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Top 8 of best Garmin watches for hiking + buying tips (2022 edition)

Looking for the best Garmin hiking watch? Then look no further! We have come up with a list of the best Garmin smartwatches for hiking.

Choosing the right Garmin hiking watch becomes a must when you need to be aware of the climatic conditions, your route, and the altitude you are going to scale.

Premium Swiss watches are known for displaying an accurate time but Garmin watches don’t stop there. Depending on the model you choose it can show precise air pressure, navigation, an electronic compass, sunrise and sunset timing, and much more.

Wondering what to look for when buying a Garmin gps watch for hiking? Here’s all you need to know to make your selection.

This post contains affiliate links. As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases.

In a hurry? Here are the best Garmin watches for hiking

Best Garmin hiking GPS Watches

Maps Battery Life Barometric Altimeter and compass Weight Price
Garmin Fenix 6 X Pro

Yes

  • 21 days (Smartwatch Mode)
  • (80 days Battery Saver Watch Mode)
  • 60 Hours (GPS mode)
  • 15 hours (GPS mode + Music)
  • 120 Hours (Max Battery GPS Mode)
  • 46 Days (Expedition GPS Activity)

Yes

93g with Silicone Band $$$$$
Garmin Fenix 7X Sapphire Solar

Yes

  • 28 days (Smartwatch Mode)
  • 90 days Battery Saver Watch Mode
  • 89 Hours (GPS mode)
  • 16 hours (All sattelite systems mode + Music)
  • 213 Hours (Max Battery GPS Mode)
  • 62 Days (Expedition GPS Activity)
    Above times are further increased when you use the solar capabilities.

Yes

89g with Silicone Band $$$$$
Garmin Forerunner 945

Yes

  • 2 Weeks (Smartwatch Mode)
  • 10 Hours (GPS Mode + Music)
  • 36 Hours (GPS Mode)

Yes

50g $$$$
Garmin Forerunner 45

No

  • Smartwatch Mode: Up to 7 days
  • GPS mode: Up to 13 hours

No

32 g (Small) and 36.2 g (Large) $
Garmin Instinct

No

  • Up to 14 days in smartwatch mode
  • Up to 16 hours in GPS mode
  • Up to 40 hours in Ultratrac battery saver mode

Yes

52 g $
Garmin Instinct Solar

No

  • 24/54 Weeks (Smartwatch Mode) with solar power
  • 56/Unlimited (Battery Saver Mode) with solar power
  • 30/38 Hours (GPS Mode) with solar power
  • 28 days/68 days (GPS on Expedition Activity) with solar power
  • 70 hours/145 hours (Maximum GPS Battery Mode) with solar power

Yes

53 g $$$
Garmin Forerunner 645

No

  • 7 Days (Smartwatch Mode)
  • 14 Hours (GPS Mode)

Yes

41.8 g $$$
Garmin Venu 2 S

No

  • 10 Days (Smartwatch Mode)
  • 11 Days (Battery Saver Smartwatch Mode)\
  • 7 Hours (GPS Mode + Music)
  • 19 Hours (GPS Mode)

Yes

38.2 g $$

Best Garmin hiking GPS Watches

Garmin Fenix 6 X Pro

For a comparison with the newer Fenix 7, click here.

Key Features

  • Battery Life: 21 days (Smartwatch Mode), (80 days Battery Saver Watch Mode), 60 Hours (GPS mode), 15 hours (GPS mode + Music), 120 Hours (Max Battery GPS Mode), 46 Days (Expedition GPS Activity)
  • Waterproof: Up to 100 meters (10 ATM)
  • Altimeter, Barometer, and Compass: Yes
  • Display: Color, 280×280 pixels, 1.4″
  • Maps: Full-color topographical maps and ski maps (compatible with basecamp)
  • GPS: Glonass, GPS, Galileo
  • Hiking features: Navigation, breadcrumb, elevation profile, distance, pace, ascent/descent, climbpro, storm alerts, sight ‘n go
  • Weight: 93g with Silicone Band
  • Lens Material: Corning® Gorilla® Glass DX

Pros and cons

  • Highly impressive battery life
  • Slimmer than Fenix 5X Plus
  • Turn-by-turn navigation
  • The unbeatable outdoor tracking features
  • Sports enthusiasts will be amazed at the possibilities of this watch for tracking other sports such as MTB, surfing, swimming, golfing, skiing, and more…
  • Livetrack, incident detection, and assistance features in case of emergency
  • Unbreakable
  • Costly if you don’t use all features
  • Not many new features have been introduced since 5X Plus

Kris’ opinion

My main reason for buying this watch was its navigational capabilities.

