The best running watches and fitness trackers for women

From step counting to marathon training, these wearables have got your back
The best fitness wearables for women

Yes, this is a list of the best running watches and fitness trackers for women but let's get something straight: Women can buy, use and love any of our recommendations for the best GPS running watches, the best fitness trackers and the best running watches and smartwatches with music playback.

But it just so happens that those lists mostly contain wearables designed by men, for men. There's nothing wrong with wearable tech companies targeting health and fitness conscious women as long as it's done in the right way. In fact we want more of it.

Read more: Ringly's CEO on her Aries smart bracelets

For now, here's the trackers and watches that we think will appeal to female fitness freaks whether that's down to smaller sizes, stylish form factors or customisation and flexibility. The most important thing - there's no slacking on features or performance.

Garmin Forerunner 630

Garmin unveils new Forerunner family

If you're a running enthusiast and you want the best, look no further than Garmin. The new Forerunner 630 isn't as chunky or heavy as most specialised running watches and has a uncluttered, simple design that makes it easy to read and not so hideous if you want to turn the GPS off and wear it as a regular watch. That makes it our top pick running watch for women, though it is damn expensive.

Wareable verdict: Garmin Forerunner 630 review

The feature packed 630 is one of the best watches you can lay your hands on if you're serious about running and the matte plastic, 5 ATM waterproof watch is the kind you can wear comfortably. It's only 11.7mm thick and 44g too which is pretty good for a GPS watch. The Garmin Connect app and particularly the website are also fantastic running tools to check your progress and the watch can even offer advice on recovery time after each workout.

It's a very similar package to its predecessor, the Forerunner 620, but it now records stride length and vertical ratio which can be used to make runners more efficient. It's also worth checking out the (bigger) Forerunner 235 which adds heart rate tracking from Mio. Not so ladylike but a great all-rounder for runners who want to be a bit more scientific in their training.

$400, garmin.com | Amazon

TomTom Spark

It's actually quite difficult to find GPS running watches that we think women would wear (let us know any recommendations in the comments). The TomTom Spark is no looker but it does come with the choice of a small or large strap (and black or lilac models) when you buy. The small strap fits 121 - 175mm wrists, the large fits 143 - 206mm wrists and it weighs 47g. That said, it is 13.7mm so this one will sit up on your wrist.

Wareable verdict: TomTom Spark review

As for features, the big deal here is that you can store over 500 songs on the watch itself (though adding music can be a chore) as well as using the GPS and heart rate monitoring functions. The ecosystem isn't as strong as Garmin's but there are lots of training modes on the watch itself and it does plug into RunKeeper and Strava. More of a mid-range price for a GPS watch too.

$249.99, tomtom.com | Amazon

Moov Now

This might not be the running wearable that you set out to buy but stay with us. Moov Now is a virtual coach in an inoffensive, little wearable that you wear on your ankle when jogging or on your wrists for other activities, like boxing. It's also worth considering for cyclists and swimmers.

Wareable verdict: Moov Now review

You do need to carry your smartphone with you, which could be a dealbreaker for some, but you get audio coaching, for a whole range of abilities, and a nice six months battery life. It focuses on your personal achievement, most importantly, and doesn't just spit out data.

$79.99, moov.cc | Amazon

Fitbit Alta

A good choice if you want a stylish looking fitness tracker that still has a small screen, Fitbit's new Alta has been selling well since its early 2016 launch. And for good reason. It doesn't add much by way of features - apart from reminding you to move around every hour - but instead it repackages Fitbit's step, distance and calorie tracking into this slim, customisable band. Plus Fitbit's app is great for motivation and designer collaborations from Public School and Tory Burch are planned.

Read this: Our in-depth Fitbit Alta review

See also the Jawbone UP2 which is best for simplicity and Misfit's Shine 2 which is best for activity tracking accuracy, both of which don't have screens.

