Best Hiking Watch 2020 [Premium & Affordable Watches]

Looking for the best hiking watch 2020? There’s no feeling in this world more rewarding and rejuvenating than an out-and-out hike. It’s more than an adequate substitute for your usual studio sweat or working out in a gym, as nothing beats the fresh air or steeping inclines which will give you a conquering mindset.

Whether you’re a newbie or practically a pro mountaineer a hike will always give you a special aesthetic feeling and will be close to your heart.

Getting far away from bustling cities and noisy neighborhood to seek for peace in nature is one of the best things we can do and it’s also the best kind of mental detox which no pill or doctors can provide you.

It will be even better when we can go to a place leaving behind all gadgets and where there’s no cellular reception. I will leave all tech gadgets except one, that’s my watch.

When I’m hiking my watch is an indispensable tool offering me vital inputs and is built to handle all the elements and keep me safe in the mountains.

You will often listen to most people referring to hiking watches as ABC watches, which stands for Altimeter, Barometer, and Compass. As Altimeter is used to measure elevation, Barometer is used to measure climate changes and a digital Compass comes in handy to guide you through the right path.

The great thing about hiking watches is that they are fitted with many advanced features that offer great navigation and great battery life for multi-day adventures without internet connectivity.

This is a perfect companion for all those hikers, trekkers, bikers, campers, mountaineers, backpackers, and all the travel fanatic out there. So now let’s take a look at the best hiking watch 2020 in the market with different price points and unique features which makes them a mandatory resource for the serious hiker.

Also Read: Triathlon Watch Reviews

Best Hiking Watch In 2020 — Reviews & Buyers Guide

EDITOR’S CHOICE
Garmin Fenix 5 Plus

1. Garmin Fenix 5 Plus

  • Large screen.
  • Durable battery life.
  • Enables smart notifications.
  • Multisport features.
  • Attention-grabbing looks.

This is one of the best watches when it comes to hiking, the Garmin Fenix 5 Plus is one of the pricey watches you’ll ever find, but for its price range, you’ll be completely pleased with its all-around specs that will fulfill your hiking needs.

This isn’t a regular smartwatch-like your Samsung or Apple peers, as it’s all about hard hiking as it’s filled with a lot of perks. Outstanding features that make this the most appealing for serious hikers as it is fitted with GPS and TOPO maps, which are user-generated route maps that instantly outline the best routes for your trail that could be a walk or a sprint.

You can also configure it as per your preferences and will, as you can enter a certain distance or path that you want to reach and it shows you the optimal distance that is a fast route. The watch also features a barometer, altimeter, gyroscope, and a three-axis compass.

It also includes smart features as in a variety of health trackers such as the “Pulse Ox Acclimation” sensor that monitors the blood oxygen saturation levels effectively.

This will serve as your virtual coach to assess user success metrics that can also be uploaded to your device or smartphone to reflect and enhance your training.

It also comes with the built-in Garmin Pay that promotes contactless payment, which avoids the use or carrying of your wallet during your trip.

This also comes with a built-in Spotify to listen to your favorite songs, and you can download them as well. Also fitted with built-in GPS so this is going to be a perfect companion for a serious hiker, and this certainly deserves your attention.

Pros
  • Super rugged build quality and durability.
  • Inclusion of TOPO mapping.
  • Unbelievable 16 GB of internal storage space.
  • Extra assistance of Galileo satellites alongside GPS and GLONASS.
Cons
  • Costly.
  • Does not support popular streaming services like Spotify.

EDITOR’S CHOICE
Garmin 010-02064-00 Instinct

2. Garmin 010-02064-00 Instinct

  • Large screen.
  • Durable battery life.
  • Enables smart notifications.
  • Multisport features.
  • Attention-grabbing looks.

The second product in the list is also from Garmin, known as the Instinct, the Instinct Solar edition, which uses the sun’s energy to give you an additional 54 days of battery life.

This watch has a great resemblance to the Casio G-Shock, but it’s not as heavy and rugged as it is, so it’ll be the perfect fit for your hike as well as your dinner dates or night outs.

