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.
The Willful Smart Watch has everything you need packed in a long-lasting, highly durable, and wonderfully convenient device. From its price to its functionality, this is one rugged smartwatch that meets just about every possible need. Compatible with most iOS and Android smartphones, you can connect your calls, messages, calendar alerts, and even social media notifications to this smartwatch. It also works as a fitness tracker, with a 24/7 heart rate monitor, sleep tracker, and the ability to pick up sports like walking, running, cycling, and even yoga. This watch will track your steps, distance, calories burned, active minutes, and other data. It’s built to be waterproof, with an IP68 rating, and you can swim with it right on your wrist. This rugged smartwatch looks sleek, but it’ll be a reliable, durable companion. With up to 10 days of battery life, you’ll love the functionality you get out of this watch whether you’re listening to music on the go, hiking outdoors, or taking calls.
Opting for a budget-friendly smartwatch doesn’t mean you have to forgo features you want — the Yamay Smart Watch includes just what you need at the right price. This fitness tracker-style smartwatch offers great value, capturing and tracking your daily data while allowing you to easily stay connected to your smartphone. The watch is compatible with most iOS 8.0 and Android 4.4 smartphones and above, and it’ll allow you to take calls, texts, and other app notifications right on your wrist. At the same time, this smartwatch will track your steps, calories, heart rate, sleep stages, and exercise. It connects with your smartphone for GPS data, and there are special modes you can choose depending on what, exactly, you’re doing. When it comes to durability, this watch is waterproof with a battery that lasts seven to 10 days, with a lightweight build that can withstand all of your daily movements and activities.
If you want a classic, sleek smartwatch but need one that’s more durable and more rugged, you’re going to love the Samsung Electronics Galaxy Watch 3. This version of the Samsung Galaxy Watch is actually built to be tougher. Though it features a stylish titanium exterior, it’s constructed with military-grade durability and impressive water resistance. It passed military specification testing and can survive situations including drops from a height of 4.9 feet, extreme temperatures, dust, shocks, and even low pressure. It’s water-resistant up to 50 meters, giving you great protection against the watch’s sensitive inner workings. A long-lasting battery powers the watch for more than just one day, and you can pair it with both Android smartphones and iOS models. You’ll get everything from fitness tracking to automatic sleep tracking to Samsung Play wallet-free payments to Bixby the voice assistant — all right on your wrist. This smartwatch is a significant investment, but it offers so much more than its competitors.
The Garmin Instinct Outdoor Watch is one of the best rugged smartwatches you’ll find for outdoor hobbies and activities. Built to survive tough, unpredictable environments, this high-tech watch will allow you to find your way, map your routes, and stay connected to your smartphone no matter where you go. It’s a GPS-centric watch that’s built to meet U.S. Military standard 810G, so it’s protected against extreme temperature changes as well as shocks and impacts. This smartwatch is also water-resistant up to 100 meters. A built-in three-axis compass and barometric altimeter used alongside three global navigation satellite systems help you track and navigate anywhere. You can find your way even in challenging environments. The watch battery also lasts impressively long — up to 14 hours in smartwatch mode, up to 16 hours in GPS mode, and up to 40 hours of Ultratrac battery saver mode. Along your travels, this watch will keep you connected to your calls, texts, apps, and more.
A rugged smartwatch doesn’t have to be unattractive, bulky, or even designed with rough edges — the Fossil Gen 5 Carlyle Smartwatch is proof of this. This stylish smartwatch looks as sleek and classic as a traditional watch, but it’s built to be both more durable and smarter than your average watch. The Gen 5 Carlyle is powered by Wear OS by Google and works with both Android and iOS devices. It combines all the perks of a smartwatch with the benefits of a fitness tracker thanks to its included Google Fit platform, which offers tracking and coaching for your activity level, workouts, and even step goals. With access to calls, texts, emails, and hundreds of different apps, this smartwatch puts everything on your wrist. It also includes built-in GPS for on-the-go distance tracking and is swim-proof so you can wear it into the water. With a glance at the exterior of this watch, you’d never imagine it was a smartwatch, let alone one that can handle water and everyday wear.
