Best Cadence Watches Tested & Rated
If you are an avid runner, then you may be on the hunt for one of the best cadence watches. Here we go over the top 10 picks for this season, along with their Pros and Cons and what to look for before making your purchase.
Cadence refers to the frequency at which your foot strikes the floor during any given time period—typically measured in minutes. The ideal cadence pattern is around 90 strikes per minute (180 if you count both feet).
Since many of the cadence watches featured on our list also have multiple features and capabilities, we decided to focus mainly on their cadence and measurement features—although we do highlight additional features we think you will love.
When compiling our list we made sure to take into account all budgets, so that everyone can find something that works for them. We also know how difficult it can be to narrow down the best cadence watches—which is why we have meticulously research and reviewed each product on our list.
- Garmin Forerunner 935
- Apple Watch Series 3
- Garmin Forerunner 235
- Suunto Spartan
- Polar V800
- TomTom Spark 3
- Garmin Fenix 5
- Samsung Gear S2
- Garmin Forerunner 735XT
- Fitbit Surge
- Criteria Used for Evaluation
- Other Factors to Consider
- Frequently Asked Questions
Top 10 Picks
1. Garmin Forerunner 935
Multiple training functions
Excellent battery life
Pairs with your smartphone
Takes time to get acquainted with all of the features
No music playback
The Garmin Forerunner 935 is a pricey watch but it comes packed with features many runners will find beneficial to them. It is ultra lightweight, waterproof, and tracks your progress in sports other than running. Overall, this is our top choice for this season and we are sure all runners will appreciate the features it has to offer.Read more
This watch can accurately track your progress in several different activities--running, swimming, cycling, and many other sports (including golf, paddling, and skiing). It also accurately tracks your heart rate and allows you to keep track of your training and progress--making it an exceptional option for triathletes. It also accurately calculates elevation thanks to its barometric altimeter. It also comes with an accurate GPS, a compass, and even tracks your sleep patterns!
This slim and lightweight watch is pretty easy to use once you get the hang of it. Triathletes can transition between activities with just the touch of a button and the menu options are easy to use. It easily pairs with your smartphone so you don't have to get your phone out separately to check on every little thing. It also has an excellent battery life--2 weeks on normal mode and 24 hours if you were to need to run the GPS constantly.
This one is pretty pricey and a big investment. If you are a serious runner that engages in multiple activities and need the many features this watch has to offer then this might be the right for you.
2. Apple Watch Series 3
4 color options
Water resistant for up to 50 meters
Heart rate monitor
GPS and altimeter built in
Syncs with your phone
Easy to use
Not the best battery life
Only compatible with apple
If you are a runner and an Apple lover than you will be excited to hear that the Series 3 Apple watch can now track your cadence as well. ALong with many other features, the apple watch offers many features runners and athletes everywhere are sure to love, which is why they have the second spot on our list.Read more
Like previous Apple watches, this one is also pricey and durable. While it isn't as pricey as our number one pick, it is still an investment that comes loaded with lots of features. This watch accurately measures your cadence, pace, and rolling mile pace--this adjusts your current mile pace at every point in your mile, similar to how many treadmills do. This watch will also accurately track your heart rate as well as your miles while also pairing with your phone so you can send and receive texts.
Like almost all Apple products, this watch is really easy to use. It pairs with your phone so you can easily send and receive texts and allows for activity sharing--where you can even engage in friendly competitions with your friends (it even has a "smack talk" feature. The walkie-talkie feature is also easy to use and it runs on wifi or data--so it's always keeping track of everything. It also has an automatic workout detection feature, which reminds you to workout or to log it if it senses you are running. It also able to track several other activities and comes with both a GPS and altimeter built in.
This one is pricey but also durable and well worth the investment if you are an Apple user.
3. Garmin Forerunner 235
3 color options
Good price point
Tracks your heart rate, cadence, distance, and pace accurately
Screen adjusts to outdoor lighting
Great battery life when not in GPS mode
Battery life isn’t the best on GPS mode
While this is not the cheapest option on our list, it definitely is the most budget-friendly high-end model. This one offers lots of additional features we are sure you will love while also being significantly more affordable than our top two options.Read more
This watch has a sleek, simple design and comes in 3 different color options. It tracks your heart rate. Aside from cadence, it also tracks your pace, distance, and elevation. It comes equipped with a GPS and its screen adjusts to the light so you can always read it.