It’s also a little pricey because it’s jam-packed with wonderful features that make it stand out among others. It has a military quality rating of 810 for exposure to extreme conditions and temperatures and has a water resistance of up to 100 meters.

The instinct is fitted with a 128 * 128-pixel display and its advantage is that it does not affect your viewing even in bright sunlight. Like the previous versions, you can connect it to your iOS or Android phones via the Garmin Connect app to reflect on your daily stats and access notifications, and you can also pick from 12 different watch faces.

This GPS Instinct with GLONASS and Galileo satellite systems hits the bull’s eye as you can download and navigate your maps quickly even when your phone signal hits zero, plus it’s fitted with a 3-axis compass and a barometric altimeter to help you in more difficult environments.

The TracBack feature lets you take the same route to your starting point, which lets you schedule trips in advance. It’s also your fitness partner, as it monitors your heart rate activity and stress during the day, as well as preloaded training profiles for running and swimming.

The battery lasts up to two weeks on a single charge, but in GPS mode it lasts just 16 hours, but thanks to the UltraTrac feature it extends your life up to 40 hours, reducing the speed of satellite logging.

Pros
  • Excellent battery life.
  • Waterproofness up to 100 m.
  • Super durable military standard design.
  • Inclusion of both UltraTrac and TracBack features.
Cons
  • There’s no Garmin Pay.
  • There is no access to Garmin Connect IQ apps.
  • Also, the GPS mode easily drains the battery.

EDITOR’S CHOICE
Suunto Core SS014279010

3. Suunto Core SS014279010

  • Large screen.
  • Durable battery life.
  • Enables smart notifications.
  • Multisport features.
  • Attention-grabbing looks.

This Suunto watch is one of the most affordable choices you’ll find on the market, and it’s also remarkably simple. This is a perfect companion for all the explorers and military professionals out there, as it offers you an all-around performance for training and trekking.

As normal, this watch contains all the requisite characteristics, keeping in mind the serious hiker that features an altimeter, barometer, and compass that will estimate your vertical movement, air pressure, and the best route to give you the upper edge of the new high-end terrain.

The coolest feature that the Core has is an intelligent storm warning as one of many features designed to keep you safe as it is triggered by an active drop in air pressure over a 3-hour cycle, once it detects a shift it sounds and flashes indicating something unpleasant is approaching you.

It also gives you accurate sunrise and sunset times over 400 locations with its sunrise/sunset kickass functionality. It also comes with a built-in thermometer that shows you the surrounding temperature of the atmosphere, for this to work you need to get the watch out of your hand for a while.

The only downside is that it needs a proper GPS. Apart from the fact that it can operate in several languages, you can shift automatically from an altimeter to a barometer as the mode detects the movement and changes accordingly.

A depth meter that guarantees reliable reading up to 30 feet and is backed up by a stern two-year warranty.

Pros
  • Clear, easy-to-read display.
  • Intelligent Storm Alarm.
  • Fantastic battery lifetime.
Cons
  • There’s no proper built-in GPS

EDITOR’S CHOICE
Casio Men's Multi-Function Sport Watch

4. Casio Men’s Multi-Function Sport Watch

  • Large screen.
  • Durable battery life.
  • Enables smart notifications.
  • Multisport features.
  • Attention-grabbing looks.

Coming from one of the most renowned watch firms, the Casio Men’s Multi-Function Sport Watch is a common gadget that is owned and respected by people around the globe.

This is affordable in the regular price range as it provides a specific range of features and is extremely useful to all those sporty and adventurous fans who want to get rugged on a jungle safari trek.

It comes with an exterior made of solid and hard ABS plastic material that gives the watch its structural integrity as it tolerates wear and tear and is very useful when it comes to rugged environments.

It has a wide LCD screen with built-in LED light for added clarity with details spread out properly. The twin sensor comes in handy to measure temperature and altitude.

So essentially, the high-performance pressure sensor gives you reliable readings of up to 10,000 meters and air pressure readings every 2 hours. So this will help you forecast the weather with fair precision.

