Best Garmin running watches for accurate heart rate tracking and GPS tracking in 2022

Improve your running technique with the best running watch: track heart rate, location, respiration, and more on the wrist.

Best Garmin running watches for accurate heart rate tracking and GPS tracking in 2022
Best running watches

The most versatile fitness wearable money can buy is the best running watch. These GPS-enabled running watches, also known as sports watches, are much more than just high-priced smartwatches. Top-tier running watches from Garmin, Polar, Suunto, Coros, and other brands can help you train, work out, and run better, faster, and more efficiently.

If you've only used the best fitness trackers and smartwatches in the past, wearing a running watch is a significant improvement in terms of data and workout experience. Even in 2021, the gap between multisport GPS watches and fitness bands is closing, and members of the former are still considered the serious athlete's choice.

HOW WE TEST THE BEST RUNNING WATCHES

Our running watch review procedure is time-consuming and labor-intensive. We like to run wearables for at least a few weeks to ensure we have a clear picture of how the sensors work and how they perform under different conditions.

At this point, modern running watches have many performances and casual features that we like to test, such as sleep/SPpO2/respiration tracking, and so on.

In addition, we examine the apps that the watches use to ensure that they work well together. In terms of value for money, we also compare the running watches to other watches on the market.

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BEST RUNNING WATCHES TO BUY RIGHT NOW

1. GARMIN FORERUNNER 245 MUSIC

Best running watch overall

SPECIFICATIONS
Weight: 38.5 grams
Case material: Fiber-reinforced polymer
Lens material: Corning Gorilla glass 3
Water rating: up to 5 ATM
Display resolution: 240 x 240 pixels
Battery life: up to 7 days in smartwatch mode
REASONS TO BUY
+
Latest gen heart rate sensor
+
Built-in music storage
+
Amazing battery life
REASONS TO AVOID
                                                                          -
Plastic case does not radiate an aura of quality

For the price-conscious runner, the Garmin Forerunner 245 Music is the ultimate smartphone-free GPS running watch. Other multi-sport watches, such as the Garmin Fenix 6 Pro or the Polar Vantage V, may offer more metrics, but for the price, the Garmin Forerunner 245 Music is more than adequate.

The GPS+GLONASS+Galileo positioning system is quick and precise, tracking your movement outdoors with pinpoint accuracy. The battery can last up to seven days in smartwatch mode and six hours in GPS mode with music, which means you'll only need to charge it three times in two weeks.

Garmin Coach, an adaptive training guide that can train you to run a specific distance (5k, 10k, or half marathon) within a time limit set by you, is also supported by the Garmin Forerunner 245 Music. The plan adapts to your training load and progression and makes adjustments as needed.

Using the Garmin Connect app, you can track your progress and review data from previous activities. In the app, you can also collect badges for a variety of activities, which is a fun way to stay motivated!

The Garmin Forerunner 245 Music, on the other hand, is a bit on the light side, which is great for running but not so much if you're looking for that premium smartwatch feel. However, the Forerunner 245 is not as light as the Coros Pace 2, which is the lightest running watch on the market today, according to Soros.

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2. GARMIN FORERUNNER 945

Best running watch for serious runners

SPECIFICATIONS
Lens material: Gorilla Glass
Display size: 1.2" (30.4 mm)
Display resolution: 240 x 240 pixels
Weight: 50 grams
Battery life: GPS mode with music – up to 10 hours, GPS mode without music – up to 36 hours, Smartwatch mode – up to 2 weeks
REASONS TO BUY
+
Completely revamped hardware
+
Uses Garmin's new Elevate HR sensor
+
Garmin Pay ready
+
Gorilla Glass
+
Sony GPS chip
REASONS TO AVOID
                                                                          -
Some features are redundant for runners (e.g. Xero widget)

The Garmin Forerunner 945 is an excellent compromise between high-end features and a reasonable price. Many will say, 'but it looks exactly like the Forerunner 935,' and you know what? They are correct. However, while the Forerunner 945 retains the look and feel of the Forerunner 935 on the outside, it has been completely redesigned on the inside.

To begin, it employs Garmin's new Elevate optical heart rate sensor, which is more accurate, even underwater, than the sensor found in the 935. The Forerunner 945 also has a new GPS chip that is more accurate and manages battery life better than its predecessor.

