When you are out in the wild it’s every man for himself. No one should take hiking lightly as you can get lost in the wilderness and no one will be there to guide you. Also, there is always a chance that the weather can change suddenly and you can end up getting stuck in the mountains.
However, today with the help of hiking smartwatches you can avoid worst-case scenarios. Most watches have highly sophisticated sensors like Barometer, Altimeter, GPS, and can even detect changes in atmospheric pressure.
These smartwatches are made for hikers so they can focus on mother nature without any worries. Yet not a lot of people know about these watches or often get confused about which watch they should choose.
That’s why we have curated this list of the best GPS watches for hiking. Hence you won’t have to go through every single watch available on Amazon.
Best GPS Watch For Hiking Comparison Table
VIEW ON AMAZON
Garmin Instinct Solar
Best GPS Watch For Hiking And Running
Polar Grit X
Hiking Smartwatch With Advanced Tracking Features
Affordable Hiking Watch
List Of Best GPS Watches For Hiking
1. Polar Grit X
Only a few brands come close to Polar when it comes to tracking sports activities. They are well known for their valuable sports metrics as it helps athletes in assessing their performance. However, this Polar watch is made keeping adventurers like you in mind hence if you are looking for a GPS-enabled watch for your next hiking adventure then give this one a look.
Let’s begin with all the sensors available on the smartwatch. It comes with a built-in compass, GPS, Altimeter, and military-grade build quality. You can find several smartwatches with the same sensors but what makes this hiking watch special is all the features that perfectly complement those sensors.
Starting with the first feature, the watch comes with a Back To Start feature that uses GPS to help you navigate back to the starting point. Moreover, it also comes with the Komoot app which makes hiking, trekking, and mountain biking fun with the watch.
Komoot is like a Google Maps for adventurers where you can plan your route for the remotest of terrain. Not only this but you can also share it with your friends, get personalized recommendations for your next adventures, and even get turn-by-turn directions.
Besides Komoot, the watch also has several inbuilt features like Hill Splitter. As soon as you will gain an altitude of 10m and more the watch will automatically start recording and displaying your activity. It will tell your pace in real-time, the distance you have covered, and whether you are walking on a flat surface or climbing an incline.
You can also upload your own route plan on the Polar Grit X and get directions without depending on third-party apps like Komoot. Since it’s a GPS watch for hiking, battery life tends to be a major concern for adventurers. You won’t have to worry about battery life with this watch as it offers you to adjust GPS recording rate and can last up to 3-4 days without requiring a recharge.
With this watch, you won’t ever get caught in bad weather as you will get the weather forecast for the next two days.
Since it’s a Polar watch it gives you unmatched details about your running, swimming, and cycling activities on the Polar Flow app. If you want to know more about Polar watches then you can read our in-depth list for the best polar smartwatches.
The watch also has an inbuilt heart rate sensor that allows you to monitor your pulse during your run, hike, or any other activity. It also has sleep tracking functionality that tracks your sleep and even tells whether or not you have recovered your energy from sleep.
Polar Grit X is available in two sizes for small-medium-sized wrist and medium-large size wrist. So do give this watch a look.
2. Suunto 9 Baro
Suunto 9 is one of the best GPS hiking watches that money can buy right now. This watch boasts a 100 hours battery life in GPS-only mode so you will always have a reliable companion for all outdoor activities. Therefore, whether it’s exploring the world or skiing on mountains Suunto 9 will meet all your expectations.
With Suunto 9 you can save Point of Interest in the watch. What it means is that you can save a location on the watch, and then navigate back to the same location any time you want. This will give you a real-time view of the trail on the watch’s display which will guide you back to the saved location. It is useful especially if you are exploring an unknown territory so if you get lost you can always come back to your saved location.
Furthermore, using the Suunto app you can also manually save your location so you can mark your starting point without even being present there physically. Moreover, you can also join the Suunto community and talk to fellow adventurers like yourself.
