Best GPS Watch for Backpacking – Outdoor Watches

(Last Updated On: October 28, 2019)

Are you planning to go backpacking? Then you should consider getting the Garmin Fenix 5x as it stands as the best GPS watch for backpacking on the market. Aside from its accurate GPS and GLONASS function, this Garmin watch comes with impressive features for backpacking and hiking. It can also withstand water pressure up to a depth of 100 meters.

Best GPS Watch for Backpacking

Today, backpacking has become popular with people across the world. It is an easy way to enjoy the scenery, hiking, as well as learning about various terrain and cultures. But to have a stress free trip, you will surely need the best GPS watch for backpacking on your list.

The significant of GPS watch is that it tells the current time while keeping track of your movement and location. You can find many watches with impressive features, but a GPS watch with special features is best on the trail. Unlike other watches, a GPS timepiece has various features that will suit your backpacking trip. Such options include navigation tools, a map, and a rugged build.

Also, with the unpredictable weather, you will need a device to alert you of potential danger, especially when you camp alone. Hence, when going backpacking, equip yourself with a GPS watch with an altimeter, compass, and barometer.

Staying safe is essential as you head for that independent travel, sightseeing, hiking, and more. This is why you need the best GPS watch for backpacking and hiking.

Best GPS Watches for Backpacking

Suunto Traverse 

 

The Traverse looks casual and has features that make it stand out as the best GPS watch for backpacking and outdoors. It has a durable design, thereby serving as an ideal companion in the outdoors. It even has a look that allows it to doubles as a watch you can wear at home or work. Now here are the features offered by the Suunto Traverse.

Durable Build for Outdoor Use

If you are traveling on wet terrain or passing through water, there is no need to remove this item from the wrist. The Suunto Traverse offers a water resistance of 100m/330feet. It also has a rugged build and sturdy case that can keep the display from cracks, which can occur during a fall on rocky ground.

Provide Weather Information 

With the Suunto Traverse, you can determine the available hours of daylight. You can even use its storm alarm feature to know when the next thunderstorm will hit. Such features will allow you to have ample time to find shelter, especially when you are traveling in a remote location.

Ideal for Daily Use

As mentioned earlier, the Traverse performs functions that will suit your daily life. For instance, it monitors your physical activity by counting your steps and calories. It also allows you to have access to calls, messages, and notifications on your phone. Overall, these features will enable you to keep in touch with work, especially when you are on a backpacking trip.

Opinion and Drawbacks 

There are many reasons to love this watch. First, it has a durable but lightweight build. It also includes a barometer trend for incoming storms while boasting of a good battery that charges quickly.

However, it has some issues that might make you choose other watches. For one, its silicone band weakens within a few months of use.

Suunto Ambit 3

 

If you want another Suunto product with great featuresyou should consider getting the Sunnto Ambit3Apart from telling you the time, the smartwatch provides important readings and monitors your movements. It also has a build that allows it to handle the challenges of backpacking on any terrain.

Long Battery Life 

This watch offers a battery that can last for 200 hours. But when the GPS is not activated, it promises 30 days of battery life. With such features, you can use the watch on long trips, especially in locations where there is no power for a recharge.

Rugged Build 

As expected from an outdoor watch, the Suunto Ambit3 can handle regular use under harsh conditions. For instance, it has a sturdy polyamide case that holds its internal parts. It also boasts of an elastomer band that can maintain its shape after exposure to extreme temperatures. What’s even better is that a scratch-resistant crystal protects the display from knocks or impact from elements.

Great Connectivity

Are you worried about missing important calls or texts during a climb? Well, this watch can pair with your smartphone, thereby keeping you updated with any notification via the Suunto in-house app, Movescount. You can also use this feature to track and share your progress with your loved ones.

Opinion and Drawbacks 

It would be fair to see the Ambit3 as the best GPS watch for hiking with maps if you’re to consider its featuresBut it has a few issues that might make you look for suitable alternatives.

First, it provides inaccurate readings on its calorie and step counter. Next, the company forces you to visit its website before you can download your data from the watch. But if you choose to ignore these problems, the item might be ideal for any hiking and backpacking trip.

Garmin Fenix 5X Sapphire

 

Aside backpacking, if you are also looking for the best GPS watch for hiking, then you should consider this Garmin watch. Complete with dependable battery life, wrist-based heart monitor, and other vital sensors, the watch deserves a place on our search for the best GPS watch for backpacking.

Crisp Display 

The watch face on this GPS timepiece is suitable for use in sunlight or darkness. It consists of a full-color display that comes in high resolution. Its LED backlight also increases its readability in poorly lit environments on your backpacking route. The best part is that the screen is covered with a sapphire lens that can withstand scratches.

Wide Selection of Sensors 

If you use the Fenix 5X, you can navigate any terrain with ease. Possibly, the best hiking watch with altimeter, the accessory offers accurate elevation data for climbs. It also has a built-in barometer that can predict changes in weather, thereby providing ample time to prepare for a thunderstorm.

Sleek Design

Walking for hours with a bulky watch on your arm can be frustrating. But if you travel with this Garmin piece, its sleek and lightweight design will not add extra pressure to your wrist. Overall, it is a comfortable piece to use during hours of navigating difficult locations.

Opinion and Drawbacks

Any modern backpacker should consider getting a watch like the Fenix 5X because it stands as the best Garmin watch with GPS for many reasons. These include a clear display, portable design, and a wide range of sensors. Also, it costs less than most other GPS watches in the market.

