10 Best Best Activity Tracker Watches Tested & Analyzed
In a Hurry? The test winner after 14 hrs of research
Built and tested to military standards
Water resistant up to 100m
10 Best Activity Trackers
1. Suunto Traverse Alpha
Built and tested to military standards
Water resistant up to 100m
A pricey investment
The Suunto Traverse Alpha has become number one on our list due to its overall strength on the market in terms of customer feedback, testing, and features. We are sure you will love this watch and activity tracking gadget, so have a read below.Read more
This watch is built for style and toughness with the quality nylon straps, waterproofing, and stainless steel bezel. With a GPS tracker in this watch, you can keep track of where you are on a hike. Using breadcrumb technology, you will easily find your way back to safety and be able to save points of interest. To determine the best hunting or fishing times, there is a moon phase calendar that also detects and shares the temperature.
This tracker has a rechargeable Li-on battery that, when used in time mode, can last up to 14 days. When in GPS mode, the minimum battery life comes out to about 10 hours. The Suunto Traverse Alpha has been tested in Finland, and it is built with extreme care, and it has also been tested to military standards, so you can be sure that you will have a durable watch on your hands with the alpha.
Although the price of this piece is fairly high, the durability and features that come with it definitely reflect that cost. It is a tracker meant to stand up to the outdoors and is great gear to bring along on any outdoor treks.
2. Garmin Forerunner 645
Contactless purchasing features
Garmin Forerunner 645 adds entertainment and easy access to the Forerunner line. You get the GPS and Tracking standard you expect from Garmin with some added entertainment and intelligence while your blasting through a 10K.
Garmin is good at not integrating touch screens to their more running advanced designs. You get an easy button set up so you won't be bothered with sweaty finger interference when trying to get your data on the go.
There is a lot more to be said about this addition to the Garmin Forerunner series. We appreciate a good advancement in keeping our running less monotonous and that is just one noteworthy reason we added it to our 10 Best Activity Trackers.Read more
You can search and search and you will find Garmin at the top of the activity tracking game. And unless you have been under a rock, you’ll know the Garmin's Forerunner line maxes out on features: swimming, cycling, running, etc. Each version tweaks on different activity options for what different consumers are looking for and they do it with high accuracy.
Garmin Forerunner 645 features all that good runner data you want while offering music uploads and contactless payment options when you’re in a rush and need to purchase more running gear. You'll also receive recommendations on recovery times based off of workout intensity. This helps you get the most out of each session.
Although silicone seems to be a favorite, the Forerunner 645 offers a bunch of different quick release band options, making it easy to personalize to your style. This quick release construction doesn't seem to affect its security either or play any interference in the HR monitoring.
Adding Music is easy as well and you have the option of uploading playlist form some streaming services. Garmin Forerunner 645 has the capacity to organize 500 songs at a time, making it easier to add playlists and single songs, working like the old iPod Shuffle used to.
Ease of Use
Because Garmin Forerunner is geared toward the active runner, it uses a button setup to navigate data and smart features. As we mentioned, touchscreens and sweat aren't a good mix; Garmin knows this and when you are splurging on a higher priced activity tracker, it's best to go with what works rather than what seems trendy.
The Forerunner 645 runs on Garmin's coveted user-friendly interface and smooth operating system, so gathering info is a breeze. Their app is very self-explanatory and offers loads of data on everything yo do.
It is even tailored to making your shopping experience that much easier. Add a CC and a PIN and the contactless payment set up will have you reducing your shopping and your running times.
It’s a Forerunner, you are paying for the best. GPS is always on point, reliability is standard and accuracy makes it popular. The Garmin Forerunner 645 is a piece of running equipment, like a treadmill or a good pair of sneaker. You're going get what you pay for with Garmin and with the 645 you'll e able to go ultra concert mode on the trail.
