Best Watches For Skiing

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Watches can do everything these days!

Some smartwatches for example can give you all your fitness tracking data, all your social media notifications and provide you with a GPS signal.  

Not all watches are suitable to take skiing however.  They also have to be durable, waterproof.

We have looked at the best watches for skiing out on the market today, and have identified our Top 5, reviews of which will follow shortly.  

After that we have a little buying guide for you, going through everything you might like to think about before buying your watch.

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Best Watches For Skiing - Comparison Table

Best Watches For Skiing - Reviews

Garmin is the most well known brand when it comes to fitness smartwatches.  And this particular model flies off the shelves.  Quite rightly too.

Being built to military standards, it's a watch that’s meant for the great outdoors.  It’s water resistant rated up to 100m submersion in water, so you don’t have to worry about any melted snow seeping in.  It’s also thermal and shock resistant, so it will work in the cold and can take a knock.  And the display is scratch resistant too.

It features that all important GPS tracking that we discuss in our buying guide.  And in addition to GPS, the watch also uses the Galileo and GLONASS tracking systems, to help you track your location in more challenging environments than GPS alone.

It also has that ABC we talk about in our buying guide, that is it includes an altimeter, to measure your incline, a barometer to provide data on air pressure, and a digital 3 axis compass.  Some skiers actually prefer to use this data, rather than GPS data. 

Whichever you prefer you can guarantee that you won’t get lost - especially when you take into account the watch’s Tracback feature too.

You can see other sports and fitness metrics on there too, like heart rate and distance travelled.  With regards to skiing specifically, the watch can automatically record new ski runs, using the autorun feature, based on your movement.  The timer automatically pauses when you stop moving downhill and when you are on a chairlift.

It also has all those great features we love in a smartwatch, such as notifications about calls, texts and social media.  It’s compatible with both iOS and Android smartphones.  You can get even more fun out of the watch when you pair it up with the Garmin Explore website and the Garmin Connect online fitness community.

The battery life depends pretty much on what mode you’ve got in.  It will last a whopping 14 days in smartwatch mode, but this comes down to 16 hours when the watch is used in GPS mode.  Which is still pretty good if you ask us.

Also, the display is sufficiently high-contrast to be read in bright sunlight, so you’ll always be able to read it.

Pros

  • Great brand for sport & fitness watches
  • Hugely popular with customers
  • 3 satellite tracking systems including GPS
  • Barometric altimeter
  • 3 axis compass
  • Automatically record new ski runs
  • Built to military standards, will take a knock
  • Water resistant rated up to 100m submersion in water

Cons

  • You can’t access smartwatch features when in GPS mode
  • Premium product at a premium price

Here’s another great watch from Garmin.  It’s a little expensive, but once you’ve seen what it can do, you’ll be impressed.  If you have the budget, this is a great watch to go for.

It’s a GPS smartwatch, but rather than tracking a GPS signal alone, it also tracks 2 other satellite navigation systems, namely GLONASS and Galileo.  This additional network capability allows you to track your location in more challenging environments than if you were relying on GPS alone.

But this watch then goes one better again!  It features 16 GB worth of color topographic maps - great for planning your skiing runs!

Speaking of your ski runs, this watch lets you automatically record new ski runs, as soon as you set off down the slopes.  The timer will then automatically pause when you stop moving downhill.  Great feature.

You can even ski to music if you like, since the watch will store a ton of music for you, and you won’t have to be within Bluetooth reach of your smartphone either.

Did we mention that it also has a built in 3 axis compass, gyroscope and barometric altimeter?  A handy failsafe that will let you navigate old school.

Being a smartwatch, you get all your smart notifications, texts, emails etc.  And you can do all your fitness monitoring, steps and calories burned etc. You can even use it for contactless payment!

We love how you can let your friends and family track your activities in real time!

It’s really durable, built with outdoor activity in mind and can take a knock no problem.

The battery life on it is really good, up to 12 days in smartwatch mode, up to 18 hours in GPS mode, up to 8 hours in GPS and music mode, and there’s also an UltraTrac mode in which it will last up to 42 hours.

