For mountain adventurers that thrive under pressure (and air pressure), a good mountaineering watch isn’t enough. Only the best hiking watches will do for those who take their high-altitude hijinx seriously.
The differences between a good hiking watch and the best mountaineering watch options out there are subtle but important. A basic altimeter watch might offer an altimeter/barometer/compass combination, but the overall accuracy might be lacking. And while some outdoor watches offer basic features that are good enough for casual mountaineers, the best mountaineering watches go above and beyond with loads of smart features and accurate GPS tracking wherever you may roam.
When separating ordinary mountaineering watches from extraordinary ones, look for key specs like an intuitive digital compass, the lengthy battery life in both GPS mode and power-saving mode, numerous hiking features to choose from, advanced features for alpine climbing, and the best GPS accuracy possible.
We’ve tested tens of candidates for the best mountaineering watches, from the best Casio watches to the top Garmin watches and beyond, to curate our in-depth list of the 8 Best Mountaineering Watches Available In 2021.
Only the best watches will do for your outdoor adventures, and they’re waiting for you below.
The 8 Best Mountaineering Watches For Sale In 2021
8) Coros Vertix GPS Adventure Watch
We start our countdown with a battery beast! The Coros Vertix GPS Watch stays operational for 60 hours in full GPS mode, and for up to 45 days altogether. That’s an insane length for a smartwatch that provides such accurate GPS tracking! And for those mountaineers who are rough on their timepieces, the inclusion of a sapphire glass lens protects your smartwatch from scratches and gouges. Other hiking watch brands might have more notoriety, but Coros created a gem with this one!
Key Watch Features
- 60 hours of battery life in full GPS mode, 150 hours in UltraMax GPS mode, 45 days for regular usage.
- Altitude acclimation technology and 24/7 blood oxygen monitoring.
- Sturdy titanium bezel and sapphire glass display window.
- A new digital knob works like a dream when wearing gloves.
- The battery life is the real draw here. 60 hours of juice in full GPS mode is unheard of!
- The sapphire glass display window fends off scuffs with ease.
- The GPS system is quite accurate and updates seamlessly.
- The heart rate monitors lags sometimes.
- This watch’s overall list of features and capabilities is a little light compared to watches later on this list.
7) Suunto Core Outdoor Sports Watch
- Suunto Core: This classic outdoor sports watch is packed with intelligent features like a Storm Alarm, Altimeter, Barometer and compass to keep you informed of conditions while you hike, bike, or camp
- Essential for Adventure: This watch has dual times, date display, and alarm, plus predicted times for sunrise and sunset to help maximize your daylight hours and a depth meter accurate up to 30 feet
- Suunto Sports Watches: Versatile and durable, Suunto sports watches are great for running, swimming, cycling, gym workouts, hiking, and other outdoor sports; Whatever your needs, Suunto has a watch for you
- Adventure Starts Here: Combining Scandinavian design with ultra durable materials, our watches track your sports, daily activity, and sleep to help you keep life, training and recovery in balance
- Authentic Heritage: Founded in 1936, Suunto brings over 80 years of high quality heritage craftsmanship, relentless accuracy, and pioneering innovation to our watches, compasses, and dive products
A budget-conscious mountaineering watch that cuts straight to the chase, the Suunto Core Watch lacks the GPS navigation and smartphone connectivity of its higher-priced peers, However, it’s a fantastic low-cost option for those in need of weather forecast technology or ABC functionality during their mountain trips. The Sunnto Core is all about affordable accuracy and no-nonsense durability, and that’s a refreshing change of pace.
Key Watch Features
- Budget altimeter watch tracks your elevation and monitors changes.
- Accurate digital compass feature for the low price point.
- Predicted time feature for sunrise and sunset.
- Full weather indicator and barometer included.
- For just over 100 dollars, you get one of the most complete sports watches available right now.
- The sunrise and sunset indicators are a real help while mountaineering.
- The display is crisp, clean, and the menus are well-organized.
