The best outdoor watches are hard to find. They need to offer features that will help you outdoors, and they need to be durable enough to survive a beating. You definitely don’t want to carry some cheap watch with you on an adventure, and you definitely don’t want to bring a delicate Rolex. Luckily, we’ve found the best watches for outdoor use, and we’ve compiled a list of reviews to help you see why we hold them in such high regard.
If you’ve been looking for an outdoor watch, you’ve come to the right place. Regardless of your budget, we’ve found a watch that will suit you. Some of these watches cost less than thirty dollars, and some of them cost several hundred dollars. They’re all great, though.
After you’ve read our reviews, you can turn to our buyer’s guide for more information about outdoor watches. It’s been constructed to teach you what you need to look at before buying, and it’s a great way to get familiar with outdoor watches before you buy one.
Quick Look: Best Outdoor Watches
- Casio Men’s Pathfinder Multi-Function Watch
- Garmin Fenix 5S Sapphire
- Timex Expedition Field Chronograph Watch
- Casio WSD-F10 Smart Outdoor Watch
- SUUNTO Core Outdoor Sports Watch
- Luminox 3051 EVO Navy SEAL Watch
- Suunto Traverse Alpha
- Casio Men’s G9300 Mudman G-Shock
- Seiko 5 SNK805 Automatic Watch
- Fitbit Charge 3 Activity Tracker
1. Casio Men’s Pathfinder Multi-Function Watch
The Casio Men's Pathfinder is absolutely packed with features. It provides most of the measurement tools that hikers and other outdoor enthusiasts need, and it's relatively inexpensive. The Pathfinder's case is made from stainless steel. The case is a little bit on the larger side. However, the 51 millimeter size allowed Casio to put bigger buttons on it. So, you can easily cycle through different modes while you're wearing gloves. The amount of extra features that the Pathfinder has is fairly generous.
A barometer, altimeter, thermometer, backlight, city code display, pre-programmed calendar, stopwatch, and countdown timer are all included with the Pathfinder. It also features a compass, power saving modes, and multiple time formats to choose from. It also handles time measurement exceptionally well. It has a digital display and uses a quartz-based movement system. The window on the case is made from mineral glass, and the band is made from resin with a buckle-style clasp.
The Pathfinder utilizes a solar powered battery to function. You don't have to worry about keeping it in the sun, though. The battery can last for up to 6 months without sunlight. This is a great option if you need a watch for the outdoors, but you can't afford some of the fancier options on our list. The price is very reasonable, and it has just about everything you could ever need from a watch.
2. Garmin Fenix 5S Sapphire
The Fenix 5S fills the roles of a fitness watch and an outdoors watch. It doesn't have as many features as the Casio Pathfinder that we reviewed, but it does have the ability to be used as a smartwatch, and it has enough features to make it useful for venturing into remote locations. The Fenix 5S can keep track of its user's heartbeat and other statistics that are necessary for tracking physical fitness. When the Fenix is connected to a wireless network, it has access to the Connect IQ store. That allows you to download a large number of fitness apps, and you can interact with the Garmin Connect community.
When it comes to features that help hikers, the Fenix has just enough to make it a decent option. It's compatible with GLONASS satellite. That allows you to use some of the watch's smart features in remote areas. On top of that, it has a compass, barometer, and altimeter. The case is fairly standard, and it's a little on the larger side. However, the display screen has a high resolution, and the lighting system makes it easy to read in all lighting conditions.
Battery life is a big concern with watches that are meant to be taken on adventures. While the Fenix does use a standard rechargeable battery, it has several modes that help to extend its battery life. If you're using it as a smartwatch, you can expect that battery to die within 9 hours. That's not preferable for outdoor adventures. Luckily, you can put the watch in GPS mode to extend its battery life to 14 hours, and you can put it in UltraTrac mode to make it last up to 35 hours.
If the low battery life still sounds like an issue, you'll be happy to know that external power banks can charge the watch on the fly. This isn't the best watch for hardcore adventurers, but it's great for people that live an active lifestyle. You won't want to take it on an extended hike, but you can easily use it for your daily jogs and the occasional day hike.
