Backpacking & Camping

Best ABC Watch: Track Your Steps

Best abc watch

Scouring the vast expanse of outdoors is an excellent way to relax and let go of all your mental accumulation. Most of the survival enthusiasts are highly aware of traditional ways of keeping track of time.

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However, wouldn’t it be awesome and an ultimate help to you if you have access to features like time and GPS, all packaged in one watch securely tied to your wrist? Well, all the wildlife enthusiasts own one or many of their favorite outdoor watches.

If you are searching for a perfect match for you, then you have come to the correct place. We have reviewed nine of these gadgets so you can choose the best abc watch (altimeter, barometer, and compass) or altimeter watches for you.

What Is An Altimeter Watch?

An altimeter watch is a multifunctional watch with a string of functionalities attached to it, helpful to any outdoor junkie for tracking his location, climbed height, etc. There are two main categories of altimeter watches. They are discussed as follows:

Traditional Altimeter Watch

A conventional altimeter watch is equipped with essential features of altimeter, barometer, and compass. It is powered by a simple watch battery and an in – built solar panel. The solar panel ensures that the battery is powered and the watch lasts for a very long time like from months to years.

GPS Based Altimeter Watch

A GPS based watch is laced with a long range of features. It can receive signals from GPS and GLONASS satellites in the case of more advanced featured watches. Apart from the navigation plus point offered by this watch, fitness tracking features are also provided.

GPS Based Altimeter Watch

Your altimeter watch can sync with your smartphones and with some useful applications you can easily track your fitness record. It also keeps you up to date with the information about your destination.

Apart from all the advantages and useful features, the biggest setback of this advanced altimeter watch is its short-lived battery life. It has a battery life of 8 to 50 hours according to the user’s power settings and frequency of usage.

How to Choose?

Before buying your altimeter watch, you should be clear about the kind of gadget you want. A long lasting traditional altimeter watch is an excellent choice if you are going on an extended trekking. However, if you are indulging yourself in daily exercise or short treks, a full featured GPS altimeter watch would be better as you can charge it easily when the battery runs down.

Another advantage is that you can take your GPS-enabled watch to long excursions on power saving mode by disabling GPS, fitness, and other power ravaging features. Needless to say, a strong, sturdy traditional altimeter is always carried by an outdoor enthusiast as a backup and long battery life.

We have reviewed nine of the best GPS altimeter watches currently reigning in the market for you. The comparison has been done by how the watch best delivers the features offered by any altimeter watch.

Features to Consider

Altimeter Accuracy

An altimeter watch records altitude in two ways: one on the basis of surrounding air pressure and another by GPS. Each watch is equipped with a couple of sensors which can measure air pressure. As the altitude increases, air pressure decreases.

This fact is used to calculate the height with respect to the sea level. Weather changes can also lead to a change in air pressure. Hence, without calibration, you cannot rely entirely on barometric readings. GPS is a network of 32 satellites, and if your watch can pick up at least 3 of these satellites then your position can be pinpointed and your altitude calculated.

Most of the watches use both of these techniques to give you the most accurate reading.

Altimeter Accuracy

Thus, the watch which gives the most accurate altimeter readings without the need of frequent calibrations is always a better choice.

Compass Quality

Most of the compasses come with the tilt compensation technology which means that you don’t have to keep your wrist in a horizontal position and steady for the accurate reading of direction. If a watch has this compensation technology, then it is always a plus point because you might come across situations where it is difficult to keep your hand perfectly steady and horizontal. For some useful tools, see our article on the choicest compass watches for your needs, it’s a must-read.

GPS Accuracy

The accuracy of GPS depends on how well the watch will provide you information about locations under various weather conditions. This has to do with the various positioning of satellites and how well your watch can communicate with these satellites.

The better the communication, the more accurate will be your GPS positioning. It is not practical for all GPS watches to be 100% accurate but with the watch which gives you a fairly good information even under inclement weather conditions, you are good to go.

See our reviews of the best GPS watches to give you more options.

Battery Usage

The battery life is a crucial factor to consider while buying an outdoor watch. A wildlife adventurer generally needs a watch which has a battery life that will last for at least a day. A traditional altimeter watch which is solar powered lasts for an extended period.

However, in GPS watches loaded with all those battery ravaging features, it is difficult to find one which will last you for more than two days. The best battery life in the market is about 32 hours. That being the case, a look at our top solar chargers may just be the things you need to power-up your watch and other gadgets.

