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Best Hiking Watch: Keep Track of Everything!

Man with hiking watch
John C. Porter
Written by John C. Porter

If you are an enthusiastic hiker, it is imperative to keep yourself updated on the types of technologies that are available to help you during your backpacking adventure. The best hiking watch needs to have all the necessary features that can help you navigate in the wilderness with the least of worries.

Before deciding to buy one, take a minute to go through this guide. The primary function of a wristwatch is to let you know about the time, but hiking watches can do more than that. A good wrist gadget needs to feature an altimeter that will let you know your altitude during a hike.

Apart from that, it needs to have a barometer for predicting the weather and a thermometer for measuring the temperatures while you are on the go. A good number of these watches also have complex GPS to help you navigate around the wilderness.

While numerous benefits come with utilizing a hiking watch when on the go, there are also negative aspects you need to know. First, a watch of this kind operates on satellite. When there is a hurdle on the way, its accuracy could easily be affected. In general, it is imperative to remember that the GPS inside the watch is not always accurate.

This aspect can be frustrating if you are trying to figure your way out, or attempting to determine the duration to a particular destination. While there are some that are better suited for your everyday use, others are meant for mountaineering or long term treks.

It is imperative that you ascertain these credentials before buying a watch and determine the one that is better for the kind of outdoor activities you are planning to engage in. This may sound obvious, but you will be astonished how often people overlook of strength. A watch you would use for hiking needs to be sturdy and durable.

After all, you will be climbing mountains that have all sorts or external conditions, so you will need to ascertain it can hold up. Not every watch fits these criteria; therefore, make sure you purchase one of the watches reviewed in this article.

Product NameWeightDimensionsColorWaterproof
or Resistant
Price
Casio Pro Trek Prw 30006.4 oz5.9 x 5.9 x 5.9 inBlackWater resistantCheck price on Amazon
Suunto Core Crush9.6 oz6 x 4 x 4 inGray CrushWater resistantCheck price on Amazon
Garmin Fenix 3 GPS Watch2.9 oz0.6 x 2 x 2 inBlackWater resistantCheck price on Amazon
Suunto Ambit33 oz1.97 x 1.97 x 0.61 inBlackWaterproofCheck price on Amazon
Casio Smart Outdoor Watch3.36 oz9.1 x 6.8 x 4.3 inBlack, Orange, Red, GreenWater resistantCheck price on Amazon
Garmin Quatix 33 oz0.6 x 2 x 2 inBlackWaterproofCheck price on Amazon
Suunto Traverse2.82 oz0.7 x 2 x 2 inBlackWater resistantCheck price on Amazon

Features to Consider

When you are on your hiking escapades, you want to own the best wrist gadget for the occasion. This implies that you will need to leave the Rolex or Omega back in your house and strap on the right watch. You do need a hiking watch to impress others with its striking design.

A watch of this kind only needs to accomplish missions and get things done. Of course, there are other aspects that you will need your watch to have such as comfort, strength, and durability. Below are some of the features you should look out for when you want to buy a hiking watch.

Get a rubber strap

This is a comfort aspect. If you often wear a watch with a metal strap, then you should understand that there are possibilities of your wrist swelling during hot weathers. When you are hiking, you will get hot and sweaty.

rubber strap on watch

When that happens, your metal watch will feel tight on your wrist. It is not an excellent idea to have a leather strap either as this will break down owing to the high amount of perspiration. Also, leather’s hard to clean. Having a nice rubber watch, will enable its strap to expand when the weather gets hot, and it is also easy to clean under running water.

Barometer

You will not need a barometer if you are going for short hikes. However, if you are planning to go on an extended backpacking tour, then a watch with a barometer is a must. This is important as the watch will let you know about any changes in temperatures.

Also, a barometer can alert you if the storm is just about to begin so you can grab all your Goretex waterproof gear, including your rain jacket and waterproof boots. You do not want to be on the trail’s top, climbing ahead if there is a massive storm rolling towards you. A barometer will alert you about these weather changes so you can know when to turn around or seek shelter.

Inbuilt compass

With the advances in technology, it makes no sense to carry around a compass. If you take a look at the hiking gadgets on sale, you will realize that some watches come with inbuilt compasses. This is a must for the backpacker. When hiking, and you happen to go off-trail, then the compass can help you find your way back to your destination.

watch with inbuilt compass

Especially in huge forests and parks, you do not want to lose track of your bearing. A compass is an excellent way to get you back on track. Do not forget to fix your start position. This will make it easier for you to know your bearings.

The GPS

The GPS is a super compass. Most hiking watches have this feature installed. When considering a GPS, think brands such as Garmin. These are suitable since you can identify your point of entry and locate it using the GPS. This feature is easier to use compared to the compass and is a must have when you are hiking deep in the wood.

