Best Survival Watch – 9 Best Watches in 2023

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So you’re searching for a survival watch and are still determining what to expect?

Best Overall
Garmin Instinct

Perfect for Garsh Outdoor Environments

  • Rugged and Durable
  • Strengthened Display
  • 100m Water Resistance
Premium Pick
Garmin Fenix 6X Pro

Perfect for Everyone Who likes Survival Watches.

  • Advanced Activity Tracking
  • Multi GNSS
  • ABC Sensors
Best Budget
Casio G-Shock

Durable and Reliable Watch for Outdoor Activities.

  • Very Rugged
  • Withstand Shock, Vibration, and Impact
  • 200m Water Resistance

It took me several weeks to research the best survival watches on the market, and I’m here to share my experience with you!

The Garmin Instinct is our Best Pick if you’re short on time.

You’ll find short reviews about our three top picks.

If you still need to check out after reading our three top picks, you can find another six digital watches you HAVE TO check out!

Let’s dive into it.

Best Survival Watch

Garmin Instinct
Best Overall
  • Durable
  • Long Battery Life
  • Multi GNSS
  • Activity Tracking
  • Heart Rate Monitor
  • Water and Shock Resistance
  • Limited Smartwach Features
  • Small Display
  • Limited Music Control
  • Limited Customization

With that watch on your wrist, you’re set to go on any adventure you can imagine.

In emergencies, this beautiful piece can bring you home with little knowledge of map reading. 

Sensors

Its integrated ABC (=Altimeter, Barometer, Compass) sensors predict the weather and can warn you early about incoming extreme weather. So you can plan further what to do next. You’ll never get surprised by quick weather changes!

Multi-GNSS

But, when you find yourself lost in the woods, the Multi-GNSS Support (Global Navigation Satellite System) always brings you home.

Losing your locating signals with backups from two other Global Locating Systems (GLONASS, Galileo) is nearly impossible!
This makes it an excellent device for hiking trips where GPS might not be as available as other Locating Systems.

The TrackBack Routing feature lets you return to the starting location without issues. You can even plan your tours with the Garmin Explore Website and the App.

Case & Durability

Garmin Instinct is built to the U.S. Military Standard 810.[1]
This means your watch is tested and proven to be durable and reliable in harsh environmental conditions.

On the other hand, this means your watch is as unbreakable as Bruce Willis in the film Unbreakable. But more.
It withstands extreme temperatures, humidity, vibration, shock, sand and dust, and water resistance.

Pretty awesome right?

The water resistance of this masterpiece is 100m (330 feet).
I always recommend a water resistance of at least 100m. The more, the better.

Power

With a 14-day battery life, you can go with no doubts on a more extended camping trip without any worries.

In any survival situation or a blackout, you’re not in trouble like others who have to charge their survival watch daily.

Design

With all these features, you probably think, “Wow, but the watch has to be rough and extremely bulky then.”

No.

The round case is 45mm broad and has a 1.3-inch display with an always-on mode.
It outstands other competitors with its beautiful design and easy readability, thanks to its super bright display.

Features

Just like we know Garmin, this watch comes with various fitness features.

Running, cycling, hiking, etc., are a fraction of all the different tracking modes. You have plenty of choices on how to keep your body fit.

Do you have a good sleep?
Monitoring your sleep with this watch is as easy as it can get. It evaluates your quality and quantity and identifies potential issues such as sleep deprivation or disorders.

In a survival situation, fatigue can be a significant risk factor impairing decision-making and physical performance.

Verdict

With all these points said. The Garmin Instinct is a great allrounder.

This digital watch has everything a good survival watch really should have.

You wouldn’t do anything wrong with this on your wrist!


Garmin Fenix 6x Pro
Premium Pick
  • Solar Charging
  • Long Battery Life (21 days smartwatch mode)
  • Multi GNSS (GPS, GLONASS, and Galileo)
  • Advanced activity tracking
  • Heart Rate Monitor
  • Music Storage and Playback
  • Expensive
  • Large and Heavy
  • Complex Interface

Our Premium Pick in this article is a perfect allrounder. It shines with all its features.

This smartwatch is a must-have for every outdoors person. Athletes are also in good hands with this on their wrists!

The choice between the Solar and Sapphire version took a lot of work.

