Gone are the days when hunting enthusiasts had to rely on their own instincts to keep safe in the wilderness. Although some old hands out there would rather die than use the amenities offered by modern technology, I think it’s only wise and natural to try and make our hunting experience as safe as possible.
Since it’s so easy to get lost in the moment and lose the track of time, a proper hunting timepiece can be a great investment. By proper, I mean one that will always tell you the right time and safely guide you home when needed. If you are currently looking for this type of product, you have come to the right place. In this article, I will help you pick the best Garmin watch for hunting.
Currently, Garmin is one of the go-to watch brands when it comes to outdoor timepieces. Over the last few years, they’ve been releasing more and more GPS watches and I’ve decided to take a closer look at the best models currently on offer. To make the task of picking the right one easier, I’ve come up with a list of TOP 3 models dedicated to hunters.
When creating the list, I have taken into consideration many factors about which you can read more at the bottom of this article. Now let’s find out which Garmin watch is best for hunting!
Best Garmin Watch for Hunting (Top 3 Reviewed)
Although Garmin has released many solid watches for hunters, I had zero problems picking the best one in terms of quality-price ratio. Garmin Instinct has all you could ask for in a hunting watch and more.
To date, this Garmin smartwatch is one of the most rugged timepieces produced by the US company. The name “Instinct” isn’t a coincidence here. When a human’s instinct fails, Garmin’s comes into play – and never disappoints. Apart from the standard GPS signal, Garmin Instinct picks up data from GLONASS and Galileo satellite networks which gives you much more reliable clues even in the most unpredictable environment.
Furthermore, the watch comes with a built-in altimeter, barometer and compass. As far as navigational tools go, you can’t ask for more than what’s on offer with this Garmin model. Or can you? Tracback is another great feature worth mentioning here. To completely take the guesswork out of your return trip, this feature will navigate the same route back to where you started.
Garmin Instinct also has a lot to boast about durability-wise. The watch is built to the U.S. military standard 810G, resulting in impressive resistance to low temperatures, shocks and water (100m). The body of the watch is made of fiber-reinforced polymer, which is a form of rugged and easy-to-clean plastic. For further protection from damage, mineral glass is used with the dial window. The display itself is extremely easy to read even in the brightest sunlight.
Of course, since Garmin Instinct is a smartwatch, it comes with many additional functions. The three that are definitely worth mentioning here are the heart rate, activity and stress monitors. All of these contribute to your well-being during your hunting endeavors.
Since we all know how absorbing hunting is, the compatibility with both iOS and Android devices comes in nicely. After connecting the watch to your phone, you can enable all the smart notifications so you don’t have to reach into your pocket every time your BAE interrupts your fun.
Last but not least, the battery life of this Instinct model is rather impressive, too. In the regular smartwatch mode, it will run for 14 days without charging. While you are out hunting, with the GPS mode enabled, you can expect 16 hours of hassle-free use. There’s also the Ultratrac battery-saving mode which can keep the watch alive for 40 hours straight.
All things considered, the Instinct presents a great value-for-money and therefore I list it as the best Garmin GPS watch for hunting at the moment.
Garmin Vivoactive 3
If you are shopping on a budget, no worries – I’ve got you covered. Garmin Vivoactive 3 might not come with all of the premium functions available in the Instinct but it still provides a good quality-price ratio.
Vivoactive has been designed as a watch for runners but I see no reason for it not to serve you well on your hunting trip. Let’s not forget that the most important feature, and that is GPS, is available in this model, too.
Vivoactive 3, just like Garmin Instinct, is made of durable materials that should withstand a lot and be easy to clean after a full day out hunting. The watch case is made of stainless steel and a form of plastic, whereas the band is silicon. For solid dial protection, the watch uses Corning Gorilla Glass which is known for its scratch-resistant qualities. The smartwatch comes in a few different color variations such as black, white and grey.
With this model, you are getting as many as 15 preloaded GPS and indoor sports apps that include running, yoga, swimming and more.
Wondering what’s the best Garmin watch face for hunting? After logging in to Garmin’s Connect IQ store, you will be able to select from literally thousands of free watch faces for your smartwatch.
One feature Vivoactive 3 boasts that Instinct doesn’t is the ability to use it as a payment gateway. Thanks to the Garmin Pay technology, you can use the watch as your wrist wallet when paying for some refreshments after your hunting trip.
Similar to Garmin Instinct, this model comes with some extra useful features like the heart rate monitor. Vivoactive also uses a stress-measuring tool which is based on HRV (heart rate variability).
Of course, the smartwatch is compatible with both iOS and Android mobile devices. Switch on all the notifications you need to keep track of what’s happening in the real world and just enjoy your day in the wilderness.
When it comes to battery life, it’s not as good as that of my top pick. With normal use, you can expect Vivoactive 3 to run for 7 days (twice as short Instinct). When the GPS mode is enabled, the watch should serve you for 13 hours straight (3 hours less than Instinct). The water-resistance of Vivoactive 3 is also weaker, at 50m in depth.
