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The Best Rugged Smartwatches 2018

by in Feature Articles .

Rugged smartwatches are incredibly versatile. They’re great for hiking, swimming, wearing to work, playing with the kids and everything in-between.

What makes a smartwatch rugged? It’s got to have a durable outer body, some level of shock protection and waterproofing of some kind, be it an IP certification such as IPX8 or IP68 or an ATM rating such as 10ATM. It’s also got to have in-built GPS - a feature which is extremely useful if you do any outdoor exploring.

Unfortunately, there are literally hundreds of smartwatches out there that claim to be rugged but really aren’t. They’re just regular smartwatches dressed up in a fancy shell. It’s these you want to avoid. Thankfully, we’ve done the hard work for you and listed the best rugged smartwatches on market. These vary in specification, but satisfy our shock protection, water resistance and durability criteria.

Without further ado, here’s the best rugged smartwatches in 2018:

Casio WSD-F20A


In a nutshell: The most rugged smartwatch on the market. Boasts military-grade shock protection and a top display.

The Casio WSD-F20A is for all you serious explorers out there. It’s a PRO TREK smartwatch with military-grade 810G shock resistance. It’s water-resistant up to 50 metres and is preloaded with a huge range of features. Simply press the TOOL button and you get access to a compass, altimeter, barometer and much more.

The case is a mixture of engineering-grade plastic and aluminium. This provides the perfect balance of durability and shock resistance. The WSD-F20A has low-power GPS and runs Wear OS (previously Android Wear). The display is the best-selling point - it’s 320x300 in resolution and 1.32” in size. It’s bright and vibrant, and it’s also dual-layer. This means it can switch between colour and monochrome modes to preserve battery.

Garmin Fenix 5X


In a nutshell: The best rugged smartwatch for navigation. Comes with Garmin maps and has GPS and GLONASS.

The Garmin Fenix 5X is a top-tier rugged smartwatch. It’s got GPS with Garmin European mapping built-in, a 10ATM water resistance rating and is available in 42mm, 47mm and 51mm case sizes to suit any wrist. It’s exceptionally durable with a forged steel case back and sapphire crystal. It’s also shock resistant with a fibre-reinforced polymer case.

Battery life is another strong point. You’ll get 20-hours of use with GPS turned on, or up to 12 days in smartwatch mode. The 1.2” 240x240 display with transflective technology isn’t as vibrant as the Casio’s, put it’s just as easy to read outdoors. The Fenix 5 runs Garmin’s proprietary OS so doesn’t have the app ecosystem of the Casio. But the built-in applications are excellent and include everything you need for an active lifestyle.

Polar M600


In a nutshell: A rugged smartwatch with GPS and GLONASS. IPX8 water resistance and Wear OS make it a top choice.

Looking for a rugged smartwatch that isn’t round? Check out the Polar M600. This is a fantastic rugged smartwatch. It runs Wear OS, comes pre-loaded with some of the best fitness-focused applications on the market and gives you access to Polar Smart Coaching - which is one of the best smart trainers.

This is Polar’s flagship smartwatch so comes with everything, including GPS, GLONASS, heart-rate tracking and 4GB of onboard storage for maps. The integrated GPS and GLONASS is highly accurate. In terms of ruggedness, the Polar M600 has IPX8 water resistance, so it is suitable for continuous immersion in water. The 240x240 1.3” display is protected by Gorilla Glass 3 and there’s a good level of shock resistance too.

Nixon Mission


In a nutshell: A substantial rugged smartwatch with patented MicLock waterproofing and unique surf and snow modes.

The Nixon Mission is absolutely enormous. It’s also exceptionally tough. It’s designed to conquer the great outdoors with a 316L stainless steel bezel and shock-proof roll cage. It runs Wear OS so has access to all your favourite apps, has GPS, and boasts a 10ATM water resistance rating with patented MicLock technology.

The display is protected by Gorilla Glass and the shock resistant polycarbonate case is designed to withstand a good smash. Uniquely, the Nixon Mission works hand-in-hand with Surfline, the world’s largest reporter of surfing conditions. It offers real-time surf and snow updates, making it perfect for adventure holidays. The Mission is available in a few different colours and is 48mm in size. It’s an excellent rugged smartwatch.

Suunto Ambit3 Peak


In a nutshell: A rugged smartwatch with GPS. if you don’t care about wrist-based heart-rate tracking, it’s a great choice.

The Suunto Ambit3 Peak is a decent rugged smartwatch. It offers high-accuracy GPS, heart-rate tracking and altitude tracking. It can also combine GPS and barometric data for even greater altitude accuracy. It’s water resistant to 10ATM and has a steel bezel with a polyamide case, a combination that offers decent shock protection.

You can purchase the Suunto Ambit3 Peak smartwatch with or without a heart rate belt. The caveat is if you buy it without, you can’t track your heart-rate because it requires that separate device to do so. If heart-rate tracking doesn’t matter to you, save some money and buy it without. Regardless of your choice, the Ambit3 Peak is a good choice. It runs Suunto’s proprietary software, which is easy to use but lacks an app ecosystem.

Which is your favourite?

So, there we have it - the best rugged smartwatches you can buy. We could have included a few more, but honestly, these are the best of the best.

If we had to pick one from the list for ourselves, we’d pick the Polar M600. It’s light, it’s durable, and it comes with all the features you want in a rugged smartwatch. It’s also keenly priced at around $290. The Casio WSD-F10A is a close second and is definitely the best choice if you want a round smartwatch that runs Wear OS.
Latest update: 29/10/2018

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