The Best Sports Watches: Time for Some New Gear?

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Ready for your next workout? Not so fast. To get serious about personal fitness, it's important to have all the right gear. For example, if you're into cardio, you'll need the right pair of shoes. Some reliable headphones will help you get into the zone. And of course, a sports watch can be essential for keeping track of things like time, distance, and pace.

Today's sports watches have so many advanced features that it can be a bit overwhelming just selecting the right one. To help, we've researched some of the top-rated sports watches on the market today. Here's the full list of recommendations from the ACTIVE Reviews Team.

Why Trust Us?

The ACTIVE Reviews Team is made up of fitness experts that include athletes, coaches, and certified trainers who bring their years of knowledge and experience to each review. More importantly, each member of our team is a fitness enthusiast. Fitness may be our job, but it is also our passion. Therefore, we strive to bring you products that we trust and would personally use.

The Best Sports Watches - Our Top Picks

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What to Consider When Shopping for a Sports Watch

As you shop for the best sports watch, there are a number of factors to keep in mind:

  • Design. Don't overlook the importance of aesthetics. When you're out for a long run, the last thing you want is a watch that's bulky, cumbersome, or simply unattractive.
  • GPS. Most sports watches have GPS capabilities, which help chart your total distance and other important metrics.
  • Battery life. Battery life is crucial for ensuring that you can get in a full workout without distraction or equipment failure.

Beyond these basics, it's also wise to think about the types of information that matter most to you, and to select a watch that provides it. A golfer is probably interested in different stats than a marathoner. Keep in mind that there are a few basic types of information that pretty much all sports watches offer. Examples include:

  • Speed and distance
  • Clock
  • Workout history
  • Intervals

Some more advanced features, which you may or may not find in any given sports watch, include:

  • Heart rate
  • Auto pause
  • Run/walk alerts
  • Accelerometer
  • Intervals

Best Overall Sports Watch - Garmin Fenix 6 Sapphire

Garmin Fenix 6 Sapphire

SPECS

  • Dimensions: 47mm x 47mm x 14.5mm
  • Battery life: Up to 18 days
  • Weight: 79g
  • Lens material: Corning® Gorilla® Glass DX
  • Band material Silicone
  • Touchscreen: Yes
  • Color display: Yes
  • Water rating: 10 ATM
  • Memory: 18 GB
  • Connectivity: Bluetooth, ANT+, WiFi
  • Step counter: Yes
  • Calories burned counter: Yes

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The Garmin Fenix 6 Sapphire is a truly top-of-the-line sports watch, notable for its rich assortment of features but also for its high-quality materials and expert design. Despite its elegant appearance, this is a rugged watch that's made to hold up well over the course of many long runs and rigorous hikes. It has all kinds of fitness-tracking features included, such as wrist-based pulse and heart rate monitoring. The battery life is impressive and can extend as long as 18 days between charges. Navigation sensors produce full GPS functionality, and it's easy to sync up your watch to register text messages or stream your favorite playlist.

PROS

  • Rugged design
  • Battery lasts up to 18 days
  • Bluetooth and WiFi connectivity
  • Lots of fitness metrics, including wrist-based pulse
  • Counts steps, calories, and more
  • Water resistant
  • Daily workout suggestions
  • Works well for a range of sports, including surfing and skiing
  • Elegant, refined appearance and high-quality materials
  • Several color/style options, including a solar version
  • Intuitive, easy-to-read touchscreen display

CONS

  • Not recommended for those who just want something simple
  • A few of the more advanced features, like respiration tracking, will require extra accessories

BUY: Garmin Fenix 6 Sapphire

Best Multi-Sport Watch - Polar Vantage M2

Polar Vantage M2

SPECS

  • Dimensions: 46mm x 46mm x 12.5 mm
  • Battery life: Up to 7 days
  • Weight: 45.5g
  • Lens material: Glass fiber-reinforced polymer
  • Band material Silicone
  • Touchscreen: N/A
  • Color display: Yes
  • Water rating: WR30
  • Memory: N/A
  • Connectivity: Bluetooth
  • Step counter: Yes
  • Calories burned counter: Yes

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While many sports watches are made specifically with running and hiking in mind, the Polar Vantage M2 is a great pick for athletes who are into a little bit of everything. This watch boasts a long list of features that encompass many different types of athletic activity, ranging from running to swimming to basic breathing exercises. Multiple sport profiles allow you to keep workouts separate.

This also happens to be a wonderfully lightweight watch that always feels comfortable on the wrist. The battery life can last for about a week, which isn’t remarkable but is certainly fine. And the full-color display makes it easy to keep track of different metrics.

