Best Mountaineering Watches

Top 10 Best Mountaineering Watches

Every outdoor lover requires the best gear set to ensure safety, convenience, and focus for the best sporting experience.

Using the correct equipment enables you to reach your potential and frequently participate since you reduce the risk of severe injury and enjoy your game to its fullest extent.

As such, a mountaineer requires the best mountaineering watch for an enjoyable and safe mountaineering experience.

A watch’s most significant function is to keep track of time, but mountaineering watches provide other essential information on altitude, location, weather, and health.

On this account, manufacturers compete with each other to produce brands with innovations. Most of these innovative features are helpful, but some complicate a watch’s operation while others are seemingly useless.

As you contemplate buying a mountaineering watch or replacing your old one, what core features are worth considering? What brands are the best?

We’ll review the best mountaineering watch brands required for your next expedition, noting every feature from functionality to style, durability, and convenience in this article.

Mountaineering Watch Buyer’s Guide

Before purchasing a new watch, you must consider its core features, including GPS, altimeter, and compass functions.

An excellent watch option should be able to do all or some of telling you your location, anticipate the weather, estimate your distance and elevation, monitor your fitness, and last as long as possible.

Some smartwatches have a sync function that helps you connect to your phone for detailed weather forecasts and other functions. The following buyer’s guide will highlight the factors you need to consider before purchasing a mountaineering watch.

1. Price

According to economics, resources are scarce, but wants are unlimited. Therefore, price is the foremost thing to consider as you plan to buy your new watch.

Your estimated price range allows you to set a limit to peripheral features and prevents you from overpaying for specific functions you might not eventually use.

The more you’re willing to pay, you’re likely to get lighter, more durable watches with several features. Mountaineering watches could cost as much as $100 on the low side but can go over $500 on the high end. 

2. Operation

Buying a mountain watch you can use without complications is essential. Some watches are touch screens, while others use the traditional button operation. While the touch screens seem like the most hassle-free option, they’re useless when your gloves are on, or your hands are wet.

In contrast, button watches might be challenging to navigate as they require a specific pressing order but can work under the conditions that negate the earlier. 

3. Battery Life

You want your watch to last as long as possible during an expedition even though you’ll be regularly using some features that drain its battery. As such, you’ll need a GPS watch that can last a couple of days per full charge.

Some watches use solar, which makes them last as long as your escapade. A watch might also come with a power-saving mode that reduces battery consumption by turning off some features when they’re not in use.

4. Weight

Climbing can be exhausting sometimes, and the last thing you need is something that’ll become a burden. Hence, it would be best if you had a light mountaineering watch that’ll be comfortable on your wrist.

Watches between five grams and fifty grams are usually the sweet spot for mountaineers, but extra features mean more weight, and most watches with several features are above the sweet spot.

Hence, you have to sacrifice one for the other — your comfort or the features.

5. Design

Your watch’s design usually determines its durability. For example, a poorly designed wristband may pull off; that’s why your choice must have a soft and flexible wristband.

Some designs fit corporate and casual occasions, so you can use them when you’re not mountaineering. 

6. Water Resistance

Mountaineering is an outdoor sport, so you should expect sudden weather changes. Your watch should be able to withstand these weather conditions, including rainfall.

Therefore, you’ll need a water-resistant mountaineering watch that you can wear without fear of damage whenever it comes in contact with water. 

7. Navigation System

As you find your way through the hills, it’s a beneficial practice to track your distance and elevation. Ergo, it would help if you had a watch with GPS to record your movement throughout an entire expedition. You can even analyze your data later on. 

8. Altimeter

An altimeter is used to measure altitude while climbing. Since mountaineering involves climbing, a mountaineering watch should have an altimeter as one of its essential features.

A GPS can be used as an alternative, but it would only provide estimations from its coordinate data that wouldn’t be as accurate as an altimeter’s definite values.

Moreover, GPS operates on signal strength, implying that interference could disrupt its accuracy.

9. Compass

The compass’s importance cannot be overlooked, especially on a journey you’ve never been on before.

