Best Altimeter Watches
Today hikers, campers, and outdoors enthusiasts have the unique privilege of having the most technologically up to date and comfortable experience ever when it comes to braving the outdoors. If you're a hiker or someone that is going to find themselves in higher altitudes, an altimeter watch is something you want to check out. These watches are also popularly referred to as an ABC watch (Altimeter, Barometer, Compass), and they offer adventurers the most essential information such as GPS and altitude. Check out our top picks below for some of the best altimeter watches available today.
In a Hurry? The test winner after 11 hrs of research
Water Resistant up to 330 feet
Swiss engineering and accuracy
- TISSOT UNISEX
- GARMIN TACTIX BRAVO WATCH
- CASIO G-SHOCK MASTER
- Suunto Ambit3 Peak HR Running GPS Unit
- Garmin Fenix 5X
- CASIO G-SHOCK GULFMASTER
- CASIO MEN’S PRO TREK
- SUUNTO VECTOR WATCH
- TISSOT T-TOUCH EXPERT SOLAR NBA SPECIAL EDITION
- TOM TOM MULTI-SPORT GPS WATCH
- Criteria Used for Evaluation
- Other Factors to Consider
- Frequently Asked Questions
Top 10 Picks
1. TISSOT UNISEX
Water Resistant up to 330 feet
Swiss engineering and accuracy
A bit higher on the price – a true investment piece
The Tissot brand has long been known for their craftsmanship, style, and precision, and this altimeter watch is no exception. While the price might be a bit high for some budgets, this watch is a true work of art.Read more
Quartz movement and precision Swiss engineering make this one of the most accurate watches on the market today. Whether you are watching the elevation change as you hike up the mountain or keeping track of the number of laps in the pool, this watch is known for keeping things precise.
Designed to fit comfortably on the wrist, the Tissot Unisex Touch Collection Analog watch features a 45 millimeter case size, that is only 13 millimeters thick. In addition, the easy to open and close butterfly clasp makes it easy to put on in the morning and set off for your day. It can easily fit most adult wrists, and is only slightly large for a more slender wrist. Either way, it’s comfortable enough to forget about until you need it.
This watch features a PVD coated titanium case and bracelet, which makes it one of the most durable in the industry. Add to that the fact that it is water resistant up to 330 feet and a scratch resistant sapphire crystal face, you’ll be hard pressed to find a way to damage this beautiful watch.
While this particular watch may look fashionable and elegant, make no mistake – you won’t be having any trouble reading the clock or the information from one of it’s many functions. Whether your making use of the compass, altimeter, barometer, or simply trying to see if you’ll make your lunch time appointment, the easy to see marks for time and the luminescent hands make it an easy read.
It’s true that the Tissot Unisex Analog Swiss Quartz Watch will set you back quite a bit of money. However, considering all the features you get, and the renowned quality, if you can fit it into your budget, you won’t be disappointed.
Whether you're hiking through the back country, or meeting with a client for lunch, this altimeter watch can handle nearly everything you can throw at it. Accurate, elegant, and tough as nails, this is one watch that is hard to beat.
2. GARMIN TACTIX BRAVO WATCH
Rugged and tactical design make it perfect for outdoor use
Accurate GPS and automatic calibration for altimeter, barometer and compass
May be a bit bulky for some
If you’re looking for a GPS enabled altimeter watch, why not go with one of the most well-known GPS friendly companies out there? Garmin has been long known for its prowess in the navigation world, and this watch will definitely help keep you orientated no matter what the adventure may throw at you.Read more
Not only can you tell time with precision, but this watch also features a high sensitivity GPS/GLONASS positioning system with automatic calibration for the altimeter, barometer and a three axis compass. As long as the watch isn’t damaged or misused, it will be able to tell you exactly where you are down to a few feet, and the time as well.
Designed specifically to be used in the outdoor environment, this watch certainly takes the idea of rugged comfort to a whole new level. While it may be a little bulky for some tastes, the comfortable silicone band, and easy to use and read watch face make it very simple to use and wear.
