A dependable GPS smartwatch can make navigating your next hunt easier than ever before. See which models we think deserve your attention down below.
When you’re ready to head out hunting, you’ll want the right type of smartwatch on your wrist.
By choosing the best GPS watch for hunting, you’ll have the benefit of a plethora of features that are designed to help make your hunt a success.But there are lots of different models of GPS hunting watches on the market, so which one should you buy?
Here’s a rundown of the ones that we think are the best, plus a buyer’s guide so you know what to look for.
Our Recommended GPS Hunting Watches
If you’re already familiar with the different features to look for, here’s our no-nonsense list of the top GPS watches for hunting available.
OUR TOP PICK
Garmin Tactix Delta Solar
A GPS smartwatch built to military standards. With solar charging and advanced mapping, it's built to withstand everything you throw at it!
Garmin Fenix 6X Pro Solar
A durable smartwatch with fitness tracking at its core. Awesome navigational features and solid battery life mean it's perfect for long outings in the great outdoors.
Garmin Instinct Solar
A feature rich GPS watch that's incredibly good value for money. Excellent battery life, a military standard build, and navigational tools are highlights.
OUR TOP PICK
Garmin Tactix Delta Solar
The Garmin Tactix Delta Solar GPS watch gives you the ability to track your fitness, navigate the trails and go covert in the field.
If there was ever a smartwatch that was made as the perfect hunting companion the Garmin Tactix Delta Solar might just be it.
Is it the best smartwatch for hunting in 2021? We think so, and this is why.
Crammed full of tactical functions, navigational tools and constructed of seriously tough components, the Tactix Delta is actually aimed at servicemen and woman.With a military grade exterior (built to military standard MIL-STD 810) and nylon or silicon strap, this watch has the toughness to withstand whatever comes its way.
As is pretty much standard with smartwatches these days, an 'always-on display' means it only takes a quick glance to check the data from one of its many functions and tools. However, this may be turned off to save from marginal battery drain.
At 1.4", the screen is generous in size. It's actually 36% larger than the previous Tactix model. However, the display can be considered functional rather than beautiful.
Designed to save on battery, the resolution is lower than you'll find on a day to day smartwatch. The color palette too is less substantial.
However, what you will find is that that information is presented very well and is easily digested at a glance in harsh conditions. The viewing angle is wide and glare and low light don't pose much of an issue.
By stripping down the display so that it does only the necessities well, amazing battery life figures can be achieved...
The battery is long lasting, I mean really long lasting. In smart watch mode you’ll get up to 21 days of battery power. Using your satellite navigation will drain it more quickly, but you’ll still have 60 hours of usage available.
These figures are amazing but the Tactix Delta also comes with solar charging. If you can get your watch out in the sunlight for three hours or more per day, you’ll help to extend the battery even further.
Solar charging extends the regular battery life to 24 days and to 66 hours with constant GPS use. There's actually a really neat feature called 'Expedition Mode' that puts the watch in a low energy consumption state but with GPS still enabled and recording data. Battery life can reach 46 days in this mode!As a hunting smartwatch, satellite navigation is bound to be used regularly, and on this watch you’ll have the benefit of all three main positioning systems: GLONASS, GPS and Galileo. This helps to provide the most accurate tracking, even in challenging locations.
You can easily synchronize your location with others using the dual positioning formats (UTM and MGRS) and set waypoints (geographical positions) to be used for navigation at a later time.
Satellite navigation is assisted by topographical mapping and multiple sensors.
Elevation is calculated using an altimeter, a 3-axis compass assists with direction, and a barometer even provides weather reports.
There are thousands of preloaded topographical maps and more can be added and updated at an extra cost. You can even receive turn by turn navigation commands as you proceed on your course.
This watch has contactless payments, performance monitoring and multiple sports modes too, but at its heart it feels like a watch that’s been designed for the wild.
It has night vision capability which can be read while wearing night vision goggles, a stealth mode that hides your location and a kill switch which enables the memory to be wiped at the press of a button.
There's also the option to include Applied Ballistics software to help you line up those long-range shots to perfection. You can synch the software with laser rangefinders and even thermometers for feedback and adjustments to make.It must be said the price tag is on the large side, which will put most off. However, if you spend a lot of time hunting or in the wilderness for days at a time then this could appeal to you. It's an incredible smartwatch built for a very specific type of person.
