The 9 Best Watches for Orienteering

best watches for orienteering

The best watches for orienteering have a specific set of requirements. The most necessary element is effective GPS tracking for your orienteering needs. It should be durable, water-resistant, have a good battery life, and include features like an altimeter, a compass, and a heart rate tracker.

Every outdoor enthusiast needs to be well prepared for whatever adventure awaits them. Smartwatches are a modern accessory that can be perfect for these situations. There are so many great options available in the market that it could overwhelm the average buyer.

In this article, we will review the 9 best watches for orienteering in the market right now. Towards the end of the article, we will also look at the things you need to consider when buying a smartwatch for outdoor navigation. Let’s begin!

The 9 best watches for orienteering:

1. Polar Grit X

 

The Polar Grit X is the first watch on our list and it stands out thanks to its elegant minimalistic design with plenty of features. It is perhaps one of the best watches for orienteering in the market right now. It is incredibly lightweight (just 64 grams) and the build is pretty sturdy (featuring a military-grade MIL-STD-810G sturdiness), meaning the watch will be durable as well.

The Polar Grit X features everything that you would expect of an outdoor multisport orienteering watch. First and foremost, it features a built-in GPS and Barometer. The built-in compass and altimeter can also come handy. You can also use Komoot to plan a route and then load it into this watch, which can be a handy feature.

In its training mode, the Polar Grit X features a 40h battery life. This is already sufficiently for an orienteering watch. But the training mode consists of a GPS and a wrist-based heart rate, which can drain the battery a bit. In its default ‘watch mode’, the Polar Grit X can last a full week after a full charge. The watch is also water-resistant up to 100m.  

Other features include weather forecast, FuelWise fueling assistant (helping you monitor your carbs and fluid intake), and Hill Splitter (for smart detection of uphill and downhill travel). 

Specs / Features:

  • Weight: 64 grams
  • Water Resistance: Up to 100m
  • Battery Life: 40h (Training Mode) & 7 days (Watch Mode)

 

2. Coros Vertix

 

The Coros Vertix is a beautiful looking watch with a titanium bezel, sapphire glass, and a sturdy fiber body. One of the most distinguishing features of this watch is its unparalleled battery life. In regular mode, the battery can last you up to 45 days. What’s even more impressive is its incredible 60-hour battery life in full GPS mode.

The watch also features a mode called UltraMax with reduced GPS tracking, which can extend the battery life up to 150 hours.

The premium design is backed by a sturdy and durable build that can withstand the toughest environments. The watch also features 24/7 blood oxygen monitoring to help determine your level of acclimation in a new altitude.

Navigation wise, this watch is near perfect. With accurate tracking and a system that lets you zoom in and out using the digital knob, the Coros Vertix is the perfect companion for any outdoor adventure.

Specs / Features:

  • Weight: 54g
  • Water Resistance: Up to 150m
  • Battery Life: 60 hours (full GPS mode); 150 hours (UltraMax mode); 45 days (Smartwatch mode)

 

3. Suunto Traverse Alpha

 

The Suunto Traverse Alpha features a rugged exterior with a MIL-STD 819G military standard build that can withstand the harshest environmental conditions. This can easily be considered an outdoor enthusiast’s dream watch.

The watch is even compatible with night-vision goggles, in which case it uses a red backlight to help you avoid detection. It also features a handy flashlight that can illuminate your surroundings.

In terms of orienteering, the Suunto Traverse Alpha is one of the best watches in the market. It features a GPS/GLONASS system that can accurately track your location and help you plan routes through the toughest of environments.

You can even plan your routes in advance using topographic maps displayed right in the watch. The built-in barometric altimeter can accurately measure and keep track of your ascent during your trips to the mountains.

A cool and standout feature of this watch is its built-in tool for hunting and fishing. The watch’s automatic shot detection technology can assist you in your hunting trips by keeping a detailed log of the time and location of your shots so that you can use it later. The watch can also help you by helping you locate places that are popular for hunting and fishing.

The location-based moon calendar can also come handy when planning hunting and fishing trips. The Suunto Traverse Alpha is the perfect companion for your outdoor trips and adventures.

Specs / Features:

  • Weight: 75 grams
  • Water Resistance: Up to 100m
  • Battery Life: 10h (full GPS mode); can be extended up to 100h (w, limited GPS features); 14 days in smartwatch mode.

