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Best GPS Watch: Watch Out

Gps Measurement Navigation Height Elevation Profile
Henry Silva
Written by Henry Silva

Reaching our goals has never been easier. We have found new ways to help the human mind work for us. Setting goals is the easy part and it’s always the follow-through that hurts our potential results. We have found a way to increase your chances of success with the help of technology.

Now enter the best GPS watch. There are so many systems out there that it’s often overwhelming to think about. Our phones are capable of amazing things and computers are putting other technologies to shame. A new wave of electronics has risen and it comes in the form of wearables: GPS watches.

You can now track your progress during any physical activity and you can use them for running, biking, distance training, and more. The best GPS watch out there is the dream of a runner, biker, or triathlete. Not only will that GPS watch track your distance traveled, it will also track your average speeds, the incline in which you climbed or descended, the number of calories you burned, and often times your heart rate during your performance.

gps watch on hand

Technology is an amazing thing and we can find so many ways to use the best GPS watch to aid some of our best athletes to reach their full potential. No more guessing on miles or distances. No more wondering how many calories you burned. The GPS watch takes the guessing out of the equation so the only product is results.

We will take you through some of the best GPS smart watches we have in the market, and their different capabilities. Moreover, we will give you a few factors that you should consider when purchasing a smart watch so that you don’t end up with the wrong product on your hands. Read more for more information.

Product nameScreen sizeBatteryConnectivityPrice
Sony SWR5041.6 inch diameter4 hours GPS ModeAndroid Phone via BluetoothCheck price on Amazon
Tom Tom 1RR01 inch diameter10 hours GPS ModeSyncs with Running Sites and AppsCheck price on Amazon
SkyCaddie Golf1.05 inch diameter10 hours GPS ModeA/C Power Adapter and Mini-USB Cable to Mac or PCCheck price on Amazon
Polar RC3Unknown12 hours GPS ModeCompatible with Polar W.I.N.D. Running/Cycling sensorsCheck price on Amazon
Garmin VivoactiveLess than 1 inch diameter13 hours GPS ModeSmartphone Pairing via Bluetooth and Garmin Connect Online PlatformCheck price on Amazon
Garmin Forerunner 4051.06 inch diameter8 hours GPS ModeWireless Uploads via USB Stick (included) on Garmin Connect Online PlatformCheck price on Amazon
Garmin Forerunner 6101 inch diameter8 hours GPS ModeWireless Uploaded via USB Stick (included) on Garmin Connect Online PlatformCheck price on Amazon
Garmin 110 W Europe1 inch diameter8 hours GPS ModeUSB Cord to Mac or PC Uploads to Garmin Connect Online PlatformCheck price on Amazon

Most important features to consider

There are many key qualities to consider when choosing the right GPS watch for you. Each watch is created by all kinds of different companies and may offer something others do not.

Whether you are choosing based on simplicity and user-friendly capabilities or are looking into the most powerful watch you can wear on your wrist, there is one out there for you.

Screen size

The screen size of GPS watches hasn’t gotten quite as out of hand as screen size with cell phones has but it can still be a big deciding factor. You want a watch that is functional and stylish. You might have the best GPS watch out there, but if it’s too bulky to fit well into your style and outfits and draws too much attention then you may be less likely to wear it.

gps watch screen

Best case scenario, you get a watch that can work as a virtual training partner as well as a functional tool for your job and just to wear around. The size is also an issue if you are doing impact training of any sort. Biking, swimming, lifting, or even trail running can result in you bumping into a hard surface. The smaller the screen on your watch, the less likely it will be to catch onto something or get scratched and cracked.

Functions

This is obviously the bulk of what people are looking for when trying to decide on the best GPS watch. There are so many different functions that watches are now capable of it is mind-blowing. The number one feature you are looking for is a quality GPS. This means that it tracks it for the entire workout, it doesn’t fall out of signal, has a strong connection, and it’s easy to read and understand.

gpw watch with more futures

These are expectations for just the GPS portion. Not to mention the calorie tracker, the heart rate monitors and more. Keep in mind that you need a device that tracks distance. Distance ran, swam, biked, etc. and the other features are just added benefits.

