9 best hiking watches for a safe and gratifying adventure


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Fitness watches come with utility, health, and fitness features. They can track your vitals, progress, and activities, including trekking. Whether you’re a beginner or experienced, a hiking watch can enhance your outdoor recreation in many ways. 

They can monitor not only weather and routes but also your physical performance while you explore the mountains and hikes. Yes, these outdoor tools can track your vitals to help you stay on the game.

If you like mountaineering, trekking, and hiking you are in the right place. You will learn how hitting the trails can transform your lifestyle. We will show you some of the best hiking watches on the market to help you make a wise decision. 

Because your safety is important this helpful guide also will provide useful tips and suggestions. 

Physical and mental health benefits of hiking

Hiking is becoming more popular over the years. According to the Outdoor Industry Association, there has been an increase in outdoor activities. It shows that people enjoyed exploring the trails more during the Covid-19 pandemic in April, May, and June. 

Recommended reading: 30 life-changing benefits of using a smartwatch

Does it count as an exercise? Yes, and it works all your muscles! Walking the trails, not only helps your body but also your mind. Also, it is a powerful cardio exercise. If you hate working out or find it boring, you can include hiking in your fitness plan.

This is how hiking can transform your lifestyle: 

  • You will remain engaged, burn more calories, and reach your fitness goals. 
  • It can help prevent many health conditions including diabetes, heart problems, and obesity. 
  • Besides, hiking can be a natural remedy for anxiety, depression, and insomnia. 
  • Walking up the hills and rocks makes gets your heart pumping while burning calories. 
  • Also, it can help improve circulation, reduce tension, and make you feel good.
  • If you don’t feel motivated to exercise just try it! It can help improve physical performance and mental wellbeing. 
  • Also, it can strengthen your relationships as you hike with friends and family.  
  • Like any workout, it helps your body use oxygen more efficiently which improves breathing.

Learn more about how hiking can improve your health by visiting the National Park Service.

Looking for the right hiking watch? Read this first!

Outdoor watches can be used not only for exploring the trails and finding a location. They can help you keep safe while you explore the backcountry.

In fact, these ABC watches have at least the following common features:

  • An altimeter to measure altitude
  • Barometer to predict atmospheric or barometric pressure 
  • Compass to determine directions 

Many hiking watches can feature GPS and weather alerts to help you plan.  They can be essential gear just like your bottle of water or backpack. 

To help you get the most of your hiking, these watches can collect health data such as calories, steps, and heart rate as well. They can detect physical activity and send you personalized feedback. They can have fitness trackers or/and smartwatch features. 

The data can give an insight into your physical level which helps you create realistic goals. Keep in mind that an effective plan can help you see great results.  

Want to take your trekking to the next level? Learn more about our favorites to help you get familiar with their features. 

Best outdoor watches for hiking: Stay safe while training smart

Choosing the right one for you can be overwhelming and frustrating for the different functionalities they offer.

Besides, you can find outdoor watches for every need, budget, size, and physical level. As we mentioned earlier, they can include fitness and health tracking. 

With this in mind, we have researched some of the top hiking watches available right now based on reviews, market analysis, and features.

Here are 9 great options to turn your outdoor activity into an exciting and safe experience:

Suunto Traverse

This GPS hiking watch available on Amazon is easy to use and has excellent battery life. It tracks daily, weekly, monthly, and yearly activity tracking of steps and calories.

It is similar to but lighter than Suunto Ambit3 Peak which is no longer in production. 

Although you can do more with the Suunto Alpha, the Traverse outdoor watch will not let you down. It features a compass, GPS, and GLONASS Satellite navigation systems for hiking routes and point of interest (POI) navigation.  Besides tracking speed, distance, and altitude, you can save and retrace your steps in real-time breadcrumb view.

What I like about the Traverse hiking watch is the Barometric Trend which predicts weather conditions. It includes a practical storm alarm to alert you when it is time to find shelter. These two features are very important especially if you are planning on overnight hiking. 

The Sunrise and Sunset feature keeps you informed of the daylight hours. Battery life lasts up to 100 hours so you can enjoy your trekking or hiking without any bad surprises. Moreover, you can discover new hiking routes on Suunto Movescount and Suunto Movescount App.

Flashlight mode comes with a backlight to help find your stuff or check a map. One of the best Suunto watches, the Traverse hiking watch has a vibration alarm and mobile notifications.

Garmin Instinct

Great for beginners, this Garmin hiking watch is built to resist the harshest weather. It is rugged, versatile, and stylish.

Besides, it is designed for the U. S. Military standard 810G for thermal, shock, and water resistance (rated to 100 meters). Besides, it has a built-in 3-axis compass and barometric altimeter.

It comes with GPS, GLONASS, and Galileo to help track in more challenging hiking environments.

For the fitness conscious, it monitors your heart rate, activity, and stress levels. Also, you can train with preloaded activity profiles.

Additional features include smart notifications and automatic data uploads to the Garmin Connect online fitness community.

What makes this hiking watch complete is that you can plan your trips ahead of time. 

