Choosing the best hiking watch under $100 can be a bit difficult if you’re new to this type of gear. While many watches have great features, there are several other important factors that can affect the quality of your hiking watch.
Some watches have GPS abilities, mapping abilities, and can even monitor your heart rate in some models. When you choose a watch, battery life, display, and durability are essential, as your watch will be put to the test when you’re on the trail.
Whether you’re hiking or trekking, having a hiking watch can help you keep track of your physical stats such as pulse, but it can also be useful to navigate you on the trail.
Many of these watches have route features that can help you plan your route. Some of these watches will even track your movement, so if you get lost, you can find your way back.
In this buying guide we break down everything you need to know when choosing the best hiking watch under $100.
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Reviews of Hiking Watches Under $100
Even though the Casio Pro-Trek PRG-270-1 is one of Casio’s more simplified watches, it’s still packed full of extras that make this watch a must-have for anyone looking for a budget outdoor watch.
While this hiking watch doesn’t have smartphone connectivity features, you still get many other features that most hiking watches offer.
The Casio Pro Trek features technology that has allowed a much smaller direction sensor, which reduces sensor power consumption by 90% compared to other models of the Pro Trek. Although the sensor is smaller, it is more accurate and energy efficient than ever before.
The Protrek also features the Barometric Pressure Tendency Alarm, which alerts the wearer of sudden changes in barometric pressure, which is a sure sign that a storm may be approaching.
This watch includes a black resin watchband, large buttons for ease-of-use, and housing that is built to withstand rugged outdoor activities.
Weight: 14.4 ounces
Dimensions: 0.6 x 0.6 x 0.6 inches
Water Resistance: 100 meters
GPS: Yes (Digital Compass)
Battery (Battery Life): Solar Rechargable, nine months on full charge with no solar exposure.
- Solar chargeable battery with up to nine months battery life with no light exposure.
- Altimeter (One-Meter Accurate)
- Barometer (Barometric Pressure Tendency Alarm alerts wearer of a sudden change in pressure)
- 100-meter water resistance
- Low temperature resistant (-10 C / 14 F)
- Digital compass
The Casio SGW-1000-1ACR Triple Sensor is another simple, yet very useful, Casio hiking watch. Several features set this watch apart from the rest, making it a great choice if you’re looking for the best hiking watch under $100.
While many hiking watches have either a solar or USB rechargeable battery, this watch requires a CR2025 watch battery.
While some see this as a disadvantage due to having to change the battery, it has a three-year lifespan, so you will rarely have to replace the battery.
The Casio SGW-1000-1ACR Triple Sensor includes a black rubber watch band, which makes it both soft, comfortable, and easy to clean. One advantage to rubber watch bands is that they don’t hold odor from sweat.
This watch is built with durable materials and is designed to withstand rugged outdoor sports. With 100m waterproofing, weather prediction tools, and a digital compass, you can’t go wrong with the Casio SGW-1000-1ACR Triple Sensor hiking watch.
Weight: 8.8 ounces
Dimensions: 4.3 x 4.1 x 3.4 inches
Water Resistance: 100 Meters (330 Feet)
GPS: Yes (Digital Compass)
Battery (Battery Life): Replaceable CR2025 Watch Battery, Three Year Life (est.)
- Replaceable CR2025 battery with up to three years of battery life
- 100 meter water resistance
- Low temperature resistant (-10 C / 14 F)
- Digital compass
- LED backlight with afterglow
- World time zones
If you’re looking for a simple hiking watch, the Timex Expedition Classic may be the best option for you. The only disadvantage to this watch is that it lacks many functions when compared to other hiking watches.
While it may be lacking some features, it does include a replaceable lithium battery, which can last up to ten years. This is significantly longer than most other hiking watches.
The Timex Expedition Classis is waterproof up to 100 meters, making it durable for all types of hiking. It also features a very classic design, which is perfect for day to day use, even when not hiking.
In addition to its durable design, the glass face is made from mineral glass, which is crack, shatter, and scratch resistant.
Weight: 0.32 ounces
Dimensions: 4 x 3 x 3 inches
Water Resistance: 100 Meters (330 Feet)
Battery (Battery Life): Up to 10 years
- Mixed nylon & leather watch band
- Stopwatch, countdown timer & alarm
- Durable and lightweight design
- Water resistant to 100m (330ft): in general, suitable for swimming and snorkeling, but not diving
The Timex Expedition Grid Shock is another watch for the minimalists, although it does offer several more features than the Timex Expedition Classic.
The two main features that the Expedition Grid Shock has over the Expedition classic is vibration alarms and hydration alerts. The vibration alert is handy, especially if you listen to music when you’re hiking.
The hydration alerts allow you to set alarms that alert you when to stop and drink water. This is very useful when hiking in the summer, as we as hikers often get into hiking enough that we get mildly dehydrated before stopping for water.
