The 9 Best GPS Watches of 2022

We tested and researched GPS watches and like Garmin's fenix 6 Pro Solar best

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Woman Hiker in the Wilderness

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TripSavvy's Picks

You’ll want to go with the Garmin fenix 6 Pro Solar for the best all-around GPS watch. It’s thorough in its measurements of your fitness and outdoor activities and even has solar charging capabilities. Plus, it’s more affordable than our second favorite, the fenix 7x Solar. The Suunto 9 Peak—with its attractive style, touchscreen, and numerous activity profiles—is a great GPS watch for folks who want to track their daily workouts. Those who want something durable and rugged may want to go with the Coros Apex Pro or Polar Grit X Pro

First introduced in 1999, GPS watches have come a long way. As more and more people become interested in their health or hit the outdoors in search of adventurous experiences, GPS watches continue to grow in popularity.  

People seek out these watches for various reasons. Some purchase a GPS watch to track their endurance as they run, while others use them for mapping out their hiking route, keeping an eye on weather conditions while backcountry skiing, or letting their loved ones follow their movements while mountain biking in a remote place. 

We’ve gathered all the necessary information—from style to specs and sports modes—and laid it out below. Read on to discover which GPS watch is a fit for you. 

Best Overall: Garmin fēnix 6 Pro Solar

Garmin fenix 6 Pro Solar

Amazon

What We Like
  • Solar charging capabilities

  • A wide range of sports modes

  • TopoActive maps

What We Don't Like
  • Buttons and interface can take time to figure out

Garmin is a leader in wearable technology and GPS navigation, so perhaps it’s no surprise that our favorite GPS watch is the fenix 6 Pro Solar. This rugged and waterproof watch accesses GPS, GLONASS, and Galileo satellite systems to track your movements better when participating in sports and outdoor activities. It may take a bit of time to figure out how to navigate the TopoActive maps with the side buttons of the watch, but once you do, it’s a great tool to use when doing things like skiing or hiking in the wilderness. And with round-trip route and turn-by-turn navigation features, you’re less likely to get lost. 

The fenix 6 Pro Solar features 48 sports and exercise activities like golf, running, and hiking, as well as extreme sports like skiing, mountain biking, surfing, and more. If you prefer to use the fenix 6 Pro Solar for exercises, you’ll enjoy the animated workout sessions that are downloadable with the watch. 

But perhaps the best aspect of the fenix 6 pro solar is the safety features. Upon starting an activity, like hiking or mountain biking in the mountains, you can have your movements tracked in real-time by loved ones. And if the watch senses you’ve had an accident or injury, it will send your location to emergency contacts for immediate assistance. 

We love that the fenix 6 Pro Solar is that it has solar charging capabilities. Garmin advertises that with solar charging, you can get 9 to 10.5 days of battery life when in smartwatch mode. In GPS mode, you only get 25 hours indoors and 28 hours with solar charging. We've typically used the fenix 6 Pro Solar in the smartwatch mode and do about one to two daily activities. The watch typically lasts 4 to 5 days on one charge. In low-power mode, which uses a low-power GPS, we could get a few weeks on one charge, which would be suitable for camping or hiking in remote places for a week or two. 

The watch tracks your sleep, pulse, breathing, and heart rate 24 hours a day and allows you to record hydration and menstrual cycles. With smartwatch features, you can receive text messages and emails (and make quick, pre-set responses), be notified of calls, manage music, and pay with a contactless payment solution.  

Average Battery Life: 5 to 10 days | Display Size: 42 millimeters | Water-Resistance Depth: 100 meters

Garmin fenix 6 Pro Solar
TripSavvy / Nathan Allen.

Best Budget: Fitbit Charge 5

Fitbit Charge 5

REI

What We Like
  • Affordable

  • Heart health and stress tracking

  • Tracks activity when you leave phone at home

What We Don't Like
  • Only 20 activity modes

  • Need premium membership to get features included in other watches

The Fitbit Charge 5 is perfect for those who only need a GPS watch to track basic fitness activities and personal health features like stress, heart health, sleep, and oxygen saturation. The price reflects that there are only 20 exercise modes and a water-resistance depth of 50 meters. 

The built-in GPS will track your pace and distance while doing an exercise. You can leave your phone at home, and your metrics will sync to the Fitbit app when you return. The watch will automatically recognize and record your workout if you forget to start your exercise on the Fitbit Charger 5. 

Android users can take advantage of quick setup, pairing, and pre-set replies to text messages. Fitbit says you can get up to seven days of battery life, but with notifications and consistent workouts, you’ll most likely get four days of charge. 

