Very Best Outdoor Watches for Hiking with GPS in 2017

top 9 best hiking watches
A Great Hiking Watch is Your Most Trustworthy Companion

If you love trekking or have a passion for hiking, you only need one true companion by your side – a trustworthy and reliable Hiking watch. A great hiking watch is designed to face rough terrain and other weather conditions. Amongst other exciting features, it includes a long battery life, superb GPS and even built-in altitude measuring systems.

If you are looking for a watch which adds a flair to your desire for hiking, or one which can actually assist you throughout your journey, or for a compact, easy to carry gadget for all your hiking needs, look no further.

Here we have shortlisted 9 of the best hiking watches for your ease. Stylish, latest and the best for your journey, these are the top 9 hiking watches, made to fit your varying needs:

Basic Buying Guide for Hiking Watches

Hiking watches are becoming an increasing necessity. With all the rapid technological advancements in the industry, who wouldn’t want the ease of a GPS, a compass, altimeter (especially if you are into mountaineering or hiking uphill) and such amazing features, within your wrist’s reach?

Here we will discuss the basic key elements a good hiking watch must possess in order to become the ultimate partner in all your trekking adventures:

  1. Durability:

Hiking is not a sport for the faint-hearted, so a hiking watch must be built strong, tough and ready to meet the extreme conditions. As in the above list, these watches come equipped with various features to combat the impacts of the environmental and other harsh conditions they may encounter.

This include:

  • Water resistance
  • Heat resistance
  • Scratch proof
  • Shock resistant, etc.

All these factors contribute towards the durability of the watch. The best watch should ideally include all the above factors, however, that may increase its overall cost. If you want a lower cost, you may skip a few of these elements, which you do not require.

  1. Features

The main distinguishing thing about these hiking watches is their features which the normal watches do not have. The most essential features of a good hiking watch are as follows:Barometer

Altimeter

GPS

Compass

Battery life

Barometer

A barometer is a great element to have in your hiking watch. It provides all the key information to predict and gauges the changes in the weather. Especially when hiking up the hills or mountains, where storms can actually be fatal, a good barometer helps you perceive any changes in environmental pressure.

Precision is the key here. Nowadays manufacturers are ensuring more accuracy in these features. With the well-informed markets, they are on the edge to providing the best of the lot to the buyers.

Watches like Garmin have very sensitive barometers, very useful and dependable for all the hikers.

Altimeter

A very helpful feature when you need to check your elevation level. It can also be a fun feature to play with, no matter where you are you can see exactly where you stand above sea level.

A great hiking watch has built-in sensors to measure the changes in altitude and yield the most accurate results. Basically, an altimeter works in collaboration with the barometer and the GPS; it measures any changes in the environmental pressure and as you go further away from the sea level, it drops.

Very essential tool for the uneven terrain such as the mountainous regions which involve ascending or descending. However the key point to bear in mind, when deciding on your watch, is the accuracy of the altimeter.

GPS

Yes, the GPS! The ultimate solution to all your tracking and navigation needs!

I feel, this is one of the most essential features of a good hiking watch. The GPS is the most useful tool to track your distance, whether you are hiking, running or to map your location. A GPS watch can easily look up your location while connecting with the satellite, but only when you activate it.

The GPS enabled watches help you find the best routes amongst other benefits, but may be a little heavy on the pocket.

Compass

Another great feature to have on your watch is a compass. It works great with an altimeter and helps you navigate through rough routes with ease. Hiking watches may have a 2D or a 3D compass. The 3D compass works the best no matter how you hold your watch and works as an excellent replacement to a handheld compass.

Battery life

Battery life of the watch plays a key role in a hiker’s life. Since you are so dependent on all the amazing features these watches offer, it is only beneficial that they have a long battery life or an easy way to have them charged on the go and ASAP.

The GPS is one feature which if turned on all the time, consumes the battery consistently. A normal GPS watch can last up to 8 hours with the GPS mode turned on.

