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The Only 3 Tactical GPS Watches To Consider

If you’re in the market for a watch that’s much more than just a watch, then you’ll want to be looking at Tactical GPS Watches. There are three words in there – tactical, GPS, and watch.

Tactical because these watches are perfect for the rugged explorer, or even someone in the military. They’re able to assess the environment around you for a wide range of metrics – the metrics that each watch covers is explained below.

GPS (Global Positioning System)  because they have location tracking system including time synchronization. This is pretty self-explanatory – it’s easy to get lost in unfamiliar areas, and if you’ve traveling to a laundry list of different locations, you need something that’s easily accessible to guide you along. Having GPS features on your watch does exactly this.

Finally, Watch because it has all of the features of a regular watch. Basically, time and date.

If you’ve already done your research, then you know that many different companies make many different types of tactical GPS watches which range in features, durability, and price.

We’ve compiled three of the best, depending on what you need it for. Read through each recommendation below very carefully – at the end of it, you’ll know which one is right for you and why.

Suunto Traverse Series

Starting off our list is The Suunto Traverse Series from Suunto, not just because of the watch itself, but also because of the company behind it. Suunto is one of the top watch brands for so-called a tactical watch and Suunto Travers series is probably the best adventurer watch ever released.

In October 2015 Suunto released they first Traverse model – a simpler watch with the main features like GPS and GLONASS navigation (a Russian version of GPS). It has a great elegant design and superb functionality, including a GPS receiver.

suunto_traverse_sapphire_black

Suunto Traverse Sapphire Black – GPS Outdoor watch with Sapphire Lesns and Navigation Function.

One thing for sure, Suunto Travers series has one of the most innovative new features with its GPS/GLONASS navigation system. The Traverse also includes a Barometer, Compass, Sunrise/Sunset times, Bluetooth, GPS tracking, and GPS navigation.

Other Traverse features include a backlight with bright “flashlight mode,” and mobile phone notifications through the Movescount Android/iOS app. In the Movescount app, you can also view an in-depth report with GPS track; the watch first has to be synchronized with the Movescount app via a USB cable or Bluetooth.

Suunto Travers also becomes one of toughest GPS watch out there, besides its water resistant (up to 100m), they have been tested according to the military standards (MIL-STD-810G).

So what about other the features? With a watch as dominant as the Suunto Traverse, if we tried to list out all of the features here, this article would end up being 10,000 words. It’s that good.

suunto-traverse-series

Today, The Suunto Traverse is one of the most popular models from Suunto and consist of six different GPS watch models – Suunto Traverse Amber, Black, White, Graphite, Slate and Black Sapphire.

Being a company that focuses almost entirely on adventure watches, this says quite a bit in itself. It has everything that you’d expect from an outdoor watch with GPS feature, as well as a slew of other features that other watches in the price range do not.

But just looking at the meticulous attention to detail in the pictures is the icing on the cake. For more quick look, there’s a lot a video on YouTube reviewing and displaying it on an actual Suunto Traverse watch. Gotta look good on your wrist, right?

How Much? the watch around $350 – $400 USD (depending on the model), but you can find it for less if you look at the sellers in the Amazon sidebar – some are below $300. That might seem like a lot for a watch, but when you look at what the watch does and the prices of similar watches, it suddenly becomes very, very reasonable.
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Garmin Tactix™ GPS Navigator

When you think of Garmin, you think of a GPS. That’s a good start. Believe it or not, Garmin is one of the leaders in tactical GPS watches because of its proficiency with GPS itself.

Garmin tactix™

Garmin tactix™. High-sensitivity GPS with automatic calibrating altimeter, barometer and 3-axis compass

The Navigator makes use of a high-sensitivity GPS tracker, which means that it will sense your every movement. Have you ever been driving somewhere with GPS, only to have the dot (you) skip across the map unexpectedly, causing you to lose your way? High sensitivity GPS ensures that this never happens. When you’re in a situation that calls for a tactical GPS watch, every step counts.

The aesthetics with the Tactix caught our eye. Look at the pictures, and then tell us that doesn’t look like something that James Bond would wear. Enough said.

