A hiking watch needs to be tough and durable, yet functional and reliable. Some features to look out for include a barometer, compass and altimeter. Some even include a GPS, so that you don't need a separate handheld GPS device.
Best Hiking Watches (Top Picks)
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Top Hiking Watches (Detailed Reviews)
We reviewed over 13 hiking watches for this article. Below are the best hiking watches that made our short list.
- Garmin Fenix 3 - Best Overall
- Suunto Traverse - Editor's Choice
- Garmin Tactix Bravo
- Suunto Core
- Timex Expedition Grid Shock - Best Value
Read our complete buyers guide for hiking watches.
Best Overall Hiking Watches
1. Garmin Instinct
The Garmin Fenix 3 was recently upgraded to Garmin Instinct. It's a tough and rugged hiking watch that is also perfectly suitable for everyday wear. It includes a multitude of useful features, such as a wrist-based heart rate monitor, barometer, compass, GPS, altimeter, thermometer, and TracBack feature.
It has a sturdy and durable build and is water resistant to up to 100 meters. With a Chroma display, you will be able to easily see your data at any time of the day and in any level of sunlight.
The GPS feature is quick so you don't have to wait around for a few minutes before you get on your way.
You'll also never get lost with its TracBack and bread crumbs feature that is helpful when you're in faraway remote places with little to no signal.
The Garmin Fenix 3 HR tracks your steps, calories, heart rate, and even the quality of your sleep!
When paired with a compatible smartphone or other type of device, you will be able to receive Smart Notifications from the Fenix 3 HR and track your personal data through the Connect IQ app.
There is also a Move Alert feature, which will vibrate and alert you when you've been sitting down for too long.
This is a very useful feature for when you have long hours at the office, as it will give your brain a break as you get up and move for a little while and help increase your productivity.
The Garmin Fenix 3 HR is the ideal hiking watch with plenty of amazing, useful features to use.
What we like
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2. Suunto Traverse
The Suunto Traverse is a daily watch, designed for outdoor use but with a sleek look so that it can be worn on your everyday travels as well. It has a modern, lightweight design with great display.
Its features include GPS, an altimeter, barometer, compass, speed and distance tracking and a flashlight mode.
It's a great watch for fitness training and hiking but has limited battery life so if you need a watch that's going to last more than 2 weeks without a charge then this probably isn't the best choice for you.
The Suunto Traverse has a linked altimeter and barometer that has 3 profiles to choose from: automatic, altimeter, and barometer.
In automatic mode, the watch will switch back and forth between altimeter and barometer depending on whether you're moving or standing still.
The Traverse logs all your trip data so that you can see your total ascent/descent details as well as your speed.
It has all the typical timekeeping functions, which include stopwatch, timer, an alarm and GPS time.
Sunrise and sunset times help you to set your alarm for when you need to wake up as well as help you determine how many hours of sunlight you have to keep travelling.
It also tracks weather trends and gives storm alerts so that you can find shelter in time. The Suunto Traverse has a very useful flashlight function, which puts the backlight on full brightness so that you can find your essentials in the dark.
With GPS capability and Glonass networks, the Suunto Traverse helps you keep track of where you're going and can be used to plan your routes. It has features to help you find your way back to the start of your route, log Points of Interest, check coordinates, and more.
You can sync your Traverse watch with the Suunto Movescount app on your phone in order to create and plan routes, push notifications and incoming calls to your watch, and transfer your data wirelessly once you've completed a trip.
The Movescount app allows you to see all the details of your hike, as well as summaries, fitness patterns, calories burned etc.
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#1 Pick for High Altitude Mountaineering
Favre-Leuba Raider Bivouac 9000
If you're planning to hike or climb at high altitude then we highly recommend the Favre-Leuba Bivouac 9000. This watch demonstrates Swiss engineering at it's best!
The titanium casing means the watch is almost indestructible, and if that wasn't enough, the watch is also water-resistant to 3 bar / 30m.
3. Garmin Tactix Bravo
The Garmin Tactix Bravo is designed specifically for fitness training, navigation, and tactical functionality. It has a rugged, durable design that incorporates stainless steel bezels, sapphire glass, and an interchangeable nylon strap.
The altimeter function accurately measures your elevation as you ascend or descend and the barometer tracks changes in weather so that you can be prepared for any conditions.
The Tactix Bravo also includes GPS and Glonass positioning so that you can always navigate your way, check your coordinates and plan your route.
The TracBack features allows you to find your way back to the start of your route so you'll never have to worry about getting lost. You can even sync the Tactix Bravo with your smartphone and receive notifications while you're exploring the great outdoors.
