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10 Best Altimeter Watches Tested and Compared

last updated Oct 10, 2018

Most people use the altimetric and barometric readings to predict when storms are near or to help with timing when climbing, but they can also have anything from GPS capabilities to heart rate monitors. Below is our list of the best altimeter watches, built from hand-chosen criteria based on our own research and on hundreds of real customer reviews. These watches are definitely an investment and there’s plenty to choose from but our staff here at RunnerClick has put in the work so you have a good place to start your search or to just browse while staying up to date on the latest gear.

Researched Sources
45
Researched Sources
Reviews Considered
17k
Reviews Considered
Hours Researching
22
Hours Researching
Products Evaluated
10
Products Evaluated
Last Updated: October 9, 2018
By Sarah Coryell:

In this update, we've updated our layout to provide you with all the information you need to find the best altimeter watches available. Although we did not add any new altimeter watches to the list, we did review our existing last and updated product information to ensure you have the best and most recent information available to you!

Sorting Options
Battery Life Features Advanced Features Style Price By Default
Rank
PictureProduct
Name
Rating
Shops
1
The rating is based on the average rating (1-100) from all the criteria in which we rated this product.
97.8
Battery Life
98%
Features
99%
Advanced Features
98%
Style
97%
Price
97%
Price Comparison Last Updated (21.10.18)
$295.78
2
The rating is based on the average rating (1-100) from all the criteria in which we rated this product.
96.6
Battery Life
98%
Features
96%
Advanced Features
96%
Style
98%
Price
95%
Price Comparison Last Updated (21.10.18)
$824.97
3
The rating is based on the average rating (1-100) from all the criteria in which we rated this product.
95.4
Battery Life
96%
Features
95%
Advanced Features
95%
Style
97%
Price
94%
Price Comparison Last Updated (21.10.18)
$400.00
4
The rating is based on the average rating (1-100) from all the criteria in which we rated this product.
92.4
Battery Life
93%
Features
95%
Advanced Features
92%
Style
92%
Price
90%
Price Comparison Last Updated (21.10.18)
$342.09
5
The rating is based on the average rating (1-100) from all the criteria in which we rated this product.
91.4
Battery Life
90%
Features
90%
Advanced Features
92%
Style
92%
Price
93%
Price Comparison Last Updated (21.10.18)
$299.99
6
The rating is based on the average rating (1-100) from all the criteria in which we rated this product.
86.8
Battery Life
88%
Features
87%
Advanced Features
86%
Style
86%
Price
87%
Price Comparison Last Updated (21.10.18)
$161.98
7
The rating is based on the average rating (1-100) from all the criteria in which we rated this product.
82.4
Battery Life
85%
Features
80%
Advanced Features
82%
Style
80%
Price
85%
Price Comparison Last Updated (21.10.18)
$500.00
8
The rating is based on the average rating (1-100) from all the criteria in which we rated this product.
81
Battery Life
82%
Features
80%
Advanced Features
83%
Style
80%
Price
80%
Price Comparison Last Updated (21.10.18)
$234.00
9
The rating is based on the average rating (1-100) from all the criteria in which we rated this product.
76.4
Battery Life
78%
Features
75%
Advanced Features
75%
Style
76%
Price
78%
Price Comparison Last Updated (21.10.18)
$384.30
10
The rating is based on the average rating (1-100) from all the criteria in which we rated this product.
73.2
Battery Life
75%
Features
73%
Advanced Features
70%
Style
70%
Price
78%
Price Comparison Last Updated (21.10.18)
$153.75
In Depth Review Top 10
  • Suunto Ambit3 Peak
  • Garmin Fēnix 5X
  • Casio PRW-6000Y-1ACR
  • Garmin Fēnix 3
  • Suunto Traverse
  • Suunto Core
  • Casio Pro Trek WSD-F20
  • Casio Pro Trek Tough Solar
  • Suunto Spartan Sport Wrist HR Baro
  • Casio Pathfinder
Table of contents
  • Criteria Used for Evaluation
  • Other Factors to Consider
  • Frequently Asked Questions
  • Sources

