After carrying out thorough research and testing different outdoor watches on the market, we concluded that the Garmin Fenix 5 Plus is one of the best smartwatches for Hiking among others. For one, this watch has a sturdy build that can withstand harsh outdoor conditions. It also comes with impressive features for hiking which include a barometer, altimeter, compass, GPS function and many more.
Hiking is an exciting outdoor activity, and like other adventures, it requires smart and reliable gadgets. You can’t afford to go across unknown terrains without first having the best smartwatch for hiking handy, among other things. Neglecting this will be a big mistake that will leave you wandering across the vast wilderness aimlessly.
Hiking watch is essential because it reveals more than just the time and date of the day. It keeps hikers informed of the location, altitude, and air pressure to enable a more comfortable movement. With the best outdoor watch, hikers can get around difficult and unknown terrains quickly.
If you are a hiker ready to head out into the wild, it’s time to look out for the best smartwatches for hiking. We have compiled a great list and buying guides to make it easy for you to choose.
Top 4 Best Smartwatches for Hiking
1. Garmin Fenix 5 Plus
For many years, Garmin has designed excellent watches that fit any outdoor activity. With this in mind, the Fenix 5 Plus stands as one of the best smartwatches for hiking. It comes with a legible screen, color maps, and navigation tracking. Considering all these features mentioned, you should be having this smartwatch on your wrist in the next hiking trip.
Provides Navigational Data via Various Networks
The Fenix 5 helps you track your location via GPS. But for difficult terrain, it combines two networks – GLONASS and Galileo– to provide accurate directions. For checking elevation data, Garmin adds an altimeter function while a compass records your bearing.
Perfect for Any Environment
The Fenix 5 Plus comes with either a titanium or stainless bezel that works well against rocks, moisture, and other natural elements. It also has a domed sapphire crystal that handles knocks and scratches. In the dark, you can read its color screen via an LED backlight.
Tracks Your Performance
Planning to monitor your fitness levels when on hiking trips? Well, the watch has ideal training features that can track your form and measure your progress. If you don’t know how to adjust the function, choose from any of the seven preloaded profiles provided on the smartwatch.
Comes with a Built-in Music Player
Do you have a favorite song that keeps you on the move? The Fenix 5 Plus has space for about 500 songs that you can transfer from your PC. If you need help with creating a great playlist, try out a selection of music streaming services supported by the device.
Opinion and Drawbacks
Apart from the above features, it has a long-lasting battery life and promises accurate data, which makes it one of the best Garmin watches for hiking on the market. However, it tends to unpair from iPhones and loses connections with satellites. But overall, it comes as an excellent investment for any hiker.
2. Suunto 9 GPS Watch
The Suunto 9 Baro comes with features that can rival any of the best smartwatches for hiking. Apart from measuring time, the watch has features that extend its battery life. It also has a build that can withstand strenuous outdoor activities.
Unlike other products, the 9 Baro has a barometer that offers a better level of accuracy via GPS and barometric data. An inbuilt storm alarm works with this barometer, thereby allowing you to set up camp before a downpour. You can also check other functions powered by the barometer to monitor the sea level and air pressure of your location.
Since your hiking destination might not have access to a power outlet, the watch offers three modes of extended battery life. Depending on the settings, the device can run for more than a day. If the battery becomes low, this smartwatch gives a reminder that makes you switch to another mode.
Perfect for Wet Locations
This watch is water-resistant to 100m, which makes it ideal for wading in muddy pools or wet paths. If a river stands in your way, there’s no need to take off the watch as it can withstand water pressure.
Opinion and Drawbacks
This Smartwatch has a great deserving on our list considering its long battery life and management features. Surely, if we are to consider its précised sports tracking features, this makes it the best smartwatch for fitness and hiking. But it has a heart rate monitor and several apps that do not work correctly.
3. Garmin Tactix Bravo
Many people think the best smartwatch for hiking and running should cost a fortune. Luckily, you can get the best hiking watch under 500 dollars from Garmin. The Tactix Bravo comes with exciting features at an affordable price. It also presents a design that fits with your work or casual wear.
Legible Watch Face
The smartwatch has a Chroma display that allows easy reading at day or night. If you use night vision goggles, you can still read the screen entirely. Besides, a fall will not crack the screen as it consists of hardened sapphire crystal.
The Perfect Build for the Outdoors
Although it’s the best budget hiking watch on our list, the Tactix Bravo has a build that promises durability. For one, its black diamond coated bezel, screwed case back, and coated buttons can withstand harsh environments.
A durable nylon strap also secures this watch to your arm. If you go on a long trek, the bracelet will feel snug around your wrist. What’s more, it can resist prolonged exposure to sweat, rain, and other sources of moisture.
Ideal for Wet Conditions
Many watches cannot endure any contact with water. But the sturdy case of the Tactix Bravo provides water-resistance to 100m. Combining its sturdy nylon strap, you can wear this watch in a thunderstorm or during a light swim.
Opinion and Drawbacks
Adding the Tactix Bravo to your hiking gear will make you navigate any trail with ease. Fortunately, it has a sturdy build and you can get the watch at an affordable price. Also, you can even wear it for hours and not feel any pressure on your arm.
However, this might not be regarded as a good GPS watch for hiking because its compass and GPS sensor doesn’t give accurate reading most times. Another downside is that it also disconnects quickly from some smartphones.
4. Suunto Traverse Alpha
The Traverse Alpha has features that work great for hiking, backpacking, and other outdoor activities. It even comes as an ideal device to add on any fishing or hunting gear list.
However, it has a design that allows you to wear it at home, work, or any occasion. It also comes with impressive features that make it one of the best smartwatches for hikers.