So far we have used our mobile phones when out hiking but that’s far from optimal.

Our mobile phone batteries only last a maximum of 1 day and if we also use Waze to navigate to our starting point, the battery is usually already half empty.

The Fenix 6X Pro has a battery life of 60 hours in GPS mode which will take the stress out of hiking with a mobile phone.

Here are some of the hiking features I like the most that convinced me to choose this watch:

  • Maps: I opted for the 6X pro not only for the longer battery life but also for the larger screen. So far I’ve used the maps when hiking and cycling. They are clear and easy to read on the screen.
  • GPX: You can upload GPX files to the watch and the Fenix 6X pro will ensure you don’t get lost. You first get directions towards the starting point. Once on the trail you will get notifications where to go or if you get off-track. At the same time it keeps track of the distance you’ve covered, your pace and much more. In my experience the GPS tracking is exellent which makes this feature very useful.
  • Tracback & back to start: If you just wander around in the forest there may be a point where you no longer know where you are. In that case you can use one of these two features to get back to your starting point. Tracback will navigate you back the way you came and back to start will get you back to your starting point along the shortest route. I haven’t used this feature yet.
Garmin Fenix 6X Pro
At anytime during your hike you can consult a map of your whereabouts. This includes points of interests like restaurants, hotels, and more..

When I caved in and ordered the watch I thought I would only use it for hiking and tracking my runs. That made it an expensive purchase, and a tough decision. Now that I have the watch I wear it every day because it is so much more than an outdoor watch. Here are some more things I like about the Fenix 6X Pro and why I wear the watch every day:

  • The watch is fashionable. The always-on display is great and makes the watch stand-out of many other smart watches that require you to touch the screen or hit a button before you can see the time. The screen is also easy to read in all conditions, both inside and outside.
  • It is more expensive but also performs much better than the Samsung Gear I used to have.
  • Although I have Google Pay setup I never really used my phone to pay. I found the process to be cumbersome. There were too many steps involved and I could grab my card faster than I could grab my phone and check if I had enabled the correct card. Garmin Pay on the other hand works like a charm. I’ve already used it several times and I love the efficiency of the process.
  • I like how it tracks a variety of sports. I play tennis and I do cardio and weight trainings on a regular basis. The Fenix 6x can track all this and much more. It automatically recognizes exercises and keeps track of the number of reps. Although not perfect the accuracy is pretty impressive.
  • Finally, it motivates me to live a healthier lifestyle and sport on a regular basis. Thanks to the workout suggestions, challenges, goals, the training status, and other statistics given by the watch I started to move more.

My conclusion

As you can see I’m very happy with my purchase. I’ve been using the Garmin Fenix 6X Pro on a continuous basis for several weeks and yet have to find the first drawback.

There are off course some minor things. I do about twice the number of stairs than what is tracked and I need to update my cardio and weight trainings to accurately track my reps and exercises.

Whilst my heart rate is measured accurately during runs the measurement seems too low when doing cardio trainings. Those that want precise HR readings should wear a heart rate band in addition to the watch.

That’s however a minor issue compared to the benefits I experience.

GPS tracking is spot-on and battery life so far is in line with the 21 days that Garmin promises. Battery life can be extended by disabling certain features but I haven’t had that need yet.

Bike rides and walks have become much more fun now that I can plan routes in advance and follow them on the map.

I can’t wait to use the ski features for the first time!

Conclusion

For those who need a sports watch with loads of advanced navigational features along with impressive battery life, Fenix 6X Pro is surely the best Garmin watch for hiking.

Its increased screen size is the new addition that takes out the bulk from the previous series.

Moreover, the enormous range of analytics and tracking is all that every stats fan and athlete needs.

Several configurable screens give you tons of information about your hike, including the height, distance covered, heart rate, and current pace. You can upload GPX files for turn-by-turn navigation.

Thanks to the barometer you have up-to-date information about the weather and you will be alerted about any upcoming storms.

Information about sunset can be used to plan your outdoor activities.

If you can bear the price and the imperfect heart rate feature, this watch is probably the best thing on the market.

