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Best Survival Watch: Your Wrist Wearing Lifesaver

Survival watch with compass
John C. Porter
Written by John C. Porter

If you think that your smartphone will help you during navigation through the wild, then you are in for a great surprise. With the lack of coverage and places to charge the battery, a phone will only be of little significance. On the other hand, the best survival watch that perfectly fits your needs, can significantly enhance your chances of survival and the overall experience while climbing mountains.

Whether you are just wandering around or lost, owning this gadget may prove to be a valuable thing. Even more, some of these watches are worth having because they do not 0need batteries to operate. Basically, most watches are mechanical or Quartz powered, but beware: if Quartz is used in powering your watch, you will require batteries to keep it functioning.

This may be a downside since the batteries may die at the least expected time. And yet, they are still a great option because batteries do not have to be changed often. Therefore, if you are a person who spends much of your time outdoors, owning a survival watch is certainly a good investment. Nevertheless, with a wide range of options available in the market, shopping for the one that will be right for you can be a daunting task. It is, therefore, necessary to know what features you need your watch to have.

Product nameNavigatorWeightBattery LifeBest UsePrice
Casio Pro TrekGPS4 oz

23 months on full charge (with power saving functions)Hiking, outdoor adventures, camping, personal useCheck price on Amazon
Casio GWF 1000GPS4 oz

10 months on full chargeOutdoor adventures, personal use, sea kayaking

Check price on Amazon
Casio GW 9400BJDigital compass and GPS3.36 oz7 months on full chargeHiking, outdoor adventures, personal use, sea kayakingCheck price on Amazon
Suunto CoreCompass2.6 oz6-8 months on full chargeHiking, outdoor adventures, personal useCheck price on Amazon
Citizen STX43GPS12 ozUp to 7 months (when fully fueled by light). Does not use batteryHiking, outdoor adventures, personal use, sea kayakingCheck price on Amazon
Marathon ChronographDigital compass and GPS24 ozMore than 36 monthsHiking, diving, personal use, sea kayaking

Check price on Amazon
Casio GWA 1000FCGPS11 oz6 months on full chargeHiking, outdoor adventures, personal use, sea kayaking

Check price on Amazon
Luminox 3051 EVOGPS2.08 ozMore than 24 monthsOutdoor adventures, personal use, sea kayaking

Check price on Amazon
Casio DW6900MSGPS7.2 ozFrom 24 to 120 monthsHiking, outdoor adventures, personal use, sea kayakingCheck price on Amazon

Features To Consider

Acquiring a new survival watch can be difficult. There are a lot of options to consider, and it is always a challenging decision to make. This is mainly because you need a watch that is both good looking and suitable for outdoor adventures.

Making a poor choice is easy, but evading it can be tougher; nevertheless, if you know what features you need, the final decision can be easy to make. Here are some of the features you need to consider:

Accurate Timekeeping

This one is a no-brainer! When you are out hiking and trying to achieve the objectives of your expeditions, it is easy for you to lose track of time. Nonetheless, in a grid-down or bug out situation, precise timekeeping is vital to your survival.

A man wearing a survival watch

For example, for a case where you want food, shelter, and water before dark, or you need to keep the fire burning until dawn, being able to know your time makes a great difference. For that reason, you will need a watch which is an accurate timekeeper. The digital watches or quartz-based ones are the best choice to have.

Waterproof Vs. Water-Resistant

This issue is worth noting as there is so much malarkey about the two aspects. Many advertisements for survival watches use waterproof and water resistant as though they are the same thing, but that is not the case.

A water resistant watch is one that can be occasionally exposed to aspects like snow and rain or even submerged in water for a short period. Some watches are only water resistant up to certain depths beyond which, they become faulty. On the other hand, the waterproof watches can withstand water even when submerged for extended periods.

