9 Best Outdoor Watches for Hiking with GPS in 2020 – Buyer’s Guide

best outdoor watches for hiking

If you are looking for a watch which adds a flair to your desire for hiking, or one which can actually assist you throughout your journey, or for a compact, easy to carry gadget for all your hiking needs, look no further.

Here we have shortlisted 9 of the best hiking watches for your ease. Stylish, latest and the best for your journey, these are the top 9 hiking watches, made to fit your varying needs:

Best Outdoor Watches for Hiking

Item Water ResistanceBluetoothWeight
(lbs)
Price
Garmin epix30 mYes0.18 Check Price
Suunto Ambit3
(Editor's Choice)
100 mYes0.8 Check Price
Casio PRW-3000-1ACR100 mNo0.4 Check Price
Garmin Fenix 3 HR
100 mYes0.18 Check Price
Suunto Traverse Graphite
100 mYes0.44 Check Price
Freestyle Digital Display
100 mNo0.06 Check Price
Casio Analog-Digital
(Editor's Choice)
100 mNo1.0 Check Price
Casio 'Smartwatch'50 mYes0.21 Check Price
Garmin Tactix Bravo
100 mYes0.2 Check Price

1. Garmin Epix GPS watchGarmin Epix GPS watch

On your hiking trip, you need to have a reliable device to give you the right coordinates. The Garmin Epix includes a route tracker and comes with a beautiful colorful display.

With a built-in memory of 8 GB to incorporate the various maps you need, it comes equipped with a barometer, a great three axis compass and an altimeter.

Waterproof for up to 50 meters, and with a long lasting battery life, this watch is the need of the hour.

You can stay connected on the go through the Garmin connect and receive all your messages, emails and other alerts directly on it.

This solid beast, amongst other features, also gives you a great heart rate, height measures and can be used as a fitness watch.

2. Suunto Ambit 3 PeakSuunto Ambit 3 Peak

Another great hiking buddy is the Suunto Ambit 3 Peak.

Equipped with a heart rate monitor, its a multisport GPS watch designed to monitor and track all your sports progress.

This robust yet lightweight watch, provides a good estimate of time and distance, attitude measures, temperature, barometer and heart and respiratory rates.

This sleek and tact gizmo is equipped with a really easy to understand GPS, a digital compass, an alarm for storm alerts and a rate belt to monitor the calories burnt.

Easily connects to your smartphone via Bluetooth and enables you to stay connected and receive all notifications on your wrist.

The best part, 100-hour battery life and water resistance for up to 100 meters.

3. Casio Pro Trek PRW 3000 1ACasio Pro Trek PRW 3000 1A

Now if you have a limited budget, yet you want the finest quality with the best features, this is the watch to go for.

Equipped with 5 alarms including a storm alarm, a solar power supplement, an altimeter, barometer, a compass and thermometer, this watch comes with an amazing battery life that lasts up to 7 months!

Also, it includes the feature for solar charging which enables you to extend the battery life by letting it charge on the go. Now you will never run on a low or dead battery!

Very easy to use, the design includes a soft urethane band, just made to fit your wrist.

Other amazing features include an illuminating feature when the watch is looked at, a stopwatch, countdown timer, and 100-meter water resistance.

4. Garmin Fenix 3 HRGarmin Fenix 3 HR

Another great Garmin manufacture, this classic, dark beauty surpasses the performances of all hiking watches in its category.

Easy to navigate, armed with a fitness tracker, this watch is totally compatible with the heart rate strap and yields the most precise results.

Very easy to map and comes with no annoying menus; you can easily track your calories and heart rates.

Data transfer is equally easy, through blue tooth or USB cable and its GPS is far more accurate than all the others in its category.

The battery life can be extended to over a week and it can resist water up to 100 meters.

So, if you want a stylish yet rugged look, are a large wristed person, and need good value for money, this watch is designed just for you!

5. Sunnto TraverseSunnto Traverse

A great match for all the athletes and zealous hikers. This stylish watch comes with a calorie counter and step counter; also includes 5 sports modes for recording and keeping track of all your workout data, and a very fast and accurate GPS.

Amongst other features, it includes the basic barometer, altimeter, compass and weather, vibration alerts and pressure drop warning systems.

With a strongly built exterior, it has an amazing ability to automatically shift between the barometer and altimeter based on sensing the external conditions.

It can be connected to other devices through a Bluetooth adapter and the battery lasts for about 100 hours.

6. Freestyle SharkFreestyle Shark

As the name suggests, basically built to bear the ocean’s wrath, this is an ideal watch if you prefer to walk the rough terrain.

