3 Best Hiking GPS Watches

3 Best Hiking GPS Watches

Portable GPS devices is a must have on backpacking trips. Wearable GPS devices like GPS watches, for instance, are capable of performing multiple functions.

Apart from the primary function of showing the correct date and time, crucial navigational information like geographical coordinates, barometric pressure, altitude, etc. are also displayed by these portable devices.

While shopping for the best hiking GPS watch certain things need to be kept in mind. Given below are some of them:


A hiking GPS watch should have the following functions:

  • The barometer detects changes in atmospheric pressure that provide the user with useful data for weather prediction
  • The Altimeter shows the elevation of the terrain concerning the sea level
  • In-built Compass is essential for the determination of the cardinal direction viz North, South, East, and West
  • Electronic compass also provides the user with the information like bearing and position triangulation
  • The Thermometer is an added feature that provides easy ambient temperature measurement

Factors to Consider Before Buying A GPS Watch

Some of the most essential elements or factors that need to be considered while buying a GPS Watch include:


This is the most sought out feature in portable GPS watches. Hiking watches comes enclosed in durable, shock proof and robust casings.

Heart Rate Monitor

This is an advanced feature that is in high demand especially to those health conscious backpackers. This is a beneficial feature as it allows the hiker to maintain a steady pace.

Style and Design

For everyday wearing of the GPS watch in professional and casual settings, the hiking watch makers are increasingly focusing on the overall design and style of their products.


It is important to check the reviews of the product you are looking to purchase for the accuracy it has on terms of readings.

Three best Hiking GPS Watches

Garmin fēnix 3

The fēnix 3 series of hiking GPS watches are reliable, rugged and packed with features. The user can access the Connect IQ platform for customized watch faces and other downloadable contents.

The fēnix 3 comes equipped with competitive training specific features that provide the user with real time data for keeping a track on the overall progress. The VO2 max estimator is a patented technology from Garmin that calculates the overall average running speed, heart beat rate and estimate the maximum amount of oxygen consumed.

Features at a Glance

  • Chroma Display makes it Sunlight readable, high resolution 1.2” screen
  • Sapphire Lens offers enhanced scratch resistance & durability.
  • EXO Antenna helps to Efficiently pair with EPO and GLONASS fort fast position fix and accurate GPS data
  • Wireless Connectivity facilitates automatic synchronization of GPS data and related information to the cloud via Garmin Connect.
  • Powered by a rechargeable Lithium-ion battery with up to 20 operational hours, 50 hours in training mode and 6 weeks in watch mode


  • Rugged & reliable display
  • Enhanced features
  • App support
  • Watch face, widget & UI customization
  • Synchronization with smartphones & other mobile devices
  • Supports GLONASS
  • Modern & fashionable design
  • Vibration alerts & real-time notifications


  • Needs frequent calibration
  • Weak Bluetooth connectivity

Suunto Traverse

The Suunto Traverse is preloaded with topographic maps coupled with integrated GLONASS and GPS navigation. The covered path is displayed on the screen as breadcrumbs for convenience during retracing of the taken steps.

The Suunto Traverse is engineered and designed for the adventure and the great outdoors. The overall design and outlook of the product is ultra modern and is suitable even for formal settings such as a meeting or the office.

The automatic time adjustment as per the GPS data allows the device to provide the user with accurate time and date information.

Features at a Glance

  • GLONASS & GPS support for places of interest & route navigation
  • Real-time recording of covered path
  • Real-time tracking of speed, altitude & distance
  • Inbuilt Suunto Movescount app allows the user to discover new trails & tracks
  • Water resistance for up to 100 m(330 feet)
  • Weather updates & audible storm notifications
  • Sunrise-sunset timings
  • Electronic compass
  • Flashlight mode
  • GPS synchronization for time update
  • Mobile notifications
  • Vibration alarm


  • Multi-functional
  • Integrated multiple sport modes
  • Data tracking
  • Bluetooth connectivity with mobile devices & computers


  • No thermometer

Garmin fēnix 3 HR

The Garmin fēnix 3 HR multisport series training watch is made for competition training and GPS navigation. The rugged outlook, reliable and sturdy build coupled with enhanced features that make the operational experience for the user a sheer pleasure.

The device is integrated with Garmin patented golf mode that allows the ardent golfer with metric information like the yards covered in the first shot. The watch is resistant to water and is capable of calculating and recording real-time data that includes variables like pace, number of strokes, etc.

Features at a Glance

  • Heart rate monitor watch is incorporated with patented Garmin Elevate heart rate monitoring technology enabling tracking their heart rate
  • Durable wrist band is made from durable silicone making them soft to wear and flexible with enhanced discoloration resistance
  • Sunlight readable display due to a 1.2” high resolution optically bonded screen
  • Water resistance till a depth of 100 meters (10 ATM) making the device capable of handling swimming sessions in the pool.


  • Built-in sensor for monitoring heart rate
  • Enhanced features
  • 3-axis compass
  • Altimeter
  • Barometer
  • Patented Garmin TracBack feature


  • Short battery life


Among the three GPS devices covered in this article, the one that steals the show is the Garmin Fenix 3 HR. The easy navigation of the menus, a user-friendly interface coupled with downloadable widgets, apps and enhanced features makes it worth spending a few extra bucks.

The rugged and reliable construction of the device and sapphire glass lens on display adds to the appeal.


  1. I own a Garmin Fenix 3 HR and really love the fact that it records my heart rate without the need of a heart rate monitor strap. I like the different activity profiles for hiking, biking and skiing!

    1. Ron, I also like the activity profiles of the Garmin Fenix 3 HR and don’t really like to wear a chest strap heart rate monitor. I am surprised that the Fenix 3 HR is so comfortable with the heart rate sensor on the bottom side of the watch. I have one as well and really like all that it does.

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