Average Battery Life: Up to 7 days, average 3 days | Display Size: 0.58 x 1.04 inches | Water-Resistance Depth: 50 meters

Best Multisport: Suunto 9 Peak Watch

Suunto 9 Peak Watch

Moosejaw

What We Like
  • Touchscreen

  • Long battery life

  • Good style

What We Don't Like
  • No safety notification or live tracking

  • Digital compass has difficulty calibrating

The Suunto 9 Peak is the lightest, thinnest, and most durable watch that Suunto has created—and it’s stylish, too. (We've received more compliments on the aesthetics of this watch than any other on the list.) The touchscreen is scratch-resistant, making it a perfect watch to wear when engaging in sports. 

With over 80 different sports modes, the Suunto 9 Peak is the ideal multisport watch. It has typical sports activities like running and cycling and less common activities like roller skating, paragliding, rugby, softball, table tennis, windsurfing, soccer, and parkour. What the watch records depend on the activity you’re doing. So, for instance, if you’re swimming, it’ll record your stroke rate, count, and type. However, no matter the sport, Suunto 9 Peak will record your heart rate, speed, distance, and calories burned and let you track intervals. 

The Suunto 9 Peak’s GPS features can track your movements and help you find your way back to your starting point with the “Find Back” function. If you prefer, you can create routes in the app and upload them to the Peak 9. Whether you choose a pre-set route or create your own, you may want to notate points of interest, like camping spots, caves, bathrooms, or animal markings, along a route. 

One of the most impressive features of this watch is its battery capability. After three weeks of testing (which meant I was receiving smartwatch notifications, doing activities one to two times a day, and undergoing 24/7 tracking), I only had to charge the watch two times as the battery lasted about ten days. 

Average Battery Life: 7 days | Display Size: 43 millimeters| Water-Resistance Depth: 100 meters

Suunto 9 Peak
TripSavvy / Nathan Allen.

Best Trail to Office: Amazfit GTR 3 Pro

Amazfit GTR 3 PRo
Amazon photo.

Amazon

What We Like
  • Sleek and stylish

  • Over 150 sport modes

  • Good battery life

What We Don't Like
  • Not the most user-friendly to set up, but good once you do it

If you plan on wearing your watch straight from your activity to work, if you don't like the typical bulky and rugged look of most GPS watches, or you want a watch to double as your fitness tracker and everyday watch, the Amazfit GTR 3 Pro is a good bet. There's a lot of functionality to like about this watch beyond its impressive 150+ sport modes. It pairs with your Alexa device, can make Bluetooth phone calls, has navigation, and tracks health measures like blood oxygen and stress levels, heart rate, and menstrual cycles.

We also love that this is a bit more of a budget watch and provides an excellent value for what it does. The upshot: If you're looking for an everyday GPS watch that you could wear in more formal settings, this is the best we've seen. Bonus: You won't necessarily have to break the bank to wear it.

Average Battery Life: 12 days of regular use | Display Size: 1.45 inches | Water-Resistance Depth: 50 meters

Amazfit GTR 3 Pro
TripSavvy / Nathan Allen.

Best Endurance: Garmin Enduro

Garmin Enduro
Amazon photo.

Amazon

What We Like
  • Great battery life

  • Solar charging capabilities

  • Awesome trail running-specific trackers and features

What We Don't Like
  • Expensive

  • Heavy

Garmin's Enduro is built for long days outside. This high-end GPS watch features unique aspects for endurance athletes, trail runners, and anyone looking to spend extended time doing activities. It's got loads of features, but some of our favorites are the solar charging capabilities, a trail run-specific VO2 max tracker, a ClimbPro feature, which gives you real-time updates on current and upcoming climbs, head and altitude acclimation trackers, and a recover advisor.

Yes, this watch is costly. And we think it's a bit heavy. But if you are an ultrarunner, trail runner, thru-hiker, mountain biker, or anyone else that wants a high-quality watch to last extended amounts of time outside while tracking some unique and cool features, this is a good pick.

Average Battery Life: 80 hours in GPS mode | Display Size: 1.4 inches | Water-Resistance Depth: 100 meters

Garmin Enduro
TripSavvy / Nathan Allen.

