15 Best Outdoor Watches in 2023 | Ultimate Guide

Last Updated on 27/08/2023

Best Outdoor Watches

Best Watches For Outdoor Use

When it comes to finding the best outdoor watches, there are plenty to choose from. In this guide, we share 15 of the very best watches for hiking, diving, outdoor work, and much more. You will learn the different types of movement and some of the amazing features you can get today. We selected watches from budget price ranges all the way up to the ultimate luxury outdoor watches.

Because there are so many different watches out there, it is a good idea to know exactly what you plan on using your rugged wristwatch for and what features you might use.

Do you want a solar watch that will run forever or would you rather have a GPS watch with lots of smart features but needs charging up all the time? Maybe you are just looking for an everyday watch that you will never have to take off whether you are working outdoors or at a business meeting. This list of the best outdoor watches is sure to have a timepiece for everyone.

Top 15 Best Outdoor Watches

Casio G-Shock GWM5610-1 Solar Sport Watch

Casio Men's G-SHOCK Quartz Watch with Resin Strap, Black, 20 (Model: GWM5610-1)

  • Weight: 52 g
  • Dimensions: (W x D) 43 x 12.5 mm
  • Materials: Black Plastic Resin
  • Features: Multi-Band Synchronization, World Clock, 4 x Daily Alarms with 1 x Snooze, Stopwatch, Countdown Timer, Automatic/Manual Backlight
  • Battery: Tough Solar Powered
  • Waterproof: 20 BAR / 200 M

The Casio G-Shock GWM5610-1 Solar Sports Watch is, in our opinion, the best outdoor watch for everyday use. It is tough, solar-powered, and very affordable which means that even if you do manage to break it (very unlikely) you won’t lose any sleep. Compared to other G-Shock watches, the GWM5610-1 is surprisingly slim and low profile which is better for outdoor work as it avoids catching on clothing, etc.

This is one of the most accurate outdoor watches you can buy as it features multi-band 6 synchronization which updates the time every day. Comfortable, shockproof, solar-powered, affordable, and even though it doesn’t have as many features as others, it has everything you need in a rugged outdoor watch. Read the full review here…

Outdoor gear buy



Rolex Oyster Perpetual Explorer II

  • Weight: 150 g
  • Dimensions: 42 x 12 mm
  • Materials: 904L stainless steel
  • Features: Date Display, luminescent hands, and markers
  • Battery: Perpetual, mechanical, self-winding
  • Waterproof: 10 BAR / 100 M

The Rolex OYSTER PERPETUAL EXPLORER II is, as you might expect, a high-end luxury outdoor watch that costs more than your average Casio. The brand carries a lot of recognition for its build quality and an exceptional sense of style, but because they are so well put together they are also notoriously hard-wearing and will last long enough to pass down to your grandkids.

First brought to market in 1971 for a niche market of cave explorers, the Explorer series remains very popular in both sports and adventure. The price of this watch puts it out of the budget for most people but it is one of the best out there. For something you will wear everyday for the rest of your life I don’t mind the price tag so much.

Outdoor gear buy


Victorinox 241526 Infantry Stainless Steel Automatic Watch

Victorinox Swiss Army Men's I.N.O.X. Swiss-Quartz Watch with Stainless-Steel Strap, Silver, 22 (Model: 241782)

  • Dimensions: 44 x 15 mm
  • Materials: Stainless Steel and Genuine Leather
  • FeaturesSwiss automatic movement with analog display, date window, chronograph subdials, telemeter scale
  • Battery: Automatic ETA Valjoux 7750 self-winding caliber with 25 jewels
  • Waterproof: 10 BAR / 100 M

The Victorinox Infantry Vintage Mechanical Chronograph Watch features classic Swiss automatic movement and precision. The chronograph uses the large second hand as well as the subdials at 12 and 6 o’clock to record accurate times up to a maximum of 12 minutes.

You know you are getting quality when you buy Swiss-made but the way this watch looks is why so many buy it. The attention to detail is stunning and the outer casing is tougher than nails. If you want a Swiss mechanical chronograph watch but don’t want to pay Rolex prices then this infantry style watch would be a good fit.

