The Best GPS Watches

The watches in this test were used over three months while rock climbing, mountaineering, hiking, kayaking, and standup paddleboarding all over the Northeast and the Pacific Northwest. Our testing pool comprised of climbing guides, long distance fast-packers, and recreational hikers & climbers. Tests included long alpine rock climbs, hundreds of miles of hiking, countless hours on and in the water in kayaks & on paddleboards, and for one lucky tester, successful climbs of Mt. Baker and Mt. Shuksan. The watches were rated on durability, ease of use, comfort, features, and connectivity.

Review Year
Best in Class
Overall Rating
Price
Name Overall Rating Ratings The Good The Bad Price
Garmin Fenix 3 HR
90
Best in Class
2016
Durability 9
Ease of Use 8
Comfort 7
Features 9
Connectivity 7

Excellent durability

Diverse customization

Optical HR sensor

Slight learning curve

Advanced setup needed

Some connectivity issues

MSRP
$599.99
BEST DEAL
Suunto Ambit3 Vertical Blue HR
88
Durability 7
Ease of Use 8
Comfort 9
Features 8
Connectivity 6

Optional heart rate monitor

Most comfortable in test

Vertical profiling shows progress

Vibration alerts

Syncing issues with Movescount app

Average battery life

MSRP
$519.00
BEST DEAL
Suunto Traverse Alpha Foliage
86
Durability 9
Ease of Use 8
Comfort 6
Features 7
Connectivity 6

Most durable in test

Tactical features

Hunting/Fishing navigational aids

Syncing issues with Movescount app

Average battery life

MSRP
$569.00
BEST DEAL
Suunto Traverse Amber
86
Durability 7
Ease of Use 9
Comfort 8
Features 6
Connectivity 6

Most intuitive/simple in test

Fastest location fix in test

Movescount App

Limited feature set

Average battery life

MSRP
$469.99
BEST DEAL
N/A
Garmin Fenix 3 HR

The Garmin Fenix 3 HR is a strong contender in the category of GPS enabled watches that include navigational components like waypoint saving and course setting. With the longest battery life of the models we tested and a seemingly endless amount of customization this multi-sport activity tracking watch really impressed our testers.

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