It doesn’t matter if you are a seasoned backcountry veteran or a novice to wild trekking; anyone can get turned around during wilderness adventures.
Whether you’re trying to avoid a stressful or dangerous situation while hiking or you just want to feel better prepared, a survival watch is an essential and affordable piece of equipment for any outdoor enthusiast.
- Our Top Picks for Best Survival Watches
- What Makes A Good Survival Watch?
- Final Thoughts
In our review guide, we offer an in-depth look at our top recommendations for best survival watches and some helpful tips for selecting the best one for your needs.
Our Top Picks for Best Survival Watches
With so many options on the market, it can be challenging to know which ones are best and the ones that miss the mark. Our choices showcase a wide range of survival watches from the most basic to military grade.
1) Casio GW9400 Rangeman Master Watch
The Rangeman Master watch from Casio is top of the line when it comes to tactical watches. A favorite for many avid outdoorsmen, this military watch is sure to give you the most accurate information to keep you safe in almost any survival situation.
This watch comes fully equipped with “ABC” sensor technology. This triple sensor system can measure altitude, barometric pressure, and act as a compass. It also measures the temperature.
The 55mm resin case is shock-resistant to absorb even the most substantial impacts and can survive inclement weather. Because the Rangeman is only water-resistant, you can’t use it on any deep dives underwater but it works well for surface swimming.
Even though the watch feels a bit bulky, the resin band is comfortable. We think that having a multitude of features is more important than a slim design. The only way to make this watch better would be to have GPS. However, if you have good navigation skills and a map of the area you are in, this Casio GW9400 provides more than enough readings to keep you safe.
2) Garmin Fenix 6 Pro Multisport Watch
The Fenix 6 Pro from Garmin is a sleek watch that looks stylish while being extremely useful in an outdoor environment. With four different colour combinations to choose from, there is sure to be a style to suit every personality.
The case is only 42mm and lightweight, so the slim build will not inhibit any of your movements. Despite the small size, this watch meets military standards. It is one of the most wearable military grade watches available.
The Fenix measures temperature, altitude, and pressure. It has a 3-axis compass and includes GPS. All of these readings are vital when it comes to outdoor navigation. Even more impressive, it monitors your heart rate, offers pacing guidance, and environmentally adjusts VO2 max outputs. Even if you are lost, you can keep an eye on how much energy you are exerting to make sure you don’t overdo it.
One of our favorite features of this watch is the preloaded maps. It comes with topographical maps and over 2,000 worldwide ski resort maps. If the area you plan to visit isn’t already preloaded, you can always download specific maps and save them. This military watch makes outdoor tracking a breeze.
Don’t forget to charge this watch. A great way to extend its battery life is to shut off certain features when you don’t need them. It can last up to two weeks between charges this way.
3) Luminox Survival Outdoor Watch
Luminox is a Swiss brand known for its high-quality watches. The company partnered with Bear Grylls, the ultimate survivalists, to create this tactical watch.
At first glance, this watch looks somewhat large, but it only weighs 89 grams. Luminox uses their patented Carbonox material, which is a carbon-based material, to craft the lightweight design. The use of Carbonox combined with the soft rubber strap creates an extremely comfortable watch to wear.
A unique feature of this watch is its light technology. Luminox has another patented application called Luminox Light Technology. It is a self-powered illuminator system that maintains a 24/7 glow for up to 25 years.
There is a walking speed scale, a separate compass attachment, a ruler, and a morse code chart all on the watch. Some of these features may be a little excessive for everyday day use and not help you navigate your way out of the woods, but you never know when one of them may be useful.
4) Suunto Traverse Alpha Outdoor Watch
The Suunto Traverse Alpha is one of the most streamline design survival watches on our list. It lies relatively flat on your wrist, and every part is the same colour. This cohesive look matches casual wear just as well as outdoor or sportswear so that you can wear it every day.
When it comes to navigation through unmarked territory, this is the best tactile watch. It has exceptional GPS features. These include tracking, point marking, waypoint identification, and the ability to record and share.
The Traverse Alpha is a smartwatch, which means you can sync it to your phone. By doing this, you will receive notifications via the watch. Syncing it to your phone also means you get storm alerts, other types of warnings, temperature readings, pressure readings, and share your experience on social media.
