Best outdoor watch 2022: rugged timepieces for adventurers

We rank the best outdoor watches right now, whether you're taking to the mountains or hitting the high seas

best outdoor watch: Woman climbing outdoors while wearing Garmin Fenix 7 smartwatch
(Image credit: Garmin)

Today's best outdoor watches are amazing. They manage to pack a huge number of potent sensors and tools for modern life into a tiny package. They're more precise than a simple smartphone, and typically offer far better battery life, too. Not looking for something tech-crammed? This ranking also includes outstanding outdoor watches from the other end of the scale: simple, stylish, time-telling models that are all-but indestructible. 

While screen real estate is limited, adventure watch manufacturers have taken many tips from smartwatches, and indeed many outdoor watches do double duty as smartwatches, as well as GPS units, running coaches, training aids and music players, to name but a few functions.   

We think the best outdoor watch right now is the Suunto 9 Peak. It combines most of the firepower of the former flagship Suunto 9 Baro into a tiny package, but with no battery life penalty... at least on paper. That said, the competition – in the shape of the Garmin Fenix 6 Pro Solar watch – takes a lot of beating too, packing similar abilities into a comfortably-wrist-mounted package. 

However, these are both all-rounders, so we've picked out a few specialist watches for different outdoor pursuits to balance the books. Read on for our ranking of the best outdoor watches right now – whatever you're into.

 The best outdoor watch 2022 ranking

Garmin Fenix 7 smartwatchT3 Best Buy badge

(Image credit: Garmin)
The best outdoor watch for pretty much everything

Specifications

Bezel: stainless steel
Weight: 96g
Water resistance: 100m
Battery: Smartwatch: up to 28 days / 37 days with solar; Battery Saver Watch Mode: up to 90 days / 1+ year with solar
Solar option: yes

Reasons to buy

+
Loads of features
+
Fast, reliable GPS
+
Real-time stamina meter

Reasons to avoid

-
Quite bulky
-
Overkill for casual use

The Garmin Fenix 7 is the best Garmin watch around, and the best outdoor watch you can buy right now too. There are a range of different variations to choose from, including the Fenix 7S, Fenix 7 and Fenix 7X (with increasingly larger watch body), and options for non-solar, Solar and Sapphire Solar Editions. Our pick is the Fenix 7X Solar, but by all means go for the one that suits your needs and budget.

There are features galore to explore here, including the ability to track everything from blood oxygen to heart rate, to respiration, stamina, sleep and stress levels. On the outdoors front, safety and tracking features such as automatic incident detection and manually triggered assistance alerts, both of which send a message with your real-time location to emergency contacts, are a welcome inclusion. If you opt for the 7X model, you also get a built-in flashlight, which might sound gimmicky but is actually incredibly useful (head to our full Garmin Fenix 7 review to find out how our tester used it). 

Like the rest of the Fenix series, this is one rugged smartwatch. Garmin has added protective button guards and metal-reinforced lugs for extra toughness. Go for a solar option, and you benefit from a big potential boost in battery life – Garmin has apparently improved the solar harvesting capability up to 200% in smartwatch mode compared to the Fenix 6 Solar. 

How does the Garmin Fenix 7 compare to its predecessor? Read all about it here: Garmin Fenix 7 vs Fenix 6.

Suunto 9 Peak outdoor watchT3 Approved badge

(Image credit: Suunto )

2. Suunto 9 Peak

The best lightweight, slimline outdoor watch

Specifications

Bezel: stainless steel
Weight: 62g
Water resistance: 100m
Battery: 14 days time only; GPS: 25h / 50h / 120h / 170h
Solar option: no

Reasons to buy

+
Tiny and ultralight 
+
Super-slim
+
Packs in serious functionality 

Reasons to avoid

-
 Fewer Navigation chops 

The Suunto 9 Peak is in many ways a whole new generation of outdoor smartwatch, marrying much of the firepower of the previous flagship - the Suunto 9 Baro - with much reduced size and weight. That’s not to say there’s no innovation here, with blood O2 levels added to an extensive mix of fitness monitoring and stats that can be shared among the big-name partner apps to give you flexibility and a full picture, no matter your preferences. 

