Best Hiking Watches of 2024

Best Hiking Watch: Hiking watch by the river - Stay on track with a reliable hiking GPS watch

In this post, we'll take a look at:

Finding the best hiking watch can be tough because there are so many options out there. But don’t worry, we’re here to help you make the right choice.

We’ll help you understand the important things to think about, such as how heavy it is on the hand, how long the battery lasts, how strong it is, and the safety features it has. Let’s start.

What are the Best Hiking Watches?

  1. Most Ultralight: Suunto 9 Peak Pro (2.26oz/64g)
  2. Best Overall: Garmin Enduro 2 (2.47oz/70g)
  3. Best Value: Coros Vertix 2 (2.54oz/72g)
  4. Value Solar Option: Garmin fēnix 7 Pro Solar (2.9oz/82g)
  5. Budget Option: Suunto 9 Baro (2.86oz/81g)

1. Most Ultralight
Suunto 9 Peak Pro

Suunto 9 Peak Pro

Key Specs


Weight: 2.26 ounces (64 grams)
Battery Life: 40 hours (GPS enabled)
SOS Feature: No
Waterproof Rating: 10 ATM
Price: $

PROS


✅ Ultralight

✅ Durable

CONS


❌ Slight lag when using some functions

The Suunto 9 Peak Pro delivers on its promise as a super lightweight hiking GPS watch. Its exceptional 40-hour battery life with GPS on, its sleek design and its comfortable fit make it a joy to wear all day outdoors.

Key strengths include its wide range of training, navigation and recovery metrics. Its connected GPS and heatmaps provide route planning versatility.

While not dealbreakers, some downsides do exist. Its oxygen saturation measurement is unreliable and inaccurate. Some of its menus experience a slight lag, and its small font size cannot be enlarged for those with weaker close-up vision.

However, these minor issues do not detract much from the 9 Peak Pro’s overall performance as an athletic multi-sport watch.

Its durability is not a concern with its tough sapphire screen and 10 ATM water resistance. Its connected features and thorough smartphone app support training goals well.

For the adventurer seeking a feature-packed companion without bulk, the Suunto 9 Peak Pro brings balanced style and utility. Its strengths outweigh negligible limitations, marking it as a solid GPS watch pick for trail runners, hikers and climbers alike.


2. Best Overall
Garmin Enduro 2

Garmin Enduro 2

Key Specs


Weight: 2.47 ounces (70 grams)
Battery Life: 150 hours with solar charging (GPS enabled)
SOS Feature: Yes
Waterproof Rating: 10 ATM
Price: $$$

PROS


✅ Durable

✅ Best functionality on the market

CONS


❌ Might be too big for some

The Garmin Enduro 2 proves itself as an ultra-light yet fully featured hiking GPS watch perfectly suited for extended outdoor use. Its tough construction is built to withstand harsh environments while advanced technologies enable comprehensive fitness and navigation tracking.

Notably, the Enduro 2 impresses with its unique combination of solar charging and extraordinary battery performance. This allows it to potentially function for weeks on end without another charge – ideal for multi-day expeditions.

Standout attributes include an intuitive button layout, convenient flashlight feature, accurate real-world battery metrics, and responsive touchscreen. Its comfortable strap and lightweight design enhance all-day comfort.

However, the watch head is on the larger side which may not suit those preferring a more compact profile. But for adventurers focused on maximizing feature set over minimalism, this is a negligible tradeoff.

Durability, connectivity and user-friendly app integration live up to Garmin’s high standards. Off-grid explorers will appreciate its versatility and ‘set it and forget it’ longevity.

Overall, the Garmin Enduro 2 emerges as a best-in-class GPS tool for tackling any terrain with desktop-level functionality on the wrist.


3. Best Value
Coros Vertix 2

Coros Vertix 2

Key Specs


Weight: 2.54 ounces (72 grams)
Battery Life: 140 hours (GPS enabled)
SOS Feature: No
Waterproof Rating: 10 ATM
Price: $$

PROS


✅ Good battery life

✅ Durable

CONS


❌ Might be too big for some

❌ Inaccurate heart rate monitoring

The Coros Vertix 2 is the perfect companion for your outdoor adventures, designed to excel in rugged environments. It’s built tough with titanium and a durable screen, making it well-suited for challenging terrains.

The 1.4-inch touch screen allows for up to 8 data displays, although screen visibility could be improved. You can plan routes, sync maps, and make the most of features like returning to your starting point and checking elevation profiles.

The GPS performance is reliable, but it’s not significantly better than other watches in this price range. Unfortunately, the heart rate monitor tends to be somewhat inaccurate, so if accurate heart rate monitoring is essential for you, using a chest strap is a good idea.

One standout feature is the impressive battery life, offering up to 140 hours with full GPS usage or 60 days during regular use.

Despite these minor drawbacks, the Vertix 2 is a reliable choice if you’re seeking a watch with excellent battery life and aren’t overly concerned about your health data accuracy.


4. Value Solar Option
Garmin fēnix 7 Pro Solar

Garmin fēnix 7 Pro Solar

Key Specs


Weight: 2.9 ounces (82 grams)
Battery Life: 122 hours with solar charging (GPS enabled)
SOS Function: Yes
Waterproof Rating: 10 ATM
Price: $$$

PROS


✅ Solar charging feature

✅ Durable

CONS


❌ Health data can be a bit inaccurate

The Garmin fēnix 7 Pro Solar stands out as a high-quality smartwatch that’s suitable for everyday use, combining style with practicality. Its extended battery life and GPS navigation, including preloaded maps, add to its appeal.

