Most people look at survival situations as things that are best to be avoided. And as such they do not prepare for them at all. However a smart outdoors person will prepare for the worst situation possible rather than being left in a dire situation with no plan or equipment.
They know that you can’t avoid survival situations. You are always prone to one danger or another. It’s much better to be aware and prepare than to be ignorant and pretend you can avoid them. Now since you’re on a page that discusses the best survival watches, I’m assuming you’re the sort of person who is keen on preparing.
Watches are often forgotten about when it comes to survival, well by novices anyway. Which is a real shame because they provide valuable and potentially life saving information.
This guide features some of the best survival watches on the market. We will also discuss the different uses for a watch and how its an essential piece of kit for a prepper, hiker or anybody who enjoys the outdoors.
- Directly below you will find our top 3 choices for survival watches.
- Then below that you’ll find our in depth reviews on each watch.
- If you’re curious about how we judged them, check out our buy guide at the bottom of this article.
What is a survival watch?
Technically a bog-standard analog watch could be used in a survival situation. However, when we say survival watch, we’re referring to watches that give you an advantage in a life or death situation.
Survival watches have features like altimeters, barometers, unique timers, thermometers, gps or solar-powered functionality. A lot of these features provide crucial information that can give you an edge.
Now you won’t find all of this functionality in any old watch. Plus this extra tech usually comes with a dearer price tag.
Our Top 10 Survival Watches
A bad ass watch can go anywhere, you can take it on a plane, in the bath, pretty much anywhere really. You can’t do that with your survival lighter or survival knife. Imagine having a piece of kit that is always with you and will go through hell yet still function as if it were new?
Well that’s what a survival watch will do for you. There are so many great survival watches on the market today, it can be hard to filter through them all. We hope this guide helps you identify the right watch for you.
1. Casio G-Shock Rangeman Master of G Series Survival Watch
Casio are one of the most well known watch brands, known for producing high quality watches. They’ve been around for 50 years, so you can put trust in their abilities. Trust is exactly what you need when it comes to survival. Imagine going through one of the most stressful and scary times of your life with bad equipment? Equipment you can’t rely on?
Luckily the Rangeman Master of G series survival watch by casio is ideal for a disaster like situation. It has picked up a lot of respect in the survival industry.
This watch has been out since 2013 and has been tweaked and refined since. Its a good rugged watch that will do you well. It’s lightweight, mud proof and has a GPS.
It was the world’s first solar assisted watch, way back in 2013.
We mentioned it was mud proof, but it is also water resistant and dust resistant. You can tell by the quality of the design that it was built to withstand the rigors of the outdoors.
The large bezel that runs around the display of the G-shock Rangeman is a solar panel. This allows you to harness the power of the sun and charge up the battery.
The gps system will soak up the battery when being used, so this solar system comes in handy.
A full charge of the G-Shock Rangeman will give you 33 hours of continuous GPS use but with the aid of the solar panel you can get around 48 hours from it.
Now the display is kind of simple, especially for a smartwatch. They have done this for a few reasons, the first is to ensure the watch doesn’t waste its charge on a pretty display and the second reason is to ensure the light can be seen with ease in bright daylight.
2. Casio Pro Trek Pathfinder PAG240-1 Survival Watch
The Casio Pro Trek Pathfinder PAG240-1 Survival Watch does have a nice display and unfortunately that is the biggest disadvantage to this watch. The bright display means it cannot be used in the sun.
This is totally okay because the watch has a number of sensors that give you vital information. The watch is equipped with a number of useful survival tools like an altimeter, thermometer, barometer and a timer.
It has a thin strip of solar panels around the outside of the screen. This ensures then watch will not run out of power as long as you’re exposing it to sunlight.
The Pathfinder has a stopwatch and a timer and what’s cool is, when you’re in the stopwatch mode you’ll still be able to see the time.
The buttons are well labelled and the functionality of the watch is great. It won’t take you long to figure out the different bits and bobs that this watch can do.
3. Citizen Promaster Altichron Survival Watch
I took this watch on a skiing trip and tested it over a two week holiday. This is an anolog watch that gives you a tonne of useful features. The Citizen Promaster Altichron has its own built in altimeter that can measure from 1,000 feet to 32,000 feet!
The altitude readout could be more straightforward, the center scale and big red arrow points to the current altitude in increments below 10,000 feet. The subdial at 9:00 will count each 10,000 feet jump.
It even has its own compass and a date window to allow you to track time.
During my tests its been reliable and accurate, you can’t ask for much more really.
It also looks really clean, I’m a fan!