$125.95, fitbit.com | Amazon

Withings Activité Pop

It's small, it's light, it's geek chic. Both the Withings Activité Pop, and the more expensive Swiss-made Activité, make great everyday fitness companions. More for increasing how long you're active each day, steps taken, calories burned or the distance you've walked than hardcore workouts or running and the Activité Pop can also track your sleep if you don't mind wearing it in bed.

Wareable verdict: Withings Activité Pop review

It comes in three colours with interchangeable straps adding to its 'regular watch' look with a watchface that's just 36.3mm in diameter. Plus the battery lasts for six months so you don't need to worry about an extra charging cable in the bedroom.

$150, withings.com | Amazon

Bellabeat Leaf

This smart jewellery lifestyle tracker can be worn as a necklace or a brooch and tracks everything from steps and sleep to breathing patterns and menstrual cycles. You can also let the Leaf know how stressed you're feeling in relation to your breathing so it can track stress levels with its clever algorithms.

With a six month battery life and a range of boho-friendly accessories including leather and vegan fiber straps and a dark marshwood with gold leaf limited edition, Bellabeat is right on the money. Stay tuned for a Wareable review.

$119/$250 (dark marshwood), bellabeat.com

Misfit Swarovski Shine

OK this one is super girly and some of the styles won't appeal to everyone. But we like that Misfit is exploring fashion partnerships for its Shine activity tracker. The Swarovski Shine comes in two models - one of which uses a large, single purple crystal to hide solar sensors. That's right, it recharges from the sun's rays or even overhead office lights in a well lit room.

Wareable verdict: Misfit Swarovski Shine review

A double tap shows your progress towards your daily step goal via LEDs as well as the time with more activity stats available in the app.

There's nine accessories, priced between $70 and $150, so the Swarovski Shine can be worn as both a bracelet and pendant necklace, for instance. Already own a regular Shine? The new accessories are compatible with your tracker too.

$169, misfit.com

Mira

This iPhone compatible fitness tracker is simple and stylish enough to keep an eye on your activity levels throughout the day without getting in the way. Even better is the app which serves up motivational messages which Mira calls Boosts to tell you it's about time to get up and walk around or do more exercise that day.

Early look: Mira smartband hands on

It comes in three sizes - petite, small and medium - and the tracker itself is detachable. Clip it onto pockets, tights or jeans or wear it as an open bangle on a gold or purple coloured band. It doesn't look premium but it does look inconspicuous. Plus at this year's CES, we got a look at the new Mira Vivid Wellness collection.

$169, mymirafit.com

Garmin Vivofit 2

Not every wearable made for women has to be sparkly or gold, check out this quirky Jonathan Adler design for the Vivofit 2 fitness band. Adler's three designs are available as a pack of three and are compatible with the Vivofit 2 as well as the original.

Wareable verdict: Garmin Vivofit 2 review

The Vivofit 2 adds audible alerts when you're too inactive, timed activity workouts and a backlight to Garmin's impressive feature set, the year long battery life and excellent Connect software. The Vivofit 3 has now been revealed though its design is a little more controversial.

from $129.99, garmin.com | Amazon

Jawbone UP Move

The real budget option of the pack, the Jawbone UP Move is just $50 if you don't need the band and can make do with clipping the tracker on. It's cheap, it's cheerful and Jawbone's app is really easy to get along with. Most days we've worn the UP Move, we've basically forgotten it's there but our distances walked, calories burned and active time are all there in the app, accurately recorded and easy to view as Trends.

Wareable verdict: Jawbone UP Move review

Switching between modes can be confusing but battery life is up to six months, it tracks sleep and plays nice with connected tech. Sure, it looks a bit pre-school but it's so small and light it can be worn under your clothes anyway.

from $50, jawbone.com | Amazon

Socialite

Socialite blends fashion and fitness

This new line of connected bracelets from WiseWear - endorsed by Iris Apfel - looks nothing like a range of fitness trackers, but it is precisely that. The 18-karat gold or true rhodium plated brass bracelets look chunky but elegant and track steps, calories burned, distance, active minutes and sleep.

There's also smartphone alerts for iOS and Android as well as a neat one-tap distress signal which sends your location and a video/audio recording from your smartphone to a list of emergency contacts.

