8 Best Outdoor Smartwatches For Hiking & Camping

Photo: Suunto Traverse Alpha

A few years back, smartwatches were more of a pie-in-the-sky dream than an actual achievable goal. Now, the landscape has changed drastically. So drastically, in fact, that — on top of the devices now seeming commonplace to most folks — companies have actually begun to develop specializations within the greater category.

As you might assume, our favorite of the emerging smartwatch categories has to be those that are developed especially for outdoor activities. Whether you’re a hiker, camper, adventurer, or survivalist, the time has come to start considering adding a smartwatch to your list of necessary gear. Hardly the clunky and confusing devices from a few years back, these watches are incredibly useful for helping you navigate the terrain, track the weather, keep tabs on your own body, and so much more. There are, of course, a select few in this category that are more successful in these applications than others, which is why we put together the following list of the eight best outdoor smartwatches.

Samsung Gear S3 Frontier Smartwatch

As entrenched as they are in the smart technologies industry, it shouldn’t be a surprise to find out that Samsung actually offers a wide array of smartwatches available for purchase. It might be a bit more of a shock, however, to discover that one of the ones they make is ruggedized for use in the great outdoors. An excellent outdoor smartwatch for those on a budget, the Gear S3 Frontier boasts up to 3 days of battery life (probably significantly less in GPS mode) and a wealth of resistances to water, dust, mud, etc. It’s not a top-tier option, but it isn’t going to break the bank, either.

Battery Life: ~3 Days
Water Resistance: IP68
GPS Capable: Yes

Purchase: $268

Apple Watch 3

No, Apple’s Watch 3 doesn’t look like you’d expect a ruggedized outdoor-focused smartwatch to look. But it does have a surprisingly impressive variety of features that certainly earn it a spot on our list. For instance, it is water-resistant to 50 meters and built sturdily enough that you could take it swimming without worry. It’s also dust- and impact-resistant, comes with onboard GPS (good for 5 hours of operation), and is offered with a number of different customization options — our favorite of which, in this case, being the sport-focused silicon watch band.

Battery Life: 18 Hours
Water Resistance: 50M
GPS Capable: 5 Hours

Purchase: $329+

Suunto Spartan Sport Smartwatch

While they’re not necessarily a household name, Suunto appears to have the outdoor- and sport-focused smartwatch category cornered. And their Spartan Sport is definitely one of their all-time best offerings. Built specifically for adventurous athletes, this handy wrist accessory boasts a number of features that put it worlds ahead of the competition — like heart rate monitoring, GPS/GLONASS navigation, support for tracking activity across 80 individual sports, calorie and step counting, etc. The list just keeps on going.

Battery Life: 14 Days
Water Resistance: 100M
GPS Capable: 40 Hours

Purchase: $350

Suunto Traverse Alpha Smartwatch

If there’s one watch from Suunto better than the Spartan Sport, its the Traverse Alpha. Offering much of the same features — like GPS/GLONASS navigation, a stainless steel case, fitness tracking, and more — this one has some even better features that make it even more equipped to handle the great outdoors. They include a resistance to extreme temperatures, an onboard location-based moon phase calendar, and even offers specialty tracking for hunters and fishermen. If we were asked to pick which of the watches on our list was our top favorite, it would be hard not to pick this one.

Battery Life: 14 Days
Water Resistance: 100M
GPS Capable: 100 Hours

Purchase: $370

Casio Pro-Trek Outdoor Smartwatch

It seems like a long time ago now that Casio first announced their Pro-Trek WSD series of outdoor-focused smartwatches — but it was actually only about a year and a half ago. Now, it’s been officially released and it hasn’t disappointed one bit. Boasting mil-spec durability, a 50-meter water resistance rating, and a huge number of onboard features — that range from GPS to 2-way radio-style communication — this is still hands-down one of the best bang-for-your-buck hiking smartwatches on the market. And it looks like it’s going to stay that way, as the brand keeps announcing updates.

Battery Life: 1+ Months
Water Resistance: 50M
GPS Capable: 9 Hours

Purchase: $500

Garmin Tactix Charlie Smartwatch

It should be no surprise that Garmin, one of the giants in the GPS tracking category, would offer up an excellent hiking and camping-friendly watch. It should also come as no surprise that it boasts a number of features that are sparse or nonexistent elsewhere — like topographical mapping in conjunction with the onboard GPS, an ultra-tough DLC titanium case, and a wealth of outdoor-ready onboard sensors. The price might scare off all but the most dedicated, but the value is definitely still there for those with deep enough pockets.

Battery Life: 12 Days
Water Resistance: 100M
GPS Capable: 20 Hours

Purchase: $750

Garmin fEnix 5 Plus Smartwatch

While Garmin’s Tactix Charlie is definitely a top contender for the best outdoor smartwatch, their fēnix 5 Plus beats it out by just a hair if your biggest concern is personal fitness. And that’s because this one focuses much of its onboard features toward keeping tabs on what your body is doing. Of course, it still has onboard GPS with full color topographical maps — it just also has fitness tracking, enough memory for up to 500 songs (which you can listen to with a pair of Bluetooth workout earbuds), and a whole lot more.

Battery Life: 10 Days
Water Resistance: 100M
GPS Capable: 8 Hours

Purchase: $800

AlpinerX Outdoor Smartwatch

Certainly the most expensive of the outdoor hiking and camping smartwatches on our list, the AlpinerX might seem like its price overshadows its capabilities — especially when you consider that it doesn’t feature a touchscreen like all the other on this list. But, we ask that you really consider everything this watch has to offer (which is an exhaustive and extensive list). Here’s the short version: GPS, compass, barometer, altimeter, thermometer, UV indicator, activity tracking, sleep monitoring, smart coaching, a world timer, smartphone app and cloud connectivity, etc. Oh yeah, and this one has the best battery of the bunch by a long shot, clocking in at a whopping 2+ years between charges. We’d say that’s worth it.

Battery Life: ~2 Years
Water Resistance: 100M
GPS Capable: Yes/TBA

Purchase: $895+

8 Best Survival Watches

If you’re headed into the wilderness but smart tech isn’t high on your list of necessities, you should still bring a timepiece  And you could do a whole lot worse than one of our picks for the 8 best survival watches available.