The app also has a feature called Heatmaps that shows all the hiking tracks and routes used by other community members all over the world. Keep an eye on Heatmaps as who knows you might stumble upon a cool new location.
The watch comes with several crucial sensors like a barometer, altimeter, GPS and GLONASS, and heart rate monitor. Suunto uses a barometer and GPS sensor to accurately predict your altitude without taking a toll on your battery level. This feature is called FusedTrack and it increases the watch’s tracking accuracy.
It also features the storm alarm feature that detects changes in atmospheric pressure so you won’t get caught in a storm at a high altitude location. This hiking smartwatch can also tell the sunrise and sunset time of your location so you better look for a good camping location before it gets dark.
Suunto 9 also supports several third-party apps like Strava, Komoot, FatMap, Wikiloc, and more. Using Komoot you would be able to plan your multi-day hiking trip and share route plan with your hiking buddies. You can even download maps for using it offline.
Apart from hiking, you would also be able to track your daily sports activities like running, swimming, and more than 80 sports activities.
3. Garmin Instinct Solar
Garmin is no stranger when it comes to making rugged smartwatches for outdoor adventurers and Garmin Instinct Solar is no different. As the name suggests this watch can charge itself by using solar energy. Therefore, you would be able to use the watch without worrying about battery when out on a hike.
This smartwatch also meets US military standard 810G meaning the watch can survive shocks, bumps, heat, vibration, cold, and other similar extreme conditions with ease. Instinct Solar also features high contrast display which makes it easy to read under direct sunlight.
Now coming to the hiking-focused features of the watch, it comes with ABC sensors (Altimeter, Barometer, and Compass sensor). A watch with an altimeter sensor would be able to tell your current elevation level. A barometer sensor tracks changes in atmospheric pressure to monitor any sudden changes in weather conditions. 3 axis compass ensures that at least you know the direction of your basecamp in case you get lost.
Losing your way would be a little difficult with Instinct as it comes with TRACBACK ROUTING. Hence, if you are exploring a new location just enable TRACBACK ROUTING on the watch and it will save your starting point. So if you get lost then you would simply be able to retrace your steps back to the starting point.
Talking about the navigation capabilities of the watch, it comes with GPS, GLONASS, and Galileo sensors. Therefore chances of you not getting a GPS signal is pretty slim even on some of the remotest hiking locations.
Garmin Instinct Solar also comes with Expedition mode which disables all the smart features and only records your GPS coordinates periodically. It allows explorers to go on long multi-day hiking adventures and also the ability to view the area explored after the trip is over.
Now most GPS smartwatches require third-party apps like Komoot to get access to maps on their smartwatch. However, this is not the case with Garmin as the entire Instinct series is compatible with the Garmin Explore app. It allows you to download hiking route to your smartwatch and even give you the ability to download GPX map file and use them with other devices. Routes are automatically synced between devices and Explore app in most cases. However, if they don’t, you can download the map and add them manually to the watch.
So if you accidentally walk off the trail or get separated by your hiking group then you can use the map to find your way back on the right trail. Some hiking enthusiasts prefer using their own topo maps, you can also do that using the Garmin Explore app.
Hiking is not the only forte of the watch as this smartwatch comes with fishing and hunting profiles. And it gets better as you also get the ability to track sports activities with the watch. So if you are looking for the best GPS watch for hiking, running or any other sports activity then go with Garmin Instinct Solar.
4. Casio Men’s Pro Trek
Casio is best known for its affordable G-Shock watches hence they are no strangers to rugged and durable watches. Pro Trek lineup of Casio is made for adventurers who like to go hiking, climbing, and fishing. But this Casio smartwatch takes it one step further as it is also a rugged GPS watch for hikers that is powered by Wear OS.
Moreover, the watch also has GPS, GLONASS, and Michibiki navigation systems which help you track your location anytime, anywhere. Coming onto the sensors available on the watch it comes with Barometer, Altimeter, and Compass.