Power Type

  • Solar Powered: These kinds of survival watches are preferred because they require little maintenance. They can be powered directly by the sun, or their batteries can be recharged using solar radiations.
  • Battery operated or Quartz-based: These watch models are usually battery operated. It is imperative to note that with these watches, the battery juice may run out, or the battery itself may malfunction requiring one to make a replacement.
  • Self-winding or mechanically wound: Some survival watches will require an individual to wind them up so they can remain accurate, while others can self-wind as long as they are worn. This feature is suitable for hikers and campers.

A man fixing hour on his new survival watch

Other Features Worth Noting

  • Altimeter: If you love hiking, an altimeter is essential for indicating your elevations above sea level
  • GPS: The best watches will feature a functioning GPS for identifying the coordinates of your location. Nonetheless, it is advisable to use the GPS only as a backup.
  • Barometer: This feature measures air pressure, making it possible for you to forecast weather changes
  • Compass: Of course, nothing is as convenient as getting an exact reading with a mere glance at your wrist

Top Survival Watch Reviews

If you are still finding it difficult to choose the right watch to buy, you should have a look at products below so as to get you started. This part includes a review of the best survival watches in the market.

The Casio Pro Trek Casio Pro Trek

Price: Approx. $200

Weight: 4 oz

Specific features: Depth measurement, chronograph, light, timer, radio controlled

Best use: Hiking, outdoor adventures, personal use, sea kayaking

Description: The Casio Pro Trek Watch is a high performing gadget designed under the supervision of meteorologists to help you take on challenging environments.

Like any other triple sensor Pro Trek devices, the PRW2500 features a Compass, Barometer/Altimeter, and Thermometer. The reconfigured duplex LCD layout offers optimal lower and upper LCD layout for quick information when you are on the go.

The unique arrow icons, alongside the trend graphical and numerical data, help in indicating barometric pressure patterns. Two hundred water resistance has been incorporated to provide water resistance rafting and river trekking. The inclusion of tide and moon data offers useful information for fishing and sea kayaking.

PROS:

  • 200M water resistance
  • Multi-Band 6
  • Duplex LCD
  • Tide and moon diagram

CONS:

  • Heavier compared to some other models

Related: If you want a perfect watch for wet conditions and nighttime operations, you can check out the Casio Atomic Resin Digital Watch.

Check the price on Amazon

Casio GWF 1000 Casio GWF 1000

Price: Approx. $500

Weight: 4 oz

Dimensions: 4.5 x 3.9 x 3.5 inches

Specific features: Case size is 58.3mm x 52.8mm, Moon data function, 200m water resistance

Best use: Hiking, outdoor adventures, personal use, sea kayaking

Description: The Casio GWF 1000 Watch  is a model that offers true watch performance for a serious outdoor enthusiast.

The tough solar capabilities exclude the need to worry about changes in battery, while the Tide Graph offers vital information for any hiker. The sturdy internal features make it outstanding to use, even underwater.

The screw back and stainless construction make the watch heavier than a Titanium one but not any cumbersome. It has a tide function, Atomic timekeeping, and many other functions you would find useful during your diving escapades.

The good thing about the GWF-1000-1JF model is that it possesses an industrial look, but can still be worn during important functions.

PROS:

  • Twin Sensor
  • Comes in many colors
  • Water resistant

CONS:

  • Non-sun powered
  • Heavy
  • 2-year battery life

Related: If you want a similar model with great performance, then you can check out the Casio GW 9400BJ Insert Watch.

Check the price on Amazon

Casio GW 9400BJ Casio GW 9400BJ

Price: Approx. $370

Weight: 3.36 oz

Dimension: 4.4 x 4 x 3.3 inches

Specific features: 200 meters water-resistant depth,

Best use: Hiking, outdoor adventures, personal use, sea kayaking

Description: The Casio GW 9400BJ Insert Watch has everything you require: the v.3 ABC sensor, which is faster and more efficient than the previous sensor system, a Memory function for the time, a direct stopwatch button, compass and barometer data, and Altimeter.