Ergonomics and user interface

A watch might have all the features, but at the same time, it should be equally easy to operate without any complexity. The buttons on the watch should be positioned so that they can be pressed easily. The design of the watch matters also.

ABC watch display

The user should not end up thinking that it is something close to rocket science to learn how to operate an altimeter watch.

Display Quality

The display of the watch is also of prime importance as it is the window where all the relevant information is shown to the user. A watch with a good display quality has a relatively large screen with good font colors and sizes.

The display also has settings for changing the background colors so that in different lightings and situations, the user can still read the graphs, data and time shown by the watch

What Can You Find on The Market?

Now that you know what you need to check before putting your wrist in front and reaching for an abc watch for it, here is what we found for you to help you out a bit.

Casio Men’s PRW-3000-1ACR Protrek Black Sport Watch

Casio Men's PRW-3000-1ACR Protrek Black Sport Watch

Weight: 62 grams.

Battery: Solar Powered

Case Material: Resin

Water Resistant: Up to 100m.

Specific Features: Compass, Altimeter, Barometer, MULTI Band 6, Chronograph, Calendar, Timer, Stopwatch, Tide Graph and sensors.

Description: The temperature sensor gives precise measurements of direction, altitude, and pressure according to the changing weather conditions. The triple sensor technology gives the watch a better speed, accuracy and energy efficiency.

The Casio Men’s PRW-3000-1ACR Protrek Black Sport Watch also has a barometric pressure tendency alarm indicator which starts ringing when there is a drastic change in pressure readings. Timekeeping is accurate with the help of Multi Band 6 technology.

The sensor picks up standard radio waves from six transmitters around the globe which connect you to the closest of the 6 global atomic clocks.

The watch also comes with a powerful power saving feature which enables it to automatically shut down when not in use. Thus, you can stow away your watch for a long time without any immense power loss. The watch is Very rugged and sturdy inbuilt.

Casio Men’s PRG-270 Pro Trek Triple Sensor Multifunction Digital Sport Watch

Casio Men's PRG-270 Pro Trek Triple Sensor Multifunction Digital Sport Watch

Weight: 318 grams.

Battery: Solar Powered

Case Material: Stainless Steel

Water Resistant: Up to 100m.

Specific Features: Compass, Altimeter, Barometer, Chronograph, Calendar, Backlight with Afterglow, Timer, Stopwatch, Tide Graph and sensors.

Description: The Casio Men’s PRG-270 Pro Trek Triple Sensor Multifunction Digital Sport Watch comes with Casio’s New triple sensors technology.

After every 1 m increment (previously 5 m), the watch records the altitude it scaled. The watch also comes with the alarm ringing barometric feature which rings an alarm when there is a sudden barometric change.

The barometer can track pressure from 7.68 to 32.49 in Hg. It comes with LED backlight which makes it easy to see time and read data in dark conditions also. The band material is resin and very comfortable to wear. As it is solar powered, the battery lasts for about 6 months without any charging.

Though it DOES not have the facility of a health tracker and Multi Band 6 technology, it is a good mountaineering watch.

Suunto Traverse

Suunto Traverse

Weight: 82 grams.

Battery: Rechargeable Lithium-ion battery

Case Material: Stainless Steel

Water Resistant: Up to 330m.

Specific Features: Altimeter, Barometer, Compass, GPS, GLONASS, Bluetooth, fitness program (heart rate, speed, ascent, pace)

Description: This GPS-enabled Suunto Watch has an elegant design with mineral crystal lens. It has a digital compass which shows the direction in degrees or miles. The watch has the feature of automatically changing the altimeter to the barometer.

For e.g., when the watch detects altitude change then it switches to altimeter and at other times barometer feature remains activated. Apart from GPS, the watch also supports GLONASS, a Russian GPS which will drastically increase the accuracy of GPS compared to other watches.

The watch has Bluetooth connectivity which allows it to be connected to Android and iOS devices. The watch supports the fitness program where you can measure heart rate, speed, ascent, pace, etc.

Suunto Vector

Suunto Vector

Weight: 63 grams.

Battery: Replaceable lithium cell with a lifespan of 18 months.

Case Material: Composite.

Water Resistant: Up to 30m.

