Best Survival Watches That Can Go Through Hell & Back

By "Just In Case" Jack | Updated: 03/05/2024

Best Survival WatchA survival watch is the only gear I wear daily – no matter what.

It goes where I go.

I can’t say the same thing for my other survival gear.

I always try to take most of my EDC gear, but sometimes, it’s impossible.

For example:

However, a survival watch? It can (and does) go anywhere.

That’s why you should invest in a great one.

  • One you can trust.
  • One that’s insanely tough and reliable.
  • A survival watch that will go through hell and back.

So today, I’m going to use my background in Engineering, Manufacturing, and Design to help you find the perfect watch:

TOPICS IN TODAYS ARTICLE…    ↓(click to jump)
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Best Survival Watches On The Market Today

There are so many great survival watches available today.

They’re tough, powered by solar, and include sensors to help you survive.

So the best way to narrow your search is to highlight our favorite watch series.

From there, you’ll be able to find the exact watch that best meets your needs (color, price point, etc.):

1. Our Top Recommendation (the one I own)
Garmin Instinct Tactical Watch Series

When it comes to rugged watches, Garmin is a name you can trust.

This bad boy is built to withstand even the harshest of conditions and keep ticking like a well-oiled machine.

One of the first things you'll notice about the Instinct Tactical is its tough, no-nonsense design. The watch face is protected by a high-strength thermoplastic casing and reinforced with scratch-resistant Corning Gorilla glass.

It's also water-resistant up to 100 meters, so you can take it swimming, kayaking, or out in a good ol' fashioned downpour without worry.

But the Instinct Tactical isn't just a pretty face – it's also loaded with a whole heap of features that'll make your survivalist's heart skip a beat.

First up, it's got built-in GPS, GLONASS, and Galileo satellite systems, so you can navigate even the most treacherous of terrains with ease.

Plus, it's got a 3-axis compass and barometric altimeter, so you can get an accurate read on your location and altitude at all times.

And that's not all – the Instinct Tactical also has a range of specialized tactical features, including stealth mode (which disables wireless connectivity and mutes all tones), a dual-position GPS formatting option (that allows you to switch between MGRS and latitude/longitude), and a Jumpmaster mode (that calculates high-altitude release points based on military guidelines).

But perhaps my favorite feature of the Instinct Tactical is its long battery life – this watch can go up to 14 days in smartwatch mode, up to 16 hours in GPS mode, and up to 40 hours in Ultratrac battery saver mode.

All in all, the Garmin Instinct Watch Series is a top-notch survival tool that any serious survivalist would be proud to wear on their wrist.

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↓The BEST SURVIVAL Watch: Garmin Tactical Instinct

Casio G Shock Watch Series

The Casio Master of G-Series Watches is one of the toughest, most durable scratch resilient watch series you can find.

These watches are engineered to survive the most grueling situations you can think of.

They adapted and evolved to respond successfully to sky, land, and sea conditions.

There are three main watch categories within this series:

  1. Gravity Master - a watch series with pilots and air travel in mind.
  2. Mud Master - built to withstand cross-trek adventures in the trenches.
  3. Gulf Master / Frogman - ideal watches for those who spend time on or in the water.

These watches all include Shock Resistant Technology, and most have Triple Sensors, which include the following sensors:

  • Altitude
  • Barometric Pressure
  • Temperature

Plus, they include atomic timekeeping and a digital compass as well.

And lastly, you can find one that uses tough solar to keep your timepiece's battery topped off.

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↓Top 5 Best Casio G Shock Watches For Survival

Luminox Bear Grylls Watch Series

If you're a fan of the great outdoors, then you're probably already familiar with Bear Grylls.

This guy is a bonafide survival legend, and he's teamed up with the folks over at Luminox to bring you one heck of a timepiece.

First off, this watch is tough as nails.

It's made from high-grade materials like carbon-reinforced polycarbonate and has been designed to withstand even the harshest conditions.

Whether you're trudging through the mud, scaling a mountain, or swimming in the ocean, this watch has your back.

But that's not all!

This watch is also packed with features that any survivalist worth their salt is sure to appreciate.