As usual the list goes on and on, vo2 max, heart rate training, coaching, recovery. Navigation is the minor deviation – although the impressive array of GPS, GLONASS, GALILEO, QZSS, BEIDOU satellite constellations is present and correct, there are a couple of gaps compared to the Suunto Baro 9, most notably bearing navigation (for a full comparison, head to our Suunto 9 Peak vs Suunto 9 Baro faceoff). However, it’s a blistering list of useful training tools and an entire outdoor toolkit in a tiny watch that you’ll barely notice wearing, and won’t need to charge much either. Top marks. 

Garmin Fenix 6 Pro Solar outdoor watchT3 Approved badge

(Image credit: Garmin)
A reliable and capable outdoor for all-round doing

Specifications

Bezel: titanium
Weight: 82g
Water resistance: 10 ATM
Battery: 21 days +3 days in smartwatch mode; GPS: up to 60 hours +6 hours
Solar option: yes

Reasons to buy

+
Available in solar-powered model
+
Tech for all situations
+
Super rugged

Reasons to avoid

-
Bewildering range of options
-
Might be too heavy for some

Garmin has been at the adventure watch game for a while now, and while 2022's Fenix 7 is the best outdoor watch around, its predecessor is still an excellent option. Again, you have plenty of versions to choose from: there are 3 case size options, sapphire glass and solar options. Be aware that the base Fenix 6 models don’t include maps, wifi or music, the Pro models do, and add in extras on top (see out Garmin Fenix 6 Pro review for more on this). Once you’ve surmounted that specification hurdle, the Fenix 6 Pro Solar is a beast of a watch, offering so much functionality that you’ll need a week off just to work it all out. From preloaded ski maps to fitness coaching, golf course maps to underwater wrist-based HR tracking, this watch has it all. 

Particularly strong for outdoors folk is the solar charging function, which will string out battery life to a maximum of 24 days, as is the extensive navigation package that will get you out of trouble with ease - if you have worked out how to set them up. GPS, GLONASS and Galileo satellite systems are all supported, and features like ClimbPro (ascent rate monitor), round trip routing and turn by turn navigation will make it very hard to get lost. Head to our Garmin Fenix 6X Pro Solar review to find out more.

Polar Grit X outdoor watchT3 Best Buy badge

(Image credit: Polar)
This mid-priced outdoor watch offers plenty of bang for your buck

Specifications

Bezel: stainless steel
Weight: 64g
Water resistance: WR100
Battery: up to 40h in training mode, or 7 days in watch mode
Solar option: no

Reasons to buy

+
Plenty of training and recovery features
+
Geared towards use on trails 
+
Lots for your money

Reasons to avoid

-
Not the most comfy to wear at night

While it's not exactly cheap, the Polar Grit X delivery plenty of bang for your mid-range buck. Part of a new focus on adventure watches from Polar, this outdoor watch offers a wide range of tracking, training and recovery tools, including a number specifically designed for use on on trails and mountains – Hill Splitter, FuelWise and WeatherWatch, for example. It's robustly built, easy to navigate and boasts up to 40 hours battery life in full activity mode. Head to our Polar Grit X review for more info. And if you want something more even more feature-packed, take a look at the Grit X Pro (still significantly cheaper than many of the watches on this list).  

Garmin epix (Gen 2)T3 Best Buy badge

(Image credit: Garmin)
An epic smartwatch at an epic price

Specifications

Bezel: stainless steel
Weight: 76g
Water resistance: 10 ATM
Battery: up to 75 hours in GPS mode, up to 21 days in battery saver mode
Solar option: no

Reasons to buy

+
Gorgeous AMOLED display
+
Incredible battery life
+
New workout modes

Reasons to avoid

-
Incredibly expensive

All you really need to know about the Garmin epix (Gen 2) is that Garmin took all the best features of the Fenix and Venu series and combined them to create what's possibly the ultimate AMOLED smartwatch for anyone with money to burn. It's a brilliant watch with stacks of smart, health and wellness features, and would have to be, considering the mad price.

