The Best GPS Watches in 2019

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The Best GPS Watches in 2019

When you’re out on a long run, hike, or climb, a lot of thought goes into the gear that you bring with you. You need something that will give you plenty of functionality without weighing you down, which is why so many turn to a tough GPS or outdoor watch. They aren’t cumbersome to carry and they also offer genuinely helpful features that can come in handy in a pinch, especially while you’re away from the familiar comforts of the city. Whether you’re looking for the toughest watch that can survive the worst of the elements or something to help find your way on your next outdoor adventure, this list has something for everyone.

What to look for in an outdoor watch

Battery life: Whether it’s in your phone or in a watch, GPS is a power-hungry ordeal. The last thing you want is to be two days into your hike and have your watch die on you. A battery that will last until you’re back in the safety of your own home is arguably the most important thing to pay attention to.

Safety features: If you’re looking into tough, rugged, outdoor GPS watches, chances are you don’t plan on using it while sitting at a desk. Running tough routes, summiting a new peak, and backpacking your way through a trail are all worthy goals, but that’s not an excuse to be ill-equipped. A watch that will alert another person and automatically send out your location when things go south can be the difference between a good experience and a terrible one.

Activity tracking: If you have a goal and are taking your training seriously, then you should be tracking your progress and figuring out how to optimize your efforts. Make sure the watch you choose can give you the information you need in order to hit your targets and achieve results.

Durability: No matter the activity, you want a watch that can take a beating. Make sure that the watch you pick has the toughness to keep up with you, whether that’s being waterproof or shockproof.

Apple Watch Series 5

Apple Watch Series 5

Purchase
Key Features
Always-on display
ECG, noise level apps
Fall detection
Specifications
Case Diameter
40 or 44 mm
Battery Life
18 hours
Water Resistance
50 meters
Reviews


Price
$$$
For anyone looking to blend everyday functionality with GPS, you should look into the Apple Watch Series 5. On top of the new always-on display, you'll also get a top-notch heart rate sensor, a new built-in compass, and it'll also tell you your elevation. Not to mention that is has the new fall detection feature, so if you find yourself in an emergency while outdoors it will call emergency services and notify your emergency contact as well. You can expect about 18 hours of battery life from this so while it probably shouldn’t be your watch of choice on a long journey, though it should be more than good enough for your evening job. While it may not be the most rugged option on this list, it does have 50 meters of water resistance and is the one that the average person will get the most day-to-day use out of.
Garmin Forerunner 945

Garmin Forerunner 945

Purchase
Key Features
Performance monitoring
Music integration
Incident detection
Specifications
Case Diameter
47 mm
Battery Life
36 hours with GPS
Water Resistance
50 meters
Reviews


Price
$$$$
If you take running outside seriously then the Garmin Forerunner 945 is a watch you should look into. Garmin is one of the most trusted names in GPS watches and once you look at this watch it isn't hard to tell why. For one, it has a full-color display that shows a map of your route as well as on-board storage so you can keep up to 1000 songs right on the watch. It also has incident detection and advanced performance taking options right on the watch as well, but it's the accuracy that sets this watch apart. It uses a combination of GLONASS, Galileo, and GPS satellite tracking to get the most accurate information possible.
Suunto 9

Suunto 9

Purchase
Key Features
Heart rate sensor
Barometer option
Long battery life
Specifications
Case Diameter
50 mm
Battery Life
120 hours with GPS
Water Resistance
100 meters
Reviews


Price
$$$
Suunto is another company known for its tough outdoor watches, and the Suunto 9 is one of their latest best offerings. You'll get a battery life that will last you about 120 hours and the built-in heart rate sensor keeps track of how intense your workout is. It's fully compatible with services like Strava and Endomondo and you'll also get calls and messages from your phone so you don't miss anything. By default, the watch is waterproof up to 100 meters, but if you want to measure altitude as well the Baro version has a highly accurate barometer built right in so you can add another dimension to your training.
Garmin Forerunner 245 Music

Garmin Forerunner 245 Music

Purchase
Key Features
Save streaming music
Performance tracking
Incident detection
Specifications
Case Diameter
42 mm
Battery Life
6 hours with GPS and music
Water Resistance
50 meters
Reviews


Price
$$
Any runner knows that a good song can give you that extra push when you need it, which is why the Garmin Forerunner 245 Music Smartwatch is worth a look. Aside from being able to store 500 songs from compatible streaming services in its on-board storage, it also provides accurate performance monitoring for things like cadence, ground contact time, and stride length. All of which you can analyze and optimize for a better time next run. The battery will last you a full 7 days if you only use it in smartwatch mode, and up to 6 hours if you use it with constant GPS and music.
Coros Apex

Coros Apex

Purchase
Key Features
ABC sensors
Training guide
Breadcrumb trail
Specifications
Case Diameter
42 or 46 mm
Battery Life
35 hours with GPS
Water Resistance
100 meters
Reviews


Price
$$
If you want a sleek watch that won’t look out of place on the trail or in the office, the Coros Apex GPS watch might be for you. It comes in 42 mm and 46 mm options and features a titanium build that makes it tough enough for the trail but light enough for everyday use. It also has sapphire glass to prevent those annoying scratches. It’s not just the build quality that makes it a good watch either. The Apex has tons of features packed into it like a barometer, optical heart rate sensor, and even a compass. It’s waterproof up to 100 meters and has multiple modes you can choose from depending on your activity level that can extend battery life up to 30 days.
Casio G-Shock GPR-B1000-1 Rangeman