Check prices and availability:

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Garmin Fenix 7X Sapphire Solar

Key Features

  • Battery Life: 28 days (Smartwatch Mode), (90 days Battery Saver Watch Mode), 89 Hours (GPS mode), 16 hours (All sattelite systems mode + Music), 213 Hours (Max Battery GPS Mode), 62 Days (Expedition GPS Activity)
    Above times are further increased when you use the solar capabilities.
  • Waterproof: Up to 100 meters (10 ATM)
  • Altimeter, Barometer, and Compass: Yes
  • Display: Color, 280×280 pixels, 1.4″
  • Maps: Full-color topographical maps and ski maps of all continents (compatible with basecamp)
  • GPS: Glonass, GPS, Galileo, multi-band
  • Hiking features: Navigation, breadcrumb, elevation profile, distance, pace, ascent/descent, climbpro, storm alerts, sight ‘n go
  • Weight: 89g with Silicone Band
  • Lens Material: Power Sapphire™

Pros and cons

  • The best battery life of all
  • Lighter than the Fenix 6 series
  • Touch screen + buttons, touch screen for day-to-day use and buttons for use during sporting
  • Turn-by-turn navigation
  • The unbeatable outdoor tracking features
  • Sports enthusiasts will be amazed at the possibilities of this watch for tracking other sports such as MTB, surfing, swimming, golfing, skiing, and more…
  • Livetrack, incident detection, flash light, and assistance features in case of emergency
  • Unbreakable
  • Costly if you don’t use all features

Garmin Fenix 7X Sapphire Solar vs Fenix 6X Pro

Garmin has released the successor of the Garmin Fenix 6.  The Garmin Fenix 7x series boasts some extras and also has some improvements over the Fenix 6. 

Here’s a detail of the differences so you can see if you’d better opt for the new model or will be perfectly happy with the 6, which is now that its successor has arrived, available for a lower price.

Both watches are available in 3 sizes. The sizes have remained the same, but due to the use of lighter materials, the 7 is always slightly lighter than the comparable version of the 6. The 6X Pro weighs 93g, the 7X Sapphire Solar is 4 gram lighter.

As a walking enthusiast, there are 2 useful improvements that I immediately noticed.  First, all topoactive maps of all continents are now included.  The Garmin Fenix 6 only had the map of your region and you needed to pay extra for the others.  This can be useful if you travel to various continents and can already make up for a little of the price difference.  It’s also easier to install the maps.  With the Fenix 6, you need to connect the watch to your computer.  With the Fenix 7, you can install the maps directly from the watch.

Having used it in various places across Europe, from Iceland to Bulgaria, I’m very happy with the GPS accuracy of the Garmin Fenix 6.  The sapphire 7 series has added multi-band GPS support which means it can use both the L1 and L5 frequencies.  This promises an even more accurate as well as reliable result.

If you’re considering multi-day treks you may also be charmed by the longer battery life of the 7 series.  The battery life of the 6 was already impressive but the Fenix 7 lasts even longer.  (6X Pro: 21 days / 7X : 28 days)  The solar charging is also greatly improved and the 7X Solar can stay on your wrist for 37 days with recharging.  When you’re using all the satellite systems (including the Multi-band) it will still last for 41 hours.

Here are some other noticeable new features that are less relevant when hiking but still worth mentioning.

The 7X Solar only has 16GB of storage whereas the 6X has 32GB.  If you want to have 32GB of storage you need to buy the 7X Sapphire Solar.

All 7 series now have a touch screen.  While I don’t really miss the touch screen (I had one on my previous Samsung watch) I do believe it can be an improvement for day-to-day use.  The touch screen is disabled by default during sporting which is the right thing to do.  As I remember from the days I sported with my Garmin watch, a touch screen is more of a handicap than an asset when you’re moving.

The 7X has a flashlight that can double as an SOS light or a bike light.

Garmin has added a guard button to the start/stop button. It doesn’t happen very often but I’ve had cases where I accidentally stopped an activity when putting on or off a sweater or jacket.  This guard button should prevent that.

Conclusion

The Garmin Fenix 7X is without any doubt an improvement over the Fenix 6X but you do have to consider if you will benefit from the new features.

If you want the best battery life and super-accurate GPS tracking the 7 series is a clear winner.  That all topographic maps are included in this model is an added benefit.

The Garmin Fenix 6X Pro is however still a great choice and will cover the needs of most hikers.  Now that the 7 series is out, it has also dropped slightly in price.

