GPS watches have tons of useful features for traveling by land and water. They make great backpacking companions and the perfect addition to your travel gear. You can run marathons with them, explore trails and track your location while searching for the perfect fishing spot.
GPS watches utilize technology to get you where you need to go. We’ve tested GPS watches for runners, hikers and explorers to give you the best outdoor watches for the money. There are GPS watches for every type of adventure and every budget. This guide will help you make an informed purchasing decision.
The Garmin Tactix Delta Solar is built to military standards and is tough as nails. This is a highly specialized tactical watch that has enough features to satisfy even the toughest critics. It has solar charging capabilities that increase your battery life and you can customize the amount of power it uses to extend your battery as long as possible. This watch is perfect for any mission or training session with its 1.4” display and DLC-coated bezel.
The specialized tactical features set this watch apart from others. It comes loaded with Jumpmaster mode, preloaded tactical activity, kill switch, dual-position format and kill switch that will wipe the device of memory in the event security is compromised. You can’t ask for a better operating system. It also has night vision capability which allows the watch to be read by night vision goggles.
This watch comes equipped with ABC sensors such as altimeter, barometer and compass. It can also access multiple global navigations systems such as Glonass, Galileo and GPS so it can assist you in the toughest conditions.
You won’t find a more qualified GPS watch than the Garmin Tactix Delta Solar and we highly recommend checking it out before your next big adventure.
The Garmin Fenix 6X Pro is one of the best GPS watches on the market for running, backpacking and exploring the great outdoors. It’s widely regarded as a best-in-class solar powered GPS watch that has tons of features that come in handy for any activity. The display is larger than most and measures 1.4” and it soaks in the sun’s energy to power your watch and to give you more juice. The face is easy to read in bright sunlight unlike other watches. It has an estimated wrist heart rate that can monitor altitude acclimation at high elevations and more.
This GPS watch comes loaded with topo maps, GPS, GLONASS and Galileo. It also has a gyroscope, barometric altimeter and 3-axis compass. On top of all that, it also comes preloaded with ski maps that cover more than 2,000 ski resorts all over the world. You can store your music and get smartphone notifications while you navigate the world.
Don’t worry about battery power – this GPS watch can run up to 14 days while using smart watch mode, 28 days in expedition GPS mode, 48 days in battery saver mode and 10 hours in GPS mode. The Garmin Fenix 6 Pro has a powerful battery that leaves competitors behind.
This is one of the best GPS watches for the outdoors and has thousands of positive reviews to back up Garmin’s claims. We highly suggest checking out this watch if you’re looking for tons of useful outdoor features.
The Garmin Instinct is the rugged outdoor GPS watch you’ve been looking for. It comes equipped with not only GPS, but also Glonass and Galileo along with a 3-axis compass to keep you aware of your location at all times. This watch isn’t just for looks, it’s literally one of the toughest GPS watches you can buy. Made for the roughest environments, this watch will get you where you need to go.
You may be wondering why you need more than GPS. Glonass, Galileo and the 3-axis compass give you an extra helping hand while trekking through more challenging locations. More is better when choosing an outdoor GPS watch. You also get monitors that track activity, heart rate and your overall stress. It comes with activity profiles that you can use. The battery is powerful and can run for 16 hours in GPS mode, 40 hours in battery saver mode and 14 days in smartwatch mode. Obviously, you won’t run your watch in one mode for that long at one time, but it’s good to know the battery will last a long time.
The Suunto Traverse Alpha is well-known in the outdoor community. It’s highly efficient for finding your way and is used by hunters, backpackers and those who like to explore their world. It’s designed tough and has a knurled stainless steel bezel that looks amazing. It features a sapphire crystal glass that’s scratch resistant and even the nylon strap is water repellent and durable enough for the toughest treks.
The GPS feature can map your location and you can view your progress at a later date. One special feature that makes this a great GPS watch for hunting is the automatic shot detection which tracks the time and location of your shot so you can find the coordinates later. It also has an automatic breadcrumb trail so you can easily find your way back from hiking or running.
You can use this watch to determine the optimal times to fish and hunt based on the moon phase calendar. The Suunto Traverse Alpha GPS watch is handmade in Finland and one of the best GPS watches for hunting, fishing, backpacking and running.
The Garmin Forerunner 35 is the easy-to-use GPS running watch that everyone is talking about. It can track your route and display your speed and distance. The face is super easy to read at all times and provides tons of features that are useful to runners. It measures your heart rate which is incredibly important when running and you can use it to measure your heart rate at night.
You can also document your movements, steps and it even tracks your caloric intake. The cool thing about Garmin products is you can upload your information to Garmin Connect which is their free tool that you can access online. They give you the tools you need to meet and beat your fitness goals.
We like this GPS watch for running because it’s super easy to read with a quick glance and it has tons of useful features that can make getting in shape easier and more efficient.
The Garmin Forerunner 945 does everything! It not only has a highly efficient GPS system, but you can also download songs to your watch to listen while you train. It features performance monitoring such as Vo2 Max and also adjusts for climate such as heat, altitude acclimation and training effects.
