Hiking is a great way for people to go back to the basics and get in touch with nature.
But for a lot of people, going on a hike without a hiking watch is not ideal.
Modern technology has given us a way to stay in touch, stay on track, and calculate certain health metrics all with one gadget: the smartwatch.
While smartwatches took a while to take off, they are now considered an essential tool for health and fitness enthusiasts, which is why hikers from all over have chosen to use smartwatches when on the trail.
However, there are so many choices out there when it comes to hiking watches, and choosing the right one for you can be hard.
To take some of the load off, I’ve compiled some of the best hiking watches under $200 in this article.
So if you’ve been looking for a gadget to take with you while you hike and don’t want to bust the bank, you’ve come to the right place.
Read on to find out more.
The Best Hiking Watches Under $200 – Quick Comparison
Related watch collections:
Reviews of the Best Hiking Watches Under $200
1. Garmin Instinct
To start things off, I’ve chosen the Garmin Instinct: a rugged outdoor smartwatch that can withstand a variety of environments, all while having the essential functions of a hiking watch.
It was constructed with U.S. military-grade shock, thermal, and water resistance so you don’t have to worry too much about damaging the watch while on the trail.
This shock-resistant watch also comes in a variety of colors, so whether you like plain black watches or loud yellow ones, you’re sure to find a color that suits your tastes.
Built into the watch is a 3-axis compass, altimeter, and barometer along with a great GPS that can help you stay on track and not lose your way while on a hike.
Aside from that, it can also track your heart rate, activity and stress, as well as the distance traveled.
For serious hikers that need a tough and rugged watch that is affordable, stylish, and functional, this may be the one for you.
- Large Display
- GPS built-in
- Built-in heart rate monitor
- The rugged and tough design comes in many colors
- Doesn’t have the best software
2. Casio Men’s Pathfinder
While a smartwatch can be a great tool on the trail, some people prefer simpler and more straight-forward timepieces.
This is exactly what this Casio men’s watch is.
It has a rugged design and tough exterior which can hold its own in the toughest of environments.
It’s a digital outdoor watch, so you can expect a large display that’s easy to read and a variety of features such as a digital compass, altimeter, barometer, and thermometer.
On top of all that, the watch is also solar-powered, so as long as it gets enough exposure to light, you won’t have to worry about the watch suddenly dying on you while you’re on a hike.
It also has a stopwatch, alarm, world time, and a backlight, which makes it not only a great watch for hiking but also a great everyday timepiece.
For those that would rather forgo the complicated, yet useful features of a smartwatch and prefer the simpler timepieces, this could be the hiking watch for you.
- Easy to set up
- Packed with features
- The rugged and tough exterior
- Navigating through the features can be tough
3. Casio Men’s Pro Trek
This is another hiking watch that’s simple and straightforward.
It has an atomic timekeeping feature, which receives radio signals that calibrate the time of the watch.
So if you are looking for a watch that will always stay accurate, then this might be the piece for you.
It has a durable design and is equipped with 200m of water resistance, meaning you can even take it with you for a swim.
While it lacks the functions of the previous Casio model such as a compass, barometer, altimeter, and thermometer, it is still a great watch for those that need a simple, yet tough timepiece when they’re on the trail.
- Water-resistant up to 200m
- Large display
- Alarm, chronograph, and world time functions
- Lacks some of the more sophisticated outdoor features
4. Timex Expedition Grid Watch
For those looking for a true adventure companion, this watch might be the right one for you.
It has a large display, so you can take in a lot of information very quickly, which is great for when you’re on the trail and can’t afford to get distracted.
As it comes from Timex, a very respected brand in the horology world, one can expect some of the best quality for watches in this price range.
The watch has a chronograph, hydration timer, alarm, and 24-hour military time mode.
It can also keep time in 3-different timezones, which can be a really useful feature, especially for those who travel a lot.