Ease of Use
Garmin Fenix 6X Pro Solar
A tough, solar powered smartwatch built for the outdoors.
Well equipped for a wide range of sports and outdoor activities, the Fenix 6X Pro Solar is another great Garmin smartwatch that delivers sterling performance under demanding conditions.With solar charging to give an extra boost, the battery power on the Fenix 6X is impressive. The battery can last up to 24 days in regular smartwatch mode and 148 hours in maximum battery GPS mode.
The clear LCD screen provides bright graphics without being energy intensive. You won't find anything as bright and beautiful as the retina screen on an Apple Watch Series 6 but what the Fenix 6X Pro has is clear and functional. The massive upside here is 24 day battery life as opposed to 1 or 2 on the Apple Watch.
A nice touch is the ability to pick and choose features to enable or disable at any time. This essentially allows you to manage your battery usage and use the watch at its most energy efficient. Turn off what you don't need get the most out of each battery charge.
It’s worth mentioning that there's no touchscreen on this smartwatch so you’ll need to use the bezels to flick through the functions. This is by choice and it just makes sense for a smartwatch built for hunting and the great outdoors. Touchscreens are useless when they're wet or dirty and they use more power too.
Interfaces are definitely easier to navigate using a touchscreen but Garmin have done a good job making the button system intuitive on the Fenix 6X Pro.
This watch is built to take the knocks it will inevitably receive in the wild. Waterproof to 10ATM (or 100m) it can be fully submerged and be used when swimming. Titanium and diamond-like titanium (DLC) coated bezels crown a fiber reinforced polymer case and metal backing. The lens comes in a choice of Gorilla Glass or sapphire crystal which are both incredibly strong and resistant to scratching.
With triple satellite navigation capacity in the form of GPS, Galileo and GLONASS you have sufficient navigational backup on expeditions. Preloaded topographical maps and outdoor sensors are further tools essential for the outdoors.
A 3-axis compass, barometric altimeter, and gyroscope are all at your disposal at the press of a button.
Aside from hunting based features, there are multiple sports functions including skiing, weight training, hiking, cycling and golf.
There are golf courses and skiing trails available on the map function on the watch.
Health tracking supports the sports modes and monitors a range of indicators including oxygen levels, heart rate and sleep.
I'd describe this smartwatch best as a sports/fitness focused watch that is built for the outdoors and therefore suits hunting really well. It's less of a dedicated hunting smartwatch than the previously recommended Tactix Delta.
Ease of Use
Garmin Instinct Solar
A GPS smartwatch well suited to hunting. Excellent battery life and a durable build mean it's more than ready for the great outdoors.
An update to the Garmin Instinct from 2018, the Instinct Solar is a no-frills smartwatch that manages to cram in plenty of features which outdoor enthusiasts will find useful.
With a military-grade construction (MIL-STD-810) there are no concerns about toughness or durability.
The glass is scratchproof and strong, being equipped with the trademark Power Glass that Garmin frequently use in their outdoor smartwatches.
This protects the display from any dings or damage, while also soaking up the sun’s rays to absorb solar power.And it’s this solar power which contributes to the overall battery life of 54 days when used in smartwatch mode.
When using the inbuilt GPS, usage drops to 145 hours, providing that it’s being used in sunlight for at least three hours per day.
The solar power on this watch is impressive, with larger solar panels than you might have seen on watches before.
This larger solar area allows the battery power to be doubled by exposure to sunlight rather than just adding the usual 10%.There aren’t any specific features or functions that are for hunting or fishing but there’s still plenty that will be useful in a more generic way.
There is a full complement of satellite navigation with GPS, Galileo and GLONASS all included in the no-frills package. This comes along with a 3-axis compass, barometer and altimeter.
There are many sports modes which are offered plus the watch is waterproof to 10 ATM. That means it can be submerged and be worn while swimming. For a keen hunter and outdoor enthusiast, having a waterproof watch is certainly a key feature.Although it’s marketed as a fairly low spec entry, there’s a surprising amount of features included in this phone.
The only big grumble is that the screen is black and white, with no color. This doesn’t matter so much for many features but it does mean the detail in maps isn't as clear as the more expensive options.
However, as we mentioned earlier on in this guide, having a limited display allows for excellent battery life, which is certainly on show here.
Ease of Use
With customizable power management modes and a Power Glass™ solar charging lens, this watch just doesn't know when to stop!
