A GPS fitness tracker is the perfect way to take your fitness journey to the next level. If you’ve caught the fitness bug and want to hone your goals and track your progress, then look no further. We’ve listed the very best the market has to offer to help you find a fitness tracker tailored to you.
Garmin have long operated at the forefront of fitness technology, creating products that act as the ideal companion for fitness enthusiasts. It’s no surprise that our best overall pick is a Garmin watch. This smart watch performs solidly across the board. While it places an emphasis on fitness metrics it also offers suitors some great lifestyle features to not only take your fitness to the next level but to also keep your everyday tasks on track.
With the Garmin Forerunner 245 you can track all kinds of activities with ease with built in sports programs like cycling, swimming, and rowing alongside gym machines and much more. As you track these activities, the forerunner 245 will calculate a number of powerful metrics for you to track your progress. For example, you’ll be able to view your ‘body battery’ score and your VO2 max to know when you should be training and how you are progressing.
There is a good reason we’ve ranked this the best overall and that’s because it does more than track your activity. You can use smart notifications to get your phone correspondence on your wrist while you’re on the go and there are also safety features that can detect incidents and automatically notify an emergency contact.
You also can’t take the title of ‘best overall’ without excelling in terms of design and style. Garmin rarely disappoints aesthetically; the 245 is comfortable and compact and is available in a number of different colours. The edge of the watch has four pressable buttons that allow you to navigate the features of the watch seamlessly while you are on the move.
If you can’t live without music on the go, then you can upgrade to the Garmin Forerunner 245 Music. This slightly more expensive model allows you to load songs onto your smartwatch to listen offline during your workouts.
The price of fitness trackers with GPS has been tumbling in recent years with more companies competing for customers. These days there are a number of fantastic budget options for price conscious fitness enthusiasts. Our budget choice is the Huawei Band 3 Pro which provides a number of features for a fraction of the cost.
Understandably, at $60 the Huawei Band 3 Pro does have some limitations, however, it will measure your daily steps, heart rate, and as long as your phone is close by, it will give you GPS tracking. It also offers metrics for a number of different sports and even allows users to record pool-based swimming sessions.
This fitness tracker really comes into its own when we look at lifestyle features. With this small but mighty smart watch you’ll be able to get your messages, set alarms and timers, and track and view your sleep stats. Huawei’s TruSleep technology measures breathing and movement to track when you are in deep or light sleep. For those who want to take a holistic approach to their health and wellbeing, this is a huge plus.
Although this tracker performs admirably for a budget option, it does fall down slightly when it comes to design and comfort. The watch face is somewhat bulky when it sits on your wrist, although that’s testament to the amount of technology they’ve been able to pack inside. The watch face itself is sleek and stylish, using curved glass for a classy finish.
One big plus for a lot of customers is the battery life that this fitness tracker offers. Up to 14 days battery life is great for a budget watch that can do so much. It’s a bonus to be able to strap your watch on in the morning without having to worry too much about battery.
Best Runner Up
Polar are another established and trusted brand in the fitness tracker industry. Their Polar Ignite model comes in at a close second by our measures thanks to its all-round performance. Polar offer top of the range and slightly cheaper models but the ignite takes the best of both worlds to give all kinds of athletes the opportunity to track, record, and analyse their fitness performance.
In terms of fitness metrics, the Polar Ignite performs well across the board. You’ll get wrist-based heart rate readings, responsive and accurate GPS, and smart calorie tracking. The calorie tracking takes into account height, weight, and age to give users the most accurate data possible. So if you are looking to control calories, this is a particularly useful feature.
As you’d expect from our second pick, this smartwatch comes with a host of further lifestyle features on top of fitness tracking. You’ll be able to track your sleep and breathing and you’ll also have on demand workouts to choose from if you find yourself lacking any inspiration.
One of the outstanding features of this fitness tracker is its design and style. It’s a very attractive smartwatch with a sleek profile and crisp and bright display. If you are looking for a tracker that looks like a traditional watch then this is pretty much as close as you’ll get. There are six colours to choose from so no matter what kind of style you’re after there’s a good chance you’ll find what you are looking for.
Another bonus with this smartwatch is the Polar Flow App which can keep all your activities and stats in one place. With this app you’ll be able to track your progression with ease and make adjustments to your training regime accordingly.
