If you’re a hiker who loves getting lost in the wilderness or immersing yourself in a new adventure, a reliable GPS watch is just what you need. You shouldn’t just use any GPS watch, though. I used to think I could use any model available on the market, but I ended up learning it the hard way. What you need are the best GPS watches for hiking that are specifically designed for rugged conditions. With them, my hiking expeditions have been nothing but exciting. They allow me to navigate much easier and I can enjoy the additional features like the heart rate monitor and pulse oximeter.
However, with so many options available on the market, which one should you choose? Lucky for you, I’m here to show you my favorites so you don’t have to spend hours on research. The next time you’re on one of the best hiking trips in Europe or trekking in the Himalayas, make sure to add one of these watches to your hiking gear. Keep reading and find out which ones are featured on the list!
Table of contents
- COROS VERTIX 2
- SUUNTO Ambit3 Peak
- Amazfit T-Rex Pro
- Garmin Instinct Solar
- SUUNTO 9 Baro
- Casio PRO TREK PRG650
- Apple Watch SE 2 nd Gen
- Amazfit Bip U Pro Smart Watch
- Garmin Epix Gen 2
- Garmin Fenix 7
- Coros PACE 2
- Polar Grit X
- Garmin Fenix 7X Sapphire Solar
- Our Verdict!
- How To Choose The Best GPS Watches for Hiking
- Which GPS watches have maps?
- What watch do you wear for hiking?
- Can you use a Garmin watch without a phone?
COROS VERTIX 2
Though it may be more expensive than many others out there, the COROS VERTIX 2 offers unparalleled battery life, which is probably its biggest selling point. According to the product page, when the GPS is on, the watch can operate for up to 140 hours. For me, this is more than enough. Meanwhile, in regular use, it can last for up to 60 days. But what impressed me the most when I used it for the first time was its weight. At just 3.17 oz, it’s extremely lightweight and comfortable.
Compared to its previous model, the VERTIX 2 has a significantly better LCD screen. The touch screen can display up to eight data fields, allowing you to get all the information you need at a single glance. Better yet, it can be connected to other wellness applications like Strave, Apple Health, Google Fit, Nike Run Club, and more easily. Plus, it’ll automatically sync all the data.
- It can track your heart rate for 24 hours.
- Aside from hiking, it’s also suitable for other sports and outdoor activities.
- The LCD screen is big and easy to see.
- It’s really expensive.
SUUNTO Ambit3 Peak
Suunto has produced tons of hiking gear, and when it comes to GPS watches, the SUUNTO Ambit3 Peak has to be one of the best. Although not as sophisticated as its siblings, this smart GPS watch is more user-friendly and somewhat more affordable. I like that it features all the basics, which include GPS, altimeter, barometer, thermometer, and compass. I’ve used it a few times, and it always gives me accurate weather information, too.
Another highlight of this watch is its GPS. When synchronized with the Suunto Movescount App, you can customize the watch on the go. You can also view real-time GPS data, calls, and notifications. Plus, as the first Bluetooth-compatible watch from the brand, you can connect the watch to your phone so you won’t miss any calls or messages anymore.
- Since it’s shock-resistant, you don’t have to panic when you drop it.
- It’s surprisingly lightweight.
- This is one of the more beginner-friendly options.
- It can’t connect to some phone applications properly.
Amazfit T-Rex Pro
If you’re looking for a good outdoor watch that won’t burn a hole in your pocket, look no further than the Amazfit T-Rex Pro. This watch isn’t only affordable but also has a host of features that puts it on par with the best options on the market. Aside from being waterproof and ridiculously tough, this watch also has a commendable battery life. When the GPS is activated all the time, it can last for up to 40 hours.
Now, let’s talk about the durability. This watch is a beast, and I mean it! It’s heat resistant to 70 °C and cold resistant to -40°C for 90 minutes. Though I’ve never been in such a condition for so long, it’s good to know that it can survive in those extreme situations. Apart from that, I also appreciate how the watch allows me to receive Whatsapp and Facebook Messenger notifications as well. Learn more about this watch here!
- It’s one of the most durable options on the market.
