Best GPS Watch Hunting

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More often than not, hunters go deep into the wild to get their prey, but that doesn’t mean you have to lose track of where you are or what time it is.  That’s where GPS watches come in so handy. They can allow the wearer to identify exactly where they are in case of an emergency, and it’s so much easier to carry all that information on your wrist rather than having to make room for a separate GPS machine among your gear and having to rustle through your backpack to find it.

There are some really great GPS watches out there that are ideal for hunting, and we’ve got some product reviews for you of what ones we think are amongst the best.  Following that, we’ve also got a buying guide for you which highlights the most important aspects of a GPS watch for hunting.

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Best GPS Watch Hunting - Comparison Table

Best GPS Watch Hunting - Reviews

Garmin are a well known high-end brand widely known for their fitness smartwatches.  And this particular model seems to be flying off the shelves. The Amazon ratings and reviews speak for themselves.

In addition to featuring GPS, the watch also uses the GLONASS and Galileo tracking systems (more on these in our buying guide) which helps you to better track your position in more challenging environments than GPS alone.

In addition to that it’s got a really handy Tracback feature, which helps you navigate the same route back to an identified starting point.

And if you wanted to try your hand at a more traditional method of navigation, there’s a barometric altimeter in the watch to tell you how high up you are, and a built in 3 axis compass.  You definitely don’t need to worry about getting lost with this beauty!

We like how it measures your heart rate, so you can visually see it soar when your prey is in your sights or when you make that kill.  

It’s a rugged watch, designed for the great outdoors and built to military standards - it’s got thermal, shock and water resistance (rated to 100 meters).  The fiber-reinforced polymer casing gives it real durability, and the scratch-resistant display is sufficiently high-contrast to be read in bright sunlight.

The battery will last up to 16 hours in GPS mode, so depending on the season could last throughout the daylight.  And the battery will last even longer if you switch it over to smartwatch mode every once in a while. And there’s also an UltraTrac battery saver mode to make the battery last even longer still, up to a whopping 40 hours.

And better yet, when you’re not out hunting and you take it off GPS mode, you can use it in smartwatch mode, and pair it up with your smartphone and use it with all of your favorite smartwatch apps.  It’s compatible with both iOS and Android devices.

Another benefit to this watch is how you can pair it up with the Garmin Explore website, and app, so you can start planning your routes before you even leave the house.

Pros

  • Brand known for their smartwatch fitness watches
  • Huge hit with customers

  • 3 satellite tracking systems, including GPS

  • Built in 3 axis compass

  • Altimeter

  • Tracback feature

  • Long battery life

  • Shockproof

  • Waterproof

  • Read it in bright sunlight

  • Fitness tracking function

  • Switch from smartwatch mode to GPS mode

  • Smartwatch mode for app notifications

  • Pair up the watch with Garmin Explore

Cons

  • Gear as good as this doesn’t come cheap
  • You don’t get complete smartwatch functionality when the watch is in GPS mode

Here’s another fantastic GPS watch from Garmin.  It’s pretty much like the other Garmin Instinct we showed you earlier, but with several additional features, and as you might expect, at a higher price.

There are built in sensors for 3 satellite navigation systems, namely GPS, GLONASS, and Galileo.  You will always be able to keep tabs on where you are. 

There’s also a built-in 3-axis compass and barometric altimeter.

It’s built to military standards for thermal, shock and water resistance.

And now let’s zoom in on the tactical functions.  There’s stealth mode to stop disable wireless connectivity and stop sharing your GPS position.  There’s projected waypoints, to allow you to store important locations in the watch’s memory. There's a dual position format, whereby you can sync your location with others, using both UTM and MGRS, the military grid reference system, on the same screen.  And you can even switch between daytime view and nighttime view with a screen that can be read by night vision goggles.

This particular Amazon link takes you to a bundle deal where you get a power bank included in the price, so you can keep your watch charged at all times.  If you wanted to make a lot of use out of the battery before resorting to using the power bank you can always switch it to smartwatch mode, on which it will last up to 14 days.

As a smartwatch it’s compatible with both Android and iPhones, so it will give you all your app notifications, and it will track things like steps taken, heart rate and calories burned.  And you can connect to the Garmin Connect online fitness community.

