Best Survival Watch: Timepieces for Dire Situations

(Last Updated On: December 14, 2019)

Aside from the most hardcore bushcrafters and survivalists, most people would rather steer clear of survival situations. Of course, a smart outdoorsman is always prepared for the worst. With that said, one of the most important gear that you should have for dire situations is a survival watch.

Technically, a regular tough analog watch can be used to survive in the wild. However, if you want the best survival watch, you want a model that offers the bells and whistles along with the toughness. Think GPS/GLONASS capabilities, TOPO maps, and ABC features.

Today, we made the best survival watch list to help you choose the best timepiece for survival situations.

Best Survival Watch

Key Features

Our Rating

Casio G-Shock GW9400 Rangeman

Multi-Band Atomic Timekeeping, Receives time calibration radio signals, Manual receive function, Triple Sensor, Solar-Powered Movement, Low Temperature Resistant

★ ★ ★ ★ ★

Suunto Traverse Alpha

Rugged, knurled stainless steel bezel, Water repellent nylon strap, Location-based moon Phase calendar, Automatic shot detection technology, Compatible with Suunto Movescount App, GPS & GLONASS via SIRFStarV chip

★ ★ ★ ★ ★

Timex Expedition Classic

Adjustable black 18mm resin strap, Integrated mini compass, 100 hour chronograph, Acrylic lens, Indiglo light-up watch dial, Water-resistant to 100m (330 ft), 24-hour countdown timer

★ ★ ★ ★ ½

Garmin Instinct

Constructed to U. S. Military standard, Built in 3 axis compass and barometric altimeter, Smart notifications, TrackBack feature

★ ★ ★ ★ ½

Victorinox Swiss Army I.N.O.X. Carbon

I.N.O.X. Carbon, Black dial, black Para cord strap, Carbon case with triple-coated anti-reflective sapphire crystal, Swiss-quartz Movement, Water resistant 200m (660ft)

★ ★ ★ ★

Casio Pathfinder Triple Sensor

Solar-Powered, ABC features, Triple Sensor, EL Backlit, World Time, 6-Months battery life on full charge, 51-mm stainless steel case, Quartz movement with digital display, Resin band, Water resistant to 100 m (330 ft)

★ ★ ★ ★

Best Survival Watch

1. Casio G-Shock GW9400 Rangeman

Casio’s G-Shock line is legendary for heavy-duty toughness and great value proposition. Literally, any G-Shock can be used for survival situations. However, if you want the best survival watch from the G-Shock line, the Casio G-Shock GW9400 Rangeman is a sure bet.

Survival of the Toughest

The GW9400 Rangeman was tested and designed to withstand even the most challenging conditions.

It comes with the Triple Sensor feature which is basically the compass, altimeter, thermometer and barometer. This enables you to receive real-time feedback and information about your surroundings. There’s also a sunrise/sunset timing which is a plus during dire situations.

As mentioned, the GW9400 Rangeman has set the standard when it comes to toughness. It features insane shock-resistance and respectable water resistance. All of the sensors are properly protected as well to ensure top-notch durability. Plus, it comes with a 10-year battery life which is always a welcome benefit.

The GW9400 Rangeman is also a solar watch which means that battery life will never become an issue down the line. It’s no wonder that this watch is favored not just by survivalists but also outdoorsmen, law enforcement, military personnel, and more.

2. Suunto Traverse Alpha

The Suunto Traverse Alpha isn’t quite a smartwatch but it might as well be. If you are looking for a survival watch with comprehensive features, the Traverse Alpha is more than a solid choice.

Feature-Packed Survival Tool

For starters, the Suunto Traverse Alpha is specially designed for outdoor use. It features a rugged, knurled stainless steel bezel which can take a lot of punishment. The nylon strap is durable and water resistant as well. The premium scratch resistant sapphire crystal glass does a great job of protecting the face.

When you’re in a dicey situation, you’ll appreciate the Traverse Alpha’s GPS/GLONASS navigation. This allows you to keep your bearings and prevent you from losing your way. Another impressive feature is the customizable, night-vision-goggle-compatible red backlight which allows you to read the watch without blowing your cover.

The watch also comes with a barometric pressure graph and storm alarms so you can stay on top of weather changes. In a survival scenario, being able to predict the weather can be a lifesaver. The battery life can only last up to 14 days but it should be more than enough to get you out of a pinch.

Overall, the Traverse Alpha is one of my favorite outdoor gear. It just delivers no all fronts especially with features and durability.

3. Timex Expedition Classic

The best survival watch doesn’t need to have all the bells and whistles. In many cases, you’ll be fine with a timepiece that has excellent reliability. The Timex Expedition Classic definitely fits the bill.

