Best sports watches: Which devices stand out from the pack?

Hit the links, slopes, trail and pool with these wearables
The best sports watches

Hunting down the best smartwatch for your sporting needs has never been tougher, with a multitude of devices in the field promising to improve your skills and/or add to your experience.

Not only do you have to trawl through the pack to find a watch that can complement your sport through strong battery life and an intuitive operating system, it's also a key sticking point for buyers to wear something that looks good and remains relatively unobtrusive.

Thankfully, to save you time on this quest, we've compiled a one-stop list to help you find the best in each dedicated area.

Best watch for golf: Garmin Approach X40

Best sports watches: Which wearable devices are best in their field?

If you're looking to arm yourself with a device that can help you get around the links more efficiently, the Garmin Approach X40 is the company's all-round option.

It comes pre-loaded with data for 35,000 courses, which provides you with pin position information and hazards, and is a breeze to navigate despite a slightly small touchscreen display.

One of the headline features offered by the Approach X40 is the ability to track your shots. You'll have to initially turn the mode on and then consistently tag which club you're using, but it's an option that real data golfers will fall in love with. If you're just looking for some seamless on-watch scoring, the device can also handle this without issue.

Read next: Best golf wearables and swing analysers

Garmin delivers many options for you to choose from in this area, which is why it's also worth noting that this can bring more than just dedicated golfing features to your wrist. The X40 doubles as an all-day fitness tracker offering GPS run tracking and 24/7 heart rate monitoring, while standard smartwatch notifications can be tethered through your smartphone.

If you're just all about the golf and are willing to drop a hefty sum, Garmin also has the Approach S6, which provides feedback on your swing and gives you a yardage to the pin display.

$249.99, garmin.com | Amazon

Best running watch: TomTom Spark 3

Best sports watches: Which wearable devices are best in their field?

We at Wareable love the TomTom Spark 3 as our dedicated GPS running watch. Not only are you given the standard running metrics, such as distance, speed and time, but its optical heart rate monitor is a crop above and can merge with nearly every running app you can find.

Hardcore runners are also catered for, with the device's Route Exploration feature allowing you to upload GPX routes and follow along on the watch. When you're getting tired of jogging along the same path, this is a really handy feature to mix things up.

And thanks to the storage for music, all you need is a pair of wireless headphones to bring your tunes along for the ride without your phone.

There are still a couple of hair-tearing issues regarding pairing, but generally the Spark's solid stats and extensive features make this a cinch to run with.

$109.99, tomtom.com | Amazon

Best swimming watch: Garmin Vivoactive HR

Best sports watches: Which devices stand out from the pack?

The user interface can feels a bit budget and the post-swim analysis leaves room for improvement, but this doesn't stop the Garmin Vivoactive HR from being the best option for a dip in the pool.

It's cheaper than its closest swimming tracker competitor, the Apple Watch Series 2, and a fraction quicker to recognise what's going on. The big selling point here, though, is that the Vivoactive HR is just simply stronger at handling ad-hoc swim plans due to its choice of on-screen information, tracking the likes of distance, time, stroke, SWOLF, temperature, pace and speed.

$249.99, garmin.com| Amazon

Best for hiking: Suunto Ambit3 Vertical Multisport

Best sports watches: Which devices stand out from the pack?

When you think of Suunto, you think of rugged watches that can handle heavy activity. This, coupled with some nifty extras, helps propel the Ambit3 Vertical Multisport as the best outdoor watch.

You're dealt with a notable 100 hour battery life and water resistance up to 100 metres, while the lightweight watch can also provide notifications from your phone.

Speaking of which, the Suunto Movescount companion app plays an underrated role in the device's success, allowing for navigation using variations in watch vibrations. This results in less time with your head down at a screen when you're on the trail, with hoards of data viewable on the app once you're finished.

$519, suunto.com | Amazon

Best skiing watch: TomTom Adventurer

Best sports watches: Which devices stand out from the pack?

The TomTom Adventurer makes for a great outdoor GPS watch that you could easily partner with every day. But thanks to its addition of a barometer, it's also the best device to take on skiing and snowboarding trips.

Dedicated modes give you metrics like gradient and altitude change, in addition to data regarding maximum speed and distance. While this is simple to use and GPS pick-up is speedy, it's worth pointing out that spending a lot of time in these modes will drain the battery fairly quickly.

Also, while not totally a unique feature, the lift detection provides you with a helpful reminder to catch a glimpse of your previous run.

$297.49, tomtom.com | Amazon

Best for tennis: Pivot

Best sports watches: Which devices stand out from the pack?

While major tech companies have yet to serve up a dedicated tennis watch, that doesn't mean there isn't something out there to help your game. And through combining a mammoth 14 sensors, the Pivot coaching and monitoring system records 360 degree motion in order to gain insights and help prevent injuries.

Footwork, body position, elbow bend and knee bend are all tracked, with up to 1,000 data samples per second sent from the accelerometer, gyroscope, and magnetometer. When you want to take a look back at the action, all the information is stored on the device's companion app.

From $279, TuringSense.com

Best for cycling: Polar M200

Best sports watches: Which devices stand out from the pack?

The Polar M200 might be at the affordable end of the company's offerings, but its versatility pushes it further than more expensive competitors. You have the option to download dozens of sports-specific tracking modes through the app to instantly uploaded onto the watch, with cycling one of these that you can give primary billing to.

Wareable verdict: Polar M200 review

With integrated GPS smarts and an inbuilt heart rate sensor, the M200 is capable of monitoring every metric you'd want from a wrist-based cycling tracker, and it does it accurately. What's more, if you've got your phone with you - you don't need it for accurate metrics - you'll also get call and message alerts come through to your wrist.

$149.95, polar.com | Amazon




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