Anyone who is crazy about the great outdoors or has an unquenchable passion for the art of hiking knows that the one thing that they should never ever leave their home without is a pair of good hiking watches. gone are the days when you needed a compass, a notebook, and a map to figure out where you are, nowadays in the age of technology, all that you will ever need is a good set of amazing Garmin hiking watches like Garmin Fenix 5 or Forerunner that can do a lot more than just tell you the time.
These amazingly wonderful wrist timepieces from Garmin offers everything from a fully-fledged GPS unit, comfort, mobility, and durableness to a set of useful sensors like barometers, Altimeters, compasses and HR monitors under their sleek shiny hood. Put all of these awesome features together and you will get something that can tell you everything about the terrain or mountain that you are trying to conquer by providing a birds-eye view about all its little nitty-gritty details.
- Best Garmin Hiking Watches | Comparison Table
- Why do you need a good pair of Garmin hiking watches?
- A brief history of Garmin and their awesome legacy
- Watches like the Garmin Fenix 5 are the best there is – here is why
- Hunting for Garmin hiking watches? Here are the best ones you need to own in 2018
- 1. Garmin Hiking Watches 3 GPS Smartwatch
- 2. Garmin Fenix 5X Sapphire – Slate Gray with Black Band
- 3. Garmin Hiking Watches Fenix 3 – HR Special Edition
- 4. Forerunner 735XT Garmin Hiking Watches
- 5. Garmin Hiking Watches Forerunner 630 – Black/White
- Garmin Hiking Watches – Navigating with Your Watch
- 6. Garmin Forerunner 235 – Black/Gray
- 7. Garmin Forerunner 225 – Garmin Hiking Watches
- A few alternatives to Garmin hiking watches (updated)
- 8. Suunto Traverse
- 9. Suunto Ambit3 Peak HR Running GPS Unit
- 10. Suunto Spartan Sport Wrist HR Baro Watch
- Suunto Traverse – Tested tough
- 11. Casio Men’s PRW-3500-1CR Atomic Resin Digital Watch
Best Garmin Hiking Watches | Comparison TableThe problem of we all have faced
However, nowadays pretty much every hiking watchmakers out there are all packing in these high-end amazing features into their latest and greatest creations and claiming their product to be the best there is. They all advertise and boast that they are the go-to guys when it comes to making watches that offer the best sensors, design, battery backup, GPS system and so forth, however, the majority of them, barring a few great gems, will all be just talk and no walk. Therefore,how do you go about determining which is which in your quest to find the best hiking watches available on the market today?
The solution you were looking for is here
We know that you are hunting far and wide for the best hiking watches but can’t seem to zero in on one that satisfies your mind and needs fully. Well if that is the case, then you are in for a great load of luck today my friend because we have taken the time and effort put all those so-called good ones to the testing anvil to find out which of them are the genuine gems we all were looking for all this time. After a lot of considerations, clash of opinions, tests and pure fist brawling (kidding, we used a baseball bat) among ourselves we were able to come up with a list of great hiking watches that blow their competition right out of the water. Truly, these pieces are the best in every sense of the term.
Whether you are looking for a tough and durable accessory or something that is a bit more modern and cutting-edge, the world of hiking watches especially the best Garmin hiking watch line-up will always have something up their well-built sleeve that can just rock up your mind to the clouds.
Why do you need a good pair of Garmin hiking watches?
Hikers, athletes or anyone who physically exerts and exposes themselves to the elements will always want to have access to real-time information that can tell them how well they are doing out there in the field or trail. With a good hiking watch resting on your wrist you can easily keep track and record your time, distance, pace, location and with a bit more expensive ones, your blood pressure heart rates and even the oxygen concentration in your blood.
Personal hiking watches are designed to do more than just tell you the time; they are made to aid you in your endeavors to conquer the world or more realistically the small hill down the weekend drive. During your every little hiking or trekking trips, you can easily keep track of everything that is happening to you and around you even to the minute details that our senses normally miss out on. These custom Garmin hiking watches or any other for that matter can greatly assist you in reviewing your hiking performances and can definitely help you find ways to best up your game and take it to the next level.