Outdoor gear buy


Casio G-Shock GG-1000-1A3 MUDMASTER Watch

Casio Men's GG-1000-1A3CR Mudmaster G-SHOCK Quartz Casual Watch, Green

  • Weight: 92 g
  • Dimensions: 48 x 15 mm
  • Materials: Stainless Steel and Plastic resin
  • Features: Digital Compass, Thermometer, World Clock, 4 x Daily Alarms with 1 x Snooze, Stopwatch, Countdown Timer, Automatic/Manual Backlight
  • Battery: SR927W x 2
  • Waterproof: 20 BAR / 200 M

The Casio G-Shock GG-1000-1A3 MUDMASTER Watch is possibly the most mud resistant outdoor watch on sale today. It uses a cylinder-type guard structure on the buttons with gaskets and shafts to prevent any particles from getting into the watch. With both analog and digital displays, this watch makes timekeeping easy. If you are the kind of person who often gets their hands dirty either at work or while outdoors then this is the watch for you.

Outdoor gear buy


Alpina Startimer Pilot AL372B4FBS6 Chronograph Watch

Fossil Men's Gen 6 44mm Stainless Steel and Leather Touchscreen Smart Watch, Color: Black, Brown (Model: FTW4062V)

  • Weight: 198 g
  • Dimensions: 42 x 13 mm
  • Materials: Stainless Steel, Nylon Band
  • Features: Chronograph, Analog Display, Date Window
  • Battery: Swiss Quartz
  • Waterproof: 10 BAR / 100 M

The Alpina Startimer Pilot AL372B4FBS6 Chronograph Watch is another slim and stylish watch that you can wear around town, in a fighter jet, or for hiking. Alpina has a century-long history of building watches for pilots in continental airforces with a large date display as per military aviation specifications. It keeps time very well and is very simple to use which is what pushed it onto this page of the best outdoor watches.

Outdoor gear buy


Omega Speedmaster Mark II

Omega Speedmaster Racing Automatic Chronograph Black Dial Stainless Steel Mens Watch 326.

  • Dimensions: 42 x 14 mm
  • Materials: Stainless Steel, Flat scratch-resistant sapphire crystal with anti-reflective treatment
  • Features: Chronograph, Chronograph, Tachymeter Feature, Date display
  • Battery: Self Winding Automatic
  • Waterproof: 10 BAR / 100 M

The Omega Speedmaster Mark II is another high-end rugged outdoor watch that is made from only the best materials and constructed by the most trusted watchmakers. The Mark II was updated in 2014 from the original 1969 model which was equipped with a hand-wound caliber 861.

The updated self-winding movement and minor improvements to the style mean that this watch has been brought into the 21st century without losing any of the classic features which make it so desirable. The hours, markers, and transparent tachymeter scale on the sapphire crystal is illuminated from beneath by an aluminum ring filled with Super-LumiNova which allows you to see the time at night.

Outdoor gear buy


Casio G-Shock G9300-1 MUDMAN Watch

CASIO Men's G9300-1 Mudman G-Shock Shock Resistant Multi-Function Sport Watch

  • Weight: 68.5 g
  • Dimensions: 50.5 x 18 mm
  • Materials: Black Plastic Resin
  • Features: Digital Compass, Thermometer, Moon Data, World Clock, 4 x Daily Alarms with 1 x Snooze, Stopwatch, Countdown Timer, Automatic/Manual Backlight
  • Battery: Tough Solar Powered
  • Waterproof: 20 BAR / 200 M

The Casio G-Shock G9300-1 MUDMAN Watch features thermal and directional sensors which help you keep your bearing and keep track of the temperature. With the press of a button, you can access the compass, thermometer, and moon phase graph as well as cycle through the other features easily.

Powered by solar that will also charge with artificial light, the watch will keep going for 8 months on a full charge without further exposure to light. Mudproof to the highest degree, this is one of the best outdoor watches for big adventures.