Whether you’re hunting, backpacking, or simply hiking along a trail, it’s critical that you know where you are. With the Garmin fenix Multisport GPS Smartwatch on your wrist, that’s always possible. This rugged smartwatch is designed to pair all of the perks of a traditional smartwatch with a more durable design and features made just for getting lost. The watch is made with stainless steel and a protective case made from fiber-reinforced polymer. You’ll be able to connect to your smartphone and the Garmin Connect online community to personalize your apps and data. The smartwatch offers a host of outdoor sensors, including GPS and GLONASS satellite reception, a three-axis compass with gyroscope, and a barometric altimeter. It’ll track your heart rate, show your key stats on-screen, and even show you your oxygen consumption. Whether you’re getting in some exercise or are headed deep into the woods for a few days, this is the watch to have so you’ll always know your location.
The Amazfit T-Rex Smartwatch is one of the most impressive rugged smartwatches you’ll find. It’s a standout because of its high level of durability and its tactical-ready design. This is no simple watch; it’s one that was built to become a military standard. In fact, its design won it 12 military certificates. Constructed with a rugged exterior and a water-resistant body, you can wear this watch into temperatures as low as minus 40 degrees Fahrenheit and as high as 150 degrees Fahrenheit, and it’ll keep working just fine. This watch can last for 20 hours on a single charge, but with tweaks to the settings, it can last 40 hours with continuous GPS usage. Strong enough to handle drops, impacts, shocks, and more, this smartwatch will actually track your exercise and fitness data while it provides you with smartphone connectivity. You can even use the included 14 professional exercise modes to track and gauge your activity. No matter where you’re headed, the built-in Sony GPS chip will offer accurate, instant positioning data.
If you want a smartwatch that’s both rugged and highly capable, you’re going to want to check out the Samsung Gear S3 Frontier Smartwatch. We love how versatile this watch is — you can make calls, send texts, and respond to emails while your watch offers GPS location tracking, app alerts, and so much more. This is a do-it-all kind of smartwatch that works with most Android and iOS smartphones. You’ll be able to access nearly all of your favorite apps. In fact, you can even use Samsung Pay to use your smartwatch like a credit card, with no need for your wallet. The built-in GPS tracks your activity as well as your location so you can share your position with others or find your way home. While this smartwatch offers a ton of versatile options, it’s also highly durable. It’s built with military-grade toughness, able to resist water, dust, extreme temperatures, and even drops. With a battery that lasts for days, you can go anywhere and rely on this smartwatch to survive.
The HopoFit Smart Watch is a fitness tracker-style watch that focuses primarily on your daily activities. Part smartwatch and part activity tracking device, you’ll be able to monitor your progress towards step goals, activity goals, and more while taking calls, replying to texts, and catching notifications. Featuring a 1.3-inch round touchscreen face made with HD glass, this watch is modern in style. However, it’s also durable; it has an IP68 waterproof rating so you can wear it right into the water. This watch will monitor your heart rate, sleep, steps, calories, and even your sport modes (or the kind of exercises you perform). You can leave your phone at home and still access your apps, calendar, and messages right from your wrist. It’s like having a personal trainer built into your smartwatch. The watch will train you, offer the latest data throughout the day, and even let you control music while you’re on the move with ease.
The TicWatch Pro 3 Smart Watch is exactly what you need on your wrist if you want a long-lasting, highly reliable smartwatch. This watch blows others out of the water when it comes to battery life — it lasts just 72 hours in its typical “smart” mode, with the 1.4-inch AMOLED display running, but it can last a whopping 45 days in “essential” mode. This low-power mode gives you critical smartwatch data without sucking your battery dry. Powered by the Google smartwatch platform and a Qualcomm Snapdragon Wear 4100 with 1G of RAM and 8G of ROM, you’ll get great tech performance from this watch. It offers fitness tracking, monitoring your heart rate, sleep, stress, and even noise. However, it also works with your smartphone, allowing you to make and receive calls, texts, and more. A built-in GPS and barometer are perfect for heading outdoors, too. You’ll also get access to all of Google’s apps, like Google Maps, Google Pay, and Google Fit.
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 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.
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