Garmin Fenix 6X Pro Solar
If how much you spend on a Garmin GPS watch is of secondary importance, you might as well go for the most featured-packed, premium product currently on offer. And, looking at all the watches Garmin has produced to date, the Fenix 6X Pro seems to tick the boxes.
Described here is the Solar Pro edition of the timepiece. The internal lithium battery of this model, you guessed it, is powered by the sun. It’s still a bit of a rarity for smartwatches to be solar-powered and if they are, it’s not unusual for the battery life to be quite poor.
This doesn’t seem to be the case with Fenix 6X Solar Pro. Actually, it can run almost a week longer without charging, compared to my top selection on this list. You can count on an additional 3 days of use when exposing the watch to at least three hours of sunlight a day. On the other hand, with GPS mode switched on during your hunting trip, the watch will work for about 15 hours without exposure to light. You can count on an additional hour of work when solar-charging – which equals the impressive result of Garmin Instinct.
We have to give it to the Fenix 6X model – it boasts a much more sophisticated look than two of my previous picks. It is just as rugged but instead of silicon or plastic, the body of the watch is made of titanium. There are other design variations of this model, including stainless steel and diamond-like carbon coating.
If you are familiar with the Garmin Fenix series, you will immediately notice the clearly larger display of this watch. Compared to previous Fenix models, the 1.4” display is around 35% bigger. The dial window is made of Garmin-exclusive Power Glass which is a further upgrade on mineral and Corning Gorilla dials used in the previous two watches.
Since we have agreed that GPS is probably the most must-have feature in hunting watches, we should embrace the fact that this model uses the exact same navigation as the #1 product on this list.
Thanks to the combination of GPS, GLONASS and Galileo satellite systems, the possibility of you getting lost in the bushes is next to zero. Similar to Garmin Instinct, this model has a built-in altimeter, barometer and compass. As an additional perk, it comes with preloaded TOPO maps, making it a great watch choice for hiking enthusiasts, too.
The watch uses an advanced heart-rate measurement technology called Pulse OX. It seems to be incredibly accurate and helps manage proper sleep quality as well as altitude acclimation at high elevations. Another premium feature worth mentioning here is the PacePro. With this one, you will get grade-adjusted pace guidance while hunting, or during any other physical activity.
The Fenix 6X model also comes with Garmin Pay which, as we know, is missing in my top pick. Other neat features include music storage and streaming. Just like in the case of the previous two smartwatches, this one is compatible with both Android and iOS. Naturally, you can enable all the smart notifications not to get distracted while standing in a tree stand for the majority of your day.
The list of all features in Fenix 6X is so long I could go on all day but I feel like I have listed the most essential.
There’s zero doubt that this watch is as feature-packed as they come. It’s quality, durability and stylish look can’t be questioned either. It’s one of the most expensive and highly-rated Garmin smartwatches for a reason. I’m just wondering if I could ever pay that much for a sports watch.
Which Garmin Watch Is Best for Hunting? Conclusion
I’ve written this article with one goal in mind: to help you pick the best hunting watch produced by Garmin to date. I’ve got high hopes I’ve at least moved you a step closer to your decision.
Considering the nature of hunting, I’ve prioritized some specific features when creating the list of products above. No matter if we are talking about a Garmin timepiece or not, there are some characteristics that the product simply needs to have for it to serve you well as a hunting watch. Those that I’ve prioritized are:
Like any other sports activity, hunting comes with an increased risk of watch damage. A dial scratch caused by a tree branch while waiting for a buck to appear is a real possibility. A good-quality glass window should help protect your screen. When considering the purchase, look for watches with mineral crystal, Power Glass or Gorilla Glass. Your safest bet is sapphire crystal but it doesn’t seem to be a popular choice in Garmin products.
The ruggedness of the dial is important but so is the body of the watch. If you plan to use the watch while hunting often, make sure the case and band are made from enduring material as well. Stainless steel, titanium and silicon body shouldn’t let you down. Apart from being tough to beat, cleaning them is also a breeze.
Since you will be out there in the wilderness, you can never be 100% sure of weather conditions. Hence, a proper hunting watch needs to be at least 50m in depth water-resistant.
All the Garmin hunting watches on this list come with a built-in GPS. In fact, Garmin Instinct and the Fenix 6X use navigational data from a network of 3 satellites – GPS, GLONASS and Galileo. If you can’t afford any of the Garmin GPS watches on this list, make sure the product you buy at least has a compass and an altimeter. These will minimize the risk of getting lost out there, too.
Hunting can be exhausting at times and you don’t want to overcook it, do you? To keep track of your endeavors, a heart-rate and stress monitor wouldn’t go amiss. To keep the watch as eco-friendly as possible, you can go for a solar-powered product but they come at a higher cost. At the same time, they are less likely to run out of battery while on the trail.
Smartwatches will never last you as long as regular timepieces. Still, you should make sure the watch will at least keep your company for the full day of hunting. Consider watches with a battery life of at least 10 hours (in the GPS mode).
Let me know which Garmin GPS hunting watch you decided to go for in the comment section below! Also, if there are some points I haven’t covered in this article, fire them in as well. Let’s interact!