Outdoor gear buy


Hamilton H64455533 Khaki King Series Automatic Watch

Hamilton Men's H64455533 Khaki King Series Stainless Steel Automatic Watch with Brown Leather Band

  • Dimensions: 40 x 11 mm
  • Materials: Stainless Steel, Leather
  • Features: Day and Date Display, luminescent hands and markers
  • Battery: Automatic self-wind
  • Waterproof: 5 BAR / 50 M

The Hamilton H64455533 Khaki King Series Automatic Watch is well known to the aviation world as well as the military. The accurate timekeeping and smart looks make this a great everyday watch while the comfort and ruggedness will ensure you can keep wearing it for years to come. Featuring luminescent hands and markers, date and day display, and automatic movement, the Khaki Field King Auto watch is minimal, elegant, and tough.

Outdoor gear buy


Casio G-Shock GW-9400 RANGEMAN Master of G Series Watch

CASIO Men's GW-9400-1CR Master of G Stainless Steel Solar Watch

  • Weight: 93 g
  • Dimensions: 54 x 18 mm
  • Materials: Plastic Resin
  • Features: Altimeter, Barometer, Compass, Thermometer, Multi-Band Atomic Timekeeping, Sunrise/Sunset Calendar, World Clock, 4 x Daily Alarms with 1 x Snooze, Stopwatch, Countdown Timer, Automatic/Manual Backlight
  • Battery: Tough Solar Powered
  • Waterproof: 20 BAR / 200 M

The G-Shock GW-9400-3CR RANGEMAN Watch is the triple sensor beast from Casio which combines all the features of the smaller G-Shock’s plus an Altimeter and Barometer.

Shock and mudproof to the highest order and built for the serious outdoor enthusiasts and mountaineers out there. If you want a tough wristwatch that can do it all then this is definitely worth a look. One downside to having all this technology is that it is heavier than other options and at 54 mm wide, it is quite large for skinny wrists.

Outdoor gear buy


Seiko Men’s 5 Automatic Watch SNZG13K1

Seiko 5 AutomaticBlack Dial Stainless Steel Mens Watch SNZG13K1

  • Weight: 163 g
  • Dimensions: 42 x 12 mm
  • Materials: Stainless Steel
  • Features: Day and Date Display, luminescent hands and markers
  • Battery: Seiko automatic movement
  • Waterproof: 10 BAR / 100 M

The Seiko Men’s 5 Automatic Watch SNZG13K1 is a simple but effective outdoor watch that looks very good but doesn’t cost very much. Designed to be worn every day, the stated battery life is around 45 hours which means if you don’t wear it, it will stop running until you do wear it again. For outdoor people, moving around is not a problem as it is what we do, but if you forget to put it on for a day or two then it can be a pain to reset the time every time. A rugged outdoor watch with style and in our opinion, excellent value for money.

Outdoor gear buy


Garmin Fenix Chronos Titanium Hybrid 010-01957-01

Garmin Fenix Chronos, Titanium with Brushed Titanium Hybrid Watch Band

  • Weight: 112 g
  • Dimensions: 49 x 15 mm
  • Materials: Titanium
  • Features: GPS/GLONASS Altimeter, Barometer, 3D Compass, Thermometer, Accelerometer, Garmin Elevate™ wrist heart rate monitor
  • Battery: Rechargeable lithium-ion (up to 25 hours in UltraTrac mode, 13 hours in GPS training mode, 1 weeks in watch mode)
  • Waterproof: 10 BAR / 100 M

The Garmin Fenix Chronos Titanium Hybrid Watch is very good looking and has a traditional quality about it than most other GPS watches can’t seem to achieve. Available in steel with a leather band, steel with steel band, and of course the grade 2 titanium with titanium band as seen above.

This rugged outdoor watch, although stylish, is designed for all kinds of outdoor activities with specific features for things like swimming, cycling, golfing, hiking, running, and a whole host of other fitness tracking features. This really is a smartwatch I could wear outdoors every day of the week as well as at formal occasions.

