Best Tactical Smartwatch for 2021 [Our Reviews and Comparisons]

best tactical smartwatch

If you’re looking for a new watch, the first thing that you should ask yourself is what you need your watch for, apart from the basics of telling the time and date of course.

It’s hard to argue that the best smartwatches can deliver the optimum in wearable tech available right now. But are they right for you and your lifestyle? If you’re an adventurous outdoors type, in your work and/or your leisure time, an Apple or Samsung Galaxy watch just won’t stand up to it.

You’ll want, and even more, need a rugged smartwatch that is both tactical and technological. With the right tactical smartwatch, you’ll get all the features PLUS the durability that you need. They’re built for those of us who can appreciate the features of a smartwatch while still requiring the robust nature of a military watch.

Comparison Table

PRODUCT FEATURES LATEST PRICE
1. Garmin Fenix 6 Pro
  • WiFi Connectivity
  • Multiple Satellite Navigation
  • Heart Rate Sensor
  • Sleep Tracking
    10 ATM Waterproof

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2. Suunto Traverse Alpha
  • Built-In GPS
  • Compass
  • Barometer
  • Automatic Shot Detection
  • U.S. Military Standard Testing
  • Smartphone (iOS, Android) Compatible
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3. Garmin Tactix Delta
  • Built-In GPS
  • Compass
  • Altimeter
  • In-Depth Activity Tracking
  • U.S. Military Standard Testing
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4. Casio Pro Tek WSD-F30
  • U.S. Military Standard Testing
  • Built-In GPS
  • Heart Rate Monitoring
  • Microphone
  • Wear OS by Google
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5. Garmin Instinct
  • Multiple Satellite Navigation
  • 3-Axis Compass
  • Heart Rate Sensor
  • Sleep Tracking
  • U.S. Military Standard Testing
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6. Suunto Core
  • Compass
  • Altimeter
  • Weather Trend Indicator
  • U.S. Military Standard Testing
  • Waterproof
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7. Suunto Traverse
  • Integrated GPS/GLONASS Navigation
  • U.S. Military Standard Testing
  • Storm Alarm
  • Automatic Shot Detection
  • 100 Meters Waterproof
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8. Garmin Tactix Charlie
  • Integrated GPS/GLONASS Navigation
  • Full-Color Topo Maps
  • Fitness Tracking
  • Optical Heart Rate Sensor
  • 5 Weeks Battery Life
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With so many options available, knowing which one is the best is not a simple task. Luckily, we’re here to help.

Our Tactical Smartwatch Reviews and Comparisons

1. Suunto Traverse Alpha

Product Highlights

Outdoor enthusiasts will recognize the Finnish brand Suunto. Renowned for quality, durability, and versatility, they’ve been manufacturing trusted field watches, dive computers, compasses, and other precision instruments for outdoor sportspeople and adventurers since 1936. Among the toughest of the tactical brands of smartwatches, Suunto Traverse Alpha is tested according to U.S. military standards and is water-resistant up to 300 feet.

The functional and rugged Suunto Traverse Alpha watch was created with the hunter, hiker, and fisherman in mind. This tactical smartwatch features a case made of durable composite, a knurled stainless steel bezel, and premium scratch-resistant sapphire crystal glass. The strap is made of water-repellent textile for maximum comfort and durability.

It weighs 2.65 ounces and holds a battery charge for 14-days.

Features

  • Built-In GPS
  • Compass
  • Barometer
  • Automatic Shot Detection
  • U.S. Military Standard Testing
  • Smartphone (iOS, Android) Compatible

What We Like About Suunto Traverse Alpha

This smartwatch offers numerous advanced features for tactical and outdoor activities, as well as superb durability. With Suunto’s proprietary FusedAlti technology, it combines a barometric altitude monitor with built-in GPS for improved readings.

