Over the past few years, there has been an emergence of different activity and fitness trackers on the market, and they have gotten better and better as the technologies have improved. No longer does tracking your fitness require an expensive personal trainer, or equipment the size of an exercise bag – you can simply purchase what resembles a watch and it can tell you everything you need to know and more about your fitness performance.
If you are new to the fitness tracker world, it can be overwhelming to know where to start, as there are so many different brands and types of fitness trackers on the market. Thus, we have provided a guide that will help you determine the best features to look for in an activity tracker watch. On top of that, we have reviewed some of the top-rated products to ensure you end up with the best activity tracker watch that fits your needs and requirements.
Our Top Picks
|Product name||Waterproof||Workout history||GPS||Price|
|Mio Alpha||98.4 foots||25 hours||No||Check price on Amazon|
|Polar M400||98.4 foots||80 hours||Yes||Check price on Amazon|
|Garmin Forerunner 735XT||164 foots||80 hours||Yes||Check price on Amazon|
|Fitbit Blaze Smart||32.8 foots||22-25 hours||No||Check price on Amazon|
|Garmin Forerunner 210||98.4 foots||15.5 hours||yes||Check price on Amazon|
|TomTom Spark||131 foots||3GB storage||Yes||Check price on Amazon|
|Mio Motion||164 foots||35 hours||Yes||Check price on Amazon|
What to Consider Before Purchase
There are a few considerations you need to keep in mind to work out the best tracker for you – many features may be unnecessary, and you don’t want to purchase one that does not offer a specific feature that you would benefit from. When it comes to fitness, it is important to have the right tools as it can benefit your lifestyle and overall health.
Fitness and activity trackers will be worn on your wrist, and it is clear that not everyone’s wrist is going to be the same shape and size. Some people will have small, bony wrists and small hands; others will have large beefy wrists. And many will be somewhere between these two extremes.
So, before you purchase a fitness and activity tracker, you need to work out the size of the wrist that will use it, and also consider personal preference. Some people actually prefer heavier, bulkier watches and jewelry so will not mind one of the bigger trackers. Other people might be after a smaller and more subtle tracker. Think about what types of watches you prefer and go for a tracker that best resembles that.
Do not take it for granted that your new fitness and activity tracker will be waterproof or even water resistant. If you would like to use your tracker in the rain or in humid environments, then get a tracker that is at least water resistant.
Swimmers can actually really benefit from wearing a tracker in the pool as they swim, so if you plan on taking yours in actual water (ocean or pool), then look for waterproof trackers, and read the specifications to see if they mention whether they can be worn in water. Fitness and activity trackers are not always cheap so it would be a pity to break yours just because it got wet.
In short, purchasing a water resistant tracker is an added bonus. Ensure you read its manual carefully to ensure the device can be used in wet and humid conditions.
One area where different brands and models of fitness and activity trackers will vary a lot will be in battery life. You will be surprised at how different the batteries will be on two seemingly similar trackers.
Some will need to be charged weekly (usually by connecting to a PC via USB), some monthly (or less often), and then there are a few of the best ones which have a battery life of up to a year. The cheaper trackers tend to need to be charged more often, so you need to think about whether it is worth the inconvenience of constant charging to save money. There are even some models that do not have a rechargeable battery at all – they are more like a digital in watch in that a new battery needs to be purchased after a period of time.
Some trackers come with a built-in display while some don’t. The former has an advantage in a sense that you can view both your fitness goals and time without a mobile app. The display can be colored LCD, curved OLED and many others. However, the information tracked are limited and they are way expensive as well.
A tracker without an built-in display calls for a phone app. With this, you have to ensure that the tracker is compatible with your phone. Luckily, most bands do support leading mobile operating systems such as iOS and Android.
The key factor for choosing which variant to adopt is the amount of data you require. Sleeping and steps taken are the 2 significant areas of interest for most wearable trackers. However, many can units keep track of your swimming sessions, workouts, cycling and more. However, user input is needed depending on the activity being done.
To say that a fitness and activity tracker simply ‘tracks fitness and activity’ is extremely vague. Different trackers will actually track different things, so if you are after a particular function then look at the specifications to make sure that a particular tracker tracks it. Examples of common things that are tracked include (but are not limited to):
- Heart rate
- Steps taken
- Distance travelled
- Calories burned
- Sleep patterns
Not all trackers are going to track everything, so make sure you check depending on your needs.
While most trackers only track the basics like steps taken and sleep, more advanced trackers include features like increased sensors, heart rate monitors, smartphone notifications, GPS and more. In short, going for a tracker with such additional features is a good consideration depending on your needs.
Take GPS for example, it will not only help gauge the mileage covered but also help locate your position in case of anything (injury, attack etc.). In short, the latest bands are like hybrids between smart watches, fitness trackers, and running watches.
Best Products on Today’s Market
If you are open to recommendations, we have highlighted several models below that should be worth your time and money. Check the top-rated trackers as reviewed below.
