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Smartwatches are not created equal. While some can include basic apps that will meet the everyday user’s needs, only a dedicated GPS sports watch will provide the type of useful data required to help elite and amateur athletes achieve their training goals.
Apart from seamlessly interfacing with smartphones and providing basic notifications, the best GPS watch allows you to customize the information you need while you are working out. Many smart devices have waterproof features, meaning your GPS watch can double as a dive watch for swimming activities.
But even if you are only looking for a smartwatch that will monitor your heart rate and ensure that it remains within a narrow range, getting the best GPS watch is a smart choice. Many of the other heart rate monitors worn on wrists may not be safe for individuals who need to closely and accurately monitor their hearts for health reasons.
There is no shortage of smartwatches and GPS sport watches on the market. Brands are continuously coming up with upgrades to meet growing demands. Finding an excellent product with the right combination of features that will suit your purpose takes a bit more than luck. For this reason, we have compiled some of the best options for you.
Whether you are a highly talented athlete or just starting out, you are sure to find a watch from our top 10 best GPS watch to look out for in 2021. q
The Garmin Forerunner 945 is the runner’s dream come true. It includes plenty of useful training tools that can help every serious trainer achieve their training goals. The watch is equipped with one of the most accurate biometrics and location-tracking features.
This GPS watch comes with a Training Load monitor that measures your training activities over a period of one week. It uses the data to advise whether you should push harder to hit your fitness goals or cut back a bit to prevent excessive training that could lead to avoidable problems.
Additionally, the Forerunner 945 measures your body’s recovery level from a previous day’s training routine using the Body Battery function. This feature helps you to get the best out of your training run. The device is fully customizable, allowing you to create personalized sessions quite easily. Plus, navigating the various options is considerably easy with the full-color on-screen maps.
The only drawback with the Forerunner 945 is its high price, but again, that is not too surprising, considering all of its impressive and genuinely useful features.
Many athletes who understand the value of Garmin smartwatches will give anything to own the Fenix 6 because, quite frankly, this is one of the top-of-the-line multisport watches among the brand’s offerings.
Fenix 6 has a particularly accurate heart rate monitor, making it a very dependable watch for people who want to track their heart rate. The battery life can last for up to 14 days in regular mode. However, it can only last for about 36 hours if you have the GPS running continuously.
You can expect reliable and fast GPS connectivity, too. In addition, Garmin Fenix 6 is designed to work well underwater, just as it functions great for running. It is an excellent choice for cross-training workouts, including running, cycling, and swimming. Little wonder it is known as one of the outstanding multisports watches.
Like the Forerunner 945, this option also doesn’t come cheap. Many runners who would love to have this top-performing sports watch may find it difficult to afford the rather high price range. But that’s not to say you won’t be able to find discounts if you search really hard. The watch has been in the market for a while and will likely see a price reduction if a newer version hits the scene this year.
Price can be a limiting factor when it comes to choosing the best GPS watch. Thankfully, some excellent options with top-notch features come at a fairly affordable price range. Coros Pace 2 is a typical example of the perfect balance between affordability and functionality.
The super lightweight watch is packed with useful features found in more expensive GPS watches. Notable functions include several mode selections, such as multisport, triathlon, and interval modes. But perhaps the most outstanding feature is the artificial intelligence (AI) trainer that helps you effectively manage your training load.
Coros Pace 2 is fitted with an excellent GPS positioning system. But just in case you veer off into an uncharted area or go out of its coverage area, the smartwatch can help you monitor your progress by automatically calculating your stride length and tempo or rhythm.
There is a small drawback, though. You may need to tap the backlight button in daylight conditions to read the screen because it can get a bit too dim for many people.
If you are looking for the best GPS watch designed for continuous exercise tracking, the Suunto 9 (Baro) should be on your radar. Whether you have lots of activities planned out for the week or want to take your training to the next level using extended workouts, this capable watch with its intelligent battery can last for up to 120 hours of continuous activity tracking. It can also provide 25 continuous hours of GPS tracking.
The sport watch is has a 100-meter water-resistant rating, making it a good option for training in wet conditions. With over 80 sport modes, the device is great for a wide range of exercises, including running, racing, cycling, hiking, and extreme adventure.
The unique FusedTrack algorithm combined with motion sensor data ensures high GPS accuracy. The device seamlessly connects to your iOS and Android devices. As you may have guessed, the Sunno 9 (Baro) can leave a small dent in many people’s pockets.
If you are looking for the best GPS watch that gives you tons of useful data to improve your training, the Coros Apex might fit the bill. It features remarkably accurate GPS tracking with detailed maps and includes great navigation tools that help you to better explore different routes during runs.
In addition to being a water-resistant watch for up to 100 meters, it features a compass, altimeter, barometer, and it is an excellent heart rate monitor. You can also customize your training to create complex interval workouts.
