What’s The Battery Life Like On Most Outdoor GPS Watches?

If you’re an active individual who loves spending time in the great outdoors, you may have considered investing in an outdoor GPS watch to enhance your adventures. But before you make that purchase, it’s important to know what to expect in terms of battery life. After all, the last thing you want is for your watch to die on you in the middle of a hike or a long-distance run. In this article, we’ll explore the average battery life of most outdoor GPS watches, so you can make an informed decision and ensure your watch is always ready for action.

Factors that affect battery life

Display type

The type of display on your outdoor GPS watch can have a significant impact on its battery life. AMOLED displays, for example, tend to consume more power compared to LCD displays. This is because AMOLED displays light up individual pixels to produce colors, whereas LCD displays have a backlight that illuminates the entire screen. If battery life is a concern for you, opting for a watch with an LCD display may be a wise choice.

GPS usage

GPS tracking is one of the most power-hungry features on outdoor GPS watches. Constantly tracking your location can drain the battery quickly, especially if you’re using the watch for long periods of time. If you’re not actively using the GPS function, it’s recommended to turn it off or use it sparingly to conserve battery life.

Heart rate monitoring

Heart rate monitoring is another feature that can impact battery life. Some outdoor GPS watches continuously monitor your heart rate throughout the day, even when you’re not exercising. This constant monitoring requires additional power and can drain the battery faster. If you don’t need continuous heart rate monitoring, you can disable this feature to extend the battery life.

Notifications and app usage

The frequency of notifications and app usage on your outdoor GPS watch can also affect battery life. Each time a notification or app is accessed, the watch’s processor is activated, consuming battery power. If you receive a lot of notifications or regularly use apps on your watch, it’s worth considering how this may impact the overall battery life.

Watch settings

Certain watch settings can make a difference in battery life. For instance, enabling an always-on display or choosing a shorter screen timeout interval will consume more power compared to having the display turn off when not in use. Additionally, using a colorful watch face with animated elements may also drain the battery more quickly. Adjusting these settings to match your preferences and needs can help optimize battery life.

Battery capacity

The battery capacity of an outdoor GPS watch plays a crucial role in determining its overall battery life. Watches with larger battery capacities can provide longer usage times, while those with smaller capacities may require more frequent charging. When comparing different watches, it’s important to consider their battery capacities and how they align with your intended usage.

Types of batteries


Most modern outdoor GPS watches use lithium-ion batteries, which offer several advantages over other types of batteries. Lithium-ion batteries have a high energy density, meaning they can store a significant amount of energy in a relatively small package. They also have a low self-discharge rate, meaning they can hold their charge for extended periods when not in use. Furthermore, lithium-ion batteries are lightweight, making them ideal for wearable devices like outdoor GPS watches.

Rechargeable vs replaceable batteries

Outdoor GPS watches generally come with rechargeable batteries, meaning they can be charged repeatedly using a power source. This eliminates the need for constant battery replacements and provides convenience for users. However, some watches may offer the option to use replaceable batteries, which can be beneficial for those who frequently go on long outdoor adventures. Having spare batteries on hand allows you to easily swap them out and continue using the watch without the need for charging.

Popular outdoor GPS watches and their battery life

Garmin Fenix 6

The Garmin Fenix 6 is a widely popular outdoor GPS watch known for its comprehensive features and long battery life. Depending on the model and usage, the Fenix 6 can last anywhere from 14 to 36 hours in GPS mode. With the UltraTrac battery saver mode enabled, the battery life can be extended to up to 72 hours. This makes the Fenix 6 an excellent choice for long hikes, trail runs, or multi-day adventures where battery life is crucial.

Suunto 9 Baro

The Suunto 9 Baro is another highly regarded outdoor GPS watch that offers impressive battery life. It can last up to 25 hours in full GPS mode and up to 120 hours with the energy-saving GPS mode enabled. The Suunto 9 Baro also uses intelligent battery modes that can estimate your remaining battery life based on your activity and adjust settings accordingly. This adaptive feature ensures you’ll have enough battery to track your adventures without running out midway.

Polar Vantage V2

The Polar Vantage V2 is a performance-focused outdoor GPS watch that boasts exceptional battery life. It can provide up to 40 hours of continuous GPS tracking, making it suitable for ultras and endurance events. The Vantage V2 also offers various battery saving options, such as reducing GPS accuracy or disabling certain features while still providing essential data for your training sessions. Whether you’re a professional athlete or a dedicated outdoor enthusiast, the Vantage V2 offers a reliable and long-lasting battery performance.

Apple Watch Series 6

The Apple Watch Series 6, while not primarily marketed as an outdoor GPS watch, does offer GPS tracking capabilities along with its other features. The battery life of the Apple Watch Series 6 can vary depending on usage, but it typically lasts around 18 hours with mixed usage, including GPS tracking. While it may not have the same battery longevity as dedicated outdoor GPS watches, the Apple Watch Series 6 offers a comprehensive suite of fitness and smartwatch features that can be appealing to those looking for a versatile device.

Battery saving tips

Adjust screen brightness

One effective way to save battery life on your outdoor GPS watch is by adjusting the screen brightness. Lowering the screen brightness or using the auto-brightness feature can significantly reduce power consumption. By keeping the screen as dim as possible while still being legible, you can extend the overall battery life of your watch.

Disable unnecessary features

Disabling features that you don’t need can help conserve battery life. For example, if you’re not using the heart rate monitoring or sleep tracking features, consider turning them off. Similarly, if your watch has Wi-Fi or Bluetooth connectivity, turning them off when not in use can also help save power.

