15 Best Hunting Watches 2023: GPS vs ABC | Garmin or Suunto?

Garmin Instinct solar watch sitting on a log with a frozen lake in the background
Best Hunting Watches of 2023

You might already have a good everyday watch, so why would you need one of 2023’s best hunting watches? Well, watches these days can do a whole lot more than just tell you the time. In fact, one of the products on this list may just save your hide.

Let’s say you’re out on an elk hunt deep in the vast expanse known as Montana. Maybe you’re tracking a bull and lose your bearings as the sun starts creeping behind the mountains. A solid GPS watch will give you peace of mind knowing you can find your way back to the campground no matter how lost you become.

Say you don’t need GPS, though; maybe you hunt the same familiar areas time in and time out. Instead, you may just need a well-reviewed outdoor watch with an altimeter, barometer, and digital compass (ABC) to track elevation, gauge atmospheric pressure, and point you in the right direction.

None of that could matter to you, though, and maybe you just need a rugged watch that simply tells time and keeps ticking for months on end. Whatever your scenario, we’ve got you covered.

Differences Between GPS, ABC & Regular Watches

GPS Hunting Watches

GPS hunting watches typically reside at the higher end of the price scale but are more feature-rich than the rest.

They use GPS and other GNSS (Global Navigation Satellite Systems) to track where you are, show you a trail, or drop virtual breadcrumbs to help you find your way in the wilderness. They can also count steps, measure Sp02 levels (the amount of dissolved oxygen in your blood), and display text messages and notifications.

They have all the capabilities of ABC watches, which we’ll get into in the section below.

If you’re looking for an all-in-one outdoor watch that can do everything you want, you will want one with GPS.

ABC Watches

As I mentioned earlier, ABC watches are all equipped with an altimeter, barometer, and digital compass, which will:

  • measure elevation
  • gauge atmospheric pressure changes
  • help you find your way

ABCs don’t have pinpoint navigation capabilities like GPS watches but might be perfect for those who don’t want to spend more for features they’ll never use.

When you choose an ABC watch, you’re getting a device that will drain less battery than a full-featured GPS-equipped watch. So if you need months-long battery life and a solid set of features, an ABC watch may just be the way to go.

Regular Watches

Maybe you don’t need GPS or ABC capabilities, and you just want a reliable watch that can handle the rigors of the outdoors. If that’s you, we included a few watches to help you keep track of your most valuable asset while on the hunt: time.

What Makes for a Great Hunting Watch?

Regardless of the watch you choose, there are different characteristics that each product must have to earn our respect and get placed on this list.

They must:

  • Be durable
  • Have shock/water resistance or full waterproofing
  • Feature scratch-resistant watch faces (the more expensive models)

The great outdoors can punish you and your equipment, so find the hunting watch that suits you from the list below.

Best Overall Hunting Watch

Garmin’s all over this list. They own the top, middle, and high end of the hunting watch market because they offer various products to fit all price ranges.

So, it shouldn’t surprise you that they take the top spot in our 2023 guide with their fenix 7.

Garmin fenix 7 Sapphire Solar

Black Garmin fenix 7 Solar Sapphire GPS time teller

GPS/ABC: Yes — dual-band/yes
Battery: USB-rechargeable
Water Resistance: 100 meters
Pros: New mapping capabilities, first-ever Garmin touchscreen in a Fenix watch, tons of options and sizing
Cons: Expensive

There’s a gang of Garmin fenix 7 watches out there for you to choose from, so why did we pick the Sapphire Solar version of this watch as our best overall?

It comes down to a few key features, one of which is included in the watch’s name.

The first is a sapphire face that keeps the watch from getting scratched in the rugged outdoors. That might not be all that important to some, but the other features come along with this specific model might.

When you buy the Sapphire watch, you get dual-band GPS as a standard feature. Dual-band GPS enables the watch to connect to two different GPS satellites simultaneously, which means accurate location tracking.

Imagine you’re hiking along a mountain range, and you only have a single GPS band available to you. This can greatly skew your location on a map because the satellite could be on the other side of the mountain.

But, when you can connect to two different satellites, your watch is much better at accurately portraying your location, since it can connect to the satellite on one side of the mountain in addition to one that could be right above you.

Aside from dual-band GPS capabilities, the solar capabilities of this watch enable your watch to stay powered longer without having to recharge. Plus, over Fenix 6 watches with solar, the ability of the Fenix 7 to capture sunlight and turn it into battery power is greatly improved.

