People who love outdoor adventures need appropriate gear. A good altimeter watch is essential for anyone who likes hiking, mountaineering, climbing, skiing, backpacking, or other outdoor activities. These watches have ABC sensors (altimeter, barometer, and compass) which are must-haves for every outdoor enthusiast.
Weather change is caused by variations in air pressure. An altimeter watch informs you of pressure changes in the barometer mode. You will be aware of incoming inclement weather and can prepare for any harsh weather conditions in advance. For a higher price, you can get an altimeter watch with a built-in GPS and other advanced features that track your activity. Check out our brief comparison table of the top altimeter watches (article continues below):
Top Altimeter Watches Comparison Table
Casio PAG240-1CR Pathfinder
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|4.5 out of 5 stars|
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Garmin Fenix 3
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|4.4 out of 5 stars|
Click here to read from 386 customer reviews!
Casio PRW-3000-1ACR Protrek
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|4.2 out of 5 stars|
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Suunto Core Multifunctional Watch
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|4.1 out of 5 stars|
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|4.1 out of 5 stars|
Click here to read from 97 customer reviews!
There are literally hundreds of altimeter watches on the market and it’s easy to get confused. However, a good altimeter watch review can help you find the model best suited to your needs. You should know that if you are planning a long distance hike, you are likely to face changing and extreme weather, and not every watch can handle this. So it’s vital that your watch is durable and has scratch-resistant glass.
If you want an altimeter watch with GPS, you should pay attention to battery life as GPS can use up a lot of battery on long treks. The average battery life in GPS mode is about 24-50 hours. So, if your trek will last more than 1 or 2 days, you may need to carry spare batteries. To improve battery life in your altimeter watch, it is a good idea to set a longer GPS interval, but make note that this will result is less than perfect accuracy. In watch mode, however, the battery life is significantly longer and watch manufacturers are constantly trying to improve it further. Solar-powered watches are really the ideal solution for longer trips as you don’t have to recharge them as often or carry a replacement battery. Solar watches can last a few months without being recharged. In general, battery life is a crucial factor when choosing an altimeter watch.
Accuracy is also critical. A good altimeter watch is reliable and provides precise and accurate data.
So these are some of the important features you should consider when deciding on which altimeter watch is the best. But the question still remains – what is the best altimeter watch? We’ve tested several different watches to bring you a review of the best ones. Suunto, Casio, and Garmin are the leaders in this category. Their watches consistently have the highest scores among users. Here is our list of the top altimeter watches:
The PAG240-1CR Pathfinder is a great solar-powered altimeter watch from Casio that features a Triple Sensor and many additional useful features. For a price that is quite affordable, you get the following features:
- Tough solar power;
- Triple Sensor (altimeter / barometer, compass, and thermometer);
- Full auto LED backlight with afterglow;
- World time with 31 time zones (48 cities), city code display, daylight saving on/off, countdown timer, 12/24 hour format, 1/100 second stopwatch, full auto calendar (preprogrammed until the year 2099), hourly time signal, 5 daily alarms, sunrise/sunset time for a specific date, daylight pointers;
- Solar rechargeable battery with battery power indicator and power saving function;
- Battery life: up to 6 months on full charge (without further exposure to light);
- Low temperature resistant (-10⁰C / 14⁰F);
- Water resistance: 100 meters.
The Casio PAG240-1CR Pathfinder comes with a stainless steel case with mineral glass. The display features an auto full backlight with afterglow, so it’s easy to read data in both bright daylight and low-light conditions. Thanks to the resin strap with buckle clasp, the watch fits snugly on your hand and you can rest assured it will not break or get lost.
This solar-powered watch features a digital compass, altimeter / barometer, and thermometer, so navigation will be a breeze. The compass measures and displays direction as one of 16 points. The altimeter allows you to track elevation from -2,300 to 32,800 feet (-700 to 10,000 m) in 20 foot (5 m) increments. You can also store up to 40 records of altitude, date and time.
There is a target alarm on this watch which informs you when you reach a goal. The barometer tracks atmospheric pressure and detects weather changes which are displayed on the barometric tendency graph. The thermometer ranges from 14 to 140⁰F (-10 to 60⁰C).
In addition, the Casio PAG240-1CR Pathfinder has some other great features like world time with 31 time zones (48 cities), countdown timer, stopwatch, 5 daily alarms, hourly time signal, full auto calendar, sunrise/sunset data, and much more. It is water resistant to 100 meters, so you don’t have to take it off while swimming. The PAG240 can withstand temperatures as low as -10⁰C/14⁰F.
