Top 5 Fitness Trackers for Runners

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Fitness trackers are essential tools in modern athletics. The ability to count your steps, measure your sleep patterns, and recovery is all data you need to know to get the most out of your runs and workouts. While increasing your fitness level can still be done the old-fashioned way, why not optimize your performance if you can?

Since the inception of the Fitbit, the market has been flooded with fitness tracker options ranging from simple heart rate monitors to complex data collection systems that inform the user on everything from their sleep quality to the weather. Before we get into our product lineup, let’s go over some of the most important options to consider in our list of the best fitness trackers for runners.

Things to Consider

There are so many features packed into modern fitness trackers it can be hard to keep track of which ones are important or not. To keep it simple, generally having more features is almost always going to be the better option. But features like optimum heart rate monitoring and sleep cycle tracking are going to be the most important. After all, getting more out of your rest will get you the most out of your runs.

For adventurous types like trail runners or those who like to take a different route around their city on their runs, GPS tracking is necessary. While you always have the option to stop, pull out your phone, and see where you’re going, navigation on your wrist doesn’t interrupt your rhythm.

Personal fitness tracking technology has come a long way in the past decade, or so, many modern fitness trackers still are unable to keep up with the seasoned runner. In this list, we compile the best fitness trackers for runners (in no particular order).

Fitbit Charge 4

Fitbit Charge 4 Fitness and Activity Tracker with Built-in GPS, Heart Rate, Sleep & Swim Tracking, Black/Black, One Size (S &L Bands Included)
  • Use built-in GPS to see your pace and distance on screen during outdoor runs, rides, hikes and more and see a workout intensity map in the app that shows your heart rate changes along your route
  • With Active Zone Minutes, feel a buzz when you reach your target heart rate zones during exercise, and celebrate when you earn extra minutes outside of exercise
  • Get a 90-day free trial of the Fitbit Premium to help you stay active, sleep well and manage stress. Unlock it all in the Fitbit app. (The valid payment method required. Cancel before free trial ends to avoid subscription fees. Offer valid for new Premium users only)
  • Use 24/7 heart rate to track resting heart rate & better measure calorie burn
  • Play your favorite songs and playlists with Spotify app controls on your wrist. Also make secure purchases with Fitbit Pay and get called, text and smartphone app notifications.

The Charge 4 is the original fitness tracker’s most modern addition to their lineup. For this model, Fitbit stayed true to its original sleek and simple design but packed it full of features like GPS tracking, text notifications, and waterproofing. For a functional fitness tracker that you don’t have to worry about matching to your outfit, the Fitbit Charge 4 is a great option.

Pros:

  • Free 90 day trial to Fitbit Premium
  • Notifies user when they are at their optimum heart rate
  • Spotify compatible
  • Lots of sleep tools
  • Waterproof down to 50m

Cons:

  • Reported 7-day battery life is not accurate for many users
  • Screen wake doesn’t always work
  • Interface lacks features

Garmin vívosmart 4

Sale
Garmin vivosmart 4, Activity and Fitness Tracker w/ Pulse Ox and Heart Rate Monitor, Black, Large Band
  • Slim, smart activity tracker blends fashionable design with stylish metal accents and a bright, easy-to-read display
  • Includes advanced sleep monitoring with REM sleep and can gauge blood oxygen saturation levels during the night with the wrist-based Pulse Ox sensor. (Not a medical device and not intended for use in the diagnosis or monitoring of any medical condition)
  • Fitness and health monitoring tools include estimated wrist-based heart rate, all-day stress tracking, Relaxation breathing timer, Vo2 Max, body battery energy monitor and more
  • Features dedicated activity timers for walks, runs, strength training, yoga, pool swims and others
  • Get vibration alerts for All notifications, including calls, text messages and more (text replies available for Android Device users)

Garmin’s fourth-generation vívosmart is a stylish fitness tracker that’s priced affordably. The difference between the vívosmart and other fitness trackers at this price point is their accuracy. When compared side-by-side with other fitness trackers, this one doesn’t deviate from the more expensive models in terms of data output.

Pros:

  • Accurately measures stress, sleep, recovery, and blood oxygen
  • 7-day battery life
  • Activity timers
  • Attractive design
  • Vibration phone notifications

Cons:

  • Touch screen isn’t very responsive
  • Customer care is subpar

Coros APEX

Coros APEX Premium Multisport GPS Watch with Heart Rate Monitor, 35h Full GPS Battery, Sapphire Glass, Barometer, ANT+ & BLE Connections, Strava & Training Peaks
  • Titanium alloy bezel finish with sapphire glass for APEX 46mm // Stainless steel bezel finish with sapphire glass for APEX 42mm
  • Superior battery life with up to 30 days of regular use, 35 hours in full GPS mode and 100 hours in UltraMax GPS mode.
  • Built-in Wrist-based heart rate monitor, barometer, altimeter, and compass. Water resistant up to 100 Meters/328 Feet
  • Digital Knob for easy operation by allowing full control of the watch with a single finger.
  • Industry leading GPS and distance tracking via GPS, GLONASS or BDS satellites and proprietary algorithms even in dense woods with direct integration with popular 3rd party training platforms like Strava, TrainingPeaks, Relive, Final Surge and Runalyze.

