FROM ANALOG TO DIGITAL: THE BEST HIKING WATCHES OF 2017
Watches these days have been relegated to the status of a stylish accessory more than a practical necessity, thanks to the omnipresence of smartphones and other mobile devices. But hiking watches are different beasts altogether.
They are designed to rugged, tough and packed with useful features. Smartphones are fragile and can’t stand continued exposure to the water, dirt, and heat. And they also need regular access to a power source for recharging. Hiking watches have no such worries, are convenient to wear and use, and can take a lot of punishment.
The best hiking watch combines digital technology with a durable design. These are not your run of the mill timekeepers. Watches spec out for outdoors use sport the holy trinity of survival devices: a compass, altimeter, and barometer.
These three are essential to keep track of your location and the local weather conditions. The addition of GPS can make life all the easier, but some watches give it a miss, mainly because it reduces battery life. Modern digital hiking watches also come packed with many other useful features.
In our quest for the best digital watch that your money can buy, we looked at dozens of candidates before rounding it down to a list of 5 top contenders. Now, if you’re looking for the best hiking watch of 2017, check the following list with a short overview of their stand out features:
1. Garmin Fenix 5: best GPS hiking watch 2017
Let’s start things rolling with the best of the lot. The Fenix 5 is the new edition in the Fenix series by Garmin, released in January 2017. There are three sizes with a total of 14 different variants in the Fenix 5 series of smart watches. For hikers, the Fenix 5X Sapphire edition is the logical choice, since it is one of the few watches that includes a fully functional maps feature.
The maps included on the Fenix 5 include both topographic and cycling maps, with extensive data on points of interest like food, gas stations, local landmarks and more. You can create routes on the go, or have them made beforehand on a PC and transferred to the Fenix 5x.
The Garmin Connect environment has an exhaustive collection of maps and routes. Navigation features include not just GPS, but GLONASS as well. You also get the whole set of outdoors features including a magnetic compass, gyroscope, barometric altimeter, thermometer, as well as the usual list of sports watch sensors.
The advanced mapping and routing feature alone makes the Fenix 5X the best hiking watch out there. But that is not all that the Fenix 5 has going for it. The dedicated Hiking mode is just one of the multisport modes which also include swimming, running, triathlon, cycling, golf and skiing among others. Along with an advanced processor and a 64-color display with scratch resistant Sapphire glass, the 5X also gets Wi-Fi and Bluetooth Smart connectivity.
The Garmin Fenix series have always had great multisport watches, but with the addition of maps and dedicated Hiking mode in the Fenix 5x, the company has created the most features packed hiking watch in the market.
- Geared with GPS and GLONASS Satellite reception with heart rate technology
- Super hard sapphire crystal protecting the watch face of 47mm
- 3-axis compass with gyroscope and barometric altimeter to better understand the environment
- Time adjusted automatically through GPS
- Vibration alert
- Sensor support for ANT+ & Bluetooth smart
- Allow Wi-Fi connectivity
- Fully support smartphone sync for notification on both IOS and android devices
- Suitable for any outdoor activities like mountaineering, trekking, swimming, climbing, running, boating, backpacking and more
2. Suunto Ambit3 Peak HR: best outdoor hiking watch 2017
The Ambit3 Peak has been around for a couple of years now. This Multisport/Outdoors watch from the Finnish company Suunto may not have the great display or maps feature like the newer Fenix 5X, but it is still a capable watch for hikers with a no-frills attitude and rich feature list.
The Ambit3 Peak covers all the bases as far as sensors are concerned, with tracking for activities like running, swimming and cycling all included. Heart rate, speed, paces and distance tracking is all part of the package. On the “outdoors” end, the Ambit3 Peak doesn’t disappoint, with a barometer, altimeter, and compass included to make sure that you don’t get lost while hiking in the woods.
The built in GPS is smooth and accurate, and Suunto gets around the lack of a dedicated mapping feature somewhat by linking the Ambit3 with their smartphone app, the Suunto Movescount. You can check topographic maps there, mark your progress and create records to share with people online. The system also provides handy weather alerts and sunrise and sunset times.
- Built with GPS to navigate and track back
- Suunnto Movescount App to wirelessly connect to smartphone for notification, time adjustment and share your adventure
- Connect to hear rate monitor, smart foot pod and biking sensor via Bluetooth
- Option to activate heart rate while swimming
- Support GPX format from external devices
- Barometer, compass and altimeter sensors for weather information
- 100m water resistant
- 20 hours battery life on normal mode, 30 hours on 5 sec GPS update and 200 hours on 60 sec GPS update
3. Casio Men’s PAG240-1CR: best hiking watch under $200- 2017
The PAG240 is the latest in the line of the acclaimed Pathfinder series of military-themed digital watches from Casio. As can be expected, the build quality is rugged, tough and top-notch in every respect. The PAG is in many ways the all-digital counterpart to the digital/analog dual setup seen in the PRW 6000Y that has already been reviewed above.
