12 Best Survival Watches of 2024

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Going out into the wild is a refreshing activity, especially in the 21st century when digital screens have nailed the population indoors to their cozy sofas.

Will it be a simple Sunday trek in the mountains, a week-long survival course in a deep forest, or a hunting trip to undiscovered fields – any activity involving even the tiniest bit of staying alive aids us in our day-to-day battles. 

But, of course, you first need to have some basic skills. Also, let’s not forget activity-specific gear that is of equal importance. 

Besides the clothing, footwear, knives, and other equipment typically associated with such activities, there are also survival watches that are often overlooked by many.

best survival watches

This post is precisely about such types of watches that withstand rugged conditions, offer top-notch functions and aid in extreme conditions. By the end of this article, you’ll be sure to find yourself the most suitable timepiece out of the best survival watches we’ve brought you. 

But before heading to the list, we need to first clarify the prerequisites of a good survival watch.

What Makes a Good Survival Watch?

A spot-on survival watch is something you can rely on, no matter the weather, scenery, or activity. 

It must be resilient to drops, knocks, scratches, dents, humidity, mud, and water. 

Thus, components of a complete survival watch include:

  • durable case, crystal, and band
  • accurate timekeeping
  • decent water resistance
  • luminosity 

A superb addition to a survival watch is GPS/compass. However, it is not a must but a highly convenient extra.

Top Survival Watches

Our list consists of timepieces that come with the components mentioned above. Although some don’t have a GPS or compass function, they’re equally durable and helpful outdoors and are much more accessible for people limited on budget.

Without further ado, here are the best timepieces for survival. 

Suunto Traverse Alpha

Water Resistance: 100m (330ft)
Crystal: Sapphire
Navigation: GPS
Altimeter/Barometer: Yes

Army green Suunto watch for hunting

For decades, the Finnish brand Suunto has been the go-to manufacturer of sports and outdoor watches. So it should come as no surprise that Suunto offers some of the top survival watches currently available. 

Among the various rugged and feature-rich timepieces provided by the brand, the Suunto Traverse Alpha is probably the best for every survivalist out there.

The feature receiving the highest praise is undoubtedly the GPS and Glonass system, providing the wearer with the most accurate positioning available. The technology also generates a breadcrumb trail, which becomes especially handy in unfamiliar terrains.

The Suunto Traverse Alpha is also one of the best watches for hunters due to the hunting-specific shot recognition technology. Combined with the possibility to mark down points of interest, a hunter can take the maximum out of the activity. And not only can you set a point, but you can also name it with a relevant keyword, such as “shot” or “trail.”

In addition to the world-class technologies, this Suunto offers a remarkable build quality. Equipped with a scratch-resistant sapphire crystal and featuring a 100m (330ft) water resistance, the watch withstands various rigid conditions, whether on the land or in the water.

A survival watch with knurled bezel

The looks are very outdoorsy, too – a knurled bezel is combined with an army-green nylon strap, making it a very rugged-looking watch. Though the strap has quite a peculiar problem – it has a specific smell. Fortunately, it can be eliminated with soap and water.

When it comes to battery life, the watch has decent specifications – 100h in GPS mode and up to 14 days without GPS.  

All things considered, the Suunto Traverse Alpha is a great value-for-money proposition, filled with top-notch technologies and coming almost bulletproof.

Why we chose it: The Traverse Alpha offers a highly rugged build and activity-specific features.

Garmin Instinct Tactical Edition

Water Resistance: 100m (330ft)
Crystal: Chemically strengthened glass
Navigation: GPS
Altimeter/Barometer: Yes

Garmin survival watch with digital screen

Garmin is an American brand that produces equally durable and technology-rich survival timepieces to those of Suunto. However, one particular watch, the Garmin Instinct Tactical Edition, sticks out from the crowd for its increased specialization for challenging survival activities.

This Instinct watch, constructed to U.S. military standard 810G for thermal, water, and shock resistance, is equipped with tactical-specific functions, such as the preloaded tactical activities, stealth mode, night vision compatibility mode, waypoint projection, and dual-position GPS formatting.