Top 10 Picks

1. Suunto Ambit3 Peak

The rating is based on the average rating (1-100) from all the criteria in which we rated this product.
97.8
Suunto Ambit3 Peak
Battery Life
98
Features
99
Advanced Features
98
Style
97
Price
97
best offer for today
$295.78
Pros:
  • Most accurate altimeter on this list
  • Easy to set up and use
  • Lightweight and comfortable to wear with breathable wrist band
  • Mid-range price for altimeter watches
Cons:
  • No color display
  • Battery not as long as solar-powered options

This is one of the best GPS watches available for those specifically looking to monitor elevation. It has a FusedAlti™️ for tracking altitude and is extremely accurate. It has a variety of other innovative GPS-related perks such as a trackback feature, compass and the ability to discover new routes. It provides weather information, speed, pace, and distance, and is water resistant up to 100 meters. It’s not as pricey as other altimeters, but a great investment for how well it performs and the diversity of function.

Read more

Altimeter

The Suunto Ambit3 Peak is hands down the most accurate altimeter watch on this list. That’s because of its precise GPS capabilities that is reliable and accurate, allowing the watch to provide on point data as well as plenty of navigation features. It uses its FusedAlti™️ tech that combined both GPS altitude and barometric altitude for readings, while correcting and offset errors that might occur by changes in air pressure.

It has profiles for altitude, barometric pressure, and automatic. When in the automatic profile, it will switch to the other two profiles based on the movement, such as displaying altitude when going up hill. This data is displayed in a large graph that is easy to read with the numeric altitude location at top and the temperature at the bottom.

While the graphs are not in color like the Garmin Fēnix 5X, the graphs are easy to view and use, with lots of metrics to be seen such as trends.

Tech and Other Features

Equipped with its FusedAlti™️ tech for accuracy, as well as its integrated GPS, the watch also has a 3D electronic compass, a storm alarm that is activated by a rapid drop in air pressure, and its automatic alti/baro switch. It also has other fitness tracking features including heart rate while swimming, activity based recovery time and multiple sports in one log. It has route navigation with track back amd route altitude profile navigation in real-time.

Battery Life

The company claims that this watch has a 30 hour battery life, but it actually is a little less than that when GPS is on. The battery doesn’t last as long as the Garmin Fēnix 5X, but isn’t the worst in this category of GPS watches.

Style And Fit

This watch has a sleek and stylish look, with a round bezel that is made of steel with mineral crystal glass. The case is made with polyamide, and it has a elastomer strap that makes it comfortable to wear. The display has good quality, and it’s easy to see in low light situations with its light screen. It isn’t as slim as the Suunto Core, but not as bulky as the Garmin Fēnix 5X.

2. Garmin Fēnix 5X

The rating is based on the average rating (1-100) from all the criteria in which we rated this product.
96.6
Garmin Fēnix 5X
Battery Life
98
Features
96
Advanced Features
96
Style
98
Price
95
best offer for today
$824.97
Pros:
  • Reliable and accurate, just falling behind the Sunnto Ambit3 Peak
  • Great color graphs
  • Large full-color display
  • Detailed fitness tracking across various fitness activities
Cons:
  • Expensive watch
  • A bit large and bulky to wear

This is the altimeter watch of all watches, packed with impressive functionalities that puts it in a league of its own. Complete with ABC (altimeter, barometer and compass) features, this watch has built-in sensors that include GPS and GLONASS satellite capability to be able to track metrics in even the highest and lowest altitudes. Most impressive is its full-color TOPO U.S. mapping feature that is extremely detailed, and great for serious hikers and mountain climbers. Of course there are plenty of other features like heart rate and other fitness tracking capabilities. It’s easy to learn how to use this watch, and it’s sleek and durable. However, all this comes at a premium cost.

