Best Survival Watch: Top 12 for Preppers and Survivalists

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Survival is all about gritting your teeth and fighting it out through tough challenges. When it comes to a versatile, rugged, and easy-to-carry gear that helps you to make the right tactical decisions, nothing beats the survival watch.

Here, we will discuss the 12 best watches for survival that you can pick in 2021. In addition, we will also share some of the essential features to check while picking the best watch for survival.

Today, technology has given us a wide range of gadgets to survive in the wild. Nevertheless, the popularity of a survival wristwatch is still intact. With multiple advanced features, modern smartwatches are more comprehensively equipped than ever before.

So which are the best survivalist watches in the current market?

Let’s find out.

Our Choices for the Best Survival Survival Watch

Overall Score 95%
Performance 100%
Features 90%
Reliability 90%

Pros:

Cons:

What We Like

Coros has designed a watch with outdoor lovers in mind. Note, Coros provides regular software updates to their products along with the addition of new features. 

To start with, Coros has perfected the combination of a premium look with rugged features in this watch. The sapphire glass screen comes with a special ” diamond-like” finish to prevent scratches. The high-grade fiber body along with a titanium alloy bezel makes it durable but featherlight. 

What’s the weight? 

Just 54 grams!

In terms of features, Coros has packed everything that you need and some more. There’s the usual support of a barometric altimeter, accelerometer, compass, gyroscope, and thermometer. It also includes fitness and sleep-tracking features. That makes it an ideal multisport watch.

Beyond that, the watch comes with GPS and GLONASS connectivity. You can also import GPX files in the watch for extra assistance. Not to forget, it has a super smooth touch screen interface that allows easy navigation.

The battery life is another strong point- it’s the best in this category of GPS watches. The charging time is also on the lesser side. Also, the user interface is simple and the buttons are super responsive. 

The Vertix isn’t cheap, but considering the features and the performance, we feel that it offers the right value.

What Needs Improvement

In truth, there isn’t much to dislike about the Coros Vertix. The larger size may deter users with smaller wrists but then it’s an extremely lightweight watch.

The price can be an issue for those on a budget. Besides, casual users may not need the wide range of features that are offered.

Bottom Line

The fact is, Coros has hit the ball out of the park with this sports cum survival watch. The excellent features, build quality, and battery life, makes it a survival watch you can depend on in tough situations. We had no second thoughts about marking it as the best overall choice.

Overall Score 90%
Performance 90%
Features 70%
Reliability 100%

Pros:

Cons:

What We Like

Without a doubt, Casio is one of the top brands when it comes to designing survivalist watches. The Rangeman is perfect for hardcore outdoor enthusiasts looking for a reliable and tough device.

To start with, the watch looks and feels bulky. But once on your wrist, you will appreciate the super-durable build quality. The G-Shock shell is impact and water-resistant and the sensor button comes with a metal cover. 

The buttons are large and responsive. So even with gloves on, we never faced any issues while using them.

It has the standard Triple Sensor technology. That delivers the altimeter data, barometer readings, and compass directions. Apart from that, there are features like world clock, sunrise/sunset data, five daily alarms, and world clock.

Multi-band atomic timekeeping technology and an in-built antenna ensure automatic timekeeping. Once calibrated, the G shock altimeter readings are pretty accurate too. 

The best part about this outdoor survival watch is the rechargeable solar battery. Casio claims that it can last up to 7 months once fully charged. Quite simply, battery life is never an issue with this watch. It will easily get charged from the sunlight it receives while on your wrist.

Lastly, at the given price point, we feel that this Casio survival watch offers good value for preppers.

What Needs Improvement

With five buttons for controlling the functions, the GW9400 has a not-so-friendly user interface. You need to sit down with the manual to figure out all the operational features.

While the durability was excellent, the large screen diameter doesn’t make it a good option for users with small hands. Since it takes up so much space, fitting it under your jacket sleeve is a tough task.

Quite simply, if you prefer something sleek and stylish, look elsewhere.

Bottom Line

To sum it up, the Rangeman is a rugged and dependable survival wristwatch that comes with a beast of a battery. It’s one of the best from the Casio men’s G-Shock range and is a great choice for long-term use while in a bug out location.

Overall Score 90%
Performance 90%
Features 95%
Reliability 90%

Pros:

Cons:

What We Like

The truth is, Garmin has packed more features in this watch than most average users will need. But as a survival watch, the performance and functionality of this device are hard to beat.

Is it durable?

Absolutely. With a military-grade build quality, it’s rugged enough for rough use. The frame is made from fiber-reinforced polymer and the lens is crafted from domed sapphire crystal. 