What is most important, however, is that you don’t have to worry about the battery life of this watch. You don’t need to recharge it for up to 6 months. The battery uses solar power to recharge. A power indicator tells you when the battery is running low and you need to recharge the watch.
The price of this watch is quite reasonable for what you get. It is less expensive than some of the GPS watches on the market, and its functionality is comparable to more expensive models. So, if you want a great altimeter watch and don’t need any extras like fitness tracking features offered by some GPS watches, then you should definitely consider the Casio PAG240-1CR Pathfinder. This is a great watch that is especially popular with hikers.
Check out this video of the Casio PAG240-1CR Pathfinder on YouTube:
The Garmin Fenix 3 is one of the best watches with an altimeter that also comes with GPS and lots of handy features to track activity. This watch is not solar-powered like some models from Casio, but it has one of the longest lasting batteries among watches with GPS. It has a durable stainless steel bezel. Some versions of the Fenix 3 feature scratch-resistant sapphire glass. The watch features a color Chroma display with LED backlight that lets you read data in both daylight and darkness. Besides its navigation capability, the Fenix 3 has a plenty of features that will appeal to the fitness enthusiast. Let’s take a closer look at the features of this watch:
- 2” high-resolution, sunlight-visible color Chroma display with LED backlight;
- 3-axis compass, altimeter, barometer and thermometer;
- Omnidirectional steel EXO antenna with GPS and GLONASS support;
- Connectivity and synchronization with a smartphone via Bluetooth;
- Compatible with Connect IQ platform for customization of watch faces, data fields, apps, and widgets;
- Fitness features: tracks steps, distance, speed, cadence, strokes, calories, V02 estimator, recovery advisor (when used with a heart rate monitor that is sold separately), race predictor;
- Smart notifications from a smartphone;
- Move bar with vibration alerts to motivate you to move;
- Alarm, stopwatch, timer;
- Water resistance: 100 meters;
- Battery life: 20 hours in GPS / training mode, 50 hours in UltraTrac mode, and 6 weeks in watch mode.
The Garmin Fenix 3 is equipped with a 3-axis compass, altimeter, barometer, and thermometer, which will make navigation a breeze. This ABC sensor provides all the data you could possibly need, such as the route and weather changes. Weather predictions are possible thanks to the barometer and altimeter. The Fenix 3 features omnidirectional EXO antenna that supports GPS and GLONASS.
The GPS accuracy in this watch is exceptionally good. The watch gets a GPS fix very quickly, usually within a few seconds. The battery life in GPS mode is about 20 hours, but be aware that with every connection, this decreases. Keep in mind that if you set the watch to longer GPS intervals, the battery life may be enhanced, but the accuracy may be worsened. In watch mode, you can use the Fenix 3 for up to 6 weeks. But if you plan to use the watch for navigation and utilize its full functionality, then the battery life is not all that great. There is no preloaded map, but the watch features programmable routes and includes 50 routes and 1,000 waypoints. You can also store up to 10,000 track points.
In addition, the Garmin Fenix 3 offers outstanding fitness tracking functionality. It is suitable for a variety of sports and can track speed, distance, pace, cadence, calories, strokes, vertical oscillation, vertical drop (for skiing), heart rate (monitor sold separately), and much more. The watch also features VO2 max, recovery advisor, race predictor, and move bar with vibration alerts to motivate you to move.
The Garmin Connect IQ platform allows you to store data and customize the watch with watch faces, data fields, apps, and widgets. You can receive smart notifications directly on the watch.
All in all, the Garmin Fenix 3 is a durable GPS watch that is a great choice for an outdoor enthusiast who is keen to track activity. The watch is water resistant to 100 meters. It delivers accurate data to help you safely navigate the Great Outdoors. There are some great fitness tracking features in this watch that will appeal to the athlete in you. This watch is not inexpensive, though, but for the features and functionality it offers, the price is actually quite reasonable. Before you buy this watch, however, think long and hard about whether you will truly use all the fitness features. It may be that you simply need a less expensive altimeter watch for navigation only.
Check out this review of the Garmin Fenix 3 review on YouTube:
If you’re setting off on a long adventure, you’ll definitely need a reliable altimeter watch that will give you the information you need to stay safe. This includes not only the time of day, but other data about the route and weather changes. And if you’re headed on a multi-day hiking trip, the watch shouldn’t die on you because of poor battery life.