Check prices and availability:

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Garmin Forerunner 945

Key Features:

  • Battery Life: 2 Weeks (Smartwatch Mode), 10 Hours (GPS Mode + Music), 36 Hours (GPS Mode)
  • Waterproof: Up to 50 meters (5 ATM)
  • Altimeter, Barometer, and Compass: Yes
  • Display: Color, 240×240 pixels, 1.2″
  • Maps: Full-color topographical maps
  • GPS: Glonass, GPS, Galileo
  • Hiking features: Navigation, breadcrumb, elevation profile, distance, pace, ascent/descent, climbpro, storm alerts
  • Weight: 50g
  • Lens Material: Corning® Gorilla® Glass DX

Pros and cons

  • Turn-by-turn navigation
  • Safety features such as livetrack and incident detection
  • Triathlon watch
  • Garmin Pay
  • Mushy and soft buttons
  • Sleep monitors and heart rate readings are not so accurate

Conclusion

The forerunner might be designed with running in mind but the range of sports that the Forerunner 945 is capable of supporting is pretty darn fantastic.

Hiking and walking is of course also supported, otherwise this watch wouldn’t be featured in this list.

You can access a wealth of data about your hike in real-time. You can scroll through a number of info screens that include information like your pace, heart rate, and distance covered.

If you follow a GPX course it will also show the distance that remains along with a map.

Turn-by-turn navigation can also be enabled.

Hiking features are similar to those found in the Fenix 6X Pro.

The reason I preferred the Fenix 6X pro over the Forerunner 945 was the longer battery life and the larger screen.

Other similarities to the Fenix 6X Pro are the wireless pay features and the ability to store music.

The forerunner 945 is capable of storing 1000 songs, although this is only half of what can be uploaded to the Fenix 6x pro it is still about 50 hours of music.

The Forerunner 945 is definitely one of the best Garmin watches for hiking and running.

It also has a solid battery life, only a little short of that of the Fenix 6X Pro.

Both watches are therefore about the same price.

In my opinion, the Garmin Fenix 6X pro is worth the small extra.

If you’re however familiar with the forerunner series or if you don’t care about the extras that come with the Fenix series then the Forerunner 945 will be a worthy alternative.

Check prices and availability:
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Best Garmin budget GPS Watch

Garmin Forerunner 45

Key Features

  • Battery Life: 7 Days (Smartwatch Mode), 14 Hours (GPS Mode)
  • Waterproof: Up to 50 meters (5 ATM)
  • Altimeter, Barometer, and Compass: No
  • Display: Color, 208×208 pixels, 1.04″
  • Maps: Not supported
  • GPS: Glonass, GPS, Galileo
  • Hiking features: distance, pace
  • Weight: 32 g (Small) and 36.2 g (Large)
  • Lens Material: Chemically Strengthened Glass

Pros and cons

  • Slim and lightweight design
  • Large numbers aid excellent screen visibility
  • Easy-to-use buttons
  • Convertible straps with color options
  • Safety features including livetrack and incident detection. The latter requires a smartphone for it to work with the forerunner 45.
  • Slow synchronization with apps
  • Needs a screen protector
  • Display is on the small side
  • GPS takes time to go live

Conclusion

The watch is designed with runners in mind but as a hiker, you will also benefit from some of its features.

You may need to add the hiking and walking sports mode because it usually comes installed with only running and biking.

Once installed you will be able to track your distance, time, pace, and heart rate.

It also supports similar safety features as those included in the high-end Garmin watches, only will they in this case require your smartphone together with the watch to work.

Maps are not included and the watch also lacks a barometric altimeter. A serious drawback if you plan on conquering some mountains.

The watch offers ample lifestyle and fitness monitoring features at an affordable price.

The Forerunner 45 is surely among the best Garmin watch for backpacking on a budget and who knows even for daily use once you become addicted to it.

The Garmin Forerunner 45 will need a smartphone connection to use its more advanced features but the Garmin connect app is pretty responsive and easy to use.