What we also liked is the excellent display. Strong sunlight and odd viewing angles don’t make any difference to the overall visibility.

It supports GPS, GLONASS, and Galileo satellite systems. So you can be assured of navigational support even from the remotest terrain. In addition, there are the standard ABC sensors- a barometer, an altimeter, and a 3-axis electronic compass.

The Tactix Delta packs plenty of military-grade features. There’s the Jumpmaster mode to assist paratroopers. You can save new waypoints in both the MGRS and the UTM reference systems. Beyond that, the display is also compatible with night vision equipment.

There’s a stealth mode that prevents the sharing of your GPS location and disables wireless connectivity. Moreover, a kill switch can wipe all the data from the watch.

Battery life is good. Garmin says that it offers 21 days of battery life in smartwatch mode and  46 days in ‘expedition mode’. 

In terms of safety, there’s a live tracking feature and a hotkey to call for assistance during an emergency.

What Needs Improvement

The first thing is, the Garmin Tactix is pricey. That makes it an out-of-reach survival watch for preppers on a tight budget.

Also, with so many features, it’ll be an overwhelming choice for beginners. If you’re looking for the best watch for survival with the basic functions, there are cheaper options out there.

Bottom Line

As a military-tactical survival watch, the Garmin Tactix packs a whole range of features that makes it one of the best options in this category. If you’re a pro survivalist looking for a versatile watch, go for it.

Overall Score 85%
Performance 90%
Features 80%
Reliability 85%

Pros:

Cons:

What We Like

As a feature-packed men’s survival watch at a reasonable price, the Garmin Fenix 5X plus ticks all the right boxes. Basically, it’s a GPS multisport watch that works great for finding your way out of hostile terrain.

If you’re expecting excellent durability from a Garmin product, the watch delivers. Scratch-resistant sapphire glass and a carbon (DLC) titanium bezel add to the rugged feel. A fiber-reinforced polymer body delivers shock resistance.

The device supports GPS, GLONASS, and Galileo satellites. So you get excellent navigational accuracy and super fast connections. What’s more, it’s preloaded with full-color TOPO maps. That makes locating trails and routes much easier while driving away in your bug out vehicle.

The Fenix 5x also packs an altimeter, barometer, and compass. As an additional feature, you get a storm alarm. It also measures heart rate and has a pulse Ox Acclimation sensor. 

What about battery life?

The watch will last anywhere between 30 to 35 hours while using GPS. You can expect the battery to last around 20 days in standby mode. Also, the bright display and the large buttons make the watch easy to use. 

What Needs Improvement

Keep in mind this is a bulky survival watch. The high weight doesn’t make it the best choice for activities like running.

The Garmin user interface isn’t the most simple out there. If you’re not used to it, it’ll take some time to learn using the various features. We also felt Garmin could have done a better job with the battery life.

Last but not the least, the Fenix 5X is an expensive outdoor survival watch. If you’re on a budget, look elsewhere.

Bottom Line

The Fenix is a great choice for survivalists as well as dedicated athletes. If you don’t mind the high price tag, it’s all that you expect from a top-notch survival watch.

Overall Score 80%
Performance 80%
Features 80%
Reliability 90%

Pros:

Cons:

What We Like

This is a tried and tested outdoor-ready altimeter watch from Casio that combines ease of use with an affordable price tag. 

For us, the best feature was the high-quality solar battery. It can run for 6 months without any exposure to light. The integrated solar panel can charge the battery from sunlight or any other UV light source.

In terms of design, the PAG240-1 isn’t sleek, and the resin frame is solidly built. Without a doubt,  this bad boy is a tough watch to the core. The large buttons are clearly labeled and the backlit screen is bright enough to read on a bright day.

The watch features a triple sensor with an altimeter, a digital compass, and a barometer/thermometer. Combining the compass and the altimeter, you can pinpoint any location on a contour map while hiking in a remote location. This works great for long-drawn emergencies when you can’t depend on power-guzzling GPS devices.

Make sure to calibrate the altimeter with known reference points for the best results. We also liked the barometric pressure graphs that make it easy to read the weather changes.

The watch has 5 daily alarms and sunrise/sunset data. It also has built-in 31 time zones and a reliable countdown timer.

What Needs Improvement

Firstly, the digital compass is good for taking references but not as accurate as a real compass. Still, at this price point, we feel it’s acceptable.

The next point is obviously the big size of this watch. Then again, this is an issue with almost every Casio survival watch.

Bottom Line

To sum it up, this is a handy and inexpensive watch that’s great for hiking, mountaineering, skiing, and also for preppers. While it comes without the bells and whistles of higher-priced competitors, it’s a great choice for hikers and survivalists experienced in bushcraft.