Pros

  • 3 satellite navigation systems, GPS, GLONASS, and Galileo
  • Stealth mode

  • Projected waypoints

  • Sual position format

  • Nighttime view

  • Built-in 3-axis compass

  • Barometric altimeter

  • Built to military standards

  • Power bank included in the price

  • Battery lasts 14 days in smartwatch mode

  • Compatible with both Android and iPhones

  • Get all your app notifications

  • Fitness tracker functions

  • Connect to the Garmin Connect online fitness community

Cons

  • Premium product at a premium price

Casio have been amongst the best in sports watches well before anyone had of Garmin, and now they’ve released this fantastic GPS enabled smartwatch.

But it goes way beyond displaying your coordinates at any one point - it actually features colored maps right there on your wrist.  If you are in an area that does not have cell or Wi-Fi service you can download the map data in advance and use it offline - perfect for hunting expeditions.

You can choose from satellite view or street level maps.  You can use Location Memory to highlight important points on your routes.  There’s a few built in apps for outdoor activities, the one most suited to hunting being the trekking app.  And if you wanted to add more apps, with Google’s WearOS operating system you’ll have an array of apps to choose from.

The watch’s Moment Setter is pretty handy too.  You can use it to set reminders and notifications, such as reminders to stay hydrated or set times to let you know how much distance you’ve travelled.

The built in sensors allow you to track your Altitude, Barometric Pressure and Compass directions as well. 

We like the Sunset/Sunrise data the watch holds - you can use to keep an eye on your pace so you don't get stuck out in the dark.

The watch is designed to be durable, it meets military build standards and is water resistant to handle any rain or splashing from a creek.

Pros

  • Well established brand
  • GPS enabled smartwatch

  • Colored maps that you can access offline

  • Choose from satellite view or street level maps

  • Built in trekking app

  • Google’s WearOS operating system

  • Moment Setter for reminders

  • Built in altimeter

  • Built in barometer

  • Built in compass

  • Sunset/Sunrise data

  • Military build standards

Cons

  • There’s no alarm sound, notifications and reminders come through via vibrate only

Suunto watches are built for the outdoors, and this model is certainly no exception.  In fact it was built with hunting and fishing in mind.

It features both GPS and GLONASS satellite navigation systems, so you will always be able to identify where you are.

We love it’s automatic shot detection technology which keeps track of when and where you shoot, and maps the GPS coordinates of your location for later viewing.

There’s an automatic breadcrumb trail for retracing your steps, and the option to save points of interest along the way.

You can plan your route ahead of time by uploading ready made topographic maps from the Movescount app via your smartphone.

The Movescount app also allows you to keep a diary of your hunting trips, and upload photos and videos onto a 3D map to share your adventures on Suunto's YouTube channel.

There are pre highlighted points of interest for hunting, and there’s handy information on sunrise, sunsets and moon phases to help ascertain the best hunting times.

It has a night vision red backlight, so you can read the watch when hunting at night, completely unnoticed.

The barometer data is shown in graph form to enable you to closely follow weather changes.

There’s a built in altimeter and digital compass too.

All your smartwatch notifications for incoming calls and texts come through with a slight, subtle, and silent vibration, so you don’t have to worry about sudden noises alerting your prey to your presence.

And it’s really durable, with a stainless steel bezel, scratch resistant glass and waterproofing, and is tested against military standards.

The battery life is excellent, it will last 14 days in time mode.  Unfortunately however this comes down significantly in GPS mode, sometimes only lasting 10 hours.

Pros

  • Built with hunting in mind
  • Both GPS and GLONASS satellite navigation systems

  • Automatic shot detection technology

  • Automatic breadcrumb trail for retracing your steps

  • Upload ready made topographic maps

  • Keep a diary of your hunting trips

  • Upload photos and videos on Suunto's YouTube channel

  • Pre highlighted points of interest for hunting

  • Handy information on sunrise, sunsets and moon phases

  • Night vision red backlight

  • Built in Barometer

  • Built in altimeter

  • Built in digital compass

  • Smartwatch notifications are subtle

  • Really durable, with a stainless steel bezel

  • Scratch resistant glass

  • Waterproof

  • Tested against military standards

Cons

  • May need recharging after a full day on GPS mode

Garmin has another great watch here, and it’s super popular with customers.  And although it’s described as a hiking watch, it’s a big hit with hunters too.

We particularly like this one because it’s got a highly sensitive GPS receiver, and not only that but it’s got Hotfix too.  Hotfix improves the GPS performance should you find yourself in heavy tree cover.

It also has a built in barometric altimeter and electronic compass, so the old school means of navigation are right there for you on your wrist - not that we think you’ll need it, as the GPS strength on it is great.  But it’s nice to have.

