The Very Best Outdoor Watches for Hiking with GPS in 2018

Anyone who loves the great outdoors or has a passion for hiking knows that the one travel companion you should never leave home without is a reliable hiking watch. Forget about those days when you needed a compass, a notebook, and a map because a high-quality and smart outdoor hiking watch can do a lot more than just tell you the time. These feature-packed wristwatches offer GPS that can track your position as well as offer other sensors like a barometer and compass, thermometer, fitness tracker and altimeter.

Put all of that together and you have a total bird’s eye view of the terrain that you’re conquering. But hiking GPS watch manufacturers are all packing these high-end features into their latest products and every brand claims that they offer the best sensors, waterproofing for scuba diving, design, battery life, or GPS system. So how do you know which model really is the best hiking watch on the market today?

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  • Sharp color display
  • Feature-packed model for its price
  • Monitors heart rate
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  • Great price point
  • Simple, easy-to-read display
  • One-touch sensor operation
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  • Wrist-based heart rate monitor
  • Several topographic maps
  • Customizable apps and display

Well, you’re in luck because we put these rugged accessories to the test! We took a look at everything out there and came up with our list of the top 10 hiking watches of 2018. Whether you’re looking for a simple but stylish accessory or a cutting-edge, reliable device that can help you conquer demanding treks, we’ve got you covered.

PictureHiking WatchesCase DiameterDisplay TypeWater Resistant
Garmin Fenix 3 HRGarmin Fenix 3 HR30.4 mmLCD100m
Garmin Fenix 5 SapphireGarmin Fenix 5x Sapphire47 mmLCD100m
Casio Men's PRW-2500R-1CR PRO TREKCasio PRO TREK PRW-2500R-1CR51 mmDigital 200m
Suunto Traverse GraphiteSuunto Traverse50 mmLCD100m
Casio Men's PRO TREK Quartz Resin WatchCasio PROTREK Quartz Resin Watch47.1mmAnalog, Digital100m
Casio Men's 'PRO TREK' Quartz Resin WatchCasio Men’s ‘PRO TREK’ Quartz Resin and Cloth Watch52mmAnalog, Digital100m
Suunto Traverse AlphaSuunto Traverse Alpha50 mmLCD100m
Suunto Spartan Sport Wrist HR Baro WatchSuunto Spartan Sport Wrist HR Baro Watch50 mmLCD100m
Garmin Quatix 5Garmin Quatix 530.4 mmLCD100m
Casio Smart Watch WSD-F20 PRO TREKCasio Smart Watch WSD-F20 PRO TREK Smart61.7mmLCD50m

Hiking Watch Buyers Guide

What to Look for When Buying an Outdoor Watch

Whether you’re an experienced hiker or are just starting out on the trails, one of the essential items in your arsenal is a high-quality hiking watch. A smart outdoor watch is like a reliable travel companion who you can count on to keep you safe and get you to your planned destination. But choosing the best outdoor hiking watch can be a little tough.arm-gps-watch Today’s hiking watches are designed with so many features and every brand promises that their model is the best on the market.

That’s why shopping for a new watch without knowing what you’re looking for is a lot like being lost in the woods. So we put together this list of the main features that every hiking watch should offer.

Hiking GPS Watch

Whether you’re new to hiking trails or have years of trails under your belt, the last thing you want to do is get lost. That’s where a hiking GPS receiver comes in.This is one of the most useful features that any hiking GPS watch can offer when it comes to safety and practicality. A GPS receiver allows you to mark your entry point and locate it via GPS, ensuring that you never get lost or turned around in the middle of the woods. Luckily, most modern and smart outdoor GPS watch products are equipped with this function, allowing you to map out your hike with ease.

Compass

Many of the top hiking trail watches made today offer a compass feature to help you navigate your adventure. Much like a GPS receiver, a compass is another great feature that can prevent you from veering too far off trail or getting lost in the middle of the forest. A built-in compass will let you know what direction you started out in, which way you’re headed, and which way you need to go to get back to the car.

