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The Toughest Survival Watches For Off-Grid Adventure

Best Survival Watches 0 Hero

With the exception of hardcore bushcrafters, most folks look at survival situations as dire experiences best avoided. Of course, a smart outdoorsman knows it’s better to prepare for the worst than face the consequences. That being said, watches are still not always a consideration. They should be, however, as they can be invaluable in emergencies — especially away from civilization.

And while an intrepid explorer can use a standard analog watch as a navigational tool, there’s no reason not to take advantage of modern technology. In fact, there are actually a wide variety of more comprehensively equipped timepieces that could certainly be considered survival watches. We’ve rounded up the best of the best on our following guide to the best survival watches that money can buy.

The Best Survival Watches

What Exactly Is A Survival Watch?

As the monicker suggests, a survival watch is a rugged type of timepiece that’s designed for use in outdoor and survival scenarios. As such, these watches are not only incredibly rugged — boasting ample protection against bumps, shocks, scratches, extreme temperatures, and the elements — but also often come loaded with other survival-focused features. On top of basic timekeeping duties, this includes featuring onboard sensors such as altimeters, digital compasses, barometers, thermometers, gyroscopes, as well as other useful amenities like integrated GPS units, emergency beacons, calendars, optical heart rate monitors, and other health tracking features. Designed specifically for extended off-grid use, most survival watches also boast impressive battery life (or power reserves), with some even being solar-powered and very seldom needing to be charged. 

What To Look For In A Survival Watch

While similar in many ways to outdoor watches and tactical timepieces, survival watches are typically robust, over-engineered items that are built extremely tough. This rugged nature also tends to be coupled with a myriad of useful sensors, features, and resources — many of which are unique to the survival watch segment. This fact makes shopping for a survival watch a little tricky — especially for the uninitiated. Well aware of this reality, we’ve aimed to simplify the space, breaking down half a dozen of the must crucial areas to consider when in the market for a survival-style timepiece. 

Case Size & Material: As the primary component of any watch, the case is of extreme importance. Because survival watches are engineered to handle ample abuse, these items tend to be crafted from fairly hardwearing materials such as metal alloys, composites, and proprietary resins. What’s more, tn addition to a case’s thickness, the overall size of a watch — typically measured in width in millimeters — also plays a major role in the watch’s overall character, as well as its weight. 

Durability: While this area is largely owed to the watch case’s construction, there are several other areas that can play a substantial role in a survival watch’s overall durability. This includes whether the watch is equipped with bumpers or any type of shock-absorption system and the material used to construct the lens and caseback. 

Movement: As the heart of the watch — and the element that’s responsible for its timekeeping — a survival watch’s movement is also a key area to review when shopping. While some of these items are of the smartwatch variety, most of them tend to feature automatic, mechanical, or quartz movements — the latter of which is by far the most affordable, while also being the most accurate. 

Waterproofing: As ultra-tough timepieces, the vast majority of survival watches will feature robust waterproofing ratings, with even the more meager-specced watches offering at least 100’ of water resistance. It is also worth noting that, if you don’t plan on diving with your survival watch, practically any model on the market will be capable of withstanding even the harshest of weather conditions. 

Band, Bracelet, Or Strap: Just like the super durable cases used on survival watches, the band, strap, or bracelet that they’re paired with also tend to be equally hardwearing. As such, most watch manufacturers in this space opt for bands or straps made from more rugged materials like heavy-duty rubber or ballistic-grade nylon. And, like any watch, a survival watch’s bracelet or band can easily be swapped out for an aftermarket item of the same lug width. 

Survival Features: As already touched on above, survival watches tend to boast numerous survival-specific features such as onboard sensors, calendars, digital compasses, connectivity to smartphone apps, integrated GPS systems, two-way messaging, emergency SPOT beacons, and health and fitness tracking features, just to name a few. 