Read more

Altimeter

Think of the Fēnix 5X as one of the best fitness watches on the market (especially for runners) that also includes altimeter features. With that said, its altimeter shows current altitude as well as barometric pressure and displays this in color graphs that are large and easy to read. There is the ability to view graphs by hours to see trends over days.

The altitude can be calibrated to be measured automatically or manually. It does so using GPS and barometric pressure. It is slightly lacking on accuracy, so it’s best to know the starting altitude before an ascent or descent for more accurate readings, but only trails behind the other options a bit. However, it does provide the most data when it comes to altitude than any of the other watches on this list.

Tech and Other Features

Using GPS and its sensors to measure altitude and barometric pressure, it also has GLONASS capabilities. The GPS itself is more accurate than some options, yet not as accurate as the Suunto Ambit 3 Peak. Sensors also includes a heart rate mentor, temperature sensor, bike speed, cadence and foot pod.

It has full-color TOPO mapping, routable cycling maps, guidance turns, GroupTrack capabilities, as well as swim, skiing, golf and paddle profiles. For runners, it tracks just about every aspect of the activity such as lactate threshold and performance condition. It’s often purchased for its running components alone.

Battery Life

The Garmin Fēnix 5X has a battery like of up to 12 days in smartwatch mode or less depending on the settings. However, it can last up to 20 hours in GPS mode and 35 hours in UltraTrac battery saver mode. It’s battery life outlives options like the Sunnto Ambit3 Peak, but lacks behind the Casio PRW-6000Y.

Style And Fit

This altimeter watch has a PVD-coated stainless steel bezel and a reinforced housing to make it extremely durable. It has a high-resolution full-color display that is easy to read in daylight and low light conditions. Those with the Sapphire editions have a scratch-resistant lens (as well as Wi-Fi). Overall, the watch is a bit bulky on the wrist, but that’s the trade off for a large display.

3. Casio PRW-6000Y-1ACR

The rating is based on the average rating (1-100) from all the criteria in which we rated this product.
95.4
Casio PRW-6000Y-1ACR
Battery Life
96
Features
95
Advanced Features
95
Style
97
Price
94
best offer for today
$400.00
Pros:
  • Accurate altimeter with no bells and whistles in the watch
  • Long-lasting battery for solar-powered watch with no charging hassles
  • Lightweight watch with a comfortable fit
  • Great display quality
Cons:
  • Takes time to learn how to use, so make sure to read the manual
  • Pricey
  • Box with altimeter and pressure readings is small

This watch has fast and precise sensors for tracking altitude and getting barometric pressure readings, with features like alerts for major changes to barometric pressure. This watch is made to last, including a solar-powered battery, and overall is extremely durable, reliable and accurate. It also includes a compass, thermometer and stopwatch features.

Read more

Altimeter

This watch is equipped with a triple sensor that provides altitude metrics, as well as barometric pressure and temperature. Its altimeter and barometer feature is combined together, providing the reading for a current location. However, the graphs don’t provide in-depth information compared to other altimeter options. Still, besides lacking graphs, the watch automatically saves the maximum and minimal altitude reached, tracks weather trends, has storm alerts and provides altitude differences between two locations. It is also very accurate, making up for its less than impressive graphs.

Tech and Other Features

As mentioned, this watch as Version 3 Triple sensors (altimeter/barometer, thermometer and compass). It has an analog and digital dial code with multi-band 6 atomic timekeeping. It is water-resistant up to 99ft, so it will work in the rain, but not to be worn swimming. It has a light, stopwatch hand calendar features. It does not have GPS capabilities.

Battery Life

This altimeter watch is solar-powered, and performs the best when it comes to battery life in these kinds of watches. Its face has a solar panel built in to change the watch, lasting approximately ten years before needing to be placed.

