Back in the old days, all you really needed to go for a hike was a good pair of shoes or boots, some comfortable clothes, and maybe a hat or pair of sunglasses to block out the sun. But with how much more technological the world has gotten and all the devices we have, using a smartwatch while you hike has almost become a necessity.
Hiking watches have become an essential piece of gear for outdoor enthusiasts, providing a variety of features that help navigate, monitor fitness, and ensure safety. In this article, we’ll explore the 7 best hiking watches with GPS in 2023, breaking down their key specifications and features to help you choose the right one for your adventures.
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I’ve been in your shoes before, trying to figure out what the best smartwatches on the market for hiking are, so I know what you’re looking for. These recommendations come from not only myself, but also from other avid hikers and campers who have chimed in with what they use while hiking.
What Are the Best Hiking Watches with GPS?
The best hiking watches on the market are ones that give hikers like you more options while you’re on the go. Some of the most important things to consider when shopping for the top hiking watches are that they’re intuitive, versatile, durable, and comfortable so they’re easy to use and you won’t mind wearing them for long periods of time.
The key to all of the options that made this list, in particular, is that they had to provide GPS tracking and/or navigation since you never want to be hiking — especially alone — without some sort of navigation or tracking system.
Sure, you could carry a standalone GPS or personal locator beacon as we suggest in our complete list of camping tips, but you might as well get your hands on a good hiking watch instead for the added versatility.
Without further ado, here are the best hiking watches on the market in 2023:
- Best Overall: Garmin Fenix 7X Sapphire Solar Edition
- Runner-Up: Garmin Instinct 2 Solar
- Best for iPhone Users: Apple Watch Ultra
- Best for Android Users: Samsung Galaxy Watch 5
- Best for Longer Battery Life: Coros Vertix 2
- Best Budget Option: Amazfit T-Rex 2
- Best for Rugged Adventures: Casio G-Shock
Best Overall Hiking Watch: Garmin Fenix 7X Sapphire Solar Edition
- Weight: 89 grams
- Size: 51mm
- Case Material: Titanium
- Waterproof: 10 ATM
- Battery Life: Up to 139 days with solar charging
The Sapphire Solar Edition is the premium version of the popular Garmin Fenix 7X hiking watch, combining durability with cutting-edge technology. Its solar charging capabilities significantly extend battery life, providing up to 139 days in Expedition GPS mode (and 37 days in smartwatch mode), making it perfect for extended trips. The Power Sapphire lens and titanium case provide scratch resistance, ensuring longevity in rugged environments.
With multi-GNSS support and SatIQ technology, this GPS watch ensures accurate navigation no matter the environment or terrain. The Pulse Ox sensor measures your oxygen saturation levels, helping you acclimate to high altitudes and monitor your health during strenuous activities.
In addition to its impressive durability and navigation features, this Garmin watch also offers extensive fitness tracking capabilities. With support for over 30 sports and activities, including hiking, trail running, and swimming, this watch helps you monitor your performance and improve your fitness levels.
This top-tier hiking watch also supports smart notifications, allowing you to stay connected even when you’re off the grid. Its compatibility with the Garmin Connect IQ store enables users to download additional apps, watch faces, and data fields, further enhancing its functionality. It also has other built-in features like a flashlight, golf course maps, hydration tracking, and more.
Runner-Up Hiking Watch: Garmin Instinct 2 Solar
- Weight: 53 grams
- Size: 45mm
- Case Material: Fiber-reinforced polymer
- Waterproof: 10 ATM
- Battery Life: Unlimited battery life with solar charging; up to 65 days without
As one of the best-known brands in the GPS watch industry, it comes as no surprise that the top two options are Garmin watches. Coming in as the runner-up is the more affordable Garmin Instinct 2 Solar, which is designed for outdoor enthusiasts who value durability and extended battery life. With solar charging capabilities, Garmin claims that it can last forever in Expedition GPS and even smartwatch mode.