Battery life

The battery life of your GPS watch is also important. Nearly all GPS watches have rechargeable batteries that easily connect to an outlet or a computer via USB. How long that battery will last is also important. Using the GPS on your cell phone drains the battery and the GPS mode in a watch does the same thing.

It’s a matter of making sure that the battery will last for your workout and potentially a few days’ worth of workouts. Athletes are busy and don’t always have time or resources to charge their watch at the end of every day. You should be able to use it for a few hours each day for at least a couple consecutive days or else the convenience factor diminishes.

Connectivity

This is the beauty of technology coming to the forefront. Almost all GPS watches also connect to your computer or laptop. Most of the time it comes with the proper cord to get access, but once it’s plugged in, you can save and record all of your workouts. You can set goals for yourself and watch your progress right in front of you.

Garmin Forerunner 620 watch on a man's hand

You should not be spending more time plugging in, uploading, searching, tracking, and typing, trying to set goals for yourself, than you spent during your actual workout. The online component should be easy to use and understand so that you can actually use and understand it to enhance your performance.

Top product reviews

Below we listed some of the best scopes you can find on the market right now. We checked their features and reviewed their pros and cons so you can make an informed decision.

Sony SWR504 Sony SWR504

Price: Approx. $130

Screen size: 1.6 inch diameter

Battery life: Approx. 4 hours GPS mode

Connectivity: Android Phone via Bluetooth

Specific features: GPS, gyro, compass, accelerometer, light sensors, notifications, voice commands, time & pace tracker

Best use: Fitness, exercise, personal use, sports

Description: The Sony SWR504 Smartwatch  starts this list off. Featuring GPS, gyro, a compass, and more this watch also connects to your smartphone which allows for notifications from messaging to email to appear right on your wrist.

That being said, the one big downfall is the battery life of this watch. You may be recharging it every other day to ensure it stays powered enough, but that’s what comes from a watch that basically doubles as a phone without the calling features.

This watch also has a band that comes in a variety of colors to match your mood or personality. It is water resistant and it’s powered by Android Wear which gives you access to as many apps as you would ever need. Voice command is the easiest way to use this watch.

You should watch out on the screen, which is susceptible to scratches, oil smudges and fingerprint smudges. Visibility of the display is affected when the screen is damaged. You might consider buying a screen protector to prevent this from happening. Most users love the fact that it’s affordable, when compared with similar products in the market. However, since it’s powered by Android, those with iPhones cannot use the watch, which limits its audience.

PROS:

  • Waterproof
  • Affordable when compared with similar products in the market
  • Comes in a variety of band styles and colors

CONS:

  • Screen scratches easily; you have to get a screen protector.
  • Not compatible with iPhone
  • Not highly durable

Related: The last thing you want to happen to your Sony smart watch is having an all scratched up screen. So why not get a Sony Smartwatch 3 ArmorSuit Military Screen Replacement  which is anti-bubble, ultra HD and responds well to touch and comes at about $8?

Check the price on Amazon

Tom Tom 1RR0 Tom Tom 1RR0

Price:  Approx. $85

Screen size: Approx. 1 inch diameter

Battery life: 10 hours GPS mode

Connectivity: Syncs with running sites and apps

Specific features: GPS, time & pace tracker, vibration alerts

Best use: Fitness, exercise, personal use, sports

Description: Tom Tom 1RR0 Smartwatch  runner will get you further, longer. A watch that boasts 10 hours of power while still in GPS mode is made for those in it for the long haul. It was a screen that’s about as tall as it is wide so you can easily glance at the watch and have real-time results.

The watch comes in a variety of colors for male and female preferences. This watch uses a one-button control to scroll through all necessary features which might be bothersome if you are looking for a touch screen.