The durable design adds to the value of this watch. The face is topped with scratch-resistant sapphire infused glass to ensure the screen is protected from impacts. Also, it is waterproof up to 100 meters. The Traverse Alpha is genuinely one of the best watches available.
5) Timex Expedition Scout Watch
Timex’s tactile watch is a simple timekeeping device great for everyday use. It is another one of the more stylish survival watches on this list and the leather band is comfortable and durable with nature as an inspiration for its design. The case is 42mm made of brass and the entire watch weighs less than three grams, so you barely notice it when you wear it.
This analogue clock includes an Indiglo night-light feature, chronograph, and date tracker. It is water resistant up to 100 meters and meets the I.S.O standards for shock absorption. All of these features are more than enough for the casual outdoor adventurer.
If you have years of wilderness experience, and you know you need a watch more focused on navigation features, this is not the watch for you. But, if you, like most of us, don’t venture too far off the beaten path, save yourself some money and choose this simplistic, affordable tactile watch.
6) Casio Men’s PAG240-1CR
This watch by Casio is one of the most feature-rich timekeepers on this list. It competes with the highest military grade watches due to its high-quality material and survival-focused design.
We love how this watch encourages you to get outside via its energy source as the battery is solar powered. All you have to do is expose your watch to sunlight to keep it ticking for years. If you don’t use the watch often or do a lot of night-time trekking, the watch will stay fully charged for about six months.
This utility watch features a built-in compass, thermometer, altimeter, barometer, and more. It is waterproof up to 100 meters and has temperature resistance down to -10 degrees Celsius. These two features make it ideal for extreme sports like skiing, snowboarding, kayaking, white water rafting, and more.
What Makes A Good Survival Watch?
Now that we have reviewed some of our favourite survival watches, let’s take a look at some factors to consider when looking for the best watch for you.
A durable watch needs to be made from strong material and be shock-resistant. Stainless steel, titanium, and resin material are frequently used to construct watches. Each has its benefits, so research this before you commit to a purchase.
If you are ever in the unfortunate situation of not knowing where you are in the woods, the last thing you want is for your watch to stop working. No one plans to get lost, so no one knows how long they may need their watch to work.
Solar-powered batteries are best, and you shouldn’t have to worry about most new analog watches for at least the first few years. Smartwatches are where you need to be careful. They can be extremely helpful but run out of battery fast compared to other watches. Just remember to make charging a priority before any outdoor use.
You are shopping for a survival watch for a reason; you want it to do more than only keep time. Having a barometer, altimeter, thermometer, compass, and all those different measuring devices is great, but remember to be realistic.
Unless you are an avid outdoorsman, you may be satisfied with a simple survival watch. Sometimes just having a compass and timer is enough. However, if you are climbing mountains or trekking through a full growth forest, advanced features will be of great use to you. Practice self-awareness over ego to match a watch’s tools to your needs.
No matter what, it is always best to have a water-resistant survival watch. You never know when an unexpected rain shower could roll in, or when you may accidentally slip into a body of water. From simple utility watches to military watches, most watches have some water resistance, but you still should check before you buy.
It is always a good idea to buy a survival watch with a warranty. Some watches may automatically come with one, or you may have the option to add it on for a little bit more money.
If there is no warranty available for an expensive watch, then you may want to look somewhere else. Reputable brands are transparent about their products and happily fix broken watches to ensure customer satisfaction. Offering a warranty shows that they stand by their product. You don’t have to buy it, but it is a good sign if you can.
You may also want a warranty because survival watches are prone to more damage than a normal watch. Spending a little more upfront will save you money in the long run if you know you are going to put your new watch through some tough situations.
The right survival watch may be the difference between you navigating your way out of the forest or a search party finding you. They are handy when it comes to all sorts of outdoor activities. From day hikers to backcountry adventurers to extreme adventure sport athletes, survival watches provide comfort and security to all wearers.
The market is saturated with watches geared towards survival, so it can be hard to decide which one is best for you. Keep an eye on the durability, battery life, survival features, and water resistance. While many survival watches are loaded with features, the best watches are easy to use and have features that are useful to you.
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