In today’s world the Smartwatch has become a central part of our daily lives. We use it for everything from communication, to personal organization, to navigation, and we even use some cool apps for survival tips in the outdoors.
They’re a personal assistant in a slim package that fits in our pocket. That doesn’t mean they can help us with everything or that they’re appropriate in every circumstance.
They’re somewhat delicate nature and limited battery life make them less than ideal to be used as a survival tool on a long hike, hunting trip, or camping trip.
While a smartwatch can be used as a GPS tool or as a compass, a tactical watch is a better choice if you’re a serious outdoors enthusiast that spends days at a time backpacking far from civilization.
A good tactical watch is packed full of features that you can use in many different scenarios while you are out on the trail. They may depend on a battery as well, but they are batteries that are designed to last a long time.
Keep in mind there are no substitutes for actual survival training if you want to be prepared. You should always be prepared for the worst, but on most trips a tactical watch will provide you with the support to get you were you’re going successfully and safely.
In this article we’re going to take a close look at some of the best choices on the market today in our tactical watch reviews.
We’ve consciously tried to include examples that will fit any budget so you’ll find economical choices as well as watches that go for two or three hundred dollars.
Tactical Watch Reviews
- 1 Tactical Watch Reviews
- 2 Key Features in Tactical Watches
- 3 Final Thoughts
SharpSurvival Watch V3
This watch won’t cost you much more than the price of a night out at the movies, but it’s full of features that you’ll find useful on the hiking trail.
It’s also water resistant and can be submerged for up to 15 minutes.
It does have a scratch resistant face, but it doesn’t have exceptional shock absorption features which is its one main knock.
Where this watch really shines is in the area of accessories. It’s equipped with a compass, fire starting tools, an emergency whistle, and it also includes 12 feet of paracord which can serve a lot of different functions.
The whistle is a nice feature not normally included on tactical watches, but useful for helping party members find each other when ones in trouble quickly.
This watch does run on a battery, but that’s fairly typical of tactical watches these days. It also has an analog face which is a good idea on this type of watch as digital time pieces are not always reliable. Overall this is a good watch for the budget conscious hiker.
Survival Watch V3 Summary:
- Water resistant
- Scratch resistant face
- Built-in compass
- Fire starting tool
Night Eyes-Powerful Wristlight Watch with Compass
The Night Eyes tactical watch is a unique looking device that certainly captures the imagination. This is great for short 2 to 3 day trips where you may need quick access to some tools without overburdening yourself.
It’s relatively durable and can handle some bumps and nicks, but it’s not meant to be dropped from serious elevations and survive.
Unfortunately this watch has a digital time piece instead of an analog one. In tactical outdoor situations analog watch faces are more reliable and continue to work in extreme conditions.
The separate compass attached to the wrist band is a useful feature and by most accounts functions quite well. It also has a built-in led flashlight which can come in handy if you don’t want to dig into your pack, but you need to shed some light on a situation.
The body of the watch is made from a hard plastic that holds up to wear and tear reasonably well and the small watch face is scratch resistant.
It is water resistant as well so you don’t have to worry about wearing it out in the rain. The band is made from a strong nylon material and it is adjustable to fit most adults. This watch is a good starter model for a newbie outdoors person.
Night Eyes-Powerful Wristlight Watch Summary:
- Durable construction
- Separate compass
- Built-in LED flashlight
- Scratch resistant
Paracord SR101 Ohsen Watch by Southern Retail
The Ohsen Survival Waterproof Paracord Watch is our choice for best tactical watch for value, features, and durability. This watch has everything you need to survive and thrive in some precarious situation.
Its watch face is scratch resistant, it’s waterproof even when submerged, and it has built-in shock absorption protection. This watch is the real deal.
This Ohsen watch tells time in both digital and analog and the watch face is luminous so you can see the time clearly no matter what time of day or night it is.
It’s wrapped in several feet of paracord that has fishing line inside it and can be used in first aid situations as well.
In addition this watch has a compass, a whistle, a flint for starting fires, and it even has a small cutting blade.
Other tactical survival watches have some of the features that this watch has, but few of them can match it entirely.
This is the complete package and the perfect companion when you’re camping, fishing, hiking, or hunting. This is one of the best tactical watches for men on the market.
Paracord SR101 Ohsen Watch Summary:
- Scratch resistant watch face
- Built-in shock protection
- Built-in flint, compass and cutting blade
Casio Men’s GW-9400J-1JF G-Shock
Casio has a reputation for manufacturing some of the best tactical watches on the planet and it’s a reputation that’s well deserved. The Casio Men’s GW 9400J-1JF G-Shock is a fine example of the best they have to offer.