Other features include:

Heart and calorie meters

If you are also an athlete and concerned about your heart rate, you should check if your watch comes with a heart rate monitor. There may be a sensor at the wrist, i.e. the watch could tell the heart rate from your pulse, or it could support chest straps to measure the actual heart rate.

The chest strap, however, is more precise, while the wrist or finger sensor models offer more ease.

These often include the calorie monitor as well, which measures the calories burnt, in accordance with the workout and diet. This monitor is effective in comparing the exercise, pulse rate, age and other BMI attributes to give you an accurate measure of the calories you shed with all your effort.

Storm alarms

The storm alarms are particularly most helpful in predicting the adverse weather conditions, especially when you are uphill, in a mountainous or a forest. Some watches come with this feature, which is really helpful in proactively arranging for shelter or heading home safe on time before the storm strikes.

Social Integration

Many of these watches come incorporated with all the smartphone features. You may get your super hiking watch synced with your smart watch, and not just receive all your emails, notifications, and messages on it, but also, stay in touch with your friends, fellow hikers, other hiking groups/communities.

Ease of Use

You must be comfortable with the basic user interface of your watch. If you are a beginner, the most user-friendly menu should be your choice. The lesser the number of screens, menus, quicker access to the most used data, the easier is the device to use.

Many of these watches give multiple options to change the display, icons and other items you see on your main screen.

Water Resistance

Since hiking involves frequent interaction with the rough terrain or weather conditions, a good hiking watch must come with a great water resistance. If you are not fond of swimming, even then the watch must have a slight water resistance, for an occasional splash. Since these watches require certain thought and budget, nothing would hurt more than having all the money you spent to go down the drain, just because of a little water.

As discussed above, there are those which can be submerged for up to 100meters! So, if you are thinking of swimming sometime later, it’s always better to invest in a great waterproof watch for the longer run.

Bluetooth

Although all these watches do not come with a Bluetooth feature, the higher end allows active syncing with your cell phone. This enables you to stay connected and receive all notifications while on the go. Data transfer is also easier with this feature between the watch and your laptop or any other device.

For other, mostly lower priced models you will need a data transfer cable.

Price

A watch with so many advanced features and options is bound to be expensive. As we want more and more features in a single watch, a bigger and trusted brand name, a reliable watch, ultimately the price rises as all these factors increase.

It is always better to first decide on a budget before purchasing the best one.

However, if you stay focused on the basic elements you need in your watch and shortlist those, you may find suitable, great quality ones even within the range of $100 – $150. But if you have a good budget, it is always better to invest in a higher end watch like the Garmin Fenix, which pays value for money.

Your activities

You could be an active hiker, but is that the only thing you do?

There are great watches out there fit for athletes, runners, swimmers, etc. for every sports type, with all the key features suited for each. Keep all the activities you like and do along with hiking, or may think of doing in the future. A great hiking watch is a big investment, so it is always better to invest one time on all the element you may require later as well.

If you like to push yourself to the edge, and a basic trek is just a start which could eventually lead to letting your wild side loose on the mountains or skiing etc. it is advisable to buy a more durable and feature packed watch that can see you through.

However, if you are more inclined towards the conforming side, then a low-cost gadget will serve you well.

Hence, keep in mind all the above factors before you make that big dive into the watch market.

A great companion will stay with you for long, however, a bad choice will not just lead to a financial loss, but could also hurt your inner adventurer.

Our suggestion, whatever activity you plan on your hiking trip, make sure to keep it safe. Here are 8 simple hiking safety tips.

What are the basic types of GPS watches in the market to choose from?

The GPS-equipped watches actually tell you where the user is at that point in time. Hence it is a very useful tool for determining the distance, gauging the speed and location when one goes on a hiking trip.