Unlike the Forerunner 945, the Forerunner 935 lacked onboard music storage and was not Garmin Pay compatible. You probably won't use any of these features during races, but we can safely assume you'll wear the smartwatch on non-race days as well, where they might come in handy.

The Forerunner 945 also includes many of Garmin's most recent features, such as PulseOx, Live Event Sharing, accident detection and assistance, Body Battery energy monitor, Training Load Focus, and others. Some of these features are more casual than hardcore, which is fine; if I were Garmin, I'd want to make my top-tier products more appealing to everyday users as well.

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The Garmin Forerunner 945 also includes onboard maps. Granted, the 1.2" screen isn't as detailed as your smartphone's, but if you want to get away from the phone screen while still being able to navigate, the Garmin Forerunner 945 has you covered.

3. POLAR VANTAGE V2

Best running watch for data-hungry athletes

SPECIFICATIONS
Weight: 52 grams
Case material: Aluminium alloy with glass fiber reinforced polymer
Water rating: 5 ATM
Display resolution: 240 x 240 pixels
Battery life: Up to 40h in training mode (GPS and wrist-based heart rate) or up to 7 days in watch mode with continuous heart rate tracking
REASONS TO BUY
+
'Always on' screen
+
Plenty of data to pore over
+
New tests are a great add-on
+
Better build quality than Vantage V
+
Precise
REASONS TO AVOID
                                                                          -
Button+touch navigation is still a bit confusing
                                                                         -
Smart features mostly training-focused
                                                                        -
Battery life is far from amazing

The more I think about it, the more I like the Polar Vantage V2's features. It may lack some of the more casual features you'd expect to see in a top-tier running watch, such as on-board music storage and possibly even NFC, but the Vantage V2 is for the hardcore crowd, and they may not care all that much about these filthy casual frivolities anyway.

The Polar Vantage V2 is a watch with a lot of features. Its build quality is excellent, and it is a significant improvement over the original Vantage V. It contains a wealth of useful tests and data for serious runners and cyclists looking to improve their form and prepare for races more efficiently. Even better, the majority of the tests and data provided by the Vantage V2 are not available elsewhere, making it even more appealing to information-hungry athletes.

It would have been great to see some improvements to the user interface, particularly the navigation, in future Vantage series iterations. Touch controls are still a little sluggish, but the screen feels a little more responsive than the Vantage V's. Polar brags about the ability to choose from four (!) watch face for the Vantage V2, despite the fact that Garmin has hundreds, if not thousands, of watch faces available for all of its watches.

I would definitely recommend the Polar Vantage V2 to anyone looking to improve their athletic performance: there aren't many wrist-wearables that provide as much data like this one.

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4. COROS PACE 2

Best cheap running watch that doesn't compromise on quality

SPECIFICATIONS
Battery life: 30 hours in GPS mode, up to 20 days considering average usage
Weight: 29 grams with nylon band
Screen size/resolution: 1.2" / 240 x 240 pixels
Water rating: 5 ATM
REASONS TO BUY
+
Excellent screen
+
Long GPS battery life
+
Measures running power on the wrist
+
Light as a feather
REASONS TO AVOID
                                                                          -
Usual optical wrist-based HR sensor inaccuracies, especially at the beginning of the workouts

The Coros Pace 2 is one of the best-running watches available in 2020. It may have fewer casual features than some Garmins, but the running features on offer here are nearly perfect. Its predecessor, the Pace, was a good watch, but the Pace 2 improved on all key features like battery life and sensors without charging a premium.

The screen on the Coros Pace 2 is our favorite feature. It's sharp, bright, and a pleasure to look at. The Pace 2's always-on memory LCD screen is attractive, but it doesn't drain the battery: in GPS mode, the Pace 2 can last up to 30 hours between charges. In smartwatch mode, it can go for more than two weeks without needing to be charged.

The Pace 2 gets the fundamentals right, but it also has a few tricks up its sleeve. For example, it measures running power on the wrist without the use of any additional sensors. It also includes ABC sensors (accelerometer, barometric altimeter, and compass) to better monitor outdoor conditions and provides you with all of the extra data.

The Pace 2 is also the lightest running watch on the market, according to Coros, weighing only 29 grams including the nylon band. And if all of this isn't enough to persuade you to buy the Pace 2, consider this: Coros is now endorsed by Eliud Kipchoge, the world's fastest marathon runner. We like Coros if he likes them.

