Outdoor adventurers have varying needs when it comes to watches, and there are a variety of different options when it comes to choosing the best outdoorsman watch.
Depending what kind of functions you’re looking for in an adventure watch, you can choose from a basic sports watch that provides you with a stopwatch and timers, or you can go all out and get GPS, shock resistance and more.
Before you choose, you should decide how much technology and what kinds of functions you need. You don’t want a watch that underperforms, and you don’t want a watch that overwhelms you if you just want basic functions. And then there are those into extreme sports that want to know about the best rugged watches.
Here are some considerations to think about when searching for the best outdoorsman watch for your needs.
See Our Top Men's Outdoor Watches
Best Overall1Garmin Fenix 6 Premium Men's Outdoor Watch
Best OverallGarmin Fenix 6 Premium Men's Outdoor Watch
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Best For Higher Budgets2Coros Vertix Men's Outdoor Watch
Best For Higher BudgetsCoros Vertix Men's Outdoor Watch
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Best For Low Budgets3G-Shock G9300 Mudman Men's Outdoor Watch
Best For Low BudgetsG-Shock G9300 Mudman Men's Outdoor Watch
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|4||SUUNTO Ambit3 Peak Men's Outdoor Watch||Buy On Amazon|
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1. Garmin Fenix 6 Premium Men's Outdoor Watch
This outdoor sportwatch has GPS, and other navigation features that make it ideal for multiple outdoor sports. The crystal is protected by a rugged stainless steel bezel (the top ring on the watch that surrounds the crystal) and the watch is tested to U.S. military standards for thermal, shock and water resistance.
There are satellite navigation and tracking functions, along with a 3-axis compass and barometric altimeter.
The GPS combines with GLONASS and Galileo to track your position more accurately than GPS alone, meaning you can hike or trail ride in more challenging environments.
Activity features include enhanced wrist heart rate, built-in activity profiles, Vo2 Max estimates and more. The built-in activity profiles are for trail running, swimming, running, biking, hiking, rowing, skiing, golfing and more. There’s also performance metrics and training load balance readings, advanced sleep monitoring and the ability to read altitude acclimation at high elevations. Use the watch to track your training load balance, training status, and running and cycling dynamics.
A great feature is the customizable power manager, where you can monitor how various settings and sensors impact battery life, allowing you to adjust to extend your battery life. The battery has four modes with different performance life depending how you use it: up to 14 days in smartwatch mode, up to 36 hours in GPS mode, up to 28 days in expedition GPS activity mode, and up to 48 days in battery saver watch mode.
The display is readable in sunlight and is “always on,” meaning you can easily check it while climbing or cycling. When paired with a compatible smartphone, you can receive notifications and use Garmin Pay™ contactless payments. Also when paired with a smartphone, the watch will sense an incident and send your location to emergency contacts.
- GPS combines with two other systems to provide accurate tracking capability.
- A multitude of activity monitoring, including built-in activity profiles.
- Customize what features you’re using to extend battery life.
- Garmin is known for its GPS products.
- Despite the ability to adjust battery modes, this watch will need lithium battery replacement on a regular basis if you use the advanced features on a regular basis.
- The multitude of features may be too much for some users.
Why We Chose ThisBesides the Garmin name being synonymous with GPS capabilities, this watch has a multitude of fitness features for the outdoor enthusiast. It has rugged construction with a stainless steel bezel to protect the crystal. A bonus is being able to monitor battery life and adjust settings to extend it.
2. Coros Vertix Men's Outdoor Watch
This is a lightweight yet durable watch, with a corrosion free titanium frame and bezel. The watch face is covered with Sapphire glass with a diamond-like coating for added protection.
It’s also perfect for long expeditions with an excellent battery life and the ability to change modes to extend life. The battery will last up to 45 days with regular use, 60 hours in full GPS mode and 150 hours when in UltraMax mode.
It’s also exceptional for harsh expeditions, as it is tested to work to temperatures as low as -4°F/-20°C and in GPS mode to -22°F/-30°C in extreme testing. It’s waterproof to almost 500 feet (150 meters). It even has an enhanced knob allowing for easy operation even underwater or while wearing thick climbing gloves.
Athletes will appreciate its 24/7 blood oxygen monitoring and altitude acclimatization assistance. It provides analysis of your training load and performance, to evaluate your exertion level and provide recommendations on recovery, allowing you to perform at your peak.
- Lightweight yet durable, tested to extreme cold and 150-meter waterproof rating.
- Provides a precise analysis of training load and performance for those athletes looking for improvement metrics.
- The digital knob allows for operation even with thick climbing gloves on or underwater.
- Ability to adjust the battery mode to extend battery life is a bonus.
