7 Best Watches For Skiing For Nordic, Cross Country & BackCountry Skiers

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Tom and his team mentions and reviews only those products that they find good enough after using & researching them for several weeks. By doing this we make sure that you get a well rounded review and recommendations to make the best decision for yourself.

When you go out skiing you need a reliable watch as the terrains can be tough, weather can change in the blink of the eye, and keeping track of time along with the location is also very crucial. Thankfully, we have several smartwatches that can help skiers do just that.

And, today you can find smartwatches as well as watches that come with Altimeter, Barometer, and Compass sensors. Not only that, now smartwatches even have built-in GPS so you can track your skiing along with your location in real-time. Some smartwatches even come with hundreds of built-in maps for various ski resorts.

But not every smartwatch is suitable for skiing because apart from sensors and features it also needs to have a good build quality.

The characteristics of good skiing watches are shock-resistant design, ability to work in extreme temperature, and water-resistant.

Since only a few watches have these characteristics that’s why even after hours of research you can only find few watches that have all these features. Therefore keeping that in mind, we have listed the 7 best watches for skiing so whether you like nordic, cross country, or backcountry skiing we have got a watch for you.

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Best Ski Watches Comparison Table





Best Watch For Skiing

Best Watch For Skiing

Suunto Core

  • ABC sensors for navigation

  • Battery life ranging 1 month to a year depending on usage

  • Robust build quality

Best Smartwatch For Skiing

Michael Kors ceramic watch for women

Garmin Fenix 6 Pro

  • Built in maps for 2000 resorts           

  • Ability to import your own maps on the watch

  • Incident detection feature alerts your friends in case of emergency   

Best Altimeter Watch For Skiing

Casio Tactical Rangeman

Best Skiing GPS Watch

G-Shock Tactical Rangeman

  • Can operate in a low-temperature environment

  • Solar-powered

  • Atomic timekeeping

Suunto watch for skiing

Suunto 9 Baro

  • 5 to 120 hours of continuous GPS recording

  • Built-in Ski and snowboarding sports profile

  • Compatible with both iOS and Android devices

Best Watches For Skiing

1. Suunto Core

Best Watch For Skiing

What makes Suunto Core perfect for skiers is its robust build quality and affordable price. This Suunto watch is available for around 100$ and for the price you get a watch that comes with ABC sensors and a rugged build.

ABC sensor is the acronym for Altimeter, Barometer, and Compass. They are must-have sensors for every skier. A barometer sensor can detect sudden changes in atmospheric pressure and warn you of potential storms. And compass can be useful to find your way back when heading back to the base.

The watch also has a temperature sensor but it can only be used if you remove the watch from the wrist.

Talking about the build of the watch, Suunto Core features an elastomer strap. It is a highly durable rubber material that is accompanied by a composite case and aluminum bezel making it a perfect tactical watch.

Also, it is water-resistant up to 30m underwater and can withstand snorkeling up to 10m. Furthermore, the watch can operate even in extreme temperatures of -5 degrees Fahrenheit/-20 degrees celsius.

The best part of the watch is it uses a replaceable coin cell battery. Therefore, you won’t have to charge the watch again and again like a smartwatch. And depending on your usage the watch can give you a battery backup of 1 month to 9 months on a single battery.

We would recommend this Suunto watch for nordic and alpine skiing because of its build quality and ABC sensors available on the watch.

The Good
  • ABC sensor on the watch
  • Affordable watch for skiing
  • Can withstand extreme temperature
  • No need to charge the watch again and again
  • Ability to set an alarm
The Bad
  • Some users find negative display difficult to read
  • Need to manually set up altimeter to work

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2. Seiko Men’s Automatic

Seiko Men's Automatic Analogue

The next watch on our list is from the well-known Japanese brand Seiko. Best known for its automatic kinetic watches but this Seiko watch right here is an automatic mechanical watch from them.

It means that watch has a built-in rotator that oscillates because of the movement of the wearer which in turn produces energy that powers the watch. Therefore, whenever you will go skiing wearing the watch, it would automatically wind itself because of the movement of your wrists. This means you would never have to spend money on battery replacement as it is powered by you.