The watch is big and will fit perfectly on your wrist. It is light in weight and the carbon fiber band makes it quite comfortable to use. The gadget’s display is clear and readable, and its sensors are efficient and accurate.

Parents, athletes, hikers, and divers want to ensure their schedules are right and their activities are well-timed. This GW-9400J-1JF model is a suitable, versatile and powerful gadget that can be used for whatever purpose one intends. It will be one of your wisest choices if you decide to invest in this watch.

PROS:

  • Multi-Band 6
  • Solar-powered
  • Mud and dust resistant
  • Includes barometer and altimeter
  • Triple Sensor Version 3

CONS:

  • Absence of moon or tide data
  • Few colors available

 Check the price on Amazon

Suunto Core Suunto Core

Price: Approx. $200

Weight: 2.6 oz

Dimension: 0.6 x 1.9 x 1.9 inches

Specific features: Log graph and log function, bearing tracking, alti/baro switch and memory, 100 feet water resistance

Best use: Hiking, outdoor adventures, personal use, sea kayaking

Description: The Suunto Core Watch is a gadget that is well suited for outdoor adventures. The design is pretty robust, although its materials are light. The rubber band is flexible and durable, and the aluminum is excellent for a wrist gadget.

The watch fits perfectly on the wrist, providing great comfort to the user. One particular downside about the Alu Deep Black, is that it is not so resistant to scratches, but with some extra care, it can be maintained accordingly.

This model offers a digital display, and despite the relatively bad contrast, it is a practical and easy to use gadget. A small concern would be reading the Alu Deep Black in low light, as it is a bit challenging to view at certain angles.

Suunto has definitely hit the mark with this amazing and beautiful device suited for the extreme and harsh environment. Despite a few shortcomings, this device from Suunto is a reliable companion designed to satisfy your cravings for adventure.

PROS:

  • Durable aluminum finish
  • Long battery life
  • Incredible fit
  • Accurate
  • Stylish
  • Simple to-utilize interface
  • Comfortable

CONS:

  • The Altitude and barometric diagrams are not very impressive
  • Absence of GPS,
  • No customizable screen settings,
  • Somewhat technical
  • Small learning curve

Related: if you want a watch with 8-hour energy capacity, then you can check out the Suunto Spartan Watch.

Check the price on Amazon

Citizen STX43 Citizen STX43 

Price: Approx. $500

Weight: 12 oz

Dimensions: 5.9 x 5.9 x 5.9 inches

Specific features: 12/24 Hour Indicator, Screw-Back Case, Shock Resistant Movement, Titanium Case and Bracelet

Best use: Hiking, outdoor adventures, personal use, sea kayaking

Description: Citizen Eco-Drive presents the Citizen STX43 Titanium Watch that is unique and best suited for your outdoor adventures.

The black plated titanium case is attached with four decorative screws and a black dial that displays a 12/24 hour time with luminous hands.

At the three o’clock position is a window which displays the date to keep you updated about your planned events. The Citizen Eco-Drive watch is fueled by any light and for that reason, it does not require a battery to operate. The luminous hand and numerals make this watch more suitable for all your outdoor escapades.

PROS:

  • Fantastic materials
  • Titanium band
  • Great design
  • Very accurate

CONS:

  • Has mineral crystal window rather than the predominant quality sapphire gem

Related: if you want a watch that can help you eliminate the for constant replacement of batteries, then you check out the Citizen CA0265 Titanium Watch.

 Check the price on Amazon

Marathon Chronograph Marathon Chronograph

Price: $3000 – $4000

Weight: 24 oz

Dimensions: 12.4 x 6.9 x 6.6 inches

Specific features: Water resistant to a depth of up to 1000 feet, 12/24-Hour Indicator, 316L surgical grade stainless steel

Best use: Hiking, diving, Personal Use, Sea Kayaking

Description: Marathon is well known for designing and manufacturing tactical equipment for the Canadian and US Government. Fortunately, the products are also available to anyone else who can afford them.