Timex Expedition North Tide-Temp-Compass Watch

Timex Expedition North Tide Temp Compass Watch
Photo: Timex
  • Crafted around 316L stainless steel case
  • Boasts impressive 100-meter dive rating
  • Has built-in compass, thermometer, & tide-tracker
  • Offers great value
  • Sold in over half a dozen variants/color options
  • Also offered in stainless steel-cased version w/ matching steel bracelet
  • Accurate air temp readings require watch to be removed from wrist

Best Compass Watch: The Timex Expedition North Tide-Temp-Compass Watch is a modernized take on a beloved outdoor timepiece classic that was designed specifically for adventure in coastal and marine settings. Offering 100 meters of water resistance and an onboard tide tracker system, the watch also features an adjustable declination angle, an analog compass, and built-in digital air and water temperature thermometers. Kept ticking via a quartz  movement, this Timex watch is pieced together around a gunmetal-colored 43mm 316L stainless steel case with a brushed and bead blasted finish. Paired with a brown Ecco DriTan leather strap, the case also houses a green dial with a fourth indicator hand, INDIGLO backlighting, and a date window at 6 o’clock. 

Case Size: 43mm
Case Material: 316L Stainless Steel
Movement: Quartz
Water Resistance: 100m


Suunto Core
  • Designed specifically for outdoor use
  • Offers terrific band for your buck
  • Features composite case housing matrix display
  • Bezel made from aluminum
  • Has depth meter for diving & 98’ water resistance rating
  • Loaded w/ altimeter, barometer, compass, & weather reports
  • Doesn’t have GPS
  • Display can be dim/hard to read in certain conditions

Best Value Watch: Weighing just 23.26oz, the SUUNTO Core All Black is an incredibly rugged, minimalistic outdoor smartwatch that’s brimming with features and amenities that are typically reserved for markedly more expensive items. This includes an onboard altimeter, barometer, compass, and thermometer, plus a storm alarm, sunrise and sunset timers, a depth meter for snorkeling, electro-luminescent backlighting, weather functions, and a user-replaceable battery affording up to a year of battery life. Water resistant down to 30 meters, the Core All Black is constructed around a 49.1mm composite case that’s been paired with an aluminum bezel, an elastomer strap, and a mineral crystal glass lens. 

Case Size: 49.1mm
Case Material: Composite
Movement: Smartwatch
Water Resistance: 30m

G-SHOCK Mudmaster Series GGB100-1A3

G SHOCK Mudmaster Series GGB100 1A3
Photo: G-SHOCK | Casio
  • Crafted around G-SHOCK’s Carbon Core Guard structure
  • Offers 2 years of battery life from single CR2025 cell
  • Features a slew of onboard sensors & systems
  • Can operate in extreme temperatures
  • Uses glove-friendly pushers & buttons
  • Weighs only 3.2oz in total
  • Ridiculously thick case at 19.4mm

Best Digital Watch: The G-SHOCK Mudmaster Series GGB100-1A3 is an immensely popular outdoor and survival watch that first hit the market in 2019. Mated to a resin band, the watch is water resistant down to 200 meters and also comes loaded with a barometer, an onboard altitude differential graph, a thermometer, a three-axis-regulated step counter, double LED backlighting, five daily alarms, a world time function with 38 time zones, G-SHOCK’s Mission Log feature, Bluetooth connectivity, and connection to the G-SHOCK Connected smartphone app. Benefitting from the use of G-SHOCK’s Carbon Core Guard structure, this digital timepiece also boasts a shock and mud-resistant 51.3mm carbon fiber-reinforced resin case that features a layered carbon and resin bezel, 200 meters of water resistance, two years of life on a single CR2025 battery, a mud and dust filter, textured metal push-buttons, and a steel case back that’s modeled after off-road jerry cans. 