The one-stop tracking solution
Designed and made to keep track of everything and anything, these watches can constantly monitor and record your steps and other vital information to paint you a comprehensive picture that can depict everything from how much energy you have used to the time you have taken to do it.
Most of the hiking watches available today are internet enabled, therefore, not only they can access the web and transmit information, they can also help you compete against other users and therefore, by giving you something to look forward to whenever you wake up from the bed in the morning.
A brief history of Garmin and their awesome legacy
Despite being such a big name in the hiking watch industry, the Garmin’s aren’t that old of a company, to begin with. First established in 1989 as a parent company to a multitude of sub-firms, the Garmin waded into the GPS tracking industry in 1990. The first ever product Garmin ever released was a GPS tracking unit that was called GPS 100 (boring name huh? We thought so too) designed to be used in the marine industry, the GPS 100 changed how things were run until then when it comes to marine location tracking.
Having conquered the marine and military markets, the company set its sight upon the lucrative consumer industry, creating the now legendary Forerunner series of tracking watches. At a time when such watches with GPS units were considered too bulky, huge and unappealing, the Garmin’s completely took the world by storm through their innovative and stylishly sleek set of watches.
Watches like the Garmin Fenix 5 are the best there is – here is why
Hikers, runners, cyclists or anyone who indulges in physical activity will always need to have a GPS enabled hiking watch at their disposal, and the sheer popularity and lucrativeness of this particular niche have prompted many makers to try their hand at this field albeit with very little success. The Garmin themselves are one of the topmost dogs in this industry and they make around 25 or so different models that differ hugely from one to another in terms of functions, features, and designs.
Although there are many other features like sensors and what nots in Garmin hiking watches, the centerpiece of it has always been their awesome GPS unit and its exceptional navigational abilities. The GPS sensor made by Garmin is world renowned for its exceptional accuracy and ultra-sensitive nature. It is said that they are so accurate, that they can track any location with an error margin being as low as 1.5 feet. Now that’s accuracy.
Nevertheless, here are a few other things that make Garmin and their hiking watches superior to other players in the wearable segment.
1) Exceptional style and designs
While most of the other players go for a more a radical, looking tough designs for their hiking watches, Garmin has always stayed true to the more minimal and sleek style they boasted about until now. You can easily wear these Garmin hiking watches anywhere just like you do with your casual watches. These are stunning, stylish and absolutely gorgeous to look at despite being designed and made to be used in outdoor conditions.
2) Durability and strength
Having a great military background has really helped these watches to be what they are today. Do not be fooled by their touch screens, shiny outer casings and vibrant bands, under that glamourous facade these Garmin hiking watches are some of the most durable wearable devices on the planet. With ample support from military grade build and exceptionally strong materials, we won’t be surprised if these watches can even handle a nuclear explosion with not so much as a smudge.
One of the main things that have almost never failed to amaze us was the sheer number of features Garmin hiking watches are hiding within them. From sensors to GPS systems, and from touch-sensitive screens to web connectivity, there only can be a very few things that these watches cannot do or does not come with. In any way you look at it, you cannot do better than these watches in terms of packed in features and functionality.
4) User friendliness
Despite having all around great features, if there is one thing that doesn’t bode all that well with hiking watches is that they can be a bit hard to operate let alone be understood if you are a novice. Even though Garmin hiking watches comes with more features and functions than any other watches, the interface will always be a breeze to operate. With their innovative optimized user interface, whatever the thing you are looking for, it will always be a swipe or tap away. It is that simple!
5) Comfort and mobility
Hiking watches can often be annoying and uncomfortable to wear because of their bulkiness and weightiness, however since Garmin hiking watches are made to be worn any time anywhere, these finely crafted watches weigh very much less than their Casio or other counterparts and are much smaller than them too. With their comfortable silicon bands and no-frills design languages, these watches are as comfortable to wear as your typical every day casual watches are, and that is the truth.
Hunting for Garmin hiking watches? Here are the best ones you need to own in 2018
Widely heralded as the best ever Garmin creation ever, the vivoactive 3 is one hiking watch that deserves all the applause the world can give. Handsome yet simple with a round face, this high endurance watch strikes up the perfect balance between being absolutely beautiful and rugged as a rock from hell. If that is an overstatement, then call me crazy.
