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Best Hiking Watch 2018: 10 Best Outdoor Watches for Hikes and Adventures

In Electronics, Hiking and Camping Gear, Travel Accessories by Kaspars MisinsLeave a Comment

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What do all the best hiking watches have in common? They are water resistant, built for tough conditions, often with displays made of sapphire glass. Mostly these watches support both GPS and GLONASS satellite navigation systems and have a barometric altimeter. Many has a battery life long enough to last at least a couple of days outdoors, when run in the battery saver mode.

With smartwatches becoming more popular day by day (according to CNET smartwatches already are more popular than Swiss watches) quite a few people already have one. Of course, you can also use your Apple Watch when going for a hike. But it’s far from the best option. And not all of the GPS sport watches are equally good choice either. Because some of the sport watches are made solely with runners in mind, and others are designed for swimmers.

In this article I’m going to talk about one specific type of GPS sport watches – GPS watches for hiking. But of course, you can  use them for other kind of activities as well.

Best Hiking Watch 2018

Now let’s take a look at the list of the best hiking watches!

To read more about every one of them, scroll down a bit! Some of these outdoor GPS watches have different models. For example, one can be coming with a heart rate monitor, another – without. With some of them you have a choice of whether you want a watch with a mineral crystal glass or sapphire glass display, the latter being more scratch-resistant. Some are available in different colors.

For availability, more photos, latest price and user reviews check them out on Amazon – just click on the name or image of the GPS watch! I have also included a link to Amazon under every watch review.

NAMEIMAGEFEATURESHR MONITORBATTERYWEIGHTPRICE ON AMAZON
*** - our favorites
Suunto Traverse***+ GPS and GLONASS
+ Route planning
+ 330 ft / 100 meters water resistant
+ Storm alert
+ Sunrise & sunset times
+ Compass
+ Barometer
+ Altimeter
+ Tracking of steps and calories - daily, weekly, monthly, yearly
+ Mobile notifications
+ Thermometer
+ GPS time update
Sold separatelyGPS ON: 100 h

Time mode: 14 days
2.82 oz / 80 gCheck the price!
Suunto Traverse Alpha+ Hiking, fishing and hunting modes
+ Moon phases and moon rise and moon set times
+ GPS and GLONASS
+ 330 ft / 100 meters water resistant
+ Storm alert
+ Sunrise & sunset times
+ Compass
+ Barometer
+ Altimeter
+ Tracking of steps and calories - daily, weekly, monthly, yearly
+ Mobile notifications
+ Thermometer
+ GPS time update
+ Red backlight (night vision goggle compatible)
Sold separatelyGPS ON: 100 h

Time mode: 14 days
2.65 oz / 75 g Check the price!
Suunto Ambit3 Peak HR+ Multisport modes
+ GPS
+ Route planning
+ 330 ft / 100 meters water resistant
+ Weather information
+ Sunrise & sunset times
+ Compass
+ Barometer
+ Altimeter
+ Tracking of steps - daily
+ Mobile notifications
+ Thermometer
+GPS ON: 200 h

Time mode: 30 days
3.14 oz / 89 gCheck the price!
Garmin Fenix 5***+ GPS and GLONASS
+ 1.2" (240 x 240) display (Fenix 5, Fenix 5 Sapphire, Fenix 5X Sapphire)
+ 1.1" (218 x 218) display (Fenix 5S, Fenix 5S Sapphire)
+ 330 ft / 100 meters water resistant
+ Storm alert
+ Compass
+ Barometer
+ Altimeter
+ Elevate™ wrist heart rate technology
+ Emails, texts and alerts right on your watch (from your phone)
+ Custom watch "faces"
+ Interchangeable bands
+GPS ON: 60 h

Time mode: 2 weeks
+ 3 oz / 85 g (silicone band)
+ 5.5 oz / 156 g (metal band)
Check the price!
Garmin Fenix 3+ GPS and GLONASS
+ Advanced fitness metrics
+ Water resistant (up to 10 ATM; equivalent to ~ 330 ft / 100 meters)
+ Sunrise & sunset times
+ Storm alert
+ Compass
+ Barometer
+ Altimeter
+ Hunting/fishing calendar
+ Sun and moon information
+ Thermometer
+ Step counter
+ Mobile notifications
+ Domed glass lense
Sold separatelyGPS ON: 50 h