The Pro version slightly won because of its solar charging option, which can be helpful when exposed to survival situations.

If your opinion is more on the side of the scratch-resistant sapphire glass, you’re totally fine too!

Sensors

  • ABC Altimeter, Barometer, Compass
  • Accelerometer Measures movement in three dimensions. (Up, down, sides)
  • Gyroscope Measures angular rotations.
  • Thermometer It’s always good to know the temperature. Also handy to choose an ideal place for storing food for the long term.

The combination Accelerometer and Gyroscope provides the most accurate measurement of motion and activity.
Tracking a wide range of activities; Running, cycling, swimming, and more.

Providing advanced performance metrics, Length, vertical oscillation, and swim stroke analysis.

Multi-GNSS

The Fenix 6x Pro also comes with a Multi-GNSS.

Once your GPS signal is lost, the watch tries to connect to another Global Navigation Satellite System (GLONASS and Galileo)
This makes you safe in almost every corner of the world.

Case & Durability

This watch feels incredible; its power slides inside your wrist and empowers your whole body.

Sounds exaggerated?

Maybe. No.

The 51mm wide titanium case has a 1.4-inch digital display that will inlight you. 
Once you have this watch on your wrist, you don’t want to get it off again. It feels bulky. However, it is such a helper that this can replace your phone.

Power

ModeNormalSolar
Smartwatch21 Days24 Days*
Battery Saver Watch Mode80 Days120 Days*
GPS60 Hours66 Hours**
GPS & Music15 Hours16 Hours**
Max Battery GPS Mode120 Hours148 Hours**
Expedition GPS Activity45 Days56 Days*

*Solar charging, assuming all-day wear with 3 hours per day outside in 50,000 lux conditions.
**Solar charging, assuming use in 50,000 lux conditions.[2]

Design

I can promise you, this watch is an eyecatcher.

Not only because it’s one of the more oversized watches I have seen, but because it’s plain and simple style.
Its beauty is adaptable with many different straps. You’ll find your favorite color! It’s also available in titanium.

Features

This high-end smartwatch has all the features you’ll ever need.

Its built-in Body Battery feature monitors your energy level. You can get an idea of which activities affect you the most and what you can improve daily.

Heart Rate Monitoring

This watch masterpiece measures your blood with special sensors on the watch’s underside.

It monitors your heart rate and gives feedback when you need a break. I love watching my stress level, and its measurement is surprisingly accurate.

Additionally, the Pulse OX sensor measures oxygen saturation in your blood. This can be useful for monitoring your fitness and overall health.

It tracks your recovery after a workout or during activities. 

This gives you excellent feedback about your body and helps you to understand your body much better.

Activity Features

It glances with the running feature.

The PacePro Feature provides customized pacing strategies through the terrain. For running and other activities.

It allows you to set a target time for a particular distance or activity. It provides you with real-time guidance.

Whether running, cycling, or swimming, the Advanced Performance Metrics always quickly measures and improves your progress!

Everyone can be an athlete with this watch.

You can download different music provider apps (Spotify etc.), connect your Bluetooth headphone, and leave your phone at home.

More, More, More

This was only a fraction of this watch’s features.

Here are some more:

  • Clock, Timer, Stopwatch
  • Daily resting heart rate
  • Abnormal heart rate alerts
  • Relaxation breathing timer
  • Sleep score and insights
  • Hydration
  • Smart Notifications
  • And Plenty More!

Verdict

Considering the functionality of this watch will make its bulkiness a no-brainer. 

This watch can make everyone happy.

I can’t tell you any better survival watch now than THIS one!

Every penny is worth this watch!


  • Affordable
  • Durable Design
  • Shock resistant
  • Water Resistant 200m
  • 2 Year Battery life
  • Multi-function features (stopwatch, countdown timer, alarm, etc.)
  • Accurate timekeeping (Quartz crystal oscillator)
  • Not many smartwatch features
  • Smally Display
  • No touch screen
  • Limited customization

Regarding the Price-Perfomance ratio, the Casio G-Shock (DW5600E-1V) is the clear winner.

Its rugged design is perfect for any outdoor activity you will ever do.

In my experience, this watch can outlive you! You only have to change the batteries from time to time.

