The 8 Best Hiking Watches to Buy in 2018

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A hiking watch does more than tell time. When you're out in the wilderness, it can be paramount to safely staying on your trail. A basic hiking watch will include an altimeter, barometer, and compass, which give you information, respectively, about elevation, pressure level, and location. Elevation and location, will, of course, let you know where you are. Pressure level, on the other hand, can allow you to predict weather changes, and some watches will even give you storm alerts.

Today, a standard hiking watch likely comes with more than just these three features, so shopping for one may be a daunting endeavor. At the very least, you want to find one that resists shock, water, and cold temperatures so that it won't get damaged during your time in the great outdoors. Many hiking watches now come with a built-in GPS. The display and level of accuracy vary depending on the model that you get. Advanced high-end devices also feature wireless connectivity, preloaded maps, messaging, and various fitness trackers. Whether you're trekking or fishing, here are our favorite hiking watches that will be reliable on your next great adventure.  

Our Top Picks

01 of 08

Best Overall: Garmin Fenix 3 GPS Watch

Garmin Fenix 3 GPS Watch
Amazon

The Fenix 3X offers the features of a high-end hiking watch at a reasonable mid-range price of around $300 to $400 depending on which version you buy and whether or not you get it refurbished. It has a 1.2" Chroma high-resolution display that is readable in sunlight. One of its biggest selling points is its wireless connectivity that allows you to connect to Wi-Fi hotspots to sync your data with Garmin Connect.

It has a water rating of 100 meters, which means that you will be able to wear it in wet conditions. While you're on your adventures, it will accurately pinpoint your location using an EXO antenna made from omnidirectional steel paired with GLONASS and EPO. The battery life is also decent. It offers 20 hours in GPS mode, 50 hours in UltraTrac mode, and six weeks in watch mode.

02 of 08

Best Value: Casio Pathfinder Triple Sensor Sport Watch

You will get your money's worth with the sturdy Pathfinder, which is an Amazon Choice product with high ratings from reviewers. It includes a digital compass, altimeter, barometer, and thermometer. Other features include a city code display, daily alarm, stopwatch, timer, full auto calendar, battery indicator, and power-saving function. Its dual-layer LCD displayer is clear and can also be enhanced with a light-sensitive EL backlight, which can be activated with a mere flick of your wrist.

The Pathfinder is a workhorse. Its battery life is six months on a full charge, using solar energy via face panels. The hiking watch will endure rough conditions with its stainless steel case and mineral dial window. With 100-meter water resistance, it also works well for swimming and snorkeling. Additionally, the time is accurate, utilizing quartz movement and coming with a digital display. 

03 of 08

Best Splurge: Garmin Fenix 5X Sapphire Watch

The sleek Fenix 5X is the latest iteration of the Fenix. Yes, at nearly $700 (the most decked-out version costs over $800), it is an investment piece. But its sunrise/sunset times, alarms, health monitors, and sports modes features are just icing on the cake in terms of its offerings. Garmin's high-resolution Chroma Display is easy to read in sunlight, plus, the scratch-resistant sapphire lens will allow you to see clearly in a range of different conditions. Additionally, the battery will last up to 20 hours in GPS mode before it needs a charge.

The Fenix 5X also has ABC (altimeter, barometer, and compass) sensors for information about elevation and direction. Garmin is well-known for making excellent GPS devices. The GPS mechanism in this hiking watch is no exception. The device comes with preloaded topographic maps while also allowing you to create waypoints. Other useful features include estimations of how long it will take for you to get to your destination and route generations. You'll be also able to zoom in and download and layer isobars. Reviewers like that the maps load quickly and that the interface is intuitive.

04 of 08

Best for Water Activities: Garmin Tactix Bravo

While its $500+ price tag is definitely something to consider, the durable Garmin's Tactix Bravo is a superb hiking watch for navigating water activities. It has 100-meter water resistance as well as a hunting and fishing calendar. It also has a GPS, compass, wireless Bluetooth connectivity, and data about tides, sunrise and sunset, and moon phases. The dual-mode operation, which comes with an LED backlight, also makes the display sunlight-readable and suitable for night vision goggles. You can also receive incoming calls, texts, and push notifications when you sync your smartphone to your Tactix. The hiking watch will last you 50 hours in battery saver mode.

