Getting away from your worries and concerns can be incredibly healthy. The best way to do this is to pack your backpack, jump in the car, and drive off for a much-needed hike. There is something about being surrounded by trees, hills, and vegetation. You’re away from streetlights, car sounds, and pollution – and often also away from a reliable phone signal.
While this is great in many ways, it can also complicate things, such as navigation, as you might not be able to use the phone GPS function the way you usually would. The solution for this is to invest in a quality hiking watch. This way, you will always have essential tools – such as GPS – at hand.
These are some of the best mountaineering watches for an occasional hiker or someone who hikes frequently. Many feature useful functions such as altimeter, barometer, compass, and thermometer. A watch for hiking could easily end up becoming your new best friend when you’re out in the wild.
Related: Hiking Watches under $100.
View The Best Hiking Watch Below
1. G-Shock Rangeman GW-9400
The shock-resistant triple sensor that this hiking watch feature makes it incredibly user-friendly. It’s water-resistant to an impressive 660 feet. This is the kind of hiking watch you’ll feel proud of wearing when using it at work or for another occasion, thanks to the gorgeous stainless steel bracelet and nicely designed case.
It’s solar-powered and temperature resistant, with one-touch time recording and impressive memory capacity. With the sensor button, you have the option of using different sounds for different sensors, which makes it possible to know what mode you’re currently using, without even having to turn your head.
+ Solar-powered stainless-steel watch
+ 660-feet water resistance
+ Mineral crystal window
+ With Mb6 atomic timekeeping
Why We Like It – This water-resistant hiking watch includes features such as a digital compass, altimeter, and barometer, but it’s also solar-powered, which is extremely practical for longer hikes.
2. Casio ‘PRO TREK’ Solar Powered Silicone Watch
For those who like to go hiking at night or in areas where it is dark or where visibility is limited, this altimeter watch with GPS and a compass was designed to aid you when you are out on your nighttime adventures. The inside of the dura-soft silicone strap is luminescent, and this creates a subtle glow to help you see the buttons and features where you’d normally struggle.
The watch features a one-touch measurement button, neon illuminator, triple sensor, and more. It’s a great and stylish watch option for any dedicated adventurer, as it will help you find your way no matter when and where you choose to go hiking.
+ One-touch measurement button
+ Luminescent features for visibility
+ Dura-soft silicone band
+ Designed for night-time activities
Why We Like It – It’s a well-known fact that this is one of the best barometer and GPS hiking watches, but what truly makes it stand out is that it was designed to aid nighttime hiking, and hiking in the dark.
3. Casio Pathfinder Triple Sensor Multi-Function Sport Watch
The integrated solar panel of this GPS timepiece sets you up for hassle-free charging. You get six months of battery life where you can use your new altimeter watch and all its features as much as you want. The resin strap sits comfortably around most wrists, due to being highly adjustable. It has a buckle closure, a large and generously sized case, and dial.
It also has an auto LED backlight to help you see even in the dark, altimeter, barometer, compass, and multiple additional features to make sure you don’t have to worry about anything while you’re out there. This GPS watch also has world time, which is one of the best features for someone who travels to hike in different parts of the world.
+ Large 51mm stainless steel case
+ Six months of battery life
+ Resin strap with buckle closure
+ Pre-programmed daily calendar
Why We Like It – This altimeter, compass, and GPS watches have it all, and they manage to look great too for when you want to wear your sports watch even when you’re out hiking.
4. Garmin Foretrex 401 Waterproof Hiking GPS
Sometimes it is best to go back to basics, and the Garmin Foretrex is the ultimate tool for the hiker who wants a device to use only for hiking without distractions. It has everything you need to make your outings safer and easier.
These watches support dual-position readout and come with a Traceback feature that allows you to see where you’ve been and navigate back the same route. Garmin has improved its performance using HotFix.
It’s one of the best GPS devices you can get if you enjoy hiking, fishing, climbing, or any other physically demanding outdoor activity. You’ll never have to worry about getting lost again when you have this tracker strapped to your wrist. It’s lightweight enough, so you’ll hardly notice it.