3. Timex Expedition Field Chronograph Watch
The Timex Expedition is reminiscent of the military watches that were used in the past. It doesn't have nearly as many features as most of the other options on this list, but it's extremely affordable, and it makes the most of the few features that it does have. Visually, the Expedition is exactly what you'd expect from a watch that's based on vintage military watches. The case is made from brass, and it's a basic circle design. The viewing window is made from scratch-resistant mineral glass. The hands and hour markers are made from stainless steel, and the Expedition uses a unique lighting system to increase its visibility.
There is an Indiglo nightlight inside of the watch, and it will fully illuminate the watch with the press of a button. Besides the standard time measurements, the Expedition also features a chronograph that can measure time within one twentieth of a second. To perform these accurate measurements, the Expedition uses a quartz movement system.
Timex offers several different band designs for the Expedition. You can purchase it with bands made from leather or fabric, and each option has several different colors to choose from. As we've mentioned before, battery life is important with outdoors watches. Luckily, the Expedition's built-in battery can last for up to 10 years, and it's a standard lithium metal battery. So, you can easily have it replaced.
This isn't a watch that will help you navigate or tell you the temperature, but it's extremely affordable. It only costs about fifty bucks. The few features that it has are perfectly crafted, and they're extremely accurate. This is great if you want an inexpensive watch that tells time extremely accurately, and you don't care about having loads of extra features.
4. Casio WSD-F10 Smart Outdoor Watch
The last Casio watch that we reviewed focused on built-in features, and it was a relatively inexpensive option. The Casio WSD-F10 Smart Outdoor Watch provides some of the same built-in functionality, but it also adds the endless possibilities that come with having a smartwatch. The case is made from resin, and the band is made from urethane. So, the entire watch is synthetic. That makes it a lot lighter than metal watches, and it won't deteriorate due to corrosion. The viewing window is made from sturdy mineral glass. The screen of the WSD-F10 is a high resolution LCD screen.
The built in features are fairly basic, but they work well. The basic time function is ran by a processor, and the time is displayed on the LCD screen. It also has a built-in barometer, altimeter, compass, and activity tracking sensor. The real draw of the WSD-F10 is its capabilities as a smartwatch. It can connect with any Android phone that uses Android 4.3 or higher, and that allows you to download the apps that you need. You can also use those apps with a simple push of a button. A lot of apps will require that you have your phone on you, but that shouldn't be a problem.
Despite its synthetic construction, the WSD-F10 is extremely durable. It's been tested to comply with military standards, and it shouldn't break under any stress that a civilian can put it through. It's also waterproof for up to 165 meters. That's more than enough to use it during swimming sessions, downpours, and snorkeling, but you shouldn't try to dive with it.
Like most smartwatches, the WSD-F10 has a rechargeable battery. If you plan to take it on extended hikes, you should consider buying a power bank or other external charger. If you have a compatible smartphone, the WSD-F10 can be the perfect watch for you.
It's easy to download apps that you need, and it has all of the necessary features for adventuring built-in. However, it's a pricier watch, and you won't get as much out of it without access to a smartphone.
5. SUUNTO Core Outdoor Sports Watch
If you've ever had an issue with avoiding dangerous situations in the outdoors, you'll appreciate the SUUNTO Core. The core keeps time well, and it has the basic navigation features that you'll need in the outdoors. However, it also has a number of weather-based features that can keep you safe. The case on the Core is made from resin, and the band is urethane. All of the information that the watch provides is displayed on a digital interface. The Core comes in a variety of color schemes and styles. So, you don't have to settle for a fully black watch.
It includes an altimeter, barometer, and compass to help with navigation tasks. The Core has a number of other bonus features, too. It has a stopwatch, back light, and daily alarm functions. However, the most appealing part of the Core is its ability to warn you about impending weather changes. The Core uses a number of sensors to detect changes in air pressure, and it determines when a storm is about to hit. When it detects storm conditions, it sounds an alarm, and it gives you plenty of time to seek shelter.
The Core can record different stats that are related to its pressure meters and navigation features, and it allows you to set a desired altitude with the altimeter. When you've reached your set altitude, an alarm will sound, and you won't have to bother reading the watch to know where you're at.
The Core is built to military standards, too. So, it's perfect for people who need a really rugged watch with a lot of features. The only other military-grade watch that we've reviewed so far incorporated smart technology. This is the alternative to that watch for people who want the same durability without all of the fancy internet features.
