A good hunting watch can give you an edge in the field.
Watches used to just be a way for you to keep track of time. But as time has gone on and technology has improved, many watches have become multifunction pieces of hardware that can be an incredibly useful asset for your hunting trips.
From basic compasses to altimeters and barometric pressure, manufacturers are packing in more features than ever before.
Here's what to look for in order to find the best hunting watch for your style of hunting.
Features to look for in a hunting and outdoors watch
When looking for a hunting watch, you're not always looking for what's the most stylish. Rather you're looking for function and durability more than anything. You want something that's shock resistant, scratch resistant and has great water resistance. Or even better, is completely waterproof.
Because let's face it, the weather can be incredibly unpredictable while hunting. You want something that will take a real beating.
We highly recommend getting a GPS watch or at the very least, something with a digital compass integrated. You should probably have those things in your hunting bag already, but it never hurts to have a backup, especially if you're trekking far into the backcountry.
The best watches will not only have good battery life but will have a backlight. This is a must for when you're checking legal shooting time in the dark before the dawn.
On that note, some high quality smartwatch bands now adjust for different time zones in real-time. It's a helpful feature if you're hunting out of state and forget to set your watch forward or back.
Many outdoor watch and sport watch brands will work nicely for hunting these days, and you can also get the added value of countdown timers, stopwatches, heart rate monitors, and step counters. A few even come with storm alarms to help alert you nasty weather is on the way.
Some will even store and play music if you want to get even more out of your expensive timepiece purchase beyond just using it in the treestand.
What are the best hunting watches?
We have some ideas on great watches that will fit a variety of different hunting situations and styles no matter where you live. We'll also point out some of the unique features of these watches and how they can help you be successful this season.
Garmin Fenix 5
This model has been out a few years now and has quickly developed a devoted following. My fellow writer Dustin Prievo put together a nice piece about all the features of this watch and how he uses it hunting. You can read that here.
As for features, the Fenix 5 is packed. It has the standard smart watch heart rate monitor, but also includes topographical maps with routing, a three-axis compass, a gyroscope, and an altimeter.
This watch is also specifically geared towards hunters because it provides prime hunting and fishing times, moon phases, weather updates and even dog tracking capabilities.
There are a few different variations on this watch including the 5 Plus, 5S Plus and the 5X Plus that all offer a plethora of other features depending on your needs. The 5X Plus even has a contactless payment system that allows you to use your credit card without ever opening your wallet! These watches aren't cheap at $500-700, but you do get a lot of bang for your buck.
Suunto Traverse Alpha
Maybe the Garmin is a little expensive for your tastes. We found the Suunto Traverse on Amazon for $389 and it has many similar features to the Fenix. There's a nylon strap and its water resistant to 330 feet, has moon phase readings complete with rise and set times.
A red backlight helps you keep your night vision in the early mornings or evenings. And speaking of night vision, it says this watch's display is night vision goggle-compatible. That sounds perfect for nighttime hog hunting!
This watch also features topographic maps and breadcrumbs to help you find your way back to the truck at the end of a long day of hunting. It also has vibration alerts so you can get texts without alerting game and a shot detection mode that automatically records data on exactly where and when you fired at that big buck or bull.
Another interesting feature of this watch is that they include a bundle with not just wall, car and USB chargers for it, but a wearable 2200 mAh power pack too!
Maybe you don't need all the bells and whistles of a smart watch. But you do still want some features that can be useful for hunting. The Pathfinder has a triple sensor providing compass, thermometer, barometer, altimeter and sunrise and sunset data that all comes standard.
This sports watch is made for runners, swimmers and hikers, so it will stand up to the rigors of hunting. It's also solar powered, so you don't have to worry about keeping the batteries charged and can go off-grid with it for long periods. This one is priced at $160.
A more bare-bones model for the hunter who just wants the time to be accurate. G-Shock watches get good reviews for being shock resistant and water resistant.
This watch uses built-in solar and an atomic clock, which means you'll never have to adjust the time. It also has Bluetooth so you can synch the exact time of your Apple or Android smartphone to the digital display of the watch. This one comes at a good price point of $80.
Timex Expedition Field Chronograph
Here's one for the hunter looking for more of a traditional watch look.
This Timex watch is water resistant to 330 feet and the nylon strap should be plenty durable for most hunting situations. Sometimes simplicity is best.
This one maintains a four-star rating on Amazon with over 2,600 reviews. This is a good option for the hunter on a budget as it costs just $51.
This one is marketed as more of a tactical watch than a hunting watch, but there are plenty of features here hunters will find useful like temperature and barometric pressure readings, sunrise and sunset times and altitude. It also does weather forecasts cased on the barometric pressure for wherever you happen to be. It comes at a reasonable price point of $127.
Watches for hunting are a useful tool
A good hunting watch can be one of your most useful and accessible tools in the field.
They can also cut down on the number of items you have to pack in and out of the woods with you, something you'll be thankful about when you're packing out that big buck!