Barometer

Getting caught in the middle of the woods or on a mountaintop during a storm isn’t just inconvenient, it can be dangerous. That’s why a sports watch that offers a storm alarm, barometer and compass are so useful. A built-in barometer will keep you informed of any treacherous weather coming your way. While this might be a pointless feature if you only tend to take short strolls at local parks, it’s absolutely essential for anyone who ventures into the thick of the wilderness for hours at a time.

Battery Life

The last thing you want is for your GPS watch for hiking to die when you’re in the middle of the woods. Suddenly, all of those useful features that you’ve come to rely on are useless because your sports watch is dead. That’s why it’s important for an outdoor watch to offer exceptional battery life. While this might not be an issue for those of you who enjoy taking short hikes, anyone who wanders for hours or camps out overnight is going to find a great deal of comfort in knowing that your watch is backed by a long-lasting battery.

Durability

hiking-boot-watchIt can get rough out there and a reliable hiking watch needs to be rugged and durable. You want a model that offers a great waterproof design that can withstand cold, dust, impact, and scratches. A high-quality watch that can withstand the demands of the great outdoors won’t let you down in the middle of a hike.

Plus, if you’re spending your hard-earned money on a new outdoor watch, isn’t it nice to know that your investment is protected?

Today’s sports watches are perfect for hikers, backpackers, and nature enthusiasts. With GPS receivers, compasses, altimeters, barometers, and even ways to track speed, calories burnt, and distances hiked, they offer tons of practical features to help you during your outdoor hiking adventures.

But with so many brands and options out there, choosing the right watch can be kind of tough. But we’re here to help. We took a look at the best models out there, comparing their design, features, performance, style, price, and reviews. In the end, we came up with our list of the top 10 hiking watches of 2018. After reading through our list, you’ll be able to find the smart outdoor watch that’s perfect for your needs.

View the Best Watch for Hiking and Outdoors, Below.

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1. Garmin Fenix 3 HR

Garmin Fenix 3 HR

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Garmin is one of the top manufacturers of performance watches today and the first outdoor watch on our list is the Fenix 3 HR. With tons of features, this device is perfect for hikers as well as athletes, runners, and outdoor enthusiasts.

Display and Design

This model was designed for easy use and offers an optically-bonded, high-resolution color Garmin Chroma Display measuring 1.2". With a display resolution of 218 x 218 pixels and a transflective MIP color sapphire lens, it's stylish and remarkably easy to read.

And with several apps available for download online, you can swap out the display style of your watch and add various widgets with ease. And for comfort and durability, it's designed with a black silicone band that is soft-to-the-touch but resists discoloration.

Features

This is a durable, stylish outdoor watch but its features are why this Garmin watch is one of our top picks. For outdoor navigation, this model was designed with a 3-axis compass, altimeter, barometer, and TracBack feature.  TracBack helps guide you back to your starting point so you never have to worry about losing your way or getting turned around.

And a GPS track log allows you to mark locations like campsites, checkpoints, and other points of interest. For athletes interested in viewing performance data, it also allows you to monitor your heart rate without wearing a chest strap.

And thanks to easy wireless connectivity, you can receive emails, texts, and alerts right on your watch since the device can receive the wireless signal from your smartphone.

Water Resistance

You never have to worry about the elements when you're wearing the Garmin Fenix 3 HR. Water rated up to 10ATM/ 100 meters, you can wear this watch in the rain, snow, and even while swimming.

Why We Like It

  • Sharp color display
  • Feature-packed model for its price
  • Monitors heart rate
  • Waterproof

Our Verdict
Editor Rating
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2. Garmin Fenix 5x Sapphire

Garmin Fenix 5 Sapphire

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This is the most expensive model on our list, but that's because the Garmin Fenix 5x Sapphire was designed as a premium option for serious outdoor athletes. But if you're an avid hiking or camping enthusiast and want a watch that offers almost every feature you can imagine, Garmin's flagship model is perfect for you.