The Casio PRW-3000-1ACR Protrek watch may be the best solution for long trips. This altimeter watch is solar powered, which means that you don’t need to recharge it for a long, long time. There is no need to carry a spare battery either.
All you need to do is expose this watch to a source of light to keep the battery charged. The battery life of this watch is an impressive 7 months on full charge without any further exposure to light. But this is not the only useful feature. The Casio PRW-3000-ACR Protrek has a number of other practical features:
- Tough solar power;
- Version 3 Triple Sensor (altimeter / barometer, compass, and thermometer);
- Multi-Band 6 atomic timekeeping;
- Full auto LED (super illuminator) backlight with afterglow;
- World time with 31 time zones (48 cities + UTC), city name display, daylight saving on /off, 12/24 hour format, countdown timer, 5 daily alarms, 1/10 second stopwatch, hourly time signal, full auto calendar (preprogrammed until the year 2099), sunrise / sunset time for a specific date / daylight pointers;
- Solar rechargeable battery with battery level indicator and power saving function;
- Battery life up to 7 months on full charge (without further exposure to light);
- Low temperature resistant (-10⁰C / 14⁰F);
- Water resistance: 100 meters.
The Casio PRW-3000-1ACR Protrek is a multifunctional watch which features a Version 3 Triple Sensor (altimeter / barometer, thermometer, and digital compass).
The altimeter can measure high / low altitudes in 1-meter increments (and store up to 30 records). It also has auto cumulative ascent and descent for each individual trek. The compass displays readings with 60 seconds of continuous measurement. The barometer measures atmospheric pressure and has a pressure tendency alarm that alerts the user of sudden changes in pressure.
For accurate timekeeping, the watch features Multi-Band 6 Atomic Timekeeping that automatically gets Atomic Clock time calibration signals in the US, UK, Germany, Japan, and China.
In addition, the Casio PRW-3000-1ACR Protrek is equipped with several useful features such as world time with 31 time zones (48 cities + UTC), countdown timer, hourly time signal, stopwatch, 5 daily alarms, auto calendar, sunrise / sunset data. The watch is extremely durable and performs well in temperatures as low as 10⁰C / 14⁰F. It can resist water up to 100 meters.
This watch is quite reasonably priced and you can find great deals on Amazon. For the performance it offers, the Casio PRW-3000-1ACR Protrek is popular with users and has great reviews on various online forums.
Check out this review of the Casio PRW on YouTube:
The Tactix is a superb watch with altimeter from Garmin. It is designed in military style, so in some altimeter watch reviews, it is referred to as a military GPS watch. It features a forged stainless steel rear case which is coated black to make it non-reflective and scratch-resistant. The watch face is made of curved mineral lens glass. Here are some of the top features of the Garmin Tactix:
- 2” non-reflective, scratch-resistant curved mineral lens with green LED backlight;
- Stainless steel EXO antenna;
- High-sensitivity GPS and GLONASS positioning;
- 3-axis compass, altimeter, and barometer;
- Simultaneously shows 2 sets of coordinate system on 1 screen;
- ANT+ and Bluetooth connectivity to a smartphone;
- TracBack feature to navigate back to your starting point;
- Tracks distance, speed, pace, cadence, calories and other metrics while running or cycling;
- Preloaded with Jumpmaster software for skydivers and offers 3 jump types: HAHO, HALO, Static;
- U.S. tide data and worldwide basecamp;
- Sun/moon info; hunt/fish calendar; stopwatch; timer; alarm clock; world clock with auto time-zone calibration; vibration alerts;
- Smart notifications directly to the watch;
- Customization of the watch with a variety of watch faces, data fields, widgets, and apps from Garmin;
- Water resistance: 50 meters;
- Battery life: up to 50 hours in GPS mode, 3 weeks in sensor mode, and 5 weeks in watch mode.
The Garmin Tactix is a high-sensitivity GPS watch that features ABC sensors for easy navigation (altimeter, barometer, 3-axis compass). The barometer and altimeter help predict weather and the compass shows the direction.
The watch tracks 1,000 waypoints and stores up to 10,000 track points. You can also create a breadcrumb trail on the move and the TracBack function will help you navigate back on the recorded trail. This is a really convenient safety function because you can easily find your way back in case of an emergency. The Tactix simultaneously shows 2 sets of coordinate systems on the display, so you can view your current location in multiple formats including latitude / longitude and MGRS (military grid reference system). This feature is especially helpful for professionals.