It has a pretty good battery life as well--9 days on normal mode and 11 hours on GPS mode. The screen is easy to read and it can track your cadence and pace both outdoors and on a treadmill.
While this is not the most affordable option out there, its definitely the best budget-friendly watch available and much more affordable than our top 2 options.
4. Suunto Spartan
Eighty pre-loaded sports modes
Dedicated Movescount app from Suunto
(Optical) HR sensor
Optical heart rate monitoring system built into the rear of the watch
Robust and comfortable
The price is a little higher as this is a high performance watch
The Spartan journey continues with this well constructed and solid watch with a stylish durable glass screen, this watch is packed with the type of reliable tech which runners need for self monitoring and improving cadence-fitness level.
The predecessor to this watch was the Spartan Ultra watch, this one needed a separate chest strap feature, now you get this tech engineered into the rear of the watch for convenience, comfort and functionality, check out our review and get a full picture of the fabulous selection of features being offered.Read more
The first feature to note is the suave optical heart rate monitoring system built into the rear of the watch, no more separate chest strap. It has excellent 24 hrs activity-tracking for a full up to date record of your actions on a daily basis. This is a sturdy watch with high tech durability blended with functionality. It also has eighty pre-loaded sports modes with space for more, extensive map features, insight for your training combined with user-friendly charts. The sports modes are customized to suit your aims/regimes, the impressive (Optical) HR sensor delivers very accurate measuring, the GPS tracking tech will perform in very challenging environments via GPS tracking which is dialed.
Twelve hours of life for the battery, which is more than enough for marathons or your daily running schedules. If you want very in-depth analysis of your daily work-outs, simply use wireless to transfer the info via (Saunto's) Movescount app on your smartphone to an online platform. This is a robust reliable watch and serves as a high tech precision instrument for runners, with Bluetooth features, a USB port and reliable water proofing, this watch will perform admirably for the expectations of runners.
A higher price than some other selected models and this watch represents a good quality investment for runners looking for quality performance blended with reliability.
5. Polar V800
Very good GPS accuracy, perhaps the best on this entire list
Great distance measuring ability
Pricey given its relative lack of reputation
Quite bulky and heavy
The wrist strap is a little impractical
Not the best for cadence
The cadence on this one isn’t as good as some of the others on this list, so if this is your absolute priority, you may want to look elsewhere, but it’s still much better at tracking cadence than most other options on the market. Again, this is a high-tech piece of equipment with many great tracking features. And its GPS tracking accuracy is some of the best that money can buy. You won’t get lost with this one!Read more
This is a little patchy in terms of results – while it is accurate in measuring distance ran, and pretty good for cadence, it’s not great at measuring pace. The GPS tracking is really good, perhaps the best on this list on that front, so if this of importance, this might be your pick.
Again, the GPS makes this very easy to use. You can also use it for cycling and swimming too. Unfortunately, it has a very big screen, which makes it a little bulkier than some may like, and the way it fastens to your wrist is a little impractical and unreliable. Other than that, it’s simple to use.
Another pricey one! Considering that this brand is less well-known that most others on this list, the cost might surprise you, but it’s a good investment and it is indeed worth the money.
6. TomTom Spark 3
Spark-3 Cardio system
Interval training system
Some runners prefer a more traditional watch face
This watch can help you monitor your fitness and improvement as a runner and show the resulting positive effects. It features treadmill tracking in a user-friendly format, water-resistant casing, 11-hour battery life to support your GPS centered training regime.
Check out the high tech audio feature built in to tell you if your running too fast or too slow, these are just a few of the features, read our review and see if this is the watch for you.Read more
Many of us like to run while hearing our favorite tunes, with this watch you can store over five hundred songs (wow), you get 5GB storage engineered into this phone. Hook up your Bluetooth- head-phones into the Spark-3 Cardio system for your audio training companion, it will alert you to your cadence style, are you going too slow or fast, listen be guided and comfortably stay well within your heart ratio target zone.
