Strava compatible watches: Best devices to help you ditch your smartphone

You'll finally be able to run wild and free
Strava compatible watches

If you're a fan of Strava but are tired of being tethered to your smartphone when you exercise, there's good news: plenty of sports watches and smartwatches will give you the freedom you crave. We know that most sports watches from Garmin, Polar, Suunto and TomTom play nice with Strava, but now smartwatches are catching up with standalone apps and smarter integration as well.

The fitness tracking app isn't just easier to use from your wrist, but also gives you the opportunity to tap into more advanced metrics, accurate GPS and the packed Strava community.

Essential reading: The best running apps

So if you're ready to take the next step in the Strava universe and compete against fellow cyclist and runners on a refreshed scale, read on to take a look at some of the smartwatches that play nice with the sports tracking app goliath.

Garmin

Strava compatible watches: Best devices to help you ditch your smartphone

Pretty much all of Garmin's watches are built to play nice with Strava from budget watches like theGarmin Forerunner 35 all the way up to the likes of the Fenix 5 and the Forerunner 935 (pictured above).

The problem, of course, is that Garmin Connect isn't nearly as fun, informative and motivating as Strava. Thankfully, you can link your account with the app for seamless syncing of runs, cycles and swims.

Essential reading: How to connect Garmin and Strava

This allows you to get the best of both worlds: Garmin Connect's handy insights and workout history and Strava's impressive Segments, leaderboards and social features. It's win-win here.

Polar

Strava compatible watches: Best devices to help you ditch your smartphone

Like Garmin, Polar makes sure that watches like the Polar M200, the feature-packed M430 and even the ageing Polar V800 offers Strava integration.

Those who enjoy using the Polar Flow app can sync runs and cycle rides as well as take advantage of features such as Strava Segments.

To pair the two services, just log into the Polar Flow web account, head to settings, and opt to connect the Flow account with Strava. Log into your Strava account and verify the connection to have your workouts transferred when you sync your device as normal. Then you're good to get tracking.

Suunto

Strava compatible watches: Best devices to help you ditch your smartphone

Suunto's Spartan watches are steadily becoming better rivals for Garmin and Polar's top end devices including the Spartan Sport Wrist HR and the recently announced Trainer Wrist HR, which offers similar features in a slimmer body.

When the two are connected you can track runs, ride and cross-training sessions including Segment support syncing the data to Strava.

The best way to get the two to play nice is to head into the Suunto Movescount from the web application and choose the Connect with Strava option to get the ball rolling.

TomTom

Strava compatible watches

The running-centric Spark 3 and the TomTom Adventurer both offer some of the best Strava compatibility available on a sports watch.

This is largely thanks to its route exploration mode, which enables you to upload GPX routes to the watch via the TomTom web app, which you can then follow on the watch.

TomTom's own interface works well, but its impressively seamless integration with Strava helps you enjoy the best of both worlds.

Strava compatible smartwatches

If you crave more smartwatch-like features from your runs and rides, there are some options out there. They're by no means perfect, so bear that in mind, but here's our pick of the Strava-friendly smartwatches you can consider.

Apple Watch Series 2

Strava compatible watches

It's taken some time but we finally go a standalone Strava app that's compatible with the Apple Watch Series 2. Problem solved, right?

Well, not exactly. While this is a nice addition to the third-party mix, it still isn't accurate enough to force you away from dedicated GPS wearables. During our testing, we found tracking and pacing to be inconsistent and customisation of the data you see to be quite limited.

Read: Apple Watch Strava app review

It has got better and Apple's heart rate tracking combines well with the app, but this still feels like the unfinished article.

$369, apple.com | Amazon

Samsung Gear S3

Strava compatible watches

While Samsung doesn't offer direct support for Strava, you can still sync your data to Strava from the S Health app.

The Samsung Gear S3 offers built-in GPS for activities like running and cycling, plus a host of sensors including a heart rate monitor, barometer and speedometer.

S Health itself is ever-improving and the Gear S3 certainly isn't the worst device out there that can track your activity. You'll just have to live with the odd inconsistency with regards to heart rate and GPS.

$349, samsung.com | Amazon

LG Watch Sport

Strava compatible watches

With Android Wear 2.0 and its standalone app goodness recently hitting the masses, you're free to enjoy Strava on Android without your phone for the first time.

While the scope is there for pretty much any device rocking Google's new OS to get involved, the LG Watch Sport is, so far, the best in class. Sure, it has a slightly chunky case, but you'll be too busy running wild and enjoying the untethered GPS and heart rate experience to care.

On the Android Wear front, there is also the New Balance RunIQ, a smartwatch that make it easier to track runs and cycling sessions and get the data synced to the popular fitness platform with minimal fuss. While the Strava integration is actually pretty good, the watch itself is not, so it's one we'd recommend steering clear of.

$249, lg.com | Amazon




5 Comments

  • Ggggg says:

    The Garmin Fenix 3 or 5 will beat any of these watches for accuracy, raw features (for sports), and battery life. Plus you can use a foot pod if you do a lot of trail running with no GPS reception. It's way more accurate than any watches internal accelerometer. Plus you can dive with it and do triathlons. Try doing that with an Apple watch.

    Also what is wrong with Garmin connect? You get way more granular data like run caidance and stride length. Plus you can easily sync to TP or Strava if you want to compete for segments, but I guess you did mention that part.

    • j.stables says:

      Agree! We find Strava a better motivator than GC, but you're right, they both have their place. Love the Fenix range, and are waiting to complete our Fenix 5 review before recommending here.

  • judgepd says:

    How did you manage to write this article without mentioning a watch created in conjunction with Strava, namely the New Balance RunIQ?

    • j.stables says:

      Because we haven't finished reviewing the RunIQ yet, thus not able to recommend.

  • LouiseDM says:

    Thanks for this. 

    Just wondered if you'd finished reviewing the other Garim watches and RunIQ? I'm a particularly petite lady with very small wrists and trying to find the best watch for running and linking to strava and that's not ridiculously bulky.

    Thanks

    LDM

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