Outdoor gear buy


Casio G-Shock AWGM100B-1ACR Solar Sport Watch

CASIO Men's AWGM100B-1ACR "G-Shock" Solar Watch

  • Weight: 54 g
  • Dimensions: 46 x 15 mm
  • Materials: Black IP Stainless Steel & Resin Composite Band
  • Features: Multi-Band Synchronization, World Clock, 4 x Daily Alarms with 1 x Snooze, Stopwatch, Countdown Timer, Automatic/Manual Backlight
  • Battery: Tough Solar Powered
  • Waterproof: 20 BAR / 200 M

The Casio G-Shock AWGM100B-1ACR Solar Watch is both analog and digital with the same features as the GWM5610-1 above. The benefits of having an hour and minute hand are being able to glance at your watch and quickly know the time as well as being luminescent at night.

Rugged and hard-wearing, this watch is designed to be worn outdoors and has all the basic features you need from an everyday tough wristwatch. The main reason to get this watch over the slightly cheaper GWM5610-1 is simply the looks. It is very sleek and stylish in design without being flashy and feels as good as it looks.

Outdoor gear buy



SUUNTO Traverse Alpha Stealth - GPS Outdoor Watch

  • Weight: 80 g
  • Dimensions: 50 x 15 mm
  • Materials: Stainless steel, Composite, Silicone, Sapphire crystal
  • Features: GPS/GLONASS navigation, Altimeter, Barometer, Compass, Thermometer, Sunrise/sunset, Moon phases, Automatic shot detection, Breadcrumb and POI types
  • Battery: Rechargeable lithium-ion (14 days per charge in time mode)
  • Waterproof: 10 BAR / 100 M

The SUUNTO TRAVERSE ALPHA Watch is designed for the outdoors but more specifically, hunting and fishing. It has a moon phase calendar, shot detection, sunrise alert, weather trend, and red backlight for nighttime use as well as many other features to increase your chances of fishing/hunting success.

The GPS navigation and Suunto Movescount features allow you to plan routes and record points of interest for future trips. The automatic shot detection will record where, when, and the conditions at the time of firing as well as leave a breadcrumb trail to look at when you get home. Unlike most other ‘smartwatches’, this outdoor watch isn’t big or heavy and it is extremely tough for outdoor people.

Outdoor gear buy


Tissot T Touch Expert Solar Watch

Tissot T-Touch Expert Solar II Swiss Edition Men's Analog-Digital Watch T110.420.46.051.00

  • Weight: 123 g
  • Dimensions: 45 x 13 mm
  • Materials: Titanium
  • Features: Touch Screen, Altimeter, Weather Predictions, Compass, Countdown Timer, 2 Alarms, Backlight, Second Time Zone, Perpetual Calendar
  • Battery: Solar Powered LMR2016
  • Waterproof: 10 BAR / 100 M

The Tissot T Touch Expert Solar Watch is the first and only solar-powered touchscreen watch and is certainly not a gimmick. This expertly crafted wristwatch has some of the most impressive hand movements of all the analog watches on this list. As you press each of the touchscreen buttons, the hands instantly move into position very satisfyingly.

For a fully metal outdoor watch, it feels very light but because it is made from titanium, it is also crazy tough as well. A super functional and good-looking watch with pioneering features and well thought out design.

Outdoor gear buy


Citizen Eco-Drive Skyhawk A-T Titanium Watch

Citizen Men's Promaster Skyhawk A-T Eco-Drive Aviator Watch with Titanium Strap, Silver, 20 (Model: JY8108-53E)

  • Dimensions: 48 x 16 mm
  • Materials: Titanium, Black ion plated stainless steel
  • Features: Analog and digital, Synchronized to Atomic Clock for Superior Accuracy, World Time, Chronograph, Calendar, 2 x alarms, Countdown timer, Power reserve indicator
  • Battery: Eco-Drive technology
  • Waterproof: 20 BAR / 200 M

The Citizen JY0010-50E Eco-Drive Skyhawk A-T Titanium Watch is an awesome solar-powered chronograph watch that is both eye-catching and functional. The radio-controlled synchronization means that this watch is so accurate that it can be used to set the time of all your other watches. If you are looking for a chronograph watch you can wear outdoors that is both analog and digital then this and similar Citizen watches are worth a look.

Outdoor gear buy


Garmin fenix 6, Premium Multisport GPS Watch, Heat and Altitude Adjusted V02 Max, Pulse Ox Sensors and Training Load Focus, Silver with Black Band

What Makes a Watch Good for Outdoors?

