Best hiking and outdoor watches for adventurers and ultra runners

We've hiked and trekked with all these devices for the ultimate buying guide
Best GPS watches for hiking
Wareable is reader-powered. If you click through using links on the site, we may earn an affiliate commission. Learn more

People who love hiking, trail running and the great outdoors need a reliable GPS watch – with decent battery life.

And as well as tracking off-piste adventures, they can also be great safety tools. Thanks to the likes of Garmin, Suunto and Polar, and newcomers like Coros, there's a wealth of great devices to choose from.

If you're into hiking, ultrarunning, skiing, trail running or wild swimming, outdoor watches can measure the altitude and speed of your downhills, offer GPX guidance and track multi-day jaunts.

Buying the right outdoor watch is mostly about avoiding features you don't need. Long battery life is great, but you don't need 100 hours of GPS tracking to do a 10K trail run.

But those involved in multi-stage races, tackling insane elevations and nutrition plans will require every iota of battery life and detail.

We have extensively tested every sports and smartwatch on the market – and here's our picks of the best hiking and outdoors GPS watches for every budget and need.

TL;dr: Our top outdoor watch picks

  • Best outdoor watch: Garmin Fenix 7 – $699/£599 – Full reviewAmazon

The Garmin Fenix 7 has the best mix of tracking features, full mapping support and level of battery life that will keep you covered for potentially weeks of outdoor time.

  • Best outdoor watch for maps: Garmin Epix (Gen 2) – $899/£749 – Full reviewAmazon

If you can afford to spend more than a Fenix and like the idea of a color screen that does elevate the mapping experience and offer the same level of tracking with a drop in battery life, then the Epix is the one to go for.

  • Best cheap outdoor watch: Amazfit T-Rex 2 – $229/£219 – Full reviewAmazon

The T-Rex 2 offers real-time breadcrumb navigation, the ability to upload and follow routes plus gives you a great color touchscreen and a battery life that's capable of going the distance when you do.

Outdoor watch key considerations:

Design

Big watches should see an upgrade in the robustness of the device and offer room for more sensors and a bigger capacity battery – but at the sacrifice of comfort.

A smaller and lighter watch may be better suited to anyone that's planning to turn to it for speedier outdoor time like trail runs or ultra runs where every extra gram of weight matters.

If you're planning to use it for high velocity water sports such as surfing, opt for a watch with a 100m waterproof rating as opposed to the standard 50m.

Mapping

One of the big reasons many turn to a dedicated outdoor watch as opposed to a standard multisport watch.

Some watches will also allow you to upload maps and routes to the watch by first uploading to them to a companion app and then syncing them over.

Check the type of file formats that are supported. The key one here is GPX, which is one of the most common mapping file formats.

Other watches will offer full maps preloaded onto the watch already. Garmin's top end outdoor watches offer TOPO-style maps that either preloaded or downloadable depending on the model.

That means you'll be able to see rich levels of mapping data on your watch screen as opposed to a simple line directing you, which we'll get into next.

Navigation

Most good outdoor watches will offer the ability to follow routes on the watch with simple breadcrumb navigation.

So you're following a line on screen that will nudge you into the right direction.

You should look for that breadcrumb navigation and features that guide you back to your starting point as desirable features to have at your disposal.

Battery life

The key here is GPS battery life. While most outdoor watch makers will primarily express battery performance in smartwatch terms of typical usage terms, when you're using that watch to track, these are the numbers you really want to know about.

Some watches offer different GPS battery life numbers based on offering the option to reduce the accuracy of that GPS tracking to improve battery performance.

These power saving modes will make sure you have good data for expeditions where you might need to spend multiple days tracking and don't have the facilities during that time to charge.

Best outdoor watch 2022 – our reviews compared

We've run down the pick of our smartwatch reviews, and distilled them into one read. However, read the full in-depth testing before buying to make sure you're getting the right device for your needs.

Garmin Fenix 7

Price when reviewed: From $699/£599 | Garmin, Amazon

Best hiking and outdoor watches for adventurers and ultra runners

Garmin Fenix 7 key specs and features

  • Comes in multiple design and finishes
  • Multicontinent Topoactive maps
  • Multi-band mode
  • Tracks skiing, hiking, mountain biking, surfing
  • Touchscreen display
  • 18-22 days smartwatch battery, 10 hours-74 days GPS battery life
  • Garmin Pay and music player
  • Waterproof up to 100 metres

If you want the best new outdoor watches that delivers the best mapping experience out there, then the Fenix 7 series is what you need on your wrist.