The Tactix comes with ANT+ and Bluetooth to sync your data with your smartphone. You can obtain information about your routes, waypoints, distance, speed, pace, cadence, and calories in the Garmin Basecamp app. This watch can also be used as a remote for the Garmin VIRB and VIRB Elite HD action cameras. You can customize the watch with data fields, watch faces, apps, and widgets. With the Tactix, you won’t have to worry about missed calls or unread messages. The watch features smart notification that displays the info from your smartphone on the watch face. In addition, the Tactix is compatible with a heart rate monitor, bike sensor, and foot pod.
The Garmin Tactix also features a world clock with auto time-zone calibration, sun/moon info, hunt/fish calendar, alarm, stopwatch, timer, vibration alerts. The watch is water resistant to 50 meters. The battery will last up to 50 hours in GPS mode, which is sufficient for weekend trips.
The price of the Garmin Tactix is reasonable. It’s less expensive than the Fenix 3, but that doesn’t mean it’s an inferior watch. If you simply need an altimeter watch with navigation features, then the Tactix may be a better choice for you.
Check out this review of the Garmin Tactix on YouTube:
The Suunto Core Multifunctional Watch is one of the best altimeter watches on the market. It comes loaded with several functions that are essential for navigation. The watch is extremely durable and performs exceptionally well even in harsh weather conditions. The case is made of a resilient composite material. The bezel is aluminum. The display is made of mineral crystal and features a backlight. However, note that the backlight is rather dim and difficult to read unless you are in complete darkness. Here are the key features of the Suunto Core:
- Altimeter/barometer, compass, and thermometer;
- Automatic Alti/Baro mode to switch between altimeter and barometer functions;
- Barometric altimeter is accurate to 29,500 feet and displays current elevation and ascent/descent;
- Storm alarm;
- Stopwatch timer, countdown timer, 1 daily alarm, sunrise/sunset data;
- Depth meter for snorkeling up to 10 m;
- User-replaceable battery with low battery indicator;
- Battery life: 12 months;
- Water resistance: 30 meters.
The Suunto Core Multifunctional Watch features one of the best altimeter/barometer functions of all the altimeter watches on the market. It measures long-term pressure trends and provides accurate data. The watch shows elevation in 3-foot intervals. There is also an altitude log.
This is a really handy feature because the watch can log your total ascent/decent and the number of runs for 7 days. The Core also has a graph that shows both altitude and pressure trends. The watch switches between altimeter and barometer automatically and provides you with information about the weather.
When the Suunto Core detects an incoming storm, it alerts you with the storm alarm. Not all altimeter watches have this safety feature.
The Suunto Core Multifunctional Watch also includes traditional watch functionality including a stopwatch timer, countdown timer, sunrise/sunset data, and daily alarm.
The watch is water resistant to 30 meters and this is not the best among the watches we reviewed. Water resistance to a 30-meter depth means this watch is not suitable for scuba diving. However, snorkelers can use this watch without problems and can use the waterproof buttons to obtain accurate depth readings up to 10 meters.
The battery of the Suunto Core is replaceable. The battery life is up to 12 months. There is a low battery indicator that informs you when the battery needs replacement.
All in all, the Suunto Core is one of the best altimeter watches on the market. Although this watch is one of the more expensive among watches without GPS, it performs exceptionally well and provides accurate data, justifying the price. Outdoor enthusiasts love the functionality and reliability of this watch.
Check out this review of the Suunto Core on YouTube:
The Bottom Line
An altimeter watch is an essential gadget for hiking, backpacking, mountaineering, skiing, or climbing. When you plan your trip outdoors, you need to prepare for the worst. You don’t want to get lost in the mountains or get caught in a storm. A good navigator watch with altimeter, barometer, and compass will keep you safe and make your trip all the more enjoyable. The altimeter and barometer functions are vital additions to a compass as they can help predict the weather.
We’ve reviewed the best watches with an altimeter that are both durable and perform well in all types of conditions including harsh weather. We’ve included some watches with only basic navigation features as well as others with fitness tracking functions. GPS watches are more functional, but they are also more expensive and have a lower battery life. So, consider whether you simply need an altimeter watch for navigation or a multifunctional watch with an altimeter, GPS, and fitness tracking. We hope you will find this review helpful in finding the best altimeter watch for you.