Keep Track of Everything: The Best Hiking Watches of 2017

A watch isn’t merely an accessory for hikers – it’s not only capable of showing the time and date. As a matter of fact, the best hiking watches provide crucial information for hikers and outdoor enthusiasts through the addition of navigation sensors and other features.

With the advent of modern technology came the hiking watches. These practical watches feature an altimeter, a barometer, GPS, and a compass, to name a few. Some can even give an accurate measure of our average speeds, navigation, weather forecast, and calories we burned.

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With features so advanced and versatile, these watches are also the ultimate go-to accessories of backpackers and travellers.

It is imperative for avid hikers to be updated on modern technologies available to help and put them at ease during their adventures.

But before you rush to your nearest watch shop, it’s best to know first the essentials and useful features to look for in a hiking watch.

Shall we start?

Features To Look For In A Hiking Watch

1. Accurate time and date features

Let’s stick to the basics first, shall we?

Hiking and outdoor watches, similar to regular watches, display the date and time. Apart from the date and time display, be sure to also check out the night illumination function, clearness and contrast of the displayed numbers and letters, and sizes of the displayed items.

Like most digital watches, hiking watches should also include dates, time zones, stopwatches, countdown timers, and alarms.

2. Altimeter

The altimeter features measures the pressure drop or increase as the altitude heightens or decreases. Oftentimes, hikers pair altimeters with GPS to indicate altitude and vertical movement as well.

Altimeters also function as a compass when topographic maps are available. When the altitude is known, a specific position can be established with only one visible feature recognized.

For data junkies, look for a hiking watch with a recordable altimeter so you can track and upload your altitude data.

3. Barometer

This is a very important feature because it predicts the weather and atmospheric pressure; it also warns about upcoming weather-related conditions such as thunderstorms or showers.

Some may not warn against specific conditions but a significant drop in atmospheric pressure is enough to tell you that rain may pour.

This feature is a must-have for trekkers and those who spend days in the wilderness. If you’re in an open area, the barometer can help you decide if you should hurry up, cut the trip, or seek shelter.

4. Compass

An easily accessible compass is imperative for all outdoor enthusiasts for navigation.

To skip the hassle of bringing a hand-held compass, opt for devices and accessories with a built-in compass function.

You may say “I don’t need a compass because I have GPS” –- GPS will only be able to navigate if there’s Wi-Fi or data connection available in the area. Conversely, a compass will work regardless of your connection.

Hikers can go off-trail sometimes (I’m very guilty of this) so a compass’ role is to direct the hiker back to his/her destination.

Just don’t forget to calibrate and fix your start position in the compass before using; otherwise, it won’t give accurate results.

Optional Features

  • Heart rate monitor

Keeping track of your heart isn’t necessary for some but is crucial for outdoor competitors. This feature makes them go at a pace suitable for their fitness level.

  • Calorie monitor

Likewise, calorie monitors are for the fitness buff. It records how long you engage in an activity and compares that to your personal stats. Simply put, it determines the effectiveness of your activities.

  • Route maps

While GPS and compasses can simply show you the direction you have to traverse, route maps offer much more. This mapping function has GPS capabilities to help you navigate should you get lost.

  • Wi-Fi connectivity

A hiking watch featuring Wi-Fi connectivity is a plus. This way, you can sync and exchange data such as altitude, route, and distance from your watch with your smartphone or laptop for a detailed overview of your adventure.

An Overview Of The Best Hiking Watches Of 2017

**Below, you'll see more detailed reviews, but you can also click the links above to see current prices and read customer's reviews on Amazon.

Our Top 5 Best Hiking Watches

The stylish Casio Men’s Pathfinder is all you’ll ever need for guiding you in every hiking and outdoor activity.

First off, it’s solar powered and self-charging. The solar panel located on the watch’s face can turn sunlight into stored energy.

Quite surprisingly, this tough watch can go on for 6 months without exposure to any light once it’s fully charged.

