How To Pick The Best GPS Hiking Watch And For Outdoor Sports

best gps hiking watch

How To Pick The Best GPS Hiking Watch And For Outdoor Sports

Are you an avid hiker looking for the best gps hiking watch? In this article we will delve into the world of hiking watches and discuss what to look for in the best hiking watch that will enhance your experience.

Hiking is one of the most popular outdoor activities out there, with options around the world to explore. With the age of technology available to us, it shouldn’t be a surprise that technology has made it into the world of hiking. One of the most popular pieces of hiking technology currently is a gps hiking watch.

Because of the popularity of hiking watches with GPS, there are many options available out there. Picking the best gps hiking watch and for outdoor sports can be difficult with so many available reputable brands and options on the market. 

What are the different types of outdoor sport watches

A wide range of outdoor watches exist. The original outdoor watch is one that is rugged and capable of putting up with the elements. Now that technology has come so much further, there are a variety of options out there.

Here are a few of the different types of outdoor watches:

  • Hiking Watches

Hiking watches are those that are designed to put up with most of what the outdoors has to throw at them. At the most basic they tell time, have altimeters, and a thermometer. These watches can be advanced enough to have GPS receivers in them so that they can plot out your hike and some can even guide you through your hike.

  • Running Watches

Gps Running watches are designed to be streamlined watches that can handle the outdoors but are not the most rugged of options. The vast majority of running watches have a heart rate monitor and will count your steps for you at the very least. Many have much more features than this.

  • Diving/Swimming Watches

Swimming and diving watches have a heavy focus on the ability to withstand the water. The main difference between one designed for swimming and one designed for diving is the depth that they are rated for. While many of these watches have only very basic features, more and more are starting to add in special abilities.

  • Tactical Watches

With the focus on tactical items in many circles, tactical watches were inevitable. Tactical watches are ones that look cool and in many cases are designed to put up with most anything you can throw at them. These are the watches that claim to be built to MilSpec standards. The only thing to keep in mind is that when you are looking for a tactical watch, you want to find one that is high quality.

What are the benefits of having a hiking watch?

Having the best gps hiking watch can bring with it a wide variety of benefits. Only some of these you will notice on the surface. Some of them might also be only luxury benefits but they help to contribute to the overall draw of these watches.

  • Tracking Hikes

The main benefit that you get from having a hiking watch with GPS is that you can track your hikes down to very precise measurements. You can extract a map of the trail you took and then use it to plan further adventures or share with your friends. You can also use it to remember your favorite hikes.

  • Guidance

Some GPS watches designed for hiking have the ability to provide guidance. They can help you stay on the path and tell you which way you are going. The most advanced ones are even able to take the path that you took to get to a peak or location and then guide you back the same way.

  • Durable Watch

Hiking requires a lot of time spent in the outdoors and you never know what mother nature is going to throw at you, that means having a durable watch. Quality hiking watches are designed to put up with all of the elements, or at least a vast majority of conditions. You will be able to expose them to the rain, accidentally hit a branch with them, or be out in the cold/heat.

  • Extra Smart Features

Many GPS watches designed for hiking have other smart features. It really depends on the model that you get but some of them have touchscreens, can track your fitness, play/control your music, and much more.


best gps hiking watch

What are some features to look for in best gps hiking watch and for outdoor sports?

1. Durability

When you are looking to get the best gps hiking watch you are going to want to find one that is very durable. We have already mentioned several times before that you never know what is going to be thrown at you while out on the trail, you don’t want your watch to fail you when you need it the most.

2. Weatherproof

Going hand in hand with durability, you are going to want a watch that is weatherproofed. One that can withstand a lot of rain, falling in shallow water, and withstand temperatures both freezing and hot. Waterproofing comes in a set of ratings known as Ingress Protection (IP) ratings. The first digit will tell you how good it will do against solids and the second will tell you how good it will do against liquids.

3. Design

The design of the watch can make a big difference. Take the time to find a design that fits your needs and your preferences. A good example of this is that most people don’t want a bulky watch, you shouldn’t buy a GPS watch that is bulky just for extra features, you will end up regretting it later.

4. Battery Life

GPS usage can eat away at batteries. The best GPS watches for hiking are designed specifically for use as hiking GPS watches, not with too many frills. The more frills, the more the device will eat through battery. Make sure to look for a GPS watch that has enough battery to take you through hikes that you are interested in.

5. Onscreen Maps

Onscreen maps can be a very popular feature for hiking watches. Even some black and white watches are able to display basic maps to users. These onscreen maps are able to help provide you guidance and/or to show you the path you took.

6. Ease of Use/Interface

It is crucial to get a hiking watch with GPS that is easy to use. The last thing you want to do is have a watch that you can’t figure out when you are out in the wilderness hiking. Many times you won’t have phone signal to find out how to use the watch.

7. Health Tracking Features

A minimum of health tracking features can be quite useful when paired with a GPS hiking watch. Health features can help you to get more out of the mapping of your hike, such as being able to determine how many calories you burned, how many steps you took, and what your heart rate was. Such features are essential for those that are hiking to get more fit. Just make sure not to compromise too much battery life for these features.

  • Sport Based Tracking

If you are looking to do a variety of different things when out in the wilderness hiking, it can help to have sport based tracking. Sport based tracking changes what the watch does based on the activities you are engaged in. For example, trail running may require more frequent GPS coordinates because you are moving faster.

  • Interchangeable Bands

Interchangeable bands are an essential feature for the best gps hiking watch. The last thing you want to do is have to swap out your whole watch because your band broke. There are also many people that find once they become active, certain bands will irritate their skin.

Price vs Features:

Finding the right balance between price and features is essential. Too many features and the price will not be worth it. Too many features not only increases the price but decreases the reliability and battery life. Therefore, price can be a big factor when it comes to picking the best gps hiking watch.

Take a look at everything we have talked about here and educate yourself on the various aspects of both outdoor watches and GPS watches for hiking. All of the information here will help to prepare you to get outdoors and explore. The best gps hiking watch can make all the difference, especially when it comes to mapping out your hike after the fact.

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Last update on 2021-09-28 : Disclosure: Outdoorfarer.com participates in the Amazon Affiliate program and may earn advertising fees from sales on displayed products


Are you interested in more options to meet your personal needs and budget? Check out these advanced resources and extended listing we have below on this topic:

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