- Also good for working out, there are 100 sports modes to choose from.
- Despite its amazing features, it’s actually affordable.
- The actual color of the watch may differ from the one on the website.
Garmin Instinct Solar
With an extended battery life powered by solar energy, the Garmin Instinct Solar is easily one of my favorites. One of its biggest selling points is none other than its outstanding battery. When in smartwatch mode and used indoors, the watch can last for up to 24 days. However, if exposed to sunlight constantly, the battery can last for up to 50 days. Yep; you read that right! And if that’s not enough for you, you can extend the battery life even further using the power-saving mode. And for GPS mode, the battery can go for up to 30 hours.
In addition to the monstrous battery life, this GPS watch also offers tons of life-changing features. One of them is Multi-GNSS Support. By using this feature, I’m able to access multiple global navigation satellite systems. Pretty impressive, right? These systems let me stay on track, especially in more challenging environments. Also, I love how comfortable and lightweight it feels.
- The watch can withstand impacts and is water-resistant.
- It can check your heart rate and features an oxygen sensor.
- The battery life is among the best.
- It’s a bit too complicated to use for some people.
SUUNTO 9 Baro
The SUUNTO 9 Baro is another highly recommended option on this list. This watch has been used by thousands of people, and as one of them, I’m here to tell you that it’s truly a reliable choice, especially for hikers. It comes with three predefined battery modes, which offer various hours of recording time with the GPS on. Depending on the usage, the battery can last from 25 hours to 120 hours.
As an avid outdoor enthusiast, I think it’s normal to accidentally drop my items into the water once in a while. That said, I’ve tried dropping this watch into the water before and it still managed to work properly. However, among all of its features, my favorite is the Heatmap, which shows me the popular routes within a specific area.
- It can be used for over 80 sports.
- Thanks to the barometer, you can stay up to date with the weather trend.
- Users can extend the battery life by lowering the GPS power.
- The sleep tracking feature can be better.
Casio PRO TREK PRG650
Best for Nighttime Hiking. If you love to hike at night, the Casio PRO TEK PRG650 may suit you. Everything about this watch, from the color to the design, is specifically selected for nighttime outdoor use. Personally, I love the all-black-everything design. It’s stylish, timeless, and elegant at the same time. In addition to that, it also comes with Dura-soft bands that improve the watch’s overall durability.
Additionally, I also appreciate the Neion Illuminator, which lets me read the time and other features clearly in low-light conditions. As one of the most reliable options on the market, the altitude, barometric pressure, bearing, and temperature reading are all accurate. And despite all the amazing features it offers, it’s not pricey at all!
- It’s a nice option for nighttime hiking.
- The durability is among the best.
- It’s lightweight and comfortable to wear.
- Limited color options.
Apple Watch SE 2nd Gen
Most Versatile. Calling all Apple fans! Yes; the Apple Watch SE 2nd Gen is also a great investment for those who love to hike. I have this product at home and I’ve used it for hiking a few times. Overall, I can proudly say that it’s great. Though not the best, there are so many things to like about it. In addition to its stylish design, I love the fact that it’s very easy to use and packed with tons of convenient features, which include Crash Detection, Fall Detection, and most importantly, Emergency SOS.
Moreover, this watch is highly customizable. It’s available in a wide array of sizes, colors, and bands. Plus, since it allows you to access countless apps on the App Store, you can use this watch for quite literally any activity. Also, based on my experience, it can last for about 10 hours of hike. Considering everything it offers, I don’t think this is a bad choice at all, especially if you’re an Apple enthusiast.
- It has access to the apps on App Store.
- This watch is highly customizable.
- It’s a waterproof watch with GPS.
- It lacks some hiking-specific features.
Amazfit Bip U Pro Smart Watch
Best Budget. For those on an extreme budget but still want to have a decent hiking GPS watch, look no further than the Amazfit Bip U Pro Smart Watch! This watch costs less than 100 USD, and based on my experience, it does a pretty good job. First of all, this water-resistant watch features over 60 sports modes, including hiking. Like many other options on this list, it can also track your heart rate, stress levels, oxygen levels, and many more.