Battery life:

  • Smartwatch mode for up to 14 days
  • GPS mode for 16 hours 
  • UltraTrac for 40 hours

If you’re searching for the best hiking watch under $200, look no more. You can record your routes without breaking your bank. 

Want to know more? Check out this GPS hiking watch on Amazon. For a couple of hundred dollars more you can get Garmin Instinct Solar with an updated Elevate HR sensor. Battery life is almost 8 weeks. 

Garmin Fenix 5S 

This is a compact hiking watch and features the Elevate wrist heart rate technology. 

Like many Garmin watches, it comes with multiple built-in activity profiles and workout metrics. Unlike other Garmin hiking watches like Fenix 5X and 5, 5S is suitable for smaller wrists. 

You can personalize this watch with free face watches and applications from the Connect IQ store.

For a more enhanced hiking experience, Fenix 5S has GPS and GLONASS satellite reception. Also, it boasts a 3-axis compass with a gyroscope and a barometric altimeter.

Depending on the settings, battery life is:

  • Smartwatch for up to 9 days
  • GPS mode for 14 hours 
  • UltraTrac for up to 35 hours

Want to take your hiking to the next level? Read more about this Garmin hiking watch on Amazon. 

Suunto Spartan

Searching for the best GPS watch for hiking and running? You cannot get wrong with Suunto Spartan. 

This hiking watch has a durable color touch screen and heart rate monitor.  Also, it includes FusedAlti which provides accurate barometric altitude data.

In fact, it is lighter than Suunto Core ALU and Traverse. Spartan is ideal for trekking, running, cycling, and other outdoor activities. Battery life is 40 hours with GPS mode. The bezel is made of steel and mineral glass. It is a 100-meter water-resistant and GPS/GLONASS route navigation.

This multisport GPS watch is not only for hikers but for athletes as well. 

Watch faces are customizable and support for over 80 sports. It gives you a clear picture of your cardio level with an instant heart rate graph and calorie burn rate. Besides, it features a 24/7 activity tracker with steps and calories. Besides, it tracks sleep duration and average HR overnight.

Suunto Spartan offers little extras such as mobile sync with Suunto MovesCount App for iOS and Android. It features Bluetooth Smart, storm alarm, and sunrise/sunset time.

Learn about one of the best Suunto watches for hiking on Amazon. 

Fitbit Versa 3

Wondering what is the best Fitbit for hiking? Rest assured that Versa 3 can deliver a great user experience while you are exploring the trails. It has a stylish design and for everyday use. 

Keep in mind that this durable and water-resistant (50 meters) watch does not come with Garmin or Suunto hiking features. However, you still can track your trekking with built-in GPS + GLONASS. You can monitor your progress with the hiking exercise mode. 

For a great hiking experience, battery life is more than 6 days. Additional functionalities include an altimeter, gyroscope, and 3-axis accelerometer. Unless you are a serious or professional trekker I can recommend Versa 3 for your hiking activities. 

Learn more about Fitbit Versa 3 suitable for hiking available on Amazon. 

Garmin Fenix 6S Pro 

With Garmin Fenix 6S Pro you can listen to your favorite music, add a mapping, track your progress, and more! 

This rugged GPS hiking watch features an always-on 1.2” display (240 X 240 pixels) and sun-readable. It has stainless steel, titanium, or DLC (diamond-like carbon) coating bezels. 

Fenix 6S Pro uses an advanced heart rate monitor and Pulse Ox (oximeter). It uses these metrics to monitor your sleep quality and altitude acclimation at high elevation. 

To get the most out of hiking, it uses Pace Pro, pace guidance to help you stay on the game.  To help you achieve your goals you can see your progress right on the wrist or smartphone. 

Check this Garmin hiking watch available on Amazon. Also, there is a Solar version with similar functionalities.

Also, you can enjoy the outdoors with preloaded topographic maps and ski maps for 2,000+ resorts. You will not get lost as it features GPS, GLONASS, and Galileo.

Fenix 6S Pro has built-in sensors for gyroscope, barometric altimeter, and 9-axis compass. Battery life: 

  • Smartwatch mode for up to 9 days 
  • GPS and music mode for up to 6 hours
  • Expedition mode for up to 20 days
  • Battery saver mode for up to 34 days

This hiking watch also supports Garmin Pay for safe and transactions. You can store your favorite music but it may require a third-party subscription. 

Other functionalities include hydration and period tracker. If you are looking for hiking watches for small wrists, read more about Garmin 6S Pro (Small size) available on Amazon.

Suunto Core

Looking for the best budget hiking watch for your trekking adventures? 

A great outdoor tool, the Suunto Core features an altimeter to track your vertical movement. Also, it has a barometer to measure air pressure. For safe navigation through the wilderness, it includes a digital compass. 

Besides, Core comes with a weather trend graph and storm alarm to help plan your hiking adventures. 

Stylish and accurate, it measures depth to 30 ft and weight only 2.26 ounces. Besides, it can track the weather and sun.

Check out this affordable outdoor watch we found on Amazon. 

