The best GPS running watches

Whatever your needs, check out our selection of top running watches
The best GPS running watches

The best running watch or GPS sports watch is a personal choice, and increasingly depends on the amount of detail you want from your workouts.

Beyond just simple pace and distance information, the latest watches will feed back everything from heart rate data to detailed observations of your running style. In short, GPS watches have become an essential tool in the runner's arsenal.

Essential reading: How to use your watch to be a better runner

Some are pricey, some are more affordable. But even entry level running watches are now coming with surprisingly advanced features. Heart rate monitors are now coming built in as standard, and increasingly swimming and cycling modes are being added to.

Of course there's no one perfect watch, so we've highlighted our top picks below – but also followed up with other devices that have impressed during our tests and that might suit different budgets and preferences.

If you're wondering what's dropping in 2017, we've also picked out the new running watches to keep a look out for as well.

Got any questions? Let us know in the comments section below.

1. TomTom Spark 3 – Top pick

The best GPS running watches

We loved the original TomTom Spark and the follow up is now our top-rated running watch. As well as the usual running metrics (distance, speed, time), its optical heart rate monitor aced our tests, and it plugs into nearly every running app going. But it's perhaps the storage for MP3s, which it'll play via a pair of wireless headphones, which tips the Spark for us. The feeling of running unencumbered by your phone isn't to be underestimated.

Read this: Best Bluetooth headphones for running

The new version also has a Route Exploration feature, which enables you to upload GPX routes (you can quickly make one in Strava or Map My Run) and follow them from the watch. It's a nifty feature and really useful for getting out and exploring new areas.

It's not without its issues. Pairing is still a real nightmare (we actually do this via a cable to our PC/Macs now to save blood vessels popping). But its solid stats, improved app, great heart rate sensor and extensive list of extra features earn the Spark its place at the head of our best running watches list. While a Garmin or Polar may suit you better, the TomTom Spark is a lot more fun to train with than any of its peers.

Full test: TomTom Spark 3 review

$210.99, tomtom.com | Amazon

2. Garmin Forerunner 35 – Best for basics

The best GPS running watches

High-end running watch features are tumbling onto entry level devices at a terrific rate, and there's no better evidence than the Garmin Forerunner 35. Propping up the Garmin GPS watch line-up, the Forerunner 35 adds notifications, heart rate, all-day activity and a host of training modes.

We've already published our Garmin Forerunner 35 and for beginner to mid-range runners, there's no better device on the market. While it eschews the detailed sports science data offered by the Forerunner 630 and multisport modes of the Vivoactive, it tracks pace, distance, heart rate zones and time for running and cycling, and is water resistant to 5ATM.

While its $200 price tag has been usurped by the new Polar M200, we'd still opt for Garmin's budget running watch as it boasts most of the features you need.

In depth: Garmin Forerunner 35 review

$199.99, garmin.com | Amazon

3. Polar V800 – Best for data

The perfect training timepiece for swim-bike-runners, the Polar V800 tracks everything you do on two wheels or two feet, in the water or on dry land. Pace, distance, fat burn calories and max heart rate are all covered on super-clear screens that are brilliantly customisable.

Pair it up with a Polar H7 or new H10 heart rate monitor and you can also unlock the V800's zonal training smarts, making sure you're sweating it out to achieve the right effect.

Hook it up to a shoe pod and it'll also give you cadence, stride length and other insights to help hone your Mo Farah running form. Wannabe Wiggos can also opt for a range of cycle accessories to increase the stats haul from two-wheeled training.

What it reveals while you work out is one thing, but this smartwatch keeps giving long after you've sunk your post-workout protein shake. The Recovery Status and Orthostatic Test features predict when you'll be ready to train again. There's also a running program that adapts if you can't fit in a run and includes exercise routines to aid recovery. V800 also doubles as an activity tracker and lets you see whether your daily calorie burn comes from just being alive, workouts or general activity.

Definitive verdict: Polar V800 review

$499.95 polar.com | Amazon

4. Polar M200 – Best on a budget

The best GPS running watches

Basically a more affordable take on the Polar V800, the M200 is the successor to the Polar M400 and will track pace, distance and altitude via built-in GPS. It also boasts an optical heart rate monitor. But that's not all, as this beautiful looking running companion comes with some special skills too.

On top of 24/7 activity tracking that means you can ditch your fitness band, there's a whole host of running-specific innovations to keep you moving and motivated.

There's heart rate based training, the ability to set individual targets and you can even compare you current speed with the world record marathon speed.

For those who get lost easily or often run on their travels, there's a cunning back-to-start option that'll directs you to your starting point in the shortest distance possible.