Coros is a less well-known name in the fitness industry, but the APEX has established them as a real competitor, even outcompeting the Apple Watch in certain regards. It’s packed full of data sensors that let you see all the information from your run, including elevation gain and an exceptional GPS that even works far up in the mountains. The Coros APEX is the watch for hardcore trail runners.

Pros:

  • Sleep tracker
  • Screen is easy to see even in bright conditions
  • Long battery life for this kind of watch
  • Tracks altitude, barometric pressure, and even sends you weather alerts
  • Fantastic companion app
  • Works well in the cold
  • Connects with third-party fitness apps like Strava and Runalyze

Cons:

  • Very large
  • No touch screen

Apple Watch Series 5

Sale
Apple Watch Series 5 (GPS, 40mm) - Space Gray Aluminum Case with Black Sport Band
  • GPS
  • Always-On Retina display
  • 30% larger screen
  • Swimproof
  • ECG app

The original smartwatch has gotten even smarter with the fitness tracking upgrades to the 5th generation Apple Watch. Apple made some simple tweaks on this version, like making the screen a bit larger and keeping the interface always-on with a low battery consumption retina display. On top of that, Apple has things like fall detection and emergency SOS to keep its users safe and secure on their run.

Pros:

  • Seamless integration with your iPhone
  • Accurate fitness tracking
  • Tracks elevation
  • Built-in GPS and compass

Cons:

  • Expensive
  • No sleep tracking
  • Battery life could be better

Amazfit BIP

Amazfit BIP smartwatch by Huami with All-Day Heart Rate & Activity Tracking, Sleep Monitoring, GPS, 30-Day Battery Life, Bluetooth (Cinnabar Red), One Size
  • Look as Good as You Feel: With a range of colors and options, the Bip is designed to be worn as an extension of your personal style. Weighing only 1.1oz (32g), and with a bright, transflective always-on 1.28" display, the Bip can be worn all day.
  • Go the Distance: Use the Amazfit Bip for up to 30 days on a single 2.5-hour charge.
  • Don't Miss a Beat: Optical heart rate monitoring and built-in GPS allow you to accurately track in real-time your steps taken, distance traveled, calories burned, and quality of sleep. Special sport modes (running, treadmill, cycling and walking) give you even more detailed insights into your most frequent activities.
  • Be in the Know: The perfect companion to keep you organized and productive all day long. Receive one-way notifications for emails, SMS messages, and incoming phone calls (prompting you to take action on your smartphone), as well as alerts for Facebook, Twitter, WhatsApp, LinkedIn, Snap, Slack, weather forecasts, and other mobile apps.
  • Satisfaction Guaranteed: Buy with confidence. Amazfit offers a 30-day refund policy, and 12-month new replacement warranty.

You can expect Amazon’s house brand of fitness trackers to always beat its competition price-wise. But that’s not the reason it’s included on this list. What really sets this tracker apart from the others is it’s 30-day battery life. You read that right, 30-days.

The Amazfit BIP may not have all the features some of the other fitness trackers have. But considering the price point and its functionality, it would be perfect for someone investing in their first fitness tracker, or someone who is only interested in bare-minimum data output.

Pros:

  • $69.99 starting price
  • 30-day refund policy
  • 12-month warranty
  • Long battery life
  • Tracks heart rate, distance traveled, calories burned, steps taken, and sleep quality
  • Shows notifications from your phone
  • Built-in GPS

Cons:

  • Strap isn’t very comfortable
  • Step counter is easily thrown off
  • Google fit data report is somewhat confusing
  • Have to pause the watch if you stop to get a drink of water

Our Top Pick

Coros APEX Premium Multisport GPS Watch with Heart Rate Monitor, 35h Full GPS Battery, Sapphire Glass, Barometer, ANT+ & BLE Connections, Strava & Training Peaks
  • Titanium alloy bezel finish with sapphire glass for APEX 46mm // Stainless steel bezel finish with sapphire glass for APEX 42mm
  • Superior battery life with up to 30 days of regular use, 35 hours in full GPS mode and 100 hours in UltraMax GPS mode.
  • Built-in Wrist-based heart rate monitor, barometer, altimeter, and compass. Water resistant up to 100 Meters/328 Feet
  • Digital Knob for easy operation by allowing full control of the watch with a single finger.
  • Industry leading GPS and distance tracking via GPS, GLONASS or BDS satellites and proprietary algorithms even in dense woods with direct integration with popular 3rd party training platforms like Strava, TrainingPeaks, Relive, Final Surge and Runalyze.

Our personal favorite tracker on this list is the Coros APEX. For one, it looks like a watch. Call us old-fashioned, but we like the look of a classic watch. More importantly, though, the GPS and weather tracking features are lifesavers for trail runners. And the cold resistance is also important for many runners. Living in a subarctic climate, many fitness trackers stop working when it gets too cold outside.

That said, the trackers on this list are some of the best fitness trackers for runners out there. With things like points of measurement and GPS tracking being paramount, any item on this list would fit the bill for a serious runner.

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