The 3-axis compass and barometric altimeter, combined with GPS, Glonass, and Galileo systems, ensure the most accurate positioning one can have from a wristwatch. So be it Mount McKinley or Mount Everest, the Garmin Instinct has you covered with precise data about heights, air pressure, and weather forecasts.

The watch is quite large, standing at 45mm in case diameter and with a screen size of 30mm. The screen is monochrome and clearly visible in broad sunlight. However, when applying the night vision mode, the screen reduces backlight intensity and thus becomes compatible with night vision goggles.

Garmin Instinct Tactical Edition GPS Watch and Wearable4U 2200 mAh Power Bank Bundle (Tactical Coyote Tan)

This through and through survival watch can also be used for lighter activities, such as hiking, biking, swimming, running, and many more, as it comes with preloaded profiles for these activities as well. In fact, the Instinct watch offers more preloaded profiles than the Suunto Traverse Alpha that has only three profiles for hunting, fishing, and hiking.

The Instinct offers pretty good battery life as well when you get up to 14 days in smartwatch mode and 14-40 hours in GPS mode. 

The only problem with the watch is that, quite surprisingly, the caseback causes skin irritation for some wearers. So if you’re one of the guys with sensitive skin, consider other options.

Why we chose it: The watch is a complete tactical watch with night vision capability and super-accurate GPS.

Marathon Navigator

Water Resistance: 60m (200ft)
Crystal: Sapphire
Navigation: No
Altimeter/Barometer: No

Marathon timepiece among the best survival watches

The Marathon Navigator Watch is built to U.S. Government specifications for use by military personnel, making it also a spot-on survival watch.

However, compared to previous entries, the Marathon watch does not come with GPS or any other digital technology – its strengths lie in the construction and extreme durability.

The watch is made from a fiber shell that provides a rugged appeal with its rough surface. Built specifically for aviators and parachutists, the Navigator withstands extreme changes in pressure and altitude but is also water-resistant to 6ATM.

In addition, the sapphire crystal covering the analog face is the most durable substance in wristwear for being extremely scratch-resistant and long-lasting.   

The 41mm Swiss-made timepiece runs on an ETA F06 quartz caliber with a handy end-of-life indicator. So you’ll know the time when the battery is about to reach its end when the seconds hand starts to move in 4-second intervals.

Oh, and you don’t have to unscrew the caseback when changing the battery because it comes with an easy-access hatch that you can open with a coin or a flat screwdriver. 

Navigator watch with tritium tubes in the dark

Another convenient characteristic of this Marathon piece is the constantly glowing luminosity. The tritium-filled gas tubes on watch hands and hour markers don’t require any light source and won’t fade even after years of use. 

The only problem with this Navigator is that it is barely noticeable on a wrist – it weighs a mere 40 g (1.4 oz). Though, it will be a problem only for those who’ve used to the pleasant heft on the wrist.

If the dark brown Marathon Navigator is not your cup of tea, you’ll have the option to go for the desert tan Navigator or the black Navigator instead. 

Why we chose it: The Navigator is an easy-to-use watch with renowned Swiss quality. Moreover, the tritium luminosity glows endlessly for up to an incredible 25 years.

Casio G-Shock Rangeman Tactical Watch

Water Resistance: 200m (660ft)
Crystal: Mineral
Navigation: Digital compass
Altimeter/Barometer: Yes

One of the best hunting watches from Casio

The famous G-Shock line out of Casio’s production is the epitome of outdoor wearables. The watches are known for their heavy-duty build and abundance of technologies. Therefore, it’s hardly surprising to find a G-Shock watch featuring among the best survival pieces. 

One particular model that is bang-on for the toughest of conditions is the G-Shock Rangeman GW-9400-1B.

This fully digital watch comprises a Triple Sensor technology that reads heights, gives accurate directions, and measures temperature. Accompanied with solar power and atomic timekeeping, the Rangeman is not only a handy information hub out in the wild but also dead-accurate and always fully charged. 

The shallow case with cushions inside, as well as the extra gaskets in the pipes that guide buttons and shafts, ensure protection against various shocks, water damage, and mud entering the vital parts of the watch. A knobby and knurled exterior is another characteristic prevalent for G-Shock timepieces for ensuring maximum durability.