If you're looking for improved performance – and most of us are – the Polar Running Index calculates how you're (hopefully) improving over time based on heart rate and speed. It'll also tell you the training effect of every single run.

In depth: Polar M200 review

$149.95, polar.com | Amazon

5. Garmin Forerunner 630 – Best for insights

Garmin's flagship watch adds smartphone notifications as well as a host of new metrics. You can view data on stride length and vertical ratio which can be used to boost running efficiency, and there's a renewed focus on recovery.

The Forerunner 630 rates lactate threshold and performance condition to try and prevent overtraining, and warns you when you're pushing things too far. It's strictly for the hardcore runner who also wants great smartwatch-inspired features.

Downsides include a lack of built-in HR monitor, which means you'll have to wear a chest strap if you want the extra data. In an ideal world we'd rather have the possibility of both, but there are few options out there that offer the same breadth of data as the Forerunner 630. If you've got the money to spend, it's still one of the best running watches available.

In depth: Garmin Forerunner 630 review

$399.99, garmin.com | Amazon

6. TomTom Adventurer – Best for trails

The best GPS running watches

With a dedicated trail running mode (alongside running, hiking, skiing and open workouts), the TomTom Adventurer is a great option for those who like to run off the beaten track. Altitude and elevation are tracked in trail mode and you can access a live compass, which is great when you're running with only fields in every direction. But most useful is the ability to add and follow GPX routes, which can help you get into the wild without getting lost.

Full test: TomTom Adventurer review

$349.99, tomtom.com | Amazon

7. Polar M600 – Best smartwatch for running

The Polar M600 is very much a Polar running watch first and Android Wear smartwatch second. It's unashamedly a fitness device, so much so that it's almost inaccurate to compare it to the current crop of smartwatches at all.

Read this: Become a better runner with Polar Flow

The first thing you'll need to do is get Polar Flow hooked up, and you can enter the company's fitness platform from a dedicated button on the watch. One push fires up the app on your phone, which is your gateway to tracking runs and workouts. GPS run tracking is on the money and the stats and metrics the excellent Flow app provide post-run make it the top smartwatch for runners.

Sweat test: Polar M600 review

$329.95, polar.com | Amazon



8. Garmin Vivoactive HR – Best for multisport

The Garmin Vivoactive HR really does do it all. Run, bike, pool swim, golf, walk, row, SUP (paddle board) ski, XC ski, run indoor, bike indoor, walk indoor and row indoor – it's a formidable sports watch for those who don't define themselves as runners or cyclists.

The GPS-based sports are all well catered for and while it's not a patch on a dedicated golf watch, you can get your distances to the pin as well as hazards, as long as you download the course via Garmin Connect.

Smartwatch style notifications and the ability to read emails and messages are the order of the day, and of course, the built-in HR makes for much richer data, especially from niche sports. Yes, it's a bit of a jack-of-all-trades, but it's one of the best sports watches out there, as long as you don't expect maximum detail in your results.

In depth: Garmin Vivoactive HR review

$249.99, garmin.com | Amazon

9. Apple Watch Series 2 – Best for style

The best GPS running watches

The Series 2 (not the Apple Watch 2) is a sportier smartwatch than its predecessor and that's because it's finally thrown built-in GPS into the mix. That means you can track runs (distance pace and speed) as well as cycling sessions.

While you'll want to opt for third-party apps (Workout is still data-light for runners), the heart rate sensor stood up well to the rigours of testing. It's far from perfect, but still capable of returning useful data, training within zones, and getting feedback on HIIT sessions.

The Series 2 also comes in a new Nike+ edition, which adds a perforated rubber strap and comes with custom software and watch faces. It'll also provide coaching plans to get the most out of your running sessions.

Read in full: Apple Watch Nike+ review

From $369, apple.com | Amazon

10. Garmin Forerunner 735XT – Best for tri

The Garmin Forerunner 735XT features advanced metrics for running as well as the pool, and will keep tabs on your stroke type and efficiency in the water. It's waterproof to 50m, combines with the company's high-end bike sensors and offers 24 hours of GPS tracking.

The built-in heart rate enables plenty of smart training metrics, and data such as heart rate zones, recovery time and VO2 Max mean that even hardcore athletes are catered for. It's not just runners either, as there's a tonne of swimming metrics including stroke count and recognition, which means you can benefit from tonnes of data from the pool.

It also does a good job of pretending to be a smartwatch, displaying pretty much any notification your smartphone throws at it. In short – when it comes to triathlon, the 725XT is a true gold medallist.

