The Best Watches for Hiking in 2022

Garmin Fenix 7X Solar

Garmin Fenix 7X Solar

A good hiking watch does not only show time and date, but also provides you with crucial information for your outdoor adventures. Hiking watches can show altitude, location, air pressure, sunrise/sunset times etc. This information can help you with navigation, planning and weather prediction. Hiking watches are very popular these days and the companies behind them are making great progress when it comes to combining design with useful technology. This selection of hiking watches includes four GPS watches and two watches without GPS (one is listed in the honorable mentions section at the bottom).

GPS indeed has its advantages, but some hikers prefer a watch without GPS. Hiking watches without GPS have a longer battery life, less complicated user interface and are also less expensive. All watches in this selection are equipped with compass, altimeter and barometer – features which we consider essential for activities such as hiking, trekking, mountaineering and backpacking. As new models of hiking watches are being released regularly, we continuously update this selection to always recommend you the best products available. Nevertheless, you will find some tried-and-true classics below which haven’t been beaten in terms of functionality – yet.

Updated Content

We regularly update our reviews and selections to always recommend you the best products on the market.

Expert Selections

We only list top-tier products. Read how our selections of best hiking products differ from others here.

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1. Our Hiking Watches Picks

Best Hiking Watches

Best Hiking Watches

  1. Garmin Fenix 7X Solar
  2. Suunto 9 Baro
  3. Polar Grit X
  4. Coros Vertix 2
  5. Casio Pro Trek PRW-2500T-7

2. Comparison of Hiking Watches

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Feature/Product Garmin Fenix 7X SolarSuunto 9 BaroPolar Grit XCoros Vertix 2Casio Pro Trek PRW-2500T-7
Weight3.39 oz. 2.86 oz.2.26 oz. (PRO model – 2.78 oz)3.2 oz. 2.40 oz.
Weight (Metric)96 g81 g64 g (PRO model - 79g) 91 g68 g
Case Size2.0 x 2.0 x 0.6 in.2.0 x 2.0 x 0.7 in.1.9 x 1.9 x 0.5 in.2.1 x 2.1 x 0.6 in.2.2 x 1.9 x 0.5 in.
Case Size (Metric) 5.1 x 5.1 x 1.5 cm 5.2 x 5.2 x 1.7 cm4.7 x 4.7 x 1.3 cm5.3 x 5.3 x 1.5 cm5.6 x 4.7 x 1.2 cm
GPSYes + GLONASS & Galileo Yes + GLONASS & GalileoYes + GLONASS, Galilelo & QZSSYes + QZSS, GLONASS, Galileo & BeiDouNo
Display TypeFull-color MIPColor Touch ScreenColor Touch ScreenColor Touch ScreenMatrix
Glass Material Power Glass (also available with Sapphire glass)Sapphire GlassLaminated Gorilla Glass; PRO model – Sapphire GlassSapphire GlassMineral Crystal
Strap Material Silicone, leather, titanium or nylonSiliconeSilicone, leather or textile Silicone/Nylon Metal
Water Resistance100 m100 m 100 m 100 m 200 m
BatteryRechargeable lithium-ionRechargeable lithium-ionRechargeable lithium-ionRechargeable lithium-ionSolar Rechargeable Battery
Battery LifeUp to 37 days in time mode 2 weeks in time mode1 week in time mode with continuous HR tracking8 weeks in time mode5 months without exposure to light
AltimeterYes (GPS and Barometric)Yes (GPS and Barometric)Yes (GPS and Barometric)Yes (GPS and Barometric)Yes (Barometric)
BarometerYesYesYesYesYes
ThermometerYesYesYesYesYes
CompassYes YesYes Yes Yes
Sunrise and Sunset TimesYes YesOnly Polar Grit X ProYes No
Storm AlarmYes YesNoYes No
BluetoothYesYesYesYesNo
Smartphone Notifications YesYesYesYesNo
Vibration AlertsYesYesYesYesNo
Heart Rate Belt SupportYes YesYes Yes No
Wrist Heart Rate Yes YesYes YesNo
GPS NavigationYes YesYes Yes No
GPS TrackingYes YesYes Yes No
Track Back Yes YesOnly Polar Grit X ProYes No
Planning SoftwareGarmin Connect Suunto App Polar FlowCoros AppNone
Mobile AppYes (Garmin Connect) Yes (Suunto App)Yes (Polar Flow) Yes (Coros App)None