The Timex Expedition is also shock resistant, which is a feature that many hiking watches don’t have.
This watch is resistant to I.S.O standards, meaning that this watch has been dropped and tested to assure durability.
Weight: 4.8 ounces
Dimensions: 4 x 3 x 3 inches
Water Resistance: Water resistant to 100m (330ft)
Battery (Battery Life): Replaceable lithium battery, up to ten years
- Durable in all hiking and backpacking situations
- Shock resistant to I.S.O. standards
- Stainless steel top plate
- Countdown timer
- Vibration alarm & hydration alerts
- Water resistant to 100m (330ft)
The Garmin Forerunner 25 is a great hiking watch under $100 that is packed full of features.
Smartphone connectivity, heart rate monitor compatible, and location tracking are just a few of the features that set this watch apart.
The Garmin Forerunner 25 features a rechargeable lithium battery that can last up to 10 weeks on a single charge, and 10 hours when using training mode. In training mode, the watch will monitor how fast, how far, and how long you hike/run.
Other additional features include connecting features that allow you to share your activity via social media, long battery life, and a large display while still achieving a slim and compact design.
If you’re looking for the best hiking watch under $100 with smartphone connectivity and many useful features, the Garmin Forerunner 25 may be a great option!
Weight: 1.44 Ounces
Dimensions: 0.6 x 1.6 x 1.9 inches
Water Resistance: 50 meters
Battery (Battery Life): Built in lithium battery, ten hours training mode, ten weeks in watch mode.
- Smartphone compatible
- Activity tracking, counts steps and calories
- GPS tracking counts how fast, far and how long your hike is
- Compatible with heart rate monitors
- GPS Time Sync
- 50 meter water resistance
Have a Higher Budget? Consider These Hiking Watches Under $200
The Casio Pathfinder PAG240-1CR Triple Sensor is a great watch if you’re looking for a touch of simplicity while stepping up your game with features.
The Pathfinder features all of the same functions as the Casio Pro-Trek with a bit more of a technical design.
The Casio Pathfinder includes a solar-rechargeable battery that can last up to six months without exposure to the sun.
One feature that this watch has when compared to the Pro-Trek is sunset/sunrise features. This is an excellent feature to have when hiking in a new area and will be a great tool to know when it’s time to stop hiking and set up camp.
The Casio Pathfinder features an altimeter, barometer, thermometer, and digital compass. With these features, you know that you’ll be able to predict changes in the weather, and always stay on the right path.
Weight: 11.2 ounces (shipping weight)
Dimensions: 57.3 x 50.9 x 15.3mm
Water Resistance: 100 meters (330 feet)
GPS: Yes (Digital compass)
Battery (Battery Life): Solar chargeable battery, up to six months without light exposure
- Digital compass
- World time zones
- Countdown timer
- Power-saving function
- Long battery life
- Mineral glass face
- Water resistance: up to 100 m (330 ft)
- Low temperature resistance ((-10 C/14 F)
The Garmin Forerunner 35 is a step above the Forerunner 25, with added features that will be worth the extra money.
The most significant difference between the two is the Garmin Forerunner 35 features a built-in heart monitor. This feature is especially useful for keeping track of fitness goals, as well as watching your heart rate on long hikes to know when to take a break.
The Forerunner 35 also features an updated high-resolution display that is clear in both sunlight and at night.
The Forerunner 35 is compatible with both iPhone and Android phones and will display smart notifications such as incoming calls, text messages, and even social network notifications.
This watch is the perfect for hiking, as well as an everyday use smartwatch.
Weight: 1.6 Ounces
Dimensions: 1.4 x 0.5 x 1.6 inches
Water Resistance: 50 Meters
Battery (Battery Life): Built-in rechargeable lithium battery, 9 days on watch mode, 13 hours on training and GPS mode
- Built-in GPS
- Digital compass
- Built-in heart rate monitor
- Smart notifications
- Step counter
- Calorie counter
Buying Guide: Choosing the Best Hiking Watch for the Money
Why Get an ABC Watch & Do You Need One?
To decide whether you need a hiking watch, you need to determine what type of activities you’re going to.
An ABC watch (altimeter, barometer, compass) watch is the simplest of hiking watches. This type of watch if for the minimalist that doesn’t need loads of features.
A hiking watch, or smartwatch, is for those looking to get a bit more out of their watch. Apps, mobile connectivity, fitness monitoring, and GPS tracking are just a few of these features.
If you’re planning long hikes in primitive areas, you may want to consider a hiking watch with more features, as you’ll be relying on it to direct you where to go, and when to set up camp.
If you mostly hike in local parks with well-marked trails, a standard ABC watch may be for you.
All of these things are dependent on preference and budget, and it’s up to you in deciding which features best fit your needs.
