The Best Fitness Trackers and Outdoor Watches
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Fitness trackers are a great way to improve, track and level up your exercise routine. They can track steps, monitor your heart rate and sleep, suggest custom workouts, and more.
There are a lot of fitness trackers out there, running the gamut from affordable health-focused devices to high end smart and outdoor watches. Here are some of the best.
The Most Versatile Fitness Trackers
If you want a fitness tracker that also works as a full featured, versatile smartwatch, these are the devices for you.
Apple Watch Series 8
The eighth iteration of Apple’s flagship smartwatch is packed with new features and is better than ever. It is far and away the best fitness tracker for the iPhone.
The Apple Watch Series 8 starts at $399, with prices going up if you opt for a larger watch case or a fancier band.
The health and fitness features built into WatchOS 9 include a detailed, customizable Workout app, sleep tracking, in-depth running metrics, a Health app, and more. All of the basics like heart rate and step tracking are there too. Outside of fitness, Crash Detection is the most notable new feature on the Series 8. Crash Detection works by sensing if you’ve been in a car accident, and notifying emergency services if you haven’t responded in 10 seconds.
The Apple Watch is a breeze to set up and easy to use. It’s also useful for things outside of fitness. It syncs with your iPhone, and works like an extension of it, making it easy to access texts, calls, emails, and more without pulling your phone out. If you’re a lifelong iPhone user who’s never had a smartwatch, it’s tough to find one that’s better.
Activating and using an Apple Watch requires an iPhone, therefore, if you're an Android user, you’ll need to switch to an iPhone in order to use the watch.
Samsung Galaxy Watch5
There are a ton of watches out there that use Google’s Wear OS. The Galaxy Watch5 is a good pick: it’s comfortable and comes loaded with Samsung’s health and fitness feature suite.
The Galaxy Watch5 starts at $280 for the Wireless and Bluetooth version. If you want to add 4G LTE cellular coverage on top of that, the price starts at $330.
The Watch5 comes with health features, like workout detection, sleep tracking, oxygen measurements, and more. Beyond that, Watch OS means you’ll have access to Google Maps and Google Assistant, as well as notifications from your Android smartphone.
The Watch5 requires an Android smartphone, which means it’s compatible with far more devices than the Apple Watch. If you want a fitness tracker that works with your Android phone, the Watch5 is the way to go.
Like the Apple Watch, you can’t set up and use the Watch5 without a phone, so it’s not ideal if you’re looking for a standalone tracker. And while it’s affordable as far as full-featured smart watches go, the extra money isn’t worth it if you don’t plan on using it as anything other than a fitness tracker.
The Best Affordable Fitness Trackers
Smartwatches are great, but they’re pricey and, frankly, not everyone needs all of those features. If you just want something to workout with, check out these fitness trackers.
Fitbit Charge 5
As far as pure fitness trackers go, the Fitbit Charge 5 is the best all around option. It’s affordable, easy to use, and very good at its job.
The Fitbit Charge 5 is $150.
From heartbeat and steps to sleep and atrial fibrillation, the Charge 5 is packed with sensors that track just about everything. It also has built-in GPS and an excellent screen.
The Fitbit Charge 5 has built in GPS and does not require a phone, so you can work out and run without carrying yours around. It does have an excellent app for both iOS and Android, and it’s worth using that to track your exercise history and stats. It’s also very easy to use: this is probably the most accessible fitness tracker you can buy.
As a fitness tracker, it’s tough to find any true cons in the Charge 5. But remember that it is not a full featured smartwatch. It lacks the more advanced non-fitness features of a Watch5 or Apple Watch, and it’s not as tightly integrated with your phone as either device.
Letsfit Fitness Tracker
If affordability is your main concern, look no further than the Letsfit Fitness Tracker.
The Letsfit Fitness Tracker is $39.99.
The Letsfit is pretty barebones. It can track your heart rate, sleep, and steps. It’s also fully waterproof.
Letsfit's biggest pro is its price: $39.99 for a basic fitness tracker is impossible to beat. It’s also reasonably comfortable. Being waterproof is a huge plus.
Every fitness tracker priced above the Letsfit will have more features. But the Letsfit isn’t designed to be a feature packed device. Instead, think of it as a great way to figure out if a fitness tracker is even something you want to use in the first place.
The Best Outdoor Fitness Trackers
Outdoor trackers are built for intense outdoor activities like long hikes or bike rides. They include features like solar charging and extremely accurate GPS, and have a price to match.
Garmin Fenix 7 Solar
Garmin has been the king of the outdoor tracker space for years. The Fenix 7 Solar is one of the best watches they’ve ever made.
The Garmin Fenix 7 Solar is $800.
The Fenix 7 Solar’s key feature is in the name. With solar charging, it’s capable of going 22 days without a charge. Beyond that, it’s loaded with the standard Garmin watch features: PacePro run tracking and guidance, daily workout suggestions, and multi-GNSS navigation and maps.
The Fenix 7 Solar does not need a phone. Combine that with solar charging, and you’ve got a device that won’t tether you anywhere. Its GNSS mapping system is extraordinarily accurate, pinpointing your location no matter where you are. If you’re the kind of person to go on a long-distance, backcountry bike ride or run, this is the watch for you.
The vast majority of people don’t need a fitness tracker like the Fenix 7 Solar. It’s ideal for the hardcore adventurer. For those who want a basic tracker or a full featured smartwatch, there are better, more affordable options.
Apple Watch Ultra
The Watch Ultra is Apple’s first entry into the outdoor watch space. It’s rugged, has excellent battery life, and is built to withstand extreme conditions.
The Apple Watch Ultra starts at $800.
On top of all of the Apple Watch’s fitness features, the ultra adds longer battery life, a redesigned case that’s easier to use with gloves, a new compass, and stronger GPS.
The Apple Watch Ultra is essentially an excellent smartwatch that can work as a specialized outdoor fitness tracker. In terms of pure versatility, it’s hard to beat.
Like the regular Apple Watch, the Ultra requires an iPhone to set up and use. It’s also not really a pure outdoor sport watch. It’s more of an outdoor watch combined with an Apple Watch. Which means you get Apple Watch features, like tight phone integration, but miss out on features like the Fenix 7’s solar charging.
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