There are several automatic mechanical watches available in the market but what makes this the best mechanical watch for skiing is its build quality.

It features a 22m high-quality rubber band that can survive some extreme pressure. Besides that, the watch has a day-date window that is located at 3 o’clock position. Also, the dial of the watch is protected by hardlex glass which is way better than mineral glass protection found on other watches.

Most analog watches get difficult to read at dusk or night but not this one as it features luminous coating on markings and the watch hands. Also, if you will look carefully, the crown of the watch is located at a 5 o clock position so it won’t dig into your wrist while skiing.

Furthermore, it’s a diver watch and rated to be water-resistant up to 200m so you won’t have to worry about water or snow damaging the watch.

We would recommend this watch to skiers who want a watch that won’t require battery replacement again and again. Also, the looks of the watch make it the perfect dress watch capable of skiing.

The Good
  • Day window in both Spanish and English language
  • Automatic watch no battery replacement required
  • The location of the crown makes the watch perfect for sports
  • Robust build quality

The Bad
  • Watch day window sometimes switches to the Spanish language automatically
  • No ABC sensors

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3. G-Shock Tactical RangemanCasio Tactical Rangeman

When it comes to watches, there are very few watches that are recommended for adventure sports like skiing and G-Shock Tactical Rangeman is one of them. The build quality of G-Shock Rangeman ensures that it can survive some extreme impacts and falls which other watches simply cannot.

Durability is not the only thing going for this watch as it comes with triple sensors which include a barometer, altimeter, and compass. And, these sensors can come in very handy while you are out skiing on your own.

Furthermore, the combination of both compass and altimeter along with a map in your pocket would help you give an idea of your present whereabouts even if you get lost.

Also, this watch can even operate under the temperature of -10 degrees celsius so rest assured that it can survive some extreme conditions.

Even so, what makes this the best watch for skiing is its cylindrical buttons which are tactile and clicky enough to ensure smoother operation while wearing gloves. In addition to that buttons aren’t prone to failure on heavy usage which is the case with many similar watches.

This watch is $200 dollar more expensive than Suunto but still worth the price because it comes with solar charging. Hence, you won’t have to replace the battery on the watch again and again.

The Good
  • Solar-powered watch
  • Built-in thermometer
  • Water-resistant 200m
  • Mud resistant buttons and gasket
  • 5 daily alarm function
  • Triple sensors

The Bad
  • Expensive
  • Negative display difficult to read for some users

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Best Smartwatch For Skiing

4. Garmin Forerunner 935

Best watch for skiers

Smartwatches can provide better situational and navigation awareness compared to traditional watches. That’s why smartwatches are used by skiers all over the world. And, this right here is the ideal Garmin smartwatch for skiing and snowboarding.

This ski smartwatch comes with an altimeter, barometer, and compass. It allows you to view your climbing and run speed in real-time on the watch face. And, knowing your climb rate allows you to assess how long it takes for you to reach the peak and how many times you can do it again before you call it a day.

Also, there is also a dedicated skiing and snowboarding profile available in Garmin Forerunner 935. Using the profile, the watch would record your max speed, the time elapsed, average speed, vertical drop, and the time taken to complete your run.

While skiing you can also view your descent speed on the watch face in real-time. Plus, the watch automatically pauses ski tracking if it senses you have stopped moving and resumes without any input when you start moving again.

Moreover, you can connect the watch with the Garmin Connect app and see the detailed analysis including your heart rate on this Garmin watch, calories burned, total distance covered, map of your ski path, and a lot more.

If you are still not convinced then the watch has a button-only user interface so you would be able to operate the watch easily while wearing gloves.

Skiing isn’t the only forte of the watch as it can also track swimming, cycling, running, and various other sports as it’s a multi-sports watch. To encourage more fitness and sports activities the watch also awards you Garmin badges so you can compete with your friends or join a community for the same.

The watch is available for around $300 dollars which makes this a reasonably priced smartwatch for nordic and cross-country skiing.

Note: Some users are getting watches that are made for the Asian market and are not serviceable by Garmin US. Therefore do check you get the Rest Of The World variant as it receives faster updates and also has a valid warranty for the US market.