Robust Body for Outdoor Activities
The Traverse Alpha boasts of parts made from materials that can handle any external conditions. For instance, it has a rugged stainless steel bezel that withstands exposure to rain or splashes from puddles. Besides, the watch face features a hardened crystal that can resist scratches from a rock climb or fall.
Since this watch offers 100m water resistance, which means you can wear it for a quick dip in any water body on your path. It also has a tough strap that deals with moisture entirely.
Offers Navigational Tools
Even with traditional instruments, it’s possible to lose your way, especially in remote locations. But with this watch, you will have access to essential data that will help you navigate any terrain easily.
To stay on the right track, you can use the GPS functions of the device. If you want to get directions in a new hiking spot, try the digital compass on this product. For maps, the Traverse Alpha provides digital versions that you can use to plan your itinerary.
Opinion and Drawbacks
As the watch has a good build and long-lasting battery that charges quickly, it comes as one of the best smartwatches for hiking. It also provides accurate maps and directions via its GPS function. However, the watch does not have a touch screen, while its settings require a stable internet connection.
What to Consider when Looking for the Best Smartwatches Hiking Watch
The more exciting activity, the more need to put safety measures in place. Therefore, a good hiking watch should have the following essential features.
With the barometer, you can detect any change in the atmospheric pressure. This feature helps to provide useful information on weather conditions. When the atmospheric pressure rapidly drops, it is a sign of an impending storm.
That’s the reason it is crucial to get the best smartwatch for hiking that can alerts you on even the slightest atmospheric changes. Also, ensure the best smartwatch for hikers you want to buy has storm alert features.
This feature helps you to know your position when measured against sea level. A smartwatch with an efficient GPS altimeter displays more accurate and reliable information than the barometer. The altimeter is an excellent tool for navigation and usually provides data on high above sea level a hiker is.
The work of a compass is to show the four basic directions, that is, north, south, east, and west. It also provides the hiker with a bearing for navigation across the wild. With the combination of a compass and a good map, it is easy to triangulate to ascertain a current position.
This feature helps you know the temperature inside or outside your tent, especially when you stop to take some rest. It helps you to know when to add some layers of clothing to the body before making the next move. However, the thermometer works well when not on the wrist, as body heat reduces its reliability.
Style and Design
Hiking doesn’t mean you are not going to meet people during the trip. You will meet other hikers and possibly want to spend a good time. Hence, you don’t want to look odd with that crazy looking watch that lacks style and latest design.
So, it is best you step up your game by purchasing a watch that will make you the center of attraction and even spark up a conversation.
This factor is one thing that should come first when looking for the best smartwatches for hiking to buy. The more features a watch has, the bulkier and heavier it will be. Of course, there are few watches out there with everything in one place.
As much as possible, decide what features are important to you for your hiking trips. Then, narrow down your choice until you get the right one. But keep in mind that the lighter the watch, the lesser the features that follow it.
Every hiker has other needs apart from spending money on watches and other gadgets for exciting adventures. This measure is understandable, and it is a normal way of thinking. Our list of watches contains the most affordable and best smartwatch for hiking.
So while planning the budget, ask yourself the following questions:
- What is the level of response for my preferred GPS function?
- Do I need an altimeter?
- Is the weather graph important for the trip?
You are not going to live in the wild forever, and you are certainly going to use the money for other necessities. The ability to plan your budget is as important as the trip itself, if not more. Therefore, assess your needs, plan your budget, and go for the best smartwatches for hiking.
Other Important Features
Nothing can replace the importance of getting one of the best smartwatches for hiking. It is a way to stay safe while going on a trip. Apart from the essential functions and your budget, you should consider other features.
The best buying guide for hiking watches will always try to provide information on the importance of GPS. Many smartwatches out there support GPS while others work well with GLONASS to give information that is more accurate. With that said, GLONASS works great for navigation and tracking and can provide better solutions in these areas.
GPS provides data on current speed, descent, ascent, and other valuable GPS-based information. Routes imported from GPX into GPS smartwatches are useful for navigation since they give the current position against the GPX route. Furthermore, GPS can record hiking activities and even allow you to export them to an app or mobile device.
However, using a GPS-enabled smartwatch can drain the battery faster than when not in use. But some watches have rechargeable batteries, and with a solar charger, you can keep it running.
Heart Rate Monitor
Heart rate monitor is another great feature to look out for in any best smartwatch for fitness and hiking. With this, hikers can record and monitor their heart rate. Some watches require strapping them on the wrist while others are to be around the chest level.
Overall, this feature helps you maintain a steady and consistent pace. This way, you don’t go beyond safe and healthy limits.
Hiking involves long trips, climbing, and a whole lot of rigorous activities. So get a strap that is comfortable on the wrist, and doesn’t irritate.
You cannot do without a good watch, so you need to choose a strap that won’t affect your skin carefully. One of the ways to know the best strap is if you often don’t remember that you are wearing a watch on your writs. That means the smartwatch is comfortable and not causing issues or discomfort during trips.
Final Word on the Best Smartwatches for Hiking
Finding the best smartwatch for hiking might look challenging. However, with our buying guides and list of the top smart timepieces, you will find it easy to pick the one suitable for you.
All of the timepieces mentioned in this article are the best Hiking watches in 2020. But if you want to splurge, purchase the Garmin Fenix 5 Plus for its design and detailed maps. It also has a long battery life and features an accurate heart rate monitor.
If you prefer to get the best GPS smartwatch for hiking, go for Suunto 9 Baro. But if you are looking for a smartwatch that can withstand tough outdoor adventures and provide the necessary information, the Garmin Tactix Bravo should be on your top list.