Featuring impressive multiple sports support, route guidance, reliable protection against water penetration, this watch is a high tech companion to take with you while you continue to develop your running skills. As you develop, the watch will keep you updated as to your fitness age ratio.
With treadmill tracking designed into the watch along with a nice interval training system and backed up by eleven solid hours of battery life. It has a very comfortable strap mechanism giving solid security and comfort while wearing the watch.
The cost is nicely set, especially when you consider the good array of features provided by the watch.
7. Garmin Fenix 5
Accurate and precise reading
Tracks your progress
Easy to use
Heart rate tracker
Difficult to get accustomed to
The Garmin Fenix 5 is similar to our number one choice and has many of the same features. The difference is a little bulkier and also has a durable outcasting for those of you who may need the extra durability.Read more
This one features accurate readings and provides you with precise measurements to keep track of your progress. It comes equipped with a GPS and has a wrist heart rate to track your rate during your runs or workouts.
This one is also incredibly easy to use once you the hang of the watch's features and how to navigate through them.
This one is super pricey--but it is highly durable and offers many of the same features as the Garmin Forerunner 935.
8. Samsung Gear S2
Works with a wide selection of Andriod phones
Nice round feature
Interesting rotation bezel
Polished Tizen OS
Voice control could be faster
Could have a few more apps
Few customization choices
Samsung offer differences via this smart phone watch model, this watch includes most features runners look for and has a surprise in the form of a phone at 3G along with a useful messaging app.
Take a look at our review and see why Samsung continue to make inroads into the market for watches used by runners.Read more
The fitness features designed into the watch offer a nice wide choice of options, the Samsung health APP is a good feature, an efficient performance is given for movement tracking during the day and constant reading for the heart are provided. Monitoring for your heart rate is accurate and offers better functionality than some other smartwatch models.
If you would like to try something different to other models on the market you can consider the smartwatch approach to help set your own cadence.
A nice selection of home screen functions for weather, your heart rate, step ratio along with access to a choice of useful sources of information. The waterproofing is great and your device is well protected from the elements.
A nice step-tracking system which performs to the standards required by runners. Built into the watch is the Centric ESPN APP and connectivity is reliable and constant. An onboard GPS function can serve towards recording all workouts through Under Armour or Nike charts. The resolution in this model is 360-360 and the screen displays at 1.2 inches. A comfortable watch which looks stylish, the AMOLED panel allows a function for being ambient, you can constantly see the time but when you do a wrist flip and look at the watch face it will fully activate. The screen is responsive to being touched but you can also use the bezel system for user-friendly interaction with the watches menu functions.
The cost is on par with other models and offers a smartwatch alternative.
9. Garmin Forerunner 735XT
Additional coaching and activity tracker
Great for triathletes
Lacks quick release mount
Only 14 hours of battery life when left on GPS mode
A little clunky
Takes time to get accustomed to
Here we have another Garmin watch--and if you haven't noticed by now, Garmin is well-known for their excellent cadence watches that provide multiple features every runner will find helpful. This one in particular, is pricey but definitely not the priciest Garmin option on this list--and it definitely holds its value over time.Read more
This one is available as a standalone watch or you can purchase the bundle that comes with additional accessories for more accurate readings. It tracks your data for several sports, swimming, and cycling--and is actually marketed as a triathlon watch. It accurately measures your cadence, ground contact, and vertical oscillation (bounce). It also track and stores your data.
Although it looks a little bulkier than other Garmin options, it is still their most lightweight multisport watch. It also automatically updates your data on Garmin Connect and allows for smart notification, audio prompts, and social media sharing.
This one is pricey, but not as pricey as other options on our list--and it is definitely worth the investment if you are a triathlete or in need of the features it offers.
10. Fitbit Surge
Monitors your heart rate
Comes in three color options
Allows notification alerts from your phone
Simple to use
Has 3-axes accelerometer, 3-axes gyroscope, and a digital compass
Tracks cadence, pace, and heart rate
Short battery life
Not the best display
GPS is not as accurate on longer runs
Will not support other tracking devices
The FItbit Surge is the most affordable cadence watch on our list. It offers many of the options others on our list have but at a more budget-friendly price. This one has a simple lightweight design and is easy to use.Read more
This one is great for athletes all around--from runners to bikers, to swimmers. It accurately tracks your cadence, pace, and heart rate. It also tracks how many calories you burn, steps, elevation, and the duration of your workouts and runs--all the thanks to 3-axis gyroscope, compass, and, 3-axis accelerometer. The running menu on this device allows you to choose between free, lap, and treadmill mode--the treadmill mode actually uses a step algorithm instead of GPS.