Style And Fit

The display on this watch is analog-digital with a round face. The case, band, and bezel material is resin. The bezel is stationary, and the watch itself weights just 16 ounces. It is sporty and rugged looking, but can be worn in the mountains and to the office.

4. Garmin Fēnix 3

The rating is based on the average rating (1-100) from all the criteria in which we rated this product.
92.4
Garmin Fēnix 3
Battery Life
93
Features
95
Advanced Features
92
Style
92
Price
90
best offer for today
$342.09
Pros:
  • Extremely accurate altimeter
  • Lots of fitness tracking features across activities
  • Smartwatch with features for the tech savvy consumer
  • Sporty yet sleek look
  • Easy to use
  • Long battery life
Cons:
  • Size is a bit big; can be bulky for some

The built in altimeter in this ABC option is accurate and reliable by tapping into its GPS receiver, providing elevation data for monitoring ascent and descent. It has tracking features to guide the user, the ability to create a “bread crumb trail,” and allows them to mark locations. This smartwatch is also popular among runners for its dynamic features including cadence, vertical oscillation and ground contact time.

Read more

Altimeter

The fēnix 3 has a 3-axis electronic compass, altimeter and barometer that uses its built-in sensors to measure in-sights in real-time. The altimeter and barometer are fused together for one feature that uses sensors for readings. This includes elevation data, vertical speed and total ascent and decent. The barometer tracks air pressure trends to be able to predict weather and storms. The sensors work with the GPS receiver to auto calibrate and provide accurate data.

Tech and Other Features

This smartwatch has GPS and GLONASS capabilities, as well as its barometric altimeter, accelerometer and thermometer sensors. With Wi-Fi, Bluetooth and smartphone compatibility, the user can tap into features like being able to control music and find my phone using the watch.

It’s loaded with fitness features like assigning step goals for each day, as well as tracking VO2 max, recovery time and HR zones. These are lots of activity specific features for running, cycling, swimming and golfing. The user can leave a “bread crumb trail” in the GPS track log, with the ability to make locations like a checkpoint of campsite for easy navigation.

Battery Life

The Fēnix 3 has a battery life of up to 2 weeks in smartwatch mode, and up to 20 hours in its GPS mode. It also has an UltraTrac mode for up to 50 hours of battery life.

Style And Fit

Weighing 82 grams, this watch has a color display with a stainless steel bezel and fiber-reinforced polymer case. It has a 10 ATM water rating. It has a rugged, sporty yet techie look, and its watch face is customizable with what data, apps and widgets are displayed.

5. Suunto Traverse

The rating is based on the average rating (1-100) from all the criteria in which we rated this product.
91.4
Suunto Traverse
Battery Life
90
Features
90
Advanced Features
92
Style
92
Price
93
best offer for today
$299.99
Pros:
  • Built-in flashlight
  • Good graphs
  • Great navigation features
  • Smart notifications
Cons:
  • Short battery life
  • Not that comfortable to wear than others
  • No heart rate monitor

Designed for adventurous hikers, this GPS watch has a pressure-based altimeter, as well as a barometer and compass. Location or point-of-interest can easily be stored with just one button, and its accompanying app has topographic maps that details elevation info. It also has many other feature including fitness tracking, mobile notifications and a flashlight.

Read more

Altimeter

This watch has all the basic altimeter functions like measuring altitude, includes a barometer and a compass, measure temperature and of course tells time. It allows the user to get the alit-baro profile on automatic, allowing the user to bounce between the two features, with the altimeter flipping on when ascending or descending, and the barometer displaying when standing still. It is GPS-enabled and uses FusedAlti tech that uses sea pressure and GPS for measurement. It also has free topographical maps in the accompanying app with detailed elevation info.

Tech and Other Features

Because of its FusedAlti technology, this altimeter watch provides impressive graphs especially when it comes to barometric pressure to help users view weather patterns. When using the GPS, it also provides the speed of going down and uphill in the workout summary, which is a nice piece of data to have. It is also GLONASS compatible, and have fitness tracking features for running, swimming, biking and more. However, there aren’t as many as other altimeter smartwatches on this list.