3. The Selection

Garmin Fenix 7X Solar

Garmin Fenix 7X Solar

1. Garmin Fenix 7X Solar

Suitable for:

  • Hiking
  • Mountaineering
  • Trekking
  • Climbing
  • Cycling
  • Swimming
  • Running
  • Backpacking
  • Everyday use

The Garmin Fenix 7X Solar watch replaced the highly popular Garmin Fenix 6 in 2022. It is basically a Smartwatch with a high-resolution color display that is designed for harsh outdoor conditions. The watch is made of very robust materials. The bezel is made of stainless steel and the lens is made of Sapphire glass (Sapphire model only). Therefore, the watch offers great abrasion resistance and durability. Nevertheless, the watch is elegant enough for more formal occasions such as business meetings. The watch features a 3-axis compass, altimeter, barometer and thermometer. For more accurate temperature readings, you can connect it to an external temperature sensor (Garmin Tempe). The compass and altimeter are calibrated automatically via GPS.

Other features made possible by GPS include that the watch can automatically set the time based on your location and of course offers navigation (routes and POIs) and tracking. Activities can be saved and detailed information about each activity can be accessed through the Garmin Connect app. The watch can also be personalized with apps, widgets and unique watch faces. The Garmin Fenix 7 can be synchronized with a Smartphone to show texts, alerts, emails and other notifications. It also supports topographic maps and music via Bluetooth headphones. The watch is available in two different models (Standard and Solar) and three different sizes; 42 mm/1.7 in, 47 mm/1.9 in and 51 mm/2.0 in. The Solar model features a solar charging lens which extends the battery life. All Solar models are available with or without Sapphire glass lens.

 

Pros:

  • Display
  • Features
  • Supports apps
  • Offers customization
  • Smartphone synchronization
  • GLONASS/Galileo support
  • Design
  • Vibration alerts

Cons:

  • Pricy

Video

Suunto 9 Baro

Suunto 9 Baro

2. Suunto 9 Baro

Suitable for:

  • Hiking
  • Mountaineering
  • Trekking
  • Climbing
  • Cycling
  • Swimming
  • Running
  • Backpacking
  • Everyday use

The Suunto 9 Baro watch is an incredible timepiece which can easily compete with the Garmin Fenix 7X Solar mentioned above. The Suunto 9 Baro watch is equipped with a stainless-steel bezel and a color touch screen. However, the watch also features buttons so that you can easily use it if you are wearing gloves. The watch is equipped with GPS, altimeter, barometer, thermometer and compass. Navigating trails with the watch is very easy as the waypoints and GPX routes can simply be imported to the watch from the Suunto app which also allows you to easily plan routes before your hike. Furthermore, you can find existing routes from other Suunto app users and import them to your own watch – not least by using the Heatmap feature which shows popular routes within a given area.

In addition to planning, the Suunto app also offers a complete overview of your workouts, since a calendar shows the workouts by parameters such as duration, distance, burned calories etc. The Suunto 9 watch can also track distance, find a route back to your starting point, show current speed and much more. It comes with a wrist-based heart rate monitor which eliminates the need for wearing a heart rate belt. Bluetooth connectivity allows you to connect the watch to your Smartphone and receive notifications from the phone on your watch. The Suunto 9 Baro is also equipped with Sapphire glass for good abrasion resistance. In comparison to Garmin Fenix 7 Solar, the Suunto 9 doesn’t support maps and music. The battery is also not solar rechargeable. However, it has a better GPS antenna and thus provides more accurate tracking.

