Fitness trackers and health monitors are a dime a dozen these days. In fact, outside of the wearable and smartwatch market there are dozens — if not hundreds — of devices that will allow you to monitor various health and fitness information. There are pedometers, BMI calculators, blood sugar monitors, and much more.
Of course, if you lead an active lifestyle you’re going to want something more streamlined, which is why it makes plenty of sense to pick up a smartwatch or fitness tracker instead of a niche device. Most modern wearables offer a suite of tracking features instead of just a single type. For example, you can track everything from calories burned, to distance traveled and sleep patterns. The real stars of the show are the GPS wearables, capable of shedding limitations to a smartphone or paired device.
You didn’t come here to listen to us drone on about all this nonsense, however. You came here to find out some of the best GPS wearables and smartwatches.
The Top GPS Wearables for Fitness and Exercise Tracking
Owning — or wearing — one of the many GPS wearables means you don’t have to carry a smartphone most of the time to track your location, distance traveled and more. Chances are, when you’re running, jogging or exercising in general you want to remain as lightweight and untethered as possible. No one wants to carry a bulky smartphone around in their pocket or on their person while they’re breaking a sweat. That’s why GPS support is so convenient, for the most part it allows you to shed the collar latched on by a smartphone.
These watches are for everyone, meaning you don’t need to be an extreme runner or jogger to get use out of them. The opposite is true as well, if you like more than just casual exercise and prefer intense routines, you should be just as happy with one of these babies.
Let’s get right to it.
Sony SmartWatch 3
Sony just unveiled a steel version of the SmartWatch 3 so if you want something a little more stylish to wear with your business attire too, you might want to pick up one of those. That said, the Sony SmartWatch 3 comes in several colors and it’s powered by Android Wear. It’s one of the only Android Wear GPS wearables. That means it can track data like distance traveled and your route even without a smartphone connected.
In addition, it has 4GB of internal storage (for music, pictures or whatever), and more. You can pick up the SmartWatch 3 from Sony’s official site for $249.
Unlike the first TomTom sports watch, the TomTom Runner is not affiliated with Nike in any way. Instead, the company decided to fly solo and produce their own proprietary fitness smartwatch. The result is an incredibly easy to use, and simple fitness tracker that monitors a whole slew of data. If you’re wondering what kind of stuff you can monitor, it can keep track of distance, pace, speed, heart-rate, calories burned and more. In fact, your pace, distance and speed are displayed right on the main screen at all times.
You can pair the TomTom runner with a heart-rate monitor if you so desire. The only thing lacking is the battery life, which could be better. TomTom claims the device will last about 10 hours in full GPS mode — with the GPS tracking active — but it’s more like eight hours or so. With the GPS disabled it will last quite a bit longer, however.
You can pick up a TomTom Runner these days for $130 – $150.
Magellan Echo Fit
The Magellan Echo Fit is inherently different from many other GPS wearables. With the Echo Fit you will still need to carry your smartphone with you in order to make use of most of its features. For some folks, that’s not a big deal. It pairs with a bunch of different fitness apps through your connected device and functions as essentially a secondary display. In other words, instead of tracking data directly from the wristwatch, the device synchronizes with a connected device. This means a much better battery life and more compatiblity with the apps you love.
You can pick up a Magellan Echo Fit for $129. They come in several colors including black, pink and grey.
The Runtastic Orbit is just like the Fitbit style devices, so if you love those then you’ll certainly be interested in this. It tracks fitness data like distance traveled, calories burned, pace and also monitors your sleeping habits. It was designed to work directly with Runtastic, the popular fitness app available for most Android and iOS handsets.
It pairs directly with a smartphone and uses the devices GPS to track location data during a run, job or what-have-you.
You can pick up a Runtastic Orbit for about $90 – $120 depending on where you get it. It’s available in multiple colors like yellow, orange, pink and more.
The Garmin Vivoactive is relatively new, and was recently shown off at CES 2015. It looks remarkably similar to Sony’s SmartWatch 3, with the biggest difference being it’s not running Android Wear. Instead Garmin decided to go with their own proprietary wearable OS. Surprisingly, it doubles as a basic smartwatch too allowing you to check your emails, messages and receive various notifications right on your wrist.
Most importantly, it tracks all the fitness data you’d expect it to like distance traveled, calories burned, pace, steps taken and more. It does include integrated GPS which means you can track location data without the need to carry a smartphone.
Being newer, the Vivoactive is a little more expensive at $249. It’s available in a couple style formats like all-black or all-white.
Timex Ironman One GPS+
We’ll warn you right off the bat, the Ironman One GPS+ is one of the most high-end, and premium GPS wearables priced at $399. The biggest reason for that is it includes mobile 3G connectivity along with a year of AT&T coverage. The mobile connectivity allows you to track location data through GPS while you’re on the go, and it also allows the device to pull smartphone-like notifications and alerts from the network.
It includes 4GB of internal storage, and Timex claims the device will get about eight hours of battery life on a full charge with GPS active. As for fitness tracking, everything that you’d expect to be available is there. Don’t make us list it all over again.
The Timex Ironman One GPS+ is $399, which is a decidely hefty price tag for what’s included. It is running a proprietary mobile OS designed for hardcore athletes.
Polar RC3GPS HR Bundle
The Polar watches and devices are meant for one thing and one thing only, tracking fitness related data like heart-rate, distance traveled and calories burned. They don’t really include basic smartwatch or notification support, but that’s okay. Just keep that in mind if you end up looking at a Polar device.
The Polar RC3GPS HR comes bundled with a heart-rate strap, meant to be worn around your lower chest area just above your abdomen. Like most GPS wearables it includes integrated support and tracks a whole slew of fitness data which can then be synchronized with Polar’s Smart Coaching software. It analyzes your exercise patterns and fitness data and lets you know how and what to improve.
If you’re familiar with Polar in general, their devices are always compatible with a list of additional accessories too should you decide you want more advanced functionality later.
The Polar RC3GPS HR Bundle will set you back about $220 – $250.
What are Your Top GPS Wearables for Fitness and Exercise Tracking?
Well, there you have it! That’s our full list of the best GPS wearables and smartwatches for fitness tracking. What are your top picks? Did we miss your favorite device or one that you use on a daily basis to track your activity?