G-Shock watch with knobby and knurled construction

When talking about the negatives of this watch, it is the reverse display (light-toned digits on a dark background). Unfortunately, it is not easy to read in broad daylight as the digits simply won’t stand out. Fortunately, the Rangeman is equipped with a backlight that helps out a little. 

Regardless of the disadvantage, the Rangeman watch is an extremely durable companion for demanding outdoor activities. If you can forgive the somewhat poor legibility, it will serve you for years to come.

Why we chose it: The watch is packed with super handy features that make it a complete survival watch.

G-Shock Mudmaster GG-1000-1A

Water Resistance: 200m (660ft)
Crystal: Mineral
Navigation: Digital compass
Altimeter/Barometer: No

A dark-toned survival watch with analog-digital face and protrusions

Entirely digital watches may not be everyone’s cup of tea. Luckily, G-Shock has another wonderful line of survival watches that feature a classic analog time display, along with small digital screens – the Mudmaster line.

The G-Shock Mudmaster GG-1000-1A has prettier aesthetics than most Rangeman timepieces. With added design elements, such as the colored hour markers and numbers, the Mudmaster is suitable for more casual wear. 

Moreover, the watch has much better legibility compared to the Rangeman watch due to contrasting hands and positive displays (dark digits on a light-toned background).  

In terms of functions, though, this Mudmaster watch is not as feature-packed because it misses the altimeter and barometer gauges.

However, what it does have is a digital compass and an ambient temperature gauge, which are more than enough for many. As a result, the wearer can make the most out of hiking, camping, and trekking with the Twin Sensor function. 

Also, the watch is not missing all the other typical functions of a G-Shock piece, such as the countdown timer, stopwatch, and alarm.

Three G-Shock Mudmaster watches

The only drawback the GG-1000-1A has is its size, just like with most G-Shocks out there. It stretches 55mm in diameter (including the protrusions) and 17mm in height. Unfortunately, it means that slender wrists are out of the question with this watch. Also, the height limits the possibility of wearing it underneath the sleeve.

Despite the absence of an altimeter/barometer feature and the oversized nature, the Mudmaster GG-1000 works like a charm on any terrain and landscape. You can even use it for recreational diving as it comes 200m (660ft) water-resistant and has luminous hands for a convenient time capture.

Why we chose it: The Mudmaster is one of the best G-Shocks in terms of legibility. Also, it comes with a bulletproof construction that withstands the extremes better than many others on this list.

Luminox Bear Grylls Survival Watch

Water Resistance: 200m (660ft)
Crystal: Hardened mineral
Navigation: No
Altimeter/Barometer: No

An orange and black watch with durable construction

When Luminox, a highly respected tactical watch manufacturer, and Bear Grylls, the face of survival and outdoor adventure, unite forces to launch a timepiece, you can be confident that the outcome is a genuine survival watch that can go through all kinds of severe conditions.

The Luminox Bear Grylls Survival Watch is indeed one sturdy piece to wear by an adventurist.

The first thing that instantly draws attention is the simple yet very original design of the dial.

Instead of featuring a classic color setting, the Bear Grylls timepiece comes with an eye-catching orange tint on the one-way rotating bezel and the watch hands. Also, Bear’s motto of Never Give Up doesn’t look out of place on the dial but only adds to the uniqueness. 

Luminox Bear Grylls Mens Watch Survival SEA Series - 3729: 42mm Black/Orange Stainless Steel Swiss Made 200 M Water Resistance

When it comes to the materials this Luminox watch employs, they’re on par with the expectations you typically anticipate from a Swiss-made piece. As such, you’ll find a Swiss quartz movement, a lightweight carbon compound case, and continuously glowing tritium luminosity. 

The latter, by the way, makes Luminox one of the top brands producing best-glowing luminous watches.

The watch is also highly water-resistant, sealed with a 200m rating. It means the timepiece can be dragged through everything, even the deep waters. 

Though, what I would’ve hoped to find from a genuine Swiss-made survival watch was the sapphire crystal instead of hardened mineral glass. Although the hardened version is slightly more durable than standard mineral glass, it is still far behind sapphire in terms of shatter and scratch resistance. 

All things considered, the outcome is still a fantastic wearable for extreme conditions. Moreover, its size is suitable for a wider array of wrists as it measures a convenient 42mm in diameter.

