In September, Garmin released a brand new GPS watch for hiking. Introducing, the Garmin Fenix 6 series that showcases three versions: the Garmin Fenix 6 Pro, Garmin Fenix 6 Sapphire, and Garmin Fenix 6 Pro Solar.
These new watches are the most advanced hiking watches you can buy right now along with the Garmin Marq Adventurer. Super cool hiking gear indeed. There are several factors that make this the best GPS watch compared to previous versions and its competitors. Given the features and capabilities, the Fenix 6 Pro Solar is definitely the best Garmin watch for hiking. It is also pricey, so if you are looking for a more affordable option check out our review on the Garmin Instinct Solar smartwatch.
You will want to read our full review below (we cover all features in detail), but first, take a moment to watch Garmin’s short video about the Fenix 6 the best smartwatch for hiking in 2021.
Breakdown of the Garmin Fenix 6 Pro Watches
As mentioned, there are three main versions of the Garmin Fenix 6 Pro.
Let’s take a look at the main differences of these watches.
- Base model
- Stainless steel bezel
- Corning Gorilla Glass DX lens
- Sapphire lens (more durable and scratch-resistant)
- Diamond-Like Carbon (DLC) steel coating makes it more durable than the base model
- Larger 1.4 inch diameter screen
- Solar charging (via Power Glass screen) gives an extra energy boost and battery life
- Titanium bezel and bracelet (most durable of all)
So, why is the Garmin Fenix 6 the best hiking watch you can get right now?
Garmin Fenix 6 Pro Hiking Watch
This is the BEST hiking watch that you can buy with full-color topographic maps.
Key features that make the Garmin Fenix 6 THE best hiking watch to buy right now.
- Largest color display vs. competitors
- Color topographical maps
- Multi-GNSS Support (GPS, GLONASS, and Galileo)
- Long battery life (Expedition Mode)
- Safety and tracking features
- ABC Sensors (altimeter, barometer, compass)
- Wrist-based heart rate monitor
- Pulse Ox Sensor
- Body energy monitor
- Durable (U.S. military standards)
- Music apps on the watch (Spotify, Deezer, Amazon)
Largest Color Display
The full-color display on this hiking watch is 17 percent bigger (at 1.3 inches in diameter) than previous models and is also bigger when compared to its main competitor the Casio Protrek WSD-F30 (1.2 inches in diameter).
Color Topographical Maps For Hiking
The Fenix 6 series offers the best color topographical maps of all GPS hiking watches. Not a big surprise being a Garmin watch, right? Exactly.
The Garmin Fenix 6 is one of only three watches (the Garmin Fenix 5X and Casio Protrek WSD-F30 are the others) that allow you to follow your progress on the trails on real topographical maps.
Let’s take a look at a few examples of what you can expect to see on the watch face.
Topographical maps on the hiking trails
Or, explore ski trails at your favorite ski resort
So cool. Many hikers are skiers, right? Bonus.
Trendline Popularity Routing
This is a great feature if you are not familiar with your current location. This map mode allows you to see trendlines of the most popular trails and routes around you.
Track your whereabouts with multiple global navigation satellite systems including GPS, GLONASS, and Galileo. Depending on where you go for your hiking adventures, you may need this additional support beyond GPS. The Fenix 6 has you covered.
Extra-Long Battery Life
This hiking watch has multiple battery modes.
Pick the best battery mode that matches up with the adventure you take on.
- Smartwatch – Up to 14 days
- GPS – Up to 36 hours – for day hikes
- GPS and Music – Up to 10 hours – for trail runners that like music
- Max Battery GPS Mode – 72 hours – ideal for the weekend warrior hikers
- Expedition GPS Mode – 28 days – perfect for extended backpacking trips
- Battery Saver Watch Mode – 48 days
Safety and tracking features
The Fenix 6 Pro watch offers a built-in Incident Detection and Assistance feature that works with the Garmin Connect app. If you are hiking alone this could save your life. However, keep in mind for this feature to work, the watch must be paired with a mobile device that has a data plan and an active network signal. Thus, if you are deep in the backcountry or a remote area the feature won’t work.
For off the grid safety and communication, you can pair the Fenix 6 with the Garmin inReach Mini a lightweight satellite communicator. Super easy.
Keep track of your location and any potential storm activity with the ABC sensors.
- Altimeter – track and follow elevation changes
- Barometer – be on alert for incoming storms
- Compass – navigate with the 3-axis electronic compass
Wrist-based heart rate monitor
The optical sensor tracks the intensity of your activities as you go to help you set an optimal pace.
This sensor also monitors your ongoing heart rate variability to calculate a stress score.
Pulse Ox Sensor
Are you hiking at higher altitudes? Interested in sleep monitoring?
The Pulse Ox Sensor in the Garmin Fenix 6 Pro helps gauge how well your body is absorbing oxygen. Perfect to monitor both altitude acclimation and your sleep.
Body energy monitor
Garmin calls it the “Body Battery” energy monitor. This feature uses heart rate variability, stress, sleep, and other data to help you understand when you are ready to be active or when you may need some extra rest. Very cool.
Super durable watch bezel and lens
This is a very durable watch that is tested according to U.S. military standards.
The bezel comes in stainless steel, titanium or Diamond-like Carbon (DLC) coated steel for extra durability.
You can also get a lens in Corning Gorilla Glass DX, or Sapphire Crystal for extra scratch resistance.
Multiple music options on the watch
Some people can’t be without tunes. For those people that like to hike or run on trails with music, this is the GPS watch to get.
You can store (32 GB memory on the watch = 2000 songs)
The Fenix 6 Pro has 32 GB of flash memory so you can store up to 2000 songs. Or, stream music from Spotify, Deezer, or Amazon music apps where you have an Internet connection.
Garmin Fenix 6 Pro – other notable features
Okay, we covered the key features that are beneficial to hikers on their hiking or backpacking adventures. But what else makes this the best GPS watch?
- Ski maps – Keep track of where you are in the backcountry or at ski resorts
- Golf – Full-color CourseView maps for 41,000+ preloaded golf courses worldwide
- Dynamic PacePro – Grade-adjusted guidance while you run
- Sports apps – preloaded activity profiles for trail running, swimming, running, biking, hiking, rowing, backcountry and resort skiing, golfing and more
- Advanced performance and training metrics
- 15+ physiological measurements
- 7 running dynamic measurements
- ClimbPro feature – Get real-time information (gradient, distance and elevation gain) on your climbs
- Turn-by-turn navigation – For running or cycling routes
- Smart notifications – Receive, emails, text messages, and alerts on the watch when paired with your phone
- 10 ATM water rating
- Activity tracking features – step counter, calories burned, sleep monitoring, and more
This concludes our detailed look at the brand new Garmin Fenix 6 hiking watches. If you have a big budget, we definitely recommend this watch over all of its competitors. If your budget is less than opt for the Casio Protrek WSD-F30 which has many of the same features but is about half the price.