With the Marathon Chronograph Automatic Watch, a new profile has been introduced with no true contender. The Pilot’s Chronograph comes with a tactical feel for all your hiking and outdoor adventures.

Commonly referred to as the CSAR (Chronograph Search and Rescue), the Pilot’s Chronograph can help you maneuver through challenging situations.

The watch comes with a sapphire crystal window and stainless steel case for additional resistance to shocks and scratches, and a rubber band which will fit perfectly on your wrist. The screw down crown is stiff and standard, so it does not move unless it is intended to move.

PROS:

  • Great design
  • Good quality
  • Has high-performing features
  • Very accurate

CONS:

  • Very expensive

Related: If you want a similar model with quality and high-performing features, then you can check out the Marathon Military Automatic Watch.

Check the price on Amazon

Casio GWA 1000FC Casio GWA 1000FC

Price: Approx. $300

Weight: 11 oz

Dimensions: 0.6 x 0.6 x 0.6 inches

Specific features: Atomic time keeping, 200m water resistance, shock resistance, tough solar power

Best use: Hiking, outdoor adventures, personal use, sea kayaking

Description: The Casio GWA 1000FC Stylish Watch is a masterpiece that has various greatly implemented features in an excellent case so as to provide the best G-Shock experiences. The design of the watch is futuristic and offers a professional feel to whoever is wearing it.

On the wrist, the G-shock performs surprisingly well. Although it is heavy, it is light to some extent as the weight distributes well across the surface. The multi band atomic timekeeping ensures that you are always alerted by the second.

Apart from the countdown timer, the stopwatch, and the water-resistance, the auto calendar and the alarms are the same as those implemented in most G-shocks. As a result, the GWA-1000FC-5A model is reliable and simple to use.

PROS:

  • Twin Sensor
  • Comes in many colors
  • Water resistant

CONS:

  • Non-sun powered
  • Heavy
  • 2-year battery life

Related: if you want a high quality watch with Triple G Resist construction, then you can check out the Casio GWA 1100 Stylish Watch.

 Check the price on Amazon

Luminox 3051 Evo Luminox 3051 Evo

Price: $200 – $400

Weight: 2.08 oz

Dimensions: 6.5 x 3 x 2 inches

Specific features: 200m water resistance, swiss quartz movement, analog display, double security crown system, hardened mineral crystal window

Best use: Hiking, outdoor adventures, personal use, sea kayaking

Description: The Luminox 3051 EVO Colormark Watch is famous for its precise Swiss mechanisms and the self-powered illumination system.

The gadget features small and bright tritium markings as well as index hands with varying colors of blue and green, which really comes in handy when you want to know the time and are in the dark or low light conditions.

The EVO Navy Seal combines the indispensable features for divers and heavy requirements of professionals in an affordable companion. If you are looking for a watch with a professional look, that is really durable and reliable, without spending a fortune, this gadget would certainly give you the utility you deserve and look for in a survival watch for almost all purposes.

PROS:

  • Looks great amid the night, illuminating an obviously noticeable glow.
  • Exceptionally complimentary and stealthy.
  • Has great design
  • Very durable
  • Great color
  • Considering the value, it is actually a decent quality.
  • Has a gorgeous dark ops design
  • Extremely classy and lightweight
  • The band and strap can be fit effectively and worn serenely.

CONS:

  • The scratches and hands get loose in no time
  • The band tends to move frequently
  • Tritium is known to be frail and somewhat thin
  • It looks as though it was made less-expensive.

Check the price on Amazon

Casio DW6900MS Casio DW6900MS

Price: $80 – $90

Weight: 7.2 oz

Dimensions: 4.3 x 3.9 x 2.5 inches

Specific features: Twin stop watchers, 200m water resistance, five multi-functional alarms, impressive shock resistance,

Best use: Hiking, outdoor adventures, personal use, sea kayaking

Description: The Casio DW6900MS Watch is designed for men’s active lifestyle. The device features a digital gray dial face that is complemented by a mineral dial window.