The Budget-Friendly Survival Watch

While the Expedition Classic isn’t as feature-packed as the rest of the selections on this list, it has enough basic features to help you survive in the wild. It features an integrated mini compass which is handy for navigation. It’s not the most advanced compass but it gets the job done.

It comes with an adjustable resin strap which is surprisingly tough enough even for the most rigid applications. For timekeeping, it has 100-hour chronograph, lap and split times, 24-hour countdown timer, month, day & date calendar, 24-hour military time mode, and 2 time zones. The functions are all basic but it’s hard to complain, especially at this price point.

As for the price point, it’s a sub-$50 watch so it’s an excellent choice if budget is an issue. Or perhaps, you can buy multiple units for varying applications. However, don’t expect to replace it soon since this watch is one tough customer.

Overall, the Timex Expedition Classic is tough, super comfortable, lightweight, and highly durable. It’s just a reliable timepiece that won’t break the bank.

4. Garmin Instinct

There’s a big overlap between an outdoor watch and a survival watch. Garmin Instinct is primarily designed for outdoor applications, making it an excellent choice for bushcrafters, preppers, and survivalists.

From Outdoor Adventures to Survival Scenarios

The Garmin Instinct outdoor watch is like a smartwatch for people who don’t like smartwatches. Most smartwatches won’t fair well outdoors but the opposite can be said when Garmin is on the case.

The Instinct is designed to withstand the toughest outdoor conditions. It’s constructed to U. S. Military standard 810G for thermal, shock and water resistance, so this one won’t die on you as you brave the elements. Plus, it doesn’t hurt that it features a proper tactical look.

This watch excels in navigation. It supports GPS, GLONASS, and Galileo satellites and the Instinct can connect to these satellites quite quick. Unfortunately, it doesn’t come with built-in TOPO maps but you do get other navigation features such as a compass and the ability to upload routes.

Another excellent survival feature is the TracBack function. It allows you to take the same route back to the starting point. You don’t have to worry about getting lost as you scout locations and collect rations.

Ultimately, the Garmin Instinct isn’t exactly a smartwatch but it’s a highly reliable survival tool.

5. Victorinox Swiss Army I.N.O.X. Carbon

Sometimes, the best survival watch just needs to be reliable. Something that will help you keep time reliably as things go south. In this case, the Swiss-made Victorinox Swiss Army I.N.O.X. Carbon comes highly recommended.

Unparalleled Toughness and Reliability

When compared to other entries on this list, the I.N.O.X. Carbon looks woefully under-equipped. You won’t find any on-board sensors and navigational features here. However, it’s still an amazing timepiece for surviving dicey situations, and that’s mainly due to its toughness and reliability.

In fact, the watch part is quite basic in itself. However, that doesn’t mean that it’s not a good watch for survival scenarios. The watch features a standard three-hand dial and a date window. Again, fairly standard stuff and this one won’t help you navigate any environment. But it more than makes up for its inherent durability.

This watch is a military-grade unit that will get you through the field with little to no problem. The carbon composite case ensures that this watch won’t break even under pressure. It’s literally tough enough to survive being run over by a truck or tank for that matter. Victorinox claims that it has subjected the watch to over 130 and durability tests.

From military folks to hardcore survivalists, the Victorinox Swiss Army I.N.O.X. Carbon is a tough one to pass.

6. Casio Pathfinder Triple Sensor

Casio’s Pathfinder line is another great contender for the best survival watch that money can buy. Personally, you can just fill this list with Casio timepieces and be done with it. The Casio Pathfinder Triple Sensor is reliable, durable, and keeps good time.

Built to Last

Casio’s tough solar units are almost always reliable. The Pathfinder boasts the venerable Triple Sensor feature which means that it comes with a thermometer, barometer, altimeter and compass. With these features, you’ll have more fighting chance when surviving in the wild.

As for the reliability, the Pathfinder Triple Sensor has a water resistance rating of 100 meters (330 feet). Unlike many so-called water-resistant watches, the buttons on this watch will keep working even when submerged underwater. This adds a good deal of longevity to the timepiece.

It’s a digital display that may turn off some people. However, the display is crisp and clean, and you’ll know the information that you need with just a quick glance. This is one of the most important aspects of a survival watch, at-a-glance readability.

Overall, the Pathfinder Triple Sensor is a great watch that you can use for both outdoor and survival applications.

Be Prepared for the Worst

That wraps up our list of the best survival watch that will bail you out of a sticky situation. Just to be clear, these watches won’t directly save your life when facing a survival scenario. However, they are certainly nice to have as additional tools to help keep you level-headed and safe.

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