4. Suunto Traverse Alpha Outdoor Watch
Suunto have created this incredibly stylish watch that would look great with travel wear while offering you the survival features you need to be fully prepared.
So I’m not the biggest fan of the display, it’s a little bit pixelated. The nylon strap is durable and comfortable. I would say the watch is a little bit oversized but you can live with this.
Suunto has an app that you can connect your mobile phone and watch to. It will feed all the information gathered to the app which can come in handy.
There is a GPS feature on the watch too, which will prevent you from getting lost ever again.
The gold looks so slick in my opinion. Don’t assume the watch isn’t up to the job of keeping you safe, it’s been rigorously tested against military standards.
The watch uses sapphire crystal grass that has been coated so that its scratch resistant.
It offers vibration alerts and can be used with night vision goggles (the red backlight will help you keep a low profile)
These watches are handmade in Finland too, a lot of love and care goes into each one.
This watch is well worth the money, seriously, the GPS is very accurate, it’s aesthetically pleasing, tested to military standards, what more could you want?
If you’re after a simple yet effective survival watch, this could be the one for you. The Luminox EVO Navy Seal Watch is incredibly bright at night. It’s super durable too which comes at no surprise seeing as this watch was tried and tested for the Navy Seals.
I have taken this watch down to 45 feet and it still functions well. It’s lightweight yet strong enough to cope with the wear and tear of battle. It comes in a nice colour that doesn’t stand out too much (so you can use it in uniform). It would also look well in a suit.
Of course with it being a navy seal watch it has ton be able to function while being underwater. The watch is water resistant to a depth of 660 feet.
6. Casio G-Shock Mudman Multifunction Survival Watch
Seriously almost every G-SHOCK watch would be a good option for a survival watch. This Mudman watch has a water-resistance level of 200m!
Now the mudman series has two notable features that sets them apart from all other G-Shock designs. These are the rigid mud protection that each button has and the resin-covered caseback edges. The
It has a world class timer, triple sensor functionality, a GPS system for navigation and a bunch of other features.
It can be powered by solar energy too, the solar battery will work for 9 months on a full charge even if there is no more daylight exposure. Which is great for those who don’t use their watches.
7. Citizen Men’s Eco-Drive Nighthawk Watch CA0295-58E
This watch is the definition of slick, seriously look how cool it looks? So here we have another watch that would go well with casual gear. It’s a jack of all trades kind of watch, it isn’t necessarily a survival watch but we felt it would work on this list for a few reasons.
This is marketed as a watch that never needs a battery. It is powered by sunlight and does this pretty well actually.
There is also has a protective mineral glass window lens that gives the watch a water resistance up to 660 ft. The Citizen Men’s Eco-Drive Nighthawk Watch is suitable for swimming or any marine activity.
8. Timex Expedition Gallatin
The Timex Expedition Gallatin Solar Watch can be powered by any light source and offers a two month power reserve.
This is a watch that has been designed for the outdoors yet still offers the aesthetics that one would want in a casual setting.
The wrist strap is comfortable and durable. The case of the watch ism designed with outdoor activities in mind, built with tough resin so that the internal mechanisms are kept safe.
It is also water resistant to a depth of 50 meters which is suitable for things like swimming. Although we would not recommend diving or snorkeling with this watch.
9. Timex Expedition Scout Chronograph Watch
Timex really do have some high quality engineering involved in their watches. This stainless steel watch is visually appealing yet provides a few useful features for a survival situation.
The watch comes with a brass case and features a really comfortable leather band. The watch is water resistant to a depth of 330 feet. Now you obviously don’t want to get the leather strap soaked with water, but to be honest id be replacing the strap after a year or so anyway.
10. Seiko Men’s Kinetic GMT Ion Watch
It wouldn’t be a list of the best survival watches without Seiko making an appearance. I liked this brand already so i’m glad to see them producing more fantastic products like this one.
This is actually a 12 year old watch and yet it could still function well as a watch for survivalists. Because it’s so old, it still uses kinetic movement to power the watch. Which means you will have to replace the battery every few years.
What Are The Different Types of Survival Watches?
This category of survival watches usually are paired up with useful survival items like fire starters, paracord rope etc.
This category typically includes features like altimeters, barometric pressure detectors, compasses and even thermometers.
The last category is the mechanical watch. This group of watches tend to be a lot more reliable.
Why would I need a Survival Watch?
Well, in times of survival, information is extremely important. And that’s exactly what your survival watch will give you. Depending on the watch of course, you can use it for:
During a disaster, we have no idea what will happen. Imagine an earthquake destroys local infrastructure and causes a blackout? A good watch will allow you to guide you and your family to safety.
