Rugged smartwatches are a necessity for tech enthusiasts who work in harsh conditions. Construction workers, military personnel, and adventurers have to make tough choices while they are looking for a smartwatch, and also, they have to look a little hard to find something that suits their preference.
Heavy duty or rugged smartwatches are water-resistant, scratch-resistant, and shock-resistant to a fairly high degree; they come with interchangeable straps and have tactical features to survive all kinds of outdoor conditions.
To help you find the most rugged smartwatch, we have compiled a list of the top-of-the-line watches each with its own unique strength.
MIL-STD-810G rated (Trademark of Ruggedness and Durability)
Two Minute Review:
Ticwatch Pro 2020 is hands down the best android rugged smartwatch that surprisingly is quite affordable. It runs Wear OS (previously known as Andriod OS) and includes all the bells and whistles like Google fit Google pay and access to thousands of compatible apps.
But let’s discuss the features first that made us include this watch in our list of the best-rugged smartwatches.
Water-resistance is pretty average (IP68 Rated), it can be safely submerged up to 5 ft in water. So water resistance is not the key advantage of this watch.
The watch is MIL-STD-810G rated, which in theory means that the watch can survive extreme temperatures, shocks, and some other industrial-type hazards.
In practice, we recommend watching the following video.
Now you might have an idea why Ticwatch Pro 2020 was recommended over and over again as the most affordable rugged GPS smartwatch last year.
As you can observe, the Watch case is made of carbon fiber and is reinforced with high strength nylon to not compromise a lightweight design. The screen scratch resistance thanks to Corning Gorilla Glass 3. With these specs, the durability of the watch is hardly questionable.
Also, the straps are easily interchangeable, so you can just swap the originals with high-strength third-party straps.
Wear OS smartwatches don’t offer a long battery life, but this watch is an exception. Mix usage would get you through 3 days at most, whereas, if you turn off the AMOLED screen by switching to basic mode, the battery life can be extended to 45 days.
Lastly, this watch is reliable when it comes to its limited fitness tracking features and especially heart rate.
Water-resistance is SO-SO
Looking through the prism of ruggedness, this watch has only one major drawback. It should be at least ATM 5 rated (or water-resistant up to 50m).
Apart from that, this durable smartwatch is more suitable for urban lifestyle than challenging outdoor conditions.
ABC features plus multiple satellite navigation (GPS, GLONASS, Galileo)
Two Minute Review:
Any list of the most rugged smartwatches would be incomplete without mentioning Garmin Instinct. This one is a purpose-built smartwatch for outdoor conditions and has many tactical features for outdoorsmen.
Before we discuss each feature that contributes to ruggedness one by one, you should watch the embedded video.
To save you the spoiler, Garmin Instinct is put through four extreme tests and it unsurprisingly fails at the last one when it gets trampled by ‘Jeep Wrangler’.
So as you can observe, Garmin instinct is one of the toughest smartwatches on earth.
This US Military standard 810G graded smartwatch is built to provide extreme resistance against temperature, shock, and water. Unlike the Ticwatch Pro 2020, it can be submerged up to 100m in water.
Its fiber-reinforced polymer casing is resistant to scratching, whereas and the chemically strengthened glass protects the screen. Also, the raised bezel contributes to the protection of the screen against shocks.
Next, it has handy features for outdoor excursions. For instance, it has all ABC sensors coupled with on-board GPS connectivity so you can navigate your way if your smartphone can’t connect to the internet on a backcountry trip. The smartwatch has multiple satellite navigation system other than GPS (GLONASS & Galileo)
Other than that features like ‘TracBack’ and ‘Garmin Explore’ are life-saving features on tough terrain especially in challenging weather conditions.
The battery management system of the smartwatch is highly suitable for long trips. It lasts 14 days on mixed usage whereas it is significantly reduced to 16 hours in GPS mode.
This indestructible smartwatch is durable enough to last longer than the time it would take the technology inside to keep relevant.
The only major drawback is that it is more of a GPS watch than a smartwatch.
