What is the Best GPS Watch for Hiking

It is not such an easy task to find out what is the best GPS watch for hiking.

what is the best gps watch for hiking

In my latest posts is written mostly about outdoor activities and relatED GPS. So, to continue the topic let’s try to find out what the market is offering to us.

The first, let’s find out, do we need GPS watches at all.

The main feature of such a tool is an integrated satellite receiver.

It is either solely GPS signal or GPS/GLONASS receivers. The double satellite navigation system feature in certain situations could perform a better position accuracy and faster data calculation.

Well, I will use a term GPS, although it is not entirely fair relating to the other satellite navigation systems as GLONASS, GALILEO, BeiDou, IRNSS, and QZSS.

Today GPS feature is integrated into many everyday tools beginning with such ordinary things as GPS for cars and GPS for smartphones and ending with GPS trackers for dogs and cats.

Why do we need GPS receiver into the watches? Honestly, I very rarely wear a wrist watch although I have a great Seiko watch.

Correct time?

 I never leave my house without an iPhone in my pocket with a wide range of apps, GPS navigation included.

Do I want GPS watches?

Yes, I do. Why? In short, because I like GPS gadgets and those cool features they provided. Do I have it? No, but I am very close to buying one.

Do I have it? No, I don’t, but I am very close to buying one.

Why my topic title is about GPS watches for hiking?

Not so crucial is it hiking, skiing, swimming or other active outdoor activities just watches must be environmental exposure resistant including water resistant, shockproof and convenient.

I am fully aware that the clock will never be able to replace standalone GPS devices. The main advantage is its small dimensions which at times can be a crucial factor.

I suppose that such giants as Garmin or TomTom have made market research before even begin GPS watches project development. Why invest millions of dollars not knowing if anyone even wants a product. I assume that it is demanded product.

what about Apple Watch?

Before searching the best GPS watches for hiking amongst GPS brands what about Apple Watch? Me, as a savvy Apple user, must check it features regardless of price. I was waiting for the very first Apple Watch. Price, and more importantly, bad reviews, dissuaded me from this purchase and even almost forget about this gadget.

What about Apple Watch Series2 does it fit for serious hiking or skiing needs? The first insight gives me hope. Water resistant, GPS and two days battery volume. Let’s start to dig deeper.apple watch series 2

After the research, I concluded, no, it does not be counted as the best GPS watch for hiking.

No doubt that Apple Watch Series 2 is excellent and can be used for hiking and many other outdoor activities, but, but the main shortage is you need to have iPhone. While Watch series 2 is more independent of the iPhone than series 1, it is still not an independent device. You should have your iPhone with you as much as possible when using the Apple Watch.

The Apple Watch Series 2 is equipped with GPS, and it will keep track of your run, swim, horse ride, even snowmobile ride regarding speed and tracking your location to look at it later. Certain apps will also show where you sped up and slow down, and it is enough to be considered as good GPS watches for hiking but not the best. Where to search for the best ones?

When searching by keywords „best GPS watches for hiking” a list of results appears. The Garmin name is on most of the watches. TomTom, Polar, Suunto, Casio and some other.

By reading reviews and assessment criteria are generally to be found like Waterproof, Battery Life, Heart Rate, Distance, Size, Weight and the Price of course.

No doubt that any of those characteristics are important, but it is almost impossible to find a perfect device.  We can discuss long the topic „What is the best GPS watches for hiking,” but it is hard to find the straightforward answer. There are so many details what every hiker want, so I try to make my personal choice.

I have spent hours by reading and comparing, enjoying and disappointing, calling friends and watching YouTube masterpieces and quite weak videos blah, blah. After all, I even wanted to give up the idea for this article as so many information and so many different reviews I found.

Finally, I made a choice.

Garmin epix


 I am sure that it does not fit for every hiker for many reasons, but I like this watches despite some aggressive two stars Amazon Customers Reviews.

Product Description from Amazon.com

„The Garmin epix provides unprecedented, high-resolution, color, touchscreen GPS/GLONASS mapping, preloaded with TOPO U.S. 100K orselect versions only) and a worldwide basemap all on your wrist. Now you can get all the functions of a Garmin ABC (altimeter, barometer, compass) device, plus the fullcolormaps that let you not only track where you’ve been, but let you plan for what’s ahead. The revolutionary EXO antenna, when paired with GLONASS and EPO,means better signal strength and quicker fixes. 8GB of internal memory to support included 1 year BirdsEye Satellite Imagery subscription and optional TOPO U.S.24K maps. And, with Smart Notification, you never miss a text, email or notification, unless you want to.“

It is short but very exhaustively explains a power of Garmin epix Watches for hiking as well as for skiing, running, sailing, sledding, and even car driving or ATV trails adventures.

It is a relatively complex device and to adjust it can cause a few nervous hours. A little exploring and adjusting to it, you will become much more knowledgeable about the product.

It is a real GPS standalone device, and the main advantage is that it will always be with you on your wrist.

I found an answer to the question what the best GPS watch for hiking is. A smartphone can be forgotten on the bookshelf or into the glovebox, but Garmin epix be with you from the very morning.



Owners Manual

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  1. Mike

    Hi, great review I thing this type of technology is so cool. I know when I am out doing any activity it is so helpful to get data to help improve my performance. I think of the old days of running when we used to spray paint distance markers on the road to count off the miles. Now all we have to do is look at your wrist.

    1. Andrejs (Post author)

      Thanks for the comment. All this is a good thing that there is a desire to run or hike. GPS watches are really great comparing to an ordinary fitness tool. The main advantage is the ability to calculate the speed and distance.

  2. outsidegames2

    Interesting review about GPS watches. I didn’t even realise you could get a wristwatch with a GPS device on it. It would make a big difference to knowing just how far you had gone or where you were without having to take your phone out of your bag all the time.
    It would also be good for me when I go for a run to know how far I have gone.

    1. Andrejs (Post author)

      Thanks for stopping by. You are right that technologies develops so fast that we can not follow all news. Garmin epix GPS wrist watch is a real navigation tool with almost all stand alone car device features and even more.

  3. Jurgen

    I appreciate you took the time to explain why people would need a GPS watch, as I too was thinking in the beginning when I read your article, “I have my smartphone for that”.

    But then when you think about it. Those dedicated GPS watches are more resilient in the field, with different weather conditions and stuff. They probably also have a better battery-life. Very important when you’re out there… This is something that an apple watch or a smartphone is not good at.

    Thank you for the interesting article!

    p.s. I noticed you like Seiko watches 🙂 I myself wear a seiko sarb033.


    1. Andrejs (Post author)

      Thanks for the comment. 

      You are right about Seiko watches one of the most precise, durable and long battery life I know. Check e.g. this one SEIKO SPORTURA GPS SOLAR SSF007 or other in this range. Prices are rather steep, but the quality is perfect.

  4. Felix

    I think it’s a very interesting and very topical issue but I have 2 questions on the subject especially on smartphones 1) I live in Central America and the signal sometimes fails how accurate they are in places like this? And the other question is how much do these applications affect the battery consumption? I hope you can help me with these questions and see what application you recommend me to use it especially in the field to know in what exact place we are with the most exact coordinates possible. Thank you very much and I hope you can help me

    1. Andrejs (Post author)

      Thanks, Felix for stopping by.

       When it comes about GPS signal, it has almost global coverage except for most remote Arctic and Antarctic regions. So you do not need to worry about signal loss.

       Every GPS watch can operate independently, but you can get some optional features by downloading appropriate smartphone application which as a rule comes for free.


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