There are lots of features to look for in the best outdoor watches, which you can read more about in our guide here, but what kind of features are most important? Well, accuracy and precision are obviously very important with any watch but it is the features that favor rugged outdoor use that interest us. Here is a brief list of some of the rugged outdoor watch features you should be considering.


Solar watches are great because they are powered by the sun and the batteries never need to be replaced. The same goes for automatic or kinetic watches which are powered by the user’s movements although they may need to be serviced every couple of years for good measure. Then you have the rechargeable watches which mainly refers to smartwatches, fitness trackers, and GPS watches which require lots of power to support all the features and apps. And finally, you have replaceable batteries which are cheap but annoying when they run out of power without warning.


This not only refers to its ability to take a knock but also its waterproofing and how well it wears. G-Shock are well known to be shock-resistant but many other brands have also spent a lot of time making their watches shockproof (they just don’t put it in big letters on the bezel). Make sure your watch is waterproof to at least 50 meters or more and has a sensible face that won’t be easily scratched. Diving watches should be protected to a greater depth while aviation watches have been tested to handle high altitudes.


Serious adventure watches and professional outdoor watches will often have measurement reading devices like a barometer, altimeter, thermometer, and compass. If you will use this data often or are simply interested in the stats then these can be huge selling points. On the downside, they are often big and chunky, with a large price tag too. For any kind of serious outdoor person, these features are great, but for everyday use at work, they may be a little bit of overkill.


If you like big watches then the size will not be an issue but if you have small wrists or don’t want a big wristwatch then understanding the size is very important. If you have any watch to hand, find out the dimensions of that model and use it as a reference point when shopping for the best outdoor watches online. Getting an appropriately sized watch will give you a much better fit and a more enjoyable experience, see our guide to outdoor watches for more info.

Guide to Outdoor Watches

Guide to the Best Outdoor Watches

If you are looking for a guide for buying the best outdoor watch then you are in the right place. We have seen some amazing timepieces over the years and have to come to realize exactly what separates the best outdoor watches from the cheap replicas. From high-tech GPS devices that you wear on your wrist to extreme survival watches that keep working in fire and ice, there is something for everybody here.

What Makes a Good Outdoor Watch?

There are a few key features that almost everyone looking for an outdoor watch will desire. Things like durability, waterproofing, and reliability are at the top of the list but there is also a plethora of other features available for almost every situation. At the end of the day though, accurate time-telling and reliable data is of the most importance. But before you start looking for specific design features you need to decide what kind of outdoor watch you want.

What Are the Different Kinds of Outdoor Watch Displays?

There are two main types of watch displays to choose from as well as hybrids that combine both digital and analog. Each display type has its own benefits but most people tend to have a strong preference when it comes to the display. There is no right or wrong here but let’s take a closer look at each of them.

Casio Men's G-Shock Quartz Watch with Resin Strap, Black, 20 (Model: DW5600E-1V)


Digital watches display the time as digits on a screen and have the potential to do a lot more. Not limited to physical components, a digital watch can display any number of different statistics or data. This can be as simple as showing the date / using a stopwatch or as complex as showing a GPS map on screen with altitude and weather conditions. The possibilities are endless when it comes to digital displays and more and more specialist outdoor watches are now able to sync with your mobile phone. Having an alarm on your watch is also a massive benefit that most analog watches don’t have

Casio G-Shock Quartz Watch with Resin Strap, Black (Model: G-100-1BVMCI)


Analog Watches display the time with an hour/minute hand and a second hand that rotates at different speeds and points to the current hour, minute, and second. While you don’t get all the gadgets and gizmos that a digital watch can offer, analog watches are still highly engineered pieces of precision movement. These precise mechanisms are made up of cogs and as the saying goes, “run like clockwork”.

High-quality analog watches typically offer the best reliability and can still include many cool features to be beneficial for outdoor use. For instance, you can use the direction of the sun and the hands-on your watch to create a makeshift compass. There are some very nice solar and kinetic outdoor watches available that we hope to cover in more detail very soon.

