When you spend time in the wilderness, you need to be able to track time, have a compass to navigate in the area you are in, use GPS, etc. Many of the best survival watches available these days have these options and give you an awesome gadget to help you on your journey in the wilderness.
Whether you are just wandering around or lost, having the best survival watch may prove to be invaluable. Some of these watches are extremely useful simply because they do not need batteries, and yet, are able to keep track of time and days.
HOW TO CHOOSE THE BEST SURVIVAL WATCH
Buying the best survival watch is no easy task and requires a lot of thought. This is a fine piece of machinery that should be able to stick with you even through the roughest conditions. Therefore, it is vital not to rush and make an impulse buy. Here are some of the characteristics that the best survival watch should have:
• Solid Construction and Shock Resistance: When you are out in the wilderness, everything you carry needs to be tough. This includes your survival watch. You can never predict any misfortune in the great wide open, so you need a watch that can withstand any mishap. This means that the best survival watch should have a solid construction with shock resistance.
• Fabulous Wrist Band: A fundamental aspect to look out for when picking the best survival watch is the wristband. You will find them made with a variety of materials, but keep in mind that rubber is the best. It can withstand even the roughest and toughest conditions and situations.
• Accuracy: When you are lost in the wilderness or any other type of environment, your perception of time is diminished. This means that you will not be able to keep track of how long you have been lost and the sun will probably be the only way to tell time – which is useless if you do not know how to read it. A stellar watch for survival needs to be accurate at its basic function – telling time. You should choose an analog watch as experts say that they tend to have more longevity.
• Well-Designed: watches for outdoors and survival typically do not look as attractive as the usual watches, but this is usually because their design involves more components than a traditional watch. When you are checking out survival watches, you should look out for negative display watches. A negative display means that the dial of the watch has a black background and the text is in white. With these types of watches, you do not have to switch on the backlight or change your position when you are checking your watch.
• Picking a watch ideal for survival that has luminescent hands and/or digits and an inverse LCD screen will be handy when you are out on your adventure. It is also a fantastic idea to pick one that is non-reflective so you can be as discreet as you want.
• Excellent Battery Duration: To make sure that your survival watch does not die when you are in the wilderness, you should look at watches that have impressive battery duration. It is unlikely that you will have the opportunity to replace or recharge your batteries (there is not any convenience store or Best Buy down the street). You will find higher-end survival watches are kinetic, mechanical, or solar-powered so you do not have to worry about dead batteries. However, with mechanical ones, you need to make sure that you keep them wound up properly so that they do not die when you need them the most.
• Water Resistance: When you are out in the wild, there is never any telling what will happen. You could be caught in a thunderstorm or fall into a river or pond. You need a survival watch that can withstand such mishaps and function properly. There are two types of survival watches – water-resistant and waterproof. While waterproof watches are designed to resist being submerged in water, watches with water resistance will only resist in situations where there is humidity but not in excess. Having a water-resistant watch is always good.
There are a few other things that should be present in the best survival watch. You could look for these characteristics depending on your needs:
• Compass: A compass is undoubtedly an essential survival tool. While there are quite a few bushcraft methods to find direction, there is nothing quite like a high-quality compass for speed and accuracy. This is a good tool to have on a survival watch.
• Thermometer: If you are exploring places that have extreme temperatures, having a thermometer on your survival watch is certainly valuable. However, keep in mind that because the watch is attached to your wrist at all times, your body heat could have an effect on the thermometer’s accuracy.
• Barometer: In a survival situation, two immediate threats that are the most dangerous are the lack of clean water and extreme exposure. But, with a barometer on your survival watch, you can be more aware of potential bad weather and protect yourself well before it arrives. You can also use the barometer on your watch to predict rain and prepare yourself for any situation that may arise.
• Altimeter: If you are up in a mountainous region and not sure about your exact location, having an altimeter can be helpful. With an altimeter on your watch, you can always know your exact altitude. So, it helps to narrow down your location when you check your topographical map. When you know where you are, it will make it a little easier to find your way back to camp or civilization.
• Sunrise and Sunset Times: Did you know that when you are at a higher altitude, the sun sets earlier than it normally does? Having a sunrise/sunset times feature on your survival watch gives you a way to know how much time you have before it gets dark (you do not want to have to figure that out using the Nautical Almanac – that is not so simple, even in a classroom!). This is something you should definitely consider when looking for a survival watch.
