Far more than an accessory, watches are capable of being used to do more than just tell the time. We all know the power that’s contained in something as simple as a smart watch, so it makes sense there are a number of features and uses that could be applied to a watch used for the outdoors, too. Enter: Survival watches. With the ability to tell the temperature, direction, weather and more, survival watches are an essential companion to have alongside you for any outdoor activity for their useful features alone. But, god forbid, should you get lost, they’ll also be there to help you find your way back. While we definitely don’t recommend relying on a survival watch alone (always make sure you follow the trail and do your research beforehand!), but you’ll be thankful you have one if you accidentally take a wrong turn along the way. Here are our seven favorites.
1. Casio G-Shock Rangeman Survival Watch
Tested and designed to handle the most challenging of conditions, the G-Shock Rangeman from Casio is our pick for best overall survival watch. Complete with a compass, altimeter, thermometer and barometer, the Rangeman has a full range of sensors that can give you real time feedback and information on your surroundings (including sunrise and sunset timing). Furthermore, G-Shock sets the standard for toughness; not only is the band and watch itself protected with strong impact resistance, each of the sensors is also protected. Tough as nails, this is a watch we’d want to make sure we have if the going gets tough.
2. Timex Expedition Classic Survival Watch
BEST ENTRY LEVEL
While not nearly as feature rich as the rest of the selections on this list, the Timex Expedition Classic survival watch has enough basic functions to get a sense of what it’s like to use a survival watch alongside your outdoor activities. The built-in compass is super handy for navigation, while the resin strap is durable enough to handle the majority of your hikes. Waterproof up to 100m, its digital face (complete with Timex’s Indigo light-up display) is sure to keep on ticking, should you decide to go for a swim. It’s a great choice for new hikers.
3. Suunto Traverse Alpha Survival Watch
MOST HIGH END OPTION
At the intersection of form and function sits the Suunto Traverse Alpha. What appears to be a minimalist exterior actually gives way to a rich digital display (made from stainless steel and sapphire crystal glass for toughness) that conveys multitudes of information: GPS tracking, altimeter, barometer, thermometer and a compass are all right at your fingertips. Our favorite feature, and the most useful one for those out hiking, is the automatic bread crumb trail that actively tracks your movements and provides you with a display of your path. Should you make a wrong turn somewhere, all it takes is look at your watch to figure out where you went wrong. Peace of mind and gorgeous watch? You love to see it.
4. SureFire 2211 Survival Watch
With an included high-performance LED light, the SureFire 2211 is definitely one of the more unique options on this list. Three different power settings (300, 60, and 15 lumens) ensure that you don’t have to go digging around for your flashlight or headlamp when night begins to fall. Despite looking like a walkie-talkie watch you might have seen in the 80s, the outer casing and watch band actually sit nicely on your wrist; the lightweight construction makes it so that your arm won’t feel like it’s being weighed down by a ton of bricks.
5. Suunto Core Survival Watch
BEST DIGITAL WATCH
Another great selection from Suunto, it’s best to think of the Core as a stripped down version of the Alpha. Gone is the advanced GPS tracking information, but still present are all the great other features including the altimeter, barometer, and compass. Additionally, you’ll get notifications when there’s a drop in pressure to let you now that a storm might be on the way. All this information is wrapped up in a crystal clear digital display that conveys exactly the information that you need, when you need it.
6. Casio Mudmaster Survival Watch
BEST MID LEVEL
Designed with rangers and rescue crews in mind, the Casio Mudmaster has plenty of features that will translate to the needs of those looking for a good survival watch. While not as beefy as the Rangeman, it’s still durable enough for major outdoor use and will actively keep out annoyances like mud (hence its namesake) and dust. Also, that great G-Shock tech is present here as well, providing solid drop resistance should the watch—or god forbid, you—happen to take a spill. Basic altimeter and barometer are also included.
7. Luminox Recon Point Black Survival Watch
Luminox’s Point Black survival watch is a striking, jet black timepiece that look just as good in the boardroom as it does out on the trail. Helpful compass markings line the rotating outer bezel for navigation purposes, while an anti-reflective glass face provides a clear line of sight even in the brightest spots. Fret not about night usage, as a series of self-powered interior lights will fully illuminate the face once the sun goes down. Other notable features include water resistance for up to 200m and a tough molded rubber watchband. It’s a great package that will encourage you to get out there—and look damn good while you’re doing it.