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Best Survival Watch in 2021 – Top 5 Tried & Tested
Suunto Core Wrist-Top Computer Watch
Casio G-Shock Rangeman
Garmin Instinct Outdoor Watch
Best Survival Watches of 2021: Complete Reviews With Comparisons
Do you regularly go hunting, climbing, or hiking?
Experienced or not, you never know when you might need survival gear to help you find your way out of a sticky situation. This is where the best survival watch comes in.
Unlike a survival kit or knife, you can wear a survival watch on your wrist at all times, so you’ll always have it when you need it. To help you out, we searched for five of the best watches for survival so that you can easily pick the right unit for your needs.
Best Survival Watch Reviews
Timex Men’s Expedition Field Chronograph Watch
Timex has been innovating the watch market since 1854.
Combining American materials and craftsmanship with high-quality Swiss movement, you can be sure you’re getting more than your money’s worth.
This Expedition Field watch, for example, is reminiscent of more vintage-style military watches.
Even so, it is packed with features that you’ll appreciate from modern models.
As the most budget-friendly option on our list, let’s take a look at what Timex offers in terms of a survival watch.
First and foremost, a good survival watch needs to keep accurate time; thankfully, this Timex watch does not disappoint.
The unique dials feature time readings in minutes and seconds. The watch can even track 1/20 seconds for up to 30 minutes.
Plus, it features a date window so that you can keep track of your weeks and months.
- Low-Powered Backlight
This watch boasts the Timex Indiglo light-up watch dial, which allows you to read the time even in poor lighting conditions.
Indiglo is a patented blue electroluminescent lighting technology that uniformly lights the face of the watch.
Other watches on this list offer something similar. Still, Indiglo is unique in the fact that it uses much less power than LED lights.
This means you’ll get a lot more life from your watch and won’t have to replace the battery as often.
- Durable Construction
Timex is known for its quality watches, and you can be sure that this unit is built to last.
The combination of an impact-resistant brass case and mineral glass crystal dial is something you will surely appreciate.
The watch is also water-resistant up to 100 meters.
Timex specifies that it isn’t suitable for scuba diving, but it is fine for swimming and snorkeling.
We like the price and style of this watch.
If you don’t enjoy the new computer-style watches but want something just as tough and durable, this vintage military-style watch will be ideal.
The watch is pretty basic and doesn’t offer any extra features that would be useful in a survival situation, such as a compass.
Read the full Timex Men’s Expedition Field Chronograph Watch review
- Easy to read in the dark
- Most accurate timekeeping
- Most affordable price
- Available in many different styles
- Won’t help you if you get lost
- The screen is very busy and difficult to read at first
Suunto Core Wrist-Top Computer Watch
Suunto has been exploring the highest mountains and deepest oceans since 1936.
You can expect great quality watches that go the distance in its long list of products.
The Core Wrist-Top Computer Watch is sure to meet the survival needs of the most adventurous explorer.
The Suunto Core not only has several excellent survival features; it’s also available at an exceptionally low price.
- Durable and Robust
Like the Garmin watch, the Suunto Core is incredibly durable and robust.
Many watches would probably quit working when exposed to extreme cold or heat.
Compared to standard watches, you can feel safe in the knowledge that the Suunto Core will keep going.
It is manufactured and tested to be fully operational in temperatures from five degrees to 140 degrees Fahrenheit.
This makes it an ideal survival watch for those trekking out in desert heat or across frozen mountain tops.
The Suunto Core also helps you with navigation, assisting you in finding your way if you happen to stray too far from the beaten path.
Its built-in compass will help you navigate, while the altimeter will keep track of your vertical movement.
The smart altimeter feature will display your ascents and descents, recording your session data for you.
- Weather Watch
The watch features a built-in barometer.
This will alert you if there is a sudden change in air pressure, indicating an approaching storm.
Moreover, the weather trend graph will keep you abreast of all the likely weather situations ahead of you.
As you know, if you’re out climbing or hiking, this is the kind of information that could save your life.
- Sunrise and Sunset Data
The Suunto Core tracks the sun for you as the watch holds data on the sunrise and sunset times for 400 different locations.
These preset sunrise and sunset times will help you plan your day, as well as keep you safe in a survival situation.
Knowing that sunset is approaching will allow you to make a fire and a camp somewhere safe, so you’re not left out in the elements for the night.
We love the air pressure alerts on this watch.
Combined with the weather graph, it is top of its class when it comes to storm prediction.
There have been a few battery problems reported, which is concerning.
To combat this, we like carrying a spare battery on us at all times.
Read the full Suunto Core Wrist-Top Computer Watch review
- Good for navigating
- Allows you to track the weather
- Lets you track the sun
- More affordable than many computer-style watches
- Can only set one alarm
- Some problems with battery life
Garmin Instinct Outdoor Watch
Garmin is best known for producing consumer electronics with innovative GPS technology.