• GPS: When you are an explorer or adventurer, having a GPS is extremely beneficial. If you find yourself lost in the wilderness, your GPS will help you with the coordinates of your location so that you can find your way back to your camp. This is another thing to consider on a survival watch.
Having a reliable survival watch is critical when you are out in the wilderness. There are a lot of choices out there and it can get confusing. But if you have a sagacious idea of what you need in a watch, there is no doubt that you will find the perfect one for you.
You might find interesting to read our best G-Shock watches article.
THE TOP 10 BEST SURVIVAL WATCHES
1. CASIO PAG240-1CR PATHFINDER
The PAG240-1CR Pathfinder is a black solar-powered sport packed with multiple features including a compass, thermometer, barometer, altimeter, EL backlight, low-temperature resistance, 1/100-second stopwatch, world time, city code display, 5 daily alarms, full auto-calendar (pre-programmed until 2099), battery power indicator, countdown timer, and power-saving function.
It features a 55-mm stainless steel case with a mineral dial window and a quartz movement with a digital display. Quartz watches are appreciated as survival watches. It has a quality resin band with buckle closure. Casio watches are usually water-resistant. This watch can be submerged to 100 meters or 330 feet, so while it is fantastic for swimming and snorkeling, you should not consider scuba diving with it.
The PAG240-1CR Pathfinder is definitely one of the top watches out there right now. It is well designed and built with some wonderful materials, such as the countdown timer.
Although some of its features may not be as accurate as you expect, it is still a pretty cool watch. You have to keep in mind that this watch is made for non-professional use.
Its multiple features, like the countdown timer and power-saving function, are what make the PAG240-1CR Pathfinder a great watch for survival. It has practically everything you need for your outdoor adventures. The only thing you have to remember is that it is not meant for water activities such as scuba diving, etc. Sorry Aquaman, that probably rules you out.
We think that this watch is tough and durable and sure to last many years.
To the ladies, if you are looking for a gift that your partner will love you even more for, we definitely recommend the Casio PAG240-1CR Pathfinder!
- (+) Simple to set up and operate
- (+) Easy to read
- (+) Multifunctional
- (-) Display hard to read at extreme angles
- (-) The plastic case gets scratched too easily
2. CITIZEN PROMASTER ALTICHRON
The previous generation of Promaster Altichron is totally reimagined by Citizen (Japanese) in this watch. The watch is a lot more mainstream with its vintage military look and the black colored bezel. It has sober-looking white hour markers against a mostly matte black colored dial.
This is an absolute gem of a timepiece with an inbuilt date, compass, and altimeter measuring 1,000ft – 32,000ft. The timepiece is perfect for any amateur to semi-professional adventurer. There is a black ion-plated case made from stainless steel and comfortable black colored bold polyurethane straps.
The sky is the absolute limit with this innovative, sporty, yet sleek timepiece which features the Citizen Eco-Drive light-power technology.
The Citizen Promaster Altichron is a spectacular addition to any outdoor or sports enthusiast’s collection. It has an amazingly useful set of features. The watch represents one of the most durable and streamlined Eco-Drive pieces manufactured by Citizen. The construction on the Altichron is rugged with a comfortable strap and a nice, large, readable dial.
The watch easily doubles up as a sporty fashion piece and an outdoor watch. The handy compass and altimeter feature only add to its charm and usability. The watch has a surprisingly light fit when you compare it with the thick dial. It may impose a big presence on your wrist, but it doesn’t feel heavy or burdensome.
- (+) Lightweight
- (+) Rugged built
- (+) Altimeter and compass
- (-) 46 mm diameter case
- (-) 5 hands
Check out our suggested survival bracelets article.
3. GARMIN INSTINCT SOLAR
Garmin Instinct Solar features a modest design that hides a practical multi-sports GPS timepiece. It has one of the best-extended battery lives by way of solar charging. You will not be disappointed by its rugged new look and water resistance up to 100 meters. The Garmin Instinct is US military standard 810 for shock, thermal, and water resistance.
