Best Hiking Watch 2024

Someone in a grey jumper looking at their silver smartwatch with a black screen and light brown strap.
Credit: SUUNTO

Someone in a grey jumper looking at their silver smartwatch with a black screen and light brown strap.
Credit: SUUNTO

More than a mere timekeeper, the best hiking watch stands as a multifaceted tool to elevate your outdoor adventures. With the right device, you can improve your experience with vital data and functionalities crucial for navigation and safety during your explorations.

Many go beyond what some of the best fitness trackers and watches provide as a result, with a quality hiking watch including features like altimeters and barometers, measuring both elevation and atmospheric pressure. Every good hiking watch should also come with a built-in GPS to ensure seamless navigation on your wrist.

Yet, exploring the labyrinth of options for hiking watches can be overwhelming. That's why we've put together a selection based on price, user reviews, and comprehensive features to streamline your search and guide you to a device that seamlessly merges durability, precision, and advanced capabilities.

From some of the best Garmin watches for hiking to budget-friendly options like this SUUNTO 5 Peak, get ready to take your hiking adventures to the next level with a watch that's tailor-made for the great outdoors.

Best hiking watches

  1. Garmin fēnix 7X Sapphire Solar Edition - best option from Garmin
  2. SUUNTO 5 Peak - a great budget pick
  3. Polar Grit X Pro - best mid-range choice
  4. Garmin tactix 7 Pro Edition - pricey but excellent
  5. Fitbit Charge 6 - a great fitness tracker
Garmin fēnix 7X Sapphire Solar Edition product image of a black smartwatch featuring 10:10 in white on the display alongside compass information.
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Credit: Garmin

1. Garmin fēnix 7X Sapphire Solar Edition

Best overall hiking watch

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

The Garmin fēnix 7X Sapphire Solar Edition is one of the best Garmin watches available today, boasting an array of advanced features which include several key attributes for hiking. These include Europe and TopoActive maps to track your adventures, as well as something called ClimbPro, which shows the grade, distance, and elevation gain of each upcoming ascent.

What's more, you can easily track your trail with a quick glance at your wrist thanks to its NextFork map guide providing a detailed overview of your route. It can even deliver real-time stamina data which, although primarily used for running, can come in handy when hiking to avoid overexertion.

Adding to all this is the watch's durability. Garmin boasts its watch has been tested to U.S. military standards for thermal, shock, and water resistance, meaning it's incredibly rugged and suitable for outdoor expeditions in any weather conditions.

But, one of the best aspects of this watch is its battery life. Thanks to its solar charging lens, you get up to an incredible 37-day battery before needing to plug it in. That makes it an exceptionally useful companion for long-distance hikes and adventures.

SUUNTO 5 Peak product image of an all-black smartwatch featuring coach information about cadence and stride on the display.
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Credit: SUUNTO

2. SUUNTO 5 Peak

Best budget hiking watch

Brand: SUUNTO - Size: 1.1-inches (display) - Weight: 39g - Battery Life:
up to 10 days - Water Resistance: 30M - GPS: Yes - Altimeter: Yes - Barometer: Unspecified

Hiking watches can be quite expensive at times if you're after something packed to the brim with advanced features. However, this SUUNTO 5 Peak is a great budget alternative to consider. Although it doesn't come with all the bells and whistles of a more premium device, it still has enough about it to make it a great hiking companion.

Let's start with the basics. It comes with a built-in GPS that tracks your altitude and can provide turn-by-turn instructions, is water-resistant up to 30M, so is suitable for adverse weather conditions, and has a battery life that can last up to 10 days depending on which mode it's placed in.

That's not all. It also features all the usual health tracking metrics as well as 3D heatmaps to help you discover new places away from the masses. There's even a breadcrumb feature that is designed to show you your route back if you end up lost and off the beaten track.

It's also worth mentioning how light this watch is as well, weighing a mere 39g. Ultimately, its built-in GPS, health tracking, heatmaps, and impressive battery life make this a great budget-friendly option to consider.

Polar Grit X Pro product image of an all-black smartwatch featuring elevation and descent information on the display.
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Credit: Polar

3. Polar Grit X Pro

Best mid-range hiking watch

Brand: Polar - Size: 47 x 47 x 13mm - Weight: 79g - Battery Life:
up to 7 days - Water Resistance: 100M - GPS: Yes - Altimeter: Yes - Barometer: Yes

Moving up a gear in price now to the slightly more expensive Polar Grit X Pro. It packs the usual health tracking punch, including heart rate sensors and information on your training readiness through a feature called Training Load Pro. However, with a name like "Grit", there's far more to this watch than that.

It offers turn-by-turn guidance and can provide slope angles and elevation profiles to help you track every ascent/descent on your route. What's more, it comes with Track Back, a feature designed to map the route from which you came to avoid becoming lost.

Adding to this are the watch's built-in compass, weather tracking, and daylight times feature to ensure you know exactly when it's going to get dark. It's also water-resistant to 100M and boasts military-level durability with sapphire glass designed to not scratch or shatter while you adventure.

Its battery life may not be as long as the watches we've mentioned so far, but up to 7 days is still plenty of charge for a week-long expedition. So, with its impressive route tracking and guidance features along with a decent enough battery life, make sure you check out this Polar bit of kit before your next trip.