PROS

  • Very lightweight
  • Multiple sport profiles
  • Bluetooth and WiFi connectivity
  • Lots of fitness metrics, including swimming and breathing
  • Water resistant
  • Intuitive, easy-to-read full-color display
  • Weather forecasts built in
  • Music and phone controls
  • Weekly summaries
  • Tracks sleep and recovery

CONS

  • Battery life is just so-so (about 7 days)
  • Connectivity options are limited to Bluetooth

BUY: Polar Vantage M2

Best FitBit Sports Watch - FitBit Versa 2

FitBit Versa 2

SPECS

  • Dimensions: 1.56" x 1.59" x 0.47"
  • Battery life: Up to 6 days
  • Weight: N/A
  • Lens material: N/A
  • Band material: Silicone
  • Touchscreen: N/A
  • Color display: Yes
  • Water rating: N/A
  • Memory: N/A
  • Connectivity: Bluetooth
  • Step counter: Yes
  • Calories burned counter: Yes

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FitBit is arguably the biggest name in the sports watch world, and for good reason. Their products are simple, intuitive, and built to last. If you’re looking for a FitBit product, a good place to start is with the FitBit Versa 2.

We like the FitBit Versa 2 because it provides a full spectrum of stats and metrics. Built-in Alexa assistance can help you get a weather report, set a reminder, or start a new workout routine. Sleep scores and Smart Wake technology allow you to optimize your rest and recovery. Also note that you can sync your FitBit with Bluetooth headphones and with a full range of streaming music platforms, including Spotify, Deezer, and Pandora.

PROS

  • Very lightweight
  • Alexa assistance
  • Lots of fitness metrics, including heart rate
  • Intuitive, easy-to-read full-color display
  • Tracks sleep and recovery
  • Activity reports
  • Can connect to Bluetooth headphones

CONS

  • Limited battery life (6 days)
  • FitBit Premium features require a membership

BUY: FitBit Versa 2

Best Garmin Sports Watch - Garmin vívoactive 4S

Garmin vívoactive 4S

SPECS

  • Dimensions: 40.0mm x 40.0mm x 12.7mm
  • Battery life: Up to 7 days
  • Weight: 40g
  • Lens material: Corning® Gorilla® Glass 3
  • Band material: Silicone
  • Touchscreen: Yes
  • Color display: Yes
  • Water rating: 5ATM
  • Memory: 200 hours of activity data
  • Connectivity: Bluetooth, ANT+, WiFi
  • Step counter: Yes
  • Calories burned counter: Yes

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The other big name in GPS-powered sports watches is Garmin. If you’re new to the Garmin catalog, a good place to begin is with the Garmin vívoactive 4S. As with the brand’s other products, this watch loads a ton of amazing features into a compact, elegant, and highly durable package.

Beyond the sleek design, rugged construction, and decent battery life, the Garmin vívoactive 4S offers a compact size that’s perfect for any on-the-go lifestyle. There’s a huge assortment of sports and fitness stats. And you can use the watch not just for accessing your favorite music and pre-loaded sports programs, but also as a digital wallet. This is the ultimate hands-free device.

PROS

  • Small, compact design
  • 20+ pre-loaded sports programs
  • A huge number of fitness metrics, including heart rate
  • Intuitive, easy-to-read full-color display
  • Electronic payment options let you leave your wallet at home
  • Waterproof
  • Can connect to Bluetooth headphones and a wide range of streaming music providers
  • Full, animated workouts available on your watch
  • High-end materials ensure a long-lasting product

CONS

  • Garmin watches tend to have a slightly higher price point
  • Not recommended for those who just want something simple

BUY: Garmin vívoactive 4S

Best Lightweight Sports Watch - Polar Ignite 2

Polar Ignite 2

SPECS

  • Dimensions: 43mm x 43mm x 8.5mm
  • Battery life: Up to 5 days
  • Weight: 35g
  • Lens material: Glass fiber reinforced polymer
  • Band material: Silicone
  • Touchscreen: N/A
  • Color display: Yes
  • Water rating: 30M
  • Memory: N/A
  • Connectivity: Bluetooth Low Energy
  • Step counter: Yes
  • Calories burned counter: Yes

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Looking for something that won't weigh you down? The Polar Ignite 2 is practically weightless, coming in at just over 30 grams. But despite its small size, it's by no means skimpy when it comes to features.

Integrated GPS helps you keep track of every workout. Advanced wrist-based heart rate monitoring can furnish meaningful insights into your personal fitness. Recovery tracking is also included, along with phone notifications, music controls, serene breathing exercises, and more. Finally, note that it’s incredibly easy to access weekly reports and to toggle between different watch face display modes.

PROS

  • Very lightweight
  • A huge number of fitness metrics, including heart rate
  • Intuitive, easy-to-read full-color display
  • Easily toggle between watch face modes
  • Waterproof
  • Music controls
  • Phone notifications
  • Weekly activity summaries
  • Weather reporting
  • Swimming metrics included

CONS

  • So-so battery life
  • Not quite as rugged as other sports watches

BUY: Polar Ignite 2

Best Budget Sports Watch - Amazfit Band 5 Activity Fitness Tracker

Amazfit Band 5 Activity Fitness Tracker

SPECS

  • Dimensions: 3.54" x 1.57" x 9.06"
  • Battery life: Up to 15 days
  • Weight: 0.42 oz.
  • Lens material: N/A
  • Band material: Thermoplastic Polyurethane (TPU)
  • Touchscreen: N/A
  • Color display: Yes
  • Water rating: 5ATM
  • Memory: N/A
  • Connectivity: Bluetooth
  • Step counter: Yes
  • Calories burned counter: Yes

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You can get a great sports watch without breaking the bank. For proof, look no further than the Amazfit Band 5 Activity Fitness Tracker. For less than $40, you can get a robust watch with more than two weeks of battery life, a full bevy of fitness tracking options, Bluetooth connectivity, and more.