Wareable verdict: Garmin Forerunner 735XT review

$449, garmin.com | Amazon

11. Garmin Fenix 5 – Best all-rounder

The best GPS running watches

Joining the slimmer, more female-friendly Fenix 5S and the hulking Fenix 5X, the Fenix 5 once again reigns supreme packing the usual fix of advanced running metrics including some new ones.

The Fenix 3 HR successor sees an optical heart rate sensor on board, which isn't quite gold standard and might still persuade you to pair a chest strap for more reliable heart rate readings.

Aside from the bog standard data we've come to expect from Garmin's run-friendly watches, it also pushes the emphasis on recovery, providing insights to make sure you get enough rest between running sessions. Throw in the excellent Garmin Connect software and improving app support, and this is the ultimate all-rounder you need in your life.

In-depth verdict: Garmin Fenix 5 review

$599.99, garmin.com | Amazon


New running watches incoming in 2017

Garmin Forerunner 935

The best GPS running watches

The Forerunner 935 is designed for triathletes, taking some of the new tracking skills packed into the Fenix 5 and putting them into a smaller body. Sitting at the top of the Forerunner family, above the Forerunner 735XT and Forerunner 235 watches, it'll record most forms of running including trail sessions, includes a heart rate sensor and will dish out data to give you an insight into the effects of your training.

It's also compatible with Garmin's new Running Dynamics Pod, which delivers six running dynamics including cadence, ground contact time, stride length and more.

$499.99, garmin.com

Polar M430

The best GPS running watches

Successor to the Polar M400, the M430 takes the GPS watch and aims to make improvements to its heart rate tracking skills and when you need to take the training indoors. There's now a six-LED heart rate sensor to give heart rate readings an accuracy boost and a new accelerometer/algorithm setup should make treadmill tracking more reliable too. The new notification support should also make it a more useful alternative to a dedicated smartwatch.

$229, polar.com


Shop for recommended running watches on Amazon

Garmin Forerunner 235
Garmin Forerunner 235
$289.99
TomTom Spark 3
TomTom Spark 3
$169.99
Polar M600
Polar M600
$329.95
Fitbit Surge
Fitbit Surge
$241.75

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81 Comments

  • stpmcd says:

    How do you completely leave out the Fitbit Surge?

    • Danjames23 says:

      really? They did mention it

    • xcdcl says:

      You must have missed it. It's the sixth one listed from the top..

    • KRunner says:

      accuracy problems

  • nope303030 says:

    There is a pretty inappropriate typo in the first line of the Garmen Forerunner 15 discription.  

    • SwimMomRuns says:

      Well, your description of the typo in the text about the Garmin 15 is far worse, as "discription" is not even a real word. In the context of things, I cannot believe that was worth a comment. "Inappropriate" isn't even the best word choice for the issue at hand. It was just a word-tense issue. I read the article for a review of running watches, not because I was concerned about writing style and grammar.  

      • Mark17 says:

        Not to mention misspelling "Garmin." :)

      • xcdcl says:

        Hahaha!!! Everything about this thread is funny ;-)

  • rsmith1987 says:

    Can anyone suggest a decent entry level or all rounder that works well with Strava?  Anything up to about £150 is OK.  

    • Dominick says:

      hi, tomtom works out of the box with strava and they are great watches but lack 'return to start', I do trail running myself and need that feature so i use a suunto r. Suunto usses movescount but in the web interface you can add a connection to strava. 

      In short: know how to get home: go with tomtom, if not Go with suunto

      • Nturner says:

        I'm looking for a watch for my husband and was wondering if any or all of these watches show you your exact route and pace? He runs trails and would like to see where he was. 

  • sneffels says:

    I've had a Garmin 620 for about a year now and it's very good. I was marathon training and it's perfect for that IMHO. I just treated myself to a Garmin VivoActive and am very impressed thus far. I bike, golf, swim, and run and this thing seems to do it all. Haven't tried it for swimming yet, but have the other 3 done this week with good results. Recommended. 

  • Philippe says:

    How is the SMARTWATCH 3 working with MAPMYRUN and other swimming app? I have a SONY XPERIA phone and would like to stay within the same platform but would also like to keep all my previous records with MAPMYRUN?

  • Francis says:

    Hi ,

    Very perplexe regarding running watches. Bought the Adidas and never again. Any suggestion ? Looking into forerunner 225 or vivoactive? Love my running and biking. 

  • Rocape says:

    I've had a Garmin610 since January 2013. It has been great. It is very accurate and the touch screen is easy to use on the run. On the down side it has a pretty short battery life and sometimes it takes up to 5min to get a GPS signal. Unfortunately it stopped working October 2015 which means I only had only 2,5 years use from it. Which at $300 is pretty pathetic. Took it to Garmin Repair service who said they can't fix it. Will I buy garmin again? No...it seems to be poorly manufactured and unreliable if it lasts for less than 3 years.