Check prices and availability:
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Garmin Instinct

Key Features

  • Battery Life: 40 hours (UltraTrac™ Battery Saver Mode), 16 Hours (GPS Mode), 14 Days (Smartwatch Mode)
  • Waterproof: up to 100 meters (10 ATM)
  • Altimeter, Barometer, and Compass: Yes
  • Display: Monochrome, 128×128 pixels, 0.9″
  • Maps: Not supported
  • GPS: Glonass, GPS, Galileo
  • Hiking features: Breadcrumb, elevation profile, distance, pace, ascent/descent, Sight ‘n go
  • Weight: 52 g
  • Lens Material: Chemically Strengthened Glass

Pros and cons

  • Sturdy construction
  • Comfortable and lightweight
  • Waypoints navigation
  • Built to the US Military Standard 810
  • Long battery life
  • Heart Rate monitoring may not be accurate while lifting weights
  • The small display may make it cumbersome to see your data at a glance

Conclusion

Are Garmin watches good for hiking? Yes. But are they the best option available to hikers?

Well, you can be sure about Garmin Instinct’s reliability. It is built to the US military standard so you can depend on it when it comes to tracking, monitoring, ease of use, and accuracy.

Priced at under $200, this GPS watch is what you need if you want a feature-packed watch under a strict budget.

The watch supports a wide variety of sports, not as comprehensive as the Fenix 6x and Forerunner 945, but still a list that will suit the needs of most sports enthusiasts.

You will find that the watch shows a ton of information about your hike.

You can also upload GPX files and use them for navigation or use the point-to-point navigational feature that’s built into the watch. Another nice feature is sight ‘n go, where the Garmin Instinct can direct you to a location that is within sight.

The navigational features may come close to those of the Fenix 6X and Forerunner 945, there’re still some differences. The latter 2 watches support topographic maps and other base maps whereas the Garmin Instinct will show your trail as a simple line.

Another thing that differentiates the Garmin Instinct from other watches in this list is that it has a monochrome display. It’s easy to read though, even in direct sunlight.

You can also rely on the Garmin Instinct watch when it comes to your safety.

You can share your location with friends and family with livetrack and you can use tracback or ‘back to start’ when you find yourself lost and want to navigate back to your starting point.

The most often heard complaint about the Garmin Instinct is the small display size. Runners say they need to stop or at least slow down if they want to consult their data on the watch. This may not be that much of an issue though if you’re hiking.

That’s why we included the Garmin Instinct in our list of Garmin GPS watches for hiking. It has a great battery life, an intuitive interface, and accurate sensors.

If you want to further extend the battery life of your Garmin Instinct watch you could opt for the Garmin Instinct Solar which we discuss below.

Check prices and availability:

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Best Garmin smart watch for multi-day hikes

Garmin Instinct Solar

Key Features

  • Battery Life: 24/54 Days (Smartwatch Mode) with solar power, 56 days/Unlimited (Battery Saver Mode) with solar power, 30/38 Hours (GPS Mode) with solar power, 28 days/68 days (GPS on Expedition Activity) with solar power, 70 hours/145 hours (Maximum GPS Battery Mode) with solar power
  • Waterproof: up to 100 meters (10 ATM)
  • Altimeter, Barometer, and Compass: Yes
  • Display: Monochrome, 128×128 pixels, 0.9″
  • Maps: Not supported
  • GPS: Glonass, GPS, Galileo
  • Hiking features: Breadcrumb, elevation profile, distance, pace, ascent/descent, Sight ‘n go
  • Weight: 53 g
  • Lens Material: Power Glass™

Pros and cons

  • All the pros of the Garmin Instinct (see above)
  • Extra battery saver functions
  • Pulse Ox functions not found in the standard Garmin Instinct
  • Solar charging isn’t as effective as plugging it in
  • Solar charging can extend the battery life of this watch, but the price difference with the regular instinct is big and it’s only worth paying extra if you absolutely need it

Conclusion

The Garmin Instinct Solar is almost identical to the above-featured Garmin Instinct with the exception that its solar-charging capabilities will ensure that you can enjoy the outdoors longer without recharging.

That makes it the ideal candidate for you if you are planning multi-day hikes with overnight stays in tented camps or mountain cabins where you won’t find juice for your watch.

There are some other small additions to the Solar edition such as the Pulse Ox support.

The focus for this edition is however on battery life which is also shown by the fact that Garmin has added a battery manager to the Garmin Instinct Solar, a feature that allows you to disable those features that you won’t be using.

Garmin has launched Solar editions for multiple watches, there’s also a Fenix 6X Pro Solar, but we opted for the Instinct Solar in this post because it performs best in terms of solar charging.

This is because it features a relatively large solar cell in the dial, larger than what is installed in the Fenix 6X Pro solar.

