and tracking your own endurance throughout your hike or adventure. It includes planning options for food and sleep, so you can make sure you are keeping your energy up for a multi-day excursion. You can even program it with a unique sport profile to track the progress you make during your specific activity, like hiking, running, or swimming.
With a battery life that lasts up to 40 hours while using GPS tech and up to 100 hours in power-saving mode, it’s built to withstand a longer adventure. The military-grade dependability of the Polar Grit X allows it to endure any circumstance while still maintaining a sleek, light composition.
While the watch includes navigation capability, it operates through the separate app Komoot, meaning the watch does not allow for maps to work while offline.
Sample Customer Review…As a competitive Crossfit athlete and mountain climber, I’m looking for the best gear that will give me an edge in both. The Polar Grit X, so far, is proving to fit the bill. Aesthetically it’s a great piece. I’ve taken to wearing it all the time, and the battery life is great. Once a week charge and I’m good to go. One of the challenges I face with my two preferred sports is that Crossfit is very glycolytic (carb) intensive, and peak bagging is much more oxidative.
Balancing these two nutrition demands for different training days and events is hard. I’ve been playing with the Fuelwise feature on the watch and it’s really insightful. With the current state of the world, I haven’t been able to put the Hillsplitter feature to the test yet, but I’m looking forward to tracking performance on hill repeats as well as long climbs.
It has all the features of my Polar Vantage that have been great for my training…with the added outdoor features as well. And it’s a Polar, so the HR monitoring is the best I’ve found. I’m looking forward to this year’s training and results and the additional insights gleaned from my new Polar Grit X.Read more reviews at Amazon.com.
12. Suunto 9 Baro
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The Suunto 9 Baro watch comes with a stainless-steel bezel and a color touch screen. It has sapphire glass which prevents abrasion. Its features include a GPS, barometer, compass, thermometer, and altimeter. It also has buttons on the side of the watch so if you do happen to be wearing gloves you can easily still access your information.
The watch includes a Heatmap feature in which you can see popular routes near you and you are able to plan your trips accordingly. You are also able to import your own routes you wish to take so you can plan your route to your convenience.
Through the Movescount app, you are able to keep track of your workouts and how many calories you’ve burned. The Suunto 9 Baro also tracks the distance you have traveled, shows your current speed, and if you do happen to get lost can find a route back to your starting point.
Another feature that this watch provides the user is Bluetooth connectivity so you are able to connect to your smartphone and receive notifications right to your watch!
Sample customer review…At first I was afraid the watch would be too big for everyday life, but nope its slimmer than my previous Ambit 3 and I can wear it with suit, shirt and tie. The glass is sapphire and the bezel seem tougher than the Ambit 3 as I haven’t got any mark on it. The color screen is easier to read than the black and white of the Ambit 3 and follow a route you’ve sent to the watch is clearly easier.
The app might have some improvement to be able to define a segment post run in order to analyze it. To be able to run against your best time in a route would be also interesting. Nonetheless it’s a great improvement against the Ambit 3 and its a pleasure to wear it all day (phone in silence, calls and notifications through vibration of the watch -> no interruptions of your meetings, one charge by week -the watch will remember it to you-)Read more reviews at Amazon.com
13. Casio G-Shock Mudmaster
The Casio G-Shock Mudmaster is a simple watch that comes with the basics. It has a compass and thermometer with added features which include alarms, backlight, calendar, stopwatch, and world times just to name a few. It is meant for those who are looking for a durable watch for the outdoors. It is designed to withstand abrasions, being made to be bullet-proof so that it can be literally dragged through the dirt if you so desire.
Sample customer review… I used this watch as my go to timepiece while guiding a backpacking trip in Medicine Bow National Forest in Wyoming. The watch is bulky, but definitely burly and built to handle some abuse. Even with the size, though, it fits well on my wrist. I really appreciate how easy the Lume is while reading the watch at night in a tent. After spending a day in the sun, I would not even need to light up the watch to see the hands early in the morning during an alpine start.
The compass is a nice feature to have for quick reference, but I would not substitute the feature for a proper compass with a sliding bezel. I do wish the altimeter feature was available at this price point, but I guess that’s what you pay for for the next tier. I never really used the temp sensor. I foresee using this watch for a long time on other adventures hiking, skiing, paddling and other outdoor work. Cheers!Read more reviews at Amazon.com
Buying Guide: Things to Consider When Purchasing a Hiking Watch
It may not be top on your priority list, but every hiker needs a reliable time keeping device. It’s important to know how much sunlight you have left for your hike before it gets dark, as well as time before sunrise.
Anyone who spends a significant amount of time hiking knows that mother nature will take an occasional beating on your body. Your hiking watch should be waterproof and have the ability to withstand the elements of the earth like dirt and general abuse of the trail.
Your watch should have the ability to accompany you throughout all of your adventures. There are watches that have a battery life that can last an entire year, some that need to be recharged every night, and watches that are solar-powered. It’s important to consider that the more frequently you use the features on your watch, like the GPS, the faster your battery will die. If your watch has a battery life that needs to be regularly charged, it’s advised to bring along a portable charger to ensure that your watch lasts the entire duration of your hike.
It doesn’t matter how awesome your watch looks if it doesn’t fit right and isn’t comfortable. Typically, GPS watches are heavier than normal watches or fitness trackers and can take some time getting used to. Their watch bands are usually large, which is something to consider based off of your personal wrist size. Numerous women and smaller-bodied humans have complained that GPS watches look bulky and feel heavy on their wrists.
A compass, along with a map, is one of the most essential navigation tools used for hiking. Almost all hiking watches will include a compass. It’s not necessarily as useful as a map, but it’s helpful when needing to determine a general sense of direction. If the compass is a really important feature for you, make sure you consider whether you prefer a 2D or 3D compass.
Having an altimeter is critical for hiking navigation. This tool helps track your current altitude on a hike. Being knowledgable on your elevation allows you to locate your position on a map among other things. Generally, most hiking watches will include this feature. It is important to calibrate the watch a few times a day to account for changes in the weather. We suggest you verify the elevation using your map or a landmark and then manually calibrate as necessary.
The barometer is critical for the altimeter. It’s known for its ability to measure air pressure as well as forecasting changes in the weather. Some watches, that include a barometer, contain a feature often called a “storm alert”. The alert’s alarm is triggered when there are raindrops in the barometric pressure. This feature is incredibly helpful when hiking in areas known for afternoon thunderstorms.
Before setting out to buy the best hiking watch make sure you know what features are most important for you on your specific adventure. Look into all the different features the watch offers you and make the best decision both for your trip and economically.
There are many options for watches and they all range in prices based on the things they offer. Some watches come with and without GPS since not everyone needs the extra features and can do just fine without the digital mapping.
Another important feature that should be weighed in your decision is the battery life of the watch. You need to know what you are using your watch for since you want a watch with a battery life that will align with your goals. There are many solar-powered watches available. There are also watches with a battery life up to a year and then watches that need to be charged every evening.
Make sure to weigh all your options since having the best hiking watch will only improve your adventure, so choose wisely. Happy hiking and cheers to future adventures with your brand new hiking watch.
Written by Paola Valdez, Lauren Alexander, and Sarah Foster