 

Pros:

  • Bluetooth
  • Supports apps
  • Suunto app
  • Smartphone synchronization
  • Multisport mode
  • Design
  • GLONASS/Galileo support
  • Vibration alerts
  • Display

Cons:

  • /

Video

Polar Grit X

Polar Grit X

3. Polar Grit X

Suitable for:

  • Hiking
  • Mountaineering
  • Trekking
  • Climbing
  • Running
  • Everyday use
  • Backpacking

The Polar Grit X watch was released in the beginning of 2020 and due to its attractive design and advanced features, instantly became very popular among hikers, backpacker and mountaineers. The Grit X is a multisport watch like the Suunto and Garmin watches mentioned above. The watch features robust design and meets military standards in terms of durability (MIL-STD-810G). It supports GPS, altimeter, barometer, thermometer and digital compass. It also has navigation feature which can be enabled in various sport modes. You can import routes to the watch via the Polar Flow platform which is available as a web application and a smartphone app. The Polar Flow platform can be connected to the popular Komoot app which means that your routes from Komoot will automatically sync to your watch.

The Polar Grit X watch is available in three different versions: Grit X, Grit X Pro and Grit X Pro Titan. The Grit X Pro model comes with a scratch resistant Sapphire glass lens and has several additional features. It supports “outdoor dashboard” which shows altitude chart, compass, coordinates and sunrise/sunset times. The basic model shows altitude chart and compass only while you are tracking your activity. The Pro model also supports track back feature and shows elevation profiles of imported routes. Performance and recovery tests are also only available in the Pro and Titan models. The Titan model has all features of the PRO model but is made of even sturdier and lighter materials. The Polar Grit X is an amazing outdoor watch but in comparison to Suunto 9 Baro and Garmin Fenix 7X it lacks some features such as storm alarm and atmospheric pressure chart which is useful for predicting the weather. Nevertheless, it is also a less expensive watch.

 

Pros:

  • Bluetooth
  • Smartphone synchronization
  • Multisport mode
  • Design
  • GLONASS/Galileo support
  • Vibration alerts
  • Display
  • Precise wrist heart rate monitor
  • Komoot integration

Cons:

  • No storm alarm (might change with future updates)
  • No barometer chart for predicting the weather (might change with future updates)

Video

Coros Vertix 2 Hiking Watch

Coros Vertix 2 Hiking Watch

4. Coros Vertix 2

Suitable for:

  • Hiking
  • Mountaineering
  • Trekking
  • Cycling
  • Climbing
  • Swimming
  • Running
  • Backpacking
  • Everyday use

The Coros Vertix 2 watch was released in August 2021 and instantly became very popular with athletes and sport enthusiasts. It’s a multisport watch but it comes with many features that are useful for hiking and mountaineering. The watch can connect to five satellite systems at the same time and thus provides precise and fast GPS tracking. It also supports dual frequency satellite communication which additionally improves GPS signal. The Coros Vertix 2 watch is equipped with altimeter, barometer, thermometer, compass and supports storm alert, phone notifications and pairing to external devices such as heart rate belts and Insta360 camera.

The Coros watch is made of very durable materials. The case and bezel are made of titanium and the screen is made of Sapphire glass. Therefore, you don’t have to worry about scratching it during activities like climbing. The screen is very large (1.4-inch) and can display 8 different metrics during activities. The Coros Vertix 2 watch also comes with a very powerful battery. The battery lasts for up to 60 days in time mode and up to 140 hours with GPS tracking enabled. The Coros Vertix 2 is a great option for outdoor enthusiasts. The only downside is that importing GPX routes is a bit more complicated in comparison to the watches mentioned above because the Coros app does not offer a route planning feature.

