Best Tactical Smartwatch Of 2020
As we have always believed in this blog, Smartwatches are surely becoming the future of wristwatches. With all the impressive features and great designs coming out year after year, it’s easy to see why.
One undeniable downside still comes out, though, is how fragile and sensitive smartwatches are.
This is where the tactical smartwatch comes in. This variant is the most durable smartwatch available in the market. It’s built to accompany you in the harshest environments known to man. From the Crooked trail paths of the mountains to the mystical parts of the sea, this rugged smartwatch is here to stay!
If you’re already familiar with the smartwatch market, you’ll notice that big brands like the Apple Watch and the Samsung S Watch series boast of their premium built smartwatch as the best ones out there. It’s partly true, but it differs when it comes to how you will use the incredible features of a quality watch.
Those watches are mostly for people who work in places like Silicon Valley or a law firm maybe. They’re built with an elegant and classic design to fit suits and other formal attire. They act as a sort of personal assistant for the career-minded person.
On the other hand, you have fitness trackers like the Fitbit Versa Lite. These types of watches usually have limited smart features and are solely built for the purpose of having a fitness buddy with you to keep track of things like step count, distance, and other sports-related metrics.
But if you’re an outdoor person who travels and explores a lot, you won’t be satisfied with things like the looks of an Apple Watch of the limited functionality of fitness trackers.
If you're looking for rugged watches with incredible features, then you're in luck. Today we put out a list and reviewed the best tactical smartwatches currently available
Looking for affordable toughness? Check out our other tactical watch review
What Qualities we value in a tactical smartwatch
An excellent outdoor smartwatch needs to have the strength and toughness to persist in harsh conditions. Qualities like Water resistance, shock resistance, and dust resistance are just some of the most crucial aspects a durable smartwatch needs to have.
Some durable smartwatches have sapphire glass built on them as lenses, which provide the cover a higher abrasion resistance than the most commonly used ones. There is also an outdoor smartwatch that is made of aircraft-grade aluminum and carbon polycarbonate that is sure to be with you for years to come.
Tactical smartwatches need to be water-resistant, we’d dare to say that depth of 50m is the absolute minimum that a durable smartwatch needs to have if it wants to hold a place in the outdoor smartwatch market.
Battery Life Longevity
So you have a very tough and smart tactical watch in your wrist, what’s the use of it if the battery dies after on you outdoors. Some tactical GPS watches are solar-powered and can last you for days to come.
So if you're finding yourself outdoor a lot better, check the average days on how along an outdoor smartwatch will last you in a single charge.
We know what you’re thinking, what’s the importance of how vibrant or how sharp the resolution is on a tactical smartwatch. Well, what we’re talking about here is luminescence.
If you find yourselves in outdoor activity after dark, you'd want to be able to see the data on your watch by merely looking at it. Check if the dials have backlights or are glow in the dark. The best feature would be if your chosen watch can illuminate itself whatever the situation on the battery is
Size and Weight
With ruggedness, comes bulkiness. Most typical tactical smartwatches are big and quite bulky compared to standard watches. Since an outdoor smartwatch is going to be strapped on your wrist for long hours, you need to consider how it would affect your arm. You want a durable watch as an asset and not a liability.
Features And Functions
On top of staple features such as time, day, and date, a high-quality tactical watch needs to have some advanced features that are tailored made for specific activities. Things like a compass, altimeter, GPS, and barometer are essential factors. A compass, a GPS, and an altimeter can be used in things like trekking, spelunking, hunting for navigation. At the same time, a barometer can provide you with atmospheric pressure data to help you make a smart decision about the weather when say; you're off mountain climbing. Some of the best military watches even have storm alarms and sunrise/sunset times.
5. Nixon Mission SS
( Image Credit : Amazon UK )
At first glance, the Nixon Mission SS looks like your typical Android wear that immediately makes a statement with its bulkiness and rough design.
On c closer look though, you'll notice that 1.39" Corning Gorilla Glass covering the 400 x 400 AMOLED screen which will tell you that there is something more to this watch.
Compared to the previous variant the Mission SS if fully adorned in stainless steel rather than the polycarbonate plastic the original Mission has. Features are virtually the same as the first edition, but it’s not necessarily a bad thing as there were plenty of incredible features that we liked about the first one.
It's quite peculiar that the SS stands for stainless steel, which is one of the significant improvements when, in fact, it can also stand for Silicone Strap.
This quality watch has waterproof capabilities up to a depth of 100M. It made of solid stainless steel and then molded with fiber-reinforced polycarbonate.
Powering this bad boy is the Qualcomm Snapdragon Wear 2100 chip. And is run by Google’s Wear OS.
In terms of functionality. The Mission SS can be easily paired with an Android or iOS smartphone. It comes with a wide array of incredible sensors and connectivity such as Bluetooth, GPS, thermometer, altimeter, compass, barometer, gyroscope, accelerometer, and humidity sensors, which is the full army if you're bringing in on an outdoor adventure.
Did we mention that his smartwatch also has built-in Google Assistant Voice control? Nixon incorporated a protection system called Miclock, which is a form of cover that secures and keeps the mic dry when you take the Mission SS for a dip.