- You can extend the battery life, but eventually you’ll have to change the lithium polymer battery.
- On long expeditions, if you need GPS, you’ll have to know how to change the battery yourself as the full GPS mode has a battery life of 60 hours.
Why We Chose ThisWe like the feather light weight of this watch that’s also extremely durable. You’ll hardly notice it on your wrist, but you’ll be able to operate it with climbing gloves or underwater with diving gloves. You can adjust the battery life, and you can track your training performance. Plus, it’s tested to operate in extreme conditions like cold weather and to almost 500 feet underwater.
3. G-Shock G9300 Mudman Men's Outdoor Watch
If the Mudman name doesn’t spell it for you, then the markings on the resin strap should. This is a mud-resistant design with sealed buttons and a tough mineral crystal lens that protects the Japanese quartz mechanism from dirt, dust, and yes, mud!
If you keep reading the strap, you learn this is a solar-powered model (Tough Solar) that has a digital compass, can measure the ambient temperature, and even has a moon graph. In addition, there are the usual features you can find on most advanced G-Shock designs such as 31 time zones (48 cities + UTC), daylight saving option, 5 alarms, stopwatch with elapsed time and split time, countdown timer, auto-calendar, 12h & 24h formats.
Lastly the buttons require a bit of force to press but the interface is user-friendly (even though it has a learning curve). It also comes with full auto EL backlight with afterglow, which improves visibility in low-lighting conditions.
- Extremely durable design with mud and water-resistance
- Lots of cool and interesting features
- Auto EL backlight
- Solar-powered Japanese quartz movement
- High-quality strap and case
- It is one of the bulkier models
- The buttons need to be pressed a bit harder
Why We Chose ThisOut of all the military watches G Shock offers, the Mudman G9300 is a true bad boy. The bulky design talks about amazing durability in the face of adversity and the large face leaves plenty of room for a user-friendly interface. It’s also amazing in the wilderness when you need a compass for orientation and don’t want to carry additional equipment.
4. SUUNTO Ambit3 Peak Men's Outdoor Watch
This smartwatch has all the bells and whistles especially once it’s connected to a smartphone. You can then use the free Suunto Movescount App to adjust the watch on the go, sync your activities, and receive calls and notifications right on the watch.
Movescount can also help you discover new routes and provide you with training programs.
Athletes can use it to monitor heart rate, even while swimming, and to provide an activity-based recovery time. It shows speed, pace and distance and you can track multiple sports in one log.
You can also add photos during activities, share your moves instantly with the app, and create a Suunto Movie with highlights of your adventure, including a 3D map, key metrics and images.
The GPS satellite data and time are up to date wherever you are, and you can use your phone as a second watch display.
The watch also Suunto provides stable and accurate altitude and weather information, and full navigation capabilities. It features a built-in altimeter, barometer, compass and GPS, and is water resistant to 330 feet (100 meters). You can use it for route navigation and to track back along your route.
The battery life is also outstanding, lasting up to 200 hours with a 1-minute GPS accuracy, or 30 hours with a 5 second GPS accuracy. The case is made of durable polyamide.
- Offers GPS, altitude and weather information, and navigation capacity including a track back feature.
- Expand its capabilities by connecting to a smartphone and using the free Suunto Movescount App.
- Use your phone as a second watch display.
- Track multiple sports in one log.
- Battery life is reduced if you need fast GPS accuracy.
- Water resistance is not as deep (woo meters) as some other sports watches.
Why We Chose ThisCombine this watch with your smartphone and you get all kinds of navigation features plus you can have some fun. Get stable and accurate altitude and weather information, full navigation capabilities, the ABC functionality of an altimeter, barometer, and compass, and of course GPS. Then use the Suunto Movescount App to discover new routes, get training programs, add photos during activities, and create Suunto Movies with highlights of your adventure.
See Our Top Women's Outdoor Watches
|1||Freestyle Shark Mini Leash Mint Women's Outdoor Watch||Buy On Amazon|
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|2||Timex T5K187 Ironman Women's Outdoor Watch||Buy On Amazon|
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1. Freestyle Shark Mini Leash Mint Women's Outdoor Watch
The Freestyle brand began as a surf watch brand, designed to be durable enough to withstand the abuses of a high-intensity lifestyle, both in and out of the water.
This watch is ideal for ladies but is actually unisex, great for men who like a smaller watch style. It features Japanese quartz digital movement, a lap counter with memory, alarm, countdown timer and stopwatch, and standard digital functions with a backlight. The case is polycarbonate with hyrdro-pushers, which are able to be pushed under-water.
The digital face has NightVision Display which is ideal for underwater adventures or overnight camping trips.
