Rick is a former news reporter who decided that the corporate world wasn't for him and took off to travel the world. He's been to every continent (yes, even Antarctica!) and has tried out a multitude of outdoor gear along the way. From tents to hiking boots, he's probably tested it all. Now, he's one of our full-time product testers and experts.
Bryan is one of our leading experts since he's got a vast expertise in practically everything connected to the outdoors. He's been hiking since he was a young boy, was an organizer of kayaking tours which later led to another passion of his - kayak fishing. Now, he's a part-time expert consultant involved in our multiple product tests and topic research.
Last updated: February 24, 2022
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Spending time in the great outdoors is one of the best hobbies anyone could possibly have. It allows you to unplug, recharge, and get away from it all. Of course, if you an avid hiker, you probably don’t want to completely unplug. It is handy to have a GPS, altimeter, and a compass. The problem with carrying all of that gear, however, is that it can really weigh you down on the trail. Thankfully, if you get the best hiking watch under $100, you can carry all of these essentials right on your wrist.
Now, not all hiking watches are the exact same. When we were putting together our list, we took lots of different factors into account. We first looked at the case features, since it determines how easy the watch is to use. Next, we looked at the various in-built functions such as a chronograph, compass, and distance measurement. Finally, we looked at the maximum depth that each watch could be submerged since you might want to wear it while you swim.
We spent tens of hours looking through hundreds of user reviews to compile our comprehensive list. Once we had our list finalized, we took the time to do detailed reviews for each watch. Of course, if you aren’t quite reading to select the best hiking watch under $100, then be sure to read through our detailed buying guide, as this will give you all the information you need to find the perfect watch for your needs.
More features: 10-year battery life; World Time in 29 times zones, 48 cities + UTC
Casio has long been one of the leading brands in the world of watches, so it is not a big surprise that this one is such a quality product. To start off with, it is incredibly durable. The face is far inset, which makes it highly resistant to getting scratched on rocks or trees as you are hiking. While this does limit the size of the display, the combination of analog and digital displays makes it quite simple to read.
Another factor in the extreme durability of this watch is how water resistant it is. It can be fully submerged all the way up to a depth of 655 feet. That makes it utterly impervious to pretty much any level of moisture that you are going to meet on the trail, so you can rest assured that it will keep working even if you get caught in a rainstorm.
The battery life is also a big positive with this watch. Not only do you not need to worry about recharging it at all, but the battery will last up to ten years. Even once you need to change the battery out, it isn’t that expensive, making this watch a great value as well.
One of the things that are a downside for a lot of durable watches is that they don’t have a comfortable band. That is, thankfully, not the case with this watch, as the band is simply one of the most comfortable on the market today. The only real negative for this watch is that the backlight isn’t very bright, but at the end of the day, it isn’t enough to take this out of the equation as possibly the best hiking watch under $100.
Hiking is a great way to get out and experience the natural world. Unfortunately, this sometimes can lead to getting lost. This is especially true if you go to a new area to hike. The very best way to get out of this sort of a situation is to be able to find your bearings and head in the right direction. No tool makes this easier than a compass, which is exactly what this watch has built right in. As long as you calibrate it right before you set off on your journey, this compass will always point you in the right direction.
However, that is not the only feature that this watch can offer you. It also has an altimeter to let you know what your altitude is on your hike. This too has to be calibrated often, but it is very accurate once it has been set up.
Another great feature that this watch offers is a barometer. While this isn’t an essential function, it sure can come in handy, especially on longer hiking trips. A barometer will let you know about any atmospheric changes that may occur while you are hiking. These changes can lead to stormy weather, and the barometer will give you a head’s up that bad weather is coming so you don’t get caught in a storm.
The screen on this watch is very easy to read. Just make sure that you aren’t too rough with it, as it is not the most durable watch that has ever been produced.
More features: resin sports strap; optional hourly signal; auto calendar (pre-programmed until 2039)
Odds are, you have seen this watch model sometime in your lifetime. It is a classic design that hasn’t been changed for a good long time, and for good reason. It is a very straightforward and simple to use. The calendar that it comes with is very similar to the design of the watch in that it will not to be changed for years. In fact, it has been pre-programmed until 2039, making it highly accurate.
This is also a very comfortable and lightweight watch. The resin sports strap is made to stretch along with you as you flex your hand and bend your wrist. This flexible nature makes it an excellent fit for strenuous hiking. Its small face fits comfortably on pretty much everyone’s wrist, though it can be hard to read sometimes.
As you would expect from a company like Casio, this watch is very durably made. The face is practically indestructible, which makes it a perfect companion on any hiking trip. The watch itself is also shock resistant, so you won’t need to worry about it getting damaged on your journeys. Just make sure you adjust the time at home, as the button is tiny and hard to reach.
