Going on a hiking trip is hardly a stroll in a local park with your cute puppy.
Excursions of this kind might be accompanied by plenty of unpredictabilities related to weather, turf, and air pressure.
In this article, I will try to help you pick the best hiking watch under 100 dollars.
It doesn’t really matter if you are looking for the best watch for the Appalachian Trail. Or if you need one to reach Denali Peak. Or have a few-hour hiking trip on an easy-peasy trail with your BAE.
No matter how easy or difficult the trip ahead is, having proper gear should be considered mandatory.
First, I’m going to explain why having a hiking watch is so essential. Then, I’m going to help you pick the best adventure watch for less than 100 bucks.
Best Hiking Watch Under 100 (Top 8 Overview)
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|Pro Trek PRG-270-1
But What Is a Hiking Watch?
Hiking watches include functions regular timepieces don’t. Whereas standard watches perform great look-wise in an everyday environment, hiking watches are about more than just aesthetics. They provide you with essential tools that help you stay safe and sound in less familiar surroundings.
For me, the most important thing about a hiking watch is its durability and resistance to tough conditions during your excursion. If that is met, then other features I also consider fundamental include:
- a compass – to make sure you are on the right track and never lose it
- an altimeter – to let you know how far you have come already
- a barometer – so you are aware there’s enough air for you to continue
In an ideal world, every hiking watch, even the cheapest one, would include all of these.
In reality, especially if we are shopping on a budget, we should make sure the watch is rich in durability and includes a compass. That should be enough to make your expedition a safe one and anything else will be a welcome bonus.
Now let’s dive into our TOP 8 list.
Best Hiking Watch Under 100 (Reviewing the Top 8)
Suunto is a brand that’s super neat when it comes to producing sports and hiking watches.
The only reason why I was having second thoughts about putting this watch on top of my list was the price. Of all the best hiking watches under 100 listed in this article, this one will cost you slightly more but boy, does it live up to the price tag!
The Suunto Core watch described here presents a classic all-black design but the same model is available in other color variations so you can take your pick! The elastomer strap of this watch is super flexible so it will fit any wrist size. The watch comes with a traditional rotating bezel to help you set the compass bearing.
Most importantly, it has all the essential functions of a proper hiking watch. As well as being my favorite ABC (altimeter-barometer-compass) timepiece, it’s also the best weather watch on the list. Thanks to the weather indicator function, the watch can provide you with a quick reference to check upcoming weather conditions during your trip.
The most unique tool in this watch is the Storm Alarm. It goes off when the watch notices a swift drop in air pressure over a three-hour period. Should Suunto sense the change in conditions, the alarm will flash and make a noise to make you aware of upcoming difficulties. With this Suunto Core hiking watch, any form of guesswork goes out of the window!
Casio Pro Trek PRG-270-1
A compass. A barometer. An altimeter. You remember those were the top 3 features we should be looking out for in a hiking watch, right? Then it shouldn’t come as a surprise that this Casio watch is my top budget pick – it has all three. As far as quality cheap outdoor watches go, you won’t find many better alternatives to this one.
Presenting a rather classic, G-Shock-like design, the watch will surprise a few when it comes to its rich features. A well-functioning compass will make sure you don’t get lost on your path. The altimeter measuring range is impressive (from 700 to 10,000 meters) as is the barometer display range (from 260 to 1,100 hPa). A full-auto illuminated LED display will ensure even dusk won’t be a scary prospect!
All things considered, this is a really great budget option for your endeavors. As far as hiking watches under $100 are concerned, you will struggle to find better value for money.
- Rugged body
- Essential hiking watch features included
- Water resistance (100m)
- For the price quoted, hard to find any
Garmin Forerunner 35
Possibly the best watch for running and hiking under $100? Listen, it might not be as fancy-looking as the Garmin Fenix 5 hiking watch or as complete as the Garmin Epix model. But it’s still an incredibly solid and reliable product. And considering we are on a budget, there’s not much not to like about this one.