Time mode: 6 weeks
2.88 oz / 82 gCheck the price!
Garmin Fenix 3 HR+ GPS and GLONASS
+ Advanced fitness metrics
+ Water resistant (up to 10 ATM; equivalent to ~ 330 ft / 100 meters)
+ Sunrise & sunset times
+ Storm alert
+ Compass
+ Barometer
+ Altimeter
+ Hunting/fishing calendar
+ Sun and moon information
+ Thermometer
+ Mobile notifications
+ Step counter
+ Domed sapphire crystal glass
+GPS ON: 40 h

Time mode: 6 weeks
3.2 oz / 91 gCheck the price!
Garmin Fenix 3 Sapphire***+ GPS and GLONASS
+ Advanced fitness metrics
+ Water resistant (up to 10 ATM; equivalent to ~ 330 ft / 100 meters)
+ Sunrise & sunset times
+ Storm alert
+ Compass
+ Barometer
+ Altimeter
+ Hunting/fishing calendar
+ Sun and moon information
+ Thermometer
+ Mobile notifications
+ Step counter
+ Domed sapphire crystal glass
Sold separatelyGPS ON: 50 h

Time mode: 6 weeks
3 oz / 85 gCheck the price!
Garmin Tactix® Bravo+ GPS and GLONASS
+ EXO™ antenna (for better sattelite reception)
+ Tactical features
+ Night vision goggle compatible screen
+ 1.1" (218 x 218) screen
+ Advanced fitness metrics
+ 330 ft / 100 meters water resistant
+ TracBack® feature
+ Storm alert
+ Compass
+ Barometer
+ Altimeter
+ Emails, texts and alerts right on your watch (from your phone)
+ Custom watch "faces"
+ Comes with interchangeable 3-ring nylon straps
Sold separatelyGPS ON: 50 h

Time mode: 2 weeks
3.25 oz / 92 gCheck the price!
TomTom Adventurer+ Outdoor Sports Modes
+ Music Player (Bluetooth headphones included)
+ GPS
+ 130 ft / 40 meters water resistant
+ Compass
+ Barometer
+ Altimeter
+ Built-in heart rate monitor
+ 3 GB storage
+ Tracking of steps and calories - daily, weekly
+GPS ON: 24 h

Time mode: 3 weeks

Music mode: 5 hours
1.90 / 54 gCheck the price!
Casio WSD-F20+ Android Wear 2.0
+ GPS, GLONASS and QZSS
+ Multiple sport modes
+ Sunrise & sunset times
+ Compass
+ Altimeter
+ Color display - touchscreen (320 × 300 pixels)
+ 164 ft / 50 meters water resistant
-GPS ON: 25 h

Time mode: 1 month
3.2 oz / 91 gCheck the price!

Top Hiking Watches – Reviews

1. Suunto Traverse Review

If there is one company, that clearly stands out in the market of sports watches, then it’s Suunto. This Finnish company has been in business for more than 80 years. They are making sports watches since 1997, and it all started with Suunto Spyder – world’s first watch-sized dive computer.

Nowadays Suunto offer a variety of different sport watches. They have special GPS watches for diving and running, watches for triathlon and hunting. And apart from the rest also watches made for hikers. The latter are Suunto Traverse, Suunto Spartan and Suunto Ambit3 series GPS watches. Quitea few of world’s top athletes and adventurers have been using Suunto gear as well. For example, one of the world’s best trail runners Kilian Jornet trusts Suunto on his trainings, competions and adventures, that takes him through the harshest environments.

Named Gear of the Year 2016 by Wilderness Magazine Suunto Traverse is not only one of the best hiking watches you can buy today, but it’s also my favorite. While it’s not the latest model anymore, in my opinion, it is the best bang for the buck in 2017. Yes, Suunto Spartan Ultra series (see them on Amazon) have better screen and they are made of titanium, but they also are quite pricey.