Some of the routes you’ll explore will be your first time, while others might have never been explored by anyone else. As such, you can’t do without a compass.

Latest mountaineering watch brands have 3D compasses that work regardless of placement, which eases the stress of having to hold your wrist in a particular position for accuracy.

Other

Peripheral features include a thermometer, barometer, fitness monitor, etc. Your budget determines the number of features you’ll get in a watch. However, be careful not to pay extra for unnecessary features.

Top 15 Best Mountaineering Watches

Here are the ten best mountaineering watches you can buy in 2021.

1. Garmin Fenix 5X Plus Sapphire

The 5X Plus Sapphire is built for every mountaineer; durable, comfortable, and feature-packed.

It’s a multipurpose watch with incredible measurement accuracy via an automated GPS; it also features smartphone compatibility, compass, altimeter, and barometer.

The 5X Plus Sapphire will last two weeks in smartwatch mode, 60 hours in battery saver mode, and 24 hours in GPS mode. It’s equipped with an ambiance sensor that controls automatic LED backlight and assures readability under intense sunlight.

You don’t have to worry about water damage as it can resist water up to 100 meters deep. 

While the Garmin Fenix 5X Plus Sapphire is a mountaineering watch, it has a stylish design that fits corporate outfits. Its stainless steel buttons, bezel and back, abrasion resistance, and scratch-proof sapphire lens guarantees durability.

Key Features

  • GPS + Global Satellite Navigation/Topo Maps (Pre-loaded with topo maps of the US)
  • Bluetooth
  • Smartphone compatibility
  • It can measure blood oxygen levels

Pros

  • Versatile (can be used for running, swimming, skiing, and be worn to non-sporting events)

Cons

  • Heavy
  • Expensive

2. Suunto 9 Baro

The primary disadvantage of touch screen watches is that you can’t operate them with gloves on.

However, that isn’t the case with the Suunto 9 Baro — a multisport mountaineering watch with several intelligent features and navigation systems.

The Suunto 9 Baro can perform under adverse weather conditions and withstand heavy rainfall and other contacts with water up to 100 meters during outdoor activities.

It’s equipped with a thermometer, barometer, compass, GPS, altimeter, and a heat map feature that allows you to track your route. With a stainless-steel bezel, sapphire glass, and silicone strip, you’re assured of durability.

Key Features

  • Bluetooth
  • Smartphone compatibility
  • Integrated Wrist-based Heart Beat Tracking
  • GPS Tracking
  • GLONASS support

Pros

  • Intelligent Power Management
  • It can be operated with gloves on 

Cons

  • Expensive

3. Suunto Ambit 3 Peak

The Ambit 3 Peak is one of the best-selling mountaineering watches in the market. Its market success can be attributed to its functionality, design, and durability.

Its most notable feature is the altimeter, as it’s one of the pioneer altimeter watches. However, it boasts reliable water resistance and comes with long-lasting battery life.

The Ambit 3 Peak is also known for its accurate barometric pressure readings, reliable GPS, data-capturing features, and smartphone compatibility through Bluetooth and support apps. 

The Suunto Ambit 3 Peak is one of the best you can get regarding convenience and durability. It weighs about 90 grams, which is good enough for a watch of its caliber. 

Key Features

  • Bluetooth 
  • Data-capturing
  • GPS
  • Reliable barometer, compass, altimeter 

Pros

  • Ideal for other sports like running, cycling and swimming
  • Affordable

Cons

  • No heart rate sensor
  • Complicated setup

4. Suunto Traverse

There’s no doubt that the Traverse is worthy of being a mountaineer’s favorite with features like altimeter, barometer, thermometer, compass, step counter, flashlight, vibration alerts, and GLONASS support.

It has earned comparisons with the Ambit 3, having its fair share of strong points and shortcomings.

Step counter, flashlight, vibration alerts, and GLONASS support are features missing in the Ambit 3, but the Traverse appears less sporty, lacks Bluetooth connection, and does not support multi-sporting.