A strong departure from the rectangular look of its predecessors, the vivoactive 3 boasts of a circular screen that is more in tune with the current trend and affairs. Despite looking like a million bucks, the bright and vivid screen is more utilitarian if anything. The touchscreen is rather responsive and the accompanying UI is far snappier than their previous iterations. The stainless steel and silicon build, on the other hand, will ensure that whatever the condition the watch will be able to perform at its maximum potential.
Garmin literally went all out when it comes piling up features on this watch. The Garmin made custom GPS unit on this watch is rather good and has enough sensitivity to track anything down to the exact spot sans any errors. Apart from that, the device also doubles up as a perfectly good fitness-tracking device that with its on board array of sensors can tell everything from your pace, distance, to even the number of calories you have burned.
Although the smart notification system and the new Garmin Pay is not that polished as much as we would like it to be, it still scores better brownie points than many of its other competitors slapdash similar attempts.Overall, if you want a hiking watch that tops in all departments then there is no better choice for you than the vivoactive 3.
- Vastly improved overall design
- Best in class GPS unit
- Smart notification feature
- Swappable silicone band
- Excellent battery life
- The Garmin pay system is not up to the mark
- The app crashes often
The amazing Fenix 5 is widely considered to be the golden poster boy of the Garmin hiking watches range. Designed to be a pure premium offering, this feature full device is the perfect accessory for all your hiking and athletic needs, if you can overlook the humongous pricing, it does have all the making to be a true blue legend in its own rights.
With its overall black tone and wide expansive screen, the water-resistant watch is rather good looking and can serve as the center of attention wherever you go. Aside from just serving as an eye candy, the bright, high-resolution, full-color Garmin Chroma Display with LED backlighting assures great readability in all ambient conditions.
On the feature front, this sapphire glass protected Garmin device packs in a very good GPS and GLONASS unit that is worthy of using even in a space shuttle. The device also features a Wi-Fi connectivity system that can help in transmitting and storing your fitness and hiking data to the dedicated cloud server where it can be accessed as per the user’s needs. For the fitness freaks, the HR monitor supported watch comes with a sensor array that packs in an altimeter, barometer, 3-axis compass and a Gyroscope for good long measure.
While not groundbreaking or anything, the watch still carries enough oomph in its design and features to be a noteworthy entry into the ever-expanding Garmin legacy. If pricing is all that stands between you and this watch then you are in for a treat, they are giving out a rather good discount now, which you can get by clicking on the Amazon link below.
- Excellent and intuitive screen
- Stylish and rather beautiful
- Wi-Fi connectivity
- GPS and GLONASS combo for better accuracy
- ABCG sensor array with optional support for HR monitor
- Too pricey
- Brings nothing new to the table
When it comes to GPS enabled hiking watches you will surely be hard pressed to find a device that has more to offer than the FENIX 3 HR. With its extensive set of usability that spans well over a dozen different fields and sports, this particular series of Garmin hiking watches is something that every athlete or hiker should have in their arsenal.
Following up on the rather mellowed down Fenix 2, the Fenix 3HR doesn’t bring that much of change in the design department apart from boasting a brand new vividly bright color display and a titanium dipped durable band. While the change can seem purely aesthetic at first, it really gives the watch that extra something to push it down the front row.
The main highlight of the watch is, of course, is its HR monitoring capability. Using a brand new system called Elevate, this Garmin made watch is capable of keeping insanely accurate tabs on the wearer’s heartbeat levels at all times.
Aside from the usual great GPS hullabaloo that the Garmin is known for, the watch is also water resistant for up to 100 meters. With its dedicated power saving mode turned on, you can extract as much as 15 hours’ worth of usage even if all the GPS tracking, notification, and Bluetooth were enabled on and rocking out fully.
The Fenix 3 might be a top-tier model that costs a ton, however, with the massive discount we are offering now up on Amazon, it is a choice of device that is well worth your every penny.
