Best GPS Watches for Skiing

A selection of sports watches suitable for skiing and snowboarding

If today there is no watch designed especially for skiing, there are however models that integrate the functions essential for this sport. Also, manufacturers are increasingly taking this activity into account in their specifications. Some models have a particular alpine ski profile with the counting of the number of descents. Discover our selection of the most suitable current watches for skiing according to your budget.

How to Choose the Right Watch for Skiing

The Criteria to Take into Account to Choose Your Watch for Skiing

To date, there is no cardio-GPS watch dedicated to skiing in itself, even if some manufacturers are increasingly integrating a ski or snowboard profile which groups together the most useful data. The functions of interest to the skier are, however, those found in most outdoor or hiking watches: distance traveled, speed, heart rate, weather functions (barometer, storm alerts, sun tick time), tools for finding your way (altimeter, compass or even GPS track with indications to return to the start).

Some watches also offer a counter for the number of descents and an automatic pause in queues and ski lifts. Casio, for its part, even provides a dedicated version of its high-end WSD-F20 outdoor watch, the Casio WSD-F20X, specially designed for winter sports. It comes with a second extra-large strap that can be worn on a ski jacket sleeve.

The criteria to take into account when choosing a watch for skiing depend on the type of activity. We summarise these criteria in a table just after.

Watches for Skiing

  • Downhill skiing (alpine skiing) and snowboarding: a simple watch is sufficient for these activities. It is mainly the duration, the distance covered, the speed (peak and average) that will interest the skier. Optionally, for analysis after the outing, we can target these additional data: the number of descents made, auto-pause during waiting times and ski lifts, GPS track or at least its recording, heart rate and the number of calories burned, altitude, cumulative height difference, vertical speed.
  • Cross-country skiing: cross-country skiing is like walking in nature but on marked trails. There is, therefore, no need to invest in advanced navigation or weather functions, except for fun or if the outing is off-piste (in this case, consult the ski touring activity). Payload data includes time, distance, average speed, heart rate, and calories burned. You can optionally add the GPS track and its recording, the cumulative height difference.
  • Cross-country skiing and snowshoeing: this activity is close to a hiking type outing, in addition to using statistical data during the excursion and for the analysis of the route and performance after the outing (duration, distance, average speed, heart rate, GPS track). It is useful to be able to find one’s bearings and return to one’s starting point but also obtains information on the weather forecast, thunderstorm risks, sunset times. For this type of activity, we recommend a watch with ABC sensors (Altimeter, Barometer, Compass) as well as a return to starting point function (trackback). Ideally, the watch can integrate route tracking (GPS track with return directions), storm alerts. For a luxury ski lift, there are top-of-the-range models offering mapping, an oximeter function (to detect the risk of accident at high altitude) or even access to telephony or the possibility of making an SOS call.

Preferably opt for a robust watch (case in reinforced polymer fibres or stainless steel, sapphire or Corning Gorilla glass), splash-proof (3 ATM or 30 m) and with a display readable as much in direct sunlight (anti-reflective glass, display ink or MIF) only when it is dark (backlight function).

Regarding heart rate measurement (useful for evaluating performance, progress, calories burned, level of fitness), we recommend a watch compatible with a chest belt. Wrist reading from an optical monitor is unreliable for skiing due to the cold (as the blood vessels are constricted, measurements are generally inaccurate).

Finally, a watch with an interchangeable strap is a plus if you want to wear it daily (silicone strap for sports, more dressy strap for the city).

The Budget

The ideal watch for skiing is expensive. Indeed, suppose you want to group in the same watch. In that case, you will need to invest in a high-end watch for all the useful functions (distance, speed, GPS navigation, weather, altimetry, storm alerts, etc.) and less essential functions such as mapping, sunset times, and more. If your budget does not allow it, there are inexpensive watches that have enough functions for excellent monitoring.

Choose your watch for skiing according to the other sports you will be practicing for the rest of the year! If you are a running fan, for example, look for a running watch that incorporates skiing functions! Multisport watches are generally the right choice if you practice multiple activities.

