Hiking or engaging in several outdoor activities is literally exhausting. That will be even worse if you bring your bags or backpack, even if you are [...]
How to Choose a Hiking Watch
Published: July 14, 2021
Hiking is an activity that many people enjoy, and some equipment actually makes hiking easier and fun. One of these is the hiking watch. Having this instrument during your activity allows you to enjoy hiking, and ensures that you will not get lost. But what are the features to look for when buying a hiking watch?
Hiking watches come with numerous features, like a GPS and fitness tracker. You should choose your watch based on the feature you need. Of course, watches with many features are more expensive than standard versions.
We conducted some evaluations and asked other hikers about the different topics we will be discussing. In this article, we will be focusing on the reasons why to pick a specific watch, and the factors and features to consider when buying a hiking watch.
Factors to consider when buying a hiking watch
Don’t buy the first hiking watch you see out there. Instead, learn about the features you need for the hiking trip you are about to make. Click here to learn the difference between a smartphone and GPS. We advise you to check the price, ease of use, battery life, materials, water resistance, size, and weight.
The different price ranges are divided into two. Hiking watches without a GPS feature cost around $100, while those equipped with a GPS commonly cost over $600. In general, we noticed, that watches with basic features are cheaper than those with more features.
Obviously, equipment packed with high-quality materials and many features have a higher price.
- Ease of use
In this area, we suggest you get a standard hiking watch. They are more resistant when it comes to usage. When using a touch-screen watch we encountered some disadvantages. For instance, we found it hard to utilize the touch-screen watch if hands are messy or wet. However, it does not work if you don’t touch the screen.
In terms of hiking, you should prioritize the ease of access and advantages, especially when it comes to your gears. Always remember that you will be dealing with a lot of factors once you’ll be outside.
- Battery life
Go for watches with exceptional batteries that can withstand long hours. And if you are going to hike for numerous days, you should monitor your usage. As you utilize the watch, either for GPS or fitness tracking purposes, be attentive to the days you will be needing it.
A whole-day usage of the GPS can fully consume the battery. Try to check other hiking watches with power saving features to regulate the battery. With this, you can adjust and extend its life while you are out there.
Some wristbands are flexible, and are also made with great fabric. When you go on a hike, always think about your comfort and advantages. This also applies to the glass of the watch. We prefer to buy hiking watches with high-quality, anti-scratch features.
Sometimes, you may bump into branches or rocks, so it is better if your watch can resist these instances. A type of glass that is known for superbly performing is sapphire.
- Size and weight
If you can find a watch that weighs less than 1.5 lbs., then it is a prime choice. Hiking requires lightweight materials to provide you an alley for freedom of movement. Therefore, pick the lighter ones, and avoid bulky designs.
- Water resistance
This is often misinterpreted by most of us. Water resistance is different from waterproof. We advise you to know the capacity of the resistance of your hiking watch. You may be mistaken, and expose it to too much water, which is not advisable. It can completely damage your watch.
Common features you’ll find in a hiking watch
Hiking watches usually have similar features. But, not all of them bear every characteristic. Common features that you will find in hiking watches include the GPS, altimeter, compass, barometer, and fitness tracker. Some also have thermometers and music.
- GPS (Global Positioning System)
This is a feature that can provide you information about your location. Most hiking watches available for quite higher prices contain this feature. In the midst of your hiking adventures, you totally need a guide on your path.
It is important for you to recognize your position in a specific place to avoid getting lost. What we like about this equipment is that it permits you to record while you track your hiking agenda.
If you want a top-performing hiking watch with GPS, you should check out the Garmin Fenix 5X Plus (Check the price on amazon.com), which we deeply reviewed in our Best Hiking Watches in 2021 article. Not only does it offer you three options for your satellite preferences, but it’s also equipped with many features that will help you through your adventure.
Apart from the GPS, hiking watches also have this feature to identify the altitude. This type of instrument is actually used in aircraft. Watch manufacturers engineered a smart idea, giving hikers the advantage to determine their elevation. By knowing this, you can easily find your current location on a map.
Most of GPS-equipped hiking watches contain a compass as well. It aids you to determine your direction, however, some hikers told us that the compass in watches is not very accurate, similarly to the GPS.
This type of instrument is digital. That makes the gear dependent on the signal that can be gathered by the watch. Although it compresses everything in one apparatus, we can say that the features are not perfect.
The barometer in hiking watches has the same function as a standard barometer. They measure atmospheric or air pressure. This is used to perceive the presence of storms.
Today, a lot of watches can provide you with a detailed report about the air pressure, and even warn you if there is a detected intense or any disturbance of the weather. Having this can help you vacate the area before the storm arrives.
- Fitness tracker
There actually is a fitness tracker that you can wear on your wrist. But, if you wear a separate one, it may be uncomfortable when hiking. We commend this feature on hiking watches, as you can monitor your steps, heart rate, and many components regarding your health.
It’s a good device for you to take care of yourself in the middle of an adventure, as you will know your limits and capacities.
Reasons to use a hiking watch
We asked other hikers how a hiking watch aids their needs, and we were able to collate the three reasons that were given the most. The first purpose is to provide directions. The second is for weather forecast, and lastly, for fitness and health tracking.
The main role of a hiking watch is to clearly act as your lead during your adventures. Hiking watches function as GPS that can give you a heads up of your location, or work as compasses, and even inform hikers of the altitude.
Hiking will take you to unanticipated surroundings and places, so having this kind of equipment is a great advantage. Being literate to the directions will prevent you from getting lost.
- Weather forecast
Since you can’t bring your television or radio to keep track of the weather conditions, a hiking watch is a great alternative, as it offers this feature. Yes, right now, smartphone apps allow you to check the weather updates online. However, it may be inconvenient to hold your phone as you go on your trip.
These hiking watches are sometimes connected to your phone, in case you really need a full weather report. It is important to know the weather around the area, according to other hikers’ experiences.
- Health and fitness tracking
Several people are using their watches as trackers — usually, joggers or anyone who wants to trace their physical activities. With hiking watches, you can have both health and fitness tracking functions.
It can calculate the amount of your steps, monitor your heart rate, and even calculate the calories you burn. By using such features while hiking, you can be told if you already need to eat or rest, and know your limits.
Before you buy a hiking watch, make sure that the features can be an advantage and help you if you are already in the middle of your adventure. The only thing that makes a certain device effective is the appropriate use of it. You can’t just utilize a gear with a different function.
Be meticulous, and scrutinize every feature of your prospect watch. In the end, you will be the one using it, so know your priorities and their importance.