The Best Watches Built for Outdoor Adventure
Whatever your outdoor arena of choice, these watches are sure to get the job done.
Optimizing packing space for backcountry trips typically means leaving behind bulky screens or other smart devices we so often rely on in our day-to-day. After all, venturing into rugged environments necessitates gear that can stand up to extremes. A watch is no different. A jack-of-all-trades piece that can pick up any slack makes a reliable watch one of the more important pieces of survival gear one can buy.
Fortunately, watches today carry more power than ever—and nowhere do those capabilities shine more than in the wilderness, in the water, or on the trail.
Comprehensive GPS data, built-in barometers that measure air pressure, altimeters that track elevation, compasses, and physical training tools that suit just about every sport or activity comprise today’s watches, making them invaluable tools for everyone from novice outdoors enthusiasts to the most hardcore alpinist.
To help you find one that suits you, we compiled a short list of a few incredibly capable time pieces that will meet and exceed your needs in the outdoors.
Summer travel is kicking into full gear, and that means more outdoors excitement and more folks pushing new limits. Whatever that adventure takes you, these watches are sure to get the job done.
Garmin Instinct 2 Solar
Garmin is a staple in the outdoor space for a reason, and the Instinct line is one of its most reliable.
Built using military-grade materials, the Instinct 2 Solar is designed to thrive in the harshest environments. It boasts thermal- and shock-resistance, as well as scratch-resistant Gorilla Glass, and is water resistant to 100 meters. The watch features built-in sports apps to monitor activity, around-the-clock health monitoring, global navigation systems, an altimeter and barometer, a three-axis compass, and a backtrack feature that traces the route out so you can find your way back with ease. Best yet, enjoy unlimited battery life thanks to solar charging. Grab one here.
Suunto 9 Peak
The Finnish watch-maker is renowned for churning out pieces that perform well both in the sleek category as well as performance. The ultralight, stainless steel 9 Peak smart watch is no exception.
A rechargeable battery can last up to two weeks using the standard time function, but per usual, Suuntos offer much more. More than 80 training modes are included, as are heart rate and blood O2 level monitoring tools, a barometer, and altimeter. The touch-screen watch is water resistant up to 100 meters and can be easily synced with the Suunto app to track activity progress. And thanks to its sapphire glass face, it’s durable. Grab one here.
Casio G-Shock Mudmaster GWG2000
Casios are perpetually underrated, and the aptly-named Mudmaster might be the most overlooked of them all. If you’re planning on venturing into unforgiving terrain, this solar-powered watch can handle everything you throw at it and more.
With mud- and shock-resistance and an impressive water resistance of 200 meters, the Mudmaster is built to endure. It features a thermometer, altimeter, barometer, double LED lighting, and a digital compass that will have you well-equipped in the backcountry. Sapphire glass and an upgraded carbon fiber casing makes this watch lighter and slimmer than its previous versions. Grab one here.
Garmin Fenix 7
If Garmin is one of the standard-setters for watch quality, the Fenix 7 is its pride and joy.
Various model types—Fenix 7, 7X, and 7S—deviate in size, solar, color, and even the inclusion of a built-in flashlight (Fenix 7X), but consistent across each model is adaptability and durability in the outdoors. Monitor your stamina in real time, track heart rate, stress levels, sleep, respiration, and blood oxygen levels. Battery life is superb, as are the watch’s navigation and smart features. Perhaps most impressive, however, is the Fenix 7’s incident detection ability, which sends messages—via automatic or manual settings—to emergency contacts in the event something goes wrong. Grab one here.
For the outdoor fitness enthusiast, it doesn’t get much better than the Suunto 7.
Select from an array of 70 sport modes to track activity with remarkable accuracy while knowing it’ll keep its integrity in just about any environment thanks to shock- and water-resistance layering and a Gorilla Glass face. Various apps, such as Strava or TrainingPeaks, are available to sync for keeping track of workout progress. And the watch features free offline maps with terrain, trail, and contour details, as well as built-in heatmaps for 15 training modes that show you popular routes in your area. Grab one here.
Amazfit T-Rex 2
One of the more budget-friendly options on this list is no slouch in the performance category.
The T-Rex 2 is a lightweight yet durable piece that stacks up nicely against pricier competition like the Fenix 7. With a battery that can last up to 45 days, the T-Rex 2 comes equipped with a staggering 150 sports modes to track exercise, an incredibly accurate GPS system, 24-hour health tracking, and an AMOLED display that stands up well when compared to its LED counterparts. With 158°F of heat resistance, as well as ice- and freezing rain-resistance, it thrives in any climate. Grab one here.
Polar Grit X Pro
Another lightweight option that packs a hefty punch for its mid-range price is the Polar Grit X Pro.
Built with military-grade durability in mind, this watch has an impressive battery life that can last up to 40 hours in nonstop training mode—130 sport modes are available to choose from. Features include Hill Splitter, which offers detailed information on elevation gains during hikes, and a weather option that provides a forecast up to two days in advance. Tailored daily workout suggestions, a fueling assistant, and automatic recovery measurement features ensure you stay ready to tackle whatever obstacle you have in your sights. Grab one here.