Battery Life: At least 10 hours in GPS mode

It should be considered when choosing your watch for skiing, especially if you plan to go on long outings (full day) or use your watch for several days without charging it.

Current watches have sufficient autonomy for an outing of a few hours for general use with GPS, much less if the watch has an mp3 player and you listen to music while skiing.

Some watches offer a power-saving mode that helps extend battery life by reducing the number of GPS readings. The track and the distance traveled will be a little less precise, but this will allow you to multiply the autonomy by 2 or 3.

Best GPS Watches for Skiing

Garmin Fenix 6 Pro

  • TOPO maps, music, payment, oximeter
  • The complete GPS watch currently.

NEW FOR 2024: Designed for athletes and lovers of outdoor activities, the Fenix ​​6 Pro is an ultra-complete high-end watch that offers a ski profile. It embeds color topographic maps of Europe, music (mp3 player), and a contactless payment system. It counts the number of descents and pauses during the ski lifts. All the useful sensors are present: altimeter, barometer, thermometer, compass, GPS, heart rate monitor, and oximeter for evaluating acclimatization to altitude. It indicates the weather trend and has thunderstorm alerts. The GroupTrack function allows you to follow other athletes wearing a watch offering this function. The LiveTrack service will enable you to be tracked on the Internet (these functions require a Smartphone). In addition to its features for skiing, it is multisport and offers extraordinary features for sports training and GPS navigation. It can generate routes for runners and cyclists, recalculate a route, guide by the headset, manage climbs, or even assess the level of muscle oxygen to avoid accidents at high altitudes. It has golf functions and more than 41,000 courses.

It is the ideal watch if you do a lot of sports. Complete functions for skiing! One of the best watches on the market today.

Garmin Fenix 6 Pro

Please read our detailed review and opinion on the Fenix ​​6

Pros of the Garmin Fenix 6 Pro Premium Multisport GPS Watch

  1. Advanced Fitness Tracking: The Fenix 6 Pro has wrist-based heart rate and Pulse Ox sensors, providing valuable insights into your overall fitness and sleep quality. It also offers advanced training features like PacePro for grade-adjusted pace guidance and environmentally adjusted VO2 max estimates.   
  2. Multisport Capabilities: With preloaded activity profiles for various sports and activities, such as running, trail running, swimming, and more, the fenix 6 Pro is a versatile companion for athletes and fitness enthusiasts. 
  3. Outdoor Navigation: The watch comes preloaded with topographic maps, ski resort maps for over 2,000 locations worldwide, and support for multiple global navigation satellite systems (GPS, GLONASS, and Galileo), making it an excellent tool for outdoor adventures. 
  4. Music and Connectivity: The Fenix 6 Pro allows you to store and play music directly from the watch, and it also supports smart notifications, email, and text alerts, keeping you connected on the go. 
  5. Long Battery Life: With up to 14 days of battery life in smartwatch mode, the Fenix 6 Pro ensures you can track your activities without frequent charging. 
  6. Durable Design: The Fenix 6 Pro is constructed to meet U.S. military standards for thermal, shock, and water resistance, making it suitable for harsh environments and outdoor conditions.

Cons of the Garmin Fenix 6 Pro Premium Multisport GPS Watch

  1. Expensive: As a premium multisport GPS watch, the Garmin Fenix 6 Pro has a high price tag, which may not be affordable for everyone.
  2. Limited Touchscreen Functionality: While the watch has a color display, it may not offer full touchscreen capabilities, which could be a drawback for some users.
  3. Potential Battery Drain: While the battery life is impressive, certain features, such as music playback, GPS tracking, and Pulse Oxygen monitoring, can drain the battery faster, requiring more frequent charging.
  4. Steep Learning Curve: With its extensive feature set, the Fenix 6 Pro may have a steeper learning curve, especially for users new to advanced fitness tracking and outdoor navigation.
  5. Limited Third-Party App Support: Compared to smartwatches from other brands, the Fenix 6 Pro may have limited third-party app support and a smaller app ecosystem.