The Coros Apex has, perhaps, one of the best batteries among similar GPS sports watches. It can last for 35 straight hours in full GPS mode and up to 100 hours if you set it to UltraMax GPS mode. In regular mode, the battery can keep the watch going for up to 30 days.
With the Polar Vantage V2, you have a vast resource for training tools at your disposal. The lightweight, multisport smartwatch comes with built-in tests to measure your maximal aerobic speed and power, VO2 max, and heart rate variability. Interestingly, you can see whether or not your fitness is improving by taking the test on another date.
It is a stylish GPS watch and can be worn in all situations. You can also connect the watch to your phone and easily adjust music volume and navigate your playlist on the go. Plus, you can check the current weather and get a two-days forecast on your watch.
If you like the Suunto 9, but the price seems a bit out of your range, perhaps you might want to take a look at the Suunto 7. Although it is considerably more affordable, it comes with a remarkable heart rate sensor.
The Google Wear OS smartwatch is as versatile as they come, with over 70 sports mode, highly accurate tracking, and a GPS function. It also has a water-resistant feature of up to 50 meters, plus offline outdoor maps.
The battery life of 12 hours in GPS mode is not very impressive, though. But on battery saver mode, the watch can work for 40 days.
Automatically downloads heat maps in new locations
Seamless integration with Google apps and Android devices
Fashion-forward athletes don’t have to look less classy just because they are training. Thanks to the stylish design of the Garmin Vivoactive 4, people can look good while working out and keeping fit. But Vivoactive 4 is not only about sleek designs; it has a very broad range of what makes for an excellent smartwatch, including heart rate tracking, full GPS, sleep monitor, stress level, respiration, music streaming, and multisport support.
There are animated workouts in addition to Pulse OX sensors to help you keep fit, monitor your body energy, and reach your goals. You can expect to get up to 8 days of battery life in regular mode and up to 6 hours when using GPS and playing music. On top of it all, you can personalize the watch with a vast collection of free watch faces and tons of widgets and apps.
If extreme adventure is your thing, you want a sports watch that is rugged enough to take the hit. That’s where the Polar Grit X excels. The watch doesn’t only read your biometrics accurately; it uses the information to provide helpful suggestions regarding recovery, rest, and rehydration. It also lets you know when to get back to training.
The watch also features race pace options, timers, and intervals. People who want a viable alternative to the Garmin Fenix 6 will find that the Polar Grit X is an excellent option. You will need to recharge the battery rather very often, though.
While the Polar Vantage V2 is a premium GPS sports watch, the Polar Vantage M is popular among users and provides a similar experience at a more affordable price.
You can expect up to 30 hours of battery life in GPS mode. The watch is a multisport fitness tracker, heart rate monitor, and activity tracker. The waterproof feature makes it suitable for use in wet conditions and even for swimming.
At nearly half the price of the Vantage V2, you will be able to manage your training activities with the Training Load Pro, Recovery Pro and even get route guidance, swimming metrics, and more.
Over 130 sports profiles
Mobile and desktop Polar Flow app for optimal training and health improvement
Customizable wrist band options
Inconsistent heart rate tracking for some exercises
Frequently Asked Questions
Which watch has the most accurate heart rate monitor?
The market is packed full of smartwatches that can track heart rate during heavy activity, at rest, and during sleep time. While some options are pretty impressive at monitoring heart rate, it is usually advisable to select a watch that also comes with great battery life, GPS, water resistance, and other features according to each person’s personal preferences.
According to research, some of the top-rated watches for monitoring heart rate during running are Suunto 9, Garmin Forerunner 245 Music, Garmin Forerunner 455, Fitbit Ionic, and Polar Vantage V.
Other watches suitable for people who want to monitor their heart rate for health reasons include Fitbit Charge 4, Polar H10, Garmin Fenix 5, Lezyne HR Flow, and Omron HeartGuide.
Is Garmin more accurate than Fitbit?
The range of watches from both Garmin and Fitbit are great choices. However, Fitbit most suitable for people who want to start out with tracking sleep and steps, while Garmin watches are the preferred options for those who live and breathe sports.
Fitbit devices can easily be thrown out of position and have accuracy issues. Your best bet when it comes to accuracy is a Garmin watch. You can use it to track trail running, hiking, skiing, swimming, cycling, triathlon training, and lots more without accuracy problems. The best part is that you can use Garmin’s UltraTrac feature to track your activities over longer distances since it conserves battery life.
What watches do elite runners wear?
Some of the world’s elite runners featured in the Olympics and other international championship sporting events use the Polar Vantage V, Garmin Forerunner 945, Garmin Fenix 3, and Garmin Forerunner 235. These watches have some of the best GPS apps that are every runner’s companion.