9 Best Garmin Watches for Hiking

If you are an adventurist who spends the majority of the time exploring spots and hiking trails, chances are that you need a smartwatch that can accompany you on such trips and keep a check on your health and well-being during the treks and hikes. However, with so many different brands of smartwatches in the market, Garmin is a brand that stands out from time and time. 

Sports watches are also pretty expensive and come in a range of premium options that you can choose from. These watches are equipped with all the latest functions and features that keep this brand one step ahead compared to all the available competitors.

However, Garmin is not a new brand, which means that they have been around for quite some time now and offer a range of watches to choose from, especially when it comes to outdoor activities like hiking, trekking, and nature walk. 

One amazing thing that makes Garmin stand out in the competitive market of smart watches is its price range. They have extremely expensive and high-end premium sports watches and at the same time, they have affordable watches too. So, they ensure to cater to a wider audience with varying budgets.

After doing a lot of research, we have managed to sort out a list containing the best Garmin watches that you can consider for hiking expeditions.

9 Best Garmin Watches for Hiking – Reviews

Garmin is a smart watch brand that is prevalent for manufacturing leading and high-quality sports watches ideal for regular and casual wearing and for other events too. The design and the look of the watches are so that you can wear them on general occasions as well. Following are some of the best Garmin watches for hiking that you can consider buying.

1. Garmin 010-02064-00 Instinct

Garmin 010-02064-00 Instinct
21,188 Reviews
  • Color – Available in multiple colors
  • Screen size – 1.27 inches
  • Connectivity – GPS
  • Map type – Worldwide

When talking about the best Garmin watches in the market, the Garmin 010-02064-00 Instinct is one of the best options that you can consider buying. The rugged in-built GPS is designed to withstand the toughest environments without any questions. 

The watch is built with the U.S. Military standard 810G durability check that can sustain itself against shock and water resistance up to 100 meters. The watch is further integrated with 3 axis compass and a barometric altimeter for multiple GPS functions.

GPS tracking enables the users to track their paths around more challenging areas. Aside from the basic functions, the watch supports proper health monitoring including heart rate, activity, and stress too.

The watch comes with a range of preloaded activity profiles to manage according to the activity you are indulging in at the moment. Also, the straps in this watch are made with high-quality silicone that is durable and sweat resistant too.

The smart notifications ensure automatic data upload to the online fitness community of Garmin to look back on the same. Also, the watch comes with a unique trackback feature that allows you to navigate through the same route that you came from.

The Garmin explore the website further enables you to plan your trips without any hassle at all. Also, the watch lasts for up to 14 days on the smartwatch mode, 16 hours in the GPS mode, and 40 hours in the battery saver mode.


  • Durable silicone straps and construction
  • Supports smart notifications
  • Has preloaded activity profiles
  • Long-lasting battery life
  • Shock and water resistance


  • Doesn’t support solar charging

2. Garmin Instinct Tactical Edition

  • Color – Tactical Coyote Tan
  • Screen size – 1.2 inches
  • Display type – Monochrome
  • Connectivity – Bluetooth, ANT+

Another popular Garmin watch for hiking that you can consider buying is the Garmin Instinct Tactical Edition. This is another watch that is part of their Tactical edition. The package comes with the watch and a 2200 mAh power bank that you can carry around with you. 

Like any other Garmin watch, even this one is backed with the U.S military 810G for optimal protection against shock and water. This is one of the few watches from Garmin that comes with a chemically strengthened display with night vision compatibility.

Some of the unique features under the tactical edition that you can find in this watch include stealth mode, Jumpmaster, waypoint projection, preloaded tactical activity, and GPS navigation to get you through.

The built-in navigation system allows you to trace back your path, especially when you find yourself stuck in rougher positions with no way out. The 2200mAh power bank comes in handy when you are out there struggling to navigate through the hiking trails.