Best for Golfing: SkyCaddie LX5 GPS Golf Watch

SkyCaddie LX5 GPS Golf Watch

Amazon

What We Like
  • Touchscreen with colorful HD graphics

  • Pre-loaded with 35,000 SkyGolf maps

What We Don't Like
  • Battery lasts for up to two rounds

  • Must sign up for a 1–3-year membership for full access to all features

Although some watches on this list will track your fitness while golfing, they don’t provide detailed insights into a golf game that SkyCaddie LX5 does. This Bluetooth and Wi-Fi-enabled watch come with 35,000 pre-loaded SkyGolf maps of golf courses worldwide, allowing you to reference the most detailed map of a golf course while you play. 

With a touchscreen, you can zoom in on the fairway, see hazards, rotate a green to find the best shot, determine the distance of a shot needed, and choose the best club to use based on yardage arcs. In effect, this watch lets you play golf in a ‘smart’ way by providing precise insights about the greens.  

You can keep score on the SkyCaddie LX5 and track each shot you play by choosing which club you used and how far you hit with it. Other features include step tracking, heart rate, a stopwatch, and a timer. 

Perhaps the biggest drawback of this watch is that the battery life is only suitable for up to two rounds of golf. Not to mention, if you want access to all the features, you’ll have to sign up for a plan after a 30-day free trial. Otherwise, with the ‘no annual fee’ option, you’ll only get access to the green's limited front, center, and back information. 

Average Battery Life: Up to two rounds of golf | Display Size: 1.39-inch | Water-Resistance Depth: 30 meters

Best for Running: Garmin Forerunner 945

4.3
Garmin Forerunner 945

Amazon

What We Like
  • Holds up to 500 songs

  • Tracks running specs like cadence, stride length, ground contact, etc. 

What We Don't Like
  • Average battery

While the lightweight Forerunner 945 has activity modes like skiing, hiking, and golfing, it was designed specifically for runners, especially those who like to participate in triathlons and running events. While in GPS mode, you can get up to ten hours of charge time. (In regular mode, you can get about seven days of battery life). 

In addition to measuring and tracking VO2 max, heart rate, and pulse oxygen saturation, the Forerunner 945 tracks specific running measurements like cadence, stride length, ground contact time, balance, and more. With full-color maps, you can easily navigate a route, though if you want assistance, the Forerunner 945 is equipped with a round-trip routing feature and has turn-by-turn navigation when you follow a pre-set route or course. 

For runners who don’t want to bring their phone along on the run, the Forerunner 945 holds up to 500 songs and allows users to sync playlists from Spotify, Deezer, and Amazon. And as with any Garmin GPS watch, you can take advantage of GarminPay and safety and live track features. This model continues to be the favorite among our running-centric testers.

Average Battery Life: 1 week | Display Size: 1.2 inches | Water-Resistance Depth: 50 meters

Best for Hiking: Polar Grit X Pro

Polar Grit X Pro

Amazon

What We Like
  • Sapphire glass for maximum durability

  • Fuelwise provides insightful reminders to refuel

What We Don't Like
  • Touchscreen isn’t as responsive; navigate mostly with buttons

Sapphire glass, which is tough and scratch-resistant, is typically an add-on or upgrade feature, so you’ll be glad to know that the Polar Grit X Pro comes with this durable screen material. On top of that, Polar claims the watch will withstand temperatures of -68 degrees up to 122 degrees F so you can stay connected on hikes in even the most extreme places in the world. 

Serious hikers on multi-day hiking trips can get up to 40 hours of battery power or 100 hours in power saver mode. Otherwise, expect five to seven days of battery life on a regular day-to-day basis. 

The Polar Grit X Pro has elevation profiles and a trackback feature that ensure you never get lost. You can sync a route to your watch for turn-by-turn guidance if you prefer. The dashboard is equipped with a compass and notates sunrise and sunset times, weather, and barometric altitude. We’re fans of the Fuelwise feature, which notifies you when to hydrate and eat carbs during long hikes or activities. 

Like many other watches on this list, the Polar Grit X Pro can receive text and email notifications, has music controls, and monitors your sleep. It comes pre-loaded with 14 sport modes; however, it can hold up to 20 sport profiles. 

Average Battery Life: up to 7 days | Display Size: 1.2 inches | Water-Resistance Depth: 100 meters

Best for Kids: TickTalk 4 Kids Smartwatch

TickTalk 4 Kids Smartwatch

TickTalk

What We Like
  • Video chat and text message kids

  • GPS tracking

  • SOS alert button

What We Don't Like
  • Short battery life

  • Requires a monthly pay-as-you-go plan

A cellphone may be too much responsibility for kids under 12 years old, which is where the TickTalk 4 comes in. This durable children’s watch has fun perks—like activity trackers, step goals, and free kid-friendly music and podcast streaming. However, what makes the watch special is that parents can always remain connected with their kids. 