Its bezel is made of stainless steel. But glass – of mineral crystal. Sapphire crystal is another widely used material in high end GPS watches, which offers greater abrasion resistance and durability. If you are going to use your watch really a lot, take it into account! Suunto Traverse, like all the best hiking watches, is water resistant. Its submersible to the depths of up to 330 ft / 100 meters, so you can also swim with it. To measure the altitude this watch uses both GPS and barometer. Thanks to the latter you can be sure that reading will remain accurate even when you will be in places, where GPS signal is weak or non existent, like for example in canyons.

Suunto Traverse uses GPS and GLONASS for navigation. While there are some technical differences between these two, both of them are doing pretty much the same job. In case you want to learn a little bit more about these differences, I can recommend you to check out this article. However, the most important part here is that 2 systems means higher chances of a better accuracy. Watch uses GPS to automatically update time, when you are traveling across time zones. It also will show you exact time of sunset and sunrise, wherever you will be at that time. And available daylight hours so you can plan your next moves better.

The watch will also warn you whenever weather will be changing and the storm will be coming. This is possible because of the built-in barometer. With the Suunto Traverse you will always know, what is the temperature right now. Temperature display range: -4° F to +140° F / -20° C to +60° C.

One of the things that I personally like about this watch is that you can upload your own routes to your watch. Let’s say you are going on a hiking trip through some unknown region. With Suunto Traverse you can upload your planned route to the watch while you are at home, and later you can just follow it. You can also follow the routes of others, who have been hiking, walking, running, cycling, … in the place, where you are heading to. Just open the Suunto Movescount app and look for popular routes in the area.

With GPS on Suunto Traverse battery is said to last up to 100 hours. But keep in mind, that it will wildly depend from the GPS recording rate. In other words – how often does watch will record your exact location. You have 3 options: every second, every 5 seconds, every 60 seconds. If you choose to record it every 5 seconds, the battery will last up to 15 hours only. Doing it once every minute will keep your watch going for up to 100 hours.

Apart from all the features important in the outdoors, the watch will also count your steps and calories burned during the day, week, month and year. Connect it with your phone (iPhone or Android) and you will be able to see notifications of incoming calls and texts on your watch.

To measure the heart rate you will need to buy a compatible HR belt.

By default Suunto Traverse has a silicone strap. You can choose its color. And you can also change it to textile strap offered by the company.

Click Here for the Latest Price, More Photos and User Reviews on Amazon!

2. Suunto Traverse Alpha Review

A top class outdoor GPS watch, built with fisherman and hunters in mind. And that’s also the main difference (fishing and hunting features) between these two –  Suunto Traverse and Suunto Traverse Alpha.

Apart from that they are almost identical. Both of them are being handmade in Finland, and have passed a rigorous testing ensuring their top quality.

Its bezel also is made of stainless steel. But the watch itself is slightly lighter. Its glass is made of sapphire, and for you that means even higher abrasion resistance and durability. Same like with Suunto Traverse you can swim with this watch as well. Because it’s water resistant and could be submerged to the depths of up to 330 ft / 100 meters. It’s a FusedAlti™ GPS watch, meaning that it uses both GPS and barometer to measure altitude. It’s a good feature to have, when you are in places, where GPS signal is too weak.

GPS and GLONASS – 2 satellite navigation systems – are used for a higher navigation accuracy. The Suunto Traverse Alpha uses GPS to update time, determine time of sunset, sunrise, moonrise and moonset, moon phases, helping you to plan your time outdoors.

One feature hunters might be interested in – automatic shot detection. What it means is that your watch, using built-in accelerometer, can detect when and where (using GPS for this part) did you have a shot. Read more about this feature on the site of Suunto! And another – night vision goggle compatible red backlight.

Same like Suunto Traverse this model has a storm alarm (thanks to its barometer), a thermometer with a display range of -4° F to +140° F / -20° C to +60° C, a digital compass and a step counter. And you can upload your routes yourself to this GPS watch as well. Another option would be to look and choose from the routes others have taken. That’s possible using Suunto Movescount app on your phone (available for iPhone and Android).

Its battery life is also exactly the same: 10 h (checking GPS every second), 15 h (checking GPS every 5 seconds), 100 h (checking GPS once in a minute). The latter isn’t a bad option at all, if you are walking. Because you still have a pretty accurate information. And you can keep going for up to 4 days without a need to charge your watch. If you use it just like a watch with GPS turned off, then its battery will last up to 2 weeks.