Oddly though, the Mission SS is still missing one key factor that most smartwatches nowadays have, a heart rate monitor.
The Nixon mission SS is probably the best for people looking for a jack-of-all-trades. It can give you a tough and rugged sports watch functionality while having the smart features of a smartwatch.
4. Garmin Fenix 6 Sapphire
Garmin is one of the top smartwatch manufacturers when you're looking for precision, navigation, and now sports with the addition of the Fenix lineup.
The Fenix series is Garmin's top of the line series. These high-end watches are aimed for particular people like professional athletes and serious sports enthusiasts who want a personal fitness coach that is with them all the time.
Just recently, Garmin showcased the Sapphire version of the Fenix 6. The addition was the replacement of the original glass to a sapphire glass, which is more durable and abrasion-resistant. Fenix 6 not only looks tough, but it also is tough and can withstand the harshest environments outdoors during your sports activities.
The Display is around 1.3" big and has a resolution of 260 x 260, the thickness is at 14.7mm, and weighs in at 72 grams, which is light compare to its looks.
Once you touch the sides, a total of 5 buttons will greet you, which is a lot compared to other tactical smartwatches. Three on the right and two on the left, it’s a given though as the display isn’t a touch screen. Meaning you’ll use these buttons all the time when you’re navigating through the user interface.
Don’t be fooled though by the low tech navigation method, as the Fenix 6 Sapphire is packed with a lot of sensors and features including a barometer, compass, thermometer, sunrise/sunset indicator, and more.
People choose Garmin as the go-to watch for highly accurate tracking capabilities. The Fenix 6 Sapphire offers a range of sports tracking, including swimming, cycling, running, trails, golf, rowing, and more.
For casuals like me whose only hardship is going to the gym maybe twice or thrice a week, the Fenix 6 sapphire is a bit of an overkill. If we're talking about high-level athletes and serious outdoor explorers, though, this watch is Godsend.
3. Dév S4
When it comes to the best value, nothing beats the Dév S4. One of our best-selling and popular smartwatches to date. Fitness tracking and durability in mind, and with a touch of elegance. Develo conceptualized the Dév S4 as one of our flagship watches. One glance, and you'll recognize that this watch is not messing around when it comes to tracking and other smart feature capabilities.
This smartwatch might fool you at first into thinking that it's as fragile as beautiful as it looks. As minimalistic and fantastic the design is, the Dév S4 hides its subtle tactical features underneath.
First things first, the Dév S4 might be an unfamiliar brand or name to most people, but his baby houses almost all other features every high-end tactical GPS watches have. Aside from the usuals like a barometer, altimeter, thermometer, and a compass, the watch also comes with water-resistant and dust-resistant features for protection.
One thing that sets the Dév S4 aside from its competitors is the built-in 5.0 MP HD camera. A great feature to have if you’re always outdoors and want to capture those beautiful moments that can’t wait for you to pull out your phone.
When it comes to fitness tracking, Dév S4 does not disappoint—giving you flagship-level features like a pedometer, sleep monitoring, heart rate monitor, and sedentary reminders that keep you updated with your fitness goals.
Pair it with your phone, and you can access a variety of stock and 3rd party apps via the touch screen enabled screen. The Dév S4 also functions as a stand-alone smartwatch, meaning it has a sim card slot and function as a way to send and receive calls and text messages without the need for a smartphone.
One thing we love about the Dév S4 is it's highly customizable looks, a rare feature for robust watches. Interchangeable straps with different styles and colors, and different variants of the stainless steel bezels that surround the durable glass.
All in all, we recommend the Dév S4 for people who are looking for the best tactical smartwatch on a budget. It has all the other features that a high-end one can give you for about ¼ of the price. Truly a great value.
2. G-Shock GPR B1000 Rangeman
Going to our number two of the top 5 tactical watches is the G-shock GPR B1000 Rangeman. Just the name of this watch by Casio will already tell you that we are now in the “serious” territory of the best-rugged smartwatch.
Casio's newest innovation takes the concept of providing the sturdiness of the G-Shock line and combining it with the abilities of a smartwatch. Comparing this durable smartwatch to the likes of an Apple Watch or Android Wear smartwatch would be a mistake. Sure, they do have similar capabilities, such as connecting to a phone or GPS. The game-changer though, is that the Casio G-Shock Rangeman is clad in armor. It's what watch lovers that are searching for smart functions and the protection of a G-Shock.
The watch is not as heavy as it looks, weighing in at around 142 grams but is quite extensive at 57.7mm, 60.3mm long, and 20.2mm thick.
Let's address the elephant in the room first. Many watch enthusiasts will notice that the Rangemans is quite big and bulky, despite Casio's effort to minimize it and packed the features into a tighter container. Don't get me wrong, it is not a pain to wear the watch, and is mostly not a problem with big guys like me, as the watch matches the width of my wrist, but for smaller wrists, it might pose a problem.
The armor of the Rangeman is made up of very tough resin, giving it the ability to withstand being submerged underwater on up to a depth of 200m, as well as having anti-shock and anti-vibration which the G-Shock is always known for. Inside that resins, the case is another one, An inner case which is now a layer of metal and black ceramic.
