The best GPS hiking watches reviewed (2022)

The level of tech that can be strapped to your wrist is incredible. But what are the essential features and key factors to consider when choosing your GPS watch? Let’s take a look.

Two navigators wearing GPS watches

by Ben Weeks |

A GPS watch acts as your personal data logger, smart device, and tracking device all in one. There are an awful lot on the market but for those after one to take into the wilderness on their expeditions, there a certain features that you'll need to keep an eye out for. We cover those just below, and we even recommend our favourite GPS watches for hiking and outdoor pursuits.

What to look for in a GPS watch

Size: Some GPS watches are particularly chunky, while others are more slimline, and some others are available in a range of sizes. Consider how the watch will sit on your wrist, particularly if you intend to use it as an everyday watch too.

Mapping: Some watches can show detailed mapping on their screens. Although not great for route-planning (even the largest watches have relatively small screens), it can be a helpful extra navigational tool.

Battery life: Battery performance has increased dramatically over the past few years. Check the watch’s spec for battery life, paying attention to the times stated with GPS turned on and any battery-saver modes that might reduce features.

Sensors: In addition to GPS, these little watches can contain a range of sensors, including an altimeter, barometer, accelerometer, compass, pulse monitor, blood oxygen and more. Make sure your choice has the sensors that are important to you.

Fitness and sport features: Do you just want a watch that gives a grid reference, or one that can also track your walks, runs, swims, or even your golf? Most GPS watches now offer some level of multi-sport function, but the specifics vary.

Satellite compatibility: GPS is just one global satellite network (American). The four others are GLONASS (Russia), Galileo (Europe), QZSS (Japan), and BeiDou (China). The more your watch is compatible with, the more accurate it will be.

The best GPS watches

Garmin Instinct 2

Editor's pick
Garmin Instinct 2
Amazon

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Watch face width 45 or 40mm | Weight 53g | Max battery life 65 days | Constant GPS tracking battery life 30 hours | Satellite compatibility GPS, GLONASS and Galileo

Starting at half the price of the Fenix 7, it offers all the features we need from a watch with only a few extraneous bells and whistles. This is the perfect GPS watch for hill and mountain enthusiasts who dabble in other fitness pursuits from time to time. Makes us wonder why we’d ever need to pay for more. Read our full review here.

Honor GS Pro

Best value
Honor GS Pro
Amazon

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Watch face width 48mm | Weight 55g | Max battery life 25 days | Constant GPS tracking battery life 48 hours | Satellite compatibility GPS, GLONASS

Honor’s GPS watches cram a huge number of features into an excellent price. Built to comply with 14 military-grade standards, the GS Pro offers impressive battery life, a full set of sensors, 100 training modes and can be used as your phone.

Casio G-Shock GBD-H1000

Best battery life
Casio G-Shock GBD-H1000

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Watch face width 63mm | Weight 101g | Max battery life 12 months | Constant GPS tracking battery life 14 hours | Satellite compatibility GPS, GLONASS, QZSS

Featuring a heart rate monitor, Bluetooth, and a range of sensors, the G-Shock is a great adventure watch. Its chunky case is tough, water-resistant to 200m, and works to -10°C.

Coros Apex Pro

Best power to weight ratio
APEX-Pro
Amazon

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Watch face width 47mm | Weight 59g | Max battery life 30 days | Constant GPS tracking battery life 40 hours | Satellite compatibility GPS, GLONASS, BeiDou (Galileo via future firmware update)

Despite its light weight and slimline design, the Apex has a long-lasting battery, all the key sensors (plus 24/7 blood oxygen monitoring with Altitude Mode) and a wealth of fitness features. Also has a touchscreen for ease of use.

Suunto 9 Baro

Best satellite coverage
Suunto 9 Baro
Amazon

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Watch face width 50mm | Weight 81g | Max battery life 14 days | Constant GPS tracking battery life 25 hours | Satellite compatibility GPS, GLONASS, Galileo, QZSS, BeiDou

Designed and made in Finland, the Suunto is compatible with all five Global Navigation Satellite Systems. Its FusedTrack algorithm combines GPS and motion sensor data to improve track and distance accuracy, allowing the user to extend battery life without reducing accuracy.

Garmin Fenix 6 Solar

Best features
Garmin Fu0113nix 6 Solar
Amazon

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Watch face width 51mm | Weight 82g | Max battery life 80 days (excluding solar top-up) | Constant GPS tracking battery life 60 hours (excluding solar top-up) | Satellite compatibility GPS, GLONASS, Galileo

The feature-rich Fenix offers functions for almost every sport you can think of, and a battery life (boosted by solar charging) that makes it the ideal companion for multi-day adventuring.

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