It's pricier than most other watches, but whether you go for the Fenix 7 (pictured), 7S or the 7X, you're getting a more typical Garmin transflective display now with touchscreen capabilities along with a rich array of sports and activity modes including hiking, climbing and skiing.

Like the Fenix 6, you're getting a similar rugged look, with the option to pay more for a tougher Power Sapphire lens, which still gives you a more substantial solar battery boost than the 6. The Fenix 7X we tested is capable of delivering up to 28 days in smartwatch mode (or 37 days with solar), 89 hours of GPS battery life (122 hours with solar) and 62 days (139 days with solar) in Expedition GPS mode.

You're still getting full color Topo maps, with multi-continent maps either preloaded or downloaded. Beyond the standard 7 series models, you'll have access to multi band GNSS support to increase outdoor tracking accuracy in more typically problematic satellite coverage areas. There's the ability to upload maps and use turn-by-turn navigation and back to the start features, while new features like real-time stamina aim to give you a better sense of how far you can train or run for.

The 7X also exclusively includes an LED flashlight, to give you a visibility boost with the choice of white and red light options to pick from.

If you want an outdoor watch that's great to look at maps on, help you navigate your way and give you heaps of battery life, this is one you want. The Fenix 7 or 7S will likely serve most people best, but if you want the best and the biggest, it's the 7X you want.

Read our full Garmin Fenix 7 review, Garmin Fenix 7X review and Garmin Fenix 7S review.

Garmin Instinct Solar 2

Price when reviewed: $349.99/£299.99 | Garmin, Amazon

Best hiking and outdoor watches for adventurers and ultra runners

Garmin Instinct Solar 2 key specs and features

  • Comes in solar and non solar designs
  • Upload routes and breadcrumb navigation
  • Heart rate and Pulse Ox sensor
  • Safety and tracking features
  • Rich tracking modes
  • 28 days-unlimited battery in smartwatch mode, 30 hours-unlimited in GPS battery
  • Garmin Pay and Connect IQ store support
  • Waterproof up to 100 metres

The Garmin Instinct 2 packs in a lot of the same hiking features found on Garmin's Fenix series watches, but for substantially less money. If you opt for the solar edition as well, and you spend enough time outdoors with it, you're going to enjoy seriously big battery life for your adventures too.

The Instinct 2 is an excellent outdoors watch and cheaper at $349/£299. Adding in solar pushes the price up to $449/£329, but outside of Garmin's PowerGlass lens, offers the same features as the regular Instinct 2.

The Instinct's biggest miss over the likes of the Fenix 7 and Vertix 2 is mapping features, but you do get course navigation of uploaded GPX routes, elevation data, storm alerts and TrackBack (for following waypoints back to your starting location).

There's a heart rate monitor on board that should be good enough for your big treks, Garmin's Pulse Ox sensor to to aid trekking and training and altitude and now offers all of the training analysis available on Garmin's Forerunner watches.

Garmin has now added full Connect IQ Store access and Garmin Pay to make it a better smartwatch, but does still lack a built-in music player

When it comes to battery life, the Instinct 2 offers a significant jump in performance compared to the original Insinct and Instinct Solar. You're now getting 28 days in smartwatch mode and 30 hours of GPS battery. That's boosted when you factor in that solar support, which can technically help the watch enjoy unlimited battery.

Garmin also offers Surf, Tactical and Camo versions of the Instinct 2 for some added tracking support. Though for most, the Instinct 2 should offer enough to make it a good outdoor watch companion.

Wareable verdict: Garmin Instinct 2 review | Instinct Solar review

Garmin Epix (Gen 2)

Price when reviewed: From $899/£799 | Garmin, Amazon

Best hiking and outdoor watches for adventurers and ultra runners

Garmin Epix (Gen 2) key specs and features

  • AMOLED touchscreen display
  • Multicontinent Topoactive maps
  • Multi-band mode
  • Tracks the likes of skiing, hiking, trail running, mountain biking, surfing
  • 6-16 days in smartwatch mode, 10 hours-14 days GPS battery life
  • Garmin Pay and music player
  • Waterproof up to 100 metres

If you like the idea of having a Fenix-style watch but would rather have a color touchscreen instead of Garmin's usual transflective one, then the new Epix will give you that.

It only comes in the one size, but matches the 47mm case frame of the Fenix 7 and plants an AMOLED display in the middle, which is bright, colorful and helps to bring outdoor features like mapping to life.

Like the Fenix 7 series, you're getting all of the same outdoor tracking modes and those key ABC (altimeter, barometer and compass) sensors and features like turn-by-turn navigation, multi-continent Topo map and the multi band GNSS support to offer superior outdoor tracking accuracy.