Excellent battery Management
Wide GPS Coverage
No Music Storage
In Accurate Sleep tracking
The smartwatch comes in two main variants, SOLAR and Non-Solar, both have a great battery management system. The features on the watch, and its rugged design, make it more suitable for extreme conditions.
Its tactical and camo variants are suitable for military personals, hunters, and construction workers, whereas the standard edition is highly recommended for outdoor adventures as well as extreme sports.
Best Cheap Rugged Smartwatch-Fitness Tracker Combo
Amazfit T-Rex Smartwatch, Military Standard Certified
A military standard watch with 12 military certificates, the Amazfit T-rex smartwatch is ideal for times when the going gets tough.
Thanks to its rugged exteriors, this smartwatch can withstand tough enviroments like extreme cold (-40 F) to extreme hot weather (+150 F) to 240 hours in damp heat, etc.
Use it for upto 20 hours on a single charge! It has 28nm Sony GPS chip to make sure your power consumption remains low even with continuous GPS usage for 40 hours.
It comes with 1. 3” AMOLED screen with an always-on display, and 5 bold colors to choose from.
With 14 sport modes and 5 ATM water resistant body, the Amazfit T-Rex is perfect for outdoor enthusiasts.
1.3-inch AMOLED, Resolution 360 x 360
ATM 5 rated, 12 Military Certifications
Has onboard GPS + GLONASS
20 days on mixed usage (20 hours when GPS activated)
Two Minute Review:
Amazfit T-REX is the most durable watch in the company’s long lists of wearable. It rubs shoulders with top brands like Garmin, Samsung, and Suunto in ruggedness and sturdiness. And as all Amazfit smartwatches, it offers the best bang for the buck.
The following video will give you a quick overview of the smartwatch’s strength.
This military-grade smartwatch a real beating in a tough environment.
The smartwatch has an onboard-GPS and GLONASS (Russian Alternative of GPS) for wide coverage. However, the GPS isn’t as accurate as you would find in premium Samsung and Garmin watches.
The smartwatch has 14 different sports mode. It tracks your calories burned, heart rate, steps, and sleep, along with military-grade durability. However, the Zepp app (the smartphone app) is not refined enough. Its advanced fitness features make it an ultra-rugged fitness tracker in smartwatch clothing.
T-REX has different battery modes and the best thing about Amazfit is: it delivers on its promise as far as the battery life of its wearable tech is concerned. The smartwatch lasts 20 hours on continuous GPS usage and 20 days with mixed usage. In basic mode, the battery life can be extended to 66 days.
You can receive notifications on the smartwatch and do basic functions like music control. However, when it comes to the bells and whistles of expensive smartwatches (like contactless payment, cellular connectivity, and downloadable apps), unsurprisingly this watch disappoints greatly.
Multiple sports mode
Glitchy phone application
Amazfit T-REX is the only rugged smartwatch that offers the best value for the money. It has more features than Samsung Galaxy Watch and is as resilient as the Ticwatch Pro 2020.
Military standard certified onboard GPS and long battery life make it highly suitable for outdoor adventures. But the smartwatch.
Like Ticwatch Pro 2020, the smartwatch is more suitable for Urban jungle or an active lifestyle than for extreme outdoor adventures. It is essentially a fitness tracker disguised in the casing of an ultra-rugged smartwatch.
The presence of the Huawei watch is similar to a common smartwatch, but actually, it is in the disguise of a tracking watch. This watch is suitable for outdoor activities such as climbing and running. One reason for its overwhelming appreciation is its scratch resistant display.
This watch is absolutely beneficial for fitness-focused people, and those want a watch to look good on the wrist. The fans of Huawei GT watch get accurate heart-rate tracking, GPS route and it monitors daily exercise routine.
This rugged watch comes with two varientation which are quite a standard these days, the sport and classic. The black body is for sport and the silver body is for classic uses.
Huawei believes in long battery smartwatches so a single charge of GT can last upto couples of days. It has a 420mAh battery which is more than the vast majority of the smartwatches in the market.
With a bright interface, you use this gadget in both conditions whether in dull or daylight. This super rugged watch has special pared-back software which increases the battery timing. This component is productive when gathering data from exercise, heart rate, and long workout.