Price: Approx. $104.82
Weight: 1.87 ounces
Specific features: Waterproof up to 98.4 feet; Bluetooth connectivity to smartphones; compatible with Mio PAI App; rechargeable Li-ploy battery; 25 hours of offline data storage
Best use: Swimming, running, surfing
The Mio ALPHA 2 Watch may not be one of the more well-known brands of fitness and activity trackers, but they are really building their reputation with their new ALPHA 2 Heart Rate Watch plus Activity Tracker.
On first glance it looks like a modern digital watch, but it does so much more than just tell you the time (which it does quite effectively). It not only tells you your current and actual heart rate (without needing chest straps), but it also tracks steps taken, distance traveled, speed and calories burned.
The screen has a backlight which is simply activated by double tapping it, and you can change between modes easily by pressing buttons on the side of the tracker. It is also water resistant under 98.4 feet so it is perfect for swimmers who want to track their fitness and progress while in the pool (or those who love to exercise in the rain).
There is an MIO app which is available on the Apple store and Android which means your smartphone can sync with the tracker to store data and add to the experience.
- Accurate feedback
- Secure fit
- Excellent battery life
- LCD display readable even in bright sunlight
- Lacks GPS
- Relatively expensive compared to other trackers in the same series
Related: The Mio line of trackers are crafted following similar designs and technology. Therefore, if you’re okay with the features included in the aforementioned device but are in need of a cheaper band with up to 30 hours of workout data storage, the Mio FUSE (though relatively heavier) is the ideal choice.
Price: Approx. $ 129.99
Weight: 0.32 ounces
Specific features: GPS Tracker; connectivity to the phone by a Polar Flow app; waterproof of up to 98.4 feet; rechargeable battery with standard micro-USB
Best use: Running, swimming, cycling
The Polar M400 GPS Watch was actually designed and made for runners, however, anyone interested in tracking their fitness will benefit from it. It has the benefit of having a built-in GPS tracker, so runners will be able to easily see exactly where their location, how fast they completed the run, and it even shows altitude.
The data collected from a single run can be easily stored by syncing to a Smartphone using the specially designed Polar Flow App – this has the benefit of being able to easily track progress and identify any problem areas or areas of improvement.
The tracker is ultra lightweight so will not get in the way during exercise; it will not weigh you down. It is not only for runners, it is just as great for use in the gym as it is on the open running track.
It also does not stop working outside of the daylight hours – when worn at night it actually doubles as a sleep tracker, and can be set to act as a silent alarm which is the best and safest way to gently wake up. So you can monitor your own sleep and not have to wake up to the incessant buzzing from your alarm clock.
- Tracks daily fitness, heart rate, and GPS
- Impressive battery life
- Relatively expensive
- Monochrome screen
- Slow syncing
Related: The tracker is commonly bought together with the Polar M400 Screen Protector. It’s a specter shield that protects the band from dirt, wear/tear, scratches while allowing for 100% touchscreen accuracy. The screen shield is highly affordable too.
Price: Approx. $449.99
Weight: 1.40 ounces
Specific features: 24/7 heart rate monitoring; smartphone push and notifications; Smart notifications, automatic uploads (Bluetooth) and connect IQ compatibility; can control music playlist when synced; Lithium Ion Battery
Best use: For cyclist, runners, swimmers, skiers, hikers, and triathletes
Garmin is an industry leader when it comes to fitness and activity trackers, and Garmin Forerunner 735XT Watch is a real testament to their prowess in this area. It is one of the top of the line trackers.
If you are looking for a complete all-in-one fitness tracker then you have found it. It is designed for anyone on the go, whether you are a specialist athlete, a cyclist, a runner or just like to go to the gym. It has a running setting with special functions specifically for runners, and a cycling setting for cyclists.
So no matter what type of activity you do, there will be a specialized setting to suit your needs. It is also perfect for swimmers as it can actually measure your pace, stroke count and can even identify whether you are swimming freestyle or breaststroke.
No other fitness tracker on the market has as many activity specific features. It is also one of the lightest available and has all of the functions of a digital watch (with an actual watch clasp to make sure it stays on your wrist).
- Has a color display making it useful even in broad daylight
- Thin and lightweight
- Tracks multiple activities
- Complicated to use
- Not the most comfortable
Related: Experts recommends Garmin Forerunner 630 Bundle as an alternative. The tracker has similar features, weight, and size as the Garmin 735XT except for the fact that it’s cheaper.
Price: Approx. $198.95
Weight: 1.40 ounces
Specific features: FitStar app connect; interchangeable straps; iOS and Android support; Pure Pulse heart rate monitor
Best use: Gym activities, cardio, cycling, climbing, running
Fitbit is the brand that truly revolutionized fitness and activity trackers and made them stylish and a must-have accessory. Fitbit possibly have the widest range of trackers than any other in the market, and the Fitbit Blaze Watch are one of the top end trackers.
They resemble an actual watch and have the choice of a digital or analog time display. There are also different arm straps available so if you are not a fan of the plastic straps then you can opt for a leather or metal band to take the tracker from daytime to nighttime wear.
