Although the smartphone has seen many more bare wrists where a timepiece used to be, we wouldn’t go hiking without a watch. The best hiking watches offer too much useful information at a glance to risk leaving at home.
As well keeping an accurate track of time, which is essential when you're in the outdoors, they can tell you where you are, which direction you’re heading in, how high you are and even what the weather is doing thank to features like a built-in GPS, compass, altimeter or barometer. That’s before you even get to how much monitoring of your vital signs is possible with heart rate monitors and similar. Toughness is important as this is a watch if used where it’s designed to go will take more than its fair share of knocks, scrapes and drenchings. Here are the watches we would recommend.
Full of features and military spec
Here’s a GPS watch that’s rugged enough to survive the toughest treatment as it’s constructed to US Military standard for thermal, water and shock resistance. You never need be lost again as it features a built-in 3 axis compass, barometric altimeter and can use multiple GPS systems. Your heart rate, activity and stress are monitored and it will go 14-16 hours between charges.
Weather forecasting from iconic brand
Suunto help you stay ahead of the elements by tracking the weather and the sun, featuring a storm alarm, weather trends and sunrise/sunset times for over 400 locations. An altimeter, barometer, compass and weather indicator are built-in. It displays current elevation, air pressure trends and can sense drops in air pressure to notify you of approaching storms.
Solar watch with all the hiking essentials
This solar watch has three sensors built into its rugged 100M water-resistant form: an altimeter, digital compass and barometer. The data is displayed on a full auto LED face with Super Illuminator Backlight with Afterglow. The battery lasts nine months on a full charge and that’s before you get some help from the sun.
Traditional watch with digital display
Timex’s watch has a 24-hour chronograph with a digital display. There’s a 24-hour countdown timer, daily alarm, calendar and three time zones. It’s water-resistant up to 100m and the dial has a light-up Indiglo function and luminous hands. An adjustable nylon strap's durable enough for any outdoor adventures.
It’s always reassuring to see a good hiking watch on your wrist when you check the time before setting off on a walk. Although it’s likely your smartphone will be with you too, having such vital information so easy to glance at when you need to, without stopping, can’t be underestimated. The hiking watch we would recommend to most people is the Garmin Instinct. It’s got everything you need in a hiking watch and more, including GPS, altimeter and compass. It has fitness watch functions too and will go a couple of weeks between charges so you can head out for a weekend adventuring knowing it won’t let you down.
If you want a traditional chronograph at a reasonable price, the Timex Men's T45181 Expedition is a dependable classic. While it mostly just tells the time, it’s durable and not so expensive you would worry about taking it into the wilderness.
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