There are a large number of sports watches available to help athletes at all levels track their performance, measure their progress, and keep track of their goals.
Many sports watches can be used to monitor heart rate, calorie burn, blood oxygen levels and other important health metrics. Some watches can even carry your full music library or help direct you on your running route!
But there are so many different models of sports watch that it can be tricky to know where to start.
If you’re looking for a sports watch to help you reach your fitness goals, check out our list of the six best sports watches for athletes below.
But before you dive in, figure out what is important to you
There is such a wide range of sports watches available, it’s important that you make a checklist about what is important to you before you dive in. There are a few considerations we’ve listed below.
Compatibility And App Support
Apple Watches are amazing if you are part of the Apple ecosystem, and have an iPhone. If you’re an android phone user, you might struggle to get the most out of your Apple Watch.
Most sports watches have supporting apps for your phone (Garmin Connect, Fitbit Health and Fitness, Polar Flow etc). It’s worth having a quick review of the app functionality that links with your watch, and look at the reviews of other users.
If you already have a favourite run tracker such as Strava, it’s also worth making sure your watch and supporting app can sync with that easily as well.
Suitability For Your Sport
The majority of sports watches are waterproof and are capable of tracking multiple sports, not just running.
However, just because a watch is waterproof doesn’t mean that it measures strokes when you swim, which is something that is worth checking if you’re an avid swimmer.
If you’re into more extreme sports, or like to go off the beaten path with your hikes or trail runs, you might also want to consider a multi-sport watch with in-built navigation.
Accuracy and Functionality of GPS and Heart Rate Monitors
The majority of sports watches have a built in GPS mode for tracking your runs, and also have a heart rate monitor.
However, the accuracy and functionality of these features vary by device.
Some GPS and Heart Rate monitoring might be quite basic, but are just what a beginner athlete needs.
For more serious athletes that want to make sure they are training in optimum heart rate zones, accuracy is more important and they possibly want to consider a watch that alerts them as they move through different heart rate zones.
It’s important to choose a sports watch with a solid battery life.
Take a look at the difference in the estimated battery life when the watch is in ‘watch mode’ compared to when it is in GPS mode, and take a call if it suits your exercise needs.
Some people won’t run without their phone. For others, it’s a dead weight they would love to leave at home while they exercise.
Some sports watches have the ability to store music, so you can exercise comfortably without your phone nearby. It’s for you to decide if this is an important feature or not!
1) Garmin Forerunner 245 / 245 Music
The Garmin Forerunner 245 / 245 Music is the updated version of one of Garmin’s most popular sports watches, the Forerunner 235.
For music lovers, the 245 Music can connect to your Spotify account to play music, and has music storage for up to 500 songs on the watch itself for listening without your phone.
The inclusion of the VO2 max tracker can help you evaluate your performance as you exercise, and will alert you if you’re taking it too easy or pushing too hard.
Despite its name, the Forerunner is not just a dedicated running watch – it is ideal for tracking a variety of sports, and is water resistant to 50m, so is ideal for swimmers or triathletes.
The Forerunner 245 contains all the features have come to expect from Garmin watches, with a few added extras to boot. Some of the major features include:
- GPS Tracking
- Calorie Tracker
- Heart Rate Tracking
- Sleep Tracker
- VO2 Max Tracker
- Read texts, emails and social notifications
- Waterproof to 50m
- App Support with Garmin Connect
- Excellent battery life of up to 7 days, with fast 1 hour charging
You can buy the Garmin Forerunner 245 from Decathlon.
2) Fitbit Sense
The Fitbit Sense is a little bit different from some of the other smart watches we’ve included in our list, as it focuses as much on mental wellness as tracking your physical activity.
The stress monitor of the Fitbit Sense measures the conductivity of your skin (influenced by perspiration) and gives you an indication of how calm you are. You’re then able to manually update how you were feeling at the time of the scan, with all results being recorded on the Fitbit app.
The Sense also holds its own as a fitness watch and has all the fitness tracking capabilities and features you would expect from a fitness watch. There are a variety of sport modes and the ability to vibrate as you move between different heart rate zones is ideal for those looking to optimise their training.
The Fitbit Sense provides alerts for emails, texts and social media, and has a good battery life of up to 6 days. The Sense is also water resistant to 50m and is ideal for tracking your swims.
You can buy the Fitbit Sense at Decathlon.
3) Coros Pace 2
The Coros Pace 2 has a lightweight design and is commonly recognised as a more fashionable alternative to the Garmin Forerunner 245. At its launch it made the bold claim to be the lightest GPS watch on the market, weighing only 29 grams.
The other impressive feature of the Pace 2 is its incredible battery life. It offers up to 20 days of daily use, or up to 30 hours of GPS battery life.
The Coros Pace 2 also includes a ‘night mode’ which is powered by a backlight that is ideal for tracking your runs and fitness activity at night.
A quick summary of all the main key features of the Coros Pace 2:
- Heart Rate Tracking
- Sleep Tracking
- Step Tracking
- Calorie Tracking
- Water Resistant
- Long battery life
You can buy the Coros Pace 2 at Decathlon
4) Apple Watch Series 7
Our list of sports watches wouldn’t be complete without including the latest iteration of the Apple Smart Watch.
The Apple Watch 7 has a larger display than the 6 and includes a full QWERTY keyword.
If you’re part of the Apple ecosystem, and own an iPhone, the Apple Watch links seamlessly and with its larger size is almost like having a mini iPhone on your wrist!
The Apple Watch probably has more ‘smart watch’ functionality than the other sports watched on this list, and has everything you need to keep you connected with your texts, emails and calls. There is also impressive music storage on the device, making it ideal for music lovers.
As a sports watch, it probably sits a little bit behind some of the other watches we cover, but still has an impressive heart rate tracker, GPS tracker, calorie tracker and sleep tracker. The Apple Watch Series 7 also includes a blood oxygen sensor.
The one downside of the Apple Watch is its comparative battery life, which sits at only 18 hours. It’s also possibly not the best choice for android users.
You can buy the Apple Watch Series 7 at Argos.
5) Garmin Fenix 7 Solar
The second Garmin watch on our list, the Garmin Fenix Solar is the best multi-sport watch we’ve reviewed.
It has built in apps that include training profiles for climbing, skiing, surfing and rowing, as well as your more common sports such as running, swimming and cycling.
The Garmin Fenix 7 also has a solar charging lens, which helps extend its battery life. When in watch mode, you can expect approximately 18 days of battery, which extends to 22 with solar charging. When in GPS mode, the Fenix 7 can last up to 57 hours – or 73 hours with solar charging.
This impressive watch also helps you to navigate, and has preloaded maps of Europe to assist you on your adventures.
You can buy the Garmin Fenix 7 Solar at Goldsmiths.
6) Polar Vantage V2
The final watch on our list is one of the most popular GPS watches from Polar, the Vantage V2.
We’d say that this is a watch that is more tailored to serious athletes, as it omits some of the fancy features that can be found in other sports watches (music storage, payments etc) but replaces them with a more impressive portfolio of stats and data to help analyse performance.
The Vantage V2 sports watch includes cycling and running ‘tests’ that push you to your limits and then reports back on stats such as your VO2 Max, maximum aerobic power (MAP), the energy source you used at different parts of the test, and your muscle load.
You can buy the Polar Vantage V2 at Decathlon.