Best Under $150
The Garmin Forerunner 35 is the cheapest model in the range that supports GPS, however its value lies in its simplicity. For an extremely competitive price you’ll get plenty of features. So if you aren’t prepared to fork out for a top of the range product just yet, the Garmin Forerunner 35 is the perfect co=mpanion to keep you on track.
Despite it being an entry level product, you’ll still be able to record GPS, heart rate data, steps, and calories. You won’t need to keep a phone nearby either as the GPS is built in, so you can go hands free when you are exercising. You won’t get any of the more complicated metrics but for the average fitness conscious person this shouldn’t be a problem. If you are looking for something to help you to exercise regularly and track your progression, then this reasonably priced smartwatch is ideal.
In terms of extra features, the Garmin 35 has some things to offer. If you can handle the guilt, the watch will remind you when you haven’t moved for a while with a small vibration, so be wary if you are partial to a mid-afternoon nap. Despite the low price, you’ll also gain access to the Garmin connect community where you can interact with other Garmin customers and discuss all things fitness. You’ll also find different challenges you can compete in with Garmin connect to keep you engaged with your fitness programme.
It’s not the most elegant watch you’ll see on the market, but the large display is useful for reading data on the move. There are a few different colours to choose from but if you are looking to buy this watch I doubt it will be because of the way it looks. If you are more concerned about performance, there is a lot to love and plenty of reasons to choose the Garmin 35.
Best for running
If you are particularly keen on running, then a specialized watch will assist you in achieving your goals. Our ‘best for running’ fitness tracker is another model from Polar who have developed the M430 with runners in mind. You’ll get all the tracking and analysis tools that a runner could need to allow you to maintain your fitness or train for a particular event.
Fitness tracking is really important for ambitious runners and the developers at Polar have packed loads of metrics into their M430 fitness tracker. Alongside the standard steps, calories, and distance data there is also 24-hour wrist-based heart rate, pace altitude, and route tracking. The route tracking feature is particularly useful for those who want to discover new running routes. By pre-loading map data this smartwatch will guide you through a run of your choice so you can conquer new ground. Unlike many other models, you’ll be able to monitor your indoor running. If you often use a treadmill or the weather is unreliable this is particularly attractive.
You’ll also get many of the extra lifestyle features that come as standard with most contemporary fitness trackers. Comprehensive sleep monitoring helps you recover properly after a long run and you’ll also have access to calls and messages during a workout.
The Polar M430 also performs well from a design perspective. Customers enjoy the comfort of the wristband which fits snugly around the wrist and is made from soft material. As you look at it, the watch has a nice sleek profile, but it is a little bulky in width. There are four colour choices, including bright green and orange wristbands for those looking to make a statement.
Two stand out features of this watch are the adaptive training and fitness test features. Adaptive training allows you to tailor your workout to a specific goal. Whether you are working your way towards a 5K, 10K, or marathon, you can find pre-loaded training guides to keep you on track. Fitness tests allow you to roughly identify what kind of shape you are in. This is particularly useful for those who want to track their progress over time.
Best for cycling
If you want a watch that goes above and beyond to track all sorts of cycling data, then you’ll have to pay a high price. Although the Garmin Fenix 6 isn’t a specialised cycling watch, it includes all the features that any keen cyclist could ever need. We’ve analysed a number of top end smartwatches and have found the extra features and accurate GPS on the Garmin Fenix 6 fitness tracker to be unrivalled.
As you’d expect with a watch of this price, you’ll get all the aforementioned metrics for all sorts of sports, it will even map skiing routes and golf courses! On top of these standard metrics, this watch will also measure pulse and blood oxygenation to deliver data that can’t be accessed with any other watch. You’ll also be able to use the ClimbPro technology to monitor upcoming climbs on a given route, which is particularly useful for cyclists. You can also log your water intake to track your hydration day-to-day. For athletes who want comprehensive data this watch can’t be beaten.
This smartwatch links seamlessly to other programs such as training peaks, allowing you to take a closer look at your statistics. Furthermore, you get real time navigation on your watch face while you are on a ride. For those who like to travel and take their bike with them this tracker is perfect. You’ll be able to conquer new territory with all the data you need on your wrist.
The design of this top end watch is as good as the price would suggest. Its rugged traditional watch face is finished with high quality materials. Despite the amount of technology packed into such a small device, it manages to maintain a low profile on your wrist. You have the option to customize the wristband to find a style to suit you and with different straps you can quickly switch between an everyday or fitness look.
