Survival watches are a necessity for preppers, regardless of your personal reasons for prepping. Whether you’re prepping for a major economic collapse, or for the perfect storm that wipes out life as you know it, you’ll want the right watch on your wrist. Keeping track of time is key to being able to determine how you will spend time throughout your day in bug out or bug in scenarios.
Sadly, a majority of preppers rely simply on their cheaply-made watch to get them through any potential disaster. Even worse, some other preppers may be relying on their fancy “show” watch in case of a disaster. Regardless of what watch you may have now, you need to look into other options.
In this article, I’ll be covering the ten best survival watches that will surely fit any survival need that you may have. While these watches aren’t very cheap, they’re also not cheaply-made. I will never recommend trash to my readers, as you all deserve the best products that I can recommend to you. I’ve combined my vast experience of survival training, along with hours of research to narrow down the vast market of watches out there.
Before we get into the watches, we’ll go over certain necessities that every such piece of gear should have. This way, if you don’t like any of the watches I’ve listed, you can use these characteristics to find others. Make sure you are very picky when you buy, especially if you’ll be spending a good piece of your hard-earned money on them.
Survival Watch Necessities
Like I stated before, every watch you look at needs to fit these characteristics before you even consider buying them. A “survival watch” that doesn’t have these necessities, isn’t really a survival watch after all. Remember, you’re the one spending the money on a watch, so be very picky on what characteristics each watch has.
Watches are classified into three basic power sources: mechanical (wind up), battery powered, and solar powered. While each power source has their own benefits, I would highly recommend either getting a mechanical or a battery/solar hybrid watch. While battery powered watches usually have the most features, mechanical and solar powered watches won’t fail you when you need them most.
You don’t want your watch rendered useless just because you accidentally got it wet. Rain is a major factor that tends to show itself regularly when you’re in the wilderness, so you’ll need to make sure your watch can handle it. Rain, however, isn’t the only water factor that you may be faced with should you need to bug out. Rivers, lakes, streams, and puddles may also become a factor that could destroy your watch if you’re not prepared enough. Make sure your watch can handle being submerged in at least 10m of water.
You won’t want your watch irritating your wrist during your normal daily routine, so you’ll definitely not want it bugging you should you have to bug out. Irritation could turn into infections, especially in an environment prone to bacteria. Another key factor, is distraction. If you’re worried about how uncomfortable your watch is, you might become distracted from key situations that could present themselves.
In my article “Camouflage for Preppers” I talk about how you won’t want anything shiny reflecting light at night. This is the same for your watch. While you may not be able to buy a watch that doesn’t reflect light on the watch face itself (duct tape will fix it), you can reduce the reflectivity of the band buy avoiding buying a metal band. Metal bands also are usually more uncomfortable than fabric ones, so I would avoid them if possible.
Last but certainly not least, durability is a crucial factor in any survival watch you wish to have on you should SHTF. If you slip and fall, or bang your wrist on a hard object such as a tree or a rock, you won’t want your expensive watch breaking. If you’re going to invest in a survival watch, make sure it’ll be durable enough to make it through whatever journey you may need to take should you need to bug out.
Survival Watch Types
There are three different survival watch categories that are worth mentioning. While there are watches out there that have all three categories in one, you’ll more than likely be spending over $1,000 or you won’t get great features for all three categories. Sadly, that’s just how the watch world is. Due to this, you’ll need to figure out what category works best for your personal survival plan.
Paracord / Multi-Use
These types of watches are great for the “jack of all trades” type of prepper. They usually offer multiple features such as fire starters, compasses, and (obviously) paracord watchbands that can be unraveled to use in whatever way you may need. Most paracord watch bands will have three yards (sometimes more depending on your wrist size) of 550-pound test cord that you can use for tie-downs, or other various uses that could be vital when you’re bugged out. While most paracord watches don’t have the most technology, you can always create a hybrid.
Hybrid paracord watches are a cross-breed between a paracord watch band (complete with the added tools included in the band), along with a more technologically advanced watch piece. I personally recommend having a hybrid paracord watch as a prepping watch, but you’re not me. You may want something different, and for that reason, I’ll include multiple types of watches that could fit any type of prepper’s needs.
These awesome survival watches usually include either satellite GPS navigation (like a “Garmin”), or a digital compass with added navigation features. They especially come in handy when you just can’t get the hang of map and compass navigation. While I wouldn’t personally recommend having this type of watch for your sole method of navigation, I think they’re highly efficient backup watches if you need to quickly navigate and you don’t have time to plot points out on a map.
Any type of electrical watch can be susceptible to EMP attacks, so make sure you take that into consideration when you’re looking into your survival watch. Since the odds of a major EMP attack are low, I would still look at electrical watches as a viable option to suit your survival needs. With that being said, make sure you have a less expensive mechanical watch as a backup in case your electronic watch fails.