Overall, the Garmin Fenix 6 Pro is a powerful and feature-rich multisport GPS watch that caters to the needs of athletes, outdoor enthusiasts, and fitness enthusiasts. While its premium price and potential learning curve may be drawbacks for some, its advanced tracking capabilities, navigation features, and durable design make it a compelling choice for those seeking a high-performance sports watch.

Casio Pro Trek Smart WSD F21HR

  • Skiing and winter sports
  • Color mapping, 2,600 ski resorts on Ski Tracks

This complete GPS watch suits mountaineering, skiing, ski touring, snowboarding, and snowshoeing. It has downloadable full-color world topographic maps, allowing you to use Google Maps! It times the descents and indicates the maximum speed and the altitude difference but does not count the number of origins. With the Ski Tracks app and more than 2,600 ski resorts, the user can follow their route on a ski or snowboard and know their speed, slope, vertical speed, elevation gain, and more (no smartphone is required during the activity). It displays the position and a programmed route with alerts and direction indications in the event of leaving the route. Everything is there: altimeter, barometer, magnetic compass, GPS, cardio on the wrist, gyroscope, accelerometer, sunrise/sunset times, tides, and weather trends. Its screen is a double-layer touch screen 320 x 300 pixels, one in color, the other in black and white. It’s GPS / GLONASS/QZSS is very precise. A microphone sends voice commands to the watch and interfaces with Google Assistant.

A watch was suitable for skiing (downhill, cross-country, hiking) and snowshoeing, including the weather trend and mapping. Too bad it does not have advanced GPS navigation functions (displays the track and the programmed route but does not offer route tracking or return to departure).

Casio Pro Trek Smart WSD F21HR

Please read our detailed review and opinion on the Casio Pro Trek

Pros of the Casio “Pro Trek” Outdoor Heart-rate Monitor GPS Sports Watch (Model WSD-F21HR-BKAGU)

  1. Heart Rate Monitoring: The WSD-F21HR is the first Casio Pro Trek watch to feature an optical heart rate sensor, allowing you to monitor your heart rate during activities like running, cycling, and climbing. This is a valuable addition for fitness enthusiasts.
  2. Advanced GPS and Mapping: The watch is equipped with GPS functionality and can display maps and your current location, enabling you to explore unfamiliar routes or trails. It also supports offline maps, which is useful in areas without cellular service.
  3. Outdoor Sensors: The Pro Trek watch includes built-in sensors for tracking altitude, barometric pressure, and compass directions, making it a comprehensive tool for outdoor adventures and activities.
  4. Durable Design: With military-grade (MIL-STD-810G) protection, the WSD-F21HR is designed to withstand harsh environments and outdoor conditions, ensuring durability and reliability.
  5. Activity Tracking: The watch features an enhanced Activity App that displays real-time measurement data, allowing you to track various activities like running, trekking, paddle sports, snow sports, cycling, and fishing.
  6. Water Resistance: The WSD-F21HR boasts 50M water resistance, making it suitable for water-based activities and outdoor adventures in wet conditions.

Cons of the Casio “Pro Trek” Outdoor Heart-rate Monitor GPS Sports Watch (Model WSD-F21HR-BKAGU)

  1. Battery Life Concerns: While the battery life varies based on usage, some users have reported relatively short battery life, especially when using GPS and heart rate monitoring features extensively.
  2. Large Size: With its rugged and outdoor-focused design, the WSD-F21HR has a relatively large case size, which may not be suitable for those with smaller wrists or those preferring a more discreet watch.
  3. Limited Touchscreen Functionality: While the watch has a color display, it may not offer full touchscreen capabilities, which could be a drawback for some users accustomed to more intuitive touchscreen interactions.
  4. Potential Learning Curve: With its extensive feature set and outdoor-focused functionality, the WSD-F21HR may have a steeper learning curve, especially for users new to advanced fitness tracking and outdoor navigation.
  5. Cost: The Casio Pro Trek WSD-F21HR is a premium outdoor smartwatch with a higher price tag, which may not be affordable for everyone.

Overall, the Casio “Pro Trek” Outdoor Heart-rate Monitor GPS Sports Watch (Model WSD-F21HR-BKAGU) is a feature-rich and durable smartwatch designed for outdoor and fitness enthusiasts. While it offers advanced tracking capabilities and outdoor-focused features, its potential drawbacks include battery life concerns, large size, and a potentially steep learning curve.