If an altimeter watch is designed to be used in the great outdoors, it better stand up to a bit of abuse. Thankfully, this isn’t a problem for the Garmin Tactix Bravo watch. Featuring a black, non-reflective surface that was inspired by the tactical gear used by personnel who rough it in the great outdoors for a living, a diamond-like carbon coating to help prevent abrasions, and PVD coated stainless steel buttons, this watch nearly defines the words rugged and dependable.
With all the different features and display options for this watch, one might think that its readability would suffer. Thankfully, Garmin has done quite a bit to help alleviate that problem. For starters, the watch has a two-inch high resolution that is designed to be readable in direct sunlight. It also features a domed lens that can easily switch between a day friendly use of a night one that won’t interfere with night vision goggles.
While this watch will set you back a fair amount, the rugged and tactical design will easily meet the needs of most outdoor enthusiasts.
If you’re looking for a rugged watch that can easily handle just about everything that you’d encounter in the outdoors and keep you oriented with state of the art GPS, this is one watch to consider.
3. CASIO G-SHOCK MASTER
Somewhat inaccurate for the altimeter and barometer
Well known for its rugged dependability, this watch features quite a few things that any hunter, camper, or hiker would use on a regular basis. Add to that the fact that it is solar powered, this altimeter watch can easily become your go-to timepiece.Read more
While some customers have reported so inaccuracy in the barometer and altimeter features, for most people the watch provides fairly good precision when it comes to time-keeping and the built-in thermometer.
While the watch itself is somewhat on the larger size, the carbon fiber watch band is one of the most comfortable on the market today. While some with smaller wrists or larger wrists may find the one size fits all a bit uncomfortable, the average person won’t be bothered much at all.
When it comes to durability, this watch is one of the best on the market today. Designed for extreme outdoor use in nearly any environment that a person can encounter.
This watch has a standard LCD display that is fairly easy to read, although it does become slightly unreadable in direct sunlight.
Of the watches reviewed here, the Casio G-Shock Master is perhaps one of the more affordable available on the market today. While not exactly budget friendly, it is certainly more affordable than most.
The Casio brand is well known as a quality watch maker, and this rugged durable altimeter watch is certainly well suited for their brand. If you’re looking for a watch that is a great choice for the weekend warrior, this is it.
4. Suunto Ambit3 Peak HR Running GPS Unit
Water resistant up to 100 meters
Some people find it to be a bit big or heavy, but others enjoy this
The Suunto Ambit3 Peak HR Running GPS Unit can do a bit of it all. It's a watch designed for sports in mind, so it includes ultimate altimeter capabilities as well as GPS abilities. Find out more about this do-it-all watch below.Read more
For starters, this Suunto offers accurate, stable weather and altitude information. Along with this it delivers full navigation with robust casting to ensure accuracy. How does it do all this?
Well, it has a built in altimeter, barometer, compass, and GPS. And did we mention that this watch also has a 100 meter water resistance? Not to bad for such a sleek looking watch.
As far as battery life goes, this watch offers 200 hours with 1 minute accuracy, which is quite a competitive number as far as the market of altimeter watches goes.
For full usage value, you can sync this watch up with your smartphone for activities.
All together, this watch offers a pretty powerful little package for a reasonable price.
5. Garmin Fenix 5X
It has a high-resolution Chroma Display with LED backlighting
Features a stainless stell bezel
Is water-resistant up to 100 meters
The Display contrast in bright light isn't great
This latest addition to the Fenix collection is a fine choice for an Altimeter Watch. The display is not without its flaws, but everything else is about as good as you might ask for.Read more
As expected, accuracy is where this altimeter watch truly shines. It features Swiss quartz movement, it manages to measure elevations in both feet and meters with nearly pinpoint accuracy. Add to that a superb compass, calendar, barometer, and thermometer, you’ll be hard-pressed to get lost or out of sorts with this watch nearby.
While not as comfortable in an outdoor setting as some watches on this list, the Fenix 5X altimeter watch does serve very well in most everyday places. With a metal band or silicone option.
Thankfully this watch is a great example of that tradition. Featuring a titanium case, stainless steel bezel, and a scratch-resistant sapphire crystal, this watch also features a fold over clasp, and also has an adequate battery life. It is also water-resistant up to 100 feet, so there are no worries about taking it into the nearby pool for a swim or two.
