Best outdoor watch 2024: rugged timepieces for adventurers

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

Best outdoor watch 2024: Quick links

Garmin Enduro 2

(Image credit: Garmin )

00. Top 3↴
01. Best overall: Garmin Enduro 2
02. Best for hiking: Huawei Watch Ultimate
03. Best for swimming: Apple Watch Ultra
04. Best for sustainability: Suunto Vertical
05. Best for mountaineering: Coros Apex 2 Pro
06. Best mid-range: Polar Grit X
07. Best budget: Amazfit T-Rex 2
08. Best analogue: Elliot Brown Bloxworth Heritage Diver
09. Best marine-focused: Garmin Quatix 6X Solar

The best outdoor watches are genuinely sophisticated wearables. These rugged smartwatches manage to pack a considerable number of potent sensors and tools for modern life into a tiny package. They're often able to track position more precisely than smartphones and typically offer far better battery life. Here, we listed all models worth considering from Garmin, Suunto, Polar, Huawei, Apple and more.

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 hiking GPS units, running watches, training aids and music players, to name but a few functions. Read on for our ranking of the best outdoor watches right now – whatever you're into.

The Top 3

The best outdoor watch to buy right now

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Best overall

Garmin Enduro 2 showing 10k race time predictionT3 Awards 2023 Logo

(Image credit: Matt Kollat/T3)
Best outdoor watch overall

Specifications

Bezel: titanium
Weight: 64g (case only)
Water resistance: 100m
Battery: 46 days in smartwatch mode and up to 150 hours in GPS mode
Solar charging: yes

Reasons to buy

+
Ultra-long battery life
+
Offline TOPO maps
+
Fast processor
+
Multi-band, multi-GNSS system

Reasons to avoid

-
Comes in one size, and it's huge

The Garmin Enduro 2 is the best outdoor watch right now, despite the insane competition it faces, even within Garmin's own stable. There is the Garmin Fenix 7 Pro, the Garmin Epix Gen 2, and countless Garmin Instinct variations – why would you choose the Enduro 2 instead?

For one, it has an extremely long battery life, longer than any other watch from Garmin. The brand not only optimised GPS performance via SatIQ but also added the solar harvesting Power Glass to help maintain battery power longer.

The watch is mega durable, thanks to the scratch-proof Power Sapphire glass lens, the lightweight yet tough titanium bezel and the fibre-reinforced polymer watch case with a titanium rear cover.

Finally, Garmin also added offline topographic maps, something the watch's predecessor lacked, as well as various other outdoor-ready features, such as TrackBack and more.

Read our full Garmin Enduro 2 review.

Best for swimming

Apple Watch Ultra 2 review

(Image credit: Matt Kollat/T3)
Best outdoor watch for swimming

Specifications

Bezel: titanium
Weight (case only): 61.4g
Water resistance: WR100 water resistance, EN13319 standard for dive accessories
Battery: Up to 36 hours (normal use), Up to 72 hours (Low Power Mode), Up to 12 hours (Outdoor Run with GPS)
Solar charging: no

Reasons to buy

+
Added Free Diving mode
+
Improved maximum operating altitude
+
Plenty of smart features
+
Carbon Neutral product (when paired with certain straps)

Reasons to avoid

-
Battery life is not on par with competitors
-
Diving and mountaineering features are aimed at a very niche market

Apple's second-generation Ultra rugged wearable is prettier, more intelligent and faster than before – without a price increase.

Of all the outdoor watches, the Apple Watch Ultra 2 is your best option for swimming. It's water-rated to 100 metres and meets the EN13319 standard for dive accessories. Better still, unlike its predecessor, the second-generation Ultra can be used for freediving (the Ultra was only suitable for scuba diving). Apple also revamped the Dive app, making it easier to see your dive history on the watch and to share your dives via the app on your iPhone.

Another big outdoor update is the operating altitude range of the Apple Watch Ultra 2, which has been increased to -500-9000 meters (-1640 feet to 29,500 feet), exceeding the current standard of other Apple Watch models of 0 meters to 3000 meters. Battery life could be (much) better, but apart from that, this is a terrific outdoor wearable!

Read our full Apple Watch Ultra 2 review.

Also consider: Thanks to the release of the Ultra 2, the original Apple Watch Ultra can be bought for less than RRP these days. It's a super-capable wearable that can track your adventure both below and above the waterline. Read our full comparison between the two iterations here: Apple Watch Ultra 2 vs Apple Watch Ultra.

