BEST SMART WATCHES FOR HIKING

Which are the best smart watches for hiking? Imagine having to brave rain, storm, extreme terrains, cliffs, tough trails, to reach the summit of your trek. After facing all these difficulties, what you need at least is a great dependable hiking smartwatch. While smartwatches are great, not all of them are great hiking watches. It’s important to understand what makes a hiking smartwatch different from a regular smartwatch. Let’s find out how:

1. Hiking Features: A hiking watch should have hiking specific features built in like a barometer, altimeter and a compass. A barometer tells us about the pressure, while the altimeter displays how high above the sea level we are, and finally the compass shows the four directions and the bearings which are essential for navigation. Some watches also have a thermometer built in.

2. Durability: This one is a biggie. A hiking smartwatch should be built like a tank, by tank we mean durable straps and robust build quality. It should be able to withstand the bumps against rocks and scratches on its glass dial.

3. Heart Rate Monitor: A hiking smartwatch should have a built in sensor which measures the heart rate, as this allows you to pace your hike and helps in maintaining a steady speed.

Now with these prerequisites out of the way, let’s dive right into our list of best smartwatches for hiking.

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10 BEST SMART WATCHES FOR HIKING

1. Garmin Instinct Solar

Garmin Instinct Solar

The Garmin Instinct series boasts a lot of the same great features packed in his elder brother, the Garmin’s Fenix series watches, but all of these at a fraction of the price. And now the Solar version offers an even more tempting model, with a big boost to the battery life. The solar adds an SPO2 sensor and offers a great battery life. The biggest miss this model has over the more expensive Fenix series would be the mapping features. But to make up for that, it offers navigation through uploaded GPX routes, storm notifications, elevation data and a neat TrakBack feature that offers waypoints back to your starting location.

Pros:

  • Great battery life
  • SPO2 sensor
  • Inbuilt heart rate monitor

Cons:

  • No mapping features
  • No contactless payments support

2. Garmin Fenix 7

Garmin Fenix 7

Do you want nothing but the best ? Then this watch is perfect for your wrist. The watch features a transflective touchscreen display as well supporting a rich array of outdoor activities and sports like hiking, climbing and skiing. Featuring the same rugged look as the Fenix 6, and a payable upgrade to Power Sapphire lens, it still manages to give a substantial solar boost. The watch allows you to upload maps on it for turn by turn navigation and backtracking features, while on the other hand new features like real time stamina can tell you how far you can run or train more. There’s even support for GNSS to increase outdoor activity tracking accuracy. The more expensive 7X version has an inbuilt LED flashlight. The Fenix 7 or 7S will likely solve most people’s purpose, but if you want the best and the biggest, go for the 7X.

Pros:

  • Great mapping features
  • Lots of battery life

Cons:

  • Expensive
  • Power Sapphire Lens only available on 7X

3. Garmin Epix (Gen 2)

Garmin Epix (Gen 2)

If your mind was fixated on the idea of a Fenix-style watch but would rather have a colored screen instead of the usual transflective one, then the new Epix will give you that. The 47mm case frame of the Fenix 7 holds an AMOLED display in the middle, which is bright, colorful and helps to bring maps to life. On top of that you get all the bells and whistles like an altimeter, barometer, compass and even features like Garmin Pay and an offline music player. Battery life is not as great as other models but is still good enough to last 16 days in smartwatch mode.

Pros:

  • Vibrant colored display
  • Great mapping features

Cons:

  • Battery life not as great
  • No heart rate monitor

4. Coros Vertix 2

Coros Vertix 2

One word – Battery and that too 140 hours full of GPS. The Vertix 2 offers some serious competition to the Fenix 7. The Coros Vertix 2 is directly aimed at serious multi-day trekkers and even ultrarunners. It also features an ECG sensor in the outer bezel. There’s also dual GPS for that extra accuracy. To be honest, it offers more than people actually need but if you have deeper pockets, then sure go for this indisputably capable multisport tool that has features that match its rival in every department. The watch can even analyze your running performance and benchmark it against marathon level.

Pros:

  • Dual GPS
  • Outstanding battery life

Cons:

  • Expensive
  • ECG tech not medically proved

5. Garmin Enduro

Garmin Enduro

Before Fenix 7, the Enduro was the king of battery life. Though it’s not the title holder anymore, it’s still a great watch for all the ultrarunners. Most of the features are the same as the Fenix 6 series apart from a music player and topo maps. Opting for the titanium option, not only gives you a light watch with a big screen that can really go the distance thanks to its 70 hours of GPS battery life. The differentiating factor for this watch was the Trail VO2 Max feature but that too is now available on other Fenix watches. The watch stays on for upto 65 days in power saving mode.