 

Pros:

  • Bluetooth
  • Smartphone synchronization
  • GPS performance
  • Support offline maps

Cons:

  • Tricky to import GPX routes

Video

Casio Pro Trek PRW-2500T-7CR

Casio Pro Trek PRW-2500T-7CR

5. Casio Pro Trek PRW-2500T-7

Suitable for:

  • Hiking
  • Mountaineering
  • Trekking
  • Backpacking
  • Everyday use

The Casio Pro Trek PRW-2500T-7 is a very durable non-GPS watch which comes with many useful features. The watch is equipped with digital compass, barometer, altimeter and thermometer. The watch uses a solar-rechargeable battery which has a life of 5 months without any exposure to light. Thus, there is almost no chance that you will be surprised by an empty battery. Accurate time is kept by calibration radio signals which are received up to 6 times per day. The compass supports magnetic declination correction and has a bearing memory. The barometer shows a trend graph and helps you predict the weather. The Casio hiking watch is also equipped with a pressure change indicator which warns you about significant changes. More basic features include stopwatch, countdown, calendarand alarms. The Casio Pro Trek PRW 3000 1A is a great watch which will satisfy every hiker who doesn’t need a GPS watch.

 

Pros:

  • Size
  • Weight
  • Price

Cons:

  • Without GPS
  • Can’t be paired with a heart rate belt

 

4. Honorable Mentions

The products listed here were once included in our best five selection but as newer and better products were released we moved them into this section.

Suunto Ambit 3

Suunto Ambit 3

Suunto Ambit 3 Peak

Suitable for:

  • Hiking
  • Mountaineering
  • Trekking
  • Cycling
  • Climbing
  • Swimming
  • Running
  • Backpacking
  • Everyday use

The Suunto Ambit 3 Peak watch is another great choice for hikers and mountaineers as it offers great functionality and durability. In comparison to the watches above, the Suunto Ambit 3 has a less sophisticated display (matrix) and doesn’t support GLONASS but is also less expensive and slightly easier to use (the watch has a very user-friendly interface). The Suunto Ambit 3 watch has GPS, altimeter, barometer, thermometer and compass. It has a great GPS reception because it uses a high-performance GPS antenna and naturally supports navigation and tracking. The watch can be synchronized with Suunto app (for analytics and planning) and can show real-time GPS data (such as speed, distance, elevation gain etc.).

The Ambit 3 is Suunto’s first Bluetooth-compatible watch. Therefore, it can easily be connected to a Smartphone and show you incoming and missed calls, messages and other notifications from your phone when you install the Suunto app (available for Android and iOS devices). Suunto Ambit 3 is a great watch for hiking and mountaineering as it offers numerous hiking features. Note that there are three other models of the Suunto Ambit 3 watch besides the Peak version( called Ambit 3 Vertical, Ambit 3 Sport and Ambit 3 Run), but that the features described here apply only to the Suunto Ambit 3 Peak watches which are designed particularly for hiking and mountaineering. Some Suunto Ambit 3 Peak watches are equipped with Sapphire glass lenses.

 

Pros:

  • Bluetooth
  • Supports apps
  • Suunto app
  • Smartphone synchronization
  • GPS accuracy
  • Multisport mode

Cons:

  • External antenna

Video

Suunto Core

Suunto Core

Suunto Core

Suitable for:

  • Hiking
  • Mountaineering
  • Trekking
  • Backpacking
  • Everyday use

The Suunto Core watch is a great option for those who want a watch with numerous hiking features but not necessarily GPS. It is also much less expensive than all of GPS watches reviewed above. The Suunto Core is equipped with compass, altimeter, barometer and thermometer. It switches between altimeter and barometer mode automatically (it detects if you are changing altitude) and provides you with weather information from the atmospheric pressure trend graph and trend indicator while in the barometer mode. If a storm is rising, the watch detects this, and the storm alarm goes on. The basic features of the watch are time, alarm, dual time and sunset/sunrise times. The replaceable battery lasts for approximately 1 year. Unfortunately, the Suunto Core watch is not compatible with a heart rate belt which would indeed come in handy on hiking trips. The Suunto Core watch is due to its simplicity and durability a great choice for those who want a straightforward hiking timepiece with great features. It comes in five different versions which all offer the same functionality but differ by materials and color; All Black and Regular Black (both with mineral glass lens, composite case, elastomer strap), Black/Red and Black/Yellow (both with mineral glass lens, composite case, textile strap), and Brushed Steel (Sapphire glass lens, stainless steel case, silicone strap).