This watch will also track you indoors, on a treadmill, and has an optional heart rate monitor that you can purchase separately. It helps you train more accurately with full-screen graphics at the touch of a button and with three unique training modes, you will always find something to get you through your workout.

The sleek, lightweight and ultra-slim design was specifically meant for runners. Not forgetting the other connected features, that allow you to upload your progress data on other fitness apps via Bluetooth. You can also pair the watch with an external heart rate monitor to track your fitness levels and intensity as you work out. You might want to watch out for the battery capabilities, since most users have complained that it doesn’t last as long. Also, the watch band is not as tight, which might have it slipping out.

PROS:

  • Affordable
  • Perfect fit for maximum comfort
  • Large screen display

CONS:

  • Low variety of band sizes and colors
  • The band is not very secure; keeps falling off
  • Doesn’t not live up to its full battery life, even when charged

Related: With a nice clear and a large display of the Tom Tom Runner watch, comes the screen problem. It’s essential that you get a screen protector to keep your screen free from smudges, dust and scratches at all time. And that’s where the D-Flectorshield Super Clear Screen Protector that goes for around $5 comes in.

Check the price on Amazon

SkyCaddie Golf  Sky Caddie Golf

Price:  Approx. $200

Screen size: 1.05 inch diameter

Battery life: 10 hours GPS mode

Connectivity: A/C Power adapter and Mini-USB cable to Mac or PC

Specific features: GPS, distance tracker, time & pace tracker, calorie count, bright backlight, alarm, stopwatch

Best use: Fitness, exercise, personal use, sports

Description: With its 30,000 preloaded and updatable maps, the Sky Caddie Golf Watch is a watch to watch out for. It’s got a sleek and highly athletic design with a locking band that keeps it from slipping or wiggling while you swing your arms during movement.

Also, it has specifics designed for the golf course, including auto hole advance, hole measurements, and scoring capabilities. The package includes the cords and connectors to allow uploading of your stats to either Mac or PC computers easily. With all of these amazing features, it may be a good watch for anyone, not just those golf fanatics.

The large 10.5 inch diameter screen makes it so easy for you to read off the display. You will love that this is a multi-functional use watch, it has other amazing features such as the backlight, alarm, stopwatch, and it’s also very comfortable and water resistant.

One major flaw is the battery that always seems to run down just a few hours after charging and does not last a full round of charge. Durability issues are another downfall. The buttons stop working just after a few months, which makes it impossible to get the most out of this watch.

PROS:

  • Has a good fit
  • A large screen that allows you to read easily

CONS:

  • Doesn’t hold the charge as required
  • The installation process is too long and hectic
  • Low durability

Related: With most of the SkyCaddie smart watch users complaining about its poor battery life, having an external power supply sure does help. The JINHEZO Premium External Power Supply, which comes at approx. $8, is an external power supply adapter that will allow you to use your smart watch comfortably without having to worry about the battery dying down.

Check the price on Amazon

Polar RC3 Polar RC3

Price:  Approx. $165

Screen size: Unknown

Battery life: 12 hours GPS mode

Connectivity: Compatible with polar W.I.N.D. running/cycling sensors

Specific features: GPS, distance & pace tracker, polar smart coaching features, running index, training benefit, altitude measurements

Best use: Fitness, exercise, personal use, sports

Description: Polar RC3 Sport Watch might not do it all, but it does most of it. From tracking pace to altitude this watch is going to remember what you did and still have the battery life to spare. You simply have to download Polar Personal Trainer and plug in with the included USB cord to upload your workouts.

Not only will you just upload them to analyze yourself, but the Smart Coaching program on that site will find you even more ways to advance your training. From a fitness test to specified endurance programs, this online platform takes your fitness to the next level.