Keeping Track of Sunset and Sunrise
If you’re far away from camp you’ll probably want to get back before sunset. Navigating in the dark is much more dangerous and difficult.
So by knowing what time sunset is, you’ll have a major advantage. And you can use your watch to keep track of it.
Synchronize With Peers
If there’s no electricity, your mobile phone will probably die. This means without a survival watch you will have no chance at telling the time. If you have a good watch, you will be able to meet up with your friends / family at a specific time.
You might have a watch that comes with a knife or a firestarter, these obviously come in handy too. Especially if they are strapped to your wrist!
Survival Watch Buying Guide
There are a number of features to look out for when it comes to buying a survival watch. Lets face it, these things aren’t cheap. Plus you’re buying this to potentially save your life one day, don’t skimp out and don’t buy a overpriced piece of rubbish either! Not that you would, you seem like a clever person anyway, you’re doing your research here!
Solid Construction and Shock Resistance
If you find yourself in a disaster you need equipment that can take a bit of a beating. It doesn’t matter if you’re in the wilderness or an urban environment. Your chances of falling or dropping something increases significantly in a disaster.
Lets say there has been an earthquake and buildings have collapsed. The air will be very dusty, will your watch still work after it’s covered in dust? Imagine you’re hiking when suddenly torrential rain starts. You’re soaked and somehow manage to slip as you run for cover under some trees. Will your watch survive the impact? .
This is why you need to ensure your watch is built solidly and is shock resistant.
There are some watches that have some extra features other than telling you the time. For example a lot of watches now have weather related measurements on them. Things like altitude or barometric pressure.
Having things like a built in compass comes in handy when you’re stressed out trying to figure out what direction safety is in. The quicker you can get to safety, the better right?
Now I’ve already mentioned it but you might fall into a river or be subjected to abuse from a thunderstorm. Whatever it is there’s a good chance your watch will get wet. And if you’ve managed to keep it directly out of the water / rain, the air will still be really humid. Make sure your watch is waterproof to some degree.
This sort of falls into the solid construction point we mentioned above but i wanted to stress how important it is to make sure you have a watch with a good strap. Straps are made from all kinds of materials like silicone, leather and sometimes steel.
Look for a good quality rubber one for survival.
Seeing as a watch is designed to tell you the time, you should, of course, make sure that it’s telling you the correct time. An inaccurate watch could cause you a whole world of problems, especially if you’re prone to losing track of time easily.
Great Battery Life
Now if your watch doesn’t work, it’s dead weight, right? For a survival watch, you should be looking at kinetic, mechanical and solar-powered watches. These three types ensure you don’t end up worrying about your watch not working when you need it the most.
I would avoid smartwatches, sure they can provide you with a lot of data but they do not function well in the outdoors.
Survival Watch FAQ
Are All Survival Watches Submergible?
The majority are yes, look out for the ones that mention how water resistant they are. We have generally tried to pick ones that are.
How do You Care for a Survival Watch?
Most Survival Watches are very durable and normally come made with a multitude of different materials. You should watch out for the following:
Your case is built like a tank, it’s meant to last a very very long time. There are a few issues that you should watch out for in order to ensure it has a good lifespan. These are:
Loose Crown: If you have a loose crown, you’re going to run into problems with water damage. If water hits the watch, it will enter the watch through the loose crown. Make sure the crown is nice and tight.
Sealed Case: If you’ve replaced the battery in your quartz watch or opened the hood on the watch, you will have broken the seal that ensures the watch is water resistant. You will need special tools and resin to seal this back up.
Who Should Purchase a Survival Watch?
If you’re somebody who is concerned about natural disasters or somebody who goes camping, hiking, fishing or something similar, you should invest in a survival watch.
Why is a Thermometer Useful in Survival?
It can be very hard to gauge how cold the environment really is. Sometimes you might find it colder than it actually is or you might be so amped up with adrenaline that you do not even realise.
Your watch will help you measure the outside temperature. This will help you know if you’re actually being subjected to extreme temperatures.
Why is an altimeter useful in a survival watch?
An altimeter is a device that measures altitude. This is the distance of a point above sea level. An altimeter can be a really powerful navigation tool. You can use this in conjunction with a map and a compass to figure out where you are. Hikers can use this to find out what point there is on a trail.
Why is a barometer useful in a survival watch?
A barometer is a useful tool that can measure the surrounding air pressure. Air pressure can change fast and if you’re high up a mountain the less oxygen there is. The higher you go, the less oxygen you bring in which could lead to altitude sickness or even worse conditions. This could lead to death if you’re not careful.