Content you can trust

The 6 BEST smartwatches for hiking under £500

The best smartwatches for hiking are durable, reliable and packed with sensors that help you learn more about the environment you’re exploring. Our top picks come courtesy of big-name brands including Garmin, Lad Weather and Suunto.

Experienced hikers will know how important it is to monitor health and fitness during a gruelling day-long trip. Thankfully, we’ve spotted plenty of smartwatches for hiking online that tell you exactly how fast you’re travelling and when to take a well-earned rest.

Our guide on the best smartwatches for hiking explains the key features to keep an eye out for. Further down the page, we’ve highlighted 6 different hiking watches worth your hard-earned cash.

See also: Best fitness trackers under £50 for 2019

Smartwatches for hiking: features to look out for

Smartwatches are generally more expensive than fitness trackers. Ultimately, this is because they arrive with larger built-in colour screens and more sensors to monitor your surroundings and your health.

  • GPS support – if you’re a keen hiker, you’ll obviously appreciate the value of being able to consult a map if you get lost during your travels. The best smartwatches for hiking send reliable map data right to your wrist.
  • Heart rate monitor – you may want to keep a track of your own fitness levels during a hike so you can pace your trek. Many top-rated smartwatches for hiking provide valuable data as you’re on the move, including steps taken, calories burned, distance travelled and average heart rate.
  • A durable design – in some cases, you’ll want to make sure you’re shopping for a smartwatch that’s fully waterproof. Failing that, look for a model that flaunts a water-resistant design.
  • Compass – if you lose your sense of direction out on a trial, it’s important to have some bearing of where you’ve ended up. Most smartwatches for hiking will support a built-in compass.

How much does a smartwatch cost?

The smartwatches for hiking that we’ve collected below come in at a range of price points. Our cheapest pick could be yours for around £60, with prices for more advanced wearables rising beyond £350.

It’s a good idea to base your buying decision on the data you plan on tracking with your smartwatch. If you’re not too fussed about premium features such as heart rate monitoring and a fully-waterproof design, you’ll be able to cut costs.

The BEST smartwatches for hiking

1. Garmin Fenix 5

Price: £338.98

Garmin Fenix 5 Multisport GPS Watch

Garmin is a massive name in the world of wearables, having released countless fitness trackers, activity watches and smartwatches over the years. The brand’s Fenix 5 smartwatch doesn’t come cheap, but it’s the perfect hiking companion.

The Garmin Fenix 5 incorporates stainless steel into its classy design, which also supports interchangeable wrist straps. It uses an anti-glare coated lens to give you a good view of your notifications around the clock. This smartwatch for hiking uses built-in GPS to make sure you get from A to B without a hitch.

With so many sensors under the hood of the Garmin Fenix 5, this smartwatch can adapt to track your activities aside from hiking. With a gyroscope, GPS and altimeter, it can monitor your movements and performance when running, cycling and swimming. The wearables thermometer and barometer are used to predict changes in the weather, and there’s also a heart-rate monitor that fitness fanatics will appreciate.

There’s plenty here for runners to enjoy. The Garmin Fenix 5 tracks pace and distance when you’re moving on flat ground. When you start climbing, though, the smartwatch will automatically switch over to ‘ascent mode’ to track your vertical speed. Having a map of your surroundings on your wrist will ensure you’re heading down the correct route.

By syncing your smartphone to this smartwatch for hiking, you’ll receive texts and email alerts right on your wrist. If you’re heading on a trail in a group, you can make use of Garmin’s GroupTrack feature – it lets you keep track of your friends in case you get separated in the great outdoors.


2. Garmin Vivoactive 3

Price: £179

Garmin Vivoactive 3 GPS Smartwatch

This sporty smartwatch shares many features with the Garmin wearable above, although this model is a touch more affordable. The Garmin Vivoactive 3 comes with built-in GPS, heart rate monitoring and a high-resolution touchscreen display. Swiping left and right will guide you through several widgets and tracking screens.

GPS support is a must-have if you’re serious about buying a smartwatch for hiking. The Vivoactive 3 has you covered, being capable of tracking your movements up and down mountains and measuring stress and relaxation levels with a breathing timer.

The Vivoactive 3 has dedicated modes designed specifically for other activities aside from hiking, including yoga, cardio, strength training, running. A waterproof design also makes it suitable for tracking swims, with the built-in battery acting as your personal trainer for “up to 8 days” at a time.

With Garmin’s own fitness app for smartphones, you can create custom workouts and then download them to your wrist. The Vivoactive 3 comes preloaded with over 15 sports apps, so whatever your go-to activity, you can track progress and set yourself some goals. Every time you head outside, the built-in GPS will track your activity even if you’ve left your smartphone behind.

