Best GPS Running Watches

best gps running watches

GPS Running watches are not a new craze. They’ve only become so much more dependable over the past few years that most people view them as must-haves for workout monitoring.

Because they pack a lot of technology into a small case and they sit comfortably on the wrist, running watches make perfect sense as workout companions.

However, there is plenty of variety and frankly it can be somewhat overwhelming when shopping for a GPS running watch.

What features should you look for, what deserves paying the extra buck, and how do you make use of all the information?

To help you out, here are a number of reviews on the best GPS running watches on the market.

There’s something on this list for the lazy jogger and for the hardcore athlete.

Our GPS Running Watches Reviews

1. Garmin Forerunner 935 – Best Option All Around

The 935 comes with a plastic body which is a bit of a surprise given Garmin’s propensity for using stainless steel in previous models. Nevertheless, this watch is rated waterproof to 50 meters.

Add to that the multiple swimming functions and water workouts and what you get is a very well-rounded smart running watch.

The 935 is designed as a GPS running watch so don’t be surprised that some features such as offline music support and Garmin Pay are not part of the deal.

That being said, it’s the accuracy of the GPS tracking and heart-rate monitoring that sets this watch apart from others.

The altimeter gives a wide range of parameters for you to analyze after or during each workout. You can use the watch in various sports, but you can also take it beyond the norm.

Using the tactical mode to track longitude and latitude while parachuting may be very interesting to some people.

  • Screen: Yes
  • Touchscreen: No
  • Heart rate tracker: Yes
  • Waterproof:Yes
  • Barometer:No
  • Activity tracking: Yes
  • Rugged design: No
  • Battery life:24hours
  • Warranty: 1 year
  • Compatibility: Android/iOS
  • SPECS
  • WHAT I LIKE
  • WHAT I DON'T LIKE
  • Pros/cons overview
  • VIDEO

2. Polar Vantage V

The Vantage V aims to be one of the most user-friendly GPS running watches on the market. It combines touchscreen technology with traditional buttons around the display to allow its user to make easy adjustments on the fly.

However, given the staggering amount of data you have to take in, the software doesn’t feel as intuitive as intended.

The accuracy of the GPS is the most impressive. Along with all the other sensors, it helps you track key metrics such as pace, calories burned, cadence, steps, elevation, strokes, and various others.

The tight construction and the quality of the materials also make the Vantage V a good pool companion.

The Vantage V also takes full advantage of the latest trend in running power tracking and athletes’ desire to monitor activity outside of training. Although this watch doesn’t have the best sleep tracking record, everything else looks ok and pretty accurate.

Spending time in the Polar Flow web app should give you a better overview of your 24h data collected than using your smartphone.

  • Screen:Yes
  • Touchscreen:Yes
  • Heart rate tracker: Yes
  • Waterproof:Yes
  • Barometer: Yes
  • Activity tracking: Yes
  • Rugged design: No
  • Battery life: 40 hours
  • Warranty: 2 Years
  • Compatibility:iOS/Android
  • SPECS
  • WHAT I LIKE
  • WHAT I DON'T LIKE
  • Pros/cons overview
  • VIDEO
  • Long battery life
  • 130 sports profiles
  • Running power tracking
  • Precision Prime HR tech

3. Garmin Forerunner 735XT

The Garmin Forerunner 735XT is designed as a lightweight triathlon watch capable of relaying accurate heart rate data as well as other important key metrics.

 Although most view it as just another GPS running watch, this model is capable of so much more.

The decent water resistance makes it a good pool companion too. The array of information captured through its sensors makes it a true multisport watch that can help you stay in the best shape possible.

Not only do you benefit from training metrics, but you also get access to sleep tracking and recovery tracking.

The user interface is rather simple. The screen readability is off the charts and the power draw is insignificant.

The heart rate monitoring is very accurate. It also gives you access to very important metrics while running, such as which foot you’re landing on harder.

The 735XT may seem complex from a beginner’s standpoint, but the comprehensive data it offers is tailor-made for athletes.

 The decent battery life, simple UI, and everything else make the 735XT one of the finest midrange GPS running watches.

