The Best Sport Watches: The Ultimate Purchase Guide

By The Captain May 2, 2019

woman with sports watch
One of the most precious things we have in life is time – and over the years, we surely got better at creating just the right tools to track it. Nowadays, watches offer so much more than they used to, especially for sports enthusiasts of all levels and types of performance. So far, it’s been proven that choosing the best sport watches is a key step towards improving your physical performance and reaching your biggest goals.

However, when it comes to actually purchasing a product, the decision can be really hard to make. If you want the best triathlon watches battery life is important, whereas the best outdoor watches should include a modern GPS system.

To ensure that you have the best sports watches in your collection, we have reviewed a couple of top-rated sports watches that are widely used by professionals. So, let’s get started with it and find out the best sports watches that are available.


Who should read this?

Regardless if you’re a beginner, an amateur or a professional athlete or a sports person, this article will provide essential guidelines to choose the right item for your needs. Also, if you are not associated with hardcore athletics but are inclined towards bodybuilding and extensive workouts, this article can help you choose the best sports watches that can assist you during training.

After reading this, you’ll be able to tell which product is designed for a particular sport and what features are truly useful. Overall, if you’re interested in adding yet another valuable item to your workout-dedicated products, this article can thoroughly interest you.


Difference between fitness trackers, running watches and multi-sport watches

Sports watches can be quite handy. Their multiple functions can help you track your results and support you in motivating yourself towards improvement. There are essentially three kinds of sports watches: fitness trackers, running watches and multi-sport watches.

capit Fitness trackers can be helpful if you are looking to get back into shape or want to keep a tab on how active you are on a daily basis. They are also known as activity monitors or activity trackers. Easy to use and comfortable to wear, you can wear fitness trackers at all times just like any other normal watch.

The monitors offer you date and time and help you calculate the number of steps you have taken in a day. Also, they inform you of the number of calories you have burned in a day. They do sound quite helpful to retain a healthier lifestyle, don’t they? This is the quality of the best sports watches that they motivate you towards a positive way of living. [1]

capit Running watches are basically GPS watches that keep a track of the speed at which you are running. You can find both modern and traditional running watches. Modern running watches may get highly complicated to use and expensive to buy but offer great value. Traditional running watches are affordable and easy to use. They, however, only offer you the elapsed time and record lap splits to GPS trackers.

Running watches also have a heart rate monitor which is wrist-based and helps you keep a check on your heart’s health. It displays your average speed, greatest speed and total distance covered. It is one of the best sport watches that assist you in preparing for challenges such as a marathon, triathlon or a cycling event. [2]

capit Multi-sport watches are designed to be used for more than one sport. They entail a specific application for sports such as running, biking and swimming among several more. They also comprise GPS technology – most of them – to help you accurately track your location, distance, and speed.

The multi-sport watches boost your motivation by letting you know whether you are meeting your fitness goals and are on the right track or not. They let you know if your current training approach is efficient enough to help you reach your ultimate target or you have to modify your approach. These watches serve as your daily activity tracker and inspire you toward making the best use of time. [3]

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The main features of the best sport watches

The most appealing thing about sports watches is that they have a lot to offer, yet they’re also incredibly compact and easy to use. Each of the mentioned kind of sports watches has its own set of innovative applications and features. Multi-sports watches, as per the market research conducted in the United States, offer following the features that you can attain benefit from:

  • They have the ability to record your ability in multiple mediums. If you are swimming, running or cycling, they will efficiently record the time, your speed, pace and the distance covered to give you results.
  • They offer you statistics pertinent to heart rate, total distance covered, average speed retained, and total time taken for all activities and transitions.
  • Most multi-sport watches offer different screens for different activities, helping you gain distinguished and customized results for each.
  • They serve functions of a normal watch, giving you a clock and time of the day. [4]

These functions denote the multi-functioning of this category of watches, making them highly suitable for everyday use for sports enthusiasts and athletes.

Fitness tracker sports watches, on the other hand, have a high demand because they are more suitable to tracking essential factors for determining your physical performance. According to the market research that we have conducted, we found the following features in fitness trackers that make them popular and efficient:

  • Newer brands of fitness trackers offer built-in heart rate monitors and sensors to give a better fitness-oriented result.
  • They are waterproof and suitable for multiple sports including swimming.
  • They keep a tab on the calories you are burning on average through movement.
  • Fitness trackers indicate your activeness and determine how successful you are in gaining your fitness goals.
  • They give you a report of your overall performance, not a breakdown of your individual activities.
  • They are available in multiple designs like dongles and pendants aside from the traditional wrist design. This makes them comfortable to wear and carry.
  • Some of the fitness trackers are packed like normal-looking watches so that you can wear them anywhere anytime other than training sessions. [5]

These attributes make fitness trackers user-friendly and you can wear them even if you are not an athlete or an exercise junkie but just a watch admirer.

