Best Hiking Watch 2018 – Reviews & Buyer’s Guide

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best hiking watch

If you are planning a hiking trip without a good hiking watch, you are missing out on fantastic hiking gear. There are hikers out there who are doubtful about the necessity of a hiking watch, and there are some who think of a hiking watch as an optional self-indulgent gear rather than a must-have tool during their journey. However, most experienced hikers agree that a hiking watch is an incredibly useful item that every hiker should include to ensure a successful hiking trip.

The best hiking watch is not merely a watch that tells us date and time. It is capable of offering far more than what you’d expect. It can not only help you navigate along the way but also provide you with crucial information such as weather forecast, location, altitude and even air pressure.

There are hundreds of hiking watch models out there, and the key is to find the best hiking watch for your needs. This post will walk you through how to find the best hiking watch, but in case you are in a hurry to find a great hiking watch, we have put together our own selection of top ten outdoor watches below for your reference.

Quick Answer - The best Hiking watches

best hiking watch

best hiking watch 2018 reviews

Garmin Epix

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Best for: All outdoor sport activities, including hiking, cycling or trekking...

GPS: Yes + Glonass

Functions: Altimeter, barometer and 3-axis compass

Features: A high-resolution touchscreen wrist watch that offers detailed mapping through touches and swipes, quick access to different training modes (running/hiking/skiing, etc), color display, smart notifications including texts and emails enabled and alerted through vibration, wireless connection to stay connected all the time

Pros: Water-resistant, accurate compass, 8Gb of internal memory which allows loading of detailed multiple maps, wireless connection available, long battery life, customizable with watch faces and other widgets and applications

Cons: Not compatible with all smartphones, quite complicated navigation, need regular software updates to fix bugs and errors, no thermometer

Garmin Fenix 5

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Best for: All outdoor activities + Fitness enthusiasts

GPS: Yes + Glonass

Functions: Barometer, altimeter, 3-axis compass, thermometer

Features: A premium smartwatch that is compatible with most outdoor sports activities including swimming, smart notifications including texts, emails, widgets and applications, heart rate monitor, enhanced with running dynamics to include performance conditions, lactate threshold, cadence and stride length, added performance metrics for fitness

Pros: Accurate measurements, loaded with advanced features and functions that are compatible with most sport activities, long battery life, wireless connection available, waterproof, ambient screen that allows reading under direct sunlight

Cons: Not very smooth connection with other devices, unstable barometer and altimeter

Suunto Traverse

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Best for: Daily use and general outdoor activities

GPS: Yes + Glonass

Functions: Altimeter, thermometer, barometer, digital compass

Features: A fantastic multi-purpose watch that is capable of tracking our steps and calories on a daily, weekly, monthly and yearly basis, bluetooth connection available, sunrise and sunset time display, flashlight mode available, push notifications

Pros: Good for daily use, good tracking system, backlight can be used as a flashlight

Cons: Short battery life, not very durable, difficult to connect to mobile devices, difficult to view under the sun

Suunto Core All Black

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Best for: Hardcore adventurers who prefer old-school watches

GPS: No

Functions: Altimeter, thermometer, digital compass, storm alarms

Features: Considered the best Suunto watch for military, the Suunto Core watch offers reliable compass, accurate readings of altitude, warnings of severe weather conditions, sunrise and sunset times

Pros: Early warnings of storm and severe weather, easy to use

Cons: No GPS and wireless connection, black background that makes it somewhat difficult to read, not very durable

Suunto Spartan Sport Wrist HR Baro Watch

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Best for: Fitness and multisport activities

GPS: Yes + Glonass

Functions: Altimeter, barometer, compass

Features: A great fitness tracking watch with a stylish design and a color touch screen, usable as an everyday watch, supporting over 80 sports through pre-installed sport modes, heart rate and step measurement plus calories tracking, sunrise and sunset times

Pros: 100m water resistant, high visibility under the sun

Cons: Lack of customizability, unreliable optical WHR sensor, poor battery life

Casio Pro Trek

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Best for: Trekking and mountain hiking

GPS: No

Functions: Altimeter, thermometer, compass

Features: A well-constructed watch with an analog-digital LCD display and LED light, 100-meter water resistant

Pros: Accurate and reliable navigation, lightweight, durable

Cons: Quite expensive with no GPS, difficult to read the time in the dark without glowing clock hands, unreliable altimeter

Casio Pathfinder

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Best for: Hiking

GPS: No

Functions: Altimeter, thermometer, barometer, digital compass

Features: This Casio hiking watch is a great companion for long-distance hiking trips. Designed with a resin band and buckle closure and a stainless steel case, this watch offers a full auto calendar, countdown timer, battery power indicator and backlight

Pros: Amazing battery life (up to 6 months) with solar-powered battery, great value for the price, well-built, glowing in the dark, durable

Cons: No GPS, the buttons are not very easy to use, not very effective alarm

Lad Weather Sport Watch

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Best for: Hiking, backpacking and general outdoor activities

GPS: No

Functions: Altimeter, thermometer, barometer, digital compass

Features: This hiking watch includes essential features for a smooth hiking trip including compass, weather forecast through weather sensor function, relative altitude measurement, backlight, alarms and day and date calendar

Pros: A real bargain for the price, accurate compass

Cons: No GPS, not durable, prone to scratches, difficult to set up

Garmin Hiking GPS​​​​

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Best for: Military duties, hiking and thru-hiking, skiing, camping

