Best Garmin watch for hiking 2022: Our top picks for long-distance treks

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If you're looking for the best Garmin watch for hiking, you've come to the right place.

While some of the best running watches around focus on fitness tracking, these Garmin devices come with all the necessary tools to take your hiking experience to the next level.

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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 our top picks 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 device, for long-distance treks, we've got you covered right here.

We've also answered some of the most commonly asked questions surrounding Garmin watches to help you work out which device is right for you and your hiking needs.

Before that though, here's our list of the best Garmin watches for hiking available now...

Best Garmin watch for hiking

Best all-round Garmin watch for hiking - Garmin fenix 7X Solar Sapphire

Best Garmin watch for hiking fenix 7X product image of a black smartwatch with the time on the display along with the altitude, rise, etc.
Credit: Garmin
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 fenix 7X Sapphire is arguably the most well-rounded Garmin watch for hiking as it comes with a whole host of advanced fitness tracking features along with preloaded TopoActive maps to track your expeditions.

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Garmin boasts its watch has been tested to U.S. military standards for thermal, shock, and water resistance, meaning it should be an incredibly rugged bit of kit that's able to withstand even the harshest of hiking conditions.

Moreover, the device comes with a scratch-resistant Power Sapphire solar charging lens that uses the sun’s energy to extend its battery life, giving you up to 37 days worth of charge whilst in smartwatch mode.

It may be one of the more premium options in Garmin's range, however, it's up there with some of the best watches under 1500 in our opinion, and the price tag seems justified considering its vast array of features.

Best budget Garmin watch for hiking - Garmin Instinct 2 Solar

Best Garmin watch for hiking Instinct 2 product image of a mist grey smartwatch with the time, date, battery, and sun information on the display.
Credit: Garmin
Size: 45 x 45 x 14.50mm | Weight: 53g | Battery Life: unlimited with solar | Water Resistance: 100M | GPS: Yes | Compass: Yes | Altimeter: Yes

Get your best hiking boots ready because we feel it's hard to look past this Garmin Instinct 2 Solar as a relatively inexpensive option for you to consider for your next trek.

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Once again, and as its name suggests, this device comes with a solar charging lens which, Garmin boasts, offers you unlimited battery life whilst in smartwatch mode.

The watch also comes with a vast array of activity tracking features, which include training load analysis, recovery time estimates, plus live tracking and dual grip coordinate modes using its GPS, GLONASS, and Galileo satellite access.

Moreover, the Instinct 2 Solar is designed to withstand the toughest of hiking conditions with its 100M water resistance rating, fibre-reinforced polymer case, and chemically strengthened, scratch-resistant Corning Gorilla Glass.

Ultimately, this watch looks to be one rugged bit of kit that, in our opinion, is up there with some of the best watches under 500 around.

Best premium Garmin watch for hiking - Garmin tactix Delta Solar

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

Best Garmin watch for long-distance hiking - Garmin Enduro

Best Garmin watch for hiking Endur product image of a black fabric band smartwatch with a white and green coloured display.
Credit: Garmin
Size: 51 x 51 x 14.9mm | Weight: 71g steel / 61g titanium | Battery Life: up to 65 days with solar | Water Resistance: 100M | GPS: Yes | Compass: Yes | Altimeter: Yes

The Garmin Enduro has been designed with distance in mind thanks to its solar charging capabilities and lightweight build that comes in both steel and titanium variations.

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Furthermore, you can track your VO2 max with this device to help you keep on top of your cardiovascular fitness level and adjust accordingly based on hiking conditions.

ClimbPro is also included with the Garmin Enduro, which should work in tandem with the heat and altitude acclimation feature that presents a little more insight into how your body is holding up in different environments and conditions.

It may be designed primarily for long-distance running, but we feel this smartwatch is definitely one to consider for hiking.

Best Garmin fitness watch for hiking - Garmin Forerunner 955 Solar

Best Garmin watch for hiking Forerunner 955 product image of a black smartwatch with an orange and white display on a black background.
Credit: Garmin
Size: 46.5 x 46.5 x 14.4mm | Weight: 53g | Battery Life: up to 20 days with solar | Water Resistance: 50M | GPS: Yes | Compass: Yes | Altimeter: Yes

The Forerunner 955 is another ultra-smart fitness tracker from Garmin which we think should make for a great watch for hiking as well.

In smartwatch mode, you're getting up to 20 days of battery life with solar charging, plus up to 110 hours with GPS activated in UltraTrac mode.

You also get a morning report that delivers an overview of your sleep, recovery, and training outlook, VO2 max tracking, plus a real-time stamina update that allows you to track and manage your exertion, thus helping to avoid overexerting yourself whilst hiking.

Weighing just 53g as well, this ultralight device looks to be an excellent pick for long-distance expeditions and hiking adventures.

Frequently asked questions about Garmin watches for hiking

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.

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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.

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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.

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How often does a Garmin watch update its maps?

Maps for most devices with them built in are updated up to three times a year to ensure you can follow an accurate route on your hiking adventures.

The Garmin Express feature checks your device and lets you know if your maps are current or if new versions are available.

You can check the version of mapping currently loaded on your device by going over to the Support Centre and entering the product name or the serial number of your specific watch.

Can you return a Garmin watch?

In short yes, you can return a Garmin watch. Garmin's official policy states any merchandise in its original condition may be returned for a refund within 30 days of purchase.

To start the returns process, simply submit the returns form from your correct region. These can be found beneath Garmin's returns policy.

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It's also worth noting any costs for shipping and returning the product should be covered by you as the consumer rather than Garmin.

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