A Guide to Buying the Best Watches for Hunting

You might not consider a hunting watch to be a priority in your hunting paraphernalia unlike crossbows or hunting rifles, but it is one of the key equipment in any hunter’s gear. It is fairly easy to lose track of time when you are out taking in nature. Before you know it, its sundown and you are already behind schedule. You might think your regular or phone should be enough to tell you the time but neither of them can be relied upon because your phone can run out of battery and regular watches aren’t sturdy enough to withstand the wilderness. Water from a thunderstorm or a spray of mud is enough to break your expensive normal watch.

This is where hunting watches comes into the scene. They’re designed with a focus on hunting and are packed with features that can prove indispensable to a hunter. They’re extremely enduring and robust. Most designs are water-proof or at the very least offer water, weather, and scratch resistance.

They do more than just telling time, majority of the designs feature: a GPS and maps to help you with navigation and keep you from getting lost in the woods, a built-in compass to guide you, a thermometer that informs you about weather conditions, a barometer that displays immediate atmospheric pressure, an altimeter that detects your current altitude from the sea level, backlit displays to help with visibility in dark surroundings and silent alarms which are probably unique to hunting watches.

In addition to a battery, many popular designs offer a solar power option as a backup which ensures that you will never run out of battery on your hunting trips. You might already have many of the above-mentioned pieces of equipment in your gear, a hunting watch saves you the hassle of lugging them all around by consolidating them all into a lightweight watch you can wear on your wrist.

A hunting watch is an investment that warrants due consideration because it is going to last you quite a few years. With the wide-variety hunting watches available, it can be a bit tricky to choose one that’s the best fit for you. In this guide, we’ll explore what you should be looking for when shopping for a hunting watch.

Here are our top picks for best-hunting watches available in the market today.

Suunto Traverse Alpha

Suunto is a leading manufacturer of hunting and fishing watches and the sleek looking Suunto Traverse Alpha packs some serious functionality. Not only is it highly reliable – the core of an ideal hunting watch – it also houses some top-of-the-line features.

The alpha has a very intuitive design, allowing you to access compass, altitude, and atmospheric pressure fairly easily. The compass can make automatic adjustments for altitude and tilt angle. With its GPS functionality, it plots the path taken which you can easily follow back. It’s known as following a “breadcrumb” trail to keep you from getting lost in the woods. It also automatically records where you have fired shots and the number of shots to keep a record of where you found or bagged the game.

It features weather and thunderstorm alerts that warn you about bad weather ahead of time. It also counts your steps and the calories burned on your hunting trip. Additionally, it displays moon phases, current temperature, sunset and sunrise timings and has a backlit screen for better visibility at night.

It has an impressive battery life of 100 hours when used in GPS mode. However, it can go a surprising two whole weeks when used in basic mode. This means you don’t have to charge it for every hunting trip if you are not going to be using the GPS tracking feature very often. Even if you do though, it should last you the entire weekend on a single charge which is more than enough in our opinion.

It has an extremely rugged and enduring design which is comparable to military standards. Not only is it completely waterproof, it also has a scratch-resistant sapphire crystal face. It means that scratches won’t show up easily around the perimeter and the water-proof nylon strap will stay in ideal shape for years.

It’s reliable construction and features also mean its slightly pricier than other models in the market. If you are on a tight budget it might not be the right choice for you. However, if budget is not an issue, the Alpha offers the finest you can expect from a hunting watch. Its sturdy and feature-rich design earns it the top spot on our list.

Key features and specs

  • 5 x 3.7 x 5 in
  • Excellent battery life
  • GPS/GLONASS navigation
  • Waterproof/Scratch resistant construction
  • Storm alerts
  • Automatic shot detection
  • Compass and breadcrumb trailing

Garmin Fenix 5X

Fenix 5X is amazingly customizable and packs some really sweet specifications. It has a stainless-steel bezel, buttons, casing and a silicone strap which makes for a quite enduring design.

It provides exceptional navigation thanks to the built-in GPS, GLONASS, maps, compass, altimeter, barometer, and gyroscope. GPS tracks regular environments while GLONASS technology helps with navigating rougher terrains. The map functionality is detailed and first-rate. It comes with preloaded maps, that display waterbody, railway tracks, woodlands, dirt paths, and roads. It excels at providing accurate relatively less used dirt paths in remote areas such as the countryside.

It features a color Chroma display that performs fairly well in sunlight, thanks to its Transreflective technology that lends it increased readability under bright light. It is also backlit with LED to ensure readability in darker conditions.

It has Wi-Fi connectivity and a heart rate monitor that monitors it via your wrist. It also counts your steps, profiles your running and combines it with heart rate data to accurately estimate the number of calories burnt during your trip.

On top of its PVD-coated stainless-steel construction, the face is crystal sapphire which is highly scratch resistant. Its strap is fairly durable and easily replaceable meaning this watch is going to be with you for years to come.

Although it’s slightly larger than its competitors, it sits comfortably on your wrist. An area where it lacks though, is the GPS which renders a bit slow compared to other watches on our list.

