The Garmin Forerunner 965 looks good for hikers, but this feature could make it great

Hiker checking GPS watch in forest
(Image credit: Getty)

The Garmin Forerunner 965 has yet to be formally announced, but we've had plenty of glimpses that give us a good idea what to expect. Maps look particularly great on the upcoming watch's new AMOLED display, but there's one thing that Garmin could add to a future model that would make the watch even better for hikers – and that's physical hands.

Garmin is no stranger to building hybrid watches. The Vivomove series has been around for years now, and late last year the company released the Garmin Instinct Crossover – its first analog/digital watch built to handle rough and tumble outdoors. It even has a special anti-shock system that stops the hands getting knocked out of place, even if you're chopping logs with your camping axe.

So why should the Forerunner series get physical? Well, first of all, the Forerunner 900 series are a serious investment, so it's quite likely that athletes won't want to buy an extra watch for daytime wear. Adding physical hands would make the Forerunner 965 (or its successor) a little more classic looking when not in use.

Lending a hand

The main reason, however, is the extra functionality offered by physical hands. I'm currently testing the Garmin Vivomove Trend, which sometimes uses its hands as indicators on a gauge (a very smart function), but with an outdoor watch they could also line up and serve as a compass needle.

Casio Pro Trek PRW-6900 watch

The Casio Pro Trek PRW-6900 can be laid flat on top of a paper map and used like a regular compass (Image credit: Casio)

If the case and strap allowed the watch to be laid flat (like the Casio Pro Trek PRW-6900), you could then lay it on top of a paper map for navigation (see our guide to how to use a compass). Garmin could even add a rotating bezel for an extra touch of physical functionality.

Of course, you would always want to carry a regular compass too, in case your watch becomes damaged or its battery runs flat, but it would be super convenient to have one on your watch. Perhaps the watch body could even be popped out of its strap. Apple has patented a similar idea for a watch that doubles as a camera.

Perhaps the Forerunner series isn't the best place for this kind of watch – it might work better for the Garmin Enduro 3 when it eventually arrives – but it would be really interesting to see just how far the company could take the hybrid watch concept, taking the best features of field watches and GPS watches, and rolling them into one adventure-ready bundle.

Cat Ellis

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.