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3 Best Garmin Watches for Rock Climbing/Bouldering? (2023)

Rock climbing can be a dangerous sport, and it’s important to have the right tools and equipment to stay safe.

A Garmin GPS watch can be one of the most important pieces of gear for climbers. It can help you stay on track while you’re scaling difficult routes, and also monitor your altitude, calories burned, routes, and more.

Garmin Fenix 7 is our top pick for its rugged design, dedicated rock-climbing activity profile, and advanced mapping capabilities.

The rugged Garmin Instinct 2/2S is another great option for climbers, especially those on a budget. It’s available in a variety of colors to match your climbing gear.

The Garmin Epix 2 is the most expensive option here that offers almost all the features of the Fenix 7 with a premium OLED Display.

No matter which Garmin GPS watch you choose, you can be confident that it will help you stay safe and on track while you’re out on the rocks.

In this guide, we’ll take a look at some of the best Garmin watches for rock climbers. We’ll also discuss the features that make these watches ideal for climbers, and we’ll help you decide which one is right for you.

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Top 3 Garmin Watches for Rock Climbers:

Garmin Instinct 2/2S Solar: Best Rugged Watch With Outstanding Battery

Garmin Instinct 2

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  • Price: $350-500
  • Weight: 42-52g
  • GPS: Yes (Multi-GNSS support- GLONASS+GALILEO+)
  • ABC Sensors: Yes (Plus a Thermometer)
  • TOPO Mapping: No
  • Climbing Activity: Yes
  • Durability: Yes (Military-Grade Certified)
  • Emergency Features: Yes (Can send an automated message, LiveTrack link, and GPS location)
  • Battery life: 30-50 days

Garmin Instinct 2/2S is an excellent option for those looking for a tough-looking rock climbing watch. It has all of the features you need, including a rugged casing, emergency features, and almost an indefinite battery life. Plus, it’s built to US military specifications, meaning it can withstand the toughest conditions.

The GPS accuracy is also fantastic, and you can get pinpoint accuracy with multi-GNSS support. However, it doesn’t have preloaded TOPO maps like Fenix 7, nor does a touchscreen.

The watch covers different metrics related to rock climbing/bouldering such as ascent/descent, total time, and heart rate. Plus, you can track various performance and recovery metrics on the watch.

The instinct 2 Solar is priced as a mid-range watch, but if you find it expensive, the original Garmin Instinct will definitely do the job as well.

Garmin Fenix 7: Best Multisports Watch

Garmin Fenix 7

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  • Price: $600-900
  • Weight: 47-96g
  • GPS: Yes (GPS, GLONASS, Galileo)
  • ABC Sensors: Yes
  • TOPO Mapping: Yes
  • Climbing Activity: Yes
  • Durability: Yes (Military-Grade Certified)
  • Emergency features: Yes
  • Battery life: Up to 28-37 days

Garmin Fenix 7 offers a comprehensive set of features for rock climbers and boulderers, as well as everyday adventurers. The rugged design, long battery life, and emergency features make it the perfect choice for anyone who wants to stay safe while climbing. Plus, with its military-grade certification, you can be assured that this watch will perform in even the most extreme conditions.

The latest Elevate Sensor technology provides accurate heart rate monitoring, whereas Pulse OX ensures advanced sleep monitoring and altitude acclimation. The watch has tons of performance and fitness metrics to boast of as well as smart features, such as contactless payments and music streaming.

The watch can connect to Connect IQ store and download custom apps, widgets, and data fields to enhance your climbing experience. And it does come with preloaded TOPO maps.

Fenix 7 comes with a hefty price tag to match its robust set of features and top-of-the-line performance. We recommend you to invest only when you need a Garmin for more than just daily adventures.

Garmin Epix 2: For Pro Climbers

Garmin Epix 2

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  • Price: $900-1000
  • Weight: 70-76g
  • GPS: Yes (GPS, GLONASS, Galileo)
  • ABC Sensors: Yes
  • Mapping: yes
  • Climbing Activity: yes
  • Durability: Yes (Military-Grade Certified)
  • Emergency features: Yes
  • Battery life: 6-16 days

Garmin Epix 2 can offer everything that Garmin Fenix 7 can, but with a single exception and a higher price tag. It features an OLED screen that is easy to read in any lighting condition. Plus, it’s a bit lighter than Fenix 7.

The mapping capabilities are excellent, with both TOPO and city maps preloaded. You can also add more detailed maps from the Garmin Connect IQ store. The watch covers a wealth of performance and fitness metrics, as well as sensors that track things such as heart rate and oxygen saturation. Though there isn’t any feature you won’t find in the Fenix 7, the overall accuracy of Epix 2 is slightly better.

However, Fenix 7 is a much better watch when it comes to battery performance. You won’t get any Solar Model of Epix 2.

Final Verdict:

Overall, the Garmin Fenix 7 is our top pick for the best rock climbing Garmin watch. It has all the features you need, including a tough design, accurate GPS, and long battery life. And it comes with military-grade certification and preloaded TOPO maps. If you’re looking for a more affordable option, the Garmin Instinct 2 Solar is also a great choice.

Features/Specs to consider in a Garmin watch for rock climbing:

You should consider the following features when purchasing a Garmin watch for rock climbing:

Price: Garmin watches don’t come cheap, but you can find some decent deals if you shop around. If you can’t buy the latest watch, check the previous version to see if it has the features you need. For instance: Garmin Instinct is as good as Instinct 2/2S for rock climbing but is cheaper.

Weight – you want a watch that is lightweight and won’t weigh you down while climbing.

GPS – a Garmin watch with GPS capabilities will be helpful in tracking your progress and ensuring you’re always headed in the right direction. Premium Garmins with global navigation satellite systems (GNSS) can even track your ascent and descent.

ABC Sensors – the altimeter, barometer, and compass (ABC) sensors are helpful in rock climbing as they can help you track your altitude and navigate through tricky terrain. Most Garmins do come with a temperature sensor as well.

Mapping: Look for a Garmin watch that has preloaded TOPO maps of the area you’re climbing in. This will help you navigate your way around and find your way back to safety if needed.

Climbing Activity– The Garmin should have a dedicated rock climbing mode that usually includes features such as automatic route navigation, auto-pause during the climb, a climbing log, Vertical tracking, and real-time information about the climb.

Durability- You should look for a Garmin that is tough and can withstand the wear and tear of climbing. Worry not, Garmin has you covered with a variety of watches that cater to the rugged outdoor enthusiast. They are US military standard 810G tested and certified for thermal and shock resistance. Also, you want a watch that is waterproof and can withstand being submerged in water. This is important as you might get wet while climbing.

Emergency features- Many Garmins come with features such as an emergency SOS, which can be helpful if you find yourself in a difficult situation while climbing. A fall detection sensor is also a valuable safety feature to look for in a Garmin watch. Plus features like Storm Alert and Geocaching can be fun additions.

Battery life – you want a watch that will last an entire day of climbing without needing to be charged. A solar-powered Garmin would be ideal, as it can last for weeks on a single charge.