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In this guide we cover all the best hiking watches that you can buy right now.
It is absolutely mind-blowing what these newest watches can do. The advancement in technology over the last year is totally incredible.
For each watch, we break down all the most important features that are useful on day hikes or backpacking adventures. And, we rank all the newest hiking watches with GPS based on what they offer.
The hiking watches in this detailed review range in price and are available with or without GPS features. The incredible features that these devices provide can help you navigate your hikes, keep a pulse on the weather patterns, connect to satellite communication devices, track all of your activities in the outdoors, and a whole lot more!
So what is our top pick? The best GPS watch for hiking or backpacking is definitely one of the three Garmin Fenix 6 Pro/Sapphire/Pro-Solar watches. These Garmin hiking watches are expensive, but they also have the most advanced and diverse features compared to the competition. I can’t wait until the launch of the Garmin Fenix 7 series, that has a release date anticipated for mid 2021.
Read on to learn everything about these amazing hiking watches.
|The Hiking Watches||Why Buy||Where To Buy|
|Garmin Fenix 6 Pro||Best overall hiking watch with color topographic maps||Check REI price|
Check Backcountry price
|Garmin Fenix 6 Pro Solar||Best overall hiking watch with topographic maps, and solar charging||Check REI price|
Check Backcountry price
|Garmin MARQ Adventurer||Best luxury watch, most sports + backcountry features, topographic maps||Check REI price|
|Casio ProTrek WSD-F30||Most affordable hiking watch with topographic maps||Check Amazon price|
|Garmin Instinct Solar||Best overall with trackback routing (but no maps), solar-charged battery||Check REI price|
Check Backcountry price
|Suunto 9 BARO||Runner-up watch for trackback routing (no maps)||Check REI price|
|Casio Protrek PRG600YB||Best overall – no maps or GPS||Check REI price|
Check Amazon price
Read on for more details on our top picks. We have organized the watches by these main categories:
- GPS watches for hiking with topographic maps
- GPS hiking watches with track back or bread crumb features (no maps)
- Non-GPS hiking watch options (more affordable)
The Best GPS Hiking Watches With Topographic Maps
Only a few GPS hiking watches have topographic maps that you can view and follow your positioning on the watch face itself.
We studied all the newest GPS hiking watches that offer this feature. These are the best GPS watches for hiking right now that offer maps.
1) Garmin Fenix 6 Series
The Garmin Fenix 6 Series is a brand new multisport GPS watch that is our top pick for hiking adventures.
This new hiking watch was just released by Garmin.
Like the Garmin Fenix 5X Plus, the Fenix 6 series hiking watches are also expensive. However, if it fits with your budget the feature list is tough to beat. The Garmin Fenix 6 combines many of the best features found on the Garmin Fenix 5X Plus and the Garmin Marq Expedition.
There are three models you can buy in this new Fenix 6 series.
The main difference between these three models is the type of lens used on the watch. The Fenix 6 Pro has a Corning Gorilla Glass 3 lens. The Fenix 6 Sapphire offers a scratch-resistant sapphire lens. And The Fenix 6X Pro Solar has a special Power Glass lens that will recharge your battery on the go.
The color topographic maps look amazing on this hiking watch. Garmin, as you might expect, is the clear leader when it comes to color maps on hiking watches. The Fenix 6 also has a great turn by turn navigation feature that will keep you on track and announce your upcoming turns on the trails.
If you happen to also be a skier you will love this watch that is pre-loaded with over 2000 ski resort maps. Very cool.
The primary upgrades of the Fenix 6 vs. the Fenix 5X Plus (our previous top pick) are:
- Much improved battery life (up to 28 days in Expedition GPS mode!)
- Greater internal memory/storage (32GB vs. 16GB)
- Bigger display size and improved resolution
- Pulse Ox Sensor is included to monitor how well you are absorbing oxygen at higher altitudes
- Pro Solar Edition that delivers extra-long longer battery life
As mentioned, the Garmin Fenix 6 is available in a special upgrade version called the Garmin Fenix 6X Pro Solar Edition. This model dramatically extends your battery life because of its Power Glass lens that harvests solar energy as you hike. The Solar Edition increases battery life to 15 hours while using GPS and music mode, 60 hours using GPS but no music, 120 hours using the Max battery GPS mode, and up to 46 days in Expedition GPS mode. This incredible long-lasting battery life makes this GPS watch the top pick for day hikes, weekend hikes, and extended backpacking trips.
The Garmin Fenix 6X Pro Solar Edition delivers the best battery life of all hiking watches.
