Maybe you love hiking. Maybe you’ve never tried it before but want to. In either case, you will need to invest in some good hiking gear. And one must-have item is a great hiking watch. If you are an experienced hiker, you probably already know the importance of a good hiking watch.
In the mountains, a hiking watch can be incredibly useful. Whether you are a newbie or a hiker with years of experience, you are probably wondering, “What is the best hiking watch?”
Best Hiking Watches Comparison
The Garmin Fenix 3 is probably one of the top hiking watches on the market today. This watch comes equipped with top-notch features that will make hiking, mountaineering, climbing, and other outdoor activities safe and easy. This watch includes all the features to satisfy even the most discerning and demanding of hikers. When you read the list of features of the Garmin Fenix 3, you will understand why it has been the favorite hiking watch of so many hikers for so many years.
- Chroma display – 1.2” sunlight-visible high-resolution Chroma optically-bonded display;
- Sapphire lens – the ultimate high-strength scratch-resistant domed sapphire glass lens;
- 3-axis compass, altimeter, barometer, and thermometer for outdoor navigation;
- EXO antenna – omnidirectional steel EXO antenna with GPS and GLONASS support for fast navigation and tracking;
- Wireless connectivity to automatically sync your data with Garmin Connect and to update software;
- Smartphone synchronization;
- Connect IQ compatibility for customized apps, widgets, watch faces, and data fields;
- Fitness features: V02 estimator, recovery advisor (when used with a heart rate monitor that is sold separately), race predictor;
- Water resistance – 100 meters;
- Battery life – rechargeable battery up to 20 hours in training/GPS mode, 50 hours in UltraTrac mode, and 6 weeks in watch mode;
- Watch dimensions: 2” W x 2” H x 0.6” D (5.1 x 5.1 x 1.6 cm);
- Weight: 0.18 pounds (85 g).
In the box:
- Fenix 3 – Sapphire watch with metal band;
- Black rubber watch band (removal tools included);
- USB charging / data cable;
- AC adapter;
- Quick start manual.
The Garmin Fenix 3 is designed to make navigation easier in the harshest of outdoor conditions. In addition, this watch comes packed with an incredible set of fitness training features. The Garmin Fenix 3 is available in 3 striking models: gray with high-strength scratch-resistant crystal and a black band; silver with a red band; and a premium sapphire model with a stainless steel band and sapphire glass. Each model has a protective stainless steel bezel and buttons. The reinforced housing provides exceptional durability.
The Garmin Fenix 3 Sapphire is designed to impress. This wristwatch is fabricated from sturdy stainless steel and comes with a sunlight-visible, high-resolution, scratch-resistant sapphire display. The Chroma display with LED backlight allows you to read data even in darkness.
The Garmin Fenix 3 Sapphire has ABC sensors: altimeter, barometer, and a 3-axis compass for accurate real-time data. The barometer predicts weather changes by showing short-term trends in air pressure. The altimeter provides data on ascents and descents. And the 3-axis electronic compass helps you keep your bearing whether you are moving or stationary. The Fenix 3 calibrates its ABC sensors (altimeter, barometer, and compass) automatically with a GPS receiver. The GPS also makes it possible to automatically set the time based on your location. If you need accurate temperature readings, you can connect it to an external temperature sensor.
The Garmin Fenix 3 is one of the best hiking watches available to outdoor enthusiasts. Leading GPS technology provides fast and accurate navigation and tracking. Built-in sensors deliver information on heading, elevation, and weather changes. The GPS gives you a “breadcrumb trail” when you are on the move. You can mark different locations, for instance, a start / finish line, course checkpoints, or other points of interest. It also allows you to mark up to 1,000 locations and store up to 10,000 track points. You can import these routes and the watch will give you directions.
The wireless connectivity and BaseCamp application of the Fenix 3 allow you to plan your trips and share your adventures with family and friends. You can also personalize your watch with apps, widgets, unique watch faces, and data fields with the Fenix 3’s Connect IQ platform. The Fenix 3 can be synchronized with your mobile phone to display emails, texts, and alerts. The watch receives a wireless signal from your smartphone and displays notifications on its screen. This is an exceedingly useful function.
That’s not all. The Garmin Fenix 3 is equipped with other advanced features that keep you informed of your fitness and form. The VO2 max estimator can be used with a heart rate monitor (sold separately) to provide data such has running speed, beats per minute, and heart rate variability. This allows you to estimate the maximum volume of oxygen you can consume per minute. Other useful fitness features include the recovery advisor, the recovery timer, the recovery check, and the race predictor that estimates your finish time based on your current VO2 max value.