Why we chose it: It is a Swiss-made survival watch that is not only durable but looks damn good. On top of that, it costs only a couple of hundred bucks.

Citizen Promaster Altichron BN5058-07E

Water Resistance: 200m (660ft)
Crystal: Mineral
Navigation: Analog compass
Altimeter: Yes

Citizen altimeter timepiece with analog face and solar power

Our next entry is one of a kind. Why? Because the Citizen Promaster Altichron is an analog watch with an altimeter and compass functions. 

Typically, these kinds of watches are entirely or partially digital for displaying the results, but this one offers the functionality of a digital piece with the aesthetics of an analog watch. 

The features are neatly placed when the altimeter lies on three gauges, and the compass has a dedicated red hand and a rotating compass bezel. 

This Altichron watch runs on an Eco-Drive solar quartz movement that is accurate and always sufficiently charged when exposed to daylight. The movement is also equipped with a handy power reserve indicator that you find on the left-hand-sided subdial. When the altimeter function is not used, the small red hand indicates the remaining charge.

The watch is also water-resistant to 200m (660ft) and highly legible even in the brightest of conditions due to an anti-reflective mineral crystal.

Citizen survival watch with an anti-reflective mineral glass

On the other hand, despite its AR coating, the glass is still not as good as sapphire for receiving scratches more easily. The watch would’ve been on a whole new level if it came with the said crystal. Regardless, it is still a magnificent timepiece to own. 

If you happen to be left-handed, this Citizen couldn’t be more appropriate for you. It has the crown and the pushers on the left side of the case, which are more comfortable to operate while wearing the watch on the right hand.

Also, if you’re right-handed, consider wearing the watch on your right wrist, too, because of the more convenient button operation. 

Why we chose it: The Citizen Altichron offers the best bits of both worlds – the functionality of a digital outdoor watch and the aesthetics of a more pleasing analog watch.

Casio Pro Trek PRG-600YB

Water Resistance: 100m (330ft)
Crystal: Mineral
Navigation: Digital compass
Altimeter/Barometer: Yes

Analog-digital Casio outdoor watch

The Japanese powerhouse Casio has several sub-brands dedicated to outdoor activities. Besides the famous G-Shock watches we already covered earlier in our post, there are also Pro Trek watches.

One of the standout models for survival activities is the Casio Pro Trek PRG-600YB. The watch with a price tag slightly above the $200 line offers plenty of features for the money. 

An ABC function is probably the best argument the watch has. The analog-digital Pro Trek displays the results conveniently on a small digital screen at the bottom of the dial. You can also make use of the alarm feature and the World Time function.

Switching between the various functions is also convenient – the watch has four pushers on both sides of the case. 

What’s also great about this watch is the combination of various dial illuminations. Besides the luminous paint on the watch hands and hour markers, the PRG-600 also has an LED backlight. In addition, you can enable the automatic illumination that activates when tilting your wrist to view the watch.  

Besides the feature-rich nature of this Pro Trek, the watch sticks out with its solar-powered movement. When fully charged, the battery lasts more than six months without any light applied to it. 

Combined with quartz timekeeping that keeps an accuracy of about +/-15 seconds a month, the Pro Trek watch will be a precise and relatively carefree wearable for decades.

In terms of wearability, this watch is more comfortable on a wrist than most G-Shocks. It has fewer protrusions and knobs and looks cleaner. The shock resistance may not be as high as with a G-Shock, but it is still top-notch by Casio’s standards. 

Why we chose it: The watch is easy to operate and offers valuable features to survive out in the wild. Special praise goes to the illumination.

Garmin Fenix 6 Pro Solar

Water Resistance: 100m (330ft)
Crystal: Power glass
Navigation: GPS
Altimeter/Barometer: Yes

Garmin GPS hunting watch with an all-black appeal

The Garmin Fenix 6 Pro Solar may be the priciest on our list of the best survival watches, but it is for a good reason, too – it offers a whole lot more options and metrics to come out of the woods unscathed. 

The core of the watch is the full-color map system that shows the precise location thanks to the GPS, Glonass, and Galileo technologies, all contributing to it.