Both watches are even regarding water resistance and durability, but the Traverse edges its counterpart in terms of battery life and weight. The Traverse weighs 80 grams and can last up to 100 hours.

Key Features

  • Smartphone compatibility
  • Route planning in Suunto Movescount with topographic maps
  • GPS Tracking
  • GLONASS support

Pros

  • Great battery life
  • Easy to use

Cons

  • No Bluetooth
  • It does not support multisport mode

5. Casio Pro Trek PRW-2500T-7

This is the first non-GPS mountaineering watch that’ll make a list, implying that it’s an excellent overall option regardless of a GPS absence.

The Pro Trek PRW-2500T-7’s standout feature is its durability, with a titanium band material that guarantees you a couple of years despite regular use.

The absence of a GPS implies that it’ll last longer than most of its counterparts, five months on a full charge without further exposure to sunlight and 23 months on power-saving mode.

Water isn’t a problem as well; the Pro Trek PRW-2500T-7 guarantees you water resistance up to 200 meters.

Don’t worry; you still have mountaineering functions packed in this watch, including stopwatch, countdown, calendar alarms, digital compass, barometer, altimeter, altimeter memory, and thermometer.

The thermometer has an accommodating display range between -10 degrees and 60 degrees Celsius. What’s more? A duplex liquid crystal display, moon data, and tide graph.

Key Features

  • Auto receive function
  • Multi-Band Atomic timekeeping
  • Duplex LC-Display

Pros

  • Solar-powered
  • Durable
  • Water-resistant up to 200 meters
  • Long-lasting battery life

Cons

  • No GPS
  • Complicated setup

6. Suunto Core Crush

This is one of the best mountaineering gear you can get for yourself. Lightweight, multiple dates and time functions, and ranks highly in the market regarding weather tracking.

Sadly, you don’t have the luxury of a GPS function, but you can find solace in a compass-based navigation system.

You can keep track of your elevation using the altimeter, and the barometer updates you with accurate weather information, including atmospheric pressure and building storms.

The Suunto Core Crush is also durable and completely waterproof. 

Key Features

  • Intelligent storm alarm function 
  • 7-day weather memory
  • Temperature compensation

Pros

  • Storm alarm
  • Sunrise and sunset times
  • Accurate & Easy To Use Altimeter
  • Multilingual support

Cons

  • No GPS

7. Garmin Instinct GPS

The Instinct GPS might be one of the latest entrants on the list, but its presence is ground-shaking.

It’s a stylish watch built for military and outdoor sporting activities, offering you mountaineering functions, including a GPS, compass, and GLONASS navigation system.

You can monitor your fitness levels, track your elevation, and predict your descent using the TracBack feature that records your route from the starting point. It also features smartphone compatibility.

The Instinct GPS weighs about 50 grams, making it one of the lightest watches on the list.

What’s more? A fully vented silicone wristband, water-resistance, and a scratch-resistant display that accommodates every ambiance. 

Key Features

  • Smartphone compatibility
  • Water resistance
  • 3-axis compass and barometric altimeter
  • TracBack feature

Pros

  • Rugged
  • Can monitor your fitness levels
  • Comfortable design

Cons

  • Battery life can be improved

8. Garmin Epix

The Epix is one of the best mountaineering watches you can get in the market, offering a full-color mapping GPS/GLONASS navigation system.

It has a high-resolution color touchscreen and an 8 GB built-in memory to store maps, topos, and satellite imagery.

You have the luxury of a 3-axis compass, an additional navigation system, and an auto-calibrating altimeter and barometer to give you real-time information, bearing, and weather change predictions.

It’s equipped with smartphone compatibility functions and can resist water up to 50 meters deep.

Key Features 

  • Full-color mapping GPS/GLONASS
  • Internal memory
  • Smartphone compatibility
  • Altimeter, barometer, and 3-axis compass
  • 1.4-inch high-resolution color touchscreen

Pros

  • Extensive mapping support
  • Compact size and unique design

Cons

  • No WIFI feature, unlike other high-end Garmin watches.

