Best All-around GPS Watches

GPS Watches

Are you looking to enhance your workout or want detailed data on your current training program? GPS watches have come a long way to the point where you can upload personal training plans, look at your data, and set attainable goals. There are many well-made GPS watches on the market, but some stand out more than others. They tend to be in categories of running, outdoors, and smartwatches. The following will help you decide which is best for you.

Why Use a GPS Watch?

One of the biggest appeals to wearing a GPS watch while working out is the data it provides. Feedback can have a big impact on your training program and help you improve and reach your goals.  Without data, many people depend on how they feel. Are they too tired or too sore after a workout? How do you know how long to wait to start your next workout? Information provided by the smartwatch can let you know your recovery time if your pace is getting faster, and other useful information.

Common Features

Many GPS watches have common features such as having visual maps to guide you on your route. Uploadable trails and routes are available on most GPS watches as well. This is nice if you are looking for new trails or are running in an unfamiliar city. Depending on how much you want to spend, the watch may offer smartphone notifications and music. More advanced outdoor GPS watches offer barometers, altimeters, and gyroscopes. Think about how you will be using the watch and what features you will need as this will help you determine what category to look in.

Running

First up are GPS watches that are in the running category. While they are designed with runners in mind, they are also great for all-around GPS watches.

Garmin Forerunner 35

Garmin Forerunner 35

The Garmin Forerunner 35 is a midrange GPS watch that comes with heart rate monitoring. The watch tracks speed, location, and distance without needing your smartphone close by. In addition, you will receive smartphone notification and vibration alerts while you are on the run. The heart rate monitoring is not as accurate as a chest strap, but it is accurate when it comes to wrist monitoring. If you prefer to cycle, the watch can be used with cadence sensors. The watch is also waterproof up to 50 meters, but it does not offer swim tracking.

TomTom Runner Cardio

TomTom Runner Cardio

The TomTom Runner Cardio is a good option for runners and those who are interested in tracking their overall fitness. It offers heart rate monitoring, interval training, and keeps track of lap times. The design is simple to use and a good option for beginners. It is not too technical to work and the interface is pretty simple. This watch is waterproof as well, up to 5ATM but it does not offer swim tracking.

Hiking and Outdoors

The next category of GPS watches is hiking and outdoors. These watches tend to be more rugged, durable, and have a sportier look to them. They handle everyday activity tracking as well as outdoor adventure tracking well.

Garmin Fenix 5 Plus

Garmin Fenix 5 Plus

The Garmin Fenix 5 Plus is considered one of the best outdoor watches. It tracks multiple sports but really excels at trail running, hiking, and swimming. The watch has a heart rate monitor built-in, tracks your VO2 Max, and provides recovery and training effect data. Before you head out, you can upload routes using Garmin’s Basecamp app. The Fenix 5 Plus offers topographic maps, so you can find places of interest right on your wrist.

Suunto Traverse Alpha

Suunto Traverse Alpha

The Suunto Traverse Alpha is a rugged outdoor watch that is specifically designed for hikers and for people who like being outdoors. It tracks your location using GLONASS navigation and also will tell you distance and altitude. Suunto has their Movescount app where you can plan your route before you leave and a weather alarm to alert you of storms. The watch also has a flashlight which is handy if you take this camping.

Smartwatch and GPS Watch Combinations

If you can’t decide between a smartwatch and a GPS watch, the following are a combination of the two. They will be more expensive than typical GPS watches, but they offer an all-in-one solution.

Apple Watch Series 4

Apple Watch Series 4

If you are looking for a combination GPS watch and smartwatch, check out the Apple Watch Series 4. One nice feature about this watch is you can leave your phone at home while still being connected to the world as you will get notifications as you would from your phone. The battery lasts up to six hours when running outdoors. The watch has some interesting health features which include the ability to detect if you fall and call emergency services for you if you become unconscious.

Samsung Gear Sport

Samsung Gear Sport

If you do not have an iPhone, the Samsung Gear Sport is a good option for a smartwatch and GPS combination. It is waterproof, interchangeable bands, and an all-around good fitness watch. The Gear Sport offers Spotify offline so you can listen to your music without having your phone nearby. The phone can also link to your TV and display your heart rate on the screen.

Final Thoughts

The best all-around GPS watches depend on what category you are looking in. Running, hiking, and smartwatches each have their own couple of watches that shines in that category. Using a GPS watch can improve your training program or even help you begin one if you don’t know where to start.

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Arlene Semeco
Arlene is a Registered Dietitian and Certified Sports Nutritionist by The International Society of Sports Nutrition (ISSN). She completed an MSc in Dietetics and Nutrition from Florida International University and a BSc in Food and Nutrition from The University of Alabama. Arlene has worked in supplement development, sports nutrition and is currently working in clinical nutrition counseling for a rehabilitation hospital. She is a 3-time Olympic swimmer and loves running and paddle boarding. With her expertise in the world of sports, she has been able to apply her knowledge of nutrition to help athletes improve performance and achieve their goals in different sports.

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