It’s lightweight so you’ll wear it all day long. It can withstand low temperatures so that it will be the ideal option for a jog in the rain and its water-resistant up to 100 m, which will also be suitable for swimming.

It also comes with a multiple alarm system that can be set five times a day as high pitched and heard clearly. The built-in thermometer and barometer are useful to tell you the temperature forecast precisely.

Pros
  • Solidly crafted with a lightweight nylon wristband.
  • Waterproof up to 100 m.
  • The addition of the twin sensor function.
Cons
  • Costly.
  • Does not support popular streaming services like Spotify.

EDITOR’S CHOICE
Garmin 35 Forerunner

5. Garmin 35 Forerunner

  • Large screen.
  • Durable battery life.
  • Enables smart notifications.
  • Multisport features.
  • Attention-grabbing looks.

This Garmin watch is not a hiking watch, but rather an excellent standard running watch, with a built-in GPS chip, a wrist heart rate monitor, and a customizable interval workout option so it will be fitted with all the required features for this sport.

This is going to be your choice if you’re looking for a device to monitor your running stats. The Forerunner 35 has a range of modes for cycling and swimming, but its essential feature is set for monitoring your sprinting or running, and for its considerable budget it gives us a complete package as well as a GPS option.

It’s also fitted with run/walk mode, which tells you when to slow down or speed up, which will be very useful for beginners. Also, modes give you a work/rest time to configure your warm-up and warm-down, and even for experienced athletes, you can set a goal and make sure you do it.

As an activity tracker, Forerunner 35 does a decent job as it records your everyday steps, your calories and your 24/7 heart rate, it also displays the graph of your heart rate in your watch itself.

It also monitors your sleep reliably when you review the app in the morning to know your sleep data last night, as it shows your sleep movement and the volume of deep and light sleep.

With the Garmin Connect app, you can see all your alerts on your wrist, whether it’s social media or other alerts, and you don’t have to pick up your phone now and then. The battery part of the watch mode will give you nine days, and the GPS mode gives you 9 hours.

Pros
  • Amazing value of money.
  • Track Interval Training.
  • Great battery life.
  • Water-proof.
Cons
  • Issues with GPS.

EDITOR’S CHOICE
POLAR Grit X - Rugged Outdoor Watch

6. POLAR Grit X – Rugged Outdoor Watch

  • Large screen.
  • Durable battery life.
  • Enables smart notifications.
  • Multisport features.
  • Attention-grabbing looks.

Fitness wearable manufacturer Polar with its new watch is targeted towards serious endurance athletes made from the U.S. Military standard 810 G particularly designed to withstand extreme weather conditions.

It also comes with a new feature named FuelWise that allows you to schedule smart or manual reminders of thirst and hunger. This will also suit most outdoor lovers and budding explorers.

If you don’t want to shell out for Garmin’s flagship model and want to pay substantially less for stellar bundles, you can go for this. This watch has a rugged build with a 47 mm stainless steel case and a lightweight polymer reinforced fiberglass back cover.

It also comes with a 1.2-inch digital display with a wide range of stunning stats to view. Five buttons are also neatly sculpted for optimum performance, just after the time point of touch screen use becomes redundant.

It also comes with a good set of sensors including GPS, Glonass, and Galileo positioning, an optical heart rate sensor, a magnetometer-based compass for non-GPS navigation, and a barometric altimeter for accurate elevation and water-resistant up to 100 m.

But one of the big drawbacks was that it didn’t have on-board maps, and the compass uses the Koomot app to pre-plan the route, which causes delays in some situations.

The Night Recharge feature also measures the consistency of your sleep cycle and lets you make the right choices during the day. Fit Spark training also ensures that you conquer your everyday workouts with strength, recovery, and ability.

For hikers, in particular, there is a dedicated sports mode that allows them to prioritize the addition of altitude graph, total ascent, and current altitude. You can also use the Hill Splitter, Fuel Wise, and Koomot app.

It gives you 7 days of battery life for regular use while giving you 40 hours in GPS mode, which can be extended to 100 hours at low GPS stimulation rates.