Perhaps one of the most important things to know about the Rangeman is that crown dial at the 3 o’clock now functions as a scroll wheel to help you navigate through the menu.
By a mile, the Rangeman GPRB is one of the most robust and most technologically advanced watches Casio has ever made. Best for people who are into extreme sports or hobbies and want a "smart pal" that is ready to brave the wild outdoors with you.
If only the Rangeman were a bit cheaper and has a more sleek design that conceals its durability, we would have ranked it as number 1.
1. Garmin Tactix Charlies
( Image Credit : Amazon )
The ultimate amalgamation of elegance and toughness. The Garmin Tactix Charlies, no matter where you are, will surely fit your looks.
From trekking the highest mountains to attending a black-tie event, this watch is your ultimate wingman.
This Ultra-sleek looking black watch has it all: durability, looks, Smart features. Basically, the Brad Pitt of tactical watches. The Charlies come with the usual toys from Garmin. TOPO maps, heart rate monitor, fitness metrics tracking, night vision goggles compatibility, and more. The combination of these tactical functions with fitness training and accurate GPS tracking outdoors makes this multisport watch the apparent answer to the question, "what is the best tactical smartwatch out there?"
A new advanced performance monitoring ability was added to the Tactix Charlie. It evaluates your recent exercise history and performance. Yeah, think about that for a second, that these smartwatches are already bordering on the A.I. category. A new fitness metric was also added, which analyzes how often you exercised in the last seven days and compare it with an optimal range that is set correctly for your body.
Also, a great personal assistant, the Tactix Charlies, can receive messages, email, calendar, and call notifications from your phone. Garmin also provided a companion app for the Tactix Charlies that you can download to enable some more smart features.
The Garmin Tactix Charlies is targeted for a particular group of people, but this doesn't mean you don't need one. Most of the features of the Charlies might be useless to most people like tactical mode, or the jumpmaster feature, which is there specifically for experienced skydivers. Yes, it's not a sensor for how high your jump is, it's instead a metric tracker for three types of jumps, namely HAHO ( High Altitude High Opening ), HALO ( High Altitude Low Opening), and Static ( Constant wind speeds and direction). The night vision mode also allows the watch to be readable while you're wearing night-vision goggles.
The bottom line, the Garmin Tactix Charlies, is a mighty device that hides it underneath the sleek design. Surely a top-of-the-line tactical smartwatch. Complete with all the sensors and features you'll ever need to brave the wild outdoors, and probably the best and most accurate GPS I've ever seen on a smartwatch, this justifies the hefty price tag it comes with of around 749 US$. One thing's for sure, this watch is in a league of its own.
How to maintain a Tactical Smartwatch?
As with most tough things, like cars, guns, knives, Tactical smart watches also need some love. Even the toughest smartwatches need to be maintained, especially if you’re exploring them into different wear and tear environments.
Here are some tips:
Water cleaning: Just because your watch is water-resistant doesn't mean you need to submerge it in water to clean it. Sure, you can put them under running water, but putting it underwater is a bad habit to develop as it's not through as cleaning it manually with tap water.
Check for gunk regularly: When you're wearing something thick and large on your wrist like a tactical smartwatch, it gets hot, and you'll sweat. Once the straps and crevices on your watch retain the moisture, it will quickly catch dust and other dirt particles. That's why it's a good idea to bust out some hollow cleaning tool, like a toothpick, for example, to takes these out. That way, they won't build up and ruin the beauty of your expensive watch.
When in doubt, Find Certified Cleaners: If you're unsure of how to approach the cleaning process on your smartwatch, it's better to pay off a little professional service for cleaning them rather than risk damaging them further if you don't know what you're doing.
What does the Water resistance number really mean?
Most people mistake the Meter indicator of watches as indicators of how deep they can submerge it underwater, this is a common misconception, and you can destroy your watch if you keep treating it that way.
Water resistance of 30 meters
If your watch says, 30M on its water-resistant indicator, it simply means that its splash resistant and can handle most water accidents like spilling a bottle of water into it or taking a shower. Yes, it is possible to dive underwater with this level of water resistance, if and only if it's for a brief moment. Prolonged underwater exposure might damage it, and we recommend not to take the risk.
Water resistance of 50 meters
These are the types of watches that you can use for swimming in things like pools, and other very still water areas. We still would recommend for you to take it off, but it’s okay.
Water resistance of 100 meters
This is the point that you can use your watches for water activities such as snorkeling and will be fine on prolonged use underwater. However, diving to see the fishes near the sea bed, for example, are still a big no-no.
Water resistance of 200 meters
At this point, it looks like these watches are made for diving, while 200 meters is a vast number, we wouldn't submerge these watches on anything over 10 meters. Considering watches that have these levels of water-resistant are quite expensive, we wouldn't risk it.
Diver's or ISO 6425
As of this writing, we haven't seen any smartwatches, be it tactical or military, that has this certification. If you happened to see "Divers" or ISO6425 engraved in your watch, it means that the watch is designed for deep diving and can handle water pressure of up to 100 meters deep.
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