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

We still get asked a lot which GPS sports watches for women are out there. Partly that's because nobody has built the ultimate, compact, comfortable, female-friendly sports watch yet. So you're going to have to compromise on something.

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 there's also 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. Those lists mostly contain wearables designed by men, for men.

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.

Sports watches

This is the tricky category but there's a few options to add to your shortlist depending on your budget.

TomTom Spark 3

The best running watches and fitness trackers for women

If it's a sports watch you want, the Spark 3 would be our first recommendation to take a look at for women who run. It comes with two sizes of straps - small and large - weighs 47 - 50g depending on your choice and in either black or aqua colours. That said, it is 13.7mm so this one will sit up on your wrist. The price is that sweet spot, though, below most of the female-friendly but feature-packed Garmins on offer.

You get GPS and music storage on board (which you can listen to via Bluetooth headphones) alongside a new, nifty Route Exploration feature and a great heart rate sensor. It works with a whole bunch of running apps, there's bike/gym/swim and treadmill modes and TomTom's own software has just had a very welcome overhaul.

In depth: TomTom Spark 3 review

From £219.99, tomtom.com | Amazon

Garmin Forerunner 630

Garmin unveils new Forerunner family

If you're a running enthusiast and you want the best (at a price), look no further than Garmin. The 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.

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.

£260, garmin.com | Amazon

Apple Watch Series 2

The best running watches and fitness trackers for women

You're not going to find a smaller, lighter, more comfortable smartwatch-that-does-running than the Series 2 which comes in 38mm and 42mm sizes and is only 1mm thicker than the first Apple Watch.

It's not a sports watch, it's an all day smartwatch that has considerably beefed up its usefulness for runners, cyclists and swimmers. With built-in GPS you can track distance and pace for running and cycling plus it's now water resistant to 50m so you can wear it in the pool.

Apple's own Workout app is still data light but the likes of Strava say standalone Watch apps are coming this Spring. The optical HR monitor can be used for heart rate training zones and there's both Apple Pay and music storage (via Apple Music) on your wrist even when you leave your phone at home.

From £369, apple.com | Amazon

Garmin Vivosmart HR+

The best running watches and fitness trackers for women

A supreme GPS running watch in all but design, you might get on better with the Vivosmart HR+'s hybrid form factor than a regular watch. It's thinner than a bulky watch but still houses built-in GPS, optical heart rate monitoring and a six day battery even with workout sessions and onscreen smartphone alerts turned on.

It works with both Android and iPhones, syncs up to Garmin Connect and activity tracking is really impressive with a moveable goal. In terms of looks, in the flesh the blue, two-tone texture finish is a big upgrade from previous models and looks really smart. It is chunkier than a Fitbit without the sensors, though, so try it on first.

In-depth: Our full Garmin Vivosmart HR+ review

£149.99, garmin.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 though if you want GPS on the device, look elsewhere.

£59.99, moov.cc | Amazon

Fitness trackers

Here's our pick of fitness trackers that cater to women slightly better than most. Let us know in the comments which ones you prefer.

Fitbit Alta

best trackers women fitbit

If you like the idea of a Fitbit but you're serious about running, the Fitbit Surge is still the only Fitbit device to offer built-in GPS. The Blaze and Charge 2 use your phone's GPS.

The Fitbit Alta is a good choice if you want a stylish looking fitness tracker that still has a small screen. It doesn't add much by way of features - apart from reminding you to move around every hour - but instead 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 available.

Read this: Our in-depth Fitbit Alta review

£99.99, fitbit.com | Amazon

Withings Activité Pop

best activity trackers for women

It's small, it's light, it's geek chic. The Withings Activité Pop makes a great everyday fitness companion. 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, 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. If you want a small, discreet screen plus heart rate and don't mind a bit of extra bulk, check out the new Withings Steel HR too.

£109.95, withings.com | Amazon

Bellabeat Leaf

fitness trackers for women

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.

From £101, bellabeat.com

Misfit Swarovski Shine

best fitness trackers women

OK this one is super girly and some of the styles won't appeal to everyone. 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

Garmin Vivofit 2

best trackers for women

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 released though its design is a little more controversial - we'd steer clear.

from £89.99, garmin.com | Amazon

Jawbone UP Move

best fitness trackers for women

The real budget option of the pack, the Jawbone UP Move is now dirt cheap, cheerful and Jawbone's app is really easy to get along with. Just bear in mind that Jawbone has been having a lot of reported money trouble so might not last much longer.

Wareable verdict: Jawbone UP Move review

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. 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 £13, jawbone.com | Amazon


Shop for recommended running watches on Amazon

Garmin Forerunner 35
Garmin Forerunner 35
£146.99
TomTom Spark 3
TomTom Spark 3
£169.95
Polar V800
Polar V800
£289.99
Garmin Fenix 5
Garmin Fenix 5
£499.95

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10 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. 

  • 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!

  • aclarke says:

    You keep calling the Garmin Vivosmart HR+ a Vivoactive.  It's going to confuse people who don't know the difference.

  • anjb says:

    I have the Withings Steel HR (small) and I love it in terms of design and function but I have tiny wrists (I wear the silicone wristband on the smallest setting). I've tried third party Milanese loop wristbands and can't find one small enough (they tend only to go to 150mm; I need one that goes to 130 - 140mm). Even the Fitbit Alta HR would look bulky on my wrist! I used to have a Misfit Shine 2, which was great as I could use the activity clip instead of the wristband but there just isn't a HR tracker around for petite ladies yet :( 

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