You're getting an array of smartwatch features here too, including Garmin Pay and a music player to pile on tunes for offline use. You can also connect additional sensors like an external heart rate monitor, if you yearn for more accurate heart rate data during more intense treks.

It won't give you the same level of battery life as the Fenix or the Enduro (below), but you can still get an impressive 16 days in smartwatch mode, or 6 days when the screen is in always-on mode. It's up to 42 hours in GPS mode and 21 days in battery saver mode.

You'll get a great outdoor watch with the best of Garmin's tracking features plus a vibrant color display, which offers strong visibility outdoors and doesn't drain the battery in a really undesirable way.

Read our full Garmin Epix review

Coros Vertix 2

Price when reviewed: $699.99/£599.99 Amazon

Coros Vertix 2

Coros Vertix 2 key specs and features

  • Works with Strava, Komoot, TrainingPeaks and more
  • Preloaded landscape maps and downloadable Topo regional maps
  • 1.4-inch screen
  • Dual-band mode for improved outdoor tracking accuracy
  • ECG sensor to measure HRV
  • 32GB music player and GoPro/Insta 360 camera controls
  • 60 days battery in daily use, 50-240 hours GPS battery life
  • Waterproof up to 100 metres

With an incredible 140-hour full GPS battery life, the Coros Vertix 2 offers serious levels of stamina to take on what you'll get from Garmin's top end Fenix 7 series watch.

With such colossal battery life it's aimed at multi-day trekkers, but also ultrarunners and those with a keen interest in performance levels.

The Vertix 2 includes a dual-system GPS, mapping, music and EvoLab – a powerful new suite of training insights to potentially rival Garmin and Polar.

Like the Apple Watch and the new Fitbits, there’s also an Electrocardiogram (ECG) Sensor in the outer bezel for taking heart rate variability readings. You won’t find that ECG tech on Garmin equivalents, though Coros’ tech is not approved or designed for medical use.

At $699/£599, it’s a chunk cheaper than something like the Garmin Enduro and around the same price as the cheapest Fenix 7 series option.

On paper the Vertix 2 claims up to 140 hours GPS battery life and up to 240 hours in UltraMax lower power mode.

Even when you turn on the All Systems GPS with Dual Frequency to squeeze out extra accuracy, you still get 50 hours. However, we didn't see any evidence that the mode added meaningful extra accuracy in our in-depth testing.

Standard GPS usage with music cuts your adventure time to 30 hours and claimed general smartwatch usage is 60 days, with an expedition mode stretching that to 65 days.

In our tests, the Vertix 2 largely lived up to billing. On rest days, smartwatch usage barely drained 2-3% battery. It took 15 days to burn 50% with training, including more than 10 hours of GPS tracked workouts, covering a mix of indoor and outdoor sessions. That translates to at least 30 days on a single charge while training an hour a day.

Fitness data includes real time training load, VO2 Max, pace and intensity guidance in the form of threshold pace and HR estimates, base fitness tracking, ongoing fatigue level, load impact and recovery time recommendations. It’ll also assess your running performance level and give you a marathon level for benchmarking.

It’s more watch than most need but if you’ve got big wrists, deep pockets and a serious dedication to more serious adventures, this is an indisputably capable multisport tool with a feature set – and a price tag – to rival the leading top-end outdoor watches.

Read our full Coros Vertix 2 review.

Garmin Enduro 2

Price: From $1,099/£929 Amazon | Garmin

Best outdoor watches update August 2022 new style

Garmin Enduro 2 key specs and features

  • Powerglass display for solar charging
  • LED torch
  • Multiband GNSS support
  • SatIQ smart satellite technology
  • Tracks the likes of skiing, hiking, trail running, mountain biking
  • Mapping and music now included
  • 34-46 days battery in smartwatch mode, 68 hours all systems GNSS battery lif
  • Grade adjusted pace
  • Waterproof up to 100 metres

Garmin recently introduced the Enduro 2, which we'll be busy testing imminently and brings some features we were surprised missed out on the first Garmin Enduro and it's making big battery life when tracking the big priority.

It's now only available in a titanium model but includes the same size case and PowerGlass display to boost battery when you're out in the sun. The addition of a LED torch improves nighttime visibility and is more powerful than the one featured on the Fenix 7X.

On the tracking front, there's the same gamut of feature covering everything from ultra runs to hikes and can rest stops at aid stations, offer ClimbPro analysis of hills on routes, waypoints and points of interest, trail run VO2 Max, and full performance and recovery analytics.