Display and Design

The Garmin Fenix 5 Sapphire features Transflective technology that reflects and transmits light simultaneously, allowing the watch face to be read anytime, even in direct sunlight. And its 1.2" display offers high resolution at 240 x 240 pixels as well as full-color Garmin Chroma Display with LED backlighting. This means solid color rendering an impressive clarity in any environment.

And for durability, the large watch face is protected by a scratch-resistant sapphire lens that can withstand impact and drops. Plus, the extra silicone wrist band is comfortable but won't discolor. And a rugged rear case, sturdy buttons, and a stainless steel bezel add to the longevity and durability of this impressive outdoor device.

Features

The Garmin Fenix 5 Sapphire is truly feature-packed and is perfect for hikers, skiers, runners, and swimmers. To help you navigate trails, it features a range of outdoor sensors including GPS and GLONASS satellite reception and a 3-axis compass with a gyroscope, barometer, and altimeter. And for anyone interested in athletic performance, it also offers to Elevate wrist heart rate technology.

Plus, thanks to this device's Wi-Fi connectivity, you can stay connected and get smart notifications, receive updates, add new apps, change your watch face, and stay connected to the Garmin Connect online fitness community.

Water Resistance

With a water rating of 10ATM/100 meters, this is the perfect watch for any outdoor adventurer, allowing you to wear it in the rain or while swimming.

Why We Like It

  • Wrist-based heart rate monitor
  • Several topographic maps
  • Customizable apps and display
  • Wi-Fi connectivity for easy updates and alerts

Our Verdict
Editor Rating
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3. Casio PRO TREK PRW-2500R-1CR

Casio Men's PRW-2500R-1CR PRO TREK

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Tough, lightweight, and reliable, the Casio PRO TREK Watch is one of the best entry-level hiking watches that you can buy. It offers the features you need to conquer the great outdoors at a relatively affordable price point.

Display and Design

The PRO TREK PRW-2500R features an easy-to-read chronograph display with a reconfigured duplex LCD layout that provides optimal upper and lower information at a glance. And the black resin band and neutral face mean that it will go with any of your outdoor attire.

Features

This triple-sensor PRO TREK watch features easy one-touch operation of its altimeter, barometer, compass, and thermometer. This ensures that you're aware of changing weather conditions and won't lose your way. Plus, it even features arrow icons that help you keep track of changing barometric pressure trends. And for anyone who enjoys fishing or kayaking, it offers tide and moon graph data for added convenience.

Water Resistance

This model is designed with an impressive 200m water resistance rating that is perfect for anyone planning on encountering strong water pressure and air pressure while trekking along a river or rafting.

Why We Like It

  • Great price point
  • Simple, easy-to-read display
  • One-touch sensor operation
  • 200m water resistance

Our Verdict
Editor Rating

4. Suunto Traverse

Suunto Traverse Graphite

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Durable construction, tons of features, modern styling, and an affordable price tag all make the Suunto Traverse one of the best buys on the market for serious hikers and outdoor enthusiasts.

Display and Design

This is a comfortable, lightweight watch that's built to last for years. And with several color options available and a sleek modern look, you'll be wearing it on the trails and on the street. The composite case is light, the band is durable and comfortable, and the stainless steel bezel protects the recessed screen from damage.  And when the sun goes down, flashlight mode activates a backlight to help you read maps or sift through your gear so you'll never be left alone in the dark.

Features

Whether you're a hiker or a performance athlete, the Suunto Traverse has the features you need to help you meet your goals. It features lightning-fast GPS and Glonass satellite navigation systems as well as the ability to save points of interest and retrace your steps with the breadcrumb trail. And to monitor the conditions outside, it offers a barometer, altimeter, weather alert system, and will even tell you how many hours of daylight you have left.