Most mechanical watches are powered by winding the internal gears every so often. While these types of watches usually are lacking in their features, they also offer a peace of mind when it comes to the more serious SHTF scenarios like an EMP. You’ll want to make sure you at least have one cost efficient mechanical watch that’s water resistant as a backup if your primary survival watch is electronic.
Personally, I use the hybrid paracord watch for my survival needs, but I’ll always have a mechanical watch on standby. This way, I’ll always have a method of time keeping in case my electronic watch fails me. Electronics will always eventually fail, so make sure you have a contingency plan in case they fail you sooner than you thought.
Since we’ve covered the basics of survival watches, I’ll go into the best watches that I’ve found on the market that fit the bill for any type of survival situation that might be thrown at you. Since there isn’t a single watch that can easily handle every SHTF situation, I’ve compiled a simple list of watches that you can sort through to determine what would work best for you.
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#1. Casio G-Shock Rangeman Triple Sensor – Durability 9/10
This watch is first on the list for a very good reason, it’s incredibly durable. Most military personnel in a combat occupation will wear G-Shock watches simply because they can trust that it won’t break under pressure. These watches best suit the avid preppers out there who plan on taking a more aggressive approach in case of a SHTF scenario.
Some of the notable features of the G-Shock Rangeman watch include:
- Solar backup
- 200m water resistant
With these features, along with its incredible durability, it should be a no-brainer when it comes to picking out the right survival watch for the aggressive preppers out there. Although it’s not exactly inexpensive at a price of $350-$400, it will surely be the only watch you’ll need to buy for aggressive bugging out (or bugging in) during a SHTF scenario.
My personal opinion on the G-Shock Rangeman:
While it’s not exactly a visual beauty of a watch, it’s definitely the best durable survival watch on the market. They offer an excellent warranty, along with a wide variety of bands that you can swap out for comfort. I’ve personally used them during rigorous training cycles, and I haven’t had one break yet. I’ve not exactly been the gentlest person when it comes to my equipment. If I can go through years of service without breaking a single G-Shock watch, I’m positive it can handle whatever you throw at it.
#2. Suunto Core – Durability 6/10
These beautiful watches are the best of the best when it comes to technological advancement in watches. Suunto has been the leading brand of survival watches for features for military personnel, beating their competitors like “Garmin” without a challenge. The Suunto Core has slightly less features than their other models, but it still has the great features that any customer looks for in the brand.
Some of the features of the Suunto Core include:
- Severe weather warnings
- Depth gauge up to 10m
- Water resistant up to 30m
As you can see, the Suunto Core includes features that you wouldn’t find in most other watches on the market. With a sleek interface, it’s very easy to use, and will have your prepping friends looking into getting them as well. The Suunto brand isn’t known for being inexpensive, and this watch is no different. With a price of $200, you’ll want to be sure you’re wanting to invest in it for the features alone.
My personal review of the Suunto Core:
I love the Suunto brand, but I don’t like the fact that their glass is susceptible to scratches, since it’s a large glass area. This can make the watch unreadable if you happen to be moving through some extremely rough terrain, or happen to take a bad fall. With that being said, that’s the only bad feature I can find with the Suunto Core. The other features surely make up for the lack up durability, but personally I would invest in the more advanced Suunto watch (I’ll cover it next).
#3. Suunto Traverse – Durability 7/10
Just like the Suunto Core, the Traverse offers a ton of features that are great for preppers who are looking into bugging out in a SHTF scenario. Unlike the Core, however, this watch offers GPS navigation. This is a game changer when it comes to having to navigate if you need to bug out. GPS is almost cheating when it comes to navigating, because it literally tells you on your watch which direction to go. It’s ever-changing as well, so if you need to navigate around rough terrain, it will correct itself and continue to point you towards your destination.
Some of the key features of the Suunto Traverse include:
- GPS for navigation
- Real time view of your recorded navigation route
- Tracking for speed, distance and altitude
- 100m water resistant
- Weather trend and storm alarm
- Sunrise sunset times
- Backlight for flashlight mode
- GPS time update
- Vibration alarm
- Daily, weekly, monthly, yearly tracking of steps and calories
The calorie counter and step counter are also game changers if you need to bug out. You already know how many calories your body needs to survive (if you’ve done your research), and this watch will help you maintain keeping track of how many calories you’ve burned. This way, you can increase or decrease the food intake you’ll need to maintain your peak physical performance in a post-disaster environment. With a price of $300, you’re only paying $100 more than the Suunto Core, and you’re getting the best navigation feature that survival watches have to offer.
My personal review of the Suunto Traverse:
I would highly recommend this watch to any prepper who plans on bugging out for an extended period of time, although it isn’t as durable as the G-Shock. Even so, it still offers valuable luxuries in features that can really reduce the amount of time and effort you need to spend navigating through the wilderness. If you feel like you’re really proficient in land navigation, I wouldn’t recommend the Traverse, as it’s main feature is GPS navigation.
