This is a review of the best survival watches.
During my time spent in the outdoors, both in survival scenarios and recreationally, I have heavily depended on my watch to help out.
My watches have ranged from a cheap Walmart watch that busted in a week to a much more expensive Suunto that has lasted ages.
They’ve never been just about the time, but more about keeping myself on a schedule that helps me stay alive.
The watches that I’ve tried out over the years have started developing more technology than any clocks have ever had. I’ve begun to rely on my watch for navigation, altitude, weather prediction, and GPS coordinates.
Before these watches, I’d carried multiple different tools that would get jumbled and lost in a pack. I love the new watches that are coming out for survival to give you an edge when in the fight for your life.
I found the Suunto Traverse Alpha to be the best watch for all things survival.
This watch is far from just a timekeeper. It excels in its use of GPS to help track your movements and prevent you from becoming lost in the woods.
It detects when you fire a weapon and maps the location so you can see where you’ve shot down prey.
It even includes a moon phase calendar that gives you information on when to hunt and fish, as well as keeping track of the tides.
The Traverse Alpha is made from rugged stainless steel and a water-repellent nylon strap. There’s a weather trend alert that lets you know when a storm is approaching.
At night time you have a red backlight that doesn’t interfere with night vision goggles or your own vision. Then you can turn on the small, built-in flashlight when you need a little bit of extra guidance.
While the Traverse Alpha is perfect, especially for those that are doing a lot of hunting and fishing.
There are so many different options for survival watches out there. With watches, you may just want the best overall, or you may need the best budget watch. Maybe you want the watch with the best accessories, the best smartwatch for survival, or the most durable survival watch.
Here, we’re going to go into all of the different watches, so keep on reading to find the right watch for you.
Best Survival Watches: Our Picks
Suunto Traverse Alpha Outdoor Watch– Best Overall
- Automatic shot detection
- Sunrise and sunset alerts
- Moon phase calendar
- Barometric pressure graph and storm alarms
- Digital compass and GPS
- Easily track your path as you move through the bush
- Be in tune with the moon to know the best times for hunting and fishing
- Be ready for a storm with an alert to get prepared
- Don’t worry about breaking the watch
The Suunto Traverse Alpha is such an impressive watch when you look at its features and its function. The watch does everything from tracking your every move, to alert you when a storm is on the horizon.
Not only that, but it has a built-in compass and moon phase calendar to know when you should go hunt for the best possible results. This watch is more of a companion than a time teller.
When you’re out surviving, you need a watch that will take care of you. The Traverse Alpha keeps track of barometric pressure as well as altitude and combines all of the elements to give you the best prediction of weather.
You can plan routes with topographic maps and use the watch to guide you along that route. If you ever think you’re lost, just open the tracking and follow the breadcrumbs backwards.
Suunto Core All Black Military Men’s Outdoor Sports Watch– Best on a Budget
- An altimeter tracks vertical movement
- Barometer tracks trends in air pressure
- Built-in compass
- Operates at a wide range of temperatures
- Get storm alerts when foul weather is coming
- Know the watch will work even when it gets down to 5°F
- Trek comfortably with the two-year warranty
Most survival watches really pack a punch when you look at the price tag. The Suunto Core is the exception to that shock. This watch has a huge range of important features that will help you survive outdoors, but they don’t charge you a huge price.
It still includes both an altimeter and a barometer that will help you avoid storms or prepare for them because you’ll know it’s coming.
With a watch that will stay alive in cold and hot temperatures, you can go anywhere with this. It has over 400 different locations pre-installed to give you accurate sunrise and sunset times to ensure you don’t get trapped outside after dark.
This watch is a survival watch that is broken down to the basics. The elements put in this one are for survival, and that’s what they’ll help you accomplish.
Casio G-Shock Rangeman GW9400 Survival Watch– Most Durable Watch
- Digital compass
- Altimeter, barometer, and thermometer
- Water-resistant up to a depth of 660 feet
- Spend money on a watch that won’t break easily
- Go recreationally scuba diving with this watch
- Shock resistant
- Sensor button takes you to the sensor screen and each has a distinct tone
The Casio G-Shock Rangeman GW9400 is built to take on just about anything you can throw at it. It still has all of the features that other survival watches do such as an altimeter, barometer, thermometer, sunrise/sunset notifications, and a compass.
It also has a sensor screen that goes off when the watch senses a change that you need to be aware of. Each sensor puts off a distinct tone so you know which one is calling to you.
The build of the watch is made to withstand 660 feet of water, so you can comfortably go scuba diving with this on.
The buttons are all cylindrical and textured, meaning they are easy to handle and will also withstand a lot of shock force. It will function down to -10°F and is powered strictly from solar to make sure your battery never dies.
This watch will potentially last longer than any of us reading this.
Casio Pro Trek WSD-F30 Outdoor Smartwatch– Best Smartwatch
- Digital compass, altimeter, barometer
- Touchscreen face with a built-in microphone
- Temperature resistant to -10°C
- Water-resistant to 50m
- Have the power of OS by Google strapped to your wrist
- Track and navigate with the GPS positioning and downloaded maps
- Track altitude and barometric pressure
- Use apps to track your activities
People tend to be iffy about smartwatches in the outdoors. This kind of technology seems like it should stay inside offices and four walls to stay safe. Casio developed this smartwatch specifically to be used outdoors.
The Trek WSD-F30 is a great choice when you still want to stay connected, but be on the move. The Bluetooth connectivity brings alerts in from your phone when they come and makes sure you don’t miss a beat.