All in all, this is a simple, yet stylish outdoor watch that can serve as a great partner for your next adventure.
- Simple and straight to the point
- 24-hour mode
- Keeps time in 3-different timezones
- Large display
- Unique design
- Lacks some features such as GPS and a compass
5. Garmin Foretrex 401
This isn’t a watch in the traditional sense, but it is still a great partner for when you’re on a hike.
In fact, if you want to keep track of your distance, altitude, tracks, and waypoints without spending a lot of money on a top-notch smartwatch, this gadget is a great choice.
It’s a GPS tracker designed for hikers, it has a barometric altimeter, GPS, timer, hunting and fishing calendar, and an easy to read display.
This watch is an outdoor gadget with all the hiking essentials.
It’s very simple and easy to use, so if that’s all you’re looking for, this is a great option as you definitely won’t be busting the bank for it.
- Has all the essential hiking features
- Easy to read
- Accurate GPS
- Not exactly a watch
6. SUUNTO Core All-Black
While smartwatches always attract mixed opinions in the world of horology, I have to admit, they are great tools for outdoor enthusiasts.
This watch from SUUNTO has a great and minimalist design, but the deep black color of the watch can really catch someone’s eye.
It has great features for hikers such as an altimeter, a barometer, a compass, and sunrise/sunset times.
The watch also has a large display, reminiscent of a large men’s watch, so if you have a smaller wrist, you might find this watch a bit uncomfortable.
One of the best budget options for those looking for a smartwatch for hiking.
- Large and easy-to-read display
- Water-resistant up 100 ft
- Comes with useful features
- Stylish design
- Doesn’t have GPS
7. SUUNTO Core Wrist-Top Computer Watch
As you can tell by the watch’s name, it isn’t exactly a smartwatch, but it has many more capabilities than your standard digital outdoor watch.
Just like the other SUUNTO Core models, this one comes with a couple of hiking essentials such as a barometer, altimeter, compass, and sunrise/sunset times.
This watch also has a weather trend graph that you can reference when on the trail to keep track of the weather and be prepared for whatever mother nature will throw your way.
Aside from being a hiking watch, it can also track water depth, so you can use it when going on intense outdoor adventures.
On top of that, it can also track your ascending and descending speed, making this a great watch for serious hikers.
It may lack a GPS and other smart-features, but it has all the essentials packed in a simple package that’s easy to use, and easy to read.
- Easy to use
- Large display
- Comes with good hiking features
- Weather tracker
- Great look
- The contrast makes it hard to read the watch in daylight
How to Choose a Budget-friendly Hiking Watch
Here are some things you need to look at before deciding on a hiking watch.
Hiking is an outdoor activity, in fact, hikes can be seen as very fun adventures, so you can expect a watch to be put in tough conditions.
That’s why when looking for a hiking watch, you need to check out how durable a certain model is.
You don’t want your watch breaking on you because it got wet or it got hit on a surface.
A good hiking watch is one made with durable and tough materials, that can withstand the hardest of conditions, especially if you’re a serious hiker.
There are certain features one needs when on a hike, and it will be different for every person.
However, some features are pretty essential for a hiking watch.
This includes an altimeter, barometer, a compass, and an accurate timer.
All of these can help you stay on track while ascending or descending, and it can also help you collect data from your hikes that can help you out.
A GPS tracker would be a great addition, but it isn’t exactly necessary for some.
What’s important to do is understand what features you need for your hiking watch and look out for models that have all of them.
A hiking watch needs to be on the larger side of things.
This is because a larger watch will usually have a larger display.
It’s important to stay focused while on the trail and having to take a lot of time to read data on a small display is less than ideal for hikers.
So make sure that the watch you choose has a large display that can be easily read on the trail.
4. Smartwatch Or Traditional Watch
This is very important as it will help you narrow down your choices.
Before you start looking at watches and models for hiking, make sure you know whether you want a smartwatch or not.