The one downside is readability. As I've noted before, the screen does not perform well in bright light which can be a real drawback with little cloud cover.
Like many of the watches on this list, this one is a sizable investment. However, if you take into account the dependability and accuracy of the Tissot brand, it’s probably one that is worth making.
Everything is nearly perfect on the Fenix 5X, but it's definitely worth noting the display's contrast is below-average in bright light. This can make it difficult to see in sunlight. But that might be one small price to pay for an otherwise great watch.
6. CASIO G-SHOCK GULFMASTER
Comes in black and blue
Some find the set-up confusing
No surprise, Casio enters the list again. This time, we bring you the Casio G-Shock Gulfmaster; a watch that definitely meets expectations as an altimeter watch. However, it delivers the goods with a little fun with it's aesthetically pleasing black and blue design.Read more
Not only are you going to be looking super hip in this Casio, but the watch delivers on quality, too.
Know not only the hour, but also the weather with this watch that has been equipped with triple sensors that measure the atmospheric pressure and altitude, as well as temperatures and even, directions.
On this particular watch, the hands indicate the compass bearing and pressure.
Along with this, this watch is also water resistant, which is always a bonus, and it comes with a bevy of other features you are sure to find useful.
7. CASIO MEN’S PRO TREK
Lots of great features
Display can be a bit overwhelming, and the back light can be too bright
The Casio brand makes another appearance on our list with this utilitarian styled altimeter watch. Filled with some great features for the price, this is a wonderful choice for those who are thinking about buying their first.Read more
Boasting a smaller overall size than most, this watch still delivers on accuracy, claiming to be able to measure elevation to within three feet, and provide compass readings for a continuous 60 seconds versus some that only measure for twenty. Temperature readings of your body temperature or the ambient temperature are accurate to within a few degrees.
This watch is clearly designed for a male wrist, and many females might find it a little too bulky to wear comfortably. It is also designed for outdoor use, and the larger buttons clean lines, and tough as nails exterior makes this watch a great choice when you’re roughing it in the outdoors.
The case, band, and technology of the Casio Pro Trek watch are specifically designed to be used in the great outdoors. It features a water resistance to around 330 feet, a fairly comfortable, but strong as nails black resin band keeps everything together as you and your watch go out to search or the next adventure.
While there is a lot of great things going on with this watch, one of the areas that it falters a bit in the readability of the watch face. The digital readout isn’t always nice and crisp in direct sunlight, and there have been reports of the backlight being too bright for the user.
This altimeter watch, even with all the different features often sells for a fraction of the cost of some of its competitors, making it a great buy for those wanting a quality watch to add to their outdoor gear collection.
This watch is a great choice for those who want all the bells and whistles of a great altimeter watch without spending an arm and a leg. While the display leaves a bit to be desired, it’s still more than enough to gain the respect of outdoor enthusiasts.
8. SUUNTO VECTOR WATCH
Lightweight ergonomic construction for comfortable wear
Impressive altimeter accuracy
Priced for the average consumer
Plastic housing may put off some wearers
When it comes to outdoor gear, the Suunto brand has an enviable reputation for keeping people safe, oriented correctly and helping to have a great time. The Suunto Vector watch continues this tradition with flying colors.Read more
Designed with the serious adventurer in mind, this altimeter watch boasts an impressive three feet resolution on elevations up to 29,500 feet, and a powerful memory function stores readings on the hour, every hour if desired so that you can truly track your progress.
Unlike some of the other watches on this list, the Suunto Vector watch case is made of a lightweight plastic material, making it virtually weightless against the wrist. While the case diameter is a bit hefty at 5.1 centimeters, it matches easily with the thickness of 16 millimeters to make a surprisingly comfortable watch.
While the plastic watch case may seem a little less dependable to some, the watch is actually quite durable with a strong buckle clasp and a mineral dial window that can easily stand up to outdoor activity.
Another great feature of this watch is the display. Not only it is larger than most, but the backlight and convenient control buttons are both easy to understand and use.
