Activities | Ultrarunning, Hiking, Skiing


We’re looking for watches with a long battery life that display elevation. While elevation tracking isn’t a necessity, we wanted to include it as a key feature as many ultrarunners run through mountainous terrain where knowing elevation is important.


While there are many GPS units on the market geared towards hikers and campers, for our purposes we’re going to consider watches for more casual hikers. Here, we’re taking one thing into consideration: elevation. Granted, GPS elevation isn’t all that accurate – but it does provide a general idea of altitude.

Advanced Hikers

These watches have the ability to track elevation with a barometer, a method more accurate than GPS elevation. They also have sensors to detect temperature. Except for the Garmin fenix, the temperature sensors for these watches are built into the watch, making them less accurate due to close body proximity. The fenix can be paired with an external sensor for more accurate readings.

Cross-country and Downhill Skiers

When downhill or cross-country skiing, it’s important that GPS watches are able display metric rather than imperial units. Kilometers and kilometers per hour are typically the distance and speed measurements used in these sports. Fortunately, every GPS watch on the market is able to switch between metric and imperial units.

What makes two Garmin watches – the Forerunner 610 and Forerunner 910xt – stand-out are that they can be purchased with strap extenders. Extending the length of the strap allows you to wrap it around the outside of jacket, rather than on your wrist where you need to dig through layers of outerwear to find it.