GT dropped the 50% of battery after two week of use, which is impressive stats. This mainly depends upon the feature you are using on daily purposes.
Fitness features and Accuracy:
HUAWEI GT Sport is appropriate for practice purposes and has many watch-face, which includes, outdoor and indoor activities, trail run, biking, and swimming. It can resist water upto 5ATM which gives you freedom to swim confidently.
This watch is renowned for its accuracy and perfectionist analysis. It has minimum error while collecting data and it looks consistent. Therefore, we have named it the best rugged smartwatch with GPS and Heart Rate tracker. A patent app named Workout, manages all the tracking.
For steps count Huawei GT is compared with 3DTriSport pedometer. The data measured have different parameters. During one-mile walk on the treadmill , this watch counted 1987 steps while pedometer logged 2338. Another observation is for running, one-mile run on treadmill, watch county 2299 steps and pedometer logged 2453, which again is a little inaccurate . By repeated experiment, it is noticed there is an average change of 250-350 overcount on each take. So it is obvious this watch is not imperfect.
Design and display:
The surprising thing about this rugged watch is its sleek design. It is made up of stainless metal that resists dust and water while swimming or running. It is light in weight and found to be comfortable on the wrist.
The screen of this watch has a premium built to give a clear and bright look to the watch. The screen is 1.39 inch wide with 454 x 454 pixels, which ensures all your information shows unmistakably.
This smartwatch is especially for men and it looks elegant on a larger wrist. Regardless of its price, the GT looks like a luxury watch and completely suits your outfit whether in party or in casual work.
It has two buttons on its right side of the smartwatch, which are helpful in various ways. First button is known as the wake-up button and it’s also brought back to the main menu. While the next one is for a boot up app which is in the main menu. Which is quite helpful in running and swimming respectively.
The Huawei GT has a special edition of processor, named as ARM Cortex-M4 processor. Which is appropriate for gyroscope, heart-rate, magnetometer, barometer, and GPS. However, this rugged watch is not for NFC(near field communication) and wifi usage.
Huawei runs its own operation in both smartwatches and smartphones. Which is viable with Android and IOS gadgets. This feature allows you to receive a notification, call, and app alert directly on your wrist.
This rugged smartwatch is familiar for top-notch tracking of swimming, cyclic, and numerous other exercises. A rugged watch under $500 with GPS trackers and a rugged exterior. When connected to a smartphone you are capable to use a remote camera and access messages, call and alert notification directly on the watch.
Users particularly appreciated its long battery and its lightweight. It includes a number of various new features like Bluetooth smart sensor, heart-rate tracking when underwater, and wireless data transferring. In addition to it, it replaces the ANT sensor to Bluetooth smart sensors which means you can connect your watch with multiple devices at once.
The Suunto Ambit3 has an incredibly large battery for outdoor usage. Its output is 200 hours which is quite impressive and even more than this when you are not using the GPS tracker.
For bikers and runners, battery timing is the most noticeable factor without these you cannot go through remote areas.
When you set the lower mode of this rugged watch with GPS tracker, it will last 18-22 hours approx. However , without a GPS tracker it can provide a facility of tracking for 22 hours.
This watch is accurate on an elevated and sea level. The Barometer tracker which is inside the tracker is extremely useful to discover elevation level while on climbing. In any case, remember the exact estimation is simply under the 300 elevation level.
Suunto watches provide a FusedAlti function to enhance the accuracy level. This practical feature provides automatic correction to Altimeter(use to measure height) with the support of GPS. GPS trackers give you the exact course and accurate Altimeter.
For navigation, this watch is so handy, just click on the Next button for a few seconds. This watch is not capable of demonstrating a map on the screen but a single bolt will indicate the entire route.
It also measures heart rate, blood pressure, and numerous others. But on the other hand, it lags in precision when measuring speed, distance, and track pace.
This rugged watch has a strong Bluetooth smart sensor with different categories. Some of them are;
Smart Cadence-only Cycling Sensors.
Bluetooth Smart Speed-only Cycling Sensors.
Smart Speed/Cadence Only Cycling Sensors.
