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Best Garmin Watch For Hiking 2023

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Image of someone in an orange and brown checkered shirt wearing a black Garmin smartwatch.
Credit: Garmin

Owning the best Garmin watch for hiking is a great way to keep track of your adventures. And, while there are a number of smartwatch brands available, Garmin is up there as one of the best.

In comparison to the best fitness trackers, which, unsurprisingly, focus heavily on fitness tracking, these Garmin devices come with all the necessary tools to take your hiking experience to the next level. For instance, each device we've picked out comes with a built-in GPS which essentially combines a compass and map into one.

As a result, navigating new routes should become easier whilst these Garmin devices simultaneously track your pace, monitor your heart rate, and provide a ton of additional feedback about your expedition.

With that in mind, we've compiled a list of the best Garmin watches for hiking using price, reviews, and any unique features that make these smartwatches stand out from the crowd to inform our selection.

Whether you're looking for relatively inexpensive, like this Instinct 2 Solar, or something a little more premium, like this Enduro 2 device, for long-distance treks, we've got you covered right here. Let's get into it...

Best Garmin watch for hiking

  1. Garmin fēnix 7X Solar Sapphire
  2. Garmin Instinct 2 Solar
  3. Garmin tactix Delta Solar
  4. Garmin Enduro 2
  5. Garmin Forerunner 965
Garmin fēnix 7X Solar Sapphire product image of a black smartwatch with the time on the display along with the altitude, rise, etc.
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Credit: Garmin

1. Garmin fēnix 7X Solar Sapphire

Best Garmin watch for hiking overall

Size: 51 x 51 x 14.9mm - Weight: 89g - Battery Life: up to 37 days with solar - Water Resistance: 100M - GPS: Yes - Compass: Yes - Altimeter: Yes

The Garmin fēnix 7X Sapphire stands out as an exceptional choice for hiking enthusiasts, boasting an impressive array of advanced fitness tracking capabilities and preloaded TopoActive maps, making it an ideal companion for your expeditions.

Engineered to meet U.S. military standards for thermal, shock, and water resistance, this watch is designed to endure the most challenging hiking conditions with rugged reliability.

Notably, its scratch-resistant Power Sapphire solar charging lens harnesses solar energy to significantly extend battery life, offering up to an impressive 37 days of charge in smartwatch mode. For added convenience during your adventures though, consider exploring the best portable charger for camping to ensure an extra power source on the go.

While it falls into the premium range of Garmin watches, the price is justified by the wealth of features it offers, solidifying its position as one of the best hiking watches available in the market.

Garmin Instinct 2 Solar product image of a mist grey smartwatch with the time, date, battery, and sun information on the display.
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Credit: Garmin

2. Garmin Instinct 2 Solar

Best budget Garmin watch for hiking

Size: 45 x 45 x 14.50mm - Weight: 53g - Battery Life: unlimited with solar - Water Resistance: 100M - GPS: Yes - Compass: Yes - Altimeter: Yes

The Garmin Instinct 2 Solar is an excellent, cost-effective option for your upcoming trek. True to its name, this device is equipped with a solar charging lens, promising an endless battery life in smartwatch mode.

Packed with a plethora of activity tracking functionalities too, it offers training load analysis, recovery time estimations, live tracking, and dual grip coordinate modes via GPS, GLONASS, and Galileo satellite access.

Designed to endure the harshest hiking conditions as well, it boasts a 100M water resistance rating, a robust fibre-reinforced polymer case, and scratch-resistant Corning Gorilla Glass.

In essence, this watch is a rugged and reliable companion without burdening your wallet.

Garmin tactix Delta Solar product image of a black smartwatch with solar intensity information in orange on the display.
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Credit: Garmin

3. Garmin tactix Delta Solar

Best premium Garmin watch for hiking

Size: 51 x 51 x 14.9mm - Weight: 97g - Battery Life: up to 24 days with solar - Water Resistance: 100M - GPS: Yes - Compass: Yes - Altimeter: Yes

This tactix Delta Solar is one of Garmin's most expensive smartwatches, however, the price isn't without good reason as this device is packed with advanced activity-tracking technology that should be ideal for your hiking needs.

For instance, you get solar charging, turn-by-turn GPS navigation, plus ABC sensors to track your elevation and monitor the weather with its 3-axis electronic compass.

You also get a feature named ClimbPro which allows you to see real-time information on your current and upcoming climbs, including gradient, distance, and elevation gain to help you navigate new routes.

On top of all this, the watch is tested to U.S. military standards (MIL-STD-810), so should be rugged enough to withstand the wear and tear of a challenging expedition.

Garmin Enduro 2 product image black smartwatch feature a black fabric band.
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Credit: Garmin

4. Garmin Enduro 2

Best Garmin watch for long-distance hiking

Size: 51 x 51 x 15.6mm - Weight: 70 g (case only: 64 g) - Battery Life: up to 34 days (46 days with solar) - Water Resistance: 100M - GPS: Yes - Compass: Yes - Altimeter: Yes

For long-distance adventures, this Garmin Enduro 2 is hard to beat. While this smartwatch offers a wide range of features, it's primarily designed to last.

For hiking, it's equipped with TopoActive maps and NextFork map guides, making it an ideal companion for your excursions. Also, with SatIQ technology, the watch optimises battery life while maintaining precise positional accuracy, ensuring you stay on the right track.