While it's definitely a watch to use for fitness and workouts, with top GPS and heart rate tracking, it's also one that looks good too (although it's maybe just a little on the bulky side to wear as a statement piece). The battery life's properly impressive and the AMOLED display's nothing short of amazing. Is it $899.99/£799.99 worth of amazing, though? If you have to ask, it probably isn't, but we don't doubt that it'll find a market among people who want a smart fitness watch that'll go with their smart or smart-casual attire. The rest of us can make do with the much cheaper Fenix 6 Pro or Venu 2 for now. Find out more in our Garmin epix (Gen 2) review.

Garmin Tactix Delta outdoor watchT3 Approved badge

(Image credit: Garmin)
A premium adventure watch built for military use

Specifications

Bezel: Diamond-like Carbon (DLC) coated steel
Weight: 97g
Water resistance: 10ATM
Battery: up to 60 hours in GPS mode, up to 8 days in battery saver mode
Solar option: yes

Reasons to buy

+
Extra tactical features including night vision mode
+
Wide ranging sports and adventure tracking
+
Robust yet stylish design

Reasons to avoid

-
Overkill for many

The Garmin Tactix Delta is not your everyday wearable. In fact, it's a purpose-built military watch. But that doesn't mean it should be discounted as an everyday outdoors watch, especially for those of us whose hobbies rest at the more extreme end of the spectrum. Feature wise, the Tactix Delta does everything the rest of the best outdoor watches do, from delivering turn-by-turn navigation, to guiding you around the golf course or ski slopes, to storing music, to tracking any and all fitness stats. But it also packs some rarer, more unexpected features too – there's a night vision capability, stealth mode, sky diving metrics and a kill switch. It does come with a fairly hefty price tag, but those looking to save a bit might want to consider the Garmin Fenix 6X Sapphire instead (appearances aside – this is practically the same watch). Check out our Garmin Tactix Delta review for more info.

Suunto 7 outdoor watchT3 Approved badge

(Image credit: Suunto)
The best outdoor watch on a smaller budget

Specifications

Bezel: stainless steel
Weight: 70g
Water resistance: 50m
Battery: Up to 12 hours in GPS tracking mode or up to 48 hours in daily use
Solar option: no

Reasons to buy

+
Feature rich 
+
Beautiful OLED screen 
+
Everyday smartwatch

Reasons to avoid

-
Hard on batteries

The Suunto 7 takes a bit of a new tack compared to previous outdoor watches, seeking to blend the everyday usability of a smartwatch with the powerful mapping and tracking of a 'real' outdoor watch (The Suunto 7 supports GPS, Glonass and Galileo). The tricky bit here is to keep a decent battery life, which the Suunto 7 does, at 12 hours in GPS mode and 48 hours in smartwatch mode. The benefits are pretty hefty: you get smartwatch apps aplenty, Google Fit, Google Assistant, and notifications as well as offline outdoor maps and more than 70 sports modes. The result is a watch that'll keep pace with your working week, track your daily training routine, and then be ready for big weekend expeditions – all while looking pretty stylish. A compelling mix. Find out more in our Suunto 7 review.

Amazfit T-Rex Pro outdoor watchT3 Approved badge

(Image credit: Amazfit )
The best budget outdoor watch

Specifications

Bezel: polycarbonate
Weight: 59.4g
Water resistance: 10 ATM
Battery : up to 18 days/heavy use 9 days/continuous GPS 40 hours
Solar option: no

Reasons to buy

+
Impressive sensor array
+
Very wallet-friendly

Reasons to avoid

-
Basic functionality
-
Limited data sharing

The 2021 Amazfit T-Rex model has three big headlines to shout about – it’s very keenly priced, it has more sensors than the Mars Perseverance Rover, and it’s pretty much siloed. The latter is the big pitfall here, as sharing your own fitness data with other apps isn’t going to happen, so you’re stuck with the relatively basic training tools and incentives on offer here. Sensors-wise though, we have a kitchen sink of goodies, astonishing at this price point, featuring a quad system GPS (GPS, GLONASS, Beidou, Galileo), wrist heart rate with zones and alerts, blood-oxygen saturation, recovery times, sleep monitoring and smartwatch-style notifications when paired to the companion app.   

