Hikers and mountain climbers are some of the people who are most likely to own an altimeter watch. Not only that, people who travel a lot may also benefit from knowing the altitude of their current locations.
The options available in the market are enough to give you a headache while trying to sort through them and figure out which is the best altimeter watch to purchase. Fortunately, you only have to go through the top ten devices listed below. This list is the by-product of 40 reviewed altimeter watches with the other 30 not being able to make the cut. In an ideal situation, the SUUNTO Ambit3 Peak would be the top pick given its editor’s choice status on our list. Besides the altimeter, the device also incorporates a compass, GPS, barometer, and heart rate monitor. However, this is not to take away from the other devices listed as they all possess some high-quality attributes as well.
Top 10 Altimeter Watches Review 2020
The attributes used to rate each of these devices include the size and weight of the invention, overall thickness, and extra features where applicable. All these stats are available for verification on the manufacturer websites and are also reiterated on vendor sites as well. Besides that, previous buyers can also be a valuable source of information about these devices, and you only need to take a closer look at their reviews to get invaluable insight. The structure below consists of a table, product reviews and a buying guide. You, therefore, have no excuse if you don’t end up buying the best altimeter watch for your needs on the market.
SUUNTO Ambit3 Peak – Editor’s Choice
- Materials: polyamide
- Weight: 4.6 oz.
- Dimensions: 5 x 4 x 4 in
- Power supply: 1A battery
- Battery life: 30 hours
Other features: Includes built-in altimeter, barometer, compass, and GPS with 100-meter water resistance, weather information, five sec-GPS accuracy, heart rate while swimming, speed, pace and distance, movescount training programs on the watch
The first thing that you see from the watch is its modern-looking sleek design. Given that we also like to carry our smartphones everywhere, it is entirely laudable that you can create a link with your watch for better functionality. This allows you to see all the information gathered by the time-piece on your phone screen, as well. The altimeter is, of course, the most critical aspect of this device as per the topic of discussion. Nevertheless, this device features a whole bevy of top-notch features that make it all the more worthwhile to purchase.
A GPS, for example, is incorporated into the design. A hiker will appreciate knowing his position at all times, and rather than have to calibrate with a map and compass every few hours. They can use their watch to triangulate their position. Speaking of a compass, this is another piece of technology included in the watch. You can rely on the five-second accuracy at any time of day to determine your position.
The barometer may also come in handy. Since you are either going uphill or downhill the atmospheric pressure may be changing drastically every few hundred meters. As such, having a handle on such figures may allow you to cope better with changing conditions. Another positive feature is the 100m water resistance.
You can also use the watch as a way to monitor your heart rate while swimming in addition to a few other parameters that may help you get to your exercise targets.
- Inclusion of GPS
- Can be used to measure heart rate
- Comes with a built-in compass
- Links up with smartphones
- Provides information on weather
- Battery life is relatively limited
- The device is relatively expensive
Suunto Traverse – Best Smartphone Compatible Altimeter Watch
- Materials: composite, stainless steel, mineral crystal
- Weight: 2.82 oz.
- Dimensions: 2 x 0.6 x 2 in.
- Power supply: rechargeable lithium-ion battery
- Battery life: up to 100 hours
Other features: silicon strap, GPS and GLONASS for route and POI navigation, 100 m water resistant, weather trend, and storm alarm, sunrise-sunset times, compass, tracking of steps and calories, mobile notifications, compatible with Suunto app
The Suunto Traverse is one impressive offering of its kind by the manufacturer. With the device on your arm, you can tell how many more hours of daylight you have left while you are on a trail. Also, you can track and record relevant information such as steps, distance, elevation, points of interest, and more. Noteworthy is the inclusion of GLONASS and GPS. As such, plotting your routes becomes inherently more natural.