A barometer will help in keeping track of changing atmospheric pressures so you won’t be surprised by the sudden weather changes. The watch’s inbuilt altimeter sensor would help you track your altitude level.
Pro Trek also comes with the Location Memory feature that allows you to save your location on maps. You can mark your starting point, a resting point, or your favorite spot of the trip and can retrace your steps back to that location. The watch also allows you to leave voice memos which lets you save the location using your own voice.
This smartwatch also supports Google Maps and Mapbox so you can download maps on the smartwatch for offline use. The watch also has built-in activity tracking that allows you to track the distance covered, the time elapsed, and average speed while trekking, cycling, skiing, etc.
Sometimes while on the adventure we tend to forget important tasks like staying hydrated, keeping an eye on the travel group, or checking for supplies. But not with this watch as it comes with Moment Setter. Using it you can set distance-based reminders for taking a break or drinking water after hiking for a certain distance.
Since the watch is powered by Wear OS you get access to apps available on the Play Store. With the Pro Trek you also get smart features like music control, notification sync, and more.
5. Suunto Traverse
If you don’t want to spend 500 dollars on a Suunto 9 hiking watch then you can go with Suunto Traverse that is available for almost half the price. This watch is tailored made for all the hikers who are looking for a reliable GPS hiking watch.
Suunto Traverse will ensure that you never get stuck in bad weather as it has a barometric sensor. The sensor monitors atmospheric pressure and would notify you about changing weather conditions whether you are out in the mountain or alone on a boat.
It’s easy to lose yourself in the moment and before you know it the sun has set and it’s dark everywhere. But not with this watch as it will tell you sunrise and sunset time so you can plan your rest and next day hike properly.
Since it’s a Suunto watch it allows you to mark Point Of Interest with a click of a button at any point of the trip. If you want to revisit the same location while returning from the hike then you can just mark the location. The watch comes with GPS and GLONASS therefore you won’t be relying on only one global navigation system.
Using Suunto App that is available for both Android and iOS devices you can do GPS track analysis, create your own metrics with formulas for calculating your activities, and more.
It can also record the route taken by you during your hike and also get a real-time view of the route you have taken. When you are not hiking you can take this watch for fishing, trekking, cycling and would still be able to log your activities.
On a side note, this watch doesn’t have any heart rate sensor so do keep that in mind if that’s an important feature for you. However, it does have all smartwatch features like sports activity tracking, notification sync, weather update, etc.
To sum it up, we would say that it’s a reasonably priced Suunto watch for hikers and it would be a reliable hiking buddy that will make your trips more fun and convenient.
6. Coros Apex Premium
Coros is the latest player in the smartwatch arena. They are also targeting the same athletes and fitness enthusiast audience that Garmin, Suunto, and Polar are eyeing with their smartwatches. And Coros Apex Premium is the latest mid-range watch from them aimed towards adventurers and triathletes.
Talking about the navigation capabilities of this watch, it offers up to 30 hours of battery backup in GPS mode and more than 7 days of battery life on regular usage. Coros Apex Premium also supports route navigation so you can use the watch for your hike. After uploading the route the watch will show you a real-time bread crumb trail along with your current elevation level. If you go off track then the watch would also warn so you will never go off-trail.
It also comes with Satellite Signal Strength that shows you whether or not you are getting good GPS signals on the watch with the satellite you have selected. Hence, if you detect a weak signal in your location it won’t be a good idea to completely rely on the watch. You can also import your own GPX files on the watch while you are going on a hike.
Rise With The Sun feature available on the watch is also a great tool for hikers. Once enabled the watch will tell you how much light is left for the day and what is the sunrise and sunset time for your location. Furthermore, it also enables an auto light feature that lights up the watch display automatically whenever you will raise your wrist from sunrise to sunset.
The watch has all the tools an adventurer may require as it comes with all the ABC (Altimeter, Barometer, and Compass) sensors.
Coros Apex Premium can also measure your blood oxygen level along with your pulse rate. It also has a Recover Smarter feature that uses your activity and predicts whether or not you have recovered fully after a long hike or run.
