Best Survival Watches When Every Second Counts

Best Survival Watches When Every Second Counts
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survival watch

What Is A Survival Watch?

A survival watch can come one of two basic forms:

  1. Watches that act like a mini survival tin on your wrist. All of these survival watches have similar features. They tell the time, have a fire starter, whistle, compass and use paracord as the band.
  2. Watches that act as a mini survival computer for your wrist. These watches include features such as a compass, GPS, barometer, thermometer, altimeter, and sunrise/sunset times.

In this article, I’m going focus on the survival watches that act as a computer on your wrist. So whenever I refer to “survival watch” I mean ones that are a mini computer unless stated otherwise.

The reason I’m not going to cover the survival watches that act as a wearable survival tin is because I’ve never come across a good one. Without naming names, I’ve tested a few and they’re just not good enough.

It’s sort of like buying one of those pre-made survival tins for $10. They’re a great concept, but they regularly lack quality. The fire starters on these “survival watches” are tiny, which makes them easy to break off. Which makes them hard to use, especially without decent tinder. They also tend to have cheap, unreliable 2 cent compasses.

I just wouldn’t put my life in the hands of a product like that.

And as far as paracord goes, I carry it with me at all times with other paracord projects. So instead, I suggest you make or buy a decent paracord bracelet and add it to one wrist. Then invest in a high-quality survival watch and put it on the other wrist.

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treesHow A Survival Watch Can Save Your Life

So you’ve bugged out, now what? How close to your bug out location will you be at all times? Of course not, you’ll do some exploring.

Perhaps you’re out hunting, wound a deer, and begin the process of tracking it’s blood trail.

Or maybe your picking berries and hear other humans approaching. You have no idea if they’re friendly and you also can’t tell how many of them there are. Or if they’re armed. So you panic and high-tail it out of there in an unfamiliar direction.

Or what if you’re just enjoying the great outdoors via an off-trail hike.

What do each these situations have in common? You are in the wilderness and on the move, so you can easily lose your bearings. This is when your survival watch can become a real lifesaver.

Technology Dependent SocietyShould You Rely On Technology?

Most good survival watches are high-tech and high-quality these days. They can do so much more than just tell time. Before I go on with discussing all the gadgets and gizmos available on survival watches, I wanted to be clear about my thoughts on technology.

I strongly believe that you shouldn’t completely rely on technology in a SHTF situation. Because technology fails, pure and simple. I have nothing against technology, but I do have a love/hate relationship with it.

Technology is there because it makes our lives easier. The problem is we can’t solely rely on it because when it fails we’re in trouble. We need to have the survival skills, knowledge, and tools, that don’t rely on technology or we can get into serious trouble.

At the sam time, would you rather cut down a tree with a chainsaw or an axe? Obviously, the answer is a chainsaw, but I’ve also got a sharp axe on hand, just in case. I like using an axe. It’s fun; it’s good exercise, but when you want to get the job done fast, you use a chainsaw.

It’s the same idea with my survival watch. I use it all the time, but I always carry a map and compass with me as well. I know how to get my bearing using nature. It’s important to practice navigational skills, but when you want to get things done as easy as possible; use technology.

And that’s why I wear a high tech survival watch.

Useful Features Of A Survival Watch

Of course, a survival watch must be able to accurately tell the time and date, have an excellent battery life (or even better be solar powered), be waterproof and built tough as hell. When you go beyond these basic features, that’s when the fun starts.

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Global Positioning System (GPS)

In a SHTF situation and you bug out, it’s easy to get lost. Your heart will pound, your breath will quicken and your psychological state will become heightened. One word – panic.

Imagine what it will be like in a SHTF situation, you’ll be on edge. You won’t be in your normal calm state.

When you’re on in this state you’re more likely to make mistakes. And a single mistake often leads to another and all of a sudden you’re scared and you panic.

You start thinking to yourself “I know it’s just past that hill” or “I know it’s just past that outcrop of trees”. You’re not thinking straight. You don’t mark your trail. You scramble to where you think is the right direction, get to that place, and then realize you were wrong. Next, you turn around and think to yourself, which way did I come from?

If you think this can’t happen to you, it absolutely can. Most people who get lost, do so under innocent circumstances. Day hikers, campers, backpackers, and hunters are the most likely people to become lost. It’s those of us who enjoy spending lots of time in the great outdoors.

Why? Because if you don’t go outdoors much, there are very few opportunities for you to get lost. At least not wilderness lost. And if you spend lots of hours in the outdoors, that can cause complacency.

A couple of examples of what can happen:

Maybe you’re out mushroom hunting and you stumble on the perfect patch, then see another patch further along. Then you notice another patch just a little further ahead. You’re enjoying yourself, but before you know it, you turn around, and you’re lost.

What if you’re tracking game and you’re so focused you forget to pay attention to your direction. Or you’re out fishing for “just a few hours” so you don’t bother taking any survival gear with you. Plus, it’s only just around the bend a little ways, but then your boat motor dies.

The most embarrassing story I’ve heard was someone wandered out of camp to answer nature’s call. This guy wanted complete privacy so he ventured out of sight of camp. Not paying attention, he got a lost and failed to retrace his steps.

He was too embarrassed to call out for help. Obviously, he didn’t want to look like a fool by getting lost so close to camp.