Its military-grade design can withstand the harshest environments thanks to both thermal and shock resistance, while multi-GNSS support provides accurate navigation. The TracBack feature allows you to retrace your steps, ensuring that you can easily make your way back to the starting point with ease.
This Garmin watch also boasts a variety of fitness tracking and smart features. Its heart rate monitoring, stress tracking, and sleep analysis provide valuable insights into your overall health and well-being. Like other Garmin watches, the Instinct is compatible with Garmin Connect IQ, allowing you to sync your data and access a vast community of users for motivation and support.
Additionally, the watch is equipped with preloaded activity profiles, making it easy to track various outdoor and indoor sports, as well as daily activities like walking and running.
Best Hiking Watch for iPhone Users: Apple Watch Ultra
- Weight: 61 grams
- Size: 49mm
- Case Material: Titanium
- Waterproof: 10 ATM
- Battery Life: Up to 36 hours; 60 hours in battery-saver mode
The Apple Watch Ultra offers a stylish and feature-rich option for hiking enthusiasts who are already part of the Apple ecosystem. It’s the best Apple Watch on the market, beating out the Apple Watch Series 8 and Apple Watch SE. Its seamless integration with iPhones and other Apple products allows for effortless communication and data synchronization.
The battery life of the Apple Watch Ultra is shorter compared to other hiking watches – due in large part to its cellular connectivity and Always-On Retina Display. The battery typically only lasts for up to 36 hours, meaning it’s not exactly great for longer treks, but its customizable faces and bands make it an attractive choice for those who prioritize aesthetics and brand loyalty.
One of the standout features of the Apple Watch Ultra is its expansive app ecosystem. The watch supports countless third-party apps, making it possible to customize your watch experience to fit your exact needs. Whether you’re looking for advanced navigation, trail mapping, or specific fitness tracking, there’s likely an app that can help.
Furthermore, the watch offers fall detection and noise alerts, which can be crucial safety features during outdoor adventures. With its extensive app store and robust health and fitness tracking features, the Apple Watch Ultra is a versatile choice for hikers and outdoor enthusiasts, while also holding strong as one of the best overall smartwatches on the market.
Best Hiking Watch for Android Users: Samsung Galaxy Watch 5
- Weight: 28.7 grams
- Size: 46mm
- Case Material: Aluminum
- Waterproof: 5 ATM
- Battery Life: Up to 50 hours
The Samsung Galaxy Watch 5 is an excellent choice for hikers who prefer the Samsung ecosystem. Its built-in GPS provides accurate navigation, and the impressive battery life ensures the watch lasts for extended trips. This hiking watch offers numerous health and fitness features, making it a versatile companion for various activities.
With customizable watch faces and bands, you can tailor the watch to your personal style. The seamless integration with Samsung devices adds convenience for users invested in this ecosystem.
The Samsung Galaxy Watch 5 also offers advanced fitness tracking and health monitoring features, including automatic workout detection and stress management tools. The watch can track more than 40 different activities, making it an excellent companion for various sports and exercises.
Additionally, its seamless integration with popular apps like Strava and Samsung Health allows users to set goals, monitor progress, and compete with friends. The Galaxy Watch 5’s compatibility with Samsung’s app ecosystem ensures a versatile and customizable experience for hikers and fitness enthusiasts alike.
Best Hiking Watch for Longer Battery Life: Coros Vertix 2
- Weight: 89 grams
- Size: 50.3mm
- Case Material: Titanium alloy
- Waterproof: 10 ATM
- Battery life: Up to 60 days in standard mode, 140 hours in GPS mode
The Coros Vertix 2 is an ideal hiking watch for those who prioritize battery life and navigation accuracy. Its dual-frequency GPS technology ensures precise navigation, while the impressive battery life guarantees longevity during extended adventures. The rugged design, featuring a titanium bezel, is built to withstand harsh conditions. The built-in altimeter, barometer, and compass provide essential information to help users navigate and monitor weather conditions.