That's not to say it's right for everyone. While it's wonderfully lightweight, it's not quite as durable as some of the other sports watches out there. But with full GPS features, it should more than suffice for keeping track of your personal workout stats.

PROS

  • Very lightweight
  • Low price point
  • A number of fitness stats included
  • Intuitive, easy-to-read full-color display
  • Waterproof
  • Alexa is built-in
  • Sleep tracker
  • Blood oxygen monitoring
  • Women’s health tracking
  • Amazing battery life

CONS

  • Not quite as rugged as other sports watches
  • Not as stylish as other options

BUY: Amazfit Band 5 Activity Fitness Tracker

Best Sports Watch for Outdoors - Suunto Core

Suunto Core

SPECS

  • Dimensions: 1.93" x 0.57" x 1.93"
  • Battery life: Replaceable battery lasts up to 12 months
  • Weight: 64-120g
  • Lens material: N/A
  • Band material: Metallic fiber
  • Touchscreen: No
  • Color display: Yes
  • Water rating: 30M
  • Memory: N/A
  • Connectivity: No
  • Step counter: Yes
  • Calories burned counter: Yes

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The Suunto Core watch was made with outdoor adventures in mind. While it doesn't have GPS or real-time messaging functions, it does offer a number of features that will come in handy for your next hike or cross-country trek, such as a compass, altimeter, and barometer.

This watch is also water resistant up to 30 meters deep. Storm alerts and weather tracking features can help you plan your adventures. And the beautiful Scandinavian design is truly striking in its elegance.

PROS

  • Altimeter, barometer, and compass included
  • Weather tracking features, including storm alerts
  • Waterproof
  • Replaceable battery can last up to 1 year
  • Rugged, outdoor-ready design
  • Beautiful and elegant aesthetics

CONS

  • No GPS
  • No color display
  • Not recommended for running or more casual sports

BUY: Suunto Core

Best Sports Watch for Triathletes - Coros PACE 2 Premium

Coros PACE 2 Premium

SPECS

  • Dimensions: 10.5" x 2.1" x 0.6"
  • Battery life: Up to 20 days
  • Weight: 29g
  • Lens material: N/A
  • Band material: Nylon
  • Touchscreen: Yes
  • Color display: No
  • Water rating: N/A
  • Memory: N/A
  • Connectivity: Bluetooth, ANT+
  • Step counter: Yes
  • Calories burned counter: Yes

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For triathletes, the Coros PACE 2 Premium is an outstanding option. This sports watch has long-lasting battery life, a lightweight and breathable band, and an incredibly sleek design. What's more, it offers all the sports tracking features you could need.

More than 200 pre-loaded workout routines enable you to customize your personal fitness. The watch connects to your smartphone and supplies a ton of reports to help you chart your progress. Weather alerts are ideal for outdoor workouts, while nutrition alerts let you know when it's time to grab a snack or a swig of water.

PROS

  • Lightweight and breathable
  • Tons of reporting features
  • More than 200 preloaded workouts
  • Recovery tracking
  • Nutrition alerts
  • Weather alerts
  • Waterproof
  • Bluetooth connectivity
  • Easy-to-read, intuitive display

CONS

  • No voice assistant
  • No options for texting or calls

BUY: Coros PACE 2 Premium

Why You Should Buy a Sports Watches

Ultimately, sports watches aren’t for everyone. If you typically work out in a gym or home fitness room, you probably have sensors and metric-tracking capabilities built into your equipment. But if you’re someone who tends to work out in the outdoors, whether that means running, biking, or hiking, then a GPS-enabled sports watch can be essential for tracking your progress and furnishing you with an accurate representation of your workouts. In turn, this can help you reach for new personal records and to have a sense of how much your performance is improving over time.

FAQs about Sports Watch


What is the best sports watch?

If we had to narrow it down to just one, we’d say that the Garmin Fenix 6 Sapphire is the best overall sports watch, offering the best balance of features, design, and battery life. But there are plenty of great sports watches to choose from, and ultimately it’s important to pick the one that’s best aligned with your needs and your budget.

What is the difference between a sports watch and a smartwatch?

Today's smartwatches can utilize many of the same functions you’d get from a sports watch. The big distinction is that a sports watch is typically much more comfortable to wear while you're working out, as the materials tend to be lighter and less coarse to the skin. Also keep in mind that sports watches have interfaces that are made to be extremely easy to read while you’re running, which isn’t always the case with smartwatches.

What makes a watch a sports watch?

Sports watches are specifically designed to provide insight into your training. Sports profiles are the signature feature and include metrics related to your pace, distance, heart rate, and more. Sports watches are also often characterized by their GPS capabilities and by their road-ready designs.

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