Ah, the great outdoors.
So calming, so refreshing. So easy to get lost in if you don’t have the right equipment, such as the best hiking watch.
When you’re heading out into the wild these days, there is a lot more options in terms of technology available in selecting the best watch for hiking.
So, while the Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts will always serve as valuable resources, you don’t necessarily have to depend on memory or old tricks of the trade to make it through the woods.
Hiking watches are a very handy tool given their features, which are designed to help make your experience outdoors more enjoyable.
Features to Look For in a Hiking Watch
When you’re looking for the best hiking watch for your journey, there are three major features that experienced hikers consider important: a barometer, an altimeter, and a compass.
A barometer can detect changes in the atmospheric pressure, resulting in you being your own weatherman and predicting the weather. If the pressure is increasing, you’re destined for better days ahead. If it starts to drop, you’re looking at cloudier conditions. If the barometric pressure drops rapidly, incoming storms are a good bet. It’s helpful to have a barometer when scaling mountain ranges where storms can come in rapidly.
Since being prepared for the elements can literally mean life or death during long or particularly difficult hikes, this is one item you’ll want to make sure is checked off.
An altimeter tells you how high above sea level you are. This may not seem that important, depending on what type of trek you’re taking, but it goes hand in hand with the third most important watch tool: a compass.
It’s easier to find your way on a map (you did remember the map, right?) if you know how high above sea level you are. The compass obviously gives you the cardinal direction to give you your bearings, and should be brought on small or large outings.
Some other basic functions that are useful to have, but not necessarily essential, include GPS and heart rate tracking. You’ll also want something that won’t break if you’re dealing with rough terrain. Watches made for hiking typically have durable outer cases that can withstand hard bumps.
Best Hiking Watch Reviews
Besides the key three features, there are a number of different combinations that may or may not be useful or needed, depending on the type of hike you’re gearing up for.
Price may also play a factor, so we’ve tried to hit various price points for comparison.
Before heading out on your next adventure, look through the list of best hiking watches here to determine what will work for you.
The 8 Best Hiking Watches
- 1. Suunto Core Hiking Watch
- 2. LAD Weather Sensor Sport Watch Hiking Watch
- 3. Suunto Traverse Hiking Watch
- 4. Casio Pro Trek PRW 3000 1A Hiking Watch
- 5. Suunto Ambit3 Sport HRS Monitor Running GPS Hiking Watch
- 6. EZON H011 Hiking Watch
- 7. Garmin Fenix 3 Sapphire Hiking Watch
- 8. Garmin Foretrex 401 Waterproof Hiking GPS Hiking Watch
What is the best Hiking Watch?
Our top pick for the best hiking watch had to be the Suunto Core Hiking Watch. On top of its excellent build quality, and automatic transmission between altimeter and barometer, it also provides weather information from the atmospheric pressure trend graph and if a storm happens to be rising while you’re out, the storm alarm goes off.
Although it doesn’t connect to your smartphone but on the bright side, you’ll be truly immersed in nature and disconnected from hectic daily notifications and other distractions.
Frequently Asked Questions
Here are the answers to some frequently asked questions that we came across while putting together this review.
There are numerous ways to track your hiking miles, you can either use a smartphone app that performs much the same functions as a recreational GPS tracking system, or a wrist-watch with a dedicated GPS tracking system that incorporates such a function, or using Google Earth's “path” function, instead of using a paper topographical map, or count the number of steps you take with a pedometer. Pedometer is a device, usually worn at the hip, that counts the number of steps you take.
In short, yes. When you're in the backcountry, navigation is absolutely critical. Without it, you can easily wind up lost and find yourself in a very dangerous situation.