When choosing your hiking watch, there are a few things that you need to keep in mind. The purpose of buying a hiking watch is to find your way from one point to the next. Here are some tips on how to choose the right hiking watch.
* Most hiking watches come with an internal GPS system. This means that they will need to have their GPS location engraved in them somewhere. The best ones will let you do this directly from the GPS unit itself. Be sure that you get one with long life and that it can hold up to rigorous hikes. These are not cheap GPS systems so expect them to last for years.
* The next thing that you should look for when buying a hiking watch is the altitude gauge. An altimeter is what will show you your altitude readings. It will also tell you the amount of air pressure in your lungs. The best ones have both an altitude gauge and an altimeter.
* Next look for the features that all GPS watches will have. Features like the ability to keep track of your mileage, a stopwatch, a heart rate monitor, a lap timer, and even a countdown timer. Some of the more advanced models will allow you to set up alerts that will inform you of the distance you have gone or the time left to go another step. All of these basic features are essential for hiking and biking.
* There are a couple of other features that are necessary but often overlooked. One is the ability to stop by sites that you may be interested in without having to get up and go to them. Another is that the best hiking watch should be able to withstand the outdoor elements. The best outdoor watches are typically waterproof and will protect your GPS unit from rain or other water damage.
* Don't forget the compass. You should always carry a compass with you on any hiking trip. In some models, they are small and can fit inside your pocket. The best hiking watches will have an accurate representation of latitude and longitude.
* Altimeters are important as well. Most GPS units will offer both an altimeter and a compass. The best hiking watches will also provide you with an accurate representation of altitude. As you hike, make sure that your compass is still accurate.
* Other features that are necessary but not often thought about include a heart rate monitor, a stopwatch, a clock, a map, and a calorie counter. I prefer to have the heart rate monitor as an extra feature because I often lose count during hiking trips. Another great feature is to have a calendar and a map. With the GPS devices, I can see my progress for each day or region. If I had an accurate barometer and an altimeter, I could actually measure how far I've hiked.
* Other great features to consider are a navigation system, waterproofing, and a big, easy-to-read back display. The GPS units will usually have a backlight in order to help you see in the dark. You should also look for a lightweight, waterproof shell. Some units offer both digital and analog displays. Make sure that the display offers you the time, distance, and altitude readings in the same glance.
* One other feature that is useful, but often overlooked, is a weather forecast. Forecasts can sometimes be found on the unit itself, but many GPS devices offer a separate weather package. This package often includes a compass and altimeter. Having this information will allow you to plan your next hiking trip so that you know what to expect.
* Last, but not least, the best hiking watch should offer you a good, solid wrist strap. A chest strap would be ideal, but many people don't like the weight of a wrist strap. If you are considering an item with a chest strap make sure that it has been specially created for your size and weight.
As you can see, there are many different types of hiking watches to choose from, but two stand out as being the best overall purchase. A chest-mounted GPS or a waterproof, battery-powered, heart rate monitor are two of the most important features to look for when purchasing a new hiking watch. The choice for the third feature is up to you. Whatever you decide to buy, you will enjoy using your new hiking watch!