Best Hiking Watch Reviews

Updated July 6, 2020

There are so many choices among watches these days that it’s hard to know which one to choose.

But if you want a watch for a specific purpose, the choices become somewhat easier.

If you’re a hiker, you need to look for some specific features in a climbing watch. Generally, a watch for hikers will serve a different purpose than a dress watch, for instance.

You likely want your climbing watch to find directions, to help you determine weather conditions, and to track performance if you are also looking for distance measurement and fitness levels. The best hiking watches are also constructed to withstand the elements.

So, let’s take a look at what to look for if you’re searching for the best watch for hiking.

Best Men's Hiking Watches

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1 Garmin - Fenix 6 Premium Garmin Fenix 6 Premium Men's Hiking Watch
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2 Garmin - Fenix 5X
Best Overall
Garmin Fenix 5X Men's Hiking Watch
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3 Suunto 9 Baro Men's Hiking Watch
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4 Tomtom - Hiking Adventurer Tomtom Hiking Adventurer Men's Hiking Watch
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5 Suunto - Spartan Sport Suunto Spartan Sport Men's Hiking Watch
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1. Garmin Fenix 6 Premium Men's Hiking Watch

Highlights

This outdoor sportwatch has GPS, and other navigation features that make it ideal for multiple outdoor sports. The crystal is protected by a rugged stainless steel bezel (the top ring on the watch that surrounds the crystal) and the watch is tested to U.S. military standards for thermal, shock and water resistance.

There are satellite navigation and tracking functions, along with a 3-axis compass and barometric altimeter.

The GPS combines with GLONASS and Galileo to track your position more accurately than GPS alone, meaning you can hike or trail ride in more challenging environments.

Activity features include enhanced wrist heart rate, built-in activity profiles, Vo2 Max estimates and more. The built-in activity profiles are for trail running, swimming, running, biking, hiking, rowing, skiing, golfing and more.  There’s also performance metrics and training load balance readings, advanced sleep monitoring and the ability to read altitude acclimation at high elevations. Use the watch to track your training load balance, training status, and running and cycling dynamics.

A great feature is the customizable power manager, where you can monitor how various settings and sensors impact battery life, allowing you to adjust to extend your battery life. The battery has four modes with different performance life depending how you use it: up to 14 days in smartwatch mode, up to 36 hours in GPS mode, up to 28 days in expedition GPS activity mode, and up to 48 days in battery saver watch mode.

The display is readable in sunlight and is “always on,” meaning you can easily check it while climbing or cycling. When paired with a compatible smartphone, you can receive notifications and use Garmin Pay™ contactless payments. Also when paired with a smartphone, the watch will sense an incident and send your location to emergency contacts.

Specifications

Material:
Stainless Steel Bezel and Black Band
Size:
1.85 x 1.85 x 0.58 inches
Weight:
2.82 ounces

Pros

  • GPS combines with two other systems to provide accurate tracking capability.
  • A multitude of activity monitoring, including built-in activity profiles.
  • Customize what features you’re using to extend battery life.
  • Garmin is known for its GPS products.

Cons

  • Despite the ability to adjust battery modes, this watch will need lithium battery replacement on a regular basis if you use the advanced features on a regular basis.
  • The multitude of features may be too much for some users.

Why We Chose This

Besides the Garmin name being synonymous with GPS capabilities, this watch has a multitude of fitness features for the outdoor enthusiast. It has rugged construction with a stainless steel bezel to protect the crystal. A bonus is being able to monitor battery life and adjust settings to extend it.

2. Garmin Fenix 5X Men's Hiking Watch

Highlights
Best Overall
Garmin - Fenix 5X

This is the first in the Garmin Fenix series to offer full-color TOPO United States mapping for at-a-glance navigation and location reference. Use it to measure performance and be sure you get back to your location.

It functions as a multisport watch with GPS, as well as Glonass capability to track in more challenging environments than GPS alone. It’s also great for outdoor adventures with a 3 axis compass, gyroscope and barometric altimeter.

It has preloaded run profiles for running, treadmill running, and trail running. There are routable cycling maps and other outdoor navigation features. There are also feature sets for swim training, skiing, golfing and paddle sports. Check your key stats such as training status, training load and more using elevate wrist heart rate technology, built-in activity profiles, and performance metrics.

It can also handle the rigors of many sports with a rugged design that features a stainless steel bezel, buttons and rear case, and a choice of changing bands with the QuickFit bands. It’s also water-rated to 330 feet (100 meters).

You can also connect it to get smart notifications, as well as do automatic uploads to the Garmin connect online fitness community. Use the connect IQ store to download free watch faces and apps.

