As a hunter, you probably have some very specific needs when you go shopping for a watch. As surprising as it is to the non-hunting set, the right watch can be an enormous asset to hunters of all stripes, whether they’re accomplished or just learning the ropes.
So what are those features? Let’s start with a quick rundown:
Hunting Watches: Key Features to Consider
Shock and Water Resistance
Hunting can be a contact sport at times, so your watch had better be able to handle it. It should also be able to handle a good dousing, especially if your game of choice is waterfowl.
Serious hunters like gear that will stand the test of time and the challenges of the great outdoors, and that applies to their watches. A good brand name isn’t enough—they also want a watch that can take a licking and keep on ticking, to use the old expression.
This one goes hand in hand with shock resistance and durability. Sitting in thick bushes waiting for game to appear means that hunters are going to get nicked and cut up occasionally, but that definitely shouldn’t happen to their watches in any kind of lasting way.
Now we’re getting into the more modern features that are a part of contemporary hunting. Tracking is part of the challenge when it comes to some types of hunting, and if your GPS hunting watch can’t keep up, chances are you may struggle in that department, too.
This one stands for altimeter/barometer/compass, and all three instruments are necessary. GPS isn’t enough when it comes to what you need to know about altitude and terrain, and it’s definitely not going to help much when it comes to forecasting an oncoming storm front that may or may not be a threat.
The compass might not be as necessary if your watch has great GPS, but that doesn’t mean it’s not a valuable tool. Plenty of hunters who survive bad weather have been saved by a compass that allowed them to navigate their way back to safety, and sometimes there’s no substitute for an old-school tool that works.
None of the aforementioned features will do you much good if your battery craps out, so that’s often the first thing many shoppers look for when they go hunting for a watch.
Betting on a balky battery is a bad risk for serious hunters who are going to go the distance to track their quarry, so getting a watch with a proven track record in this category is important.
Now that we’ve covered the essentials, let’s take a look at some specific candidates that can get the job done. We’ll describe their features, explain why they’re a good choice and give you a quick running idea of their pros and cons.
Garmin 010-02064-00 Instinct
Given Garmin’s stellar reputation when it comes to GPS and sports watch features, it shouldn’t be all that surprising that at least a couple of their watches would turn up on a list like this.
The selling point with this watch is that it has everything—GPS, ABC and fitness features. The shock resistance is designed to meet military specs, which is hard to beat if you’re going to be out for the duration in rough terrain. The extra bonus is that while some Garmin watches have gotten pricey, this one checks in at under $200, so it’s a great value, too.
Garmin Instinct Solar
This version of the Instinct picks up where the last one left off, adding solar charging capability to the extensive feature list.
It also adds some serious health features to the mix, so if you’re sitting in a tree stand and wondering about your blood oxygen, your pulse and how well you slept the night before, this is the watch for you.
Casio Men’s ‘Pro Trek’ PRW-S6000Y-1CR
Casio may have a reputation for making cheap keyboards, but everything about this watch screams “tough,” including the feature descriptions, which hammer home that word more times than you can count.
It’s a sport watch with a full array of hunting features, so there’s something for everyone, including atomic timekeeping and GPS. You’ll need a payment plan to afford it compared to the other watches in this category, though, so keep that in mind when you lay out your budget.
Suunto 9 Multisport GPS Watch
Suunto has a great reputation among those who live for the great outdoors, especially cyclists, so it’s not surprising to see them tackle this product line. This entry is a great sport watch with GPS and a full array of fitness features, and those features have been extended to handle hunting.
It is a little pricey, though, and not as rugged as some of the other hunting entries here, so that may be a turn-off to some hardcore hunters. If you’re an athlete who happens to love to hunt, though, make sure to check it out.
Casio GGB100-1A3 Mudmaster
You know your product is tough when you’re gutsy enough to dub it the Mudmaster, and the combination of stainless steel and carbon speaks to the level of toughness you’re getting in the makeup of this watch.
It’s also got a great look for a big watch, and many users love the G-Shock app that helps you handle any hunting environment. You will need to have your phone on when you do updates, though, so that doesn’t exactly speak well to the whole rugged, independent marketing approach behind this product.
Casio Men’s ‘PRO TREK’ Solar
We’ll stay in the Land of Casio for this watch, which gets special billing for what the company calls “night safari concepts.” We’re not exactly sure what that means, but this handsome, no-frills watch offers ABC capability and it’s solar-powered. The night visibility is excellent, but some users have reported issues with some of the basic hunting-oriented features
Casio Men’s Pro Trek PRW-3500T-7CR
This is a do-it-all watch when it comes to hunting and sports features, and the specs are seriously impressive. The reports on most of the features are solid, but there are some issues with the aesthetics.
Casio Men’s SGW-1000-1ACR
This is Casio’s budget entry in the hunting watch category, and at $130 you’ll be hard-pressed to get a better value. It’s got ABC capability, water-resistance and plenty of sensors and other features. It’s also an attractive watch, which makes it hard to resist.
Casio Pathfinder Solar PAG240-1CR
This is a mid-level entry from Casio in the hunting watch category, and as usual it’s stuffed full of impressive features. One thing that gets a little lost in the Casio shuffle, though, is how well the different features on his watch perform across the board.