3. Suunto Ambit 3 Peak
Great for multi-sport or triathlon training
Altitude and route-finding features for backcountry adventures
A plethora of tracking, mapping and condition features at your fingertips
Good software with Suunto’s connected App
Water-resistant up to 100m
Some find the size bulky
Some have had issues with wireless storm notifications
Trail runners and mountaineers are drawn to Suunto’s line of watches for their cutting-edge map and elevation features. The Suunto Ambit 3 Peak watch is well known for its compass, altitude monitor and route navigation feature. It’s also popular among other types of athletes for its multi-sport capabilities.Read more
The watch has the ability to track back for route-finding, and when connected to the Movescount App also provides new route discovery with heatmaps and training programs. The Suunto Ambit 3 Peak monitors heart rate while swimming, has Bluetooth features while cycling, and can log multiple sports in one session, making it a crowd-pleaser for triathletes. Smartphone notifications and a variety of language options are available. It also has 5-second GPS accuracy and weather information, and the app allows you to take photos with GPS/workout information that you can combine into a movie.
The manufacturer reports a 30-hour battery life with 5-second GPS accuracy. At 1-minute GPS accuracy, the battery life jumps to 200 hours. With water resistance up to 100m, you won't have to worry about water or weather damage in most cases and although the face isn't sapphire crystal it is still mineral crystal and is very durable.
The Ambit 3 Peak is not the most expensive Suunto watch, but it certainly carries a higher price tag when compared with watches that don’t track altitude or offer advanced map functions. If you find yourself outdoors and gaining elevation in your workouts, this watch should give you a good bang for your buck.
4. Polar V800
Scratch-resistant Gorilla glass lens
Wrist heart rate monitor that works while swimming
Excellent test options
Waterproof up to 30m
Many features must be must be set up on web first
Steps and sleep only viewable via app
This watch was designed for serious sports enthusiasts and professional athletes in mind. The Polar V800 offers a rugged, solid-feeling design with quick GPS activation and device-pairing. It’s one of the first watches to offer heart rate data while swimming without the use of a chest strap and also measures altitude data.Read more
Multi-sport activity tracking, high performance with swimming, running cadence detection, route finding, high-speed GPS, and training load and recovery status functions are part of what makes this watch hugely popular. It also features a 5-minute fitness test and an orthostatic fitness test, other unique features that are applauded by elite athletes. Polar offers its own series of apps and smartphone compatibility, along with the traditional activity tracking options like calories burned, sleep tracking and a reliable GPS system.
The manufacturer reports the battery life to be 14 hours when the watch is fully utilized. Some reviewers stated that they charged the watch about once a week. It is waterproof up to 30 meters making it a good choice for outdoor runners. Users were impressed by the durability of the watch and liked the reliable extended use.
In the same price class as the Garmin 735XT and offering a number of unique features, it’s somewhat easy to sell this based on its advanced level of functions. It may not be the best option for the amateur athlete or those who are looking for their first activity tracker.
5. Apple Watch Series 3
Great quality and durability
8GB of storage
Easy pairing to iPhone
Attractive and stylish
Short battery life in comparison to other options
Must have an iPhone 5s or later to use
The third generation of the Apple Watch Series still has all the features the series 2 has to offer while also improving its fitness tracking. For Apple users looking to enhance their activities, this is a great option with endless features.Read more
This watch can do almost anything. From emails to counting your steps to tracking your sleep. If you can think of it then it can probably do it. It is first and foremost a smartwatch that has improved its fitness and health tracking this time around.
Unfortunately, it has a battery life of fewer than 24 hours so you will need to make sure you charge it each day. The battery life is a sign that this watch is probably more convenient for people who like to use technology to manage many areas of their everyday routine. It is also water resistant up to 50m. You will require an iPhone 5s or later to use this device.
This is an expensive smartwatch that is well worth the cost if you want something with all of the essential and useful features it has to offer. It may be more worth the price for runners who would enjoy using a smartwatch in every aspect of their life and less for athletes who want to casually track their fitness.