Among its important features are altimeter, barometer, digital compass, and thermometer. These features allow it to sense the altitude, pressure drop, and temperature of the area which are of help when you make decisions.

But the functionality doesn’t stop there. For the date and time features, it has the following functions: five daily alarms, countdown timer, stopwatch, world time (31 time zones), auto-calendar, and city code display.

A great thing about this watch, aside from its waterproofness (up to 330 ft), is it’s resistant to low temperature (up to -10 C). If you ever plan to hike Mt. Everest (you should!), know that this watch won’t freeze high up on the mountains and fail you. You can also swim or snorkel easily, knowing that this watch can withstand great depths.

My husband bought this watch and he sure loved it. His first dive into digital watches is with Casio G-shock but he realized that it looked stylish but has minimum functionality so he immediately switched to this one.

With the great illumination, multifunctionality, and solar charging capability of this watch, it looked utilitarian. He’s quite pleased with the compass because it works just like any other digital compass and is pretty accurate once calibrated.

Furthermore, the temperature gauge is accurate but keep in mind that your body heat will add 10 deg. or more so it’s best to have the watch off your body at least 20 minutes before getting an accurate temperature reading.

Moreover, this watch features a power-saving mode which turns off the display after 60-70 min of inactivity. This will only activate between 10PM-6AM and simply tilting the watch a bit will wake it up. Most importantly, the watch is lightweight and comfortable to wear.


Pros

  • Features the ABCs (altimeter,barometer,compass)
  • Features a power-saving mode
  • Lightweight and comfortable to wear
  • Withstands low temperatures
  • Can countdown for 24 hours

Cons

  • The display becomes hard to read at extreme angles
  • Lacks GPS

The Garmin Fenix 3HR is equipped with the ABCs and much more. This rugged watch is the perfect accessory not just for hikers but also for athletes -- it has features for both outdoor navigation and fitness training.

With regards to outdoor navigation, the altimeter will let you climb safely to any heights by providing the elevation data of ascent and descent whereas the barometer lets you know the weather by measuring the drop or increase in atmospheric pressure.

What we love about this watch is its advanced GPS system. The TrackBack feature of the GPS records your track log to create a Hansel and Grethel-inspired breadcrumb trail which leads you back to your initial point the same way you came. Indeed, it’s very useful for aging campers like us who, you know, have not-so-sharp memories.

Additionally, the GPS system allows the user to mark points of interests such as start/finish points, checkpoints, campsites, etc.

Uniquely, this product has customizable features for fitness training. This watch offers to monitor your heart rate, stride lengths, cadence, and running speed to efficiently estimate your oxygen intake. Moreover, it features a recovery timer and race predictor to determine your fitness gains or progress.

Overall, this is a well-designed and crafted watch. It possesses powerful features that will satisfy and amaze every outdoor enthusiast.


Pros

  • Features the ABCs (altimeter,barometer,compass)
  • Versatile
  • Excellent activity tracker
  • Has an advanced GPS system
  • Looks beautiful
  • Highly customizable features

Cons

  • Requires an app to download most softwares and keep them running
  • Washed out colors on the screen; quite hard to see the display
  • Poor backlighting

If you’re looking for a hiking watch with a long battery time and media features, the Suunto Armbit3 is an excellent option.

This outstanding watch has a 200 hr. life, making it one of the most competitive in the market when it comes to battery hours. Apart from its battery life, a known feature of this watch is its media features.

First, it has a Wi-Fi connectivity which lets you see calls, messages, and other notifications on the watch. It also allows you to connect to your smartphone and use it as a second watch display or upload your moves into through an app and visually relive your adventure – you can take photos of your moves, create a movie using a map, and share your creations on social media.

Furthermore, it offers the basic ABCs as well as a weather forecast, heart rate monitor, speed, and distance.

So we tried this wonderful watch and so far, it has been living up to its features so far. The only apparent thing we dislike about this watch is it’s a bit heavy and bulky on the wrist.


