An excellent sports watch can be a game changer for runners, cyclists, triathletes, and fitness enthusiasts. Top sports watches go far beyond basic activity tracking to provide detailed workout analytics, performance metrics, navigation tools, and safety features. When choosing the right sports watch for your needs and budget, brands like Garmin and Coros stand out as leaders.
Key Features of a Quality Sports Watch
Before diving into specific product recommendations, here are some key features that the best sports watches provide:
– Accurate wrist-based heart rate monitoring
– Built-in GPS for pace, distance, and route tracking
– Advanced run tracking with metrics like cadence, stride length, and ground contact time
– Cycling tools like power meter connectivity and bike-specific data
– Multisport features for activities like open water swimming, trail running, and hiking
– Fitness test guidance like VO2 max estimation and recovery advisors
– Safety features like incident detection, emergency alerts, and live tracking
– Smartwatch functionality for notifications, apps, payments, and music
– Long battery life to last through ultra endurance events and adventures
– Data customization across sports and easy connectivity to training platforms
Top Garmin Sports Watch Picks
When it comes to sports watches, Garmin rules the roost. They offer everything from entry-level runners to advanced multisport watches. Here are two top Garmin picks:
Garmin Forerunner 245
Priced around $300, the Forerunner 245 hits the sweet spot for serious runners looking for advanced features without breaking the bank. Perks include:
– Lightweight 39g design with 5ATM water rating
– Up to 24 hours GPS battery life in smartwatch mode
– Garmin’s excellent Elevate wrist heart rate sensor
– Built-in activity profiles for running, biking, swimming, and more
– Training status and race predictor features
– Performance metrics like VO2 max, recovery time, and training load
– Garmin Coach adaptive 5K, 10K, and half marathon training plans
– Audio prompts and music streaming when paired with headphones
– Smart notifications for texts, calls, calendar, and other apps
Garmin Fenix 7
The Fenix 7 series watches are Garmin’s flagship multisport GPS watches built to last. The high-end Fenix 7X model retails around $900 and offers:
– Ultrafit titanium or solar charging lens options
– Up to 57 days of battery in low power mode
– Touchscreen display with Power Sapphire lens protection
– ABC sensors like altimeter, barometer and compass
– Mapping with ski slope shading and grade-adjusted pacing
– Garmin’s best wrist heart rate plus support for external monitors like chest straps
– Multiband GNSS accuracy and triathlon/ultrarunning activity modes
– Garmin Pay contactless payments and 32GB of onboard music storage
Premium features make the Garmin Fenix 7X the ultimate high-performance sports watch.
Top Coros Sports Watch Picks
Coros emerged as a rising challenger to Garmin’s sports watch dominance. Their devices focus on value-packed performance at lower price points. Two winners are:
Coros Pace 2
At around $200, the Pace 2 packs incredible value like:
– 20 hours GPS runtime with wrist heart rate
– Featherlight 29 gram design that’s comfortable for all-day wear
– Track mode with lap-split times and automatic lap detection
– Nylon-fiber strap option for lightweight comfort
– Daily workout suggestions and performance condition monitoring
– Night mode with reflective stitching and backlight
– Easy data upload to Strava and other fitness platforms
Coros Vertix 2
The rugged Vertix 2 retails at $700 but includes features that rival watches double the price:
– Built to U.S. military standards for durability and water resistance
– Ultra-long 140 hour (nearly 6 days) GPS battery life
– Precision dual GNSS with support for four global satellite systems
– Altitude acclimation for accurate metrics at high elevations
– Ski touring, mountain biking, and other adventure sport modes
– Mapping with waypoint navigation and track back routing
– 60 meters of water resistance with a titanium alloy bezel
Coros price-to-performance ratio is unmatched, making their sports watches budget-friendly options with premium functionality.
Other Notable Sports Watch Brands
While Garmin and Coros are top contenders, other brands also offer compelling sports watch options:
– Polar – Excellent running watches with the Polar Precision Prime heart rate sensor and advanced training features via the Polar Flow ecosystem.
– Suunto – Rugged multisport GPS watches with adventure racing pedigree. Options span affordable entry-level to premium with multiple day battery life.
– Apple – The Apple Watch is the obvious choice for iPhone users. The standard Watch provides basic sports features, while the Ultra targets endurance athletes.
– Fitbit – Leading fitness tracker brand with growing sports watch capabilities via the Sense and Versa lines. Great for new runners training for their first race.
The right sports watch aligns with your specific athletic pursuits, whether running, cycling, triathlons, or rugged outdoor activities. Understanding the strengths of top brands helps narrow the choices to find your perfect GPS sports companion.