Additionally, you can download the Suunto app on your smartphone. As such, you can see a map on your phone that incorporates the route you took to a particular destination. You can even add pictures to make the whole visualization of your journey more enjoyable. If you set the alarm, the device vibrates at that specific time instead of relying on an audible beep. As such, it minimizes noise while still making sure that you get the message.
The device is also waterproof to a depth of 330 feet and can give you notifications when a storm is about to hit.
- Can be used to record information on your routes
- Compass included
- Storm sensors
- Relatively short battery life
- Watch strap may be small for a person with larger arms
Coros Pace – Best GPS Altimeter Watch
- Materials: aluminosilicate glass, silicone
- Weight: 12.8 oz.
- Dimensions: 10 x 10 x 10 in.
- Power supply: CR2 battery
- Battery life: 30 days in standard mode
Other features: heart rate monitor and performance metrics for running, swimming and cycling activities; built-in barometric altimeter; GPS, GLONASS, and BDS; UltraSync Technology
Many similarities exist between a smartwatch and the Coros Pace. The straps are made of silicone, and the watch is comfortable to wear for long durations of time. Unlike other devices featured on this list, the Coros Pace does not do very well underwater maxing out at only 50 meters. While this allows you to go swimming with the watch, you are advised against scuba diving, as that may lead to irreparable damage. However, it makes up for that fact in a few other ways. An example is the built-in GPS. This works in conjunction with BDS and GLONASS to triangulate your position even getting accurate information where there is sufficient interference.
Also, battery power will last at least 25 days when the location system is on. If you turn GPS capabilities off, it can run for up to 30 days. If the purpose of the activities you partake in while wearing the watch is to get exercise, then you are in luck. This device also happens to have an optical heart rate monitor, as well. You can use this in conjunction with the smartphone app. With the right information put in, you will see post-training stats as well as a breakdown of calories you were able to burn during a physical activity exercise.
As well, there is the reason why this invention was featured on our list, and that is the altitude measurements. It uses the change in atmospheric pressure as read by the barometer to determine how high or low you are; hence the reason the system is named a barometric altimeter.
- GPS included
- Heart rate monitor
- Can be linked to a smartphone via an app
- Can handle up to 50m of water submersion
- 25-day battery
- Spare bands should you want to change them are very costly
- Screen not as vibrant as it should be
Casio Men’s Pro Trek PRG-270-1 – Budget Pick
- Materials: resin
- Weight: 14 oz.
- Dimensions: 0.6 x 0.6 x 0.6 in
- Power supply: solar power
- Battery life: 9 months
Other features: 100M water-resistant; low temperature resistant; accuracy: +/- 15 seconds per month; full auto-calendar; 5 daily alarms; full auto LED backlight with afterglow; barometer, thermometer, digital compass; altimeter measuring range: -2,300 to 32,800 ft
If the object of your search is a watch that features world time in addition to accurate altitude readings, the Casio Men’s Pro Trek PRG-270-1 is a good bet. The digital watch face may seem minimalistic from the image provided above, but it still shows the information you need to see in an easy to read format. The most prominent material used in the construction of the device is resin, which seems to keep water out of the watch. As such, you have the luxury of going up to 100 meters deep into the water while still maintaining watch integrity.
As well you get a full calendar that should work up to the year 2099. As such, if you keep the condition of the watch pristine, you can even pass it down to your children. Where you are looking for altitude readings or just looking to tell the time in the dark, the super illuminator should come in handy. It might even be useful in the glaring sun.
Where alarms are concerned, you get five in total with this purchase. The first four are one time only alarms while the last one can be snoozed. In addition to the altimeter, you can also get readings of atmospheric pressure and direction at the touch of a button. Also, the altimeter provides a wide range of readings from 700m below sea level to 10,000m above.
- Wide altimeter range
- Three sensors in total
- Waterproof up to 100m below the surface
- Five alarms
- Backlight for easier reading
- Nine-month battery life
- The alarm sound isn’t as loud as it should be
- The watch needs to be taken off for a while before it takes correct temperature readings
- Instructions on how to operate the watch could be better
Casio Men’s Pathfinder – Best Altimeter Watch With City Code Display
- Materials: stainless steel
- Weight: 8 oz.