Accurate timekeeping

A watch that loses its accuracy is of no use for an everyday hiker. When you are out in the wilderness and trying to complete your outdoor missions, it is always easier to forget about timing. However, you need to understand that in a bug out situation, accurate timekeeping is crucial to your survival.

accurate time hiking watch

For instance, in a situation where you want to grab your food before it’s dark, or you need to wake up very early in the morning to begin your journey, being able to get accurate timing makes a huge difference. When thinking about the best outdoor watches, you should consider the quartz or digital ones.

Portability

After assessing all your needs and wants, briefly, consider the weight and size of the gadget you want to have. By far, the above aspects are the most crucial to consider. However, in the end, weight and size could be the tie breaker.

For example, you may find two watches that have features which are similar and the only thing separating the two is their bulkiness. In such a case, a watch with a slimmer profile would be ideal. Remember, when hiking, you will want to eliminate anything that could add weight to your load, and even the slightest feature that can reduce weight would be ideal for the hike.

Top Product Reviews

This section is to show you various kinds of hiking watches and the features they include. From here, you can make an educated decision on which hiking watch you will purchase. Happy shopping!

Casio Pro Trek Prw 3000

casio watch PRW 3000 1ACR

Price: $170 approx

Color: Black

Weight: 6.4 ounces

Dimensions: 5.9 x 5.9 x 5.9 inches

Special Features: Multi-Band 6 Atomic Timekeeping, Low-Temperature Resistant, Tough Solar Power

Best Use: Hiking, outdoor adventures, Personal Use, Sea Kayaking

Description: Stay ahead of Mother Nature with Casio Pro Trek PRW 3000 that incorporates the Casio’s Triple Sensor Version three engine. With the advances from the Casio original technology, the gadget allows for ninety-five percent smaller direction sensor as well as ninety percent reduction in power consumption of the sensor compared to the previous models.

Regardless of their small size, the sensor in PRW 3000 1A delivers energy efficiency and better accuracy, aspect your will need in your hiking tours. The good thing about this gadget is that it is able to measure Altitude increments and displays compass readings with sixty seconds of continuous measurements.

Apart from the digital compass and the altimeter, the Barometer incorporates an exclusive Barometric Pressure Tendency Alarm which alerts you to sudden alteration in pressure readings. The design features include a sleek case, soft urethane and compact band for an excellent fit to your wrist.

Its one-touch access to the digital barometric altitude compass and temperature readings, places vital information at your fingertips. This model also contains other vital features such as 100-m water resistance and Multi-Band 6 Atomic Timekeeping.

PROS:

  • Stainless steel
  • Long battery life

CONS:

  • Small face
  • Highly reflective
  • Some think it is unattractive

Related: If you need a new charger cable, the iClever Charger Cable will work for you. It is 3.3 feet and braided with metal.

Check the price on Amazon

Suunto Core Crush

suunto core crush

Price: $210 approx.

Color: Gray Crush, various

Weight: 9.6 ounces

Dimensions: 6 x 4 x 4 inches

Special Features: A weather Trend graph and storm alarm, an altimeter tracks your vertical movement, weather and sun tracker

Best Use: Hiking, outdoor adventures, Personal Use, Sea Kayaking

Description: The Suunto Core Crush is an award-winning model that comes in different stylish designs as well as easy-to-use aspects with a sturdy construction. Combining a barometer, an altimeter, and a compass, the Suunto Core offers the right features for the expeditions in the great outdoors.

This watch does come in various colors and includes many functions like a Weather Trend graph, as well as a storm alarm. It also comes with a Sunrise and Sunset feature. With a digital display, this hiking watch is water resistant up to 30 meters. It is small and light weight so you it will feel almost weightless on your wrist.

While there is no GPS with this watch, the barometer and altimeter work great. The strap to this watch is thin and it feels comfortable and will fit well. The design is stylish and users state that they really get a bang for their buck!

PROS:

  • Comes in various face colors
  • Stylish
  • Award winning

CONS:

  • Temperature sensor can be wrong
  • Not for harsh usage

Related: Surely you will need to replace the battery after a period of time. The Energizer CR2032 Replacement Batteries come in a pack of 5, but they can also come in other various pack sizes, plus they are affordable.

Check the price on Amazon

Garmin Fenix 3 GPS Watch

Garmin fenix 3

Price: $500 approx.