- There is no GPS tracking to speak of.
- No sleep tracking or oxygen sensors here.
6) Garmin Instinct Tactical Edition GPS Smartwatch
- [IN THE BOX] - 1 x Instinct Solar (Tactical Edition), Black, 1 x Charging/data cable, 1x Wearable4U 2 in 1 Black EarBuds + Power Pack
- [RUGGED SMARTWATCH WITH EXTENDED BATTERY LIFE] - water-rated to 100 meters and constructed to U.S. military standard 810 for thermal, shock and water resistance and boasts solar charging.
- [TRACK YOUR ACTIVITY] - Monitor how your body uses energy by tracking heart rate, stress, estimated sleep and Pulse Ox and do sports with preloaded activity profiles such as running, biking, swimming and more.
- [USE TACTICAL FEATURES] - Dedicated tactical features, such as night vision compatibility, waypoint projection and dual-position GPS format, provide a new level of functionality and performance. Other features, such as stealth mode, allow you to go dark by disabling wireless communication and data sharing
- [WEARABLE4U ULTIMATE EARBUDS + POWER PACK] - Wearable4U 2 in 1 EarBuds + Power Pack contains Wearable4U Power Bank 1500 mAh, Wearable4U Bluetooth EarBuds Pro. Keep your watches charged at all times and enjoy your music during sports activities with our Wearable4U 2in1 Earbuds Pro!
Combining tactical nuances and the peak GPS function of the best Garmin watches, the Garmin Instinct Tactical Edition GPS Smartwatch is a great buy for advanced mountaineers that have been around the peak a time or two. If you’re looking to navigate a tricky hiking path through the dark, this smartwatch offers night vision compatibility. And once the sun comes up, the solar-powered charging system will boost your battery life for the busy day to come.
Key Watch Features
- Available in multiple colors.
- Includes advanced tactical features such as night vision compatibility, dual-position GPS formatting, and waypoint projection.
- Solar-powered watch charging for on-the-go juice.
- Multiple activity, stress, and sleep trackers for ultimate health monitoring.
- The battery life is superb and lengthened by the solar charging system.
- The GPS system is on the level of the best Garmin devices in the marketplace.
- All of the health and sleep trackers are accurate and well-designed.
- It’s quite pricey.
- We wish the watch face had an indicator to show when the watch is charging.
5) Casio Men’s Pathfinder PAG-240 Altimeter Watch
- 100 M Water Resistance
- Solar Powered - Solar panel features rechargable battery with approximately 7 months on rechargeable battery (operation period with normal use without exposure to light after charge) 25 months on rechargeable battery (operation period when stored in total darkness with the power save function on after full charge) when fully charged
- Triple Sensor - Digital Compass, Altimeter, Barometer & Thermometer
- World Time w/ 31 Time Zones (48 Cities) and Daylight Saving on/off
- 1/100-Second Stop Watch (Measuring Capacity 23:59'59.99")
Yet another standout in a long line of solar-powered Casio sports watches, the Casio Men’s Pathfinder PAG-240 Watch doesn’t offer the GPS navigation and advanced features of the smartwatches on this countdown. However, it’s a simply superb ABC watch that promises six months of battery life and strong resistance to shocks and moisture. If you’re not familiar with Casio, you’re going to love how user-friendly and intuitive this altimeter watch is.
Key Watch Features
- Solar panels on the watch face charge your timepiece as you travel.
- 6 months of battery life on a full charge.
- Plenty of classic Casio sports watch features including a full auto-calendar.
- Altimeter, barometer, compass combination for mountaineering use.
- It’s a low-price sports watch full of great ABC watch features.
- The digital display is clear and illuminates nicely with the help of the backlight.
- The altimeter and barometer combo works quite well.
- No GPS capabilities to speak of.
- You most remove the watch to get an accurate reading from the thermometer.