This is the first Garmin wearable with Garmin Pay support. That means you’ll be able to tap the wearable against wireless payment terminals to buy goods without using a credit card or your smartphone. That’s a great bonus if you don’t fancy carrying your entire wallet around with you all day. All you need to do is set up your Garmin digital wallet and you’re set.


3. Suunto Core Watch

Price: £149.80

Suunto Unisex Adults Core Watch

This Suunto smartwatch comfortably makes its way into our list of the best smartwatches for hiking. It’s the perfect daily companion for sporty types, keeping track of your movements whether you’re climbing a mountain or taking a morning stroll through the park.

The Suunto Core Watch has all the features you’d expect from an effective, reliable smartwatch for hiking. The list of built-in features includes a barometer, altitude monitor, compass and even a depth gage for snorkelling. Real-time weather updates also let you plan your hiking routes effectively.

Looking for a waterproof smartwatch for hiking? Add the Suunto Core Watch to your shortlist. This sophisticated wearable is waterproof up to 30m, so it’ll easily survive a quick dip in the ocean. A lightweight design also means you can wear it comfortably from sunrise to sundown.

Crucially, the Suunto Core Watch will let you know exactly when the sun is going to set. If you’re out on a hike and need to know when the best time to head back is, it’s invaluable. Combined with the built-in compass, you can make your way home without a fuss.


4. Lad Weather ABC Watch

Price: £59.80

Lad Weather German Sensor ABC Watch

Not every smartwatch fit for hiking will cost you over £100. This affordable, tech-crammed smartwatch from Lad Weather features an altimeter, barometer, compass, thermometer, weather forecast alert and stopwatch.

The affordable but stylish smartwatch comes in a range of colours. If you’re convinced by the hiking accessory, you’ll be able to pick between various black, green and orange colour variations.

The Lad Weather ABC Watch is well protected against the elements thanks in part to a water-resistant design. Its on-board sensors make it well-equipped to track your adventures if you’re hiking, climbing, camping, cycling or fishing.

The Lad Weather ABC smartwatch measures altitude history and presents all of your data on the watch face, offering a detailed overview of your hiking routes. The german-made barometer will measure air pressure effectively which, combined with the weather icons on the home screen, helps you prepare for the day.

If you’re willing to spend slightly more money, you may want to consider the £88 Lad Weather Sensor Master 3. The pricier model adds a pedometer, hygrometer and heartrate tracking.


5. Suunto Traverse Alpha GPS Outdoor Watch

Price: £373.02

Suunto Traverse Alpha GPS Outdoor Watch

This Suunto smartwatch is the priciest hiking accessory in our list, so what sort of features can you expect for the price? The answer is a lot. This hiking, fishing and hunting companion is waterproof up to 100m, incorporates a built-in compass and provides highly detailed maps.

Handy air pressure graphics displayed on the Suunto Traverse Alpha keep you up to date with slow or rapid changes in surrounding weather conditions. Take a look at your wrist and you’ll see a location-based moon calendar, including moonrise and sunset times.

A state of the art GPS system powers this hiking smartwatch. According to Suunto, the hiking smartwatch uses GLONASS technology to provide extremely accurate location readings. A description on the brand’s Amazon page boasts: “You get a direct start with precise location determination of your routes, even in the high mountains, in the forest, in marshes or in the city.”

The Suunto Traverse Alpha can tackle any environment. Its stainless steel bezel is paired with a water-repellent nylon strap and scratch-resistant sapphire glass. A red backlight will help you make sense of the information on the watch face even if you’re looking at it in the dead of night.


6. UW90 Rugged Outdoor Sports Smart Watch

Price: £79.99

UW90 smartwatch

The lightweight UW90 is scratch-resistant and can easily resist dust and rain. It has been designed with hikers firmly in mind, arriving with a useful always-on display, more than 10 different sport models and a water-resistant shell.

Built-in GPS on this affordable smartwatch for hiking means you’ll never take a wrong turn if you’re exploring new terrain. The smartwatch will automatically mark your starting point as you begin your adventure, tracking distance, speed and walking or running pace as you go. The UW90 smartwatch can return you back to your starting point on the trail even if your smartphone runs out of battery.

This intelligent smartwatch will chuck all the data that matters onto your homescreen. At a glance, you can see the time, a pedometer, calorie counter and distance tracker. If you’ve synced the wearable with your smartphone, you’ll also be notified when you receive a call or text.

Dedicated sports tracking modes make this smartwatch suitable for more than a gruelling hike. You can take it running, cycling and climbing.


Read next: Cheap action cams: The best GoPro alternatives under £50