A bonus of the Fenix 6X Pro Solar Edition is that it comes with a slightly bigger screen size (1.4 inches) and resolution (280×280 pixels) than the base Fenix 6 Pro model.
|Full-Color Topographic Maps||Expensive (but delivers big value)|
|Color Touch Screen|
|Built-in ABC Sensors (Altimeter, Barometer, Compass)|
|Store Or Stream (Spotify) Music On The Watch|
|Very Long GPS Battery Life |
(28+ Days) When Using Expedition Mode
Near Infinite Battery Life With 6X Solar Pro Edition
|Wrist-Based Heart Rate|
|Dynamic PacePro (intelligent pace planning)|
|Altimeter, Barometer, 3-Axis |
|Multiple global navigation satellite systems (GPS, GLONASS, and |
|Pulse Ox Sensor monitors how |
well your body is absorbing
Check out our full review of the Garmin Fenix 6 hiking watch.
Garmin Fenix 6X Pro Solar
The #1 hiking watch (with full color topographic maps)
2) Garmin MARQ Adventurer
The Garmin Marq Adventurer watch is packed with sports apps, plus incredible climbing, hiking, and backcountry skiing features.
The watch has a more stylish and less sporty look to it compared to the other watches on this list.
However, the Garmin Marq Adventurer is also the most expensive hiking watch (by far) and could easily be considered a luxury watch. It is almost double the price of the Fenix 6X Pro Solar Edition.
Let’s explore the top features this incredible watch offers for hiking and backpacking.
- Color topographical maps
- Water-resistant to 100m (10ATM)
- Full-color sunlight-visible display, 240 x 240 pixels resolution
- ABC sensors
- Altimeter for elevation data
- Barometer to monitor the weather
- 3-axis electronic compass
- Multiple global navigation satellite systems (GPS, GLONASS, and Galileo)
- Expedition app extends battery life while in the backcountry
- Excellent battery life
- Smartwatch: Up to 12 days
- GPS: Up to 28 hours
- GPS and Music: Up to 9 hours
- UltraTrac mode: Up to 48 hours
- Expedition GPS Activity: 4 weeks
- Pulse OX sensor tracks the body’s oxygen levels
- Heart rate monitor
- Stress score monitor
- Hydration tracking
- Respiration tracking
- Track altitude gain and weather changes
- 32 GB storage capacity
All in all this is an incredible GPS watch for hiking and backpacking. Hands down, it offers best package of the newest technologies.
The main reason we rate this one number two overall is the very high price tag, and the absence of a solar powered battery.
For more details, please check out our complete Garmin Marq Adventurer review.
|Color Topographic Maps||Very High Price|
|Multiple global navigation satellite systems (GPS, GLONASS, and|
|Color Touch Screen|
|Built-in ABC Sensors (Altimeter, Barometer, Compass)|
|Music On The Watch|
|Pulse Ox Sensor|
|Hydration + Respiration tracking|
|Extra Long Battery Life|
|Large Storage Capacity (For Maps + Music)|
Garmin Marq Adventurer
The #2 hiking watch (with full color topographic maps)
3) Garmin Fenix 5X Plus Sapphire GPS Watch
The Fenix 5X Plus is another really good watch made by Garmin and was the predecessor to the Fenix 6. It is packed with features that make it an incredible hiking watch including full-color topographic maps to help you navigate your hikes. Very few watches offer this feature. And after the release of the Garmin Fenix 6, you can find some incredible deals for the Fenix 5X Plus right now. So, if you are looking for a more affordable yet powerful GPS watch for hiking with maps, consider the Fenix 5X Plus.
The Garmin Fenix 5X Plus is our number three pick out of all the newest watches available right now.
|Topographic Maps||Expensive (but great value)|
|Color Touch Screen|
|Built-in Sensors (Barometer, Altimeter, |
|Music On The Watch|
|Long GPS Battery Life|
|Wrist-Based Heart Rate (No Straps)|
|Extra Durable Casing Options|
Garmin Fenix 5X Plus
The #3 hiking watch (with topographic maps)
4) Casio ProTrek WSD-F30
The Casio ProTrek WSD-F30 is our fourth pick overall. It has many of the features of the Garmin Fenix 6 and Fenix 5X Plus watches but costs quite a bit less.
If you do not need music, heart rate or sleep tracking on your watch than this may be the best option.
The Casio WSD-F30 is the cheapest watch that offers full-color topographic maps on the watch. The maps may be accessed with or without an Internet connection. Simply download the maps to the watch before you hike.
The resolution of the display is the best (390×390 pixels) of the watches we reviewed. It is a dual-layer display that allows you to easily switch between full-color (for topographic map view) to monochrome display to conserve battery life. The Casio Protrek WSD-F30 has a touch display making it easy to access all features.