All in all, the fenix 7 Sapphire Solar is the best watch of the bunch. It has every feature you could ask for, and Garmin even upgraded its mapping capabilities over previous versions. You simply can’t go wrong.


Best Non-Apple Screen

Apple has one of the best screens in a smartwatch for hunters product out today. Not to be outdone, Garmin stepped up their game with the fantastic AMOLED-based epix Gen 2.

Garmin epix Gen 2

​​GPS/ABC: Yes — dual-band/yes (with the Sapphire version)
Battery: USB-rechargeable
Water Resistance: 100 meters
Pros: Beautiful AMOLED display, more mapping details available than with fenix
Cons: No solar option

Like the fenix 7, you’ll need to spring for the sapphire display to get multi-band GPS support on the epix Gen 2, which is why we’ve included that model in our breakdown. Only the most accurate GPS will do for serious outdoorsmen, and Garmin stands alone in that regard.

We think the epix is an amazing smartwatch for hunters because of its incredible display. Unlike the other Garmin watches on this list, the epix uses an AMOLED display, making it much brighter and easier to see than the MIPS-based fenix family.

Part of the reason it’s easier to see is that it uses far more pixels. The epix display utilizes 416 x 416 pixels (versus 260 x 260 on the fenix). When paired with the much brighter AMOLED display, this watch really shines compared to its fenix cousin.

With more pixels and a brighter display, the epix will consume battery much faster than the fenix. Ultimately, battery life is the main deciding factor you’ll have to consider when choosing between the fenix and the epix.

The epix, with its screen always on, will last about 6 days. You can achieve higher battery life by using gesture-based screen illumination, meaning the screen will only light up when you rotate your wrist towards your face — you get 16 hours if you use this method.

The middle-sized (in terms of screen) fenix, in comparison, will get you 18 days. And that’s with the screen always on. When it’s all said and done, if you want the best display, one that’s easy to see in bright sun and has the ability to show more mapping detail — epix is the clear choice.


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Best Hunting Watch for the Money

Though the Garmin fenix 7 is tough to beat, its price tag might scare some off. That’s why we’re giving you a solid recommendation for hunters who want a full-featured GPS watch at an approachable price. This watch is well-reviewed, performs great, and gives you excellent value for the money.

Garmin Instinct 2 | Solar Edition

Black Garmin Instinct 2 solar watch for outdoors

GPS/ABC: Yes/yes
Battery: USB/Solar-rechargeable
Water Resistance: 100 meters
Pros: Tons of versions available including solar, tactical, surf, and more. Myriad features the original lacks
Cons: Pricey — but that’s the cost of future proofing

The original Garmin Instinct rang in as our best hunting smartwatch for the money. With Garmin’s release of the Instinct 2, can we expect the same value per dollar?

The short answer is no. Because Garmin recently updated their range of products, you’ll find regular Instincts at much more approachable prices than you’ll find their Instinct 2 options. But, that isn’t to say the Instinct 2 isn’t without its charms.

For example, if you’ve got a smaller wrist, an original Instinct may not be for you. One version of the Instinct 2, the Instinct 2S, comes in a smaller 40mm size compared to the only size the original Instinct comes in, which is 45mm.

And, that smaller size has even more pixels than the originals despite the smaller watch face. That means the display will appear clearer and easier to read.

Additional features that separate the Instinct 2 variants from the original is the ability to install third-party applications. With the original instinct, what you see is what you get.

Plus, you can use the watch to pay for stuff at the store, and it has more fitness tracking features than the original and Sp02 blood oxygen monitoring for the first time in the Instinct line.

The Instinct 2 represents a more advanced hunting watch than the original. It brings the Instinct family of products into line with the more advanced smartwatches you may be familiar with.

So, if you want the most feature-rich yet price-conscious hunting smartwatch, opt for the 2. For hunters who just want a solid, budget option, choose an original Instinct.


Best Battery Life in GPS Mode

If you plan on using GPS mode extensively, look no further than the Coros Vertix 2. While the fenix 7 boasts better overall battery life, the Vertix 2 lasts forever in GPS mode. 

Coros Vertix 2

Black Coros Vertix 2 with 8:35 displayed on the face

GPS/ABC: Yes/yes/ dual-band capable
Battery: USB-rechargeable
Water Resistance: 100 meters
Pros: Best-in-class battery life, durable sapphire-crystal lens face, very versatile
Cons: Pricy, proprietary charging cable

The Vertix 2 has the most astounding GPS  battery life of any of the timepieces listed here. On a full charge, this watch will last you 60 days of normal use or a staggering 140 hours in GPS mode. 