It can instantly show coordinates of your current location, supporting MGRS (Military Grid Reference System) coordinates which are used by the NATO armed forces. You can import routes in various formats as well as set up waypoints. When routes and waypoints are set, the watch aids you with navigation by showing your current location in relation to the route or a waypoint. Another useful feature for military and hunting use is automatic shot detection; the watch detects when a shot is fired and immediately saves the coordinates as a waypoint.

Additional features for tactical enthusiasts include a compass, altimeter, thermometer, moon phase calendar, moonrise/moonset alarm, sunrise/sunset alarm, and a backlight compatible with night vision goggles. Suunto Traverse Alpha also shows real-time GPS information such as current speed, distance, etc.

What We Don’t Like About Suunto Traverse Alpha

The GPS makes it possible for you to track your activities and you can access in-depth information but only in the Suunto Movescount app. However, to access the details of the activity you need to pair the watch with your smartphone for synchronization, a process that can be quite laborious.

PROS

  • Top-quality GPS watch with useful functions for everyday use
  • Durable and reliable tool for the woods
  • Extremely accurate storm alarm
  • Outstanding quality and very durable

CONS

  • Not the simplest with a big learning curve
  • Getting data from the watch is slow

2. Garmin Tactix Delta

Product Highlights

A brand name that is synonymous with mobile navigation, in 1989 Garmin introduced a handheld GPS unit to the U.S. military. Development of this navigation technology continued, and personal, handheld GPS products made Garmin a household name.

The Tactix Delta is their premium model; a sophisticated GPS watch that offers great functionality and durability for tactical enthusiasts. With an incredibly strong case that is further protected with a bezel made of DLC (Diamond Like Coating) coated steel, and a face protected of Sapphire glass for maximum durability and abrasion resistance.

The silicone strap is compatible with Garmin’s QuickFit system. Therefore, you can easily and quickly change the strap. Garmin has a big selection of different silicone and nylon straps. Garmin Tactix Delta watch is equipped with built-in GPS and offers many tactical features with regular software updates for continued performance improvement.

Battery life is an impressive 21 days.

Features

  • Built-In GPS
  • Compass
  • Altimeter
  • In-Depth Activity Tracking
  • U.S. Military Standard Testing

What We Like About Garmin Tactix Delta

The watch shows the coordinates of your current location in MGRS format and supports navigation by providing you with directions to waypoints or along pre-planned routes. It also supports tactical modes that show your coordinates, map, and other information useful while patrolling or hunting. Another advanced tactical feature is the jumpmaster (parachuting) mode whereby the watch navigates you to the target landing zone after the jump.

Garmin Tactix Delta is also equipped with a wrist-based heart rate monitor, compass, altimeter, barometer, thermometer, hunt/fish calendar, and shows sun and moon information.

It also provides exercise activity tracking, with in-depth information accessible in the Garmin Connect app.

What We Don’t Like About Garmin Tactix Delta

At a hefty 12 ounces, it’s on the heavy side. We were disappointed by the durability of an expensive tactical watch that is targeted for military use. Out of the box it has some quality control issues. The DLC bezel had numerous spots where the DLC coating was not complete and over one of the case lugs where the bezel meets the case. Also, there was some type of adhesive that had squeezed out at the seam, which was very noticeable when viewing the watch from the side.

PROS

  • Battery life is remarkable; after a full charge the face read ‘21 days’
  • Excellent GPS features
  • Designed for you to be able to survive off the grid for weeks at a time
  • Very accurate altimeter

CONS

  • Build quality not as good as it should be
  • Scratched and chipped despite the DLC coating

3. Casio Pro Tek WSD-F30

Product Highlights

This is the third version of Casio’s Pro Trek WSD-F series, with a smaller case and more compact outline that also suits slim wrists. It weighs a little under 3 ounces but is still durable and sturdy. Casio has added a protective bezel and button guards on the watch, which complies with U.S. military standard issued rating. So it operates well in widely varied environments, matching the outdoors enthusiasts’ toughest needs.