There's a reason that so many Garmin watches feature on this list and that’s because they’re the undisputed experts of outdoor pursuit specific smartwatches. If you're looking for a solid GPS smartwatch for hunting then Garmin should be your first port of call.
With their focus on developing rugged tech, the Garmin Enduro is the result of many years of experience.
What this means is that they’ve produced a smartwatch which has an outstanding battery capacity, with up to 65 days of use before needing to recharge!
Whatever type of hunting expedition you’re on, you’ll have lots of spare battery power left to enjoy your trip!The impressive battery life is achieved through a combination of regular rechargeable battery power and solar charging.
Without solar charging, the battery will last for 50 days but with regular exposure to sunlight, a further 15 days can be added.
As always, the GPS will drain the battery much more quickly than other functions. With solar charging you’ll get 80 hours of GPS use, or 70 hours without solar charging.
There are additional battery-saving modes you can switch to; these reduce the number of “pings” that are sent to the satellites without cutting contact completely.There are no hunting-specific functions on this watch; the big bonus is undoubtedly the battery power.
However, Garmin are excellent at producing smartwatches and other tech that perform well outdoors and this watch ticks those boxes too.
ClimbPro is included to provide in-depth information about ascents and descents, plus there’s a compass, altimeter and a barometer to help with weather and location.
The satellite navigation is as good as it gets with GPS, GLONASS and Galileo all included.If you’re interested in sports metrics and wellness tracking, the Garmin Connect app will give you everything you need.
With everything from sleep monitoring to hydration and blood oxygen levels, it’s an all-round wellbeing tracker.
Ease of Use
Suunto 9 Peak
The Suunto 9 combines strong, Finnish quality with a full set of outdoor features.
A clever battery management system ensures battery power is preserved, and in Tour mode you’ll be able to get about 170 hours between charges (about a week).
The inbuilt GPS drains the power more quickly, but you’ll still be able to squeeze 25 hours out in GPS mode. It makes use of the FusedTrack algorithm which increases tracking and distance accuracy by combining GPS and motion sensor data. This in theory lowers GPS power consumption without reducing accuracy.
You can actually customize the power usage of the watch so that it's always running at its most energy efficient. If there are functions that you don't need then you can easily stop them from running in the background. This means energy isn't wasted and the actual functions that you need will run for longer.As well as capturing metrics of fitness performance, the watch also carries out health tracking such as heart rate monitoring and training load. There's blood oxygen level tracking for altitude acclimation too.
It's primarily a sports smartwatch with extensive fitness tracking modes included. However, it's aimed at being used in extreme conditions and it will certainly stand up to everything you throw at it.
The Suunto 9 has multiple weather functions that allow you to make educated decisions while out on hunting expeditions. These include:
- Sunrise and sunset times
- Storm alarm
- Sea level pressure
- Air temperature
The mapping is also really well done. The display on this watch is a bit nicer than the Garmins and routes are shown using a clear, bright interface.
Points of interest are easily plotted and routes can be planned using the Suunto app on your smartphone.
Buyer's Guide: What You Need to Know
A GPS hunting watch will share many common features with other smartwatches, such as battery life and quality of display.
However, there are some functions which are specific to hunting activities that you’ll find helpful while enjoying your outdoor activities.
Here’s a look at the things to consider:
Being able to read your watch quickly and easily is desirable for all watch-wearers, but it’s particularly important if you’re out hunting.
If you have to spend too long squinting at your watch or flicking through fiddly controls, you could miss what’s going on.
For this reason, you’ll normally find that hunting watches have larger displays - especially as there’s a lot of information to include.
Just like with a TV or monitor you would normally look for a display with a high resolution when looking for a new smartwatch. However, with smartwatches built for hunting and the great outdoors priorities are different.
Firstly, bright, detailed, high resolution screens may be great to look at but they are a huge drain on battery life. Watches built for the outdoors need long battery life, therefore a trade-off needs to be made.
What you will find with dedicated hunting smartwatches is large, clear screens that use minimal colors. Information is displayed in a concise manner that is easy to see at a glance.
The most detailed information you will be needing from a smartwatch like this is to look at maps. Therefore a small color palette and resolution of something like 300 x 300 pixels (remember it's on a something like a 1.4" screen) is perfectly fine.