Bluetooth Smart Power Meters.
Smart Running Footpods.
It can also track activity level, burnt calories and time recovery. You are now able to change the sport display and track your sport data. One of them is swimming, you will keep learning, How to swim faster? How much do you swim? which is obliging to require specific goals.
For fitness tracking you can alot of additional accessories you can get through the market. Like, you can get a Bluetooth-enabled heart rate tracker which monitors heart rate at any time in any condition. This will give you a graph of your heart-rate, burnt calories and daily activities.
For more accurate data with minimum zero error you use foot pod, bike pod and many others.
When we discuss the watches which are outstanding in tracking and navigation, the Garmin Fenix 5X stands first. It has enormous features which can help you to reach your set goals. It has been working as a perfect GPS watch and exceptionally rugged among all Garmin watches.
Moreover, this watch is renowned for long battery life and thoughtful to those who found it to be customary.
This is highly scratch resistant and the crystal display is preserved for a long time. It has the capacity to resist water just under 100-meter depth. Next, it is compatible with Android and IOS smartphones, but due to its better compatibility, it is the best rugged smartwatch for android.
Garmin Fenix 5X chiefly made in such a way that we notice heart rate reading regardless of your wrist size. This watch is somehow said to be bulky and faculty it seems to be, so it is known as the beast watches. The bulky size makes you uncomfortable but a large screen helps you a lot.
The metal bezel, face front, and external metallic button makes this watch look decent and alluring.
This Fenix 5X watch accompanies a slate grey body color and a sapphire screen. It doesn’t mean the crystal display is easily scratchable but has a firm surface.
When running in winter with a tight jacket sleeve vent it makes you inconvenient or you have a skinny wrist, this watch will absolutely suit you. Like every company has their own criteria before making any watch, Garmin believes ib bulky watches.
For the lighter weight, you can go through the 5S Plus Sapphire and 5 Plus Sapphire, but both of them fall behind in battery timing.
Garmin Fenix 5X is famous for its multi-functional features and battery timing is considerably large compared to its competitor. The battery life of this rugged watch is the best in all wearables. For regular use with GPS enabled, its battery lasts for 20 hours. In UltraTrac mode, where GPS mode is, this watch can be used for up to 35 hours.
Normally the battery keeps going barely a week or half of the week. The reason behind this is when we associated with smartphones to control music or remote cameras. Features like remote music/camera are a common cause of battery drainage.
For regular use, Garmin 5X will be utilized up to 11 days with enable notifications, message alert, and calls. Most of the user claims, with disable all the additional features you don’t need to charge for approx two weeks.
The most unique feature in Garmin watches is Pulse Oximeter. This feature is not offered in many smartwatches, even renowned one. What does it do? It indicates the amount of oxygen in blood, whether it is safe to continue your journey or not at higher altitudes.
Samsung galaxy is the most refined smartwatches in all wearable with long battery timing, aesthetic, and stylish interface.
This watch competes with its rival in the market today and it is more flourishing owing to handy features, brand power and four days battery timing. This watch looks like elite watches, with stainless steel and stylized bezel.
When we talked about the old Galaxy watches, most likely they were satisfactory and modest. But they don’t have any stylish bezel. The battery timing is found to be sufficiently huge to work for a strong four days.
Through third-party apps, we can get a notification, message calls, play Spotify, and talk to Bixby. Furthermore, it is scratch-resistant while on mountain biking or downhill. This watch meets the models of MIL-STD-810G, which is dropping the test through some height. The crystal look of the smartwatch is due to Glass DX+ which protects the screen from damage.
Size and Design:
In the event that you are searching for such a wearable who is flawless in a conventional look, the Galaxy Watch is one of them. It comes in two sizes:46 mm and 42 mm. The bigger one is in two tones silver and dark and the other midnight black and rose gold.
The 46mm form accompanies a huge interface and huge battery and is suitably contrasted with others. It fits on a feeble wrist and even if it isn’t even it is not bulky.
The Galaxy 46mm version has a 1.3-inch screen with a weight of 63 grams. The other frame is 42mm and has a display of 1.2 inches.