It has a storm alert function, and lost of navigation features like the ability to go back to a point of interest using icons, and a a real-time map.

Battery Life

This altimeter has a short battery life of up to 100 hours when the GPS is turned on.

Style And Fit

This watch was made for the outdoors, rugged and durable. It is water resistant up to 330 ft. It has a stainless steel bezel with recessed screen and a composite case and silicon band. It is lightweight, but not the most comfortable around the worst when getting sweaty.

6. Suunto Core

The rating is based on the average rating (1-100) from all the criteria in which we rated this product.
86.8
Suunto Core
Battery Life
88
Features
87
Advanced Features
86
Style
86
Price
87
best offer for today
$161.98
Pros:
  • Extremely accurate altimeter and barometer readings
  • Mid-range price
  • Sporty look
Cons:
  • Learning curve for those with older models
  • No GPS
  • Not best display when it comes to visibility

Made for the outdoor adventure seeker, this watch includes an altimeter, barometer and compass in a package that looks as good as it performs. It will even work in the mountains while monitoring elevation, and has lots of other worthy features like displaying temperature, sunrise and sunset, and even has a storm alarm. Sleek, yet durable this is one of the best options for treks and every day wear.

Read more

Altimeter

The Suunto Core, like many of the watches on this list, combines altimeter and barometer features to be linked together. There are graphs for both altitude and barometer measurements to view elevation gains and descents and pressure trends, and it tracks these trends long term. This helps to make it more accurate over time.

It’s altitude log is especially beneficial for hiking and skiing since it reveals the total vertical height gained on trails, and skinners can see how many laps are complete.

Overall, its altimeter readings are very accurate, scoring high in this category.

Tech and Other Features

Unlike many of the altimeter watches on this list, the Suunto Core does not have GPS capabilities. This means no fancy mapping features here. Still, it has altimeter, barometer and compass readings, as well as displays temperature, has a storm alarm, and reveals sunrise and sunset. It is water-resistant up to 100 feet, so it can be worn while snorkeling or casual swimming.

Battery Life

This altimeter watch has a shorter battery life of about two weeks. However, the altimeter and barometer times out when not in use so this won’t drain battery life.

Style And Fit

For the mountains and every day use, this watch looks great and feels great on. It weighs just under 3 ounces, making it lightweight but not as light as the Suunto Spartan Sport Wrist HR Baro. It has a silicon strap that is more comfortable on than the Suunto Traverse. It has a steel bezel with mineral crystal glass, and is compatible with other strap colors.

7. Casio Pro Trek WSD-F20

The rating is based on the average rating (1-100) from all the criteria in which we rated this product.
82.4
Casio Pro Trek WSD-F20
Battery Life
85
Features
80
Advanced Features
82
Style
80
Price
85
best offer for today
$500.00
Pros:
  • Color display with lots of mapping features
  • Smart watch with accompanying app and various sport modes
Cons:
  • Shorter battery life than other options
  • GPS accuracy falls behind Garmin and Sunnto options

This Casio option finally includes GPS and GLONASS technology, but falls slightly behind the other GPS-capable options on this list when it comes to its accuracy and reliability. It does pair with a smartphone, giving it smartwatch features with a traditional sports watch look. Along with its altimeter, barometer and compass features, it also serves as an activity tracker and is water-resistant up to 165 ft for recreational swimming.

Read more

Altimeter

This watch has built-in quad sensors that measures altitude, atmospheric pressure and provides directions. Along with barometer and compass readings, the Casio Pro Trek has various watch faces that displays the most relevant information. This includes ‘“Traveler,” which displays the altimeter, compass, date and barometer on the lower part of the face. Tap the info to launch the corresponding app to get in-depth graphs and information.