With up to 14 days of battery life in time mode, it's more than capable of handling long journeys. And the ability to track steps and calories is great for monitoring your performance. Plus, with the easy wireless connection to your smartphone and the Suunto Movescount App, you can get call, text, and notification alerts on your watch and save your experiences so you can view your progress later or share it with your friends.

Water Resistance

With a water rating up to 100m/ 330 ft, the Traverse is a great all-weather watch that can be worn in any outdoor condition.

Why We Like It

  • Great bargain for a watch with so many features
  • Easy wireless syncing
  • Fast GPS system
  • Tough casing
  • Flashlight mode

Our Verdict
Editor Rating

5. Casio PROTREK Quartz Resin Watch

Casio Men's PRO TREK Quartz Resin Watch

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For over 40 years, Casio has been one of the leading names in digital watches and the Casio PROTREK Quartz Resin Watch is one of the best purchases you can make. It's a simple outdoor watch that is great at helping you navigate trails while costing far less than a lot of the other options on the market.

Display and Design

The case of this PRO TREK model measures 47.1mm and is very lightweight compared to some of its bulkier rivals. It features smooth quartz movement and the digital displays use STN liquid crystals, allowing for superior readability. With full auto backlight with afterglow, it's easy to read during the day or at night. And thanks to the built-in solar battery, you never have to worry about replacing the batteries.

Features

While not as feature-packed as some of the pricier options on our list, this Casio hiking watch still offers enough features to get you through most of your outdoor excursions. This low temperature-resistant model features a digital compass with bearing memory as well as an altimeter, barometer, and thermometer. Plus, sunshine and sunset data, world time, 4 daily alarms, and a 1/10 second stopwatch add to its versatility.

Water Resistance

Feel free to go hiking in the rain or take a quick swim since the Casio PRO TREK Quartz Resin Watch is water resistant up to 100m/ 330 ft deep.

Why We Like It

  • Affordable
  • Lightweight
  • Built-in solar battery
  • Compass and various other data features

Our Verdict
Editor Rating

6. Casio Men’s ‘PRO TREK’ Quartz Resin and Cloth Watch

Casio Men's 'PRO TREK' Quartz Resin Watch

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Whether you're looking for a stylish, rugged-looking watch or you just hate the feel of a resin or silicone band on your wrist, the Casio PRO TREK Quartz Resin and Cloth Watch are perfect for you. It offers the same functional features as other PRO TREK models in its class but comes with a soft green band that is sure to look great with any of your hiking gear.

Display and Design

This Casio digital watch features smooth quartz movement and a large 52mm case diameter. An STN LCD makes reading the high-contrast display a breeze and it features a double LED light, that allows you to illuminate the face or backlight. And to extend the battery life, you can adjust how long the display will stay lit up. Plus, the Dura-Soft band is comfortable and breathable and movable lug components ensure a better fit and exceptional comfort.

Features

This triple-sensor digital watch is designed with a one-touch measurement button that lets you easily switch between compass, altimeter, barometer, and thermometer. The altimeter measures from -700 to 10,000 meters so you can accurately gauge your altitude anywhere. And since it is low-temperature resistant down to 14 degrees Fahrenheit, you can wear it all year round.

Water Resistance

Suitable for hiking in the rain or swimming, this watch offers water resistance up to 100m/ 330 ft.

Why We Like It

  • Affordable outdoor watch
  • One-touch operation of a compass, barometer, and other sensors
  • Soft, durable cloth wristband
  • High-contrast display is easy to read

Our Verdict
Editor Rating

7. Suunto Traverse Alpha

Suunto Traverse Alpha

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The Suunto Traverse Alpha is simply one of the best watches out there for long distance hikers. It's loaded with features but is modern enough to be worn every day.

Display and Design

This Suunto watch is stylish and modern but that doesn't mean it's not durable. It's ruggedly built with a sturdy composite case and a stainless steel bezel that protects the recessed mineral crystal glass display. Plus, it's available in several colors included amber, graphite, and black.