Not only do they provide information about distances and location on a horizontal line but also vertically by means of an altimeter. And add a barometer, and you’ll receive accurate weather forecasts on top of that.

Solar charging is another invaluable addition for a convenient outing. A complete sports smartwatch as the Garmin Fenix 6 is, you wouldn’t want it to run out of charge in the middle of nowhere.

Therefore, solar power is a lifesaver for keeping the watch running as long as there is enough light. The battery will last up to 24 days in smartwatch mode and 16 hours in GPS mode when fully charged. 

This Garmin has other great additions as well. For example, the PulseOx feature tracks the hemoglobin in the blood and assesses acclimatization on high-altitude conditions, while the PacePro app provides pace guidance and training status estimates throughout the activity. 

However, in terms of “surviving,” the Fenix 6 has a slight drawback – when in remote areas where there’s no cellular connection, you can’t interact with the watch through the app. It means you can’t use most of the features. Therefore, plan out your outing to get the most out of the Fenix 6 Pro Solar.

Why we chose it: This Garmin has the best color map GPS system and is backed with highly convenient solar power. 

Suunto Core Outdoor Watch

Water Resistance: 30m (100ft)
Crystal: Mineral
Navigation: Digital compass
Altimeter/Barometer: Yes

Suunto Core among the best survival timepieces

The Suunto Core Watch has quickly become an icon among survival watches. You don’t have to break the bank either to get it. For only a couple of hundred dollars, the Suunto Core offers excellent quality and plenty of practical applications.

Like all Suunto watches, the Core is equipped with an altimeter, barometer, and digital compass. On top of that, the watch will predict and alarm a coming storm. The feature is especially handy for those staying overnight or who are far off from their starting points.

A neat extra you’ll get with this top-notch hiking watch is the preloaded sunset and sunrise times, helping to take the maximum out of daylight hours.

Quality-wise, the 49mm Suunto Core has a durable composite case, aluminum bezel, and comfortable elastomer strap. The mineral crystal covering the display is protected against accidental hits with a raised bezel, which is of great help in maintaining the brand new looks of the watch. The case is also difficult to scratch because of the material. 

Besides hiking and trekking, the watch can be used for swimming, snorkeling, and recreational diving. It comes 30m water-resistant, which might seem not much at all compared to other survival watches with much higher resistance ratings, but in reality, it means you can actually submerge it to the said depth. 

By the way, this Suunto is also equipped with a depth meter that measures up to 30 feet (10 meters) underwater, which is quite a singular gauge not found in many timepieces.

The only letdown the Suunto Core watch has is the button construction. Several owners have complained about the pushers getting stuck in the case. Although it’s not a problem on every Suunto Core, it can still happen.

Why we chose it: The watch comes with two unique functions that many others don’t have – the storm alert and depth meter.

Casio Pathfinder Triple Sensor Watch

Water Resistance: 100m (330ft)
Crystal: Mineral
Navigation: Digital compass
Altimeter/Barometer: Yes

A digital outdoor watch with titanium bracelet

The Triple Sensor function is one of the handiest features for hikers, trekkers, and for other outdoors activities. That’s why we’ve included yet another survival watch with this feature. And yet again, it comes from Casio.

The Casio Pathfinder is a digital outdoor watch that comprises an altimeter, barometer, and compass that are easily accessible through dedicated push buttons on the right side of the case. It also measures an ambient temperature.

The Pathfinder watch offers a plethora of other neat features, such as the 1/100-second stopwatch, timer, World Time in 31 locations, battery power indicator, power-saving function, and alarm.

Unfortunately, the alarm function isn’t the greatest because the sound is barely noticeable. It means the feature is basically useless when you’ve used to employ wristwatch alarms as wake-up calls. If you want the feature to wake you up, go for any of the G-Shock watches – they have a much louder sound.  

However, what makes it especially sought-after is solar power. The Pathfinder charges from any light and can run for up to half a year without any additional light. It means the watch will never run empty of charge.

In terms of build quality, there’s absolutely nothing to complain about. The construction is protected with a 100m water resistance rating, the 51mm case comes in stainless steel, and the bracelet is made of lightweight titanium

The latter, in particular, is unique with outdoor watches because most watch bands come in rubber or nylon. The titanium bracelet has several advantages when it is lightweight (especially compared to stainless steel), difficult to break, and with a pleasant appeal.