As such, you shouldn’t be surprised to find that the Instinct outdoor watch excels in navigational abilities.
So, why is the Garmin Instinct Outdoor Watch a popular choice among survivalists?
Here are some of the standout features you can find in this Garmin watch:
- Tough and Durable
You never know what conditions you may face in a survival situation, so the survival watch you choose should be able to withstand the toughest environments.
This outdoor watch is durable and rugged, constructed to U.S. Military standard 810G. This means it’s thermal-, shock-, and water-resistant for up to 100 meters.
Because of its durable construction, the chances that your watch will still be working when you need it most are very high.
You’ll find that it has a battery life of around 14 days in Smartwatch mode, 16 hours in GPS mode, or up to 40 hours in Ultratrac Battery Saver mode.
The navigational abilities of this watch are also top-notch, making it ideal for hiking and trekking enthusiasts.
The Garmin Instinct boasts multiple global navigation satellite systems, including GPS, Glonass, and Galileo.
When satellite technology fails you, you can rely on the built-in three-axis compass and the barometric altimeter instead.
You can use your watch to detect air pressure changes that could indicate a storm is coming your way.
These features would also be extremely useful to mountain climbers, allowing you to find your way around, check your altitude as you climb, and detect storms.
You can also use the Garmin Explore website and app to plan your journey in advance.
The trackback feature will help you navigate the same return route.
- Smart Fitness Trackers
The Garmin Instinct can monitor your estimated heart rate, activity, and stress levels.
You can use this watch as a tool to help you work out and train, thanks to the preloaded activity profiles to follow.
Connect the watch to your smartphone to receive smart notifications, and join the online Garmin fitness community.
Your activity data is automatically uploaded to the community so that you can keep track of your progress and see how you’re doing against others.
The navigational features on the Garmin Instinct are, without a doubt, the best we’ve seen.
With a compass and no fewer than three satellite navigation systems, you can be sure that you’ll never get lost again.
We don’t like the fact that you have to charge this watch through an electrical outlet.
While this may not be a problem at home on any normal day, it may prove impossible in a survival situation.
Read the full Garmin Instinct Outdoor Watch review
- Tough and durable
- No need for a separate compass
- Allows you to stay ahead of the weather
- Doubles as an activity tracker
- Not the most affordable option
- Needs to be charged via an outlet
Casio G-Shock Rangeman
Another higher-priced G-Shock watch that any survivalist will fall in love with is the G-Shock Rangeman.
Let’s take a look at what that extra few bucks get you.
The G-Shock Rangeman has many desirable features that would come in handy in survival situations.
- Solar Powered
One of our favorite features of the Rangeman is that it is solar-powered.
This simply means there is no need to ever charge it or replace its batteries ever again.
This feature is ideal in survival situations.
After all, it would be impossible to find new batteries or access electricity when you’re out in the wilderness.
As a result, you can be sure that you will always have access to many of the watch’s key survival features.
- Navigation and Weather
The watch also boasts a digital compass and altimeter so that you don’t ever lose your way.
What’s more, it monitors the outside temperature with a built-in thermometer and time stamp, and it contains valuable sunrise and sunset data.
Another impressive feature of the Rangeman is that it offers highly accurate Mb6 atomic timekeeping.
This technology ensures the time is accurate at all times.
You can also set five different daily alarms and take advantage of its full calendar, stopwatch, and countdown timer.
- Highly Durable Build
Like all of the G-Shock series of watches, the Rangeman is extremely durable and will last you for years to come.
You’ll appreciate the quality parts used in the internal construction, as well as the protective mineral crystal dial window that is impact-resistant.
Plus, it is water-resistant up to 660 feet.
Combined with the altimeter and thermometer, this makes it a great watch for people who enjoy diving.
We love the fact that this watch is solar-powered.
More than anything, it’s great to know that the watch won’t lose power when you need it most.
As expected from a watch packed full of features, it is the most expensive option on our list.
Therefore, this unit may not be within everyone’s budget.
Read the full Casio G-Shock Rangeman review
- Highly dependable
- Prevents you from getting lost
- Lets you stay ahead of the weather
- Will last for years to come
- Most expensive watch on this list
Casio G-Shock GD100-1BCR Sports Watch
Casio has a fantastic reputation in the wristwatch market.
As you may already know, it has been manufacturing good quality, affordable timepieces since 1946.
Its G-Shock series has an outstanding reputation, and the GD100 is one of the lowest-priced models available.
This G-Shock watch from Casio is the ideal budget-friendly choice for people looking for a tough watch they can rely on.
This watch may be a lot more affordable than the other watches on this list.
But even so, Casio hasn’t compromised on the parts or quality of construction.