Aside from energy efficiency, the other big positive in using LCD type screens instead of OLEDs or AMOLEDs is visibility. They can offer a wider viewing angle and are easier to see in difficult conditions like when there is low light or glare.
Some of these smartwatches can even be seen clearly when wearing night vision goggles. This just isn't possible on a bright OLED screen.
Another design choice with hunting smartwatches that may make them seem dated is the lack of touchscreens.
There are a few very sensible reasons for this.
- Touchscreens do not perform well when wet or dirty.
- Touchscreens hate gloves!
- Touchscreens need a relatively thin lens surface. This makes them more fragile.
This means smartwatches used for hunting will almost always use a button interface instead. Yes, it seems dated these days but it's simply the best method in this situation. Buttons are more reliable, durable, and dependable.
Satellite navigation systems are becoming increasingly common on all smartwatches but they’re a vital component for hunting watches.
They work by using satellites in the sky, sending “pings” which enable the tech to calculate your position to within just a few feet.
Satellite navigation is often referred to as GPS but that’s a misnomer. The correct name for it is GNSS: Global Navigation Satellite System. GPS is a type of GNSS but it’s not the only one.
GPS is the satellite system owned by the USA, and it’s the one that’s been used most commonly in smart devices.
However, increasingly additional satellite mapping is being included. This helps to minimize any loss of signal and heightens accuracy.
GLONASS is the satellite navigation system owned by Russia, and Galileo is the system owned by Europe.
The best GPS watch for hunting would ideally have GPS, Galileo and GLONASS enabled. That means if one is struggling for signal then you have reliable backups.In theory, as long as you have a direct line of site to the sky then you should be able to receive a signal. Be aware that tall obstacles like mountains and buildings can affect the accuracy of GPS signals. They cause reflections to arrive at the smartwatch receiver instead of the direct satellite signal. This can cause the watch to report slightly inaccurate locations.
Mapping on a smartwatch for hunting is much more than just Google Maps and it needs to be!
Google Maps is great for navigating urban areas, especially in a car. However, if you're on a hunt I'm guessing you're not anywhere near civilization.
The mapping you require contains more detail of the landscape. These maps are called topographical maps and they contain detailed information about elevation, hydrography (the physical features of bodies of water), and geographical place names.
Smartwatches that have advanced mapping will come with maps preloaded but you're able to download further maps of your choice (at an extra cost usually) and update your map library to include more recent results. Garmin's library of topographical maps are comparable to 1: 24,000 scale USGS maps.
Mapping works in combination with other navigational features on your smartwatch such as satellite navigation, a compass and an altimeter.
It doesn’t take a genius to figure out why battery life is so vital for a hunting watch. If you’re relying on your watch to navigate, running out of battery could be not just inconvenient, but potentially dangerous.
Battery life on smartwatches can be very variable, with some lasting less than a day before they need to be recharged.
In contrast, there are some models which have the potential to last for many months before needing to be recharged.
Smartwatches built for life outdoors thankfully have really good battery life. Each of the watches we've recommended in today's guide will last for days between charges. Some can even replenish themselves using solar energy.
The length of time your battery lasts will depend on the functions you’re using, and how savvy you are about preserving battery life.
GPS usage sucks power out of the battery so it’s a good idea to turn this off when you’re not actively using it.
There are also power-saving modes which will automatically disable non-essential functions to help your battery to last longer.When you’re buying a smartwatch, check the amount of hours you’ll get before it needs to be recharged.
However, make sure you understand what level of usage this figure is based on. Wherever possible, look for details about varying levels of use and the impact on battery power before making a decision.
Recommended: Don't miss our guide to waterproof smartwatches next.
When you’re looking at the battery life of smartwatches, you may notice that some offer solar charging.
This is an excellent feature and could help to extend the battery power while you’re on the move.
Solar charging is typically designed to support a regular rechargeable battery; very few people would be able to get sufficient light to keep their watched charged on solar power alone.
However, if you do have exposure to strong enough light for at least three hours per day, you could very significantly extend the length of time your watch could last between recharges.
The minimum "level" of sunlight required to get the maximum boost from solar charging in most smartwatches is 50,000 lux of light intensity. For reference, around 100,000 lux is considered to be a very bright sunny day.Some watches which include solar charging can last a couple of months before they need to be recharged.
This means if you’re going on a long trek or hunting expedition, you can trust your watch to retain enough power until you’re comfortably back at home.
