Best Survival Watch for 2021: Top 6 Picks, Buying Guide (Updated)

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By Joel Jefferson •  17 min read

When I was 14 years old, I went hunting with a friend and his dad. We were in an unfamiliar forested area. I tracked a buck for about two hours when I realized the clouds had dropped down to ground level. I decided it was time to return to camp. But, like I said, I was in unfamiliar territory. Night was not far away. I got so caught up in tracking that buck I lost track of where I was. For just a moment panic set in.

best survival watch in the market

Imagine yourself in my shoes. You’re on the move, running out of daylight. The weather has blocked your horizon. What’s your move? How will you get to safety?

Take a breath. Check your watch. Relax. You can move confidently because your survival watch has the tools and reliability to get you moving in the right direction. It’s accurate, durable, and water-resistant.

But how do you know what survival watch is for you? Prices range from under $40 to over $1200 and come with a wide variety of features.

The first step is to decide on what features you need. Temperature gauge, date, altimeter, calendar, tides, barometer, tachymeter, GMT, and a rotating bezel are some of the options you should consider. But are they necessary for your situation? Do you already carry a GPS? Or have you been thinking about getting one?

All these things matter and we will cover them in this guide. Before that, if you want to just check our top picks, here they are at a quick glance:

  • Anti-reflective window.
  • Clearly identifiable second count-down zone with dive-timing bezel.
  • Illuminated face.
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  • Battery Life: 9 months on full charge.
  • Northerly calibration function.
  • Full Auto LED (Super Illuminator) Backlight with Afterglow.
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  • Mud Resistant Case & buttons are sealed to prevent mud, dirt and dust from getting into the watch.
  • 40 records Memory capacity.
  • Protective mineral crystal dial window.
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Best Survival Watch: Top 6 Picks

Here are the reviews.

1. Best Fitness Tracker Survival Watch – Bolt CAPACITOR Tactical Military Watch Review


The Bolt Capacitor Tactical Military Watch is a great bargain.  A pedometer tracks your steps while the GPS guides your travel. A Calorie counter and heart rate sensor are also included. Your steps, heart rate, and calories burned are easy to see on the face. There’s a compass and the Capacitor is waterproof up to 50 meters. The dial is sapphire glass. The battery life ranges from 2-7 days depending on use.

To sweeten the deal, you’re given a Tactical Belt Pouch & Phone Holder, a Safety Tactical Flashlight, and a Glass Breaking Tactical Pen when ordered from the Bolt website.  They also include Free Shipping Worldwide, Free Returns, and a Money-back guarantee.



2. Best Durable Survival Watch – Luminox Recon Pointman Watch Review

Luminox Men's LM8822.MI Recon Point Black Watch

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Pointman is waterproof up to 660 feet and has Night Vision tube so you can clearly see the face in the dark. It’s a GMT watch with a rotating, carbon-reinforced bezel and silver-tone hands allow you to track both 12- and 24-hour time simultaneously. It also has a tachometer so you can track your walking speed. Its’ large compass is located on the band as is a ruler with inch and cm markings to help you with your map. Thanks to the anti-reflective sapphire crystal, your watch is easy to see in all conditions.  This Swiss-made watch features a rubber strap that is lightweight and flexible for great comfort and durability.



Customer Sentiment:

There was one main issue customers reported – the bevel ring. Don’t let that one past problem keep you from considering this great Luminox product. Customers love how easy it is to read and the overall fit and quality.

Luminox Men's LM8822.MI Recon Point Black Watch
  • Round watch featuring unidirectional rotating bezel with compass markings and black dial with...
  • 45 mm polycarbonate case with anti-reflective sapphire dial window

Last update on 2022-01-17 at 03:42 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

3. Best Solar Survival Watch – Casio Pro Trek Solar Watch Review

Casio Men's Pro Trek PRG-270-1 Tough Solar Triple Sensor Multifunction...

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The Casio Pro Trek technology packs powerful little sensors that bring you greater energy efficiency and higher reading accuracy. Altitude, barometric pressure, and direction readings are more reliable than ever. The large buttons on the side for digital compass, barometric pressure and altitude, and temperature readings are easy to use. The Triple Sensor V3 is water-resistant to 100 meters, includes a stopwatch, five daily alarms, and 31 time zones. I love the LED backlighting with the Auto Illumination that makes viewing in low light a breeze.



Customer Sentiment:

Customers like the size of the watch and love all the great features for such a low price.

Casio Men's Pro Trek PRG-270-1 Tough Solar Triple Sensor Multifunction...
  • Tough Solar Power,100M Water Resistant,Low Temperature Resistant (-10 C / 14 F),Module 3415,Approx....
  • Accuracy: +/- 15 seconds per month ,Full Auto Calendar (Pre-programmed until the year 2099),5 Daily...

