Reviewed & updated: October 19, 2022 by Jamie Wilson BA
Whether you’ll be wading your way through the jungle, scaling a snow-topped mountain or taking on the world as a Bond-style international man of mystery, you’re going to need some wrist wear fit for the occasion. In this guide, we’ve picked out the 10 best outdoor watches suitable for a real life action man.
What to Consider
Before deciding which adventure watch is your favourite, you’ll need to think about some important factors which could affect your decision:
- Where are you going to use it? There is pretty much an outdoor watch to suit every kind of outdoor adventure, so write a list of your must-have features to narrow down your search. Does it need to be waterproof for your deep sea dive with the sharks in the Indian Ocean? Or maybe you will need somewhere to store your running stats whilst you train for your next marathon? Being specific can make your decision easier.
- How much do you have to spend? A well-equipped watch isn’t going to be cheap if you want it to do its job properly. There is, however, a huge range when it comes to timepieces, so pick your top budget and only look within those confines.
Best For Water Sports
For fun in the sea, being waterproof is a fairly obvious requirement of your watch. However, that’s not the only feature that will make your life easier. Swimming, scuba diving, snorkelling or surfing can all benefit from the special features these watches have to offer. Here are some of the best sport watches.
Garmin Quatix 3
This watch was built for the high seas. Waterproof up to 100m and complete with connection to nautical data, the Quatix 3 is every aquaman’s delight. It can feed in data from a boat’s NMEA 2000 system for speed, temperature, depth, wind data and more, and it even tells sailors how deep to roll out their anchor when stopping at sea.
Battery life is good; it lasts up to 20 hours in GPS mode, 50 in UltraTrac, and six weeks as a normal watch. This is the first offering of a few that we have from Garmin; this one being very similar to the Fenix 3 that we see further down the list yet with extra features for the sea, including easy to use marine apps that provide local tide data, sail racing data, and fish catch counter and competition timer.
The design commands attention both on land and in the sea, and the buttons not only looks great, but they’re functional too. The strap is made from silicone, but it also comes with a leather one for on land when you’re after a slightly smarter look for your smartwatch.
With 10 times more data than any other traditional tide watch, this is the world’s first real-time surf conditions watch, and an evolution in technology means that tide, wave height, swell direction, wind direction and speed, and water and air temperatures are all there.
Design wise, it comes in 10 different colours, so there’s something for everyone. There’s a high-resolution display, and the whale belly pattern on the back side of the band helps channel the water off your wrist. If you fancy yourself as a surfer dude, then you can’t be without this watch.
Best For Working Out
Tracking one’s progress is key for any serious runner or gym bunny, and this category of watch is by far the most saturated. Great tools such as GPS and heart rate monitors help you to get the best out of a workout, and lightweight, vivid aesthetics make these watches perfect for a high energy, active lifestyle.
Timex Classic Digital Silvertone Bracelet Watch
Timex is a guarantee of high quality, unique designs and functionality. Thanks to this watch’s digital face and timers you’ll be able to effortlessly and stylishly keep track of your workout.
Withings Activité Pop
As far as workout watches go, this one is pretty smart, and it’s perfect if you don’t fancy splashing out a fortune for the latest offering. This rubber band watch comes in three different colours and is the bargain version of its big, slightly more suave brother, but still has tonnes to offer.
More fun and friendly, this training watch boasts a simple and streamlined analogue style design which doesn’t look too clumsy or high tech for those of you who prefer your gym watch to look like a watch, whilst the tech hides discreetly within. This good looking timepiece is great if you’re after a stylish tracker at a lower price. However, the software isn’t completely flawless, and some small points let this watch down. It’s the perfect balance between form and function.
One of the best running/gym watches around, the TomTom Spark has earned its stripes across all areas, coming top for price, features and performance. It boasts all the normal running techs but also has additional features, such as a built-in optical heart rate monitor, storage for listening to MP3s whilst working out, and it has the ability to plug into most running apps.
Wearables can be pretty huge, and this one is no exception, but the plus point is the clear display screen. The design as a whole is more subtle than previous offerings from TomTom, and its slimmer appearance makes it more wearable more of the time.
A rubber strap watch makes a great workout watch as it’s comfortable to wear for long periods of time, and the strap fastening keeps it locked in place so it doesn’t go walkabouts whilst you do. This is a competent fitness watch, which is attentive to practicality and functionality, and that won’t look too out of place if you wear it to work as well as the gym.
Best For Winter Sports
For icy adventures, make sure you pick a watch which can cope with the low temperatures, and like a hiking watch, it can measure weather conditions as well as help you navigate your way through tough terrains.
