For many hikers, a hiking trip without a hiking watch is inconceivable.
Because a hiking watch doesn’t just tell you the date and time, of course. No, it does much more, by giving you valuable information such as your exact location, the air pressure, the altitude at which you are currently, and more.
As any experienced hiker will tell you, access to such information can be invaluable while out on the trail. So if you’re sleeping on hiking watches, now is the time to wake up!
But don’t worry: you won’t have to burn a hole in your wallet for the right watch. Find yourself the best hiking watch under 200 from our top 5 picks below.
Let’s get started!
Top 5 Best Hiking Watch Under $200 Reviews
Hours of research, discussion and analysis have birthed the following list, so you’re in good hands. It’s time to get yourself a great new hiking watch!
1. Garmin Instinct Outdoor Watch with GPS
The name of Garmin is one that you have probably heard by now if you’ve been researching outdoor gadgetry for any length of time, and for a good reason: their products are truly built for durability and performance, and this watch—aptly dubbed Instinct—proves it.
Let’s start with all the features you can expect to enjoy this thing. The heart rate monitor is highly accurate while the watch’s ability to track your stress and activity levels will surprise you. An invaluable feature when you’ve been hiking for long time periods.
Now let’s get back to basics. Offering an in-built 3 axis compass, a highly efficient multi-navigation system (including Glonass and Galileo), and a barometric altimeter, this watch will equip you well to take on the trail no matter where it is.
The highly intuitive TracBack technology deserves special mention. It is a mechanism that allows you to backtrack your route from any given point to the starting point. This can make a huge difference when you’re scoping out a new trail.
We also love the data tracking system on this watch. You can easily hook it up to your smartphone for real-time notifications along with detailed reports of such things as your route and activity levels. Furthermore, you also have the choice to enable automatic data uploads for an even more seamless experience.
Garmin hasn’t compromised on aesthetic value, either. We love the minimalistic design with its flat, black-and-white display, and understated watch face: functionality without being cumbersome!
2. SUUNTO Core Men's Outdoor Sports Watch
The next watch we’ve selected for your special consideration is from Suunto, and it’s equipped with all the most important features one can reasonably expect from their hiking watch.
This watch lets you effortlessly track your altitude level with the swift and efficient altimeter and keep a close watch over pressure levels with the help of the barometer. Expect this keep you well-informed at all times, starting from a logbook function, a weather-trend tracking feature to total ascent and descent information. What’s more, you can set the watch language to French, Spanish and German, as well!
Now, those are features you can expect nearly every hiking watch to offer. However, not every outdoor watch under 200 will also come with a thermometer, and that too, such an efficient one. Not only does this watch accurately display weather and temperature information, but it can also operate in temperatures as low as 20°C and as high as 60°C.
Speaking of operating in extreme weather, undoubtedly the highlight of this watch for us is the Storm Alarm, which allows the watch to track irregular drops in air pressure to predict a coming storm. This triggers a sounding and flashing alarm to alert you to get ready to take cover.
Furthermore, this watch is also able to display the sunset and sunrise schedules for up to 400 locations all over the world. This can be a huge benefit, especially when you’re planning hiking trips of multiple days.
3. Casio Men's Pathfinder Triple Sensor Multi-Function Sport Watch
Casio is, of course, one of the most easily recognizable names in the electronics industry, specifically when it comes to watches. The Pathfinder, which we’re about to now discuss, is undoubtedly one of their best products.
No, we’re not just saying that. Let’s have a look at the features to figure out what makes this watch so special.
To start with, you can, of course, expect the usual ABCs: altimeter, barometer, and compass. You can also expect the watch to operate perfectly in temperatures as low as -10°C. And on the topic of durability, turns out this watch can serve you for a staggering 6 months on just one full solar charge!
The construction of the watch is also quite impressive. The band is made from black resin for your comfort, but the casing of the watch itself is constructed from durable 51mm stainless steel to resist even the most cruel of environments.
Furthermore, the dial window is mineral-made, offering a neutral display thanks to the electroluminescent backlight, which promises to be easy on the eyes.
Now, speaking of the display, some users find it a little too cluttered and congested. And it’s true: there’s a lot of text, symbols and numbers on the dial, which may be off-putting to some. However, it’s a small price to pay (literally) for such a host of great features, we think!
4. Casio Men's Pro Trek PRW2500R Tough Solar Digital Sport Watch
We know—two Casio watches one after the other? It’s starting to sound like we’re just hype-men for Casio, but really we’re just huge nerds for the amazing features each one has. If the Pathfinder sounded great to you, the ProTrek is about to blow your socks off.
The research and development of this watch were carried out under the supervision of meteorologists (we know, impressive) and it shows. Offering highly efficient alti, baro and compass functionality, this watch also comes with an ability to withstand up to 200 meters of water pressure and depth.
The upgraded double LCD layout layers two windows of display that provide you with all the essential info you might need while on the go. Furthermore, the watch is able to create trend graphs over time.
And should you choose to get off the trail for a bit of kayaking or fishing, the ProTrek will be a worthy companion there as well, thanks to the aforementioned water resistance and moon and tide graph data.
The performance of this watch will make you forget that the price tag stops a little short of $200.