Movement

A quartz crystal oscillator ensures accurate timekeeping with little to no maintenance.

Multi-GNSS

Unfortunately, our best budget pick doesn’t have any Navigation system.

In survival situations where you’ll have to leave your town, you must navigate with a traditional map and compass.

Case & Durability

The 49mm case will fit everyone. In my opinion, the watch face seems much smaller than it actually is and doesn’t look bulky like a giant oversized hat.

The most outstanding feature of this watch is its lightweight and comfortable wear. Imagine working outside and constantly bumping into something. Pretty annoying.

But not with this watch!

Out tests have shown the Casio G-Shock is as durable as the Nokia 3310.

The shock resistance of this survival watch can be written big. A 10-meter free fall is a usual test from the manufacturer. You don’t have to worry about destroying it in your daily life.

My personal experience with survival gear and watches taught me that working outside, scratch-resistant mineral glass can withstand everyday wear and tear.

The watch’s face will be clear and easy to read for an extended period of time. As said, this durable watch will probably outlive your grandchildren!

Its durability is further by the 200m water resistance. Making it the perfect survival watch for swimmers, snorkelers, and scuba divers.

But also for every outdoor enthusiast! This watch will make hikers, campers, and all outdoor workers happy.

This watch goes through everything you’ll go through and shows you the current time without trouble.

Power

The battery life is approximately two years. This means minimal maintenance.

But ensure to have a battery changing kit at home in case of a disaster!

Design

I have to say, the classic square design of our budget survival watch isn’t the most beautiful.

But its roughness offsets this shortcoming.

This digital survival watch looks sporty, simple, and functional. The design focuses on durability and functionality.

Features

Some things this survival watch is worth being on this list:

Backlight

In any situation, your helper on your wrist should always be readable.

Some watches don’t have a backlight, and that is, in my opinion, a no-go.

Survival watches HAVE TO be always readable.

And this watch got an excellent backlight. This makes it a great bonus when working without light, at night, or when you see yourself in a survival situation.

Stopwatch and Countdown Timer

The watch has a stopwatch and countdown timer function, which can be helpful for timing events or different sports activities.

World Time

29 different world times are great if you’re a traveler.

Verdict

The Casio G-Shock is straightforward and durable.

You won’t do anything wrong with getting this watch.

This watch is for everyone that needs a strict and cheap survival watch.

In my opinion, in a world apocalypse scenario, you don’t need a fancy-looking analog watch. This watch will do everything and gets a bonus point for the roughness.


Other Excellent Survival Watches

If you didn’t find a fitting and durable survival watch for your needs, you’d have an excellent chance to find one on this list.

ImageProductFeaturesPrice
Military Personnel, Law Enforcement Officers, Fire Responders
Garmin Instinct Tactical

Garmin Instinct Tactical

  • Rugged Design
  • Tactical Features
  • Sports and Fitness Features
  • Smartwatch Features
  • Battery Life (14 days in smartwatch mode)
Check Price On Amazon
Outdoor Activities
Timex Expedition Scout

Timex Expedition Scout

  • Classic Design
  • Water Resistant
  • Indiglo backlight
  • Durable Construction
  • Easy-to-Read Dial
Check Price On Amazon
Outdoor Adventurers
Casio Pro Trek

Casio Pro Trek

  • ABC Sensors
  • Tough Solar Technology
  • Water Resistant to 100m
  • Sunrise and Sunset Times
Check Price On Amazon
Athletes and Military Personnel
Garmin Tactix Delta Solar

Garmin Tactix Delta Solar

  • Solar-Powered
  • Rugged
  • Tactical Features (Stealth Mode, Night Vision, etc.)
  • Sports and Fitness Features
  • Smartwatch Features
Check Price On Amazon
Outdoor Enthusiasts
SUUNTO Core

SUUNTO Core

  • Accurate Sensors
  • Rugged Design
  • Weather Forecasting
  • Multiple Time Zones
  • Long Battery Life
Check Price On Amazon
Good for Harsh Environmental Conditions
Casio G-Shock Quartz

Casio G-Shock Quartz

  • Shock-Resistant
  • Mud-Resistant
  • Twin Sensor Technology
  • Water-Resistant
  • Stopwatch and Countdown Timer
Check Price On Amazon

The benefit of a Survival Watch

You won’t get a heart attack with a proper survival watch when you realize you crushed your watch on a wall because it’s meant to be unbreakable.