    • malcs says:

      What would you buy next? (ditto my Garmin Forerunner 10, strap came off after 2 years, and a replacement set is like 25% of the cost of the watch)

  • charlotte102 says:

    I'm not off the treadmill yet so I don't need GPS.  I am hoping to capture also the walking around and moving with a sit/stand workstation and a stationary bike  Monitoring sleeping (or lack thereof) would be nice also.  Suggestions?

    • j.stables says:

      Moov would suit you well.

  • Geooprit says:

    I'm looking to invest in a decent watch and I'm looking at buying the Garmin 620... I'd just like it to measure my speed and distance and anything else is just a bonus also I'd want to be able to wear it just as a standard watch too. Any feedback would be great thanks :D 

  • Tigs says:

    I wanted to make a correction about your comment regarding androidwear not having GPS.  I have the Samsung Gear S and not only has built-in GPS and heartrate monitor (from the wrist), but you can add a data plan and phone line to it so you can leave your phone at home.

  • kdthatsme says:

    Which is better for a runner... TomTom Cardio or Garmin 225? 

  • Wicax says:

    im using apple watch & tom2 cardio.. If marathon i just wear the tom2 coz apple watch gps need the phone its unlikely heavy.. 

    So frankly everyday i track my activity with apple watch, even for 10k practice running in the field or in the treadmill.. But when it comes to race on marathon i will use my tom2 cardio.. It's pretty good, now i can hold my run 11.5km/h from for 2 hours.. (2 months ago 10.5km/h)

    But i still want to know about vo2 max fitur? Do i need that? Do i need to buy the watch that have the vo2 fitur? Coz i still want to improve my marathon speed to 12-13km/h.. (I am 169cm & 83kg, really over heavy)

  • Espartak says:

    Hello people!

    Can you update this post? I think it is very useful, but it has to be updated often. The GPS running watches are changing like the speed of light! :)

    Thanks,

  • Swissy says:

    I'm looking at buying my husband a GPS runners watch for Christmas and wondered which was best? He often gets lost on his adventurous runs so was thinking this would be useful. Does the GPS say the route out loud like with a normal car navigation system? Thanks, I'm totally clueless here...

    • j.stables says:

      Most don't do routes. GPS refers to tracking rather than guidance. However, Garmin devices let you set routes and the top top end ones like the Fenix 3/Epix have a compass built in to offer SOME support. But it's not quite turn-by-turn. 

    • TimHarrod says:

      @j.stables - Suunto Ambit 3 both the Peak and Sport support tracks, the app is easy to use and you can map a route with way points or just steal someone else's. Once sync'd with the watch it's easy to bring up a route and watch the scaled route and indicator arrow on your wrist to know where your going, I have successfully many times.

      Suunto are not cheap, but good things, with the higher end build quality aren't, but so so worth it.

  • Running-Dad says:

    if you want music and don't want to run with a phone, seems your only choice is a Tom tom spark. Are there any other options. Is the spark worth the cost?

    • sanmd says:

      I believe you can do the same with Sony Smartwatch 3!

  • KerriM says:

    Can I use any of these watches to track my mother in law whom has dementia while she is out on a walk with my phone?  Can I locate her?  She is in denial so I want her to think it is for fitness (which it is) but also incase she loses her way we can also loacte her.

    • tiat says:

      I need to know too.. Did you have any luck figuring it out?

    • pond83 says:

      Hi KerriM,

      Don't know if you have had any luck with this yet, but an activity tracker like Endomondo allows you to see the location of someone while they are out on their run/walk.  The app can be used on iphone/android phone and the Sony Smartwatch 3.

  • Gtpet says:

    hi,

    I'm looking for the best gps watch that will also measure heart rate from the wrist and not require a strap. Any suggestions???

  • runner says:

    I bought the Garmin 620, thought it would be good. But I can't keep a signal. at first I thought it was where i lived, and just dealt with it. Till i did several races where there wasn't anything blocking the GPS. So i contacted Garmin.....support is horrible! No they will not replace the watch and that's $420 down the drain.

    • MarathonGirl says:

      Same issue for me. Can't get or keep a signal. What a huge waste of money. Don't feel confident to buy another watch now so will just run with my trusty stop watch.

  • Minotauro says:

    Hi,

    What is the best fitness tracker to use in the soccer? After the game I need to analyse the player position in the field during the game and the heart rate.