+ Reliable Traceback feature
+ Improved performance with HotFix
+ Dual-position read-out support
+ With audible tones
Why We Like It – This product offers an alternative solution for hikers. This device made especially for outdoor activities without any additional distractions. It gives you what you need when you need it, and it’s incredibly easy to use.
5. Garmin Instinct Outdoor Watch
Choose between eight different color options and decide that, just because you will be using it mostly in the woods, it doesn’t mean you can’t go with a style and color you like. It’s one of the best hiker’s watches you can get your hands on. The Military Standard 810G makes it an incredibly durable watch that resists high and low temperatures, water and damp, shocks, bumps, and generally a rough treatment.
This makes it – as most hikers will know – ideal for spending time out in the wild, as you never quite know what will happen out there. It comes with GPS, GLONASS, and Galileo to get you back on the right track if you get lost. You can use any of the preloaded activity profiles to track your progress and even your sleeping habits.
+ Preloaded activity profiles
+ Eight stylish color options
+ Military standard 810G
+ Shock- and weather resistant
Why We Like It – A GPS watch like this Garmin timepiece makes sure you always know where you’re going and where you’ve been. In addition to GPS, this watch also features GLONASS and Galileo for ultimate location accuracy.
6. PALADA Digital Sports Watch
If you wear these watches while hiking, you’ll have everything you need easily accessible on your wrist. Use the GPS and compass to navigate safely in tough terrain, and keep track of any changes in altitude and air pressure with the altimeter; it’s a watch that the enthusiastic hiker will fall in love with right away.
It comes equipped with an LED backlight for hiking in dark places. It sports a rubber strap that sits comfortably around your wrist even when walking for hours (or even days) at a time, a sealed black resin case that is water-resistant down to 50 meters, along with a stopwatch, auto calendar and a list of other desirable functions. All of this comes under an incredibly high rating.
+ Alarm clock and LED backlight
+ Comfortable senior rubber strap
+ Suitable for recreational swimming
+ With accurate Japanese chipset
Why We Like It – A GPS timepiece like this is easy to use, whether you hike during the day or at night. It has a Japanese chipset to guarantee accurate time-telling.
7. Timex Expedition Classic Digital Chrono Alarm Timer Watch
Do you want the best hiking watches without having to spend a fortune? The Timex Expedition watch has a stopwatch for you to time yourself. It also comes with a countdown timer. It has chronograph which can be conveniently used for storing and documenting your achievements and personal bests.
The classic sports watch design is made especially interesting, with the small leather details added to the nylon strap. It’s a heavy-duty, GPS watch made to resist several different things; it’s water-resistant, shock-resistant, and resistant to drastic weather changes. It also has an altimeter, barometer, and compass, to make navigation easier no matter where you are.
+ Leather and nylon strap
+ Lightweight and durable resin case
+ Casual and classic sports design
+ Countdown timer and stopwatch
Why We Like It – Track your achievements and personal bests with the chronograph function, and enjoy the benefits of a stylish yet simple sports watch.
8. SKMEI Digital Waterproof Sports Watch
There’s something highly appealing about this GPS watch, and it draws attention to itself right away with its large round color display and stylish minimalist design. The compass function is high-class and easy to use, making this a watch for hiking both on advanced and basic levels.
It features several activity tracking functions and comes with GPS, an altimeter, a barometer, compass, and much more. It also has a number of health trackers to monitor calories, steps, distance, and heart rate. It’s no surprise that this product is featured as one of the recommended GPS hiking watches on Amazon, and it frequently appears in the best GPS watch reviews.
+ LED color watch screen
+ Minimalism watch design
+ Designed for prolonged battery life
+ Refined digital compass function
Why We Like It – These GPS hiking watches have been improved to provide their users with longer battery life, which is extremely useful for longer outings and hikes.
9. SUUNTO Core Military Outdoor Sports Watch
Suunto Core has a well-deserved reputation as one of the best watches for hiking on the market. Say yes to a highly accurate heart rate monitor, a GPS hiking features, compass, altimeter, barometer, and sunrise/sunset times in over 400 different locations across the globe.
