Best Outdoor Watches
No matter where you are or what adventure you find yourself experiencing, an outdoor watch is one of the best tools you can have with you. I know what your thinking, why do I need to know the time if I am half way up a mountain or deep in the woods on a portage? Well, I am here to tell you that outdoor watches are much more then a time piece, they are a whole new tool for the twenty first century adventurer. Features such as GPS, activity tracking, and being a smart device is just some of the extras the outdoor watch brings to its owner, and these tools can give you the extra edge when on your next adventure.
Now you have decided you want that edge while on your next adventure, but you don’t know the first thing about outdoor watches. Well, we have done the research to bring you the top ten of 2018, and why they made our list. Below we will not only provide you with those top ten but also answer questions such as : what are you looking for in an outdoor watch? Do you crave GPS functionality? How about a compass? Or do you just merely need it to have Bluetooth? No matter, here are ten of the best watches for outdoor users.
- Garmin Fenix 5
- QuickFit bands
- Training features
- Suunto Spartan
- GPS feature
- Sunrise time display
- Casio 2500T
- Water resistant
10 Best Outdoor Watches
Garmin Fenix 5
The bezel, buttons and rear case are all crafted from high-quality stainless steel. In addition, you can swap out the band with a wide selection of QuickFit bands (options include leather, metal or silicone).
Utilizing the GPS technology non-stop would provide you with up to 24 hours. Otherwise, in smartwatch mode, you could feasibly get up to two weeks.
Not only does this feature both GPS and GLONASS satellite reception, it also sports a triple-axis compass and a barometric altimeter. Also, you can sync this watch with your smartphone to receive smart notifications and uploads to Garmin Connect.
A beautiful interface is highlighted by the high-resolution and full-color Garmin Chroma LED Display. Plus, with the performance widget, all your key stats are at your fingertips.
While there are various color designs that you can select from, the jet-black design is downright gorgeous for any wrist.
If it is a watch or any sort of GPS device and it has Garmin’s name plastered on it, you know it is worth the money. Then, when you take into consideration that the watch is the best outdoor version the company has crafted, all the guesswork should be done.
- Features transflective technology to allow easier viewing in sunlight
- You can replace the band with several QuickFit bands
- It comes equipped with in-depth training features
- Some users have claimed that the watch has randomly frozen on them from time to time
Suunto Sport Wristwatch
This also features a stainless steel bezel but the case is crafted from a glass fiber reinforced polyamide. In addition, the Sport Wristwatch is water-resistant to up to 100 meters.
While not the best battery life when you utilize it in training mode, up to 10 hours, you can enhance this to 40 hours with power saving options.
The GPS and GLONASS tracking technology, heart-rate tracking, sports and activity tracking, and breadcrumb trail to display your current route make this ideal for outdoor explorers. As a bonus, the watch also displays sunrise and sunset times; while also informing you of upcoming storms in your area.
For a watch, the display is utterly fantastic. With a color touchscreen and three action buttons on the side, it is difficult to gripe about anything here.
If you do not like the standard stealth color option, which is mostly consistent with black, you could opt for the amber color option. Either way, both look visually appealing.
It may sport more features than you will ever care to use, but you have to applaud the in-depth nature of this watch. Plus, thanks to its tough construction that can hold up in the rain, it is suitable for any outdoor activity.
- Features a high-quality watch band
- GPS and activity tracking are top-notch
- Displays the times for the sunrise and the sunset
- Somewhat inaccurate heart-rate monitor without the belt (sold separately)
- A few shortcomings with the operating system
Casio 2500T Digital
This can handle depths of water that you may never feasibly go to, up to 200 meters. In addition, the band is made of titanium; however, some users have commented that the band is engineered cheaply.
Instead of a traditional power system, this runs off of solar light. On a full charge, it can last up to five months. However, if you use power saving functions this can increase to 23 months. But, when exposed to sunlight, it will be charging as you wear it.
All the bells and whistles of a traditional watch are present here, such as a full auto-calendar and 12/24 hour formats, but it adds a digital compass, altimeter, barometer, and thermometer.
A duplex LC display is construed on the face of this watch and when in darkness, it features an auto backlight with an afterglow. It is not the fanciest interface you will ever see, but it suffices.