As a fitness tracker, this watch offers everything you would need and more, including a continuous heart rate monitor, ability to track steps, distance and active minutes, and all information is automatically synced to your Smartphone. When synced to your phone it also has the ability to answer messages and take calls, so you can access your phone while you are on the move without having to stop.
- Excellent battery life for the price
- Interchangeable bands
- Reliable and durable exercise tracking
- No built in GPS tracker
- Low water resistance
- Lack third party push and notification support
Related: The Fitbit Surge Fitness Superwatch is the best alternative. Though smaller, heavier and more expensive when compared to Blaze, the Surge has a built in GPS tracker and it’s easy to use. You can also disable features such as smart track, auto sleep tracking while using the accessory.
Price: Approx. $100
Weight: 3.2 ounces
Specific features: GPS enabled; shock and water resistant; Garmin Connect; premium heart rate monitor; rechargeable lithium-ion battery
Best use: Cycling, running, gymnastics
The Garmin Forerunner 210 Watch is possibly the best value for money fitness and activity tracker on the market. It has all of the basic features you would need.
The display is black and white but shows all of the information you could need in a single screen – from heart rate (if the heart rate monitor tracker is purchased), the time, total distance traveled and number of steps taken.
It is water resistant, and while it is not recommended for use in a swimming pool or ocean, you can use it in high humidity or rainy conditions without decrease in performance. One of the things that this tracker excels in is use in HIIT (High Interval Intensity Training).
You can set it to work on intervals and it will assist you in helping you track what interval you are at, and let you know what is coming up next. And when synced with the Garmin Connect app, you can store data gathered and it will assist in calculating total calories burned in a single work out.
- Easy to use
- Massive storage platform
- Less bulky
- Not compatible with Android systems
- Not waterproof
- The heart rate monitor is a premium feature
Related: Looking for a product with similar features to Forerunner 210 but less bulky with a heart rate monitor? Then, the Garmin Forerunner 010 is the ideal choice. Its high-resolution display ensures you get the right information at first glance.
Price: Approx. $147.99
Weight: 1.12 ounces
Specific features: Multi sport mode, Bluetooth headphones; lithium ion battery; pool lap recognition; integrated HRM
Best use: Swimming, running, hiking, biking
You may not have imagined your fitness and activity tracker doubling as a smartphone but the TomTom Spark Fitness Tracker will show you how it’s possible.
If you purchase the headphone bundle, it actually comes with a set of Bluetooth enabled headphones, so you are able to play music and audio from your tracker straight to your ears without the use of wires. The tracker actually stores up to 500 songs so you do not even need to sync it to your smartphone.
The headphones are made for strenuous activity and are sweat and weatherproof. This tracker will be especially perfect for those who love to combine a variety of different activities in a single workout such as triathletes – the multisport mode will recognize what activity you are doing at the moment and will adjust accordingly.
Perfect for swimming and cycling and can even be used effectively in indoor gyms and treadmills. The built in heart rate monitor will track your heart rate 24/7 including when you are sleeping and using it underwater.
- Top notch battery life
- Lightweight and less bulky
- Large display
- Built in heart rate monitor and GPS tracker
- No phone notifications
- Requires a PC for transferring files
- Clunky design
Related: For superior protection of your TomTom GPS watch, the TomTom Spark Screen Protector comes highly recommended. It’s really easy to install and is made from tough German crafted safety glass.
Price: Approx. $75
Weight: 3.8 ounces
Specific features: EKG accurate heart rate; heart rate monitor; compatible with MIO 3500 Calorie Club program; programmable heart rate zones; built in digital pedometer
Best use: Cycling, running, walking
The MIO Motion Fit Watch is the closest to a fully functional digital watch as you will get. It has all the functions you would expect in a good watch – tells you the time, has a backlight and has a built-in stopwatch.
The benefit over standard watches is that it is an effective fitness and activity tracker. It is able to provide an accurate heart rate on demand without the use of a chest strap, and it can count steps, measure speed and distance and calculate calories burned.
Because it has so many functions, you will never have to take it off. It does not even need charging like other trackers – simply replace the battery at a watch makers when it dies (battery life will depend on use). It is perfect for those who are most interested in their heart rate, as there are different modes and the target heart rate zones are completely programmable, so you can work to get your heart rate to where you want it.
- Highly accurate
- The battery can go for up to 30 hours before recharging
- The band is too large for small wrists
- Relatively heavy
Related: The Mio SLICE is a great alternative to the above featured product for its accurate heart rate tracking and Personal Activity Intelligence features.
As the fitness industry grows in popularity, both online and in the real world, the capabilities and technologies of the fitness and activity trackers will only get better and better. As consumers we are no longer happy with simply going to the gym and doing a work out – we want to be able to properly and accurately measure our performance, and be able to have a visual guide to assist in our workouts.
Whether you want a tracker for a standard workout at the gym, or if you want one to assist in a competitive athletic event, then there will be a perfect tracker on the market for you within your budget. We have covered off the different styles and functions that all of these best selling fitness and activity trackers have.
So which tracker is your favorite and what are you looking for? Let us know in the comments!