It has a dual-layer monochrome and color OLED touchscreen display that responds well and shows maps and data in finer detail. The default mode shows more than just the time; it also displays atmospheric pressure and altitude, and compass bearing. This feature provides useful information for outdoor activities at a glance while conserving energy. It can be charged fully in a couple of hours by its wireless charger.

Features

  • U.S. Military Standard Testing
  • Built-In GPS
  • Heart Rate Monitoring
  • Microphone
  • Wear OS by Google

What We Like About Casio Pro Tek WSD-F30

Built on Google’s Wear platform and powered by a Snapdragon 2100 processor, it provides the very latest smartwatch performance. It has an internal memory of 4GB and 512MB of RAM. This allows it to store full-color maps, accessible by just a single button push. With its microphone, it supports Google Assistant.

Pro Trek Smart’s Moment Setter allows you to set reminders and notifications to aid you in your activities. Whether you want reminders on distance traveled, altitude targets, or just a reminder to stay hydrated, you can customize it to your needs.

Casio Pro Tek WSD-F30 provides all of the essential tactical features that you’ll need: built-in GPS, digital compass, altimeter, barometer, accelerometer, and gyroscope. Greater in-depth activity tracking, including for rest and recovery, is aided by an ambient light sensor and a heart rate monitor. All well-displayed on its high visibility screen of 390 x 390 pixels.

What We Don’t Like About Casio Pro Tek WSD-F30

With a plastic band, we’re unsure of its long-term durability. Also, battery life is disappointing at only 3 days.

PROS

  • Lightweight, compact, comfortable but durable
  • Good selection of color options and faces
  • GPS is extremely quick to power-up
  • Nice and very responsive touchscreen

CONS

  • No backlight
  • Unreliable connectivity

4. Garmin Instinct

Product Highlights

Garmin is probably the most familiar name in the tactical smartwatch market. The Instinct ranks as one of their best; a sturdy outdoors watches designed to withstand the rigors of nearly any environment. It’s constructed for thermal, shock, and water resistance of 300 feet as measured by U.S. Military 810G standards.

This tactical smartwatch monitors physical activity, heart rate, and stress levels. It offers a customizable fitness profile and is capable of uploading to the Garmin Connect online fitness community.

Garmin Instinct weighs just 1.76 ounces and has a battery life of up to 14-days.

Features

  • Multiple Satellite Navigation
  • 3-Axis Compass
  • Heart Rate Sensor
  • Sleep Tracking
  • U.S. Military Standard Testing

What We Like About Garmin Instinct

Garmin Instinct features a 3-axis compass and barometric altimeter. It utilizes multiple satellite navigation systems (GPS, Galileo, GLONASS) to offer maximum mapping coverage, and its Tracback technology provides for navigating back the same route to the starting point. The Garmin Explorer app offers resources to plan trips in advance.

Its interchangeable strap is compatible with other Garmin smartwatches. Advanced smart activity features include built-in sports apps, stress, and sleep tracking, heart rate monitor, and wellness data. There’s even music storage.

What We Don’t Like About Garmin Instinct

It all depends on personal preference of course, but the no-frills design perhaps makes it look dated. Similarly, it does not have a color display, instead just high contrast black and white. Although to some this will be a good thing, as it makes it easier to see details and preserves battery life. It depends on your expectations and/or what you’re used to.

With only 3 colors available, there’s not the greatest choice.

PROS

  • Accurate altimeter, barometer, and GPS
  • Very responsive menus
  • Recessed buttons avoid accidental presses
  • Excellent screen visibility

CONS

  • Inaccurate fitness tracking data
  • Watch locked up in the middle of recording an activity

5. Suunto Core

Product Highlights

Suunto Core All Black Military SmartWatch offers a more affordable entry to the tactical smartwatch arena. It’s very popular among soldiers, law enforcement officers, hunters, and other tactical enthusiasts as it offers great durability and functionality.

