10 Best GPS Watches of 2018: Buying Guide and Reviews
Best GPS Watches: Modern technology has a lot to offer for the fitness conscious. While it is understandably difficult to cope up with the drudges of daily life and still try to keep fit, a number of gadgets aims to make it all easier. While it is true that technology cannot get you in shape, it can certainly help you keep track of your health. In fact, this has increasingly been the focus of the wearable industry over the last half a decade or so, and it also happens to be the area where this has seen the maximum scale of progress.
- Today, more and more people are investing in wearable technology to help them get in shape, and the most convenient device to carry around on your person at all time is undoubtedly a GPS watch.
How does the GPS technology affect one's lifestyle, you ask?
Well, for starters, a GPS watch, or any GPS device in the first place basically measures out the distances that we travel and help us track our location. But their use in wearable technology, like in the best GPS watches, signifies a greater goal.
You see, by tracking your movement throughout the day, the distance you cover on foot, whether you choose to hike, or run, or even swim, they boost your confidence in partaking in daily challenging activities that get you to move around.
Best GPS Watches: Know About them First
To put it simply, a GPS watch is a wearable which, like any other watch, is supposed to be worn on the wrist much in the manner of a watch. But what makes it different is the integration of a GPS unit into it.
But like we have already noted before, the best GPS watches, despite being labeled like that, are often much more than that. With the array of functions that they come with, they aim at improving your lifestyle by making you aware of your daily activities.
They fall under the broad category of what we have come to term as a smartwatch, and the sensors can range from heart rate monitors to even foot pods.
There are some that also function on traditional battery types too, however, which need the user to replace the unit at intervals ranging between three to six months.
Why do you need a GPS Watch?
While counting on modern technology to get your lifestyle up and running might seem like an unnecessary and expensive ordeal to most of us, we can't really ignore the fact that they do make things easier for us.
The thing about the best GPS watches is that they help you to take control of your daily habits by recording them and feeding you the information in an organized, and easy to understand way. So while you think that the only way to monitor your heart rate, if that is a major concern for you, is by strapping on an uncomfortable belt across your chest and keep in on all day, you are ready to be proved wrong.
- The best GPS watches will do that for you by being a constant presence on your wrist- something that you are already used to. These devices also fall under the category of activity trackers, but while not all activity trackers are wearable on the wrist, these, being essentially watches, are.
It is important to note here that not all GPS watches will get you the most accurate readings, but count on the best ones to get as close to accurate as possible. At least you can take comfort from the fact that the reading will not be noticeably misleading. So how do you choose the best GPS watch for your needs? Well, we are here to help you find out.
Like all things, it is important that you get a good idea about the device in question before you go on to buy one. This is especially important for two reasons that are interconnected.
Firstly, you do not want to end up with a device that does not give you accurate readings, and you definitely will not benefit from a GPS watch that only does one thing.
The whole thing comes as a package of sorts with all its sensors, so it is important to understand the most basic ones among them to get an idea about what you actually need.
Now as you can already understand, a piece of technology that is functional and accurate enough to be dependable for the most part will cost you a decent amount of money.
In the case of the best GPS watches, you truly get what you pay for, although there are some budget pieces out there that live up to our expectations. What we are trying to say is that buying a GPS watch is going to be more akin to an investment that will last you more than a few years, so you need to know what you are getting will really be your money's worth.
Here are a few things that you need to consider before taking the plunge and joining the ever growing league of smartwatch converts.
The first question you need to ask yourself before buying a GPS smartwatch is, what do you really need it for?
Are you enthusiastic about running or hiking and want it to keep track of the distance you run, whether on your treadmill or outside amidst nature? Or are you thinking about getting serious about fitness and want an inspiration to lead the way into getting you outdoors for activities that do not involve a car?
In both cases, the point is not only to monitor your movements, but also to provide you with the necessary motivation to get you up and moving. And likewise, both kinds of people will benefit from the use of a GPS watch.
There are other uses too: for instance, regardless of whether you have a condition or not, you might want to keep regular track of how your heart is performing throughout the day.
Do keep in mind that you will find activity specific GPS watches on the market as well. So if you're going to be hiking a lot, or running, then you can go for the kind designed specifically with that activity in mind. Or if you are a swimmer who wants to track the distances you swim during a session or want to know how much calories you burned, then you can go a GPS watch that specializes in swimming aid.
The latter will obviously need to be waterproof- a quality that not all devices possess. So the bottom line is that you really need to know what kind of activities you are looking at performing with a GPS watch on. Not all watches are the same, and you can be sure that the best GPS watch meant for climbing will often not turn out to be the best device for cycling.