Tech and Other Features

This is a smart altimeter watch, powered by AndroidWear 2.0. It is compatible with Android 4.3 and up, as well as iOS 8.2 and up. It has advanced GPS functionality to be able to measure altitude and more including a full-color map to display current location. Users can write memos on the map and display footprints of actions. There is also the ability to use map data while offline where Wi-Fi is not available. It also tracks other fitness activities like cycling, trekking, paddling and snow travel. It’s also water-resistant up to 165 ft.

Battery Life

With route tracking on, this watch has about 6-8 hours of battery life when in the color display mode, and at least a day when the GPS is not in use.

Style And Fit

This altimeter watch is sleek and stylish, with a buckle claps and mineral dial window. It has a stationary bezel and best of all, a color display.

8. Casio Pro Trek Tough Solar

The rating is based on the average rating (1-100) from all the criteria in which we rated this product.
81
Casio Pro Trek Tough Solar
Battery Life
82
Features
80
Advanced Features
83
Style
80
Price
80
best offer for today
$234.00
Pros:
  • Solar-powered
  • Automatic calibration
  • Altimeter memory
  • Numerical and trend graph data
Cons:
  • Slight learning curve of all its features
  • Temperature gauge can be inaccurate because of body temperature
  • No sunrise and sunset data

Powered by the sun, users don’t need to worry about manually charging this watch. Instead, it lasts about 5 months on a full solar charge without exposure to light. It has an altimeter, with a measuring range of -2,300 to 32,800 ft. It also has manual memory measurement and memory of total ascent and descent. There is also lots of other cool features like a tide graph and moon data.

Read more

Altimeter

This watch features altimeter/ barometer functionality (via its built-in sensor), measuring 700 to 10,00 m (-2,300 to 32,800 ft) of ascent and decent. It has an unique system to indication barometric pressure patterns by using arrow icons. Users can also measure altitude manually, record up to 14 entries with the altitude, data and time. The barometer uses atmospheric pressure to measure and displays this is a tendency graph with atmospheric pressure and a barometric change indicator.

Tech and Other Features

This watch has a digital compass that displays direction as one of 16 points with a continuous Graphic direction pointer with northerly calibration function. It is equipped with a thermometer, as well as a world time with 31 time zones, stopwatch and measures 1st and 2nd place times, a full calendar, and has full auto EL blacklight with Afterglow. It also is water resistant up to 200 m for casual swimming.

Battery Life

This watch has a solar rechargeable battery, lasting about 5 months on a single charge, and an impressive 23 months on a full charge in Power Saving mode.

Style And Fit

The style and design of this watch mirror that of the Pathfinder, complete with its compass surrounding the bezel, with barometer and altimeter buttons on the right side. It is lightweight and has a large profile, ideal for every day wear, traveling and adventures.

9. Suunto Spartan Sport Wrist HR Baro

The rating is based on the average rating (1-100) from all the criteria in which we rated this product.
76.4
Suunto Spartan Sport Wrist HR Baro
Battery Life
78
Features
75
Advanced Features
75
Style
76
Price
78
best offer for today
$384.30
Pros:
  • Accurate barometric altitude readings
  • Many sports modes with in-depth activity tracking; ideal for hiking, climbing, cycling, swimming, running and more
  • Color display
  • Built-in heart rate monitor
  • GPS and GLONASS capabilities
Cons:
  • Pricey
  • Can’t customize watch face

 

With GPS and GLONASS route navigation, this watch measure barometric altitude, as well as serves as a compass and thermometer. It allows consumers to easily plan trails ahead of time, as well as add existing routes to the watch via its accompanying app. Great for mountaineering, hiking, backpacking and running, it includes a heart monitor and other fitness tracking features.

Read more

Altimeter

This option uses FusedAlti with GPS to measure agent and descent during a workout, using barometric altitude for a more precise reading. Along with altitude tracking during workouts, this watch automatically measure altitude in its daily mode, so that these numbers are always on the watch face. This makes viewing the altimeter easy and convenient, tailored specifically for those runners and cyclist with lots of hill work, mountaineers and climbers.