It has a built-in compass and a tachymeter for measuring speed and distance.

And let's not forget about the luminous hands and markers, which make it easy to read even in low-light conditions.

Plus, this watch is water-resistant up to 200 meters, so you don't have to worry about it getting damaged if you take a dip in the pool or get caught in a rainstorm.

All in all, the Luminox Bear Grylls Survival Watch is a top-of-the-line timepiece that's built to last and designed to help you survive whatever Mother Nature throws your way.

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↓Luminox Bear Grylls Watches | Review

Casio Pro-Trek Watch Series

These bad boys are the ultimate tool for any outdoor adventure. They're rugged, durable, and packed with all the features you need to stay on top of your game. With a Pro-Trek watch on your wrist, you'll always know what's going on around you.

They come with features like GPS, altimeter, barometer, compass, and even a thermometer. Plus, they're water-resistant, so you can take them on any aquatic adventure.

But that's not all – these watches are also solar-powered, which means you never have to worry about replacing the battery. And they come in a variety of colors and styles to suit your personal taste.

Overall, the Casio Pro-Trek Watch Series is a must-have for anyone who spends time in the great outdoors. They're tough, reliable, and incredibly useful – everything you need in a survival tool. So, what are you waiting for? Get your hands on a Pro-Trek watch today!

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↓Casio ProTrek: Best Outdoor Watch Made?

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What Is A Survival Watch Anyway?

They can fall into one of two categories :

1. Paracord Watch

A paracord watch acts as a mini survival tin on your wrist.

All these watches have similar features.

They’re often analog watches that tell time and often include a fire starter, whistle, and compass.

Then the watch band is made out of paracord.

2. Technically Advanced Watch

These types of watches act as a mini survival computer on your wrist.

These digital watches include key features such as a compass, GPS, barometer, thermometer, altimeter, and sunrise/sunset times.

In this article, I will focus on watches that act as a computer on your wrist.

So whenever I refer to “survival watches,” I mean mini-computer ones unless stated otherwise.

I won’t cover paracord watches because I’ve never come across one I’d wear. 

Instead, I keep my watch and my paracord bracelet separate.

I’ve tested a few, and they’re just not good enough.

It’s like buying one of those pre-made survival tins for $10.

They’re a great concept, but they lack quality.

The fire starters on these watches are minuscule, which makes them easy to break and hard to use.

They also tend to have cheap, unreliable 2-cent compasses.

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

And as far as paracord goes, I carry it with me in other ways.

So instead, I suggest you make or buy a survival paracord bracelet and add it to one wrist.

Then invest in a high-quality watch and put it on the other wrist – as I do.


How A Watch Can Save Your Life

Perhaps you’re out hunting, wound a deer, and begin tracking its blood trail.

Tracking further into the remote wilderness until you realize it’s almost dark out.

Or maybe you’re out picking berries and hear other humans approaching.

You can tell they’re not friendly, and you also can’t tell how many of them 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 enjoying the great outdoors via an off-trail hike?

But the weather is changing for the worst.

You’re forced to take cover before the storm hits.

What does each of these situations have in common?

You’re stranded and lost in the wilderness.

This is when your watch can become a real lifesaver.

This is when you need the critical information on your wrist only a quality survival watch can provide.

Altimeter, barometer, compass, temperature, GPS signal, maps, etc.

This is data you can use to get yourself back to safety.

Allowing you to adventure into the bush with confidence.

Knowing you have the intel to return to safety fast if things go south.

↓ The Reason MILITARY Guys WEAR Their WATCH Like This

Survival Gear Checklist eBook Cover -with fire piston on a rock and campfire in the background

Want a free 54 item survival gear checklist?

Click here to instantly download this Complete Checklist PDF. No purchase necessary.

Best Survival Watch Features To Look For

Of course, any watch worth wearing must, first and foremost, accurately tell the time.

It also must have excellent battery life (or, even better, be solar-powered).

It should also be waterproof and be as tough as hell.

But the survival features kick in once you go beyond these basic features.


A barometer can sense atmospheric pressure.

Often times changes in atmospheric pressure predict significant weather changes.