Case Size: 51.3mm
Case Material: Carbon-Reinforced Resin
Movement: Quartz
Water Resistance: 200m

SUUNTO 9 Peak Pro

Suunto 9 Peak Pro
  • Built by hand in Finland to MIL-STD-810H standards
  • Features onboard GPS
  • Comes loaded w/ over 95 sport modes
  • Has 21-day battery (or 40-hour in GPS mode) that fully recharges in 1 hour
  • Case only 10.8mm thick
  • Settings & activity screens can’t be modified while in use
  • Heart-rate monitor unable to send data to other devices

Best Smart Watch: The Finnish firm’s latest and greatest flagship outdoor smartwatch, the SUUNTO 9 Peak Pro is an incredibly advanced survival timepiece that offers a wealth of features and functionality in an incredibly intuitive, and easy-to-use package. Backed by an all-new chipset, the 9 Peak Pro packs improved GPS with maps and route planning, nearly 100 different sport modes, and best-in-class battery with three weeks of life on a single charge, and a full 40 hours of use in GPS mode. All of this tech is crammed into a 43mm fiberglass-reinforced polyamide case with a Sapphire crystal lens, a silicone strap, and a bezel made from grade 5 titanium. Despite a thickness of just 10.8mm, the watch is wildly rugged, being built to military standards and being water resistant down to 100 meters.

Case Size: 43mm
Case Material: Fiberglass-Reinforced Polyamide
Movement: Smartwatch
Water Resistance: 100m

Garmin Instinct Crossover Solar

Garmin Instinct Crossover Solar
Photo: Garmin
  • Red Dot Design Award-winning hybrid outdoor smartwatch
  • Hands & hour markers painted in Super-LumiNova
  • Uses Garmin’s RevoDrive timekeeping tech
  • Has built-in multi-GNSS support & dual-grid GPS coordinates
  • Can be upgraded w/ Garmin Running Dynamics Pod & HRM Pro Plus armband
  • Solar charging offers unlimited battery life in certain modes (or 70 days in smartwatch mode)
  • Analog hands can at times block info/data

Best Hybrid Watch: Essentially an updated version of the brand’s already capable Instinct 2 with an added hand-set, the Garmin Instinct Crossover Solar is a hardwearing hybrid timepiece that combines the best elements of digital and analog watches, with a luminescent analog hand-set positioned over a high-resolution digital display. Crafted around a 45mm fiber-reinforced polymer case equipped with a dual-layered fiber-reinforced polymer and stainless steel bezel, the Garmin Instinct Crossover Solar is incredibly feature-laden, coming loaded with smartphone connectivity, Garmin’s Revodrive technology, a rugged Power Glass lens, a silicone strap, email and text alerts, multi-GNSS support with GPS, GLONASS, and Galileo, dual-grid coordinates, kid activity tracking, a VO2 max sensor, an onboard barometer, a three-axis electronic compass, a heart-rate monitor, sleep and health tracking functions, a plethora of golf-specific features, ski, snowboard, and mountain bike metric recordings, weather monitoring, onboard solar charging that allows for infinite battery life, and built-in incident detection with the ability to automatically send out emergency alerts with live location info to preprogrammed contacts. 

Case Size: 45mm
Case Material: Fiber-Reinforced Polymer
Movement: Smartwatch
Water Resistance: 100m

Garmin fēnix 7 Solar Edition

Garmin fenix 7 Solar Edition
Photo: Garmin
  • Features fiber-reinforced polymer case w/ stainless steel bezel & Power Glass lens
  • Loaded w/ hiking & health tracking features
  • Offers 22 days of battery life in smartwatch mode
  • Can be upgraded w/ Garmin Running Dynamics Pod & HRM Pro Plus armband
  • Has NextFork Map Guide, Topo Maps, SkyView Maps, Outdoor Maps+, & Multi-GNSS Support
  • Some features require paid subscriptions

Best Solar-Powered Watch: Tested to U.S. military standards for thermal, shock and water resistance, the Garmin fēnix 7 Solar Edition is an ultra-tough outdoor-specific solar-powered smartwatch that boasts just about every feature one could possibly hope for. Pieced together around a 45mm fiber-reinforced polymer case with a stainless steel bezel and a Power Glass lens, the fēnix 7 Solar Edition features a 1.3” sunlight-visible display, multi-GNSS support, multi-continent topographical maps, Skyview and Nextfork maps, mountain bike and ski dynamics, and a pulse OX sensor. And, with solar charging that allows for up to three weeks of battery life, you can spend extended periods off-grid without ever having to charge the smartwatch. However, with the watch also coming loaded with a slew of built-in sports apps, Garmin Pay contactless payments, a stock market tracker, Spotify, multiple surf features, golf course maps, text and email alerts, and sleep, hydration, and respiration tracking, Garmin’s fēnix 7 Solar Edition also makes for a great everyday wear smartwatch as well. 

