Best Survival Watch for 2020: Top 6 Picks, Buying Guide

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:

WATCHES DETAILS
  • 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

Features:

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.

Pros:

  • Low-cost GPS
  • Easy to read dial
  • Heartrate sensor, pedometer, and calorie counter included

Cons:

  • Screen Glare is a bit annoying, but because of the bold coloring it’s acceptable
  • The one-inch band is a rubber material that can become sweaty and isn’t real durable
  • Not available on Amazon

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

Luminox Men's LM8822.MI Recon Point Black Watch

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Features:

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.

Pros:

  • Anti-reflective window
  • Clearly identifiable second count-down zone with dive-timing bezel
  • Illuminated face
  • Carrying case included
  • Night Vision Tubes last 25 years

Cons:

  • Not suitable for diving
  • Glows constantly
  • Walking tachymeter in metric units (Km)
  • Some issues with bevel ring coming off

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 2020-10-17 at 18:45 / 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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Features:

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.

Pros:

  • Battery Life: 9 months on full charge (without further exposure to light)
  • Northerly calibration function
  • Full Auto LED (Super Illuminator) Backlight with Afterglow
  • Auto Calendar
  • 5 Daily Alarms

Cons:

  • Some resetting issues reported
  • Accuracy of altimeter is questionable
  • Wrist band is small

Customer Sentiment:

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

Sale
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 2020-10-20 at 19:32 / 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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Features: 

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.

Pros:

  • Mud Resistant Case & buttons are sealed to prevent mud, dirt and dust from getting into the watch
  • 40 records Memory capacity
  • Each sensor mode has its own audible tone, which means you can determine which mode you are entering without even looking at the watch.
  • Protective mineral crystal dial window
  • Solar-powered digital watch in stainless steel with multiple displays, red contrasts, and textured pushers
  • Quartz movement with analog display
  •  Watch can stay fully functional anywhere from 5-23 months without exposure to any light

Cons:

  • Display can be difficult to read
  • You have to take the watch off to get an accurate temperature reading

Customer Sentiment:

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

Sale
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 2020-10-20 at 19:32 / 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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Features:

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.

­­­­Pros:

  • Multiple global navigation satellite systems
  • TracBack feature to navigate the same route back to your starting point
  • Garmin Explore website and app to plan your trips in advance
  • Battery life: Up to 14 days in smartwatch mode, up to 16 hours in GPS mode, up to 40 hours in Ultratrac battery saver mode
  • Silicone strap material
  • Sleep tracking and other fitness tracking features

Cons:

  • Monochrome screen
  • The Band isn’t the most comfortable
  • Compass quality is only decent

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 AUTHORIZED DEALER - Includes Full GARMIN USA WARRANTY
  • Garmin Instinct Rugged GPS Watch Built to Withstand the Toughest Environments

Last update on 2020-10-20 at 19:32 / 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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Features:

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.

Pros:

  • 200-meter water-resistant
  • Shock-resistant
  • 39 time zones, and the ability to shut daylight saving on/off
  • 24 hours Countdown Timer
  • Solar charging
  • Dust- and mud-resistant structure
  • Carbon fiber insert band

Cons:

  • A bit pricey

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 2020-10-20 at 19:32 / 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 heartrate monitoring.


Buying Guide

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.

Durability

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.

Power

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.

Features

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’ve included a price for reference. Those may change and I don’t guarantee them. At the end of each review there’s a section about what others think of the product. I viewed hundreds of reviews and summed up the general consensus of product owners. One final note, I left out the very low end watches because they don’t meet the quality aspects you need in a bugout situation.


Verdict

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
Written by Joel Jefferson

Joel is one of the original founders of SurvivalCache.com. 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. Read more of Joel's articles.

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