6. Luminox 3051 EVO Navy SEAL Watch
This is the cheapest watch on this list, but it's made to a high quality standard, and it has a number of features. In general, it's a great watch for people who don't have a lot of money. It has a Swiss quartz movement system, analog display, mineral crystal window, synthetic case, and a rubber strap. The hands and hour markers are all luminous, and the dial is capable of being lit with a button press. You don't get all of the navigation and weather features with the EVO as you do the other options on our list, but it costs less than thirty dollars.
The Swiss quartz movement system ensures that it can tell time accurately, and that's all that you really need your watch to do. The battery will need to be replaced every few months, but that's not a big deal. The one feature that makes it a decent option for an outdoor watch is its waterproof case. You can safely submerge it in depths up to 50 meters. Overall, you can't find a better watch for the same price.
7. Suunto Traverse Alpha
The Suunto Traverse packs some serious technology into its minimalist design. It's one of the smaller watches on this list, and there aren't a lot of confusing buttons to learn about. However, it can be a hunter's best friend because of one unique feature. Visually, the Traverse is a minimalist's dream. The case is a stainless steel circle with a knurled finish. There are five crowns, but they're all small, and they're out of the way. The LCD screen is protected by a scratch resistant sapphire glass window. The band is just a simple strip of extremely durable nylon.
The basic navigation features of other watches are included with the Traverse, but it also includes GPS mapping, shot recording for hunters, a breadcrumb trail feature, and a lunar calendar. It has some more minor features, too. A built-in flashlight is there to help you out in a pinch, and it has a storm alert feature to keep you safe.
Since it's technically a smartwatch, it uses a processor to keep track of time. The processor is good, though. So, you don't have to worry about it being inaccurate. The battery life is rated to last up to 14 days, but it can last up to 100 days when it's put into a power saver mode. Either way, that's plenty of time for a hunting trip, and it's rechargeable.
8. Casio Men’s G9300 Mudman G-Shock
Casio's G-Shock line of watches has been popular for around thirty years. The Mudman is one of their newer additions to that classic line of Casio watches. It exhibits the same strength, accuracy, and rugged charm as every other G-Shock watch, and it adds a few features that aren't present in other models. The case of the Mudman is made from molded resin. Resin isn't as heavy as brass and steel, but it boasts a similar level of strength. It's also a lot less expensive to build a watch from. So, you don't have to pay as much for this watch.
The display is a standard LCD screen. It isn't a fancy screen, but this watch doesn't feature anything that requires a high resolution to view. The band on the Mudman is simply made from molded urethane. While it's not as charming as leather or polished metal, it's extremely long lasting, and it's durable. The watch keeps track of time via radio waves and a processor. This allows the Mudman to automatically correct the time displayed on its screen, and it is typically far more accurate than a quartz watch.
Outside of its time keeping abilities, the Mudman also features a compass, thermometer, and moon graph. Some users have complained that their body temperature has thrown off the watch's thermometer slightly, but it's still a great tool to get a general sense of the temperature.
This is a solar watch. So, you don't have to worry about buying replacement batteries. In addition, most users have praised the watch, and it's known to keep a charge for years without intentional charging. Simply wearing it throughout your day seems to be enough to keep it fully charged.
9. Seiko 5 SNK805 Automatic Watch
The Seiko 5 is a simple watch. It tells time remarkably accurately, and it looks great. That's about all it does. However, the lightweight design, stainless steel case, Hardlex window, and water resistance makes it great for outdoor use. It doesn't feature any of the fancy features that our other suggestions do. This is simply a watch, and it happens to have a small data display. It is durable and Seiko watches are known for making watches that are worth their weight in gold.
Unlike some of the other watches on this list, the Seiko 5 is a Japanese quartz watch. Quartz has been a popular choice for watches since shortly after they were invented, and that's for a good reason. Quartz watches are accurate, and they're reliable. You don't have to depend on radio waves or smartphone apps with the Seiko 5.
That's all there is to say about it. It's an inexpensive watch, and it's one that is sure to impress anyone who buys it. It's not for people who want all of the modern navigation features that have become commonplace, though.
