Imagine going into a hiking trail without any idea where you are, how long you will be out, what the weather will be like and even what time it is. Well, that’s part of the reason you should be prepared with some essential gear. Now, you could be thinking that you have to carry with you a watch, a map, a compass and a barometer, but this is not necessary if you know the best hiking watch to buy. It’s important to know what to look for in a watch so that you won’t end up having to buy more equipment. When hiking, you must be smart about everything you carry with you. Some trails are difficult enough without the numerous pieces of gear.
What to look for
When looking for the best hiking watch, it is important to consider a few key features.
GPS is among the most important features for hiking watches. Nowadays, most outdoor watches support GPS. This feature allows you to track your location, speed, and altitude. You can even import a route to the GPS device and track your current location in relation to the route you have imported. The GPS can also record your activity like distance traveled, average altitude, average speed and others, and you can upload it onto a mobile or web app. It is a neat and handy feature if you like to analyze your activity.
However, a GPS feature will affect battery life, so consider your needs and whether it is absolutely necessary before purchasing a watch with this feature.
The Essential Three
The three hiking features you’ll absolutely need on a hiking trip are barometer, altimeter and compass. There is no need to carry an actual barometer if your watch can measure the pressure, right? A barometer is essential for a long hike so you can track the changes in air pressure if there are any. The rise in air pressure causes clearing up in the sky while a fall in air pressure will cause clouds and rain. Some watches have features that warn of sudden drops in air pressure that could cause a storm. An altimeter measures sea level and helps with finding your location more precisely. A compass is handy for navigation.
It is important for a watch to be reliable. The watch itself must be of a durable material such as Sapphire lenses and mineral crystal lenses. These can be expensive so even a sturdy case and durable straps will be good. It is essential that the watch be water and weatherproof. There is never a guarantee for sunshine in nature, so you must be prepared for the worst.
Extra Features To Consider
Other features that could come in handy depending on your needs are a heart rate monitor, sunset and sunrise data, phone connectivity and music. This must be considered in accordance to your own needs and preferences.
Ten Best Hiking Watch Reviews
We have laid out ten of the best hiking watches and hope the list will help you decide on which one is right for you.
This men’s watch is a perfect suit to those who love to put on a watch and just do their sports. The case is made of stainless steel, the dial window is made of scratch-resistant mineral and the bezel is resin. The special thing about this watch is that it is solar-powered. While it does require a lithium metal battery, the battery is rechargeable by any light source. Recharging time will vary depending on the light source and the duration of the battery life will vary as well. The battery life for this particular model is an average six months when fully charged.
The Casio Men’s Pathfinder Triple Sensor Multi-Function Sport Watch has the essentials discussed above- altimeter, digital compass and barometer. In addition, it has a thermometer, EL back light, a world clock with 31 time zones, multiple daily alarms, auto calendar, a stopwatch and timer and even a battery-saving function. It is also equipped with sunset and sunrise data and is low temperature resistant. It is suitable for swimming since it is water-resistant but only up to 330 ft. below water.
The design is bulky and suitable for man with a taste for heavy-looking things. This model is useful for non-professional use mostly, but that makes it all the more easy to use and set up. The resin strap is uncomfortable for some, but users find that it takes a few days to break in. This overall lightweight model is a useful multi-function digital watch for the average nature-lover. It doesn’t have a GPS or a heart-rate monitor for those who like to track their progress, but it will be useful to others for sure.
Just like the first model review, this Casio has identical features with only one exception- the color and the strap. The band is made of nylon and the body is a navy blue with black. All other features are the same, and this watch also makes a great non-professional watch for sports and the outdoors.
The Garmin Epix, by Garmin, is multi-function high-class hiking watch. Starting with the display, it is a high-resolution color 1.4-inch touchscreen with pan and swipe capability. The internal memory is 8 GB and has plenty of preloaded maps with which to interact. It is GPS and GLONASS compatible through the EXO antenna. The essential altimeter, barometer and 3-axis compass are present as well. It has a fitness watch to track your sport activities such as skiing, hiking and running. The watch has a water rating of 50 and does well in the roughest weather conditions.
The watch can be connected to your phone via Bluetooth and will make sure you never miss a text or notification. You can even connect to other nature-lovers through the Garmin Connect and Connect IQ network. This watch is quite a leader in the outdoor watch world and has pretty much all the features you need and more. All you need is a lithium-ion battery and you’re set to go. The only thing missing is a heart-rate monitor, but we know for sure you’ll never get lost with this piece of work.
German Sensor Digital Compass Altimeter Barometer Stopwatch Alarm Weather Forecast/ Multifunction/ Outdoor Sport Watches
The beauty of this model is the simplicity and how straightforward the interface is. It has a watch, weather prediction and temperature on the first menu. The design is simple with a variety of seven colors. The top features include the essential barometer, compass and altimeter. In addition it has the weather forecast on the very first screen. It has EL backlighting, chronograph, stopwatch, alarms and dual-time.