6. TomTom Spark 3: Cardio + Music
Exercise with music without another device
Good GPS performance
Easy to skip over music tracks
Syncs easily to your music library
Heart rate works better for cardio than for weight lifting
No phone notifications
Many users ended up having to replace the band
For the athlete that likes to rock out to some good tunes while they workout, the TomTom Spark 3 may be their new favorite sidekick. This watch has the ability to play up to 500 songs from the watch using wireless headphones. Leave your phone at home for a more hands-free music experience to focus on your workout.Read more
The TomTom Spark 3 boasts multi-sport capabilities, plus the traditional features like steps, active minutes and calories burned. Monitor your heart rate on the watch screen without the use of a chest strap. Use the GPS in real-time and find your way back to the start if you get lost with route-finding functions. Enjoy all of these features while having access to your music library without having to mess with your phone.
The manufacturer reports that the battery life is up to 3 weeks when not in GPS mode, and 5 hours when all of the features are being used simultaneously (music, heart rate, and GPS). It's waterproof up to 40m. Many users found that the band that comes with the watch isn't very durable and that they ended up having to replace it.
Expect to pay more for the heart rate monitor and music headphone bundle version, but the features of this phone exceed the norms for this price class.
7. Suunto Spartan Ultra
Fun customizable watch face screen
Better touch screen and buttons when compared to lower end Suunto watches
Great multi-sport use
Screen is easy to see even in direct sun
Durable sapphire crystal face
Advanced features can be tricky to set up
This product is pre-programmed with 80 different sport options for tracking your training, intervals and competition. It features high-end capabilities, including barometric altitude, with a gorgeous colored touch-screen.Read more
In addition to supporting a huge number of different types of sports, the watch features smartphone interchanges, customizable watch faces, 100m water resistance, Suunto Movescount access for a large area of training data including recovery progress, and unique features to compare and tap you’re your community of athletes.
Battery life is reported to range from 26 hours in training mode to 15 days when in watch mode. The face is made of ultra-durable sapphire crystal housed in bezel aluminum.
The watch is top-notch in its class, but many still consider it too expensive. Expect to pay about twice as much for this watch like the Suunto Ambit 3, but you will have more high-end features.
8. Soleus GPS Pulse + HRM
Heart rate monitoring via wrist
Water resistant up to 30m
Made of durable materials
GPS connectivity can be slow to start up
Difficult to customize settings with the use of 4 buttons
Not as many options with apps and data viewing
If you’re looking for a simple watch that has the ability to measure wrist heart rate without a chest strap, look into the Soleus GPS Pulse and Heart Rate Watch. This no-frills tracker is not smartphone compatible, but gets the job done when it comes to training monitoring.Read more
This device measures the basic metrics we look for in a running workout (distance, speed, intervals, calories, heart rate, and water resistant to 30m). The technology in the wrist heart rate sensor is one of the most popular features of this watch.
Several sources report 8 hours of battery life with continuous GPS use. The face is made with durable mineral crystal and is water resistant up to 30m.
The best value for a watch that measures heart rate via a wrist sensor. However, don’t expect it to perform like the fancier upper-end trackers.
9. FitBit Flex 2
Jewelry options for those who don’t like watches
Waterproof for swimming laps
Wristband has a good fit, can be worn loose or snug
Minimalistic yet informative
Strong, effective vibrations
Unable to view real-time data on wristband
This basic FitBit model has more features than meets the eye. It’s the thinnest, most lightweight FitBit on the market at a surprisingly economical price given all of its capabilities. The most unique aspect of this device is that the ultra-thin removable tracker can be worn as jewelry instead of a watch.Read more
The Fitbit Flex 2 includes all-day activity tracking including heart rate monitoring without a chest strap, automatic sleep tracking, distance and steps, calories burned and is waterproof and swimming-approved. LED color-coded lights and vibration settings notify you when you’ve received a call or a text message and “move” reminders can be set. The removable tracker can be inserted into a stylish bangle or pendant, or users can wear the traditional slim wristband. Sync wirelessly to the app for additional features.
The manufacturer reports that the battery life is good for up to 5 days. Some users reported needing to charge it every 2-3 days, depending on activities and use. The water-resistance is good for swimmers and outdoor use. Many users found this tracker to be very durable, getting years of use out of it.