This watch is proudly very durable and compliant to Military Standard MIL-STD-810G testing.
|Topographic Maps||No Music|
|Color Touch Screen||No Heart Rate Monitor|
|Built-in Sensors (Barometer, Altimeter, |
|No Sleep Tracking|
|Largest Screen Resolution|
|GPS Battery Life|
|Lower Price (For Features)|
|Durable – U.S. Military Standard 810G|
Casio ProTrek WSD-F30
Tied for the #4 hiking watch (with topographic maps)
Check out our full review of the Casio WSD-F30.
The Best GPS Hiking Watches (No Maps)
The majority of GPS hiking watches allow you to import hiking routes and then follow a single line track on the display. These are the best GPS hiking watches that operate like that.
5) Garmin Instinct Solar
This is a brand new version of the Garmin Instinct.
Check out our full review of the Garmin Instinct Solar.
We rate it the best affordable GPS hiking watch and it does come in at about $400.
The big advantage is that the battery life is virtually infinite when you are hiking for long periods of time in the sunshine.
|Solar charging = crazy long battery life||No topographic maps|
|Durable U.S. military standard 810 toughness|
|ABC sensors (altimeter, barometer, compass)|
|Water-resistant to 100m (10ATM)|
|Multi-satellite support from GPS, GLONASS, and Galileo|
|Great price for the features|
Garmin Instinct Solar
The #1 hiking watch (no topographic maps).
6) Suunto 9 BARO
The Suunto 9 Baro is an excellent choice for hikers that do not need access to full color and detailed topographic maps on the watch face to navigate.
So, if you know where you are going, and are most interested in capturing the data of your hikes, this watch may be the best option.
Suunto watches leverage GPS data but they work differently than the Garmin and Casio watches.
Using the Suunto Movescount app, you can isolate common routes and hiking trails using topographic maps. Then, simply transfer the routes to your Suunto watch. While you hike, the watch will track all your data and progress. And, you can follow any of the routes that you loaded onto your watch. They are displayed as a simple line along with your progress marker.
The lack of topographic maps comes with an advantage. Following color maps (compared to a monochrome line) on the screen of a GPS watch consumes a lot more battery power.
The Suunto 9 Baro has the longest battery life of all the watches that we reviewed. Depending on the battery power mode (aka GPS accuracy) that you choose you can get up to 25, 50, or 120 hours of battery life from a full charge. This is incredible because it allows you to track and follow your progress over a very long hike or even a multi-day hike.
If battery life is important to you, this is the best hiking watch to buy.
|Longest GPS Battery Life||No Topographic Maps (Just A Line)|
|Built-in Barometric Pressure Sensor||No Music|
|Color Touch Screen||More Expensive vs. Garmin Instinct Solar|
|Large Screen Resolution||Shorter battery life vs. Garmin Instinct Solar|
|Estimated Heart Rate|
|80+ Sport Modes|
Suunto 9 BARO
The #2 hiking watch (no topographic maps).
The Best Hiking Watch Without GPS – Budget Pick
7) Casio Protrek PRG600YB
If you want a great hiking watch that has a barometer, altimeter, and digital compass the Casio Protrek PRG600YB is a great option.
This watch features the newest sensor technology by Casio that delivers the highest accuracy and improved battery life.
Perhaps the greatest feature of this watch is that it is a solar-powered watch. So you never need to worry about losing battery power. Simply expose the watch to direct sunlight and your battery will recharge in a few hours.
Also available at Amazon.
Conclusion: The Best Hiking Watches
Okay, we covered all the latest watches that you can buy. So, what do we think is the best hiking watch money can buy?
If budget is not an issue, we recommend the brand new Garmin Fenix 6X Pro Solar, or the Garmin MARQ Adventurer. Both of these watches have the most features that would benefit a hiker out of all the watches that we examined. These are hardcore hiking watches. Pricey? Certainly. However, we think it is worth every penny.
If the above Garmin hiking watches are too expensive, the next best option is the Casio ProTrek WSD-F30. You save about $150 while retaining many of the features offered by the Fenix 5X Plus.
Still to expensive for you? Then go for the Garmin Instinct Solar GPS watch.
We do like the Suunto 9 Baro however we feel that this watch is more suited for trail runners vs. hikers. It is also more expensive and has a shorter battery life compared to the Garmin Instinct Solar watches.
This concludes our in-depth analysis of the best hiking watches that are brand new and most advanced. In the next section we cover all the top features that will help you choose the best watch for your needs.
Choosing The Best Hiking Watch: Top Features + Buying Advice
Most hiking watches have a barometer, altimeter, and digital compass. These three tools can help you navigate and also keep track of shifting weather patterns on your hikes.
If you want more detailed tracking or mapping features look for a hiking watch that has GPS capability.
