Watches in the Outdoors and Why You Need One

-This article is brought to you by Megan our resident OpticsPlanet fitness junkie. –


In this digital age, it’s rare to see someone with a watch. Cell phones have become the new norm in how we tell time, communicate, and find amusement. I’m not sure exactly when we, as a society, decided it was easier to take out a chunky phone from our pockets or bags than to check our wrist (but no one asked me before this was all decided). I’m here to tell you that watches are not obsolete. They’re anything but. With the growing technology, watches are advancing rather than being a thing of the past.

Being a gym rat and cardio bunny means I’m always wearing my watch when I work out. It’s just part of the territory. I’m not one of those insane power-hungry runners you see at the marathons that seem to know everything about calisthenics and body movement in general. But, I am the type of runner that frequents the gym when building muscle. I’m the type of runner that trains for long distances, speed, and different terrains. I’m the type of runner that uses a watch to better myself.

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How, oh, how can a watch make you a better athlete? Running is all about speed and speed is all about time. Yes, you probably have this super fancy app for your smartphone that lets you see just how fast you’re going and blah, blah, blah. Let me tell you something: it’s a whole lot easier, and lighter, to have a watch on your wrist rather than a smartphone with you. That being said, my watch makes it super easy for me to track each lap I make.

Let’s be real here, I usually don’t run indoors. When I do, it’s great to have something that has a lap feature, but I love to be outside. Treadmills and tracks are boring. Get out and explore – so I do. I explore, but I don’t always know where I’m going. New territory can be scary if your watch doesn’t have a GPS or digital compass. Always have a GPS.

One thing that people who work out tell you is that you should have a work-out buddy. It’ll be easier with a work-out buddy. I have one. It’s my watch. My watch gives me everything I need: I can see my heart rate, sleep recovery, and log in my workouts, set goals, and make it easier on me for hill training. A work-out buddy that’s a human can only do so much.

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What I look for in a Fitness Watch

  • GPS capabilities – Don’t want to get lost on those long-distance treks.
  • Heart-Rate Monitor – Keeping your heart in that perfect range whether it’s for a resting heart rate or for burning fat.
  • Timer – Great for speed work-outs!
  • Running Cadence – Messing with your running cadence helps you gain the speed you need and it’s so much easier when your watch helps with this.
  • Color – This is just a personal preference, but I enjoy seeing a fun, or bright color. Reminds me that I’m not as miserable as I think I might feel after a rough day working out.
  • Software – A ton of watches come with specialty software that allows you to hook up your watch and track your work outs. Some even let you log in and stay connected through an online community.


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Wearing a watch while out in the woods is just common sense. My grandpa has I don’t know how many acres behind his house. Most of them are woods. He’s the type of guy that has deer heads scattered throughout his house. This is where I saw my first shotgun. This is where I went out with the dogs, through the trails.


Why do I need a watch for when I head out to the wooded area? Several reasons. Let’s say that I’m not very directional gifted. (I’m not. This is absolutely true.) I know the sun rises in the east and sets in the west. I know mold, supposedly, grows mostly on the north side. However, when you throw me into a heavily wooded area and tell me to find my way home, I wouldn’t be able to. Well, I probably would, but a compass would be super handy. (Yes, even Bear Grylls would like a compass.) My watch has a compass. Solid.

I need a watch that isn’t flimsy or isn’t going to freak out when Mother Nature decides to be, well, Mother Nature. I need a watch that’s going to last just as long as I am. Whether I’m gracefully dodging fallen trees, or if I don’t see that stump and not-so-gracefully fall. I need a watch that isn’t going to shatter when I accidentally hit it against a tree, the ground, or my gear. (Didn’t realize how uncoordinated I was until actually writing it all out.)

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What I look for in an Outdoor Watch

  • Compass – because I’m not Lewis nor Clark. I am not built to navigate unknown territory without some sort of guidance.
  • Waterproof, or Water Resistance – because Mother Nature does her thing regardless if your gear is up for it. Make sure it’s up for it.
  • Shock Resistant – I’m not the kind of person to sit on the side lines. I fall. I get hit. Make sure your watch is up for it.
  • Illumination –Telling time and using other features doesn’t stop once it gets dark; make sure you can see it all.


I wear a watch when I want to be away from everything. Sometimes I just like to unplug –from everything. The best way for me to do that is to be outdoors. Whether I’m out for a run, a hike, or out with Grandpa, I need to get away. Yes, there are apps for just about everything. Yes, I can keep my phone in my pocket and just whip it out when needed. No, I don’t want to. It’s so much easier to turn my arm a tad than to keep a huge, uncomfortable, phone in my pocket (if what I’m wearing even has a pocket). Unplug for a while and get outside.

Where is your watch going to lead you?

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5 Responses to Watches in the Outdoors and Why You Need One

  1. Pete says:

    So tell us just what are you going to do with your fancy watch when either of the following happens
    1) The battery finally dies and it no longer works as a compass?
    2) When some foreign nation finally explodes an EMP destroying everything electronic from Cell phones to coffee makers,
    My suggesiton……Stop depending on gadgets to do the work for you. Get a paper map and a manual compass and learn to use them! That way you can survive. And yes MOSS DOES GROW on the NORTH SIDE of a Tree. Use the Sun to tell the time of day with a compass, a stick and a shadow……

    • Romain says:

      I couldn’t agree more with that, people rely too much on GPS and other tech savvy gadgets, and they would be lost without them. I’m not a survivalist, but even in a every situation, you should find your way without all those stuff.

    • Don says:

      I have to say that I agree with Megan. I love watches and the clear basic data they provide. Mostly just what you need allowing you to continue with your day or routine. I have a Rolex, a Movado, and a Casio. The Casio is clearly the best watch of the group! More comfortable, more accurate and more functions. The others are like jewelry, a ring does not give much data either but people like to wear them. They’re the only shiny stuff I wear.
      Pete, I agree you should not depend on “gadgets” but they sure are fun…….and we do things..for fun…right!? Oh, if we have an EMP, and the earth tilts slightly, the manual compass might not be too dependable also………I don’t know if you thought this through………I’m just saying……..Thx

  2. John Langley says:

    Good and Infromation compleat article

  3. Steven kohl says:

    Very nice article and a good watch is important. But for the woods or anywhere in the middle of nowhere, bring a legitimate compass.

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