There are those among us who believe smartphones have made even the best watches for men semi-obsolete — nice accessories, sure, but no longer essential gear for being out in the woods or on the water. While that’s true to an extent, there are some pretty solid reasons for strapping fitness-tracking and adventure-centric outdoor watches to your wrist. For starters, the best men’s watches for a life outside also look great — whether you go big and rugged or sleek and stylish. And while some guys may decide to install an app to fight phone addition, it’s even easier to leave the iPhone in the car and keep an eye on the time the (relatively) old-fashioned way.
Of course, there’s no one-size-fits-all guide to picking the perfect timepiece, since the best watches for men come down to each man’s use. However, all strike a balance between price and design, while also standing the test of time. Whether you work outside or spend weekends hiking, fishing, paddling, climbing, you want one that’s durable, which a scratch- and shatter-resistant face, and water-resistant or waterproof case. Some outdoor watches come jam-packed with nifty features; others do a few functions well. All should handle the bumps and bruising that comes with weekends in the wilderness, just like you.
The Best Outdoor Watches for Men
G-Shock may as well be the godfather of the modern indestructible watch—its damn-near bulletproof ethos has distinguished the company for decades. The GBDH1000-1A7 may be a hell of a name, but it combines all the modern bells and whistles under the company's legendary protection for one of the best outdoor watches we tested. Solar? Check. Heart rate? Oh yeah. GPS and about a million other fitness tools? No doubt. With its features and armor, it can run a little heavy, but the added weight only emphasizes its reliability.
This timepiece proves that a great tough watch can also be easy on the wallet. Will this watch plan your workout for you, or help you get down a mountain? No. But will it last basically forever, and look good doing it? Yes. It's water-resistant up to 50 meters, rugged with scratch-proof glass, and it charges by any light with a two-month power reserve. That's a lot of power.
Hearkening back to the chronograph's racing roots, the Monoposto by Autodromo is a must for the man with a higher octane in his blood. Its distinctive red face mark is an homage to the upper end of early Grand Prix cars' RPMs, while the polished steel case and smooth leather band only accentuate its minimalist good looks when compared to other work watches. One of only 200 pieces, it may be a bit pricey, but it's a timepiece worthy of generations past and the one you're currently raising.
Taking its design cue from classic military wristwatches, the Steelix by Momentum Watches has all the durability and good looks of its patriarch. Water-resistant to 200 meters and powered by a razor-accurate Japanese quartz movement, its powder-coated stainless steel bracelet and casing give the whole package an understated beauty and durability for the dad on the go.
Fitting into the entirely-unnecessary-but-extremely-cool category of adventure watches, the Fenix 6X is crammed with nearly every sensor possible. The solar powered smartwatch is pre-loaded with TOPO maps, ski map for more than 2,000 ski resorts worldwide, and a global navigation satellite system. Its rechargeable lithium battery provides up to 21 days of power (or 15 hours when using GPS); if you’re using solar power, that tacks on an additional three days (or an additional hour when using GPS). And, yes, it also tracks heart rate, which it does via an optical sensor. Traveling to altitude? It will even adjust your workouts. Showoff.
The Swiss have earned their reputation as timekeepers over a few centuries of precision engineering. From Swiss watchmaker Tissot, this sports watch houses all that engineered precision in a handsome but tough scratch-resistant sapphire crystal face. Inspired by motorcycle racing, the face features three subdials that break downtime into 30 minutes, 60 seconds, and 1/10 second measurements — so you can easily clock splits and laps. With quartz movement and water-resistant to 100 meters.
Garmin's Instinct is a great rugged GPS watch for outdoor sports enthusiasts. The rugged watch (it's shock-resistant, and water-resistant up to 100 meters) has a built-in triple-axis compass and barometric altimeter. It also monitors your heart rate, activity, and stress. And thanks to its very cool trackback feature, which guides you back to your starting point, getting lost won’t be an issue.
An understated option for guys who want performance without the heft, this sleek, military-inspired timepiece has a stainless steel strap, dark green Cordura strap, and black dial. It has analog day/date and 12/24-hour time. Best of all, it’s powered by any light source, so it never needs a battery, making it a killer outdoor watch. It can be used for snorkeling but not diving.
Suunto is a Finnish company that has built a legion of loyal fans for their exceptional sports watches, dive computers, and precision instruments. This watch weighs just over 2 ounces, but is packed with such outdoor-centric features as an altimeter, barometer, and compass. It also tracks the weather, sun, and temperature, alerting you if a storm is headed your way. Engineered to military standards with knurled stainless steel bezel, water repellent nylon textile strap (available in different colors) and housed in scratch-resistant sapphire crystal glass, it's tough enough for adventures but also stylish enough for every day wear.
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