It is possible to connect this watch to your phone – iPhone an Android – so you can see the latest notifications without reaching for your phone. A useful feature, when the conditions are just too rough, and you don’t want to expose your phone to the elements.

If you need a heart rate monitor you will need to get a compatible HR belt.

By default Suunto Traverse Alpha comes with a quality textile strap. It’s possible to change it.

Click Here for the Latest Price, More Photos and User Reviews on Amazon!

3. Suunto Ambit3 Peak HR Review

A quality multi sport GPS watch with a great battery life. With GPS turned on Suunto Ambit3 Peak HR battery can last up to impressive 200 hours, which is more than a week.

Similar like other GPS watches it has several modes letting you to choose how often will the watch record your location. Expected battery life will change accordingly. Every second – 20 hours, every 5 seconds – 30, every 60 seconds – 200 hours. Keeping in mind, that what we are currently looking for is the best GPS watch for hiking, the latter option is a completely reasonable. Of course, if you are running or mountain biking, then saving location data only once every minute most probably will not be sufficient for you. But, again, you can always change it in settings. And it doesn’t change the fact, that battery life of the Suunto Ambit3 Peak HR is still very, very good.

Bezel of the watch is made of steel, glass – of mineral crystal. If you are going to use your watch a lot and so if the material of glass is very important for you, check out Ambit3 Peak Sapphire (see it on Amazon). It basically is the same watch but with a glass made of sapphire crystal and with a strap made of silicone.

Unlike Suunto Traverse Alpha and Suunto Traverse this watch uses only GPS for navigation. And it comes with a heart rate monitor. Please, not that there are also other Ambit3 and Ambit3 Peak models (for example, Ambit3 Peak Nepal Edition), that may come without a heart rate monitor. And also, when buying this exact watch from Amazon, you can choose the one without heart rate monitor. Pay attention to the details!

It’s slightly heavier than both of the previous watches, and its design is different. Otherwise, except for already mentioned differences, it has more or less the same features like Traverse Alpha and Traverse. It’s water resistant (330 ft / 100 meters). It uses GPS and barometer to measure the altitude. And it can show you the time of sunset and sunrise, as well as warn you about weather changes coming. The Suunto Ambit3 Peak HR has a thermometer with a display range of -4° F to +140° F / -20° C to +60° C, a compass and a step counter (daily). Speaking about route planning – you can either be spontaneous, go completely on your own or follow someone’s else route. Other people’s routes could be found on Movescount app.

You can connect this watch to your phone – iPhone an Android – to see the latest notifications and to read texts without reaching for your phone.

Click Here for the Latest Price, More Photos and User Reviews on Amazon!

4. Garmin Fenix 5 Review

Garmin, just like Suunto, is a technology company, known for its GPS wearables. Though, for Suunto it’s their main focus, but Garmin is producing different products as well, for example, GPS devices for cars and nowadays also action cameras.

And Garmin Fenix 5, released in Q1 2017, is one of the company’s best multi sport GPS watches, as well as one of the best hiking watches you can find. It comes in 3 sizes. 5S is the smallest one, with a watch face size – 42 mm, 5 is the medium – 47 mm, 5X is the biggest one – 51 mm. 5S will be a great choice for everyone, who wants a more compact GPS watch. A choice that we didn’t have before, because the previous Fenix (Fenix 3) came only in 1 size, and it was about the same as big as the Fenix 5X.

Its bezel is made of stainless steel. But the display is either made of mineral crystal or sapphire crystal. You need to choose. The one with sapphire crystal glass mostly will cost you more. But it’s also more reliable in tougher conditions. The Fenix 5 watches are water resistant (up to 330 ft / 100 meters), like all of the best hiking watches. However, what sets them apart is that they also offer special features for swimming, skiing, golfing, stand-up paddle boarding and rowing. The watch can track your distance, pace, stroke count and not only that.

Garmin Fenix 5 uses both GPS and GLONASS for navigation. And it has also a barometer, which can be used to predict weather changes, and a thermometer. Just like the previous model Fenix 5 uses Elevate™ wrist heart rate technology, measuring your heart rate just like that without HR belt. Wanna know how many daylight hours do you still have? Or maybe you want to wake up for the sunrise? Set the sunset or sunrise alert!