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5. POLAR VANTAGE M2

Best Garmin Forerunner 245 alternative

SPECIFICATIONS
Lens material: Hard-coated PMMA laminated lens
Display size: 1.2" (30.5 mm)
Display resolution: 240 x 240 pixels
Weight: 45.5 grams with the wristband
Battery life: Up to 30 hrs in training mode (GPS and wrist-based heart rate) or up to 5 days in watch mode with continuous heart rate tracking
REASONS TO BUY
+
Buttons-only navigation works great
+
Plenty of decent sports features and sports modes
+
Strikes a good balance between style and sportiness
+
Well-priced
REASONS TO AVOID
                                                                          -
Usual accuracy issues (nothing major, though)
                                                                         -
Not quite enough personalization options

The Polar Vantage M2 strikes a good balance between style and substance: it has a plethora of features, both sport and casual, and despite all of its premium features, it doesn't cost the earth. Although fitness wearables are never a good investment, we believe the Vantage M2 will last for at least a few years.

Is there any reason you shouldn't purchase the Polar Vantage M2? To be sure, if you need a hardcore running watch, the Vantage M2 maybe a little too fashion watch-like. To be clear, there isn't one. Nonetheless, Polar is attempting to make the Vantage M2 more appealing to smartwatch users by offering color variants (hello, Champagne/Gold Vantage M2).

Under the hood, however, you'll find a capable – but, thankfully, non-Android – multisport watch that can effectively help you improve in whatever sport you practice.

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6. GARMIN FORERUNNER 55

Best running watch for beginners

SPECIFICATIONS
Battery life: Smartwatch mode: up to 2 weeks, GPS mode: up to 20 hours
Weight: 37 grams
Screen resolution: 208 x 208 pixels
Water rating: 5 ATM
REASONS TO BUY
+
Improved battery life (compared to Forerunner 45)
+
More convenience features
+
Added PacePro
+
Added swimming metrics
+
Built-in GPS
+
Garmin Coach ready
REASONS TO AVOID
                                                                          -
It almost looks the same as the Forerunner 45 (physically)
                                                                         -
Display is far from being impressive

The Garmin Forerunner 55 is an entry-level running watch that lacks the sleek design of the Garmin Forerunner 945 and the battery power of the Garmin Enduro. It may not help you navigate the Great Outdoors as well as the Garmin Fenix 6 Pro, and it is unlikely to be the top choice for triathletes like the Garmin Forerunner 745.

Most runners, however, are not elite athletes; they prefer to jog before or after work. During workouts, they don't need things like turbo trainer connectivity or screens with six data fields. They require a reliable running watch with long battery life and a built-in GPS chip/heart rate sensor at an affordable price. And, guess what, the Garmin Forerunner 55 has it all and more.

The most significant improvement over its predecessor – you guessed it – the Forerunner 45 is the aforementioned battery life: in both smartwatch and GPS mode, the Forerunner 55 lasts nearly twice as long as the 45.

It also included a slew of non-performance features like respiration rate and women's health tracking, hydration reminders, a breathing timer, and so on. This, of course, is in addition to the features already available in the Forerunner 45.

In terms of performance, the Forerunner 55 now includes a Pool Swimming profile and can track a variety of metrics while you're splashing around. Outside of the water, the PacePro Pacing Strategies feature can assist you in better pacing yourself. PacePro's algorithm calculates a strategy for increasing or decreasing your pace along the course to achieve the best overall pace.

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There are also personalized run workout suggestions available, which are based on your training history, fitness level, and recovery time, and you should definitely take them into consideration if you're new to running. The adaptable Garmin Coach feature may also be useful for inexperienced athletes.

7. GARMIN FENIX 6 PRO

Best running watch for the style conscious trial runner

SPECIFICATIONS
Lens material: Sapphire Crystal
Display size: 1.3" (33 mm)
Display resolution: 260 x 260 pixels
Weight: 49 grams (case only)
Battery life: up to 2 weeks in smartwatch mode
REASONS TO BUY
+
Clear display
+
Widget user interface is brilliant
+
Built-in music storage + Garmin Pay
+
Precise sensors
REASONS TO AVOID
                                                                          -
Bit on the heavy side
                                                                         -
Expensive
                                                                         -
No way you will use all the features

The Garmin Fenix 6 Pro is an excellent smartwatch for anyone who enjoys being outside, and it is ideal for triathletes and trail runners. The Fenix 6 has a multisport mode that allows you to switch between sports modes by pressing a button.