If you are undecided, you can go for one of the all in one GPS watches that are opted for by heavy activity enthusiasts, but they can be pricey, so it helps to know beforehand.
Sensors: It is true that best GPS watches come armed with a host of sensors (besides the GPS itself) to help you monitor things like heart rate, calories burned, and even your sleep cycle. But while most devices you find on the market will have tall claims associated with them, you need to be aware of the accuracy of these.
This can be done with a little bit of research about the company itself, and of course, by asking for user feedback from those you know who use them. This latter thing may be a little difficult to pull off in person, as not all your neighbors will be invested in the idea of a smart wearable to keep them fit (smartwatches, even though have been one of the biggest booming technologies in recent years, still happen to be niche).
- But the most convenient thing that can be done to get honest feedback from is online sources. Do make sure to do your research online, for a misleading reading can do you more harm than good.
Water Resistance: This factor is more important than you think, for even if you are not a swimmer but plan to use your GPS watch outdoors, you would do good to ensure that your device can handle a few good splashes.
These can prove to be a bane to the life of your expensive wearable, even if all that you are planning to do with your GPS watch is using it inside the safe indoors of your gym. More so if you plan to use it for cycling, hiking, climbing, or running activities.
Price: What kind of GPS watch you want ultimately boils down to what you are willing to shell out. Not all smartwatches need to cost hundreds of dollars, but as we have said before, in most cases, you do get what you are paying for. But chalking out a budget beforehand will help you narrow down your search.
As is probably clear from everything that we have said so far, it is really not that difficult to find yourself the best piece of equipment the market has to offer for your specific needs. From here, we move on to out list of the best GPS watches that are available right now but do take note that we will include varied types, including devices that are more specific to an activity.
We have also paid attention to the all-important price factor, so you can rest assured knowing that you will find pieces to suit every budget. In short, we will try to focus on the best GPS watches that suit every need, activity, and budget.
# Best for Beginners
Garmin will probably figure on every single list of GPS aided devices as a frontrunner, as the company's GPS technology is widely known for being some of the best in the game. For the first product on our compilation of the best GPS watches, we wanted to pick an all-rounder of sorts, and every reviewer will tell you that the Garmin Forerunner 35 (quite aptly named, in this case), is a clear winner for being a near perfect round up of world class features that can be banked on, though at an affordable price.
The Garmin Forerunner 35 GPS Watch comes with a great piece of tracking technology packed under the hood which does not need you to stay connected to a smartphone to get your feed. Besides that, it packs in sensors for measuring pace, heart rate, distance to keep your basic activities covered. The new modern display makes sure you do not have any trouble viewing it when you're outside. It is our pick for being the best GPS watch for beginners.
- Garmin's trusty accurate GPS unit
- Functions as a great standalone device
Heart rate monitor is shaky
Verdict: At the price it comes for, the Garmin Forerunner 35 is the serious beginners' best bet.
# Best for gymgoers
Fitbit's most popular smartwatch has been around for a while, but the creators have not been idle in improving it. By the time we are writing this post, the Fitbit Blaze has received countless upgrades, both on the hardware and software side of things, only to make it better and more efficient at doing its job.
This watch comes with new and improved sensors and tracking mechanisms that run more accurate than earlier versions; among the things that it tracks are calories you lose, how much time you spend in the day being active, and stairs climbed besides the more requisite ones like steps and heart rate.
But what we really like about the Fitbit Blaze is the improved sleep tracker. The Blaze is designed to get acquainted with your sleep cycle over time and make activity suggestions for the rest of the day accordingly.
Perhaps what we like best about the Fitbit Blaze is its versatility in terms of looks. With its smart rectangular dial and traditional looking band, it looks almost akin to a normal watch that can be worn anywhere, especially when the screen goes black. We recommend the Fitbit Blaze as the best gps watches 2018 for those who do not see themselves owning multiple watches for different occasions.
- Great updated piece of equipment
- Capable sensors that even keep track your sleep cycle.
Reading often fall way short of being accurate
Verdict: The Fitbit Blaze both looks good and feels good, so it is an easy option to go for. We recommend it for fitness enthusiasts who do not only wish to use their watch for tracking outdoor activity.
# Best for Runners
Runners who are acquainted with smartwatches are well aware of Polar's contribution to the field. The new Polar M600 is probably the best runner's smartwatch out there, and it works exceptionally well with Polar's own software.
As a running watch, you can expect its GPS tracking to be as accurate as it can get. In addition to that, there is a dedicated button on the device that lets you connect to Polar Flow without any hassles.
