5 Best Smartwatches With GPS for Hiking and Navigation

If you have a penchant for exploration and like to traverse places off the beaten track, then you must have a smartwatch in your arsenal. And, not just any smartwatch but one that ships with a built-in GPS. You see, the best smartwatches with GPS for hiking will aid your adventures by sharing insightful data about your health and getting your bearings together.

With that said, there is no shortage of wearables with a built-in GPS tracker. As such, you might be wondering about the best smartwatches with GPS for hiking you can buy today. Well, you’re in luck because after scouring the interwebs, we’ve managed to narrow down the list to five enticing options.

But before we talk about that, you might want to read about- 

Now, let’s take a look at the options.

1. Fitbit Charge 5

Fitbit Charge 5

Fitbit has quite the recall in the fitness tracker space and for good reason. Take the company’s Charge 5, for instance, which touts a svelte design and weighs just 28 grams. As such, the tracker will not weigh down your wrist when you’re working out or embarking on an adventure. What’s more, the tracker is superbly robust too, and is water resistant up to 50m. 

The tracker even comes with interchangeable straps that allow you to change its look on the fly. More notably, the device is among the slimmest trackers to get built-in GPS. Per the brand, the device comes with two GNSS systems, including a built-in GPS and GLONASS. As such, you can go out for a run without carrying your phone in your pockets. Or, you could get away from the humdrum of city life and embark on a short hike with just the tracker – the possibilities are endless. 

That’s not all, as the wearable can pair with your smartphone and relay notifications as well. With that said, you will not be able to take calls with the device as it doesn’t come with a built-in microphone. On the upside, the tracker gets a plethora of fitness-tracking features, including 24/7 heart rate and SpO2 monitoring. What’s more, the device can map your sleeping pattern too, and even record your ECG by means of the Fitbit ECG app. 

If anything, the unit’s battery backup leaves something to be desired and the watch can only last up to five hours with the GPS enabled. Regardless, the wearable gets a lot right and has been lauded by buyers and critics alike. So much so, folks over at CNET dubbed it the ‘best Fitbit’ one could buy. 

2. Amazfit T-Rex 2 Smart Watch 

Amazfit T-Rex 2

Amazfit has a reputation for affordable fitness trackers that punch above their weight in the performance department. And, the company’s T-Rex 2 smartwatch is no exception to the rule. To that end, the wearable looks the part of an old-school G-shock and sports an outlandishly robust build. 

In fact, the wearable comes with a MIL-STD-810G rating, which makes it a great companion when traversing uncharted terrains. So much so, the brand claims that the wearable can be used in areas with temperatures as low as -30 degrees Celsius. That’s not all, as the wearable is water resistant up to 100m as well. So, you need not worry when wearing it near a water body. 

Since we’re on the subject, you should know that the device supports dual-band positioning along with six different satellite positioning systems. Consequently, you should be able to get a reliable GPS connection even whilst traversing dense forests. That’s not all, as the wearable also allows users to import routes. So, you could ask your friend to share their route file (.GPX, .TCX, and .KML formats supported) before you embark on the same trek. 

Additionally, the fitness tracker also supports real-time navigation, along with Direct Return navigation, which shows users the shortest path back to the starting point in a journey. You’ll also get a tremendous suite of health-tracking features, including support for 24/7 heart rate and blood-oxygen saturation monitoring and sleep tracking. Needless to say, the Amazfit T-rex 2 is among the best smartwatches with GPS for hiking in the market. 

3. Fitbit Versa 4 

Up next, is the Fitbit Versa 4. Unlike the Charge 5, the Versa 4 looks like a typical smartwatch. A fringe benefit of the same is that you get a bigger and more legible AMOLED display with the device. To wit, the smartwatch features a 1.58-inch display that should feel more intuitive as you will have a bigger canvas to read your notifications and use gesture-based navigation. 

More notably, the device comes with two GNSS systems, including a built-in GPS and GLONASS. While the specs draw parallels to the Charge 5, the Versa 4 allows you to use features like turn-by-turn navigation when you’re using Google Maps. This is particularly handy if you’re scaling lengthy distances. We should also add that the device comes with an altimeter, which should come in clutch if you are a serious alpinist. On the downside, you can’t import GPX files to get insights on tracks, waypoints, and the works with the Versa 4. 