Some may feel this is not discreet enough for them. In other words, this watch will stand out very easily due to the complexity and ruggedness of the display and band.
Past the cheaply made, according to some users, titanium band this is designed to withstand the elements that await you. All in the meanwhile, providing you with design functions such as an altimeter and full-fledged compass.
- Has a water-resistance rating of 200 meters
- The durability is impressive
- Features tide levels for specific times and dates
- Not the easiest or most efficient compass in the world
- The titanium band is on the cheap-end
This is fitted with a stainless steel bezel, case and bracelet. To top it off, there is a scratch-resistant sapphire crystal casing. Plus, if exposed to water, it can handle it as it has a water-rating of up to 100 meters.
Instead of being designed like GPS watches and activity trackers with limited battery lives, this does not really have that. But, it does have a power reserve of 44 hours.
The Airboss Mach 9 watch has the functions for date, hour, minute, second, and a chronograph. For the chronograph, it functions for 12 hours, 30 minutes, and 60 seconds.
While there is a lot of information clustered on the interface, it is easy to see. There are 24-hour markers, minute markers located around the outer rim, a date display at the 6 o’clock position, and chronograph subdials that display this function.
You can opt for either a leather, steel, or nylon band. But, the red and black blend of the nylon band with the watch interface is as beautiful as you will ever see on a watch.
Some may feel the immense price tag should warrant more from this watch. But, you really would be hard-pressed to find a watch that is physically designed better than this.
- Very elegant design that is extremely visually appealing
- Designed to withstand rugged abuse
- Has functionality for 12-hours, 30-minute and 60-second
- Users have griped about the excess weight due to the intense construction
With its combination of rugged PVD-coated surfaces and a mineral glass lens, the epix is ready for your adventures. In the instance of inclement weather, it is also water-resistant for up to 50 meters.
If you were to use the GPS functionality without stopping, you could get up to 20 hours of battery life. Used sparingly, you could extend this to up to three weeks.
There are eight GB of internal memory installed and this allows you to load a variety of maps. Also, this can work as an activity tracker and also sports GPS and GLONASS reception for navigation.
With the Connect IQ application, you can actually customize your watch with different fields and widgets. As a whole, it features a 1.4-inch high-resolution, Chroma touchscreen display.
No doubt, this is the least impressive aspect of the epix. It is not necessarily appalling to the eyes but the design is very basic and probably not one you would want to wear to a party.
For pure performance, this could easily be at the top of the list. Any outdoor enthusiast would be proud and thrilled to put this on before their adventure. This is thanks to its excellent GPS technology, mapping capabilities, and use as a sports tracker.
- Designed with a stainless steel EXO antenna for GPS and GLONASS reception
- Built-in altimeter, compass and barometer
- It can display smart notifications from your smartphone
- Not the best resolution or user interface out there
Military standard MIL-STD-810G allows this to be suitable for the roughest of handling. The 50-meter water-resistance rating only assists in this as it can handle moderate rainfall.
When simply used in timepiece mode, you could get up to one month of battery life. But, with the GPS being utilized, expect this to drop up to 25 hours (if used without stopping).
This truly is an all-in-one watch with technology for GPS functionality, a built-in barometer and altimeter, activity tracking, and even a compass. Thanks to the built-in quad sensors, in addition, this can be achieved without the assistance of your smartphone.
Overall, the general consensus is the interface can be clunky and difficult to navigate through. But, notwithstanding, you can still display your current location, activities, and recorded points which is nice.
Both options are very stylish and while you have the standard all-black design, you can also choose a version which a tint of orange around the edge.
So many features integrated into a small watch can be overwhelming at first. While a better interface would assist in this better, the result is still fabulous and the functionality is nearly endless.
- The built-in quad sensors deliver real-time tracking information
- It is compatible with several smartphones
- On the interface, you can display the current route of your activities
- The interface can be difficult to navigate through
- When charging, you can easily bump the cable out of place and it is not stable
Garmin Quatix 3
Not only does this feature a stainless steel EXO antenna, it also sports a stainless steel EXO bezel and is water-rated for up to 100 meters.