 

4. Amazfit T-Rex

 

The Amazfit T-Rex is perhaps one of the coolest looking watches on our list. Its military-style design and build are meant to last even in the toughest and roughest environments.

The watch can stand extreme temperatures like the cold of up to -40°F/°C and heat of up to 150°F (65.5°C). Furthermore, it can withstand humid environments for up to 240 hours and it is rated waterproof up to 50m. And the watch is pretty light at just 58 grams.

The watch is available in five different colors: Gun Gray, Army Green, Rock Black, Khaki & Gamo Green. It comes with a 1.3 inch AMOLED screen with an all-day display (it will automatically display the most vital information upon raising your arm).

On the orienteering side, the watch features a high-end Sony GPS chip and a dual-satellite positioning system that greatly boosts its signal efficiency, helping you track yourself faster in both the city and the wilderness.

It also has 14 different professional exercise modes built into it (including trail running, mountain climbing, swimming, outdoor trekking, etc.), making the Amazfit T-Rex truly an all-purpose orienteering watch.

Other features include a heartbeat sensor, notifications from your favorite mobile apps, the weather forecast for up to 7 days, and an amazing battery life that lasts 4 hours with the GPS on and up to 20 days in regular mode!

Specs / Features:

  • Weight: 58 grams
  • Water Resistance: Up to 50m
  • Battery Life: Up to 20 days

 

5. Garmin Instinct Solar

 

The Garmin Instinct Solar smartwatch is an interesting addition to our list. It features a solar battery that can greatly improve battery life when exposed to the sun. The design is rugged (with a Military standard 810 build) capable of withstanding exposure to heat/cold, shock, or water, making it perfect for the outdoors.

In terms of orienteering, it features a multi-GNSS support system, meaning it has access to multiple global navigation satellite systems: GPS, GLONASS, and Galileo. This helps it track your location and help you navigate even the most challenging of environments. It also comes with a built-in 3-axis compass and a barometer to help you in your navigations.

The Garmin Instinct Solar also features a heart rate monitor that estimates your heart rate based on the pulse in your hands. Furthermore, it features a special tool called the Pulse Ox that throws light beams into your wrist to determine how well your body is absorbing oxygen. This is a very important tool for hiking, especially at high altitudes, to measure your level of altitude acclimation.

Another great tool is the Body Battery energy monitor, which can tell you how efficiently your body is using its energy by measuring your sleep, stress, and heart rate. This watch also comes with a range of pre-installed sports apps, aiding you in activities such as swimming, hiking, running, biking, rowing, etc. The Garmin Instinct Solar is truly a great watch for any outdoor enthusiast.

Specs / Features:

  • Weight: 158g
  • Water Resistance: Up to 100m
  • Battery Life: Up to 38 hours (GPS trainer mode); 24-54 days in smartwatch mode (depending on sunlight exposure)

 

6. Garmin Forerunner 235

 

The Garmin Forerunner 235 is commonly referred to as “an entry-level fancy GPS watch.” This is due to the perfect blend of affordability and features that it offers. Design-wise, the Garmin Forerunner 235 isn’t as sturdy as the other entries in our list, but it is pretty well built for the price. The design is pretty elegant looking and the watch is easy to operate.

The GPS tracker helps you track things like your distance. However, this watch lacks some basic features like a compass or altimeter that are crucial for outdoor adventures. It can still be a pretty good companion for hikes in non-remote locations.

The Garmin Forerunner 225 has plenty of other interesting features. The smart notifications feature helps you keep easy track of your email, social media, and calls. The VO2 Max Estimate helps you keep track of your oxygen usage.

And the watch also features a weather widget and an activity tracker. The battery life of this watch is also pretty decent. A full charge in smartwatch mode will last you 9 days. In GPS mode, it will last you a respectable 11 hours.

While the Garmin Forerunner 235 may not be the best choice for orienteering in adventurous trips, it is an affordable smartwatch that can be useful in most situations. The main reason we’ve featured this watch on this list is because of its unmatchable price.

Specs / Features:

  • Weight: 42g
  • Water Resistance: Up to 50m
  • Battery Life: 11 hours (GPS mode); 9 days (Smartwatch mode)

 

7. Apple Watch Nike+ GPS

 

Apple watches are one of the most popular smartwatches in the market. And they’ve collaborated with one of the most popular sports brands, Nike, to create one of the best watches for orienteering in the market. The Series 3 (GPS) Apple Watch Nike can be a great watch for beginner outdoor enthusiasts.