POLAR Grit X 

Do you want a hiking watch that focuses on performance optimization and nutrition? Polar Grit X can be your way to go. It passed the military standard 810G test for extreme weather, drop, and humidity. Water-resistance is up to 100 meters.

A 2-day weather forecast is also included. Light and durable, this watch has a built-in GPS, compass, and altimeter. 

Stay on the right path with Komoot. This free live navigation application allows you to discover, create, and customize hiking routes. It is available offline as well. 

With Hill Splitter your progress can be optimized. 

You can see your performance on the ascent and descent section of your route using speed, altitude, and distance. As a matter of fact, it can detect either indoor and outdoor activities.

Polar Grit X hiking watch features FuelWise to help you maintain energy and hydration levels in longer activity sessions. It reminds you when it is time to refuel and how many carbs you need to bring with you. Moreover, this functionality helps you refuel according to your needs. 

It is great for those who want to know where they stand while enjoying outdoor activities. Interested in taking your trekking to the next level?  Discover Polar Grit X hiking watch on Amazon. 

Suunto 9 Baro 

This device is waterproof (up to 100m) and comes with a built-in GPS. It is one of the best hiking watches for runners, seasoned trekkers, and endurance athletes. 

It features Fused Alti using barometric altitude data to show sea level pressure and storm alarm. Also, this watch has a long battery life of up to 120 hours through the Performance, Endurance, Ultra modes. Also, it has 3 button color displays, sunrise/sunset times, and a touch screen. 

Besides, it boasts accurate GPS tracking and navigation with FusedTrack. This Suunto hiking watch also includes real-time display and points of interest.

This hiking watch comes with a 24/7 activity tracking with heart rate, calorie, step counter, and sleep tracking.

As a matter of fact, it is compatible with sports services like Strava, Endomondo, and Training Peaks which enjoys benefits offered through the Suunto Value Pack.

This hiking watch has route planning and activity-specific heat maps. You can find popular routes around the world with the Suunto app. Also, it features 80+ exercise modes including cycling, gym, hiking, swimming, running, and more.

You can manage phone calls and notifications, and share workouts with your friends and social media. Read more about 9 Baro, one of the most popular hiking watches on Amazon. 

5 important tips to stay safe while hiking

My husband and I have enjoyed exploring the trails for years. We find it relaxing, rewarding, and memorable. 

However, we always keep in mind that fun has a lot to do with staying safe. Besides wearing a hiking watch, we need to do more to protect ourselves.

These trekking safety tips can help you and your family to avoid any unexpected and dangerous situations:  

  • Plan your adventure ahead of time 

Indeed, it is essential that checking the weather before hitting the trails. Hiking during a sunny day is far more enjoyable than on a rainy day. I hate to walk in mud or during a humid day. Find out the weather forecast to determine the best day to explore nature. 

  • Carry the necessary hiking gear. 

 Are you hiking solo? With friends? Are you staying overnight? Is it a hiking day? Your hiking watch is important to bring some essentials. If you are wondering what you should bring for hiking this American Hiking Society link will help you prepare. 

  •  Make sure your bag is not too heavy. 

Depending on how long you will be hiking you may need to carry enough essentials. However, do not carry unnecessary outdoor gear if you are not going to need it.

  • Learn CPR or basic emergency aid

It is very important to be prepared if you are going to explore isolated areas. Knowing these skills and bringing a first aid kit will help address emergencies such as injuries. 

  •  Stay informed

Learn some hiking skills and techniques that will help you in many situations. Because we care about you, now we will share some useful suggestions.   

Bonus: Safety information for hikers

Now you know about some of the best hiking watches on the market. So before you start your adventure get informed to ensure a memorable one!

You will be surprised at how many beautiful hiking areas you can find. Many trails can be enjoyed by anyone from beginners to professional hikers. Keep in mind that while walking on trails can be a great experience you need to be prepared to encounter unexpected situations. 

Do you want to learn more about hiking? This useful American Hiking Society link provides great tips and resources. Find hikes either in your area or places that you can explore in Find Your Park

Also, these safety tips from the National Park Service will help get familiar with hiking and exploring nature. 

Get your hiking watch and enjoy exploring nature!

Conclusion

Staying active can make a big difference in your lifestyle. And hiking can be a great solution for a lack of fitness motivation. 

How to stay on track? Explore the trails while you track your progress. Although it may not feel like a workout, your body and mind will appreciate it.

Wearing a hiking watch can help you experience a rewarding but safe adventure. Start monitoring your calories burned, heartbeats, and steps. You can use the data to adjust your fitness plan. Also, bring your loved ones and inspire them. As a safety tip, check the weather first, bring enough water/snacks, and know the trail areas well. 

Always think hiking as a hobby, not an exercise or chore. You will feel energized with a soothed mind. Hiking is great to have fun and connect with nature while exercising your body. This is a perfect physical activity to get you motivated.

We hope our article “9 best hiking watches to help you stay motivated” can help you enjoy and get the most out of your outdoor adventures. 

Brenda L. A.

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