  • Supports military-grade durability
  • Comes with a 2200mAh power bank
  • Comes with preloaded tactical activity
  • Supports superior GPS navigation
  • Comes with night vision


  • The band material isn’t the best

3. Garmin Fenix 6 Pro

Garmin Fenix 6 Pro
11,258 Reviews
  • Color – Available in several colors
  • Screen size – 1.3 inches
  • Display type – MIP LCD
  • Connectivity – Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, ANT+

If budget isn’t a constraint for you and you want to invest in a high-quality Garmin watch for your hiking is the Garmin Fenix 6 Pro. Not only does it feature a stunning design, but the watch is also available in a range of colors that you can choose from.

The design of this Garmin watch features a rugged and sophisticated design with a 1.3 inches dial. The watch comes with a sunlight-readable display with stainless steel bezel for heightened durability like nothing else you’d come across. 

The exterior of the smartwatch is designed with titanium and diamond-like carbon coating for tarnish resistance. The watch gives accurate readings for the wrist heart rate along with Pulse Ox that helps with sleep monitoring and altitude acclimatization, especially during hiking. 

The watch is also integrated with a range of the latest and advanced features including PacePro for pace guidance throughout your hiking activity. You also get access to a range of preloaded maps that help with easier navigation.

The best part of this watch is the 3-axis compass and barometric altimeter for seamless access. One unique feature of this watch is that it supports the Garmin Pay contactless payments along with music storage to keep you entertained. The watch also supports a long-lasting battery life.


  • Rugged and contemporary design
  • Designed with stainless steel and titanium elements
  • Supports advanced features like PacePro
  • Comes with a range of preloaded maps for easier navigation
  • Long-lasting battery life


  • Expensive

4. Garmin Forerunner 735XT

Garmin Forerunner 735XT
693 Reviews
  • Color – Midnight/Frost Blue
  • Screen size – 1.23 inches
  • Display type – Color display
  • Battery life – 10 months

For the younger and hip users who are particular about investing in Garmin watches with a quirky design, the Garmin Forerunner 735XT is an ideal option. Aside from its sleek design, the watch features a bright blue colored wrist band that adds character to the overall look.

This is a GPS running watch with a range of sports and fitness-related functions that you can carry along with you during your hike. The watch records the wrist heart rate, enabling you to monitor everything that comes along with the process.

The design and functions of this watch provide the users with advanced dynamics that can support multiple activities, including swimming, running, hiking, and other fitness drills. The watch is also integrated with a range of other fitness functions that you can make the most use out of.

One unique feature of this watch is that it enables users to get a VO2 estimate along with lactate threshold so you aren’t hit with fatigue and tiredness all at once. Aside from that, the watch also supports smart notifications with a live tracking feature.


  • Quirky and modern design
  • Supports a range of fitness functions
  • Supports multiple activities
  • Records wrist heart rate
  • Ideal for keeping up with live location


  • The display can be a little hazy during the night

5. Garmin Fēnix 5s

Garmin Fēnix 5s
8,466 Reviews
  • Color – Rose gold Sapphire with a white band
  • Screen size – 1.1 inches
  • Map type – Satellite
  • Memory capacity – 64GB

If you have used or liked any of the Garmin watches from their Felix series, the Garmin Fēnix 5s is another must-have for your hiking trips. This one in particular is ideal for individuals with a smaller wrist since the dial is quite compact.

This is a multisport GPS watch that can record wrist heart rate and comes preloaded with a range of activity profiles that you can make the most use out of. The performance widget enables you to access the key stats without any hassle.

Aside from the basic functions, the watch also supports advanced features, including smart notifications, automatic uploads to the Garmin fitness community, and a range of personalization functions in a wristwatch.

Some of the outdoor sensors like GPS and GLONASS satellite reception ensure smoother reception and easier navigation. Also, the 3-axis compass with the barometric altimeter for tackling issues around the higher trekking trails. The smart watch also supports maximum battery life of up to 6 days.


