8 Best GPS Hiking Watches For 2022

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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!

Best GPS hiking watch with topographic maps

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. The solar charging feature and increase in battery life has been a game changer. And, definitely looking forward to the launch of the Garmin Fenix 7 series. When can I expect my Garmin Fenix 7 watch to be available? I am expecting the Garmin Fenix 7 release date to be in Fall 2021 just before Black Friday.

Read on to learn everything about these amazing hiking watches.

The Hiking WatchesWhy BuyWhere To Buy
Garmin Fenix 6 ProBest overall hiking watch with color topographic mapsCheck REI price
Check Backcountry price
Garmin Fenix 6 Pro SolarBest overall hiking watch with topographic maps, solar charging, and extended battery life.Check REI price
Check Backcountry price
Garmin MARQ AdventurerBest luxury watch, most sports + backcountry features, topographic mapsCheck REI price
Casio ProTrek WSD-F30Most affordable hiking watch with topographic mapsCheck Amazon price
Garmin Instinct SolarBest overall with trackback routing (but no maps), solar-charged batteryCheck REI price
Check Backcountry price
Suunto 9 BARORunner-up watch for trackback routing (no maps)Check REI price
Casio Protrek PRG600YBBest overall – no maps or GPSCheck 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)

Okay, let’s take a look at the best hiking watches you can buy today.


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. Topographic maps are a handy feature if you want to bypass using your mobile phone screen to access maps. Just look at your watch face. Super simple.

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.

The Fenix 6 is the newest and most advanced hiking watch made by Garmin. In particular, the Fenix 6X Pro Solar watch. This version is my top pick due to the extended battery life and screen size.

I got the Fenix 6X Pro for myself because I wanted the large screen. The cost of the solar option wasn’t worth it to me.

The Garmin Fenix 6 series hiking watches are more expensive compared to other smartwatches. However, if it fits with your budget the feature list is tough to beat. Plus, you get a good deal of storage space in the watch.

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 and battery life. 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.

Check out our full review of the Garmin Fenix 6 hiking watch.

ProsCons
Full-Color Topographic MapsExpensive (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
Electronic Compass
Multiple global navigation satellite systems (GPS, GLONASS, and
Galileo)
Pulse Ox Sensor monitors how
well your body is absorbing
oxygen

Check REI Price | Check Amazon Price

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 the 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.

ProsCons
Color Topographic MapsVery High Price
Multiple global navigation satellite systems (GPS, GLONASS, and
Galileo)
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)

3) Garmin tactix Delta – Solar Edition

A brand new GPS watch by Garmin. The Garmin tactix Delta Solar Edition has many of the same features as the Fenix 6X Pro Solar Edition.

ProsCons
Topographic MapsExpensive (but great value)
Multi-GNSS support
Built-in Sensors (Barometer, Altimeter,
Compass)
Music On The Watch
Extra Long GPS Battery Life (Solar Charging)
Durable -> Military Standard (MIL-STD-810)
Wrist-Based Heart Rate

4) Casio ProTrek WSD-F30

The Casio ProTrek WSD-F30 is our fourth pick overall, however, it seems to be discontinued. 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 then 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 a full-color (for topographic map view) to a 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.

ProsCons
Topographic MapsNo Music
Color Touch ScreenNo Heart Rate Monitor
Built-in Sensors (Barometer, Altimeter,
Compass)
No Sleep Tracking
Largest Screen Resolution
GPS Battery Life
Lower Price (For Features)
Durable – U.S. Military Standard 810G

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 to and from your terminus. These are the best GPS hiking watches that operate like that.

Despite not having full-color maps on the screen, this does not mean you can’t access maps using these types of GPS watches.

The Garmin Instinct Solar easily links up with the mobile phone app Garmin Earthmate. So if you want to check your whereabouts on a map you can.

Pro tip: Put your phone in airplane mode when you hike to conserve the battery life of your phone. If you don’t have (or need) service why waste your battery power?

5) Garmin Instinct Solar

This is a brand new version of the Garmin Instinct.