Garmin improved on the formula that made the Fenix 5 Plus so great, increasing battery life and tweaking the user interface, which is now much easier to scan thanks to the new widget view.

The Fenix 6 Pro is more rugged than light, but it is far from overly heavy. Titanium is 11 grams lighter than steel, putting it on par with the other smartwatches on this list.

However, the Garmin Fenix 6 Series is not without flaws. They are not only more expensive than many of the watches on this list, but they are also very overpowered: it feels more like a demonstration of what Garmin's technology is capable of than a good set of features that runners might appreciate. It's unlikely that many people will want to use the Garmin Fenix 6 for point-of-interest navigation in urban areas, despite the fact that the watch is capable of doing so.

Nonetheless, if you can justify the price – and weight – of the Garmin Fenix 6 Pro, you should get one because it feels great on the wrist and truly represents what fitness smartwatches are capable of.

Multi-sport watches come in a variety of shapes and sizes, but if we had to choose two to compare, it would be the Garmin Fenix 6 Pro and the Polar Vantage V2. Both are excellent in their own right, but they approach the same tasks in very different ways. How are they different? Learn more in our Polar Vantage V2 vs Garmin Fenix 6 Pro comparison.

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8. GARMIN ENDURO

Best running watch for battery life

SPECIFICATIONS
Lens material: Power Glass
Display size: 1.4" (35.5 mm)
Display resolution: 280 x 280 pixels
Weight: Steel – 71 g, Titanium – 61 g
Battery life: Smartwatch: Up to 50 days/65 days with solar, Battery Saver Watch Mode: Up to 130 days/1 years with solar, GPS: Up to 70 hours/80 hours with solar, Max Battery GPS Mode: Up to 200 hours/300 hours with solar, Expedition GPS Activity: Up to 65 days/95 days with solar
REASONS TO BUY
+
Superb build quality
+
Battery life is just crazy
+
Familiar Garmin user interface
+
New, trail-running specific features
REASONS TO AVOID
                                                                          -
Ultra-long trail running is rather a niche market
                                                                          -
No offline music
                                                                          -
Quite expensive

Despite being aimed at a specific market, non-ultra trail runners can benefit from wearing the Garmin Enduro. Sure, if you're an endurance trail runner, the extra-long battery life will come in handy. Still, if you're willing to spend this much money on a watch and are torn between the Fenix 6 and the Forerunner 945, we'd go with the Enduro: we're confident you'll love it.

The same can be said for the new trail-specific features: even if you mostly run in cities, having features onboard that take incline into account when calculating VO2 max will help you get more accurate results without venturing too far off the beaten path. Will this feature be available on other Garmin watches as well? Probably, but even if that happens, not many other running watches will be able to compete with this beast's battery life.

The only real reason to choose the Fenix 6 over the Enduro is if you enjoy point-of-interest navigation on your watch. The Fenix 6 has offline TOPO maps, which are nice, but if you prefer long battery life over wrist-based navigation, the Enduro is a better choice. Some Fenix 6 models are less expensive, but comparable-sized models cost roughly the same as the Enduro.

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Regarding the price, we can only assume that the Enduro would be less expensive without the Power Glass, and in all honesty, given the Enduro's long battery life, we don't think it was necessary to include the solar charging feature, but we also believe that it suits the Enduro to have this feature onboard. The Garmin Enduro is not a watch you'll wear for a year and then discard; the premium features and build quality will help the watch retain its value for a longer period of time.

9. SUUNTO 9 BARO TITANIUM

Best running watch for long distances and off-road sessions

SPECIFICATIONS
Weight: 67 grams
Case material: Glass fiber reinforced polyamide
Water rating: up to 100 meters
Display resolution: 320 x 300 pixels
Battery life: 14 days (in time mode), 7 days (24/7 HR tracking + smart notifications), up to 170 hours (GPS with battery saver options on)
REASONS TO BUY
+
Mega-long GPS battery life (with battery saving options on) 
+
Robust GPS support
+
Titanium bezel
REASONS TO AVOID
                                                                          -
Suunto App can be a bit confusing to new runners
                                                                          -
No NFC or music storage

The Suunto Baro 9 Titanium is a modernized version of the ultrarunner favorite Suunto 9 Baro that will serve you well as a training and outdoor adventure companion as well as a usable backup/emergency GPS unit. However, the premium pricing and streamlined functions mean that competition is fierce, with a slew of cheaper options on the market and other flagships getting in on the act as well.