Specifications

Material:
Stainless Steel Case and Silicone Band, Which Can be Changed out Easily With QuickFit Bands.
Size:
2 x 0.7 x 2 inches
Weight:
14.1 ounces

Pros

  • Has full-color TOPO United States mapping for at-a-glance navigation and location reference.
  • Ideal for multiple sports and outdoor adventures, with a rugged design and wrist heart rate technology.
  • Has GPS and Glonass capability for tracking in challenging environments.

Cons

  • All the bells and whistles may be too much for some people.
  • Battery life will be dependent on use of all the features.

Why We Chose This

Besides carrying the Garmin name, this Fenix series watch also offers full-color TOPO United States mapping for at-a-glance navigation and location reference. You can use it for training in a variety of sports, as well as for outdoor adventures. It has GPS and Glonass capability, and wrist heart rate technology that can also be paired with a chest strap for greater insights.

3. Suunto 9 Baro Men's Hiking Watch

Highlights

This unisex training watch has GPS capability with an integrated heart rate wrist monitor and an atmospheric pressure sensor. It features support for over 80 sports. It’s ideal for cycling or running, and since it’s waterproof to 100 meters, it’s also ideal for swimming. 

It also has new outdoor features for mountain and snow sports, along with navigation system improvements and storm warning. Hikers, skiers and trail runners will appreciate the exact altitude measurement provided by the combination of Barometric and GPS altimeter. That’s what enables exact altitude profiles and helps to identify meteorological changes, allowing you to cancel your trek if bad weather is coming. 

Suunto’s value proposition states that this watch will take you from “the highest mountains to the deepest oceans.”

It features an intelligent battery system that allows you to adjust the battery mode. Switch between the three modes to get from 25 hours up to 120 hours of use from the battery. You’ll get real-time notifications on how much battery life is remaining, so you can change modes to save the battery before it completely runs out of power.

The Suunto website provides regular software updates.

The Glonass technology can be used in addition to GPS for improved tracking, providing quick and exact recognition of your position. There are also  tracking and route navigation options, with waypoints and real-time breadcrumb navigation features. 

There’s a graphic heart rate wrist display that shows heart rate even while resting, a step display and calorie display, including showing the last 7 days. The activity monitoring is 24/7. A colour display has 3 action buttons for toggling among the features. If you want even more detailed heart rate data, you can purchase separately the compatible Suunto Smart Belt.

The watch is used in conjunction with the Suunto App, which offers training insights and social features to stay motivated. It helps you track daily activities and workouts, plan routes, show activity maps, and calculate overall speed and distance using the GPS connectivity. You can also monitor sleep patterns and overall fitness levels, and share milestones on social media platforms like Facebook or Instagram.

Specifications

Material:
Black Face and Case With Silicone Strap
Size:
2 x 2 x 0.67 inches
Weight:
2.86 ounces

Pros

  • The 3 battery modes of the intelligent battery systems allows you to maximize battery life if necessary.
  • Extra features are ideal for those involved in mountain sports like hiking and skiing.
  • Glonass technology can be used in addition to GPS for improved tracking.

Cons

  • It might be trying to “do too much” by providing data for so many different situations.

Why We Chose This

This watch might be better suited for a trail rider than a city cyclist, but it still provides all the data you should need for any sport. It has all the heart rate and activity tracking information, and with extra features like altitude measurement and notification of meteorological changes, this watch is great for an outdoor enthusiast.

4. Tomtom Hiking Adventurer Men's Hiking Watch

Highlights

Tomtom is another brand known for GPS, so it’s no surprise this smartwatch has GPS capacity and more advanced features. For instance, it has a built-in music player and comes with Bluetooth headphones that are sweat and weatherproof.

Pair the headphones with your watch or your phone, and they’ll last up to 6 hours. You can also get audio feedback on your performance and see real time stats like altitude, 3D distance, pace, and total ascent and descent.

It features multi sport modes, including hiking, skiing, swimming, cycling, and running. There are special modes for outdoor adventures like trail running and snowboarding.

There’s a built in heart rate monitor and a 24/7 activity tracker that logs your heart rate, steps, active minutes, and calories burned. Use the Tomtom Sports App to track and analyze your activities, share your achievements, and even create your own workouts.

It also has a built in compass, and altimeter, and is waterproof up to 130 feet (40 meters). Use it to plan and upload a trail onto your watch, and to hike into uncharted territory and find your way back with GPS based trail exploration.