Finally, the battery life on the Fenix 6 is very impressive. This Garmin smartwatch can last days and weeks without a recharge, depending on use. Overall, it’s an incredibly powerful watch that delivers in every department. You’ll have to splash the cash but it’s worth it if you are a keen cyclist or an athlete looking for quick access to data.
What about Phone Apps, Kids, and Casual Runners?
We’ve covered the best GPS fitness trackers on the market, but some questions still remain. In the following section we will cover GPS tracking apps, the best fitness trackers for kids, and good options for casual runners.
Best GPS Fitness Tracker Apps
This app is brilliant for absolute beginners who want to get into running. If you like the idea of running but hate the idea of getting started, then the Couch to 5K runner App can help.
With this app you’ll build up your activity gradually over 8 weeks, starting with walk/run intervals and eventually progressing to a full 5K run. With over 4.2 million success stories this app has a proven track record.
The app is very user friendly and easy to navigate, and you’ll be able to join an online community with others who have embarked on the journey. It doesn’t matter whether you run at the gym on a treadmill or outdoors, you’ll still be able to track your progress with this app.
Strava’s ability to integrate a social platform with fitness tracking is unrivalled. There’s a reason that it’s the app of choice for millions of fitness enthusiasts across the world. With solid GPS performance via your smartphone or smartwatch you can upload a map of your runs automatically as well as analyse data.
The social aspect is great, you can follow friends and family and encourage each other along the way. You are also able to set challenges to keep running, cycling, and other activities engaging.
You can download this app for free and get started straight away, all you need is an account and you can track your runs and start following professional athletes as well as friends and family.
Best GPS Fitness Tracker for Kids
Kids aren’t worried about calories, cadence, or heart rate, but there are some fun and accessible fitness trackers out there that are directed toward the younger generation.
This product makes fitness fun and engaging. Parents and kids will be able to track steps, sleep, and daily activity. On top of that you can set reminders for homework or chores to save you nagging!
This smartwatch also connects to a device where your child can use activity minutes to unlock games and challenges. This really helps develop a positive relationship with fitness as through fun games and challenges your child will enjoy exercise.
Garmin have created interchangeable wrist straps that feature characters and franchises like Minnie Mouse and Star Wars. It’s never too soon to introduce your kids to a healthy and active lifestyle, and the Garmin Vivofit Jr. 2 makes it that bit easier.
Fitbit has long been at the forefront of the fitness tracker industry. The Fitbit Ace 2 has tailored features for children to help them develop a healthy relationship with exercise.
Much like the Vivofit, the Fitbit Ace 2 tracks your child’s activity and uses challenges to keep them interested. Kids can see stats, goal celebrations, and also receive notifications from contacts that are permitted via parental controls.
This smartwatch is also customizable. Kids have the opportunity to change the clock face to animated graphics as well as selecting an avatar. The wrist strap is available in a number of different colours so your child can pick their favourite.
The Ace 2 is built of strong stuff and therefore will be able to handle the adventurous life of a child. The edge of the watch face protects it from scratches and it’s also water resistant up to 50 metres.
Best Fitness Tracker for iPhone
iPhone users should consider the Apple Watch as a fitness tracker option. The matching software offers seamless usability between the two devices. For a smartwatch that isn’t solely a fitness tracker, the Apple Watch Series 5 has a number of features that will aid casual runners with their fitness goals.
The Apple Watch Series 5 comes in two different models, the slightly more expensive model has built in GPS whereas the other requires your phone to be nearby. The GPS is able to track all your running, cycling, and swimming sessions, as well as a number of other indoor and outdoor activities. There are also navigation features for those who want to test out new routes and heart rate data for you to review your fitness and establish the intensity of your workout.
You’ll also be able to view and track a number of heath metrics that few other fitness trackers offer. Fall detection can let an emergency contact know if you are in trouble while out on a run or cycle automatically. You can also see your exposure to noise which is an aspect of our health we often overlook. For type 1 and type 2 diabetics you can also view your glucose levels on your wrist via your glucose monitor.
Evidently, there are specific features that make this watch particularly suited to some individuals, and overall as a watch that balances lifestyle and fitness features it’s unmatched. If you like to keep fit but don’t need the more in-depth metrics, then the apple watch is great for keeping you on track.