Case Size: 47mm
Case Material: Fiber-Reinforced Polymer
Movement: Smartwatch
Water Resistance: 100m

MTM STATUS Smartwatch

MTM STATUS Smartwatch
Photo: MTM
  • Case crafted from solid titanium
  • Features hybrid layout w/ analog hands over digital display
  • Comes loaded w/ 5 alarms & 60 preset city timezones
  • Warranty limited to 3 years
  • Battery life limited to 25 hours per charge

Best Titanium Watch: The MTM STATUS Smartwatch is a cutting-edge tactical smart timepiece that’s overlaid with a traditional analog handset and outfitted with a wealth of features that allow it to lend itself to survival use. This includes a Lithium battery rated to offer three years of life, a digital Compass, preprogramed timezones for 58 locales, a locking screw-down crown, the ability to program up to 5 alarms, and a multi-year warranty. In terms of its traditional watch elements, this MTM timepiece sports a 45mm case crafted from solid titanium and an EL-backlit split carbon fiber and matte brass dial with luminous indices and hands — the latter of which are powered by an onboard Swiss analog movement. In addition to the above traditional watch specs, this item’s WiFi and Bluetooth connectivity and the ability to pair of the dedicated MTM Connect smartphone app, also make this smartwatch a solid choice for everyday use, as well. 

Case Size: 45mm
Case Material: Titanium
Movement: Smartwatch | Swiss Analog
Water Resistance: 100m

Luminox Bear Grylls Survival Outdoor Watch 45mm

Photo: Luminox
  • Engineered from the ground up specifically for survival use
  • Insanely rugged
  • Made in Switzerland
  • Features full CARBONOX case w/ rotating bezel
  • Comes paired w/ compass-equipped bracelet
  • Luminox Light Technology lighting system offers 25 years of constant glow
  • Expensive price

Best Chronograph: The Bear Grylls name is synonymous with outdoor survival and off-grid exploration, so it probably won’t come as a surprise to see a Bear Grylls x Luminox watch earn a spot on this list. Made in Switzerland, the Luminox Bear Grylls Survival Outdoor Explorer is an ultra-rugged chronograph that’s been engineered from the ground up specifically for survival use. Constructed around an incredibly strong yet lightweight 45mm case crafted from CARBONOX forged carbon fiber composite, the watch features a protected, double security gasket, screw-down crown and a screw-in 316L stainless steel case-back that earn it a generous 300 meters of water resistance. Beneath an AR-coated sapphire crystal lies a date window-equipped chronograph dial that sports always-visible lume that glows brightly for a whopping quarter century. Powered by a Swiss-made Ronda 5030.D quartz movement with a 50-month battery life, the watch also comes paired with a rugged rubber 24mm strap complete with an analog compass and 316L stainless steel hardware. 

Case Size: 45mm
Case Material: CARBONOX
Movement: Quartz
Water Resistance: 300m

Honorable Mention

A Supplementary Survival Pick

Marathon GITD Clip Compass

Marathon Clip On Wrist Compass W GITD Bezel
Photo: Marathon Watch

From the maker of some of our favorite military and tactical watches, the Marathon Clip-On Wrist Compass With Glow In The Dark Bezel instantly bolsters any existing timepiece’s survival abilities, arming the item’s band, strap, or bracelet with a precise compass that’s surrounding by a glow-in-the-dark rotating bezel. Dust and splash resistant, this item is designed for use in the Northern Hemisphere. 

The Best Tactical Watches You Can Buy

Best Tactical Watches 0 Hero

Interested in checking out an additional array of ultra-tough, outdoor-leaning timepieces? Then be sure to head over to our guide to the best tactical watches for another curated list of incredibly rugged yet capable timekeeping options.