Key TakeawaysApple may be launching a rugged smartwatch aimed at those who play rough or just look like they do.The Apple Watch Explorer Edition is rumored to be set for a release as early as this year.If you can't wait for the Explorer, consider a rugged smartwatch from Casio or Garmin. Garmin
If you spend a lot of time outdoors, you might want to consider buying a rugged smartwatch.
Apple reportedly is considering launching a version of its smartwatch with a rugged casing aimed at athletes. The Apple Watch would compete with a growing number of tough smartwatches on the market.
"As an avid outdoorsman, a rugged smartwatch has lots of benefits and are more dependable than the average smartphone," Bertie Cowan, founder of Effortless Outdoors, said in an email interview. "These watches are designed for the watch-wearing outdoorsman with features focused on heart rate tracking, GPS navigation system, a compass, and so forth."
Function or Fashion?
The Apple Watch Explorer Edition, which is rumored to release as early as this year, could be the company's answer to timepieces favored by elite athletes such as those made by Garmin. It might also attract fashionistas who enjoy the rugged style of watches like the Casio G-Shock lineup.
Fitness instructor Shabbir Noor, head of Recycle Studio, said in an email interview that he recently bought a Garmin Fenix smartwatch because of its uncompromising design. He noted that he likes using the Fenix outdoors.
"What I want in a smartwatch is one that can sync to my smartphone and keep track of my fitness, a watch that is durable, and most importantly water-resistant," he added.
Noor said he enjoys using the wrist heart rate features, the variety of exercise apps bundled with the watch, and its training feature called PacePro that guides his pace throughout his activity.
"Many features are great for any outdoorsman like a GPS tracker and built-in maps. It is a good investment for any fitness junkie like myself," he said.
"As an avid outdoorsman, a rugged smartwatch has lots of benefits and are more dependable than the average smartphone."
Cowan recommends the Garmin Fenix 6 Pro, although he points out its hefty $849.99 price tag. Unlike the standard smartwatch, the 6 Pro smartwatch has a longer battery life and is designed to withstand difficult terrain and activities.
"The quality of these watches is outstanding, and they are made to be long-lasting, lightweight, and the screen [is] scratch-resistant," said Cowan. "The best part about the watch for me, as an avid hiker, is the GPS accuracy and how clear and readable the screen is no matter the light conditions."
The Thrill of the Hunt
If you're a hunter or avid fisher, you might want to consider the Traverse Alpha by Suunto, which includes GPS/GLONASS (a Russian-developed global positioning system), satellite navigation, barometer and altimeter, moon phases, and a real-time breadcrumb view of your path. It also has an automatic shot detection feature that records where you've taken a shot. The watch's smartphone app can track speed, distance, calories, and even find new routes posted by other people.
There's also the Casio WSD-F30, which features a slimmer and smaller case than its predecessors. Casio claims the display is improved, and it comes with the latest Wear OS by Google. The watch is waterproof, so it can be submerged underwater down to 164 feet and is rated to be resistant to drops and vibrations.
Those on a budget might want to look into the $139 Amazfit T-Rex, which claims to have a 20-day battery life. It's waterproof up to 50 meters and includes a GPS.
Of course, the regular Apple Watch is no slouch when it comes to ruggedness. The Apple Watch Series 6 has a water resistance rating of 50 meters, so it can be used for shallow-water activities like swimming in a pool or ocean.
I am a clumsy person and wore an Apple Watch Series 3 for years, bashing it around while hiking, and it still looks almost brand new. These days, I wear an Apple Watch Series 6, and after a few months of rough use, there isn't a scratch on it. Still, I love the idea of a rugged Apple Watch just in case I finally join that expedition to Antarctica I've been planning.