- Dimensions: 4.6 x 4.4 x 3.9 in.
- Power supply: solar power
- Battery life: 6 months
Other features: digital compass, altimeter, barometer, thermometer, low-temperature resistance, EL backlight, city code display, five daily alarms, 1/100-second stopwatch, full auto-calendar, countdown timer, battery power indicator, and power-saving function
With a world time display that is compatible with 48 cities in the world, all you have to do is set the city, and the time will auto adjust to fit in with your current surroundings. However, you will need to remember the city codes as they are displayed on the watch. This watch represents a significant but worthwhile investment as it even works where there are extremely low temperatures. The EL backlight is especially handy when visibility is limited.
Battery life on the watch seems quite impressive, seeing as though you can go a total of six months without needing a recharge. Nevertheless, since sunlight is freely available and is the only requirement in charging the device, your watch should remain on all year long. The stopwatch provided by the Casio Men’s Pathfinder is accurate to the 1/100 of a second, so you can as well use it for exercise. Similar to the Casio Men’s GW9400 Rangeman, you get a three in one sensor that includes the barometer, compass, and thermometer.
- Long battery life
- 3-in-1 sensors
- One-year warranty
- The device is a little bulky
- The watch will require you to take it off and to let it sit for a while before it can read the atmospheric temperature
Casio Men’s GW9400 Rangeman – Best Waterproof Altimeter Watch
- Materials: stainless steel, mineral crystal
- Weight: 10.4 oz.
- Dimensions: 4.4 x 3.9 x 3.9 in.
- Power supply: solar power
Other features: digital compass, altimeter, barometer, thermometer, sunrise, and sunset date, timestamp, Mb6 atomic timekeeping, auto LED, five daily alarms, 1/10-second stopwatch, countdown timer, calendar, buckle closure, water-resistant to 660 feet
The main components that make up this device are stainless steel and mineral crystal. The watch, as it turns out, has a more digital outlook. Although this may be a negative to some, there are still some features that make it worth the price tag and the feature on this list. An example is the inclusion of a digital compass. Given that hiking and mountain climbing sometimes involve unknown destinations, this is a worthy addition.
Another positive attribute is the barometer for when you change altitudes and need constant readings. This is in conjunction with the thermometer as well. Although you can usually tell the difference between night and day, sometimes, you may not be able to note the transitions due to snowstorms and the likes. As such, the ability the device possesses to differentiate between the two may be an invaluable asset.
You can as well set five daily alarms to serve as reminders to do one thing or another. Waking up early is, of course, one reason to set an alert, but it could also function as a reminder to take some medicine. Also, the possibility of you having to change batteries or to charge the device is greatly minimized by the devices’ solar-powered nature. As well there is a countdown timer, stopwatch, calendar, and the ability to withstand water pressure past 600 feet underwater.
- Highly water-resistant
- Solid construction
- Compass included
- Barometer included
- Thermometer included
- Watch is quite bulky
- Some users have noted the alarm to be super quiet
- The time that the watch light stays on for more natural visibility is limited
Casio Men’s Pro Trek PRW-6000Y-1ACR – Best Analog and Digital Combo Altimeter Watch
- Materials: steel, resin
- Weight: 12 oz.
- Dimensions: 5.9 x 5.9 x 5.9 in
- Power supply: solar power
- Battery life: 6 months
Other features: 3 Triple Sensor technology, analog-digital display, multi-band atomic timekeeping, smart access, tough movement, auto hand home position correction, 100m water resistant, low temperature resistant, built-in thermometer, world time, five daily alarms
This Casio Men’s Pro Trek PRW-6000Y-1ACR combines both a digital and an analog watch interface into the body. As is a common theme of CASIO watches of this caliber, you get to see the Triple Sensor Technology that is highly appreciated by users of the watch. These sensors include the barometer, thermometer, and, most importantly, the altimeter. Also, it is common knowledge that the higher you go, the colder it becomes; hence the existence of snowcapped mountains. As such, it is understandable why the manufacturers made the watch temperature resistant so that it functions even in the coldest weather. Consequently, this is one of the best ski altimeter watches available.
