The range and sophistication of the best outdoor watches on the market at the moment is genuinely 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, rugged and robust 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.
Price is a big factor, of course, with the best outdoor watch being a significant investment. Right now, it's well worth checking out our guide to Black Friday deals (opens in new tab) and Cyber Monday sales to see if you can pick up a bargain.
Read on for our ranking of the best outdoor watches right now – whatever you're into.
The best outdoor watch 2023 ranking
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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.
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 our 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.
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, a 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. Our Amazfit T-Rex 2 review will tell you everything you need to know.
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 outdoors 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 – the brand's preferred testing method – 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. It's not all about function, either; Elliot Brown has packed in some cool design details just for fun. You can read more about those here, but we especially like the retro styling of the rubber straps and the rope-pattern internal breather lines, inspired by the company's harbourside headquarters. Head to our guide to the best dive watches for some more tech-free options.
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).
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.
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 on battery life somewhat. Check out or full Garmin Quatix 7 Sapphire review for the full low-down on that one.
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.
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.
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.
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.
The Suunto 9 Peak is in many ways a whole new generation of outdoor smartwatch, designed to marry much of the firepower of the previous flagship – the Suunto 9 Baro – with much reduced size and weight, making it comfy and unobtrusive to wear over long periods. 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). In our Suunto 9 Peak review we found the lack of full on-screen maps (routes appear as line guides without the context of surrounding roads, obstacles and fields) confusing, and if you suspect you will agree, you might be better opting for a Garmin. We also found the software a little clunky-feeling compared to the rest of the best outdoor watches on the market. However, if compactness and low weight is your priority, this is still a decent choice.
The 2021 Amazfit T-Rex model was our top choice for a budget outdoor watch, at least until the latest version arrived to sit pretty near the top of this list. However the older version still has plenty 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. We gave it three stars in our Amazfit T-Rex Pro review, so temper your expectations, but as a budget option, it's well worth considering at the price point.
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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!