When to Use Your Hiking Watch?
When to wear your hiking watch is a preference that is entirely up to you. Hiking watches are useful for other activities such as running, biking, swimming (if waterproof), and other sports.
Many hiking watches (if mobile connectivity is available) allow you to select the type of sport in which you’ll be using the watch.
Many of these watches help you keep track of your heart rate, steps walked, calories burned, and other fitness goals.
You can use your hiking watch in many different situations. Whether work, play, or technical reasons, hiking watches are an excellent piece of gear to add to your collection.
Can You Wear a Hiking Watch every day?
Wearing a hiking watch every day can have both advantages and disadvantages. If you have a hiking watch with smartphone functions, it can be used for everyday tasks such as calls, texts, and other apps that you would use on a daily basis.
If you have a simple ABC watch, you can also wear it every day, but it may be a bit cumbersome for a daily watch. Wearing a hiking watch every day is a personal preference, and it won’t hurt your watch by using it every day.
If you have an analog hiking watch, some styles can be a bit upper class. In this case, it would be suitable to wear your hiking watch for work, play, and social events.
What to Consider When Buying the Best Hiking Watch Under $100
What Functions Do You Need?
When it comes to choosing functions that you need, you will have to determine what activities you plan to do. Many hiking watches include features for all types of sports, thus making them great for running, hiking, swimming, cycling, and more.
The following sections explain what the purpose of each function is, and should help you in deciding which watch will be best for you!
An altimeter is a great tool to have, especially if you plan to do a lot of hiking in mountainous areas. An altimeter is a device that tells you the altitude in which you’re standing. If you plan to hike mostly flat grounds, this feature may not be of importance to you.
The main reason that you’d need this feature is to know the elevation in which you’ve climbed. This is important if you have fitness goals for the hike, or if you’re hiking at elevations that air quality may differ.
A barometer is also a great tool to have. This function measures atmospheric pressure. Hiking in a location that is prone to inclement weather is when this tool will be most valuable.
If you keep an eye on the atmospheric pressure, you’ll notice when it suddenly increases or decreases, which tells you when there could be a storm encroaching. If you’re backpacking in remote locations, this is a great tool to alert you when you need to stop hiking and set up camp.
A compass could be one of the most important features to have in a hiking watch. No matter where you’re hiking, there’s always a possibility of getting off the trail with or without intention.
If you keep an eye on what direction your heading in, it will be easier to find the trail with a compass. If you’re heading north on the trail and find yourself off the trail, you’ll be able to use the compass feature (and a map) to get back on the trail.
GPS & Route Planning
GPS and route planning features go hand-in-hand with a compass. Although these are more sophisticated, and sometimes more complicated, the GPS will be able to guide you through the trail.
You can also plan specific routes with this feature. Route planning will help you stay on the trail, even when it narrows and begins to seem unkept. There are also tracking features that are usually part of this function that can help you get back on the trail, as it traces where you are and where you came from.
Thermometers are an essential feature to have, just like the barometer. While your body somewhat tells you when it’s hot or cold, it is helpful to know the exact temperature.
In the summer, it’s very easy to get overheated, but sometimes we tend to keep going on the trail even though we know it’s hot. Having a thermometer can help you gauge how often you need to stop and take breaks to cool off and slow your heart rate.
In the winter, a thermometer can help you decide how you need to dress, especially when it comes time to sleep for the night. If you keep an eye on the temperature through the evening, you’ll be able to predict how cold it may get.
Sunrise and sunset times aren’t as important as other weather features, but they can still be helpful in many ways. As seasons change, and you may be in a new place, it’s good to know when to stop and set up camp.
If you’re planning any type of hunting or fishing on your hiking trip, sunrise times are essential. If you know what time the sunrise is, you’ll know what time to set the alarm for so you don’t sleep passed prime hunting and fishing times.
Storm alerts are among the most critical weather functions you can have in a hiking watch. While thermometers and barometers are important, having a real forecast will be the most accurate.
The only disadvantage to storm alerts is that you have to have some sort of signal or cellular service to receive them. If you’re hiking in a remote area, this may leave you guessing if you don’t have any other weather functions on your watch.
Heart Rate Monitor
A heart rate monitor is a valuable feature to have on your watch, as it can help you keep track of fitness goals, as well as letting you know when you need to take a break. Some watches have this feature built-in, and some require a chest strap that connects to the watch via Bluetooth.
Pedometer & Calorie Monitor
A pedometer is a feature that counts how many steps you take, and a calorie monitor estimates how many calories you’ve burned while walking. This is an excellent feature if you have fitness goals for the trip.
As we hike, our bodies burn calories that we’ve taken in through the day. If you keep track of how much you’ve eaten and how much you’ve burned, the calorie monitor will help you know when it’s time to stop for a quick snack.