To measure your running dynamics, the Garmin Fenix 3 offers intuitive feedback on your form by measuring several different metrics. You can also separately purchase the HRM-Run Monitor and the Fenix 3 will report your cadence, vertical oscillation, and ground contact time. With these metrics on hand, your running economy and form is bound to improve.
Another special feature of the Garmin Fenix 3 makes it very effective in swim training and skiing. The watch can track your distance, pace, stroke count, and more. You just need to set the size of your swimming pool before you begin your workout. In the ski-board mode, the watch tells you the speed, distance, vertical drop, and autorun counter (with auto-pause for the lift line) and more.
If you have the VIRB and VIRB Elite action cameras, you can use this hiking watch as a glove-friendly remote via ANT+.
The Garmin Fenix 3 is also suitable for other sports such as mountaineering, trekking, cycling, skiing, running, and swimming. It is water-rated up to a depth of 100 meters. The rechargeable battery lasts up to 50 hours in UltraTrac mode, up to 20 hours in training / GPS mode, and up to 3 months in watch mode (depending on the settings).
All in all, the Garmin Fenix 3 is a remarkable hiking watch with an amazing set of features. With this watch, you will get not only an outdoor navigator but a valuable fitness assistant. It can be used for hiking and training as well as for everyday use. The Garmin Fenix 3 is one of the highest rated hiking watches on the market. It is loved by hundreds of users who have given it an estimated 5-stars in reviews for hiking watches.
Check out this review of the Garmin Fenix 3 on YouTube:
The Epix is another outstanding watch from Garmin. The Garmin Epix is similar to the Garmin Fenix 3 and has the same great fitness, tracking, and navigation capabilities. But if you need in-depth fitness metrics, if you care about your cadence and heart rate while mountaineering, or if you want to record your interval times and get your V02 max value, then you should certainly consider this marvelous gadget.
The Garmin Epix is a lightweight, waterproof, reliable, and rugged wristwatch that will be of tremendous assistance while hiking, cycling, running, swimming, skiing, or performing other sports activities. It is one of the best hiking watches featuring GPS navigation. This watch is known for its sterling performance. Here are the main features of the Garmin Epix:
- Suitable for hiking, mountaineering, running, cycling, swimming and other outdoor activities;
- 4” high-resolution, sunlight-visible color Chroma touchscreen display with 205 x 148 pixels;
- 8 GB built-in memory;
- Connect IQ app for customization the watch with apps, widgets, data fields, and unique watch faces;
- Stainless steel EXO antenna;
- GPS and GLONASS navigation with TOPO U.S. 24K maps, City Navigator NT, and satellite imagery;
- ANT+ sensor support;
- Auto upload of data wirelessly to Garmin Connect, LiveTrack, and social media, plus Smart Notification4 to receive emails, texts, and alerts directly on the watch;
- PC or smartphone connection via USB, Bluetooth, or ANT+;
- Rechargeable battery up to 24 hours in GPS / training mode, 50 hours in UltraTrac mode, and 16 weeks in watch mode (depending on settings);
- Water resistance: 50 meters;
- Weight: 3.04 ounces;
- Watch dimensions: 2.1” W x 2” H x 0.7” D.
The Garmin Epix is really one of the best hiking watches out there, but at first, it may not seem all that easy to use. If you are not familiar with Garmin gadgets, you may find it a little inconvenient and difficult to use all the functions of this watch. You will probably need to refer to the manual. But with a little practice, you’ll be cruising along in no time at all.
The Epix is a tad bulky and perhaps even uncomfortable to wear because of its size. However, the rubberized strap is designed for comfort. While it cannot compete with the Apple Watch in terms of design, its functionality is incomparable, and you are sure to love wearing this watch.
The Garmin Epix is a first of its kind hiking watch with a high-resolution, sunlight-visible color display. There is a backlight, but when used in bright sunlight, you need the right angle for clear viewing. The display gives you fingertip access to vivid, detailed maps, including integrated worldwide shaded relief base maps. This watch comes with a stainless steel EXO antenna and GPS and GLONASS that make signal reception stronger and more stable.
The Garmin Epix has all the functions of an ABC gadget (altimeter, barometer, compass) that work together to facilitate navigation. The 3-axis compass is undoubtedly a must-have feature in any good hiking watch for accurate information. You can zoom in to find your precise path. The barometer can be a lifesaver because it informs you well in advance about any incoming bad weather. The altimeter provides data about ascents and descents.