If you also happen to be an athlete then this watch would track your run, indoor run, trail running, workout sessions, cycling, and more.
In conclusion, this is a great GPS watch for hikers who are also athletes as it will provide an in-depth analysis of all your activities. Therefore, Coros Apex Premium is a reasonably priced multi-sports watch and is definitely worth giving a look.
7. Garmin Instinct
Perhaps. this is the only watch that a hiker will require and which also doesn’t come at a premium price like Garmin Instinct Solar. This is the best Garmin hiking watch for under 200 dollars.
The watch has all the essential sensors a hiker may require for its outdoor adventure. This smartwatch comes with not one but 3 navigation systems namely GPS, GLONASS, and Galileo. Therefore, you won’t have to rely only on one navigation satellite system and also would be able to know your location on the remotest corners on earth.
Moreover, this smartwatch offers 16 hours of battery life in GPS mode ensuring that you can cover several miles before needing to stop for a recharge. Garmin Instinct would last you up to a week on a single charge even if you use it regularly.
Furthermore, if you get lost in the wilderness then Garmin Instinct also has Garmin’s TRACBACK feature. It allows you to retrace your steps back to the starting point of the hike so you will never get lost.
This smartwatch is also compatible with the Garmin Explore app available for both Android and iOS. The app allows users to plan their trips and download maps on the smartwatch. Once the map is synced with your smartwatch you can get real-time directions on the watch screen itself.
The smartwatch also has an inbuilt hike activity profile that can track the distance covered by you, average speed, altitude, descent, start and stop location, and more. You can also earn Garmin Badges for your hiking activities which make your adventures more fun and interactive.
Garmin is well known for its in-depth analysis of all sports activities and this smartwatch is no different. You can track your workout sessions, run, swimming, and more with the watch. To conclude, this affordable GPS watch for hiking will be your perfect companion whether you are outside in the wild or sweating on a treadmill.
Buying Guide For GPS Watch For Hiking
1. ABC Sensors
ABC Sensors are better known as Altimeter, Barometer, and Compass sensors. They are very crucial must-have sensors in a hiking watch. An altimeter sensor is used to measure your current elevation level while hiking, trekking, or any other similar activities.
Knowing your present elevation level can help you make plans for acclimatization. It simply means getting used to a new altitude level by staying at that altitude for a night or longer before continuing the journey.
A barometer sensor on your hiking watch would help you avoid potential storms. Weather can change suddenly on hilly mountains and on seas as atmospheric pressure can fluctuate quickly causing sudden storms. Therefore, a barometer sensor would help you avoid unpleasant weather conditions.
The compass feature on the watch would give you a general idea of which direction you came from and where you are heading while exploring the wild.
2. GPS And Navigation Capabilities
It is important that your hiking watch comes with GPS and navigation capabilities. Not all smartwatches allow you to download your hiking route map on the watch and then use GPS along with it. Also, check whether or not the watch supports third-party hiking apps like Komoot.
Furthermore, you should also look at all the navigation systems the watch supports. There are many navigation systems available worldwide but the most popular ones are GPS, GLONASS, and Galileo.
3. Battery Life
GPS can take a toll on your smartwatch battery hence battery becomes a very important factor in a hiking watch. It is important that your smartwatch can track at least 12 hr of your hiking activity with GPS enabled. Otherwise, what’s the point of a hiking watch if it can’t last until the end of your day.
Do I Need A GPS Watch For Hiking?
Yes, a GPS watch allows you to get a real-time view of your route and record your hike. It also ensures you are on the right course and even lets you save locations.
Which Garmin GPS Watch Is Best For Hiking?
Garmin Instinct Solar is best for hiking as it has solar charging, TRACBACK ROUTING, Hill Climb Pro, and several other features that will be useful for hikers.
Do GPS Watches Have Maps?
No only some smartwatches like Garmin Instinct, Suunto Traverse, Polar Grit X, and other similar advanced smartwatches have maps functionality.