Perhaps the best feature of this watch is how water resistant it is. It can be taken down under the water up to and including 660 feet. This resistance depth guarantees that you won’t need to worry about any water damage even in the face of a torrential downpour.
More features: daylight saving on/off; full auto-calendar (pre-programmed until the year 2099)
If you are planning on doing some extremely strenuous hiking over rough terrain, then you are going to want to get an extremely durable watch. This model from Casio fits the bill nicely. To start with, it has an oversized bezel which serves to protect the face from suffering any damage. The metal frame provides extra protection, so you don’t need to worry about this watching breaking even if you accidentally hit it against the terrain you are hiking through.
Of course, this oversized case might make this watch uncomfortable for some wearers, so be sure that you don’t mind a larger than average watch before you make your final decision. It is also on the heavy side as well. Apparently, another significant benefit to a larger than average face is that it is very easy to read. No matter which way you look at the display on this watch, you shouldn’t have a tough time reading it.
As you expect with a Casio, this watch is made to go deep down under the water without suffering any lasting effects. If you do plan on getting this watch wet, however, you might want to get a different strap. Unfortunately, when the band is wet it is quite abrasive, which is less than ideal for wearing on an extended hike.
More features: up to 10-year battery life; 5-button access to the stopwatch memory
If you are in the market for a watch that you can wear all year long, then this is a great option. The band is one of the most adjustable ones available, making it perfect for use in every type of weather. It can be made nice and short in the warmer months so that it fits snugly on your bare wrist. In the colder months, when you have lots of extra layers on it can be made to fit over your clothes, so you don’t need to expose any skin to check the time, which is the last thing you want to do on a cold weather hike. Just be careful that you don’t overtax the clasp, as it isn’t the most durable.
Unlike lots of other models, this watch is quite slim. This smaller design makes it a lot less cumbersome to wear for an extended period of time. It is also very lightweight. This watch should remain comfortable even in the heat of summer thanks to its small size.
Since it is such a small watch, it isn’t all that big of a surprise that it has a long battery life. Even if you use the stopwatch and chronograph regularly, you should expect the battery to last at least ten years, if not longer. One of the reasons for this long battery life is that the backlight is not very bright, and doesn’t stay lit for long. While this isn’t the biggest deal, and it is understood that the designers were trying to save battery life with this detail, it does make it hard to set alarms in darker conditions.
More features: backlight functions; two-zone LCD display with day, date, time, and seconds
Hiking watches can get quite expensive. Thankfully, you don’t need to spend a ton of money to get a quality product. This watch, for example, is a great bargain priced model that still has plenty of value. To start with, it has one of the brightest backlights available. While other watches make it tough to read them in the dark, this watch makes it super simple to check the time, date, or lap time no matter how bright it is outside.
Of course, as you would expect with a cheaper watch, there are some issues that you will need to keep in mind. First off, even though the display is nice and bright, it still can be a challenge to read. The numbers are compressed on the face, which makes it difficult to read that at a glance.
Something else that you need to keep in mind with this watch is that, even though it is labeled as if it has a compass, it does not. The directional markings on the bezel are just for show. They will not, in fact, assist you in determining the direction you need to go while you are hiking, so keep that in mind before you make your final decision.
Aside from those minor issues, this is still a high-quality watch. It is lightweight, has a large lap memory, and is completely water resistant up to 330 feet. It would be a great, cheap option for you to use on your next hiking adventure.
More features: Indiglo backlight; resin band; shock resistant
One common feature amongst hiking watches are smaller sized displays that have tons of functions but are somewhat difficult to read. This is, luckily, not the case with this watch. The display is clear, large, and concise. There are not of extra bells and whistles to distract you from the most essential information, such as the date and the time. Even in lower light situations, this is an easy watch to read no matter what angle you look at it from.
The watch itself is very lightweight. It comes with a stretchy resin band that is comfortable in all types of weather. This type of band is designed to keep your wrist cooler in warm weather, making it an ideal option for hot summer day hikes. The case is relatively large and has a stainless steel top plate for added durability, which gives it a high level of impact and shock resistance.
While the watch body is water resistant up to 330 feet and pretty durable, the glass for the face is not. It is easy to scratch, so much so that it would be a good idea to get a face cover for added protection. While the Timex Expedition is obviously not very expensive, it will add a bit more to the overall purchase price, so keep that in mind.
Why did it make our list?
Stainless steel top plate for added durability
Water resistant up to 330 feet
Very easy to read
What is not ideal about it?
