The Suunto Traverse Alpha is our pick for best GPS watch for hunting and hiking. It has the most accurate and reliable GPS of all the watches we tested. It's reasonably priced and has dedicated hunting, hiking and fishing features.
A good hunting or hiking GPS watch takes care of the logistics of your outdoor trip, allowing you to focus on what’s important to you.
Besides making life easier, a dedicated watch can also be a lifesaver. With built-in GPS, ABC (altimeter, barometer & compass), waypoint marking, flashlight, etc you can be sure that if you get lost, no matter how far into the abyss you go, your watch will help you find your way back to safety. For safety alone, a good watch is an essential piece of hunting and hiking gear.
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The Suunto Traverse Alpha was designed specifically for hiking, hunting, and fishing. In fact, you can choose between hunting, fishing, and hiking in its menu settings so that it can utilize its best features depending upon your activities.
The Traverse Alpha is the best Suunto watch for hunting. In fact, it has to be the only watch from any manufacturer that actually has dedicated hunting features. Period.
One of the main hunting features it includes is its automatic shot detection. The automatic shot detection feature stores when and where you pull the trigger, saving the GPS coordinates for you to view and create a track of where your best hunting spots are. You can even add icons such as ‘deer’ to mark spots of interest or where you’ve had a hit.
We chose the Suunto Traverse Alpha as the best GPS watch for hunting and hiking because, well, it has the most reliable and accurate GPS we’ve ever seen in a watch. It’s so accurate it can detect which side of a street you are walking on. It also doesn’t rely on using your smartphone to access any of the GPS features other than if you want to see a map of your trail once you have left the location, or if you want to pre-program a route.
We all know that running the GPS feature on a watch will drain the battery much quicker than having it turned off. The Suunto Traverse Alpha allows you to quickly log your position (name it and give it an icon if you want) and then exit back out of the GPS feature to save your battery.
The Suunto Traverse Alpha includes ABC (altimeter, barometer, and compass), GPS, flashlight, moon phase calendar with moonrise and moonset times, sunrise and sunset times, step counting, storm alarm and the ability to mark waypoints. Its ability to mark waypoints is a big plus when hunting or hiking large tracts of land. Simply drop a marker at your starting point and the Alpha will guide you back using its automatic breadcrumb trail.
Another great feature for hunting or anyone who hikes/camps/fishes at nighttime is its option to have a red backlight. The red backlight is great for low key night use - it’s not as noticeable as a bright white backlight. It also doesn’t affect your eyes and mess up your natural night vision, and also makes it suitable for use with night vision goggles.
The Garmin Fenix 6 is a high end, high tech GPS smartwatch. If you want everything you could EVER need then the Fenix 6 is the watch for you. Although it’s the most costly on this list it has features for hunting/hiking (and a tonne of everyday features) that aren’t available in others.
The reason we chose the Garmin Fenix 6 is that it has topographic maps as well as GPS. Topographic maps provide you with the ability to assess the landscape in a way normal GPS maps can’t. It offers contour lines to show below and above sea level but also offers information on railroads, roads, rivers, streams, lakes, mountains and place names.
The Fenix 6 is by far the best Garmin watch for hunting as it provides access to the super useful Hunt & Fish app. As the name suggests, it's the perfect app and companion for a hunter or angler. The app basically tells you when is the best time to hunt or fish on that day and whether the day, in general, is a good or bad day for hunting and fishing. The app uses sun and moon rise and set times and other information based on your location to give you the best times. If the app suggests that the current day is a bad day you can check for the perfect day coming up in the near future.
If the Fenix 6 is not within your budget but you love the idea of the Hunt & Fish app, it is also available on other Garmin Fenix models such as the 5 or 4.
Talking about apps, a little known feature of Garmin watches is the dog tracking app. If you own a compatible GPS dog tracking collar (and a dog obviously), you can use the app to display your dog's location information. A great feature if you take your doggo on hunting, hiking or fishing trips.
The Garmin Fenix 6 is a fully-fledged smartwatch and provides features that are great not only for hunting or hiking but for everyday use. Particularly if you like to track fitness-related statistics or control music etc. It has a built-in heart rate monitor, sleep monitor, training metrics, recovery advisor, Spotify controls and the list goes on and on and on…
The Garmin Instinct has all the necessary, non-fluffy features you need for hunting and hiking. And it comes with a great price tag.
The Garmin Instinct is the most lightweight option on this list. So if you hate feeling like you’re wearing a watch the Instinct will solve that problem. It’s so lightweight and comfortable you won't know you are wearing it. Although its lightweight, its extremely durable and is exceptionally scratch resistant. As in, do what you want with it and you’ll still have a scratch-free screen.
The Instinct includes everything you’ll need in a backcountry hunting watch: ABC (altimeter, barometer, compass), GPS plus GLONASS and Galileo, waypoint marking, moon phase calendar with moonrise and moonset times, sunrise and sunset times, weather forecast, current temperature, and storm alerts.
It also has a built-in heart rate monitor, activity and stress monitor, step counter, estimated calories burned monitor, sleep monitor and music controls for hiking and fitness purposes.
Our favorite feature of the Garmin Instinct is that it’s compatible with the dog tracking app(s) available on Garmin’s app store. For some reason, it isn’t listed as a compatible device on Garmin’s website, but it is definitely available on the Instinct. The dog tracking app will display your dog’s location information when you have a compatible GPS dog tracking collar paired with your watch. The dog tracker is such a sweet feature for many hunters and hikers because as we all know, a dog is man's best friend.
On the hunt (we love puns...) for the best GPS watch for hunting and hiking?
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