Suunto Core has a great display and a very user-friendly interface. Its lightweight design of 2.26 ounces is something between elegant and tactical, making the watch also appropriate for everyday use. And while technically an ‘All Black’ finish, Suunto Core is available in several style variations.

There’s no need to charge it as the battery is user-replaceable and should last approximately 12 months in basic time mode.

Features

  • Compass
  • Altimeter
  • Weather Trend Indicator
  • U.S. Military Standard Testing
  • Waterproof

What We Like About Suunto Core

Embedded with a compass, a vertical movement altimeter, a thermometer, and a barometer, Suunto Core keeps the wearer aware of weather trends and geographical positioning.

A weather trend graph along with preset sunrise/sunset times for over 400 locations help you stay safe and plan your activities. The intelligent storm alarm, based on the barometer measurements, senses changes in atmospheric pressure and alerts of approaching storms.

This tactical smartwatch tracks elevation, ascension, and descent with the push of a button.

It has a depth meter for diving and snorkeling that accurately measures the underwater depth to 30 feet.

What We Don’t Like About Suunto Core

Suunto Core is a good basic tactical watch but it does not connect to satellites, so there’s no GPS and time is not automatically accurate or updated. You set it like any other normal watch.

In comparison to others it has a less rugged construction and a less effective power supply.

PROS

  • Easy to set up
  • Lightweight but durable
  • Big and clear face for easy reading
  • Comfortable adjustable band

CONS

  • No GPS or smartphone pairing and notifications
  • The buttons eventually stuck in completely and required manual pulling out

6. Garmin Fenix 6 Pro

Product Highlights

The lithium-ion battery on this top-end Garmin smartwatch can be fully charged in 2 hours and last up to 46 days when using the power-saving mode. The battery life in more functional modes is also impressive.

It’s definitely fit for high-performance with a sophisticated yet rugged design that features an always-on 1.3” (18% larger than previous Fenix models) sunlight-readable display of 260 x 260 pixels. This is protected by a Corning Gorilla Glass and a bezel in your choice of stainless steel, titanium, or DLC coating.

The adventurous Garmin Fenix 6 Pro has multiple global navigation satellite systems (GPS, GLONASS, and Galileo) support and built-in sensors for a 3-axis compass, gyroscope, and barometric altimeter.

Advanced training features and an enhanced wrist heart rate monitor fully support activity and fitness tracking and sleep monitoring. It also has a ‘Body Battery’ that allows you to track your energy levels and to give you insights into your daily energy usage.

Features

    • WiFi Connectivity
    • Multiple Satellite Navigation
    • Heart Rate Sensor
    • Sleep Tracking
    • 10 ATM Waterproof

What We Like About Garmin Fenix 6 Pro

There’s a host of features for both fitness and outdoor fanatics.

Advanced training features include PacePro for grade-adjusted pace guidance throughout your activity plus environmentally adjusted VO2 max and training status estimates. There are preloaded topographical maps for navigation, and Pulse Ox to aid altitude acclimation at high elevations. And if you’re skiing while you’re there, you’ve got ski maps for over 2,000 worldwide ski resorts.

Garmin Fenix 6 Pro has 32GB of internal storage. WiFi, as well as Bluetooth connectivity support Garmin, Pay contactless payments, music storage, smart notifications, and more.

What We Don’t Like About Garmin Fenix 6 Pro

There are definitely watches with better screen resolution, especially at this high-end of the market.

Also, we found the Bluetooth connectivity to be unstable.

PROS

  • Much improved on previous Fenix models
  • Excellent battery life
  • Everything that you need for an active lifestyle
  • The sophisticated design looks great on the wrist

CONS

  • Inadequate customer support
  • Problems with the backlight

7. Suunto Traverse

Product Highlights

It’s probably not the sleekest or most elegant tactical smartwatch on the list, but Suunto Traverse is definitely one of the toughest and best.