Garmin tactix 7 Pro Edition product image of a black smartwatch being put in Stealth Mode.
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Credit: Garmin

4. Garmin tactix 7 Pro Edition

Best premium hiking watch

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

Back to Garmin now and a device that's at the very top of the smartwatch food chain - the Garmin tactix 7 Pro Edition. It is expensive, but you get a lot for the price you pay, with features designed for everyday use, sports, and outdoor adventures.

To begin with, it boasts the same 37-day battery life as our previous Garmin entry thanks to its Power Sapphire display. It's also ruggedly built to military standards (MIL-STD-810) and is water-resistant up to 100M to ensure it survives adverse weather conditions as well as being submerged.

Adding to this is a vast array of navigation features. It provides both the universal transverse Mercator and your position using the military grid reference system on screen so you know your exact coordinates wherever you are. It also provides aviation weather reports to see winds, visibility, and barometric pressure, and, of course, step-by-step navigation with NextFork as mentioned earlier.

Interestingly, it also comes with a built-in green or white flashlight, a day and night-time view that can be read by night vision goggles, and you can save remote geo positions to be used later for navigation. And that's only really scratching the surface of what this watch can provide. Definitely a great option for hiking.

Fitbit Charge 6 product image of a black fitness tracker with a black band and the time in green and white on the display.
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Credit: Fitbit

5. Fitbit Charge 6

Best fitness tracker for hiking

Have an opinion on this article? We'd love to hear it!
Brand: Fitbit - Size: 36.7 x 23.1 x 11.2mm - Weight: 37.64g - Battery Life:
up to 7 days - Water Resistance: 50M - GPS: Yes - Altimeter: No - Barometer: No

Our final entry, the Fitbit Charge 6, is more of a lightweight fitness tracker rather than a smartwatch, but we believe it would make for a great hiking companion if you want to keep what you bring to a minimum and not feel weighed down by a heavier device on your wrist.

Although it's not built with hiking in mind, it still has some handy features for expeditions. For instance, it comes with a GPS that can provide information on your pace and distance phone-free. It also boasts up to a seven-day battery life and is water-resistant up to 50M.

Perhaps the best thing about the Charge 6 though is its compatibility with Google. You can now control YouTube music, access turn-by-turn directions via Google Maps, and take advantage of Google Wallet if you want to on your adventures. Additionally, the device boasts a diverse selection of over 40 exercise modes, thus covering your fitness needs as well as your hiking ones.

So, while this is more of a traditional sports-based fitness tracker, it still comes with some handy features for hiking. But, its true selling point is its small, lightweight design, making it a great option to consider if you're after something more compact.

Frequently asked questions (FAQs)

Buying a great hiking watch can be confusing at times, often leading to a ton of questions. No need to panic though, as we've answered some of the most frequently asked queries below.

What features should you look for in a hiking watch?

When looking for a hiking watch, there are several features you should consider, the most important of which is a built-in GPS that allows you to track your location and navigate through trails. Look for a hiking watch with accurate GPS functionality and the ability to display maps so you can simply look at your wrist for directions.

We'd also recommend looking for a watch with an altimeter that measures altitude or elevation. This feature is useful for tracking your ascent and descent during hikes and helps provide a more accurate understanding of your location. A barometer, which measures atmospheric pressure primarily, can also come in handy for hiking.

As a hike can last several days, weeks, and even months, we'd also advise going for a watch with a long battery life. As touched on in our list, something with a self-charging solar lens is a huge bonus as it means you can recharge your watch while you're on the move.

Durability is also another important factor to consider. Hiking watches should be rugged and able to withstand outdoor conditions, so look for something water-resistant or even waterproof, shock-resistant, and something made from premium materials unlikely to break while you're away.

We'd say these are probably the main features and characteristics to look out for. However, the likes of a heart rate monitor, temperature sensors, step counters, sleep tracking, and an easy-to-read backlit display are also well worth looking for and investing in if possible.

Can you use a hiking watch for other activities besides hiking?

Yes, hiking watches can often be used for various activities beyond hiking. While their name suggests a focus on hiking-specific features, many hiking watches offer functionality beyond this that makes them suitable for other outdoor activities and even everyday use.

For example, hiking watches often include features such as GPS tracking, heart rate monitoring, and distance tracking, which are useful for runners and joggers. What's more, the GPS functionality and tracking capabilities of hiking watches can be beneficial for cyclists, allowing you to track routes, distance, speed, and other cycling-related metrics.

Hiking watches with altimeters and barometers can also be used for mountaineering and climbing activities. They can help monitor altitude changes and weather conditions, and provide essential data for the safety and planning of your climbing routes.

Some hiking watches are even designed to be water-resistant or waterproof, allowing them to be used for activities like swimming, kayaking, or paddleboarding as well.

Ultimately, hiking watches tend to be incredibly versatile and great for numerous activities. In fact, you'll usually find most hiking watches come with pre-set modes for tracking different sports, making them useful beyond just hiking.

Are hiking watches suitable for both day hikes and multi-day backpacking trips?

Yes, hiking watches are suitable for both day hikes and multi-day backpacking trips, provided the watch in question comes with a long battery life.

As mentioned previously, a watch with the ability to self-charge through sunlight or movement is a huge bonus here as you could, theoretically, go days without having to seek out a place to charge your device. This is optimal for backpacking trips in rural areas, where access to electricity may be scarce.

Therefore, consider a watch that can charge itself if you're searching for a hiking device suitable for multi-day trips.

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