Aesthetically, the Tactix flaunts an exquisite look with an all-black, rugged design. It sports a decorative rear case and screws as well as buttons that use black PVD-coated stainless steel. It has an EXO antenna that not only provides abrasion and corrosion resistance but also sensitive GPS and GLONASS satellite reception in heavy coverage areas.

Continue to 5 of 8 below.
05 of 08

Best for Fitness: Suunto Traverse Watch

Hiking is a fun and challenging way to maintain a healthy lifestyle, so it's useful to have an accurate device for logging your fitness stats. For tracking your numbers, Suunto's Traverse comes with a calorie and step counter, heart rate monitor, and sports log. For intense workouts, the silicone band will slide over your skin with ease and remain odor-resistant.

The hiking watch also includes the typical barometer, digital compass, thermometer, and altimeter. Additionally, it has more advanced features, such as GPS reception. You can use it to retrace your steps as well as plan and find your routes with Suunto's Movescount app. As you use the GPS, you can keep the Traverse on for 100 hours straight before recharging.

The interface is intuitive to use. The five buttons on the hiking watch have labels: View, Back Lap, Light, Next, and Start. The on-screen prompts are also helpful for novices. For example, when you pause the GPS, the Traverse will ask you if you finished your hike and want to save the information.

06 of 08

Best for Trekking/Mountaineering: Suunto Spartan Sport HR Baro

Suunto Spartan Sport HR Baro GPS Watch
REI

The Suunto Spartan Sport HR Buro Watch will keep mountaineers geared up for their next adventure. It uses an air-pressure sensor that gives precise altitude readings. It also has a GPS that accurately tracks speed, pace, and distance. The Spartan records a lot of data, great for health and sports tracking. The watch's features include a heart monitor, sleep tracker, sunrise/sunset times, built-in storm alarm, and dedicated sports modes for over 80 activities. You can also download maps into your watch for navigation. The Suunto Movescount app lets you find new routes using heat maps and use a navigation guide.

On top of the Spartan's bells and whistles, it's durable and reliable. It uses a steel bezel and mineral crystal glass for maximum performance. The color touchscreen is also water resistant to 100 meters. Worried about running out of juice? The battery life can last up to 40 hours with a one minute GPS fix under power-saving options.

07 of 08

Best for Winter Activities: Casio Pro Trek Men's PAG240T-7

Winter activities require a watch that can endure low temperatures, which is what Casio's Pro Trek is built for. The watch runs on batteries that recharge with solar power using a panel. You won't need to worry about it turning off, though. The Pro Trek will stay functional from 5 to 23 months without light exposure — its power levels will vary, however, depending on the light source. It also includes a thermometer and barometer, which are great for cold temperature hikes where the weather might change quickly. You can locate your altitude and position on-the-go using the altimeter and compass. Other features include a stopwatch, auto calendar, countdown timer, city code display, hourly time signal, and power indicator.

While it's technically in the same product line as the Pathfinder, this hiking watch does not have a resin band, but a sturdy titanium bracelet that is less vulnerable in the cold. It also has a stainless steel case as well as a mineral dial window. Expecting wet weather or conditions? The Pro Trek is a safe choice. It won't get damaged easily since it is water resistant to 100 meters.

08 of 08

Best Style: Suunto Core All Black Digital Display Quartz Watch

With a simple, clean display and sleek elastomer band, the Suunto Core Classic Watch embodies effortless style. Its design makes it a versatile accessory since you can pair it with work and casual outfits when you aren't hiking. Besides its attractive physical experience, the battery-operated watch is also relatively budget-friendly coming in under $200. Although it doesn't offer GPS or wireless connection, it includes a respectable assortment of hiking tools such as a barometer, compass, thermometer, and altimeter. If you anticipate water on your trip, it also has 30-meter water resistance for storms and wet conditions.

Keep in mind a few caveats. Some reviewers do mention that the band can break, and you may need to purchase a $50 replacement one if it does. They also noted that the display can be hard to read if it's especially sunny outside. All in all, however, it's our top pick for style.

Our Process

Our writers spent 3 hours researching the most popular hiking watches on the market. Before making their final recommendations, they considered 20 different watches overall, screened options from 7 different brands and manufacturers, read over 40 user reviews (both positive and negative) and tested 1 of the watches themselves. All of this research adds up to recommendations you can trust.