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Whether you’re on a casual day-hike with friends or a summer-long expedition through the Adirondacks, a capable wrist watch can make an indispensable companion.
As an avid hiker myself, I’m always on the lookout for the best watches to bring with me on the trail. In this article, I’ll explore 6 of my favorite outdoor watches – both digital and mechanical.
Digital watches are the most popular and versatile choice for the outdoor enthusiast. And with good reason – today’s digital watches come packed with a dizzying array of technology, allowing you to navigate trails, observe weather patterns, and even track physical performance.
Battery life can be an obstacle for multi-day treks, but their rugged construction and plethora of capabilities make them a no-brainer for most outdoor adventures.
Here are three of my top selections for digital outdoors watches:
1 » Garmin Fenix 3
|Size:||51mm x 51mm||Movement:||Smart Watch|
|Thickness:||16mm||Special Features:||GPS, Barometer, Compass, more...|
|Depth Rating:||100M||Buy Online:||Buy on Amazon (n/a)|
If you’re a competitive outdoor enthusiast, you’re going to want to take a closer look at the new Fenix 3 from Garmin. A complete multi-sport package, the Fenix 3 features a compass, barometer, altimeter, and GPS tracking and can be used for everything from trail-running to swimming. The full-color 1.2 inch display is bright and clear and the 50-hour battery life ensures you won’t be left high and dry on the trail.
Smart Features: GPS/GLONASS Tracking and Maps, Barometric Altimeter, Electronic Compass, Smartphone Integration, Rechargeable 50-hour battery, Accelerometer, Running Pacer, Heart Rate Monitor, Swimming Metrics, Golfing Features, Hunt/Fish Calendar, Step Counter, Sleep Monitoring, and lots more…
2 » Casio Rangeman GW-9400-1CR
|Size:||55.2mm x 53.5mm||Movement:||Casio Module 3410|
|Thickness:||18.2mm||Special Features:||Compass, Barometer, Thermometer, Solar, Multiband6|
|Depth Rating:||200M||Buy Online:||Buy on Amazon ($244.75)|
Although lacking the GPS functionality of the Garmin Fenix, the Casio Rangeman is another perennially popular choice for outdoor adventurers. Born of the legendary G-Shock line, the Rangeman features a Shock Resistant Triple Sensor that is capable of keeping altitude, barometric pressure, and temperature readings right at your fingertips.
Digital Features: Multi-band 6 Atomic timekeeping, Tough Solar, Triple Sensor (Altimeter/Barometer/Compass), Shock Resistance, World Time, Stopwatch, Timer
3 » Suunto Traverse Alpha
|Size:||50mm x 50mm||Movement:||Smart Watch|
|Thickness:||16.5mm||Special Features:||GPS, Compass, Barometer|
|Depth Rating:||100M||Buy Online:||Buy on Amazon ($289.99)|
Tested to the military standard MIL-STD- 819G, the Suunto Traverse Alpha is an excellent and rugged choice for anglers and hunters. With a standard array of GPS and weather tracking features, the Traverse also has a plethora of unique features for the avid outdoorsman. Shot detection, fishing/hunting spot tracking, and breadcrumb trail navigation make this is an excellent alternative to the Fenix 3.
Smart Features: GPS/GLONASS Tracking and Maps, Dedicated Functions for Fishing and Hunting, Moon Phase Calendar, Barometer, Altimeter, Sunrise Alert, Compass, Vibration, and more…
As powerful and effective as digital watches are, there is something incredibly reassuring about a classic mechanical watch. Although they don’t do much beyond telling the time, a mechanical watch can be a very reliable tool for use in the outdoors.
Here are three of my favorite mechanical time-pieces for hitting the trail:
4 » Archimede Outdoor Protect
|Size:||39mm x 43.5mm x 20mm||Movement:||Sellita SW200-1|
|Thickness:||11.2mm||Special Features:||Hardened Case, AR Coating, Date|
|Depth Rating:||200M||Buy Online:||Buy Online (€780)|
For the outdoorsman that likes to keep things simple, the German-made Archimede Outdoor Protect is an excellent choice. Made with a special steel hardening process by legendary case specialists ICKLER, the Outdoor Protect is well suited for all the abuse mother nature can dish out. With it’s Swiss-made Sellita SW200 mechanical movement, the watch is guaranteed to keep going for as long as you do.
5 » Seiko Alpinist
|Size:||38mm x 35mm x 20mm||Movement:||Seiko Cal. 6R15|
|Thickness:||12mm||Special Features:||Date, Rotating Compass Bezel|
|Depth Rating:||200M||Buy Online:||Buy on Amazon ($1,020.00)|
No list of popular mechanical hiking watches is complete without a mention of the iconic Seiko Alpinist. Introduced in 1961, the Alpinist has 75 years of proven mountain-trekking experience in it’s DNA. Although available in many different variations and styles, the sunburst green SARB017 has proven to be a cult-favorite amongst collectors.
6 » Rolex Explorer I (bonus)
|Size:||39mm x 48mm x 20mm||Movement:||Rolex Cal. 3132|
|Depth Rating:||100M||Buy Online:||Buy on Amazon ($6,000.00)|
If you’re ready to splurge and want to own the original mechanical outdoor icon, look no further than the Rolex Explorer I. Famously accompanying Tenzig Norgay and Edmund Hillary to the summit of Mt. Everest, the Rolex Explorer is an honest, no-frills time-piece that has been an underrated classic since it’s release in 1953.