The Polar RC3 Watch is amazing, but it also requires additional accessories to really get the most from the watch and its programs. It has an optional H2 heart rate monitor and the CS cadence sensor to measure pedaling or the s3+ stride sensor to track stride length during a run. These added devices are helpful, but each is a separate purchase.

The all in one GPS monitor allows you not only to track your speed, but also your distance and monitors your routes successfully. The sleek and slim design makes the Polar RC3 appear very stylish and also fit so comfortably on your wrist.

Some users have an issue with the non-customized screen; you need up taking much more time trying to switch between the screens for your different activities. Programming is a nightmare because you are required to either have a PC or an apple to handle its programs. The watch takes some time to pick up on the GPS and the battery starts to run down after a few times of use.

PROS:

  • Comfortable
  • Easy to set up
  • Works perfectly for fitness enthusiasts and athletes

CONS:

  • You cannot customize the screen according to your needs
  • GPS doesn’t pick up the signal fast enough
  • Poor battery life

Related: For all the biking enthusiasts out there, you might consider pairing your polar smart watch with the Polar Universal Bike Mount designed for the wrist unit that costs around $10.

Check the price on Amazon

Garmin Vivoactive Garmin Vivoactive

Price:  Approx. $250

Screen size: Approx. less than 1 inch diameter

Battery life: 13 hours GPS mode

Connectivity: Smartphone pairing via bluetooth and garmin connect online platform

Specific features: GPS, 24/7 heart rate monitoring, smartphone compatible, pedometer, calorie tracker, pace & distance tracking

Best use: Fitness, exercise, personal use, sports

Description: Garmin is one of the most well-known GPS companies, so naturally, they would be in the mix when talking about the best GPS watch. This slim and lightweight watch is pretty impressive and lives up to the Garmin name. With highly sensitive wrist sensors it tracks your heart rate at all times.

Garmin Vivoactive GPS Smart Watch is easily paired with your smartphone and does most of the things you want from a workout watch: pace, distance, and calories. It’s smooth and scratch-resistant touch screen will allow for easy and fluid movement from one feature to another.

Another plus is that because it connects flawlessly through Bluetooth, it will automatically reconnect whenever your phone is within range and start saving and uploading your results. This watch might just do it all. From running and biking to skiing, rowing, paddle boarding, swimming, and more. It tracks it all!

One of the major advantages of this watch, is that it allows for a heart rate monitoring, without you needing to strap on an extra device. This program is available for all your activities, except swimming. The SMART notification will allow you to get notifications straight to your smartphone, as long as it’s compatible with the Garmin. You might also consider the size, which is a bit large, especially if you have very small wrists. Additionally, you should get a screen protector, since the screen cracks easily.

PROS:

  • Easy set up
  • Tracks your all your activities perfectly without going out of range
  • Stylish and rests comfortably on your wrist

CONS:

  • Hard to read from the screen, especially without the backlight on
  • Screen scratches easily
  • Takes you some time to get used to all the functions

Related: With the need to use the Garmin Vivoactive smart watch to track all your activities, comes the need to use it mostly outdoors. That comes along with your ability to read off the display well and to keep your screen in top notch condition.

That’s why a Garmin IQ24536-MATTE Screen Protector comes in handy. It goes for around $10, and is just the right fit for your smart watch’s screen.

Check the price on Amazon

Garmin Forerunner 405 Garmin Forerunner 405

Price:  Approx. $150

Screen size: 1.06 inch diameter

Battery life: 8 hours GPS mode

Connectivity: Wireless uploads via usb stick (included) on garmin connect online platform

Specific features:  GPS, distance & pace tracking, heart rate monitor, automatic sync, wireless data sharing, calorie tracker

Best use: Fitness, exercise, personal use, sports

Description: A close call from one Garmin watch to another, but what might draw people to the Garmin Forerunner 405 Sports Watch is its simplicity paired with power. With all of the same amazing features that Garmin watches have to offer such as, calorie, pace, and distance tracking paired with high sensitivity receivers to get your workout started even faster instead of searching for GPS for 10 minutes.