What Kind of Watch Battery Is Best for Outdoor Use?

Outdoor watches with good battery life are obviously more appealing because, well, getting new batteries put in is a hassle and can reduce the water resistance if not done correctly. On this point – you should always take your watch to an expert and avoid opening up the mechanisms yourself. That being said, there is no best outdoor watch battery per se, but let’s have a look at some of the different options so you can make an informed decision.

Replaceable Battery

Most lower-end and many high-end watches are still powered by replaceable watch batteries or ‘button cells’ which need to be changed every couple of years depending on the watch. They are inexpensive to buy but if your watch features any kind of waterproof seal – you should take it to an expert to get the battery changed.

Garmin Instinct Solar, Rugged Outdoor Smartwatch with Solar Charging Capabilities, Built-in Sports Apps and Health Monitoring, Graphite


Solar watches are certainly our personal favorite usually being partially or fully powered by light energy emitted by the sun. The energy is transmitted into electricity through a solar panel which usually sits behind the lens on analog watches or above/around the display on a digital watch. Many solar watches also charge an internal battery that stores enough energy to power the watch for many months without light. So it isn’t like you have to make sure you hold your watch in the sun every day, it just happens. Check out our review of this Casio Solar Watch.

Seiko Men's SNKD99 5 Stainless Steel Blue Dial Watch

Kinetic or Automatic

Kinetic or automatic watches use the movements of the wearer to swing mechanisms within that then wind the mainspring. The motion of the watch is translated into circular motion of the weight which is on a pivot. Through a series of reverser and reducing gears, the cogs eventually wind the mainspring. Automatic watches can also normally be wound manually using the crown and a fully wound mainspring would power a watch for roughly two days without motion.

Fitbit Charge 5 Advanced Fitness & Health Tracker with Built-in GPS, Stress Management Tools, Sleep Tracking, 24/7 Heart Rate and More, Black/Graphite, One Size (S &L Bands Included)


GPS and fitness watches typically rely on rechargeable batteries because they require larger quantities of power than can be sustainably be provided by other means. While charging up your watch every week isn’t ideal, you can always use a power bank to recharge on the go.

Guide to the Best Outdoor Watches

Key Features of Outdoor Watches

Outdoor watches typically go far beyond your standard Casio. They feature specific designs and technology to provide robust and accurate timekeeping as well as instruments to measure altitude, heart rate, or a compass. These features are what set outdoor watches apart from any kind of fashion statement or basic timepiece and are the staples of this guide to the best outdoor watches.

Battery Life

As discussed above there are four main types of watch battery types and they all work perfectly well in their own right. The battery life on an outdoor watch that uses disposable batteries can be anywhere from 1 – 12+ years depending on the quality. Solar watches can hypothetically run as long as the sun is around and kinetic watches can easily outlast you and your grandkids if looked after properly.

Rechargeable batteries do not typically last very long and need plugging in every couple of days to every couple of weeks depending on how often you use them. For example, the Suunto Core battery will last for 12 months in time mode.


Durability is a big one for most active outdoor people who are more prone to bashing it on a rock or putting the shockproofing through its paces. The reason durability is so important is that, without it, the precision movements and accuracy can easily be jeopardized. Once the accuracy is lost the watch is pretty much useless so getting a durable wristwatch is key to its longevity.


Waterproofing is vitally crucial for any outdoor watch because it is absolutely inevitable that one day or another you are going to get it wet. Whether that is in a torrential downpour or washing your hands, most watches can withstand a splash, but can they keep ticking after sustained underwater use? Diving watches can often go beyond 200 meters but for most people, 50 meters is more than sufficient for swimming, snorkeling, and any other kind of water sport.


I don’t know many people who enjoy wearing oversized watches but it seems a lot of the cheaper GPS watches are overly massive, no matter whose wrist they are on. I certainly prefer a smaller watch face that is light on my wrist and doesn’t get caught on clothing or stop me from putting my hand in my pocket. Most manufacturers make it very clear how big the watch face is before you buy it and especially so if you are looking for outdoor watch sales online. Compare the measurements and get something that is proportionate to the size of your wrist.