The Epix includes pre-loaded maps for information on trails, roads, elevations, rivers, lakes, parks, forests and other places of interest. The watch also has 8 GB of built-in memory to support additional mapping, including a 1-year BirdsEye Satellite Imagery subscription and regional TOPO U.S. 24K maps, City Navigator, and BlueChart g2 maps. With Smart Notification, you will never miss an important email or text even when you are miles from home in the wilderness or on top of a mountain. Just one quick glance at your watch will tell you whether you absolutely need to take out your mobile phone or not.
The fitness metrics offered by the Garmin Epix are very similar to the Fenix 3. You can track your performance and share it with family and friends. Simply download a Garmin app called Connect IQ to customize watch faces and add widgets and new data fields, so you will have your own unique Epix watch. The Epix wirelessly connects to your smartphone and syncs data, so it is easy to stay on top of things. You will have access to data on your smartphone including distance, pace, heart rate, elevation, calories, and the points on the map where you have been. For those who are avid fitness freaks, the watch includes a V02 Max which shows you your fitness level. You can also measure your heart rate, bike speed, cadence, temperature, vertical oscillation, and much more to tweak your performance and improve your form and timing.
The Garmin Epix has a 5-atmosphere waterproof rating and it is also shock-proof, which means it is water resistant to a depth of 50 meters. You will never have to worry about swimming with the Epix on or crossing a river or slamming the watch into a rock or anything hard. The Garmin Epix is sturdy enough to withstand all this without damage.
The battery life of the Epix is fairly good. However, in GPS / training mode, it is only 24 hours, so if are going on a long hike for a few days and use the watch in GPS mode, it may be troublesome because the battery may die on you. But, you can charge it with a mobile battery charger on long trips. Using the Epix simply as a watch, and you don’t need to recharge it for an incredible 16 weeks, but this also depends on the settings.
All in all, the Garmin Epix is one of the best hiking watches in its category. It can be used as a navigator as well as a fitness tracker for both indoor and outdoor activities. The sunlight-visible color display shows your route. The maps are pretty easy to navigate. While the Epix is a bit pricey, for your money you will get an impressive GPS navigator and smart watch with wonderful functionality. This gadget is really worth your attention.
Check out this review of the Garmin Epix on YouTube:
The Suunto Ambit 3 is one of the best watches for hiking available on the market today. It comes in different colors and two models – the Peak and the Sport. Both watches demonstrate exceptional performance; however, the Peak is more expensive than the Sport because it includes a barometric altimeter and has a longer battery life. These are the primary differences between the two models, but otherwise, their functionality is identical. So, we will review the Suunto Ambit 3 Peak, but you can also consider the Sports edition. Here are key features of this first-rate hiking watch:
- Suitable for hiking, mountaineering, trekking, climbing, cycling, running, swimming and other daily activities;
- Housing material: reinforced polyamide;
- Integrated barometer, altimeter, compass, and thermometer;
- Tracks GPS, heart rate, VO2, recovery time and daily fitness;
- Tracks heart rate while swimming;
- Calorie counter;
- Bluetooth smart foot pod and cycling sensor support;
- Smartphone synchronization;
- Customization with apps, widgets, watch faces and data fields;
- Weight: 0.6 pounds (80 g);
- Water resistance: up to 100 meters;
- Battery life: 14 days general use, 15 hours with 5-second GPS fixed intervals.
In the box:
- Suunto Ambit3 Peak;
- Heart rate strap;
- USB charging / syncing cable.
The Suunto Ambit 3 is designed for a wide range of sports and outdoor activities. This watch has all the necessary features to satisfy the most demanding hikers and meet their needs. It comes with an altimeter, so height above sea level is readily available. Thanks to the barometer, you will never be caught unprepared for bad weather. You can plan in advance when harsh weather conditions are expected. A compass is essential for safe and quick navigation. This is probably the most useful feature in a hiking watch. Navigation is a breeze with the Suunto Ambit 3. The integrated GPS technology helps you stay on track during a hike and also relive and share your adventures with friends and family.
If you have prior experience with Suunto watches, you may already have the ANT+ kit. But, the Ambit 3 doesn’t support the ANT+ sensor. The Suunto Ambit 3 is compatible with Bluetooth. With the Suunto Movescount app, you can connect your watch wirelessly to your mobile device to create 3D map animation movies, keep time and data on the go, customize your watch settings, receive smartphone updates on your watch face, analyze your metrics, and perform so many more functions. So, what you get is a complete overview of your activities. You will see the exact distance you’ve walked, your speed, and other useful information. You can also import routes in GPX format from your computer to the watch. You can get notifications from your phone. It is extremely convenient to be notified about incoming and missed calls, messages, emails, and other notifications on the watch display. This is a feature you will appreciate again and again when you’re running and your phone is not easily accessible.