You can install Garmin's Connect app on your phone and see all of your data collected by the Tactix Bravo. The Garmin Chroma Display ensures that you can read the data displayed on the Tactix Bravo in any type of light. It also has a 100m water rating so you can leave the watch on while you swim or go snorkelling.
The Garmin Tactix Bravo has a good battery that can last up to 3 weeks depending in the mode it's set on.
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4. Suunto Core
The Suunto Core is an excellent outdoor watch with many useful functions. It comes in a number of different colour variations so you can choose the style that will suit you the best.
It has an altimeter, which tracks your ascent or descent and tells you what your current elevation is. It measures your elevation every 3 feet or 1 meter, and can track your overall height climbed in the altitude log even if your trail has many ups and downs.
This function is linked together with the barometer, which calculates the pressure as you ascend or descend instead of just the weather pressure. This allows for more accurate readings as long-term trends are determined.
While there is no GPS, the Suunto Core has a compass function that allows you to navigate your way safely through the great outdoors. It also features sunrise and sunset times with 400 locations to choose from.
All you need to do is select the location closest to you and set your alarms accordingly so that you can wake up as the sun comes up.
The Core also has a thermometer, which works best when you've taken the watch off of your wrist for a little while to avoid interference from your body heat. It has storm alarms that warn you when a storm is approaching so that you can find shelter.
The Suunto Core has a relatively easy user-interface which you get used to as you use it more.
There are multiple menu pages that you have to go through to find certain functions or logs but the more you do it, the quicker you find what you're looking for.
You can set a daily alarm with the Suunto Core, however it isn't very loud. It has a water resistance up to 30 meters and can accurately tell you your depth up to 10 meters.
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5. Timex Ironman R300 GPS Watch
The Timex Ironman R300 watch is a more basic watch for hiking that focuses less on navigation, but more on the smaller features. It a great introductory watch for people new to hiking and is great value for money.
It's shock- and water-resistant up to 100m. It features a stopwatch, timer, alarm and hydration alerts. The alarms can be set to vibrate, make a sound, or both, so you can choose which is more likely to wake you up.
The hydration alert is an excellent feature if your main use for this watch is hiking. It'll alert you to when you should have a drink of water so that you stay hydrated on your hike.
While it doesn't have many features, if you're looking for something simple to track the time and wake you up in the mornings then the Timex Ironman watch will suit you just fine.
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Hiking Watch Buyer's Guide
Any hiking watch should include an altimeter, barometer and compass. These are the basic features that are extremely useful to keep an eye on while you're on your trek.
An altimeter will let you know your elevation as you ascend or descend on a trail. Some watches will also track the total height you ascended on your whole trail, which can be useful in tracking your progress.
A barometer is useful to track the changes in air pressure, which then helps to predict weather changes so you can prepare yourself in time.
Some watches will include a storm alert feature to ensure you find shelter in time. This is an extremely helpful feature to have on your hiking watch as weather can be so unpredictable, especially if you're hiking up steep mountains and where the air pressure changes as you ascend.
A compass is also a helpful feature to have so that you can check your bearing and see where the cardinal directions are. This can help you navigate you way on a map if you do not have a GPS device.
Hiking watches need to be made from the most durable materials so that they can last beyond the duration of your trip.
Some hiking watches will have a sapphire glass face, which is more resistant to scratches. The straps also need to be durable and comfortable so that the watch doesn't bother you as you hike.
The comfort and weight of a hiking watch is also important to consider. Watches that are more robust and durable with lots of features are often quite large and bulky which can be a bit uncomfortable on smaller wrists.
The strap material can also effect the comfort of a watch. Silicone bands can be quite comfortable, however, if they don't feature breathing holes they can get quite sticky and itchy if you perspire.
More expensive hiking watches usually feature GPS functions. GPS is the best feature to have for navigational and tracking purposes.
It'll allow you to access your coordinates as well as show your speed and distance. Some watches are capable of importing your routes or can sync with a smartphone app to help you plan your trails.
Unfortunately, GPS watches tend to have a much shorter battery life if the setting is used frequently or kept on.
So if you want a GPS hiking watch, see if you can find one with interchangeable or chargeable batteries, or even one that comes with a solar charger.
Some hiking watches will also feature a heart rate monitor, which tracks your heart rate through a wrist-based mechanism. Other watches require a separate chest strap that transmits data to the watch.
This feature can help you keep track of your heart rate on a long hike so that you can keep a steady, healthy pace.