With GPS location tracking, guardians can monitor their children’s whereabouts on an app. And anytime they want to see or speak to their child, they can two-way message or video call on the watch’s 2X HD 5-megapixel cameras (which can also take photos and videos). The watch doesn’t have internet, games, or social media, and with 20+ parental controls, parents can rest assured that their kids are safely using the watch to stay in touch with their family. 

The most assuring feature of the watch is the SOS Calling. When kids hold the red button, the TickTalk 4 automatically calls a pre-set cell phone number of your choice. Remember that to access all these features; parents must set up a pay-as-you-go plan (as low as $10) with the provided free SIM card.

Average Battery Life: 62 hours | Display Size: 16 millimeters | Water-Resistance Depth: 1 meter, IP67

Best Splurge: Garmin fenix 7X

Garmin fenix 7X

Amazon

What We Like
  • Solar charging capability for up to 5 days in GPS mode

  • Hands-free multi-LED flashlight

What We Don't Like
  • Pricey

If the fenix 7x Solar wasn’t so expensive, we’d have chosen it as our favorite GPS watch. It pulls out all the stops with a touchscreen and five-button interface so you can easily look through topographical maps when doing an outdoor activity. The fenix 7x Solar has solar charging capabilities that give it a battery life of up to five days in GPS mode and five weeks in smartwatch mode. 

One of the unique features of this watch is the multi-LED flashlight. Red and white lights can illuminate a campground or be set as a strobe light while running and cycling for extra visibility. Garmin uses multiple GPS systems to provide the best location readings, but the fenix 7x Solar also utilizes L5 frequency for boosted accuracy. 

You’ll enjoy pre-loaded SkiView maps and 42,000 golf courses, a 1,000-song storage capability, and an ‘up ahead’ feature that provides insights on POIs (like first aid, food, or a finish line) found ‘up ahead’ on a trail. 

If you’re familiar with Garmin, you know that it tracks your health measurements 24/7, has an almost endless number of activity modes, and peace-of-mind safety and tracking features. Garmin added other tools to the fenix 7x Solar like a daily workout suggestion, a visual race predictor (that provides race completion measurements), and a real-stamina tool to amplify your workouts and outdoor lets you track your exertion levels during runs and cycling activities.

Average Battery Life: 5 days | Display Size: 1.4 inches| Water-Resistance Depth: 100 meters

Best Battery Life: Coros APEX Premium Multisport GPS Watch

Coros APEX Premium Multisport GPS Watch

Moosejaw

What We Like
  • Colorful daytime display and night mode

  • 14 percent increase in battery life compared to APEX

What We Don't Consider
  • Dial can be cumbersome to figure out

  • Can’t sync via Wi-Fi; Bluetooth only

People love the Coros brand for its battery life capability, and with the Coros Apex Pro, you get 14 percent more battery life than the Apex when in full GPS mode. That’s about 40 hours of battery life. You could get 100 hours in UltraMax mode or 30 days if you use the watch in regular mode. 

One of the most significant drawbacks to the watch is that it only has 26 supported sports activities. But with these 26 sports, you can create and upload training sessions and routes from the app to the watch and utilize features like a barometric altimeter, heart rate monitor, accelerometer, and gyroscope. Note that the Coros Apex Pro has a 24/7 pulse oximeter; however, it only starts monitoring oxygen saturation levels at high altitudes to suggest when it may be necessary to descend. 

We like the colorful daytime display and the night mode, which makes it easier to see the screen when working out at night. Although equipped with a touchscreen, it only works for specific actions like scrolling through metric views. You’ll have to defer to buttons and a dial to do most functions, like zoom in and out of a map. 

Unfortunately, the Apex Pro can only connect to the app through Bluetooth (rather than Wi-Fi), which can sometimes be a bit tricky. This also means that you can’t manage music on the watch. Remember—too many features can run down the battery life, and the one thing that the Apex Pro does extremely well provides a long-lasting battery.  

Average Battery Life: 30 days of regular use, 40 hours full GPS mode, 100 hours in UltraMax mode | Display Size: 13.4 millimeters | Water-Resistance Depth: 100 meters

GPS Watches
TripSavvy / Nathan Allen.