5. Timex Expedition Grid Shock Watch
Because we’re so nice, we decided to subvert the point of our article a little, and close off the list with something for those looking for hiking watches under 100. And there’s a good reason we’ve chosen to do so as this “Expedition” watch from Timex really defies all your expectations of such a cheap hiking watch.
With an all-over resin construction, featuring a 50mm resin casing (in black) and all-over resin strap, this watch from Timex offers surprising durability and performance. Yes, it even has water resistance and that too of up to 100 meters.
But it doesn’t end there. With this watch, you’re also getting a chronograph that can record up to 100 hours, a timer that can count down to 24 hours, and 3 separate vibrating/audible alarms (daily, weekly and weekend).
And this thing doesn’t just display the time—it can do so for 3 different time zones, using the 24 hours military format. It can also display the day and date, of course. You can also use it for reminders and hydration alerts.
It’s true that you’re not going to get the ABC of a usual hiking watch if you buy this thing, but we think that’s permissible if you’re only going hiking in lowland areas, or just need a watch for treks. Especially given the features, this watch provides at such a low price; we think it’s a steal!
Buying Guide for Hiking Watches Under $200
When looking for the best watch for running and hiking, there are a host of features to consider, such as GPS capabilities and weather-related functions, among many others. It can be confusing to consider all the possibilities, so here's what to keep in mind.
ABC: Altimeter, Barometer, Compass
The vast majority of hiking watches come with the ability to provide 3 readings: the altitude, pressure, and cardinal location. Let's look at each function in turn.
The function of an altimeter is to measure the altitude of the surroundings. For many, this is probably the most important feature in their hiking watch, because of all the benefits associated with being informed about the altitude.
It's important to understand how altitude affects your body; being in too-high altitudes can cause altitude sickness, so altitude information can even be life-saving in certain situations.
This is basically the function that measures atmospheric pressure, being informed about which can be invaluable in predicting weather changes.
A barometer function is most valuable and helpful to those who take relatively longer hiking trips. Furthermore, if you don't have access to weather forecasts when necessary (e.g. when you don't have Internet access), a barometer reading can make a huge difference.
This feature displays the 4 cardinal directions: North, South, East and West. This is an especially useful feature for when you're venturing into uncharted routes.
Now, there are differences in the compass type: it can be either a 2D or 3D compass. The former only works when the watch is held at a perfectly horizontal angle, while the latter will work in any position.
As a general rule, even the cheapest of cheap outdoor watches should come with a compass; if not, it's probably not worth your money.
In case you don't already know what this is (c'mon, man), it is an abbreviation of the term Global Positioning System. Basically, you'll need the GPS feature if you don't want to depend solely on compasses and maps to tell you where you currently are.
A built-in GPS is to be found on most hiking watches, and it is obviously a very useful feature. However, note that the accuracy of the GPS mostly depends on the quality of the watch.
More sophisticated GPS functions are able to also provide other important data such as distance and speed. Whether this information is valuable to you depends entirely upon you.
A thermometer, obviously, tells you the temperature of your surroundings. Once again, this is a handy feature for hiking trips lasting multiple days.
However, it's usually somewhat difficult to get an accurate reading, since the watch rests on your wrist and can be influenced by your body temperature. Unfortunately, the lower the price you pay for the watch, the less accurate its thermometer is likely to be.
You might think that because you're looking for the best budget hiking watch, you can't have high expectations for durability. Wrong! The vast majority of hiking watches are built to be durable, because they are meant for outdoor use.
The main checklist for durability concerns is basically made up of just 2 things: whether the watch is waterproof, and whether the straps are durably built.
However, do note that not all hiking watches will come with scratch-resistant glass; unfortunately, that feature will usually require you to spend a little more.
Heart Rate Monitor
This feature allows the watch to be able to read and display your heart rate. While this feature can be useful in allowing you to maintain a healthy and steady pace on the trail, it's probably a feature that you can do without, unless you have a condition you need to monitor.
Ultimately, it's just a feature that will add to the price tag.
Frequently Asked Questions
Q: What features can I expect from a hiking watch under $200?
Ans: The basic ABCs: altimeter, barometer, and compass (covered in greater detail above). Additionally, you can also expect alarms and/or timers.
Q: Is it worth it to buy a cheap hiking watch?
Ans: First of all, $200 isn't exactly cheap, just because there are more expensive ones on the market. Secondly, it absolutely is worth it. Many experienced hikers actually prefer to keep it simple, depending on themselves instead.
Q: Can I wear my hiking watch while not hiking?
Of course you can. If you're concerned about aesthetics, however, you might have to compromise on some aspects of functionality.
Q: What is the accuracy of a hiking watch GPS?
Ans: While GPS integration into hiking watches is an amazing feat of outdoor gear innovation, the quality of the GPS is not always ensured. Unfortunately, this is especially true if you're not paying a lot for the watch.
Q: What is the purpose of a hiking watch's altimeter?
Ans: The function of an altimeter is to measure the altitude which you're at any given time. This can be invaluable information for when you're climbing higher distances and are at risk of altitude sickness.
We hope you’ve by now decided on the best hiking watch under 200 for yourself, but in case you’re still confused: we think the Casio Pathfinder is a great match all-around.
The Suunto Core is a close favorite, not just for its features, but also its sleek minimal design.
And if you’re still not convinced, why not head back to our buying guide?
Either way, happy hiking, and stay safe!