As the name of this model suggests, this model was designed primarily as a running watch. But worry not, hikers will have a hell lot of fun using it as well! The watch comes with a built-in GPS that will not only track your progress on the map but also let you know about the pace of your hiking journey. What’s best about this function, you don’t even need a phone to use it.
As well as the GPS, the Forerunner 35 comes with a heart rate monitor to make sure you are not getting too ambitious (or too lazy) on the trail. The technology used for HR monitoring is Garmin Elevate and it’s superbly accurate. More cool features like smart notifications or music control are available if you decide to connect the watch to your smartphone.
The design of this watch reminds many of the Apple Watch and it’s clear to see why. This Garmin timepiece comes in an all-black design with a rectangular watch face. The high-resolution display will make sure of comfortable viewing both indoors and outside. With the highly-durable and waterproof silicon strap of the watch, no weather conditions are to be afraid of.
If it wasn’t for the lack of the barometer and the altimeter, I’d have this one as a winner. Taking into consideration the solid brand, a stand-alone GPS and the surprisingly low price of this product, you can’t go much wrong with it. For Garmin watches with the full package and more, you can check out my list of best Garmin watches for hunting.
- Durable silicone body
- Heart rate monitor
- Water-resistance (50m)
- Doesn’t include an altimeter or barometer
Timex Expedition T2N721
One of two solid Timex hiking watches listed in this guide.
Timex T2N721 is a Quartz movement watch with an analog display. As far as looks go, it’s the complete opposite of Timex Expedition T49612 which you will find lower down the list. It presents a more elegant design with its genuine, brown leather strap that perfectly matches the silver case and an off-white dial protected by durable mineral glass. The round face of the watch is surrounded by a bidirectional bezel.
From the top 3 features I’ve been mentioning throughout this article, this Timex model offers only a compass. But it does try to make up for the absence of an altimeter and a barometer with some other functions like the Tide Tracker. This unique tool keeps you updated about Moon’s apparent motion around the Earth and counts down to the high or low tide. Apart from that, the watch comes with a thermometer that measures both air and water temperature. And since we are talking about water, it’s up to 100m water-resistant. The Timex-exclusive Indiglo nightlight makes sure you can depend on it after dusk.
For me, the impressive, stylish design of this watch is a huge temptation. The lack of an altimeter and a barometer is disappointing but some of the other features the watch offers can be considered compensation. It’s not my top pick by any means but it gives you further food for thought.
- Most stylish watch on the list
- Compass and thermometer included
- Tide Tracker
- Water resistance (100m)
- Neither an altimeter nor a barometer included
The second analog watch on our list. Or should I say, the first partially analog and partially digital watch on our list?
This Casio hiking watch meets all the basic needs of any outdoor activity enthusiast, bar compass. Instead, it includes a thermometer. The low-temperature resistance (up to -10/14 F) is a great little feature for anyone planning the expedition in the colder months. Like most Casio watches, it offers water resistance and with this model, it’s 100m. That should make any worries about encountering a storm on your trail, go away.
Just like in the case of any Casio products on this list, the watch comes with a resin band. The product combines features of analog and digital watches. The watch has a rock-solid, stainless steel case firmly protecting the mineral dial window. The quartz movement of this watch is accompanied by a digital display in the background. Combined with a black-blue-orange design, it looks pretty neat.
Casio SGW-450H-2BCF might not be the best analog hiking watch out there but it’s still okay for the price. If it wasn’t for the lack of a compass, I’d have probably ranked it higher on the list. But, because this tool is so important to have for any hiking watch, the position on our list probably reflects reality.
- Rugged body
- Includes altimeter, barometer & thermometer
- Resistant to low temp & water (100m)
- Missing compass
Lad Weather LAD024
Another less popular brand name on our list. Because LAD Weather watches are not on the lips of everyone on our market yet, you can get all the essential hiking watch features and more for a relatively low price.
