Do I Need a GPS Watch for Hiking? Find Out Here

“Do I need a GPS watch for hiking?” The answer is straightforward: yes! A GPS watch could be a useful tool for any hiker, giving accurate position tracking, route planning, and even emergency functions that may save your life. In this article, we will look at the many advantages of wearing a GPS watch while hiking and why it has become an essential piece of equipment for outdoor lovers. So grab your rucksack and let’s explore the world of hiking GPS watches!

Reasons to Use a GPS Watch for Hiking

  • Accurate Navigation:
  • Real-time Positioning:
  • Trail Recording:
  • Safety Assurance:
  • Altitude Monitoring:
  • Waypoint Marking:
  • Battery Life Optimization:

A GPS watch offers accurate navigation, real-time positioning, and the ability to record your hike’s route and vital metrics. It ensures safety with emergency location features and monitors altitude changes for better pacing. You can mark waypoints and optimize battery life with power-saving modes during longer trips. It’s your ultimate hiking companion for a confident and enjoyable journey.

Reasons to Skip the GPS Watch

  1. Cost: GPS watches can be pricey, ranging from $150 to $750. If you don’t foresee using it extensively or already have a smartphone with GPS capabilities, it might not be worth the investment.
  2. Hiking Goals: If you prefer a more naturalistic hiking experience and value immersion in nature over data tracking, a GPS watch may feel like an unnecessary distraction.
  3. Designated Trails: Well-marked trails in parks and forests often provide clear signage and maps, making GPS watches unnecessary for these familiar and frequented paths.

Ultimately, the decision to skip the GPS watch depends on your preferences, budget, and the type of hiking you enjoy.

How to Choose the Right GPS Watch for Your Needs

  • Battery Life
  • Durability
  • GPS Accuracy
  • Mapping Features
  • Navigation Tools
  • User Interface
  • Connectivity Options
  • Fitness Tracking Features
  • Price Range
  • Reviews & Recommendations

Hiking is a thrilling adventure, and a GPS watch can be your trusted companion throughout the journey. When choosing the perfect GPS watch, prioritize long battery life for uninterrupted hikes. Opt for rugged, waterproof designs that endure any weather conditions or accidental drops. Accurate GPS tracking ensures confident navigation on unfamiliar trails, while advanced mapping features enhance your hiking experience. Built-in compasses, altimeters, and barometers provide valuable data on direction, altitude, and weather changes. A user-friendly interface ensures easy outdoor operation. Look for Bluetooth or Wi-Fi connectivity to sync data effortlessly. Some GPS watches offer fitness tracking features for dual-purpose use. Consider budget and read reviews for informed decisions. Happy hiking!

GPS Watches vs. Smartphone Apps: Which is Better?

When it comes to choosing between a GPS watch and using smartphone apps for hiking, there are pros and cons to consider. Here’s a breakdown of the key factors:

  1. Accuracy:
    • GPS watches: Designed specifically for tracking outdoor activities like hiking, GPS watches generally offer higher accuracy in terms of distance, elevation, and location data.
    • Smartphone apps: While many smartphone apps provide decent accuracy, they may not be as reliable or precise as dedicated GPS watches due to various factors like signal strength and battery life.
  2. Battery Life:
    • GPS watches: Built with efficient power management systems, most GPS watches can last several days on a single charge, making them ideal for longer hikes or multi-day trips.
    • Smartphone apps: Using navigation features on smartphones tends to drain the battery quickly, especially if you’re relying on continuous use of cellular data or have weak signal reception.
  3. Durability:
    • GPS watches: Designed with ruggedness in mind, these devices are typically built to withstand harsh weather conditions encountered during adventurous hikes.
  • Smartphone apps: Smartphones are fragile and susceptible to damage from drops, moisture exposure, or extreme temperatures – all common occurrences while exploring the outdoors.
  1. Functionality:
  • GPS watches: Apart from basic navigation features like tracking your route and displaying coordinates, many models come equipped with additional functionalities such as heart rate monitoring, altimeters, compasses etc., which prove useful during hiking expeditions.
  • Smartphone apps: While smartphone apps offer convenience by utilizing the phone’s existing capabilities (e.g., built-in maps), their functionality might be limited without an internet connection or extra accessories like external sensors.
  1. Ease of Use:
  • GPS watches: With their purpose-built design and simple user interfaces optimized for outdoor activities, most hikers find GPS watches intuitive and easy to operate, even while on the move.
  • Smartphone apps: Although smartphones are familiar devices to many people, using them for navigation during hikes may require more attention and interaction with the screen, which can be cumbersome and distracting when compared to a dedicated GPS watch.

When it comes to hiking, having a reliable GPS watch can greatly enhance your outdoor experience. These watches not only track your location and provide navigation assistance but also offer various features to help you stay safe and make the most of your adventure. Here are our top recommended GPS watches for hiking:

  1. Garmin Fenix 6 Pro: This rugged multisport GPS watch is perfect for hikers who need advanced features and durability. With its long battery life, detailed mapping capabilities, and accurate tracking, the Fenix 6 Pro ensures you never lose your way on the trail.
  2. Suunto Spartan Ultra: Designed specifically for outdoor enthusiasts, the Spartan Ultra offers excellent navigation tools like route planning and breadcrumb trails. Its durable construction can withstand harsh conditions while providing essential data such as altitude and barometric trends.
  3. Coros Apex Pro: The Apex Pro stands out with its impressive battery life that can last up to 40 hours in full GPS mode! It boasts accurate elevation readings, built-in weather forecasting, and unique training insights to optimize your performance during hikes.
  4. Polar Grit X: Built with military-grade durability, the Grit X is a reliable companion for adventurous hikers. It provides precise tracking along with useful features like fueling reminders, hill-splitter analysis, and real-time weather updates to ensure an informed hike.
  5. Apple Watch Series 6 (with Cellular): While primarily known as a smartwatch, the latest Apple Watch Series 6 includes helpful hiking features too! With cellular connectivity allowing emergency calls even without a phone nearby plus compass functionality integrated into the maps app – this watch offers convenience on top of style.


Overall, investing in a quality GPS watch provides peace of mind while hiking in unfamiliar terrain. From accurate navigation to convenient tracking capabilities, it proves to be an essential companion for all outdoor enthusiasts looking to take their hiking experiences to the next level of excitement and security. So if you’re passionate about exploring new trails and pushing your limits amidst nature’s beauty – don’t hesitate! Get yourself a reliable GPS watch today!