Specifications

Material:
Integrated Case and Strap
Size:
10.63 x 1.47 x 0.55 inches
Weight:
1.92 ounces

Pros

  • Perfect for the outdoor adventurer with GPS, altimeter and compass, and features like the ability to upload a trail to the watch before heading out to explore.
  • It has a built-in music player and comes with Bluetooth headphones.
  • Heart rate monitor and activity tracker lets you plan workouts and measure your performance.

Cons

  • Will need to be charged often if you’re using all the functions.
  • Large, square watch face and integrated strap may not be favored by some.

Why We Chose This

The Tomtom GPS capability is now in a watch, and this one even has a built-in music function and comes with Bluetooth headphones. Use the watch to go on a hike by downloading a trail before you leave. Be confident you’ll get back with GPS, a compass and an altimeter. The wrist heart rate monitor and activity tracker will let you track your performance in a multitude of sports.

5. Suunto Spartan Sport Men's Hiking Watch

Highlights

This is a multisport GPS watch that’s made for outdoor adventures with its GPS route navigation.

The durable outdoor grade color touch screen has a steel bezel and mineral Crystal Glass. The watch can also be operated with the buttons, and it is water resistant to 330 feet (100 meters).

You can use the Spartan Sport for training or racing with sport-specific training modes, support for over 80 sports, racing and interval use, and triathlon and multisport modes.

The battery will last up to 12 hours in training mode with GPS, and you can control the watch battery life yourself by adjusting the GPS tracking frequency.

It provides heart rate measurement with a wrist monitor or you can pair with the compatible Suunto Smart Sensor heart rate belt. Combining heart rate functionality with steps taken, you get an accurate picture of daily activity level, resting heart rate and calorie consumption.

Specifications

Material:
Steel Bezel
Size:
2 inches in diameter x 0.66 inch thick
Weight:
2.61 ounces

Pros

  • Durable construction for outdoor use.
  • Nice to have the option of using a touch screen or operating it with the buttons.
  • GPS capacity combined with sport-specific modes and the wrist heart rate monitor make it ideal for multiple sports, indoors and outdoors.

Cons

  • You will need to adjust the GPS option if you need the watch to last beyond 12 hours.
  • Those with a small wrist might not like the large watch face.

Why We Chose This

It’s durable enough for outdoor adventures but built to be used for a multitude of sports. Use the GPS or adjust the settings to preserve battery life. Access sport-specific training modes, and track your exercise and performance with the wrist heart rate monitor and activity tracker.

Best Women's Hiking Watches

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1 Freestyle - Shark Mini Leash Mint Freestyle Shark Mini Leash Mint Women's Hiking Watch
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2 Casio Women's Baby G-Shock Hiking Watch
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1. Freestyle Shark Mini Leash Mint Women's Hiking Watch

Highlights

The Freestyle brand began as a surf watch brand, designed to be durable enough to withstand the abuses of a high-intensity lifestyle, both in and out of the water.

This watch is ideal for ladies but is actually unisex, great for men who like a smaller watch style. It features Japanese quartz digital movement, a lap counter with memory, alarm, countdown timer and stopwatch, and standard digital functions with a backlight. The case is polycarbonate with hyrdro-pushers, which are able to be pushed under-water.

The digital face has NightVision Display which is ideal for underwater adventures or overnight camping trips.

The strap is a durable canvas synthetic with a solid stainless-steel buckle. The crystal is a durable hardened mineral that protects the watch face from scratches. It’s also water-resistant to 330 feet (100 meters).

Specifications

Material:
Polycarbonate Case With a Canvas Synthetic Band
Size:
1.18 inches x 0.43 inches
Weight:
17 grams

Pros

  • Made to be durable in and out of the water, making it ideal in particular for those who enjoy water sports.
  • Has hydro-pushers, buttons which can be pushed underwater.
  • Has calendar features, lap memory and other typical digital watch capacities.
  • Small enough to be worn by a woman but also fine for men who like a smaller watch style.

Cons

  • Doesn’t have as many bells and whistles as some other other watches that have smartwatch capabilities.
  • Battery life is unknown.

Why We Chose This

This is a unisex watch that is a smaller size, perfect for women and for men who like a smaller watch face style. It has the basics of a digital watch and some bonus features for those who like to spend time in the water. Designed for a surfer’s lifestyle, this watch is durable with a canvas strap that can withstand abuse as well. It also features as hydro-pushers, buttons which can be pushed underwater.

2. Casio Women's Baby G-Shock Hiking Watch

Highlights

The Baby-G from Casio is the smaller, lighter version of the G Shock tactical style watch. It comes equipped with a comfortable resin band with buckle closure and features a resin case with a mineral dial window (42mm size). 