Not only can you stay connected, but you can also get disconnected. Download maps and head into the backcountry where you have no WiFi. You can track your movements and use apps to record all of your activities like kayaking, skiing, or swimming.
This watch is designed to be durable and take a beating while you’re out adventuring. It’s not a screen you need to be protective of.
Casio G-Shock Rangeman GPR-B1000-1JR GPS Watch– Best G-Shock Watch
- 200 meter water-resistant
- Bluetooth compatible and GPS built-in
- World Time Clock
- Solar charging option
- Charge your watch with the sun when the battery runs low
- Take this watch diving and track your movement
- Connect to a smartphone and create routes on a 3D map
Another beautifully crafted watch comes to us from Casio. The G-shock series is made to be tried in extreme conditions, and that’s exactly what I recommend you do with this one.
I like this watch because you can connect to your phone and load different routes so you are prepared when you head out into the backcountry. The 3D maps help you to stay on track and see where you’ve been.
The battery on this will last up to 33 hours using the GPS off of a 5-hour charge, but can easily be recharged with solar for a limited time. You can take this watch diving, into cold conditions, or diving in cold conditions.
It’s going to last you a long time, and tell you exactly what time it is in any location around the world. Take it anywhere with you and enjoy the benefits of a well-crafted timepiece.
Garmin Fenix 6X Premium Multisport GPS Watch– Most Extreme Watch
- Heart rate tracking and blood oxygen saturation sensor
- PacePro advanced training features
- Satellite navigation and tracking with a 3-axis compass
- Barometer and altimeter
- Topo maps and ski maps for over 2,000 ski resorts
- 1.4 inch sunlight-readable display
- Get help acclimating to the high altitudes before you go skiing with the preloaded maps
- Get grade-adjusted pace guidance with training assistance
- Use multiple global navigation satellite systems for challenging tracking
- Pay with Garmin Pay at the tap of your wrist
When we’re looking at watches, typically a barometer and altimeter or GPS are the best-installed features. The Garmin Fenix 6X takes those and makes them look small.
This watch brings you much more than just typical guidance and tracking assistance. It tracks your heart rate and blood oxygen saturation to help you acclimate appropriately. It then will lead you in the right direction with its downloaded maps of 2,000 ski resorts.
The compass in this watch is on three axes. It works with multiple satellite systems so you know you will have access to maps no matter where you find yourself.
For the front country, this watch also has Garmin Pay for easy, contactless payment in most stores. You have a watch that you never have to, or want to, take off. It’s just a pretty hefty price to get that.
Buying Guide: How To Choose Best Survival Watches
With the watches that come out nowadays, you are looking at a long list of features that can be overwhelming. There are some that I consider being fluff and some that I deem essential for survival.
While I don’t think you need Garmin Pay or PacePro installed in your watch to survive, they’re nice features for when you’re not in the backcountry.
The features that I think are necessary are the barometer, altimeter, compass, and temperature-resistance. These are all tools that will help to keep you alive when things go awry.
You’ll have to fall back on other survival skills, but if you have your skills down, you won’t even need a GPS.
The extra features are nice, but they definitely aren’t necessary. They’ll up the price as well. You need to know what features you want on your watch to get the right one.
A compass makes a normal watch into a survival watch. That’s kind of where I see the switch happening.
A lot of watches go much further into multiple satellite navigational systems that will pinpoint your exact location and make sure you never get even a little bit lost.
The Fenix 6X even has thousands of maps downloaded for ski resorts, where you’ll likely never be out of view of another person.
The GPS tracking is a great feature to include in a survival watch. If you are used to relying on a map and compass, then you may be set with those tools, but a GPS makes that easy.
You don’t have to do the orienteering, all you have to do is look at the watch and go the right way.
The bummer about a lot of these higher-tech watches is that the Bluetooth and GPS sucks up a lot of battery life.
That means you then need to figure out how you’re going to charge your watch and if you don’t have the means to do so, you’ll just have a fancy and expensive wristband.
I like the watches that have the solar charging capability because that will help to get you the juice you need to keep moving if you’re relying on the watch’s GPS.
Otherwise, just be ready with your own solar charger or hampster wheel.
Here’s another hugely important part of choosing a survival watch. You’re going to be out in the woods, and as I’m sure you’ve found out before, the woods are not kind on gear. Your watch is going to take a beating no matter how hard you try to protect it.
For a good survival watch, you need scratch-resistance as well as temperature and water resistance. This way, the watch won’t stop functioning when you accidentally take a swim or the weather takes a sudden drop.
If you’re planning on diving with this watch, you need to ensure that it’s rated to stay in shape at depths of up to 500 feet.
Shock resistance is another great feature. You’ll probably find yourself stumbling over logs in the backcountry and your watch may be what stops your fall.
A lot of watches on this list are made to be smacked against trees, but I wouldn’t recommend you do it intentionally.
If you’re in the market for a survival watch, one of these will definitely cover the bases that you’re after. These watches are made to take you outside, and ensure that you get back alive.
They’re much more than just watches. These have turned into wrist-worn guidance devices. You’ll be able to stay in tune with the weather and how it changes while you follow your trail back, home just in sight.
I still see the Suunto Traverse Alpha as the best overall when looking at these watches side-by-side. It has all of the features you need, and then some additional ones that will just make things easier.
I love the way it looks and the slim feel that it has on your wrist so it won’t get in the way. There’s no way you can go wrong with the Traverse Alpha. Even if it isn’t your top pick, keep on looking through the list, the right one is there.