Best Altimeter (ABC) Watches of 2019

Have you ever wished you could stop carrying around an altimeter, a barometer, AND a compass? What if you could find some sort of tool that combined all three? Well folks, the future is here: ABC watches have got it all. Read on to learn more about these amazing products and what you can effectively use them for.

Comparison Chart of the Best Altimeter (ABC) Watches

Product

Rating

Price

Garmin Tactix Charlie Multisport GPS Watch

Best Overall

Casio Pathfinder Watch

Runner-up

Casio Multi-Function Sport Watch

Best for the Money

SUUNTO Ambit3 Peak HR Running GPS Unit

Pro Trek Men's PAG240T-7

What is an Altimeter Watch and What is it Used For?

An altimeter watch is, quite simply, a watch with an altimeter feature inside of it. Altimeters will accurately measure what is the altitude of your current location.

Altimeter watches are extremely handy for hikers, bikers, and runners who want to keep track of their elevation gain on their hike, bike ride, or run. They can also be useful for campers and backpackers who use their altitude level as one means of tracking their location on a map when they are outside an area with cell service.

Aspects to Consider Before Buying

There are several qualities you should keep in mind before you invest in an altimeter watch. Here are some of the most important ones:

Durability

You are likely not interested in an altimeter watch because you want to wear it to work and back every day. If you want an altimeter watch, you are likely going to expose it to some pretty extreme conditions. Make sure you invest in a watch that can stand up to those conditions.

Accuracy

What would be the point of an altimeter watch if it was not able to give you an accurate reading? Choose a watch that has a proven track record of success when it comes to its altimeter, its barometer, and its compass (its ABC, if you will).

Battery Life/Power Lasting

Altimeter watches are typically powered either by batteries or, on some of the newer models, by solar power. The last thing you want is your watch to unexpectedly die on you when you need it the most, so make sure you find a watch that, regardless of its power source, will be able to make its available power last a long time.

Quick Take | Best Altimeter (ABC) Watches

Before diving into our review of the best altimeter (ABC) watches here is a quick take of our top 3 picks:

Review of the Best Altimeter (ABC) Watches

Keeping in mind what you read above about what to look out for, here is our list of best altimeter watches:

Pros

  • Customizable
  • Water-rated to 100 meters
  • Provides routable color topographical maps
  • Multiuse – has aspects for outdoor navigation as well as fitness training
  • Allows you to mark locations to refer back to later, such as your campsite or vehicle

Cons

  • Material does not feel particularly durable

The Garmin Tactix Charlie Multisport GPS Watch is the absolutely best ABC watch you will be able to find on the market today, hands down. It takes ABC to the next level by adding a ton of additional features.

Beyond your typical altimeter, barometer, and compass (though the compass has three axis, so it is really anything but typical), this watch also includes a gyroscope.

It is compatible for use with night vision goggles, and can link up with well used apps such as Uber, Strava, and AccuWeather. It can come with a wide range of different kinds of QuickFit bands, including metal, silicone, and premium leather, for a truly individualized look no matter what you are doing. Its battery life is superb – users report that it will last for almost two whole weeks with daily use of the GPS system.

Bottom Line

The Garmin Tactix Charlie Multisport GPS Watch is the premiere in ABC watches. It does not feel as tough as some of the other GPS watch choices, though.

Pros

  • Easy to use
  • Lightweight
  • Rugged aesthetic
  • Easy to read, great illumination
  • Can be powered by solar power

Cons

  • Timer can only be set for hours and minutes, not seconds
  • Barometer and altimeter will require semi regular calibration in order to continue working well

The Casio Pathfinder Watch is a close second for the best ABC watch we could find, right behind the Garmin Tactix Charlie Multisport GPS watch. The Casio Pathfinder boasts its own awesome capabilities, including a compass that can store a specific angle in its memory, and a handy temperature gauge in addition to the regular ABCs.

Users report that this watch can take some serious abuse, including being fully immersed in water and being dropped multiple times, and it still works as if it is brand new. Its rotating bezel is secured tightly to the watch’s face and will not slip at all once you set it.

Its light button has helpful guide bumps, so you will be able to easily find it and switch it on in the dark. And its power save mode will help you save charging time!

Bottom Line

The Casio Pathfinder Watch is one of the most fantastic ABC watches we were able to find. Just keep in mind that you will need to regularly calibrate the barometer and altimeter.