Specific Features:Altimeter, Barometer, Compass, GPS, GLONASS, Bluetooth, fitness program (heart rate, speed, ascent, pace)

Description: The display glass material is acrylic in nature, and the strap is made from elastomer. The lens is made from mineral crystal. The Suunto Vector can work in the temperature conditions of -20° C to +60° C. The watch comes with easy to use vertical logs which graphically display the total ascent that a climber has completed.

The watch also has a battery indicator which will inform the user if the battery is running below 15%. In the Suunto collection, Suunto Vector is a cheaper alternative to Suunto Core. Suunto Vector has all the features provided by Suunto Core except storm alarm, dual time and sunset or sunrise indicators.

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The overall design of the Suunto Vector is sporty and is a very good choice for those who cannot afford Suunto Core.

Casio Men’s PAG240T-7CR Pathfinder Watch

Casio Men's PAG240T-7CR Pathfinder Triple-Sensor Stainless Steel Watch

Weight: 454 grams.

Battery: Solar Powered.

Case Material: Stainless Steel.

Water Resistant: Up to 100m.

Specific Features: Altimeter, Compass, barometer, Stop Watch, Alarm, Calendar, timer, Battery Power indicator.

Description: The Casio Men’s PAG240T-7CR Pathfinder Triple-Sensor Stainless Steel Watch comes equipped with triple sensors of altimeter, barometer, and thermometer. The lens of the watch is made from mineral crystal. There are 5 different alarm setups.

The user can access 31 time zones from around 48 cities of the world which come in handy while traveling through different time zones. The band is made from titanium and is very durable. Casio PAG240 also comes with a power saving technology whereby it has the automatic setup of going into power saving mode when you take it off your wrist.

The watch comes with an automatic backlight feature which helps the user see the display at night time. In spite of the absence of Multi Band 6 technology, the watch is a sturdy, outdoor option to buy.

Casio Men’s PRW-2500T-7CR Pro-Trek Tough Solar Digital Sport Watch

Casio Men's PRW-2500T-7CR Pro-Trek Tough Solar Digital Sport Watch

Weight: 114 grams.

Battery: Solar Powered.

Case Material: Stainless Steel.

Water Resistant: Up to 200m.

Specific Features:Altimeter, Compass, barometer, three sensor technology, MuLti Band Atomic Time Keeping, Stop Watch, Alarm, Calendar, timer, Battery Power indicator.

Description: The Casio Men’s PRW-2500T-7CR Pro-Trek Tough Solar Digital Sport Watch is enabled with triple sensors of Altimeter, barometer, and thermometer. It has a very accurate time keeping with the Casio’s Multi Band technology. It automatically receives Atomic clock calibration signals from the U.S., England, Germany, and Japan.

The watch can measure temperature from -10 to 60°C. The watch has an amazing duplex LCD Display. It also has a tide/ moon data graph which provides helpful information for fishing and shrimping. Thus, the watch is ideal for fishermen, kayakers, and boaters.

Casio claims that the watch has been specially made for ocean adventures. The watch comes with a good backup of solar powered battery which can last for about 5 months without Power Saving Mode being enabled.

Suunto Ambit3 Peak HR Running GPS Unit

Suunto Ambit3 Peak HR Running GPS Unit

Weight: 89 grams.

Battery: Rechargeable lithium ion.

Case Material: Polyamide.

Water Resistant: Up to 100m.

Specific Features:Altimeter, Compass, Barometer, GPS, GLONASS, Bluetooth connectivity, Heart Rate monitor.

Description: The Suunto Ambit3 Peak HR Running GPS Unit has a very accurate altimeter which gives an altitude reading which is off by a maximum of about 300 m from the actual altitude. It has an excellent display quality where you can change the backlight easily to suit your needs.

It is easy to calibrate the display contrast. In low power settings and with GPS on, the watch can last for about 18 to 22 hours. It comes with the outdoor features of recording your tracks, laps, etc., With Bluetooth connection, the watch can be paired with smartphones.

You can download Suunto Moves count application and export your activity to this cloud-based app and the app will draw the complete overview of your hike. However, the watch does not come with the facility of a USB connection.

The user can buy a compatible heart rate monitor along with the watch. Suunto Ambit 3 is compatible with power pod and bike pod. Hence, it is better suited for outdoor activities.

Suunto Core

Suunto Core

Weight: 64 grams.

Battery: Lithium ion (CR2032) battery.

Case Material: Composite.

Water Resistant: Up to 100m.

Specific Features:Altimeter, Compass, Barometer, GPS, GLONASS, Bluetooth connectivity, Heart Rate monitor, Low battery warning, Storm alarm.