Aside from its battery life, it uses a total of five GPS systems for hyper-accurate location tracking and breadcrumbing. Plus, it has a feature that’ll show you which GPS system provides the best reception from your current location. 

In terms of additional features, the watch has activity modes like trail run, cross-country ski, and windsurfing modes. And those just scratch the surface. 

If you want a serious all-in-one watch with incredible battery life, look no further than the Vertix 2 from Coros.


Pure ‘Built for Hunting’ Watch

Let’s say you don’t care all that much about smartwatch features like step counters and heart rate monitors. Instead, maybe you want a watch made specifically for hunting.

For you, let me present the SUUNTO Traverse Alpha. It has GPS, moon phase and sunrise/sunset features, and even automatic shot detection to track when and where you pulled the trigger.

SUUNTO Traverse Alpha

SUUNTO Alpha Traverse displaying a GPS map

GPS/ABC: Yes/yes
Battery: USB-rechargeable
Water Resistance100 meters
ProsBuilt for hunting, solid battery life, military standard 810G rugged
Cons: No Galileo satellite support

When you first see the Traverse Alpha, you’ll notice how ruggedly SUUNTO built it. This watch features a knurled stainless steel bezel, a strong nylon strap, and sapphire crystal’s best-in-class scratch resistance.

Combining these external features gives you a watch made to stand up to truly rugged conditions. But the Traverse Alpha’s internal features also make it stand out as one of the top hunting watches of 2023.

Like the Instinct, the Traverse Alpha has all the ABC features and GPS and GLONASS satellite systems to help you stay aware of exactly where you are on a map and drops breadcrumbs to help you find your way back.

But the most remarkable feature of the Traverse Alpha is called Automatic Shot Detection. This watch can detect when you’ve taken a shot and store that information so you can keep track of when and where you pulled the trigger. As a result, it’s one of the best watches for shooting.

For hunters who like to use data to their advantage, this watch provides it in spades. Ultimately, this is the SUUNTO watch for hunters who want every edge they can get.

Best of the Rest: Watches with GPS

If you’re looking for the most feature-rich hunting watches you can buy, you’ve come to the right spot. The following watches sport just about every bell and whistle you can fathom.

Garmin Fenix 6 Pro Solar

Garmin Fenix 6 Solar displaying "1010" on the face

GPS/ABC: Yes/yes
Battery: Solar-rechargeable
Water Resistance: 100 meters
Pros: Solar-powered, preloaded with topo maps, versatile for several outdoor activities
Cons: Pricy, sapphire face not standard

Garmin’s fenix series of watches have long presented hunters with incredible tools to help them knock down that deer or elk.

And with the release of the fenix 7, you get even greater value for your buck when you choose a fenix 6.

As you’d expect, they feature all the mapping capabilities, breadcrumbing, and fitness tracking features you’d want. But, unlike some more inexpensive watches, the Garmin fenix 6 Pro Solar has solar charging capabilities to keep you on the hunt longer and more features than you can shake a stick at.

For durability, the watch conforms to Military Standard 810G, which means it can handle thermal shocks, gunfire shocks, and much of what a soldier might throw at it. It doesn’t come standard with a sapphire watch face, so keep that in mind.

Finally, if you want ballistics features, Garmin has you covered with the tactix Delta Solar below, one of the market’s best tactical watches. Or, if you simply need a sapphire watch face in addition to all these features, click here.

If you spend time in the great outdoors for more than just hunting trips, this watch has valuable features for nearly every activity you can imagine. As such, I think the Garmin fenix 6 series represents the best Garmin GPS watch for hunting and outdoor life in general.

Garmin tactix Delta Solar with Ballistics

Garmin tactix Delta Solar watch dipslaying "10:10:38" on the face

GPS/ABC: Yes/yes
Battery: Solar-rechargeable
Water Resistance: 100 meters
Pros: Great battery life, extremely durable, applied ballistics helps with long-range shooting
Cons: Very expensive

Yeah, I know the name is a bit of a mouthful, so let me break it down.

The Garmin tactix Delta Solar is built on the slightly older Fenix 6 platform from Garmin. Because it’s a tactix watch, it features myriad capabilities tailored to those who work in defense or the military.

That means you get Applied Ballistics software to help you with long-range shooting and situations, making it one of the top tactical watches for hunting out there. You also get night vision capabilities, stealth mode, a kill switch, and more.