Use GPS sparingly

If you’re not actively using GPS tracking, it’s wise to turn it off to conserve battery life. Only enable GPS when you need precise location data, such as during hikes, trail runs, or bike rides. Additionally, using the GPS sparingly by utilizing waypoints or track recording instead of continuous tracking can further extend the battery life.

Turn off notifications

Notifications can be a significant drain on your outdoor GPS watch’s battery life. Consider disabling notifications that aren’t essential for your outdoor activities. By reducing the number of notifications your watch receives, you can optimize its battery usage and ensure it lasts longer between charges.

Turn off unnecessary sensors

Some outdoor GPS watches come with various sensors like an altimeter, compass, or gyroscope. While these sensors can enhance your outdoor experience, they also consume power. If you don’t require these sensors for your current activity, consider turning them off to extend the battery life.

Optimize watch settings

Take the time to review and optimize the settings on your outdoor GPS watch to align with your needs. Adjusting features like screen timeout, sample rates, data recording intervals, or backlight duration can all contribute to significant battery savings. Experiment with different settings to find the right balance between functionality and battery life for your specific activities.

User experiences with battery life

Long-distance hikers and mountaineers

For long-distance hikers and mountaineers, battery life is a crucial consideration when selecting an outdoor GPS watch. These individuals often spend multiple days or even weeks on their adventures and need a watch that can last the entire trip. Watches like the Garmin Fenix 6, Suunto 9 Baro, and Polar Vantage V2 are popular choices due to their extended battery life capabilities. Long-distance hikers and mountaineers often utilize battery-saving techniques such as disabling unnecessary features, using GPS sparingly, and adjusting settings to maximize their watch’s battery life.

Ultra-endurance athletes

Ultra-endurance athletes participate in races and activities that span extreme distances and durations. These athletes require a watch with exceptional battery life to ensure it can keep up with their extended efforts. The Suunto 9 Baro and Polar Vantage V2 are frequently recommended to ultra-endurance athletes due to their advanced battery-saving features and long-lasting performance. These watches allow athletes to track their activities without worrying about battery depletion during lengthy races or training sessions.

Casual runners and outdoor enthusiasts

Casual runners and outdoor enthusiasts who engage in shorter activities typically have more flexibility when it comes to battery life. Watches like the Apple Watch Series 6, with its balance of fitness and smartwatch capabilities, are popular choices for this group. While the battery life may not be as impressive as dedicated outdoor GPS watches, it is usually sufficient for shorter runs or hikes. Casual runners and outdoor enthusiasts often prioritize additional features like music playback, smartphone notifications, and a sleek design alongside adequate battery life.

Future advancements in battery technology

Improved energy efficiency

One area of future advancement in battery technology for outdoor GPS watches lies in improving energy efficiency. Manufacturers are constantly striving to develop more power-efficient components and software optimizations to extend battery life. Advancements in display technology, processors, GPS chips, and sensor efficiency are all areas of focus for improving the energy efficiency of these watches.

Innovative battery materials

Researchers are exploring the use of innovative battery materials that could revolutionize battery performance in outdoor GPS watches and other wearable devices. Materials such as solid-state batteries and lithium-air batteries show promise in terms of higher energy density, faster charging times, and longer-lasting capabilities. As these technologies mature and become more commercially viable, we can expect significant improvements in battery life for outdoor GPS watches.

Wireless charging

Wireless charging technology has been gaining traction in recent years, and its application in outdoor GPS watches is an area of potential growth. Instead of relying on conventional wired charging methods, future outdoor GPS watches may support wireless charging, allowing users to simply place their watches on a charging pad or dock. This convenience could make it easier for users to keep their watches charged without the hassle of plugging and unplugging cables.

Factors to consider when buying an outdoor GPS watch

Battery life specifications

When purchasing an outdoor GPS watch, the battery life specifications should be one of the primary factors to consider. Look for watches that offer sufficient battery life for your specific activities and usage patterns. Keep in mind that real-world battery performance may vary depending on factors such as GPS usage, screen brightness, and feature utilization.

User reviews

User reviews can provide valuable insights into the actual battery life of different outdoor GPS watches. Reading reviews from individuals who have used the watches in various scenarios can help you understand how well the watches perform in terms of battery longevity and whether they meet your expectations.

Manufacturer reputation

The reputation of the manufacturer is also worth considering when evaluating the battery life of an outdoor GPS watch. Established brands with a history of producing reliable and long-lasting watches are more likely to deliver on their battery life claims. Researching the manufacturer’s track record and customer feedback can help gauge their overall reputation for producing high-quality watches with good battery performance.

Additional features

While battery life is an essential consideration, it’s also crucial to assess the additional features offered by an outdoor GPS watch. Determine which features are most important to you and find a balance between battery life and functionality. Consider features such as heart rate monitoring, sleep tracking, training metrics, offline maps, music playback, and connectivity options, and find a watch that meets your specific requirements.

Battery replacement options

For watches with non-replaceable batteries, it’s worth checking the manufacturer’s policy on battery replacement. Over time, the battery capacity of your outdoor GPS watch may degrade, resulting in lessened battery life. Understanding the replacement options and associated costs can help you plan for the future and ensure you can continue using your watch for years to come.

By considering these factors and utilizing battery-saving techniques, you can optimize the battery life of your outdoor GPS watch and ensure it lasts through your adventures. Whether you’re a long-distance hiker, an ultra-endurance athlete, or a casual runner, finding the right watch with excellent battery performance is crucial for a smooth outdoor experience. Keep an eye on future advancements in battery technology, as they hold the promise of even longer-lasting and more efficient outdoor GPS watches in the years to come.