You shouldn’t expect any miracles though. Solar charging can significantly impact the battery life of this watch but you will probably need to charge it with the USB cable every once in a while.

Garmin’s maximum battery life durations can be achieved when the watch is exposed to about 50.000 lux for 3 hours every day. 50.000 lux is not super bright sunlight (On a sunny day we have 100.000 to 120.000 lux at noon) but is far more than the 2.000 lux you experience on an overcast day. If you walk in the shade on a sunny day, the watch will also only be exposed to 20.000 lux on average.

The above paragraph puts the expectations about the battery life in perspective.

Normal daily use where we spend a lot of time indoors will not expose the watch to enough lux to benefit from the solar charging.

You will however benefit from the solar cells if you can spend enough time outdoors. You should see a clear advantage if you are outside from early morning to late in the evening, doing a multi-day hike.

If you’re unlucky with the weather, you can use GPS Expedition Mode to minimize battery drain from the GPS.

Garmin has now released the 7X Solar.

This watch features a wider solar rim and its battery life is far superior to that of the Fenix 6X Solar as well as the Garmin Instinct Solar and any other GPS watch that we know of.

While the Garmin Instinct Solar can last an impressive 68 days in expedition mode the Garmin Fenix 7X Solar doubles this. The battery lasts for 139 days.

The Garmin Fenix 7X boasts a lot of features that the Garmin Instinct has not and is thus significantly more expensive but it is the clear winner when it comes to battery life. 

TIP:  The solar charging capabilities can be found in the specially designed Power Glass and a solar cell that goes in a ring around the screen.  Although the Power Glass is not as strong as the Gorilla glass used in other watches, Garmin advises against the use of a screen protector as this will negatively impact the solar charging capabilities.

Check prices and availability:

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Best Garmin watch for all-round sports

Garmin Forerunner 645

Key Features

  • Battery Life: 7 Days (Smartwatch Mode), 14 Hours (GPS Mode)
  • Waterproof: up to 50 meters (5 ATM)
  • Altimeter, Barometer, and Compass: Yes
  • Display: Color, 240×240 pixels, 1.2″
  • Maps: Not supported
  • GPS: Glonass, GPS, Galileo
  • Hiking features: Navigation, breadcrumb, elevation profile, distance, pace, ascent/descent,
  • Weight: 41.8 g
  • Lens Material: Corning® Gorilla® Glass 3

Pros and cons

  • Compact design
  • HR and GPS record stats on training activities
  • Real-time training info while on the road, mountain, or a trail
  • Strap quality isn’t long-lasting
  • HR monitor may not be as accurate
  • Battery life isn’t as long as mentioned in the specs

Conclusion

Here we have another watch from the Forerunner series. As you might remember from the previous 2 Forerunner watches these are primarily designed for running but have enough gadgets to be interesting for hikers as well.

That is certainly the case with the Forerunner 645. Feature-wise this watch sits in between the budget-friendly Forerunner 45 and the feature-packed Forerunner 945.

The Garmin Forerunner 645 might not be as good as the Garmin Forerunner 945 but for a considerably cheaper price, you still get a lot of hiking features.

These are the main differences between these two watches:

  • First and foremost, there are no maps on the 645. Point to point navigation is available and you can use GPX files to get directions. The difference is that your trail won’t be shown on a basemap.
  • Climbpro and Pacepro, advanced features that will help you spread your efforts evenly over the complete trail, are also only present on the more complete Forerunner 945 watch.
  • The Forerunner 645 won’t show your future elevation plot either, you will have to wait till the end of the trail to see how many altimeters you conquered along with the elevation profile of your hike.

There’re more differences but these are the ones that you will likely encounter when you’re mainly going to use it for hikes.

Back to start and Tracback is supported on the Forerunner 645 but it lacks any of the safety features found on the higher-end watches.

The Forerunner 645 supports a wide range of sports and you get everything you need for your training sessions including health stats, HR monitoring, heat acclimation, and more.

This one surely deserves to be on the top Garmin Watches for hiking trails list.

Moreover, if you love playing music while hiking or working out, you could always opt for the Garmin Forerunner 645 Music GPS watch which has a storage capacity for 500 songs.