4) Garmin Fenix 5X Plus Mountaineering Watch
- Ultimate multisport GPS watch that estimates heart rate at the wrist and includes color Topo maps featuring trend line popularity routing to help you find and follow the best paths
- Wrist based Pulse Ox Acclimation sensor, a non medical device that provides awareness of your estimated blood oxygen saturation levels especially useful when you're adjusting to higher altitudes (not available in all countries)
- Fit for adventure with rugged design that features scratch resistant domed sapphire lens plus stainless steel or diamond like carbon (DLC) titanium bezel, and rear case
- Easily store and play upto 500 songs on your watch, and connect with Bluetooth headphones (sold separately) for phone free listening
- Garmin Pay contactless payment solution (available for supported cards from participating banks) lets you make convenient payments with your watch, so you can leave your cash and cards at home.Battery performance: Upto 20 days in smartwatch mode and 13 hours in GPS mode with music
With a stellar balance of smartwatch functionality and mountaineering excellence, the Garmin Fenix 5X Plus Smartwatch offers one of the best GPS navigation systems ever included in a smart timepiece. It also includes WiFi connectivity and smartphone syncing when you’re not trekking to the top of your favorite mountain. The fitness sensors are on point, the inclusion of 500 songs of music storage is huge, and the entire package is attractive and alluring.
Key Watch Features
- 500 songs of onboard music storage for hours of playback.
- Estimate your blood oxygen saturation levels as you go with the Pulse Ox Acclimation sensor.
- 13 hours of battery life in full GPS mode and 20 days in battery saver mode.
- Features Garmin Pay for contactless purchases.
- You get a ton of Garmin smartwatch features for a very reasonable price tag.
- The Garmin Connect app is a great supplementary tool for this smartwatch.
- The workout sensors are accurate and don’t drain your battery too badly.
- The interactive mapping feature is buggy and needs work.
- The “gesture” feature isn’t as sensitive as it needs to be.
3) Casio Pro Trek PRW2500T Solar ABC Watch
- Tough Solar Power, Multi-Band Atomic Timekeeping, 200M Water Resistant, Duplex LC Display, Tide Graph (tide level for specific date and time), Moon Data (moon age of the specific date and moon phase graph)
- Digital Compass, Altimeter, Altimeter Memeory, Barometer, Thermometer ; Thermometer Display range: -10 to 60 C (14 to 140 F) Display unit: 0.1 C (0.2 F) Low Temperature Resistant (-10 C / 14 F)
- Full Auto EL Backlight with Afterglow, 5 Independent Daily alarms, Hourly time signal, World Time, 1/100 second stopwatch
- Countdown Timer, Battery level indicator, Power saving function, Full auto-calendar (pre-programmed until the year 2099), 12/24 hour formats, Button operation tone on/off, Storage
- Battery: Solar rechargeable battery, Approx. battery life: 5 months on full charge (without further exposure to light), 23 months on full charge with Power Saving Function (without further exposure to light), Module: 3258
There is no better mountaineering watch in terms of overall battery life than the Casio Pro Trek Solar ABC Watch. With the aid of Casio’s Tough Solar tech, you’ll get anywhere from 5 to 23 months of battery life depending on your type of usage. It’s not a GPS watch, but it is a complete sports watch with accurate ABC functionality. Casio also built atomic timekeeping technology into this timepiece, ensuring you’ll have the right time every time you’re up in the mountains.
Key Watch Features
- Altimeter, barometer, and compass function for a top-shelf mountaineering experience.
- Multi-band atomic timekeeping fends off clock drift.
- Tough Solar technology catches a charge from natural and artificial light sources.
- 5-23 months of battery life from your battery’s starting point.
- It contains a boatload of offline features for the enterprising mountaineer to use.
- Casio watches are among the toughest and longest-lasting sports watches out there.
- The solar-powered movement turns a little bit of light into a lot of battery life.
- It lacks a GPS or smartphone syncing.
- You need to remove the watch from your wrist for 20-30 minutes to get an accurate thermometer reading.