What to Look for in GPS Watches

Ease of Use

The most important aspect to consider when shopping for a GPS watch is how easy it is to use. GPS watches tend to have two different types of interfaces. Perhaps the easiest to use are touchscreen GPS watches because of our familiarity with touchscreen smartphones. Most GPS watches with touchscreens allow you to use your finger and buttons to maneuver through different settings and activities. GPS watches with touchscreens are relatively new, so issues like lagging, battery draining, and limited touchscreen capabilities have been reported.  

Many watches still do not have a touchscreen; in that case, the watch has buttons on the sides that allow you to navigate. This type of setup can be tricky for some, but once you figure it out, you’ll see the benefit of this design. 

Finally, make sure you do a deep dive into the GPS watch’s app. You should like how the app is set up and understand how it provides additional features, like storing activities. 

Comfort

It should be comfortable if you wear a GPS watch when you’re exercising or doing an outdoor activity. These days, GPS watches come in various styles—like rugged and durable or sleek and stylish. Some companies offer interchangeable bands to provide the utmost comfort or style to fit your activity. Consider bandwidth and material when thinking about comfort. You don’t want something that cuts into your wrist or rubs your skin raw when you’re rowing or running.

Activities

Most GPS watches will have hiking, running, and walking activities, but you’ll find that the higher quality GPS watches include a wider diversity of activities, like kayaking, open water swimming, bouldering, cycling, skiing, snowboarding, paddle boarding, and surfing. 

Some watches may be more fitness-specific in that they’ll focus on exercise activities like yoga, pilates, cardio, weightlifting, treadmill or track runs, indoor bikes, pool swims, triathlon training, indoor rowing, ellipticals, and stair masters. You can even find GPS watches that track traditional sports like tennis, golf, softball, and pickleball, and even more obscure activities like boating, scuba diving, and sky diving. 

Price

GPS watches are an investment. Our budget pick is about $150, and our splurge GPS watch costs $900. The more expensive the watch, the more likely you’ll have a broader range of activities, better GPS capabilities, safety measures, solar charging, and higher quality materials that can handle extreme outdoor sports like deep sea diving. If you’re primarily interested in a GPS watch for daily fitness activities or the occasional hike, you don’t need to spend more than $200-$300 (in fact, you could probably spend less). 

Frequently Asked Questions
  • How accurate is the heart rate monitor on GPS watches?

    Many people seek out GPS watches for their heart rate monitoring capabilities, but you should be aware that they’re not 100 percent accurate. Studies have found that chest strap monitors may be slightly more accurate than GPS watches, and this is because of various factors.

    To get an accurate reading, a GPS watch’s heart rate sensor must always be in contact with your skin, which may not be possible during certain activities. Everything from a dirty sensor to skin tone, tattoos, and chilly weather (or water) can affect the accuracy of a heart rate reading.

    If heart rate is a crucial part of your fitness or training, we suggest investing in a heart rate monitor that is compatible with your GPS watch. Many brands, like Garmin, make chest-strap heart rate monitors compatible with their GPS watches.

  • Can I extend the battery life of a GPS watch?

    The battery life of a GPS watch is determined by how many programs are running at once. So, the more you do activities for multiple hours at a time, the faster your battery will drain. 

    Many GPS watches have power save modes, but this will disable most apps and notifications so that you only get basic features. You can manually turn off certain apps or notifications if you want to save battery life without being in power save mode. Dimming the watch’s screen and changing the watch face design may also help save battery, as can turning off the Bluetooth or Wi-Fi syncing feature. If the watch has wrist gestures, turn this off, too, to extend the battery life.  

    Of course, one of the best ways to passively charge a GPS watch is to invest in one with solar charging. Anytime you go outside, the sun charges the watch, stretching the battery life by hours or days.

Why Trust TripSavvy?

Alex Temblador is an outdoor and travel journalist who lives in Texas. In addition to working out—running, lifting, hiking, kayaking, and more—at least five days a week, Alex seeks out adventurous travels all around the world. Throughout her career as an outdoor and travel journalist, she has rappelled in Jalisco, kayaked in Puerto Rico, skied in Telluride, hiked in Thailand, surfed in Zihuatanejo, scuba dived in Bonaire, and completed a one-day, 100-mile cycling event in 100-degree weather in North Texas.

Nathan Allen is TripSavvy's Outdoor Gear Editor and also contributed testing insights. He uses a GPS watch daily to track trail runs, mountain biking and cycling, and paddle boarding. He also uses a GPS watch to track other activities like hiking, backpacking, and ski touring. Right now, Nathan uses Garmin's fenix 6 Pro Solar and Suunto's 9 Peak the most.

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