It is shock-resistant and water-resistant up to a massive 200 meters, making it a great option for anyone who enjoys extreme sports or water sports.
- Easy to Read and Use
The watch has a large, digital display that is incredibly easy to read, even in poor lighting conditions.
The newly-designed, high-density LED backlight will automatically switch on when you need it for added visibility in the dark.
Thanks to this, you’ll be able to read the time and use all of the other features on the watch at any time of day.
The watches’ oversized buttons also make it easy to use, even if you have gloves on.
You will like this watch if you travel a lot, as you can read time from four different cities simultaneously.
- Calendar and Alarms
With the Casio G-Shock on your wrist, you can leave your phone at home because it has all the calendar and alarm features you need.
Consult your full auto calendar, pre-programmed until the year 2099, as well as set up to five independent alarms.
The alarms can be set as one-off alerts or daily alarms.
The watch also supports both 12- and 24-hour formats to accommodate all preferences.
The best thing about this watch is its quality and durability.
It’s not often that you find something this tough and reliable for such a reasonable price.
We wish Casio had included some basic navigational features, as we think it would have increased its usefulness ten-fold.
Read the full Casio G-Shock GD100-1BCR Sports Watch review
- More affordable than others on this list
- Tough and durable
- Offers great timekeeping
- Easy to read display
- Easy to operate
- Lacks many sought-after survival features
Survival Watch FAQs
1. What is a survival watch?
A survival watch is different from a normal watch in several ways.
Basically, its features make it incredibly more useful to have on your wrist in emergencies.
A survival watch needs to tell the time and date accurately at all times, so, first and foremost, it should keep excellent time.
The display must be large and easy to read, and a LED backlight comes in handy when you need to read the time in poor light settings.
It should also be tough, durable, and waterproof if you find yourself in an accident of some kind or get lost outdoors.
Having great battery life is important so that it doesn’t fail you when you need it most.
As such, solar- and kinetic-powered units are highly sought-after models.
Other desirable features include a barometer, altimeter, and compass, which will help you find your way if you ever get lost in the wilderness.
Sunrise and sunset times help you get back to your vehicle or campsite before dark.
Lastly, having a thermometer means you can easily avoid hyperthermia or heat stroke.
2. What watches do Navy SEALs wear?
All Navy SEALs used to be issued with a Rolex Submariner, but this tradition became too costly.
Now, Navy SEALs don’t have an official watch.
Still, there are some brand preferences among them, such as Seiko, Suunto, and G-Shock.
Watches designed for divers tend to be popular with Navy SEALs because they are usually extremely rugged.
A Navy SEAL’s watch should, above all, be functional and draw attention to itself.
The entire Casio G-Shock series of watches are popular among military personnel due to their toughness and durability.
Many of the higher-priced models also feature valuable tools, such as compasses, altimeters, and barometers.
3. Why do Marines wear their watch backwards?
It’s true that Marines, as well as other military personnel, are often seen wearing their watches backward.
There are two benefits to wearing a watch this way.
The first one is connected to the light that could be reflected from the watch’s face.
The flash of light could give away your location to the enemy.
By wearing the face inside your wrist, the sun is less likely to catch and reflect it.
Another benefit to be gained is that the watch face is more protected from shattering when it’s bumped against something hard.
When sitting in the back of a striker vehicle or tank, the ride can get pretty bumpy.
And if your watch face bangs hard against anything weighing more than a ton, the glass is very likely to break.
4. Are all survival watches submergible?
While the vast majority of good survival watches are submergible up to a certain depth, you shouldn’t assume they all are.
If you need a watch you can submerge in water, check the product’s listing before you buy it.
If it doesn’t say it is waterproof or water-resistant to a certain depth, assume that it probably isn’t.
Also, it is worth knowing that many watches advertised as water-resistant cannot have their buttons pressed while they are underwater.
5. What is Triple Sensor in watches?
Launched in 1994 by Casio, the Triple Sensor is a tiny, three-layer sensor that includes a thermometer, barometer, and compass.
If your watch features a Triple sensor, you’ll be able to monitor the temperature and air pressure, as well as locate the cardinal points on a compass.
What Is the Best Survival Watch?
After reviewing all five watches, it’s easy to see that our clear favorite is the Casio G-Shock Rangeman.
Though the most expensive on this list, it is packed with so many great features that we think it’s worth it.
We love the fact that it includes a compass, altimeter, and barometer, all of which could be a massive help in a survival situation.
The main feature that clinched it for us as the best survival watch is the fact that it is solar-powered.
You can wear this watch on your wrist and forget about it until you need it.
With these features, you’re safe in the knowledge that you’ll always be able to access all of the watches’ fantastic features no matter where you are.
Good Luck and Happy Survival Prepping!
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