Chosen by 3746 people in the past 30 days
Based onweb analytics
Features & Benefits
Best Hiking Watch for Measuring Distance under $100
More features: 3D sensor for counting steps and calories burned; smartphone compatible via Bluetooth 4.0
Smart watches are a great way to get a lot more out of your watch than just the time and date. This model, for instance, can connect to your smartphone through the free app. This will allow you to keep track of all sorts of fitness data. The most important set of data, at least as far as hiking is concerned, however, is the distance that you walked. Utilizing this feature, you will better be able to navigate based on the landmarks and checkpoints that you figured out before you set out on your hike. It is a shame that it doesn’t have a compass as well, since then you really would be set to do some exploring in the great outdoors.
The free app that you can download for use with this watch is very intuitive and simple to use. Not only will it allow you to measure your distance, but you can also set alarms on your watch, set it so that you can be notified on your watch if you are receiving a call, and much more. One of the coolest features that the app can offer is that it will allow you to use your watch to take pictures with your camera remotely.
Of course, even smartwatches have their issues, and this one is no different. It is pretty heavy and has a shorter battery life, which is to be expected of a watch that uses all of the various functions possible. It is also not overly water resistant, so it wouldn’t be a good watch for use when you are swimming, though it is definitely waterproof enough to withstand a little bit of rain.
More features: night light; scratch-resistant mineral glass
This watch from Timex is a bit of a throwback to designs from years and years ago. It has a classic look that is both fashionable and functional, though the display can be difficult to read sometimes because it is so full. Don’t let the stylish design fool you, however, as this watch is quite durable. The face, for instance, is made to be completely scratch resistant, which makes it an excellent option for hiking.
The strap that comes with this watch is genuine leather. Leather is a great choice for the band, thanks to its durability. There will be a breaking in period, however. During this period of time, the watch will probably not feel all that comfortable. It shouldn’t take too long, however, before it starts to break in and feel a bit more supple and flexible on your wrist. Once it is done breaking in, it will conform to your wrist and become extraordinarily comfortable.
One thing that you will want to keep in mind when it comes to the strap is making sure that it doesn’t get wet. While the watch itself is water resistant up to 330 feet, the band is not made for water. Since it is leather, it will warp if it is exposed to water for too long of a time. This could make it brittle or simply uncomfortable to wear. If you think that you are going to be getting wet on your hike, you might want to spend a bit more money and get a replacement band.
What do we love it for?
Classic design – very stylish
Water resistant up to 330 feet
Long chronograph limit
What were we disappointed with?
Leather strap needs to be broken in
Strap may warp in water
Things to Consider
In this section, we will go through everything that you need to know to find the best hiking watch under $100. We will also answer several FAQ that you might have.
Why do you need a watch for hiking
There is a ton of reasons why you should try to get a good hiking watch. First off, obviously, is the fact that it can tell you the time of day. This will let you know how much longer you should be hiking, or how much daylight you have to reach certain landmarks. Since this is the primary function of any watch, make sure you get one that is easy to read.
The second helpful feature that a hiking watch can offer you is a barometer. This will allow you to make an accurate guess as to what kind of weather you will be experiencing during your hike. This is essential information, especially if you are backpacking far into the wilderness. It will help you to keep from getting caught in any nasty weather while you are well away from your campsite.
Some other features that a hiking watch can provide you with are an altimeter and a compass. The altimeter will let you know how high you have climbed on your hike, while assisting you in keeping your bearings as you hike along your route. If you feel like paying a bit more, you can also get a hiking watch with a built-in GPS, which is even more effective at keeping you on the trail without losing your way.
Features to consider while choosing a hiking watch
As you can imagine, there are lots of different criteria that you need to keep in mind when you are looking for the best hiking watch under $100. In this section, we will go through everything that you need to know to make sure you get your hands on the best watch for your needs.
When you are looking for a watch, you need to keep in mind how large of a case you are comfortable with. Everyone has their own preference as to what the correct size case should be, so there is no right or wrong answer. Watches for men tend to be larger than those for women, so bear that in mind before you buy.
Something else that will affect the size of the case on the watch is the number of features that are built-in. For instance, if you are going with a relatively straightforward design with limited features, you can probably get by with a smaller watch case. On the other hand, if you are looking to have as many special features as possible, you need a larger watch to handle them all.
Much like the size of the case, the type of strap you use is very much up to your personal taste. The great thing about watches is that you can always swap out straps if you don’t like the one that initially comes with the watch.
Of course, it is much more cost effective to find a watch that has a strap that you already like to wear. You will also want to make certain that the strap is durable since you are probably going to put this watch through some rough use. Finally, the strap should be comfortable. Nothing is going to limit the effectiveness of your hiking watch more than you not liking to wear it because the strap doesn’t fit perfectly.