Water-resistant for up to 100 meters, it is built with a scratch-proof exterior to beat the intense environmental conditions.

Includes a chronograph, night light, two alarms, hydro-pushers for underwater terrains, a heat timer, compass and an altimeter.

Superb in quality and long-lasting, the Freestyle Shark is ideal for everyday use and simply easy to program and understand.

Light on the wrist and with a waterproof nylon strap, it’s very comfortable to be worn anywhere, wherever you go.

7. Casio Protrek PRW-6000YCasio Protrek PRW-6000Y

Now if you want a lightweight watch, yet beautiful and strong, here’s your deal.

The Casio Protrek 6000Y comes with a beautiful and colorful display, a dial to perform various functions and sensors for barometer, compass, temperature and altimeter.

Not only is it amazing to look at, but includes features such as a double LED light to counter dim lighting conditions, a count-down timer, stopwatch, 5 daily alarms, a battery life indicator, and a power saving option.

It also enables the wearer to connect with the world by showing time zones of 29 different cities.

Easily rechargeable on the go through a solar panel and includes a backlight which serves as a torch.

8. Casio Smart Outdoor WatchCasio Smart Outdoor Watch

Built to face the roughest conditions such as those faced by the military people, this one comes with a very responsive and fast design.

Very light weight and comfortable on the wrist, it includes sensors for notifications of height measures, low or high pressure, and directions by using the compass.

Also, measures the distance and speed, and the battery lasts for up to 20 hours with the screen turned on throughout.

Also includes a dual layer shift, for color and monochrome options to help conserve battery life.

Charges quickly with the sleek, stylish magnetic charger and include various sensors for gyroscope, altimeter, magnetic compass and accelerometer.

9. Garmin Tactix BravoGarmin Tactix Bravo

Basically, a military training watch, although it looks like a stylish, every day, aesthetically designed gadget. Includes the basic altimeter, three axial compasses, barometer, heart rate monitor, GPS and is also Wi-Fi enabled.

Amongst other unique elements, it includes the sunlight display mode, a night vision, a green backlight for furtive use, 50-hour battery life, and the fitness and sleep tracker.

Designed aesthetically in a black, non-reflective stylish body, this cool navigator comes with a scratch-proof lens and bezel.

It goes with any attire and connects easily with your smartphone via Bluetooth and displays all notifications on the screen.

Basic Buying Guide for Hiking Watches

Hiking watches are becoming an increasing necessity. With all the rapid technological advancements in the industry, who wouldn’t want the ease of a GPS, a compass, altimeter (especially if you are into mountaineering or hiking uphill) and such amazing features, within your wrists reach?

Here we will discuss the basic key elements a good hiking watch must possess in order to become the ultimate partner in all your trekking adventures:

01  Durability

Hiking is not a sport for the faint-hearted, so a hiking watch must be built strong, tough and ready to meet the extreme conditions. As in the above list, these watches come equipped with various features to combat the impacts of the environmental and other harsh conditions they may encounter.

This include:

  • Water resistance
  • Heat resistance
  • Scratch proof
  • Shock resistant, etc.

All these factors contribute towards the durability of the watch. The best watch should ideally include all the above factors, however, that may increase its overall cost. If you want a lower cost, you may skip a few of these elements, which you do not require.

02 Features

The main distinguishing thing about these hiking watches is their features which the normal watches do not have. The most essential features of a good hiking watch are as follows:

  • Barometer
  • Altimeter
  • GPS
  • Compass
  • Battery life

Barometer

A barometer is a great element to have in your hiking watch. It provides all the key information to predict and gauges the changes in the weather. Especially when hiking up the hills or mountains, where storms can actually be fatal, a good barometer helps you perceive any changes in environmental pressure.

Precision is the key here. Nowadays manufacturers are ensuring more accuracy in these features. With the well-informed markets, they are on the edge to providing the best of the lot to the buyers.

best outdoor watches

Watches like Garmin have very sensitive barometers, very useful and dependable for all the hikers.

Altimeter

A very helpful feature when you need to check your elevation level. It can also be a fun feature to play with, no matter where you are you can see exactly where you stand above sea level.

A great hiking watch has built-in sensors to measure the changes in altitude and yield the most accurate results. Basically, an altimeter works in collaboration with the barometer and the GPS; it measures any changes in the environmental pressure and as you go further away from the sea level, it drops.

Very essential tool for the uneven terrain such as the mountainous regions which involve ascending or descending. However the key point to bear in mind, when deciding on your watch, is the accuracy of the altimeter.