The battery life will fluctuate quite a bit depending on how you use it. Expect up to 20 hours in GPS mode, 30 hours in data streaming mode, 50 hours in UltraTrac mode, and six weeks in standard watch mode.
Past the built-in triple-axis compass, altimeter and barometer, and GPS and GLONASS reception, this watch features a fish catching log that allows you to keep track of all the fish you have caught and the remaining time allotted to fish.
While the screen is a high-resolution Garmin Chroma Display with an LED backlight, overall, some have claimed it is a little disappointing when for the marine use.
You receive both a silicone watch band and a leather version, which can be easily replaced with the included tools. Overall, the aesthetic is incredible and this is one of the best-looking watches out there, period.
If you are interested in this solely for the marine features, you may slightly disappointed. They are nice to have, but many have claimed there are performance issues with them. Past this, everything is remarkable.
- Is preloaded with all different kinds of marine features
- Includes a 3-axis compass, altimeter and barometer
- Very appealing design and one of the best
- Users have complained slightly about the performance of some of the marine features
- A little disappointing in terms of the display
A mix of brushed and polished stainless steel makes up the watch itself and a scratch-resistant sapphire crystal case protects the dial. For rainfall, it has a water-resistant rating of 200 meters.
Again, unlike GPS watches, battery life will not be much of a concern here. Plus, with a 50-hour power reserve, you should be set.
There is a compass that is integrated into the watch and besides this, the 23-jewel automatic movement features both automatic and manual winding capabilities. Additionally, it beats at a frequency of 21,600 vibrations per hour.
The display is crystal-clear and the green dial blends with the gold hands perfectly. Furthermore, there is a date display directly next to the 3 o’clock position.
All in all, the dial is downright gorgeous and visually appealing to the eyes. The blend of gold and green may not seem stylish, but it works like a godsend here.
Sometimes, you want an outdoor watch that is rugged enough to withstand the elements without the unnecessary features and technology. That is the Seiko Men’s Watch. But, it is worth noting, the band leaves a lot to be desired.
- Is water-resistant up to 200 meters
- The craftsmanship of the crystal manages to repel scratches
- Absolutely gorgeous dial with the blend of the gold makers
- Very, very low-quality band that looks like it does not belong on this watch
All Traverse watches are hand-tested and designed in Finland and are composed of a stainless steel bezel. And, with a water-rating of 100 meters, it is designed for the outdoors.
Suunto advertises their Traverse to have up to 100 hours of battery life. But, as several reviewers have claimed, in GPS mode, this is laughably wrong and tends to fluctuate a lot.
You can achieve everything you can think of with the Traverse. Use the GPS functionality for navigation, sync it to your smartphone and use it as a smartwatch, and track altitude statistics. Plus, you will be notified of weather changes and upcoming storms.
The manner in which the interface is executed makes it difficult to navigate through as it is hard to know which functions are currently enabled. But, there is a backlight when you need it.
Despite the lukewarm appeal of the watch, it is convenient that there are differing color options such as graphite, black, white, and amber.
Not without its shortcomings, the Traverse is a high-quality outdoor watch that is suitable for almost everyone. It also helps that it is manufactured by Suunto, who has an impressive track record.
- Can be synced with your smartphone for up-to-date calls and texts
- Features a real-time breadcrumb view of your route
- Implements GPS and GLONASS technology
- Disappointing in terms of battery life; in GPS mode
- Can be difficult to navigate the interface
Because it is water-resistant, this will function normally even under rainfall (depending on the excessiveness of the rain). Besides this, it is engineered with a durable plastic case and extra-hard plastic lens.
Depending on how you use the watch, power settings and functionality, you could get up to 18 months of battery life.
The barometer has memory built-in for four days and this will help you track weather changes, the altimeter can be displayed in either meters or feet, and the compass displays your current direction.
From certain angles, the display can be nearly impossible to view. When seen, though, the watch displays the date and the time in a 12 or 24-hour format.
This is another watch that may only appeal to a specific audience. Still, you can either select from a lone-black or black and yellow design.
We are not going to sugarcoat this and say the Vector is the best option, it would be number one in that instance. With that being said, it functions properly most of the time and will suffice for minimalists.