If you use it just as a watch, with GPS and HR turned off, its battery will last up to 2 weeks. With everything on – up to 24 hours. And up to 60 hours in UltraTrac™ battery saver mode and with wrist heart rate monitor turned off. Pair the watch with your phone (if they are compatible) and receive your emails, texts and alerts right on your watch.

You can choose between premium leather, metal and silicone bands.

Click Here for the Latest Price, More Photos and User Reviews on Amazon!

5. Garmin Fenix 3 Review

Garmin Fēnix 3

And here comes the predecessor of the Garmin Fenix 5. No, there is no Garmin Fenix 4.

Being 2 years older it still is one of the best choices today. If both of them would cost the same, then I would recommend you to choose the newer model. Otherwise, having a great deal for Fenix 3, I would need to think twice. Because technically it’s not bad, not at all.

Anyway be attentive, when buying it, because there are several very similar models – Garmin Fenix 3, Garmin Fenix 3 HR, Garmin Fenix 3 Sapphire and Garmin Fenix 3 HR Sapphire. Two of the biggest differences between these are: if the watch has a heart rate monitor and what material it’s glass is made of. And it’s as easy as that – if there “HR” in the name, then the watch has a heart rate monitor. The same stands for glass – if there is “Sapphire”, then the watch has a glass made of sapphire, which means better durability and abrasion resistance.

Garmin Garmin Fenix 3 HR models use Elevate™ wrist heart rate technology. That allows to monitor your heart rate without a need to wear a chest strap. Another difference is availability of different straps (leather, metal, TPU). What else, personally I see design of the original Garmin Fenix 3 not very attractive. That’s the one you can see in the photo. To see what are the options and how do others look, check them out on Amazon!

The bezel of this watch is made of stainless steel. And then you need to choose either you want it with a domed glass or sapphire glass display. The watch is water resistant up to 10 ATM (equivalent to ~ 330 ft / 100 meters). And it supports both GPS and GLONASS. Used together they not only offer a better accuracy, but also use less power. All in all it’s technically almost identical to Garmin Fenix 5.

If used just as a watch, with GPS turned off, its battery will last up to 6 weeks. With GPS on and following your location – up to 20 hours. And up to 50 hours in UltraTrac™ battery saver mode. Pair it with your phone and receive your emails, texts and alerts right on your watch. The Garmin Fenix 3 is compatible with iPhone (iPhone 4S or newer) and selected Android phones. For more information go to this page!

Remember – if you need a heart rate monitor, take the HR model or HR Sapphire.

Click Here for the Latest Price, More Photos and User Reviews on Amazon!

Other models:

Garmin Fenix 3 HR: Click here for the latest price, more photos and user reviews on Amazon!

Garmin Fenix 3 Sapphire: Click here for the latest price, more photos and user reviews on Amazon!

Garmin Fenix 3 HR Sapphire: Click here for the latest price, more photos and user reviews on Amazon!

6. Garmin Tactix Bravo Review

A premium quality multi sport GPS watch with specialized tactical functionality (learn more), built to withstand everything you may have been up to.

It features a knurled bezel with a black diamond-like carbon coating, promising an even higher abrasion resistance. Case of this watch is made of fiber-reinforced polymer, but glass – of domed sapphire crystal. Backlight of this watch could be reduced to a level when you can use it with night vision goggles. Garmin Tactix Bravo is suitable for swimming. Its water-resistance rating is up to 10 ATM, which is equivalent to something like 330 ft / 100 meters.

For the best navigation accuracy this watch uses GPS and GLONASS satellite navigation systems and its built in altimeter, barometer and compass (ABC). GPS is also used to automatically update time, adjust for daylight saving time and to determine time of sunset and sunrise. But barometer is used to record weather changes (measuring atmospheric pressure and analyzing it) and to measure the altitude. Some of the outdoor watches rely solely on GPS, and that may lead to inaccurate altitude readings whenever GPS signal is not reliable enough, be it in a cave or deep canyon. The watch features also a thermometer.

Used in a smartwatch mode battery of the Garmin Tactix Bravo will last up to 2 weeks, up to 20 hours with GPS always on, and up to 2 days or 50 hours in battery saver mode (called UltraTrac™). Pair it with your smartphone and you’ll be able to read texts and receive notifications right on your watch. Using the watche’s TracBack® feature you will always be able to come back to the starting point the same way as you went.

