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Recommendations for Altimeter Watches

Looking for an altimeter watch.  Really only need 2 key functions for my use.  Tracks distance and altitude.  Battery life for a few days minimum without charging also because will use for backpacking.  My goal is Mount Whitney this year and have already applied for lottery permit for dates.  I was looking at the Garmin Instinct Solar GPS Watch.  Seems to have good reviews but lots of functions I do not think I would need and at $400 little pricey but not afraid to spend it.  Was trying to find something cheaper but reviews for cheaper ones all had mixed reviews.  

3 Replies

Hi @Quizzer - Thanks for reaching out! It's great to hear you are training for Mount Whitney. 

As you've seen, the Garmin Instinct Solar does have a lot of features beyond the altimeter and distance tracking, with its solar capabilities and battery life being a highlight. Because it should have the power to stay on throughout trips of a few days, you could eventually find that some of those additional bells and whistles are nice to have around. 

There are a lot of other watches available, but the less expensive options do not have a battery meant to last multiple days while using the GPS. Smartwatches are a popular subject here in the community, so might you also want to take a look at these conversations on the topic:

We hope that some other members of the community will weigh in with their opinions on GPS watches as well.

Hopefully this helps. Best wishes with getting a Whitney permit in the lottery!

At REI, we believe time outside is fundamental to a life well lived.

I use a Garmin Fenix 5S and love it. The battery lasts a very long time if you don't use GPS. If you use GPS heavily (like I do), only 2 days. I have a solar battery charger, so not an issue. It also has a "return to start" feature, just in case you get hopelessly lost. Fortunately, I've not had to use that function yet. Used it once when not lost just to check it out. Works great. 

I have the Garmin Fenix 6 Pro Solar and love all the features and the battery life is amazing. I did the JMT with it last year and was able to hike 4 days in between charges.