On top of these military features, the tactix Delta Solar is built to military standard 810. When you buy this watch, you’re getting a real tough son of a gun.

Ultimately, this tactical watch performs double duty exceptionally well if you’re a hunter who also serves.


Apple Watch Series 7

Green Apple Watch 7 series with digital display

GPS/ABC: Yes/yes
Battery: USB-rechargeable
Water Resistance: 50 meters
Pros: Great screen, compatible with lots of apps, always-on screen is handy
ConsPoor battery life, not super durable

I get it; an Apple Watch may not make for the most rugged watch out there, but it has loads of features that make it practical while hunting. Let me explain.

If you use an iPhone, don’t go out on days-long hunts, and seek the best screen in a smartwatch, then an Apple Watch Series 7 may be for you.

This watch features GPS, GLONASS, Galileo, QZSS, and BeiDou tracking systems, making it one of the more feature-rich watches concerning positioning systems in this post.

It also has ABC capabilities, is water-resistant, and comes with the best-in-class heart rate monitor/sensor.

Part of its intrigue comes from its ability to install and run hunter-friendly Apps, like Garmin Connect, Topo Maps+, and more. Users can also swap out its band for many different kinds of more burly hunting apple watch bands.

The Apple watch may not be the ideal choice for multi-day hunters due to its less-than-stellar 18-hour battery life and suboptimal ruggedness. But, if you’re easy on your gear and don’t need the watch for marathon hunting trips, the Apple Watch is an exciting option to consider.

All in all, consider an Apple Watch for hunting; it just might be everything you need and then some.


ABC Watches

Check out our ABC reviews if you don’t need all those fancy features with smartwatches for hunters, like GPS, fitness tracking, and more.

Here you’ll find excellent battery life, easy-to-use products, and everything you need to get on with the hunt.

Casio Pro Trek PRG-270

Casio Pro Trek ABC displaying "00'00'0"

GPS/ABC: No/yes
Battery: Solar-rechargeable
Water Resistance: 100 meters
Pros: Solar-powered, alerts you to changing weather, very accurate
Cons: Pricy for an ABC watch

In terms of rugged hunting and fishing watches, the Casio Pro Trek PRG-270 is about as popular as you can find. Its success in the outdoor industry is well-earned, as it’s about as reliable and accurate as they come.

Built around Casio’s triple sensor, the Pro Trek gives users the crisp ABC readings they’ve come to expect. One of its top associated features is the Barometric Pressure Tendency Alarm, which will alert users to fast-changing weather patterns.

The Pro Trek is solar-powered, so there’ll be no need to fuss with charging cables or replacing batteries. This watch will stay charged as long as you let it see some sunlight once every nine months.

Though this watch excels during hunting, it will perform dutifully for many other outdoor activities, like fishing, scuba diving, and hiking – to name a few.

If you’re searching for a versatile, well-reviewed watch for all your outdoor endeavors, the Pro Trek PRG-270 will probably suit you well.



Black SUUNTO Core displaying "1162 m"

GPS/ABC: No/yes
Battery: Replaceable CR2032
Water Resistance: 30 meters
Pros: Very durable, accurate ABC, Storm Alarm is handy, looks great
Cons: Doesn’t charge via USB, screen hard to read in harsh light

The SUUNTO Core represents one of the coolest, nicest-looking ABC watches we have on this list. That’s because it’s one of the most accurate ABC watches you can find, plus it has a feature called Storm Alarm.

This watch can track changes in barometric pressure over time and alert you when conditions are ripe for a storm. Not only will it alert you when it might be time for you to move, but you might just be able to find an elk or deer who’s looking for shelter, as well.

If you’re searching for a good-looking watch with a great ability to monitor ABC conditions, the SUUNTO Core delivers.


Casio Pathfinder

Casio Pathfinder displaying "330 degrees"

GPS/ABC: No/yes
Battery: Solar-rechargeable
Water Resistance: 100 meters
Pros: Incredible battery life with solar, excellent weather resistance
Cons: A tad pricey for its capabilities, not exactly stylish

Here lies one of the best Casio outdoor watches. The Pathfinder features all the ABC features its triple sensor offers, like a hyper-accurate digital compass and a handy altimeter. Plus it has low-temperature resistance down to -10 degrees Celsius or 14 degrees Fahrenheit for the late-season hunters among us.

One of the most exciting features of the Pathfinder is that its face also serves as a solar cell. That means whenever sunlight shines on it, it charges. Not that it needs to charge all that often, though.