The Good
  • Inbuilt profile for ski tracking
  • Built-in GPS in the watch to track your skiing path
  • Multi-sports tracking
  • No touch screen, operated entirely using buttons

The Bad
  • Pool swimming tracking is not accurate
  • Need to purchase a watch face protector for better protection

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5. Apple Watch Series 6

Apple Watch Series 6

Apple Watch Series 6 is one of the best multisport watches available in the market with the only downside of not being compatible with Android devices. Therefore it should come as surprise to no one that the Apple Watch is also one of the best smartwatches for skiing.

In February 2018, Apple rolled an update for Watch OS which enabled skiing and snowboarding activity tracking on Apple Watch Series 4 and above. Today all Apple watches can accurately tell you average and max speed, the time elapsed, calories burned, total ascent and vertical descent, number of runs while you are out skiing.

And, if you don’t like the stock tracking capabilities of the watch you can head over to App Store and download apps like Slopes: Ski & Snowboard. This app gives you the ability to access maps for several resorts, view 3d replay of your run, a widget that gives you real-time conditions of ski resort along with various ski and snowboarding metrics.

We all know skiing and snowboarding can be a risky business and that’s another reason to go with Apple Watch as it comes with a Fall detection feature. So if the watch detects a hard fall it would ask if you are okay and also alert you with sound along with vibration. Apple watch would wait for a minute for you to close the prompt either by using the crown or tapping on,” I’m okay” prompt. And, if it detects you are not moving or you fail to close the prompt it will call 911.

Therefore, we would recommend Apple’s smartwatch for backcountry skiing as tools like compass, fall detection alert, always-on altimeter, GPS can come in handy when exploring outside of the ski range. While the watch might not have a button-only user interface like Garmin but it can also be used using voice with the help of Siri.

Apart from that, Apple Watch Series 6 smartwatch comes with music support so you can download music on the watch and connect your AirPods to listen to music on the go. You can also track your heart rate, take ECG tests, monitor blood oxygen levels, make and take calls using the watch.

Note: If you are looking for the most affordable variant of the Apple Watch Series 6 then we would recommend going with the red color variant as it’s the most affordable Apple Watch Series 6 model available for around $360 at the time of writing.

The Good
  • Supports offline music playback
  • Perfect smartwatch for snowboarding and skiing
  • Ability to pick up and make calls using the smartwatch
  • Fall detection feature
  • Notification sync

The Bad
  • Doesn’t work with iPhone 6 and below
  • Only works on iOS devices

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6. Suunto 9 Baro

Suunto watch for skiing

There are two departments where most smartwatches fall short that’s battery life with GPS-enabled or reliable ski and snowboarding tracking. However, that’s not the case with Suunto 9 Baro in fact we found it to be one of the best GPS watches for hiking and outdoor activities.

Apart from normal ski and snowboard tracking features, the watch can automatically time your laps making this perfect Suunto watch for cross-country skiers. The smartwatch comes with the Waypoint feature so whenever you are exploring unknown terrain outside ski resort boundaries you can save your location to retrace your steps back or use it to create your own route along the way.

And, don’t worry about not finding satellite signals as along with GPS the watch supports GLONASS, Galileo, QZSS, and BEIDOU navigation system. The watch also comes with the FusedTrack algorithm which increases the battery life of the watch with GPS enabled. And, depending on the settings the watch can offer 25 to 120 hours of continuous GPS recording.

Some users like to ski even if it gets a little late and sports watches like Suunto and Garmin are hard to read in dark. However, you won’t face this issue with Suunto 9 as it comes with a backlight feature so you can simply toggle it on before beginning your skiing.

To get the best out of this skiing smartwatch install the Suunto app on your Android and iOS device. After that, you can access heat maps and see the best ski range in your area along with various ski and snowboarding metrics. Other than skiing, the watch also comes with built-in profiles for over 80 sports.

The Good
  • Built-in profile for 80 sports
  • Support for various global navigation system
  • Good battery backup
  • Supports both Android and iOS devices
  • Waypoint to save your location

The Bad
  • Some users find the display of the watch to be dim to their liking
  • Heart rate tracking not reliable

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7. Garmin Fenix 6 Pro

Best smartwatch For Skiing Garmin Fenix 6 Pro

Garmin Fenix 6 Pro might just be the best smartwatch for skiers. As it features built-in maps for 2000 ski resorts all over the world. Therefore next time you visit your favorite resort you will have a map with GPS right on your wrist. You can also download and import your own maps on the Garmin smartwatch using the Garmin Explore app.