Tech and Other Features

Using GPS to measure elevation, this watch also has GLONASS capabilities. However, this is better suited to be used in big cities. It tracks more than 80 different sports, with the option to set it in racing and interval modes. It provides accurate running pace details, can tract intervals in the pool and reveals long term training trends. It has a built-in heart rate monitor, a digital tilt compensated compass, storm alert and sunrise and sunset times.

Battery Life

This watch has a 10 hour battery life in training mode, but can get up to 40 hours of battery life in power saving modes.

Style And Fit

Weighing just 2.61 ounces, this altimeter watch has a silicone strap with a stainless steel material and glass fiber reinforced polyamide case. This makes it durable, yet stylish and sporty for every day wear. It has a color, touch screen display. It also is comfortable on the wrist.

10. Casio Pathfinder

The rating is based on the average rating (1-100) from all the criteria in which we rated this product.
73.2
Casio Pathfinder
Battery Life
75
Features
73
Advanced Features
70
Style
70
Price
78
best offer for today
$153.75
Pros:
  • Great bang for the buck
  • Solar-powered with long battery life
  • Register ring that stores direction memories around the race
  • Dual-layer LCD
Cons:
  • Bulky and heavy than others on this list
  • No GPS
  • No rechargeable battery

With a more attractive price tag, the Pathfinder is among the best bang for the buck. It has ABC capabilities that are easy to use, including its pressure sensor to determine the current altitude. It is solar-powered, water-resistant up to 100, and is EL backlit.

Read more

Altimeter

The Pathfinder provides altimeter readings via its built-in pressure sensor. This includes the current altitude at the user’s location based on the atmospheric pressure changes. It’s suggested that the user set the watch when they know the altitude prior to ascent to get an even more accurate reading. The watch face displays the altitude tendency graph, as well as the altitude difference from the reference point.

This is an ABC watch, with the barometer measuring the atmospheric pressure automatically every two hours.

Tech and Other Features

Along with measuring altitude, air pressure, and temperature, it is water-resistant up to 330fit. It has a digital compass and a stopwatch with countdown timer. It has five daily arms, world time, is EL backlit and as sunrise and sunset time display.

Battery Life

This is a solar-powered watch, lasting 6 months on a full charge without exposure to light. This makes it longer lasting than the Casio PRW-2500T-7CR Pro Trek Tough Solar and the Casio Pro Trek WSD-F20, which is also solar-powered.

Style And Fit

This is an extremely durable watch, made with titanium with a resin band that has a safety clasp to ensure it stays on during activity.

Criteria Used for Evaluation

Battery Life

Any altimeter watch is only as good as the battery it runs on so it is one of the most important aspects to consider.

At first glance, a high-performance, accurate altimeter watch may look like an attractive buy. However, the performance means nothing if it has a short battery life that risks dying when the user needs it most. We looked for watches with a reliable battery life and included some that have alternative charging or power sources. Some altimeter watches are solar-powered, which has its pros and cons. Solar-power watches generally have long battery lives but need to be in sunlight in order to charge.

Features

In this day and age, altimeter watches can come with plenty of extra tech and features that will enhance your routine.

Most often, watches will include basic barometer and compass features, but they may also have things like GPS capability, thermometers, and fitness tracking functionality. We examined many watches with nifty features like these, as well as watches that boasted advanced displays and super accurate, high-performance tech.

Advanced Features

The most important aspect of an altimeter watch is to be able to provide accurate and reliable readings.

If a user only has a certain amount of time to reach an ascent or descent, then accuracy is extremely vital. The watch should be able to accurately gather and measure information, whether manually or through GPS, and convey that to the user in an easy to read way. We took a look at the capability of these watches to measure altitude, the tech they use to provide those measurements, and how conveniently that information is presented.