Features

Suunto outdoor watches are known for being feature-packed and the Traverse doesn't disappoint. You can easily access information from the compass, barometer, thermometer, or altimeter with a touch of a button. And it even keeps you informed of weather changes, incoming storms, and how much daylight you have left. Its fast GPS system lets you record points of interest with one touch and instantly makes a breadcrumb trail to help you keep track of your adventures.

When the sun goes down, the backlight in flashlight mode helps you illuminate the scene. And with Wi-Fi connectivity, you can receive call and message alerts on your watch and customize your settings through the Movescount App.

Water Resistance

The Suunto Traverse Alpha is designed to be water-resistant to 100m/ 330 ft so you can wear it in any weather condition.

Why We Like It

  • Accurate GPS
  • Durable Casing
  • Great value for a watch with so many features
  • Stylish and comfortable

Our Verdict
Editor Rating

8. Suunto Spartan Sport Wrist HR Baro Watch

Suunto Spartan Sport Wrist HR Baro Watch

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For the dedicated outdoor enthusiast, the Suunto Spartan Sports Wrist HR Baro Watch is one of the best devices that money can buy. It's a multisport GPS watch designed with every athlete in mind and comes with 80 sports modes pre-installed so it can handle any activity right out of the box.

Display and Design

With a stainless steel bezel and a durable, lightweight casing, the Spartan Sport is comfortable but incredibly rugged. The customizable watch face is made of mineral crystal glass and the durable color touch screen offers wide-angle viewing for easier visibility. Plus, it's great for longer hikes since it offers a very impressive battery life of up to 40 hours with GPS enabled.

Features

Like most Suunto models, this watch is loaded with tons of features. GPS/GLONASS route navigation offers points of interest and ETA data and breadcrumb view and the digital compass ensure that you'll never lose your way. A barometer and altimeter help you keep track of your progress and the storm alarm will let you know when bad weather is headed your way.

To help monitor your performance, Suunto designed this watch to monitor your heart rate and track calories burn rate from your wrist. And with Bluetooth connectivity, you can receive alerts from your smartphone and sync with the Suunto Movescount App. And if the long-lasting battery starts to drain, simply plug the included USB cable into any USB port.

Water Resistance

There's no need to worry about the weather or taking your watch off when going for a swim since this model offers water resistance up to 100m/ 330 ft.

Why We Like It

  • Stylish and durable design
  • Bluetooth compatible for easy syncing and alerts
  • Tons of features
  • 80 pre-installed sport modes

Our Verdict
Editor Rating

9. Garmin Quatix 5

Garmin Quatix 5

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If you're looking for a truly versatile outdoor watch for adventures on land or on the water, the Garmin Quatix 5 is one of the smartest investments that you can make. With tons of features and a durable design, it can help you navigate any terrain.

Display and Design

This is a stylish and durable watch designed to withstand years of adventures. A sapphire glass screen protects the watch face and for easy personalization, you can quickly swap out wristbands and upload new watch faces through the Garmin Connect IQ store. Plus, it offers great battery performance with a life of up to 2 weeks in smartwatch mode, up to 24 hours in GPS mode, and 60 hours in UltraTrac battery saver mode.

Features

This watch will keep you on the path whether you are hiking in the woods or sailing the seven seas. Satellite navigation and tracking functions combine with a 3-axis compass, thermometer, chart plotter, weather and wind sensors, gyroscope, and barometric altimeter to help you stay on course wherever you are.

And the Elevate wrist-based heart monitor provides 24/7 monitoring without using a chest strap. Plus, it offers smart notifications that let you receive alerts, texts, and emails to your smartphone right on your wrist.

Water Resistance

With a water resistance rating of 10 ATM, this Garmin outdoor watch is perfect for wearing in any weather condition as well as while swimming or snorkeling.