Garmin Forerunner 645 Music

  • Ski profile, mp3 player, GPS navigation, contactless payment
  • Ideal alpine skiing and hiking

NEW FOR 2018: This complete multisport watch includes a ski profile, counts the number of descents and pauses when you arrive at the bottom of the slopes. It is equipped with many sensors for skiing: altimeter, barometer, compass, thermometer. It measures your vertical speed, the difference in height and the maximum slope. Equipped with GPS & GLONASS, it allows you to follow a route and retrace your steps (trackback). It is ideal for any skiing activity: downhill skiing, snowboarding, cross-country skiing, ski touring. It includes an mp3 player, 4 GB of memory (around 500 songs) and a contactless payment function! The LiveTrack feature allows your friends to track you remotely. It also offers advanced services for running.

Garmin Forerunner 645 Music

A complete watch for skiing. It only lacks the weather functions to be perfect!

Pros of the Garmin Forerunner 645 GPS Running Watch

  1. Wrist-Based Heart Rate Monitoring: The Forerunner 645 features a wrist-based heart rate sensor, allowing you to monitor your heart rate during activities without needing a chest strap. This provides convenient performance tracking.
  2. Advanced Running Dynamics: The watch offers advanced running dynamics data, including ground contact time balance, stride length, and vertical ratio, helping you analyze and improve your running form. 
  3. Garmin Pay Contactless Payments: The Garmin Pay feature allows you to make contactless payments directly from your watch, enabling you to leave your cash and cards at home during runs or workouts. 
  4. Smartwatch Capabilities: The Forerunner 645 functions as a smartwatch, providing features like smart notifications, customizable watch faces, and the ability to download apps and widgets from the Connect IQ store.
  5. GPS and Performance Monitoring: The watch uses GPS and wrist-based heart rate data to offer performance monitoring features, such as evaluating your current training status and providing training load analysis. 
  6. Long Battery Life: The Forerunner 645 offers up to 7 days of battery life in smartwatch mode and up to 12 hours in GPS mode, ensuring reliable tracking during your activities.

Cons of the Garmin Forerunner 645 GPS Running Watch

  1. Battery Drain with GPS and Music: While the battery life is generally good, using features like GPS and music playback can significantly reduce the battery life, requiring more frequent charging.
  2. Potential Heart Rate Inaccuracy: Some users have reported issues with the wrist-based heart rate sensor’s accuracy, particularly during high-intensity activities or for certain individuals. 
  3. Limited Touchscreen Functionality: While the watch has a color display, it may not offer full touchscreen capabilities, which could be a drawback for some users accustomed to more intuitive touchscreen interactions.
  4. Wristband Staining: A few users have mentioned that the wristband can pick up dirt, dust, and sweat stains relatively easily, which may affect the watch’s appearance over time.
  5. Cost: As a premium GPS running watch with advanced features, the Garmin Forerunner 645 comes with a higher price tag, which may not be affordable for everyone. 

Overall, the Garmin Forerunner 645 GPS Running Watch offers a comprehensive set of features for runners and fitness enthusiasts, including advanced running dynamics, contactless payments, and smartwatch capabilities. However, potential drawbacks include battery drain during GPS and music use, potential heart rate inaccuracy, limited touchscreen functionality, and a higher cost.

Suunto 9 Baro

  • Ski and snowshoe profiles, excellent autonomy, precision and advanced weather functions
  • An outdoor watch for trail running and hiking (winter and summer)

This high-end multisport watch offers 80 sports profiles, including alpine skiing, ski touring, cross-country skiing, and snowshoeing. It incorporates all the sensors useful for winter sports, particularly ski touring: a barometric altimeter, barometer, compass, thermometer, GPS navigation functions, weather trends, and storm alerts. The measurements of altitude, speed, and GPS position are precise thanks to the combined use of GPS and other watch sensors (barometer, accelerometer, etc.). This makes achieving a record autonomy of 120 hours in energy-saving mode possible without altering the quality of measurements for sports such as running too much. The watch also offers intelligent battery management to extend its duration according to the route and habits of the athlete.