Last update on 2022-01-17 at 03:12 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

3. Best Budget Survival Watch – Casio G-Shock Rangeman GW-9400 Watch Review

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

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Rangeman watches stand up to the most brutal of conditions. Their Shock Resistant Triple Sensor, keeps altitude, barometric pressure, temperature and direction readings at your fingertips. Impact-resistance is built in with their cylindrical buttons that also makes it easy to use. You get a digital compass, altimeter, barometer, thermometer, sunrise and sunset date, time stamp, Mb6 atomic timekeeping, auto LED, 5 Daily Alarms, stop watch, countdown timer, day/date/month calendar, and buckle closure. It’s water resistant to 660 feet so you can take your Rangeman scuba diving with confidence. The black face has red accents on the dial and the side button for easy viewing. Add in sunrise/sunset data, one-touch time recording, one-touch elapsed time measurement, with G-Shock toughness and durability for one great survival watch.



Customer Sentiment:

Users report being happy with every aspect of this durable and accurate watch that holds a charge like no other.

CASIO Men's GW-9400-1CR Master of G Stainless Steel Solar Watch
  • Solar-powered digital watch in stainless steel with multiple displays, red contrasts, and textured...
  • Quartz movement with analog display

Last update on 2022-01-17 at 03:12 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

5. Best Survival Watch for Hardcore Adventurers – Garmin Instinct Survival Watch Review

Garmin Instinct Rugged Outdoor Watch w/GPS and Heart Rate Monitoring Sea...

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Garmin delivers awesome GPS functionality with rugged dependability. Built to meet U.S. Military standard 810G for thermal, shock and water resistance (rated to 100 meters), the Instinct will withstand the toughest environments. When you’re out trekking, ordinary GPS is no match to multiple global navigation satellite systems (GPS, Glonass and Galileo) to get you on the right track. You also get a built in 3-axis compass and barometric altimeter, heart rate, activity and stress monitors, and the ability to stay connected with a compatible smartphone. Automatic data uploads to the Garmin connect online fitness community are included as well.



Customer Sentiment:

Owners remark about how great this watch is. Features and battery life were noted often as the reason for the high rating. They are very excited about what this watch does for them.

Garmin Instinct Rugged Outdoor Watch w/GPS and Heart Rate Monitoring Sea...
  • Garmin Instinct Rugged GPS Watch Built to Withstand the Toughest Environments

Last update on 2022-01-17 at 03:13 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

6. Survivor’s Choice – Casio G-SHOCK Survival Watch Review

Casio G-SHOCK RANGEMAN Solar-Assisted GPS Navigation GPR-B1000-1JR Mens...

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Besides the Triple Sensor, the new GPR-B1000 is capable of GPS navigation—a first for a G-SHOCK watch to take your explorations to the next level. Data is collected from GPS satellites to show your current route in real-time. You can use Bluetooth to pair your smartphone to link the G-SHOCK Connected app where you it’s easy to create routes and manage log data. Being able to see tracks and point data as a timeline or on a 3D map makes the GPS easy to use and understand.

As part of the “Master of G” series, this watch will work for you through the toughest of conditions. It’s water-resistant to 200 meters and shock-resistant. The Triple Sensor measures compass bearing, atmospheric pressure/altitude, and temperature, based on the concept of “Survival Toughness.”

Not only does it have wireless charging, but it also includes a solar charging system. A wireless charge of five hours provides you GPS for up to 33 hours. If you’re outdoors when your battery level drops below a usable level for GPS, solar charging can be used to resume GPS functions for a limited time. There’s no need for concern about your time display because it will be kept going with solar charging, regardless of the status of GPS functions.



Customer Sentiment:

This is the one watch customers love EVERY thing about it. Great fit, features, dial, battery, durability. It performs and looks great.

Last update on 2022-01-17 at 03:13 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

What You Need to Know about Survival Watches

There are three general categories of survival watches with many that are a mix of the three.

1. The Survival Kit Watch

These watches are also known as paracord watches. They come with an assortment of tools, such as a compass, whistle, thermometer, scraper, and paracord rope.

There are a few issues many people have with this type of watch. First of all, the tools included are generally low quality. Next, the bulkiness and lack of a good fit of the paracord band around the wrist can be very annoying. Then there is the small size of the compass.  I recommend that you carry a good quality paracord and the few other tools you need in your pack instead. In a bug-out situation, you’re trusting your life to your tools. Don’t sacrifice your survival for a few dollars.

2. The G-shock watch

Built to withstand challenging environments, these are favored by military people. They are water and shock-resistant. The materials used to create these watches give you confidence they will withstand the punishment of outdoor survival. Check that the ones you’re considering come with the tools you need. Be prepared to pay more as you include more features.

3. The Navigation watch

I’m restricting these to watches with a GPS system built-in. If you’re into hiking, skiing, biking, or other sports that take you out into the wild, then having the ability to preset your course is a great asset. Many of these watches offer a long battery life and include options such as heart rate monitoring.

Top 9 Survival Uses for a Watch

Some of the suggestions below cannot be done with any old watch but may be dependent on the type of watch and possibly the materials it is made from. 