Pros
  • Tracks altitude ascent and descent.
  • Features an always-on display.
  • It reminds you to drink and eat regularly.
Cons
  • Missing Spotify.
  • No offline navigation maps.

EDITOR’S CHOICE
Casio Men's Pro Trek PRG-270-1

7. Casio Men’s Pro Trek PRG-270-1

  • Large screen.
  • Durable battery life.
  • Enables smart notifications.
  • Multisport features.
  • Attention-grabbing looks.

Casio is a world-renowned brand exquisitely known for its high-quality, mainstream sports watches, which stand out for its range of designs and looks.

Like all Pro Trek watches, this also comes with a large and ultra-masculine body due to its rugged plastic resin case and even though it’s large, it still is lightweight and also water-resistant up to 100 m.

Specifically built to meet the needs of explorers and hikers, and for those living outdoors, it comes with a host of wilderness conquering systems that assist its user with an altimeter, barometer, thermometer, and digital compass.

It also uses the latest V3 triple sensor technology that improves the accuracy and speed of measurements, particularly where the compass, altimeter, and barometer can deliver data at exponential speeds.

Finally, there is an alarm that signals a sudden rise or a fall in pressure, indicating a looming shift in weather. The highlight of this watch is its solar-powered “Tough Solar” technology, which delivers power through an integrated solar panel, recharged by sunlight even in low light conditions, and also backed up by a power-saving feature.

The backlight of the LED will be a savior, particularly during the night time. As usual, it has standard watch features such as multi-alarm, stopwatch, world time, etc.

The only downside is that it lacks a proper GPS but neglecting a shortcoming that is still greater than the typical G-Shock because it is packed with the stellar features required for a routine explorer.

Pros
  • Solar-powered battery charging.
  • Lightweight and waterproof up to 100 m.
  • Comes with the new Triple Sensor Version 3.
  • Auto LED backlight, After-Glow.
Cons
  • There’s no GPS on it.
  • It’s a bit hard to use buttons if you have big fingers.

EDITOR’S CHOICE
Apple Watch Series 3

8. Apple Watch Series 3

  • Large screen.
  • Durable battery life.
  • Enables smart notifications.
  • Multisport features.
  • Attention-grabbing looks.

This watch is amongst the most pioneering smartwatches in the world, and since the launch of the Apple Series 5 watch, the Apple Series 3 watches have become very affordable, as Apple no longer sells the Series 1, 2, and 4 watches.

Series 3 is compatible with the new watchOS 6, which brings the dedicated app store to the watch itself, even though certain software updates are only available on Series 4 or higher.

The two biggest improvements are increased emphasis on fitness and a version with a built-in cellular network so that it will function independently without your phone, that doesn’t mean that you can purchase one without an iPhone, as it would only be possible to receive calls and some notifications when your phone isn’t around, everything else depends on your phone.

But the battery drops significantly when it’s connected to LTE other than that it’s only designed to be a stand-alone smartwatch.
It also adds a barometric altimeter that helps to track elevation as it is extremely useful for hiking and skiing as well as climbing the stairs.

Other killer fitness features include heart rate monitoring, updated workout app, swim tracking, and Gym Kit compatibility. Also, the latest feature recovery will make sure that the heart rate returns to normal after a workout is a fantastic addition.

The fitness app also lets you conduct high-intensity, interval workout routines as you no longer need to track each exercise separately. Another upgrade is the inclusion of streaming music to the LTE-enabled version only.

It also comes with an integrated chip for improved Wi-Fi coverage.

Pros
  • Built-in cellular connectivity.
  • High-quality call service.
  • Bands Interchangeable.
  • Improved fitness monitoring.
Cons
  • LTE Connectivity drains the battery.
  • Just compatible with iPhone.
  • On a costly note

EDITOR’S CHOICE
Garmin Forerunner 235

9. Garmin Forerunner 235

  • Large screen.
  • Durable battery life.
  • Enables smart notifications.
  • Multisport features.
  • Attention-grabbing looks.

The Forerunner 235, as its name implies, is designed specifically for a day-to-day runner or athlete. It’s a regular looking watch, but it has some awesome features like fitness, sleep, and heart rate tracking, it can track you no matter whether you’re indoors or outdoors, riding, walking, or sleeping via an accurate GPS.