As far as important hiking watch elements go, the LAD024 model has it all. Apart from an altimeter, barometer and compass, you will be able to enjoy a few extras should you decide to pick this watch. This timepiece also includes a thermometer, weather indicator, and a pedometer to track your calorie burn. As well as that, it is also water-resistant (up to 100m) so even the rainiest days will be easy to endure.
An aluminum bezel used for compass navigation surrounds the plastic watch case. The dial and face of the watch are protected by durable mineral crystal glass. This Lad Weather model comes in many color variations.
Compared to other watches in this guide, Lad Weather LAD024 does seem to be a bit difficult to navigate (at least in the beginning). I also think that the backlight is slightly too dim for comfortable night viewing. All in all, for the price offered, it’s still a good option to consider.
- Rugged case & band
- Hiking watch essentials included
- Thermometer & weather indicator
- Water-resistant up to 100m
- Could be easier to navigate
- Some might find the backlight too dim
This is another ABC watch worth having a look at.
There’s a fair chance you haven’t heard about EZON watches yet as this is a relatively young name in the industry. They are a solid Chinese brand specializing in producing both digital and smart timepieces designed exclusively for various outdoor activities like swimming, running or hiking.
As well as the 3 essential features any hiking watch should have, this EZON product also offers a thermometer with a weather trend indicator. The option of preset sunrise/sunset times is another little bonus to keep you safe on the trail. The watch is also water-resistant to up to 50 meters – making it a safe choice for basically any condition. As far as features go, one thing that is screaming to be added is an LED display. A huge setback for those who like hiking after dusk.
H001 comes with a very basic all-black design of which the central theme is a digital dial. The window is made of mineral glass which is a pretty solid option for hiking. The PU (Polyurethane) strap is very flexible and durable so it should withstand a lot.
In general, you would think this watch is not that bad an option. What I don’t really like about it, considering its super modest design and functions, is the price. It costs more than most of my top picks from bigger brands but does it really warrant its cost?
- Solid case & band
- Mineral glass dial
- Altimeter, barometer & compass on board
- Water-resistant (50m)
- Many will find the design too simplistic
Timex Expedition T49612
The Expedition line from the popular US watch company has what many others don’t – a unique, adventurous design. The prices of Timex products are also tempting. But all of this doesn’t come without faults!
The old-school, dark green and black military design of this watch appeals to many. If my decision about buying a hiking watch was about design and design only, Timex would be my choice. Unfortunately, it’s not. When going on a day-long trip on an unknown trail, I prioritize functionality over look. Sadly, this Timex hiking watch, although looking neat, misses some of the important features.
This Timex Expedition timepiece meets just one of our 3 essential hiking watch features. A digital compass will make sure you won’t get lost on your way but the lack of an altimeter and a barometer makes it impossible for me to rank this product higher on the list.
Sure, water resistance up to 200m is impressive compared to many other positions in the guide. A shock-resistance and an incredibly durable watch case and strap are the other 2 features worth mentioning here. The Timex-exclusive Indiglo light-up feature is also a little bonus for all the night owls reading this. Regrettably, all of that, as well as a budget-friendly price, might struggle up for the absence of two of the most important features.
- Rugged resin body
- Compass included
- Shock and water-resistant (200m)
- Indiglo Light-Up
- Missing altimeter & barometer
Best Hiking Watch Under 100: Essential Features Summary
I trust that the list of best outdoor watches under 100 has given you a clearer idea of which one to buy for your next hiking trip. I have proved that it’s possible to find a sufficient hiking watch for under $100 and now the ball is in your court. With such options at your disposal, I’m pretty sure that you won’t face any difficulties with picking the right one.
To summarize, I’d like to again stress the importance of carefully checking for the essential features of a hiking watch before going ahead with the purchase. At the beginning of this guide, I have listed three:
Every hiking trip is linked to higher altitudes (the distance of the point above sea level). That’s why an altimeter should be one of the first functions you should look out for in a hiking watch. I guess that this upcoming hiking trip is not your first one. Hence, you are probably aware that the more the altitude increases, the less oxygen there is for you to inhale. This is a super important metric that you need to know in order to stay safe.