Style

Even as an accessory, a good watch needs to fit good, be comfortable, and look stylish as well!

An uncomfortable piece of equipment can make or break an entire routine or trip, so you want to make sure that your watch is comfortable. Watch out for watches that are too heavy or bulky that will drag you down or distract you. Make sure the band has a snug fit but isn’t too tight or cuts off circulation; it should also be breathable and made of soft, comfortable materials.

Value

A good altimer watch will cost you a bit but it is important to look at the overall value that the watch offers!

Altimeter watches aren’t cheap. However, there are plenty of affordable options that perform considerably well. How much a consumer is willing to spend on the best altimeter watch varies based on their needs and budget. It is a choice every climber and runner has to make and they have to make the final decision for themselves in the end.

Other Factors to Consider

Use

The features and functions that are most important in your altimeter watch will depend on what kind of activity you’re planning on doing. For example, marathoners who want to track speed with elevation need to look for lightweight models that include running tracking features and a heart rate monitor. Hikers and climbers might not need any extra bells and whistles, instead opting for something simple that just offers altitude measurements and barometric readings.

Durability

Since an altimeter watch will see the most action during activities that are a little more rugged, like climbing, hiking, and running, it needs to be durable. There are plenty of aspects of your watch that will factor into this. A tight, secure band will help keep a good fit and prevent slips and drops. High-quality materials will be more sturdy and offer a longer product life. Waterproofing or weather resistance will keep out the elements and protect from rain and snow damage. These features and more all affect and influence the durability of your watch, and it’s important to be aware when you’re buying such potentially expensive or high-tech gear.

Ease of Use

Hikers, trail runners, and those who have getting lost in the great outdoors down to an art probably have their own collection of go-to tools and tech they can count on. If you’re one of these people and you don’t already have an altimeter as part of your outdoor arsenal, you may just be missing your next favorite accessory! Altimeter watches traditionally measure your altitude, but as we’ve made technological strides in the world of athletics they’ve come to include barometric readings and compasses as well. Because of this, they’re sometimes called ABC (altimeter, barometer, and compass) watches.

Bottom Line

Our specific selection of criteria breaks down each of these watches in a way that makes them easy to compare. We hope that by showing you what goes into each of our watches’ profiles that you’ll feel able to make a more confident decision when looking to buy. Whether you’re using this information to choose an altimeter watch online or in-store, these criteria are a great foundation for expectations.

Frequently Asked Questions

q: Do I need GPS capability in my altimeter watch?
a:

Although you may be able to use an altimeter watch without GPS by setting the altitude manually, those who need more functionality out of their watch will definitely appreciate GPS capability. This can help calibrate your altimeter automatically and provide accurate navigation information. Try to figure out what you will need most before you do any purchasing; an altimeter watch can easily cost hundreds of dollars and you want to make sure it will be worth the investment.

q: How do altimeter watches work?
a:

An altimeter watch displays altitude, as well as other metrics like direction, the speed of ascent and descent, the distance of elevation, and temperature. It uses pressure sensors to determine the atmospheric pressure in relation to altitude. The higher above sea level, the lower the atmospheric pressure.

q: How do I calibrate my altimeter watch?
a:

Some altimeters have a built-in GPS that will calibrate your watch automatically. You can also sometimes manually calibrate if you know the exact altitude of your starting location by following the instructions in the user manual.

q: Can an altimeter watch get wet?
a:

Many options have water resistant features, meaning it will be fine to wear in the light rain. Consult the product description first before you use it and beffore heading out in conditions that might damage it.

Sources

  1. Jason Mitchell , Altimeter Watches 101: Why Should You Have One?, Outdoors Blog, Dec 12, 2007
  2. Chris Woodford, Altimeters, Informational Website, Nov 26, 2017
  3. Suunto, Suunto key features, Company website,
  4. Buzzle, How Does an Altimeter Watch Work, Informational Website,