- It is a watch, altimeter, barometer and compass all in one
- Displays a notification when the battery reaches 10 percent capacity
- The built-in calendar is programmed all the way to the year 2089
- Various reviewers have griped about the inaccuracy, at times, of the compass and altimeter
- The display is egregious to see from certain angles
Criteria Used For The Evaluation
Their Overall Construction and Ruggedness
Watches, to begin with, should be designed with durability in mind but when you factor in the unknown nature of the outdoor world, it enhances the importance. When it comes down to it, for use outdoors, you should look two factors. One is the actual workmanship of the watch itself (and even the band). Two is the water-resistance rating (if it is water-resistant). For starters, let’s address the workmanship.
First off, the watch should be crafted from durable alloys, for example, titanium and stainless steel. Take stainless steel, for example, as it is a naturally hard alloy that can handle rugged handling. If you accidentally smack your watch on something or drop it while trying to get it on, it should be able to withstand it. Then, there should also be a scratch-resistant casing designed over the watch to protect it. Now, for the water-resistance rating. As opposed to waterproofness, water-resistance does not cover complete submerging. However, if the watch is rated for up to 100 or 200 meters (or beyond) then it is suitable for it. Still, most manufacturers will advise against diving with this type of watch.
The Battery Life on a Single Charge
The watches that were presented to you on this list varied a little. Some are equipped with GPS functionality, activity tracking and work as a smartwatch. When it comes to these types of smartwatches, you will need to focus on the battery life. Considering that you are going to utilize these watches outdoors, you want to ensure they will last as long as you need them. However, it is really not that simple with smartwatches (especially if they have GPS technology).
Anyone who knows anything about GPS should know that it takes a ton of power to use and will bog down your battery significantly. Thus, you typically will see differing battery life ratings. Such as 20 hours in GPS mode and three weeks otherwise. The manner in which you use your watch will determine the battery life of one charge. So, the more you use the GPS inside the watch, the quicker the battery will deplete. In other words, use it sparingly.
All the Integrated Technology
This is where personal preference starts to come into play. Among the watches on this list, this is the section where they will differ the most from one another. The only thing you need to ensure is what you truly want your watch to be capable of. If you simply want to know the time and maybe have a few extra features, you can opt against versions that are loaded with technology. Some of the main design implementations that you want to consider are a GPS, compass, barometer, altimeter, activity tracking and Bluetooth.
GPS and activity tracking do go hand-in-hand with a watch and if it sports GPS technology, it should allow for sports and activity tracking. But, technology such as a barometer (which assists in forecasting the weather and determining the altitude), an altimeter (which allows you to determine the altitude attained) and a compass can provide you with necessary information when you are wandering in the wilderness. Then, there is Bluetooth. With this, your watch morphs into a smartwatch and then has the capability of syncing with your smartphone. This can then allow you to receive call and text notifications straight from your phone and also access to additional applications.
The Screen and Interface
No matter if it is a smartphone, laptop, tablet, gaming console, or a watch, you will spend most of the time staring at the screen and navigating through the interface. With watches, it can be a bit tricky because, due to their design, their screens will not be as large and immense as smartphones or tablets. As such, the actual interface is not going to be able to show all the features present and you want to ensure it is easy to navigate through. Of course, this is more referencing smartwatches and touchscreen watches.
But, you can also pay attention to the screen and display as a whole? What is the resolution of the screen? Does it have a backlight for dark environments? Also, can it easily be seen from a distance (from your eyes to your wrist)? Do you really want to squint your eyes every time you look down at your wrist because the fonts and resolution are unbearably low and small?
The Overall Aesthetic
This is one design criteria where it is completely irrelevant what the designed purpose of the watch is. You may believe that prioritizing the overall aesthetic of a watch is rather shallow. After all, what is so great about a device that looks amazing but does not function well at all? Well, there is not a point. Indeed, you should only focus on the physical design of the watch if you know it performs to your standards and is constructed with quality in mind.
Once you have established this, you can narrow down your selection based on the overall appeal of the watch. It is going to be strapped to your wrist and nine times out of ten, exposed to the outside of the world. Thus, making it a possible fashion statement and you can’t look yourself in the eyes and say this does not matter at least a little.
Q: What Exactly is a Chronograph Watch?
