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Whether you’re heading to the great outdoors to hike, rock climb, fish, bike ride, or want to spend a few days camping under the stars, one piece of gear that we put on our must-haves list is an altimeter watch. Not only is it a fun way to track your journey, but it’s literally a lifesaver.
An altimeter can inform users of their current elevation, which can be useful information when hiking in hilly and mountainous areas. By knowing your elevation, users can then find their location on a topographical map. The altimeter can track your ascent and descent and also help you confirm your elevation when climbing or hiking.
Many altimeter watches, including all three picks on our list, also include barometers, which track changes in air pressure. Low pressure typically indicates storms or plunging temperatures, while high pressure means it’s a good day to hit the trails. From a practical standpoint, this is a useful tool to inform users of the types of clothing and gear to pack but it can also be a lifesaver that helps hikers and campers head for cover when a storm is approaching.
If you’re preparing to head outdoors, don’t leave home without an altimeter watch.
1. Garmin Instinct
For a smartwatch and altimeter in one, we recommend the Garmin Instinct. Saying a watch can ‘do it all’ may sound like an oversell, but the Garmin Instinct can indeed do it all. It features a three-axis compass, barometric altimeter and includes multiple global mapping systems like GLONASS and Galileo that will ensure you can also find your location, regardless of how remote or covered in trees and canyons you may be. The Garmin Instinct is compatible with most smartphones and can send notifications straight to your watch. It also has an extended battery that lasts 14 days in smartwatch mode and 16 hours in GPS mode.
Pros: The Garmin Instinct is made with U. S. Military standard 810G, which makes it shock, water, and thermal resistant.
Cons: The Garmin Instinct comes with a high price tag and may include more benefits than what some people want in an altimeter watch. The watch is rechargeable and may be difficult to charge when in remote locations.
2. Suunto Core All Black Military Men’s Outdoor Sports Watch
A leader in altimeter watches, the Suunto Core All Black Military Men’s Outdoor Sports Watch includes an altimeter to track vertical movement, a barometer to follow trends in air pressure, and a compass that will keep you pointed in the right direction no matter where you are. Unlike the Garmin which is rechargeable, the Suunto comes with a watch battery that can last between 12-18 months. It’s also water-resistant and includes many of the same features of a typical digital watch, including alarms and timers.
Pros: The Suunto will help keep you safe by alerting users of changes in the weather. The watch can track both the weather and sun, with a built-in storm alarm and the ability to check sunrise and sunset times in 400 preset locations ensuring you’re not caught out in the dark.
Cons: Suunto watches are known for their large faces which may feel overbearing for some people.
3. Casio Men’s Multi-Function Sport Watch
For an altimeter watch that comes with a barometer and is water-resistant, durable, and affordable, we pick the Casio Men’s Multi-Function Sport Watch. The Casio doesn’t include all the bells and whistles of the Garmin or Suunto but still enables users to track elevation and pressure changes and includes a built-in thermometer.
Pros: The Casio includes LED backlighting, multiple digital displays, five alarms and a stopwatch and countdown timer.
Cons: The Casio doesn’t include many of the features that come with the Garmin and Suunto, including a GPS and weather alarms.