Why we chose it: The titanium bracelet makes the Pathfinder stand out from the crowd.

Seiko Arnie Prospex SNJ029

Water Resistance: 200m (660ft)
Crystal: Hardlex
Navigation: No
Altimeter/Barometer: No

A vintage army watch with bezel and thick hands

The last survival watch on our list is different from many of the watches covered in this article. It is a professional-grade dive watch with ISO 6425 certification. However, that doesn’t mean the watch cannot be used for other outdoor activities. 

Quite the contrary, it offers an impeccable build quality to survive the extremes. 

The Seiko Arnie Prospex SNJ029 is a revitalized legendary timepiece worn by Arnold Schwarzenegger in the 1980s blockbuster action films Commando and Predator. It’s an ultra-durable piece that can take the beating while requiring little upkeep. 

The Arnie watch comes in a 47.5mm stainless steel case that is further protected with a plastic case cover. The strap is made of well-toned silicone that is not only water-repellent but also very strong. Moreover, it grabs the wrist with comfort.

Since it’s a genuine dive piece, the bezel is one-way rotating, the crown is screw-down, and the caseback comes screw-in for ultimate water resistance. Also, expect to have excellent luminosity, which has become standard in every Seiko watch these days. 

The watch is 200m (660ft) water-resistant and runs on a solar-powered quartz movement that keeps a 6-month power reserve when fully charged. 

A rugged-looking Seiko with a small digital screen

An addition that is a classic throwback to the 1980s is the small digital screen at twelve o’clock displaying alarms, stopwatch, and calendar that you can access through the pushers on the left side of the case. 

There is also a black version of the watch available, named Seiko SNJ025. It has the same specifications and features but sports a more classic tone with fewer references to militaristic appearance.

Why we chose it: The Seiko “Arnie” looks rugged, acts rugged, and offers a neat digital display with practical functions.

3 Types of Survival Watches to Consider

Now that we’ve brought you our selection of the top survival watches, you still might be wondering which one of them would be the most appropriate to your needs. 

The following breakdown of the three types of survival watches is there to aid you further.

1) Watches with GPS & ABC

The GPS and ABC functions are the tip of the mountain in the outdoor watch industry. Unfortunately, that also means they cost way more than regular digital or analog watches. Therefore, you should make sure whether you’re going to use the features enough so that you wouldn’t regret spending the money.

In short, survival watches with the GPS and ABC are appropriate for those hiking and trekking in unfamiliar/mountainous areas where the scenery is laborious, and the elevation changes are notable. 

In addition, since these watches are mostly sports-oriented, they also suit perfectly for those who could use the various training modes, whether it be running, cycling, or swimming.

2) Watches with Compass

You should go for a compass-featuring survival watch if you feel comfortable and at home with using it. 

It’s not a secret that most people don’t even know how to read the compass, let alone use it on a timepiece, which is why they choose a GPS option instead. However, a compass watch is typically more affordable than a GPS timepiece.

Therefore, compass-featuring watches are best suited for people on a budget and who don’t find the GPS feature as necessary.

You can check out the video below on how to use the digital compass on a watch.

3) Durable Survival Watches

Finally, there are survival watches without any technologies measuring altitude, reading directions, or guiding you via GPS. Instead, they have been built to withstand severe conditions, whether on the land or deep in the sea. 

These survival watches are best suited if elevations, temperatures, and accurate positioning are not essential. Instead, their primary purpose is to withstand cold, mud, humid, physical shocks and show you an accurate time.

Another advantage the simpler survival watches have is that they can be worn for casual events. They are not as rugged, come mostly with analog dials, and are not bulky on the wrist.


We hope the shortlist of the best survival watches has helped you closer to your next durable and accurate wristwatch for decades. The quality, features, and overall background of the manufacturers these watches come from are an excellent foundation for a long-lasting wearing experience.

Depending on your lifestyle and the depths of survivalism you find yourself in, make sure to take care of your watch because nothing will last as long as you wish if proper upkeep is missing, even if it’s a super durable watch with bulletproof construction.

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Carl Pender

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