  • Compact and lightweight design
  • Supports performance widget
  • Supports smart notifications
  • Integrated with outdoor GPS sensors
  • Long-lasting battery life


  • Altimeter accuracy is bad

6. Garmin 010-01689-00 Forerunner 35

Garmin 010-01689-00 Forerunner 35
14,563 Reviews
  • Color – Black
  • Screen – 1 inch
  • Connectivity – Bluetooth connectivity, GPS
  • Map type – Worldwide

Another popular Garmin watch for sports activities that you can consider buying is the Garmin 010-01689-00 Forerunner 35. This is a multipurpose smartwatch integrated with the latest GPS running track functions.

The watch also estimates the heart rate at the wrist using the patented Garmin elevate wrist heart rate technology. Also, much like several of the other Garmin watches, even this one comes with the standard smart notifications and automatic uploads function.

The watch also supports the all-day tracking estimates that keep a record of your steps, calories along with the intensity minutes that keep track of your fitness throughout the day. Also, the watch is programmed to automatically upload the data to the Garmin online fitness community where you can be part of challenges and keep a track of your progress through the fitness journey.


  • Sleek and premium design
  • Multipurpose smart watch
  • Comes with a built-in GPS tracking function
  • Measures wrist heart rate
  • All-day tracking estimates


  • Virtual pacer doesn’t work optimally

7. Garmin Tactix Charlie

  • Color – Sapphire
  • Screen size – 1.2 inches
  • Display type – Sunlight visible
  • Connectivity – Bluetooth Smart, ANT+, Wi-Fi
  • Map type – Topographical

Another premium quality Garmin watch for hiking that is worth the purchase is the Garmin Tactix Charlie. The watch features a modern yet premium design that you wouldn’t regret splurging out on, especially if you enjoy the standard sports watch design.

It features a 1.2-inch dial with a high-resolution and daylight support reading, which means that the display is visible even under direct sunlight, which is always amazing. The domed sapphire lens can also toggle and switch between daytime and nighttime vision.

The watch is integrated and preloaded with TOPO mapping plus routable map navigation to get you through the hiking trails without getting stuck around in the mountains. The rugged design of this watch comes with a diamond-like carbon with titanium back cover for enhanced durability.

Also, the elevated wrist-based heart rate monitor keeps a track of your heart rate for the enhanced recording of your health metrics and vitals. The watch also supports a range of navigation sensors, including the GPS and GLONASS reading. The watch also supports up to 12 days of battery life.


  • Rugged and durable design
  • High resolution reading with daylight support reading
  • Switches between daytime and night mode
  • Comes with multiple map navigation
  • Supports up to 12 days of battery life


  • The charging connector is proprietary

8. Garmin Forerunner 645 Music

  • Color – Cerise
  • Dial – 1.2 inches
  • Display type – Sunlight visible
  • Connectivity – Wi-Fi, Bluetooth
  • Battery – 168 hours

The Garmin Forerunner 645 Music is ideal for the users who are particular about getting a watch with excess storage that enables them to listen to their favorite music without any hassle, especially during adventure hikes.

The design and functions of this watch allow the users to download songs directly to your watch for listening to some of your favorite playlists from a range of music platforms, including Spotify and Amazon Music.

The watch also supports seamless syncing of your favorite songs from a range of streaming services, which enable you to listen to your favorite songs without any internet connection. The watch also enables users to make contactless payments using the Garmin pay function.

One unique feature of this watch is that it supports advanced running dynamics that keep a check on your health and vitals during physical activities. The strap in this is made with high-quality silicone that lasts way longer than you’d expect. The battery life in this watch lasts for 7 days at a stretch.


  • Durable and sleek construction and design
  • Enables direct download of favorite music
  • Supports streaming functions
  • Supports contactless payments using Garmin pay
  • Battery lasts for 7 days


  • Some widgets don’t function optimally

9. Garmin Vívoactive HR GPS Smart Watch

  • Color – Black
  • Connectivity – Bluetooth, GPS
  • Operating system – iOS, Android
  • Screen size – 1.5 inches

Last but not least on the list is the Garmin Vívoactive HR GPS Smart Watch. The watch features a sleek design with a rectangular dial that can seamlessly fit on your wrist for a comfortable fit on the wrist.