More info at apple.com

The Series 3 (GPS) is available in two form factors: One with a 38mm display and another with a 42mm display. The watch features GPS/GNSS to meet your orienteering needs. It also features all the necessary features of an outdoor watch, including a barometric altimeter, an accelerometer, and an optical heart sensor.

The Series 3 (GPS) has a more expensive alternative as well.

Specs / Features:

  • Case Weight: 26.7g (38 mm) & 32.3g (42mm)
  • Water Resistance: Up to 50m
  • Battery Life: Up to 18 hours (w. GPS)

 

8. Suunto 9

 

The Suunto 9 GPS Sports Watch is another elegant looking entry on our list. But don’t let it’s pretty exterior fool you. This is a pretty sturdy watch, perfect for the outdoors. It is waterproof and features a touchscreen.

The battery life of the Suunto 9 GPS sports watch is one of its strong points. The energy usage is very customizable (featuring multiple modes: Performance, Endurance, and Ultra) and the battery life can be extended up to 120 hours!

In terms of orienteering, the watch features an accurate GPS to help you find your location and navigate extreme terrains. One cool feature regarding the GPS is that it is FusedTrack Sensor Assisted. What this does is it uses the watch’s movement sensors to automatically limit and extend the GPS feature of the watch, which can be a great aid in extending battery life.

The Sports mode of the Suunto 9 features an expert tool to help you through more than 80 sports, including swimming, hiking, biking, running, etc. The watch can display training summaries for your training sessions, helping you keep track of your short-term and long-term progress. You can also use the Suunto app to help you plan your routes based on the heatmaps of popular routes across the world.

Other features of the Suunto 9 include heart rate monitoring, sleep monitoring (sleep duration and average heart rate during sleep), and sunrise/sunset times.

Specs / Features:

  • Weight: 79g
  • Water Resistance: Up to 100m
  • Battery Life: Up to 120 hours (featuring Intelligent Battery Mode)

 

9. Polar V800

 

The Polar V800 is the last entry on our list. It is a sports watch that is particularly catered to professional athletes. It features an advanced training tool that automatically gathers and manages your data to help you keep track of your progress.

The built-in GPS is accurate and the barometer can help you keep track of your altitudes. The watch also features an advanced heart rate monitor featuring a Polar H7 heart sensor for accurate measurement. This sensor works when you’re working out or swimming.

The Polar V800 is more suited for you if you’re more of an athlete. It can be used for orienteering during hikes like all the other watches, but it works best for athletic training.    

Specs / Features:

  • Weight: 80g
  • Water Resistance: Up to 30m
  • Battery Life: 13 hours (full GPS mode); 30 days (Smartwatch mode)

 

How to Choose an Orienteering Watch

We’ve just finished reviewing the 10 best smartwatches for orienteering in the market right now. Before you select one for yourself, there are a few factors other than the navigational features of the watch that you need to be mindful of. We will explore these factors in this section.

The Price

The price of the watch is an important factor to consider. Before judging a smartwatch based on its price, you have to ask yourself what you intend to use it for and how often you intend to use it. Adding a few hundred bucks for a top-class smartwatch can be a good investment choice if you intend to use the watch very often. Or else, you can just go for a more affordable option.

The Battery Life

Unlike regular watches that can last for years with a single button battery, smartwatches require regular charging like mobile phones. Some of the watches in the market offer better battery life than others. They may be more expensive, but it could be a good investment if you’re the type that spends extended periods of time off-grid. You wouldn’t want to be constantly worried about your watch dying on you. 

The Size & Weight

The size of the display often determines the overall weight of the watch. While bigger watches are clearly better for navigation, they can feel a big weighty on your hand. Once again, you need to be well aware of what you intend to use the watch for when deciding on this factor.   

Closing Thoughts

We reviewed 10 different smartwatches in this article, featuring brands such as Suunto, Polar, Apple, and Garmin. Each of these watches has its own specialties, so the buyer needs to be well aware of his/her requirements before buying the watch.

Things like a good GPS tracking system, a long battery life, a durable build, and training apps are a must-have in any good outdoor smartwatch.

 

Up Next In GPS Watches:

Garmin Forerunner 735xt Review for Trail Runners

Garmin Instinct Review: Features and Performance After 60 Days

Do GPS Watches Have Maps?

Best GPS Watch for Trail Running & Ultramarathon Races

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