Pros

  • Features the ABCs (altimeter,barometer,compass)
  • Versatile
  • Has GPS
  • Excellent media features
  • Has Wi-Fi connectivity
  • Highly customizable features

Cons

  • Quite heavy and bulky
  • Poorly made action buttons
  • Short duration for brightness button

The Fenix 5X is the ultimate multisport GPS watch. Like the Fenix 3HR, this watch’s strength lies on its advanced GPS system.

It has built-in navigation sensors such as GPS and GLONASS, a space-based satellite navigation system, that are capable of tracking location more accurately in challenging environments compared to GPS alone.

Another excellent sensory device of this watch is its gyroscopic compass. Unlike the typical compass which tends to correct itself when a moving platform turns, the gyroscopic compass maintains its direction even if the frame rotates.

It also possesses sophisticated training features such as Training Effect which shows you the advantages of your workouts and compare it with your peers.

Apart from Training Effects, it also has systems that monitor heart rate, speed, stride length, cadence, distance, and much more – it has countless features and functions!

This is also a high-tech type because it’s Wi-Fi enabled and lets you upload your activities for sharing through an app.

You’ll also be delighted to know that this watch comes with interchangeable straps that are very stylish. You can choose between a premium leather, metal, or silicone to match the occasion. It’s fairly easy to mix and match too because you just have to click something that loosens the straps and voila, there it is.

What we loved about this watch is its fantastic display. I guess it’s one of the least considered parts when manufacturing these kinds of watches because they keep on adding features but fail to improve the display.

We love how the LED backlighting ensures readability from the harshest sunlight to very dim lighting.


Pros

  • Features the ABCs (altimeter,barometer,compass)
  • Versatile
  • Has an advanced GPS system
  • Stylish; comes with interchangeable straps
  • Highly customizable features
  • Great backlighting
  • Has countless features

Cons

  • Colors are a bit bland on display
  • The software kind of freezes when syncing with a laptop or other device
  • The watch is quite heavy

The Suunto Core possesses the basic features a hiking watch must have – ABCs and a weather forecast system.If you’re not much into the active lifestyle or doing outdoor activities aside from hiking, then this watch is a great option.This way, you won’t have to scrutinize and go through confusing applications and features that more advanced hiking watches display.Aside from the ABCs, this watch also shows the sunrise and sunset times for over 400 locations worldwide, not to mention how sleek and masculine this watch looks too!


Pros

  • Features the ABCs (altimeter,barometer,compass)
  • Stylish; comes with interchangeable straps
  • Great backlighting

Cons

  • No GPS
  • Not very versatile
  • Not waterproof

The Verdict

It’s difficult to choose just one from a list of five great hiking watches. They have overlapping features and they’re all unique in their forms but our vote for the best hiking watch goes to the Casio Men’s Pathfinder Triple-Sensor Watch.

Aside from the hiking basic features namely the altimeter, barometer, and compass, it also allows the user use different clock types, know the date and city codes, and go on for months without light exposure.

For hiking purposes, this watch is all you need. No need for fancy features that may not be helpful outdoors.

A reliable hiking watch is a safe-keeping measure -- it keeps track of your surroundings to keep you safe

Hey there, hiker! What’s up? What hiking watches have you owned or used? Do you think we missed other great hiking watches on our little list? We’d love to hear your thoughts below! Oh, if you don’t mind, will you share this post please? Cheers!

Cindy Herrera
 

I’m Cindy, a free-spirited outdoor enthusiast. Since childhood, I was very much exposed to the outdoor environment. Our family frequently goes on weekend camps and my father, who was a skilled hunter, used to teach me and my siblings valuable things about wildlife survival. Now that I’m a married woman with two wonderful kids, it’s hard to keep up with outdoor activities while parenting at the same time… so I made this blog to share the best of my knowledge, experiences, and tips from other bloggers to you, my fellow outdoor enthusiast because merely talking about the outdoors makes me feel closer to it.

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