The watch has a built-in barometric altimeter, 3-axis compass, and several global navigation satellite systems, including Galileo, Glonass, and GPS. You can track all your activities, like swimming, biking, and strength through this watch.
Pulse Ox and all-day health monitoring go a long way in understanding health and fitness. However, Garmin claims the watch is not intended to be used as a medical device.
The Garmin Instinct Solar is definitely a large and powerful smartwatch. It is designed to help you keep up with your long, outdoor health and fitness sessions. This model has unprecedented solar-charging capabilities in terms of longevity of the charge. The watch is built to last and is highly durable with military-grade toughness.
One of the biggest purchasing factors for the watch is its battery life. You don’t have to worry about the watch dying before you cross the finish line. It ensures the battery lasts as long as you want with solar power. This is one of the best reasons for considering the Garmin Instinct.
- (+) Solar-powered
- (+) Improved GPS, Glonass, and Galileo
- (+) Advanced tactical features
- (-) Information overload
- (-) GPS features can be confusing
4. CASIO G-SHOCK GBDH1000-1
The G-Shock GBD-H1000 is an iconic watch bringing various smart features together. Most g shocks are usually water-resistant. The watch has water resistance to 200 meters and can be worn on local swims and scuba dives. It has a shock-resistant rugged casing that is designed to protect the electronics and glass screen from most types of hard impact.
The watch is pretty hefty as a result. It is almost 20mm in size and weighs 3.5 ounces. It has a crisp, clear, white-on-black display with memory-in-pixel (MIP) technology. This is the same technology that is used by Garmin in its high-end Fenix range.
The watch comes with all the survival features and sensors required in a modern fitness watch. You have GLONASS, GPS, and QZSS for location tracking. There is an optical heart rate sensor for measuring your pulse. The watch features a digital compass, barometric altimeter, and accelerometers as well.
The watch is made for die-hard G shock watches fans that want a few smart features with the usual ruggedness. Nothing has been sacrificed for including full fitness tracking. The chunky, big, aggressively designed watch looks and feels as if it could survive an angry bear. It also has an impressive battery life.
There is no touchscreen on the GBD-H1000. This means that all interactions boil down to five physical buttons encompassing the watch. This can be complicated for people who are used to changing things at the touch of a button. But, the good part is that the buttons are designed tactically and are quite large. Also, g shocks are known to be water-resistant.
- (+) Solar charging
- (+) 5 tracking sensor
- (+) Great battery life
- (-) Disappointing heart rate tracking
- (-) Slow GPS
We also suggest checking out our article about the best survival gadgets by clicking here.
5. SUUNTO CORE
The Suunto Core All Black Military Men’s Outdoor Sports Watch is probably one of the best-looking outdoor watches out there. It features a compass, barometer, altimeter, a weather trend graph, preset sunrise/sunset times for more than 400 locations, storm alarm, and more.
The survival features on Suunto Core include just about everything you need to help you stay safe and plan your activities when you are in the wilderness. It is water-resistant to 100 feet and comes with a low battery warning, backlight option, daily alarms, calendar clock, dual time, and other handy features (no, it cannot make banana cream pie for you!). The strap is a tad small for some and sadly, breaks off after a while, but the rest of the Suunto Core is pretty much near perfect.
The Suunto Core All Black Military Men’s Outdoor Sports Watch looks awesome and functions well, but like everything else in life, it is not perfect.
First off, the display is a little too dark. You actually have to be in total darkness to be able to see the light. Next is the battery – there have been a couple of complaints that the battery died after just a few months. It is not solar-powered, which would have made it so much better. Obviously, this is an issue that should be addressed.
Then comes the strap, which seems to be something that many digital watches have in common – they are flimsy and break off easily. This is about as disappointing as having your order messed up at a fast-food restaurant. I said extra onions please!
However, you cannot ignore the fact that the Suunto Core comes with many excellent features that are handy when you are in the wilderness and they function very well. There is no doubt that this survival watch is one of the best picks that are out there.
- (+) Well designed and constructed
- (+) Comes with superb features
- (+) Tough and durable
- (-) Dark display
- (-) Needs better battery
6. CASIO G-SHOCK MUDMASTER GWG-1000-1AJF
The Casio Mudmaster is a mud-resistant watch that can withstand the harshest environments you expose it to, making it a salient choice for survival. Its Triple G Resist reinforced construction makes it shock and vibration resistant and it also has water resistance to 200 meters. This watch features a digital compass, barometer, altimeter, world time (29 countries), 1/100-second stopwatch, battery level indicator, full auto double LED backlight with afterglow, and more.