#4. Seiko Sun007 Kinetic Watch – Durability 7/10
This watch is a basic timepiece when it comes to features, but there’s one thing that sets this particular watch apart from its competitors – it self charges. This is an outstanding feature when you’re looking for a watch that you don’t have to worry about powering from solar power, or changing batteries periodically.
Some of the key features of the Seiko Sun007 Kinetic Watch include:
- Kinetic self-charging
- Water resistant up to 330 feet
Looking at the features alone, you might be wondering why I would include this watch on my list of recommended survival watches. The answer is simple, it’s one of the most inexpensive (and durable) kinetic watches on the market. This makes it a legitimately viable option for minimalist preppers on a budget. At a price of $250, it’s more than likely going to be the most inexpensive kinetic watch with a decent durability rating on the market for your prepping needs.
My personal review of the Seiko Sun007:
I would recommend this watch for preppers who are looking for a watch that doesn’t require artificial power sources (battery, or solar) to keep their watch going. Kinetic watches power themselves off of your movement. If you’re an active prepper, or plan on bugging out in case of a SHTF scenario, this watch will power itself based off of your movement. I wouldn’t recommend this watch for preppers who require more features, or for preppers who are on a low budget.
#5. Casio G-Shock Mudmaster GWG-1000-1A – Durability 9.5/10
This watch is the Cadillac of G-Shock watches (in my personal opinion). It’s packed with amazing features, and is incredibly durable. Very few watches will land past the “9/10” durability rating, but this watch has added gaskets included in its design, making it less susceptible to dirt and mud interfering with the operation of the internal components.
Some of the key features of the G-Shock Mudmaster include:
- Solar powered
- Six radio frequency auto time change (Germany, England, US, Japan, China, Saga)
- Altimeter (-700m to 10,000m)
- Digital compass
- 29 Time Zones
- 1/100-second stopwatch
- One-hour countdown timer
- Five daily alarms
- Battery level indicator
- Mud resistant
- Shock/vibration resistant
- Water resistant up to 200m
Looking at the key features, you can see why I called it the Cadillac of G-Shock watches. It’s filled with incredibly useful features that you would love to have as a traveling prepper, as well as a bug out prepper. While you should never rely on technology as a prepper in case of an EMP, this watch will surely be a luxury if an EMP never strikes. At a price of $580, it’s definitely not cheap. With that being said, it’s definitely not cheaply made. If you want the best, you have to pay for the best.
My personal review of the G-Shock Mudmaster:
If you have the money to spend on this watch, I highly recommend that you do. I would personally make this watch into a hybrid watch with a paracord survival band, making it an even more efficient survival watch. You may be thinking “I would never spend that much on a watch.”. I completely understand, but if I had the money, I would buy this watch in a heartbeat.
#6. LAD Weather German Sensor Survival Watch – Durability 5.5/10
This watch is perfect for preppers who want features, but are on a more limited budget. Looking at this watch, you would almost think it’s a Suunto Core. The features may not be as great as the Suunto Core, but you are surely getting great features for the low price of the watch itself.
Some of the key features of the LAD Weather German include:
- Weather forecast
- Digital compass
- Countdown timer
- Two daily alarms
- Day and date calendar
- Power saving mode
- Water resistant up to 10m
Looking at the features, you can tell they’ve really engineered a great watch for a low price. Reviews have stated that the surface area scratches easily, hence why the durability score is low. With that being said, you can’t beat a watch with all of these features for only $45.
My personal review of the LAD Weather German:
Personally, I would spend the extra money to get a Suunto Core, because they’re more durable. With that being said, I always cater to readers of all monetary backgrounds. If you simply can’t afford a Suunto survival watch, this watch is a great alternative. I would exercise caution when wearing this watch, so you don’t damage it too heavily, it’s not exactly engineered for rough conditions like a G-Shock.
#7. Timex Expedition Shock Survival Watch – Durability 8/10
This watch is an excellent, inexpensive alternative to the durability of a G-Shock watch, but without all of the added features that G-Shock offers. If you’re looking for a simple survival watch that’s durable and won’t break the bank, the Timex Expedition is the perfect watch for you.
Some of the key features of the Timex Expedition Shock Survival Watch include:
- Water resistant up to 200m
- Digital compass
- Shock resistant
- Day and date calendar
Like I said before, this watch isn’t loaded with features. With that being said, it does feature a digital compass, making it well worth the $65 price of the watch. If you’re not too worried about all of the luxurious features of the G-Shock watch, but want a durable watch that can withstand most of what you’ll throw at it, this is a great alternative.