The altimeter can store information of your past 36 hours of changes in atmospheric pressure. The barometer has a similar function and can store data up to 34 hours in the past.
The watch is very lightweight and customers say it is quite comfortable. It does not have a GPS or a heart-rate monitor, but this also makes it easy to use and understand.
This resin case watch has a stainless steel top ring and acrylic window display. It requires a lithium metal battery. What makes this watch special is probably the fact that it is shock-resistant. In addition, it is water-resistant for up to 330ft. below the surface. It has calendar and chronograph, timer and alarm to help you organize your time.
The window is a bit large for a person with small wrists. The window display is crisp and very readable. The acrylic display is not as scratch-resistant as other models, so you should be cautious. The watch doesn’t have as many functions as other watches, but if you’re just looking to go out for a walk it will do the job. There is no GPS, altimeter or barometer. So do plan other means of navigation if you go out for a long hike.
Lintelek Fitness Tracker, Customized Activity Tracker with Heart Rate Monitor, 14 Sports Modes Smart Watch
Another watch that doesn’t have some of the navigation options for hiking but will do for sports and health tracking. The design of this watch is impressive. It is sleek and has no rugged edges to get in the way of your workout. That’s what this watch is mainly great for. If you’re a person who loves to do sports and take care of your body, this watch could be the match for you. It has 14 sport modes. You can even add exercise modes.
It has a heart-rate monitor to track your heart-rate regularly. It also has sleep-analysis. The real-time analysis of your heart-rate and sleep patterns will help you know your own body better and the watch will give you tips to improve both.
You can connect your phone to the watch and never miss a call, text or notification. It can also track your location via GPS. The pedometer can help track your steps, calories and distance.
The battery life is about a week of full power with only a couple of hours of charging.
Overall, this watch is great for sports people with an interest in the effects on their bodies. It is light and will never be annoying to carry every day.
If there is a watch in this list that has it all, this will probably be the one.
Garmin’s Fenix 3 HR is a high-end all-purpose watch with all the capabilities you can need. It is useful for navigation as well as monitoring your health. We think this is the optimal watch for the multi-potentialist. The band is black silicone, which is mostly positive for its soft nature. The Chroma color display makes it easy to read in the sun. It’s water-resistant. The wi-fi capability of the watch makes it easy to connect to Garmin Connect and update the software.
It also has a stainless steel EXO antenna. It has GPS and GLONASS compatibility. This hiking watch can track your heart-rate and sleep cycles. It has many fitness programs as well as outdoor navigation to suit the most adventurous of people. The Connect IQ can help you connect your watch to download widgets, software and activities. It requires one CR2 battery.
We think this watch is perfect for those who want it all.
Even though this is stated as a treadmill watch, it has many functions to assist you in the outdoors just as well.
The glass is scratch and cut resistant. The size is not abnormally large with a 1.2-inch screen.
It has many functions for sports. Some of the modes are running and treadmill, Riding and Hiking and Climbing. It is equipped with GPS, GLONASS and Beidou satellite positioning, altimeter, heart monitor, calorie calculator and return cruise. This watch can give you a precise location and analyze the data from your hikes, runs and climbs to get you in shape. It also counts your steps, your mileage, time spent active and how it affects your heart. The hiking watch can be synced with your phone via apps and you will have access to the different sports patterns.
It requires a Lithium Metal Battery.
This watch is quite versatile when it comes to design and function. The design is clean and elegant, with few cuts and elements to interrupt the clean shape. It comes in a variety of colors.
It is pre-loaded with 80 sport modes some of which are running, cycling and swimming. Among these is hiking. The GPS measures your distance, average pace, steps, altitude and everything you need. The heart-rate monitor analyzes your heart rate 24/7 and even analyzes your sleep patterns. It can give you a summary of a seven or 30-day trend. It will also give you trends of your physical activity and calorie count. The GPS can help you find your location as well as discover new routes for your Sunday hikes or just a new place for your outdoor workouts.
This is another watch that basically has it all. Many users are especially pleased with the Movescount website, which has heat maps to help you discover new routes and follow them with the watch.
It requires one lithium ion battery.
Last but not least, we have another watch by Suunto. It has all the features you need on a hike. The GPS and GLONASS compatibility to track your location, altitude, speed and distance. It can save places you’ve been to and also retrace your steps with a breadcrumb feature. The sunset and sunset data tells you how many hours of daylight you have left. The barometer will notify you when there is a sudden change in atmospheric pressure and warn you to take shelter if a storm is coming.
The watch can also be synced to your phone so you don’t miss a single thing. The display window is made of mineral and is very scratch-resistant. It does not have a heart-rate monitor. The waterproof capability is up to 330ft and it requires a lithium ion battery.
Any watch can tell time, but it is quite another thing to have a watch be like your computer of information. Consider what you need it for and how many of these functions you’ll actually use before investing in the best hiking watch for you.