Key features and specs

  • 2 x 0.7 x 2 in
  • Excellent battery life of 100 hours on GPS, and two weeks on standby
  • Preloaded topo maps for easy navigation
  • Weather information and storm alerts
  • Sunset and sunrise information
  • Bluetooth and Wi-Fi connectivity
  • High-resolution color display
  • Customizable backgrounds
  • Buttons around the perimeter for navigating the menus

Casio Pathfinder

Casio Pathfinder is a beast when it comes to battery life. It is solar powered and can last an astounding 6 months on a single charge while retaining many of the key features its competition has!

Like other hunting watches on our list, the Pathfinder features a digital compass, altimeter, barometer, thermometer, and backlighting for easy readability in low-light. It also boasts some features which are unique to Pathfinder, like 48 preset time zones, city codes, and a calendar.

The casing is stainless steel, the dial is mineral, and the band is made of resin, which gives it an overall rugged and durable build. It can be submerged for up to 100 meters underwater and can withstand extremely low temperatures.

While it lacks maps or GPS functionality, it does have a digital compass that should help you navigate the terrain if you are a bit familiar with it. It does not have storm alerts or weather notifications but it is equipped with a barometer which can help you forecast the weather with a little background knowledge.

It is slightly bulkier than its competitors but it’s a really suitable hunting companion especially if you are on a budget and don’t plan on spending hundreds of dollars on a watch.

Key features and specs

  • 6 x 4.4 x 3.9 in
  • Solar powered – can last six months without seeing the sun
  • Battery display and saving features
  • EL Backlight
  • Stopwatch and countdown timer
  • Preset time zones and city codes
  • Preprogrammed calendar
  • Temperature resistance of up to -10 degrees centigrade
  • Scratch and water resistant

Garmin Tactix Bravo

Tactical functionality and high performance are where this watch excels. It has an all-black and non-reflective and extremely enduring construction, which means it will go well with your other tactical gear. The bezel is coated with DLC – a dark diamond carbon layer – which means it is fairly resistant against grazes. Around the perimeter, there are stainless steel buttons that are treated with black PVD. It’s screws and rear plate are also stainless steel. Overall, it sports a fantastic look and a solid design that is built to take some serious punishment.

It has some extensive navigation and tracking functionalities. In addition to GPS, it features GLONASS, which comes in handy when navigating more challenging terrains. It records your route and lets you track your way back to your starting point. It has integrated sensors like altimeter and barometer which keep you posted about your altitude and changing weather conditions in real time. Altimeter calculates elevation data while the barometer uses immediate air pressure fluctuations to forecast the weather. It is also equipped with a 3-axis digital compass.

Its display is a high-resolution Chroma display that performs exceptionally well in direct sunlight. The face is fortified sapphire and the display is compatible with night vision goggles.

It connects to your smartphone and shows you emails, notifications, and text alerts.

It can last two weeks on a single charge when used simply as a watch and 20 hours in GPS mode. It also has a unique battery saver mode that can stretch the battery life to 50 hours.

Although it is a pricier option, its feature-rich build ensures that you’re getting the bang for your buck.

Key features and specs

  • 6 x 2 x 2 in
  • 2-inch display that offers readability in sunlight
  • GPS/GLONASS reception
  • Altimeter/barometer/compass
  • Bread crumb trailing
  • 2 weeks of stand by time
  • Smart notifications
  • Night vision mode
  • Nylon/Silicone band

Timex Men’s T49612 Expedition Shock

This watch is crafted to withstand rough conditions. Not only can it survive being submerged up to 200 meters underwater, but it is also incredibly shock resistant too. It sits comfortably and firmly on your wrist thanks to its durable nylon strap. Like other their other survival Timex watches, it undergoes the famous “torture tests”, which means you can be sure that you’re getting a high quality and enduring product.

It has a built-in digital compass which helps with navigation and a unique negative display which features a dark light for readability in darker environments.

It is probably one of the most affordable hunting watch available in the market with a price point of just under 100$. If you are on a tight budget or don’t want to drop hundreds of dollars on a hunting watch, this product is for you. With its extremely rugged build and durable design, it’s going to last you many, many years and stay in excellent shape.

Key features and specs

  • 7 x 3.5 x 2.9 in
  • Olive/Black Resin Strap
  • Digital compass
  • Shock resistant
  • Water resistant
  • Calendar

Wrap up

To conclude this guide, a hunting watch is a must-have if you are, well, a hunter. And now that you are familiar with what features an ideal hunting watch should have, you know what to look for when hunting for a hunting watch.

To quickly review, a hunting watch should be durable enough to take some punishment: it should be shock and scratch resistant, and waterproof. It should have at least some basic navigation elements, such as a digital compass. If you are willing to spend more, it should also have GPS tracking. A final feature that it must have is a backlit display since those doves or rabbits need seeing to even if the ambient light is poor.

If you don’t find the right fit in our list, it’s not a  big deal because the list is by no means comprehensive. You can simply use it a loose guideline to find one that fits the bill.