Other than that, the wearable comes with a built-in speaker and microphone. As such, you can take calls directly from your wrist too. That’s not all, as the wearable also allows you to quickly revert to incoming messages and notifications. You can either choose to send one of the editable, quick replies or speak into the wearable’s microphone and dictate your text. 

Furthermore, the wearable also comes with a bevy of health-tracking features and it can map your heart rate, sleeping patterns, SpO2 rating, and more. You’ll also be able to track your steps, calories, and distance when out for a walk or a run. To no one’s surprise, the Versa 4 is right up there with the best smartwatches with GPS for hiking. 

4. Coros PACE 2

Coros PACE 2

If you’re looking for a fitness-first wearable, then you’ll find the Coros PACE 2 right up your alley. To that end, the watch was the lightest GPS wearable on the market at the time of its launch and the device tips the scales at just 29 grams. Now, do note that the PACE 2 is geared towards marathoners and sprinters. 

So much so, the device offers a bunch of features that should better your running performance. Chief among them is the company’s EvoLab evaluation utility, which is baked into the companion app. For those unaware, EvoLab is an assessment tool that can help you figure out the efficacy of your workouts. For instance, the PACE 2 can gauge your running performance by comparing your scores to that of yesterday’s or even last week’s run. 

To do so, the smartwatch churns out a running performance score which is shown on a scale of 80-120 percent. You can map out your sprint’s consistency by comparing the scores from any two runs. A score of 80-95 percent is deemed poor, and between 105-120 percent is considered excellent. You can use these insights to understand your body better and give yourself more time to rest if need be. You will also get a Race Predictor feature with the device, which analyzes your run data (including your VO2 Max scores), and gives an estimate of your pace should you run a race. 

The wearable is more than adept for GPS tracking too. To that end, the device supports GPS, QZSS, BEIDOU, and GLONASS GNSS systems. If anything, you can’t import routes or get real-time navigation with the device. On the upside, the wearable comes with a built-in barometric altimeter, thermometer, and gyroscope. 

5. Garmin Instinct 2 Solar

Garmin Instict 2 Solar

If you don’t mind splurging on your next GPS wearable, then the Instinct 2 Solar is a great option to consider. As its moniker suggests, the wearable comes with the brand’s solar technology which achieves 30 percent greater solar conversion than its predecessors. What’s more, the device is superbly rugged and comes with MIL-STD 810 rating. 

Unsurprisingly, the wearable has been tested for high-altitude operations and is rated for shock resistance and anti-corrosion as well. It even comes with a waterproof rating of 10ATM, which is great. More notably, the device is a godsend for hikers. To wit, the unit comes with the quintessential ABCs of a high-performance fitness tracker. We are, of course, talking about a built-in Altimeter, Barometer, and Compass, which make the Instinct 2 Solar a great addition to any fitness enthusiast’s arsenal. 

Since we’re on the subject, you should know that the device supports multiple GNSS systems, including GPS, GLONASS, and Galileo satellite systems. More notably, the device comes with superb tracking features like Tracback routing, which helps you navigate back to the starting point. The watch can also jot down the location of a reference point, such as a waymarker, and even indicate the deviation in your path, which is great. 

Of course, you will also be able to leverage other niceties, like HR tracking and SpO2 monitoring. You can even keep a track of menstrual cycles with the device and tap into the watch’s advanced sleep monitoring data to better your overall sleep cycle. It goes without saying then, that the Garmin Instinct 2 Solar is among the best smartwatches with GPS for hiking.

FAQs About GPS Smartwatches 

1 – What is the disadvantage of a GPS watch? 

The biggest drawback of using GPS on a smartwatch is that it eats into the device’s battery life.

2 – Can a Garmin make calls without a phone? 

Yes, you can answer a call via select Garmin wearables. The Venu 2 Plus, for instance, comes with a built-in mic and speaker which facilitates the same. 

Go Where No One Goes

Armed with the aforementioned GPS wearables, you will blaze through the most gruesome hikes and climbs. If the budget is no bar, then we’d recommend opting for the Garmin Instinct 2 Solar. While the wearable is pricey, it more than makes up for it with its remarkable feature set. That said, buyers looking for a slender fitness tracker will find plenty to like about the Charge 5 as well. Do let us know which of the best smartwatches with GPS for hiking takes your fancy in the comments below.

Last updated on 22 April, 2023

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