We have the following two main categories for these GPS-equipped watches:

Simple Trainers

The basic training watches utilize the GPS just to check the location and are used for training purposes only. Best suited for you if you work out or have some athletic interests, these watches just gather data and give you an accurate measure of your speed, distance, and other main elements to analyze your progress.

It’s a keeper if you are an aggressive hiker and like to stay outdoors on different trails. Although these just provide the basic functionality, they yield accurate measures of your distance from home, your exact location and your overall progress.

The only drawback with these is the absence of navigation features.

Navigator Watches

Now these include all the basic GPS features but, also enable you to navigate. This watch is best suited for you if you are an avid hiker and like to explore new and untraveled routes.

It even lets you find your way back home in case you are unable to find your way, so you can imagine all the benefits you can derive from this feature.

You can even look up the route to follow before setting out on your adventure, and then actually just follow your wrist and get to your ultimate destination.

The watch with such ease of navigation is not just great for hiking but can be put to good use in your daily life too.

Should you buy a hiking watch or a fitness tracker band?

A tough question; a fitness tracker is not just for tracking your workout progress, the recent advancements have made it possible for a fitness band to incorporate a lot more features like sleep measures, signals for health, etc.

There are a few points to keep in mind before setting your mind on the ultimate gadget to get.

  • Style and usage: These watches serve as a style statement; since they take out a significant portion of your savings, you will want to flaunt the purchase.

On the contrary, the fitness trackers mostly come as a discreet band and do just what they are designed to.

  • Your Budget: Since they include minimal features, the fitness bands are far cheaper than most luxury hiking watches. But with a good hiking watch, you get various other great features that the fitness band fails to provide.
  • Fitness features: The fitness band as designed specifically for tracking overall progress in your workout routine. It tracks the steps, heart rates, calories burnt and other related features in far more detail and with an in-depth analysis, which the hiking watch may or may not do.

So if you have an athletic side to your personality, the fitness band is a must for you to help you achieve all your health goals.

  • Presence: The hiking watch is designed with elegance, and carries a certain aspiration element. People love the look and it makes you want to own one. Since it often enables ease of sync with your cellular phone, all your phone calls, alerts, and messages, give it all the attention it needs.

However, the fitness band just stays silent and works unnoticed throughout the day.

  • Wrist wear: All watches are basically designed for the wrist, where they are noticed and easily glanced over a million times a day.

Meanwhile, the fitness tracker may be worn on the chest, ankle, head, or even on the mouth as a mouth guard. So it provides a good alternative to keeping your wrists free while taking a hike.

  • The display features: The watches offer a detailed graphical description of all your activities. While the fitness band, just gives the basic details with a few numbers or dots at the most. But that results in the fitness tracker to have a far longer battery life than a typical hiking watch.

Now for the question, which one to choose? I would prefer buying both! Since the fitness band is low cost, it would yield great results on the step count, heart rates etc. and for all the other features, the hiking watch would serve the purpose.

How important is it to consider the battery life of my watch?

You may be planning a short trek down the hill, or a full packaged adventure for days; for both, you will depend on your companion for support. The most annoying or disturbing thing to happen on these escapades would be to have your battery die.

The latest changes have made it possible for the hiking watch to have a longer battery life, but due to the usage of GPS, the battery runs low often sooner than expected.

Some pro tips would be to turn off the GPS feature at night, or while not in use to conserve energy. Another great option, are the watches which come equipped with a solar charging ability. This recharges the watch while you go about on your hike, so the battery hardly ever becomes an issue.

Another thing to keep in mind while making the purchase is to buy a watch which recharges quickly. This way you may charge your beloved mate whenever you hit a great spot so that it’s fully charged for the rest of the journey.

Conclusion

With technology advancing at a fast pace, new and improved versions keep adding to the list. In order to pick out the best hiking watch for yourself, first, make a list of your requirements. Include the basic features you need, how long you can go without charging your watch and whether you want a smartphone and social media connectivity or not.

Choose your hiking partner wisely, and make each an adventure worth remembering!

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