Most of the altimeters used in budget hiking watches are barometric. They present you with current altitude data by measuring the air pressure. Since the height and the air pressure are super co-related, it gives you a pretty solid idea of your surroundings and the conditions you might bump into.
Fun fact: apart from hikers and mountaineers, altimeters are frequently used by aircraft and spacecraft pilots as well as skydivers.
As you can probably already guess, altimeters and barometers usually go in pairs, especially in hiking watches.
To put it in the simplest way possible, barometers measure the pressure in the air. Not only does this help altimeters to specify the altitude but it also very often can give you a short-term weather forecast. A high barometer pressure is a fair indicator of favorable atmospheric conditions whereas a low often indicates the opposite: you might encounter rain or even a storm.
This one surely doesn’t need much of an explanation. A watch compass, if used properly, will help you find a way to your destination.
Because we are on a budget and discussing only the best hiking watches under $100 here, a compass is a solid replacement for GPS which is the standard option in more expensive alternatives. Even though some hikers consider compasses to be old-school, worry not – they can be just as effective!
Usually, any hiking watch that comes with a compass also includes a rotating bezel. A compass bezel on a watch is a mobile ring that surrounds the watch case, often marked in degrees (0-359°) or direction points (S, N, W, E, etc.). If that sounds like too much info and you have never used a compass in your life before, don’t worry – it’s super simple.
How does a compass on a watch work?
In order to use a hiking watch compass to determine the correct direction of your trail, you need to go through a few straightforward steps.
First, place your hiking watch horizontally. The next thing you need to do is line up the hour hand of your watch with the direction of the sun. Next, the point in the middle you see between the alignment of the sun and the 12 o’clock indicates the South. If you now use the rotating bezel so that it matches the South point, you will be able to easily read other compass directions. Of course, let’s not forget that all of the determinations are approximate; they can be slightly deceived by metrics like different altitudes.
If the hiking watch you are considering has all of the above features, you now have the green light to look out for more “fancy” functions. These include:
Like a compass, this one is pretty obvious. Not as necessary as all of the above three but still, this feature is definitely one worth having in any hiking watch.
If you hate having to pull out your mobile phone every time you want to check the weather temperature on your trail, then a watch thermometer is the perfect solution. In today’s market, this feature is no longer considered “premium”. As shown on my under $100 list, you will find it in many hiking watch models.
Heart Rate Monitor
We can’t underestimate the importance of a healthy heart. After all, it is the leading instrument of our beautiful bodies, especially during more demanding physical exertions. Not sure about you but I’d definitely consider hiking pretty demanding!
The main job of an HR monitor is to make sure you stay at the right pace during your hiking trip. With this little tool, it will be much easier for you not to push yourself too hard – or avoid being that one guy who slows down the whole group.
In most cases, I consider heart rate monitors in smartwatches as a nice little bonus. At the same time, I’d definitely label them must-haves for any person who has been diagnosed with any form of heart dysfunction. In such cases, the feature can prove to be lifesaving.
Hiking, just like any other outdoor activity, never comes with the guarantee of perfect weather. You might have to endure a bit of rain here and there or even a full-blown storm. The terrain can be usually tricky to predict, too – you might have to cross a lake or a river. All of this calls for one thing: a waterproof hiking watch.
Just like in the case of a thermometer, water-resistant watches are no longer exclusive to premium products. Many of the best hiking watches under 100 discussed in this article have an impressive depth of water resistance.
Now that’s a bit of a premium feature. GPS is definitely a more precise and hassle-free version of the primeval compass. But it often comes at a price.
Whereas you will definitely find a compass in all of the hiking watches presented in this guide, GPS is more of a rarity. This feature is available in most smartwatches nowadays but these usually cost a bit more than what our tight budget allows us to buy. The Garmin Forerunner 5 smartwatch mentioned earlier in this guide is an exception to this rule. And to be fair, it is probably the best budget GPS watch for hiking available in your price range.