Garmin has brought over its great multiband mode from the Fenix, Epix and latest Forerunners to improve outdoor tracking accuracy when grabbing a reliable signal around tall buildings or built up forested areas can be problematic. It's also added SatIQ, a new Garmin technology to switch to be the best suited tracking mode for your adventuring.

There's now a built-in music player and full color mapping, which was surprisingly missing from the first Enduro and that doesn't come at the expense of battery life. It's 110 hours of GPS battery life (150 hours with solar) and 68 hours in that new all systems GNSS mode (81 hours with solar), offering bigger battery numbers than other Garmin watches that support it. The expedition mode will cover you for 77 days if you really want to go long with it.

Garmin has taken the Enduro and beefed up its battery and tracking skills, you'll just need to spend a big wad of cash to get it on your wrist.

Garmin Fenix 6 series

Price when reviewed: From $549.99/£529 (Fenix 6 Pro) Amazon | Garmin

Fenix 6S Pro

Garmin Fenix 6 key specs and features

  • Comes in standard and solar editions
  • Preloaded Topographic maps, real-time breadcrumb navigation
  • Tracks running, cycling, swimming (pool and open water) skiing, climbing and more
  • Garmin and Strava Live segments
  • 14-16 days smartwatch battery, 36 hours-36 days GPS battery life
  • Garmin Pay and music player
  • Waterproof up to 100 metres

While the Fenix 7 series might now be on the scene, we don't think you should rule the older Fenix out as an option to grab. Especially if you can find it at a good price.

In true Fenix fashion, it tracks everything from trail running to XC skiing, and includes a hiking mode.

For those that are really into fitness there's heart rate, which feeds into VO2 Max stats for high intensity sports, with Training Effect and recovery data.

But let's stick to why this watch is the best option for outdoors types. You can upload GPX routes from the Connect app or third party apps like Strava. You also get so much more data than any other outdoor watch option.

The Fenix 6 Pro uses topographic maps, which adds a whole dimension to wrist-based navigation, and you can even find places of interest straight from the watch. They're the best maps around though navigating your surroundings using the watches five buttons can take some getting used to.

And battery life is another huge plus. UltraTrac mode offers 42 hours of GPS tracking. That's a weekend of hiking without charging, which is a big plus for multi-day runners or walkers. Switch to Expedition mode and get weeks without charging. The solar edition will also get you a couple of extra days in smartwatch mode too.

Whether you go for the Fenix 6S, 6 or 6X, go Pro to get those all important mapping features and you'll get one of the best outdoor watches in the business. There's also Fenix 6 and 6S Solar versions, which adds three days smartwatch use to the already generous longevity. However, only extreme adventurers will benefit from the upgrade.

The key things you're missing out from the Fenix 7 series are longer battery life with or without solar, touchscreen functionality across the range, more accurate outdoor tracking and some software features that will likely roll out to the older 6 to help make it still feel like an enhanced outdoor watch option.

Read our full reviews: Garmin Fenix 6 Pro review | Garmin Fenix 6S review | Garmin Fenix 6X review

Polar Grit X Pro

Price when reviewed: $449/£439 Amazon

Best hiking and outdoor watches for adventurers and ultra runners

Polar Grit X Pro key specs and features

  • Military grade design
  • FuelWise fuelling recommendations, HillSplitter analytics
  • Breadcrumb navigation and upload routes via Komoot
  • Running performance tests
  • 130 sports profiles
  • Nightly recharge measurements
  • 7 days in watch mode, 40 hours in GPS battery and 100hrs in training mode
  • Notifications and music controls
  • Waterproof up to 100 metres

The Grit X Pro is an upgraded version of the Grit X watch Polar rolled out in 2020, adding features that probably should've appeared on the original to make it an affordable outdoor option to Garmin's top end outdoor watches.

Polar puts a big focus on endurance and recovery, so major features are things like FuelWise, which enables you to plan your adventure, and have Polar work out when you should eat, how much, and remind you on the go. We found it worked really well, but the reminders were a little easy to miss

There's sleep tracking with a focus on recovery, which we found outstripped Garmin in terms of accuracy – and running stats and VO2 Max are a big part of the feature set, thanks to the 10-LED array heart rate monitor.

A big part of Polar Grit X is navigation, but this is something that falls down compared to the Garmin's Fenix series. It's done with a tie-in with navigation app Komoot, but you need a paid-for account to really get useful navigation and it's a pretty simplistic point-to-point interface. While Garmin's TOPO mapping is hardly detailed, it adds a lot of useful detail.

