A quality hiking watch is just one of those things that any true hiker has to have. Watches that simply tell the time really aren’t enough for the serious hiker. A tactical watch, military watch, or something similar can prove useful because of its many helpful features and built-in technology. Even better are watches that are made specifically for hiking. A good hiking watch or military watch will include technology that will prove useful on the trail in a variety of ways. Watches like this can take the place of a number of tools that you might traditionally bring on your hiking trips (like compasses and a GPS) and in turn lighten your pack and free up your hands. If you are uncertain as to how to choose a good hiking watch then try reading through this quick guide that we’ve whipped up on buying watches for hiking.
What you should look for in a hiking watch
There are all sorts of sweet features that manufacturers are building into our devices nowadays, but if you are looking for a quality hiking watch, these are the main features that you should put on your product checklist.
- GPS – This is one of the most common add-ons that hiking watches are coming with nowadays. GPS is used in so many different devices today. Everything from smartphones to luxury cars come with this mapping technology which helps you plan your routes and get from one place to another. GPS technology is pretty much a necessity when it comes to hiking watches, because after all, what is the point in buying a high-tech watch for your hiking adventures if you can’t even use it to navigate the trail?
- An altimeter – You can track your altitude using this device, help predict temperature swings and even use it as an aid in navigating the trail. Altimeters are altogether useful and having one on your watch wouldn’t be a bad idea.
- A barometer – Want to keep an eye on the weather? Get a watch that includes a barometer. This device measures atmospheric pressure as a means to predict the weather. Here’s a bit more on how they work. If you’re the type of hiker that likes to keep the clouds in check, a barometer feature is something you’ll want your watch to include.
- A compass – Your watch can quite literally be your compass. A compass built into your watch is efficient and offers you some security in case your GPS should for some reason fail. It never hurts to have a basic fundamental understanding of your surroundings by simply knowing which way is north.
- A heart rate monitor – While not a necessity, a heart rate monitor can track your activity and help you monitor your hiking pace. You can base your strides off your heart rate and maintain a steady pace as a result. If you hike more for the exercise rather than for the sights and sounds then you’ll probably enjoy a watch with a heart rate monitor. In fact, you will often see these devices built into exercise machines like treadmills and elliptical machines.
- Thermometer – Some hikers don’t care too much about the temperature, but if you have just the right outfit for each degree or again you are passionate about monitoring the conditions while you hike, get yourself a watch that features a thermometer. This is pretty common in the world of hiking watches. Especially note that if your hikes include overnights then your hikes should probably include keeping an eye on the temperature and weather as well.
Decide the features that you need and come up with a checklist to make sure that you get the perfect watch that matches all of your requirements. Have any friends that may own hiking watches? Why not ask them what they think about their current devices and if they have any advice on what features to look for while purchasing your own device.
Other things to keep in mind
Make sure to read product reviews for durability and comfort. Durability and comfort are two factors that purchasers often overlook on these types of devices, although that is a little understandable when all of the cool features are stealing the spotlight.
A watch with an easily cracked lens or a wristband that chafes your skin will become a watch that you probably won’t appreciate spending the money on. Many hiking watches are now being built with durable straps that shouldn’t slide around too much on your wrist and can hold up against the weather and terrain. Some watches come with Sapphire glass lenses which are super durable and not prone to crack. Just keep in mind that the more durable the material is, the more expensive the watch will likely be.
Also, don’t underspend on a hiking watch. If you are a serious hiker then you should get a serious watch. Moderate hiking on occasion probably doesn’t warrant buying a fancy expensive watch, but a cheap replica is probably a waste of money. We aren’t telling you that you have to break the bank to get a good watch, but just know that the really cheap watches will sacrifice features and durability to get you that better price tag.
Have a good hike
Once you’ve familiarized yourself with the key components of hiking watches you shouldn’t have too hard a time finding a few that you like. Narrow it down based on price, appearance, reviews and personal preference. After all, you are the customer, and while we hope this guide serves you well, the final decision is up to you. Good luck and enjoy your new hiking watch.