GPS

Yes, GPS! The ultimate solution to all your tracking and navigation needs!

I feel this is one of the most essential features of a good hiking watch. GPS is the most useful tool to track your distance, whether you are hiking, running or to map your location. A GPS watch can easily look up your location while connecting with the satellite, but only when you activate it.

The GPS enabled watches to help you find the best routes amongst other benefits, but maybe a little heavy on the pocket.

Compass

Another great feature to have on your watch is a compass. It works great with an altimeter and helps you navigate through rough routes with ease. Hiking watches may have a 2D or a 3D compass. The 3D compass works the best no matter how you hold your watch and works as an excellent replacement to a handheld compass.

Battery life

The battery life of the watch plays a key role in a hikers life. Since you are so dependent on all the amazing features these watches offer, it is only beneficial that they have a long battery life or an easy way to have them charged on the go and ASAP.

The GPS is one feature which if turned on all the time, consumes the battery consistently. A normal GPS watch can last up to 8 hours with the GPS mode turned on.

Other features include:

● Heart and calorie meters

If you are also an athlete and concerned about your heart rate, you should check if your watch comes with a heart rate monitor. There may be a sensor at the wrist, i.e. the watch could tell the heart rate from your pulse, or it could support chest straps to measure the actual heart rate.

The chest strap, however, is more precise, while the wrist or finger sensor models offer more ease.

These often include the calorie monitor as well, which measures the calories burnt, in accordance with the workout and diet. This monitor is effective in comparing the exercise, pulse rate, age and other BMI attributes to give you an accurate measure of the calories you shed with all your effort.

● Storm alarms

The storm alarms are particularly most helpful in predicting the adverse weather conditions, especially when you are uphill, in a mountainous or a forest. Some watches come with this feature, which is really helpful in proactively arranging for shelter or heading home safe on time before the storm strikes.

● Social Integration

Many of these watches come incorporated with all the smartphone features. You may get your super hiking watch synced with your smartwatch, and not just receive all your emails, notifications, and messages on it, but also, stay in touch with your friends, fellow hikers, other hiking groups/communities.

● Ease of Use

You must be comfortable with the basic user interface of your watch. If you are a beginner, the most user-friendly menu should be your choice. The lesser the number of screens, menus, quicker access to the most used data, the easier is the device to use.

Many of these watches give multiple options to change the display, icons and other items you see on your main screen.

● Water Resistance

Since hiking involves frequent interaction with the rough terrain or weather conditions, a good hiking watch must come with great water resistance. If you are not fond of swimming, even then the watch must have slight water resistance, for an occasional splash. Since these watches require certain thought and budget, nothing would hurt more than having all the money you spent to go down the drain, just because of a little water.

As discussed above, there are those which can be submerged for up to 100meters! So, if you are thinking of swimming sometime later, its always better to invest in a great waterproof watch for the longer run.

● Bluetooth

Although all these watches do not come with a Bluetooth feature, the higher end allows active syncing with your cell phone. This enables you to stay connected and receive all notifications while on the go. Data transfer is also easier with this feature between the watch and your laptop or any other device.

For other, mostly lower priced models you will need a data transfer cable.

● Price

A watch with so many advanced features and options is bound to be expensive. As we want more and more features in a single watch, a bigger and trusted brand name, a reliable watch, ultimately the price rises as all these factors increase.

It is always better to first decide on a budget before purchasing the best one.

However, if you stay focused on the basic elements you need in your watch and shortlist those, you may find suitable, great quality ones even within the range of $100 – $150. But if you have a good budget, it is always better to invest in a higher end watch like the Garmin Fenix, which pays value for money.

● Your activities

You could be an active hiker, but is that the only thing you do?

There are great watches out there fit for athletes, runners, swimmers, etc. for every sports type, with all the key features suited for each. Keep all the activities you like and do along with hiking, or may think of doing in the future. A great hiking watch is a big investment, so it is always better to invest one time on all the elements you may require later as well.

If you like to push yourself to the edge, and a basic trek is just a start which could eventually lead to letting your wild side loose on the mountains or skiing etc. it is advisable to buy a more durable and feature packed watch that can see you through.

However, if you are more inclined towards the conforming side, then a low-cost gadget will serve you well.

Hence, keep in mind all the above factors before you make that big dive into the watch market.

A great companion will stay with you for long, however, a bad choice will not just lead to a financial loss, but could also hurt your inner adventurer.