The all-black design of this watch features a sunlight-readable design with a high-resolution color touchscreen design. The elevated wrist heart technology can easily record your vitals all day and all night without any kind of an additional strap. However, the heart rate doesn’t work during swimming.

The smartwatch also supports up to 8 days of activity tracking mode. Watch also supports up to 13 hours and can work up to several days without any issues. The smartwatch also supports smart notifications that are compatible with a microphone and is compatible with multiple operating systems.


  • Durable silicone wristwatch
  • All-black design
  • Supports up to 8 days of battery life
  • The heart rate doesn’t work during swimming
  • Supports smart notifications


  • GPS connectivity is not the best

Ultimate Buying Guide

When it comes to buying Garmin watches for hiking, there are a lot more that you need to consider aside from the design and the overall functions. From the latest functions to the price range, there is a lot that you need to consider purchasing. Some of the most important factor that you need to consider before making the purchase includes:

1. GPS

When you are out navigating through a hiking trail, the first factor that you need to consider is the GPS function. Also, find the ones that can seamlessly work with the world maps that can work with the multiple activities. Also, Garmin has the Garmin Connect App that can help you manage your fitness levels and helps with navigation for hiking and backpacking. 

2. Heart rate monitor

Another factor worth considering when looking for a Garmin watch is the heart rate, monitor. The majority of them are integrated with the wrist heart monitor technology while some of the other ones feature the chest strap transmitter for smoother functions. The ones with the wrist-based heart monitor are generally a lot more expensive.

3. External speed

Aside from the hiking functions, the Garmin watches also come with functions that are ideal for running and biking functions too. Check for the options that keep a check on the ground contact time, balance stride length, and a few external sensors that can work with Bluetooth and ANT+ functions. 

4. Price range

To think that Garmin watches are inexpensive is a lie. They are anything but cheap. So, if you are here expecting to find cheaper variants under $100, you are setting yourself up for disappointment. However, the Garmin watches are worth what you pay for. So, if you are here struggling to decide whether it is worth the purchase or not, chances are that you wouldn’t have to regret it at all.


Are Garmin watches worth the purchase?

Despite their high price point, it is not even a question that Garmin watches are worth every penny you spend. Not only are they integrated with the latest functions and features, but Garmin watches are also ideal for health and fitness geeks.

Which Garmin watch tracks elevation?

If you are looking for an ideal Garmin watch for your hiking trials, chances are that you need to invest in the option that comes with the barometric altimeter. Amidst all the available options, the Garmin Instinct range is the ideal option that is integrated with all the latest functions that are needed to track elevation and superior functions. 

Is the Garmin Vivoactive 4 a good hiking watch?

Despite it not being a watch solely designed for hiking, the Vivoactive 4 is a highly functional option that hikers can use for their hiking adventures. The only downside to using this watch is its lack of topographic maps, which can make the process of navigation a little confusing.

Is the Garmin altimeter accurate?

While there are reviews that complain about the inaccuracy of the altimeter reading in some of the Garmin watches, there is a range of watches, specially calibrated for elevation and hiking that come with accurate altimeter readings. Paired with a strong GPS connection, this works pretty well.

How long does Garmin watch last?

There is no definitive life span when it comes to the Garmin watches. The watch can last for 2 years or even be functional after 20. It depends on how roughly it’s being used or taken care of.


Garmin watches are an indispensable part of every hiker or adventurer’s life, especially if you want to add a professional touch to those activities. With so many different types of Garmin watch available in the market, choosing just one from the pool can be a difficult choice. However, the process isn’t as complicated as it seems. So, if you are here struggling to find the ideal watch for your hiking expedition, we hope this article gives you all the necessary insights that you need to know about. Make sure that you read through all the reviews and even check the price range and then move ahead with the purchase that best suits your needs. 

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