One feature we like is the Garmin Pay contactless payment solution. You can make payments from your watch and leave your money at home. This is great for those who like to hike or run lightweight and don’t feel comfortable bringing their wallets with them. This GPS running watch has onboard maps in full color to guide you so you never lose your way and can focus directly on your workout.
This GPS watch also has incident detection that will send your location to your emergency contacts through your smartphone. That’s a great feature to have, especially for those who like to live life on the edge. We like the clear display resolution and the handy features this watch has.
The Suunto Core is a great watch for outdoor enthusiasts. It’s jam packed with useful features that help you navigate and find your way. It has the regulars such as compass, altimeter and barometer, but also has included a storm alarm to keep you up-to-date on what’s happening around you.
GPS watches help you enjoy the outdoors even better and are extremely versatile these days. Suunto sports GPS watches are known to be durable and made from tough materials that will last. They’re the perfect GPS watch for outdoor activities such as backpacking, running, trail biking, swimming and lifting weights at the gym. They track your stats and help you keep up with your progress.
These watches are available in multiple colors and configurations and can help you track your activities both during the day and at night such as sleep and recovery.
If you’re looking for an easy-to-read GPS watch that’s stylish – this is a great choice. One look and you can tell it’s great for keeping track of your progress. You can view the display quickly and get the information you need, plus it’s readable in sunlight whereas other watches aren’t.
This GPS smartwatch allows you to see messages such as email, text, reminders and calls directly from your watch. The larger screen is a nice feature for those who enjoy simplicity and don’t want clutter.
GPS Watch Buyers Guide + FAQ
Are GPS Watches Worth It?
You get a lot of extra features with a good GPS watch. They can track your movements and chronicle your progress for either running or other sports such as biking, hiking, backpacking and swimming.
Many people try to get the same benefits with their smartphones, but they can be bulky when running or hiking. GPS watches make great outdoor watches and give you tons of features that are helpful even when not running. We also like the fact that GPS watches are rugged enough for the woods and provide ABC sensors that come in handy such as an altimeter, barometer and compass. You can use the onscreen map to chart your location.
Which Watch Has the Most Accurate GPS?
GPS watches are expensive, so you want to make sure you get the most accurate GPS watch you can find. Otherwise, what’s the point in spending a good chunk of money on a GPS watch that doesn’t do what it’s supposed to do. Here’s a list of the most accurate GPS watches on the market:
- Garmin Tactix Delta Solar
- Garmin fenix 6X Pro GPS Watch
- Garmin Instinct GPS Watch
- Suunto Traverse Alpha
- Garmin Forerunner 945
- Garmin Forerunner 35 GPS Running Watch
- Suunto Core Outdoor GPS Watch
- Garmin Forerunner 235
Do GPS Watches Work in the Woods?
Absolutely! GPS watches work in the woods and on trails to give you important information about your location and terrain. GPS technology has been increasing in efficiency and are only getting better to give you more accurate logistics even in remote wilderness. A lot of hikers and backpackers are starting to use GPS watches because it’s helpful to know where you are at all times.
Do I Need a GPS Watch for Hiking?
A rugged outdoor GPS watch can do wonders for your hiking trip. They’re reliable and provide an extra layer of safety such as navigation. They have long life batteries that will last for a weekend hike. GPS watches are also great for trail running if you like to track your progress.
Is Garmin More Accurate than an Apple Watch?
You may be wondering if the Garmin running watches are better than an Apple watch. It’s a valid question as those are some of the hottest watches you can buy. It’s a close race between the two watch brands for the best outdoor watch, but it really depends on what you want from your watch.
The Garmin line of outdoor watches are probably better suited for athletes and hikers, whereas the Apple watch may be more suited for everyday purposes. It’s a close call between the two, but we like Garmin because this is an outdoor website.
What Garmin Watch is Best for Hunting?
GPS watches can come in handy when hunting. It’s always good to plot out your trek so you know where you’re going and a dependable GPS watch makes it easier. If you’re looking for the best Garmin watch for hunting, we suggest checking out the Garmin Instinct, Garmin Fenix 6X and the Garmin Tactix Delta Solar. Each of these GPS watches are ideal for hunting and are rugged enough for heavy-duty use. The Garmin Tactix Delta Solar is specifically designed to meet military standards and makes a great hunting GPS watch.
What is the Best GPS Hiking Watch?
A GPS watch can be a lifesaver on a hiking trip. This is true even if you know the area well and have hiked it previously. You never know when you may need to rely on a GPS watch to get you to safety. The Garmin Instinct makes a great GPS hiking watch because it’s tough and has GPS, Glonass and Galileo. It also comes equipped with a 3-axis compass just in case.
What’s a Good Survival Watch?
Your survival watch needs to at least be extremely accurate and rugged. If you want one of the best survival watches on the market, we recommend the Suunto Traverse Alpha GPS watch. It’s famous in the outdoor community as a highly-effective watch that endows the user with tons of useful features.
Hunters use it routinely to find their way through the woods and backpackers use it for trail exploration. It even has automatic shot detection which is a great feature that measures the time and location when you fire a shot. It even helps you assess the best time to catch fish and find game to hunt with the moon phase calendar. We highly recommend this watch for survival applications.