The Suunto Ambit 3 provides data about your heart rate. The watch includes a heart rate strap. It can store and sync your heart rate data both in the Ambit 3 and in the Movescount app. Keep in mind that the strap is not compatible with other third party straps.
Furthermore, the Ambit 3 shows you how many calories you’ve burned. This a useful feature, especially for those who are serious about fitness.
The Suunto Ambit 3 offers a choice amongst the most popular sports to track. You can also add up to 10 sports online and save a different setting for each one. So, you can switch from one sport to another even while you’re on the move.
The battery life of the Suunto Ambit 3 Peak is 50 hours in the GPS mode. Keep in mind, however, that with every connection, you use up battery life. So the truth is you will rarely have all 50 hours of battery life, but it is surely enough for about 24 hours of navigation.
The Ambit 3 Peak offers 100 meters of water resistance, but if you are considering the Ambit 3 Sport, make note that it is water resistant only to 50 meters.
All in all, the Suunto Ambit 3 Peak is one of the best hiking watches available with a multisport mode and excellent GPS accuracy. This hiking watch is an attractive gadget for the serious athlete because it provides insight into athletic progress and gives you metrics that make training more effective. So, if you are serious about a sport, the Suunto Ambit 3 is a must-have watch for you.
The Suunto Traverse is another one of the top rated hiking watches on the market today. This watch was released in October 2015 and has already received many positive reviews from amateurs and professional hikers alike. The Suunto Traverse is available in 5 stunning colors: Amber, Black, Graphite, White, and Slate. The Suunto Traverse is designed to look more attractive and function more conveniently, so in this regard, it is an improvement over the Suunto Ambit 3. The Traverse really deserves to be in the running for the best hiking watch in light of its exceptional performance. Here are the key features of this watch:
- 5 sports modes;
- Altimeter, barometer, compass, and thermometer for outdoor navigation;
- Supports GPS and GLONASS navigation systems;
- GPS tracking and GPS navigation;
- Flashlight mode for more illumination;
- Bluetooth chipset;
- Free topographic maps in Movescount app ;
- Breadcrumb of the track is always visible;
- Measures altitude, distance, steps, points of interest, calories;
- Vibration alerts;
- Battery life: up to 100 hours when GPS recording is on;
- Water resistance: 100 meters;
- Weight: 80 g.
The Suunto Traverse GPS Watch is suitable for many different outdoor activities such as hiking, mountaineering, trekking, running, climbing, and more. The case of the Traverse is fabricated from a durable composite material and it has a stainless steel scratch-resistant bezel. The lens is made of mineral crystal for basic protection from scratches, but this is certainly not as strong as sapphire glass.
The Suunto Traverse features an altimeter, barometer, compass, and GPS tracking and navigation. The watch automatically switches between the barometer and altimeter mode. When an altitude change is detected, it switches to the altimeter. When the Traverse is at a constant height above sea level, it switches to the barometer mode.
The Suunto Traverse supports not only GPS but also the GLONASS navigation system. There are 50 routes for navigation. Routes can be planned in the Movescount app. Moreover, the track back and find back features are very useful for hiking or mountaineering. The watch also supports the following coordinate systems: UMT, MGRS, and WGS84. The Traverse displays an automatic breadcrumb trail to help you retrace your steps if needed.
Thanks to Bluetooth technology, you can connect the Traverse to your other devices. So, you can connect it to your smartphone and get notifications on your watch. The Movescount app provides in-depth analytics of your activity.
The Suunto Traverse features a flashback mode. In fact, this is a backlight that adds illumination when it is used in the dark.
The battery life of the Suunto Traverse is 100 hours with GPS recording on. This is dramatically better than its main competitors. In the time mode, the battery life is an incredible 14 days.
The watch is water resistant to up to 100 meters depth.
In comparison with the Suunto Ambit 3, the Suunto Traverse is designed more for outdoor enthusiasts while the Ambit 3 is the better choice for professional athletes. The Traverse doesn’t have an external GPS antenna and looks more stylish on your wrist. The Ambit 3 lacks the flashlight mode, vibration alerts, and step counter. However, it offers a sports modes and provides better connectivity. It also has additional features for training like recovery time and activity monitoring. So, if you’re a serious athlete, you should consider the Ambit 3. For amateurs, the Traverse will be the better choice. Simply go for the features that matter most to you.