Okay, let’s cover all the common features one can get in a hiking watch.
A barometer detects changes in the atmospheric pressure. A rise in pressure indicates improving weather. When the atmospheric pressure falls weather worsens (clouds, precipitation). A rapid decline in pressure indicates more severe weather (a storm) is developing. Therefore, the barometer reading is very useful to predict the weather in your area. Look for a watch that has a storm alarm.
The altimeter shows you how high you are above sea level. This data is acquired by GPS or is determined by the atmospheric pressure. GPS is more accurate and does not require calibration. Knowing your altitude can help you find your location on a topographic map more easily.
A compass shows you which direction (your bearing) you are headed and the four cardinal directions (East, West, North, South). This is an essential hiking tool to use in combination with a topographic map.
Let’s discuss the other features that you should consider when choosing the best hiking watch for you and your hiking adventures.
A GPS provides you the current coordinates of your location instantly. A GPS is the best way to navigate trails and track your hike. The GPS shows you your hike duration, travel speed (current and average), distance covered, ascent/descent data, and more. You can track, record, and export data into other apps. In general, GPS watches have a shorter battery life. However, some newer models are making gains. If you are hiking or trekking long distances over many days you might consider purchasing a solar charger. If you want a GPS watch look for one that offers multinetwork tracking, or multiple satellite networks. GLONASS or Galileo are additional European based GPS networks. These networks can come in handy when you travel.
Color Topographic Maps
Topographic maps help you understand the land around you in greater detail. Find and follow your favorite hiking trails on the watch face.
This is one of the most important features to consider when buying a hiking watch.
I get frustrated at the very mediocre battery life of my iPhone. It is very difficult to record a hike longer than 6 hours in duration using the GPS of the iPhone and an app like Hiking Project or AllTrails. The battery drains much more quickly when you use your GPS, and even more rapidly in cold temperatures.
Look for a hiking watch with long battery life. In regular watch mode (no GPS) battery life should last 10 days or better.
We also recommend a hiking watch that has different battery performance modes. This feature allows you to reduce the demand that the GPS has on battery life so you can record full day hikes.
Buy a solar charger if you are going on multi-day hikes so you can keep your watch working, tracking and recording data.
This is a truly amazing feature found in the best Garmin hiking watches. This feature can extend battery life by up to 10 percent which may come in handy on a long day or weekend backpacking trip. This may sound insignificant, however solar charging can increase GPS usage by 6 hours (60 to 66 hours) on the Garmin Fenix 6 Solar. This amount of time could potentially save a life.
Some (GPS) watches will let you set a breadcrumb trail as you hike. A useful feature for those that have a tendency to get off track. Hit record at the start of your hike, and follow a live breadcrumb view of your progress. Simply follow your footsteps back to your starting point. Track your hiking speed, distance, and altitude.
Save Points Of Interest
A feature on many GPS hiking watches. As you track your hike, save points of interests such as
Sunrise / Sunset Alarm
Tune in to your local sunrise or sunset data to help out plan your day.
A thermometer can be handy on weekend or longer hikes. Knowing the air temperature can help you make decisions on what hiking clothes to wear and how to layer them.
Pretty much all hiking watches are water resistant. Look for a watch that has the greatest depth rating.
Most of the best watches have durable casing and straps.
The main thing that you may invest in for extra durability is a sapphire glass lens. They scratch less than the more common mineral lenses on most watches. If you opt for a sapphire glass lens you will have to pay a much higher price tag. Depending on your habits it may or may not be necessary.
Some of the newer hiking watches market their durability based on a standard military testing that is known as U.S. Military Standard 810G.
Pairing with Satellite Communicators
If you have a Garmin inReach Mini, you can pair it to your Garmin GPS watch.
Other Features Found On Hiking Watches:
These features are not absolutely critical for hiking but could be nice to have on your watch.
Receive text messages, emails and other alerts on your watch when paired with a smartphone or compatible device. Keep up to date while you are on the go!
Music (On The Watch)
If you like to listen to music on the trails you might want to look for a watch that allows you to store music on it or listen to music from Spotify. One of the watches on our list allows you to listen to music phone free. Simply connect with
Moonrise / Moonset Alarm
This feature is handy if you are also a fisherman. A moonrise/moonset alarm can help you determine the optimal fishing times of the day.
Steps + Calorie Counter
Keep track of your daily fitness habits just like using a Fitbit watch.
Heart Rate Monitor
Keeping track of your heart rate will help you set a steady pace on your hikes. This will help you maintain your energy on longer hikes.
New hiking watches have a wrist-based heart rate monitor built into the watch.
This health-related feature is available on some watches. Keep track of your sleeping habits and data.
Okay, let’s take a look at the best hiking watches available today.