There's a Hillsplitter feature that tracks your ascents and descents, and tries to tell you whether you're losing time on the slopes.

In terms of what you're getting over the original Grit X, there's an added trackback feature for navigation and the ability to view route and elevation profiles. Those features seem unlikely to come to the original either.

Polar has also added the three recovery-centric tests from its Vantage V2 watch. That's the leg recovery test along with running and cycling performance tests.

Outdoors watches need good battery life, and that's ticked off here with 40 hours of full GPS tracking that can be extended to 100 hours using power saving.

The Grit X doesn't quite match the Fenix for depth of data and features – especially when you add in that Garmin packs on-wrist music playback from Spotify and Connect IQ apps. However, it resoundingly beats Garmin on price, so unless you're really testing the limits of endurance and sports science, the Polar Grit X Pro comes highly recommended.

Read our Polar Grit X Pro review and Polar Grit X review.

Amazfit T-Rex 2

Price: $179/£219 | Amazon | Amazfit

Best outdoor watches update August 2022 new style

Amazfit T-Rex 2 key specs and features

  • 150+ sports modes
  • Up to 24 day smartwatch battery life
  • 26-58 hours GPS battery life
  • Dual-band tracking mode
  • Real-time breadcrumb trail navigation
  • Ability to upload routes
  • PeakBeats training insights
  • Zepp OS with app store
  • Works with Android and iOS
  • Waterproof up to 100 metres

Successor to the T-Rex Pro, the T-Rex 2 finally feels like a sports watch that's built for rugged use and worthy of a space on your wrist when spending time out in the great outdoors.

Like the Pro, it features a 47mm case that's now got a whole raft of military toughness certificates and includes a similar high quality AMOLED touchscreen display that's responsive to touch and offers good viewing angles.

Amazfit has introduced a new dual-band mode that noticeably improves tracking outdoors where it's trickier to get a more reliable signal from one of the five supported satellite systems. You're now also getting the ability to import routes to the watch via the companion phone app, though the functionality wasn't live during our testing. We could use the new real-time breadcrumb navigation, which works as well as it does on other outdoor watches that offer the functionality.

Elsewhere, you're getting over 150 sports modes to pick from with 8 of those activities offer automatic exercise recognition tracking. Amazfit has also included its PeakBeats training insights that offers recovery time, training load and recovery data primarily powered by the onboard heart heart rate monitor. That heart rate monitor that's an okay performer but has its inaccurate moments. Unfortunately you can't pair up an external heart rate sensor to remedy those accuracy issues.

When it comes to battery life, you can expect up to 24 days in smartwatch mode or 10 days in heavy usage. There's now multiple GPS battery modes, so the highest accuracy will get 26 hours and the power saving GPS mode will get you 58 hours of tracking.

Unlike the previous T-Rex watches, the T-Rex 2 performs like an outdoor watch and offers big features for less than the competition. If you don't want to spend big and want a good mix of tracking and smartwatch features, this is a strong option.

Read our full Amazfit T-Rex 2 review

Suunto 9 Baro Black

Price when reviewed: $599/£499 | Amazon | Suunto

Suunto 9

Suunto 9 Baro Black key specs and features

  • Over 80 sports modes
  • 25-170 hours in GPS battery life
  • Military standard design
  • Real-time breadcrumb trail navigation
  • Follow maps on Suunto app
  • Route planning with heat maps
  • Storm alerts and sea level pressure data
  • Waterproof up to 100 metres

The lack of Suunto watches on this list is largely down to the improved competition. If you do want to go Suunto and looking for the best option, we'd say opt for the Suunto 9 Baro Black for the best experience.

The multisport GPS watch is waterproof up to 100 metres and has military standard tested design and has been tested to hold up in extreme temperatures and withstand drops, humidity and freezing rain. It covers the five key satellite systems and has an optical heart rate monitor with the ability to pair up external sensors as well. Suunto includes its new FusedAlti technology that combines GPS and barometric data to improve the accuracy of altitude data.

Other outdoor-friendly features include the ability to see sunrise/sunset times on the watch display and receive storm alarms when there's a sudden drop in air pressure. There's also route navigation improvements to help you get to destination safely and with the best route, with mapping pushed out to the companion app while you can enjoy real-time breadcrumb navigation on the watch and use Suunto's heat maps to find popular adventuring spots.

Like other Suunto watches, it'll track over 80 sports with running, cycling and swimming being the core modes. Battery life is anywhere from 25 hours to 170 hours with Suunto's intelligent battery mode on board to make sure you have enough power for your next expedition.

Wareable verdict: Suunto 9 review