Suunto 9 Baro

This is a robust and reliable watch that will accompany you on your ski touring, snowshoeing, trail, hiking, and triathlon outings.

Pros of the SUUNTO 9 Baro GPS Watch

  1. Exceptional Battery Life: The SUUNTO 9 Baro boasts an impressive battery life, offering up to 120 hours of continuous exercise tracking. This makes it ideal for extended outdoor adventures and multi-day activities. 
  2. Rugged and Durable Design: Built to withstand harsh environments, the watch is water-resistant up to 100 meters and designed for training, racing, and extreme adventures, ensuring durability and reliability in challenging conditions.  
  3. Multisport Capabilities: With over 80 sports modes, the SUUNTO 9 Baro caters to a wide range of activities, including running, cycling, swimming, and hiking, providing comprehensive tracking and analytics for various sports. 
  4. Advanced Navigation Features: The watch has GPS, a barometer for accurate altitude information, a compass, and navigation capabilities, making it a valuable tool for outdoor adventures and route planning. 
  5. Wrist-Based Heart Rate Monitoring: The SUUNTO 9 Baro features a wrist-based heart rate monitor, allowing for convenient heart rate tracking during activities without needing a chest strap.
  6. Customizable Battery Modes: The watch offers customizable battery modes, allowing users to optimize battery life based on their specific needs and activity durations.

Cons of the SUUNTO 9 Baro GPS Watch

  1. Limited Screen Visibility: Some users have reported issues with the watch’s screen visibility, citing that it lacks brightness and can be difficult to read, even in controlled conditions. 
  2. Potential Syncing Issues: A few users have experienced syncing issues when using the Movescount app on their smartphones, particularly after syncing with the Suunto app.
  3. Learning Curve: With its extensive feature set and outdoor-focused functionality, the SUUNTO 9 Baro may have a steeper learning curve, especially for users new to advanced fitness tracking and outdoor navigation.
  4. Cost: The SUUNTO 9 Baro is a premium multisport GPS watch with a higher price tag, which may not be affordable for everyone. 
  5. Limited Touchscreen Functionality: While the watch has a large touch screen, it may not offer full touchscreen capabilities, which could be a drawback for some users accustomed to more intuitive touchscreen interactions.

Overall, the SUUNTO 9 Baro GPS Watch is a feature-rich and durable multisport watch designed for outdoor enthusiasts and athletes who demand exceptional battery life, advanced navigation features, and comprehensive activity tracking. However, potential drawbacks include limited screen visibility, potential syncing issues, a learning curve, and a higher cost.

Garmin Vivoactive 4

  • Ultra-complete. Ski, snowboard, cross-country skiing profiles.
  • The “Swiss Army Knife” watch that rivals the Apple Watch. Our favorite.

This connected multisport watch is a hit every year thanks to its many functions, its beautiful look, its intuitive functions, and its versatility. It is suitable for athletes and the less athletic and is worn for sport and every day. It embeds an mp3 player to listen to music without a smartphone. This lightweight watch offers a profile for skiing, snowboarding and cross-country skiing. It counts the number of descents, the distance covered on skis, the negative elevation, the maximum and average speed. It includes an auto-pause function and the possibility of viewing ski lift data. It has all the sensors for skiing: altimeter, compass, thermometer, GPS navigation and even a weather function (coupling required with a smartphone). It allows you to follow a route (GPS track) and retrace your steps. It is robust, pretty, has a backlight and can be used to pay for small purchases thanks to its NFC chip. The LiveTrack feature allows your friends to follow you on the Internet. It offers many other functions and more than 15 sports, relaxation exercises, animated exercises and more.

This is a serious alternative to high-end watches or the Apple Watch, which will usefully accompany you on your downhill skiing, cross-country skiing, or ski touring outings. It’s difficult to do better for the price!