    Thanks.

  • fldude says:

    How does the Samsung Gear S2 stack up here?

  • Emansonator says:

    I'm looking for a watch that does GPS tracking, mapping, pace, elevation, HR and music. Suggestions?

  • Runner1967 says:

    4 years ago I got a Motorola; Motoactv, until today is still the most complete watch ever produced.  side by side there is no other watch that have all the functionalities:

    GPS, Radio FM, 8-16GB MP3 Player, Altimeter, bluetooth, Wifi, Cadence sensor, Power sensor (Via ANT+ Sensor) , calls alert, Texts alets, calendar Alerts. Heart rate monitor, pedometer, indoor tracking, touch screen, light sensor that adjust the screen. 

    Too bad Motorola never produced a second generation, After 4 years the battery last for a full marathon while is playing music. 

    • runner123 says:

      You are more than right. I own one for 3 years and still as the first date. I could add that you can see the screen even with direct sunlight. Best smart watch in the market. Sadly no new generation. 

  • Biggie says:

    The Garmin Fenix 3 now has an option to include the same HR monitor as the 235, DCRainmaker seems to rate it.....bit on the pricey side mind and not much availability! 

  • LauraP1 says:

    I want a decent gps running watch with heart rate monitor. Training for marathon. But I also do indoor workout & cross training so want heart rate monitor to judge my efforts & calorie burn. Is there a watch which will be awesome for running tracking but also for just heart rate only monitoring?

  • Sseman says:

    is there any that doesn't count moving arms normally and not walking. Fitbit and garman both very inaccurate counts steps when not walking 

  • ranners79 says:

    hi everyone, At the moment im using a phone with a scosche rhythm hrm on the arm but I'm not very pleased with this setup. So im looking for a GPS watch with a built in mp3 player with a non chest strap hrm.  Any ideas

  • wokkawokka says:

    You would think for "running and active" watches they would include MP3 storage to hold songs to play music with bluetooth headphones. GET IT TOGETHER ALREADY!

  • caroline12 says:

    I'm a soccer and rugby referee and want to buy a watch that will track my milage and positioning on the field during games. Is there a watch that will accurately track this for me.

  • caroline12 says:

    Hi I'm a soccer and rugby referee and am looking for a watch that will track my milage and positioning on the field during the games. Is there a watch that can accurately do both for me.

  • juliafig says:

    Hello, considering I need a watch to record: distance and HR in Running and Cycling and HR in indoor sports, with HR on the wrist and sync with the Strava, witch is the best: FR225, TT Cardio or another?

  • Kayzee says:

    I want a running watch to replace my ancient Garmin 201. My ONLY complaint with it is that it loses the satellites too much. However, it has interval training capability (I can see work distance or time/rest distance or time, number of intervals and press GO.) I can drop "breadcrumbs" to get back to my start by reverse route or directional, I can see elevation of run. I can set pace alarms. Nothing I've sermon the market does this.  I don't give a (hoot) about heart rate, stride length, Bluetooth sync or shining my shoes.  Advice?? 

  • btr1976 says:

    I want a GPS fitness tracker that tracks steps, running stats, distance, pace, calories  and other activities. I don't care about heart rate or text, phone, email alerts.  If it plays music, all the better because I don't have to have my phone with me.  What's the best option under $200? 

  • mjc154 says:

    I'm looking for a GPS watch to help train for half marathons and marathons. I currently have the Magellan echo fit and like that I'm able to use it as a remote to my smartphone. Unfortunately, I have had this watch for just over 1-yr and the battery life is weak and it has recently froze becoming non operational.  I use map my run and would like a watch that's able to be used in this manner with map my run. Anyone know of a watch similar to the Magellan echo fit?

  • Olek says:

    I saw the comment that someone wanted to buy her husband a watch Which has a navigation system like in a car. The Garmin Epix is a good one because it is an all rounder and even has GPS and glonass. The poor thing is that it looks kind of bulky and can cost up to $600

  • kitkat says:

    Which one would be best for a high school cross country runner - looking for something more on the entry level for now as a gift for my son. Also, I saw something called an Adidas Fit Smart at Amazon:  specs....

    • New - all day activity: set goals and track steps, calories and distance all day.
    • Our adidas fit smart provides visual coached guidance for workout intensity to keep you on track, motivated and training smart and effectively
    • The Fit Smart watch has an integrated accelerometer tracking pace, distance and stride
    • This sports fitness watch syncs wirelessly with miCoach train & run app
    • Fit Smart with Mio wrist based continuous heart rate technology
    • Doolie2007 says:

      Check out the TomTom Runner. Under $100. Great for high school xc runners.