Pretty much all outdoor analog watches will be circular due to the movement of the hands but digital watches are quite popular in more of a rectangular shape. GPS watches often need larger screens and so rectangular shapes make sense for these mini-computers. Just like with the sizing, you need to imagine the watch on your wrist before you buy it and consider how the shape looks on your wrist. I prefer a classic style analog watch on most days but can definitely appreciate the slim rectangular shape of certain digital watches.


Because most outdoor watches are so small and are rarely taken off your wrist, the weight really is not an issue. Obviously, metal watches are going to weigh more than plastic watches but who really cares? The only time it might make even the slightest bit of difference is when ultra-lightweight packers get involved with GPS watches.


Straps are another large point of discussion around outdoor watches and again it comes down to personal preference. None are perfect and there is no right and wrong choice. Leather and plastic straps offer some flexibility and possibly the most comfort but a metal strap does look great on a nice watch. Obviously, the choice of watch strap is less important than the watch itself but if you are wearing it every day then you should strive to find a comfortable one.


The precision of the movement and timekeeping accuracy is what sets the best outdoor watches apart from your average timepiece. You really get what you pay for here and there is a strong case for digital watches if the high-end rotary action watches are out of your price range. With so many intricate cogs and wheels working together it takes a master to put them together properly.


The fit has a lot to do with the shape of the watch as well as the strap. That being said, if you choose the size of your watch wisely then the strap can always be adjusted or a link removed if you choose a metal outdoor watch. Never underestimate the way a watch feels on your wrist and if the fit isn’t right when you get your watch, it probably never will be. Try on a few watches at your local jewelers to get a feel for what works for you.


How easy is it to change the date and time, or check the altitude on a hiking watch? Some watches are easier to use than others but truth be told, it doesn’t take long to figure out how to use them. Obviously, the more features you have, the more complex the controls become. Limited by space and with the aim of being as simple as possible, most outdoor watches don’t have any more than 4 or 5 buttons max.


Having GPS capabilities built into a wristwatch would have been mind-blowing 20 years ago and yet today it is commonplace to use digital maps in everyday life. And while most GPS watches are still too big to be worn as a regular wristwatch, technology is getting smaller all the time. I would not be surprised to see GPS watches any bigger than your bog-standard Casio in the near future.


This little feature comes on very high-end activity watches and tracks the altitude often within a couple of meters. I feel like this is a very specialist tool that only a handful of climbers or mountaineers would actually use. But it is cool none the less and if you have one, you darn well make sure that you use it wherever you can.


This is a very useful feature to have on an outdoor watch because a barometer measures air pressure and can predict tendencies in the weather to a certain degree. Weather can have a big impact on outdoor activities and so it always pays to be one step ahead. This is definitely a feature made for outdoor people and hopefully, we see it on some more watches in the future.


Compasses are a good asset to have on your watch. If you are into mountaineering, hiking, or biking then you don’t always need to rely on a pocket compass which isn’t always at hand. As previously mentioned, you can use any analog watch to determine north from south by lining up the sun between the two hands and following these tips.


I have never found thermometers on watches to be all that useful because wearing it around your wrist gives you a false reading unless you take them off for 30 minutes or more to let them reach ambient temperature. Nevertheless, some people like to know these things and if it is built into your watch, it means you don’t have to carry a separate thermometer.

Bluetooth and Wi-fi

This mainly applies to smartwatches but the feature itself allows you to connect your watch to other devices. Smartwatches are often used in conjunction with a smartphone and have a range of around 100 meters. This kind of watch will no doubt be part of the next generation of outdoor watches that are essentially wearable microcomputers.

Radio Band

Multi-Band 6 is the world’s first radio-controlled system built to receive time calibration signals from six transmission stations around the world. Outdoor watches with radio receivers will automatically synchronize to the correct time at least once a day via the closest transmitters. This daily update makes sure that you can keep the time very accurately.


Thanks for reading this guide to the Best Outdoor Watches and stay tuned for our top recommendations.

Gear Assistant
Gear Assistant

This article has been written and/or edited by Andrew N. 20+ years of hiking, mountaineering, and camping experience, with access to all the latest outdoor gear.

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