Style / World of Watches (WOW)

Military Watches vs. Smartwatches: Which is Better for Outdoor Activities?

Read comprehensive comparison of military watches and smartwatches for outdoor activities, covering topics such as durability, battery life, design, and price.

Feb 24, 2023 | By LUXUO

Choosing between a military watch and a smartwatch can be like deciding between a sturdy hiking boot or a sleek running shoe for your outdoor adventures. It’s not always an easy decision, especially with the variety of options available on the market today. Each type of watch offers its own set of features and benefits that can enhance your adventures. But which one is right for you? This article will compare the features and benefits of each to help you decide which one is best for your next outdoor trip. Let’s dive in.

Military Watches

Military watches are a popular choice for outdoor activities. They are often designed to withstand tough conditions and last decades.

To find military watches best for hiking or any other adventures, look for these key features:

Durability and ruggedness

Military watches designs can withstand extreme temperatures, shock, and impact. They are made from high-quality materials like stainless steel, titanium, or ceramic. These sturdy materials are responsible for their resistance to scratches, corrosion, and wear and tear.

Water resistance and shock resistance

Military watches are typically water-resistant and can withstand depths of up to 200 metres or more. They are also shock-resistant. Military watches will withstand the vibrations and jolts of outdoor activities like hiking, mountaineering, or climbing.

Battery life and reliability

Military watches are known for their long battery life and reliability. Many models use a quartz movement, which means they require very little maintenance and can keep accurate time for years.

Built-in specialised features

Military watches often come with specialised features that are useful for outdoor activities, such as a built-in compass, altimeter, barometer, or thermometer. These features can help you navigate through unfamiliar terrain and monitor weather conditions.

Design and style options

Military watches come in a range of designs and styles, from classic and traditional to modern and tactical. Many models have a simple, no-nonsense design that prioritizes function over fashion.

Consider military options if you need a watch that can withstand tough conditions and provide useful features and functions.


Smartwatches make up an increasingly large share of the watch market, but they also have disadvantages compared to traditional wristwatches and military watches. While military watches are a great option for outdoor activities, smartwatches are contending due to their advanced features and connectivity.

Some of the key features and benefits of smartwatches for outdoor activities include:

GPS tracking and mapping

Smartwatches often come equipped with GPS technology to track your location, map your route, and provide real-time data on your speed and distance travelled. This can be especially useful for hiking, trail running, or other outdoor activities.

Health and fitness tracking

Smartwatches can track your heart rate, steps taken, calories burned, and other fitness metrics, making them an excellent tool for monitoring your health and fitness goals.

Ability to receive notifications and make phone calls

Many smartwatches allow you to receive notifications from your smartphone, such as text messages, emails, or social media updates, right on your wrist. Some models even allow you to make phone calls or send messages directly from your watch.

User-friendly interface and customisation

Smartwatches are designed to be user-friendly and easy to navigate, with customisable watch faces and settings that allow you to tailor your watch to your personal preferences.

Design and style options

Smartwatches come in various designs and styles, from sporty and casual to luxury and sophisticated. Many models offer interchangeable bands or accessories that allow you to switch up your look.

Which is Better for Outdoor Activities?

Now that we’ve explored the features of both military watches and smartwatches for outdoor activities, let’s compare the two side by side:

FeaturesMilitary WatchesSmartwatches
DurabilityBuilt to withstand harsh outdoor environments and often made with tough materials like stainless steel and scratch-resistant glass.They may not be as durable and require more delicate handling, as smartwatches often have touchscreens and may not be as resistant to water or impact.
Battery LifeTypically have long-lasting batteries that can last for months or even years without needing a recharge.Have shorter battery lives, usually lasting only a few days or less, depending on usage.
FunctionalityDesigned with specific functions in mind, such as compasses, altimeters, and other useful tools for outdoor activities.Have a wider range of functions and can be used for a variety of tasks, from tracking fitness to making phone calls and receiving notifications.
Design and styleTend to have a more rugged, utilitarian design that emphasises function over form.Come in various styles and designs, from sporty and casual to sleek and sophisticated.
PriceCan range in price from relatively affordable to very expensive, depending on the brand and features.Tend to be more expensive than military watches, with prices ranging from a few hundred to over a thousand dollars.


Smartwatches offer many features and benefits that can enhance your outdoor experience. However, they may not be as durable or rugged as military watches, and their battery life may not be as long-lasting. Additionally, some outdoor enthusiasts may prefer a watch that focuses more on function than fashion. Ultimately, the choice between a military watch and a smartwatch comes down to personal preferences and needs.

For more watch reads, click here.

Back to top