Seven Additional Survival First Aid Kits

What We Like

This is another G Shock device that offers excellent durability in rain, snow, water, or mud. As the name indicates, the model is mud resistant. 

The resin and aluminum casing comes with a shockproof design.  Mineral crystal glass offers excellent scratch resistance. The resin band is super durable and also feels comfortable against the skin.

The dual screens are supported by a backlight, and the digits are large enough to read at a single glance. It also has a battery-saving mode to conserve power. There’s World Time measurement with 31 time zones.

The watch comes with a digital compass with magnetic declination correction and a thermometer. Good enough for pro survivalists who are proficient with map reading.

Other features include moon data, a countdown timer, a stopwatch, and 5 daily alarms. As expected, the solar battery delivers excellent performance. The Mudman can use natural or artificial light to recharge the battery.

Above all, there’s the low price tag. Preppers looking for a simple survival watch with a compass will find the Mudman a solid value for money choice.

What Needs Improvement

The Mudman G9300 isn’t the most feature-loaded watch in the category. It comes without a barometer and an altimeter. GPS functionality is missing too.

Like all other G shock models, this is a large watch too. Those with smaller wrists may not prefer the design.

Bottom Line

The Mudman G9300 shines in terms of its durability and affordability. It comes without advanced functions but has the right features to help you out when shit hits the fan.

What We Like

This is another great product from Suunto that combines the advantages of a GPS with a military-grade survival watch.

In terms of build quality, Suunto hasn’t made any compromises. The watch has been tested as per military standards. The stainless steel bezel and the scratch-resistant sapphire crystal glass make it a rugged device.

Apart from built-in GPS and GLONASS navigation, the watch comes with Bluetooth connectivity, a barometer, and a compass.  It also has sunrise-sunset times and alerts and a moon phase calendar based on your location. The overall accuracy of the GPS-related features is on par with the competition.

Beyond that, the watch also comes with a fitness profile. It’s great for monitoring calories during specific activities like hiking, running, or biking.

Coming to the user interface, the menu is simple and easy to use. The large display comes with a backlight. It’s also the only survival watch to come with a flashlight feature. 

The Bluetooth connectivity allows you to pair up the device with the Suunto smartphone app. It’s perfect for mapping trails and calculating speed and distance.

What Needs Improvement

Frankly, the plethora of features affects the battery life of the Traverse Alpha. The rechargeable lithium-ion battery lasts only around 10 hours when you’re using GPS and Bluetooth together.

Next, the band design lacks holes that keep your skin comfortable. On a hot day, your wrists are likely to get sweaty.

Bottom Line

The Suunto Traverse Alpha combines excellent functionality with a stylish look. If you don’t mind the oversized design, it’s a great pick for short trips into the wilderness.

What We Like

Honestly, we loved using the Fenix 5S plus. With the 6S pro, Garmin has added a few extra features and revamped the interface. The overall dimensions are also smaller, making it a good choice for those with smaller wrists

One of the biggest additions is a battery manager that boosts the battery life. You get 34 days in battery saver mode and 9 days in smartwatch mode. 

The built quality is military grade. There’s a fiber-reinforced polymer casing with diamond-like carbon (DLC) coating on the bezel. Interestingly, the lens material can be Corning Gorilla Glass 3 or a more expensive Sapphire Crystal glass.

What else?

There’s GPS, GLONASS, and Galileo satellite connectivity options. Bonus feature- preloaded color topographical maps. The combination of a 3-axis compass, gyroscope, and barometric altimeter is ideal for navigating through remote terrains.

The inclusion of wrist heart rate measurement and automatic blood oxygen saturation tracking. It also has a respiration rate tracker and abnormal heart rate alarms. That makes it a capable survival wristwatch for tackling medical emergencies while bugging out.

What Needs Improvement

With the added features, comes a higher price tag. Since the updates in the 6S aren’t exactly groundbreaking, you can always choose the Fenix 5S plus that’s priced lower.

Other than that, hardly a few users will explore, let alone use, the whole range of features in the 6S pro. If you want something reliable and simple for backcountry survival, there are more affordable options.

Bottom Line

If you feel that the better battery life and the new surf/ski/cycling features are worth the higher price tag, you can always pick the 6S pro. It’s a solidly built survivalist watch that comes with Garmin accuracy and dependability.

What We Like

This sleek watch has all the essential features required by a survivalist or an adventurer. The good thing is, it looks great in any casual setting as well.