While you won't have some of the bells and whistles of other models, such as mobile payments and music storage, there's an argument that these add complexity and distraction to the inevitably limited watch interface, and simple training tools and navigation are more than enough. Whatever side of the debate you take, the Suunto Baro 9 Titanium is a capable outdoor watch with excellent training tools.

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10. SUUNTO 7

Best Wear OS running watch

SPECIFICATIONS
Weight: 70 grams
Case material: Glass fiber reinforced polyamide
Lens material: Gorilla glass
Water rating: rated for 50 meters
Display resolution: 454 x 454 pixels (AMOLED)
Battery life: up to 2 days in smartwatch mode
REASONS TO BUY
+
Large screen
+
Downloadable maps
+
Wear OS smart functionality and integrations
+
Touchscreen
REASONS TO AVOID
-
Battery life short (for a running watch)
-
Expensive
-
Laggy touchscreen
-
Dual app (Wear OS, Suunto App) control on phone is confusing

The Suunto 7 has a lot to offer, including a sharp display, a lot of smart functionality, a good heart rate sensor, and built-in GPS, not to mention offline maps and really cool heatmaps.

The controls are a little confusing at first, with a mix of touch and push-button operation that, when combined with the sluggish Wear OS interface, can cause frustration, especially until you get used to the system's flaws.

On a scale of Garmin Forerunner 945 to Fitbit Versa 2, the Suunto 7 is closer to the former but still has the appearance of the latter on steroids. The battery life of the Suunto 7 pushes it towards the Fitbit Versa 2 end of the scale.

You'll be lucky to get two days out of two charges, which isn't bad for a Wear OS watch with a big screen. Still, it is inferior to running watches such as the Suunto 9 (a little higher on this list) or even the aforementioned Garmin Venu (not on this list), which can last up to five days (it has a smaller display, mind).

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The Suunto 7's biggest flaw is its price; while it may be an Apple Watch competitor, I doubt many people would choose a Suunto over an Apple Watch. I will be able to recommend the Suunto wholeheartedly.

11. AMAZFIT GTS 2E

Best cheap running watch-fitness tracker hybrid

SPECIFICATIONS
Weight: 39 grams
Case material: Glass fiber reinforced polyamide
Lens material: '2.5D' curved tempered glass
Display resolution: 348 x 442 pixels (341 PPI, AMOLED)
Battery life: Up to two weeks in smartwatch mode and up to 24 days in watch mode
REASONS TO BUY
+
Featherlight
+
Aluminum body
+
Long battery life
+
Built-in GPS
+
Sharp screen
+
Loads of premium health features and sensors
REASONS TO AVOID
                                                                          -
Lacks innovation
                                                                          -
No WiFi

Overall, the Amazfit GTS 2e is an excellent value-for-money health-and-fitness smartwatch. It is not without flaws, but they are few and far between, especially if you use the watch to track relatively light physical activity rather than improving athletic performance.

The Amazfit GTS 2e's build quality is excellent for such a low price. The specifications are also commendable: for slightly more than $100/£100/AU$160, you'll get a fitness watch with an AMOLED display, an aluminum body, built-in GPS, an optical heart rate sensor, and a slew of health and fitness features. The watch is simple to use, and the touchscreen is responsive with little lag.

The only criticism I have is that the Amazfit GTS 2e lacks in terms of innovation. Instead of inventing new features, the watch takes features found in other watches and offers them at a lower cost. Even so, I can forgive the Amazfit GTS 2e because it does everything so well. The watch is an absolute steal at this price. The Amazfit GTS 2e is an excellent choice for those who do not want their fitness watch to be a status symbol.

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12. CASIO G-SQUAD PRO GSW-H1000

Best running watch for style-conscious runners

SPECIFICATIONS
Weight: 42.2 grams
Case material: stainless steel
Lens material: Corning Gorilla glass 3
Water rating: 5 ATM
Display resolution: 240 x 240 pixels
Battery life: up to 7 days in smartwatch mode
REASONS TO BUY
+
Iconic G-SHOCK design
+
Tough as hell
+
Combines form and function relatively well
+
Dual-layer display is an interesting gimmick
REASONS TO AVOID
                                                                           -
Heavy
                                                                          -
Battery life is so-so
                                                                         -
Accuracy issues
                                                                         -
Workout data fields are too small
                                                                         -
No 'click' feeling on button press

If the Casio G-SQUAD PRO GSW-H1000 was a dedicated running watch, I might have given it three out of five stars because it's far from a capable training partner. The heart rate sensor's accuracy isn't particularly impressive, and there are no recovery tips or sleep tracking features available.