Description: Compared to Suunto Vector, in Suunto Core the altimeter and barometer features are linked, giving the user more accurate readings. It comes with an altitude log which is the most used feature.

The watch displays the altitude readings of about one week, like the total number of ascent and descent. The watch is waterproof, and you can operate it to about 100m below sea level and is good for snorkeling. You can lock the watch screen while you are carrying out your outdoor activities.

The watch lets you know when the sun is setting or rising which is useful when you are out in the wild. Suunto Core is equipped with weather indicator, and the alarm will go off when there is an actual storm approaching.

The wristband is made from elastomer, and the watch is compact in size and very comfortable to wear. The display is made from mineral glass crystal.

Garmin Fenix 3

Garmin fenix 3

Weight: 82 grams.

Battery: Lithium ion battery.

Case Material: Fiber reinforced polymer.

Water Resistant: Up to 100m.

Specific Features: Heart rate monitor, omni-directional EXO antenna (paired with GLONASS and EPO), Wireless connectivity (for sync with Garmin Connect and software updates)

Description: The Garmin Fenix 3 has an amazing display of 218 pixels resolution. The lens is made from a high-quality sapphire glass compared to the mineral glass. It comes with the best battery life of about 20 hours even when the GPS mode is on and about 2 weeks in smartphone mode with constant Heart rate monitoring.

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The watch has an internal storage of about 32 MB for storing maps and other information. The inputs are given with five buttons on the watch, three on the left and two on the right.

The wristband is made from silicone and is very comfortable to wear. The watch is the top expensive in the list but the excellent quality features cover up for the high price.

Which One Is The Best for You?

All the watches that we have mentioned above are splendid. If you have money to spend, Gemini Fenix 3 would be a good choice because it offers all the features in the best possible manner.

Choose your ABC watch

If you are running on a budget little lower than Suunto Ambit 3 and Suunto Core are very good options. However, if you are going for rugged looks and lesser and lighter features, then Casio series is an awesome choice.

Our article review of the best outdoor watches will greatly help you, so check it out before you leave on your next adventure.

If you think there are better options out there and we didn’t mention them, please feel free to tell us in the comment section.

Some of the links in this post are affiliate links. This means that if you click on one of these links and make a purchase, I earn a small commission at no extra cost to you. Also, as an Amazon Affiliate, I earn from qualifying purchases. If the information in this post has been helpful, please consider purchasing through one of the links in this article. Thank you.

About the author

Ellie Thomas

Survival-Mastery reflects my love of the outdoors and having the skills to take care of myself in the wilderness and in worst-case scenarios. I grew up in the southeast backpacking, camping, and fishing, and I have hiked and backpacked over 30,000 miles in the US. My background and career for the past 30 years has been in operations and construction and I enjoy learning and DIY projects.


  • I’ve been a wearer of the Suunto Traverse for around two years now and I absolutely love it. The pictures of this watch do not do it justice, it’s attractive and comfortable enough to wear every day. The GPS works great even in fairly remote areas, the altimeter reading is accurate, iOS notifications work perfectly and the battery life is surprising good, I personally get around 2 weeks with normal wear and moderate GPS use from a single charge.

  • What defines a good survival watch is always the design features, such as altimeter, compass, barometer, waterproof, and shockproof among others.

  • Pathfinders have been my go-to ABC watch for as long as I can remember and the Casio Men’s PAG240T is a prime example of Casio quality.

    It is a very nice, high-quality watch that is light on the wrist whilst maintaining a rugged and durable feel.

    The altimeter, barometer, and compass all work accurately and all the other functions, which are plentiful, are great! The Pathfinder is packed with features, looks great and is built to last, if you’re looking for a high-quality ABC without the extortionate price tag, you’ll struggle to do better.

  • The Casio Men’s PAG240T is a good choice for a pathfinder. It’s well packed with unique outdoor features.

  • Survival enthusiasts are highly aware of the traditional ways of keeping track of time. However, you would prefer to have both time and GPS in one watch. These features seem to be packaged in the ABC watches, which have altimeter, barometer, and compass sensors. They are considered as best in the market due to their multi-functionality like having good user interface and ergonomics, water resistance, long battery life, etc.

  • Basically, all ABC watches are useful in one way or another. However, the following considerations are crucial when singling out the best: altimeter accuracy, compass quality, GPS accuracy, battery usage, display quality, and ergonomics.

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