Garmin Tactical GPS Navigator

What you can DO with Garmin Tactical GPS Navigator

As with the Suunto, if we took the time to list all of its features, you’d nod off before the end of the article – not because we’d write it in a boring way, but because there are so many. The last one we’ll leave you with is the fact that Garmin seamlessly integrates sharing into its watch. You can share anything from way-points all the way to tracks between the Tactix and any other Garmin device or smartphone.

The Price? Most expensive than the Suunto Traverse, but still reasonable. $499.99 USD, but unlike Suunto, Garmin sets the prices on its product for third party vendors, so that’s the cheapest new one that you’ll find.
Reviews? The average is lower than the Suunto Traverse, but the percentage of five star reviews is higher. From moms to military veterans, it seems that everyone has left a review on Amazon – check them out here.
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Garmin Foretrex® 401 GPS

On a budget? No problem, we’ve got you covered. The Garmin Foretrex is about a half and a third of the price of #1 and #2 in this list, respectively.

Garmin Foretrex- 401

Slim wrist-mounted GPS Garmin Foretrex® 401

Don’t be put off by the price. While it might not have all of the bells and whistles that #1 and #2 have, the top review is from someone who uses it while deployed in Afghanistan. So it’s not a cheap little toy that’ll break under serious conditions.

The Price? obviously is much cheaper than #1 & #2; the retail price for Garmin Foretrex® 401 is $199,99 USD then again you can find it much less than $190 – some are below $170.

Garmin is able to offer this one for a lower price because the company took a lot of the features out from its more expensive units. For example, you can check your GPS coordinates and altitude, but aside from that, there aren’t a whole lot of metrics to calculate. Keep in mind that you can still plan multiple points to travel to, though – it’s not like it’s just a GPS reader.

Garmin Foretrex 401

Garmin Foretrex® 401 – Perfect for outdoor activities

A common concern with products that cost less than the market average is their durability. It’s kind of like buying sneakers – sometimes, that $30 pair will last you for years, but other times, they’ll wear down almost immediately and you’ll be forced to make the decision of buying another $30 pair, or going for a higher quality one.

In the case of the 401 GPS, it was the pair of $30 sneakers that held up for years. Almost all of the reviews are positive, and the negative ones stem from the fact that there aren’t a lot of features on the watch. Click here to read them.

Get this watch if you’re looking for a reliable GPS watch, but don’t need the advanced features of the more expensive versions. It’s kind of like how if you only drive once or twice per week, it’s not practical to get a BMW – a Honda will do just fine.

YOU MUST CHOOSE, BUT CHOOSE WISELY

We’ve given you three tactical watches to consider – two of them are the industry leaders, and one of them is for those of you who are on a budget. The list is short because these ones are the clear winners.

You might be able to find cheaper tactical watches with GPS features that boast the same features as #1 and #2. But with cheaper versions, you’ll run into problems – many of the watches that we were considering adding to the list did not hold up over time.

Just like that pair of shoes, you’ll be buying a new one in a couple of months if you go with anything aside from the trusted brands and models.

Take into account your budget, your needs, and your preferences, then scroll up and select either #1, #2, or #3. Read the reviews of each on Amazon (we’ve linked to them in each review) to get a firm grasp on what others think, and then place an order to get your watch. Good luck! Happy Shopping! and Happy Holiday!.

Update - 2016.03.24*This article was originally published in 2014 and has been updated.

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3 Comments
  1. Reply
    Jeremy at

    I have a Casio G-Shock GravityMaster GPW1000, and although the watch is very large it is very comfortable to wear. I am truly impressed with it, the quality is everywhere on this watch. It is nicely designed and GPS reception works great!

  2. Reply
    Xavier at

    Thanks for the nice description. A tactical GPS watch is exactly what I’m looking for. But, from my understanding, the GPW-1000 does not provide that, does it? I thought it used a GPS internally to automatically adjust the time settings. But can it actually display the GPS coordinates? If not, it does not sound like a GPS watch to me… Your comment would be appreciated.
    BRs,
    Xavier

    • Reply
      Nara at

      Hi Xavier
      Thank you for pointing that out. Your are correct!. The GPW-1000 doesn’t have a co-ordinates, tracker or navigation features. GPS Hybrid Waveceptor used for satellite signals to synchronize the correct time in your location.

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