If you’re serious about your love of outdoors activities that involve several days and nights away from civilization there isn’t a better watch to have on your wrist.
The GW 9400J-1JF is highly shock resistant when put to the test and it’s 100% waterproof. You could quite literally take a knife and scratch away at its face without doing much damage.
It’s designed to last you a long time no matter how long you’re out on the hunt. This watch is also solar powered so you don’t have to worry about the unreliability of batteries. When you need to use it you’ll find it ready to go.
Other features include a digital compass, an altimeter and barometer, illuminated face, stopwatch, and it’s resistant to low temperatures as well. You can also set your time to one of 31 different time zones.
The Casio GW 9400J-1JF may not be indestructible, but it’s close. This is our pick for the best tactical watch available today.
Casio GW 9400J-1JF Summary:
- Highly shock resistant
- 100% waterproof
- Scratch proof watch face
- Solar powered
Fanmis Men’s Sports Analog Digital Watch
If you want a solid and reliable shock proof tactical watch at a reasonable price the Fanmis Men’s Sports Analog Digital Watch is a good choice.
Outdoor gear can be expensive and that’s why it’s a good idea to shop around for the best deals and this watch certainly qualifies in that category.
This watch is made from durable plastic resins designed to protect its function in extreme situations. It’s shock resistant and the glass is scratch resistant as well.
It is waterproof up to 30 meters which is typically all you’ll ever need. You wouldn’t want to wear it as a divers watch, but if you happen to go for an unexpected swim you have nothing to worry about.
This watch does not have some of the advanced features you’ll find on other tactical watches, but it is more durable than most. It includes both analog and digital time keeping and it’s equipped with a stopwatch.
The watch face is luminous for use in low light situations and it has alarm and calendar features as well.
If you’re simply looking for a no nonsense military tactical watch that will work in less than ideal conditions this Fanmis wristwatch is a good option.
Fanmis Men’s Sports Digital Watch Summary:
- Durable plastic resin design
- Shock resistant
- Scratch resistant glass
- 30m waterproof
Key Features in Tactical Watches
A good tactical watch should be waterproof up to at least 20 meters. That means you can actually completely submerge it without affecting its function.
It should also have a scratch resistant watch face and it should be capable of handling the shock of a significant fall.
This is an instrument you need to rely on in tough circumstances and the last thing you need is to look down at a broken compass when you’re miles away from the closest town.
Another important function you should consider when you’re shopping for a good tactical watch is one that can help you find your way when you’ve lost your bearings.
Most tactical watches at any price level include at least a basic compass. It’s important to be sure of the reliability of the compass on a watch though, as an unreliable compass may actually be worse than having no compass at all.
Fire Starting Aids
If you find yourself lost and far away from your campsite or base camp it’s a good idea to have some tools with you that can help you stay alive while you find your way or someone finds you.
On cold nights you’ll want to be able to start a fire quickly and that’s why many tactical watches come equipped with fire starting aids.
Typically they’ll have a small flint built-in to the wristband as well as a striker on the other end. With the right equipment starting a fire can be fairly straightforward, but without these tools it’s a difficult challenge.
Paracord was originally designed to be used as the suspension cord on parachutes because of its strength and durability. That resilience is the reason many different military organizations and every day outdoors enthusiasts have also adopted its use as a versatile utility cord for use in many different tactical and survival situations.
You’ll find a lot of tactical watches now come wrapped in several feet of paracord that can come in handy in many different scenarios when you’re out hunting, fishing, hiking, and camping.
A tactical watch that doesn’t have a luminous face shouldn’t even be on your radar. When you need to read a compass or check the time while you’re expecting a rendezvous with another party it’s important that you can see your watch.
Unfortunately when you’re outdoors there’s a good chance you may not have a lot of natural light available to you if you’re walking through thick foliage or if it’s close to dusk or dawn. A luminous watch face ensures this isn’t a major issue.
Altimeter and Barometer
Finding your bearings isn’t just about knowing which direction you’re heading. It can also be a good idea to know the elevation you’re at, get a good gauge of the temperature outside, and know how rapidly it’s dropping.
Higher end tactical watches are often equipped with altimeters for measuring elevation and barometers that measure barometric pressure to determine the temperature outside. These are tools that can be vital to survival in emergency situations and if you can find a watch with these features in your budget it’s highly recommended that you include them in your list of required features.
A tactical watch is an item that any serious outdoors type should own. Good ones are packed full of features that can help you in unexpected situations and they’re designed to keep working in extreme conditions.
At a minimum you should be looking for a watch that’s water resistant, scratch resistant, and at least somewhat shockproof.
Most have a built-in compass and many have other bonus features such as fire starting tools, whistles, and flashlights. While these secondary items are not essential they can come in handy.