Pros

  • Durable
  • Lightweight
  • Easy to clean
  • Easy to read and to use

Cons

  • Band wears out faster than the watch does
  • Can take a while for the band to loosen up and contour to your wrist

If you are looking for a highly functional ABC watch that will not completely destroy your wallet, the Casio Multi Function Sport Watch is the choice for you! Do not be fooled by the lower price point on this watch – it can do everything a more regularly priced ABC watch can.

Its crystal watch face is resistant to scratching and, on the whole, the entire watch itself is extremely durable. Users report wearing it for over four years and it still working just as well as when it was brand new.

Its nylon band is extremely comfortable and comes with holes that are tightly spaced, so you are really able to customize it to your specific wrist size. Its buttons are protected from accidental bumping and activation by the side sensor housings and the screw housing.

Bottom Line

The Casio Multi Function Sport Watch is a top notch ABC watch that will not break the bank for you. Just know that the band may feel on the tighter side for the first couple of days that you are rocking this watch.

Pros

  • Simple to setup
  • Easy to use and to read
  • Straps are snug and comfortable
  • Compass is not GPS based, so it can be used reliably even when out of service range

Cons

  • Altimeter and barometer are complicated to calibrate
  • Will need to be updated before it can pair with your iPhone

The SUUNTO Ambit3 PEAK HR Running GPS Unit is an extremely impressive ABC watch that takes it to the next level with its smart capabilities.

It can be paired with your iPhone (sorry, Android users, it is not yet compatible with your software) to give you access to a wide range of apps and capabilities that are sure to impress. It can also pass along notifications from your smart phone, so you will always be able to stay connected, even while out on a run or a hike.

Users report that this watch is built like a tank and can withstand pretty much anything you throw at it. Really, there is not much to dislike with the SUUNTO Ambit3 PEAK HR Running GPS Unit.

Bottom Line

The SUUNTO Ambi3 PEAK HR Running GPS Unit is a sweet little ABC watch with a lot of smart capabilities that will blow you away. Just know that it may take a little more time to calibrate the altimeter and barometer options.

Pros

  • Lightweight
  • Has a nice aesthetic
  • Made of stainless steel
  • Great for everyday use
  • Has a power saver feature

Cons

  • Not designed to fit smaller wrists
  • Barometer will need to be calibrated right out of the box

The Pro Trek Men’s MAG420T-7 is a fantastic ABC watch that is really designed for everyone (do not let the “Men’s” in its name fool you, plenty of women users report that this watch works just as well for them).

This watch can be powered both by solar power and by indoor lighting, though you should keep in mind that it takes significantly longer to charge when using indoor lighting than when using solar power. Its automatic back-light can be set to glow for a range of time, from one to three seconds.

It is resistant to water at up to one hundred meters, which is significantly more than many of its competitor watches. It is extremely tough and durable and will definitely be able to stand up to whatever you may throw at it!

Bottom Line

The Pro Trek Men’s MAG420T-7 is a top notch ABC watch with a wide range of excellent features. Just know that you will need to take some time when it first arrives in order to calibrate the barometer.

What Are The Components of an Altimeter (ABC) Watch?

Now that you have a better sense of the products available, let’s look at the actual components of an altimeter watch:

Altimeter

You are likely already familiar with these component – it is probably the whole reason you are even buying the watch! But as a refresher, the altimeter component of an ABC watch measures the altitude of your specific, exact location.

Barometer

The barometer component of your ABC watch will measure the barometric pressure present in the air around you. This can be helpful in terms of predicting weather, as air pressure tends to fluctuate depending on if a storm is on the horizon.

Compass

It would not be very useful for you to be stuck outside in the woods and not know your location and not have a compass, would it? Compasses on ABC watches will help you determine where you are by always being able to show you which way is north.

Conclusion

Altimeter/ABC watches can be a real game changer for serious hikers, bikers, runners, campers, backpackers – really, name any sort of outdoor activity, and owning an ABC watch could certainly make that activity both easier and safer.

Make sure you think about what you are specifically looking for in an ABC watch, whether that is sticking to the basics of an altimeter, a barometer, and a compass, or stepping it up to one of the fancier models that have additional features and can potentially pair with your smart phone. No matter what you choose, we can promise that you will not be disappointed if you go with a model from our list.         

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