Check prices and availability:
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Best Garmin ladies smartwatch for hiking

Garmin Venu 2 S

Key Features

  • Battery Life: 10 Days (Smartwatch Mode), 11 Days (Battery Saver Smartwatch Mode), 7 Hours (GPS Mode + Music), 19 Hours (GPS Mode)
  • Waterproof: up to 50 meters (5 ATM)
  • Altimeter, Barometer, and Compass: Yes
  • Display: Color, 360×360 pixels, 1.1″
  • Maps: Not supported
  • GPS: Glonass, GPS, Galileo
  • Hiking features: distance, pace, ascent/descent
  • Weight: 38.2 g
  • Lens Material: Corning® Gorilla® Glass 3

Pros and cons

  • Lightweight design
  • AMOLED touch screen
  • Measures energy levels, blood oxygen saturation (SpO2), stress, and respiration
  • Preloaded workouts
  • Music storage
  • Supports contactless payments and Bluetooth accessories
  • Limited number of advanced training functions
  • No elevation profile
  • Some customers mention the heart rate is inaccurate while others say it works great

Conclusion

The Instinct and Fenix series may be a little too manly for the average women’s taste. Especially if you’re looking for a watch that you can wear to the office as well as to the gym or on a walk.

The Forerunner is a series that can please more women but the Venu is the big winner.

This is a watch that will guide you through all your workouts, track your challenging hikes, and also pairs well with your beautiful evening dress when you go to a classy restaurant.

The Venue 2S has a premium look with an AMOLED display and touch screen.

This puts it closer to the Samsung Galaxy watches and the Apple watches.

Garmin is known for sports tracking and this is the edge that the Venu 2S has over its competitors.

That, as well as battery life.

With the Venu 2S you can start your marathon and even a multi-day hike knowing that it will be meticulously tracked. Galaxy and Apple watches may struggle to get to the end of it.

After only a year of non-intense use, my Galaxy watch didn’t even last long enough for a 1-hour run.

The Venu 2S also boasts some Women’s health tracking features. You can log your menstrual cycle, get fertility predictions and keep track of your pregnancy.

During your hikes, you will be able to track your distance, time, pace, and heart rate. Back to start is also supported, this will guide you back to your original starting point.

You can share your hikes in real-time with your friends with LiveTrack. Other safety features are Incident detection and Assistance.

Venue 2S  is an excellent and stylish Garmin watch for hiking that will also keep track of your fitness and health.

Check prices and availability:

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What to consider when buying a Garmin hiking watch

GPS

You need a highly effective or at least a quick responding GPS in your smartwatch if you like to monitor your training activity.

Furthermore, a GPS can show you your current speed, descent, ascent information, and the distance you need to cover and have traveled so far.

Also, navigation is a major factor that compels hikers to wear a smartwatch with a GPS.

Some more advanced GPS watches have software that allows users to import routes in GPX or other compatible formats and will give you directions as you go.

Battery life

You rely on your watch for statistics, navigation and many other things. This means that your watch must stay on while you are on a hike or any other, possibly multi-day, adventurous activity.

GPS and certain other features of these smart watches consume more battery.

Hikers with long hiking plans must opt for a watch with exceptional battery life or make a compromise between the features they want to use. Garmin’s battery saver module is built to do exactly that.

Carrying a portable charger is something you can consider as well. However, it is preferable to pack as little stuff as possible.

Knowing that some of the Garmin watches have batteries that can last 50 days or more you should be safe for most multi-day treks.

Garmin Fenix 6X Pro GPX route
A GPX track created on the computer and shown on the Garmin Fenix 6X Pro watch

Barometer – Barometric Altimeter

The barometer of your watch can have 2 functions. It will keep track of the atmospheric pressure. Based on that information it can inform you about changes to the weather and changes in elevation.

Information about the weather patterns is used in weather widgets and some Garmin models also generate storm alerts when drastic changes occur. (a sudden drop in pressure indicates the chances of precipitation or storm)

It also co-functions as an altimeter.

Where low-end models use GPS data to calculate your altitude, more advanced watches will also incorporate data from the barometer. The device will read changes in air pressure to see if you are climbing or descending. Air pressure will typically go down if you go up and vice versa.

Data from a barometric altimeter is usually seen as more reliable than what is provided by a GPS but it is still not 100% perfect.