Pros

  • 3 satellite navigation systems, GPS, GLONASS and Galileo
  • Color topographic maps
  • Automatically record new ski runs
  • Play music anywhere, including while you ski
  • Built in 3 axis compass
  • Built in gyroscope
  • Built in barometric altimeter
  • Great battery life

Cons

  • Steep price - premium product at a premium price

Now this watch from Suunto is truly designed for the great outdoors!

Not only is it GPS enabled but it also has the GLONASS satellite navigation system built in too.  

But those are not the only means of it’s navigation facilities - it has the full ABC we talk about in the buying guide.  That’s the altimeter, barometer and digital compass.  So you can choose how you navigate, and you have all that super handy data right there on your wrist.

One thing that’s particularly handy is that the barometer data is shown in graph form, making it easier to predict changes in the weather.

We love the FusedAlti technology, which graphs your altitude, vertical speed, total ascent, and distance information so you always know where you are on the mountain.  Super handy for skiers!

We also love the watch’s Movescount app which features topographic maps you can peruse.  And you can upload video of your ski runs onto 3D maps to share on Suunto's YouTube channel.

Again, this is a watch built to military standards, and with it’s stainless steel bezel, it’s really durable.  The display is waterproof rather than water resistant, and it’s scratch resistant too.

When it’s in smartwatch mode, you get all your notifications for incoming calls, and texts.  And it will also do fitness tracking, such as calories burned etc.

It’s got a really good long battery life, specifically 14 days in Time mode, and potentially up to 100 hours in GPS mode.

Pros

  • Watch is a big hit with customers
  • Really good value for money
  • Uses 2 satellite navigation systems, including GPS
  • Upload ready made topographic maps
  • Upload photos and videos on Suunto's YouTube channel
  • Built in barometer
  • Built in altimeter
  • Built in digital compass

Cons

  • Maps are not in color
  • Although it’s waterproof we still recommend that you wear it under your ski jacket, as it’s not perfectly designed for climates that are too cold

Casio is a brand that has been in the sports watch market way before Garmin, Fitbit and all the others, and they’ve still got a hand in the game with this really good GPS enabled smartwatch.

But you don’t need to rely on it’s GPS signal to navigate around.  It features colored maps that you can use both online and offline, and you can choose from satellite view or street level.  It also has a super handy Location Memory function to highlight important points on your routes, and can help you find your way back to your chalet.

And that’s not all, it’s got the full ABC we talk about in our buying guide - altimeter, barometer and compass, so even if you lose your GPS signal you’re in no danger of getting lost.

The watch uses Google’s WearOS operating system, so you can add any Android skiing app to your watch that you could wish for (it’s beyond the scope of this article to go into these now).

Being a smartwatch, it does all your fitness monitoring, steps and calories burned etc, and you get all your smart notifications, texts, emails etc. 

The watch is built to military standards, is designed to be durable, and is water resistant, so will handle a bit of melted snow.

Pros

  • Great brand
  • GPS enabled
  • Colored maps you can use offline
  • Altimeter
  • Barometer
  • Google’s WearOS operating system
  • Fitness monitoring
  • Smart notifications

Cons

  • There’s no alarm sound, notifications come through via vibrate only

Here’s another bestseller from that top brand Casio.  This beauty flies off the shelves and customers rave about it.

Amazon usually stocks this watch at a much lower price than some of the others we have shown, and we think that this is because 1) it doesn’t have GPS, and 2) it’s not a smartwatch.  It does however have some great functionality which we think makes up for the lack of GPS - and who wants smartwatch notifications when they’re out skiing anyway!

It’s got the full stack of A, B and C, that is altimeter, barometer and compass (more on those in our buying guide).  So navigation presents no problem for those who do it old school.

And it has some pretty neat other features worth shouting about.  The thing that makes it really great for skiers is that it has low temperature resistance, which means it will still keep working at -10 degrees centigrade (14 degrees fahrenheit).

