The 5 Best GPS Watches for Hiking of 2018

Finding the perfect GPS watch for your next hiking trip can be difficult. There are loads of products and brands available on the market today, and all of them have their amazing extras, which makes it near to impossible to find the best one for your personal needs.

As professional and passionate hunters and nature lovers, we’ve tried and tested some of the best GPS watches available, and we’ve compiled insightful reviews that will ensure you can pick the best one for you out of the lot.

We have also included an insightful buyer’s guide that should help you in making that final decision and finding a GPS watch that will make your hiking and hunting trips memorable.

ProductDescriptionPriceRating 

Garmin Foretrex 401 Waterproof Hiking GPS

Great gadget offering hikers exactly what it states – a great and reliable waterproof hiking GPS watch

$4.5/5
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GOLiFE Adventurer Outdoor Smart Sport Watch

You don’t really need more than a trusty GPS watch when navigating your way through a trail

$4.5/5
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Suunto Ambit3 Peak HR Running GPS Unit

Navigate your way like a pro with all the features included in the Suunto Ambit3 Peak GPS watch

$$$4.5/5
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TomTom Adventurer GPS Hiking & Trail Running Watch

You’ll be hiking and running to a whole different tune with the included music player in this amazing GPS watch

$4.0/5
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Garmin Fenix 3 GPS Watch

With great battery life and all the needed features for hiking, you will be navigating easily with the Garmin Fenix 3

$$$4.5/5
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1. Garmin Foretrex 401 Waterproof Hiking GPS

Sometimes keeping things simple is quite alright, and with the Garmin Foretrex 401, Waterproof Hiking GPS watch you’ll get simplicity without compromising on extra features and functionalities. With TracBack hikers and hunters can trace back their steps and are always be able to track their way back.

The high-sensitivity GPS receiver ensures that you connect with satellites quickly and precisely. This fantastic feature will also ensure that you have reception even in the densest forests and woodland areas.

Key Features

  • 2 Standard AAA batteries required
  • Dual position readout enables you to see your location in a format of your choice
  • Trip computer and displays sunset and sunrise times
  • Electronic compass and barometric altimeter included
  • LCD screen display resolution of 100 x 64 pixels

PROS
Barometric altimeter, as well as an electronic compass, included
TracBack ensures you can trace your steps as it displays it on the watch’s screen
CONS
The battery can fail you as the battery life is not optimal
Functional and not so pretty design

2. GOLiFE Adventurer Outdoor Smart Sport Watch

Another more straightforward GPS watch, it is cost-effective and gets the job done, with a whole lot of extras a lot of adventure hikers or hunters will love. Whether you want to track your steps or monitor your heart rate, the GOLiFE Adventurer sports watch will allow you to do just that.

If you plan on taking a dip and cooling off while trekking the wild, you won’t even have to take the watch off – it is completely waterproof and will function adequately in water depths of up to 50 meters. If you don’t mind the fact that the expected battery life while on GPS mode is 11 hours, this watch is worth consideration.

Key Features

  • Waterproof and will work while swimming (no diving) up to depths of 50 meters
  • Get smart notifications from other devices by syncing apps with your GOLiFE sports watch with GoFIT App
  • Use a phone to track all exercising and other activities such as hiking, cycling, working out, running and keep track of calories burned
  • Includes barometer, compass, and thermometer for optimal user experience
  • Built-in GPS allows you to track your position at any time

PROS
This watch has a high waterproof grade of up to 50 meters which ensures you’ll have access even in water
The device is compatible with a heart rate monitor which enables you to keep track of your heart rate
CONS
Even though the GPS system works, it is not the most advanced or best in the market
Battery life may disappoint you

3. Suunto Ambit3 Peak HR Running GPS Unit

Even though this is a bit of a pricy GPS watch, you will love all the added extra features and the ability to buy it with or without a heart rate monitor. Hikers and hunters can enjoy accurate and swift GPS connectivity with a more than the impressive battery life of up to 30 hours.

Some of the extra features include Movecount that will give you access to tracking your progress, heat maps, the pace you are hiking at and more. The Suunto Ambit3 Peak HR Running GPS watch is worth investing in if you are going to use it for more than one purpose.

Key Features

  • Includes a heart rate monitor, compass, barometer and much more
  • Gives hikers and adventurers accurate weather and altitude data as well as GPS navigation functionality
  • Possible to sync your watch with your phone and keep track of all your activity data on the go
  • Barometer and altimeter as well as waterproof allowing adventurers to swim with the watch as deep as 100 meters
  • You can add photos and videos with the Suunto movie maker app while out on your hike or hunt expedition

PROS
Lifetime warranty and full 30-day money back guarantee or replacement option
Trace your steps to your starting point with a handy trackback feature
CONS
Watch band is not durable and can break quite easily
Movescount app is not fully functional and can crash

4. TomTom Adventurer GPS Hiking & Trail Running Watch

If you are an adventurer and sports fanatic, you are going to love all the extra features you will get when buying the TomTom Adventurer GPS watch. The watch even includes a heart rate monitor to ensure you can easily monitor your pulse while on the go.