$299, wisewear.com

12 Comments

  • PDL says:

    "The most important thing - there's no slacking on features or performance."

    Bellabeat have a beautiful looking product but it's only just been released & there are many bugs in the app. They are marketing it as a finished product when they are still working through loads of hiccups as a start up company. Reviews from owners from the first batch have been equally mixed. At this stage, I don't think it belongs on this list with limited capabilities (certainly less than was originally advertised) & inconsistent performance. 

  • PDL says:

    That being said, I really hope they work it out because it's the only fitness/wellness tracker that appeals to me. 

    • PDL says:

      It wiped my first comment!

      It was something similar to this: 

      "The most important thing - there's no slacking on features or performance."

      Bellabeat has a beautiful looking product but it has only just been released & is very buggy so far. There have been equally mixed reviews from first batch owners. If you're prepared to be along for the ride as they iron out kinks then it's fine for you. If you want to use it straight away & you're used to other fitness trackers then I'd wait for later releases.

      • s.charara says:

        We'll update the Bellabeat Leaf copy once we've tested it. We haven't had a review sample yet but thanks for the heads up. 

  • Margarita says:

    Hi, it is great women running watches fitness tracker. It is really a best product for women. Keep it up to share such information with us.

    Thanks ..!!

    women's activewear

  • maslacak says:

    The world of quantified health hasn’t exactly been focused on women. Activity trackers started off with chunky and unattractive devices aimed at fitness freaks and technology buffs. The tech community is, however, increasingly grasping the importance of designing wearable technology that is both functional and attractive.

    It is clear that at the moment, wearable technology is still more popular with men than women. For example, around 70% of Fitbit's profits are accounted for by men. Fitbit also found that even although 95% of women are aware of wearable technology, only a third of them have followed through with a purchase.

    There are many reasons for this, some of which have been detailed in our recent article on a joint study conducted by joint study by Saatchi & Saatchi Wellness and ProofPilot. To summarise, the study found that: women don't buy into the notion that wellness is mostly about physical health; wearable manufacturers may have overestimated the appeal of fashion to female consumers; a successful wellness product for women will incorporate a much stronger "social component."

    Here is another good overview of activity trackers, designed with female fitness enthusiasts in mind.

    http://gadgetsandwearables.com/?p=1318

  • Rookie580 says:

    I was really hoping you'd have more info on the gps/running watches that are possible to be worn by a woman (smaller frame). I recently had to return a Polar m400 that was awesome simply because it was so big it actually hurt my wrist bone and my sleeves couldn't be pulled past it. Seeing as how sleeves are scaled by size this was a surprising problem I hadn't thought of but if you hope to wear it daily, it's an important consideration. 

    Anyway I'd love to see a piece about smaller to medium size but good function sport watches. In the meantime I'm off to convince a salesman to let me try on a bunch of watches.

    • aueloxs says:

      I second this. The article transitions directly from two clunky gps units to pedometers. The real truth: manufacturers still do not produce gps watches for women. Pink is not a size.

  • buysellazhome says:

    I am looking for a wearable that is waterproof and can track - kayaking, walking, not much of runner - stairs - etc

    Any recommendations

  • Noogans says:

    I totally agree - I want a sports watch that will give more details that your run of the mill activity tracker - that is reliable with the data it gives you - and doesn't take up your whole wrist - oh, and is nice on the eye! The closest thing I've tried on that fits this description is Garmin Forerunner 25 - you have to wear a heart rate monitor, however which I'd rather not! Any other ideas of a good GPS/fitness watch would be warmly welcomed!

  • goldia says:

    These days everyone is aware of one's fitness. Even women are equally paying attention to their health. While running it is important to wear a watch as it helps people to set goals by how far and for much time they can run etc. These trendy womens watches for fitness are amazing. 

  • goldia says:

    These days everyone is aware of one's fitness. Even women are equally paying attention to their health. While running it is important to wear a watch as it helps people to set goals by how far and for much time they can run etc. These trendy womens watches for fitness are amazing.

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