The digital watch does not only offer comfort, but also offers a wide range of functionalities owing to its amazing features.  It also incorporates strong shock resistance to guard its digital code system and an overall 45 millimeter case watch diameter.

This is one of the greatest watches you can ever wear. Consider it a gadget that embodies superb functionality and durability. If you love engaging in outdoor expeditions, and you fear that you might damage your watch when you go hiking or snowboarding, then what you need to have is the Casio G-Shock digital watch.

Pros:

  • 10-year battery
  • Popular
  • Large buttons
  • Proven design

Cons:

  • The invert LCD display might be harder to see

Related: If you want a similar model from the same manufacturer, then you can check out the Casio Mirror Digital Watch.

Check the price on Amazon

Concluding Thoughts

Since most of the products mentioned above are of high quality and expensive, it is important to spend your time doing research before making the final decision. If you can test some of the watches before committing to purchase, or if your relatives or friends own one of these gadgets, ask them about the watch and whether they had any problems using it.

Close-up image of a survival watch

Some buyers may have negative experience which could have nothing to do with the product, but the defect could be associated with a factory fault. Such a fault may make you believe that the watch is not worth it. To avoid this mistake, it is imperative to find out more about the product by doing research and gathering as much information as possible about it.

So, are there any other survival watches you think deserve to be on this list? Include your suggestions in the comments sections. Also, be certain to share this article with your friends and relatives to help them make wise choices when buying their outdoor watches.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR
John C. Porter
John C. Porter

John is passionate about hiking long distances. His record is over 65 miles in one day with backpacking gear. John hiked over 10 thousand miles, tried over 100 hiking shoes and visited 56 countries so far. His favourite hiking route is West Coast Trail on Vancouver Island in British Columbia, Canada.

  • David Smith

    My Casio PRW2500-1A Digital ProTrek Pathfinder is an all in one wrist lifesaver. Its compass, thermometer, GPS function and tide function are all on point. My best feature however is the barometer that tells the weather so perfectly it is like having my own weatherman. Some readings seemed off at first but once I had it properly calibrated, it was perfection all the way.

  • John C. Porter

    I’ve always trusted the Casio brand and I am sure it will help you in all your outdoor needs. The watch has many outstanding features and it’s a good value for money. It may be pricey but you know that you’re getting a top-notch product. In addition to standard features, also look for other qualities such as GPS, compass, altimeter and barometer.

  • Matt Gibson

    I discovered Citizen watches about a decade ago and they right away become my brand of choice. I have bought 4 watches from the same brand so far, the current one being the Citizen Men’s Shock-Proof Titanium Watch. Just like its predecessors, it has top notch performance. It is light, comfortable and comes in a sleek sporty design.

  • John C. Porter

    The Citizen brand has been known for quality, style and function. My parents used to have these cool watches even when I was a kid. They’re really affordable, too. I’m glad you like them, too Matt!

  • Bruce Stadelman

    That Casio GW 9400BJ sounds like a dream: altimeter, barometer, AND solar powered! But I really wish it had the design of the Suunto Core, so sleek and modern. I have yet to find a really functional, solar-powered survival watch that doesn’t sacrifice aesthetics, so if anybody knows of one please let me know.

  • Marie Baxter

    I’ve been thinking about getting my husband a new outdoorsy gadget for our anniversary, and a survival watch seems like a good idea. He just started sailing a year ago and has been complaining that his phone doesn’t get enough of a signal out on the water to check tide information online. Does anyone know if the Casio Pro Trek can enlarge the tide data diagrams?

  • John C. Porter

    Both of those brands are great!

  • John C. Porter

    We are unsure about that but we do believe it does. Good luck!

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