Calculate Distance 

This one is pretty easy and can be very useful if you know the region you are in or have a map. You will however, need to know your average walking speed in advance. 

Here is an example of how you can calculate distance traveled with any watch. 

If your average walking speed is 3 miles per hour, keep track of the time with a watch and after one hour of walking, you will know that you walked 3 miles. After 10 hours the distance walked would be 30 miles. 

Calculate a Pulse 

Calculating a pulse can help in first aid functions and give you an idea of your wellbeing. 

Calculate Pulse

A pulse is usually taken over the timeframe of one minute but there is a short cut. Take a pulse and count the number of beats for ten seconds. Multiply the number of beats by 6 and that will give you the beats per minute. 

For example, if I count 12 beats in ten seconds, then multiply 12 by 6, I will end up with a count of 72 beats per minute. 

Sharpen a Knife 

If your watch has a leather band it can be used as a mini strop to sharpen a knife blade. 

Place the knife on the leather and draw the blade across the leather, leading with the spine. This will not get rid of any knicks or chips in a blade, but it will smooth out micro burrs. Getting rid of these will produce a smoother surface smoother which produces a sharper cutting edge. 

Determine Direction 

This handy trick has to be done with a watch that has an hour and minute hand, so unfortunately a digital watch cannot be used. 

Position the watch so that the hour hand is pointing at the Sun. Next, bisect the distance between the hour hand and the number twelve. This line will indicate a southerly direction.

Signal for Help

The surface of a watch is quite reflective, and this surface can be used as an improvised signal mirror. Most watches also have a shiny metal back that can also be used in this manner. 

Though it may be difficult, angle the watch so it catches the light from the Sun and continue to move the watch in a up and down or side to side motion. This will help to shine the light in the general direction of a search party and can help to expediate a rescue. 

Needle Compass 

This will require a non-digital watch and for the watch to be broken. Remove a metal hour or minute hand and magnetize it by rubbing it on some silk or across a small magnet. 

The now magnetized hour hand can be placed on a leaf which is then placed on a nonmoving pool of water. The hour hand will act just like a compass and should rotate the leaf in a north and south orientation. 

Make a Fishing Lure

Some watches, especially pocket watches, are made from some colorful components like a gold or silver chain.

 If a watch is broken or hunger pains start setting in, these pieces can be removed and used as to fashion fishing lures that could attract a fish’s attention. 

Tourniquet Time

A tourniquet is used to drastically slow or completely stop bleeding from a serious wound. When this tool is used, time is of the essence and a person needs to be taken to a medical professional as soon as possible. 

How long the tourniquet has been applied to a limb can affect the best course of action for removing it and treating the patient. 

When a tourniquet has been placed on an individual it is best practice to record the time. It is even better to physically write the date and time down on or near the tourniquet. 

Keeping Track of Time 

This may be the most obvious function but the reasoning behind it may not be. Keeping track of time or what day it is can help with mental wellness. 

Losing track of the days can cause the mind to wander and develop a negative mindset. 

Setting time goals is a way of continuing to move forward in positive ways. 

A watch can also be a reminder to take breaks, which can help save energy and prevent overexertion. 

Buying Guide: What To Look For?

In order to make this list, these watches had to meet minimum requirements designed to save your butt in a bugout situation. I chose four areas to focus on. I explain each of those areas below. For this guide, I decided to consider GPS as an additional feature because of the cost.

Water Resistance

The first requirement of my top picks is that the watch is water resistant. In the wild you don’t know what kind of conditions you may face. Rain, snow, fog, and water crossings can’t mean the end of your survival tool. Each of my picks is water-resistance at no less than 50 feet.


Next up is durability. Your survival watch must survive harsh conditions. You never know when or where your watch will save you, so it has to hold up beyond normal wear and tear. Look for shock-resistance, crystal faces, and a durable strap that will ensure your survival tool meets your heavy demands.


My Power requirement simply refers to battery life. A great survival tool is useless if it doesn’t run. Survivor watches with solar charging are available. You’ll usually find solar available on better GPS watches which demand a lot of power. Here’s the bottom line: I’ve carried extra batteries and it was a huge hassle.


Finally, in order to qualify as a survival watch, there are features that must be included. Each of the survival watches I’ve chosen includes a compass and a tachymeter or GPS. Because surviving a bug-out situation could depend on weather conditions I recommend you consider a watch that also includes a barometer and altimeter.


I wouldn’t hesitate to purchase any of these six watches. But, since I’m only going to wear one at a time, it’s the Casio G-Shock Rangeman GW-9400 that is my choice. I hike, hunt, and fish all over the world and in many extreme environments, so I need to trust my tools. Known for its’ rugged durability and advance technological features, the 9400 is an unmatched value.

Joel Jefferson

Joel is one of the original founders of After college, he joined the USMC where he served as an (0302) Marine Infantry Officer. Joel is an avid outdoorsman and spends much of his free time in the mountains. Joel’s hobby is researching survival gear & weapons as well as prepping. Read his full interview here.