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The Best Tactical Survival Watches

by | May 26, 2017 | Reviews

A tactical watch is more than just an ordinary timepiece. Tactical watches are designed for survivalists. They can withstand the elements and stand up to enormous amounts of abuse; you know that even if the power fails, a good tactical watch won’t. The best of these timepieces are scratch, shock and water resistance, and many come with path-finding or navigational features too.

Historically, our preference is for traditional analog models. These have greater longevity and reliability, which is essential if the worst were to occur. The developments in digital watch technology, however, can make even the most hardcore traditionalist change their mind about a digital watch. If you are set on picking up a digital watch, you can usually expect the battery to last about a year. You might want to consider one that has kinetic or solar charging function. However, as with all good survival equipment, the best tactical watches do not come cheap.

Summary Tables

Rank#1#2#3#4#5
Product


Garmin

Forerunner 230


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Casio

G-Shock Rangeman


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Casio

Analog/Digital


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Timex

T49928DH


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Suunto Core

SS014279010


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Price$$$$$$$$
Rating4.4 Stars4.7 Stars4.6 Stars3.9 Stars3.9 Stars
ProsWatch + Activity tracker, GPS, large screenWeather proof, 7 month battery life, shock resistantUSA made, solid build, water resistantEstablished brand, buckle closure, great compassTons of features, clear display, weather resistant
ConsLow screen brightness, a few technical challengesNone.Display is a bit darkLarge face, mediocre displayExpensive
Waterproof?YesYesYesYesYes
Weight1.44 oz10.4 oz5.6 oz0.17 lbs2.26 oz

Summary Tables

The Survival Watches

What follows are my personal recommendations for the best tactical watches, based on the criteria that I outlined above.

1. Garmin Forerunner 230

Force Yellow

Our Rating:  4.4 Stars (4.4/5)
GPS  
Waterproof  Yes
Weight  1.44 oz

 

We said above that we prefer analog watches over digital tactical watches, but the Garmin Tactix packs a large number of useful features for survival enthusiasts and serious preppers. Amazingly, this watch packages an effect GPS system, presented through a crisp and clear negative display screen. Garmin has included an interesting ‘backtrack’ feature, meaning that if you lose your way in the wilderness, this tactical watch will help you retrace your steps and rejoin your path. There is also a compass and barometer, and the watch’s lens is scratch and glare resistant.

Despite all its fantastic features, some preppers might feel that relying on GPS and satellites might not be a great long-term bet. Most serious survival enthusiasts will also be competent using a map and compass, too. However, if your budget will stretch to it and you’re looking for a feature packed digital tactical watch, you cannot go wrong with the Garmin.

2. Casio G-Shock Rangeman

GW-9400-1ER

Our Rating: 4.7 Stars (4.7/5)
Water Resistance
 660 feet water resistance
Shock Resistance
10 meter free-fall endurance
Weight  10.4 oz

The Casio Rangeman is not the easiest tactical watch to set up, but once you get it running, you will find that it is absolutely packed with features. Another digital watch, it boasts an altimeter, barometer, thermometer, data on sunrise and sunset times and a handy digital compass. Its combination of resin and stainless steel give the Rangeman a distinctive look; obviously, a Casio watch but definitely one build with survivalists in mind.

The watch is durable, functional (once set up) and, in our opinion, a distinctive and stylish piece. The display is large and legible, and the backlighting is strong and effective, which is a significant bonus. Most importantly for a digital tactical watch, this Casio model is solar powered. This makes it a fantastic choice for those of you looking for a digital watch but have concerns about their longevity.

3. Casio G-Shock Analog/Digital

Black Resin Mens Watch GA100CF-1

Our Rating: 4.6 Stars (4.6/5)
Country of Origin
 USA
Water Resistant
 
Weight  5.6 oz

 

Sticking with the Casio G-Shock range, this combined analog/digital watch comes highly recommended. It includes a small digital display for dates, along with alarms and a stopwatch. The display is crisp, and the LED backlight is clear, which assists after sunset.

G-Shock has a range of solid watches, the two above are very solid, and work well for almost all situations you may find yourself in. In the end it you may even just make your decision based on aesthetics as they all have solid options and functions.

4. Timex Men’s T49928DH

Our Rating: 4.5 Stars (4.5/5)
Resin Band
 
Water Resistant
 Up to 660 Feet
Weight  0.17 lbs

 

Timex has offered a fantastic, inexpensive digital tactical watch for preppers and survival enthusiasts who don’t want to compromise on quality but are on a tight budget.

The watch comes packaged with a surprisingly effective digital compass, lap counter, countdown and configurable alarms. It doesn’t sport the wealth of features included with the digital Casio models (there are no altimeter, barometer or thermometer here), but it is a great tactical watch with incredible durability. Some users report that they find the display unclear, although this isn’t a problem that I’ve personally experienced.

5. Suunto Core

SS014279010

Our Rating: 3.9 Stars (3.9/5)
Display
 
Water Resistance
 100 Feet
Weight 2.26 oz

 

Calling the Suunto Core a watch doesn’t do the device justice; this tactical watch has more in common with a desktop PC! The Suunto Core includes a barometer, compass, altimeter, thermometer, and sunrise/sunset information for over 400 locations. The accuracy of the information provided by the Core is second to none. You might think that a large number of included features could make this tactical watch cumbersome and complicated to use. Nothing could be further from the truth; the Core’s intelligent and intuitive negative display and the interface allow you to access the features and information that you need quickly. However, I found the outer rotational ring is initially quite stiff and difficult to turn.

The Suunto Core boasts a high-end design belies a durable and rugged tactical watch. The watch is comfortable on the wrist and can take any amount of punishment you throw at it. A word of warning, though, the battery lasts for about a year, so if you’re planning on using the Core as a long-term survival tool, then you will want to stock up on batteries (luckily, these are easily replaceable by the user).

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