 

Pros:

  • Automatic Alti-Baro Switch
  • Design
  • Easy to use

Cons:

  • Without GPS
  • Can’t be paired with a heart rate belt

Video

5. Hiking Watch Buying Advice – What is important?

Hiking Features:

Hiking Features: Hiking watches are equipped with compass, altimeter and barometer

Hiking Features: Hiking watches are equipped with compass, altimeter and barometer

Every hiking watch should feature altimeter, barometer and compass functions. Watches with these features are often called ABC watches. So, why it’s so important that a hiking watch has these three features? Let’s explain.

Barometer

The barometer detects changes in the atmospheric pressure and thus allows you to easily predict the weather; if the atmospheric pressure is increasing, the weather will improve and reversely; if the atmospheric pressure is falling, the weather will worsen (clouds, rain etc.). A rapid drop in the atmospheric pressure normally indicates a storm rising. All watches listed in this review show the atmospheric pressure and its tendency graph (how the atmospheric pressure has changed in the last hours). Furthermore, they also all have a storm alarm feature which warns you if the atmospheric pressure drops significantly. This might save your life if you are on an exposed mountain side. Read more about barometer feature in watches in our article How to use barometer on a Suunto watch to predict the weather.

Altimeter

An altimeter shows you how high above sea level you are and is based on the barometric pressure or GPS data. A GPS altimeter is much more precise than a barometric altimeter and doesn’t require any calibration. The altimeter feature comes in handy for navigation – it is easier to find your location on a map if you know how high above the sea level you are.

Compass

A compass shows you the four cardinal directions (North, East, South and West) as well as bearing and is thus crucial for navigation. With the compass feature and a proper map, you can easily do triangulation to determine your current location.

Thermometer

Some hiking watches are also equipped with a thermometer which comes in handy on multiday trips. You can, for example, measure the temperature outside the tent to appropriately plan and layer your clothes before you set out on the trail again. However, it is important to note that the thermometer will normally measure temperature most accurately when the watch is not on your wrist as your body heat affects the measurements.

GPS:

Hiking watches with GPS help you with the navigation

Hiking watches with GPS help you with the navigation

Most hiking watches support GPS which is currently the best solution for navigation and tracking. Some GPS watches also support alternative positioning systems like GLONASS, Galileo etc. A GPS watch allows you to instantly get the coordinates of your current location. Furthermore, it can also show current speed, distance, ascent, descent, and other GPS-based information. You can import routes in GPX or similar formats to most GPS watches. These routes can then be used for navigation as the watch shows your current location in relation to the GPX route.

GPS watches also track (record) your activities and allow you to export the details (duration, distance, average speed, total ascent, total descent and other parameters) to web or mobile apps such as Suunto App or Garmin Connect for analysis. However, GPS watches have a shorter battery life than watches without GPS. This downside is somewhat mitigated by GPS watches being equipped with rechargeable batteries. On off the grid backpacking trips, a solar charger enables you to recharge your GPS watch.

Durability and Weight

Durability and Weight: Watch for hiking must be robust and sturdy

Durability and Weight: Watch for hiking must be robust and sturdy

A hiking watch must be sturdy and robust. However, the watch also shouldn’t be too heavy so you can wear it comfortably for longer periods. Therefore, hiking watches are typically made of fiber-reinforced polymers and sometimes feature a rear cover made of metal. The straps are typically made of silicone and less often from textile. Textile straps are harder to maintain because they must be washed regularly in order not to get smelly. Some watches come with Sapphire glass lenses for increased resistance against scratches. Sapphire glass provides superior scratch resistance in comparison to the more common mineral crystal. However, watches with Sapphire glass lenses are also significantly more expensive. Therefore, Sapphire glass is often an optional feature.

