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Whether your chosen activity is running, hiking, swimming, climbing or simply enjoying a casual walk, there’s nothing quite like getting out into the great outdoors to blow the cobwebs away and feel like you’re getting back to nature.
However, when it comes to exploring everything the great outdoors has to offer, it’s important to remember just how unpredictable nature can be. A gorgeous, sunny day could easily and swiftly turn into a torrential thunderstorm, or you could unexpectedly lose your way on a hike and risk getting lost and being stranded.
That’s why it’s a really good idea to invest in a smartwatch that you can use for all of your expeditions out in the wild!
Smartwatches are packed with features that will help to keep you on track, warn you of upcoming weather changes, and help keep you connected to your family and friends in case of emergency. Many smartwatches are also very durable, and can withstand whatever elements Mother Nature decides to throw your way.
But, which is the best one to choose for using outdoors? With so many options available, all of which have their own technical terms and specifications, finding the perfect smartwatch for your needs can be a bit of a minefield.
To help take the hard work out of it, and to make things a bit clearer, we’ve put together a list of five of the best smartwatches for outdoor use, along with a buying guide that features some really important points to keep in mind before settling on your final decision.
So sit back and relax, and soon you’ll be enjoying the benefits of a smartwatch that you can use for all of your favorite outdoor activities!
If you’ve got a big outdoor trip planned soon, and need a smartwatch that will help you safely navigate the way, check out our top pick below.
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Best Smartwatch for Outdoors - Comparison Table
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Best Smartwatch for Outdoors - Reviews
Giving you full access to the world from your wrist, and packed full of features that will help keep you motivated when you’re in the great outdoors, the Fitbit Versa 2 has everything you could ever want in a smartwatch and so much more.
24/7 heart rate monitoring helps you to keep track of your cardio zones while you’re out hiking or jogging, as well as letting you see your usual resting heart rate, and water resistancy of up to 50m gives you the opportunity to swim in open water without it breaking, as well as meaning it’ll stay safe if you’re caught in a heavy downpour of rain. You can also keep an eye on how many steps you’ve managed throughout the day, and see how many calories you’ve burnt.
There are over 15 goal-based exercise programmes built in, including walking, running and swimming, so if you’re a fan of working out in the open air then this watch is a great choice. You can even keep an eye on your speed and mileage with real-time pace and distance, simply by connecting the watch to your phone’s GPS
Designed with a comfortable fit in mind, you can wear it on long trips without feeling weighed down, and the notification feature brings all of your emails, calls, messages and social media notifications directly to your wrist, meaning you’ll spend less time reaching for your phone.
Integrated Alexa voice control gives you the ability to find out information and breaking news simply by asking your watch for it, and the Fitbit Pay feature means you’ll be able to stop for essentials without needing your wallet.
Designed to withstand the elements, the S3 Frontier Smartwatch from Samsung is ideal for use outdoors, and can resist dust, water, extreme temperatures and being accidentally dropped, allowing you to wear it with confidence.
The super long battery life gives you four days of continuous use from a single charge, which is ideal for long hiking or camping trips, and when the time comes to recharge the wireless charger lets you power your watch back up without needing to locate the correct cables.
A built-in S-Health app helps you keep track of your steps throughout the day, monitors your heart rate and lets you see your calorie burn. You can also set goals and post your results to your social media pages, as well as check all of your messages and notifications while you’re out and about.
There’s even built in Bluetooth and GPS, so you can track your walking progress and stay on the right route while you move, and connect to your music to keep yourself entertained with your favorite songs or podcasts on longer treks.
Perfect for outdoor activities such as hiking, climbing and running, the Core Outdoor Watch from SUUNTO combines style and functionality to help bring out your inner explorer.
The built-in altimeter helps you determine your current elevation and lets you track your ascent or descent as you climb, and the barometer function alerts you to sudden alterations in the weather, giving you advanced warning of potential upcoming storms so you can set up camp well before the weather turns.
There’s also a compass that will help you navigate your route as you trek, making sure that you stay totally on track, and the sunrise / sunset feature gives you the correct timings for over 400 locations, allowing you to organize your trip and get the maximum amount of daylight possible.
Water resistant up to 100 feet, it’s also fantastic for open water swimming, and it comes with a 2 year warranty giving you total peace of mind over your purchase.
This smartwatch from Letsfit is a fantastic choice for anybody looking for a watch that can be used for outdoor activities, but wants one at the lower end of the price spectrum.
The large 1.3 inch display allows you to easily read all of your data and statistics, and displays it in a way that is easy to understand, and the it’s waterproof capabilities make it ideal for open water swimming or for wearing when you’re out trekking in heavy rain.
It also has a heart rate monitor that keeps constant track of your cardio levels, as well as a step counter and calorie counter, so you can accurately measure your activity throughout the day. It also has a variety of pre-built exercise plans, so you can mix up your workouts throughout the week.
You can also connect to your music via Bluetooth headphones, and control what you’re listening to through your watch, meaning you’re able to stay entertained while you're out and about. And, to keep you connected to the outside world, you’ll also receive incoming messages and social media notifications straight to your wrist.
Constructed to the military standard, the Instinct Rugged Watch from Garmin is thermal, shock and water resistant up to 100m, making it perfect for outdoor use whatever your chosen activity.
