Top 5 Hiking Watches Under 200$
Hiking is tons of fun. Buying the gear, not so much. There is a lot of equipment required, and most of it is expensive. When it comes to hiking watches, it is hard to find a reliable one for a cheap price. This article’s goal is to help people on a tight budget choose the best hiking watch for their needs.
When shopping for hiking watches, the four most sought-after functions are: GPS, Altimeter, Barometer and compass. We have studied a variety of watches and found some that will appeal to different types of hikers, from casual to hardcore. The following list is not in a particular order, it simply represents the 5 best hiking watches for different needs.
1. Garmin Forerunner 15
The Garmin Forerunner 15 is the perfect watch for people on a budget who only need the GPS function. The watch was initially marketed towards runners, but a lot of hikers have found themselves using it lately. It is a very versatile watch that combines smart features with sport styling.
This device will be a good fit for people who are competitive and who like to track their time and share them with friends. Many built-in features are aimed towards keeping lap times as precise as possible. For example, the watch will automatically know if you are taking a break, and will stop tracking time on its own. For people practicing HIIT, the watch offers a run/walk option that will let you know when to switch pace with an alarm sound.
People love the Garmin Forerunner 15 for the sense of community that comes with it. It is linked to the Garmin Connect app, which lets you share and compare time and routes with friends or strangers. You can find this watch for a price between 120-150$ depending on the store and the time of the year.
2. Casio Pathfinder (PAG240)
The Casio Pathfinder is great for people who don’t care about the GPS feature, but need the Altimeter/Barometer/Compass package. It is very rare to find a hiking watch under 200$ that includes all those features. With that in mind, the data that you will get from these will not be 100% accurate, but it will be accurate enough for non-professional use. For example: the barometer and altimeter will require a relatively regular calibration to stay as precise as possible.
Since it is part of the ''Tough Solar'' range, the Casio PAG240 uses solar power to get charged. This is great considering you won't have to change batteries, but might be an inconvenient if you plan to be in the dark for a long time (ex: going to the North Pole.) If you choose to go with this watch, we would recommend changing the strap, considering a lot of users complained about how uncomfortable it is. We would also suggest waiting for a sale before buying, as it can be bought for as low as 100-150$.
3. Suunto Core
The Suunto Core is a very cool watch with tons of functions. It does have the altimeter/barometer/compass trio, with some additional gizmos. For example, the storm alarm feature will let you know a few hours in advance that a storm is coming using different atmospheric calculations. The downside is that leaving this kind of feature on drains the battery a lot faster. It also includes classic watch functions, such as dual time zone and sunset/sunrise predictor. An upside for this watch is that it offers replaceable battery, which is not the case for every item on this list.
The case of this watch is made from composite and will be very durable for any outdoor use. It is really beautiful and can be worn with casual clothing at all time. This watch is also offered with different cases, but they will often be much more expensive. We strongly recommend buying this watch from a retailer, considering Suunto prices are way above everyone else. For example, the Core Allblack is 219$ at regular price on Suunto's website, but 129$ directly from Amazon. Suunto often has sales on their website, but they still can't compete with retailers.
4. Garmin Foretrex 401
The Foretrex 401 is far from being aesthetically pleasing. It can barely be called a watch, but it sure does everything a hiker needs. This device features a high-precision GPS, an electronic compass and a barometric altimeter.
This wrist-mounted navigator is IPX7 certified, which means it's ok to wear while it's raining, or during a shower, but it isn't built to resist being submerged in water. This means you will not be able to swim with it. This might be a deal breaker for people who wants to use this watch for multiple purpose.
This model is a favorite for people in the army, but it performs just as well as a hiking watch. Priced below 150$, it is the perfect watch for people who absolutely don’t care about aesthetics, but want the most functions possible.
5. Suunto Traverse
The Traverse is the last hiking watch on our list because… it technically shouldn’t be there. Indeed, this watch costs 240$ in its cheapest configuration. We still thought it was necessary to include it in this list, considering it can be had for 200 or cheaper on occasions such as black Friday or boxing day.We could not have a complete ‘’best hiking watch’’ list without the Suunto Traverse. This device is extremely beautiful, as well as being one of the most technologically advanced gadget we talked about today. Its crisp analog screen displays precise information, such as barometric trends, satellite navigation system, compass and much more. It is often praised for being sturdy and lightweight at the same time. In our experience, the battery life on this unit is really good compared to the competition. Although, we have heard about some people complaining from a short battery life. We’re not sure if those people had a defective unit, or if they simply used too many energy-intensive features.
The main shortcoming of this watch is the software. Since it is not really a smart watch, the Suunto traverse doesn't have a tried-and-true system like Wear OS (formerly knows as Android Wear). Instead, Suunto uses an in-home app called Movescount. The program isn't bad in and of itself, it's just lacking compared to the competition. Some users mentioned that some other watches, such as the Garmin Fenix 3 have access to much better apps, with more features. This won't be a problem for casual users, but people who like to personalize their devices a lot might not be satisfied.