GPS. GPS. GPS!
- A GPS watch is useful back up device should your primary navigation tool fail.
- Pick a watch that supports both GPS and GLOSNASS (the Russian Global Positioning Satellite system).
Choose A Rugged Watch
Square-jawed, heroic and able to shrug off even the hardest of knocks. That’s how tough any hiking watch should be.
The screen should be bulletproof. What I mean is tough enough to take some pretty hard knocks. It would be awesome if it could deflect actual bullets, but that’s not a high priority.
A metal bezel will resist the hard knocks more and look less worn than one made of plastic. If you see dents and scuff marks as symbol of your arduous adventures, go plastic.
Choose a watch with heavy duty spring bars – the pins that hold the straps in place. Thicker is better. Marine grade 316L stainless steel are amongst the most durable available.
Watch keeper strap will prevent your watch from falling off if a clasp snaps.
Unless you have a fetish for touching your watch every 5 seconds, avoid a touchscreen. It’s one more component that can go wrong.
If you’re going to extremes choose a watch with the best operating temperature.
Avoid prominent buttons, the big sticky-type type. They are easy to damage if you take tumble or scuff the watch against hard surfaces. Like mountains.
Check the strap rating. The figure will be in Newtons, the higher the better.
- You’re a hiker and you’ll be out in the extremes, places where an ordindary watch won’t cut it. Choose a hiking watch that will stand up to the hard knocks that come with your advenures.
- Go big on battery life, or go home. If you’re unable to charge your watch whilst hiking, don’t rely on it.
- Carry a fully charge ‘brick’ such as a PowerMonkey.
- Better still, pack a solar charging rig in your rucksack.
- Having support for the mainstream apps is a real positive.
- Even better, being able to store and listen to music on your watch reduces the amount of gear you carry.
To Map or Not To Map
Not so many years ago being able to download maps to your GPS unit was a big deal. Now this funtionality is common to most devics (unless, like me, you prefer Garmin’s eTrex 10).
- Ask yourself if you must have mapping on your watch. If the answer is no, save your pennies.
A Barometer Is Pretty Useful Too
- Always, always try to buy a watch with a barometer. Then learn how to understand the readgins.
A Heart Rate Monitor
- You don’t need an HRM on your hiking watch, but it is useful if you’re activity in other sports.