This device has an excellent value given all of the product features. Most reviewers were pleased with what they got out of this piece for the cost.
10. Samsung Gear Fit 2 Pro
You get off-line support from Spotify
Very nice design with reliable features
Fairly durable construction
Setting up the processor could be more user-friendly
This is a new model updating from the previous version.
Very friendly and appealing design features. For visual ease, you get an AMOLED-display-face, which means instant clarity for seeing those important stats.
You won't need to bring a phone to access GPS capability; this feature is built into the Fit Pro-2. Very accurate and reliable heart rate monitoring through a designed in a high-performing sensor.Read more
A nice vertical interface with highly responsive touchscreen functionality put the apps into sleep mode easily by holding your hand over the full screen. You get a charging system, designed with fail-proof magnetic tech, whatever the alignment it will charge up. This device can function as a stand-alone source for good music and works with wireless headphones. Comes pre-loaded with MayMyRun, UA Record/Endomondo, Speedy-Go. The upgrade shows Samsung has doubled the earlier IP68-rating, it's now MIL-STD 810G level certification.
In the previous model, battery life was challenged when constantly using GPS and wi-fi; this was cutting battery life to around 6 to 8 hours. A new software update has been created to tackle this issue and prolong battery life. It has a durable silicone band and is water-resistant, making it a great choice for outdoor runners.
The price is standard, and the update makes this a worthwhile consideration for adding to your running gear.
Criteria Used for Evaluation
One of the best parts about getting a new “grown-up toy” is all the fun features!
Our list of best activity trackers are no exception, and the list of bells and whistles on some of these products on the market today seems to be endless. Determining what your specific use (or uses) is for an activity tracker will help you decide which model best suits your needs. Most of the features can be lumped into three different groups – these include features about health metrics and bodily vitals, the specific sport or activity you are tracking, and then a catch-all “other” category for features that do not fit cleanly into either of the aforementioned categories but which are still important.
Let’s first talk about vitals and body function tracker features. These include such statistics as heart rate, calories burned, and can get as in-depth as BMI and body fat percentage. These will help you stay in the know about your overall health and how your fitness is improving (or possibly alert you to potential problems or issues you would not have known about otherwise). Take monitoring your heart rate, for instance (which, with some of the best activity trackers on our list, means regularly taking an orthostatic fitness test that simply measures and tracks heart rate).
Knowing when it is elevated will alert you to when your activity levels are increasing, the intensity of your training is increasing, and ultimately when you are burning more calories. It will also tell you a bit about your overall fitness level, especially when tracked and monitored over time: if over the course of several weeks, you start to see a lessened heart rate while participating in the same activities and intensity levels of activities, then this indicates you are increasing your cardiovascular fitness levels (aka “getting into better shape”). However, knowing your heart rate on a consistent day to day basis will also help you know if something is not quite right. For example, if you notice that, while at rest, you have a heart that is well under 60 beats per minute (edging closer to 50) then you might be at risk for having bradycardia – an abnormally slow heart rate that might result in the heart not being able to adequately pump oxygen to your muscles.
Finally, the best activity trackers often come loaded with some additional features that are not only cool but play into overall, general health – even if that means your mental health (sanity) by providing you with a top-notch music playlist for your long run. These kinds of features include music storage, a stress score to monitor your stress levels, a sleep tracker that monitors your REM cycles, connection to WiFi and Bluetooth compatibility, and device pairing so that you can access your stats and progress from your other electronic devices as well as stay up to date on your activity tracker’s app, if it comes with one. For the hardcore athletes, you might be interested in the some of the best activity trackers that even come equipped with a recovery advisor who will suggest the best methods and form of recovery for you based off your activity and intensity levels.
To get the most use out of your activity tracker you want to know how long it will last, in terms of both battery life and durability.
Another metric we based our list of the best activity trackers off of is the battery life, and how long you can use each product for before having to be plugged in again. It needs to at the very least stay charged to record the entirety of your workout or run – and for some ultra-marathoners, that’s as long as a couple of days! But ideally, it will stay charged longer than that. After all, with so many devices on the market right now that we need to plug in and charge regularly, another one could just really make us go crazy.