  • fitnessmom says:

    I am looking for advice on which watch to get.  I run and i recently started training with a personal trainer at gym.  Which watch is best for this?  I really like the look of the Garmin Vivoactive as i can wear it throughout the day but not sure if this is the right watch to track my gym activities.  I also have been told that the Tomtom runner 2 and the Polar M400 is good.  What are your views?

  • thejone says:

    It's complete codswallop that the Fitbit surge's battery lasts a week. You;re lucky to get a day out of it, if you do any kind of GPS tracking. Their recommendations for extending battery performance means using nearly non of the features. 

    Credit to Fitbit's support staff they are amazing and are super helpful. but to advertise this tracker's battery life as 1 week is pure fantasy.

  • madsrg says:

    I just bought the new TomTom because I had the previous Nike+ watch that was made by TomTom, and was very pleased with the old one. Unfortunately I am really not happy with the new watch by TomTom :/ The button on the wrist is terrible to use. You have to push really hard for it to react, making it a pain when it is strapped on. And you have to push in the wrong direction (up to go down in menu and vice versa) and push left to go right. I wish I had started using it before my 30 day money back guarantee had expired :/ I used it today for the second time, and it froze when I switched menu while running. Main problem is the wrist button, what a terrible design.

    • iagommc says:

      Hey, i'am almost buying the Nike Sportwatch, why bought another, is the Nike Sportwatch not good anymore or something?

      • kej says:

        husband has gone through 3 of these and the Nike support is terrific, but the product does not hold up after a yr or so- maybe the sweat, but each one wouldn't link after time.  am looking at other options for him now

  • tonymahony says:

    does anyone know whether it is possible to use zombie run with any of these watches without having to cart round your phone? i know they provide phone free running. personally im really enjoying the app so would like to keep it going but im fed up of carting my phone round the arm strap annoys me immensely and im one of these runers who needs everything in place so i can concentrate on the run. 

  • Brick says:

    TomTom Spark i returned because i could not sync the data to the App on my iphone 6p. The watch Itself had some good features for the price.

  • fb_007 says:

    what is best smartwatch?

  • GMan185 says:

    I really love the concept of lactate threshold estimation in the FR630 & Fenix 3 HR. No other devices interest me without such running metrics. Does anyone know whether a movescount app and a compatible ambit 3 can do the same thing & if so does it need to be paired with a smartphone while running?

  • kurtbarker says:

    Really surprised not to see the Garmin Vivoactive HR on the list (and even more surprising to see the TomTom Spark take the lead). I've been looking for a wearable for a few months, and I read (on several sources) that the TomTom spark had really bad connectivity and syncing issues, and the music playback was very fussy (almost to the point of not being able to use it). Have you used it, if it's just from a feature list it's quite misleading. I bought my Vivoactive HR today. I still wear my phone on my arm, and the fact it has music control, and control for any app (including spotify), i'm pretty happy. It's also getting great reviews, and no complaints from me just yet.

    • j.stables says:

      I use the Spark for every run, and there are elements of truth with the fussiness of connecting headphones, although I've overcome them now and don't have any problems. Syncing has also not been a problem. Check the full review for full thoughts. The reason it's our #1 choice is mainly the accuracy of the HR and the ability to use it for music. It's liberating.

  • LCL999 says:

    TomTom Runners GPS Watch – It’s a fail – I give it 4 out of 10.

    I recently bought one of these but I’m pretty disappointed. It does not do the most basic of all tasks. It does not tell me what my time was at the end of a run! To be fair, it also has some nice features. Let me walk you through it.

    My old GPS watch is a Garmin Forerunner. It worked reasonably well but had a couple of annoying deficiencies. I can download a run to my computer using their software package and see a table of times, distances, and even altitudes for each lap, as well as the totals. But the display was not enabled for cut and paste; so to transfer the data into an Excel spreadsheet it had to be manually keyed. I expected the TomTom to be better, and it is. The TomTom’s display is also bigger and higher contrast, which is great for old eyes like mine. Also the Garmin was very slow to lock onto the satellites, the TomTom is much much quicker.

    Now as to using the TomTom. It has one big fat button which is effectively four buttons. You can select options by pressing up, down, left, or right. The screen is also sensitised so touching it usually (but not always) turns on the internal light. The UP/DOWN buttons scroll through various displays of information, the LEFT/RIGHT buttons are for selecting options and starting/stopping. A lot of the options are for “training” which means setting targets for things like time or distance or pace, or running against the times of a previous run. I have not explored these functions, but they seem to be where most of the development effort went, to the detriment of basics.