With access to the Garmin Connect online community, you are still able to track your personal progress and set your own goals which are even easier with its automatic syncing technology. Equipped with an ANT+ sport wireless technology, this watch, lets you transfer your information seamlessly back and forth with your PC as long as your watch is within range; no more need for cables and hooks.

It also comes with a display that’s easy to read from, and a patented touch bezel interface that allows you to just use your fingers on the screen, without having to fumble around for buttons. Looking to still get your walking information when indoors? The Garmin 405 has a foot pod that can easily gather your distance covered and speed.

PROS:

  • One year warranty of purchase
  • You can transfer data seamlessly between the watch and the PC
  • Water resistant

CONS:

  • Does not connect to Bluetooth
  • Not the best when it comes to calorie tracking

Related: The Garmin B0011UNT Charging Clip for Forerunner sure does come in handy whenever you want to charge your smart watch right before you hit the trail. This charger will only cost you about $16, but will give you convenient charging capabilities, not forgetting the fact that you now have an extra charger to carry around with you whenever you are on the move.

Check the price on Amazon

Garmin Forerunner 610 Garmin Forerunner 610

Price:  Approx. $160

Screen size: 1 inch diameter

Battery life: 8 hours GPS mode

Connectivity: Wireless uploaded via usb stick (included) on garmin connect online platform

Specific features: GPS, distance & pace tracker, calorie tracker, heart rate monitor included, notification vibration

Best use: Fitness, exercise, personal use, sports

Description: Yet another Garmin GPS watch to behold. The Garmin Forerunner 610 Watch  is a step up from the 405 we saw earlier. The 610 does almost all of the same things, though. With the wireless uploading and never having to keep track of a pesky cord again, Garmin really is top of the line.

A few differences are that the 610 tracks even more! It tracks your weight, body fat composition, body water content, and more with the Tanita BC-1000 body composition scale that you can easily calibrate on your first use, by connecting with the computer program and it will track changes wirelessly just like your workouts.

With the small screen size, many users find the Garmin watches perfect for everyday use as well. They are small yet extremely powerful. Another final detail is that the Forerunner 610 boasts a smooth and easy to use touchscreen instead of buttons for navigation from screen to screen and feature to feature.

It’s weather resistant, which helps in its durability. Customization is the key to this device. You can also customize your vibration alerts and set different ones for time, distance, heart rate and calories. Moreover, you can customize your data screens and set advanced training plans effortlessly.

Garmin 610 tracks satellites very easily, even when you are in the middle of nowhere and will always give you a precise distance for all your activities. The screen might crack, therefore you should consider purchasing a screen protector to keep that from happening.

PROS:

  • You can customize the screen to fit your needs
  • Tracks satellites easily

CONS:

  • Might have problems with data transfer between the watch and the PC
  • Doesn’t last long
  • Might have charging issues

Related: To keep your screen away from scratches, oil and fingerprint smudges and dents, the Garmin B00L4H9H Screen Protector designed for the Garmin 610 is just what you need. It costs around $7, tailored to fit your screen perfectly, and comes with a lifetime replacement guarantee. Additionally, it’s designed with Anti-Scratch LCD Guards that keeps your screen safe from repetitive tapping, writing and unnecessary scratches.

Check the price on Amazon

Garmin 110 W Europe Garmin 110 W Europe

Price:  Approx. $240

Screen size: 1 inch diameter

Battery life: 8 hours GPS mode

Connectivity: USB cord for Mac or PC uploads to Garmin Connect Online Platform

Specific features: GPS, calorie tracker, distance & pace tracker, heart rate monitor, weight loss

Best use: Fitness, exercise, personal use, sports

Description: Sometimes simple, is just better. The Garmin 110 W Europe Sports Watch  is just that. Powerful enough to keep you satisfied but without so many bells and whistles.