Every new Suunto product goes through severe testing during development both in the laboratory and out in the field according to the military standards (MIL-STD-810G).

Suunto Traverse features a rugged, knurled stainless steel bezel, and durable water repellent nylon strap. A premium scratch-resistant sapphire crystal glass protects a 320 x 320 pixels definition screen. It’s all waterproof up to 100 meters.

Features

      • Integrated GPS/GLONASS Navigation
      • U.S. Military Standard Testing
      • Storm Alarm
      • Automatic Shot Detection
      • 100 Meters Waterproof

What We Like About Suunto Traverse

Upload routes to your watch, and you’ll be ready to explore new terrains with the GPS and GLONASS satellite navigation systems. You can follow your progress with distance and altitude statistics, save points of interest and retrace your steps using the ‘Breadcrumb Trail’ feature.

Barometric Trend helps predict weather changes, and a storm alarm alerts you when it’s time to find shelter. There’s also a moon phase calendar, sunrise alert, and red backlight for night-time use.

For hunters, automatic shot detection technology keeps track of when and where you shoot, mapping the GPS coordinates of your location for later viewing.

Suunto Traverse lets you stay up to date with GPS timekeeping, incoming calls, texts and push notifications from your Smartphone to your watch.

What We Don’t Like About Suunto Traverse

Some may find the watch big and heavy with an oversized bezel that’s way larger than the usable face. The nylon wristband doesn’t look or feel premium.

Movescount website and app synching through the watch is confusing. And if you’re an Apple user, iPhone connectivity is a bit patchy.

PROS

  • GPS functionality worked better than expected
  • Compass, altimeter, and barometer are very accurate for a wrist device
  • Navigate through rugged terrain and record your hikes
  • The monochrome display is highly visible in the sun

CONS

  • The app does not interface at all well
  • Can’t be serviced locally in many areas of the U.S.

8. Garmin Tactix Charlie

Product Highlights

Garmin Tactix Charlie has a tough and rugged design with a black DLC coated titanium bezel, black titanium rear cover, and stainless steel buttons, for maximum resistance to abrasion and corrosion.

This multisport watch combines specialized tactical functionality with smart features for fitness training and provides comprehensive navigation and tracking functionalities to guide you in demanding environments. As well as, of course, regular time and date automatic daylight-saving time, alarm clock, timer, stopwatch, sunrise and sunset times.

Battery performance is very impressive at up to 50 hours in GPS mode, 3 weeks in sensor mode, and 5 weeks in watch mode.

Features

      • Integrated GPS/GLONASS Navigation
      • Full-Color Topo Maps
      • Fitness Tracking
      • Optical Heart Rate Sensor
      • 5 Weeks Battery Life

What We Like About Garmin Tactix Charlie

It comes pre-loaded with full-color topo maps supported by GPS and GLONASS navigation systems. It’s packed with lots of sensors: a barometer, altimeter, compass, gyroscope, accelerometer, thermometer, and heart rate.

There are also tactical-specific features including Jumpmaster activities, waypoint projection, dual-position GPS formatting, and preloaded tactical activity.

What We Don’t Like About Garmin Tactix Charlie

This is a big and heavy watch, at 3.6 ounces, that takes getting used to.

It’s not the most intuitive and feels a bit dated compared to other tactical smartwatches, including Garmin

PROS

  • Good maps and the GPS location abilities
  • Outstanding battery life
  • Customizable with watch faces, widgets, and data sets
  • Everything that an adventurer, explorer, or active sports person needs

CONS

  • Connectivity problems with iPhone
  • Not the most user-friendly

FINAL VERDICT

We selected the best tactical smartwatches currently available and put them through their paces. The testing and the competition were tough, but in the end, one watch came out on top.

If you want a rugged smartwatch that is both tactical and technological, then our choice as the best tactical smartwatch is Garmin Fenix 6 Pro.

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