Like all the watches on the list, it also offers ski and snowboarding activity tracking but what sets it apart from most watches is the altitude acclimation feature. It allows you to see your blood oxygen level to monitor how well your body is adapting to the high pressure on mountains. It can also distinguish when you are skiing and when you are just sitting on the ski lift, all you have to do is select ski profile when you reach the resort and forget it until you decide to stop for the day.

The watch can also tell you the name of the slope you are on along with your exact location so you can find your way around if you get lost.  Another feature that makes it a suitable smartwatch for skiing is the Incident detection feature so if the watch detects a hard fall then the watch would send a message with your location to your emergency contacts.

Apart from that, the watch can also track your sleep so you won’t need to wear a dedicated sleep tracker for sleep tracking. The watch also supports third-party music apps which include Amazon Music, Spotify, and Deezer so you can download and listen to music on your smartwatch.

The Good
  • Up to 10 hours of battery backup with GPS enabled
  • Incident detection feature
  • Altitude acclimisation feature
  • Offline music download and playback
  • Built-in maps for ski resort

The Bad
  • Some users find the watch to be bulky

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Factors To Consider Before Selecting Best Skiing Watch For Yourself

1. Ability To Work In Extreme Conditions

On mountains, temperatures go below zero very quickly, and not every watch can withstand low temperatures for a long time. Many watches can stop operating at low temperatures that’s why we recommend looking for a watch that can operate in extreme temperatures.

Apart from that, build quality should be your next priority as while skiing watches can be put under a lot of stress. The continuous movement of the user’s hand can cause the watch to crack or worse. Luckily you can find several well-known watchmakers like G-Shock, Suunto, Garmin and Apple that meets all the specification a skier will require.

2. Winter Sports Tracking Capabilities

If you are spending hundreds of dollars on a smartwatch then ensure that watch has the ability to track winter sports activities like snowboarding and skiing. Not all Garmin and Suunto watches have built-in tracking profiles for winter sports so carefully select the final watch as only selected variants have it.

3. ABC sensors

The altimeter, barometer, and compass are extremely valuable tools for skiers as they allow you to monitor temperature changes. Moreover, using these sensors you can find out your location in case you get lost. That’s why any watch which doesn’t have all three sensors is not ideal for skiing.

To illustrate, even if you have a map and compass you won’t be able to easily know your location without using an altimeter. The same is the case if your watch doesn’t have a compass. All three sensors are vital and not having even one of them can render the watch useless for skiing.

4. Smartwatch with GPS And Navigation Features

Modern smartwatches have made navigation through unknown terrain easier. Today with the help of smartwatches you can know your location in real-time and even download maps for various ski resorts. It gets even better as watches like Garmin Fenix 6 Pro can even offer you turn-by-turn direction for any location.

That’s why we would recommend you to also look for navigation capabilities apart from GPS on your smartwatch.


Which Garmin Watches Tracks Skiing?

Garmin Forerunner 935, Vivoactive 3, Fenix series, Instinct line up, and a few other selected Garmin watches offer Sking activity tracking.

Can You Wear Apple Watch While Skiing?

Yes, you can wear Apple Watch while skiing as it comes with a built-in ski tracking profile. Also, you can use Siri to control the watch without removing your gloves, and the Fall detection feature ensures to alert authorities in case of emergency.

Does Garmin Forerunner 935 Track Skiing?

Yes, Garmin Forerunner 935 can track your skiing as well as snowboarding activity.

Tom Nielson

Tom's love for watches started when his grandfather gifted him his Rolex watch when he turned 18! Being a teenager it was a big deal for him. Later when he got his first job he bought Fossil Palm Pilot back in 2003 which was a smartwatch. Since then smartwatches have come a long way and so is Tom's love for them. His experience with watches inspired him to start Wearholic and share his knowledge of wearables including watches, smartwatches, smart glasses, & smart clothing.

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