The amazing GPS feature helps you stay on the correct route, and built-in TracBack™ records your journey as you hike, allowing you to find your way back without any risk of getting lost, regardless of how ‘off-road’ you’ve decided to go.
There’s also a built-in 3-axis compass to back up the GPS, and a barometer feature that will alert you to changes in the weather so you can get yourself to safety way ahead of time. You can also monitor your heart rate, activity and stress levels throughout the day, allowing you to effectively reach the goals you’ve set for yourself.
A multifunctional battery allows you to switch between smartwatch mode, GPS mode and UltraTrac™ battery saver mode, so there’s no risk of it dying on your when you’re out and about, and it will also deliver all of your notifications and messages directly to your wrist so you can stay connected to the outside world.
Best Smartwatch for Outdoors - Buyers Guide
A smartwatch won’t only help you navigate your way through the great outdoors with ease, but will also make sure that you’re kept as safe as possible when you’re out in nature. This makes it a pretty essential piece of equipment if you spend a lot of time out in the open, whether you’re working out, hunting or just going for a casual walk.
However, there are a few things you need to bear in mind before you settle on your final decision. We’ve outlined some points below to give some consideration to, and that will help you find the perfect smartwatch for your needs.
The navigational features of your smartwatch are arguably the most important point to consider when you’re looking for one that you’ll be using outdoors. The last thing you need when you’re out on a big hiking trip is to get lost on your way there, or on the way back.
Look for a smartwatch that has GPS features, either through linking to your phone or with built-in software. This will allow you to view your route, maps and trails so you can stay on track with the journey ahead.
Some smartwatches also use breadcrumb or TracBack™features, which record your journey as you set off, meaning that you’ll have an accurate and detailed trail that you can follow on your way back. This is particularly useful if you’re a fan of going off the beaten track, or exploring unknown routes.
A compass is another good feature to look for in a smartwatch, and can act as an accurate back up plan if you lose your GPS signal.
You’ll also want to make sure that the watch you choose is tough enough to withstand the variety of elements you’ll be faced with when outdoors.
Many smartwatches that have been designed for outside use have waterproof capabilities, which doesn’t only make them perfect for trekking and hiking through heavy rain, but also means that they are great for open water swimming.
Shock resistance is another good thing to keep an eye out for, as this will ensure that if you accidentally drop the watch, or if it gets knocked against something as you navigate your way through the wilderness, it will be much less likely to break or suffer any damage.
Something else to bear in mind is the changes in temperature that occur when you’re outdoors. Hot days tend to lead to cold nights, and climbing up mountains will bring you to a higher altitude where the temperature is colder. If you intend to use your watch on mountain climbing expeditions, or if you’re going out for a long camping trip, look for a smartwatch that has thermal protection as well. This means it will be able to withstand both high and low temperatures without malfunctioning.
Regardless of how the day is looking, weather is constantly changing and is extremely unpredictable, so it’s worth looking for a smartwatch that will give you timely and accurate weather updates.
Many models have built-in barometers, that won’t only give you a good idea of what the weather is doing, but will also alert you to any storm warnings well in advance so that you can make sure you get yourself to safety before it’s too late.
Whatever you’re buying, it’s always worth seeing what you can get for your money, and smartwatches are one of those items that come packed with a variety of amazing features that will help you in your daily life as well as when you’re taking part in outdoor activities.
One of the features that you’ll find on almost every smartwatch is a heart rate monitor. These are fantastic for keeping you aware of your resting heart rate, but also allow you to see what cardio zones you’re hitting when you're working out (fat burning, aerobic, anaerobic, etc), so you can push harder if you need to.
Another great feature in a smartwatch for outdoor use is the capability to direct your emails, calls, messages and social media notifications from your phone to your wrist. This is useful on many levels, as you’ll be able to stay connected to your kids or your friends throughout the day without needing to reach for your phone, but also gives you the opportunity to contact somebody in an emergency with ease and speed.
Solo hikes and treks also open up an opportunity for you to listen to some of your favorite music, podcasts or an audiobook, so it’s always a good idea to see if your smartwatch has the option to control your music. This is ordinarily managed by connecting to your phone’s streaming service via Bluetooth and then linking to your headphones, however some smartwatches will also let you download your music streaming app and cut out connecting to your phone altogether.
Last, and by no means least, you need to give some thought to the battery life that your smartwatch will give you from a single charge. There are unlikely to be many opportunities to charge your watch when you’re out in the open, so a battery that lasts a long time is definitely a good thing to look for.
One of the most battery draining applications on a smartwatch is the GPS function, which ironically is potentially the most important function to use when you’re outdoors! Luckily, some smartwatches come with multifunctional batteries, that allow you to switch to a power saving mode and extend your battery life while you’re out and about.
Frequently Asked Questions
Does my smartwatch need GPS?
If you’re planning on using your smartwatch for hiking, trail running, cycling, or any other kind of outdoor activity, then GPS is a really important feature to look for in a smartwatch. This will not only help to keep you on track and stick to your route, but will also help you from getting lost if you’ve accidentally gone off your planned course.
What is the best smartwatch for using outdoors?
There are several great smartwatches available that have been designed for outdoor use, however there are several features that you need to look out for when purchasing one. These include waterproof capabilities, weather reporting and navigational functions. Check out our buyer’s guide above for a full breakdown of what to keep in mind before choosing your smartwatch.