  • Screen: Yes
  • Touchscreen: No
  • Heart rate tracker: Yes
  • Waterproof:Yes
  • Barometer: No
  • Activity tracking: Yes
  • Rugged design: No
  • Battery life:14 hours
  • Warranty:1 year
  • Compatibility:iOS/Android
  • SPECS
  • WHAT I LIKE
  • WHAT I DON'T LIKE
  • Pros/cons overview
  • VIDEO
  • Multisport watch
  • Intuitive UI
  • Transflective display
  • Optical heart monitoring

4. Apple Watch Series 4 – Best for Apple Users

Widely regarded as the best Apple watch to date, the Apple Watch Series 4 is an all-around excellent smartwatch. Not only does it use cutting edge technology to give you a pleasant overall experience, it also works as a multisport watch and training partner.

The new larger screen helps you make sense of all the advanced metrics captured by the GPS, heart rate monitor, and other sensors. The lighting is also far superior tothe previous generations.

Because the screen is larger, the touchscreen function is also a lot easier to use. There’s less chance of accidentally swiping the wrong program or selecting readouts that have nothing to do with the current program.

Performance-wise, the Series 4 watch is also an improvement. Gone are the days of slow loading times and delayed tracking. Everything about this watch is snappy, even though it is designed as an everyday watch.

  • Screen: Yes
  • Touchscreen: Yes
  • Heart rate tracker: Yes
  • Waterproof:Yes
  • Barometer: No
  • Activity tracking: Yes
  • Rugged design: No
  • Battery life: 18 hours
  • Warranty: 1 year
  • Compatibility:iOS
    • SPECS
    • WHAT I LIKE
    • WHAT I DON'T LIKE
    • Pros/cons overview
    • VIDEO
    • Large display
    • Atrial fibrillation tracking
    • Apple Podcasts compatibility
    • ECG readings
    • Custom displays

    5. Timex Ironman GPS – Best for the Money

    Sometimes good things come in small packages. While the Timex Ironman is by no means small, it is the minimalistic design that makes it a great running companion.

    The design is rugged, and the hard-plastic feel is not great. Still, after a while you easily get used to it. Besides, the durability well exceeds the price tag.

    If you are looking for something less complicated, this is definitely the solution. As far as running watches go, very few have such good screen readability, ease of use, and light weight.

    The fact that there’s no heart rate monitoring seems counterproductive for the average runner. However, tracking time and distance seems to be enough for plenty of people, given the popularity of this simple model.

    • Screen:Yes
    • Touchscreen:No
    • Heart rate tracker:No
    • Waterproof:Yes
    • Barometer: No
    • Activity tracking: Yes
    • Rugged design: Yes
    • Battery life: 12 hours
    • Warranty: 1 year
    • Compatibility:PC
    • SPECS
    • WHAT I LIKE
    • WHAT I DON'T LIKE
    • Pros/cons overview
    • VIDEO
    • Distance tracking
    • Waterproof
    • Hard plastic case

    6. Suunto 9

    The Suunto 9 is the company’s flagship GPS multisport watch. While it doesn’t improve too much on the previous models, there are three key areas in which the Suunto 9 exceeds expectations.

    The battery life is significantly longer, up to 120 hours in standard GPS mode. Considering that you’re in control of the metrics, you can use it as a running watch for far longer than if you were to use it for different activities.

    The optical heart rate sensor is also better, being able to provide much more accurate readings. The GPS uses a Sony chipset and it comes with some completely new tracking modes.

    The bands are removable. While this is a feature carried over from the previous models, the ease of use is superior on the Suunto 9.

    • Screen:Yes
    • Touchscreen:No
    • Heart rate tracker: Yes
    • Waterproof: No
    • Barometer: Yes
    • Activity tracking: Yes
    • Rugged design: No
    • Battery life: 25 hours
    • Warranty: 2 years
    • Compatibility: iOS/Android
    • SPECS
    • WHAT I LIKE
    • WHAT I DON'T LIKE
    • Pros/cons overview
    • VIDEO

    7. Samsung Gear Sport

    If you’re not someone who has to have the latest Apple devices, then the Samsung Gear Sport might just be your best bet.

    While Apple may be dominating the world of smartwatches, their sports watches are nowhere near as efficient as what Samsung has to offer.

    For the Samsung Gear Sport, the build is very sleek and comes with a simple user interface. The quality materials and careful construction ensure a waterproof performance of up to 50 meters.

    The watch is equipped with a barometer, ambient light sensor, heart rate sensor, accelerometer, pretty much all you need for a fitness tracking watch. And certainly more than you’ll ever need from a running watch.