Like the PRW 6000, this PAG240 also gets the proprietary Triple Sensor technology, with a built-in altimeter, barometer, and compass. But with an expanded all digital display, the PAG240 can provide much more data than the other Casio watch in our list.
The compass gets a 16-point directional display, while the altimeter gets graph display and automatic memory measurements that track your ascent or descent effectively. The barometer can track atmospheric pressure changes and provide differential graphics as well as graph data.
The solar powered battery works admirably while the display gets rave reviews for its excellent backlit function. All in all, the Pathfinder PAG240 is a decent outdoors hiking watch for those who can do without fancy maps and smart connectivity features. It is simple, sturdy and easy to use.
- Powered by solar
- Loaded with ABC triple sensor altimeter, barometer, compass, thermometer and low temperature resistance (-10 C/14 F)
- World time for 31 time zones and 48 cities
- 5 daily alarm
- Full auto calendar pre-programmed until 2099
- 51 mm stainless steel with mineral dial window
- Water resistant to 100m (330ft)
4. Casio Men’s PRW-6000Y: best casio mountaineering and hiking watch 2017
If you are looking for an all-digital smart watch for your outdoor adventures, then the Casio PRW-6000Y may not be up to your liking. But if you don’t like the whole “smart watch fad” and want a good old school analog timekeeper that can still give you useful data on a hike, then this could very well be the watch for you.
This dual analog/digital watch with triple sensors is Casio’s outdoor variant to the venerable G-Shock series. The Triple Senor technology is an integration of a compass, altimeter, and barometer all built into the watch. There is also a thermometer to keep track of the temperature on hot days, while the atomic timekeeping helps the watch perform its primary function with distinction.
The barometer and compass all get their dedicated buttons, and the analog hands conveniently move out of the way of the smaller digital display when you access these features. Sudden drops in barometric pressure result in an alarm sound, alerting you of any possible changes in weather. The solar powered battery is just the perfect addition on an outdoors watch.
The Casio PRW-6000Y doesn’t have the features like a GPS or full digital smart watch chops, but for the amateur hikers, this could be the ideal watch to start with, especially if you have a fondness for old school analog displays.
- Multi-band atomic timekeeping
- Solar powered
- 43 mm Analog digital display protected by mineral dial window
- Automatically calibrated Temperature, altimeter, barometer, compass and thermometer sensors.
- 100m (330ft) water resistant
- Smart access electronic crown with quick lock
- World time
- Perfect for climbing, trekking, mountaineering or backpacking
5. Garmin Tactix Bravo: best outdoor watch for skydiving/divers 2017
The original Tactix was a law enforcement/military oriented take on the Fenix 1 by Garmin. The Tactic Bravo, launched in 2016, is the more rugged and badass looking cousin to the Fenix 3, with a few nifty features thrown into the mix.
It gets all the multisport features and sensors of the Fenix series and is a true outdoors watch with a GPS, altimeter, barometer and compass ensemble. The tracking antenna in the Bravo can accept both GPS as well as GLONASS signals. The barometer will alert you of abrupt changes in atmospheric pressure. The altimeter and barometer are both self-calibrating as well.
The high-resolution display is a delight to use, both in sunlight as well as in the dark of the night. The Tactix Bravo comes with night vision goggles support, which is one of the several military-oriented features that set it apart. The design is also a high point, with an all black, rugged look that evokes a feeling of tactical gear with its nylon strap,
The display can provide detailed navigation instruction on the field, and if you have a smartphone with you, the watch can connect with it seamlessly at the cost of some battery life. All in all, this rugged hiking watch is an excellent choice if you don’t need the latest features of the Fenix 5X from Garmin.
- GPS/GLONASS with automatic calibrating altimeter, barometer and 3-axis compass
- 100 meter water resistant
- Support WiFi connectivity
- 2 inch chorma display
- 50 hours of battery life in UltraTrac mode, 20 hours in GPS mode and up to 3 weeks in smart watch mode
- Night vision goggle compatibility
- Black PVD-coated stainless steel and buttons for any rugged terrains
- Tactical features into Jumpmaster activity for skydivers
Thank you for reading all the way through. We hope our article was helpful to you. All our selected watches are the best sellers. For this reason you will find above watches in various blog like this. The combination of fit, finish, design and features armored above watches for almost any outdoor activites. If you have any question or comments, please feel free to reply below! Good luck with purchase! Shop Smart!
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