The best rugged smartwatches to withstand whatever life throws at you

The best rugged smartwatches that combine the latest handy tech with impressive durability.

Best Overall

Willful Smart Watch

Willful Smart Watch

Best Value

Yamay Smart Watch

Yamay Smart Watch

Best Premium

Samsung Electronics Galaxy Watch 3

Samsung Electronics Galaxy Watch 3

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Since they first began appearing in the 2010s, smartwatches have becoming increasingly smarter. But there’s one big problem with most of today’s smartphones: They’re incredibly delicate. Featuring glass screens and polished, sleek metal exteriors, many smartwatches are far too fancy to actually survive rugged situations. Whether you work with your hands, in tactical environments, or with materials that can easily cause damage, you need a more rugged product. Fortunately, there is a selection of rugged smartwatches available. Built with well-protected screens, highly durable straps and exterior housing, and able to deliver all the tech features you want, rugged smartwatches come in many different styles and forms. You just have to decide which rugged option with which features meets your everyday needs best.

We’re here to help — check out our picks below for the best rugged smartwatches you can buy right now.

Willful Smart Watch

Yamay Smart Watch

Samsung Electronics Galaxy Watch 3

Garmin Instinct Outdoor Watch

Fossil Gen 5 Carlyle Smartwatch

Garmin fenix Multisport GPS Smartwatch

Amazfit T-Rex Smartwatch

Samsung S3 Frontier Smartwatch

HopoFit Smart Watch

TicWatch Pro 3 Smart Watch

Related: 7 men’s watches to kickstart any collection

Why should you trust us

I have nearly a year of experience reviewing products for Brookline Media’s websites, including The Drive and Car Bibles. My past reviews include best ATV bags, best solar chargers for backpacking, and best waterproof tents. I’ve also written historical articles for War History Online, how-to articles for WonderHowTo, and the nonfiction book Fidget! for Adams Media.

The most common types of rugged smartwatches

Smartwatches all seem kind of the same when you first start shopping for one. However, when it comes to rugged smartwatches, you’ll want to pay close attention to even the little differences between various products. Some smartwatches work like the popular non-rugged kinds you know well — like the Apple Watch and the Samsung Galaxy Watch. Others are specifically built with functionality and features meant for rugged environments or uses.

There are two primary types of rugged smartwatches available: traditional smartphone smartwatches and fitness tracker smartwatches. Learn more about what each kind can offer below.

Smartphone smartwatches

Smartphone smartwatches are more commonly just called smartwatches. These watches are loaded with features. They connect to your smartphone, and they can actually replace your phone altogether when you want to leave your phone behind. You can use your smartphone to make or answer calls, send and receive text messages, open apps, and so much more. These styles of rugged smartwatches also include fitness tracking, keeping record of everything from your steps to your heart rate and more.

Smartphone smartwatches are the most well-rounded and versatile option. The only downside is that many traditional smartphone smartwatches aren’t actually rugged. It’s important to look at the materials and whether or not a watch is tested against drops, impacts, water, dust, and harsh wear to determine if it’s really rugged.

Fitness tracker smartwatches

The alternative to a smartphone smartwatch is a fitness tracker watch. These smartwatches come in so many different styles, from simple fitness trackers that include watch functionality to wholly comprehensive fitness trackers with additional apps. However, most commonly, fitness tracker smartwatches are focused on capturing metrics like heart rate, steps, workouts or activity level, and GPS.

When you’re looking for a rugged fitness tracker smartwatch, you can find some that are made for harsh environments or tough wear and tear. These often include additional features you need in tactical settings, like location data, GPS tracking, and altimeters for example. It’s a good idea to look for fitness tracker smartwatches that can do more than just track your steps if you’re hoping to get the most versatility and value.

What to look for when buying rugged smartwatches

As you’re browsing different rugged smartwatches, it’s important to keep two critical features in mind: the apps or functions and the battery life. 

Without the right apps or functionality, your smartwatch won’t be able to meet your needs. Ask yourself what’s most important in your watch. Do you want to be able to make phone calls and send texts? Do you care more about tracking your motion and movements throughout the day? Or do you want a watch that can do it all? This information will help you decide how many apps or functions you need, and it’ll tell you whether you need a more comprehensive smartwatch or not.

Battery life is important because it affects how much maintenance your watch will need. A longer battery life (and a more powerful battery) will allow you to go longer between each charge. Look for a rugged smartwatch that offers more reliability with days of battery life. Some can offer as much as a week or more — those are especially great options if you won’t be near a power source for days at a time.

The advantages of owning a rugged smartwatch

Any smartwatch will take all of your smartphone’s capabilities and put them right on your wrist. However, when you buy a rugged smartwatch, you get additional benefits that your basic smartphone can’t match — like increased durability and better protection against wear and tear. A rugged smartwatch truly makes what’s on your wrist tougher and more able to stand up in the face of unpredictable, harsh environments.

There’s so much that a smartwatch can offer. It doesn’t matter what kind you ultimately choose, because every smartwatch includes advantages like:

  • Long-lasting battery life so you can wear your watch for days at a time without needing to recharge frequently. 
  • The ability to answer calls, texts, and even emails without your smartphone in hand.
  • Access to smart voice assistants like Google, Amazon’s Alexa, and Samsung’s Bixby right from your wrist.
  • GPS and location data, which allow you to see where you are and how far you’ve traveled.
  • The convenience of fitness tracking, which allows you to see your steps, miles traveled, and exercise or activity levels in addition to nightly sleep data.

Pricing ranges for rugged smartwatches

  • Under $50: For less than $50, you can find a wealth of affordable smartwatches. Many, however, are fitness trackers that focus on your movements and the time. You’ll get fewer features, but you’ll also find watches with great rugged durability and reliability.
  • $50 to $150: Within this price range, you’ll have a lot of options. You can find both traditional smartwatches and fitness tracker watches, each with its own varied capabilities. These watches include more apps and more functionality, too.
  • $150 and Up: For the most premium rugged smartwatches, you’ll spend $150 and more. Most watches in this range fall between $200 and $400 in price, and they include fancier options that vary in their capabilities.

How we chose our top picks

To select our best rugged smartwatch product picks, we looked at the highest-rated and most-reviewed products available on Amazon. We considered the features and capabilities of each smartwatch, reading users’ real-life reviews about their biggest pros and cons, and assessed the durability of each product based on battery life and design.

Related: The best survival watches you can wear to the ends of the Earth


writes for many different interests and audiences. She’s covered topics ranging from productivity to psychology to education to finance on sites that include WonderHowTo, War History Online, Niche, and Livestly. She authored the book Fidget!, a nonfiction read that examines the connections between creativity, focus, and the brain.