We love that it’s solar powered - the actual face of the watch is a solar cell that generates power from the light.  So when you’re packing for your ski trip you don’t need to worry about packing a charger or spare batteries. 

The battery lasts 6 months on full charge (without further exposure to light) so will not run out on you.  And if you were worried about the battery, there’s a battery power indicator, and a power-saving function.

The watch can give you the time in 31 different time zones - so you’re on a ski trip you can always check if it’s an appropriate time to ring home.

We love the auto LED backlight, so you can still read your watch when it starts to get dark.

It’s designed to be durable with a stainless steel casing, and is water resistant up to 100m, so can handle a little melted snow.

Pros

  • Affordable
  • No annoying smartwatch notifications
  • Will still keep working at -10 degrees
  • Solar powered, battery will not run out
  • Can show time in 31 different time zones
  • Auto LED backlight
  • Water resistant up to 100m

Cons

  • Not a smartwatch
  • No GPS, but you can navigate the traditional way

Best Watches For Skiing - Buyers Guide

There are all sorts of watch features that can come in handy when you’re out on the slopes.  We’re going to run through what we deem to be the most important features here for you now, and hopefully that will help you decide which watch is the one for you.

Waterproof Rating

To get the most out of your watch for skiing, you’ll want to wear it over your ski jacket, and you certainly don’t want any melted snow to damage your watch.  That’s why it’s important that your watch is waterproof as opposed to water resistant.  All of the watches in our Top 5 are waterproof to some extent.  

Waterproofing is best judged by the IP rating.  An IP rating consists of two numbers, the first number representing resistance to dust and the second number representing resistance to water.  Higher numbers correspond to greater resistance.  

For a skiing watch, we strongly recommend that you get a watch with an IP rating of at least IP67 or IP68.  Anything below an IP65 is not going to be good enough.  Objects with an IP rating of IP67 are typically described as being protected from immersion in water with a depth of up to 1 meter (or 3.3 feet) for up to 30 mins.

GPS

We would also recommend that your watch is GPS enabled.  This means that your watch will give off a GPS signal to a global positioning satellite system, to help you to identify exactly where you are.  This is essential should you detour from any set skiing routes, and if there were any possibility that you could get lost.

GPS is the most well known global positioning satellite system, but there are others besides, and it’s better to have a watch that is enabled for more navigation systems rather than just the one.

ABC (Altimeter, Barometer, Compass)

Before the advent of GPS, outdoor sport enthusiasts relied on altimeters, barometers and compasses in their watches.  Although they’re not as necessary now, they still seem to be a popular feature, and they can provide more accurate data than the GPS can on certain things.

How it works, is that a barometric sensor within the watch detects changes in air pressure. And since air pressure is lower on higher altitudes,the altimeter is then able to show both your current altitude, as well as the change in altitude.

Normally a barometric altimeter is only able to detect vertical changes, but when this is combined with GPS data you get better, more reliable information.

Should you find yourself without a GPS signal, a watch with a digital compass becomes very handy.  One with a 3 axis compass would be best since it gives you accurate information.

The other advantage of a watch with a barometric sensor is that, if there’s a sudden change in air pressure,  it can warn you that a storm is coming, in enough time to get you off the slope and find shelter.

Durability

If you’re taking a watch skiing, it’s best to invest in a watch that can take a knock, perhaps with stainless steel or resin in the casing.  You’ll also want a clock face that’s scratch resistant, perhaps with mineral glass or maybe even sapphire glass.

Smartwatch Features

There are several apps dedicated to skiing available on both Apple and Android watches.  It is beyond the scope of this article to go into any depth comparing the individual apps.  If you do decide to go for a smartwatch, you need to ensure that it’s compatible with your smartphone.

If you want a smartwatch that you can make calls from (since you’re unlikely to take your smartphone out on the slopes) then you’ll need a watch with it’s own SIM card slot.

Battery Life

The watch’s battery life is also an important consideration.  Using the GPS function on a watch really drains its battery, so ideally you’ll want a rechargeable battery that will last you all day, that you can simply recharge when you get back to the chalet at night.

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