This Suunto Core even comes with a weather trend graph and storm alarms. Get a water-resistant watch, you can rely on when in rough terrain and when you take hiking to an advanced level. It’s suitable both for beginners and the experienced hiker. The Suunto Core does not disappoint when put to the test.
+ Dual-times and date display
+ Weather trend graph
+ Intelligent Suunto Core storm alarm
+ Multiple language options
Why We Like It – Altimeter watches such as these were designed to meet the high standards set for hiking watches, and the Suunto Core has a few great weather-related features to help you when you are out in the wild.
10. Timex Expedition Field Chronograph Watch
This watch is the ultimate option for someone who wants a timepiece that’s ideal for hiking, but also that looks good enough to wear on a daily basis. The thick strap made with genuine leather gives it a rustic feel. It has a durable brass case that’s sealed for swimming, a 30-minute chronograph (scout and field), and up to five years of uninterrupted battery life.
The most impressive thing about these watches, however, is the design. You won’t find a watch like this anywhere else. If the rugged vintage look is something you’re normally drawn to, then this water-resistant hiking watch will be right up your alley!
+ 42mm durable brass case
+ 20mm real leather strap
+ 30-minute chronograph
+ Indiglo light-up dial
Why We Like It – It comes with fewer features than on some other watch options, but it’s enough for the experienced hiker. The Chronograph design is one you simply cannot pass on.
Watch Box Buyer’s Guide
Your search for the best hiking watch will become a lot more fun when you know what you should be looking for in your new timepiece. This guide will go over a few of the features hikers can benefit from having access to, as well as some additional things to take into consideration before you settle on a product.
Knowledge is power, so when it comes to purchasing an outdoorsman watch, proper research should be considered. You will benefit greatly from having a better understanding of features and terms, such as water resistance, atmospheric pressure, sunrise and sunset times, barometric pressure, and longer and shorter battery life. Let’s dive in!
How to Use a Hiking Watch
If you’re not yet convinced that you could benefit from owning a hiker’s watch, then perhaps you haven’t yet realized exactly what a watch like this is, and what it can do for you. There are few to no watches made only to be used for a hike. This means that when you find a timepiece ideal for this activity, there are also a hundred other things you can probably use it for.
Wear it when you take the dog for out to see how many steps you walk in a day, take it to work, use it as an interesting accessory in your everyday routine, or when practicing some other sport or activity. Think of it like this, and, suddenly, it becomes a lot easier to justify purchasing a watch for when you go out on a hike or a backpacking adventure.
The best way to learn how to use it is by reading through the user manual carefully, and then take some time to test your way through the different functions. Research is great when you want to learn something new, but nothing beats trying it yourself and becoming accustomed to the various features a specific watch has to offer.
You probably won’t be using all the features found in a hiker’s watch (unless you’re someone who takes backpacking very seriously), but it’s in your best interest to familiarize yourself with as many functions as you can.
The three letters ‘GPS’ stands for Global Positioning System. It receives data from satellites, to provide you with accurate information in regards to your current position and the surroundings. The process used here is called triangulation. Not all hiking watches come with GPS, but watches like the Suunto Movescount, Suunto Core, and Garmin watches are a few examples of where you will find it.
It’ll be a lifesaver if you get lost in the woods or struggle to find the best way back to base. Large objects like mountains or trees could potentially interfere with the GPS signal, but it’s still an invaluable feature for both experienced and inexperienced hikers. Many of the best GPS watches also have additional navigation systems like GLONASS and Galileo. While this might not do much for the casual hiker, it’s a highly desirable feature for someone who takes their outings seriously.
Altimeter & Barometer
You will inevitably come across these two features when you’re searching for your perfect hiking watch. Don’t dismiss them if you don’t know what it means – they could come in handy when you are out in nature. They’re similar in the way that they both measure air pressure and convert the obtained data into useful information, but there are also a few differences.
You’ll find the barometer in many mountain watches – it measures the air pressure (atmospheric pressure). 29.92 inches is the standard air pressure and usually used as a base of comparison. It’s useful when wanting to predict and understand weather changes.
