Technology has continued to infiltrate the world of sport in recent years. This includes skiing, where useful gadgets are becoming a tool that can make your life on the slopes increasingly efficient.
Smart watches are now seen as the most effective way to record your activity on the mountain. They allow you to track a range of statistics, such as elevation gain or distance travelled.
Watches come in a range of different styles, with a wide variety of features. Each product has its pros and cons, so making the best decision isn’t always easy.
This guide aims to make choosing the best watch for skiing simple. We have outlined the key features of every product, helping you stay connected on the slopes.
Best Watch For Skiing At A Glance
Why Do I Need The Best Watch For Skiing
Smart watches have become a essential for many skiers. They provide you with a host of features that can make your life easier and safer on the slopes.
Many of the best ski watches track key statistics, allowing you to analyse your time spent on the mountain. Elevation gain and distance travelled are the most common details recorded, but every watch will offer something different.
GPS is another handy feature, making them especially popular amongst backcountry skiers. It allows you to navigate a predetermined route without the need to search for your phone or device.
In addition, regular watches just aren’t built for the rigours of skiing. Extreme weather and heavy impacts pose durability issues that are not found during day-to-day life.
If you are looking for the best technology to keep you connected on the slopes, we have also written a guide outlining the best headphones for skiing.
How To Choose The Best Watch For Skiing
GPS is one of the most popular smart watch features. It allows you to find other skiers, map your route through the backcountry and even locate your favourite lunchtime restaurant.
In addition, GPS watches can be life saving in an emergency. They allow people to locate you if you’re lost, adding an element of safety to your time on the mountain.
Making sure the navigation system is user friendly is key. When you’re on the mountain, you need the display to be easy to follow in any weather condition.
Wearing ski goggles will also impair your ability to read the GPS map. If you want to improve your backcountry experience, look for high resolution mapping that is easy to read and accurate to follow.
ABC – Altimeter, Barometer, Compass
Although traditional navigation methods have been overtaken by GPS, they can still come in handy. Altimeter, barometer and compass functions are all useful in skiing watches.
- Altimeter will tell you your current altitude, as well as any elevation change.
- Barometer detects changes in pressure, which then feeds altitude information to the altimeter.
- Compass will give you an accurate reading of the direction you are travelling.
Although smart watches are now capable of giving you this information through GPS, it can often lack the accuracy of ABC. Some of the best skiing watches combine GPS with ABC, making them highly accurate and efficient.
Mountain weather can be unpredictable. Bluebird sunshine can turn into a snowstorm incredibly quickly, making preparation a challenge.
Some smart watches are able to predict impending storms using a barometric sensor. It will sense the drop in pressure that is often present before severe weather, giving you a notification that it’s time to find shelter.
Most watches will use forecast data from local weather stations based on your location. This is similar to the weather application you would find on a smartphone, giving you a good general weather prediction. However, it’s not always the most accurate.
If your watch runs out of battery on the mountain, it has instantly become useless. Making sure it has a sufficient battery to power your mountain activities is vital.
Most ski watches are rechargeable. Since they are relatively small devices, they are often very quick to charge.
The battery life you can expect out of a single charge will depend on its usage. Many watches can last for many days in smart watch mode, but you should expect the battery to drain much faster in GPS mode.
The mountain can be a hostile place for any piece of equipment. Freezing temperatures and heavy snow are enough to push any item to the limit, especially your watch.
Since you will be around melting snow all day, you need to make sure it’s waterproof. Although you won’t be heading to a swimming pool, it’s important to make sure it’s fully sealed from the outside elements.
Additionally, you need to make sure your watch is prepared to take some impact. Heavy falls are a part of snowsports, even for the best skiers!
Look for watches that are made to a high specification from shock resistant materials. Another way to gauge the durability of a product is through previous customer reviews, giving you a good insight into its long-term strength.
Best Watch For Skiing Reviewed
The Garmin Fenix 6 Sapphire has everything you would expect from an exceptional skiing watch. It has a highly durable stainless steel and sapphire glass construction, with waterproof capability that can match all mountain conditions.