2) Garmin Fenix 6 Sapphire Multisport GPS Watch
Both a fantastic mountaineering watch and a one-stop workout partner, the Garmin Fenix 6 Sapphire Multisport GPS Watch is ready to accommodate all active lifestyles. It’s also a marked improvement from previous Garmin Fenix watch models aesthetically, boasting a bigger and more colorful screen than its predecessors. You get all the GPS action you expect from a Garmin smartwatch and plenty of extras including Spotify connectivity, Garmin Pay, and smartphone connectivity.
Key Watch Features
- The new digital screen is 18% bigger and noticeably brighter than previous Garmin Fenix models.
- Pre-loaded with multisport modes useful on biking, swimming, and hiking trips.
- Download Spotify playlists directly to your smartwatch.
- Compatible with Garmin Pay and Garmin Connect.
- The display is a joy to look at while being super easy to use.
- It’s extremely sturdy and takes a beating on the trails.
- Plenty of cool smart features for use on GPS and WiFi.
- The price point is quite steep.
- The battery life is good, but not the best.
1) Suunto 9 Baro Hiking Watch
The most versatile mountaineering smartwatch ever released, the Suunto 9 Baro Hiking Watch has raised the bar in many different respects. Not only does it promises accurate GPS navigation, but it also uses advanced motion sensor tech to measure the distance between GPS points. And with the Suunto 9 Baro’s intelligent battery on your side, you’ll always use the right mode and the right amount of battery juice. Featuring a wide swath of sport modes and trackers, the Suunto 9 Baro isn’t just for mountaineering. It’s for all of your outdoor and indoor exercise needs.
Key Watch Features
- Includes 80 different sport modes for a wide variety of activities in the Great Outdoors.
- Connects to third-party apps and services through the Suunto app.
- FusedTrack algorithm means you won’t have to sacrifice the accuracy of your GPS watch for longer battery life.
- 120 hours of continuous exercise and GPS tracking on your wrist.
- This watch monitors your usage, tailoring your battery and GPS usage for maximum efficiency.
- It includes a high-quality pair of earbuds for listening to music or podcasts in the mountains.
- This versatile sports smartwatch is ready for any athlete’s workout regimen.
- It’s on the higher end in terms of price point.
- We wish the watch face was bigger.
Frequently Asked Questions
What sort of battery life should I expect from the best GPS watches?
The GPS functionality included in the top GPS watches will drain your battery life quicker than any of the other included features. GPS navigation requires a ton of juice, as do the altimeter, barometer, and compass readings you’ll take along the way. Whether your smartwatch has a solar-powered battery or not, you should expect to recharge it every 12-18 hours (with music) or so when using your GPS function. ABC watches without GPS functionality will last longer, as will GPS watches when placed into battery-saving mode. Some modern altimeter watches can last a week or so on a single charge without using GPS. That’s great battery life when it comes to smartwatches and hiking watches.
Which brands make the best altimeter watches and hiking watches?
For those in the watch market for a barometric altimeter timepiece that provides accurate barometric pressure readings, the risk of securing an uncomfortable watch with a dodgy interface is one not worth taking. You deserve a durable watch with all the extra features that put other watches out of sight and out of mind.
Mountaineers like you should look to outdoor watch offerings from Garmin, Suunto, Casio, and Coros first and foremost. These four brands only traffic in high-quality watch materials such as sapphire glass and scratch-resistant mineral glass lens options, stainless steel bezel constructions, and stainless steel cases. They also promise unparalleled durability that rivals the toughest hiking gear out there. If you require a new watch for your mountain exploits, check these four watch brands out and you’re bound to find something worth your money.
Whether you prefer an ABC watch or a legit GPS watch for your mountaineering travels, the eight watches above are far from the base of the horological mountain. They are peak performers that have revolutionized active timepiece technology for the better. When you purchase one of these mountaineering watches, you know you’ll have backup no matter how high and far you climb.