A standout feature of the fēnix 7 Pro is its impressive MIP screen, which shines brightly outdoors, especially in sunlight. However, I did find it a bit challenging to see the screen indoors or in shaded areas, requiring the use of the backlight. Nonetheless, this minor inconvenience doesn’t overshadow the watch’s overall performance.

The most significant improvement over the previous model is the remarkable battery life. It’s no exaggeration to say that the battery life will make Apple Watch users envious.

In our experience, there was a slight learning curve during the setup, but we truly appreciate the watch’s features and how comfortable it is to wear. All things considered, this watch offers great value for its price, and it’s a choice you won’t regret.


5. Budget Option
Suunto 9 Baro

Suunto 9 Baro

Key Specs


Weight: 2.86 ounces (81 grams)
Battery Life: 40 hours (GPS enabled)
SOS Function: No
Waterproof Rating: 10 ATM
Price: $

PROS


✅ Extremely affordable

✅ Durable

CONS


❌ Software has limited capabilities

The Suunto 9 Baro is a rugged GPS watch designed for a variety of sports and activities. It comes with features like an altitude barometer and a heart rate monitor, making it versatile for different pursuits. Its durability and water resistance make it a suitable companion for outdoor adventures.

We’ve been quite pleased with the watch’s impressive battery life, lasting for over a week. By default, it conserves battery by using a single satellite, but when set to use multiple satellites, its tracking performance is solid.

One minor quirk is that the screen locks when the watch has been idle for a while, requiring a button press to wake it up, which is not a major issue but could be more user-friendly.

However, we’ve encountered some difficulties with syncing apps and the watch’s software. The software controls and apps are not as user-friendly as those on competing brands like Garmin. Additionally, Garmin offers better sleep tracking capabilities.

In summary, the Suunto 9 Baro is a good choice if you’re seeking a budget-friendly option with basic features.

How to Choose the Best Hiking Watch

When picking a hiking watch for your next adventure, there are several factors to consider. First, set a budget and figure out your specific needs. If you’re into basic tracking on well-defined trails, a standard hiking GPS watch should do the job.

  • For more adventurous outdoor activities, seek features like breadcrumb mapping and the ABC trio (Altimeter, Barometer, Compass).

Some higher-end models offer turn-by-turn navigation with onboard maps, which can be quite useful.

  • Battery life is critical, especially if you’ll be in areas with a weak GPS signal. Dense foliage or canyons can drain the battery faster due to poor satellite communication.

So, take this into consideration when making your choice.

  • If your main goal is using your phone for navigation, and you’re primarily interested in the watch’s SOS feature, you might want to explore dedicated satellite messengers or personal locator beacons (PLBs) designed specifically for this purpose.

In summary, set a budget, prioritize essential features, and focus on your specific needs to avoid unnecessary extras that might not be helpful for your outdoor adventures.

In summary, set a budget, prioritize essential features, and focus on your specific needs to avoid unnecessary extras that might not be helpful for your outdoor adventures.

FAQ

What are some essential features to consider when buying a hiking watch?

When purchasing a hiking watch, key features to evaluate are GPS tracking, durability with waterproofing, battery life of at least 40 hours, ABC sensors for altitude-barometer-compass readings, smartwatch connectivity, and a durable strap. For outdoor adventures, also look for helpful tools like a fitness tracker, stopwatch, countdown timer, sunrise/sunset data, storm alerts, wayfinding, and pace monitoring. Choosing a watch that seamlessly blends performance tracking with weatherproofing and safety features will enhance your hiking experience. Prioritize the capabilities that match your specific trails and needs. With the right watch, you’ll stay informed and prepared on every outdoor excursion.

How to read and interpret data on a hiking watch’s display?

Modern hiking watches display a range of metrics that can be quickly scanned and understood while on the trail. Key data like current pace, distance traveled, altitude gained, and heart rate are displayed prominently and updated frequently during your hike. Additional data like coordinates, sunrise/sunset time, temperature, and weather forecasts require slightly more interpretation but provide helpful environmental context. With practice, you’ll learn how to parse the most essential tracking statistics at a glance, letting you monitor your performance and surroundings without breaking focus.

Who has the latest technology in hiking watches?

The newest hiking watches include features like built-in GPS for tracking distance and speed, weather monitoring to see upcoming conditions, temperature sensors, sunrise/sunset times, and more. With this data, the latest hiking watches provide a comprehensive overview of your health metrics, environmental factors, and progress on the trail.

Who makes the best hiking GPS watches?

Some of the top brands for hiking watches include Garmin, Suunto, Coros, and Polar. Garmin is a clear leader with an extensive lineup of rugged GPS watches like the Fenix and Enduro series known for long battery life, topo maps, pulse ox sensors, barometer/altimeter, and more. Suunto makes durable precision instruments like the Movesense-powered Spartan and high-end Traverse models. Coros has increasingly impressed with the affordability and features of watches like the APEX Pro. And Polar’s Vantage and Grit X offerings cater well to endurance athletes seeking integrated training metrics and recovery insights. All deliver premium performance and functionality suited to navigating demanding trails. However, our favorite is always Garmin.

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