The Casio Pathfinder runs for an incredible six months on a full charge, and that’s without getting exposed to any further light. Ultimately, this watch should last forever, as long as you’re exposing it to the sun.


Casio SGW-1000-1ACR

Black Casio watch displaying "2:50"

GPS/ABC: No/yes
Battery: Replaceable CR2025
Water Resistance: 100 meters
Pros: Great value, durable, long battery life
Cons: Doesn’t charge via USB

Here’s another great ABC watch from Casio to consider for your next hunting trip. Unlike the Pathfinder, this watch can’t charge via solar. That said, the battery does last for around three years, so you shouldn’t have to worry about it for a long time.

Thanks to its patented triple sensor, the SGW-1000 delivers extremely accurate ABC readings across the board. Such precise information could go a long way while traversing the backcountry on your next hunting trip.

This watch has 100 meters of water resistance and can withstand chilly weather conditions down to 14 degrees Fahrenheit.

If you need a simple and affordable watch with a battery you can swap out yourself, be sure to check out this rock-solid option from Casio.


Regular, Rugged Watches 

The watches listed here aren’t going to give you much other than a rugged, reliable way to tell the time. But, honestly, that’s all some of us hunters need; so, let’s get on with it.

Timex Men’s Expedition Scout 40

Timex Expedition Scout 40 displaying "10:10" on analogGPS/ABC: No/no
Battery: Replaceable CR2016
Water Resistance: 50 meters
Pros: Affordable, simple, classic style
Cons: Limited features, loud movement

The Timex Men’s Edition 40 Watch stands as one of Timex’s best budget watches for a few reasons. First, its nylon strap provides rugged durability and comfort when you’re there.

Second, it’s very easy to read due to its light-up watch dial. You should have no problem checking the time — night or day.

Third, it’s water-resistant up to 50 meters, or 165 feet, so this watch won’t break when it gets wet from rain or snow.

Due to these features, I think this watch is a great companion for old-school hunters who need a rugged watch at an approachable price.


Luminox Navy Seal

Black Luminox Navy Seal analog watch displaying "10:10"

GPS/ABC: No/no
Battery: Replaceable CR2025
Water Resistance: 200 meters
Pros: Rugged as hell, excellent visibility, Swiss-made, reliable
Cons: Expensive for its features

The Navy Seal watch represents one of the best hunting watches because Luminox built it to handle all the abuse that a Navy Seal can throw at it.

This watch features a tempered scratch-resistant material to help keep the watch face scratch-free and looking good. Plus, the face should be visible day or night because it’s self-illuminating for up to 25 years.

Of course, due to its Navy Seal heritage, the watch can withstand intense weather conditions. It’s water-resistant to 200 meters, plus it’s Swiss-made, so you know you’re getting a quality product that won’t falter.

Casio GD100-1BCR G-Shock

Black Casio G-Shock displaying "10:10"

GPS/ABC: No/no
Battery: Replaceable CR2025
Water Resistance: 200 meters
Pros: Tough, easy to view in all conditions, nice all-black look
Cons: Could get an ABC/GPS watch by spending a little bit more

If you need a good-looking Casio G Shock watch, we think this option offers a sleek look while providing the durability the G Shock name is known for. It doesn’t come with the triple sensors that the SGW-1000 does, but it’s tougher and built for more intense weather conditions.

Equipped with an Auto LED Backlight, you’re getting a watch that’s easy to see when conditions are less than favorable, like dawn and dusk.

Plus, when those crappy conditions turn from bad to worse, this watch has 200 meters of water resistance, so you’ll be sure the time keeps on ticking even when it gets soaking wet.


A Proper Watch Will Elevate Your Hunt

Hunter wearing a watch walking with a shotgun in his hand
Which watch will you choose for your upcoming hunt?

There you have it; the best hunting watches on the 2023 market. Whether you’re looking for a high-end GPS outdoor watch, a tried-and-true ABC, or a no-frills everyday watch, we hope you find an option that works for you.

We think it’s important to consider everything when you’re going out on a hunt, including your ability to navigate in and out of the field safely. For some, that means a GPS watch could prove to be a life-saving investment on your next hunting trip.

Choose your next hunting watch wisely because time is ticking on the 2023 season.

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Last Updated on January 19, 2024

2 thoughts on “15 Best Hunting Watches 2023: GPS vs ABC | Garmin or Suunto?”

  1. Great review, I have been referencing this article for days. Based on the current sale price, the Garmin Instinct 2 at $250 is a no brainer. Thank you for the information. i look forward to reading more of you articles.


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