Garmin Fenix 3
If you’re looking for action-packed, then this bad boy is for you. Like most of the watches on this list it does a bit of everything, but is especially great for winter sports. This heavy duty watch, our second from Garmin, is a bit pricey but totally worth it, as it out performs a lot of other wearables on the market.
The design is improved from its predecessor, but it’s still fairly enormous, and when teamed with the metal strap of the Sapphire version (there’s also a rubber one) it weighs a tonne, which is a shame as the metal strap looks much classier. Size and weight aside, the battery life is good and the breadth of data it has sets it apart from the rest.
It can track your individual ski runs while recording speed, distance and vertical drop data, and there’s an automatic run counter with auto pause support. At the end of the day, enjoy Après-Ski whilst checking out your runs and comparing others from that day, as you chug back the drinks.
Suunto Ambit 3 Peak Black
Pushing the boundaries so that you can too, this offering from Suunto is one from a range of rugged adventure watches. The brand is synonymous with outdoor sports, and the watch itself features a pressure sensor which serves up weather and altitude data, whilst also recording all of the usual activity metrics.
It’s available with or without a heart rate sensor, and the fun bit is when connected to the smartphone app, you can take photos with your altitude overlaid, or use route data to create slick overview videos. If a futuristic aesthetic is right up your street, then look no further than this watch.
Best For Land Activities
Up until recently, the outdoorsy guy has been a little short-changed when it comes to watches, as most have been more in line for a run around the park than a trip to the wild. But if hiking and hunting are your thing, then these watches which measure altitude, weather conditions and navigation are going to be your saviour. Call them your heavy duty watches.
Garmin Foretrex 401 GPS
The perfect choice for hikers, climbers, and military personnel, this lightweight outdoor watch makes adventuring with two hands easy, and can tell you pretty much anything you need to know! With its built-in waterproof GPS receiver, electronic compass, and barometric altimeter, you’ll never feel alone up on the rocks again, and even in heavily wooded areas, you will be able to pick up signal as the technology is so sensitive.
Talking of tech; this outdoor watch makes sharing easy with its ability to connect to your computer via USB or even send data wirelessly to another device. Check on sunrise and sunset times, hunting and fishing information, and even find your way back home with the amazing TracBack feature.
Casio G9300-1 Mudman G-Shock
This watch boasts a whole host of great features, including a digital compass for navigation, to help keep your bearings when you venture into the unknown. It’s the perfect choice for hikers, hunters and fishermen, without breaking the bank.
Both shock and mud resistant to keep everything well protected, this timepiece also has cool added features like a thermo sensor and a moon graph, which will be really useful at night time to tell you how dark or light it’s going to be. Although we’ve put this in the land section, it is in fact waterproof up to 200m, which is amazing, and it’s also a world timer watch, covering 31 different time zones.
If you’re looking for a Jack of all trades, then look no further than these multi-functional marvels, which are both practical and easy on the eye.
Casio G7900A-4 G-Shock
Whether you’re a hardened athlete or a casual fitness fan, the G-Shock range from Casio is a great all rounder. This particular model is a great multi-functional sports watch and has a little bit of everything to offer. It features moon and tide graphs, 29 different time zones, and it works as a stopwatch and a countdown timer too.
It has easy to use buttons, even when you’re wearing gloves in the cold weather, and its shock resistant and water resistant up to a whopping 660 feet! In freezing, frigid temperatures, the low-temperature LCD screen is still easy to see, and this highly functional watch is actually surprisingly affordable.
Breitling Emergency II
If it’s a sophisticated aesthetic you’re after, then the Breitling Emergency II fits the bill. Giving you just the right amount of what you need, and nothing you don’t, this outdoor watch is a must to have strapped to your wrist if you want the added safety net of being rescued by a team of people if you ever run into any trouble.
10 Best Outdoor Watches
- Know what activities you will look for and search for your style accordingly.
- Set an upper price limit and stick to your budget (these watches can get pricey).
- Test the watch. Make sure the features are right for you, the weight isn’t too bad and lastly the strap is comfortable.
- Lastly, look after your watch. You want it to last right?
On That Note
Once seen as a timeless gift, an heirloom, a status symbol; the watch is all of those things and so much more. Today we can have a watch for work, a weekend watch and even a timepiece only brought out on special occasions. But what about something more practical?
The world of watches is quite an extensive one, and one that can be quite overwhelming if you’re not totally sure what you’re doing. We have done the hard work for you and picked our best outdoor watches to suit all budgets for you gadget-loving crusaders out there.
No matter your preference of activity, there is definitely a watch out there for you. Technology has developed, so there’s a lot out there on the market. Just don’t get bogged down with all the features and end up buying something you don’t need.
Feature image from Pinterest