The new Google Pixel Watch 2 isn't intended as a rugged outdoor watch, and you certainly shouldn't go knocking it against any cliff faces, but if you're a keen adventurer, how will it hold up as your main watch outdoors?
It's definitely not a direct rival to heavy duty devices like the Apple Watch Ultra 2 or the chunky Coros Vertix 2 (that rounded glass lens isn't made for heavy knocks) but if you're happiest out on the trails, you might be pleasantly surprised at how it stacks up. Here, we break down all the key stats to see how it compares to other devices in the backcountry, and where it might even have the upper hand.
The Google Pixel Watch is a mid-priced watch, priced at $349.99 for the Wi-Fi only version, and $399.99 for the LTE model, which is capable of making calls and transmitting data without a Bluetooth connection to your phone.
That's around twice the price of our current top-rated hiking watch, the Apple Watch Ultra 2, and around the same price as the outdoor-friendly Garmin Instinct 2X Solar. If you're looking for something more affordable, the Amazfit T-Rex 2 comes highly recommended.
Weight matters on the trail, particularly if you're fast-hiking, and the Google Pixel Watch 2 is compact and feather-light. At a mere 31g (down from 36g for the original Pixel Watch). That's about half the weight of the Apple Watch Ultra, which currently holds top spot as our best GPS watch for hiking, and 34g less the Amazfit T-Rex 2.
That extra weight is most noticeable when you're running, but if you're really packing light then that's an extra granola bar you could be carrying.
Battery life is a huge factor when you're looking for a watch for outdoor expeditions, and the Pixel Watch 2 will need daily charging. That doesn't come as much of a surprise considering its compact size and light weight (high capacity batteries are heavy), and assumes you have its always-on display enabled.
The Apple Watch Ultra and Ultra 2 will last around 36 hours in typical use, so they'll still need charging up at least every other day. If you're going to be off-grid for days or even weeks at a time, you'll be better served by a dedicated GPS sports watch. The Garmin Enduro 2 is one of the best around, designed specifically with ultramarathon runners in mind, and watches in the Garmin Instinct series are a good lower-cost option.
The Pixel Watch 2 runs Google Wear OS, which means it's compatible with a huge array of apps from the Google Play Store. That includes favorites like Komoot, AllTrails and Strava, which I'd highly recommend installing to get the most out of your watch. There are more adventure apps available if you have an Apple Watch, but WearOS has the essentials covered.
You also get Google Maps pre-installed with the Google Pixel Watch 2. I'd never recommend using any GPS watch as your main way to navigate when hiking (for that you need a map and compass), but it's handy for finding your way in developed areas. Earlier this year, Google also updated Maps with heaps of information about US National Parks, including trails and points of interest.
Google purchased Fitbit a couple of years ago, and has integrated its health-tracking tech into the Pixel Watch 2. That includes a new continuous electrodermal activity (cEDA) sensor, which monitors all day for signs of stress and suggests you take a moment out to relax or try a moment of mindfulness. That's a nice feature, but perhaps not so useful on the trail.
What outdoor lovers will appreciate, however, is the addition of pace coaching, which can help you keep things steady during long hikes or runs, and avoid setting off too fast. Hiking is one of the 40 supported workout modes, along with kayaking, mountain biking, paddle boarding, and cross-country skiing.
If you opt for the LTE version, the Google Pixel Watch 2 will allow you to make calls, and download apps and maps without relying on either Wi-Fi or a Bluetooth connection to your phone. That can be a real boon outdoors, and isn't something you get with most dedicated sports watches. Garmin has only produced one sports watch with LTE (the Forerunner 945 LTE) and shows no sign of releasing another any time soon.
Of course, mobile data connectivity isn't guaranteed, and can be sparse or non-existent in remote areas. To make sure you can contact help in an emergency, you might want to invest in a satellite communicator.
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Cat is the editor of Advnture, She’s been a journalist for 15 years, and was fitness and wellbeing editor on TechRadar before joining the Advnture team in 2022. She’s a UK Athletics qualified run leader, and in her spare time enjoys nothing more than lacing up her shoes and hitting the roads and trails (the muddier, the better), usually wearing at least two sports watches.