The price of the Suunto Vector watch is solidly middle of the road, and considering the quality of the watch, it is a fairly good deal.
While it doesn’t have as many features as some of the other altimeters watches on this list, what the Suunto Vector watch does, it does very well. If you’re looking for a great mid-priced choice for your next hike, this is one to definitely consider.
9. TISSOT T-TOUCH EXPERT SOLAR NBA SPECIAL EDITION
Very well designed
Multitude of features
This Tissot brings you functionality and aesthetics into one shiny little package called the Tissot T-Touch Expert Solar NBA Edition. Check out why we love it below.Read more
Interestingly, Tissot is the official time keeper for the NBA, so in that spirit, they made this watch which has the NBA logo on the case-back.
This watch is a unique piece, as it is a touch screen that is powered by solar energy. The T-Touch Expert Solar NBA Edition watch also offers a bevy of functions, such as being an atimeter watch, of course, but it also forecasts time, has a second time zone, and has a compass.
It is also water resistant for up to 100 meters, and once you get to know the watch in great detail, you will see that the list of features it boasts are many.
10. TOM TOM MULTI-SPORT GPS WATCH
Extra large, easy to read display
Great accuracy for time, altimeter and heart rate
Doesn’t have as many features
Another popular GPS brand makes an appearance on the list with the Tom Tom Multisport GPS watch. Designed for those people who not only enjoy the great outdoors but also enjoy being on the move, this watch is a great choice for those wishing to add a bit of technology to their outdoor adventures.Read more
Designed with the serious athlete in mind, this watch easily measures changes in elevation, time and heart rate with great accuracy.
This watch is somewhat bulky and oversized, so some users may find it a bit overwhelming. However, for the average person, it’s size isn’t too much of a hindrance.
While it does have a number of great features, and it is very easy to use, we wouldn’t suggest taking this altimeter watch into the tundra or hot desert with you. However, if you want something that helps you monitor your workout with ease on a daily basis, this is a great choice.
Thankfully the Tom Tom Multi-Sport GPS Watch is a breeze to read, whether you are in a direct sunlight, or shade. In addition, the one-button control makes it a simple task to cycle through the menus to find exactly what you want.
Reasonably priced for an altimeter watch featuring a GPS unit, this entry on the list is a great choice for those wanting to upgrade to take advantage of some wonderful technology.
The Tom Tom Multi-Sport GPS watch is a wonderful entry into this for athletes that want to spend some time exploring the great outdoors.
Criteria Used for Evaluation
Let’s face it, when it comes to a watch, especially one that is designed to make the outdoor more accessible accuracy is one of the most important factors to consider. Nearly every one of these watches not only measures time with fantastic precision, but the ones at the top of the list, including the Tissot Unisex Touch Analog and the Garmin Tactix Bravo watch extent that accuracy to other features easily. Whether you are watching the elevation change as you hike up the mountain or keeping track of the number of laps in the pool, this watch is known for keeping things precise.
Another factor that most people overlook is how the watch feels against the wrist. After all, the last thing you need is for the watch to keep your attention, not because of functionality, but because of annoyance. While some watches on this list may be a bit larger or more cumbersome than others, they have been designed with the user in mind, and their comfort as well. Many of these watches on our list have the easy to open and close butterfly clasp makes it easy to put on in the morning and set off for your day. It can easily fit most adult wrists, and is only slightly large for a more slender wrist. Either way, they are comfortable enough to forget about until you need it.
Having great features and accuracy is wonderful, but when it comes right down to it, you’ll want your altimeter watch to last, right? That’s the reason why we looked at each watch carefully to ascertain how tough it would be in the real world. While some, like the Casio G-Shock Master, clearly impressed us with its sheer toughness, others seemed more suited for the casual athlete. Either way, these watches with proper care should be functioning quite well for years to come. Add to that the fact that most are water resistant up to 330 feet and a scratch resistant sapphire crystal face, you’ll be hard pressed to find a way to damage any of these beautiful watches.