No need to worry your watch gets inaccurate when going for a swim. Most of the watches are water resistant for up to 200 Meters!

Even if you find yourself lost, most survival watches have Multi-GNSS Support. More to that further down.

It’s more than just a watch; it’s an everyday watch PLUS a lot more!

Keep reading and get inspired about all the benefits you’ll acquire with a great survival watch on.

Buying Guide

It can be overwhelming to decide which features your watch should have. Some of the watch features are even confusing!

Sensors

Decide which of the following features your watch needs for your preferences.

ABC

The ultimate sensors provided in almost every survival watch;

Altimeter Measures altitude or height above sea Level.
Barometer Measures Air pressure. Predicts changes in weather patterns, helps with planning and preparation
Compass Everyone knows what a compass is. But for people that live behind the moon: The needle always shows to the north. With that know-how, you can save yourself in known terrain.

Accelerometer

Some higher-end survival watches come with an accelerometer.

The accelerometer can track movement, such as steps taken or distance traveled. It is handy for tracking fitness or navigation purposes.

Besides tracking how far you traveled, it counts the speed you moved.

But overall, this feature is less necessary than other features. A GPS, typically more commonly found and valuable in survival situations, can replace an accelerometer.

Thermometer

A built-in thermometer can help you with planning clothing or shelter.

If the temperature drops too low and becomes too dangerous, I suggest you seek shelter!

Some water purification methods require the water to reach a specific temperature to be effective. That makes the thermometer a perfect feature.

In survival situations, food must be stored at specific temperatures to prevent spoilage. The thermometer in my watch can monitor the environment’s temperature to find the perfect location for storage.

Global Navigation Satellite System (GNSS)

This generic term describes any satellite system that offers global coverage.

Survival watches commonly have multiple locating systems. Often all three you’ll read about now;

GPS (Global Positioning System)

A satellite-based navigation system owned and operated by the United States.

Works at ANY part of the world.
It provides users with Positioning, Navigation, and Timing (PNT) services.

GPS in your hand provides accurate location and timing information. And helps you with navigation and mapping.

GLONASS (Global Navigation Satellite System)

It is a very high-accuracy Russian satellite system.
It provides an alternative to GPS and is the second navigational system with global coverage.

Galileo

The European satellite navigation system went live in 2016.

The Galileo system provides high accuracy in location and timing information, which is, such as GPS, beneficial for navigation, surveying, and mapping.
Galileo is also covered globally and accessible to the whole world. (Just like juicy as spaghetti)

Compared to GPS and GLONASS, Galileo’s higher frequency is the most accurate in determining altitude and position!

Unfortunately, Galileo has limited availability of receivers. Compared to GPS, Galileo receivers are less widely available. It is limiting its practical use in some areas.

Emergency Signals

Some survival watches have different emergency signaling tools integrated.

  • Distress Signals: Sending an SOS (three short, three long, three short) morse code.
  • GPS Location Signals: In survival situations, it transmits the user’s location to rescuers.
  • Emergency Beacons: Personal Locator Beacons (PLBs) or Emergency Position Indicating Radio Beacons (EPIRBs) can be activated to transmit distress signals to search and rescue teams authorities.
  • Flashing Lights: Strobe lights, which can be used to attract attention and signal for rescue
  • Audible Alarms: Whistles or sirens used to attract attention and signal for rescue

Movement

All watches, including survival watches, have a movement.

The movement is the internal mechanism that indicates the time.

You’ll want one of the most accurate movements when purchasing a reliable survival watch.

Quartz Movement

Winner for the most accuracy, durability, and low maintenance;

Quartz watches can run for several years on a single battery. Making it the ideal choice for a survival watch.

Mechanical

It’s a complex system of gears, springs, and levers requiring no Battery with Mechanical movement.

This is great as you do not have to rely on a battery that can die.

It’s well known that mechanical movement could be more accurate and requires regular winding and maintenance.

Without the right know-how, you’re better off with a different movement in survival situations!

Digital

Thanks to all the benefits of great survival watches, most digital watches run with digital movement. 