Best for hiking

Huawei Watch Ultimate review

(Image credit: Matt Kollat/T3)
Best outdoor watch for hiking

Specifications

Bezel: liquid metal
Weight: 76g (case only)
Water resistance: 100m
Battery: up to two weeks in smartwatch mode (GPS battery life not disclosed by brand)
Solar charging: no

Reasons to buy

+
Premium build and materials
+
Huge, bright LTPO AMOLED display
+
Fast processor and smooth touch interactions
+
All health and fitness features under the sun
+
Amazing battery life

Reasons to avoid

-
Bubble icon UI feels a bit too close to Apple's interface

The Huawei Watch Ultimate is your best outdoor watch option for hiking. In Expedition mode, the Watch Ultimate tracks your movements in three dimensions, day and night, as well as letting you add waypoints and markers as you go along on your adventure. 

The watch can also be used for commercial diving, which we're sure everyone will appreciate (considering the number of commercial divers out there). We suspect it's one of those niche features Huawei added just to have a stab at Apple, but the watch has some interesting additional diving features, such as Apnoea training and Apnoea test.

The Huawei Watch Ultimate has a large, bright AMOLED display and a surprisingly long battery life, which is why we listed it so high in this outdoor watch roundup. It's a shame you can't buy it in the US, but if you live in a country where it's available, we recommend checking it out.

Read our full Huawei Watch Ultimate review.

Best for sustainability

Suunto Vertical review

(Image credit: Matt Kollat/T3)
Best sustainable outdoor watch

Specifications

Bezel: stainless steel/titanium
Weight: 86 grams/74 grams (case only)
Water resistance: 100m
Battery: up to 60 days in Time mode, up to 500 hours in Tour mode
Solar charging: yes (optional)

Reasons to buy

+
Long battery life (+ solar charging)
+
Dual-band multi-GNSS
+
Fully carbon-compensated manufacturing process
+
Excellent mapping performance

Reasons to avoid

-
Touch interactions are sluggish
-
Backlight cannot be turned off (not ideal for sleeping)
-
The watch seems to beep randomly throughout the day, even when it's in 'Do Not Disturb' mode (e.g. when you hit your calorie goal for the day)

The Suunto Vertical has superb mapping features, long battery life aided by solar charging capabilities and a durable build – everything you can ask from a capable outdoor watch. 

It's not as slick as Garmins; the CPU could be faster, and the touch interactions smoother. If you prefer non-AMOLED wearables for outdoor activities, the Suunto Vertical is one of the best options for you on this list.

One of our favourite things about the Suunto Vertical is that it was made using 100% renewable energy, and the little carbon generated by the production is offset by the company in Africa. It's an admirable effort and something we'd like to see more from other brands.

Read our full Suunto Vertical review.

Best for mountaineering

Coros Apex 2 Pro reviewT3 Best Buy badge

(Image credit: Matt Kollat/T3)
Best outdoor watch for mountaneering

Specifications

Bezel: Grade 5 Titanium Alloy With PVD Coating
Weight: 66g
Water resistance: 5 ATM
Battery: 30 days of regular use/75 hours of full GPS
Solar charging: no

Reasons to buy

+
Offline TOPO maps
+
Fast processor
+
Multi-band, multi-GNSS positioning system
+
Dedicated off-road sports modes (e.g. Mountain Climb)

Reasons to avoid

-
Watch case doesn't feel as premium as Garmins
-
Touchscreen operation is far from smooth
-
Screen isn't the most visible in bright conditions

Like most Coros watches, the biggest appeal of the Apex 2 Pro is that offers an updated heart rate sensor, dual-frequency GPS chip, plenty of trail running and outdoor sports features, rugged titanium and sapphire glass design, an okay touchscreen display, a lot of training support via the Coros app and the Coros EvoLab for half as much as the Garmin Enduro 2.

Aimed at ultra-runners, the Coros Apex 2 Pro will surely appeal to people who liked the first iteration of the watch and are fans of the brand – a group that's getting increasingly numerous these days. We'd imagine Garmin users might not be swayed quite as quickly, but that's fine; there is room for two (three, four...) wearable brands in the outdoor watch market.

Read our full Coros Apex 2 Pro review.