    • Screen: Yes
    • Touchscreen: No
    • Heart rate tracker: Yes
    • Waterproof: Yes
    • Barometer:Yes
    • Activity tracking: Yes
    • Rugged design: No
    • Battery life: 48 hours
    • Warranty: 2 years
    • Compatibility: Android
    • SPECS
    • WHAT I LIKE
    • WHAT I DON'T LIKE
    • Pros/cons overview
    • VIDEO

    8. Garmin Fēnix 5S

    The Garmin 5S is an interesting multisport watch. It has most of the features of the 5X, yet it condenses them into a much smaller package.

    The design and comfort of the 5S is a matter of personal taste. The smaller 42mm watch is viewed by some as a women’s sports watch. But of course, it is not marketed that way.

    The 5S comes with a variety of preprogrammed workouts but it also lets you create and customize your own training schedule right down to the choice of metrics tracked.

    This allows you to create custom workouts that don’t consume too much battery life yet provide you with accurate and more relevant readings. You can also track your VO2 Max which is becoming increasingly popular for runners these days.

    • Screen: Yes
    • Touchscreen: No
    • Heart rate tracker: Yes
    • Waterproof: No
    • Barometer: Yes
    • Activity tracking: Yes
    • Rugged design: No
    • Battery life: 14 hours
    • Warranty: 1 year
    • Compatibility:iOS/Android
    • SPECS
    • WHAT I LIKE
    • WHAT I DON'T LIKE
    • Pros/cons overview
    • VIDEO
    • Intuitive UI
    • Customizable workouts
    • VO2 Max tracking
    • QuickFit release mechanism
    • Smaller 42mm case

    9. Suunto Spartan Sport Wrist HR

    Suunto’s heart rate wrist sensors are getting better and better. The Spartan Sport is a fitness tracking watch with a good deal of smartwatch features thrown into the mix.

    The solid construction gives the watch a waterproof rating of about 100 meters which is more than enough for any running watch.

    The watch is big, some might even say bulky. However, it’s the extra size that gives the Spartan Sport amazing readability.

    The GPS tracking has a couple of different modes. And yet, the difference between the optimal and power-saving settings is not too great. Around 300 meters for long routes.

    Although there are some smartwatch features, you can’t really act on messages or anything like that. The Spartan doesn’t come with dedicated apps that allow you to upload group data, control music, etc.

    • Screen: Yes
    • Touchscreen: Yes
    • Heart rate tracker: Yes
    • Waterproof: Yes
    • Barometer: No
    • Activity tracking: Yes
    • Rugged design: No
    • Battery life: 8 hours
    • Warranty: 2 years
    • Compatibility:iOS/Android
    • SPECS
    • WHAT I LIKE
    • WHAT I DON'T LIKE
    • Pros/cons overview
    • VIDEO

    10. Polar M430

    The Polar M430 is yet another case of putting fitness needs over the convenience of owning a smartwatch. The design looks outdated and the notifications are nothing to write home about.

    However, when it comes to activity tracking, the M430 has excellent fitness stats and a personal coaching mode for running.

    The heart rate sensor is a lot better than you would think, especially if you’re judging the watch by its cover. As unappealing as it may look, this is one of the most comfortable GPS running watches on the market.

    The extra-large display allows you to see all the tracked data with ease. And since the resolution is monochrome, bright sunlight won’t impair your ability to read the screen.

    The watch is also compatible with Polar Flow which means that both iOS and Android users can take full advantage of its fitness tracking functions.

    • Screen:Yes
    • Touchscreen: No
    • Heart rate tracker: Yes
    • Waterproof: No
    • Barometer: No
    • Activity tracking: Yes
    • Rugged design: Yes
    • Battery life:7 days
    • Warranty: 2 years
    • Compatibility:iOS/Android
    • SPECS
    • WHAT I LIKE
    • WHAT I DON'T LIKE
    • Pros/cons overview
    • VIDEO

    FINAL VERDICT

    GPS running watches are becoming the norm even for the casual jogger. As an activity, running provides amazing cardio benefits as well as good lower body and core conditioning.

    But, to make sure you’re doing it right and maximizing your efficiency, having access to advanced metrics and vitals is important.

    As you can already see, running watches come in all shapes and sizes and degrees of complexity, with the Garmin Forerunner 935 leading the charge in almost every category.

    Nevertheless, if you’re looking for a cheaper option, the Timex Ironman GPS watch can take care of just your running needs without costing extra for fancy smartwatch features.

    Best GPS Running Watches
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