It offers practical readability and is easy to use. While you may find it a tad difficult to set up in the beginning, once you get it done, you will find that this is a cool survival watch that will provide you with everything you need to survive in harsh environments.
Although the G-Shock Mudmaster is a little tough to set up (it is still much easier than trying to ascertain the tax code!), it is very functional and easy to use, not to mention accurate.
We think that the LED night light could be made better by adding another LED light at the top so you can get a better view of the entire face.
The watch is seriously large, but then it comes packed with awesome features – they need to fit in to be as functional as they are. The overall design is superb and we especially like the tough solar function.
If you are okay with spending a little more than you wanted to on a watch, the Mudmaster is definitely a golden buy. Just do not get it for your mother in law; she could be the wrong recipient for this type of watch!
- (+) Designed and built to last
- (+) Has superb features
- (+) Easy to use and highly functional
- (-) A little large for some
- (-) A tad pricey
7. TIMEX EXPEDITION GALLATIN
The Timex Expedition Gallatin watch has a rugged, solid construction, making it superb for survival, adventurers, and outdoor enthusiasts. It comes with a lightweight, durable resin case, and fast-wrap Velcro strap.
It is suitable for use to a depth of 50 meters, or 165 feet. You can swim with it, but snorkeling, diving, etc. are not recommended. With its Indiglo light-up dial, you can read the watch even in the dark. The Timex Gallatin has an analog display with an acrylic dial window. The Velcro band will wear out eventually but all in all, this is a good watch for survival.
The Timex Expedition Gallatin is a nice, lightweight watch that functions well and great for outdoor trips as well as everyday wear.
It is made of plastic, which might put some people off, but it is light and very easy to use. The strap makes it a little disappointing – being Velcro, it wears quite fast. But the good thing is that it can be easily replaced.
This survival watch can withstand quite a lot of rough handling and remains reliable whenever you need it.
Overall, we found very few problems with the Timex Expedition Gallatin and think it is certainly one of the best survival watches out there.
- (+) Rugged and comfortable
- (+) Easy to read and functions well
- (+) Indiglo light works well
- (-) Velcro strap wears quickly
- (-) Made of plastic
8. CASIO PRG-270 PRO TREK
This is a tough solar-powered survival watch that comes with a number of handy features including a compass, barometer, altimeter, thermometer, world time, 5 daily alarms, sunrise/sunset data, power-saving function, and much more. Its full-auto LED backlight with afterglow allows you to read it easily in the dark.
The Casio Men’s PRG-270 has all the functions that you need when you are in the wilderness or in an emergency situation. The altimeter is a little tricky as it does not show accurate data and sometimes goes off for no reason. It may not be a quality G-Shock like other Casio outdoor watches, but it is reliable and all its critical functions work well.
The Casio Pro Trek is a nice watch that comes with various functions that are very useful in the wilderness and survival situations. It is lightweight so it does not weigh your arm down while walking in the wild.
The altimeter is not as accurate as it should be, but you can solve the problem by resetting it at night. This is because pressure changes at night.
While it is not as great as a G-Shock model, it is solid and rugged, allowing it to withstand rough conditions.
As a whole, this is an ideal survival watch and its important components work almost perfectly. All you have to do is calibrate them properly and they will be as accurate as you want them to be.
- (+) Functions work well
- (+) Lightweight
- (+) Affordable
- (-) The altimeter is not as accurate as you would like
9. LUMINOX A.8831.KM RECON
This is a nice-looking well-built watch that comes with some salient components that make it ideal for survival. The Luminox Recon has a stainless steel case, anti-reflective sapphire dial window, and analog display. It is water-resistant to 200 meters, or 660 feet. It also has luminescent markers that allow you to read the watch in the dark.
Robust and tough, this watch can take a beating in the wilderness or any survival situation and still function well. The Luminox Men’s A.8831.KM Recon is an accurate watch – you should consider this one if you are looking for a decent survival watch.
