Whether you’re running mountain trails or riding waves, today’s sport watches can give you a wealth of data on current conditions and your performance (and they’ll keep you from getting lost). Tide and swell information for beaches around the world? Check. A notification every time you complete a mile? Check. Reverse GPS that automatically takes you back to your start point? Check, check.
Sport watches come with a great deal of computing power, feature sensors for measuring all kinds of metrics, and they’re useful for a multitude of sports. Key features can vary, but most are built with a heart rate monitor, GPS, weather-resistant materials, third-party app pairing capabilities, and interactive displays. Additional features range from music streaming to solar charging to tide forecasting—all worth considering depending on what activity you’re using your watch for.
The best part of a sport watch: You get a wealth of data on your workouts, but you’ll never have to interrupt an intense training session for technical difficulties like resetting your lap time or recalibrating the GPS. The watches below, from trusted companies like Suunto, Garmin, and Fitbit, will help you stay safe and train smarter no matter what your favorite sport is.
1. Best for Premium Features: Apple Watch
For its sleek design, deep range of features, and overall wearability, the Apple Watch sets the standard for smartwatches. The latest top-of-the-line version, the Series 6, offers an incredible range of biometric tracking, including a blood oxygen sensor and an electrocardiogram to monitor your heartbeat, and with an Apple Fitness+ subscription, you get access to a wide range of guided workouts. It’s waterproof, the always-on display makes it easy to read at a glance, and the stylish case and strap options mean you can wear it every day—even when you’re not working out. If you’re looking for one watch to do it all, this is it.
2. Best for Hiking and Running: Suunto 9 Baro
It’s always a major bummer when your watch battery conks out before you do, especially after you covered serious mileage. But the Suunto 9 Baro won’t let you down: It lasts up to 170 hours and comes with a wealth of performance features.
It calculates your heart rate and recovery times, syncs with Strava and other third-party apps, downloads pre-mapped routes, and even keeps track of the weather. And with its two-inch display and three large buttons, it’s intuitive to use, even when you’re bonking. Bonus: You can also track 80 other activities, like squash, rugby, and pilates.
3. Best for Surfing and Swimming: Rip Curl Search GPS 2
The Rip Curl GPS 2 watch can tell you exactly how far you paddled, how many waves you caught, and how long you rode one out—all before you even hit the beach to towel off.
This compact, GPS-equipped watch tracks all of those data points and displays real-time surf conditions (provided by Surfline) wherever you go. It’s also compatible with Surfline Sessions, so you can use the watch’s data to review every wave you caught on your phone or laptop. And don’t worry about it getting bashed by waves: It’s water resistant down to 330 feet, and it comes with a generous warranty, too.
4. Best for Backcountry Adventures: Casio ProTrek PRG-270
The Casio ProTrek will help you keep your bearings while tracking wildlife or bushwhacking. Aside from its affordable price, the latest version of the Casio ProTrek has a deep roster of helpful features and improved sensor accuracy, too. The altimeter measures in one-meter increments, the barometer can alert you to sudden weather changes, and a compass helps you find your way. Plus, the large buttons are easy to use (even with gloves), and built-in solar cells ensure you never run out of juice.
5. Best for Sprint Workouts: Timex Ironman Transit
Need something straightforward for sprints on the track? This simple Timex watch features a countdown timer and stopwatch for tracking sprints, and an alarm ensures you don’t miss a workout. It also features Timex Pay, a contactless payment method, so you don’t have to bring your wallet for coffee after a track session. For more features, upgrade to the R300 model ($129), which counts steps, tracks your heart rate, and comes with standalone GPS.
6. Best for Road and Mountain Biking: Garmin Forerunner 745
For cyclists and mountain bikers obsessed with data, this watch stores every metric you could ever want, from V02 max to post-exercise oxygen consumption. It even suggests daily workouts based on your recent training and is compatible with a handful of Garmin accessories, like bike lights and rearview radar (it also tracks many other activities, including running and swimming). And if you happen to crash, the watch’s incident detection feature will automatically send your location to your designated emergency contacts—a godsend in the event of a serious incident.
7. Best for Triathlon Training: Wahoo Elemnt Rival Multisport GPS Watch
Released in November 2020, this customizable smartwatch joins Wahoo’s extensive lineup of bike computers and training tech. It stands out from other trackers for its ease of use, especially across multiple sports. One key feature: Unlike other watches, this one automatically transitions from swim to bike to run modes, so you won’t waste time fiddling with it during a race. It also connects seamlessly with trainers, treadmills, and third-party apps, and you can edit each leg to match your official race times. The battery is another highlight: It lasts up to 24 hours in GPS mode or 14 days in a power-saving mode.
8. Best Everyday Tracker: Fitbit Sense
Exercise is important for overall wellness, but it’s only one part of the picture. Other metrics, like blood pressure, body temperature, sleep patterns, and stress levels also provide important insight into your health. For a wide ranging, everyday overview of your body, grab the Fitbit Sense. It comes with top-shelf sensors, including an optical heart rate monitor and infrared oxygen saturation monitoring, can track a variety of activities, and offers guided workouts, too.
Aside from health metrics, it can also receive calls and texts when paired with a phone and supports wireless payments and a huge library of apps. Put simply, it’s very easy to live with.
9. Best for Skiing and Snowboarding: Garmin Fenix 6 Sapphire
Whether you’re hitting tree runs in-bounds or exploring untouched powder in the backcountry, the Fenix 6 Sapphire lets you log every lap. It’s ideal for navigating on the mountain and getting more insight into your skiing and riding: You can preload topography and maps for more than 2,000 ski resorts worldwide, monitor your elevation, and chart your speed on ascents and descents. If you like to cross-country ski, add a chest strap to measure your distance and effort.
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