You can set the device to notify you when there is a significant change in barometric pressure via an alarm in addition to the digital display on the face of the watch. The hands of the watch are bound to cover the digital display at some point, and the manufacturer includes a feature that helps counter this. The auto hand shift, as it is called, serves to move the hands away from the screen then revert them to their correct position as soon as you have the information you need.
If you deprive the device of light, it can still work for six extra months. However, this is hard to do; hence you are all but guaranteed that sun and ambient light will keep the device from switching off for a long time to come.
- Tri-sensor: barometer, altimeter, thermometer
- Strong, rugged body
- 6-months battery life
- Works even in extremely low temperatures
- 100-meter water resistance
- No GPS
- Thick and relatively heavy
- Temperature sensor only works when the device is off your wrist
Casio Men’s Pro Trek PRW2500T – Best Titanium Construction Altimeter Watch
- Materials: titanium
- Weight: 4 oz.
- Dimensions: 1 x 1 x 1 in.
- Power supply: solar power
- Battery life: 3 months (on full charge with Power Saving Function)
Other features: digital compass, altimeter, barometer, thermometer, multi-band atomic timekeeping, 200M water resistant, duplex LC display, tide graph, countdown timer, battery level indicator, power-saving function, full auto-calendar
The Casio Men’s Pro Trek PRW2500T sets itself apart as one of the thinner options to be featured. Nevertheless, the small frame still comes jam-packed with incredible attributes. Of course, the water resistance has to feature in here, given that it works up to a distance of 200m from the water surface. As such, you can use it for a bit of light scuba diving. This is partly due to the titanium body that has a reputation for being sturdy and robust.
The digital compass is also mention-worthy since you want to know the direction you are headed to at all times. Once the battery gets to full, you can use it for a consecutive three months before the watch dies down. This is, of course, if you make full use of the power-saving function. Nonetheless, you don’t need to let it get so far since you can power up by exposing the device to sunlight. At any given time, the watch will also display battery level, so you know when to ensure it receives maximum sunlight.
While the key feature that got this watch on the list is the altimeter, you would hardly fail to notice the thermometer and barometer, as well. The former is displayed on the watch between -10° and 60°C. The tide graph is also a noteworthy feature of the watch. Consequently, if you want to know the low and high tides periods for the general area you are visiting, all you have to do is consult your watch.
- Rugged exterior
- Relatively thin construction
- Compass included
- Barometer is present
- Gives a tide graph
- No GPS
- Some users have noted the display to be dim
- Alarms provided by the watch may not be very loud
Suunto Core SS014279010 – Best Digital Altimeter Watch
- Materials: composite, aluminum
- Weight: 2.26 oz.
- Dimensions: 1.93 x 1.93 x 0.57 in.
- Power supply: CR2032 battery
- Battery life: 12 months
Other features: altimeter, barometer, and compass; a Weather Trend graph; storm alarm; altimeter displays current elevation, shows ascent or descent and records session; low battery warning; 100 feet water resistance
The Suunto manufacturer is also giving CASIO a run for their money by offering suitable alternative altimeter watches. As such, the Suunto Core SS014279010 is a quality addition to the list. On the digital interface of the device, you find readings for altitude. This innovation also allows you to record the happenings of a specific hiking or exercise session. Additionally, a barometer, as well as a compass, are present.
A key selling point for the device is the weather tracker. This information is displayed in a weather graph that you can then use to plan your trips. If there is a sudden drop in air pressure, it may indicate a coming storm. The watch will sense this and notify you by way of an alarm. Other selling points are the 100 feet water resistance and 12-months battery life.