There are some things that you can do to further improve this data:

  • If you know the altitude of the starting point of your activity you can calibrate your barometer before the start.
  • The barometer of your watch must be able to correctly distinguish what changes in air pressure are related to weather events and what is related to altitude. In auto mode the watch will make these choices for you. Garmin watches allow you to lock the barometer to barometer mode and altimeter mode. In the first mode all changes in air pressure will be seen as weather related, ideal if you’re walking on the beach. The altimeter mode will do the opposite and convert all air pressure changes to altimeters.
  • Lastly, in top-end watches such as the Fenix 6X Pro, the altimeter can be calibrated with a map with elevation data. Such map is called a Digital Elevation Model (DEM). Watches with enough storage like the Fenix 6X Pro have the DEM data stored on the watch, for others the watch needs to be paired with the Samsung Connect App and your phone needs to be connected to the internet.

Compass

Well, this is without saying a necessary accessory or feature if you plan off-the-beaten-path excursions.

You will find that most Garmin watches feature a compass. Still, there are some minor differences.

There are two types of compasses—2-axis and 3-axis compasses. A 2-axis compass, sometimes referred to as dual-axis, only functions if you hold the watch horizontally while the 3-axis compass will function at every angle.

To use a 2-axis compass you will also need to stop while a 3-axis compass will still function with slight movement.

Water resistance vs waterproof

While this criterion is of minor importance when it comes to choosing a watch for hiking, we thought we’d include it because it would be a shame if you accidentally break your new watch by using it the wrong way.

Some smartwatches are water resistant while others are waterproof. This is a big difference.

Water resistant watches can be worn in the rain but cannot be submerged. They should also be taken off before showering.

Waterproof watches can be submerged. How waterproof they are is expressed in ATM (atmospheric pressure) and meters. The meters are a little misguiding, 5ATM is equivalent to 50 meters but this doesn’t mean that the watch can be used for diving to a depth of 50 meters.

Here is some guidance:

5 ATM (50 meters): Suitable for every day use, can be worn in the shower but cannot be worn when swimming

10 ATM (100 meters): OK for swimming and snorkeling, not for diving

20 ATM (200 meters): OK for most water sports except diving with tanks. Make sure the watch is not submerged for too long.

50 ATM (500 meters): Diver’s watches will usually start at 50 ATM, this is the minimum you need to wear your watch while scuba diving. You can go for models with 100 ATM or more to be on the safe side.

Garmin Fenix 6X Pro hiking data screen
Info about your hike such as the distance, pace and more is shown across different data screens.

Comfort and weight

A comfortable band made of just the right kind of material which doesn’t irritate the skin and remains comfortable even when you are sweating is the right choice.

Find straps that promote airflow and have a soft but durable feel. Most brands try to keep the weight off on their watches.

Most people find that a comfortable weight for a watch is below 60 g. 

Ease of use

The ease of using a GPS smartwatch largely depends on its capabilities. We think that Garmin does a good job when it comes to an intuitive user-interface but still, the more the watch is capable of, the more complex the menu becomes.

This is one important aspect to consider when buying your watch.

The second important aspect is the operation. Samsung and Apple both use touch screens while Garmin mostly sticks to buttons to operate the watch. (with the exception of the Venu 2S)

Both camps have their lovers. I’m a lover of buttons as I find it unpractical to swipe and touch on such small displays. It’s often not behaving as expected when I’m standing still and becomes completely impossible when I’m working out.

Are you going to a winter destination? I have special gloves to operate my smartphone but I find that operating my watch with them is difficult to impossible. Your mileage may vary of course.

Touch screens can also start living a life of their own. It can happen when you go in your pocket or your sleeve can accidentally activate the screen. It isn’t supposed to happen, but I’ve been through it before. It’s not fun to see that your hike has ended while you still have several kilometers to go.

The buttons on the Garmin watch feel solid and you can lock the device during a workout if you’re afraid that you will accidentally touch them.

The Garmin Instinct Smart Watch
The Garmin Instinct Smart Watch

Price

Your requirements decide what features you want your GPS smartwatch to have.

Going for a cheaper $100-$150 smartwatch won’t get you a whole lot of quality features but everything basic that is enough for a person who seldom goes for adventure activities likes hiking, skiing, etc.

Frequent adventurers must go for a higher price range to get all kinds of features that they may need when they are out for multi-day hikes or go hiking high altitudes.

Conclusion

For a safe hiking experience, buying the best hiking watch that fits your budget can sometimes get challenging.

We hope our selection of the best Garmin smartwatch for hiking will help you make the right choice.

Moreover, we want you to choose a watch that has all the basic features so that whenever your smartphone’s battery is drained, you can still stay connected and complete your hike without any problems.

See the web story that accompanies this post.