- Durable and stylish design
- Super bright screen with Chroma mode
- Inbuilt heart rate monitor with Elevate
- Titanium coated band
- Water resistant for up to 100 meters
- Too pricey
- Chroma mode makes screen hard to read
Designed to be durable and made to last, the Garmin Forerunner 735XT holds the title to be the most lightest Garmin watch ever made. With a sleek design, long battery life, and a complete insight into running and hiking dynamics-with an integrated HR monitor, nonetheless- the 735XT is definitely the one you need this summer.
Crafted on the heels of criticism suffered by the 910 and 920XT, the 735XT is noticeably much lighter and less chunkier than those two failed up iterations, however, despite the smaller and lighter size, they still found enough place to put together a great GPS unit, a sensor array and even an integrated HR monitor in to the fold.
The screen resolution might not be the best available out there however, it is still pretty legible even in bright conditions with ample help from its innovative transflective screen. with automatic uploads to Garmin Connect, Live Tracking, audio prompts, music controls, smart notifications and social media sharing, you will find this watch to be a great partner to all your athletics, fitness and hiking end eavors.
Even though boasting heavy resource intensive features like HR monitor VO2 calculator-not to mention the power hungry GPS unit and sensors, the battery still has enough backup capability to last you a full week. With an interface as polished, as the one, we have here, and the great set of features make this watch a must-have item for anyone who leads an active life. Especially, with the great discount as the one we are offering here, I don’t see any real reason for you to not get this one now.
- Sleek lightweight stylish design
- Very accurate and quick GPS unit
- Smart features with web connect
- Integrated heart rate monitor
- Excellent battery life
- Plastic feel
- Heart rate monitor is often inaccurate
Built with the same design principles as the more recent Forerunners, the Forerunner 630 is Garmin’s answer to the fitbits, TomTom and other new kids on the block that are trying to steal the thunder. Released alongside the forerunner 230 and 235, the forerunner 630 strikes up the perfect balance between a smart running watch and a true blue hiking device built for the outdoors.
Although the round touch screen cannot be compared to the Apple watch or Samsung gear series, it still does a rather good job in doing what it does however, the colors are pretty dull, and the brightness levels can leave a lot to be desired. The matte plastic build and uniform black finish give this watch a sporty look and we have to say, despite the non-metallic build, the whole thing feels very robust and capable of tackling any rigors that might come its way.
Taking inspiration from the vivosmart and Fenix series, the Forerunner 630 to features the same GPS unit that is powering up those amazing devices. It is accurate, quick and has a power saving mode that helps it draw less power from its on board16-hour lithium ion battery. Sadly, the watch misses out on the inbuilt HR monitor feature, however, since it does support one you can easily opt for an external one.
With its great smart features like remote control, Connect IQ store, smart notifications and so forth, the watch can seem to be rather well endowed. However, this is great by only if you want a watch that is smart and balanced and not over the top nor feature-rich.
- Minimalism inspired design
- Top-notch physical tracking features
- Smart notifications with Connect IQ integration
- Comfortable sweat proof band
- Solid battery life
- Non-metallic build
- Lackluster screen
Much like the Forerunner 630 that we saw above, the Garmin forerunner 235 also comes with a brand new look that is sleek, stylish and captivating, despite its age, this best Garmin hiking watch with its excellent tracking skills and detailed running dynamics still hold a firm place in the race for the best Garmin hiking watches coveted top spot.
The watch does not break any new ground when it comes to its design aspect. There is a classic non-touch round watch face that houses a 1.23-inch color screen that is bright, crisp and easy to read in most conditions, however, the colors can look a bit washed out in direct sunlight. The four navigation buttons that are placed on either side of the resin-made casing is rather good to operate and offers a very satisfying tactile feedback when clicked.
When it comes to the watches tracking capability, Garmin pulled out all the stops and endowed this watch with a GPS unit that is as good as the one found in their top tier models. Although there were a few stutters and misreading’s, the overall performance of the unit was rather good, and is a great steal for the price it comes in. the main plus of the watch, however, is the addition of an inbuilt heart rate monitor. It is quick, easy, and gives out pretty accurate readings most of the time.
With a great discount that puts it in an affordable price range, this well-built Garmin device with an HRM is a must have item if you are serious about your hiking and athletic plans and end eavors.