GPS: Yes

Functions: Electronic compass, barometer, altimeter

Features: A lightweight watch that offers high-sensitive waterproof GPS receiver, wireless connection available, using replaceable AAA batteries, route tracking, sunrise and sunset times

Pros: Extremely accurate navigation with professional military GPS services, good display under direct sunlight, user-friendly, responsive, good value for the price

Cons: Bulky design, short battery life, heart rate monitor has to be purchased separately

Timex Watch

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Best for: Hiking, swimming, daily use

GPS: No

Functions: N/A

Features: A decent choice for our daily activities with alarms, calendar, chronograph, and countdown timer functions

Pros: Cheap price, affordable, sturdy and comfortable to wear, easy to read the time with bright luminous display

Cons: No GPS, basic functions only, no instructions

Comparison Table - The best Hiking Watch

preview

hiking watches

GPS

price

rating

Yes + Glonass

$$$$

4.7 out of 5

Yes + Glonass

$$$$$

4.5 out of 5

Yes + Glonass

$$$$

4.3 out of 5

No

$$$

4.1 out of 5

Yes + Glonass

$$$$$

4.4 out of 5

No

$$$$$

4.7 out of 5

No

$$$

4.6 out of 5

No

$

4 out of 5

Yes

$$$

4.5 out of 5

No

$

4 out of 5

How to choose the best hiking watch

best hiking watch

As far as hiking watches are concerned, it is very unlikely to go wrong with the top 10 outdoor watches above. However, if you’d like to buy your own hiking watch specifically for your need, there will be certain factors to keep in mind in order to spot the right hiking watch for you.

When you browse through different models of hiking watches available, you are likely to encounter dozens of products with lots of similar features, thus it is necessary to consider the following buying pointers to save yourself from disappointment and ending up with the wrong product.

1. Essential functionality

When shopping for the best hiking watch, it is important to look for the essential features offered by the watch. A hiking watch is different from a regular watch in a way that it makes your adventure a lot safer and easier. Apart from telling the exact time and date like a regular watch, a hiking watch is usually enhanced with “smart” or superior functions. In other words, the best hiking watch is the one that should desirably include the following features:

Compass

Even an experienced hiker won’t be able to make it without a reliable compass. That’s why most hiking watch manufacturers incorporate a compass into their watches, either 2D or a 3D compass. A hiking watch with a 3D compass is more preferable as it works in every angle.

Altimeter

Another essential function to look for in a hiking watch is whether it is capable of calculating your altitude through measurement of the air pressure surrounding you. With an altimeter, you won’t have to worry too much about not receiving GPS signal under certain circumstances as you will still be able to determine the altitude.

Barometer

This function can be incredibly helpful if you plan for a thru-hike for more than a few days in an unfamiliar region. With a barometer added to the watch, you will get information about the atmospheric pressure, which in turn will provide you with warnings of whether there’s a storm coming up. This will reduce the risk of being exposed to extreme weather conditions.

GPS

With a GPS-enabled hiking watch, you will be less prone to getting lost in the wild. In the past, adventurers relied on special GPS devices for their trip, but when this function is built into the watch, it becomes a lot more convenient. The GPS feature will give you directions while keeping track of the location, speed, and distance.

Thermometer

This is arguably an optional function since most thermometers on the hiking watch won’t be able to give you accurate temperature all the time because your body temperature will interfere with the results obtained by the watch worn on your wrist in the process. This is rather unavoidable. Thus, not all hikers insist on having a thermometer on their hiking watches.

Wireless connection

In the era of wireless devices and Internet of things, a hiking watch with enabled wireless connections is highly desirable. Isn’t it great to be able to sync your watch with your smartphone and share data between these two devices?

Water resistance

A good hiking watch must be water resistant. When you shop for your watch, make sure to check the depth of which your watch is able to hold up under water. This is particularly important because a hiking watch will need to endure rain and exposure to water now and then. What’s the point of carrying around a hiking watch that is vulnerable to a downpour?

2. Your budget

With less than 100USD, you will still be able to find a decent working hiking watch while an amount of around 400-600USD will get you an advanced hiking watch with plenty of features. The price range for hiking watches varies from as low as 50 bucks to as high as more than 500 bucks.

A basic hiking watch with a compass, altimeter, alarms, and barometer can cost you approximately 50-200USD. For under 200USD it is a bit difficult to find a good one with GPS though. If GPS is a must for you, you should expect to pay around 200-500USD for full options.

As for more than 500USD, you can get a premium hiking watch with optimal performance and advanced features. The more expensive options are suitable for professional athletes or hardcore explorers.

3. Design

In addition to the watch’s functionality and price, you can also consider the style and design of the hiking watch. Is the watch user-friendly? Is the display clear enough for you to see in the dark or under direct sunlight? Are the straps available in different colors? Are the watch faces customizable? How does the watch look on your wrist? Is the watch suitable for daily chores as well? When it comes to design and style, it’s really up to you and your personal preferences.

Conclusion

We hope that our selection of the best hiking watch and the buying guide above have been helpful for you in preparing for your next hiking trip. What’s worth highlighting is that no matter where you plan to hike next, a hiking watch is a crucial item that should not be ignored. Like other hiking gears, a good hiking watch if chosen wisely will be a fantastic companion during your journey.

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