Why We Like It

  • A fast and accurate navigation system
  • Tons of preset sporting modes
  • Easy connectivity to your smartphone
  • Capable of guiding you whether you're hiking or boating

Our Verdict
Editor Rating

10. Casio Smart Watch WSD-F20 PRO TREK Smart

Casio Smart Watch WSD-F20 PRO TREK

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Casio takes a step into the smartwatch arena with one of the top outdoor watches of 2018, the WSD-F20 PRO TREK Smart. This durable, rugged watch is perfect for a variety of outdoor activities and comes packed with enough features to make even the most demanding user happy.

Display and Design

Casio built this watch to handle any outdoor situation. It's designed to be rugged and meets military MIL-STD-810 testing conditions. The large 61.7mm case diameter of this Android smartwatch is easy to read and it's capable of providing up to 25 hours of battery life with GPS and one month of use in normal timepiece mode.

Features

The WSD-F20 has advanced GPS functionality and includes built-in sensors that measure altitudes, atmospheric pressure, and directions while displaying your location on a full-color map. To switch from a compass, barometer, altimeter, sunrise or sunset information, tide graph, or any other tool, simply press the tool button.

And since it keeps track of all of your activity, you can monitor your calories burned, steps taken, workout time, or highest altitude achieved for the day. Plus, thanks to its easy syncing ability, you can receive alerts, messages, and even check your calendar right from your watch.

Water Resistance

This model is resistant to 50m/ 165 ft, allowing it to withstand rain, snow, and short recreational swimming.

Why We Like It

  • Plenty of sensors and hiking features
  • Extremely durable, rugged design
  • Full-color map
  • Versatile 2-layer screen

Our Verdict
Editor Rating

Finding the Right Hiking Watch for Your Outdoor Adventures

Whether you are taking short strolls through your local park or are hiking along different hiking trails for hours in the wilderness, a good hiking watch is one of the smartest investments you can make.These rugged outdoor watches are designed to help you navigate the great outdoors so you never have to worry about getting lost. And with tons of other useful features, they can replace almost any tool you used to carry in your backpack. But before you go out and buy your new GPS watch for hiking, there are a few things that you need to consider.hiking-watch

The main things that you want a high-quality outdoor sports watch to offer are a fast and reliable GPS receiver, long-lasting battery life, and a durable, weather-proof design. A GPS hiking watch that meets these three requirements will be able to guide you through even the most demanding of adventures.

Models without GPS are certainly cheaper and hikers who only venture out for brief walks can look into watches built with bearing compasses instead but, for the most users, a peak GPS receiver is going to be incredibly useful. While there are great models that can cost as low as $200, you might want to choose a model that costs a little bit more but includes some other optional benefits.

Other features such as the various built-in data sensors available, Wi-Fi and Bluetooth connectivity and heart rate monitoring are extra bells and whistles that are definitely worth the extra money if you’re outdoors on a fairly regular basis. Whichever model you decide to purchase, you can rest assured that getting lost in the woods will never happen again, allowing you to put away the map or compass so you can truly begin enjoying the great outdoors.

Expert Tip

The last thing you want is for the battery of your hiking watch to die while you’re in the middle of the woods. Plus, while most models can last for weeks when setting on timepiece mode, most will run out of power much faster when set in GPS mode. A general guideline is that you should be able to hike to your final destination and back two times before the battery runs out.

By allotting for this extra time, you can rest assured that your sports watch will keep going even if you’re delayed or are out on the trail for longer than you originally planned.

Did You Know?

Like any technological device, there’s a learning curve when it comes to knowing how to correctly use a hiking watch. If you are unfamiliar with your new watch and don’t understand its features and what it’s telling you, it isn’t going to serve much of a purpose and it can actually get you lost. So, before you go venturing out into a new area, make sure that you’re familiar with all of the functions and data that your watch provides so that you can safely hike and use your new tool to its maximum potential.

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