Once or twice throughout this list, you saw a reference to the term chronograph. But, that does not mean that you fully understood what it meant. To keep it as simple and brief as possible, as the explanation of how a chronograph works could be a full guide in and of itself, a chronograph is a timepiece that can be used as a standard display watch and a stopwatch. For example, this type of a watch will typically have dials for seconds, minutes, and hours.
So, you could feasibly use this to conduct certain tests that you would like done. Such as, how long it takes you to get your grocery shopping done or how long it took you to drive from point A to point B. For a standard chronograph watch, you would press the corresponding button when you are ready to begin and push it again when you conclude. It really is as simple as that, at its core.
Q: Which Wrist Does the Watch Go On?
It is actually quite amazing how frequently this question gets brought up and how many times you see it circulating around the internet. Most people will not walk around with two watches on their hand unless they have too much money for their own good, so the question begs: what wrist should it go on? There is no written code that states one way or the other but in general, if you are right-handed you will wear it on your left wrist and vice versa.
When you think about it, it makes sense for your non-dominant hand to hold the wristwatch. You do everything with your dominant hand and it is natural to leave the watch on your other hand. Do not overcomplicate this, however. Simply strap the watch on both wrists to determine which wrist is more suitable for you.
Q: Will a GPS Watch Work Outside the United States?
Many, many of the best outdoor watches will sport GPS technology. GPSs were not designed to be used indoors and as such, are a perfect match for outdoor watches. You already know the benefits of this technology and once you fully understand how it works, you will easily be able to answer this question. The reason GPS will not function properly inside is that it uses various satellites in the sky to triangulate its position. In other words, if it does not have access to the sky it can’t get a signal anywhere.
Walls, doors and various other building components will block this attempted signal and render the GPS useless. So, it is irrelevant where you use your GPS watch as long as you have direct access to the sky, it will function. The only issue is when you need specific maps as no, U.S. maps would do no good elsewhere.
Q: How Can You Clean the Face of the Watch?
Over time, your watch is going to succumb to the dirt, dust, and bacteria that is prominent in the outside world. This will not become hazardous to your health but depending on the material, could corrode the metal. Among the watch, the face (or screen) is most prone to this debris as it is not protected or covered by anything. When the time comes, and if you are ever unsure if it needs to be cleaned you can do it anyway, the process of cleaning the face is very simple.
All you will need is either a soft cloth or a soft-bristled toothbrush, a dish filled with warm water, and a touch of mild detergent. Combine a touch of the soap into the dish to create the solution. Now, merely dip your toothbrush or cloth lightly into the solution and begin to gently brush the top of the watch face. Do not exert too much force as all you are trying to do is rid the dirt and dust.
Q: What About the Watch Band, Can You Clean That?
Just like the watch face, you can clean the band of the watch. However, this time, it is utterly dependent on the type of material that the band is. For example, steel bands, leather bands and nylon bands will all require different maintenance. Let’s start with leather, which is the simplest one when it comes to cleaning. All you should do with leather is to wipe the band down with a damp cloth. Now, with a steel band (or any other type of metal that it is constructed from) you should clean them in the same manner that you did the watch face. Take a soft-bristled brush and dip it in warm, soapy water and scrub the band. After which, allow the band to air dry completely.
Lastly, you have a nylon band and in actuality, you could throw this into the laundry machine (if it is detachable). If not, simply wash in the same manner as a metal band.
Q: Can Water Still Damage a Water-Resistant Watch?
It has already been documented that water-resistance does not mean waterproof. And also, that the depth of the water rating (in terms of meters) will signify if you can submerge it for any period of time. Past being knowledgeable and understanding of the water-rating, there are certain bodies of water that you should avoid altogether. One that obviously comes to mind is salt water. Indeed, salt water will corrode metal five times faster than regular water would. But, still, a metal such as stainless steel can still hold up fairly well in salt water.
But, one body of water you may not think of is a pool. It all has to do with the chlorine that is injected into the pool. This, much like salt in the ocean, can cause corrosion to the metal.
You now have a better idea not only what a outdoor watch is and what it can do for you on your next adventure, but also which outdoor watch best fits your needs. Remember, look for a watch that will cater to the activities you will be doing and do not get blinded by the extra features that may not be of use to you.