The Fitbit is extremely easy to use and syncs with your smartphone via bluetooth. It stores your data on the cloud and even graphs it out so you can visibly see your progress. It easily monitors your sleep and even has a silent alarm to keep your sleep cycle stable.
This one is budget friendly and offers lots of additional features we are sure you will love.
Criteria Used for Evaluation
If you want to be able to match stride with your device, you want to make sure it is accurate enough to keep you in sync.
If you are tracking your cadence and looking to establish an ideal running cadence for yourself, or if you want to improve your current cadence, then accuracy is a very important feature to look for. Here we ask ourselves how accurate the watch’s statistics truly are. You can look at how modern and effective the tech aspects of your device are, as well as take a look at real user reviews to see how accurate with use over time it is.
Easy-to-use gear that lasts, long-term and throughout the day, will allow you to get the most use out if.
Here we looked at battery life and ease of use, choosing devices that had the most accessible features and the longest battery life continuously without having to be charged. Sometimes, the more features and useful functions a device has the more easily the battery will be worn down, so this is a pretty variable combination of features. You'll have to weigh what you'll get the most use out of. We took into consideration if the watches could be worn for swimming, running or other activities. Weight differences between different models was also an important factor to consider since lighter weight options are more comfortable, less distracting, and easier to keep on at all times.
Whether it is the first or the last thing you look at, the price tag can really be the make or break factor when it comes to running gear.
When looking for anything it is always important to consider your budget. We considered whether the watch was worth its overall cost and whether or not the features it offers ranks among other options available. Don't be afraid to have a rigid budget because, although there are many devices out there that are high-performance and high-cost, low-cost gear doesn't have to mean low-quality.
Other Factors to Consider
Here we look at several different factors as well as their functionality and how easy they are to use. Many watches here offer a range of navigational options to keep you safe and on track. We took into account any mapping features the watch may offer as well as how easy it is to use, how accurate or up to date the software is, and how easy it is to understand at first glance. This category also includes the two waypoints feature–a compass system engineered into the watch.
Many watches also offer heart rate monitoring capabilities. If the watch offered this, we took a look at how accurate and precise they are.
Since many runners also have a very regular running routine, we looked at the watch’s automation design–so you don’t have to track things separately or try have to remember numbers from a previous day.
Waterproofing capability is an important feature to many runners as well–especially triathletes who need something that can be submerged. Here we looked at the watch’s true waterproof features and how it functions–just because it is waterproof doesn’t always mean it is meant to function when fully submerged.
Screen resolution was also something we took into consideration–this covers the overall quality of the screen and how easy it works. Even our more budget-friendly options have a screen that meets the standard expectation of quality.
Lastly, we looked at the watch’s memory capability and how well it works with accessing and storing map features.
Frequently Asked Questions
Cadence refers to how many times your feet strike the ground during the course of a minute. It can help you measure and establish your cadence ratio, which will help you improve your running efficiency.
It is the number of times your feet touch down for a minute while you run, if you can measure or establish a comfortable ratio, this will be perfect and will improve your running efficiency.
Monitoring your heart rate will allow you to pinpoint if you are running too fast as well as see how hard your heart is working. By doing so you will be able to establish what is known as a “zone” in the running world–this is the heart rate at which your heart performs comfortably.
This may be a difficult task for those of you who don’t know how to do this. We recommend you read a professional review and put into effect the advice they recommend.
You can also consider attaching the watch to a belt loop or sticking it into a pocket–however, this too can be distracting. There are other alternative GPS devices for runners that don’t have to be worn as a watch, we recommend you take a look at the best handheld GPS devices and see if these are more suitable for you.
There is not an ideal cadence rate all runners should adhere too. So, many factors come into consideration that it cannot be assumed the majority of runners are the same.