Digital watches use a quartz crystal that vibrates when electricity is applied to keep accurate time.

That makes it generally more accurate than mechanical watches and requires minimal maintenance.

Power Source

Running low on the battery means trouble. Not being able to recharge or change the battery could mean death.

It sounds like an exaggerated point of view, but imagine running in a survival situation, far away from home. You can’t use the Garmin Instinct TracBack feature, which leads your route back to your starting point.

Battery

Most Survival Watches are powered with batteries.
It’s no shame to use that kind of power.

But remember to have an extra battery lying around, as most batteries will die within 5 to 10 years.

Also, consider the right tools to change the battery in your watch.
This is one thing to consider when you’re a prepper. For more information, read our Prepping List.

Solar Power

Getting a watch with an integrated solar panel to recharge your watch via UV Light is becoming increasingly popular.

Which is super GREAT.

Durability

Imagine you’re considering buying a smartwatch, and your watch lets you down within the first trip into the wood. UNACCEPTABLE!

It should be crystal clear that a survival watch should be as rugged as possible.

The watches you’re just seen on top are all great choices, but some key points should be kept in mind;

Scratches

Speaking about crystal clear, sapphire glass is the thought glass around. It makes it valuable, shiny, unscratchable, and as close to unbreakable as possible. (Something a survival watch MUST have!)

Another commonly used glass for a survival watch is acrylic. This makes the watch SUPER lightweight and shatter-resistant.

However, acrylic is not as scratch resistant as other materials and can crack when exposed to extreme temperatures.

That, unfortunately, means you can’t throw your watch in a Vulcan. (For whoever plans to do that)

Mineral glass is a type of tempered glass that is more scratch resistant than acrylic. It’s less lightweight than acrylic, but it can withstand more extreme temperatures and can still shatter under heavy impact.

Water Resistance

You can feel safe with a 10 ATM or 100m water resistance depth. Worrying about going into a lake or swimming through a river is superfluous.

You can benefit from water resistance if you’re a diver or swimmer. No need to worry about destroying the watch!

Shock Resistance

I don’t want to live in a world where your watch dies to a simple vibration.

That’s why almost all survival watches are “ISO 1413” tested.

This means, in simple words, your watch can handle rough handling, impacts, and vibrations. They can withstand normal wear and tear so that you can focus on survival.

Case

The materials used for your survival watch are essential.

You can buy a cheap plastic watch, but don’t tell me I did not warn you.

You prefer a watch of stainless steel, titanium, or high-grade plastic.

The perfect case is robust and sturdy to ensure withstanding impacts and shocks.

Straps

Durable materials such as nylon or rubber are resistant to wear and tear.

Adjustable to ensure a comfortable fit for the wearer.

FAQ

Outro

Now is your turn. Ultimately, it would help if you decided which survival watch fits your wrist best in terms of features and specifications.

Navigation, Weather Monitoring, Emergency Alerts, Timekeeping, and Durability. These are all key features your watch can have.

If you need clarification, my Best Pick is the Garmin Instinct. It’s our winner and will help you with everything you can imagine—an all-rounder.

The only downside is its battery life—fourteen days in smartwatch mode and up to 40 hours in GPS mode. 

However, if you need a digital watch with a longer battery life, our suggestion is our Premium Pick Garmin Fenix 6x Pro. With its Solar charging feature, it lasts for up to 24 days in Smartwatch mode.
If you’re more into the scratch-resistance glass, the Sapphire version fits you!
The Garmin Fenix 6x Pro has an extensive range of features and functionalities. The only downside with this watch is its price.

Our Budget Pick, the Casio G-Shock, shines with the price.
It still has a ton of essential features every survival watch wearer needs.
The shock resistance makes this watch unbelievably rough. And I love the 200m water resistance of this watch!

With that being said.
I hope you enjoy reading this article, and I would love to hear your thoughts!

Photo of author
Author
Mike Roth, with a foundation in electrical engineering, is a trailblazer in home safety, specializing in blackout solutions for homes and businesses. His expertise, while not just limited to conventional accolades, is deeply rooted in hands-on experiences, academic knowledge, and an insatiable curiosity. His writings, a harmonious blend of research and intuition, resonate with a diverse audience, offering both insight and inspiration.

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