This is a review about the best GPS watch for Hiking. GPS (Global Positioning System) has come a long way since the development of the technology started way back during the space race of the 1960’s as the United States wanted a way of tracking satellites.
With military backing, the research into GPS technology continued through the 1970’s and 1980’s eventually finding its way into everyday use in vehicles, smartphones and watches. The technology allows the user to determine the distance traveled, the amount of time traveled and the estimated time of arrival at your destination. Most importantly, it can tell you exactly where you are and how to get where you want to be.
GPS hiking watches contain a sensor which receives the signals that are continuously transmitted by satellites circling the globe. At any time, there are at least 24 satellites circling and once the watch locates at least three, the internal software is able to calculate the hiker’s position.
Garmin (one of the leading GPS watch manufacturers) say that their GPS receivers are accurate to within fifteen meters although certain conditions may affect the accuracy such as the terrain, tall buildings, underground parking areas, tree cover (a forest for example).
GPS hiking watches are worn on the wrist and let the user measure and track their path of travel anywhere on Earth. With advances in technology, the watches have become smaller with better GPS signal pickup and extended battery life. With the watches becoming less cumbersome, everyday wear is now possible as earlier makes and models were rather large.
Best GPS Watch For Hiking
The availability of GPS watches has greatly improved the safety of hikers and it is advisable that every hiker has a quality GPS hiking watch.
Features To Look For In A GPS Watch
- On-Board Maps – A few GPS models include navigation style maps giving the hiker a visual cue of their surroundings.
- Location – The main feature of the GPS watch allowing the user to establish position.
- Pace – Time and distance are used to establish pace, the hiker needs accurate information between points on the map.
- Distance – Knowing where you are at any time helps the hiker user establish how far they are from any given destination.
- Battery life – Various makes and models battery life differ
Noteworthy Hiking Watches
The TomTom Adventurer
TomTom has been in the GPS business for many years. The TomTom Adventurer is one of the best hiking watches available, the data available to the hiker includes distance, duration, pace, ascent and descent. The watch also has an inbuilt compass, a handy feature. The Adventurer has a good battery life, but depending on the function you are using, it can drain quite quickly, setting the watch to normal mode can get up to three weeks of charge whereas enabling GPS can lower this to approximately 11 hours.
The Adventurer syncs with Apple iOS and Android devices using the TomTom MySports app, and it can also be synced via Apple Mac or Windows computers via the charging cable if you download the TomTom desktop app. The TomTom Adventurer is an excellent choice for hikers, the battery life, accuracy and the inclusion of the trail exploration feature make it a must buy at the price.
The Garmin Fenix 5
Garmin is often considerd the top name in GOS and were only of the trailblazers in the industry. The Garmin Fenix 5 GPS Watch is lighter and smaller than previous incarnations of the watch and packed with features it is another good choice for hikers. As with the TomTom Adventurer, it features a trail exploration mode for hiking routes. Decent battery life of up to two weeks if you don’t enable the GPS mode, however it does beat the TomTom in GPS mode giving up to 24 hours battery life when selected.
The Fenix 5 can be synced to a mobile phone and notifications will be sent to the watch. The Garmin Connect IQ app allows the user to install widgets that add functionality to the watch such as weather forecasts ideal for hiking. A bit on the expensive side, but with the available features it should be given some serious consideration.
Casio Pro Trek Smart WSD-F20
The Casio Pro Trek is a capable GPS watch having all the necessary hiking features available to other models. These include air pressure sensor for altitude and magnetic compass. The battery life is much in line with other brands like the TomTom Adventurer, but as hiking doesn’t require continuous updates of the GPS 24-hour battery life is becoming the norm.
Out of the box the Casio Pro Trek ships with Android Wear 2.0 so there is improved iOS support, download apps straight from the watch and access the new Google Assistant among other additions.
For hikers, the onboard trekking mode accessed by Casio’s Activity app will display ascent descent and distance and sports a full-colour map of your current location. Not the best GPS watch in the range but due to Casio’s Smart software setting it apart from the competition, well worth a look.
There are many GPS watches available on the market for hiking. The watches above offer a comprehensive set of features at reasonable prices, some brands more than others. Whilst there are more expensive options available it does not necessarily mean you will get bang for your buck.
Carefully reviewing your needs based on the feature sets available will go a long way in assisting you with your choice of GPS Hiking Watch technology.
Choosing the right GPS watch can be quite a daunting task for the new user and the internet is a good start to finding reviews from current hiking enthusiast and comparing the different brands of GPS watch available. I hope you like our choices for the best GPS watch for hiking.