It will share information, show you notifications and events as it effectively connects to your phone. The built-in accelerometer in the watch can monitor your data whether you’re running on a treadmill or a track so you don’t need a separate accessory.

The watch also tracks outside fitness, such as daily stats, calories, activity, and sleep. Apart from the 24/7 wrist heart rate tracker already listed, the runner’s VO2-Max can be monitored by measuring the amount of oxygen your body can process.

You can also customize the watch face by using the Garmin Connect app. As well as giving you new insights into workout plans and recovery tips.

Thanks to its precision, the heart rate is the selling point of this unit, but sometimes during high-intensity workouts, it struggled to remain consistent. But on the other hand, the precision was on the mark. Plus waterproof up to 50 m.

The watch screen has a 1.23-inch high-resolution LCD screen with better functionality buttons and comes as a savior to all those touchscreen haters. It gives you 11-hour battery life.

Frankly speaking, it’s on the pricey side, but you can ignore the price for a lot of features it offers.

Pros
  • Filled with enticing features for fitness and activity monitoring.
  • Lightweight and waterproof up to 50 m.
  • Smart notification to the Garmin Connect app.
Cons
  • Heart rate tracking was often inconsistent.
  • No multi-sport features, ideal for runners only.

EDITOR’S CHOICE
Garmin Vivoactive 3

10. Garmin Vivo active 3

  • Large screen.
  • Durable battery life.
  • Enables smart notifications.
  • Multisport features.
  • Attention-grabbing looks.

Another and the final product on the list is from Garmin. This time it’s the Vivo Active 3, keeping in mind the company’s sporting technology heritage, this watch is equipped with a heart rate monitor, GPS monitoring, and a lot more.

A range of built-in applications to keep in contact with different sports activities such as indoor and outdoor running, yoga, swimming, golf cycling, resistance training, snowboarding, and even paddleboarding, no wonder it’s favored by the athlete.

It’s also updated with new features such as NFC payroll payments with Garmin pay even though users have mentioned some problems, notification responses, as well as sleep and real-time stress monitoring with the Garmin, Connect app, making it pretty much the ideal all-rounder.

The screen measures 1.2 inches 240 * 240-pixel trans-reflective screen color and the body is made of reinforced polymer. It is built-in such a way that it’s easier to view even in direct sunlight, yet it’s power-efficient in the longer run.

It comes with an always-on display that is moderately dimmed and the backlight comes into effect when you lift your wrist. It’s lightweight and easy to wear because it’s filled with functional features.

It also comes with GPS and GLONASS radio positioning systems, a barometric altimeter, a compass, an accelerometer, and a thermometer.

It comes with a 50 m water-resistant so you take it to swim but not to scuba dive, it even has a corning gorilla glass 3 to prevent scratches and smudges.

It can also monitor your VO2 max by calculating your lung capacity and hence your overall cardiovascular fitness. And eventually, the battery lasts 6-7 hours in smartwatch mode and 13 hours in GPS mode.

Pros
  • Comes with a multi-sport apps feature.
  • Lightweight and waterproof up to 50 m.
  • Customize with the Connect IQ app.
  • Supported by Garmin Pay for contactless payments.
  • Corning gorilla glass 3 stops scratching.
Cons
  • Garmin Pay isn’t so much in use.
  • No storage of music on deck.

 

Frequently Asked Questions On Hiking Watches

  • Does hiking watches function offline?

Yeah, all hiking watches work offline to navigate and count your steps. But the main thing you’ll lack is mobile syncing, which allows you to transfer all your fitness data to your smartphone for long-term protection, so you need secure internet access.

You will also not be able to view updated weather, receive notifications, and other related features that include internet access.

  • How GPS watches measure altitude and altitude changes?

GPS watches calculate altitude information and ascent/descent rates only from the Global Positioning System (GPS) data provided by the Earth-orbiting satellite.

The precision of the altitude information depends very much on the number of available satellites that can be reached by the watch, the strength of the GPS signal, and the required GPS settings on your watch, so make sure that you always select the right settings for greater precision.