This watch is designed with skiers in mind, coming preloaded with maps for over 2000 ski resorts. It also combines GPS, 3-axis compass, gyroscope and barometric altimeter for accurate and reliable mapping.
If you are looking for a top of the range watch with a host of features, the Fenix 6 Sapphire is a great option. It’s got everything you need to navigate the slopes and has one of the most durable designs around.
- Waterproof up to 100m
- Durable stainless steel and sapphire
- Over 2000 ski resort maps
- Compass, gyroscope and barometric altimeter
- 10 hours GPS battery
- Smart notifications
- Garmin pay contactless payments
- Heart rate monitor not the most accurate
If you’re looking for a watch that can last for the longest mountain adventures, the Suunto 9 Baro might be your best bet. It has an incredible 120 hours maximum battery life when set to ultra-mode, allowing you to track performance for a long time.
The watch has highly accurate GPS tracking and a barometer that provides altitude information. It also comes with a smartphone application that allows you to map out your ski tours and sync them with your watch.
The Suunto 9 Baro is designed to provide maximum battery life and durability. It has an intuitive interface that is easy to use, making it great option for long expeditions.
- 120 maximum battery life
- GPS tracking
- Barometer for accurate altitude readings
- Storm alarm detects a drop in pressure
- Intuitive and smooth interface
- Smart phone app allows you to create ski tours
- Durable stainless steel, sapphire and polyamide design
- Could be too bulky for some
- Step counter not always accurate
If you are looking for a simple, durable and effective watch; the Casio Pathfinder could be the one for you. It includes a digital compass, altimeter, barometer and thermometer for accurate guidance through backcountry situations.
This watch uses a solar powered battery that can last for up to 6 months on full charge, without further exposure to sunlight. It’s also one of the most durable options, using a stainless steel case that provides waterproofing and low temperature resistance.
The Casio Pathfinder provides accurate and effective navigation for backcountry skiers. It’s also built to last for many seasons, using quality materials and a sturdy construction.
- Altimeter, barometer and compass
- Water and low temperature resistant
- Solar battery lasts up to 6 months
- Durable stainless steel case
- World time, multi alarm and stopwatch
- Built in thermometer
- Lacking GPS functionality
- Side buttons can be challenging to use on the mountain
The Garmin Instinct aims to provide effective navigation and durability. It’s constructed to U.S military standard specifications; making it shock, thermal and water resistant.
This watch has built in GPS, with a 3-axis compass and barometric altimeter for accurate navigation in challenging areas. It’s also a great way to stay connected, with smart notifications keeping you up-to-date without the need to check your phone.
The Garmin Instinct is highly durable and extremely effective, both on and off the mountain. It has a wide range of features that will help you navigate the slopes and stay connected to your ski group.
- Shock, thermal and water resistant
- GPS navigation
- Altimeter, barometer and compass
- Smart notifications
- Heart rate monitor
- Garmin app allows you to map routes in advance
- LCD display could be better quality
- Calorie and heart rate monitor not always accurate
The Coros APEX provides all the features you should look for in a good skiing watch. It has built in GPS, altimeter, barometer and compass for optimal route guidance through any location.
This watch has an excellent battery life of 25 hours while using GPS, or up to 24 days of regular use. It also has a satellite signal strength tool that allows you to check the available signal of the satellites within your GPS location.
The Coros APEX is packed full of features to keep you safe on the slopes. It also has an excellent battery life, making it a great option for longer backcountry tours.
- Built in GPS
- Altimeter, barometer and compass
- 25 hours GPS battery life
- Satellite signal strength checker
- Storm alert based on barometric readings
- Nutrition alerts
- Sunset and sunrise tracking
- GPS can be unreliable in dense forest
- Heart rate monitor can be inaccurate
The best watch for skiing should aid your time on the mountain. It will allow you to track your progress, map your routes and stay in touch with your friends and family.
Every watch on this list has its own pros and cons, along with a wide range of features. Take the time to read the reviews and assess each product to find the option that works best for you.
James is the founder of SnowSunSee. He started skiing when he was five years old and has been a qualified ski instructor for 8 years. He has taught skiing in many countries, including UK, Europe, Japan, China and Malaysia. When he’s not on the slopes, James spends his time travelling the world one trail at a time.