Updated October 2, 2019
A decade ago calculating the distance you rode, ran, or walked required a good old fashioned map, or perhaps, a cycling computer. Now days fitness enthusiasts or data junkies can get most of the information they desire from a device worn on their wrist.
The devices below have all be tested on the trail and have definite strengths and weaknesses. Here are our recommendations for fitness trackers and smart watches
Fitness Tracker – Most Affordable
The Inspire HR is a slim, lightweight option that can track heart rate, sleep, calories burned, distance, steps, and general activity for around $100. To utilize more precise GPS tracking users will need to bring their phone along, so if your dream is to ride or run phone free, you will need to look elsewhere. While the Inspire is not a full blown smartwatch, it does offer notifications for calls, texts, and calendar events so long as your phone is nearby. Fitbit also has one of the best apps in the business which makes ingesting all those health stats a snap!
Fitness Tracker – Most Robust
Garmin has been in the fitness wearable business longer than anybody. They are known for rugged, and recently, handsome designs. The Fenix is a large, powerful device capable of compiling all the data you would expect but with the benefit of a more traditional watch like design and the ability to track your GPS route without your phone. Recently, Garmin has started offering smaller case designs at 42 MM for a more sleek or feminine look, or, a massive 51 MM case to suit those with larger wrists or who are looking to make a bold statement. Garmin Connect, while not as user friendly as fitbit, is a highly polished companion app that can track all the stats you desire. Battery life clocks in at 12 days in watch mode, an amazing 20 hours while using GPS.
Fitness Watch – Easiest to Use
When Samsung released the Gear S3 Frontier they were on a mission to create the best smart watch money could buy. The device tracks all the metrics your standard fitness tracker will but also adds a full responsive color touchscreen and killer rotating bezel for navigating through menus and options. The bezel is a feature that cannot be beat by any other device on the market. What can be beat is the paired app. S Health makes a good effort, but falls behind in features and usability when compared to its rivals. Battery life is an acceptable at best, 2 – 3 days in watch mode, 8-10 hours when utilizing GPS.
Fitness Watch – Most Robust
When Apple first launched their watch fitness was a bit of an afterthought. Series 3 and 4 have changed that as the devices pack all the sensors required to track your fitness as well as manage the majority of your smartphone functions from your wrist. The Apple Health app still lags behind Fitbit and Garmin in many ways, however, is quickly gaining ground and in some areas outperforms. Battery life leaves much to be desired for a $300 + device as it only lasts up to 2 days in watch mode, up to 6 when using GPS.