Color: Black

Weight: 2.9 ounces

Dimensions: 0.6 x 2 x 2 inches

Special Features: Chroma Display, Water Rating, Wireless Connectivity, Exo Antenna

Best Use: Hiking, outdoor adventures, Personal Use, Sea Kayaking

Description: The Garmin Fenix 3 GPS Watch is a rugged, smart and capable multisport GPS watch. With most of its features, set for fitness, the Fenix 3 also contains features that can help you navigate during your outdoor expedition.

This model has a thin, light multisport GPS that will not slow you down despite the conditions you are exposed to. The Garmin Fenix 3 GPS Watch is available in three bold models: silver with red band; gray with high-strength, black and crystal band, and a premium sapphire design with sapphire lens and stainless steel bands.

Each model features a sturdy stainless steel bezel and a reinforced casing for added strength and durability. Its sunlight-visible color Chroma display that has LED backlights allows you to access data in any lighting conditions.

Its water resistance capability is 100 meters and has a battery life that reaches fifty hours in UltraTrac mode, sixteen hours in GPS mode and three months in a watch mode.

PROS:

  • Great for various activities
  • Has functions for swimming and skiing
  • GPS included

CONS:

  • Notifications may not always work
  • Speed is not tracked

Related: If you are worried about your screen getting cracked on your new watch, consider the Garmin Fenix 3 Screen Protector, which will protect your screen and it comes with a squeegee and cloth.

Check the price on Amazon

Suunto Ambit3

SUUNTO AMBIT3

Price: $270 approx.

Color: Black

Weight: 3 ounces

Special Features: Suunto Movescount App

Best Use: Hiking, outdoor adventures, Personal Use, Sea Kayaking

Description: Some call it an obsession, I call it a commitment. Owing a Suunto Ambit3 model is making a long-term commitment with your wrist as this model is designed with features that make it as durable as any hiking watch should be.

The Ambit3 is more than a multi sport GPS watch. With this model, you can follow the altitude profile while trekking up the mountains.

Additionally, the Suunto Ambit3 allows you to keep track of the vertical gains from the yearly total to your daily ascents. The Suunto Movescount App makes it possible for you to plan your training while the vibration alerts guide you when working out.

Not only does this hiking watch have the app with it, but you can check your heart rate, distance and speed, and a lot of other features to keep yourself on track with your goals. Plus, you can use the Suunto Movie function and make videos and take photos!

PROS:

  • Suunto Movescount app
  • Suunto Movie
  • Sleek and stylish

CONS:

  • Band can get damaged
  • Using the firmware is strange

Related: You want to be active with your hiking watch, so when you bike, consider the Suunto Bike Mount as it can attach to your bike. Plus, it is adjustable and made of Neoprene.

Check the price on Amazon

Casio Smart Outdoor Watch

CASIO SMART OUTDOOR WATCH

Price: $400 approx

Color: Black, Red, Green, Blue

Weight: 3.36 ounces

Dimensions: 9.1 x 6.8 x 4.3 inches

Special Features: Military standard compliant, 50-meter water resistance,

Best Use: Hiking, outdoor adventures, Personal Use, Sea Kayaking

Description: The Casio Smart Outdoor Watch is equipped with features that are meant to help you navigate during your outdoor expeditions. The features can handle a wide range of conditions, along with various functions that add breadth and depth to your outdoor life when linked to a smart phone.

When on Timepiece Mode, its monochrome LCD transforms into a dedicated timekeeping display. The communication functions and LCD color can be turned OFF to minimize energy consumption when you are on an extended tour such as a mountain hut trek. This smart outdoor watch can also function as a regular timepiece.

The use of Casio Smart Outdoor Watch requires a smart phone with these specifications:

  • Android wear
  • Android 4.3 or iOS
  • A model with iOS 8.2 and above

You can find this watch in 4 colors; Black, Blue, Green and Red. While it is a little expensive, this watch works great, and it has a built in sensor for notifications.

PROS:

  • Works with Apple and Android
  • Various colors
  • Gets notifications of activity

CONS:

  • Expensive
  • Battery life is short

Related: If you are using only Microsoft, you can consider the Microsoft Band 2, which tracks calories, heart rate and more!

Check the price on Amazon

Garmin Quatix 3

Garmin Quatix 3

Price: $410 approx.

Color: Black

Weight: 0.6 x 2 x 2 inches

Dimensions: 3 ounces

Special Features: Boat data streaming, Water rating, Competition timer and fish catch log, Up to date tide data

Best Use: Hiking, outdoor adventures, Personal Use, Sea Kayaking

Description: The Garmin Quatix 3 model belongs on waters. Fitted with essential fishing, cruising, and sailing capabilities, the appearance of this gadget commands attention whenever it’s worn, even when on land. Aside from its timekeeping features, the Quatix3 is a wearable gadget that streams data from Garmin electronics.

