When you’re out in the wild, enjoying some time in the great outdoors, the last thing you’ll want to do is have to rely on your smartphone.
Part of the appeal of being in nature is feeling truly disconnected, not only from society, but also from the technology which has become increasingly prevalent in our day-to-day lives.
That’s why, if you are looking for a more authentic experience on your next outdoor expedition, you should consider getting your hands on a survival watch.
That way, you won’t have to worry about losing your smartphone or breaking it because you have to stop every 5 minutes to ensure you’re headed in the right direction, or you’re wondering how much time is left until nightfall.
What is a Survival Watch?
The best survival watches are great little gadgets that James Bond himself would be impressed with. A good survival watch can be an incredibly versatile tool with a ton of utility when you’re in the wilderness – for example, a survival watch might help you with navigation, or help you keep track of what altitude you’re at. Obviously, survival watches also tell the time.
A survival watch is any watch specifically designed for use outdoors. They’re targeted at outdoorsmen and women, and in particular those of us who are adventurous enough that we enjoy long periods in the wilderness (as opposed to a half day hike). If you’re serious hiker, hunter, or survivalist, then chances are a survival watch is something that you should get for yourself (if you don’t have one already).
What’s more, the survival watch is built to last in difficult conditions (unlike, say, your smartphone). This means it can withstand plenty of punishment, rough weather conditions, and has a battery life that’ll make your smartphone pale in comparison.
Before we get to our guide on the best survival watches out there for all budgets and needs, we’re going to briefly explore what exactly you’re getting when you purchase one, and the various uses that could come in handy.
What are the uses of a Survival Watch?
As far as survival gadgets go, the survival watch is up there in terms of versatility and functionality. You’d be amazed at some of the latest features, which we’ll dive into now.
A survival watch provides you with crucial information
First and foremost, the survival watch is designed to provide you with essential information. Basic information such as the time, as well as information about the environment around you.
You don’t need me to tell you how important it can be to keep track of time, especially when you’re out in the wild and need to anticipate sunset so that you can set up base before you’re out of light.
The fact that these types of watches tell time shouldn’t impress you of course, but unlike your regular watch, survival watches will stand up to some serious damage and likely be weather-proof enough to last a few days outdoors, even if rough-and-tumble conditions. Most survival watches should be waterproof and shock resistant.
One of the most important things to consider when investing in new outdoor gear is having the confidence that it’ll last the duration of your trip, and ideally, beyond. That’s why I’m sure you’ll agree, using a survival watch is the best way to reliably know the time day after day in harsh conditions.
Especially when you combine the durability with the duration of the battery life, you’ve really got a reliable gadget on your hands.
Other than telling the time, different survival watches will have different functionality – some might keep track of altitude, others might tell you the temperature. You’ll want a watch that gives you the information that you need to survive safely in whatever conditions you anticipate during your excursions.
Navigating with a survival watch
Telling the time is only just the tip of the iceberg though, with a survival watch you’ll also be better able to navigate your way around.
The next main feature a lot of survival watches will have is a compass. This will allow you to navigate the old-fashioned way, and get your bearings whenever you get off track. Plus, it’ll be one less piece of equipment you need to bring with you, saving precious space in your backpack.
As you can imagine, some survival watches also come fitted with a handy GPS system, – some which even link up to your phone – which will significantly reduce the chance that you will lose your way if things go south.
We also have a handy buyer’s guide at the bottom of this article to help you think through what features and qualities you might want in a survival watch.
The 8 Best Survival Watches in 2020
Choosing the Best Survival Watch for Your Needs
Now that you’re familiar with the options available, let’s take a look at what separates an average one from a great one.
While extra features are an undeniable positive, the main elements that make a great survival watch, as opposed to an average one, are largely to do with its robustness.
Some watches are tougher than others, and will stand the test of time. This durability is an incredibly important attribute if you plan on using the survival watch long into the future.
When you’re out in the wild, you’re likely always a misstep or two away from tripping over, or brushing up against branches or thistles, so you want to ensure your watch is capable of taking some punishment. After all, if you fall, your hands will be the parts of your body that try to absorb the impact, so your watch needs to be able to soak it up too.
Another key feature for any great survival watch, is battery life. The last thing you want is for your watch to die on you when you most need it to find your way around. Batteries aren’t easy to find in the middle of the wilderness, and you could really do without carrying them around with you, so the initial battery life is important.
For that reason, consider investing in a watch with an adequate battery life for the length of trips you usually go on.
Some survival watches will even be solar-powered, or kinetic, meaning you really don’t have to worry about it dying on you.
The last sign of a great survival watch, is its weather-resistance. If bad weather strikes, and you find yourself in the middle of a ferocious storm, you’ll want to know that your equipment will still work after it passes.
Depending on the type of outdoor exploration you enjoy, you’ll have to decide whether you want a water-resistant, or waterproof watch.
For example, If you think you’re going to want to go for a dip, then a waterproof watch will happily come along for the ride. Alternatively, if you anticipate rain being the most water you encounter, then water-resistant should suffice.