9. Casio Pathfinder PAG240-1

The Pathfinder PAG240-1 might be the least stylish watch on this list, but it offers you the best mountaineering functions except for a GPS navigation system.

So it’s quite the best value for money if you’re not bothered by the absence of GPS. However, you have easy-to-use Altimeter Barometer Compass (ABC) functions that can run on its fully charged solar battery for six months without further exposure to sunlight.

It’s lightweight (65 grams), its rugged build can handle challenging terrains, and it’s water-resistant, so you don’t have to worry about rain.

Interestingly, the Pathfinder PAG240-1 has a 31-time zone function for 48 cities and a multiple-alarm function, including one for a stipulated target altitude.

Key Features 

  • Solar-powered
  • Water-resistant
  • Multiple alarms function
  • 31-time zone function for 48 cities

Pros

  • You can set a target altitude
  • The display features a backlight for easy reading
  • Resin band with buckle closure for optimum comfort

Cons

  • No GPS

10. Casio G-Shock Rangeman GPR-B1000

Casio’s G-Series has a history in the timepiece market, being the first-ever solar-assisted GPS watch with multiple functions.

The G-Shock Rangeman GPR-B1000 is one of the best buys for a mountaineer because of its rugged design, wireless charging, shock-resistance, water-resistance, triple sensor, and GPS navigation system.

The battery life lasts 33 hours with the GPS function after a 5-hour wireless charge.

Key Features

  • Shock-resistant
  • G-SHOCK connected
  • Smartphone link
  • Tough solar

Pros

  • Long-lasting battery
  • Reliable
  • Easy to navigate 

Cons 

  • Heavy

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Do I need a GPS Feature on a Mountaineering Watch?

A GPS navigation system is not an essential feature of a mountaineering watch. Still, it offers more accuracy than the Altimeter Barometer and Compass (ABC) functions, which every mountaineering watch should have. 

Can Mountaineering Watch be used offline?

Whether a mountaineering watch can be used offline depends on the watch’s innovative features and the operation you are trying to perform.

All mountaineering watches can be used for offline navigation, checking fitness levels, and predicting the weather, but you can’t perform mobile syncing when you are offline on a smartwatch.

Could I Wear My Watch While Not Mountaineering?

The primary function of any watch is to keep track of time, and your mountaineering watch offers that primary function.

The most significant differences are the technological features in a mountaineering watch. Therefore, there is no restriction regarding wearing your mountaineering watch when you’re engaging in other sports or non-sporting activities.

Is it Worth it to Buy a Cheap Mountaineering Watch?

Getting a watch with primary mountaineering functions at a low price is a good bargain. Your watch is worth every penny if it’s durable, comfortable, easy to use, and offers primary sporting features.

Watch out for features like timer, alarm, compass, altimeter, and barometer. Some sports experts suggest that you get a cheap watch if it offers the primary functions because of its uncomplicated user interface.

How Do I Take Care of a Mountaineering Watch?

Most of these advanced watches have anti-scratch lenses, are water-resistant, shock-resistant, or mud-resistant.

However, maintaining your watch is very important as it helps it to last longer and in good condition. Try always to keep your wristband clean and avoid over-tightening it when you strap it to your wrist

Remember to charge your batteries as often as required.

Conclusion

A functional watch is as essential as any other mountaineering gear and for worthy reasons. It is a crucial ingredient of safe climbing and helps you enjoy each escapade to the fullest.

Several brands are available in the market, but the ones we’ve highlighted offer the essential features. They’re also durable and can withstand adverse weather conditions and rugged terrains.

This comprehensive buyer’s guide and the best mountaineeringw watch brands suggested will help you make a wise decision regarding price and brand on your next purchase.

It’s a valuable resource whether you are planning to buy a mountaineering watch for the first time or you’ll be replacing the one you already own.

Please let us know your thoughts on our best mountaineering watches in the comments section below.

See Top 15 Best Glacier Glasses In 2021, 20 Best Mountain Climbing Books Of All Time, 25 Best Inspirational Mountain Climbing Quotes, and 14 Essential Mountain Climbing Equipment List/ Gears.

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