The stainless steel case and scratch-resistant mineral glass add to the durability. The black and silver analog design looks great with three big buttons on the left. At a first glance, the watch face looks crowded, but that doesn’t affect the usability. Also, the luminous hands are clearly visible even in the dark.

The watch comes with an altimeter and a digital compass. The rotating inner bezel comes with compass markings that help you to keep your bearings.

What’s more, the advanced Eco-Drive light power technology that powers the watch. Basically, the inbuilt solar cell captures light and converts it into energy. That removes the hassle of charging or changing batteries.

Quite simply, it’s a great choice when you need to conserve power during long periods of grid failure.

Considering the features and the design, we feel that this is a well-priced survival watch that offers a good price to performance ratio.

What Needs Improvement

We wish this analog watch would come in a few more color options than the traditional black and silver combo. Some users also mentioned that the band is too short for comfortable use.

Then again, it has no fancy features that most smartwatches come with. So it might not be the best value for money for some buyers.

Bottom Line

The Promaster is a tidy package that looks good and offers reliable performance. If you are looking for an analog men’s survival watch, it’s a great option.

What We Like

If you like analog display watches with a retro touch, the Luminox Recon is right up your alley. The build quality is military grade with a carbon-reinforced polycarbonate case and steel back. The glass also has sapphire crystals to prevent scratches.

Beyond that, the dial hands have self-glowing gas tubes that offer superb darkness illumination. The dial markers are illuminated too. Luminox mentions that this 24/7 glow can last for 25 years.

The overall look is rugged and not flashy in any way. At 72 grams, this isn’t the lightest watch in this category, but it isn’t very heavy either. However, it feels premium from every aspect.

Now, NAV SPEC stands for Navigation Specialist. The watch comes with a removable strap-attached magnetic compass. A cool feature that will appeal to retro lovers. There’s also a  walking-pace tachymeter that can monitor your pace and help in predicting travel time.

What Needs Improvement

In terms of features, this timepiece can’t be compared with modern smartwatches. If you’re looking for advanced features like a GPS or a heart rate monitor, this isn’t the watch for you. 

It’s not a cheap watch either. The fact is, it’s designed for niche users and not the best choice for everyone.

Bottom Line

The Luminox Recon Nav Spc is a rugged and durable survival watch that has its own charm. If you don’t mind that high price tag, the analog design can also be used as an everyday watch.

What We Like

This is one of the most popular outdoor watches from Suunto over the years. Even though it has been around for quite some time, the watch still offers solid value with its reliable performance. Moreover, considering the price, it’s a steal for preppers on a budget.

The Core comes with an altimeter, barometer, and a compass. The altimeter and barometer function together to deliver long-term pressure readings for weather prediction. There’s also a storm alarm function. 

Moreover, you can also use it for snorkeling or shallow diving, though it predicts depth accurately up to 30 feet. Note, the Core measures altitude at three-foot intervals. That makes it more accurate than many other watches in this category.

The menu is simple and easy to use and the buttons feel rugged. The watch uses a CR2032 battery and battery life is close to a year.

What Needs Improvement

Firstly, the readability of the digital display isn’t the best in class, especially in bright light conditions. We also wish the battery life would have been better.

Next, the compass isn’t the most accurate and is best used for general reference. Lastly, the elastomer strap material lacks the rugged feel that competitors offer. 

Bottom Line

If you’re looking for an affordable option with all the basic survival features, the Suunto Core is a good pick. But users looking for smart features in a digital watch need to look elsewhere.

What We Like

This is a beautifully designed premium quartz watch from Tissot’s famed Touch series. The sleek and stylish design proves that Tissot is the undisputed king of analog-digital combo watches in the market.

Tissot uses tactile technology in this watch that includes an array of features- compass, altimeter, weather, alarm, and chronograph. In addition, it runs on sustainable solar technology that can power it for months without a recharge. 

What does that mean?

Quite simply, it’s one of the most energy-efficient watches in this category.

The build quality is top-notch. It’s designed to prevent ingress of liquids, gas, and dust and is also impact resistant. The AR-coated sapphire crystal screen offers great durability and excellent touch screen responsiveness. 

The T-Touch Expert Solar also has a simple interface. The minimum number of buttons also makes it easy to operate. 

Not to forget, this is a survival watch that looks great in any formal setting. The superb wearing experience is what makes this watch stand out from the competition.

What Needs Improvement

What works against the T-Touch Expert Solar timepiece is the steep price factor. Anyone looking for smartwatch-like features won’t find this watch a value for money option. Bottom line: it’s best for the user’s looking for the premium Swiss-made Tissot experience.

Bottom Line

This is a top-end survival watch that works equally well in the wilderness and in a boardroom. The solid reliability and the smooth interface make it the best SHTF watch with an eye-catching design.