If you are looking for such an attractive design, the Galaxy watch has enormous features to win your heart.
On account of strength and financial aspects, Samsung watches are the best out there. The external buttons and stylish bezel navigate your route through the app while on biking.
Galaxy watches have long battery life and here the match between two versions of the watch is drawn.
The 42mm rendition is required to work as long as five days on a solitary charge and 46mm will work over 5 days. When utilizing LTE and different highlights which are the fundamental driver of battery seepage. A long battery of 472mAh is fitted in larger versions of the Galaxy Watch so it can last for many days.
A durable watch must have enough battery to monitor heart rate, tracking step, and notifications. The additional thing that Samsung watches has is the Tizen operating system which boosts up the battery.
Based on a heavy test that is performed, send notifications, and monitor heart-rate tracking for consecutive 2 hours. This test consumes only 30% of the entire charging of the watch.
Samsung Galaxy watches have various causes which drop the battery life, one of them is screen-on-time. This is the origin of battery drainage though when asleep.
Let’s move on to the smaller one which has a long battery of 270mAh but not as long as 472mAh.
For long battery life, Samsung Galaxy is forced to use its fast charger, which is wireless. This charger can charge cell phones and smartwatches simultaneously. Most of us don’t know the power saving mode which is impressive. If you have a 2 % battery remaining it stays working during the entire night.
It is viable with many smartphones with high versions. For Android, your phone must have the version of 5.0 and above. Which is named as Android Lollipop from 2014. Furthermore, it is also compatible with IOS. But, again there is a restriction the Apple phone runs IOS 9.0 or newer.
This rugged watch is also used as a fitness assistant. But the result is uncertain while monitoring the different exercises.
On a 1 mile walk on a treadmill for three and a half miles per hour, it counts 1679 steps which is less than the step count by Yamax Digiwalker SW-200. Which is fairly better than any other smartwatch.
The Samsung Galaxy watch emphasizes fitness features, with auto-tracked, cycling, running, and workout. For these exercises, you don’t need to worry about activation.
Samsung’s watch screens 39 distinctive exercise modes, 21 are indoor and the rest are outdoor suitable for all exercise whether mountain biking or cycling.
Casio has come up with this most rugged smartwatch to stand up to seemingly impossible conditions. We’re talking extreme cold, extreme heat, mud, and sludge – without error or issue. It was tested against repeated shock of a jackhammer and it managed to survive it.
This watch sports a tactical, military look that demands your attention. Nearly All of the G-Shock watches have a very masculine design. The key features are as follow
Shock Resistant thanks to a gel-surrounded timekeeping module
Mud Resistant – Buttons use cylinder type guard structure with gaskets for shafts and cylinders to prevent mud and dust from getting into the watch
Extremely durable watch face thanks to Sapphire Crystal
2-year battery life
The good news is, despite its size, it’s fairly light weight in at only 92 grams (3.2 ounces). It is water-resistant upto 200m (660ft): in general, suitable for professional marine activity and serious surface water sports, but not diving.
All in all it is a premium multi-function watch designed to handle the most extreme conditions without losing out on basic technological features such as temperature readings, compass, altitude information and more.
Buying Guide For the Best Rugged Smartwatch:
Waterproof /Water Resistance:
You buy a rugged smartwatch mainly for its durability, and the main feature that contributes to its durability is water resistance.
This feature is of absolute importance when you work in a humid area or at a construction site. For smartwatches, the term waterproof, and water resistance are interchangeable.
There is no rugged smartwatch in this world that is completely waterproof. In fact, all of them resist water to some degree usually measured in meters to which they can be submerged in water.
In a complete waterproof smartwatch, not even a single tiny drop can seep into it and the watch can last in water for an unlimited time period. Such a smartwatch doesn’t exist. What we have is a fair degree of water resistance up to a limited submersion depth. (e.g. 30m, 50m, 100m)
For rugged smartwatches, and in general for all smartwatches, water resistance is checked by several tests in certain conditions. One of the most common in smartwatches is IP rating.
“IP (or “Ingress Protection”) ratings are used to define levels of sealing effectiveness of electrical enclosures against intrusion from foreign bodies (tools, dirt, etc) and moisture.”