Best mid-range

polar grit x outdoor watchT3 Best Buy badge

(Image credit: Polar)
Best mid-range outdoor watch

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 delivers 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 trails and mountains – Hill Splitter, FuelWise and WeatherWatch, for example. It's robustly built, easy to navigate and boasts up to 40 hours of battery life in full activity mode.

Read our full Polar Grit X review.

Best budget

Amazfit T-Rex 2T3 Approved badge

(Image credit: Matt Kollat/T3)
Best affordable outdoor watch

Specifications

Bezel: Polymer alloy
Weight: 66.5g
Water resistance: 10 ATM
Battery: up to 45 days/heavy use 10 days/continuous GPS 58 hours
Solar option: no

Reasons to buy

+
Great GPS accuracy
+
Long battery life
+
AMOLED display

Reasons to avoid

-
Pointlessly bulky
-
So-so heart rate accuracy

Until recently, our pick for the best budget outdoor watch was the Amazfit T-Rex Pro, and while you'll still find it at the bottom of this round-up, it's been thoroughly superseded by the latest version: step forward, the Amazfit T-Rex 2. It's a significant upgrade to the T-Rex Pro, with a larger and brighter AMOLED display, longer battery life and a much better GPS chip, and if you're after a cheap alternative to the Garmin Fenix, this is about as good as it gets right now.

It's rugged and surprisingly lightweight – put that down to the polycarbonate case – with a new BioTrackerTM 3.0 PPG biometric sensor that supports 24-hour health management functions, as well as over 150 sports modes (most of which you'll never use).

The GPS accuracy is fine, if not super-accurate, while the heart rate accuracy is a little hit-and-miss, but on the whole, you get a lot of functionality and plenty of bang for your buck. We can't help but feel that the chunky design is there for the sake of it, but if you can live with that and if you're on a budget, this is definitely an outdoor watch worth considering.

Read our full Amazfit T-Rex 2 review.

Best analogue

Elliot Brown Bloxworth Heritage Diver watchT3 Approved badge

(Image credit: Future)

8. Elliot Brown Bloxworth Heritage Diver

Best analogue outdoor watch

Specifications

Bezel: ceramic
Weight: not stated
Water resistance: 200m
Battery: a very long time
Solar option: no

Reasons to buy

+
Ultra-robust
+
Cool design
+
Option of wetsuit-friendly ratchet buckle

Reasons to avoid

-
No hi-tech features
-
No date widow

Of course, you don't need to go for a smartwatch when heading into the great outdoors, and our current pick from the analogue market is the Elliot Brown Bloxworth Heritage Diver watch (or, for women, the Bloxworth Hali). Sure, there's no GPS, but you're also getting years of battery life, with no need to ever hunt down a charge point.

This outdoor watch is ultra-robust, with a toughened, anti-reflective sapphire crystal face framed by a ceramic bezel. There's a movement shock protection system that'll withstand a bashing from a 3kg stainless steel pendulum mallet, and it's waterproof to 200m, too. Details are geared towards use in the great outdoors – the coin-edged bezel is deep enough to grip with a gloved hand, for example, and if you decide to opt for the bracelet strap version, there's a ratchet buckle that lets you fit it perfectly over your wetsuit.

Head to our guide to the best dive watches for some more tech-free options. 

Best marine-focused

Garmin Quatix 6X Solar watchT3 Approved badge

(Image credit: Mark Mayne)
Best marine-focused outdoor watch

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.

In April 2022, Garmin released a new version of this watch. The upgraded version adds a touchscreen AMOLED face and some more sea-specific tools, although the former does impact battery life somewhat. Check out our full Garmin Quatix 7 Sapphire review for the full low-down on that one. 

Read our full Garmin Quatix 6X Solar review.

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 the 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!

Matt Kollat
Section Editor | Active

Matt Kollat is a journalist and content creator who works for T3.com and its magazine counterpart as an Active Editor. His areas of expertise include wearables, drones, fitness equipment, nutrition and outdoor gear. He joined T3 in 2019. His byline appears in several publications, including Techradar and Fit&Well, and more. Matt also collaborated with other content creators (e.g. Garage Gym Reviews) and judged many awards, such as the European Specialist Sports Nutrition Alliance's ESSNawards. When he isn't working out, running or cycling, you'll find him roaming the countryside and trying out new podcasting and content creation equipment.

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