    This is the procedure to time a street run, complete with “laps” defined by various landmarks such as corners and intersections. Starting from the time-of-day clock press RIGHT. This has “RUN” as its default. Press RIGHT again. The screen now shows “Please wait” until it has a satellite fix, then it changes with a buzz to “GO”.Pressing RIGHT again starts the clock and I start running. The display shows elapsed time in nice big numerals, and I can press DOWN or UP to scroll through other info such as distance, pace etc.So far so good.

    The LAPS mode I have preset is MANUAL (The alternative lap modes are fixed times or fixed distances). Oddly, one signals the end of a lap by touching the screen, a function which normally turns the light on. As well as being non-intuitive (pressing RIGHT for lap end would be logical) the screen has a mind of its own. It can be oversensitive and will register in the bush if I brush off a cobweb or push through some foliage. Sometimes it refuses to register no matter how hard or often I tap or wipe it. This happens when I’m running in the rain and my fingers and its face are wet. Similar to the Garmin, the display shows the lap count for five or ten seconds, which for me is irrelevant and denies me the time when I passed the lap marker. Better would be the option to show lap time or total time for the ten seconds. Best would be to briefly freeze the display to whatever it had been scrolled to.

    There is no option, or no simple option, to pause the clock and then restart it. For example if one wants to exclude waiting at the lights to cross a road, or stopping to retie ones shoelaces. This should be a LEFT click to pause, RIGHT to restart; but it isn’t.

    Now comes the killer. At the end of the run there is no simple way to stop the timer, and no way at all to show the final time in big numerals. As far as I can it work out, the procedure is to press LEFT twice (pressing just once changes the display but the timer keeps running), or perhaps one long press. If I get it right, which is seldom, this brings up a symbol, two fat vertical bars like the stop symbol on a CD player. Pressing UP brings a displays in very small print five metrics of the run. Total time, distance, number of laps, pace or speed and calories. All very nice for 25 year old eyes in broad daylight, quite useless for old eyes in the gloaming. I just want to see the time I ran in big numerals to tell the registrar. My reading glasses are five minutes away locked in my car, or an hour away at home.

    It gets worse.Pressing LEFT multiple times stops the timer, but press it once too often and one gets back to the time-of-day display; and the run time is lost! Truly, the watch will not now display the time you just ran. It’s hidden inside and can be recovered when you transfer the run to a PC (or smartphone I’m told). So some hours later when I get home I can find out the time I ran. Great!

    It’s a shame really, because there is much to admire in the watch. For example; the big easy-to-read numbers (except at end-of-run), the buzz to confirm button pushing and satellite fixing, the quick time-to-fix, the excellent zoomable map of the run that comes up on my PC, the wide comfortable strap, the long battery life (you can use it as your normal day-to-day watch). From reports I read the various training options are good for those wanting such functions.

    There are some minor but forgivable annoyances. I can set the time-of-day display to 12-hour mode, but the next day it has reset back to its default 24-hour display. Times over the hour are shown as hours and minutes, with seconds in script so tiny as to be unreadable. I would love the option to omit the hours and show times all in big digits up to 99m 59s, or even better up to 999m 59s. The PC graphical display graphs altitude quite well, but the pace graph is so higgley-piggley as to be useless. It needs a better smoothing algorithm. There is an altitude number for the whole run that doesn’t match total height climbed (measured off the graph) or anything else.

    But as for, at the end of a run, seeing how long you took and how far you went, forget it.

    • j.stables says:

      One TomTom annoyance is the lack of a digest at the end of a run, but if you go the run option and press UP to the calendar icon, you can see details for the last 10 runs or so. It's a bit weird there's no summary screen automatically displayed at the end of the run, but that's how you find the details you're looking for.

  • Morg81 says:

    Hi

    Bought a Garmin Vivoactive HR 10 days ago: was looking for a GPS smartwatch with an ALTIMETRE/BAROMETER: apart from the most expansive watches (Suunto and Garmin Fenix) this Vivoactive HR is the only one that includes one.

    So if you want to keep an acurate track of your elevation during your runs/rides/trails etc. this Vivoactive HR is a must.

    I'm also quite happy with the battery: almost a full week before having to charge it, with a 24/7 use including push notifications from an iPhone, 2 hours of run (GPS on) and 3 hours of working out (GPS OFF).

    The "real" test will be next October: I'll use it for 2 obstacles races (Spartan Beast and Super), we'll see if it survives these 8ich hours of effort ;-)

  • Eline says:

    Does anyone know an activity tracker with GPS that is suited for woman's wrists? My wrist measures barely 14 cm and even the garmin vivosmart is huge in comparison to my wrist.