One unique feature of the Coros Vertix 2 is that it can automatically adjust GPS tracking intervals to conserve battery life, while still providing essential navigation information. This makes it an ideal choice for multi-day hikes and expeditions.
The watch also features an intuitive interface and customizable data screens, ensuring you have quick access to crucial information during your activities. With its innovative features and user-friendly design, the Coros Vertix 2 is an excellent choice for serious outdoor adventurers.
Best Budget Hiking Watch: Amazfit T-Rex 2
- Weight: 66.5 grams
- Size: 47.1mm
- Case Material: Polymer alloy
- Waterproof: 10 ATM
- Battery life: Up to 24 days in standard mode, 50 hours in GPS mode
The Amazfit T-Rex 2 is an affordable option for hikers looking for a rugged and feature-packed watch. Its military-grade durability ensures it can withstand harsh environments, while the built-in GPS and GLONASS support provide accurate navigation. With multiple sports modes and health-tracking features, the T-Rex 2 is a versatile companion for various outdoor activities. Its reasonable price point makes it an attractive choice for those on a budget.
The Amazfit T-Rex 2 offers a customizable experience with its customizable watch faces and various widgets, allowing you to tailor the watch’s appearance and functionality to your preferences. The watch also features a user-friendly interface, making it easy to navigate through menus and access essential information during your activities.
Its compatibility with the Zepp app (formerly the Amazfit app) enables you to track your progress, set goals, and analyze your data in greater detail. With a focus on affordability without compromising on features, the Amazfit T-Rex 2 is a great choice for budget-conscious hikers and outdoor enthusiasts.
Best Hiking Watch for Rugged Adventures: Casio G-Shock Move
- Weight: 72 grams
- Size: 49.73mm
- Case Material: Resin and stainless steel
- Waterproof: 20 ATM
- Battery life: Up to 3 years (replaceable battery)
The Casio G-Shock is a classic choice for hikers who appreciate its iconic, rugged design and excellent water resistance. With a built-in GPS and a digital compass, it provides reliable navigation during outdoor adventures. The long-lasting, replaceable battery ensures the watch remains functional for an extended period, eliminating the need for frequent charging. The G-Shock’s legendary durability makes it a popular choice among outdoor enthusiasts and professionals alike.
The Casio G-Shock has been a popular choice among outdoor enthusiasts for decades, and the latest iteration continues this tradition with its modern features and classic design. The watch includes a thermometer and moon phase display, providing additional useful information for hikers and campers.
This GPS watch also boasts world-time functionality, making it a great travel companion for those who frequently explore new destinations. With its reputation for durability and reliability, the Casio G-Shock remains a timeless choice for hikers seeking a watch that can withstand the test of time.
What Are Hiking Watches?
Hiking watches are smartwatches or fitness trackers that are designed to enhance the overall hiking experience. The top hiking watches are equipped with a range of features that aid navigation, track physical activity, and more. The watches that made this list also include GPS functionality and other mapping capabilities that allow you to easily map your routes and track your position.
Hiking watches often feature rugged designs that can withstand the harsher environments of hiking and adventuring. There are hiking watches available in all kinds of different styles and price points, and some even offer smart connectivity, giving you the ability to sync your data with your smartphone and stay connected.
Ultimately, a hiking watch is an essential piece of camping and hiking gear for those looking to explore the great outdoors while staying safe, informed, and connected along the way.
Wrapping Up: Which Hiking Watch is Best For You?
The best hiking watch for you depends on your specific needs and preferences. Whether you prioritize battery life, budget, navigation accuracy, rugged design, or seamless integration with your smartphone, I’m confident there’s a watch on this list that’s perfect for your needs.
These top 7 hiking watches with GPS offer a variety of options for everyone, from casual hikers to seasoned explorers, ensuring that you can find the ideal watch to suit your needs and enhance your hiking experience.