Outdoor Smartwatches

Hello all.

I am currently looking for a suitable smartwatch. Among other things, also for SOTA. Therefore, GPS/compass and tracking should be out of the question. I am currently leaning towards a Garmin Fenix 5X Plus. The market is really crowded, but I don’t want to buy something cheap that will only cause trouble in half a year.

What kind of smartwatches do you use and what are your experiences, advantages, functions, cost factor?

73 Marcel DM3FAM


I am pretty happy with the Garmin Fenix 6 Pro.
Long battery live, reliable, robust, and also suitable for everyday use, even in a formal setting.


I use a Suunto Ambit 3 Peak- and whilst it is now outdated I have used it constantly for 3 years and it is robust ( both the hardware and software). The GPS seems to lock on quickly, and I have used it to follow a track, but it wasn’t particularly easy. Battery life excellent. Altimeter - once calibrated accurate ( uses a combination of barometric pressure and GPS ) if rather depressing giving an accurate indication of the ascent rate - and height to go! If it dies I would go with Suunto again - probably the 9 Baro. 73. Paul


I too have a Garmin Fenix 6 pro. I’ve been very happy with the battery life and I also upload gpx tracks which is very helpful. Here’s a link to a site that may help you find the watch that’s right for you:

Ray offers detailed tests and his opinion along with a complete explanation of the features of each watch.


Quinton NU7Y


I went for the Samsung Galaxy Active, I really like it, it has got a GPS built in if I want to do tracking. I like the small size, I specifically didn’t want a wrist top computer. I pair my Bluetooth earphones to my watch to listen to MP3s whilst walking.

Does everything I need.

73, Colin


I’ve been using the Suunto Spartan Trainer for almost 6 years now. Quite a decent watch,not for the price i paid then,nowadays there are much better options for less money. Gave it to my brother while i upgraded to a Amazfit T-Rex 2.
Paid 215 eur with shipping. Have yet to take it for a hike. Has all the features a Suunto 9 Baro has but for 100 euros less.


Hi Marcel

I just got a Garmin Instinct Solar Tactical (what a mouthful) for good price
Very happy with it so far



I am very happy with my Garmin Fenix 5X plus, which I have had for 2.5 years. It is perfect for my SOTA needs. It is easy to upload tracks via Garmin Connect to the SMP Tracks web pages. I also connect a heart rate belt from Polar and a temperature gauge (Garmin Tempe) that is on the backpack to measure the temperature. Today it was -12C as the lowest temperature at the summit :slight_smile:


I bought an Apple Watch Ultra that is supposedly intended for outdoor, active use. It really quite expensive but probably cheaper than a Fenix. It has an impressive screen, 2 day battery life, great dual GPS and you can load a Gaia Pro dedicated app and if you want to spring for dedicated cellular then that is an option without having the carry an iPhone. You can pick faces and the last image has my current favorite that displays times for daylight, civil twilight, nautical etc etc.

Not sure I consider it good value but it is impressive.

Additional note…

Fenix 7 at REI (US store) $1,000 (could buy an ICOM 7300 for that) https://www.rei.com/product/206596/garmin-fenix-7x-sapphire-solar-multisport-gps-watch and the Apple Ultra is $200 less. Know what I’d buy again but then all the prices are whacko…


I have had the Fenix 5X for years now and like it VERY much. Love the color very visible maps that show all roads AND trails! IF there is also cell coverage, then my wife watches my hiking progress on her computer. If you ask it the “right” question (nearest bar? nearest restaurant? nearest gas station?) it answers that, too! Optical non-scratch glass is a real positive. All too frequent charging is a negative, something the plus version somewhat addresses.

73, Fred KT5X


I like to keep my time keeping, navigation and telecoms separate. Call it redundancy or call it Old Skool.