The thing about the Polar M600 is that it is first and foremost a fitness oriented device. Even though it is the runner's best option, it can also serve well as a multi sporting device, so you can wear it through any demanding outdoor physical activities.
The other great thing about the smartwatch is that it comes with onboard music storage option- a rare thing to come by in best GPS watches with a decent battery life. With the Polar M600, on the other hand, the only other thing you will need if you like to carry your music along on your runs is a pair of Bluetooth enabled earphones.
Almost unbeatable as a running watch, but great for every other activity too
Onboard music storage makes running more pleasant and hasslefree
Great app support
Cannot connect to an external device
Verdict: The makers created the Polar M600 as a running watch, and that is what it does best. Go for it if running is your passion.
# Best for hikers
While modern day smartwatches tend to pack in all kinds of features and sensors, it is difficult to find one that is particularly good for the purpose of hiking/ climbing activities. The Suunto Ambit 3 Peak GPS Watch is marketed specifically towards the avid hiking community, and comes with a host of related sensors like altimeter, barometer, temp reader, and more.
- The weather forecast feature is also bang on, meaning that you can count on it. Moreover, these sensors are also some of the most accurate you can find for your money.
But in no way does it mean that it is exclusive for hikers; one can put its amazing functionalities to use even in other outdoor activities.
You can also create own Suunto Movie with moments from your adventures and share them with your friends. The highlight of the watch, though, and what makes it perfect for those long climbing trips away from your home, is the long battery life and accurate GPS tracking within 5 seconds. It is arguably one of the best gps watches under $400.
Perfect equipment for climbers and hikers
Weather proof, water proof up to 100m
Great connectivity options
Definitely not inconspicuous
Verdict: The Suunto Ambit 3 Peak GPS Watch is big and bulky, but then it is not meant to be an everyday wear. Go for it if you are an avid climber.
Withings is one of the most well known GPS tracking watch manufacturers that are in existence in today's date. The Withings Steel HR GPS watch is best known for its versatile looks that can take you anywhere between an office meeting to the outdoors. The first thing that you will notice about the Withings Steel HR is that it really looks like a regular watch. It is equipped with analog hands, and everything on its attractive face looks like something you have been wearing all your life, in a good way.
If you are one of those who feel uncomfortable at the mere thought of a smartwatch that is bulky and very futuristic, then the Withings Steel HR can easily be your pick. And not just for its looks.
It packs in a number of useful features and sensors within its slim, very wearable body, including a heart rate monitor that tracks regular heart activities and resting heart rate while you sleep.
What makes it an even more desirable package is that it is very versatile even in terms of activities. You can literally take this watch anywhere- run, walk, climb, or swim. Yes, the Withings Steel HR is water resistant too (up to 50 meters). It also comes with a decent battery that will last you days in between charges even when used in its full capacity
- Beautiful versatile design
- Water Resistant
- Good battery unit
- Great features are housed inside the small body
The most basic problem with this device is that you cannot see the hands at night
Verdict: The Withings Steel HR is probably the best GPS Watches of 2018 for those who want to own a single piece of equipment for all purposes.
The TomTom Spark 3 Cardio + is a serious upgrade over the original TomTom Spark. Not only is it the most updated version of the classic TomTom Spark, but it also packs in some amazing features for added functionalities and also entertainment. On the former front, the new TomTom Spark 3 Cardio + packs in a great wrist based heart rate monitor for the times when you sweat it out.
You need not relegate it to gym use, for like the Withings Steel HR, it can be taken anywhere. It is useful for tracking activities like running, cycling, and swimming, thanks to its waterproof make that can tolerate immersion up to 40m. Its sensors cover everything from speed, distance, calories burned, and accurate statistical feedback on the go owing to its built in GPS. It also features an audio feedback system which lets you go about your activities without having to worry about glancing at your watch every few minutes.
- Beautiful eye catching design
- Water Resistant body
- Ships with wireless earphones
You can get other, more reliable options for this price
Verdict: The TomTom Spark 3 Cardio + is undoubtedly a great technological aid for your personal workouts.
The Apple Watch is not only synonymous with uber luxury, but also an extremely efficient smartwatch, for you can always count on Apple to deliver quality. The Apple Watch 2 is the latest variant of Apple's exclusive iOS based smartwatch that packs in a number of sensors that range from built-in GPS (a step up from the first Apple Watch), heart rate monitor, accelerometer, and gyroscope.
On the connectivity front, there are WiFi and Bluetooth options to choose from. Besides using it for regular use, you can even take it swimming, thanks to the water resistant make that keeps it safe up to 50 meters of immersion.