The Casio PRW-3500T-7 is the newest model from the Casio Pro Trek collection. Released in 2015, this is is a solar-powered sports watch with a stainless steel rotating bezel and a digital dial with date display and backlight. The lens is made of mineral glass. The PRW-3500T-7 comes with a titanium band that is quite lightweight. Keep in mind that Casio Tough Solar watches are battery powered. So, the battery of the PRW-3500T-7 is recharged with a solar panel built into the face of the watch. Let’s take a look at the primary features of this exceptional hiking watch:
- Solar powered;
- Triple Sensor Version 3: altimeter, barometer / thermometer, compass;
- Atomic timekeeping;
- Low temperature resistant (-10⁰C/14⁰F);
- Multiband6 reception of 6-time calibration signals: Japan (2), USA, Germany, England, China;
- Double-lock, 1-press, 3-fold clasp;
- 4 daily alarms with snooze;
- 1/10 –second stopwatch, countdown timer, 12/24-hour formats;
- LED backlight for better illumination;
- Power-saving function;
- Water resistant to 200 meters;
- Battery life: 7 months with the rechargeable battery (normal use without exposure to light after charge), 23 months with the rechargeable battery (when stored in total darkness with the power save mode)
- Weight: 128 g.
The PRW-3500T-7 hiking watch includes an altimeter, barometer, and digital compass. The Triple Sensor Version 3 provides accurate altitude measurements in 1-meter increments every other second and direction measurements over a full 60 consecutive seconds. For information about changes in pressure, the watch features special alarm sounds. With this watch on your wrist, navigation is a breeze.
Like most Pro Trek models, the PRW-3500T-7 offers solar power generation and a 6-band atomic clock radio signal receiver to update time automatically.
Thanks to the automatically activated LED backlight, you can easily read the display even when it’s pitch dark. Simply tilt your wrist in low-light conditions, and the LED display will automatically turn on.
The watch is water resistant up to 200 meters. This is by far the highest depth among its competitors.
Other features that are really useful are the sunrise / sunset time indicator, chronograph, world time indicator, low-temperature resistance, and daily alarms.
The Casio PRW-3500T-7 has shown superior performance and accuracy while navigating. However, this watch is a tad bulky in size and heavy at 128 grams, so it may be uncomfortable to wear for long trips and adventures. It would be really great if Casio would include some smartwatch functionality. The manufacturer should also consider including a GPS receiver to make this a more complete hiking watch. But, this watch is extremely reliable and durable. Its intuitive functionality makes it a great choice for hiking.
Yes, even experienced hikers may be unaware of the latest trends and the highest rated hiking watch on the market currently. The reason is that new technologies are developed rather rapidly. Every year, newer models of the best hiking watches with exciting new features and useful improvements are introduced.
To stay competitive, watch manufacturers have to include the latest innovations that make hiking, mountaineering, climbing, swimming, cycling, trekking, and backpacking easier, safer, and more enjoyable for you.
Most Important Features
So, what are the most important features in a hiking watch? Of course, to some extent it depends on your specific needs and preferences, but a hiking watch is not just a regular watch. It has some very special features. It is essential that a hiking watch is equipped with an altimeter, compass, barometer, and thermometer.
The altimeter in a hiking watch tells you your height above sea level. The compass is vital for navigation. Together, the compass and the altimeter make navigation so much easier. The barometer provides information about weather conditions. It helps you plan your hikes by predicting the weather. Some of the best hiking watches have a GPS receiver, which is definitely a valuable piece of equipment in the great outdoors.
Choosing a highly ranked hiking watch may require a considerable amount of research. Fortunately for you, we have compiled a list of the top hiking watch reviews for easy reading.
The Bottom Line
If you love the outdoors and are enthusiastic about hiking, mountaineering, climbing, backpacking, running, or any other sport, don’t deny yourself the marvelous functionality of a good hiking watch. We’ve considered many hiking watch reviews and tried and tested watches to find the best hiking watch for you. Also, if you are looking for watches with a GPS or for backpacking, check out our pages about the best gps watch for hiking and the best backpacking watch!
The most important thing is to choose a watch that will give you accurate data. It should also be easy to use. The watches in our list here include all the essential features like an altimeter, barometer, and compass that make navigation a piece of cake. In addition, some of these watches have amazing additional fitness features. So, all you need to do now is decide whether you need a simple watch for hiking with basic navigation features or a more advanced watch with even better functionality.