My personal review of the Timex Expedition Shock Survival Watch:
I would recommend this watch to preppers who need a reliable, durable, simple watch for bugging out. Although it doesn’t have all of the “bells and whistles”, it’s still an excellent watch that will surely not disappoint (and comes with a digital compass!). Timex is a well-known brand in the watch community for being reliable, and this watch is no different.
#8. SMAEL Analog Digital Sport Watch – Durability 8/10
This watch is one of the most basic, featureless watches that made the list. The reason I chose this watch, is because it’s the most inexpensive, durable watches that I’ve found on the market. If you’re a simple, minimalist prepper looking for a durable watch, this is definitely the watch for you.
Some of the features of the SMAEL Analog Digital Sport Watch include:
- Water resistant up to 50m
- Shock resistant
- Auto adjusting date
It’s a very simple, very durable watch that will definitely last throughout your bug out expedition (unless Murphy’s Law takes place). Like I said before, it may not have many features, but if you’re looking for a simple watch that is durable and inexpensive, this is it.
My personal review of the SMAEL watch:
I would highly recommend this one for preppers who aren’t looking for an expensive watch with many features, but will last them through rugged terrain and use. I love this watch simply because SMAEL doesn’t spend many man hours engineering features. Instead, they spend their man hours engineering a rugged, durable watch for minimalists.
#9. First Tactical Canyon – Durability 8/10
This watch is great for the tactical type of preppers. By tactical, I mean the preppers who plan on remaining unseen, or camouflaged throughout their bug out expedition. Most electronic watches give out too much light when you need to tell the time at night, but this one is specially made for Law Enforcement special teams (SWAT).
Some of the key features of the First Tactical Canyon watch include:
- Stealth Mode
- 3 Alarms
- Countdown Timer
- World Time
- Digital Compass
- Morse Code guide
- 30ft water resistant
The Canyon watch has a lot of great basic features, but I love the Morse code guide that they’ve included on the watch band. While it doesn’t include every aspect of the code, it does offer you the basics that could prove useful as a signaling technique. At a price of $150, it’s less expensive than other watches of its caliber, with a lot of excellent features. The stealth mode included with the watch dims the light immensely should you need to use it at night. This helps you remain concealed from others, unlike most electronic watches.
My personal review of the First Tactical Canyon watch:
I love the basic, and extra features of the Canyon watch. For basic preppers looking to get a good quality and durable watch, the Canyon is a great choice. Personally, I would spend the extra money to invest in a hybrid watch before you bought a watch with mostly basic features. I included this watch specifically for the tactical preppers out there who may want to hybrid this watch with a paracord watch.
#10. G-Shock Rangeman – Durability 9.5/10
This incredible hybrid watch will open a new door for even the most avid preppers for durable, and useful survival watches. While you don’t have to specifically use the G-Shock Rangeman as a time piece for the watch, I included it in this one because of its durability and features.
Some of the key features of this hybrid include:
- All the features of a G-Shock Rangeman
- Fire starter
- Paracord (amount depends on wrist size)
I consider this watch the “jack of all trades” of watches. You really can’t ask for a more versatile, durable, and feature filled watch on the market. This hybrid will cost you around $375-$425, but you don’t have to use the G-Shock Rangeman if you want to save money. The paracord feature band costs roughly $25, so you can interchange the timepiece however you please to fit your budget.
My personal review of this hybrid survival watch:
This is my most highly recommended survival watch that the market has to offer, unless map and compass navigation isn’t your forte. It’s incredibly durable, and offers great survival tools to assist you if you need them. I wouldn’t bug out without a paracord watch hybrid, and neither should you. If you can’t afford a great watch, no sweat. Simply swap out the G-Shock Rangeman for a simple durable Walmart mechanical or electronic watch for the timepiece. If you do, you’ll only spend around $40-$50 for a reliable survival watch.
Survival watches are an absolute necessity for any prepper who plans to either bug in, or bug out during a SHTF scenario. You don’t have to break the bank with some of the watches I listed above, but I recommend them because of their proven reliability. You can always buy a watch from a retail store for a lesser price, but make sure you do the proper research on their reviews and specifications before trusting them in a SHTF scenario. You don’t want to learn about the flaws of any piece of equipment when you need them the most.
For mechanical watches, I recommend buying them from retail stores. This is because most mechanical watches that you’ll find online will cost you a small fortune because of the brand name. Most mechanical watches have limited features, other than their ability to run without electronic assistance. Always have a mechanical watch on standby, this way you can still have a way to tell time if your primary survival watch fails you.
Hopefully these ten watches helped narrow down your search to find a reliable survival watch, as each watch I’ve listed has unique features for different types of preppers. I’ll always recommend having a paracord hybrid watch for any prepper, due to their extended tools and features. You never know when you’ll need to use the paracord, or the flint and steel included on most paracord bands. Stay safe.