An altimeter also measures atmospheric pressure, but it does more than that. It’s a function that’s heavily associated with airplanes, where it uses barometric findings to measure altitude above sea level. An interesting fact is that an altimeter can be used as a barometer (but you would need to set a base elevation manually).
However, a barometer cannot be used as an altimeter. This, many would argue, is the main difference. If you have never used an altimeter or barometer before, it’s easy to feel like it wouldn’t be as useful as GPS.
However, once you start getting the hang of it, you will quickly begin to wonder how you could ever hike without it. It’s both useful and fun to see how the atmospheric pressure around you changes. The information can be used to plan your outings for improved efficiency and better results.
You’re likely to find an altimeter, barometer, and compass combination in the vast hiking watches out there! The compass is possibly one of the most important functions for someone who likes hiking and the outdoors, as it can help you find your way by pointing you in the direction of north, south, west, and east.
It even beats a GPS function, as a compass does not require any type of satellite connection or internet to get the job done. You will rarely see an experienced hiker going into the woods without bringing a compass. Where you once had to carry it separately in your pocket, you can now wear it directly on your wrist with a hiking watch.
Watch compasses can function in a few different ways, but one thing is for certain – it can save you if your cellphone runs out of battery, preventing you from using the GPS, if you accidentally stray from the right path, or if it gets dark before you manage to find your way back to base. Being out in the woods is fun and exciting, but it’s easy to get lost. Every hiker needs a functional compass.
If you think a thermometer is not something you absolutely need when you’re out in the woods, you’re probably correct. However, it can be useful when you’re on longer hikes, camping outdoors, or climbing hills and mountains, as it will allow you to keep track of any drastic temperature changes that could affect your journey or health.
When you’re walking, it’s easy to be fooled into thinking that it’s hotter outside than it is. It’s practical to be able to double-check to make sure you’re wearing proper clothing and taking the right precautions.
A thermometer can also give you useful indications of whether you’re heading in the right direction, depending on how the change in temperature and help make sure that you stay on track. That, or you can just use it to make sure you bring appropriate clothing when you leave the house in the morning.
Yes, you could check the outside temperature directly on your smartphone, but there are many benefits associated with having everything easily accessible on your wrist, as you might not always have your hands free to pull your phone out of your pocket.
Activity & Health Trackers
There are many different ways a watch can track your activity, and curiosity is probably one of the reasons why smartwatches – where you generally find most of these trackers – have become so popular across the world. Trackers help you count calories, show how many steps you have taken in a day, document the distance you walk, monitor your heart rate, and more.
There are even watches that can provide you with valuable information about your sleeping patterns. This matters when you’re trying to lose weight or improve your health. Things like distance and pace can also help a hiker analyze their performance and calculate the next steps to take, depending on how far you’ve gone, and how many miles or kilometers there are left until you reach your destination.
Heart rate monitors are great for a variety of reasons. But, they could be especially useful for someone with known health issues who wants to make sure their heart rate stays within the preferred ratio. A hiking watch with a heart rate monitor will alert you if there are any sudden drops or increases.
In turn, this gives you the chance to take action or to use the data collected by the heart rate monitor to understand your physical condition and health better. Not all experienced hikers find these features necessary, but it can make being out in nature even more fun when you get a chance to document your achievements and learn something in the process.
Solar Powered, Rechargeable & Exchangeable Batteries
There are a few different ways to power watches for outdoorsman or woman hikers, and each comes with its pros and cons. The classic type of watch battery needs to be changed every few years but will power the watch without interruptions for a long time.
This is most commonly used in basic sports watches, and not something you will find in a smartwatch. Smartwatches, on the other hand, are rechargeable and can be charged the same way you would charge your phone or laptop.
The downside is that GPS and other features are likely to drain a rechargeable battery fast. A good option is to get a solar-powered watch that will power up on its own while you are out and about. Unfortunately, there aren’t many solar-powered hiking watches on the market yet, but they’re becoming increasingly popular with more models coming out every year.