↓ The Barometer Explained

Two of the most dangerous threats in survival situations are extreme exposure and lack of clean water.

But, if you have a barometer on your watch, you’ll be more aware of bad weather approaching.

You’ll know way ahead of time if the weather is making a surprising change.

You can either turn back sooner and avoid getting stuck out there or hunker down well before it arrives.

In most cases, by the time you see the rain coming, it’s too late.

And if you get wet in cold weather, you’re in danger of hypothermia and a world of hurt.

Instead, you can use your watch’s barometer to predict oncoming wind and rain.

This helps you prepare yourself for a risky situation.

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

If you get stuck out in the wilderness and know rain is coming, get some fresh rainwater to quench your thirst.


If you live in a mountainous region and don’t know your exact location, an altimeter can help.

An altimeter on your watch tells you your exact altitude.

So if you have a topographical map, it helps narrow down where you’re on it.

And when you know where you’re at, you can find your way back to camp or civilization.

This is a must-have feature if you live or enjoy traveling to regions with significant elevation changes.

↓ How An Altimeter Helps You Navigate


The compass is one of the most valuable survival tools around.

Sure, several bushcraft methods exist to find your direction without a compass.

But for accuracy and speed, nothing beats having a high-quality compass.

Natural navigation includes understanding thicker tree branches reach for the sun, which indicates a southern direction.

Doable but not easy.

Even experts can struggle to get natural navigation right every time.

↓ Natural Navigation Part 1 – Determining Direction Using Trees

But for survival, it’s best to learn how to navigate without a compass, but always carry a compass and a map!

Why not put that compass on your wrist where you’ll never forget it?

↓ How to Use a Map and Compass

Sunrise & Sunset Times

If you’re far from your vehicle or campsite, you must ensure you return to safety before sunset.

Navigating in the dark is never a good idea because it’s dangerous and difficult.

So it’s a big advantage to know exactly when sunset is.

That way, you don’t have to use your extended arm and 4 fingers to estimate how many hours until sunset.

Instead, a watch with sunset/sunrise times tells you exactly how many MINUTES until darkness.

↓ How to use Sunrise & Sunset Times


I  like to know the temperature outside at all times…

So, yes, I admit I’m a temperature geek.

It stems from growing up on a rural farm, where knowing the weather was a badge of honor.

But it’s also essential when you’re:

And when you are out having fun, losing track of your body temperature is easy.

You’ll forget how cold it is when you’re working hard.

You’ll FEEL hot, so you think,

“it’s not THAT cold; I’ll be fine.”

But what happens when you stop working, and you’re still sweating?

Maybe it’s cooler than you realized.

Perhaps you would 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 monitor 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.”

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 focus so intensely on your activity that you don’t listen to your body.

Instead, use your 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 heatstroke.

Should You Rely On Watch Technology?

A survival watch worth investing in will be high-tech.

They do so much more than tell time.

So before we discuss these features, I wanted to clarify my thoughts on technology.

You should never completely rely on technology in a survival situation.

Technology can and does fail, pure and simple.

I have nothing against technology but have a love/hate relationship with it.

Technology is there because it makes our lives easier.

But easier is not a survival skill.

It’s a survival curse.

To be self-reliant, you must learn the best survival skills, knowledge, and tools.

Ones that don’t rely on technology.

At the same time, would you rather cut down a tree with a chainsaw or an axe?

The answer is a chainsaw, but I also own a sharp survival axe on hand, just in case.

I even enjoy using an axe.

It’s fun; it’s good exercise, but you use a chainsaw when you want to get the job done fast.

It’s the same idea as my watch.

I use it always, but I always carry a map and compass.

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 easily as possible, use technology.

And that’s why I choose to wear a high-tech watch.

Final Thoughts

I love redundancy.

I’ve got an engineering background, so redundancy is everything to me.

That’s why I believe owning a survival watch is imperative.

It’s still important to learn navigation skills.

And nothing beats basic survival skills, like using a compass, but a watch is easier to use, and technology can improve life.

That’s the whole point of technology, right?

Easier, and fewer mistakes.

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