The G-SQUAD PRO GSW-H1000, thankfully, does not take itself too seriously. The ridiculous sensor overlay feature and a slew of smart features firmly place the watch in the fitness tracker category, far from multisport watches like the Garmin Forerunner 945 or the Polar Vantage V2.

Is this a negative thing? No, I don't believe so. Yes, the Casio G-SQUAD PRO GSW-H1000 is the most expensive fitness tracker on the market at £599/$699, but you don't pay big bucks for accuracy here. You pay a premium to have a smart G-SHOCK wrapped around your wrist that tracks fitness activities with relative accuracy.

The Casio G-SQUAD PRO GSW-H1000 is far from perfect, but I'm confident that fashion-forward athletes will appreciate its chunkiness and casual features, not to mention the looks.

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13. CASIO GBD-H1000

Tough hardware, weak GPS and heart rate sensor

SPECIFICATIONS
Weight: 101 grams
Battery life: Up to 12 months in 'Time Mode', up to 66 hours when heart rate monitor is turned on
REASONS TO BUY
+
Five sensors
+
G-SHOCK styling
+
Decent enough app
+
Tough case
+
Sharp screen
+
VO2 max and training status estimation
REASONS TO AVOID
                                                                          -
Inaccurate heart rate sensor
                                                                         -
GPS takes forever to pick up the signal
                                                                         -
Long loading times after activity has finished
                                                                         -
Comparatively small screen
                                                                         -
Expensive for what it offers

The Casio GBD-premise H1000's appeals to me. The Japanese manufacturer made every effort to deliver a functional G-SHOCK for runners, including all the sensors the designers could think of: an optical heart rate sensor, a magnetic sensor, a pressure sensor, a thermal sensor, and finally, an accelerator are all included in the rather large body of the GBD-H1000.

The GBD-bulkiness H1000's has to be admired. Some runners may be put off by having such a large and heavy – it weighs over 100 grams – running watch wrapped around their skinny wrists, but if you pay £379/$399/AU$599 for a G-SHOCK running watch, you will want it to be seen. However, the strap is not hinged, so if your wrists are small, the watch may struggle to read your heart rate. Not that optical heart rate sensors aren't accurate to begin with.

The issues arise when you attempt to use the Casio GBD-H1000 to track activities. To begin with, the GBD-H1000 is not a multi-sport watch: it only tracks runs. Furthermore, despite the fact that it has a built-in GPS, it takes an eternity for the watch to pick up the signal. You can start the watch as you go outside to warm up; by the time you finish your warm-up, the GPS signal should be ready for you.

The other issue is the precision, or lack thereof, of the optical heart rate sensor. The heart rate readings are wildly inaccurate, and tightening the watch around the wrist exacerbates the problem. As a result, your training load and VO2 max estimation are messed up, rendering those features essentially useless.

On the plus side, the Casio Move is a good app, especially considering it's new. The runs are easy to find, and it's really cool that the route changes color depending on your heart rate at the time. In addition, the VO2 max and training status are clearly displayed.

Perhaps, once the sensors and software have been tweaked, the Casio GBD-H1000 will be a good buy for even serious runners, but until then, it will be the choice of fashion-conscious runners who don't mind a bit of inaccuracy.

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14. POLAR IGNITE 2

A decent little adaptive trainer

SPECIFICATIONS
Weight: 35 grams
Case material: Glass fiber reinforced polymer
Lens material: N/A
Water rating: up to 30 meters
Display resolution: 240 x 204 pixels
Battery life: up to 5 days in smartwatch mode
REASONS TO BUY
+
Advanced training suggestions
+
Ambient light sensor
+
Built-in GPS
REASONS TO AVOID
                                                                         -
Hardly any updates since the Ignite
                                                                         -
Watch feels less premium than similarly priced fitness watches such as the Fitbit Versa 3

It's difficult, to sum up what's wrong with the Polar Ignite 2. It's still a perfectly adequate fitness wearable, and it's very similar to the Polar Ignite, a watch I really liked. On the other hand, it offers nothing new, so I'm left wondering what the point of re-releasing the same watch two years later was.