- Simple sensible design
- Easy to navigate UI
- Inbuilt heart rate monitor
- Smart notifications with audio prompts
- GPS sensor with live tracking
- No Touchscreen
- Dull battery backup
Being the first watch in the forerunner line up to boast of an optical heart rate monitor, the Garmin 225 marked a major milestone in the niche for the HRM enabled hiking watches and set the tone for the future generations. With its excellent new design language and equally amazing set of nifty features, the 225 quickly earned a spot in the minds of budget-conscious hiking enthusiasts all around the world.
As far as the size of sports and hiking watches go, the Garmin forerunner 225 is neither too big nor very small. It features a rather well-molded resin based average sized frame that can take on some serious hits. Not only is it shockproof, it is also scratch and vibration resistant.
The screen might be one of the major highlights of this watch; it is bright, sharp and reproduces colors in a very pleasing manner. For navigating through its awesome UI, the Garmin 225 has a few physical tactile buttons around its sleek perimeter. Not only they are responsive, they are also very intuitive and satisfying to click on.
As I said earlier, this water-resistant watch comes with a rather good heart rate monitor system. while you cannot compare its accuracy level with the one in Fenix 5 or Vivoactive HR, it still gives out a rather good heart rate report that can be well taken into account.
With a massive discount, the price level of this great watch makes it the most affordable Garmin in our review. If what you want is an affordable Garmin hiking watch that doubles up as a fitness tracker, then you literally cannot do better than the Forerunner 225.
- Colorful bright display with intuitive UI
- Non-obtrusive lightweight resin build
- Optical heart rate monitor
- Smart notifications with audio prompts
- GPS sensor with live tracking
- No Touchscreen
- Dull battery backup
A few alternatives to Garmin hiking watches (updated)
Even though Garmin hiking watches are the best there is, there can come a time when we crave something other than those ones or simply a change from the routine. Therefore, here are a few other hiking watches that are proved to provide a respite from the repetitive fatigueness of the Garmin line up. Keep in mind that while these are good, they are not the same as Garmin made ones. So go for these hiking watches only if you have to.
The Suunto Traverse might not make the perfect fit for a fashionista or a suited up professional and it is not meant to be so. Designed to befit the basic needs of a backpacker, hiker, alpinist or a mountaineer, the traverse might not be itching to burst with unlimited features and functions, however, that makes it a solid choice for anyone who simply wants a GPS hiking watch on their wrists.
Securely housed within a casing made of stainless steel and resin, and with a solid mineral glass topping off, the watch is every bit as strong as you expect it to be. This water-resistant watch is custom built to take on the outdoors, therefore; the casing is highly resistant to shock and scratches. The screen of the Suunto Traverse might not look as flashy and colorful as Garmin made ones, however, it does do a pretty good job in rendering the information perfectly legible across wide lighting levels.
While the UI is simple to use, the lack of a coherent navigation method does put a dent in its intuitiveness however, it doesn’t have to be a deal breaker if you are willing to spend some time with it. On the navigational front, the Traverse comes with a combination of both GPS and GLONASS for better accuracy, and with that, they have also paired a very good altimeter, barometer, and 3-axis for good long measure.
Although Suunto claims about 14 days as its general battery backup, you can really only get it up to about 9-10 days with moderate usage. However, if you are going to take in to account its low pricing levels and the mammoth discount we have offered here, this problem can seem a very trivial one to care about.
- Durable build quality
- Anti-glare screen with great backlight
- GPS and GLONASS combo for better performance
- Smart notifications feature
- Water resistant for about 100 meters
- Lackluster battery backup
- No heart rate monitor
The Suunto Ambit 3 is literally is one of the best hiking watches with an altimeter you can now find in the market. In addition to its exceptional altitude and barometric pressure reading capabilities, it also doubles up as a fully loaded GPS enabled hiking watch that is capable of tracking every tiny movement you make. Whether you are a mountaineer, hiker or a casual jogger, the Suunto Ambit 3 peak HR is a must-have accessory that is now even more so amazing with its great discounted pricing.
The watch features a design that is more or less in tune with other Suunto creations that we have seen until now, it looks tough and feels even more so with its resin molded stainless steel casing and rounded about durable resin band. While the build looks pretty much unibody, it is not necessarily so. You can easily swap out the straps, as you seem fit to your needs. The screen quality and sharpness haven’t really changed much from its previous iterations, however; we certainly would have liked a bit more increased brightness levels this time around.