Moreover, this is an anchor watch that warns you when you drift. It is a fish catch counter and a competition timer. It also features start line and tack assist for the sailors. It delivers notifications for text messages, emails, and more.

Additionally, Quatix3 can also control the FUSION stereo system. It incorporates activity tracking and other multi sport functions for hiking, swimming, running, and more.

While this hiking watch is over $400, the features that you get more than make up for the price. It has a rechargeable battery, can go under water up to 100 meters, and the battery lasts a long time!

PROS:

  • Long battery life
  • Waterproof rated to 100 meters
  • Works with other Garmin products

CONS:

  • Expensive
  • Compass can go wrong
  • Temperature can be off

Related: If you need a new bracelet for your Garmin, consider the Garmin Fenix 3 Black Bracelet as it is adjustable, made of urethane and is easy to use.

Check the price on Amazon

Suunto Traverse

suunto travese

Price: $320 approx.

Color: Black, various

Weight: 80g

Special Features: GPS Tracking and Navigation, Barometer and Altimeter, compass

Best Use: Hiking, outdoor adventures, Personal Use, Sea Kayaking

Description: In addition to its elegant appearance, the Suunto Traverse features a sturdy design which can withstand severe environmental conditions. Its case is designed using composite materials and has a stainless steel bezel that can withstand scratches.

Its lens is fitted with mineral crystals which help offer some protection against scratches. However, this would top the list of the best durable and attractive watches if it were fitted with Sapphire glass model to reinforce its protection.

The watch uses a GPS antenna that makes it look elegant compared to the Suunto Ambit that utilizes an external antenna. For the functionality it provides, the Traverse watch is quite light as it weighs only eighty grams.

This model is amazing and will most likely satisfy your outdoor needs. Apart from the superb design, this gadget offers advanced features which will be instrumental both in nature and in everyday applications.

I regard this model as a great compromise between elegant Suunto Essential that lacks a GPS receiver and the Suunto Ambit3 with GPS which is somewhat bulky.

PROS:

  • Various color choices
  • Looks stylish
  • Upload routes

CONS:

  • Costly
  • Short battery life

Related: If you need a new power cable, the Suunto Ambit Power Cable is made by Suunto and has a 1 year warranty, at only $25 approx.

Check the price on Amazon

Concluding Thoughts

When it comes to picking the right hiking watch for your outdoor needs, you can only select the one that is the most versatile and resourceful if you are sure of what you are looking for. This guide has outlined the most significant features and offered a list of products you would want to consider when looking for the best outdoor watches.

You should remember that a full-functioning gadget is one that will continuously keep you updated about the time as well as the weather conditions. You should be interested in models that can offer extra features such as a thermometer, barometer, compass, altimeter, among others.

So, do you think there are other best outdoor watches we missed? Please let us know by posting in our comment section.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR
John C. Porter
John C. Porter

John is passionate about hiking long distances. His record is over 65 miles in one day with backpacking gear. John hiked over 10 thousand miles, tried over 100 hiking shoes and visited 56 countries so far. His favourite hiking route is West Coast Trail on Vancouver Island in British Columbia, Canada.

  • Robert Neil

    I do love the suunto ambit3! The battery life is good and it’s user-friendly. Actually got great results! Love the Strava integration and the quality of the materials is impressive. Really versatile and the longer I have it the more I grow attached to it.

  • Joseph White

    I love this suunto ambit3 watch! It looks great and performs all functions flawlessly. The only complaint I have is that it could have a slightly brighter display. Aesthetically it is excellent, durable, and you can wear it everyday. Keeps time well and a sturdy piece of equipment. Very light and comfortable.

  • John C. Porter

    I think you love your Suunto so much! But I don’t blame you! It’s quite popular because it looks so good and works seamlessly, as well. Going on a hike or camping for days will be more enjoyable with this watch. It combines function and aesthetics, and that’s a PLUS in my books!

  • John C. Porter

    Thanks for the review Joseph and I’m glad you like the Suunto ambit 3. The interface is quite good and you can easily operate it on your own. It is user-friendly and you won’t feel intimidated like some products I’ve used.

  • Paul Evans

    I have always trusted the Casio brand for my watches and their PRW-3000-1ACR Protrek Black Sport Watch did not disappoint. It is everything I ever wanted in my hiking watch. It has a negative LCD, it is solar powered and comes with a compass, altimeter, and barometer.

  • John C. Porter

    Keeping track of everything can be less stressful if you have the proper gear. The Casio is a consistent best-seller in watches and considered very trustworthy. Many are willing to pay for much more if the product lives up to its hype, right? And the Casio does just that. 🙂

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