No touch screen to worry about because this uses smooth buttons so you know exactly where you are going when navigating the features. With still up to 8 hours of use in GPS mode this watch is just as powerful as the rest. Lacking the wireless uploads, but using the USB cable is user-friendly and simple to navigate on a Mac or PC.

The one downfall is that this model may not be as waterproof as others. To put it simply, this is the perfect watch for running. There are options when you set up online to choose a biking or cycling option, but this is mostly for your runner, not a triathlete. With a small and compact design that is still sturdy enough to withstand your workouts, this watch looks great on a run and in the office.

Despite its simplicity, the Garmin 110W includes an integrated heart rate monitor and the Garmin connect software that allows you to connect easily with other related products. This is a women’s version, and its sleek design and vibrant colors spell out just that.

PROS:

  • Designed specifically for women; very stylish
  • Allows for smooth navigation

CONS:

  • Not as water resistant as other similar brands
  • Pricier than other products with similar capabilities

Related: Your Garmin Forerunner 110W is equipped with a heart rate monitor which records your heart beat when you’re running or work out. But what about if you’re a triathlete and still want to monitor your heartbeat without necessarily having to buy a different watch? The Garmin 010 Heart Rate Monitor comes in handy during such situations.

Check the price on Amazon

Concluding Thoughts

Being active is so important. This probably comes as no surprise, but there are ways that technology can help you stay fit and continue working out over long periods of time. One of the most amazing features of all of these watches is their connectivity.

gps watch

Knowing that you can upload your workout builds up your personal accountability. Owning a watch that does all of that work for you makes you work just a little bit harder where it counts. The GPS watch has revolutionized counting miles and seconds and calories and now it’s easier than ever.

Whether you are looking for simplicity or the most state-of-the-art technology, it’s out there. With the amazing capabilities that we have at our fingertips, our excuses are less likely to get in our way. Which of these watches catches your attention most? Have you used one of these before?

Comment below the pros and cons of these from your personal experiences. Want to share the knowledge? Send this article to friends, training buddies, or even teammates who are ready to take their sport to the next level and when they start seeing results, they will thank you.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Henry Silva
Henry Silva

Henry was hiking since he was 4. He was lucky enough to be born in Boulder, Colorado and enjoy Rocky Mountain National Park hikes growing up. His favourite is Longs Peak, which rises to 14,259 feet (4,346 m) above sea level. It is the highest point of the park. Henry likes to explore new hikes and spend his spare time in the wilderness.

  • Joshua Baker

    I’ve run over a 100 miles with this watch and I couldn’t be more pleased with it. It’s super easy and simple to use! You really get what you pay for. My first running watch was a cheaper alternative of the Garmin and the GPS in that watch took more than 5 minutes to find me, and it was hard to erase the internal memory and you had to plug it in a computer. But this Garmin Forerunner 610 tracks satellites super fast and as a runner I love to be ready to go in no time. This watch is definitely worth its price. At this time, get a running watch if you can only afford a Garmin.

  • Brian Green

    The top pro for me for the Polar RC3 GPS Sports watch is its battery life–really impressive. It is also fast in picking up satellites. I also like the large screen which makes it easy to see the data while running, though the screen light could be a bit brighter. The heart rate sensor strap is also comfortable for me. It also suits me that I can use it as an everyday watch because it’s not too bulky and the design is conservative. The con for me though is you can’t customize the data screens.

  • Henry Silva

    The Garmin is affordable, but it gets the job done. It has a good interface and battery life is commendable! Also, the brand is quite popular and has a stable following among runners and outdoor lovers. I found out that it easily syncs to my other devices, comparable to some of the more expensive GPS watches. Would I recommend it? Definitely!

  • Henry Silva

    People love the Polar since it is affordable and the battery life is quite long – 12 hours! It has a lot of features that please many of its fitness users. I find that the simple and clear watch face is also a come-on. Also, as far as newbies are concerned, this watch is a no-brainer to use – and that’s very important.

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