Listen to your favorite tunes while breaking a sweat by connecting the included Bluetooth enabled earphones and stay motivated to complete your hike or get your full workout done. The watch is also waterproof which means you will be able to swim with it.

Key Features

  • Activity tracker and heart rate monitor included and will help you keep track of your heart’s pulse, steps you have taken, the calories you burned and much more
  • Music player that can sync with Bluetooth headphones included in your purchase
  • Multiple modes to enable you to track your progress while doing a wide variety of sports including running, hiking, and skiing
  • Track your altitude and distance covered as well as your exact position with the advanced GPS features on the watch
  • Waterproof and can function under the water up to depths of 40 meters

PROS
Special programs for a wide range of sporting activities including hiking, fishing, and skiing
Includes a heart rate monitor that is built in
CONS
The interface is not user-friendly and difficult to navigate
Model is outdated with regards to design and graphics

5. Garmin Fenix 3 GPS Watch

The GPS giant is always a good buy and who better to trust than those who are leading the way of GPS technology. You will even be able to get more accurate readings by adding the included EXO steel antenna when on your hike or hunting.

The casing is made of ultra-durable stainless steel which means you will be able to use the watch for years to come. And you will be happy to know that you will even be ready to go swimming with it as it has a water rating of up to 100 meters. All in all? A great buy from one of the leaders in the GPS watch industry.

Key Features

  • Rechargeable battery with a long battery life of up to 20 hours of battery life when you are using the GPS settings
  • Connect and sync with other devices with Wi-Fi connectivity feature
  • Waterproof and ideal for swimming with a water rating of up to 100 meters
  • Includes EXO antenna to speed up and increase the accuracy of GPS readings
  • Chroma display that enhances visibility even in the harshest sunlight

PROS
The chroma display will ensure visibility and anti-glare in the brightest sunlight
Unparalleled durability with stainless steel bezel
CONS
The watch’s screen can scratch very easily
You won’t always receive notifications from your phone

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Buyer’s Guide

How to Select the Best GPS Watch for Hiking

Finding the perfect GPS watch for your next big outdoors hike can be tricky – the market is flooded with loads of different brands of watches that all make bold promises. But, if you are having trouble making your final decision about which GPS watch you should buy, having one with excellent reception or a receiver that is highly sensitive should be the critical feature to consider.

Of course, there are a lot of other features that might be of interest, and that is why we have compiled this here buyer’s guide to help you see which elements you can do without, and which ones will contribute and weigh in on your choice of purchase.

Special Features

You will find that more advanced and pricey models have all kinds of extra features such as Bluetooth and Wi-Fi which allows you to sync other fitness apps with the watch. Other features include an altimeter, barometer (which will enable you to know what the weather is doing), music players, and much more.

Life Expectancy

When buying a GPS watch for hiking, extreme sports, or even hunting purposes, you are probably going to want to get one that will last you a long time. Ensure that the screen, band, and material used to make the watch is of high quality and that it won’t break easily at first sight of challenging conditions.

Water-Resistant

Some GPS watches are also water resistant with relatively high-water ratings of up to 100 meters. This feature means that should it get wet; it will still function properly. You will also be able to go for a dip or swim with it, without having to be bothered about how water will affect the software and overall functionality of the watch.

Battery Life

You are probably going to need a watch with extended battery life when you go hiking in the big outdoors for days on end. Keep in mind that some models won’t perform well in this department and that you should always check the expected battery life while using GPS before buying a GPS watch as this is the key reason you’ll be buying one – navigation.

The sensitivity of the GPS Receiver

You can get away with buying a GPS watch with fewer features but always ensure that you look for a watch that has a highly sensitive GPS receiver as this is probably the main reason for purchasing one. This feature will provide that your location and navigation data is accurate, no matter where you are as the GPS receiver will connect with satellites in any terrain or location.

Tracking your Pulse and Heart Rate

The majority of advanced GPS watches nowadays include a built-in heart rate monitor – this is especially nifty when you are on a longer hiking trail and allows you to monitor your pulse and keep a steady pace (not overtaxing yourself) ensuring you complete the hike comfortably and safely. It is also great for those who compete in and train for triathlons.

Budget

Of course, you will also have to consider what you are able and willing to spend on a GPS watch – identifying the features most important to you first will, however, make it easier for you to see what you can afford and which model will offer more value for money.