That’s not all though! With this watch, you’ll be able to talk to Alexa. From asking about the weather conditions to controlling your other devices, this watch can do it all. Also, I find the GPS to be accurate. It can track my hiking distance and steps accurately. Finally, at just 1.09 oz, it’s extremely lightweight. Designed for all-day comfort, I’m not surprised if this becomes your go-to watch. By the way, did you know that Amazfit also produced some of the best fitness watches with GPS?
- It’s ridiculously more affordable compared to others.
- This watch is easy to use.
- It’s designed with comfort in mind.
- The durability may not be on par with the more premium options.
Garmin Epix Gen 2
While there are tons of high-quality models on the market, the Garmin Epix Gen 2 is certainly a standout. Aiming to give you the complete mapping solution on your wrist, it comes with built-in maps. Seen by many as the best GPS watch for hiking with maps, I’m always able to view the roads and trails ahead of me. And though it may be a bit chunkier than its competitors, it’s never uncomfortable.
Yes; this watch is far from affordable. However, it has a lot of fancy features to offer. One of my favorites is the AMOLED display, which is clearer and more durable than LCD screens. In addition to that, the battery life is impressive, too. In smartwatch mode, it can last up to 16 days. And when in always-on mode, it can last up to 5 days. If you’re looking for a nice GPS watch with long battery life and have lots of money shouldn’t think twice about getting this watch!
- The AMOLED display is extremely clear.
- It offers easy and quick access to multiple activities.
- There are tons of pre-loaded maps.
- Some people may not need those extra features.
Garmin Fenix 7
Garmin has some of the best watches with outstanding features, and all are clearly visible in the Garmin Fenix 7. This watch is designed for harsh conditions with a high-resolution color display. Aside from its top-notch durability, what I love the most about this watch is its elegant design. While most hiking watches are bulky, this one looks stylish enough to be worn for business meetings.
Aside from its sophisticated design, this watch still has everything you need from a high-quality watch. Besides the 3-axis compass, there’s also a barometer, thermometer, and altimeter. I also enjoy using the extras, which include the preloaded maps and global navigation satellite system. Though it’s more on the pricier side, those who want a reliable all-rounder can rely on this watch.
- The durable screen is scratch-resistant.
- It can last for up to 22 days in smartwatch mode.
- You can get a battery boost from the sunlight.
- There may not be enough significant changes from the Fenix 6.
Coros PACE 2
Best Value for Money. If you’re looking for a budget-friendly hiking watch, the Coros PACE 2 is a good option. Although more popularly used as a sports watch, the Coros PACE has a host of handy features that make it great for hiking, too. For one, it’s far from bulky. I can always wear this watch for a long time without any discomfort. In addition to that, the information on the screen is also well organized from top to bottom.
Speaking from experience, I can confidently say that this watch is easy to use. With only two physical buttons, even first-timers can use it without any help. Additionally, its battery life is impressive, too. When the GPS is turned on, it can last for up to 30 hours. Finally, it’s available in multiple color options, so you can choose the one that suits you the best.
- It doesn’t look like a hiking GPS watch at all.
- Though lightweight, it’s really durable.
- Its GPS is accurate.
- Limited integration with third-party applications.
Polar Grit X
Another great GPS watch for hiking that won’t burn too much of a hole in your wallet is the Polar Grit X. Despite being the first outdoor watch from Polar, this watch packs in quite a few great features. From a long-lasting battery that can last up to 40 hours with full GPS tracking to some great endurance and recovery features, the watch is definitely one that you should consider. I’ve used it before and have nothing but praise. The military-level durability particularly impresses me as I’m a careless hiker.
Moreover, Grit X is also big on navigation with a tie-in navigation app Komoot. However, to be able to get the maximum from this app you’ll require a paid-for account. You can be sure you won’t stray from the track with the real-time-turn-by-turn route guidance. The Hillsplitter is another interesting feature that lets you know if you’re wasting time on the slopes by tracking your ascents and descents. The watch also provides me with smart fuelling recommendations to stay energized with the FuelWise fueling assistant, hill tracking, and route planning and guidance. Also, don’t forget to watch DC Rainmaker’s review!