Garmin Vivoactive 4

Pros of the Garmin Vivoactive 4 GPS Smartwatch

  1. Comprehensive Fitness Tracking: The Vivoactive 4 offers a wide range of fitness tracking features, including over 20 preloaded sports apps, advanced running dynamics, and support for activities like yoga and Pilates with on-screen workout animations. 
  2. Music Storage and Playback: The watch allows you to store and play music directly from the device, enabling you to leave your phone behind during workouts or runs.
  3. Body Energy Monitoring: The Vivoactive 4 provides insights into your body’s energy levels, helping you understand when to push harder or take a break during training.
  4. Pulse Ox and Respiration Tracking: The watch features a pulse oximeter sensor for monitoring blood oxygen saturation levels and respiration rate tracking, offering valuable health insights.
  5. Long Battery Life: The Vivoactive 4 offers impressive battery life for extended use, with up to 8 days of battery life in smartwatch mode and up to 6 hours with GPS and music. 
  6. Smartwatch Capabilities: Besides fitness tracking, the Vivoactive 4 functions as a smartwatch, providing features like smart notifications, customizable watch faces, and access to apps and widgets.

Cons of the Garmin Vivoactive 4 GPS Smartwatch

  1. Battery Drain with Pulse Ox: Enabling the pulse oximeter sensor for continuous monitoring can significantly reduce battery life, potentially limiting it to just 2 days. 
  2. Limited Advanced Performance Metrics: While offering comprehensive fitness tracking, the Vivoactive 4 may lack some advanced performance metrics found in higher-end Garmin watches, such as the Performance Condition stat.
  3. Potential Heart Rate Inaccuracy: Some users have reported issues with the wrist-based heart rate sensor’s accuracy, particularly during high-intensity activities.
  4. Cost: As a premium GPS smartwatch with advanced features, the Garmin Vivoactive 4 comes with a higher price tag, which may not be affordable for everyone.
  5. Limited Touchscreen Functionality: While the watch has a color touchscreen display, it may not offer full touchscreen capabilities, which could be a drawback for some users.

Overall, the Garmin Vivoactive 4 GPS Smartwatch is a feature-rich and versatile device that caters to fitness enthusiasts and those seeking a comprehensive health and activity tracking experience. However, potential drawbacks include battery drain with continuous pulse oximeter use, limited advanced performance metrics, potential heart rate inaccuracy, and a higher cost.

Unlocking the Slopes: GPS Watches for Skiing

As the snow-capped peaks beckon, skiers and snowboarders seek the ultimate adventure on the slopes. However, navigating the vast expanse of powdery terrain requires more than skill and passion; it demands precision, safety, and a reliable companion to guide you through every turn and descent. Enter the world of GPS watches for skiing – a revolutionary fusion of technology and outdoor exploration. These cutting-edge timepieces are designed to be your ultimate ski companions, offering many features tailored to enhance your winter sports experience. From advanced GPS tracking and mapping capabilities to specialized ski-specific metrics and performance analysis, these watches are poised to elevate your skiing game to new heights.

Key Features to Look for in GPS Watches for Skiing:

  1. Accurate GPS Tracking: Precise GPS tracking ensures you never lose your way on the slopes, providing real-time location data, distance traveled, and even customizable maps for seamless navigation.
  2. Ski-Specific Metrics: Advanced ski-specific metrics like speed, vertical descent, run counting, and even jump analytics offer invaluable insights into your performance, helping you refine your technique and push your limits.
  3. Altitude and Barometric Data: Stay informed about elevation changes, atmospheric pressure, and weather conditions with built-in altimeters and barometric sensors, ensuring you’re prepared for any terrain or weather challenge.
  4. Rugged and Water-Resistant Design: These watches are engineered to withstand the harshest winter conditions and feature durable and water-resistant construction, ensuring they can keep up with your most extreme skiing adventures.
  5. Connectivity and Smart Features: Stay connected on the go with smart notifications, music control, and even safety features like incident detection and assistance alerts, ensuring your peace of mind on the slopes.

Whether you’re a seasoned skier seeking to push your boundaries or a newcomer to the world of winter sports, a GPS watch for skiing can be your ultimate ally. It provides the necessary tools to conquer the slopes with confidence, precision, and an unparalleled sense of adventure.

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Jomy George
Jomy George

3 Comments

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