Casio G-Shock GPR-B1000-1 Rangeman

Purchase
Key Features
Built-in GPS
ABC sensors
Solar charging
Specifications
Case Diameter
58 mm
Battery Life
33 hours with GPS
Water Resistance
200 meters
Reviews


Price
$$$$
When it comes to tough watches, you can’t ignore the Casio G-Shock. Its watch line is entirely based on providing rugged options to people who need something tougher than the average watch, and the GPR-B1000-1 Rangeman is as tough as it gets. The design is unmistakably a G-Shock, right down to the shockproof build, its 200 meter water-resistance, 58 mm case size, and sapphire glass. All that said, it also has plenty more inside that makes it a top-tier GPS watch. The combination of Casio’s app and the built-in GPS allows you to track basically every activity, plus there are plenty of sensors packed inside. You’ll get altitude, pressure, and temperature information in a case that lives up to the G-Shock name.
Polar Vantage V

Polar Vantage V

Purchase
Key Features
Optical heart rate sensor
Training optimizer
Long battery life
Specifications
Case Diameter
46 mm
Battery Life
40 hours with GPS
Water Resistance
30 meters
Reviews


Price
$$$
Polar has been an industry leader for years when it comes to heart rate and outdoor watches, and the 46 mm Vantage V GPS watch is one of the best the company has to offer. It offers an impressive 40 hours of constant use with GPS to last through even the most grueling routes. The Vantage V has one of the best optical heart rate sensors you can find in a watch along with a recovery mode to help you get the most out of your next workout. It also utilizes both GPS and GLONASS for improved accuracy when you’re running outdoors so you can get the best information about your particular route.
Casio Pro Trek PRW-50Y-1A

Casio Pro Trek PRW-50Y-1A

Purchase
Key Features
ABC sensors
Solar charging
Multi-Band 6
Specifications
Case Diameter
50 mm
Battery Life
6 months
Water Resistance
100 meters
Reviews


Price
$$$
When you’re out trekking in the middle of nowhere, getting the information you need about your environment just by glancing at your watch can be a lifesaver. The 50 mm Pro Trek PRW-50Y is a climbing watch that does more than just tell time. With a simple glance at the watch you’ll temperature and altitude information at your current position, and you won’t have to worry about charging it every night since it uses Casio’s solar power technology to keep it going. The LCD screen makes reading the watch easy even in tough lighting conditions and it’s also waterproof in up to 100 meters of water. If you spend more of your time in the mountains instead of on the trail, this watch should be on your shortlist.

What's your favorite GPS or outdoors watch? Sound off in the comments below!

#watches #gps #outdoors #hiking #buying-guides see all



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Discussion (13 total)

Yeah, but how accurate *are* these things...?
I was looking at Casio's compass watches and the best of them said it was only +/- 11º... Other more affordable models were +/- 15º... Walk just four miles on that and you could miss your target by over a mile!!!
Sorry, but for £800 I expect a compass watch that is *at least* as good as my M88.
I have an old Casio Protrek Titanium Tough Solar. We were in a whiteout in the Scottish mountains, around the 3000 ft mark. There were two tops, around 250m apart, with only 4m difference in their heights. The Protrek accurately distinguished between them, allowing us to descend on the path rather than go off the edge of a cliff we couldn't see. Bomproof and reliable.
How far away were the tops? At 1000m that'd be 14º apart on the compass. The PRG-110T manual states error margin of +/- 11º... That's pretty inaccurate.
I'm not convinced....
We were between the tops, so less than 250m each way. We retraced our steps to get to each top, using our footsteps in the snow mostly, but the level of accuracy for me was the altimeter, as mentioned in my last comment. We depended on the Protrek for height, and it worked. It convinced us, two concerned climbers in a white-out.
Yeah, I really only care about an accurate compass... and 11º is enough to go waaaaaaaaaaaay off course in less than an hour! :-(
I think even my phone app is more accurate.....

Shame, really, as one of these things would really top off my watch selection... can't really call it a collection as I only have a few. Not even enough for a display case, but they're all Casios of some kind.
I understand. The watch is great for the altimeter, and the temperature is pretty accurate too, if you keep the watch on top of your wrist clothing, but I only ever use the compass as a rough guide. I never go onto the hills without a 'proper' compass. For years I used a 'Silva Expedition 4 Compass - 360', but now use a Silva Expedition 15 (now superseded by the the Expedition S).
Field maps are all on my Note10+ too, but always take a paper one. It's vital not to lose those map and compass skills, as phones / even watches can crash.
Casio produce some brilliant gear. The new Smart Protrek (above) is a beast. Only looks good in your collection when it's switched on, however. Mine runs on solar :)
Probably because of the price. I have the 5 Plus and will probably get the 6 when I can find one.
Yes, we had the tough call to cut the Fenix 6 because it starts at $600 and only goes up with the other models, and also to avoid having 3 Garmins on the list. We felt like we should feature something on the lower end of their catalog but still had good everyday functionality.
Why there is a watch listed, that doesn't have a GPS, when the title literally has GPS in it?
This is EDC.com. They do that sort of thing.
Bugger! How did we ever survive before digital mania started sending us into sewage ponds and ditches when all we had in olden times were maps, compasses, basic orientation skills and common bloody sense?
We survived precisely because digital mania *wasn't* around, sending us into ponds and ditches!!
I still want one, though...