Heart Rate Monitor

Heart Rate Monitor: New hiking watches are equipped with wrist heart rate monitors

Heart Rate Monitor: New hiking watches are equipped with wrist heart rate monitors

Many hiking watches come with heart rate monitor functionality. Thereby, the watch can be connected to chest strap heart rate monitor which transfer heart rate data to the watch. Premium models of hiking watches have wrist heart rate monitors in addition to the option to connect a chest strap heart rate monitor. A wrist based heart rate monitor don’t require any extra device as they are part of the watch. They measure heart rate directly on your wrist by shining light into your blood vessels and detecting changes in blood volume. Wrist heart rate monitors are surprisingly accurate except for activities that involve a lot of pressure on hands (weightlifting, biking and such). Read more about the accuracy of wrist-based heart rate monitors here.

Connectivity

Connectivity: Bluetooth allows you to connect external devices such as chest strap heart rate monitor on the image above

Connectivity: Bluetooth allows you to connect external devices such as chest strap heart rate monitor on the image above

Most hiking watches can be connected to external devices such as heart rate monitors, foot PODs, temperature sensors, smartphones and even action cameras. Three protocols are used for connectivity: ANT+, Bluetooth and Wi-Fi. ANT+ is an outdated protocol which was widely used years ago. New watches typically don’t support ANT+. Nowadays, watches mostly employ Bluetooth for connectivity and some are also equipped with Wi-Fi. The Bluetooth chip is the most important because it enables you to connect the watch to your smartphone. The Smartphone can then work as an intermediate device through which the watch has access to the internet. Wi-Fi enabled watches such as Garmin Fenix 7 can connect directly to the internet without first connecting to your smartphone. That is useful for transferring large amount of data to the watch, such as music.

Battery Life and Battery Modes

Battery Life: Battery of a GPS watch lasts for a few weeks in time mode but much less in GPS tracking mode

Battery Life: Battery of a GPS watch lasts for a few weeks in time mode but much less in GPS tracking mode

GPS watches are equipped with rechargeable batteries which last for up to two months in time mode. Nevertheless, a hiking watch is rarely used only for checking time and thus the battery life is much shorter in practice. The GPS and wrist HR features put the most strain on the battery. The battery of a hiking watch rarely last more than 30 hours in GPS mode (high accuracy). Nevertheless, most watches allow you to choose different battery modes for GPS tracking.  For example, Suunto 9 has four battery modes: Performance, Endurance, Ultra and Tour. The Tour mode delivers up to 170 hours of GPS tracking time which is indeed great.

Watches without GPS use replaceable batteries which typically last for around a year, depending on the use of the watch.

Sunrise and Sunset Times

Sunrise and sunset times are not a must be they are useful because chances are that you’ll forget to check this before heading out. Knowing when the sun goes down enables you to return back before the nightfall and thus keeps you safe.

Interface

Interface: It's important that the watch has buttons so you can use with sweaty hands and gloves

Interface: It’s important that the watch has buttons so you can use with sweaty hands and gloves

Watches are either equipped with a touch screen, buttons or both. Watches that only have a touch screen are not the best option for hiking and sports because they are hard to use with gloves, in rainy weather and with sweaty hands. Therefore, most sports watches are equipped with both buttons and touch screen. During activities the touch screen is usually locked so that the watch doesn’t trigger by the touch of clothes, gloves etc.

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Author Information

Blaz

Outdoor enthusiast with experience in all types of hiking and mountaineering. Hiked in the Alps, Iceland and other countries. In love with via ferrata trails and snow-covered slopes. Check out my hikes.

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