By getting a watch that is water resistant, you will be able to make sure that the watch won’t fail you if you get it a little bit wet. This is sure to happen while you are hiking since the odds of getting wet are pretty high on the trail.
The water resistance of a watch is rated by how deep down you can take it underwater. The higher the number, the more water resistant the watch is. The Casio G-shock DW5600E-1V, for instance, is protected against water all the way up to 660 feet deep. That makes it practically waterproof against regular hiking incidents, such as slipping into a stream or getting caught in a rainstorm.
A large number of people like to time themselves when they are exercising. It allows them to keep a close eye on how long it takes them to complete a workout, or how long they have to keep it up. The same can be said for hiking as well, which is why having a timer or chronograph is so important.
If you are looking to keep up a good pace while you are hiking, a countdown timer is ideal. It will give you an idea of how much time you have spent hiking, while also helping you to keep up your pace.
While you might not think of a calendar as being all that important to a camping trip, it is actually quite handy to have along. This is especially true if you are on an extended camping trip. By using the calendar, you can make sure that you are right on schedule for each day of your hike, which will make navigating the wilderness and keeping up your pace easy to manage.
Different watches offer various versions and formats for the calendar. The easiest to read and set are digital calendars since they are much more straightforward. Analog style watches take a bit longer to set, but are just as accurate once you have them figured out.
Compass and distance measurement
Apparently, one of the most integral features that a watch needs to have in order to be considered a great hiking watch is a compass. A compass, like the one on the Pyle PSWWM82GN, will help you to figure out which direction you are heading so that you can stay on track, no matter where you decide to hike. Some watches will also measure the distance that you have hiked. This is a really great feature since it will give you an exact idea of how far you have gone, and how much further you have to go.
While you might be thinking of going on a hike to get away from using your smartphone, you may want to bring it along so that you can fully enjoy the capabilities of your hiking watch. If the watch you pick can be linked with your smartphone, then you will be able to better keep track of your distance, as well as the number of calories you have burned.
Of course, linking your phone to a watch like the DSmart EX16S also has a lot of other benefits as well. It will make setting alarms a lot simpler. Adjusting the time, date, and using a timer is also much simpler on a smartphone than on any watch.
As with any big purchase, you will want to make sure that you get a hiking watch that comes with a good warranty. That way, you will be covered if any part of it should fail on you while you are using it. This is especially important for a hiking watch since you are going to be wearing it in rougher conditions that you would be if it were just a regular one.
When you are looking at warranties, be sure that you read the fine print carefully. Lots of companies offer long warranties but limit their effectiveness or what they are willing to cover. You want to be certain of what you are going to be liable for since the last thing you want to have to do is spend a lot of money out of pocket to fix a watch you thought was covered under warranty.
Perhaps the most important extra feature to look for in the best hiking watch under $100 is a scratch resistant face. That way, you will be able to wear your watch on a hike with confidence that it won’t immediately get destroyed as you go through the forest or up a mountain. It is also a good idea to look for a watch that is shock resistant since it is within the realm of possibility that it could get bounced around a bit while you are out hiking.
One more feature to be on the lookout for in your hiking watch is a backlight. This makes it a lot easier to read your watch in low light situations. That way, you won’t struggle reading the time if you get caught out in the dark on your hike.
Tips to maintain your watch
There are several things that you can do to make sure that your watch is properly maintained. These include:
Recharging it at the appropriate times. You don’t want to do it too often, or the battery will lose effectiveness.
Take the time to clean the watch after every hike. This will keep it running correctly for a long time.
Even if a watch says that it is water resistant, you should always dry it off after it gets wet.
Change the strap if you notice it is starting to fray. That way, you won’t need to worry about it falling off your wrist and risk losing it.
Make sure to calibrate the compass/GPS every time before you start hiking. Otherwise, you might get lost on your hike.
Finally, test out the various features at home to make sure that they are working correctly before you try and use them out in the wilds.
A hiking smartwatch can be used independently of a smartphone. The only issue with this, however, is that some of the features will not be available. This could limit the overall functionality of the watch.
By far, the Casio Men’s G-SHOCK GA 100-1A1 is the best hiking watch under $100. It is incredibly durable, comfortable, and easy to use. It will also keep running for a long time as well, thanks to its ten-year battery life. It is easy to set up and read, making it an excellent watch for hiking.
If you are in the market for a watch that can has a built-in compass, then go for the Pyle PSWWM82GN. It can not only help you find your way, but also boasts a barometer, an altimeter, and can even provide you with weather forecast.
When you are hiking or camping, the durability of your gear is essential. If you are going on a strenuous hike, the Casio G-shock DW5600E-1V is the watch for you. It is built to last, even under the toughest circumstances.