The best outdoor watches will not only display the date and time, they can also provide the camper and hiker with important information including sunset and sunrise times, air pressure, location, and altitude. These features can help the hiker with weather prediction and navigation. Watches with features that are specific to hiking have become increasingly popular as of late, and the companies that produce these watches have been making incredible progress in terms of designing watches with the latest technology.
Our selection of the best outdoor watches includes five watches that are equipped with all the right features that both the beginner and experienced hiker can really rely on.
If you love hiking or have a passion for camping, you need a trustworthy device that can help you to safely reach your destination and navigate the great outdoors. An outdoor watch is designed to easily handle rough weather conditions and tough terrain. Amongst other top features, these watches include longer than average battery life, built-in altitude measuring systems and impressive GPS navigation.
If you’re looking for a model that can assist you throughout your hiking journey, then look no further than our top five picks.
A Watch Designed for the Great Outdoors
Choosing a watch that’s reliable enough to use when you’re hiking off-trail is a tough decision, especially if you’re new to hiking and camping in the backcountry. An outdoor watch is one of the few tech devices that you’ll take off-trail, so it has to be one that has a high rating for accuracy, durability, and reliability.
We looked at a variety of features when we chose our top five products.
Finding an outdoor watch with excellent battery life was obviously our main priority. You don’t want to be caught in a rural area with a dead watch.
We also looked at how each model rated in terms of accuracy. Each model scored very high in this area, ranging from their altimeter and barometer features to fitness tracking features and GPS location.
Some models aren’t GPS-enabled, but they do come equipped with top of the line altimeter and barometer functions, so you’ll always have the most current information.
We’ve included both basic outdoor watches and feature loaded models that are a perfect fit for hikers who love their tech.
Budget was another area we focused on. These watches can come with a pretty steep price tag, so we made sure we included some options that were perfect for hikers on a budget.
Those new to outdoor watch technology will also benefit from our buying guide which outlines the different types of features and tech you’ll want to consider before you buy.
Features, pricing, accuracy, and fitness tracking capabilities are just some of the features you need to look for. Fortunately for you, we dug even deeper to uncover just what makes each of these watches tick, and what you can expect regarding water resistance, battery life, ease of use, and viewing quality. Some models can even control certain smartphone features, which is perfect for hikers who can’t seem to put down their phone.
Now, we’ll begin with our best outdoor watch, a popular model by Garmin, and a watch you won’t want to hit the trail without.
Top-Rated Outdoor Watch-Garmin Fenix 5X Outdoor Watch
The Fenix 5X is an outdoor watch that easily blows the competition out of the water. Loaded with all the right features that the fitness enthusiast will love and the seasoned hiker can depend on, this is one model that you’ll come to rely on wherever your travels may take you. The variety of sports profiles, impressive tracking features, easy to use interface, and fun extras make up a watch that you won’t want to hit the trail without, which is why it’s our top-rated product.
Beginner-Friendly-Suunto Traverse Outdoor Watch
A top-selling outdoor watch that’s simply loaded with features, the Suunto Traverse is perfect for beginners and seasoned hikers alike. Choose from a wide range of features designed to help you easily navigate trails, climb mountains, and travel safely through the backcountry. The included features will also allow you to keep a close eye on your daily fitness goals by monitoring climb progress and speed, calories burned, and distance traveled.
The Fenix 3 is basically a sports watch, outdoor watch, and smartwatch in one. It allows users to closely track their fitness progress based on workout or activity type, it’s highly accurate in terms of navigation, and it can even receive smartphone notifications. This model is perfect for hikers who love to stay on top of tech trends, but it can also be a reliable hiking watch you can use on your next hiking trip or triathlon.
Longest Battery Life-Casio Men’s Pathfinder Triple Sensor Multi-Function Sport Watch
Priced affordably, loaded with a number of features that the seasoned hiker will love and solar powered, so battery life is no longer an issue, the Pathfinder is one of Casio’s top-selling outdoor watches for a number of reasons. While it may not be able to compete with outdoor watches that feature GPS functionality, it can be the perfect buy for hikers in search of a reliable, accurate model to take on the trail.
Cheapest Outdoor Watch-Suunto Core Outdoor Watch
The Core comes equipped with a highly accurate barometer and altimeter function, easy to use interface, the ability to display elevation in three-foot intervals, a newly designed menu, and a variety of great extra features that most hikers will find useful out on the trail. While it doesn’t have the flash that higher priced outdoor watches do, it is a highly accurate and dependable watch that will make any hiker feel more confident and well-prepared.
