Every hiking enthusiast should have a GPS enabled watch, we’ve found they really are one of the most useful accessories for outdoor adventures. That is to say; the functionality once you find the best GPS watch for hiking improves your data on any outdoor situation while they are also durable enough to withstand harsh terrain and challenging conditions.
While Garmin is usually the first name in mind for intrepid adventurers, there are many variations available and alternative brands who claim to have produced the best GPS watch for hiking.
Searching for the Best GPS Watch for Hiking
Indeed, when it comes to outdoor gear and accessories, the multi-functionality of a GPS watch is often a priority with hikers for good reason. Hiking specific features include reporting on altitude, location, air pressure and other information such as tidal information and wind direction. With this in mind, let us take a look at some worthy candidates regarding the best GPS watch for hiking on the market:
The Garmin Fenix 5 Sapphire is a fantastic multisport GPS watch with outstanding battery life and a wide array of cutting-edge features. Slightly smaller than the standard Fenix 5, the Sapphire comes with Wi-Fi and has a lighter design. It is also available in a variety of colors but then the long lineup of features is often what leaves most hikers drooling. Here are some of the incredible features on the Fenix 5 Sapphire:
Features – Garmin Fenix 5 Sapphire
- Interchangeable QuickFit Bands
- Slim-line Optical Sensor Bump
- Full Customization Including Data Fields
- Outstanding Battery Life
- GPS, GLONASS Satellite Reception, 3-Axis Compass
- Gyroscope & Barometric Altimeter
- Elevate Heart Rate Monitor
- Waterproof to 100 Meters / 330 Feet
- Great Readability under Direct Sunlight
- Smart Notifications
- Sapphire Crystal Display
Consisting of a stainless steel bezel, sapphire glass, and superior craftsmanship, the Garmin Fenix 5 Sapphire is the perfect watch for those who spend time outdoors. Whether you favor hiking, cross-training or climbing, the Fenix 5 is renowned for being long lasting, scratch resistant and capable of tracking almost any physical activity.
With a 42mm display, the Fenix 5 Sapphire carries has reprogrammable buttons to navigate multiple functions and can quickly connect to Wi-Fi or Bluetooth. While it is without the voice feature on the Apple Watch, it can also hook up to music platforms such as Spotify. Furthermore, automatic exercise recognition does a great job of tracking day-to-day activities.
Is this the Best GPS Watch for Hiking?
The Fenix 5 Sapphire has an altimeter, heart rate monitor and many more useful features for hiking and overall, this is a watch for absolutely any outdoor activity. In fact, the stunning variety of features is also likely to dwarf any of the nearest rivals for the title of the best GPS watch for hiking.
If it were not for the outstanding battery life and detailed display of the Garmin Fenix F5, the Casio WSD-F02 Protrek Smart Watch would be a certain winner for the best GPS watch for hiking. Simply put, it is a very comfortable watch with a range of features and metrics including the following:
Features – Casio WSD-F02 Protrek Smart Watch
- Activity App with Multiple Screens
- GLONASS and Michibiki Satellite Tracking
- Fast, Accurate GPS
- Military-Standard Durability
- Offline Maps
- 50 m / 165 ft. Water Resistant
- Android Wear 2.0
The Casio WSD-F02 Protrek Smart Watch provides a digital compass, altimeter, and barometer which are quite interesting when it comes to hiking reports. Although a fairly large watch, it provides a crystal clear display which makes it much easier to navigate than other watches. Both the orange and black versions are popular, while the military grade durability ensures it is also rugged enough for any environment.
At 1.32-inches, the dual layer LCD touchscreen does a great job of increasing energy efficiency. Sensors include air and altitude pressure, an accelerometer, pyrometer and a magnetic compass. As with the Garmin above, there is also tidal information and a full-color map for which the GLONASS and Michibiki satellite mapping is spot on.
Casio has delivered a watch which is easy to use and integrated with a long line of features which are suitable for outdoor adventures. It may be a little behind the Fenix 5 Sapphire for the title of the best GPS watch for hiking but it is, however, the best Android 2.0 outdoor GPS watch on the market.