The strap is a durable canvas synthetic with a solid stainless-steel buckle. The crystal is a durable hardened mineral that protects the watch face from scratches. It’s also water-resistant to 330 feet (100 meters).
- Made to be durable in and out of the water, making it ideal in particular for those who enjoy water sports.
- Has hydro-pushers, buttons which can be pushed underwater.
- Has calendar features, lap memory and other typical digital watch capacities.
- Small enough to be worn by a woman but also fine for men who like a smaller watch style.
- Doesn’t have as many bells and whistles as some other other watches that have smartwatch capabilities.
- Battery life is unknown.
Why We Chose ThisThis is a unisex watch that is a smaller size, perfect for women and for men who like a smaller watch face style. It has the basics of a digital watch and some bonus features for those who like to spend time in the water. Designed for a surfer’s lifestyle, this watch is durable with a canvas strap that can withstand abuse as well. It also features as hydro-pushers, buttons which can be pushed underwater.
2. Timex T5K187 Ironman Women's Outdoor Watch
Timex is often the first name that comes to mind when it comes to watches. This ladies Ironman watch has a black resin case and strap with purple accents. It’s classy enough to wear to work but durable enough to wear outdoors and for sports and activities.
Digital features include a 24-hour stopwatch, 10 preset countdown timers, and alarm with a 5-minute backup, and a month and date calendar.
It’s water-resistant to 330 feet (100 meters) which is generally suitable for snorkeling or swimming, but not recommended for diving.
It also features the proprietary trademark of Timex watches, the Indiglo backlight system. The Timex electroluminescent lamps, branded Indiglo, are among the most successful features of the Ironman watch line. The Indiglo lamp uniformly lights the surface of the Timex’s watch dials in a manner that makes the dial easy to read in almost any light setting.
- You can’t go wrong with a Timex watch, and this ladies Ironman combines sharp looks with features for a variety of activities.
- Has the famous Ironman Indiglo backlight system.
- Features digital functions such as a stopwatch, timers and an alarm.
- Water resistant to only 330 feet, which isn’t recommended for diving.
- Doesn’t have as many features as a smartwatch.
Why We Chose ThisWhen it comes to watches, Timex is one of the top brands, and this ladies Ironman lives up to its name. It has features ready for a variety of activities, such as a stopwatch, timers and calendar functions, and it looks good. It also has the proprietary Indiglo backlight system, which makes it easy to see in any kind of light conditions.
Outdoor Watch Buying Guide
GPS and Other Navigation Features
The term “outdoors” or “outdoor watch” can cover a broad range of activities and needs. Perhaps you spend a lot of time outdoors, but you usually walk or run, and you follow common trails. In this case, a basic watch with timers and a stopwatch may be sufficient.
Or, you may be a trail rider, hiker, camper or mountain climber. If you like to head into the backcountry and don’t always know where you will end up, a GPS function may be really valuable to you. In faction, you may want to look for GPS that’s augmented by another system like GLONASS to provide even greater tracking capability. These would belong in the group of best hiking watches, geared for all of those extreme activities in the wilderness.
An adventure watch with GPS will also often have other features that complement it, like altitude acclimatization, blood oxygen monitoring, ability to trace back on your route, training load, and more. Depending on your needs, these may be valuable additions to your watch, or they may be too much for you. But if you like to listen to music while exercising, you should also check out running watches with music.
Often related to the number of functions on a watch is the battery life. The more functions, and the more tracking done while you’re using the watch, the shorter the battery life. So you have to be prepared to change batteries often if you plan to use the full functionality of the watch most of the time.
Another feature you can look for is the ability to change what functions are being used in order to maximize battery life. If you take off on long adventures, you may want a watch that lets you reduce the functionality in order to save battery life. Otherwise, you may find yourself on the trails with no watch.
If you do plan to use full functionality, it’s best to always carry extra batteries or choose smartwatches with long battery life.
An outdoorsman watch is generally made to be durable, but even in this regard, there are variations in the definition of “durable.”
Most outdoor watches will stand up to bumps and knocks, and are water resistant to rain, or even swimming.
But the best rugged watches go beyond that to include shock resistance, and water resistance appropriate for diving. Some outdoor watches function in extreme cold conditions.
Once again, you need to decide how much ruggedness and durability you need for your type of outdoor activities.
Design & Style
Maybe style isn’t the first consideration when choosing the best outdoor watch, but you still want your adventure watch to look good on your wrist! That means different things to different people, from watch color to a smaller watch face, in which case you could look at unisex or women’s watches.
But other design factors are important for climbers and divers, so you may want to look for features such as dials that can be used underwater or with gloves. Backlight that can be seen in any type of light conditions is another factor so a luminescent watch might be something you need.