There are those among us who believe smartphones have made traditional watches 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 a fitness-tracking, adventure-centric outdoor watch to your wrist. For starters, the best men’s watches look great — whether you go big and rugged or sleek and stylish — and they let you miraculously check the time without getting sucked into your phone.
Phones also crack, sink, and tend to shut down when they get too hot or too cold — in variable conditions, you need a reliable watch. Whether you work outside or spend weekends hiking, fishing, paddling, climbing… a durable, water-resistant outdoor watch is still very much essential gear: loaded with incredibly versatile, feature-rich tools that track workouts, provide accurate coordinates, last for months without a recharge, and keep ticking when they take a licking (or are submerged).
Of course, there’s no one-size-fits-all guide to picking the perfect timepiece. The best watches for men are a matter of personal preference. The best of the best men’s outdoor watches strike a balance between price and design, while also standing the test of time. Some are jam-packed with nifty features — stylish supercomputers that you can strap to your wrist; others are stocked with fewer goodies but still pull double duty. All of them make a strong case for wearing a watch.
The Best Outdoor Watches for Men
Handcrafted in Vancouver, Momentum watches are engineered for rugged outdoor sport, and tested by the watchmakers themselves in the waves and wilderness of Canada. Water-resistant to 200 meters, with oversize high-contrast numbers that are easy to read, a reliable adventure companion that won't bust the bank.
Casio recently partnered with Burton Snowboards to release the limited edition Mudmaster GG1000, marking the brands’ third collaboration to date. With patented shock-resistant technology, this watch can withstand virtually any amount of impact and vibration. Its military-style design features an easy-to-read face, and each non-slip button is fitted with special gaskets and guard structures to protect from dirt, mud, and dust. The watch is also water-resistant for more than 675 feet.
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.
Seiko has been peddling remarkable Japanese timepieces since it was founded back in 188. This bold is a real stunner, with a black-ion finished stainless steel case and interchangeable nylon strap. The scratch- and water-resistant solar chronograph is powered by light energy, so no batteries are required; a single charge will last an astonishing six months. LumiBrite hands and markers make reading its detailed face a no-brainer, which is complete with three subdials and a handy date calendar to ensure you never miss an important appointment.
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 down time into 30 minute, 60 second, and 1/10 second measurements — so you can easily clock splits and laps. With quartz movement and water-resistant to 100 meters.
Touted as a favorite of surfers and soldiers, this durable, go-anywhere-with-confidence watch is shock and water resistant (up to 200 meters), and has a cool EL backlight for easy-reading at night, whether out in the backcountry or the baby's room. Solar-powered, but lasts 10 months on a full charge.
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.
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 tracback 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. It can be used for snorkeling but not diving.
Designed to withstand pretty much anything, the Nixon Regular has 100m water-resistance, dual chronographs, and an oversized adjustable LED backlight display. If you want to embark on covert operations, there’s even silent mode It also has three independent alarms.
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