Our suggestion, whatever activity you plan on your hiking trip, make sure to keep it safe. Here are 8 simple hiking safety tips.

What are the basic types of GPS watches in the market to choose from?

basic types of GPS watches

The GPS-equipped watches actually tell you where the user is at that point in time. Hence it is a very useful tool for determining the distance, gauging the speed and location when one goes on a hiking trip.

We have the following two main categories for these GPS-equipped watches:

Simple Trainers

The basic training watches utilize the GPS just to check the location and are used for training purposes only. Best suited for you if you work out or have some athletic interests, these watches just gather data and give you an accurate measure of your speed, distance, and other main elements to analyze your progress.

It’s a keeper if you are an aggressive hiker and like to stay outdoors on different trails. Although these just provide the basic functionality, they yield accurate measures of your distance from home, your exact location and your overall progress.

The only drawback with these is the absence of navigation features.

Navigator Watches

Now these include all the basic GPS features but, also enable you to navigate. This watch is best suited for you if you are an avid hiker and like to explore new and untraveled routes.

It even lets you find your way back home in case you are unable to find your way, so you can imagine all the benefits you can derive from this feature.

You can even lookup the route to follow before setting out on your adventure, and then actually just follow your wrist and get to your ultimate destination.

The watch with such ease of navigation is not just great for hiking but can be put to good use in your daily life too.

Should you buy a hiking watch or a fitness tracker band?

Should you buy a hiking watch or a fitness tracker band?

A tough question; a fitness tracker is not just for tracking your workout progress, the recent advancements have made it possible for a fitness band to incorporate a lot more features like sleep measures, signals for health, etc.

There are a few points to keep in mind before setting your mind on the ultimate gadget to get.

  • Style and usage: These watches serve as a style statement; since they take out a significant portion of your savings, you will want to flaunt the purchase.
  • Your Budget: Since they include minimal features, the fitness bands are far cheaper than most luxury hiking watches. But with a good hiking watch, you get various other great features that the fitness band fails to provide.
  • Fitness features: The fitness band is designed specifically for tracking overall progress in your workout routine. It tracks the steps, heart rates, calories burnt and other related features in far more detail and with in-depth analysis, which the hiking watch may or may not do.

So if you have an athletic side to your personality, the fitness band is a must for you to help you achieve all your health goals.

  • Presence: The hiking watch is designed with elegance, and carries a certain aspiration element. People love the look and it makes you want to own one. Since it often enables ease of sync with your cellular phone, all your phone calls, alerts, and messages, give it all the attention it needs.
  • Wristwear: All watches are basically designed for the wrist, where they are noticed and easily glanced over a million times a day.
  • The display features: The watches offer a detailed graphical description of all your activities. While the fitness band, just gives the basic details with a few numbers or dots at the most. But that results in the fitness tracker to have a far longer battery life than a typical hiking watch.

Now for the question, which one to choose? I would prefer to buy both! Since the fitness band is a low cost, it would yield great results on the step count, heart rates etc. and for all the other features, the hiking watch would serve the purpose.

How important is it to consider the battery life of my watch?

You may be planning a short trek down the hill, or a full packaged adventure for days; for both, you will depend on your companion for support. The most annoying or disturbing thing to happen on these escapades would be to have your battery die.

The latest changes have made it possible for the hiking watch to have a longer battery life, but due to the usage of GPS, the battery runs low often sooner than expected.

Some pro tips would be to turn off the GPS feature at night, or while not in use to conserve energy. Another great option, are the watches that come equipped with a solar charging ability. This recharges the watch while you go about on your hike, so the battery hardly ever becomes an issue.

Another thing to keep in mind while making the purchase is to buy a watch that recharges quickly. This way you may charge your beloved mate whenever you hit a great spot so that it’s fully charged for the rest of the journey.

Conclusion

With technology advancing at a fast pace, new and improved versions keep adding to the list. In order to pick out the best hiking watch for yourself, first, make a list of your requirements. Include the basic features you need, how long you can go without charging your watch, and whether you want a smartphone and social media connectivity or not.

Choose your hiking partner wisely, and make each an adventure worth remembering!

Melvin
My name is Melvin A. Turner from Dallas Texas and I have a deep passion and love for fishing and kayaking. It is my love for the sport cultivated by my dad, coupled with a wide range of challenges I faced in the sport that led me to attend a kayak basic training. Over the years, I have tried and tested all kinds of different kayaks available in different environments to determine the best in each location. The experience and skill I have gained over the years up to date is invaluable. I look to share this knowledge and experiences gained over the years with those who share the passion for kayaking with me.