What are the Advantages of a Survival Watch?

When you’re fighting for your life in a hostile environment, you need accessories that are reliable. At that moment, the right information can make a difference between life and death. 

Now, time is always critical when it comes to saving your life or somebody else’s. So as a prepper you need a survival tool that’s a reliable timekeeper. Survival watches are designed to deliver dependable data to help you in finding your bearings and steer back to safety.

That said, a survival watch isn’t just about telling the time. It’s a multifunction tool that comes with the standard ABC functionality, i.e., altimeter, barometer, and compass. Most models also include a thermometer. Modern survivor watches are also incorporating GPS systems.

The compass and altimeter help you to find your way back to safety. The barometer and thermometer help in predicting weather changes. All the features are packed in a durable frame that can withstand rough use and is weather resistant.

Frankly, it’s not easy to realize how important a survival watch is unless you are faced with a survival scenario. Here are a few advantages that they offer.

  • When your area is hit by a natural disaster, you can depend on a survival watch along with a map to make your way towards safety.
  • The compass and GPS in a survival watch can guide a lost hiker towards the nearest shelter or a rescue center.
  • The barometer in a survival watch can help in predicting weather conditions and avoid disasters in the wilderness.

Buying Guide for Survival Watches

With a large number of options out there, choosing the right model can seem challenging. Here are a few points that you need to consider.

Functions and Features

It may seem that the more functions that a watch may have the better it is. But in reality, you need to balance the functionality with the budget. Picking a watch with functions that you’ll never use isn’t a practical choice. 

The basic functions that a survival watch needs to have are a compass, altimeter, barometer, and temperature sensor. Among these, the compass is definitely a non-negotiable feature. Choosing the wrong direction in hostile terrain will drastically reduce your chances. Picking a watch with a GPS is also a good choice.

Durability

The ultimate survival watch also needs to be solidly built from all aspects. The first thing is waterproofing. To survive you may need to walk in the rains or wade across a river. So the minimum level of waterproofing should be 10 ATM or 100 meters.

Next, you need a watch that’s scratch and shock-resistant. When you are fighting for your life, your watch should be able to take the beating and keep performing. At the same time, take a good look at the band material to ensure its durability. This is one aspect that you can’t compromise with.

Power Source

It’s important to consider the power source of a tactical watch before picking. Imagine your watch running out of power in a critical situation. Too bad!

Traditional batteries can last long but they need to be replaced. Mechanical watches with a spring mechanism are more reliable as they don’t need an external power source. Quite a few brands have developed watches driven by solar power that offer months of running time. Some of the Casio G-shock watches are a good example.

It’s best to pick a power-efficient watch. Keep in mind that most smartwatches with a GPS have relatively low battery life.

Size and Weight

One issue with most survival wristwatches is that they are bulkier than traditional watches. No matter the specifications, you need to be comfortable while wearing the watch on your wrist. At the same time, it should match your personality and personal preferences.

Always keep in mind the weight of everything you’ll have to carry when bugging out. Shovels, saws, first-aid kits, and more. 

So, check out the dimensions and the weight of a survival watch before picking. Try it out to feel if it fits comfortably on your wrist. At the same time, don’t compromise with the essential features by choosing a sleek and low-profile design.

Price

Like everything else, you need to balance price with the performance while picking a survival watch. In truth, the prices of survival watches can vary a lot. 

However, don’t choose a cheaper model that might turn out to be unreliable in a critical scenario. Nothing is more important than your survival.

The good news is, you don’t need to break the bank to pick a reliable and durable watch. You’ll find quite a few affordable options in our survival watch reviews that offer great value.

Survival Watch FAQs

What are the best survival watches?

In this review, we have listed the 12 best survival watches from the current market that offer the best features and performance. The top 5 options have also been marked for you to make the best choice.

How do you use a survival watch?

You need to learn the necessary wilderness navigating skills by using a compass and an altimeter before using a survival watch. We suggest that you familiarize yourself with the features of the watch before heading out for an adventure.

What is a shtf watch?

It’s the same as a survival watch and can be used by preppers for bugging out. 

Can an EMP stop a watch?

Yes. An EMP will disable the circuits of a watch. A mechanical watch with a protective metal casing might fare better.

Final Thoughts

So it all adds up to this. 

The right survival watch can boost your survival skills by quite a few degrees. In addition, it will also add to your confidence in a survival situation. That’s a big plus when each step can make a difference between life and death.

It took hours of testing and research to list the top picks for you. We hope that it helps you in picking the best option.

Now that you know all about the best survival watches, go ahead and make the right choice.

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