We absolutely love it’s TracBack feature, which helps you retrace your steps.  You can save any location into the watch’s memory to find your way back to important places, like say your vehicle or blind.

The watch has a nice big display, and it supports dual position readout which means that you can view your current location in different formats.

It’s waterproof, and will remain completely unaffected by rain water.

One thing we like about it is that it runs off AAA batteries, so there’s no need to find a watch repair shop to get batteries.  The batteries last up to 17 hours in GPS mode, so if you put fresh batteries in at sunrise, the watch should still be working after sunset, but if you’re out hunting for a couple of days, remember to take spare batteries with you.

It comes with a USB cable and an easy to understand manual.

The watch stores handy hunting and fishing information, and when you get home you can upload your trip data onto your PC or Mac.  Then, if you wanted, you could hook up to Garmin Connect, which allows you to view your hunting trip on a map using Google Earth. So if you’ve discovered a really good hunting spot, you don’t have to worry about finding it again.

Pros

  • Good, reliable brand
  • Watch is popular with hunters

  • Highly sensitive GPS receiver with Hotfix

  • Barometric altimeter

  • Electronic compass

  • TracBack feature, to retrace your steps

  • Big display, with dual position readout

  • Waterproof

  • Runs off AAA batteries

  • Long battery life

  • Easy to understand manual

  • Watch stores handy hunting information

  • Hook up to Garmin Connect

Cons

  • Not a smartwatch
  • With it’s rectangular display it doesn’t look like a typical clock face

Best GPS Watch Hunting - Buyers Guide

As promised, here’s a quick rundown of things you might like to think about before buying a GPS watch for hunting.

Smartwatch or not Smartwatch

We’re going to level with you here.  You don’t need a smartwatch to have GPS functionality right on your wrist.  GPS watches have been around since 1999, way before smartwatches were a thing.

Now, that said, there’s a lot more functionality on a smartwatch than a regular GPS sports watch.  Typical popular usages of smartwatch apps can include tracking of number of steps taken, number of calories burned, and heart rate while cycling.  But now smartwatches also have specific apps especially for hunting, on both iOS watches and Android (It’s beyond the scope of this article to discuss these thoroughly here).

But there’s a trade off.  If you’re wearing a smartwatch while hunting, you don’t want any unnecessary beeping alerting your prey to your presence every single time you have a Facebook notification (or a notification from any other app for that matter).  Similarly you don’t want anything too bright either, breaking your cover. In fact many darker watch clock faces can be easier to read in sunlight than many smartwatch counterparts.

You might find that using a smartwatch is a distraction from the task at hand, or you may find that all the apps on your smartwatch can help you pass the time while you wait for your prey to come into range.

Another drawback to smartwatches is that they need regular charging, typically at a rate of once a day, which, granted, may not be a problem for some hunters, but if you’re going to be gone a couple of days could lead to some frustration.

In the interest of fairness we’ve included both types of GPS watch in our Top 5, but ultimately the decision as to whether to go for a regular GPS or a smartwatch with GPS rests with you.  Our recommendation is to have a look at what relevant hunting apps are available for your preferred smartphone operating system and go from there.

If you did go for a smartwatch you must ensure that it’s compatible with your smartphone, and ensure that while you’re hunting your notifications are on silent mode, or do away with all your social media notifications altogether.

GPS

Did you know that GPS is not the only global navigation satellite system?  The four global navigation satellite systems are: GPS, GLONASS, Galileo, and BeiDou.  There are also several regional satellite positioning systems besides (read about others here).

GPS is the oldest of the global navigation satellite systems and remains to this day the most widely used.  It provides continuous positioning and timing information globally, regardless of the weather conditions.

However, according to the authorities, the most accurate global satellite navigation system, when it becomes fully activated, is the Galileo.  It is integrated with the most advanced atomic clocks that are accurate to less than one nanosecond per 24 hours.

Many GPS watches come equipped to reach other satellite navigation systems beside GPS, so if you have a watch that incorporates more than one system, you get a much better identification of your true position.

A.B.C.

A.B.C. stands for altimeter, barometer and compass.  These are 3 of the main features you might find in watches that are designed for the great outdoors.  They are popular with hikers and for certain outdoor sports, but they can be really handy for hunters too.  And they’re of particular benefit should you lose your GPS signal (which can happen).

An altimeter displays your current elevation levels and records your ascension and descent speeds on any inclines you might walk along.  A barometer measures the air pressure in the atmosphere, which can then be used to forecast the weather. And a compass (as you likely already know) will tell you exactly which way is North, allowing you to better navigate your routes.

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