The watch that you currently wear in your day-to-day life may not be the best kind of watch to wear while you are out hiking. Even though you technically could use your everyday watch if you wanted to, there are certainly far better options with superior outdoor features to consider.
For example, some hiking watches have the ability to monitor your heart rate, GPS mapping, a longer battery life, superior durability, and so on.
Regardless of whether you’ll be hiking or camping or anything in the great outdoors, investing in a good hiking watch would be your best option.
This buyer’s guide will serve as an introduction to the best hiking watches under $100. Not only will we be going over the best makes and models, but also outlining and discussing the top features that you will need to look for.
What Should I Know Before Buying A Hiking Watch?
Anyone who has enough experience with hiking knows that you need a reliable watch that is up to the task.
In other words, you need a watch that can handle adverse weather conditions and tough terrain. While it might not seem possible, you can buy a hiking watch for less than $100.
The first thing you need to do is look at the build quality. The casing needs to be strong with the ability to withstand normal bumps and bruises. The strap should be made of high-quality, durable materials with a strong class. The glass face should be made out a Sapphire which is scratch resistant.
Other features to look for include an altimeter, barometer, thermometer, compass, water resistance, shockproof design, heart rate monitors, GPS, and a timer. Each of these can help you keep up with the elements and your location, while telling you how long you’ve been out and even help keep track of your physical status.
While there are plenty of hiking watches that cost well over $100, a hiking watch does not have to cost more than $100 to provide value. Plenty of hiking watches have all the features you need for less than $100.
Are you ready to see them?
The Top 5 Best Hiking Watches Under $100
|Lad Weather German Sensor Digital Outdoor Sports Watch|
|Casio Men’s Sports Multi Function Watch|
|Timex Expedition Shock Digital Compass Watch|
|Sunroad Smart Digital Sports Watch|
|Timex Expedition Grid Shock Watch|
1. LAD Weather German Sensor Digital Outdoor Sport Watch – Best Value
It is a multi-functional hiking watch that comes with an abundance of features.
Features such as an altimeter, digital compass, track mode, thermometer, barometer, alarm, timer, chronograph, dual timer mode, and a calendar. When compared to other hiking watches, this is one of the most feature-driven available under $100.
The display is easy to read with large letters and numbers. To save money, this watch uses a plastic lens instead of glass; this might make it more susceptible to scratching.
Finally, this watch is water resistant up to 30 meters/90 feet. And while this is good, it probably won’t survive a fall into a deep river.
- Seven Color Options
- Water Resistant Up To 30 Meters
- Dual Time Mode
- Thermometer, Altimeter, Track Model, Compass, Chronograph, Timer, Alarm, and Calendar included
2. Casio Sport Multi-Function Watch – Most Durable Budget Option
The outer case is built from a resin material to handle bumps and bruises. And the lens is made from a scratch-resistant mineral. Plus, it is waterproof up to one hundred meters.
The hands are very luminous/bright, making it easy to see in the dark. But, the display can be hard to read as the numbers are not very big. Also, this watch does not have a compass like some other hiking watches.
For someone on a budget, this is a great option. It’s built for the trails and ready for adventure. You will need to find a compass if that’s an important feature for you.
- Resin case built for durability.
- Mineral dial window for scratch protection.
- Water resistant up to 100 meters.
- Includes a thermometer, stopwatch, altimeter, and a barometer.
3. Timex Expedition Shock Digital Compass Watch – Best For Everyday Use
It’s a 48mm watch with a resin strap for superior durability. It’s also shockproof with a modern design that can be worn at most events without standing out. Plus, it has a large compass that is extremely easy to read.
The watch is water resistant up to 200 meters which would work well for scuba diving. However, this watch does lack some of the basic features that other models include.
Even so, this is a large-framed watch with a shockproof design that will handle all types of abuse.
- Water Resistant up to 200 Meters
- Resin Strap
- 48mm Watch Case
4. Sunroad Smart Digital Sports Watch – Best Multi-Functional Hiking Watch
It’s loaded with features like a built-in thermometer, a barometer, an altimeter, a compass, a pedometer, a stopwatch, and much more.
It is water resistant up to 100 meters so it can handle a little water. Plus, the watch lens is made from a scratch-resistant mineral glass.
It’s extremely durable with an ABS+ stainless steel case and scratch-resistant mineral glass. Plus, the nylon strap and hardware can handle years of abuse (wet or dry).
Unfortunately, the display is difficult to read, especially at night where the backlight is not as bright as other hiking watches. However, the watch makes up for this with all of the features and functions that have been packed in.
This watch is an outdoor enthusiast’s dream. The stainless steel case gives it the ability to withstand a fair amount of abuse without rusting over. This is an affordable hiking watch that was built for more than hiking; in fact, it could be used as an EDC watch too.
- Includes Compass, Stopwatch, Clock, Pedometer, Altimeter, Barometer, Log Record, Calendar, World Time, Thermometer
- Water Resistant To 100 Meters
- ABS Stainless Steel Case
- Nylon Strap
5. Timex Expedition Grid Shock Watch – Best Shockproof Watch
This watch is built from stainless steel with a fairly standard scratch-resistant lens. The square design does give it a change to snag on protruding edges, but it’s strong enough to take the hits. Plus, it is rust and water-resistant.
