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Do GPS Watches Have Maps?

Do GPS Watches Have Maps?

Due to advances in technology, watches have become a lot more than accessories. For instance, GPS watches come packed with several features that make it easy to track performance in activities such as running, swimming, walking, hiking, and even biking. But besides their undoubted versatility, do GPS watches have maps?

Advanced GPS watches do have maps that help in navigation. These watches contain GPS receivers that track satellites to transmit signals and determine location. GPS receivers enable GPS watches to determine positioning in reference to satellites, making it possible to display location through an on screen map display.

In this read, we will shed more light on GPS watches and their various features. We’ll also discuss some of the best GPS watches in the market, helping you to get a product that suits your preferences.

How Do GPS Watches Work?

Similar to phones, GPS watches use signals received from satellites to determine accurate locations. The built-in GPS receivers track satellites and consequently transmit signals to determine the user’s location. Due to the data obtained from the satellites, receivers enable GPS watches to track distance and also provide speed statistics.

Factors to Consider When Buying GPS Watches

Technology has played a pivotal role in the development of GPS watches in recent years. Besides telling the time, basic GPS watches offer three main features, which include checking on pace, distance, and duration.

In recent years, however, GPS watches have become more superior. So before buying one, be sure to check on the following features.

Motion Sensor

Most GPS watches contain motion sensors that help to measure your steps when walking or running. Therefore, with GPS watches, you can easily analyze your performance when jogging, walking, or running, ensuring that you’re effective enough during workouts.

Maps and Breadcrumb Routes

GPS will help you determine basic features such as pace, time, and how far you’ve managed to hike. A good GPS watch should have ABC sensors (altimeter, barometer, and compass) that help in navigation and forecast potential changes in weather.

More advanced watches usually have breadcrumb routes and maps that show surrounding paths. With such features, you can easily program your preferred waypoints, which allows the watch to guide you throughout the hike, walk, or run.

Waterproof Ability

Although not all GPS watches are waterproof, having one that can withstand extreme conditions can come in handy. Waterproof GPS watches are highly versatile and can be used when swimming and even during hikes.

With a waterproof GPS watch, you won’t have to worry about using it in adverse conditions when out on walks, hikes, or when swimming. And since GPS watches don’t come on the cheap, buying a waterproof watch gives you peace of mind that it won’t malfunction when submerged in water or in case you get rained on during hikes.

Battery Life

GPS consumes loads of battery power. Therefore, although you may turn off the GPS to conserve your battery, you should choose a GPS watch with superior battery performance with GPS on. Purchasing a GPS watch with long battery life means you won’t have to turn GPS off all the time.

Some high-end GPS watches have extended battery life, lasting up to an incredible 24 hours when in GPS mode. But to acquire these high performing watches, you’ll need to part with a considerable amount since they don’t come cheap.

Best GPS Watches With Maps

Here are the best GPS watches on the market:

Garmin Fenix 5X Sapphire

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The Garmin Fenix 5X Sapphire boasts a rugged design that makes it ideal for outdoor activities. It features a stainless steel bezel and rear case, and this superior GPS watch has built-in navigation sensors with Glonass and GPS capability to help out in navigation. 

The presence of a gyroscope, barometric altimeter, and a three-axis compass help to improve tracking in challenging environments; this high-performing GPS watch comes with Topo U.S. Mapping (full color). This also comes with outdoor navigation features like routable cycling maps that provide better guidance during outdoor activities. 


You can also take advantage of the preloaded run profiles such as trail running and treadmill running that help keep essential stats at your fingertips.

Extra features like automatic upload to Garmin online fitness community, extended battery life, and smart notifications make this superior GPS watch worth every coin. You’ll also love that the Fenix 5X is waterproof for up to 100 meters, ensuring your device is well protected from accidental submersion in water and rain.

Suunto Traverse

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The Suunto Traverse uses both Glonass and GPS navigation systems that help you to explore foreign terrains. This high-quality GPS watch provides both altitude and distance statistics to increase efficiency, which helps you retrace steps through the breadcrumb trail and even save points of interest.


This GPS watch has a pre-installed barometric trend that helps you to predict changes in weather while the storm alarm lets you know when it’s time to seek shelter. You can also create an account on the Suunto Movescount App, which will allow you to discover new routes and track your daily, weekly, monthly, or even yearly steps and calories. 

This GPS watch can be integrated with your smartphone and receive calls as well as other notifications.

Coros Apex Premium Multisport GPS Watch

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Besides its efficiency, the Coros Apex GPS Watch has a classy alloy bezel finish with quality sapphire glass. This GPS watch has superior battery performance and life, lasting an impressive 35 hours when in full GPS mode. 

The presence of a built-in heart monitor allows you to follow up on your vitals during a workout. Other built-in features that improve navigation accuracy include the altimeter, compass, and barometer. 


If you’re an outdoor enthusiast who is keen on discovering new routes, then you’ll love the watch’s compatibility with GLONASS, GPS, and BDS satellites. You can also upload your data to third party platforms like TrainingPeaks, Strava, Runalyze, and Final Surge.

Garmin Forerunner Premium 945

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The Garmin Forerunner Premium 945 is a game-changing GPS watch that allows you to leave your phone at home. This smartwatch can download songs from apps like Deezer, Spotify, and Amazon Music (you might have to pay to subscribe to third party music applications).

This superior watch is designed to monitor training status since it collects crucial data on recovery time, training load focus, attitude acclimation status, heat, anaerobic, and aerobic training effects. The availability of crucial stats makes this watch a must-have for athletes or outdoor enthusiasts looking for convenience and efficiency in one product.

You’ll also love the tracking and safety features, including incident detection (during specific activities). Incident detection allows the watch to send your location to emergency contacts by linking to your compatible smartphone.


In smartwatch mode, the battery can last for up to 2 weeks. However, when on GPS mode, this watch manages 10 hours of functionality. The presence of full-color maps ensures that you know the exact routes you’re following and the distance from major structures such as buildings and forests.

You can also use the Forerunner GPS watch to pay. That is, by creating a Garmin Pay account, you can make purchases directly through your phone without needing to carry cash. However, this feature is only available for supported cards, meaning you’ll need to research beforehand to determine whether your bank supports the Garmin Pay contactless solution.

Closing Thoughts

Modern GPS watches are changing the role and functionality of watches. Advanced smartwatches come packed with several features that enhance convenience, allowing you to leave handy devices like smartphones at home.

Budget GPS watches might not reveal intricate navigation details or come with advanced features like their high-end counterparts. Due to this, it is crucial to consider your needs before settling for a particular brand.

Although some GPS watches have superior battery life, you should use the GPS functionality only when needed to ensure that you prolong your battery life and performance.


Up Next In GPS Watches:

Garmin Forerunner 735xt Review for Trail Runners

Garmin Instinct Review: Features and Performance After 60 Days

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