How To Choose A Rugged Outdoor Watch

how to choose a hiking watch

A good outdoor watch is a great way to keep track of time while enjoying nature. Whether you’re hiking, camping, fishing, or just relaxing in the backyard, there are many different styles of watches that will fit your needs.

There are tons of options to choose from and it can be overwhelming to make a decision. This guide will give you a few considerations to think about when choosing your outdoor watch such as features, style, size, price, and durability. 

GPS Watches.

GPS watches are in a category of their own and are extremely helpful. They are great for navigating new trails or just using as an everyday watch. Hikers and urban explorers can benefit from wearing GPS watches because they give you tons of helpful information and can actually keep you safe. If you’re looking for a GPS watch for hiking, I recommend researching them in-depth to make sure you choose a brand and model with an easy to use interface and hardware. While you may spend a pretty penny on a quality GPS watch, they’re worth and can be a helpful traveling companion. 

Outdoor Watch Features.

Watches come with various features depending on the brand and type of watch you’re looking for. I personally like rugged outdoor watches that are waterproof, shockproof, dust proof, and are incredibly tough. ABC (altimeter, barometer, compass) hiking watches are the best in my opinion because they give you important information about your environment and help you navigate in the outdoors. Personally, the ABC functions on my outdoor watches are extremely important when I choose between watches. 

Analog/Digital or Both.

You can choose between analog, digital, or a combination of both. Analog watches use an hour and minute hand to show you the time, whereas digital watches have screens that show you the hour, minute, and second in a digital format that’s easy to read and immediately gives you the information you are looking for. Many watches are both analog and digital to give you the best of both worlds. The watch I’m wearing right now is a Casio G-Shock that’s both analog and digital and I think it looks really nice and has plenty of functions. If I had to choose between the two I would go digital because it’s easier for me to tell the time down to the second with just a quick glance where I would have to look at an anlog watch for a few seconds to tell the time. I like simplicity and dependability when it comes to watches and a digital watch gives me exactly what I need. 

Choose the Right Style.

There are several different styles of outdoor watches available. You’ll find analog watches with hands and numbers, as well as digital watches with LCD screens. Analog watches are more traditional and classic, while digital watches are easier to read and use. If you prefer a smaller watch, you might choose a digital watch with a small screen. On the other hand, if you prefer something larger, you might opt for an analog watch with a large face.

The best type of watch depends on what kind of style you want. For example, if you’re looking for a classic look, then you should consider purchasing an analog watch with a big face. However, if you’d rather go for something more modern, then you might want to get a digital watch with a smaller screen.

If you’re interested in getting a new watch, there are several things to keep in mind before making your purchase. First, you’ll want to think about whether you want a dress watch or a sport watch or something in between. A dress watch is typically worn while going out to dinner or attending a formal event, whereas a sport watch is usually worn during exercise. Next, you’ll want to decide between a quartz or mechanical watch. Quartz watches are battery powered, which means they won’t require winding every day. Mechanical watches, however, still need to be wound once a month. Finally, you’ll want to consider the size of the watch’s face. You’ll want to make sure that the watch has enough room for the numbers and hands.

I like a strong mix of style and function when choosing a good hiking watch. Casio G-Shocks are a great choice to use anywhere because they look great and have tons of useful outdoor features. 


Hiking and outdoor watches come in all different sizes. You should decide ahead of time if you want a watch with a large face or something that fits smaller on your wrist. Many outdoor watches are larger than average so that you can see all of the various functions at the same time. For example, a rugged outdoor watch may display the time, date, day, solar power, compass, and more. You can still get a large watch that’s relatively thin if you’re not a fan of exceedingly large watches. 

I like large watches because they’re easy to read while moving and usually have bright lights to see the time while camping at night. I also feel like larger watches look better and are made tougher because they sit on your wrist higher. 


You’ll need to decide how much money you’re willing to spend before you buy one. This will determine what type of watch you can afford. You can find plenty of great outdoor watches for under $100, but they may not have ABC functions or GPS. For example, you can buy a G-Shock for around $100 that will have solar power, atomic watch timekeeping and built like a tank. Resin watches are incredibly tough and can handle heavy-duty use for years without breaking the bank. 

You don’t always have to spend a lot of money for a great watch these days. In fact, you can even buy a used hiking watch and save money as long as you don’t mind using older models. I use old watches all the time while hiking and traveling because it doesn’t really matter what year your watch was made as long as it does what it is supposed to do. 

If you want a material other than resin, you can always get a stainless steel watch to wear everyday. Stainless steel is substantially cheaper than gold and will still look nice with a suit. Many stainless steel watches are perfect for hiking as long as they keep good time and are designed tough. 


A good quality watch will last longer than cheap ones and you actually save money in the long run by always buying high-quality watches. I care more about a watch’s durability than I do asthetic features. I’ll wear a watch until it wears out as long as it is tough and has all of the functions I need for my daily grind. 

You will want to choose a well-built watch if you intend to use it while hiking, camping, hunting, or working outside. Make sure it is shockproof to protect it from drops and hard bumps. It’s easy to smash your watch into a car door or bump it on a tree so you will need a watch that can handle daily abuse. 

I pull a camper cross-country and put my gear through fairly rough abuse so any watch I strap on my wrist has to be able to handle just about anything. I’ve tested quite a few hiking watches and really put them through the ringer so to speak and I have to say that the Casio G-Shock line has held up the best. 


 The watch you choose for hiking must be comfortable to wear. There’s a chance you will sweat while you hike or get it soaked while fishing so you want to find one that you don’t mind wearing all day long. Different bands will give you different levels of comfort so you may want to try a few on before deciding. I don’t like the way metal bands feel after I’ve gotten them wet so I choose to wear resin straps when hiking, camping, or fishing because I usually get my watch wet to an extent. 

In Conclusion.

Choosing an outdoor watch for hiking can be fun. Reading reviews and product descriptions is the best way to familiarize yourself with different watch brands and models to pick the best one for you. Don’t buy into all of the hype of certain brands without doing your own research. Most of what I have learned about watches comes from watching videos, reading specs, and asking other watch enthusiasts about the watches they wear. You can find the perfect watch for your next outdoor adventure without spending a fortune.