Of course, what came next was sheer panic, and he got way off course. Panic and fear can cause a once rational person to expound their mistakes. He was found the next day a mile from camp. He panicked and started charging in the direction he thought camp was without thinking.

The moral of the story is that it’s easy to get lost in the woods, especially if you panic. In a SHTF situation, it’s unlikely a rescue team is coming. So you’ll have to rely on yourself to get back to safety.

However, if you’ve got GPS on your survival watch and you know the coordinates of your bug out location, you’ll easily find your way back to base camp.


Two of the most dangerous and immediate threats in a survival situation are extreme exposure and lack of clean water. But, if you have a barometer on your watch, you’ll be more aware of potential bad weather so you can hunker down well before it arrives.

In most cases, by the time you see rain coming, it’s too late. And if you get wet in cold weather, you’re in danger of hypothermia, and in a world of hurt. Instead, you can utilize the barometer on your survival watch to better predict oncoming rain. Helping you prepare yourself for a risky situation.

Another way a barometer can help you survive is to prompt you to set up catchments collect oncoming rain water.


If you live in a mountainous region and don’t know your exact location an altimeter can help. An altimeter on your survival watch, tells you your exact altitude. So if you have a topographical map it helps to narrow down where you’re at on the map. And when you know where you’re at, you can find your way back to camp or civilization.

Navigation With A CompassCompass

One of the most valuable survival tools around. There are several bushcraft methods to find direction. But for accuracy and speed, nothing beats having a high-quality compass.

Natural bushcraft includes understanding that thicker branches on trees often face towards the sun, which indicates a southern direction.

Moss grows better on the northern side of trees.

You can even put a stick into the ground and use shadows to get your bearings.

But in SHTF, and you’re panicking, having a compass on your watch is better than relying on bushcraft. It’s easy to make mistakes when panicking, that’s why having a compass on your watch will result in fewer navigational errors.

Technology can fail, so it’s important to be able to get your bearings using bushcraft. But if the technology hasn’t failed, a compass is an asset I want with me at all times.

Cold Weather Hiker 1Sunrise & Sunset Times

If you’re away from your bug out location you’ll want to get back before sunset. You likely don’t want to navigate in the dark because it’s dangerous and difficult. So you better know when sunset is.

What if you’re moving to another location and need to put up a survival shelter or your collecting firewood. If you get sunset wrong and are still using a survival hatchet or a machete at dusk, it’s easy to make a mistake and do some serious damage. Especially if you’re rushing to get the task done or you’re tired. If you know what time the sun is setting from your watch, you’ll be better organized and avoid mistakes.


I like to know what the temperature is at all times, so I admit it, and I’m a temperature geek. It probably stems from the fact that I grew up in a rural farming area. But it’s essential to keep track of temperatures when you’re:

It’s easy to lose track of your own body temperature.

When you’re working hard and sweating, you won’t realize just how cold it is out. You feel hot and so it’s easy to think to yourself “it’s not that cold, I’ll be fine.” The problem comes when you stop working, and you’re still sweating.

Maybe it’s cooler than you realized. Perhaps you were going to make your fire after your activities but run into issues getting one started. When conditions are wrong, hypothermia can happen fast.

So if you can keep an eye on the temperature, you’ll know if you’re sweating too much. And if it’s too cold and can’t dry off, you’ll have issues. Instead, avoid working up a sweat and take plenty of breaks.

In the words of Les Stroud, “if you sweat, you die.”

The same principle applies if it’s hot. If it’s hot and you’re sweating but think to yourself, “I just need to get this task done” you risk a heat stroke. It’s easy to do, to focus so intensely on your activity that you don’t listen to your body.

Instead, use your survival watch to check the temperature often. And if it’s really hot, take lots of breaks and drink lots of fluids to prevent a serious heat stroke.

The Conclusion

I love redundancy. I’ve got an engineering background, so redundancy is everything to me. That’s why I believe a owning a survival watch is imperative.

It’s still important to learn navigation skills. And nothing beats basic survival skills, using a compass and a map, but a survival watch is easy to use, and technology can make life easier. That’s the whole point of technology.

If it makes survival easier, it leads to fewer mistakes.

Here’s a table showing a few of the best survival watch options available on the market today. I included several price points, but as with most things in life, you get what you pay for.

Survival Watches Comparison Table

Casio Pathfinder
High - Check Today's PriceAlt
SolarAll Around Great Survival Watch
Casio G Shock Rangeman
High - Check Today's PriceAlt
SolarTriple 10 - 10 Meter Fall Endurance / 10 Bar Water Resistance / 10 Year Battery Life
Casio G Shock MudMaster
High - Check Today's PriceTemp OnlyBatteryMud Resistant - Can Withstand Harshest Envrionments
Casio Solar Sport Combo
Low - Check Today's PriceNoneSolarBudget Friendly Solar Survival Watch

You can find even more recommended survival watches at my Survival Watches Guide.

As A Way To Introduce You To Skilled Survival, We’re Giving Away Our #104 Item Bug Out Bag Checklist. Click Here To Get Your FREE Copy Of It.
About The Author –

I’ve always enjoyed the outdoors and spend as much time as I can outdoors. Prepping has always been in my family, being self-reliant is in my blood. – Steve The Survivor

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