    • j.stables says:

      Vivosmart HR+ is about as good as it gets I think. It is quite chunky. Obvs if you're willing to take a phone along Moov Now is quite dainty. Sorry, not much help.

  • JaySoprano says:

    Please does anyone have an answer to the comment by KerriM ? (Dated 25 Nov 2015)

    "Can I use any of these watches to track my mother in law whom has dementia while she is out on a walk with my phone? Can I locate her? She is in denial so I want her to think it is for fitness (which it is) but also incase she loses her way we can also loacte her"

    i have a similar problem. if its possible , which is the best for this problem? thanks.

    • SurfDog says:

      Garmin's LiveTrack lets you track activities in real time for free using Garmin Connect Mobile when you pair the app with a compatible Edge or Forerunner device. If you use iPhones, you can track someone via Apple’s “Find my friend” app. Or check out the Glympse app available for both iPhone and Android. It's specifically for tracking family members on the go.

  • yogibimbi says:

    oK, now the Apple watch Series 2 is out, the question is: how long do the other watches still have?

  • SANDEEP23 says:

    Sir can I call with  ear pin in smart watch

  • SANDEEP23 says:

    Can I listen song by  ear pin lid

  • mc24337 says:

    I've experienced almost all the problems described here. I just came back from a trip in Europe, just to find out that none of the activities I did while I was there were recorded or can be uploaded. I am wondering if more recent models of the Garmin GPS watches are any better - but at this point I am looking for alternatives and I can't really push myself to spend another $250-$300 on a Garmin, given the record. I've had a 305, which "almost died" after a run in the rain, and then died because of battery woes. The 310XT is waterproof, but has a slew of annoying issues as discussed here. I am ready for a change...

  • Joules says:

    Hello,

    I'm only a runner, what do I "lose" if I buy the FR35 instead of the FR235 ?

    Thanks !

  • Sgjer says:

    why did you remove garmin forerunner 235 from this article? Would you not recommend this anymore?

  • wife says:

    I want to buy a running watch for my husband as a gift. He is old and an old runner and doesn't want anything fancy. Don't need heart rate or sinking/pairing or other tracking of fitness goals other than the distance run and time. Here's what's important.

    1. Big font so he can see the watch data without changing to reading glasses

    2. GPS for location and returning from run.

    Here's the problem. We go on vacation to somewhere beautiful and go hiking. I can only hike slowly (I'm old, too) but he likes to jog ahead. There have been circumstances where we lose each other. He has also gotten lost on his own when going out on trails by himself. Number one issue is that there is easy to get info about how to get back to start point or other designated point along the path. Can you set a meeting point and have the watch direct you so that you can't get lost?

    Thank you for your assistance in choosing the appropriate watch.

  • MrsOC8 says:

    Just trying to get some input on which tracker to use. I am between Samsung Gear Fit 2 and Fitbit Charge 2. 

    Important details about me: I have a Galaxy S7 and therefore SHealth. I plan to primarily and purposefully use the tracker for running. I am an athlete, but at this time only involved in running (outside, but maybe on a treadmill if I ever get one). 

    I am also a nurse so I will likely wear it to work to include this activity (walking for 12 straight hours) as part of my overall level of activity.

    What I like/am considering: 

    On the Fitbit I love that it (supposedly) has continuous heart rate monitoring including when not involved in an activity. Alternately, I have read the Samsung only checks your HR at random infrequent intervals and if it detects you (or you manually) start an activity. 

    On the Samsung I like the GPS and music features. I think the Fitbit looks nicer on me (a small lady), but the Samsung screen is phenomenal looking with color and clarity.

    Also as a side less important question, does anyone know if the Samsung "blue" is more like teal? I can't tell online and haven't seen it in person. Does it in any way look feminine?

    Any input to any of the above-mentioned questions/musings would be helpful and appreciated. Thanks!

  • scalesonfire says:

    On which third party apps would the Apple Watch Series 2 be supported?

  • robbiebrown says:

    Not sure how the Apple Watch 2 got into the "Best" category. I purchased before Christmas for running and am returning it this weekend as not fit for purpose. 

    The Nike Running Club app is just horrendous. My Map shows me starting my run after mile 1?! There's no elevation information unless you carry your iPhone with you and the single most annoying thing is that there's no way to see if you have a lock on GPS when heading out for a run - therefore going into the unknown! 

    Highly disappointed with my watch hence why I'm returning and going back to my trusty Garmin Fenix 3HR. Sure, it has potential, but until Apple pull their finger out and actually let 3rd parties access the GPS chip its pretty useless. 

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