Apple Watch Series 3

 

There are many reasons to love this Apple watch 3. These include its elegant design, top-notch sensors, and exciting speakers. It even comes for a price of less than $200. Now, let’s see the details of what this watch has to offer.

Impressive Build

Backpacking trips come with conditions that can test the limit of any watch. For this reason, this Apple Watch has a ceramic body that can handle scratches and minor knocks. It also has a band that can resist splashes and sweat.

Cellular Free Calls

Unlike most watches on our list, you can make calls with this device. You can even make these calls without pairing the timepiece with your phone. With this feature, you can make emergency calls or keep in touch with your loved ones while your smartphone stays in your backpack.

Readable Display

The watch has an OLED display that is bright and vivid. The technology conserves energy by going dim after some time. But you can switch it back on by flicking your wrist.  Furthermore, the watch is protected by tough glass, thereby making it a perfect fit for hiking rough terrain.

Opinion and Drawbacks

The Apple Watch Series 3 has features that fit backpacking activities. However, its poor battery life might make you spend time looking for a socket instead of enjoying your trip.

What to Consider when Looking out For the Best GPS Watch for Backpacking

You don’t want to throw away money, which is why you need to consider some of the important things when looking out for the best GPS watch for backpacking. The best smartwatch for backpacking should have the following features and qualities.

Durable and Sturdy Build

Your new device should have a feel of comfort and should be strong enough to withstand knocks and fall. Many GPS watches are built with a sapphire glass lens to make them resistant to scratches and pressures. This characteristic makes them expensive, bulky, and heavy if you have a small wrist.

You may go for lighter watches that are easier to carry when backpacking, running or hiking. These are often less expensive but may not be able to resist cracks or scratches. They are also more comfortable on the wrist, and you can wear them without worrying too much.

Altimeter, Barometer, and Compass (ABC feature)

If you’re looking for the best smartwatch for backpacking and hiking, these three important functions must be there. They provide the information that helps you guard against bad weather and the nature of any terrain you plan to go backpacking.

Altimeter helps to measure air pressure and keeps track of highlands and lowlands. You can’t bet on its 100 percent accuracy, but it’s useful if you’re passing through mountainous areas.

Since altimeters don’t need signals to function, they are more reliable than GPS devices. You can lose signal while on GPS since altimeters use air pressure, they are not lost on the mountains.

The barometer does more than tell you the kind of weather to expect. It gives you a hint of a coming storm and can measure atmospheric pressure too.

If you want the best backpacking watch and have planned a long trip, check for the barometer feature. It is useful when it comes to keeping you safe from storms and other unexpected weather conditions.

Many GPS watches come with a compass usually built into the device. While some devices may appear basic, others have advanced features. 3D compasses work no matter the direction you bend it, but 2D functions well when placed horizontally.

Compass is all-important even if you have a reliable GPS. Turning on your GPS drains the battery, and it won’t be available for support when you need it. But for a compass or map, you don’t need battery power, which makes it a better alternative.

Strap Quality

The type of strap that comes with the GPS watch is important. Rough straps can cause discomfort and annoyance, so choose the one that is comfortable on your wrist. Get a watch with a sturdy strap, which can remain well-secured on your wrist.

Weight

Long backpacking or hiking requires you to go with a lighter load. You may not understand how heavy things can be until you’re on the move. To avoid this problem, go for modern watches which are relatively lighter and more advanced.

Battery Life

GPS works with battery power, and this makes you want to turn it off at regular intervals. When choosing the best GPS watch for hiking and backpacking, consider one with a long battery life. Most watches last between ten and twelve hours when the GPS is turned on.

Depending on the settings, some watches can stay in GPS mode for about 24 hours. Although they are more expensive, they come with special features.

A good way to reduce the consumption of power is to enable Ultra-trac. This feature helps to limit GPS readings and conserves more battery power for essential tasks only. The only issue is that your GPS will not give you an accurate reading of distance or pace.

The best way to conserve battery power is to turn off every function when not in use. If you’re not using the GPS function or other functions, turn off the watch completely until you need them. Switching on all apps, notifications, and alerts will drain your battery much faster.

Heart-Rate Monitor

If you want to lose weight or stay fit while hiking, a GPS watch with a heart-rate monitor is helpful. This feature tells you how fast or how slow your heartbeat, which can help to inform your hiking activities.

Wrist-based heart-rate monitors may feel comfortable, but they don’t give you accurate readings. Monitors closer to the chest region give a reliable reading, although they feel a little less comfortable. Since you want the best GPS watch for backpacking, a more accurate heart-rate reading is a wise choice.

GPS and GLONASS

With the advancement of technology, the best GPS watch for backpacking and hiking should come with GPS and GLONASS satellites. These features, supported by BDS (BeiDou Navigation Satellite System), can tell your exact location, speed, duration, ascent, and the distance you’ve covered. This is a great way to track your progress, especially if you’re backpacking alone.

Final Word on the Best GPS Watch For Backpacking

Backpacking is an interesting activity that can be enjoyed more when you have a GPS watch handy. With such an accessory, you can navigate any terrain and track your progress.

Fortunately, you can find these items in different styles with price tags for every budget. We also recommend that you take care of your GPS watch as this will help it perform properly for a long time.

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