When it comes to styling, the Amazfit T-Rex Pro might look a little dated, and the strap is very much of a 90s vintage, but the overall package is worth considering if you’re looking for excellent tech at a very wallet-friendly price point. Well worth considering at the price point.

Suunto baro titanium outdoor watchT3 Approved badge

(Image credit: Suunto )
A tech-packed mountain fitness performer

Specifications

Bezel: titanium
Weight: 62g
Water resistance: 100m
Battery: 14 days, 25-120 hours GPS mode
Solar option: no

Reasons to buy

+
Endless features for every occasion
+
Training tools 

Reasons to avoid

-
Fiddly to get the best from
-
No music or payments

When you want fitness tracking whenever, wherever, then the Suunto 9 Baro has a lot to say for itself. The ‘baro’ in the name refers to an additional barometer sensor over the stock model, which not only provides weather information, but also makes that the GPS tracking much more accurate on long ascents. The 'titanium' part of the name means you've got an ultralight Titanium bezel that shaves a few grams off the stock Stainless Steel version

With 80 sports to choose from there’s no limit to the use you’ll get out of the Suunto, and the ability to sync and upload routes and PBs to the companion app is handy for comparisons and sharing with friends. Wrist heart rate monitoring is built in, as are a myriad of fitness stats, and there’s even sleep tracking too. This watch has all the bells and whistles you could want for, and even has a decent battery life with them all switched on. Head to our Suunto 9 Baro Titanium GPS watch review to find out more about the top-end version of this watch.

Tissot T-Touch Solar Expert outdoor watchT3 Approved badge

10. Tissot T-Touch Solar Expert

High-end, high altitude expedition wristwear

Specifications

Bezel: titanium
Weight: not stated
Water resistance: 10 bar
Battery: not stated (a long time)
Solar option: yes

Reasons to buy

+
Swiss quartz movement
+
Solid feature set 
+
Almost unlimited battery life

Reasons to avoid

-
No GPS or smart features

The snappily-named Tissot T-Touch Solar Expert ticks a lot of expedition boxes. Robustly built from titanium, the touchscreen face also conceals a solar panel, so there’s no danger of a dead battery in the Karakoram. The feature set is strong too, with 25 features including weather forecasting, altimeter, second time zone and a compass built in. Although the latter is probably best saved for real emergencies, the barometer/altimeter function could come in very handy for acclimatising hikes. With a range of strap materials on offer to suit all preferences, this is stylish enough for town, but also tough enough for those mountain excursions too.

Garmin Quatix 6X Solar outdoor watchT3 Approved badge

(Image credit: Garmin)
The best outdoor watch for marine activities

Specifications

Bezel: titanium
Weight: 82g
Water resistance: 100m / 10 ATM
Battery: up to 66hrs in GPS mode, up to 120 days in battery saver mode
Solar option: yes

Reasons to buy

+
Ridiculous battery life
+
Brilliant navigation tools
+
Built-in boat autopilot

Reasons to avoid

-
Quite complex
-
Overkill if you're not taking to water

If you're a water-lover, the best outdoor watch for you is the Garmin Quatix 6X Solar.  This watch takes the land-based tools and tech found in our top ranking 6X range, and adds a whole bunch more geared towards more watery pursuits. There are plenty of features aimed at boat owners, SUP riders, windsurfers, kayakers and more. Additions include wrist-based autopilot control, dedicated marine mapping and bespoke sailing tools. You'll also get Garmin's solar-boosted battery, which means this watch will run and run... and run. While it's absolutely excellent for marine sports, it's probably unnecessarily complex for land-lovers. Head to our full Garmin Quatix 6X Solar review for more info.