  • Which factors affect the GPS signal quality?

The quality of the GPS signal is affected by many factors, as it can be hampered by tall and dense woods, poor weather such as heavy snow or rain, high rise buildings or tower blocks, large bridges, metal structures, deep canyons or gulfs, and particularly thick and humid clouds, so that all objects that obstruct the signal between your watch and the satellite are crucial factors that lead to the blackening of your signal.

  • How do GPS watches with barometer measure altitude and altitude changes?

GPS watches with barometer measure ambient air pressure to determine altitude and altitude adjustments. In general, the air pressure is lower when ascending and higher when descending.

But to get accurate results, you have to calibrate it manually at the start of the journey if you know the starting point of the altitude so that you can avoid the error at the beginning.

Things To Consider Before Buying Hiking Watches – Buyers Guide

1. Navigation System

This is one of the most important things to look out for in a hiking watch. GPS stands for the global positioning system, a satellite-based navigation system owned and run by the United States. Although US-based GPS is not the only navigation device in use.

As there are the Russian GLONASS and the European Galileo system, which are similarly utilized by modern hiking watches. There is essentially a small receiver in the GPS watch and it has the potential to connect to one or more of these satellite systems.

Ideally, therefore, you need a watch that can connect to several satellite systems in times of emergency or difficult circumstances.
So always make sure you’re in an open space rather in a thick forest or deep ravine that hinders the ability to get a good signal.

Having a good GPS signal is going to be useful to you in a variety of ways, as it sets a course for you to continue your hike. Not only in real-time, but it can also be used to record data for future purposes as it records the total distance traveled, the total time it took to cover, changes in elevation, etc.

All reported information can be used or evaluated for future use.

2. Altimeter

It’s used to calculate the altitude of the climb. Knowing your elevation will pinpoint your position on the map. Some altimeter watches have a barometric altimeter that can measure atmospheric pressure. The higher the elevation you are when the air pressure is low.

3. Barometer

It is used to calculate changes in air pressure. These improvements are not only useful in forecasting elevation but also offer warnings to a fast-approaching storm as some watches are fitted with a storm alarm that will warn you when major changes occur. So when the pressure decreases rapidly, you’re better off getting to a safe spot.

4. Compass

Nowadays most watches come with a digital compass to give you the best way on your hike. Some of them will have a 2d compass that allows it to be held horizontally, while a 3d compass will operate in either direction.

5. Thermometer

This helps you to keep a note of the outside changes in temperature while hiking. This is going to be very handy if you’re climbing a mountain or staying overnight, so it’s going to be easy for you to make enough plans on the next day with the predicted temperature. Not all watches have a thermometer, but it’ll be an excellent choice if it’s included.

6. Heart Rate Monitor

Nowadays, all hiking watches have this feature, as it monitors your heart 24/7. Higher heart rate means you’re pushing yourself harder so it’s going to help hikers calm down a little while keeping their heart rate in mind, protecting them from fatigue and losing energy.

Heart rate also represents your overall wellbeing, so when there’s a sudden increase in your heart rate, it’s a sign that you’re falling ill.

7. Solar-Powered Battery

Nowadays, due to the widespread use of GPS and activity trackers, a lot of heavy sports watches seem to drain their batteries fast. This is not going to be a problem if you’re in the wilderness for an hour or two, but if you spend a substantial amount of time outside, then a solar-powered watch will give you great perspectives.

As it improves your battery power by sunlight and also its natural way and good for our world, and a hiker really should embrace this and respect it as “Mother Nature” would be proud of you.

Few Word Before Wrapping Up…

I want to conclude this article by saying one simple thing, you’ll notice a plethora of the best hiking watch on the market, and you’ll always find one product more attractive than another.

So always make sure you get the product that suits your interest and requirements. Only don’t buy anything for the sake of buying anything. Since we are special and not all the same, our flavor differs from person to person.

More importantly, a hiking watch is like your best friend when you’re on a wilderness expedition. So always make sure you pick the best companion that’s always going to get your back.

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