The sensors are accurate, and the 1.5-inch OLED Retina display makes it easier to view the device ebven in bright sunlight. Notifications come in the form of a light tap-like buzz on the wrist, so you never need to miss out on important messages or incoming calls.
- Sophisticated smart device
- A step ahead of Apple watch
- Water resistant
Not the best accuracy in the sensors
Verdict: iPhone owners with versions iPhone 5 and over (iOS 10 minimum) can safely count on the Apple Watch 2 to deliver the kind of luxury and functionality they expect from Apple.
In terms of performance, Garmin's latest GPS enabled smartwatch is definitely the best you will ever come across. The price point comes not only based on its performance, but also its ultra luxurious and sturdy build. One of the first things you will notice about the Garmin Fenix 3 HR is its somewhat bulky body, and that might be a off putting factor that those that prefer slimmer watches that can take you anywhere. But in truth, while it may not be everybody's cup of tea, it is definitely one of the very best options for those who take their sports and activity monitoring seriously.
To get to the point that really matters, the sensors on the Fenix 3 HR cover almost everything under the sun one can think of. And we are not even talking about the basics. Besides the requisite sports options, this GPS watch even has specific settings for activities like snowboarding, golfing, rowing, fishing, swimming, and more! Coming to the accuracy of its sensors, including the heart rate monitor, you will be hard pressed to find a better watch for the purposes. An all-around winner for us in this list of 10 best GPS Watches 2018.
- Accurate sensors
- Great ans sturdy build
- useful for every task you can think of
Bulky, uncomfortable on the wrist (especially if you have smaller wrists)
Verdict: The Garmin Fenix 3 HR oozes luxury and efficiency. Don't miss out on it if you are really serious about tracking.
Sometimes being a part of a fitness community is just what you need to stay inspired. Not only is the practice good for motivational purposes, but interacting with different fitness enthusiasts and pros will often give you more insights into staying healthy and aware. The Nike+ Sportwatch GPS (powered by TomTom) not only has a stellar GPS unit to track your movements, but its social implications and possibilities are also staggering. With the Nike+ Sportwatch, you can join a vast community of enthusiasts and partake in several challenges. Besides this flashy aspect, there are its great tracking abilities to consider.
- The Nike+ Sportwatch keeps diligent count of everything from time, distance, pace, BPM and more. You can also buy add-ons that are sold separately if you wish to increase its already excellent repertoire.
- The sensors are accurate, the interface is clean and easy to use, and it is one of those rare devices that come with footpods. But our favorite feature has to be the USB charging system on the Nike+ Sportwatch that works much in the same way a smartphone does. That means you can connect your watch directly to your PC or laptop for data transfer and recharge its battery at the same time.
- Simple and easy to use interface
- Tracks basic requirements accurately
- Lets the user join a community of runners and fitness enthusiasts.
- Dynamic charging mechanism
- Ships with footpods
Battery isn't the best
Verdict: As we have emphasized before, the Nike+ Sportwatch GPS is an excellent device for community building and monitoring your basic metrics.
To round off our list of the best GPS watches, we picked the New Balance GPS Runner smartwatch. The device is undoubtedly a great smartwatch in terms of its functionalities, and what makes it even more attractive to us is the fact that it is so simple and easy to use.
The New Balance GPS Runner smartwatch comes with some very basic GPS-based tracking sensors. It can effortlessly monitor factors like speed, distance, and even count laps. Keep in mind that this device is not a waterproof one, so it is mostly useful in the gym or for runs or biking stretches. That is definitely not a deal breaker, as not everyone wants to take a plunge in the pool with their smartwatch on. However, there is one major drawback- the New Balance GPS Runner does not give you the option to save all your logs on to an external device, like a computer. This lack of data backing makes the otherwise efficient and reasonably priced smartwatch lose out on points, hence landing in the last position on our list. However, it is still a good smartwatch for those who want to start off their healthy habits with a solid piece of equipment.
- Simple and user friendly UI
- Covers all basic GPS based functionalities
- Decent battery performance
No way get data backup
Verdict: The New Balance GPS Runner is a good option for those who don't need a bunch of sensors to go about their day.
Only the Best Articles from Trival Tech Team
This brings our compilation of the best GPS watches of the current year to an end. To wrap it up, GPS watches are a great way to keep track of your long-distance activities. So while you can certainly use GPS watches to perform everything from working out at the gym to swimming, ultimately the point is to get you on your feet and moving. So go on, sport your favorite one with pride, and explore the great outdoors (or keep fit in the comfort of your own home, even). Let us know about what you think of our list in the comments below. Give us your invaluable feedback about any of the devices listed here if you have used them, or tell us what your favorite GPS watch is, whether it figures on out list or not.