10. Fitbit Charge 3 Activity Tracker
Fitbit probably wasn't a brand that you expected to see on this list. The brand was built on tracking physical activity. However, the Charge 3 manages to pack enough features into it that allow it to function perfectly as an outdoor watch. If you've ever had a Fitbit, you know that it can measure your heart rate, count the amount of calories that you burn, and track a ton of different stats related to your daily activities. However, it can also accurately tell time, connect to your phone, and it's water resistant.
The Charge 3 is available in a large variety of colors, and Fitbit bands are interchangeable. So, you can change the color of your Fitbit on a whim. The battery lasts for about 7 days, and they're known to be comfortable. In addition to all that, the LCD screen is high resolution. You won't have any issues seeing the smallest details on your Fitbit screen.
This isn't a watch that you'll want to take hiking or hunting, but it's great for people that just want to live an active lifestyle. That's what it was made for. This is the perfect choice for a fitness enthusiast.
Best Outdoor Watches Buyer’s Guide
There are a number of factors that go into buying the right outdoor watch for you. As you can see from our list, the category covers everything from military use to basic fitness exercises. This buyer’s guide is here to help you figure out which watch will serve you best.
How Much Can You Spend?
Your budget plays a major part in any purchase you make. That’s an obvious fact. We can’t help you establish how much money you can spend, but we can give you tips to find a watch within your budget. If you have a ton of expendable income, feel free to buy whatever you want. The world is your oyster.
For everyone else, there are few key details that you need to review.
When you search for outdoor watches, you’ll be bombarded by options that offer GPS mapping, thermometers, altimeters, and countless other forms of meters and maps. If you won’t use those features, don’t pay for them.
You don’t need a watch designed for hunters if you’re just going to track your physical activity. You’ll want to get a Fitbit Charge 3 for that. If you just want something that tells time and lasts a long time, the Seiko 5 will suffice. Both options are considerably cheaper than a Casio WSD-F10.
However, those won’t work for someone who wants to go on week long hikes. In that case, you’re better off spending the extra money. The extra features will keep you from having to carry a bunch of extra technology, and they can save your life.
A gold bracelet looks beautiful, and it’ll compliment a suit nicely. However, gold bracelets aren’t good for the outdoors, and they’re more expensive than the what the average person can afford.
While none of our suggestions have wrist straps that are that elegant, the same concept applies. Wristbands made from fancier materials will look better and last longer, but they’ll cost a lot more. If you don’t need a watch band that can stand up to the Terminator, you’ll be wasting your money by buying one that can. Those bands are necessary for people that will put their watches through a ton of abuse, though. Nylon straps work well, but they can get worn very easily.
This doesn’t affect the price too much. As long as the watch isn’t made from precious metal, the price shouldn’t rise too much because of the watch’s design. However, it affects your life in other ways. A clunky watch may have room for more life saving features, but you’ll have a hard time reaching into tight spots and digging your keys out of your pocket.
Try to pick a watch that is suitable for what you’ll use it for. Don’t get a massive watch just to wear it to the office. A slim watch with minimal features will suffice for that.
Are You Into Fitness?
When people talk about outdoor watches, they are usually talking about watches for hiking or mountaineering. That’s why most of the top watches have altimeters and compasses.
However, the term also encompasses basic fitness watches. You won’t want to buy a watch designed for a professional mountain climber if you’re just going to wear it to go jogging. If that’s the case, you need to invest in a high-quality fitness watch. The Fitbit Charge 3 is the best example of this type of watch.
Having your watch die in the middle of a three day hike can be disastrous. That is especially true when you rely on it for navigation and weather warnings.
To prevent that, you need to have a watch with a battery life that will last a lot longer than what you expect to spend outdoors. You never know what could happen out there.
However, a fitness watch doesn’t have to have a long lasting battery to perform beyond expectations. It’s unlikely that you’ll be active 24 hours a day. You can get away with a 10 to 16 hour battery life with a fitness watch.
If you take those factors into account, you’ll find the perfect watch for you. The more unnecessary features you add, the more you’ll overspend. Try to keep your selection limited to what you need, and you should be able to stay within your budget. Just don’t expect to get a full suite of high-tech features for a low price. That’s not usually possible.