Mobile functions of a watch are more for convenience than anything. Many hiking watches can connect to your phone via Bluetooth, and will transfer all of the data off of your watch onto the watch’s app.
Some watches can be used to talk on the phone, send text messages, and many have many other features in which you would normally use on your smartphone. This function is more a preference than a need.
The user interface of the watch is basically how you and the watch interact. There are many different options and varieties available in hiking watches. While some of the options can be customized (mobile connectivity), some cannot. The standard hiking watch that has no cellular connectivity cannot be customized.
An example of this could be a smartwatch. With a smartwatch, you can change the display, install apps, etc. A simple hiking watch that is only compatible with the features that were preinstalled will not have any features that can be added or changed.
Durability is a significant thing to consider when choosing a hiking watch. While most of us plan to take care of the watch upon purchase, things to happen. When hiking, packing, or trekking, accidents can happen.
When you choose a hiking watch, make sure to pick one that is waterproof and made of solid materials. If you’re relying on the watch to predict weather and track your location, a damaged watch could cause significant issues while you’re on the trail.
Accuracy & Calibration
Choosing a watch that has a strong GPS accuracy is very important, especially if you’re planning on relying on the GPS to get you to your destination. If you are hiking in remote areas, many lower quality watches won’t receive an accurate GPS signal.
Always make sure that you follow the manufacturer’s directions when calibrating your watch. Barometer, compass, and GPS functions will have to be calibrated on the first use of the watch, as well as periodically while using the watch.
Analog vs Digital
Analog vs. digital is mostly dependent on preference and what functions you need. Most hiking watched on the market today are digital, but you will find the occasional analog watch.
Digital watches will always offer more features and functions than an analog watch. Analog watches will generally be limited to time, thermometer, calendar, and occasionally a barometer. The main advantage to an analog watch is that you don’t ever have to calibrate it.
Water Resistant Rating
If possible, always choose the highest water resistance rating. This ensures that water will not damage your watch in almost all situations. Water resistance ratings are most important if you plan to hike areas that receive a lot of rain, or if you plan to hike near a body of water that you have to cross.
Dimensions & Weight
Hiking watches come in all shapes, sizes, and weights. While these variables won’t make or break the quality of your watch, they may be critical of how comfortable the watch is.
When choosing a weight, always go lightest with the most functions. Although the weight will be on your arm, it can be inconvenient on long hikes.
Size is most important when choosing, as a large watch can be uncomfortable and limit arm and hand movement. Always try and pick the smallest possible watch that still has all of the functions that you need.
Display & Glass Quality
Display and glass quality go hand-in-hand with the durability of the watch. Choose a watch that has a high breaking-point glass, as this will last longer and be much stronger than other materials. If the glass on your watch breaks, it will no longer be waterproof and can cause damage to the display.
Some hiking watches (mostly mobile smartwatches) have cases and protectors available for purchase that fit snug around the watch. If you choose a smartwatch, consider keeping it in the case for added durability.
Battery life on hiking watches can vary between a couple of days and up to a year. This is a very broad range, as many watches offer different features.
When using a simple hiking watch, the battery will last longer, as fewer active functions are running. If you’re using a watch with many functions running, it will drain the battery much more quickly. If you’re using a high-function hiking watch, but only using the clock, the battery will last much longer.
When choosing a hiking watch, pay close attention to what materials in which the band is made. There are many options on the market such as rubber, cloth, leather, and metal.
If possible, try on the watch before you choose. Comfort will make or break whether you enjoy your hiking watch. Stay away from tough materials that can blister your wrist. Soft materials, such as rubber or cloth will be the most comfortable. If you choose either of these, always make sure to clean the watch band periodically properly.
As with any piece of gear, you get what you pay for. There are many hiking watches of high quality that are less than $100, but if you spend more, you will find more functions, fewer glitches, and higher quality materials.
If your budget is $100 or less, don’t fret, as stated before, there are many great hiking watches in this price range.
Our Top Picks
When it comes to choosing the best hiking watch under $100, you definitely have a few options. Selecting the best watch for you will always depend on your needs, as well as preference.
If you’re looking for the most features, although slightly over the $100 budget, the Garmin Forerunner 35 will be the best option. With smart notifications, a built-in heart rate monitor, and an enhanced display, you can use this watch in any situation, therefore making it an excellent hiking watch..
If you’re looking for something slightly simpler yet features functions that will be very useful when hiking, the Timex Expedition Grid Shock will be the most durable watch, while remaining useful and sleek. This watch is built to withstand any outdoor activity as long as you’re not scuba diving.
Last but not least, just a step down from the Forerunner 35, is the Garmin Forerunner 25. Although lacking the built-in heart rate monitor, you will still have many of the functions of the Forerunner 25 at a slightly lower price. The Forerunner 25 is sleek, low profile, and can be worn both on the trail and on your everyday adventures.