- It’s among the most durable hiking watches on the market.
- With full GPS, it can last for up to 40 hours.
- There are more than 130 sports modes.
- It doesn’t come with a screen protector.
Garmin Fenix 7X Sapphire Solar
Best Overall. An upgrade from Fenix 7, the Garmin Fenix 7X Sapphire Solar is for me the best overall choice on this list. That said, you can expect nothing but the best from this awesome watch. As a fellow outdoor enthusiast, I’d give this watch an A+, and I’m sure you’ll agree with me. First of all, this watch comes preloaded with TOPO maps and multiple global navigation satellite systems. No matter where you’re heading for the next adventure, this watch is always ready to accompany you.
“Whether you’re a fan of Garmin or not, you can’t deny that it hits the ball out of the park with the Fenix 7X. It not only offers me detailed information about everything but also fairly easy to use.”WOW Travel
Also, as you can guess from the name, this watch comes with an under-glass solar panel that allows the watch to be charged by the sun, thus increasing its battery life. Its battery life is already impressive, but with solar juice, this watch can last for up to 37 days. Like its predecessor, this watch also comes packed with preloaded activity profiles for swimming, trail running, biking, hiking, and whatever else you can think of.
- You can customize the preloaded profiles.
- It’s among the most durable options on the market.
- It’s lightweight and stylish.
- This may not be the ideal choice for those looking for a budget model.
Though it may be pricey, the Garmin Fenix 7X Sapphire Solar has everything you possibly need and more. It’s a reliable option that has almost no minus. However, the rest are a nice choice, too, especially if you have something specific in mind. That’s why, I’ve selected some of the watches above and categorized them based on the following criteria:
- Best Value for Money: Coros PACE 2
- Best Budget: Amazfit Bip U Pro Smart Watch
- Most Versatile: Apple Watch SE 2nd Gen
- Best for Nighttime Hiking: Casio PRO TREK PRG650
How To Choose The Best GPS Watches for Hiking
When investing in a watch for the outdoors, you’re not looking for a device that just tells you the time. What you need is something that also keeps you updated about the external conditions. A good hiking watch will have features to alert you about the weather conditions, including storm alerts, and also provide easy navigation options.
Barometer, Altimeter, Compass
These three features are extremely important when you’re outdoors. While the compass helps you determine your current location, the other two features tell you what to expect from your surroundings.
Any changes in the atmospheric pressure are recorded by a barometer which will in turn alert you about the kind of weather that you should expect. An increase in the pressure indicates good weather whereas a sudden dip in the pressure could indicate a storm. Most of the watches on our list also have a storm alarm feature to alert you when you’re on the trail.
An altimeter on the other hand shows you the altitude, how high you are above sea level. A GPS altimeter gives you precise readings without the need for calibration. It’s easy to locate a place on the map when you know the altitude.
Not all hiking watches have GPS features, but the ones that do usually support multiple global navigation satellite systems (GPS, Galileo, and GLONASS). The great thing about a GPS watch is that you can get coordinates of your current location instantly. You can also import routes in GPX formats to your watch which makes it a great navigation tool. Besides navigation, it can also show you ascent, descent, distance, and current speed. The downside to GPS watches is that they run down the battery.
When you’re out in the wilderness you’ll want a watch that will survive several rugged conditions. One that will not die out on you if you have to wade through water or knock your hand against a rock. While most of the hiking watches have highly durable straps and robust cases some even have Sapphire glass lenses. These lenses are highly resistant to scratches. Almost all hiking watches are constructed to U.S. Military Standards which makes them even more resilient to harsh conditions.
Which GPS watches have maps?
Many GPS watches from big brands like Garmin, Polar, and SUUNTO have multiple watches with preloaded maps. The Polar Grit X and Garmin Fenix 7 are some of them.
What watch do you wear for hiking?
For hiking, you’ll want a watch that can track your speed, distance, elevation, and physical performance. I also recommend wearing a watch with GPS so you can know your precise location.
Can you use a Garmin watch without a phone?
Yes! Most watches made by Garmin have built-in GPS, so you don’t have to use your phone all the time.