Even though marketed as a hiking watch, the Ambit 3 can certainly function as a great fitness tracker owing to the plethora of different sensors and functions it is hiding behind its sleek frame. The battery in play here is by far the best we have seen in this review, with a guaranteed backup for about 11 long days straight, this blows all other competition out of the water.
- Sleek and utilitarian design
- Durable and tough build
- Smart notification feature
- Water resistant for about 100 meters
- Superb battery backup
- Dull screen
- A bit too chunky
The Suunto Spartan Sport Baro looks and feels pretty much the same as a Suunto Multi-sport watch in every single way, however, the only true difference that these watches have against one another is the recent addition of a Valencia Heart rate monitor to the one we featured here. While this may not strike as a major improvement to the casual user, anyone who involves themselves in physically taxing activities like hiking and jogging can tell you that it makes all the difference in the world.
With a design that puts practicality way over style, the Spartan sport HR looks very refreshing to the eyes. Especially the narrow steel bezels and the bright orange silicon strap bring with it a light exquisiteness that is highly striking to the gaze. The touchscreen is rather good with sharp and vivid colors popping out every now and then, however, the lack of an anti-glare coating does put a major damper on its overall performance.
Suunto Traverse – Tested tough
On the function front, the watch features a rather good combination of GPS and GLONASS for overall better performance; however, turning it on every time you go out will certainly take a great toll on its already lackluster battery backup. If you are going to also rely on the fitness tracking feature of it, then we recommend carrying a secondary power source with you for avoiding unwanted shutting downs.
Overall, despite a few minor hiccups here and there pulling it down, the watch is still a pretty good device that is worth splurging on, and why not? Because it might be one of the very few watches out there, that offers a pretty good HR monitor with a feature full package like this.
- Good design that borders on art
- Superbly bright and sharp screen
- Multiple sports modes
- Comfortable and secure band
- Great tracking performance
- Poor battery backup
- The screen response is laggy
With a 56 mm case and pure rugged design, the Casio PRW-3500-1CR is unlike any other watch we have seen in this review. Filled to the brim with innovative new features, this entrant from Casio perfectly move forth the great legacy that was made by its legendary predecessor the Casio Pro Trek PRW 3100.
The design of the watch has improved and changed drastically from all its previous iterations. It is now bigger, bolder and certainly much attention seeking than it ever been before. Crafted from tough resin and stainless steel, the device is capable of enduring some serious beatings if needed, it is shockproof and the scratch and shatter resistant mineral glass watch face ensures all-around protection every minute.
The screen can seem a bit too small when compared with the rest of the watch, however; the excellent backlight system ensures that the size never leaves an impact on its legibility in any way. The device keeps its time precise by self-calibrating it with a signal it tracks down from the atomic clock. The 660 feet worth of water resistance capability, which is a major improvement over the Casio Pro Trek PRW3100’s 200 feet, can certainly come in handy if you are into water sports like swimming and diving.
Overall, this watch is a great choice if you want something that is feature rich and distinctively different from all the Garmin’s and Suunto’s out there. While its pricing level might raise eyebrows, it is well worth every penny you throw at it.
- Unique design that spells toughness
- Super tough build quality
- Atomic time Calibration
- Excellent GPS system and sensor array
- Solar powered self-charging battery
- Too bulky
- Small screen
Final verdict About Garmin Hiking Watches
Well, that is the end of our review on best Garmin hiking watches and a few other ones. These 11 ones are the best hiking watches that are being available at the moment, which is something that we have spent a lot of our time and effort to put together.
There are also a few other choices in this review that don’t really belong to the Garmin brethren. Even though they are not as good as the ones offered by Garmin, they are still can be a rather worthy addition to your hiking arsenal. The one thing that we can guarantee you fully is that, whichever the model you decide to purchase in the end, you can rest assured that getting lost in the woods is something that would never happen to you ever again. Therefore, allowing you to throw away those cumbersome maps or compasses so you can enjoy the wild outdoors to its fullest potential.