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Telling Time - Are watches essential when backpacking?

OK, so I always wanted to ask : Are watches “essential equipment “ when backpacking? ( use the force Luke ).

The way I see it, if you use your watch you are not paying attention. 

12 Replies

I guess it kind of depends on what your goals are. For me, I use my smartwatch for health reasons. I like that it measures heartbeat and calorie burn during the day and measures my sleep overnight. 

I've spent the past 18 months reclaiming my health and I say that hiking has literally saved my life. So as part of my healthy maintenance, I want to track those metrics so, yes, my smartwatch is essential.

“Between every two pine trees there is a door leading to a new way of life.” (John Muir)

Superusers do not speak on behalf of REI and may have received
one or more gifts or other benefits from the co-op.

Not essential, not at all.  But they're pretty useful.  I know how fast I hike, so my watch can give me a pretty good idea of where I am between landmarks.  If you know how to line it up with the sun, it's a quick easy compass I can use without having to dig out my real one.  (This doesn't work with a digital!)  Plus, I'm just used to having it.

Retired medical technologist and engineer
REI member since 1978
Superusers do not speak on behalf of REI and may have received
one or more gifts or other benefits from the co-op.

I do most of my backpacking during the early spring and late fall. I'm early to bed and early to rise, and tend to wake up at various times during the night. What time is it? I like to hit the trail shortly after sunrise, so it's usually dark when I get up to start coffee. If it's after 4am I might as well get up but it might be 2am and I need to catch some more Z's. What time is it?

My smartphone is off to conserve the battery and tucked away safely, so a wristwatch is somewhat essential for me. I don't want a lot of features; all I need is large illuminated (at a touch) font I can read without my glasses. An alarm is nice to have, though I haven't used it yet on my inexpensive Casio model 2428. What I especially like is the very slim profile. It doesn't catch at the wrist when pulling shirts & jackets on or off.