Budget & Price
Something you will obviously need to consider is how much you’re able or willing to pay for a hiking watch, as this will narrow down the options and make it easier to find the best product for your needs. There’s no need to feel discouraged if your budget is on the smaller side, as there are quite a few high-quality hiking watches available at a lower and more affordable price. Yes, it’s true that the price of a watch can indicate quality when it’s expensive, but there’s no rule to say that a cheap watch cannot be good.
Knowing how to find a good budget timepiece is extremely important, as quality will vary when the price is lower. A good tip is to find a product with fewer features. This is because many products are more expensive due to all the different features they offer (such as smartwatches), so consider what’s actually relevant to you and what you think you can live without, as it could potentially save you a few bucks.
The design is of less relevance when it comes to watches for hiking, as there aren’t any fashion police out there in the woods. Functions and features should be prioritized, but if you also want a watch you can use in your everyday life – such as when you go to work, when you go out at night or when you attend nice events – then perhaps you should choose a timepiece that would also look great on your wrist when you’re surrounded by more than just trees.
There are so many different types of watches out there, in terms of shape, features, colors, and more, so aim at getting a timepiece you like, as you will hopefully be using it frequently.
Type of Watch Strap
When you’re hiking, you’ll want comfort, especially when it comes to your hiking outfit, the backpack you’re using, and other gear, and this includes the watch. There are watches with a stainless steel bracelet, watches with a resin band, leather band, nylon band, and more.
It’s up to you what you find the most comfortable to wear for hours at a time. Nylon bands are very comfortable, but you also have to consider the fact that the strap will take longer to dry if it gets wet, as opposed to a resin strap.
Sapphire crystal and mineral glass are great materials that you’ll want to keep an eye out for. They beat regular glass and plastic windows, due to their scratch-resistant features that will keep your screen looking great for longer, especially after coming with you on numerous outdoor adventures and hikes.
Sapphire crystal is mostly found on more expensive watches, and it’s considered a more exclusive material, but mineral glass is almost equally as good and also considered a desirable material. Keep in mind that the term “scratch resistant” is not the same as “shock resistant.” Just because your timepiece window is unlikely to scratch when made with one of these materials, it doesn’t mean you cannot break crack it if it’s dropped or mistreated.
If you’ve ever gone hiking, you probably know that the weather can change in a second. The rain might suddenly pour down with nowhere to take cover. Another scenario would be trying to get across a stream or small river and losing your footing. A water resistant watch will survive the incident. Water resistance is usually measured in meters.
It’s important to understand that water resistance and a watch being waterproof are not the same, so make sure you check if your chosen watch can handle being submerged in water or not before you test it out.
Fitness Tracker vs. Hiking Watch
A fitness tracker provides you with data related to your health and activity levels, such as distance walked, calories burned, heart rate, and more. As well as this, a hiking watch can also have features like sunrise and sunset times, GPS tracking, altimeter, digital compass, and barometer.
If you’re only interested in knowing how you’re doing physically, you could get away with purchasing only a fitness tracker. However, if you want a more complete hiking assistant to put on your wrist, consider a hiking watch instead.
Are hiking watches only for those who hike frequently?
No. While an experienced hiker can benefit from all the watch features found in a watch for hiking and outdoor activities, the occasional hiker can make just as much use of one! Not only is it fun and interesting to see the data and information it collects, but it can also teach you something, and save you from a tricky situation when out in the woods.
Is a Smartwatch better for hiking than a regular sports watch?
There is no good answer here, as it depends on what features interest you. Some people prefer smartwatches, and others do not. Just keep in mind that there might not be a phone signal where you hike, which means that some smartphone features won’t be available.
An outdoor backpacking adventure requires maps and other excellent features. You can now get everything you want, packed into a wristwatch. This means you’ll have less gear to carry, with easier access to all the information, data, and software you need to get from point A to point B efficiently. It makes hiking safer and more fun. Hopefully, this guide will have made your choice easier when trying to pick out your new durable hiking watch.
An outdoor watch with many features like GPS and smartphone notifications is likely to be more expensive than a more basic sports watch, so if you’re on a budget, go with a more classic model.
Did You Know
Hiking has numerous health benefits, as it provides you with a great cardio workout, which can help stabilize blood sugar levels, blood pressure, and reduce the risk of heart disease.