Last, but not least, if you are a runner or planning to take part in a marathon, running watches can be your optimal choice to train for the competition day. Serving as brilliant motivators, they can be your ultimate ally for a healthy and convenient training. Here are some attributes that we found common in a number of running watches from multiple brands in the United States:

  • Running watches offer real-time tracking information and updates about distance and splits.
  • They give data that is reliable and accurate than fitness apps.
  • Running watches have GPS and wrist-based heart monitor.
  • Some of the advanced brands offer the interval sessions feature that can help you build fitness and speed. [6]
  • They can be paired up with your smartphone to give you better access to your data and receive smart notifications.
  • They have a longer battery life and better temperature control. So, you are less likely to run out of battery amidst exercise or face malfunctioning due to the rise of internal temperature.
  • They use position technology to record your route to help you analyze your pace appropriately and change your training accordingly. [7]

These are a few characteristics of each kind of sports watch to help you distinguish how they differ from each other and how you can decide which one to choose from the best sports watches.

sports watch

Features for sports practitioners

As a sportsperson, you are engaged in multiple activities simultaneously, which is why sports watches can help you keep a tab on your overall performance and physical activity. For instance, in hiking and mountain climbing, practiced by many people to build their strength, a sports watch can help in offering crucial information such as altitude, location, and air pressure. Longer battery life and attributes like a compass, GPS, altimeter and barometer in some of the watches help in hiking and trekking. [8]

In biking, sports watches can help you keep a track of your overall fitness and consider metrics such as resting heart rate and while cycling. The best sport watches record your cycling activity optimally and save it to give you a complete statistics by the end of the activity. [9]

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Features for the best outdoor watches

If you are a sportsperson with more inclination towards outdoor activities such as hiking and trekking, you have to be rather careful in choosing your sports watch. You have to look out for specific features in the watch that you would need during your outdoor activity. For instance, GPS is important so that you can track your position. Sensors like barometer and compass are essential so that you know where you are headed. Other significant features include fitness tracker and altimeter to keep a tab on your wellbeing and the altitude you are moving towards. Here are some recommended best outdoor watches that you can choose from.

  • High-resolution color and sunlight-visible display – optimum for outdoor use
  • Wireless connectivity, monitors heart rate
  • Designed with soft and flexible black silicone to give a luxurious look
  • Size may be too big for your wrist
  • Altimeter may require daily adjustments



  • Tough solar power
  • LCD layout displays information at a glance
  • Strong water resistance for river trekking and rafting
  • Takes 20 minutes to acclimate itself so thermometer accuracy is a little delayed
  • The battery may not get fully charged after some time



  • Premium multisport GPS watch, best for hiking, trekking, climbing, backpacking, and everyday use
  • Comprises of elevate wrist heart rate technology
  • The bezel is made of stainless steel and lens if Sapphire glass, making it abrasion resistant and durable
  • Altimeter reading can be inaccurate sometimes
  • Battery life may diminish faster on GPS mode


Our choice

Among the best outdoor watches mentioned, we recommend you Garmin Fenix 5 if you are keen on having an optimally functioning sports watch in your outdoor sports endeavors. It offers excellent features of GPS, compass, barometer, thermometer, and altimeter among several others. It has numerous fitness features as well such as Vo2 estimator, recovery advisor, and race predictor, making it highly effectual for outdoor sports.

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Features of the best triathlon watches

If you are a triathlon athlete, keeping tabs on the number of laps might be the most challenging thing to do so. The last thing you would want is losing the count and doing extra laps during training. So, to retain your accuracy, triathlon watches can be an ally you can invest in. The best triathlon watches help you measure metrics pertinent to running, swimming, and biking. Here are the three options that we have reviewed to make the purchase decision easier for you.

  • Great for activities that have to do with distance, speed, and heart rate measurement
  • You do not need a chest wrap for measuring heart rate
  • Offers feedback planning, progression, and recovery
  • Customization needs to be done through the watch, not the app
  • HR strap is required during swimming to record heart rate



  • Has highly precise GPS
  • Entails numerous training functions
  • Offers accurate calculation of speed during running and number of laps and strokes while swimming
  • Customization needs to be done through the watch, not the app
  • HR strap is required during swimming to record heart rate




  • Chemical resistant
  • Optimal for multiple sports activities including swimming and running
  • Thin and lightweight design make it user-friendly
  • There are some complaints about battery life
  • Causes issues when you download third-party widgets


Our choice

Among these best triathlon watches, we highly recommend you Garmin Forerunner 935. It surely is one of the best sports watches to invest in. It has features, unlike other sports watches. Its impeccable design makes it really comfortable to wear and has a remarkable battery life. You do not have to worry if the GPS is consuming too much battery. It can give you highly accurate and precise data and is efficient in all sorts of sports activities including golf, skiing, paddling and cycling beside running and swimming.

