Best Watches for Backpackers

It’s safe to assume that you haven’t backpacked without a smartphone since you got one for Christmas. Even then, there’s a strong reason to explore the best watches for backpackers – and not only because they’ll help you raise your style game. Functional and aesthetically appealing, the right watch will help you keep tabs on different time zones as well as navigate routes in a scenario where your cellular data fails to work.

What Should Backpackers Look for in a Watch?

While you probably have a good idea of what a good watch entails, backpackers should especially account for the following factors when making a purchase decision:


Watches are made of different materials, so it’s one crucial factor to take into account. Highly durable options come in stainless steel, while a cheaper alternative is present in the form of base metal (sometimes plated in gold). Sporty options boast the popular silicone that withstands abuse and are excellent for backpacking in and around cities.

Width of Band 

If you have a big wrist, the wrist band that you’d find suitable ranges between 24 and 22mm. Backpackers with smaller wrists would ideally prefer a bandwidth between 15 and 20mm. The width may also depend on the thickness and diameter of a watch. For instance, a 40mm diameter case can work with a 20mm width or above.


Watches come with all kinds of features, but backpackers should especially look for a model with a GPS, and a capability to show different time zones. If you are a health nut, you can also look for a type that enables you to track steps around your favorite location. Other helpful features include the ability to see emails, attend calls, and address to-do tasks.

List of best watches for backpackers

Where to Buy
Nikon Base Tide
Suunto Traverse
Casio Pathfinder
Apple Watch Series 3
Garmin epix

1. Nikon Base Tide

This is one of the sturdiest watches for backpackers, especially for the lot planning to spend time in a beach city. It has a unique design and a range of features including a countdown timer and a chart that tracks tides. Retro tech is another compelling aspect of the Nikon Base Tide. You get smart capabilities, mod colors, and old-school shortcuts to help you find the date and time both out and in the swimming pool. Collectively, these features and the silicone material make it withstand all kinds of drops.

What makes it stand out?

Its home screen can be configured to show the tide and hours or the time and date.

2. Suunto Traverse

It could be confusing to own a watch with five buttons, but a sleek interface makes this easy to use. The buttons come with labels that say Back Lap, View, Next, Light, and Start. On-screen tips take out the confusion as you explore menus. For example, after you make a pause on the GPS, an on-screen prompt will ask you if you’re like the data to be saved or if you’ve reached your destination. With GPS, you can log 100 straight hours – that’s one powerful aspect alone to make it a contender for best watches for backpackers.

What makes it stand out?

The watch comes with a silicone band that makes the watch slide easily across your skin. The same material helps it survive a season of frequent backpacking.

3. Casio Pathfinder

This is a multifunctional solar-powered watch that can function for a span of six months without requiring power through the sun. It has a compass, barometer, and altimeter modes that are simple to use, along with a world time covering 48 cities and 31 different time zones. It’s also resistant in low temperatures of 14 and -10 C, as well as a 1 to 100-second stopwatch. Other features include an auto calendar that can be pre-programmed to show a date till 2099, a power-saving function and a battery-powered indicator.

What makes it stand out? In addition to the excellent features mentioned above, the watch is also water-resistance. It can survive a depth of 330 ft. or 100 meters and is suitable for snorkeling as well as swimming.

4. Apple Watch Series 3

The Series 3 Watch from Apple has the same mapping functionality as the previous model, and it even has built-in capability for cellular. You get all the things that should be present in a good smartwatch, like the ability to use a GPS, track routes in real time, and make text + calls without the need to tout the devices. Other unique features of the Apple Watch Series 3 are a heart rate monitor, an altimeter, a GLONASS, and an accelerometer. Furthermore, the watch features a band of Flash Sport Loop for easy breathing. It’s even stink-free after five hours of continuous usage.

What makes it stand out?

Series 3’s battery life is quite incredible. With a normal day use it can last up to five hours, even with a switched on GPS.

5. Garmin epix

This watch boasts a wearable GPS that showcases “colored relief maps” on its high-resolution touchscreen. Also, it comes with 8 gigs of internal storage, so it can accommodate an entire region in a single go, so maps need not be swapped out before a local journey. Additionally, you get all the standard functions that should be present in a GPS-capable watch – 3-axis compass, barometer, and altimeter. It also links to both GLONASS and GPS satellite systems, offering a leading signal. The best part? Even with an active GPS, the battery can go up to 24 hours.

What makes it stand out?

The watch is loaded with global shaded relief basemap, as well as TOPO Canada and TOPO US 100K maps for even greater convenience in certain locations.

Final Verdict

These are some of the best watches of backpackers. They have the necessary foundation. They contain GPS to help you get to your favorite landmarks. And they provide great value on any trip you take them on. Whether it’s a city with a lot of rivers like Paris or Amsterdam or a place with lots of routes and alleys like Rome, you’re bound to find them handy.