Whether you prefer an analog display or a digital one, there are some great examples on this list. Being able to quickly glance at the watch and determine the information you need is so important, especially if your mind and attention need to be elsewhere while you are exploring the great outdoors. While some watches, like the Citizen Eco Drive watch, focused more on aesthetics than actual practicality, most kept the user clearly in mind. With many of these watches you won’t be having any trouble reading the clock or the information from many of their functions. Whether your making use of the compass, altimeter, barometer, or simply trying to see if you’ll make your lunch time appointment, the easy to see marks for time and the luminescent hands make them all easy read.
Expert Interviews & Opinions
There is certainly a wide array of prices when it comes to altimeter watches, and with good reason. The truth is, most of these watches aren’t just for measuring elevation or telling time. In a way, they can be considered true survival tools when it comes to the wilderness. Most contain a compass, thermometer, a barometer, a stopwatch and an altimeter, and a clock at a bare minimum. In the outdoors, all these features can play a part in making sure that you not only enjoy your hike or camping trip but also make sure you get back to your friends and family in good condition. So it stands to reason that if an altimeter watch has more features, it would also be more expensive. Also, it’s important to remember that part of the price of the watch is dependent on the reputation of the manufacturer. Because of their history of quality craftsmanship and use of good materials, manufacturers such as Tissot and Casio can often demand a higher price.
Other Factors to Consider
Ah, yes, the price. All things considered, this is perhaps the first criteria that most people consider when it comes to purchasing a quality altimeter watch. While the majority of examples on this list are clearly an investment, there are some that will fit nearly any budget and quality desired. Many of these watches are a little bit more expensive considering all the features you get, and the renowned quality, if you can fit it into your budget, you won’t be disappointed.
Frequently Asked Questions
Keep in mind a lower, more budget-friendly price doesn’t mean that the altimeter watch is cheaply made. There are quite a few examples on this list that the average person could easily afford, and they have the quality to stand up to even the worst critic.
When it comes to making claims such as being waterproof versus water resistant, there are very stringent criteria that must be met by the manufacturer in order to make the claim. This is done to protect the consumer from at best false advertising, and at worst putting their life in danger.
Essentially to be able to claim that an altimeter watch is “waterproof” the manufacturer must prove beyond a shadow of a doubt through testing that no water can enter into the watch – including humidity- under any circumstances. That’s an impossibly tall order to meet. Therefore, most watches are tested to be water resistant to a certain depth. What water resistant means is that the watch is protected from humidity. It can withstand the occasional splash or dunk in the pool, but not a full-fledged drowning.
While it may be tempting to think that the altimeter in your watch is taking elevation measurements with every swing of the arm, the truth is actually much more interesting. It turns out that the higher you climb up into the mountains, the pressure of the air becomes less and less. By measuring this difference in the air pressure, and performing a non-linear calibration internally, the altimeter can provide information for the change in elevation. So, if you have a reference elevation- such as the elevation of the city you live in, or mean sea level elevation, your altimeter watch can figure out the elevation rather easily.
Each altimeter watch is different, of course, and it’s best to follow the manufacturer’s instructions regarding the calibration. However, in principle, you need a few basic things. First, you need a reference elevation as a starting point. This can be such things as elevation benchmark, the elevation of a building, or even the elevation of your home. The important thing is that it is a known quantity that you can relate, or calibrate your altimeter watch to. The next step is to change the elevation by a set amount- say 20 feet and see if the amount of change matches what actually occurred.
There are a few things that you need to consider when thinking about purchasing an altimeter watch. The first is to consider what type of altimeter watch best fits your needs. In essence, the altimeter watches fall into two basic categories – those that use GPS and those that don’t. Each has their advantages and disadvantages, and their uses. For example, if you’re considering going on some serious treks, where knowing where you are is important, an altimeter watch that has GPS might be your best bet. However, it’s important to make sure you get one like the Garmin Tactix Bravo that can withstand the abuse of a serious outdoor adventure. However, if you plan on using your altimeter watch is help keep track of your progress during a normal exercise routine or during a day hike, the use of a GPS might be a bit of an overkill. An altimeter watch with a good compass, such as the LAD Weather watch could be everything you need.
- 10 best alimeter watches in 2018, Blog, Nov 30, 2018 ,