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people running

How to choose the best sports watch?

Sports watches can be expensive, there is no doubt about that. You have to be rather careful in purchasing them. It is important that you find one that suits your preferences best and offer you an enjoyable experience. Whether or not you are a sportsperson, you can choose the best sports watch by considering the following criteria:

capit Outline your expectations

You should know what you are looking for and what you need out of the sports watch you are aiming to purchase. Think of the features you want in it and for what purpose you want to use it for.

capit Your budget

This is equally important as the first. Your budget is going to define your purchase. You cannot expect to buy a highly-advanced sports watch in a minimal budget. You can buy sports watches in almost all price ranges with varying features. So, outline your budget and features, and then choose the best one. [10]

capit  Design flexibility

The design is important to consider. This is based on the purpose you are aiming to use the watch for. If it is for everyday use where you want to wear it in formal events as well, we recommend you to look out for a design that is more appropriate for business style setting.

capit  Choosing the band

The band has a lot to do in sports watches. It has to be up to the par to make sure you have a comfortable experience.

capit Shock proof

Sports activities and training sessions require you to invest in gear that is durable enough to resist the hardships that come alongside. So make sure that the watch you purchase is shockproof and water resistant. [11]

Considering these criteria, we have shortlisted some of the best sports watches that you can find in the market in the United States. Let’s have a look at them and then you can choose which one goes best with your preference.


Top 5 Best sports watches 

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If you are a person, who needs music beats while working out but carrying the additional burden of music player or phone annoys you, Garmin’s Forerunner 645 Music is the ultimate choice for you. It is the only Garmin product that supports music. It offers all other significant features required for optimum training and athletic activities.

  • Available in a sleek and stylish design, 7 days battery life
  • Entails advanced features for running such as ground contact time balance, stride length and vertical ratio
  • Maintains track of everything from cycling to recreational activities
  • Customers report issues in heart rate measurement



If you are a triathlete, Garmin Forerunner 935 is one of the best watches you can purchase. It has highly advanced features and is optimum for sports activities like cycling and swimming. It has efficient power battery and has several in-built features.

  • Contains metrics of ground contact time balance and stride length
  • Comes with built-in barometer, altimeter, compass and heart rate monitor
  • The display can be customized using various widgets and faces
  • The size of the watch can be big for some, making it inconvenient to wear
  • Requires third-party software to use regular maps



If you are looking for a sports watch that is simple to use and attractive, Fitbit Versa SmartWatch is a good option to go for. It has a sleek look and subtle appearance that sits flat against your wrist. It is a fitness-oriented device that you can wear anywhere. It can assist your excessively in running, swimming and cycling, but you cannot use it for tracking your route as it lacks GPS.

  • Provides outstanding battery life and up to 2.5GB storage
  • Comfortable and user-friendly design with clear and bright screen display
  • Offers swim tracking and is water-resistant up to 50m
  • Does not have GPS
  • Entails lesser applications



Having inbuilt vibration capability, Polar Unisex M430 is convenient to use a running watch that offers low power GPS modes. With its recognizable design, Polar M430 has extensive features. It allows you to track your activity 24/7 and keep yourself alerted with the happenings around you. if you are not a hardcore athlete but have substantial fitness goals that include indoor running as well, Polar M430 can be your best ally at a great price.

  • Highly accurate in readings
  • Has an attractive design
  • Offers great battery life
  • Causes trouble during syncing
  • The screen cannot be blanked while exercising



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If you are new to working out or a trained athlete, Fitbit Ionic Smartwatch Sports Watch can be your convenient choice to carry out your workout in a personalized manner. It is very easy to use and is available in highly attractive designs. It entails impressive attributes, including access to your favorite app. It offers song storage and long battery of more than four days.

  • Stores and play over 300 songs
  • Built-in GLONASS offers tracking of pace, distance, routes and heart rate
  • Can work optimally even at 30,000 altitude
  • No sleep mode available
  • Does not offer canned responses for texts


Our choice

From the above mentioned best sports watches, our recommendation is Garmin’s Forerunner 645 Music. It is a great fitness tracker that has a remarkable battery life and offers extensive room for customization.

It is on the expensive side but it is a worthy investment that can support your athletic and sports performance and goals. It comes in a compact design and is comfortable to wear. It also supports Bluetooth headphones, making the use completely hassle-free. So if you are looking for a durable sports watch that has appealing look and intensive functions, Garmin Forerunner 645 Music is the ultimate answer.

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Wellness Captain