Outdoor Watch Buying Guide
Outdoor watches are what many hikers rely on when they decide to hike off-trail. When we say off trail, we mean routes that are less traveled. These off-trail areas can be dangerous if you don’t have much experience hiking and camping in the backcountry. It can be all too easy to get turned around and lost, or you may be unfortunate enough to get caught up in a major storm. But the outdoor watch is designed to keep you safe. While it shouldn’t replace a traditional map and compass, the outdoor watch can provide you with real-time information regarding your route, weather conditions, temperature, and altitude.
While a camping trip isn’t exactly the best place for a fashionable timepiece, you still need a high-quality watch that can help you track important information when you’re out on the trail. Fortunately, these days there is a wide selection to choose from. The features range from basic, durable timepieces to multifunction wrist computers that will pinpoint your location via GPS. Other models can even tell a hunter how far their bullet will drop depending on the range.
So, what type of outdoor watch is right for you? This can depend on a few factors. Here are some factors you should consider:
Features To Take Into Consideration
Hiking and camping can be tough on all your gear, especially your watch. Because of this, you’ll need a model that’s strong enough to handle a few knocks and scrapes and keep on ticking. Look for a quality brand. Hiking is not a sport for the faint of heart, so you need a watch that’s tough, built strong and ready to meet extreme conditions. These outdoor watches come equipped with a variety of features that are designed to combat any type of harsh conditions you’ll encounter in the backcountry. Many models are scratch proof, waterproof, heat resistant, and shock resistant. All of these factors together contribute to the overall durability of the watch.
If you plan to spend any time in the water, or you want to protect your timepiece from a heavy downpour, then you need to choose a model that’s waterproof. Models with a generic water-resistant label often won’t cut it. Instead, you need a watch that’s properly sealed and one that can be fully submerged and still survive.
An altimeter is a great feature to have on any outdoor watch and one that will tell you exactly what your current elevation is when you want to locate your position.
This is a great feature for campers and hikers. In fact, it can provide all the key info you need to gauge the changes in the weather. A barometer can even be a lifesaving feature for hikers who enjoy hiking up mountains and hills or deep in the backcountry where a serious storm can be fatal. A good barometer will help a hiker perceive any type of change in environmental pressure.
The top models of outdoor watches are often equipped with a GPS system. This is a great feature for hikers to have, especially those who often prefer hitting less-traveled trails in the backcountry. Just keep in mind that some models with GPS functionality tend to have a shorter battery life.
No outdoor watch is complete without a built-in compass. A compass works great with an altimeter and will help hikers to easily navigate through challenging trails. These watches will have a 3D compass. The 3D compass works impressively well, regardless of how the watch is held and it’s the next best thing to a traditional handheld compass.
A easy to use interface is crucial. It can consist of a number of screens and menus, and this is where you’ll be able to customize many of the features. Some watches will allow users to change or modify which data they want to be displayed on the home screen.
Many models have poor display quality and low resolution. A good outdoor watch will have excellent resolution which translates to data that’s easier to read.
Battery life is one of the most important features to pay attention to before you buy and it plays a key role in a hiker’s schedule. Obviously, the longer the battery life the better. Battery life tends to vary from model to model with an average of eight to twelve hours. If you use the GPS feature on your watch often, it can quickly become a drain on battery life.
For some amazing camping tips visit our dedicated article on the topic.
Other Features to Consider
On modern outdoor watches, you’ll find a whole range of features including ballistic computers, cameras, and even heart rate monitors. But do you really need all of these features built right into your wristwatch or would you prefer to bring along separate devices? As an example, while a heart rate monitor would be a great feature to have on your watch, is it necessary for your typical hiking trip? The choice is ultimately yours, but with these types of extra features, you can expect a shorter battery life and a higher price tag.
You’ll need to decide on the style and type of outdoor watch you want and actually need. If you’re someone who has a hard time parting from their smartphone, or if you’re trying to get in shape, then a feature loaded model complete with GPS and fitness tracking capabilities may be right up your alley.
There are many outdoor watches to choose from and more released every month. Each of the models we’ve reviewed will come with their own set of pros and cons, but ultimately, each of the models that have been chosen stood out for their reliability and overall quality.
Before you buy, determine your needs, including the type of features you want, length of battery life, and whether or not you’d like a watch that can be paired with your smartphone.
We hope our reviews of the best outdoor watches and our buying guide has helped you to find the right model that will meet your camping and hiking needs, and your budget.