Pros:

  • Great battery life
  • New Trail VO2 max feature

Cons:

  • Lighter titanium version is expensive
  • Does not match up with the Fenix 7X series

6. Garmin Fenix 6 Pro

Garmin Fenix 6 Pro

The Fenix 6 pro may be the top of the line model in the Garmin range right now but that should not put you off from considering this device and even more if you manage to find it at a great price. It tracks everything from skiing to climbing, VO2 max for high intensity sports. The watch can connect to Strava and also offers the top of the line mapping data thanks to the use of topographic maps. Battery life is another advantage with Fenix 6 series offering weeks without charging in its Expedition mode. Though the newer Fenix 6 pro is better, the Fenix 6 series leaves no stone unturned to show us why it was once the king. The only areas where the Fenix 6 pro beats the Fenix 6 series are the slightly longer battery life and some software features which we feel can be easily passed on to the series 6 via a software update.

Pros:

  • Outstanding battery life
  • Amazing mapping features

Cons:

  • No touchscreen functionality across the series
  • Lacks Fenix 6 software functionality

7. Polar Grit X Pro

Polar Grit X Pro

The upgraded version of the Grit X watch Polar rolled out in 2020, Polar gives big focus to endurance and recovery. A big chunk of Polar X is navigation but it’s not as good as the Fenix series. The watch ticks the good battery life checkbox as it offers 40 hours of full GPS tracking that can be extended to 100 hours. The Grit X does not match Fenix’s set of features, however it does beat it in pricing. The watch has a Hillsplitter feature that tells you if you are wasting time on the slopes. There’s even sleep tracking with a focus on recovery from your heart burning activity, which we found outmatched Garmin in terms of accuracy – and the running data and VO2 Max are a big part of the features, all due to the 10-LED array heart rate monitor.

Pros:

  • Great battery life
  • Affordable pricing

Cons:

  • Feature set not as rich as Garmin
  • Need a paid account for navigation

8. Amazfit T-Rex Pro

Amazfit T-Rex Pro

Building on the T-Rex, the pro model has lined up a series of military grade toughness certificates to its name. It has got 10ATM water resistance for swimming upto 100 metres. It has support for 100 sports modes, features a built-in GPS and also the latest BioTracker optical sensor for measuring heart rate.Despite all the great features, it does miss out on navigational support, however it makes up for it with great battery life.

Pros:

  • Strong build quality
  • Attractively priced

Cons:

  • No breadcrumb navigation support
  • Not as feature rich as Garmin Fenix series

9. Suunto 9 Baro Black

Suunto 9 Baro Black

Sunnto is famous within the outdoor sports athletes community for its sturdily built watches, and the 9 Baro Black is no different. It comes with GPS/GLONASS and an onboard optical heart rate monitor. The altitude data supplied by the watch is now even more accurate thanks to the fusing of the altitude data with the barometer. The watch also displays sunrise/sunset timings and even shows storm alerts. It also provides route based navigation and like other Suunto watches, this watch too can track activity in over 80 sports.

Pros:

  • Inbuilt GPS and optical heart rate monitor
  • Tracks over 80 sports

Cons:

  • Average battery life
  • Expensive

10. Garmin Quatix 6X Solar

Garmin Quatix 6X Solar

If Aquaman was a watch, it would be this one. This watch is an absolute delight for divers. It can track some serious nautical data in its tiny body. The watch connects to the smartphone to download upto date tidal data. It can be even paired with Garmin Chartplotters to bring on board data such as boat speed, wind speed, temperature and even depth. Into fishing ? The watch has a fish log and a competition timer. It even sports a tack assistant and a race countdown timer if you are into sail racing. It builds on top of the already great Fenix 6, meaning you get all the great features of Fenix 6 including contactless payments and notification support. Solar charging helps in boosting the battery life while you are out in the sea with the watch lasting upto 24 days in smartwatch mode provided you expose it to sun regularly.

Pros:

  • Great battery life
  • All round device with added nautical data tracking features

Cons:

  • Expensive
  • Nothing other than nautical data features to set it apart

Final words

Now that we have reached the end of the list, we feel we have tried our best to lay out all the options in front of you to help you in making the perfect choice. Since this article is focussed on smart watches for hiking, we would advise you to filter out watches that have a really strong build quality and a great battery life. Since the hikes would probably be in areas where there would be poor mobile network reception, it’s better if the watch has inbuilt GPS as well. The next set of features really depend on you as a user, whether you want contactless payments or an inbuilt optical heart rate sensor.

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