The best hiking watch
Whether you're a serious thru-hiker or simply someone who enjoys wandering into the woods from time to time, a sport watch is a reliable way to track your metrics, improve your performance, and stay safe when you're off the grid. The best hiking watches have a rugged construction with scratch-proof components along with a certain degree of water-resistance (if it can be fully submerged in water, that's even better). Aside from these basic requirements, there are a few other features to consider:
- Barometer and altimeter: These tools measure elevation via metrics like atmospheric pressure and distance from sea level. The former not only tracks altitude but helps provide weather forecasts, too.
- GPS navigation: Although not absolutely critical, it's helpful to have a GPS monitor on your watch to track where you've been and identify your location in an emergency. As an alternative, a three-axis compass works well, too.
- Robust battery life: This factor is especially important for a hiking watch since you likely won't have access to electricity or charging stations. All of the watches below have a battery that can last at least 30 hours while using more demanding features like GPS navigation.
To help connect you with an option that best fits your style and budget, I made a list of the best hiking watches on Amazon below.
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1. The basic watch
This versatile, mid-range Suunto watch is one of the best hiking watches under $300. On top of features such as heart-rating monitoring and GPS tracking, it boasts an altimeter and barometer that you can use to record your metrics as you make your way through the great outdoors. The battery lasts 12 hours with GPS turned on and in training mode. Meanwhile, the watch itself is comfortable, lightweight, and extremely durable, with up to 30-meter water-resistance, which means it can handle splashes of water but can't be fully submerged.
One reviewer says: "I love the look and feel of the watch, I was looking for an all day everyday watch. I can log my runs, track my hike via gps, and then wear it to a fancy dinner so I get the full day's activity scope."
2. The one with all the bells and whistles
This Garmin hiking watch is loaded with outdoor-specific features that make it a dependable choice for wilderness excursions whether you're on a multi-day backpacking trip or a simple day hike. In addition to an accurate wrist-based heart monitor, it has routable, full-color topographic maps, a three-axis compass, GPS and GLONASS outdoor navigation functions, a barometer, an altimeter, and night vision goggle compatibility. On top of that, it's chock-full of specialized tactical functions and an extra long battery life that can last up to 12 days.
This Garmin watch is made from a durable combination of titanium and stainless steel that's resistant to scratches and weather elements — and it's boasts 100-meter water-resistance, which means it can handle snorkeling-level submergence but isn't cut out for diving.
One reviewer says: "I do a lot of hiking, both on the trail and off the trail, and I wanted the ability to have maps at my fingertips. Many of the maps I've used on my phone do not have the detail that the maps on this watch have. It comes with the full US TOPO map but I also purchased several higher resolution regional maps. You will not be disappointed with these maps and the GPS location abilities of this watch."
3. The budget watch
For folks who just want something affordable that covers the basics, this is one of the best hiking watches under $100. For $47, you won't get GPS or comparable navigation, but you do get a thermometer, altimeter, and barometer in addition to five alarms, a stopwatch, a countdown timer and a long-lasting battery. Designed with a tough woven nylon band, this watch offers 100-meter water-resistance (in other words, you can wear it while swimming for an extended period, but not for diving).
Unlike the first two options, which are unisex, this one is considered a "men's" watch, which really just means you might need to swap in a smaller band if you have smaller wrists.
One reviewer says: "I purchased this watch for hiking and I love it. It's very accurate and works well with lots of features. I saw some other reviews which indicate the temperature sensor and some features don't work well. The watch needs to be calibrated (set the temperature and altitude) for it to correctly calculate the temp and barometer settings (as well as altitude changes) however as long as it gets calibrated it is amazingly accurate at estimating."