Tactical smartwatches are a quite new trend. Their ancestors, the watches, had to come a long, long way since their early days of being regarded as a female fashion item.
For some 200 years, the wristwatch slowly evolved as a personal, portable utility that provided the time of day at a glance. Around the end of the 19th-century military soldiers were issued wristwatches as tactical instruments for combat maneuvers.
In 1972 Pulsar introduced a watch with LED capabilities and opened to the door for an entirely new concept, wearable technology. Today watches not only produce the time of day in any time zone, but they can also monitor the wearer’s health and wellness, transfer email and text messages, make calls, play music, track global positioning coordinates, and pay for purchases with a flick of the wrist. Wearable technology is the ultimate status for nearly every lifestyle.
The selection of brands and styles of smartwatches is abundant. From astronauts to school children, smartwatches are customized to provide the wearer with the superior benefits of advancing wearable technologies. Regardless of the consumer’s requirements, there is a good chance a smartwatch is available that fits the bill.
What are Tactical Smartwatches?
There are basic smartwatches, and then there is the fierce breed of tactical smartwatches. The modern marvel of tactical smartwatches goes a leap beyond the basics.
Engineered to withstand the rigors of extreme outdoor activities and enhanced with superior tools, tactical smartwatches are choice for those concerned with tracking physical activity and monitoring their environment while staying connected.
With dozens of companies competing in the smartwatch market, selecting the right smartwatch is no longer a one-style-fits-all option. Combining desired features with comfort, efficiency, dependability, and affordability becomes a matter of personal choice.
As with most purchases, reviewing the available comparative research of the best five tactical smartwatches for active people provides an informed starting point for purchase.
Our List Of The Best 5 Tactical Smartwatches
Outdoor enthusiasts will recognize the brand name Suunto. Renowned for quality, durability, and versatility, the Finnish company Suunto Oy has manufactured trusted field watches, dive computers, compasses, and other precision instruments for outdoor sportspeople and adventurers since 1936. Every Suunto product is tested, beginning with the development stage through to field use.
The company’s durable, rugged Suunto Traverse Alpha watch was created with the hunter, hiker, and fisherman in mind. This tactical smartwatch features a knurled, stainless steel bezel, premium scratch-resistant, sapphire crystal glass, and a water-resistant nylon band.
It is equipped with resourceful outdoor features like a moon phase calendar, shot detection, sunrise alert, weather trend monitor, and a red backlight to protect sensitive night vision tools.
Among the toughest of the tactical brands of smartwatches, the Suunto Traverse is tested according to U.S military standards. This watch is water-resistant up to 100m/300 ft. Embedded with Suunto’s proprietary FusedAlti™ technology, it combines a barometric altitude monitor with GPS to improve readings.
The compatible Suunto app for iOS and Andriod provides speed, distance, and altitude tracking. A real-time bread crumb view records tracks and displays new trails and heatmaps. GPS/GLONASS navigation allows for previews and alternate routes.
The functional Suunto Traverse Alpha weighs 75g/2.65 ounces and holds a battery charge for 14-days. Competitively priced at less than $400, it is no wonder the Sunnato Traverse Alpha is consistently ranked at the top of the list of superior tactical smartwatches.
The Garmin name is synonymous with mobile navigation. In 1989 Garmin introduced a handheld GPS unit to the U.S. military. Development of the navigation technology continued, and soon affordable, personal, handheld GPS products made Garmin a household name. Garmin catapulted their expertise into engineering a durable line of tactical smartwatches. The Garmin Instinct Smart Watch ranks at the top of the best.
The Garmin Instinct is a sturdy outdoor smartwatch designed to withstand the rigors of nearly any environment. It is constructed for thermal, shock, and water resistance (to 100m/300 ft.) 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.
The Garmin Instinct features a 3-axis compass and barometric altimeter. It utilizes multiple satellite navigation systems (GPS, Galileo, GLONASS). Tracback™ technology provides for navigating back the same route to the starting point.
The Garmin Explorer app offers resources to plan trips in advance. The Garmin Instinct weighs 1.76 ounces, has a battery life of up to 14-days, and retails at about $300.
The Suunto Core represents the company’s second product on the “Best 5 Tactical Smart Watch for Active People” list. The Core All Black Military SmartWatch offers a more affordable entry to the tactical smartwatch arena. Don’t let the name fool you, while technically an “all black” finish the Suunto Core Watch is available in several style variations.
Embedded with a thermometer, compass, a vertical movement altimeter, and a barometer, the Suunto Core keeps the wearer aware of weather trends and geographical positioning. The intelligent storm alarm senses changes in atmospheric pressure and alerts of approaching storms.
The wrist computer tracks elevation, ascension, and descent with the push of a button. It accurately measures the underwater depth to 30 feet. Operational at temperatures between -20°c/-22°f to +60°/+140° the Suunto Core provides weather conditions and tracks the position of the sun.
Offered in an attractive black on black finish, The Suunto Core weighs 1.44 ounces. One rechargeable, lithium metal battery is required (included with purchase). The Suunto Core All Black Military Tactical Sports Watch retails for $150 (or less).
Gokoo Smart Watches provide an affordable tactical smartwatch entry for active individuals. The attractive design is lightweight, weighing only 1.97 ounces. It has a bright, “always-on” display and proves comfortable for all-day wear.
The Gokoo Smart Watch for Men features eight different sports settings and is durable enough for most outdoor activities. The backlit display is easy to read day or night.
Constructed from Corning Gorilla Glass and anti-corrosive metal, the military-style men’s version tracks physical movements, monitors heart rate, displays time, texts, and notifies email delivery.
The Gokoo features a built-in remote-control camera setting and music storage. It operates up to 30-days on a single 2-hour charge and is compatible with iOS 9.0 or higher and Android 4.4 or higher. At a retail price of less than $100, the Gokoo Smart Watch for Men is an easy decision for an entry-level tactical smartwatch buyer.
The EX 16S Smart Sports Watch provides one of the most affordable price points for tactical watch wearers. The product’s new, stylish EU design features an enlarged FTSN screen and comfortable silicone straps. The waterproof smartwatch is suitable for most outdoor activities.
The replaceable, long-life battery features an energy saver for a long life. Operating for up to one-year, the extended battery never needs charging, simply replace. The ES 16S has an integrated 3-D sensor that tracks steps, distance, and calories burned. The EX 16S’ professional fitness app allows wearers to set goals and record achievements for up to 21 days. The backlit LED luminous display is easy to read day or night.
The EX 16S watch is compatible with most smartphones via Bluetooth 4.0 technology. It displays incoming calls and text messages. A stopwatch and remote camera are also featured and activated with the push of a button.
The EX 16S Rugged Outdoor Sports Smartwatch weighs a bit more than its competitors at 3.52 ounces. It is available in a chiseled black color. Retailing for less than $50, the EX 16S Outdoor Sports Smart Watch is an excellent choice for running, walking, hiking, setting fitness goals, and recording accomplishments.
There is little doubt wearable technology is here to stay. The competition will drive manufacturers to design faster, more stylish, feature-rich smartwatches and fuel consumer demands. Fashion and function may be beautiful for the casual user and style-conscious buyer.
It is the serious users, soldiers, law enforcement, emergency responders, dedicated outdoor sportspeople, the individuals who depend on smart technology for safety and survival that will continue to seek out the best tactical smartwatches that are designed for active people.