The Best Outdoor Watches for Hiking, Hanging, and Everything in Between

Because telling time by the sun is far from failsafe.

I feel like in any given friend group there's always at least one outdoorsy type who's constantly, like, licking his finger and holding it up to the wind, talking about how "the sun is the only timepiece I need, dude" because he's so in touch with the natural world. Sure, man, the sun is the only timepiece I'd need too if I was fine showing up two and half hours late to every prior engagement ever.

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Because trust me, there will come a day when you and your boy-scout buddy are out on a long bike ride without a care in the world when suddenly both your phones are dead and he's squinting up at the sky like it's about to answer all your questions. Well, the sun's about 45 degrees or so above the horizon so *pauses for a moment too long* it should be around...3 p.m. right now? Dog, we left at 10:30 in the morning and there's no way it's been longer than an hour. Check the sun again. Miss me with that zen bullshit, man.

Instead, why not invest in a watch specifically made for the great outdoors—with features like built-in GPS, specialized lighting, and uh, not having to rely on the fucking sun to tell time—and the next time you're in a pickle don't look up at the sky expecting answers, look at your wrist and reassure yourself they're already there.

And, whatever you do, don't acknowledge your friend's attempts to assuage your concerns using "the therapeutic power of nature." Not now, man. Can't you see I'm having a mild panic attack here?! Fuck a scenic vista. I need my screen-time, and if the only way I can get is it by staring at the face of this small, dimly lit digital watch, so be it.


Classic Analog Watch

Casio's signature watch is an actual icon of modern-day design. The brand's durable plastic styles have recently become a bit of a celebrity fan favorite, and its analog option, with an instantly recognizable retro-inspired yellow face, does what it needs to do and doesn't make a big fuss about it. And for less than twenty bucks, what more can you really ask for? Casio,

Vintage Digital Watch

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Casio also excels at making simple, streamlined timepieces steeped in classic design that somehow still manage to look remarkably relevant today. The brand's very good vintage-inspired digital watch is a super functional update to the styles it's been putting out for years. Casio,


Twice Again Black Watch

Speaking of modern-day classics, it's hard to beat Swatch's trademark style. The Swiss master of minimalist design rarely stray too far from the formula that first made it a household name, and—in a hard-wearing plastic that can more than hold its own exposed to the great outdoors—it's a silhouette that still slaps today.  Swatch

Outdoor Sports Watch


Suunto is a name to watch (heh) in the wide world of competitive fitness. From Marathons to Spartan races to triathlons–name the conditions and the ultra-durable sports style can handle it. Not only do the brand's products monitor specific activities (they come preprogrammed with dozens of modes of movement), they're also mindful of the situations they're being used in. Case in point: This one's screen is specifically engineered to remain easy to read even in direct sunlight. Suunto

Maritime Sport MS1 Watch

If your outdoor activities tend to center around water-adjacent adventures, look to the crowd-pleasing Timex x Todd Snyder collaboration for a maritime-inspired sport watch perfect for, well, maritime sports. Timex x Todd Snyder,

Regulus Watch


But if a digital style is more your thing, opt for one of Nixon's sporty, water-resistant silhouettes and never look back. Nixon

Forerunner 45 GPS Watch

If you fancy yourself more of the hiking type, look to Garmin's Forerunner watch. This digital style goes deep on tracking abilities: There's a GPS, barometric altimeter, compass, accelerometer, and thermometer (oh my!) so you never have to worry about getting lost on the go again. Garmin

Rangeman GW-9400


For any sort of sudden outing, you really can't go wrong with a G-Shock. This guy's ultra-durable construction can take a beating, and its water-resistant case means it won't fail you if you get caught in a sudden downpour. G-Shock 

Apple Watch Nike Series 5

The Apple watch is the ultimate activity-adjacent accessory for any dude who's a bit too into his iPhone. This one, made in partnership with Nike, is ideal for outdoorsy types who can't bear to part with their devices for longer than a few seconds. Apple

Vívomove Luxe Hybrid Smartwatch


When it comes to navigating the great outdoors, Garmin (yet again) reigns supreme. This watch provides both the stylistic benefits of a timeless analog watch and the all the latest technological tricks of a sleek touchscreen device. Use its tools—like the watch's heart rate monitor—to get the most out of your outdoor workouts. Garmin

Aviation Black Dial Watch

Bell & Ross has been making aviation-inspired timepieces since the early '90s, quickly establishing itself as a name to know via its distinctive circle-within-a-square design (a now-signature touch borrowed from the look of airplane instrument dials). The brand's watches are designed with function top of mind, and their durability makes them ideal for any activities that might require getting your hands dirty—literally or not. Bell & Ross

Top Gun Automatic Pilot's Watch


IWC's Pilot's watch was made for actual pilots—pilots in the Royal Air Force, to be exact. The mechanical movement is hyper precise and resistant to magnetic fields, and the sapphire glass is secured against displacement by an air pressure drop. In other words: It's tough—more than tough to go on a hike with you now, and for the rest of your life. IWC

This story originally appeared on Minor edits have been made by the editors.

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Christine Flammia
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Avidan Grossman
Avidan Grossman is the Style eCommerce Editor at Esquire, covering men’s fashion, shoes, grooming, and accessories. He spends way too much time deciding what to wear. Needless to say, his parents still have no idea what he does.
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