Unfortunately, this watch isn’t as feature-loaded as some of the other watches on our list leaving out a barometer, altimeter, and a compass.
However, this watch was built more for daily abuse. As such, this is one of the most shockproof hiking watches for under $100.
Overall, if you are abusive to your watches, this is a great buy. It comes with basic features such as an alarm, stopwatch, and timer, but excludes other features that are necessary for a hiking watch. If you do buy this watch, make sure that you have a spare compass handy when you go out.
- Unique, Rectangular Shape
- Stainless Steel Case
- Includes Countdown Timer, Alarm, and Stopwatch
- Water Resistant to 330 Feet
Things You Should Know Before Buying A Hiking Watch
What are the top qualities that you need to look for in a hiking watch? Here are the main factors to consider before buying a hiking watch.
While a hiking watch probably won’t be used for scuba diving, you might need it whenever it starts raining or you take a spill in a mud puddle. Most hiking watches have a minimum water resistance of 30 meters.
If your watch can’t survive a fall into a river or a lake, then you need a new watch. As a general rule, your watch should be water resistant up to 330 feet.
The easier it is to read your watch, the more you’ll enjoy it. So, make sure that the display is big, bright, and bold. If you hike at night, find a watch with a backlit display.
A display that’s hard to read can take your focus off what’s important – what’s in front of you. If you can’t see your display at night (or during the day), then find a new watch.
Besides the quality of the display being highly visible, you need a simple user interface as well. An easy to use interface will determine how often you end up wearing your watch.
Hiking watches need to be durable. If they are built from cheap plastic, they’ll crack under normal situations. Instead, find a watch that is built from a resin-type material or metal. Also, make sure that the lens is made from a scratch-resistance material too.
Features of Hiking Watches
Here are the primary features of hiking watches that you should know.
The altimeter allows you to measure your current altitude above sea level. This helps give you an accurate measurement of your location if the GPS signal is weak/non-existent.
Having a compass in your hiking watch is essential. Without a compass, it’s easy to get lost. If your watch doesn’t have a compass, you need to consider looking for another watch or carry an extra compass with you at all times.
A barometer measures atmospheric pressure. This helps you to plan for upcoming weather changes. Without this information, you might be left stranded during a major flood or storm.
It’s important to know how hot/cold it is outside. Without a thermometer, you could be facing unsafe temperatures and not even realize it. While not all hiking watches offer this, you should look for a watch that has this feature so you don’t get overheated.
The Best Hiking Watches Under $100 FAQs
Q. Can hiking smartwatches be used without a smartphone?
A. Some hiking smartwatches can be used without access to a smartphone. But, the watch might not function properly without access to a smartphone. Most hiking watches that are under $100 don’t work with a smartphone as this requires Bluetooth / WiFi / LTE access and this is fairly expensive.
Q. Should you use an analog or digital hiking watch?
A. Both will work just fine. It really comes down to your preference. Digital watches tend to be more accurate when compared to analog watches. Both will function the same but digital watches give a more precise visual reading. If you need exact numbers, then a digital hiking watch is the best option for you.
Q. Will cold weather affect the battery life of your hiking watch?
A. Cold weather will affect any battery, including your watch battery. The colder the battery gets, the less effective it will be. In order to offset this, you should keep your watch covered and close to a heat source. If you are concerned with battery life, you could also keep a spare battery with you during your hiking adventures.
Q. What is the best water resistance rating for a hiking watch?
A. Most hiking watches are capable of resisting water from 10 feet to 330+ feet. Most hiking enthusiasts will suggest that 90 feet is acceptable. However, if you can find a hiking watch that provides 330+ feet of water resistance, buy it as it can withstand longer periods under an accidental fall without being damaged.
Q. Does a hiking watch really need an altimeter?
A. An altimeter helps to identify how high you are above sea level. When you are hiking, this information is extremely useful for determining how far from the peak you are or to provide location information if you get lost/need help.
Q. Does a hiking watch really need a barometer?
A. While you’ve done the research beforehand, the weather can change in a moment. A barometer keeps up with atmospheric pressure and lets you monitor those changes as they occur.
While you might not see any “bad weather” approaching, the barometer might tell you otherwise. Knowing what the weather is about to do can mean the difference between spending a few nights stuck in a cave and sleeping in your bed.
Our Final Take
Finding a high-quality, durable hiking watch for under $100 seems impossible. But, as we’ve shown, they do exist. Knowing which features you want and need helps to narrow down your search dramatically.
Primarily, we suggest that you look for hiking watchings with a compass, an altimeter, a barometer, and a water resistance rating of 100+ meters.
Our list of hiking watches are all great choices. Selecting just one is almost impossible – almost. In the end, we liked the Sunroad Smart Digital watch as it was the most feature-loaded and built for years of abuse.
Ultimately, knowing what to look for in your next hiking watch can help you make the right purchasing decision, especially being limited to an $100 budget.
With all the information we’ve given you, you should easily be able to find the perfect hiking watch for you that’s less than $100.