Luckily, most of the best activity trackers on our list stay charged for several hours if they are being used in full GPS or activity tracking mode, and for several days to several weeks even if they are on battery save mode. Not only does the length of the battery life matter, but so too does the level of difficulty of charging each device. The best activity trackers that are overly cumbersome to charge simply will not do. We know that, as a busy runner with an intense training plan on top of an already hectic life, if your device is too difficult to charge then you probably just won’t… and then end up wasting your money if you purchase one! Our list of the best activity trackers come with all the charging equipment you need and can easily be plugged into a wall outlet or your computer and then left alone to charge. (But you will still need to remember to charge them, at least every once in a while!)
Here is where the best activity trackers are set apart from the totally awesome and over the top activity trackers.
Here is where you, as a consumer can decide, do I need so many features? Is it worth it? We’re talking about cost, and some of the best activity trackers on the market can get pretty pricey. The higher-end products will cost you a couple of hundred bucks, easy. But luckily, the ones that are higher in cost live up to their price tag.
It is probably a safe bet to say that you are not purchasing an activity tracker to accent your formal attire during a swanky night out on the town.
Our list of the best activity trackers is some of the most stylish ones on the market. For the most part, they aren’t overly thick or bulky and will not stick out like a sore thumb. Some of the models on our list are minimalist – they are designed to look thin and slim so much so that they do not even have a typical watch face or screen but instead, just simple metric readings. However, you might want an activity tracker that draws attention (in a tasteful manner, of course). If that seems more your speed, consider purchasing one of our models that comes equipped with a fancier touchscreen and interactive face. Some of the nicer versions even come with customizable faces so that you can match them to your unique style.
You'll also want to think about the way the design will affect your display. The best activity trackers come with a face that makes viewing your stats and health metrics easy. Even if the face shuts down temporarily after non-use to save battery life, they are easy to turn back on (usually just touching it will wake it back up). However, some of the best activity trackers like the Fitbit Flex 2 on our list have a more minimal and simple design without an interactive face. Consumers might prefer one look, style, and use over another, so know your preferences before making a purchase. (If you want an activity tracker that does more in the way of not just tracking health metrics but giving information on sleep, recovery, music, texting, calendar, etc. then you will likely need to go with an activity tracker that has a face. If you’re solely interested in steps counted, heart rate, calories burned, and logging simple distances, then a tracker like the Flex 2 could work well for you.)
You should consider the benefits and appeal of the various advanced features that you can get from your watch.
Determining your goals and priorities will help you narrow down exactly why and for what purposes you would even need an activity tracker, and can thus best steer you in the direction of choosing the model that fits your individual needs. If you are a hardcore endurance athlete, a professional, or training for an endurance race or event, then you will definitely benefit from having an activity tracker that calculates distances and elevations.
Other Factors to Consider
If it is important for you to have all of your electronic devices syncing up and displaying the same data, then you will need an activity tracker that can easily join in on that. For instance, it might be critical to you to be able to track and log your run on your cell phone and your computer, and have the ability to access with your stats on multiple devices, especially if you are interested in the stats and numbers from a holistic perspective (i.e. monitoring heart rate on longer runs on flatter terrain versus heart rate on shorter hikes with steep elevation changes, and then comparing all that to REM sleep cycles at night). However, if that is not a priority to you, then you will be able to look at a wider variety of brands and products to find the activity tracker that’s just right for you.
With the use of social media and electronic applications on phones and computers so high (and constantly on the rise), you need to be able to easily stay plugged in able to access your activity tracker’s fitness and movement stats on your iOS devices, Android devices, and desktop. This helps with what we already mentioned about being able to integrate your stats for a more holistic approach to tracking your health and fitness, but it also helps you actively engage in using the product. Apps connect you not only to the device, to the model you are wearing, and to the company that produces it but also to a community of other users who follow the app and actively engage on it.