Having a smartwatch comes with certain advantages, such as more advanced features, however, they can also be complicated and not as durable.
Having a traditional outdoor digital watch, on the other hand, keeps things more simple but you have to sacrifice a bit when it comes to the features available.
This is one of the last things you have to think about, but it is still very important.
Now, there isn’t one specific answer for the best design for a hiking watch, but that’s because it all depends on you.
Ask yourself what style, design, and colors you’re looking for when buying a watch so you have a general image of the timepiece you will choose.
Having a design that you like can help you feel more comfortable as well as give you a bit of extra reason to wear the watch, whether that be while hiking, or while simply going about your day.
1. Do I Need A GPS Watch For Hiking?
GPS is a great tool for hikers, but not everyone would need that, especially if you have a guide, leader, or if you’re familiar with your route.
That being said, if you aren’t exactly comfortable going out on the trail without a GPS, having it built-into the watch can make things more convenient for you.
It’s also worth noting that the GPS on cheaper hiking watches may not be the most accurate, so you might even end up not using the feature.
2. Can I Use My Phone GPS For Hiking?
Of course, you can!
But there are some things you need to keep in mind if you do.
Firstly, you need to check how good your signal is, because if you aren’t getting a good signal, the reading may not be accurate.
Aside from that, you have to check how accurate your phone’s GPS actually is.
But if you’ve checked both of those things and find that you’re getting accurate readings, then, by all means, go ahead and use it!
3. Is Hiking GPS Worth It?
Yes, hiking GPS trackers are worth it, especially if you’re a serious hiker.
They can help you stay on track, keep you updated with the weather, your altitude, as well as serve as guides for you on the trail.
These gadgets are highly useful and very convenient, especially if all you’re looking for is a hiking companion and not a smartwatch.
4. Is There An App For Hiking On Trails?
Yes, there are apps for hiking on trails that use your phone’s GPS and their own data to help guide you while on a hike.
There are many apps out there, so you might find that choosing the right one is hard, and choosing an inaccurate app can lead to a lot of problems when you’re out on the trail.
So if you do decide to use a hiking app, make sure to choose one that is trusted and has been tried by experienced hikers.
You can either do this by conducting your own research, or you can simply ask people in the hiking community which apps they recommend.
5. Does GPS Work Without Phone Signal?
That is because phones calibrate a person’s location by using satellites, which is why you don’t need a phone signal or an internet connection for your phone’s GPS to work.
However, most phones use an internet connection and the location of cellphone towers in the area to give you a more accurate reading of your location.
This is called Assisted GPS or A-GPS.
So keep in mind that you might not have the most accurate reading if you don’t have phone signal, but your GPS should still work.
6. Are Cheap Hiking Watches Worth The Money?
Generally, yes, they are.
However, this also depends on what you need from a hiking watch.
If you need a very accurate GPS and sophisticated features, a cheap hiking watch might not give you that.
But if all you need are simple functions for when you’re on the trail, you don’t need to bust the bank.
You can get a cheap and inexpensive hiking watch with the most basic features that you can use on the trail.
7. What Is The Watch’s Altimeter Used For?
As you might be able to tell by the name, an altimeter is generally used to measure altitude.
This can be a great tool while hiking as you can keep track of how high up you are, which can be a great help of knowing your location if you’re using a topographic map.
You can use the altitude reading a reference point when looking at a topographic map to pinpoint exactly where you are on a certain route.
Hiking is a great way to get away from it all and connect with mother nature.
But that doesn’t mean you have to cut technology out altogether.
In fact, there are so many gadgets out there that are available to help you make your hiking experience that much better.
And the best thing about that is you can have all these gadgets stuffed into a watch on your wrist!
If you’ve been one of the many people out there struggling to find the right balance between functionality and affordability, then you read the right article.
All the models on this list are great for hiking, and you don’t have to invest a lot of money to get it.
So now, all that’s left to do is choose which one is right for you and hit the trails!