IP follows two numbers, the first number is for dust resistance and the second is for water resistance. To give you context let us consider three different smartwatches with IP Ratings, IP66, IP67, and IP 68.
Now all these watches offer the same degree of protection against dust as the first digit in IP rating is 6. But as far as water resistance is concerned, the watch with an IP68 rating is much more resistant to water and can remain submerged for a longer period. In contrast, IP 66 watches are resistant to sweating and rain and can not be submerged in water.
If you are shipping a smartwatch for your fitness needs, like running, cycling, and swimming,. make sure to check the company website and find whether it’s IP rating/water resistance. Choose the rugged watch with the highest degree of water resistance. It will make you care free while exercising, cycling and especially swimming.
The best rugged smartwatch is not only durable but has many other features among which a Long battery is a must have.
Rugged smartwatches usually have large batteries that can last for a couple of weeks. How long does a smartwatch last? It mainly depends upon the features that are installed in it.
Shock resistance is somewhat new terminology in the world of smartwatches, and is one of the most important factors while considering a rugged watch.
A shock resistant smartwatch is highly desirable if you love hiking or have a passion for extreme sports like BMX riding, skateboarding, and mountain biking. Your smartwatch must remain reliable throughout your whole journey. If not? Then, the watch deserves a place in a dumpster.
While playing active sports, for example cricket or tennis , your watch experiences heavy shock. But, you don’t need to worry if it can withstand a mild degree of abuse.
‘Drop test’ is the terminology used to measure shock resistance. A smartwatch that can be repeatedly dropped from 5 feet without any chance of damage has an acceptable degree of shock resistance.
Another standard that is more reliable used is MIL-STD-810. Used mainly by the US air force, navy and army, it assesses electronic equipment for extreme temperature, shock, vibration, and rust resistance among many other things. A smartwatch designated MIL-STD-810 title is highly resistant to shocks and vibrations.
The casing material of the smartwatch contributes to shock resistance. A sturdy casing might provide high resistance but it is heavy and bulky. Some renowned brands overcome this limitation using innovative techniques. They use materials that are totally elastic.Furthermore, they use synthetic metals that don’t add to the overall weight of the watch.
Gorilla Glass/Scratch Resistance:
For a rugged smartwatch, there can be no better alternative than a gorilla glass.It prevents inadvertent scratches on the screen, but how to differentiate between a variety of gorilla glass available in the market. They are of various types and properties and we have discussed the most prominent below.
There are three distinct types of gorilla glass that are available in the market.
This glass is most expensive as it is considerably tough against any shocks or scratches. Most rugged smartwatches have this type. It can withstand jolts and give an extravagant look to a smartwatch.
It fairly resists scratches on the screen and prolongs the elegance of smartwatch screens. Most ordinary and economical watches have mineral glass. It has reflective quality, clarity and is cheap in price.
This plastic type material resists more than ordinary glass. Because it is light in weight, cheap and can be easily recycled.
One of the most important critical peripherals in a rugged smartwatch is the straps. Ideally, the straps should be of high quality, should not itch and must be changeable.
If you live as an active person like gyming, cycling and running, your smartwatch must complement your daily activities. It must not break or annoy you, and therefore not be a hindrance in your active routine.
Smartwatches that come with different color bands are usually expensive but worth it. Straps allows you to change the look of your watch depending on your style, mood and personal preference.
When you are conscious about each pace and if you travel a lot, GPS tracker is a must have feature in a smartwatch. This fascinating feature guides you to find the exact route and very helpful in case you went astray.
A rugged smartwatch with a large and crystal-clear display makes it distinguishable. You don’t buy a smartwatch to keep updated on time, rather you buy it as a handy extension of your smartphone. And like all smartwatches, a rugged watch must have a large screen.
Fitness trackers will show you how to maintain your wellbeing under distinct circumstances. And, a sleep tracker guides you to take rest while on a tough and exhaustive working routine. There are other trackers on a smartwatch like heartbeat tracker and foot step tracker and if you can get them on a rugged smartwatch, that would be a treat.