Many folks need accountability, especially when it comes to staying fit and active. Luckily, the big name companies that manufacture some of the best activity trackers often come with a great online community that connects you with your friends and fellow activity tracker users. For instance, connecting your FitBit to others of your friends who use Fitbit products not only allows you to keep up with your accountability partners, and gives you access to great forums and discussion boards about health and fitness topics that might be of interest to you, but it offers the option of participating in friendly challenges against one another in which you can compete against or simply encourage each other in your fitness goals.
Frequently Asked Questions
q: What is the average battery life of these best activity trackers?
On average, when set to be in a mode that is not always using the GPS or tracking your health metrics, most of the best activity trackers will last 1-2 weeks without being charged. However, if you train a lot more or just want to have your tracker set to monitor your health metrics more often, then you’ll need to carve out time and/or remember to plug yours in more often.
q: Do chargers come with some the best activity trackers? Do they have to be charged on the computer or connected to an electronic device?
If the activity charger requires a charge from a plugin, then the charger will come included with the tracker. Most conveniently come with an adaptable charger that adapts to charge on your computer, or through a compatible wall charger.
q: How many songs can the music-playing activity trackers hold?
q: Do they come with any kind of warranty?
Most warranties are limited, especially those warranties that are automatically included with the activity tracker upon purchase. However, many of the more expensive models offer extended warranties which can be bought at an additional cost. For such models as the Apple Watch, the warranted that is included with your initial purchase covers up to “one year of hardware repair coverage.” Extended warranties can be purchased through Apple Care, which will include extended coverage on accidental damage.
q: Do the best activity trackers that monitor and track heart rate only do so with a chest strap?
Knowing your heart rate is a significant metric to be aware of, especially when you are trying to maximize the efficiency of your work out in terms of intensity and calorie burn. However, if you have ever worn a chest strap before to help monitor your heart rate, you know that they can be less than ideal. Often times they will cause chafing, retain moisture and sweat and end up smelling bad, are a pain to remember to put on and then half the time they are uncomfortable, and especially for women, they can, well, get in the way… And on top of all that, they might lose their signal and not give you accurate data.
So what are you to do when most of the best activity trackers that say they track and monitor heart rate actually only do so if you wear a chest strap? Luckily, there are a few activity trackers that can efficiently and effectively monitor heart rate just through the pulse of your wrist. The Soleus GPS Pulse and Heart Rate watch on our list is one of these. This activity tracker is especially ideal for those of you who want to monitor your heart rate while swimming (as most chest straps cannot be worn underwater).
q: What colors do the best activity trackers come in?
Most of the best activity trackers on our list stick to the basics and range from black to grey and/or steel tones. On the whole, a decent activity tracker will probably be a neutral color, but there are a few more colorful and vibrant options for those of you who want to stand out! While the Garmin products have a standard face, there are different colored wristbands that can easily be interchanged, based on your mood or outfit. Colors range from black and white to red, yellow, and green. (It is important to note that these customizable wristbands are an additional expense and not included in your initial purchase of the Garmin activity tracker).
q: What will one of these best activity trackers cost me?
For the most part, if you want to purchase a decent activity tracker, you might need to save up your pennies (or dollars…or the twenties…) for a while. Most range in the several hundreds of dollars, from $200 to over $500. On average, you will likely pay somewhere between $300 and $400 if you want a reliable activity tracker that comes fully equipped with all the distance trackers and health and fitness monitoring features that you need for your sport and lifestyle. However, that is certainly not to say that those of us on a more limited budget cannot have a decent activity tracker.
- Tachycardia - Fast Heart Rate, American Heart Association Health Article ,
- Bradycardia, The Mayo Clinic Health Article ,
- Let's Talk Polar - Polar Fitness Test, Product Review Guide ,
- The Best Fitness Trackers, The Sweet Home Buying Guide ,
- Consumer Limited Warranty, Buyer's Information ,
- What Apple Watch damage is covered by warranty? Here’s how Apple will determine what’s eligible, Apple Watch Buying Guide ,