If you are looking for a survival watch with Swiss quality, the Luminox Men’s A.8831.KM Recon is ideal for you.
Like other watches, it does have its flaws, but they do not overshadow the overall quality and function of the watch.
Its components work accurately and they are extremely helpful when you are out on a wilderness adventure or a survival situation.
We like the Luminox Recon because it is lightweight and deceptively tough with a stainless steel case. This is definitely a watch, you can take it anywhere without worrying about damage.
It is a little on the expensive side, but we think that with its marvelous quality, design, and functionality, and accurate components, it is worth every dollar which is important since energy costs and taxes are rising.
- (+) Solid and tough
- (+) Nice afterglow
- (+) Clear and legible dial
- (-) The compass needs to be improved
- (-) Markings a tad small for some users
10. CASIO GW2310FB-1CR G-SHOCK
This is a survival watch, which may look simple but it stands above many other watches due to its awesome design and components. The Casio Men’s GW2310FB-1CR is a solar-powered multifunction watch that comes with a compass, full auto EL backlight, 41 world time zones, 4 daily alarms, and much more.
The watch comes with a 46.4 mm resin case with a mineral dial window. It has a Japanese quartz movement with a digital display. This is one of the better quartz watches. It is water-resistant up to 200 meters, or 660 feet. Despite its small size, this is a nice watch that will be useful whenever you go out on your wilderness trips.
Although it is a little small for some users, the GW2310FB-1CR is a nice watch that has stellar characteristics and ergonomics.
When it comes to its looks, this watch is simple yet sleek. If you are not into things that are too fancy, this is the ideal watch for survival or adventurers, since it is shock resistant.
One of its flaws is the size, which makes it difficult for some people to read the display properly. Also, the strap could be better as it is a little flimsy.
However, all in all, its negatives do not outweigh the positives of the GW2310FB-1CR G-Shock. This is an excellent watch for those looking for quality g shock watches. Jack Bauer would approve of this watch!
- (+) Functional components
- (+) Lightweight yet sturdy
- (+) Excellent battery
- (-) Small display
- (-) Auto illuminate function is sometimes a little off
FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS
What are the toughest watches?
One of the toughest and best survival watches is the Casio Mudmaster. This mud-resistant watch can easily withstand the harshest environments. It is made to be durable as well as tough. You cannot go wrong with this watch. If you want something more on the lines of a fitness watch, you should choose Garmin Instinct Solar. The watch is built for durability and can withstand extreme pressure. It is designed on military-grade toughness. Casio PRG-270 Pro Trek tough solar-powered survival watch is pretty tough too.
Do soldiers wear watches?
Soldiers of the United States Armed Forces are among the most highly trained and individually capable military personnel as compared to any nation on earth. Function is revered over fashion in today’s military. This is why a watch should be able to survive the harshest conditions from the extreme heat of the deserts to barren tundra cold. Casio G-shock is one watch that comes up again and again when speaking about military or tactical watches.
Which watch do Navy SEALs wear?
G-Shock is a pet name where Special Forces are concerned. There are several variants of the G-Shock that are preferred by different US military groups. However, when it comes to the Navy SEALs, the G-Shock DW-6600 used the most preferred watch. This is now replaced by the G-Shock DW-6900 as the preferred military watch. The timepiece has a solar power battery, “multi-band 6” atomic timekeeping, and provides time in the 12 and 24-hour (military time) format.
What watch cops wear?
The men and women in blue rarely have it easy. They have one of the toughest and roughest jobs that one can hope to love. Belligerent perps and criminals rarely ever go into custody without struggling. This is why cops prefer G-Shock by Casio as their timekeeping device. The rugged Mudmaster GWG-1000-1AJF is one of the most preferred picks. However, if you are on a budget, you can also choose the Black Out Series Basic 6900BB as a reliable budget watch.
As you can see, there are some tremendous and outstanding survival watches on the market. You have a lot to choose from. Choosing the best survival watch depends on your needs and budget. They all come with their own flaws but you cannot expect a perfect survival watch.
You will find a few watches with negative reviews from customers, but it usually involves their own experiences with the watch and has nothing to do with the product itself or the manufacturer. We hope that this article was helpful enough to make a good buying decision to pick the right survival watch for your needs.