Of course, it’s worth noting that you may need to reduce non-essential usage to achieve this.
A hunting watch will need to be rugged, able to withstand the toughest terrain and at times, difficult climatic conditions.
Smartwatches which are designed to be used for outdoor pursuits, including hunting, typically have a robust design so they can handle whatever terrain you find yourself in.
For the strongest casing and overall design, look for smartwatches built to military standard MIL-STD-810. This standard ensures military equipment is reliable under extreme conditions and when applied to watch design means they are incredibly tough too!
It covers the following criteria (as well as other things that didn't seem as relevant):
- Low pressure
- Extreme high and low temperatures
- Water exposure
- Sand and dust exposure
The strength of the strap will also be important; there’s no point having a sturdy watch face only for the strap to disintegrate when faced with damp or rough conditions!
A water-resistant nylon or silicon strap is one of the best options as it won’t degrade if it gets wet.
And speaking of wetness, look for proper water resistance on your smartwatch. We discuss this next.
Water Resistance Ratings
Water ratings cause a whole lot of confusion so we'll set them out in the clearest way possible down below.
These are only the water ratings you'll find for smartwatches. Lots more exist for other products.
We'd recommend getting something that has at least a 3 ATM rating. It'll handle dunks in the water no problem and also any weather conditions. But, if you see yourself swimming with your smartwatch on then you'll need to got to 5 ATM.
An important thing to note with these water resistance ratings is that they don't cover saltwater exposure. If you plan on swimming in the ocean then you'll need a specialist dive watch.
There are many outdoor pursuits watches which offer functions which suit hunting, but to get shooting features you’ll need a watch which has been specifically designed with fishing and hunting.
The Garmin Tactix Delta Solar is an example of a smartwatch which has specific functions dedicated to hunting.
Their Applied Ballistics Software has an automatic ballistics calculator which enables you to more accurately hit the target with long-range shooting.
You can also create and save custom ballistic profiles, plus there’s access to the Garmin Applied Ballistics Bullet library which contains over 1200 custom measured bullets.
The Suunto Traverse also has hunting features in the form of Automatic Shot Detection.
Using the accelerometer on the watch, this function analyses your patterns of movement and the recoil of the gun.
You will get the most accurate results when you wear it on your trigger hand, but it can be worn on either.
Having satellite navigation means that you can find your way around using waypoints rather than just compass points.
A waypoint is a series of coordinates which accurately pinpoint a location using the satellites and triangulation.
Enter a waypoint into your smartwatch and use the GPS technology to navigate to the location.
However, this doesn’t mean you should neglect the significance of a compass. When following GPS waypoints, a compass is often overlaid so you can see which direction you’re heading.
This can help you to follow progress on a map, avoiding any hazards or restricted areas.
If you're on a mountainside or near a ridge, another imperative tool is an altimeter.
This measures ascent and descent, enabling you to accurately stay at the right elevation rather than wandering off course.
Some altimeters measure your current elevation only, while others measure how much you have descended or ascended too.For hunts or activities where there are hazardous drops, an altimeter is one of the tools - together with a GPS and a compass - which can help you to stay safe even in unfamiliar territory.
It’s always a good idea to check the weather report before you head out for the day as a general guide for what to expect.
However, even if the weather report is good, climatic conditions can quickly change and it’s helpful to have advance warning.
A barometer is an essential function on a smartwatch for hunters as it provides notice about changes in the pressure of the air.
This often heralds a change in the weather; as clouds start to form from moisture rising in the air, pressure at ground level starts to drop.
If you see the barometer start to head rapidly downwards, you’ll have enough notice to either head back to camp or to take cover.
Some watches have an alert system which works in tandem with the barometer.
This has an alarm when there’s an impending storm so you won’t need to be constantly checking pressure levels in the barometer.
The Suunto 9 is one of the top GPS watches for hunting that includes a storm alert function.
Night Vision View
Night vision view is a premium function that you’ll only find on the top hunting GPS watch models.
If you expect to be hunting at night, this is a feature that will give you an extra advantage.Hunting watches with night vision have two modes: regular and night vision.
The regular mode emits a light and could give away your position by glowing in the dark.
Night vision mode can only be seen if you’re wearing night vision goggles, enabling you to read your watch without radiating a light source to your target.
Do you have any questions about anything we've covered here? Drop us a message down below and we'll get back to you real soon!