Garmin Tactix Bravo doesn’t have a heart rate monitor. If you need one, you will need to buy it separately.

Comes with interchangeable tough, nylon straps, made of ballistic nylon. However, there is also one more option – silicone band.

Click Here for the Latest Price, More Photos and User Reviews on Amazon!

7. TomTom Adventurer GPS Outdoor Watch Review

A more affordable multi sport GPS watch with built-in heart rate monitor and MP3 player.

TomTom Adventurer features an MP3 player with 3 GB memory, big enough to store a few hundred songs. And it comes with sweat and weatherproof Bluetooth headphones.

One of the features that I like to see becoming more and more popular, and one that TomTom Adventurer also has – is that you can load your own routes onto the watch. But where can I find these routes? You can create them on your own. Just Google “create .gpx files”. And you can download ones created by others. What you need is a .gpx file of the route. People are sharing them on hiking websites and forums. One of the online resources that might be helpful for you is MapMyFitness. The watch is suitable for swimming. It can be taken under the water to the depths of up to 130 ft / 40 meters. A barometer is used to measure the altitude in real time.

Throughout the day watch tracks your heart rate, steps and calories burned, throughout the night – your sleeping patterns. Speaking about the daily activities, steps and calories burned to make the things more interesting you can set yourself daily or weekly targets. Unlike many other of the best hiking watches Adventurer doesn’t support notifications from your phone. Is it a drawback? Not for me at least. Especially because you still can sync your achievements wireless with your favorite training app (Nike+, Strava, MapMyFitness, Runkeeper, Training Peaks).

One of the main reasons why I wouldn’t buy it for myself (even though it has more or less the same features like others) is because of its design. Let me quote Elizabeth Hufton of Womens Running:

The less impressive stuff is that it’s plasticky and, if we’re being a tiny bit mean, light and cheap-feeling – compared with its contemporaries. And it’s colourful in a way that makes you think twice about wearing it to work (though an all-black version is also available). (Womens Running)

At the same time TomTom Adventurer received IF Design Award 2017.

You can choose between orange and black strap.

Click Here for the Latest Price, More Photos and User Reviews on Amazon!

8. Casio WSD-F20 Review

A GPS smartwatch with a high resolution touchscreen, powered by Android Wear operating system. Android Wear is Google’s smartwatch OS with its own apps (downloadable right from your watch).

Because of that this watch can have quite a few features unavailable for others. And as the OS will be updated new features will arrive. At least that’s how it should be. One of these features already available on Wear 2.0 smartphones is Google Assistant (something similar to Alexa and Siri). And then there are special fitness features. You can also send messages right from your watch. And start Spotify on your phone, without taking it out of the pocket. Few of the most popular apps that could be run on this GPS watch: Google Maps, Google Play Music, Google Fit, Google Translate. Even though it’s compatible with Android (Android 4.3 and later) AND iPhone (iPhone 5 running iOS 8.2 or above) its functionality is limited with iPhone.

It’s a watch built to withstand tough outdoor conditions. It has an anti-fouling coated glass, and it’s microphone (used by some of the apps) is water resistant. In order to provide a better navigation accuracy Casio WSD-F20 uses 3 satellite navigation systems – GPS, GLONASS and also lesser-know QZSS. It’s water resistant (up to 164 ft / 50 meters). And you can even go for a short swim with it. But it’s not ready for diving, snorkeling or simply prolonged time in the water.

With GPS turned off its battery can last for more than 1 month. However, in color display mode and with GPS turned off it’s expected to last for only about a day. With GPS on – between 6-8 hours and 1-2 days, depending on the use. For more detailed information check out this page!

You can choose between black and orange case.

Click Here for the Latest Price, More Photos and User Reviews on Amazon!

 

If you have any more questions about travel gear, check out our other gear guides! Or contact us!

Kaspars Misins

Author: Kaspars Misins

Kaspars is a long term traveler and a travel blogger from Latvia. He loves going on long walks, reading non fiction books and spending time outdoors. Together with his girlfriend Una they have been traveling – volunteering – working abroad since 2013. On We Are From Latvia they share their experience and things learned along the way.

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