Having a higher durability than almost any other outdoor GPS watch, the Garmin Tactix Bravo looks great and the tracking along with a broad array of features make it worthy of this list for the best GPS watch for hiking. Here are some of the standout features of the Garmin Tactix Bravo:
Features – Garmin Tactix Bravo
- GPS + GLONASS Positioning System
- Automatic Calibrating Altimeter, Barometer & 3-Axis Compass
- Night vision Goggle Compatibility
- 100 Meter / 330 Feet Water Resistance
- Abrasion Resistant Knurled Bezel with Carbon Coating
- PVD Coated Stainless Steel Buttons
- Jumpmaster, Projected Waypoints, Dual-Format GPS Data, TracBack
- Anti-Reflective Screen
- 50 Hour Battery Life in UltraTrac Mode
Do not let the size put you off, the weight of Garmin Tactix Bravo is just 3.09 ounces and thanks to the coated, scratch resistant design, it is a rather striking watch. Every function is navigated using a five-button interface, each of which can also be operated underwater. While the Tactix Bravo cannot compete with the range of apps available to Apple and Android watch users, the software is extremely easy to use.
As for the metrics, you can expect activity tracking for every aspect of hiking along with more than one hundred other activities should you decide to track them. Featuring a heart rate monitoring and twenty hours of charge, the GPS is also very reliable.
From the sapphire lens to the high-sensitivity GPS, the Garmin Tactix Bravo gives pin-point precision across all of its features, while it is capable of storing up to 1,000 individual waypoints. The Jumpmaster functionality is perfect for those who exercise HAHO, HALO and Static parachuting techniques on a regular basis, while the patented TracBac technology ensures that you have a virtual “trail of breadcrumbs” to follow, always getting you home. It is a great watch which is among the most rugged available, giving any owner many years of use even through the toughest terrain.
The Suunto Traverse Alpha is an impressive GPS watch with a full range of outdoor features. Although many of these features pertain to hiking, the rugged design, GPS functionality and excellent route-planning are just a few of the reasons as to what makes this one of the best GPS watch for hiking. Here are some of the functions which make the Traverse Alpha watch from Suunto’s range stand out so much:
Features – Suunto Traverse Alpha
- GPS & GLONASS Satellite Navigation
- Automatic Shot Detection
- Moon Phase Calendar
- Sunrise Alert
- Weather Trend Alerts
- Red Backlight for Nighttime Operation
- Sapphire Crystal Lens
- Stainless Steel Coated with Glass Fiber Composite
- Smart Bluetooth Radio
- 100 m / 330 ft. Water Resistant
- Topographic Route Planning
The design and construction of the Suunto Traverse Alpha are outstanding. With a stainless steel bezel and sapphire crystal display, it is highly resistant to abrasion, delivering an outstandingly durable functionality. Its water resistance can’t be faulted, while its accuracy is also outstanding. Also, both the GPS and barometer are used to measure altitude, which gives you excellent readings in areas where the signal is weak, such as canyons or dense forests.
Lastly, the weather warnings and temperature display are also reliable, with various factors taken into account including your elevation. You can expect accuracy even when hiking to high heights, or climbing.
The Suunto Traverse Alpha is a great watch for anyone who spends time outdoors and while it may not have the heart rate monitoring of higher-priced options, the solid construction, comfortable fit, and outdoor features make it an excellent choice regarding the best GPS watch for hiking.
The Finish manufactured Suunto Elementum Terra aims to redefine outdoor smart watches through its elegant yet rugged construction, rich feature-set, and stylish overall aesthetics. It is a lightweight outdoor watch which lacks nothing regarding functionality, power, and ease-of-use. Let us take a closer look at this outstanding watch from Suunto:
Features – Suunto Elementum Terra
- Barometric Pressure Sensor
- Stopwatch & Chronograph
- 3D Compass
- Corrosion Resistant Stainless Steel Construction
- Sapphire Crystal Glass with Anti-Reflective Coating
- 100 m / 330 ft. Water Resistant
The Suunto Elementum Terra is a well-designed watch with intelligently placed buttons and menus which are easy to navigate. The large face ensures clear readouts, while the accuracy of the altimeter and barometer is flawless. It is also a very comfortable watch, despite a rather heavy design
Although the Suunto Elementum Terra falls a little short in terms of battery life, the superior craftsmanship of this watch ensures great durability and service in rugged and harsh environments.
This is certainly a candidate regarding the best watch for hikers and the compass is especially impressive given how it works accurately even when tilted. Furthermore, the weather predictions take elevation and vertical ascent into account while a crystal clear sapphire glass screen is among the brightest on the market. Simply put, the Suunto Elementum Terra is a high-quality watch for hikers who want a blend of aesthetics and outdoor functionality; however, for the hardcore hikers, the watches at the other end of this list make for a better alternative.
As you can see, there are many contenders for the best GPS watch for hiking but all considered, the above are certainly the most impressive options currently on the market.
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While we’re on the topic of the Best GPS watch for Hiking, you may want to consider checking out our article on GPS collars for dogs as well.