Victorinox I.N.O.X outdoor watchT3 Approved badge

12. Victorinox I.N.O.X

Understated survival special

Specifications

Bezel: stainless steel
Weight: 72.6g
Water resistance: 20ATM / 100m
Battery: not stated (a long time)
Solar option: no

Reasons to buy

+
Astonishingly robust
+
Unassuming looks
+
Soft paracord strap 

Reasons to avoid

-
No GPS here
-
Low tech only 

Sometimes you want simplicity, you crave form, function but no distractions, and this is when the Victorinox I.N.O.X makes complete sense. A simple exterior and basic quartz movement provide little bling or technical wizardry, but the case claims to be the only Swiss watch to withstand 130 extreme endurance homologation tests, which is no idle boast. The strap is woven from survival favourite paracord, high breaking strain cord that can be used to construct all manner of useful shelter-related items, and also included is a removable compass bumper for protection against scratches, and easier navigation. Survivalist simplicity doesn’t come looking better than this.

Elliot Brown Canford: Mountain Rescue editionT3 Approved badge

(Image credit: Elliot Brown)

13. Elliot Brown Canford: Mountain Rescue edition

The best outdoor watch for blending style with charity

Specifications

Bezel: steel
Weight: not stated
Water resistance: 20ATM / 200M
Battery: 3 years, with EOL indication
Solar option: no

Reasons to buy

+
Donate to MRT
+
Very robust
+
Style for all occasions

Reasons to avoid

-
No bells or whistles

Sometimes outdoor watches just need to tell the time and look good, and the Elliot Brown Canford: Mountain Rescue edition does exactly that. Buying one also donates £36 to Mountain Rescue England & Wales, and there's a very subtle ghosted matt on gloss MREW logo in the bottom half of the dial as a nod in that direction.

A ludicrously rugged case with triple sealed 6mm knurled crowns will laugh off anything short of a tank, and simple but clean green SuperLuminova coated indices and hands make this a pretty idiotproof time telling machine. There is a date marker, and two straps – a practical EPDM black rubber strap for weekdays in the office and a custom made black ballistic nylon webbing strap for hitting the hills at the weekend. Sometimes simplicity is bliss. 

Shearwater Teric outdoor watchT3 Approved badge

14. Shearwater Teric

The best looking dive watch on the market

Specifications

Bezel: stainless steel
Weight: not stated
Water resistance: 200m
Battery: 30hrs dive mode, 50 hrs watch mode
Solar option: no

Reasons to buy

+
Stunning design
+
Compact 

Reasons to avoid

-
Expensive
-
Low, smartwatch-style battery life

The Shearwater Teric is a little bit special in the world of the best dive watches, and has already forced bigger brands to follow suit. Essentially it’s a diving smartwatch, which might sound obvious, but when you’re 50m deep on trimix a crash and reboot to factory settings could be somewhat harrowing. Above water you’ve got a sizeable AMOLED screen, chunky stainless bezel and sapphire lens, with a variety of different watch faces and strap colours to choose from. Underwater you have wireless tank pressure integration, configurable display, as well as full trimix, nitrox, air and gauge settings. In short, the Teric is a highly potent dive computer, as well as being an everyday watch. 

 How to buy the best best outdoor watch for you 

There’s a huge range of outdoor watches on the market, so before you dive in you’ll want to be clear from the outset just how much technology you really need. Too much and you’ll be out of battery within a couple of days, too little and your training program will suffer.

For big expedition use, smartwatches and intensive GPS trackers are just too power-hungry, and you’ll want something solar powered or just very simple to keep working in all conditions.

If you’re set on a tracking model, be clear whether you’ll just be tracking your progress for training, or using it as a navigational aid, as the two don’t always go hand in hand.

Models that use GPS and other sensors (such as a barometer) often have better accuracy, but this may chew battery faster. On the bright side, the newest models tend to have a series of settings, so you can balance accuracy with battery life. 

Overall – a few incredible all-rounders aside – the best outdoor watch for you will depend on what you want to be doing. Choose wisely, and get out there!

Mark Mayne has been covering tech, gadgets and outdoor innovation for longer than he can remember. A keen climber, mountaineer and scuba diver, he is also a dedicated weather enthusiast and flapjack consumption expert.