Best GPS Watch for Hiking – 3 Trailblazing Picks

Best GPS Watch for Hiking

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Ask anyone who hikes regularly; they’ll recommend the best GPS watch for hiking to get the best outdoor experience. But what can a GPS watch do for hiking? It’ll help you track all the basics, including elevation changes, distance covered, and speed.

In addition, with the best hiking watch, you can get a closer look at your physical performance. That piece of info can help you push through more and finish tougher stretches.

But yes, you can’t just expect to enjoy all the above features without picking a good GPS watch for hiking. Instead, you need to keep some critical factors in mind.

First of all, the smartwatch needs to feature an ergonomic design. Some hiking trails require hours to complete, and you’d want to wear the watch the entire way.

Secondly, the GPS function needs to be accurate and reliable. There’s nothing more frustrating than trying to calibrate the GPS in the middle of the trail. And let’s not forget to mention that it can be pretty annoying to see the watch not recording your trial info when you’re at the end of it.

Moreover, the smartwatch display should be big enough to let you see everything in detail but not too big enough to feel heavy in your hands. Of course, the panel needs to have the correct brightness so that you can see everything under bright sunlight.

Lastly, the battery life of the GPS watch should be great. Don’t forget that there are many multi-day hiking trails around the world. Also, the watch should be durable and capable of withstanding the challenging weather conditions of trails.

So, which of the GPS watches available in the market meet all of the crucial factors mentioned above? You’ll find a list below that contains watches passing all the requirements with flying colors!

3 Best GPS Watch for Hiking

Editor’s Pick

Garmin Instinct 2 Solar

4/5
Price Range: $$$
Best GPS Watch for Hiking

TL:DR;

The Garmin Instinct 2 Solar might be the most reliable watch for hiking out there. And there’s a good reason behind that. As the name suggests, it comes with a solar function. With it, you can get unlimited battery life. Of course, you need to keep the watch exposed to sunlight to enjoy that.

But the battery life is excellent even when you’re not using the solar charging feature. With the GPS mode turned on, you get up to 30 hours of runtime, which is more than enough for completing a long trail.

Another critical aspect of the Garmin Instinct 2 Solar is that it combines all the essential Altimeter, Barometer, and Compass (ABC) functions. In addition, you get multiple smartwatch features, letting you get a complete hiking experience.

Furthermore, the Garmin Instinct 2 Solar has an easy-to-use companion app. With it, you can track your fitness goals and motivate yourself to push a little more on the next hike. The build quality is great too. You get a comfortable strap, ergonomically rounded design, and a very lightweight body.

Lastly, the Garmin Instinct 2 Solar is ready for all the challenging conditions that may come your way. It can even resist water for up to 100 meters.

The Specs

  • Battery Life:  30 hours with GPS (Unlimited with the Solar Function)
  • Barometer:  Yes
  • Altimeter:  Yes
  • Mapping:  No
  • Compass:  Yes
  • Water Resistant Rating:  100 meters
  • Weight:  53 grams

What’s in the Box?

  • Charging cable

Stuff I like

  • Solar charging feature
  • Great GPS mode
  • Comes with a robust companion app
  • ABC functions
  • Comfortable and highly ergonomic design

Stuff I like less

  • Includes a proprietary charging connector
Budget Pick

Suunto 9 Baro

3.5/5
Price Range: $$
Best GPS Watch for Hiking

TL:DR;

You can get the best GPS watch for hiking without needing to put a dent in your wallet. Yes, many affordable options are out there that nail the basics. But among all, the Suunto 9 Baro is the best pick. Want to know why?

To start with, the Sunnto 9 Baro has an easy-to-read color display. It can display all the important information with greater details and clarity. The display can get exceptionally bright too. So you’ll not find it hard to read things from the panel under harsh sunlight.

But the display isn’t everything. The Sunnto 9 Baro bundles an intuitive companion app. With it, you can check out all the popular routes in your area. It even allows you to import existing routes from your hiking friends. You can predefine your route too.

There are smartwatch features in the Sunnto 9 Baro. For example, you’ll find calorie, sleep, and step tracking. And it even goes further and offers you a 24/7 fitness tracking application with a built-in heart rate monitor.

The Specs

  • Battery Life:  Up to 120 Hours
  • Barometer:  Yes
  • Altimeter:  Yes
  • Mapping:  No
  • Compass:  Yes
  • Water Resistant Rating:  100 meter
  • Weight:  81 grams

What’s in the Box?

  • Charging cable

Stuff I like

  • Great color display
  • Easy to control
  • Bundles with an advanced app
  • Includes fitness tracking features
  • Impressive battery life

Stuff I like less

  • It can be a little large and heavy for some hikers
Contender

Apple Watch Ultra

4.5/5
Price Range: $$$$
Brand: Apple
Best GPS Watch for Hiking

TL:DR;

Apple released the Apple Watch Ultra with fitness and hiking enthusiasts in mind. It comes packed with features that can definitely take your hiking experience to the next level.

Want to know what exactly does this hiking watch come with? There’s a lot! Among the highlights, the most notable feature is the rugged build. Apple has basically designed it for extreme conditions. Thanks to that, you can wear it with full confidence.

The GPS tracking on the Apple Watch Ultra is great too. When you pair it up with your iPhone, it basically becomes the ultimate hiking smartwatch. You get advanced GPS functions, better smartwatch features, and, most importantly, better fitness data.

Regarding navigation, the Apple Watch Ultra does a lot. You get elevation, latitude, longitude, and incline information on the display. And the display is vivid and easy to read. Even in bright sunlight, you can fully view what’s on the screen with the highest possible clarity.

Lastly, there’s a low-power mode that you can enable when you’re stuck in a pickle. It does limit the functionalities a bit, but the mode can surely let you finish the trail with some juice left in your smartwatch.

The Specs

  • Battery Life:  Up to 36 Hours
  • Barometer:  Yes
  • Altimeter:  Yes
  • Mapping:  Yes (through the app)
  • Compass:  Yes
  • Water Resistant Rating:  100 meter
  • Weight:  61 grams

What’s in the Box?

  • Magnetic Fast Charger to USB-C Cable

Stuff I like

  • Industry-leading fitness and health metrics
  • Premium design and build quality
  • Great smartwatch functionality
  • Accurate and reliable GPS
  • Multiple hiking features

Stuff I like less

  • You need an iPhone to enjoy all that the watch has to offer

Quick Summary of the Best GPS Watch for Hiking

In short, if you’re looking for the best GPS watches for hiking, you should narrow your options to the Garmin Instinct 2 Solar, Suunto 9 Baro, and Apple Watch Ultra.

They’re all great picks for the money, and each comes with advanced features that’ll make you get the best out of hiking trails.

Slava is a man of mystery and no-one seems to know exactly where he is at any point in time. When he isn't enjoying writing about all things audio and technical he can be found researching his next project of interest. The man never rests.

This post was last updated on 2024-05-22 / Some images from Amazon Product API & some links may be affiliate links which may earn us a commission from purchases.


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