- Long battery life
- Relatively slim and lightweight
- Weather readings
- Storm alert
- Comes with barometer and compass as well
- 7-day weather memory
- Some users note that the display is rather dim
- No GPS capabilities
Citizen Men’s Promaster Altichron – Best Compass Altimeter Analog Watch
- Materials: steel, anti-reflective mineral crystal
- Weight: 4.48 oz.
- Dimensions: 4.7 x 4.7 x 4.7 in
- Power supply: any light
Other features: analog display, altimeter measuring 1,000ft – 32,000ft, compass, and date, black polyurethane strap, Eco-Drive technology, 200m. water resistance
Analog watches are a favorite for many watch lovers, and it’s a relief to know that if you want an altimeter watch, you don’t have to go with a digital one. You can opt for this option, which is from one of the famous manufacturers of watches in the world. The watch is very thick, totaling 4.7 inches. As a hiker, if you feel that electricity will not be available in the terrain you choose, then this should be the go-to watch. It powers up by absorbing light, which should be enough for the device to function as you trek.
The above feature makes it one of the more eco-friendly options available. It as well will perform well underwater. It can go a distance of up to 200m underwater before you need to worry about losing your investment. Also, you will need to tell direction if you intend to reach a specific destination. Usually, you would have to carry a compass with you as you take on a particular trip, but with this device, you can forego that formality as it is also able to tell direction as well.
As is typical with some other analog watches, you can also set the date, and the device will be able to tell you what day it is from then on. Also, this watch works to give more accurate altitude readings between 1000 and 32000ft above sea level. It can consequently even be used to climb mountains.
- Classic analog design
- Compass included
- 200m water resistance
- Range of up to 32000ft above sea level
- Durable construction
- No GPS
- Cannot be linked up with smartphones
- Some users have complained about the band hence you may have to replace it
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Why buy an altimeter watch?
People who move from low altitudes to high altitudes fast, especially mountain climbers, sometimes experience hypoxia. The phenomenon tends to slow down a person’s body cells, and this, in turn, will turn them against the whole body since they are not receiving enough. The form of altitude sickness that follows is not common, but when it does happen to an extreme degree, it can lead to death.
Symptoms of the same include confusion as well, so a person with hypoxia can easily get lost on their trip, leading to more problems. An altimeter gives you knowledge of your current altitude, as well as atmospheric pressure, and thus, you can avoid this whole hypoxia situation.
Features to consider when choosing an altimeter watch
While some of the watches are from the same manufacturer, they inevitably have something different features to offer from their counterparts. It is in this section that we delve into the characteristics common to altimeter watches and what they mean. Once you understand what each feature means you can place a value on it, and that will assist you in making the final purchase decision.
This essentially means how strong the component materials are. You will find in a lot of CASIO watches a combination of steel and resin in the construction. Most of these devices, if well taken care of, will last even decades. Titanium construction as offered by the Casio Men’s Pro Trek PRW2500T listed above has also been known to last quite long. What you need to know is if the construction materials are strong enough to justify the cost of the watch. Also, you need to know the life expectancy of the device; hence, the warranty terms and previous customer experiences are essential as well.
Also, depending on component materials, your watch will be heavier or lighter. Being an accessory that you wear on a hiking trip, the watch should still be able to maintain a bit of weightlessness on your arm. This is despite the features and components that they fit into the device.
DesignThe Coros Pace has all the makings of a modern watch, and you can see that just from the outlook. On the other hand, the analog watch is a design that is rather sleek and is also a fan favorite around a lot of watch lovers. The latter, while good looking may not be able to provide some readings; hence, most altimeter watches will include a small digital display even when sticking to the old design. This is especially visible in the Casio Men’s Pro Trek PRW-6000Y-1ACR watch we listed above. Some watches come with sleek finishes, and you may still find others that feel quite rugged. With the design, it all comes down to whether you prefer sleek or rugged finishes as you are ultimately the one to wear the watch.