Garmin GPS 66i
Casio Mud master G-Shock watch
Samsung android phone

Of course, the samsung does nav., the watch has a compass and altimeter and the Garmin can send messages, so there’s a handy overlap there. :grin:


(@MM0EFI )

Not wishing to derail this thread but I do too and I am especially adamant about carrying my Garmin inReach sat nav thingy pretty much wherever I go. Once again, it ain’t cheap but when things go seriously sideways as it appears to have happened last week on one of SoCal’s iconic SOTA peak a Garmin inReach might have helped.

Truth in advertising, I’ve owned a Suunto Vector for almost 15+ years and its great, just wanted something different and more contemporary.

I thought the whole point of this reflector was just that. :wink:

I’ve never owned a Sunto. They appear to be the tool for the job. I’m a bit anti-smartwatch TBH. After seeing people at work being slaves to the notifications and then everyone else telling me they’ve done 25,000 steps or walked 15 miles at work (together with the ensuing calorific benefits), I’m a bit doubtful as to their benefits to health!

However, I’m seeing some pictures of nice ones in this thread!


The Fenix line of watches are great but $$$.

I went with a Garmin Instinct Tactical Solar. The battery life is superior to the Fenix models and it isn’t as bulky on the wrist. It offers trackback/routefinding, but no map.

The Fenix watches provide HRV and training stats that the Instinct doesn’t.

After getting my Instinct, I would consider a Fenix as a next watch…Size, cost, and frequent charging being the only downsides for me.



I’ve had a Garmin Forerunner 245 over the past few years and have been very impressed with it. It was less expensive than the Fenix, probably similar to the Instinct. Battery life is pretty reasonable, I get about 4-5 days out of it using occasional GPS.
There is an app that can load maps to it, but it’s pretty clunky. I have used it several times to get back to the car when too lazy to get out the main garmin navigator.
Unfortunately, I’ve been watching the VO2 max. metric deteriorating over the past few years, I need to get back to activating more often!
I love the Glance Watch face app, and use a couple of apps that transfer coordinates from the phone.

Cheers, Glenn VK3YY.

1 Like

Garmin Instinct Solar Tactical. For SOTA, it has all the features I need and use. Navigate to waypoint, a rudimentary map back to the trailhead, distance, vert, etc. It syncs to the app on the phone, plus Bluetooth alerts when my RBN spot is posted. The price is much less than the Fenix, long battery life, light enough to use as an everyday watch. It’s built like a tank, and mine’s taken some hits. Love it.


… I use the smartwatch (Suunto Ambit 3 Peak) mostly for “overlap” - its main job is telling the time but on a couple of occasions the navigation tools have been useful. ( It is my wrist watch so it is used every day ) About the only alerts I get on it are from SOTA Goat for spots…
As well as map, compass and now glasses I carry …
iPhone ( OS Maps App / Sota Goat…)
Garmin InReach ( Again really just a back up as if I ever get stuck or come across someone else who is stuck it is bound to be a place with no phone signal…) and the watch on my wrist…
The only problem with this approach is probably that I have a heavier pack - usually 2 rigs ( KX2 / FT270 ) so no matter what I’ve forgotten / lost there is usually a plan “B”… I don’t regret buying the watch. Paul


Hello all.

Thank you for all the replies, pictures and information! :+1: You realise that everyone has their favourites. I couldn’t wait any longer and have now decided on a Garmin Instinct watch. I was able to buy it today at a good price in a sports shop here and can start using it. It makes a robust impression, is easy to use (in my opinion) and comes with everything you need. A map display was not important to me. But tracking was important to me, so it fits. Viewing messages and accepting calls are also sufficient. After reading the articles here, I was really interested in the Fenix series. But the 7s are a bit too expensive for me. Of course, the 6 series would also suffice. Let’s have a look. The watches are not designed to last forever. Thanks again to all.

73 Marcel DM3FAM


I have a Garmin Instinct watch. It’s rubbish at measuring altitude. OK for lat and long and indicated time can be synched to GPS time. The battery lasts for weeks.

It measures my heartrate well and distance covered approximately

The compass would get me lost every time.

It replaced a Casio dual time watch that cost around $30 and lasted over a decade.