There are two versions. The Garmin Instinct Solar, and the Garmin Instinct Solar Special Edition.

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.

ProsCons
Solar charging = crazy long battery lifeNo topographic maps – but can connect to Garmin Earthmate for map functionality
Durable U.S. military standard 810 toughness
ABC sensors (altimeter, barometer, compass)
Water-resistant to 100m (10ATM)
Trackback routing
Multi-satellite support from GPS, GLONASS, and Galileo
Great price for the features

6) Suunto 9 Peak GPS Watch

The Suunto 9 Peak GPS watch is essentially a newer, thinner, smaller, and more durable version of the larger Suunto 9 Baro GPS watch. It has a plethora of features that are awesome for hiking and backpacking. The battery life is excellent and much improved. Battery lasts from 25-170 hours while using GPS depending on which GPS mode that you deploy. Pair this new GPS watch with the Suunto app on your mobile phone to leverage mapping features. Easily create import and export hiking routes. Train hard with a variety of training and sports modes. Okay, let’s check out the key features of this new hiking watch.

  • Thinnest, smallest and toughest watch by Suunto
  • Intelligent battery modes for GPS: 25h/50h/120h/170h
  • Multi-GPS recording rates (as in quality)
  • 80+ sport modes
  • Sapphire glass 
  • Multi-GPS satellites: GPS, GLONASS, GALILEO, QZSS, BEIDOU
  • Breadcrumb trail in real time
  • 24/7 activity, sleep, stress and recovery tracking
  • Altimeter (barometric and GPS)
  • Barometer
  • Compass (digital)
  • Heart rate monitor (wrist)
  • 100 me water resistance
  • Full color and touch display with 240×240 resolution
  • Altitude acclimation with blood oxygen
  • Weather alerts: sunrise/sunset, storm alarm, temperature
  • Monitor incoming phone calls, messages and other notifications
ProsCons
Third longest battery life (up to 170 hours)Relatively expensive (more than Garmin Instinct)
Heart rate monitor
Full-color touch display
Weather and storm alerts
The most GPS satellite networks
Altitude acclimation

7) 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.

ProsCons
Long GPS Battery LifeNo Topographic Maps (just a breadcrumb line)
Built-in Barometric Pressure SensorNo Music
Color Touch ScreenMore Expensive vs. Garmin Instinct Solar
Large Screen ResolutionShorter battery life vs. Garmin Instinct Solar
Estimated Heart Rate
80+ Sport Modes

The Best Hiking Watch Without GPS – Budget Pick

8) 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 Fenix 6X Pro Solar Edition seems too pricey then consider the Garmin Fenix 6 Pro Sapphire or Garmin Fenix 6 Pro. Or, take a look at its predecessor the Garmin Fenix 5X Plus.

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.

Barometer

A barometer detects changes in 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.

Altimeter

The altimeter shows you how high you are above sea level. This data is acquired by GPS or is determined by 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.

Digital Compass

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.

GPS

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 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.

Battery Performance

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.

Solar Charging

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.

Breadcrumb Trail

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 interest such as

Sunrise / Sunset Alarm

Tune in to your local sunrise or sunset data to help out plan your day.

Thermometer

A thermometer can be handy on weekends or longer hikes. Knowing the air temperature can help you make decisions on what hiking clothes to wear and how to layer them.

Water Resistance

Pretty much all hiking watches are water-resistant. Look for a watch that has the greatest depth rating.

Durability

Most of the best watches have durable casings 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 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 with 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.

Mobile Notifications

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 Bluetooth headphones.

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.

Sleep Tracking

This health-related feature is available on some watches. Keep track of your sleeping habits and data.


Best gifts for hikers

Best Gifts For Hikers: 2021 Guide

Are you ready for the holiday season? Black Friday, Cyber Monday, and Christmas sales are here. This is the best time of year to save money on hiking gear. Check out our guide to the best gifts for hikers. Totally essential gear. Also, check out our new guides to the best Fall hiking outfits and hiking outfits for women. If you are looking for new hiking footwear check out the recently updated guide to the best hiking shoes for men. Most of these shoes are also available for women.