The watch is powered by Japanese quartz movement and resists in water for up to 100m (330ft). It’s also shock resistant, so you can wear it during sports or performing physical activities. Overall, the dial is simple and easy to read, it supports both 12 and 24h format, and has world time function (29 time zones or 48 cities). 

Other functions that make this watch a great deal are the 1/100-second stopwatch, countdown timer, and mute. Also, users enjoy the EL backlight with after-glow as the dial can be a bit dark during the day.

Specifications

Material:
Resin

Pros

  • Perfect for military/ROTC/medical staff
  • Comfortable and easy to use
  • A wide range of useful functions
  • Water and shock resistant
  • Durable design
  • Equipped with EL backlight

Cons

  • The display can be a bit dark
  • The light doesn’t stay on very long

Why We Chose This

It comes with a series of cool features and functions that make it both useful and aesthetically pleasing. In addition, many women can use it in their line of work without worrying it will get damaged by the activity.

Hiking Watch Buying Guide

Design & Style

A good hiking watch will be built for the outdoors. That means a durable watch face, usually a silicone strap, and a steel case or back. It’s a good idea to watch for a decent level of water resistance as well. 

You don’t need a watch rated for diving, but you want to be sure you can wear it in the pouring rain and not worry about it. You may have a preference for the size of the watch face itself, the color of the strap, or the ability to use touch-screen or operate the watch with buttons. 

Let’s not forget the ability to tell time! Watches usually let you choose between 12-hour and 24-hour modes, and provide alarms and timers too.

Features

The best hiking watches have features that you’ll need when you’re in the mountains, backwoods or somewhere unfamiliar. Here are the features to look for in a climbing watch. 

You may not want to spend big money getting all the bells and whistles, but you also want to be sure you don’t settle for a cheap hiking watch that doesn’t function the way you want.

GPS

When you’re hiking in the backcountry, you want to be sure you have a GPS navigation watch that you can trust. GPS, or Global Positioning System, is just one of the satellite systems available. 

The best GPS watch for hiking should also have Glonass or Galileo technology, which are other satellite systems that can combine with GPS to give you advanced tracking functionality. This will help ensure you can get a signal even in challenging situations. 

Some users will want a climbing watch made by a reputable company in the GPS world, like Garmin. That’s a personal preference. And a GPS navigation watch usually features an altimeter and compass as well, letting you know your position, direction of travel, and elevation.

ABC: Altimeter, Barometer and Compass

The other features that are great to have on a climbing watch are known as ABC: an altimeter, a barometer and a compass. An altimeter measures your elevation, which can help pinpoint your location on a map. Some have a barometric altimeter that uses atmospheric pressure measurements to tell you the elevation. 

A barometer tracks changes in air pressure that can help detect incoming storms. A compass will help you get your general direction. Some entry-level watches have the basics, which is usually a barometer and a compass. The best watch for hiking will have the full suite of ABC features. 

Heart-Rate Monitor

If you’re a hiker, you’re also likely a fitness enthusiast who likes to stay in shape. A watch for hikers should have a heart-rate monitor as well, with on-wrist technology that lets you monitor your fitness and health. Some who want detailed data will want a watch that pairs with a chest-strap heart monitor to get even more in-depth information. 

Those who want to stay in shape will desire the same functionality as a smartwatch, so a climbing watch should count your daily steps, monitor your heart rate 24/7, calculate calories burned, and track your sleep. The best hiking watches will also sync to your phone, so you can get text messages, calendar notifications and more on your watch. 

Multisport Functionality

Hikers are often active in other sports, such as running, cycling or even skiing. A climbing watch that has other sports functionality is a bonus. Some of the best hiking watches have sport-specific features as varied as running (including treadmill or trail running) to paddleboarding to golf.

Some have training features that allow you to use them in different ways. And some have bonus features, like the ability to play music over Bluetooth headphones.  

Now that you know what to look for when searching for the best hiking watch for you, let’s take a look at our top picks among watches for hikers.

Frequently Asked Questions

Q: What is the best Garmin watch for hiking?
A:

The Garmin Fenix 5X is ideal for hiking, with GPS and Glonass technology to ensure tracking even in challenging environments. It also features full-color TOPO United States mapping, for at-a-glance navigation and location reference. 

You can use it for more than hiking, with wrist heart rate technology to track performance and features for running, treadmill running, trail running, cycling, swim training, skiing, golfing, paddle sports and more. 

You can even switch out the band easily with the simple-to-use QuickFit bands, and personalize the watch face with free downloads from the Connect IQ store. And it comes with the Garmin name, known for GPS excellence.

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