Even stranger, Polar already has a watch for the market that the Ignite 2 is clearly aimed at, the Polar Unite, a fitness watch that looks the same, is a bit cheaper and less competent, but serves its purpose perfectly well. For the same price as the Ignite 2, you can get a Fitbit Versa 3 or a Garmin Venu Sq (or Sq Music), both of which are more popular and/or capable than the Ignite 2.

Is the Polar Ignite 2 something I'd recommend? In a nutshell, yes and no. I previously recommended the original Ignite, and since the Ignite 2 is so similar, I suppose I can also recommend the new watch. The training tools are good, the sensors aren't bad, and the smart features are adequate.

However, the lack of updates since the Ignite, combined with increased competition, makes me wonder how many people will choose the Polar Ignite 2 over its competitors.

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HOW TO BUY THE BEST RUNNING WATCH FOR YOU

For the record, you don't need a running watch to track your indoor or outdoor activity. You can track your geolocation with your smartphone's GPS and the activity itself with a heart rate monitor like the Polar H9.

Running watches, on the other hand, provide heart rate sensing and GPS tracking on your wrist, and their screens allow you to monitor all of the data in real-time. On some models, you can also check the map and your exact location on the watch while running without needing to consult your phone.

When shopping for a sports watch, the best advice is to buy one that is a little more advanced than you currently require. If you've just gotten out of bed for the first time in a decade, you might think you'd rather not know your heart rate, but in nine months, after you've mastered the art of how to lose belly fat fast, you might think otherwise. Similarly, if you've been running for a while, you may be at a point where you'd like to learn more about your cadence or lactate threshold.

If you're only going to use your watch in the gym, you might be able to get by with just heart-rate tracking and interval timing. What about bicyclists? For more casual pedal pushers, GPS and the ability to track time, speed, and distance will suffice. However, as you get more into it, the ability to connect to power meters and the rest of the Lycra warrior's arsenal of ANT+ and Bluetooth paraphernalia may sway you.

Using a smartwatch as a dedicated running watch is still less than ideal. The Fitbit Ionic is a fantastic fitness watch, but its smartwatch credentials are hampered by a lack of apps and an overly fiddly contactless payment system.

Almost all of these watches are compatible with their respective mobile apps (Garmin Connect, Polar Flow, and so on) as well as third-party apps such as Strava. These allow you to delve deeper into the details, create and download pre-planned coaching lessons, and set up goal-specific training plans to assist you in reaching your running and fitness objectives.

BEST RUNNING WATCHES: WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW

Despite their name, the best running watches can track much more than just runs: GPS multisport watches can track workouts, cycling, swimming, rowing, and a plethora of other activities. That's because, unlike most fitness bands, the best multisport watch not only has a slew of sensors (heart rate sensor, accelerometer, barometer, etc.) and built-in GPS, but they're also more accurate and generally look better.

If you're looking for ways to get in shape in 2021 and lose belly fat, a running watch can be useful. Running watches track your heart rate in real-time on your wrist and can estimate calories burned throughout the day, giving you a more accurate picture of your energy balance.

Running watches can also teach you how to run faster by calculating VO2 max levels, cadence, and heart rate zones, which is useful if you want to improve your running form. Some of them, such as the top-tier Garmin models, can also connect to the best heart rate monitors, allowing you to glean even more information from your runs.

Complement your running gear with the best running shoes and headphones. If you want to swim while wearing your fitness watch, check out our best triathlon watch guide.

WRIST HEART RATE TRACKING: WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW

Many running watches now include heart rate monitoring right on the wrist. Running watches use different technology than heart rate monitors: the former uses optical sensors to read pulses using lasers, requiring the watch and sensor to be close to the skin for accurate readings.

Here is our best advice for purchasing a running watch; you can learn a lot more about the subject online.

1. A good, wrist-mounted heart-rate tracker is accurate enough for most users when it works.

2. It is more than adequate for daily tracking of your resting and active pulse rates.

3. It is generally suitable for running.

4. Wrist HR is unsuitable for very high-intensity exercise, anything where your muscles are highly tensed, and anyone who simply sweats a lot. Moisture causes the tracker's light to refract, reducing its accuracy and, in many cases, preventing it from working at all.

5. With the exception of all-day tracking, a chest strap is a more accurate option in all cases. We're not saying they're perfect, but they're more accurate overall.