One of its standout features though is its exceptional battery life. Thanks to its solar charging screen, the Enduro 2 can provide up to an impressive 46 days of battery life. This means you can rely on it for months' worth of travel without worrying about running out of power. Additionally, it offers valuable heat and altitude acclimation information, which can be particularly useful if you're hiking up mountains. Plus, with a water resistance rating of up to 100m, it can handle various weather conditions, and it can even identify and report if you have an accident.

Overall, the Garmin Enduro 2 is an exceptional endurance watch that surpasses expectations, making it an excellent choice for hikers' reliable and feature-rich companion on their rides.

Garmin Forerunner 965 product image of a yellow, black, and carbon grey smartwatch featuring a blue and yellow display.
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Credit: Garmin

5. Garmin Forerunner 965

Best Garmin fitness watch for hiking

Size: 47.1 x 47.1 x 13.2mm - Weight: 52g - Battery Life: up to 23 days - Water Resistance: 50M - GPS: Yes - Compass: Yes - Altimeter: Yes

Although primarily designed to be one of the best running watches, the Garmin Forerunner 965 is an advanced fitness tracker and smartwatch that can cater to the needs of hikers and outdoor enthusiasts.

In smartwatch mode, the device offers an impressive battery life of up to 23 days, but even in GPS-Only GNSS mode, you still get up to 31 hours. That's a full day's worth of juice and more to cover a short adventure.

One of its standout features though is the morning report, providing valuable insights into your sleep, recovery, and training outlook to help you gain a better understanding of what you can achieve in your day. Additionally, it features round-trip routing that suggests routes to get you back to your starting point, utilising TrendLine as well to find you the best footpaths.

It's remarkably lightweight too at just 52g, which makes it an ideal companion for long-distance expeditions and adventurous hiking journeys. With its array of smart features and durable design, the Forerunner 965 is sure to be a fantastic choice for outdoor enthusiasts.

Frequently asked questions (FAQs)

With so many models to choose from in Garmin's catalogue, you probably have a number of questions when it comes to finding the right one for you.

Don't worry though because we've answered some of the most common queries right here.

What should you look for in a Garmin watch for hiking?

Most of the best watches for hiking from Garmin come with a ton of fitness tracking features like heart rate and calorie tracking so you can view your activity statistics both during and after your expeditions.

However, one of the most important features to look out for is whether the smartwatch in question comes with a built-in GPS, which is a vital tool for keeping track of your pace, distance, and your route whilst hiking.

It is also useful to find a watch with long battery life to avoid losing power mid-hike. Fortunately, most Garmin watches come with solar charging capabilities to extend their battery life whilst you're out in the sun.

Other features to look out for include a good water resistance rating to help the device withstand tough weather conditions, a simple and intuitive interface, plus something that's light and comfortable to wear for an entire trip.

Does a Garmin watch work without a phone nearby?

Most Garmin watches come with a built-in GPS and therefore don't require your phone or parent device nearby to record GPS activities.

However, you will need your phone nearby if you want to view some of your hiking metrics in more detail via the Garmin app. Simply sync your device to the app and you should gain access to a ton of information regarding your expedition.

This information may include, but is not limited to, your route, calories burnt, steps climbed, and average heart rate.

Is there a monthly fee to use a Garmin watch?

The simple answer is no, Garmin watches come with several core features that do not require any incremental costs or monthly recurring fees. However, Garmin does offer a few subscription plans like a boat tracking feature and an extended storage system for saved video clips.

That said, we feel the only relevant plan for hiking is Garmin's inReach service which gives you access to the Iridium satellite network for live tracking and messaging, plus SOS capabilities.

So, although not required, there are a few subscription services you can sign up for if you're looking to take your Garmin device to the next level.

How often does a Garmin watch update its maps?

Most devices come equipped with built-in maps that are updated up to three times a year. These updates are crucial to ensuring you can navigate accurately during your hiking adventures.

With the Garmin Express feature, your device is automatically checked for the latest map versions. If there are new updates available, you'll be promptly notified.

To check the current mapping version on your device, simply visit the Support Centre and enter either the product name or the serial number of your specific watch.

Can you return a Garmin watch?

Yes, you have the option to return a Garmin watch within 30 days of purchase if it is in its original condition, according to Garmin's official policy.

To initiate the returns process, complete the returns form specific to your region, which can be found on Garmin's website along with their returns policy.

Keep in mind that as the consumer, you will be responsible for covering the costs associated with shipping and returning the product, rather than Garmin. Once you've shipped the watch back to Garmin though, you should receive a refund.

Can a Garmin watch track elevation and altitude?

Yes, some Garmin watches are capable of tracking elevation and altitude during hiking activities. All watches we've featured come equipped with altimeters that utilise barometric pressure sensors to measure changes in altitude. This allows the watch to provide accurate elevation data, such as ascent and descent measurements, as well as real-time altitude information.

In addition to the barometric altimeter, some Garmin watches also incorporate GPS technology to enhance elevation tracking. By combining GPS data with barometric readings, these watches can provide even more precise elevation information.

It's important to note that altitude readings may be influenced by factors such as changes in weather, atmospheric pressure, and calibration settings. To ensure accurate elevation tracking, it's recommended to calibrate the altimeter periodically and adjust settings based on the conditions of your hike.

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