Displays can sometimes be disappointing. If you have the best compass altimeter analog watch, yet visibility is limited, it becomes useless. You will be unable to read the time, altitude, and air pressure.
Due to the sheer number of features in certain altimeter watches, you will find some of these devices to be quite bulky. Others seem to have a healthy balance of components included and size. Some users don’t seem to mind a big watch body and thus will steel be able to use the invention. On the other hand, others prefer a slim, minimalistic look to the timepiece they have on their hands. As such, the dimensions area is one to look through very carefully if you are in any of these two categories.
If you go through the list above, you will find most compass thermometer altimeter watches to feature rechargeable batteries. These are often ideal as they mean that you can use them for longer without having to open up the watch and replace them. On the other side of the spectrum, you have disposable batteries that, although will feature rather long battery life, will need to be ditched as soon as they are out of power. This option is not one that anyone keen on environmental conservation would take.
The SUUNTO Ambit3 Peak has a battery life of about 30 hours. On the other hand, you have the Suunto Core SS014279010 by the same manufacturer with a battery that lasts for 12 months. As well there a few variable options in between. With shorter battery life, you will need to recharge the battery more often. However, this might turn out to be inconsequential in some cases. Some of the CASIO watches, for instance, are solar-powered, and hence, they can recharge back to full power as soon as sunlight reaches them. Nevertheless, they still try to outdo the rest by having batteries that can last for months without needing a recharge.
Not all altimeter watches are built the same. Most of them, however, have a few things in common. These include the altimeter, a barometer, and a compass. Some go above and beyond these basic features by adding GPS, a heart rate monitor, and compatibility with smartphones as well. A watch with more technology incorporated is a more worthy purchase since you will have to bring less gear as you go for your hike. You will also be able to do more with the extra characteristics and technology the watch provides.
Accuracy of the altimeter varies from watch to watch. Those, of course, with higher accuracy readings, are more highly rated. However, this is dependent on whether they use the GPS or the barometer to make their altitude conclusions.
As you go through customer reviews both on Amazon and on other vendor sites, you realize that some of the watch straps seem small for a few guys. If you are one of these select few, you might have to purchase replacement straps, which could be expensive. To avoid such a hassle, you can do your research beforehand and ensure the straps fit, and your watch is snug to your wrist.
Most altimeter watches use the barometer component as a crucial part of determining the altitude. The barometer takes readings of air pressure in the general vicinity, and this information is recorded on the watch. Next, the device performs non-linear calibration on the figures it gets, and the result is a figure depicting altitude.
Given that the internal workings of these devices are all different, the methods for calibrating the devices vary as well. If you go through the manual you receive with your watches; there should be instructions on the same. If not, you can call up customer support and enquire.
ABC watches are those that include an altimeter, compass, and barometer. Unfortunately, not all altimeter watches incorporate a compass, and hence, they are not all categorized as ABC watches.
You still have to make your choice out of the ten options we have provided above. As for us, the SUUNTO Ambit3 Peak takes the cake. It includes all the positive attributes of an altimeter watch including the barometer as well as a compass. Additionally, you get GPS with 5-second accuracy and a heart rate monitor. If you are using this device for exercise, you as well have access to some training programs.
The Suunto Traverse is similarly just as capable. You will also want to know if a storm is coming so you can seek shelter, and the device’s ability to predict one coming is uncanny. Perhaps the only reason it is in second place is that some customers have complained that watch strap may be small for a person with larger arms. A third option is the Coros Pace with its three satellite system that helps determine your location faster. The device mainly focuses on using the barometric readings to determine altitude. It also includes a few side features that you can make use of, such as smartphone connectivity and a heart rate monitor. The CASIO and Citizen Watches are not far behind with their most endearing qualities being rugged bodies and solar charging. Whatever altimeter watch you choose from the list above, you can be sure it is a quality purchase.