If you’re planning to scale peaks, fly down mountains, ride rivers or perhaps something even more extreme, you’ll need to tool up properly to tame the wilds. Luckily, we’ve got just the firepower.
Here’s a selection of the best outdoor tech, designed to help you thrive and survive excursions way outside your comfort zone.
Best adventure watches
Garmin Instinct Solar 2
£389.99 / garmin.com
If you’re not a fan of bulky adventure watches, the Instinct Solar 2 is a great alternative. Waterproof to 100 metres, with a fibre-reinforced case and chemically strengthened, scratch-proof glass, it’s a durable, rugged beast of a watch.
It packs many of the training features of a regular fitness watch, but offers an impressive suite of additional expedition-friendly tools. All in compact and comfortable 40-45mm cases that weigh just 53g that really set it apart from its bulkier outdoor buddies.
You sacrifice some screen real estate and there are no mapping skills like you’ll find on the Vertix and Fenix. But the navigation tools are still solid with breadcrumb trail, point-to-point navigation, back-to-start routing and track back for retracing your steps. Plus, extras such as a future route elevation that charts the lumpy bits up ahead.
The Instinct has support for multiple global navigation satellite systems (GPS, GLONASS and Galileo), plus a barometric altimeter for tracking elevation and weather – including storm alerts – a 3-axis compass and a thermometer.
Battery life is competitive, with a 30-hour GPS battery life that extends to 48 hours in the right light conditions thanks to the solar charging smarts. And there’s an expedition GPS mode that lasts up to 32 days, too.
You can choose between standard, tactical, camo and surf models. If you’re planning serious ops, the Tactical offers night vision goggle compatibility, stealth mode and a kill switch to wipe your data in a heartbeat.
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Garmin Fenix 7
From £599.99 / garmin.com
The king of outdoor trackers, the Fenix 7 range offers the most complete set of fitness tracking and navigation skills on any Garmin watch. It’s basically built to boss almost any activity.
The latest update sticks to the familiar rugged, outdoor-proof design, but adds more firepower in three key areas: a bigger full GPS battery life, up to 46 hours boosted by the solar charging skills; more accurate GPS with multi-satellite system link up; plus colour touchscreen and navigable colour TOPO maps.
Polar Grit X Pro
£429 / polar.com
The successor to the Grit X, the Pro is Polar’s flagship ruggedised, adventure tool. It packs reliable turn-by-turn navigation, with route planning powered by the excellent Komoot.
Elevation profiles reveal what awaits ahead and there’s TrackBack to guide you home safely following the route you’ve just charted.
Throw in a 40-hour GPS battery life that extends to 100 in low-power mode, as well as a full suite of training and recovery tests and tools, and this watch is well-equipped for fitness on and off-grid.
COROS Vertix 2
£599.99 / coros.com
The Vertix 2’s standout skill is a whopping 140-hour full GPS battery life – enough to conquer most multi-day adventures. But there’s more to this 91g rugged workhorse than endurance.
It packs an altimeter, barometer and compass, all-systems dual frequency GPS for improved accuracy and optimal signal even when you’re deep in the forest.
There’s also offline TOPO maps, 32GB music storage for phone-free tunes, and a comprehensive suite of performance insights and training tools.
Best outdoor GPS apps
Free / komoot.com
Equal parts route planner, tracker and social network, Komoot is like a mash-up of OS Maps, Strava, Instagram and TripAdvisor.
The online and app tools make it easy to map out adventures, from the city streets to the wilder mountain trails, all while tapping into the wisdom and experience of past explorers who’ve trodden the same paths.
The maps and routes are embellished with photo highlights, sightseeing spots, plus tips and advice on where to sleep, camp, get water or stop for tranquil rest breaks.
It’s easy to toggle between street, hiking, cycling, satellite and mountain biking maps, so you can see the distance and terrain you’ll encounter – a big help making smart decisions before you set off.
Navigable routes can be sent directly to your watch and followed turn-by-turn. You can also record your efforts on the app or compatible watches and then share them back into the community, along with photos and posts that double as a record of your adventures.
£3.49 / darksky.net
In some wilder environments, the weather can change in a heartbeat, sometimes with serious consequences far beyond just getting your picnic sarnies a bit soggy. So it pays to know what’s coming.
Dark Sky is the ultimate tool for keeping tabs on the climate around you. It serves up minute-by-minute hyperlocal forecasts, lets you follow the position of storms on easy-to-read maps and you can set up custom notifications to alert you when unwanted weather is about to hit.
£4.49 / peakfinder.org
Want to know which peaks are puncturing the skyline around you, or which hill to climb? Point the Peak Finder app at any hilly 360 panorama, from the Himalayas to the Brecon Beacons, and it’ll use an elevation model and a database of 950,000 of Planet Earth’s lumpier bits to reveal exactly which peaks you’re looking at.
It works offline and you can overlay information on the real-world view, fly up and over the peaks to see what lies behind, and store those summits you’ve already conquered.
Free / slowways.org
Not all exercise needs to be fast and furious. In fact, tapping into some Zone 1 heart rate training – like hiking – is great for building base fitness. And Slow Ways is the perfect resource for taking on A–to-B plods.
Started during lockdown, this volunteer-led movement has busily curated a tried-and-tested network of 7,000 walkable routes, stretching over 100,000km, connecting Great British towns and cities. Ideal for finding adventure on your doorstep.