Best GPS Running Watches of 2017

LISTING ORDER >> The best & most popular running watches are listed first. All the watches featured here are designed specifically with the runner in mind. They all feature a built-in GPS for accurate speed & distance. A vast majority include heart rate acquired directly from the wrist or via a traditional chest strap sensor.

Chest Strap or No Chest Strap?

A vast majority of the new GPS running watches acquire heart rate directly from the wrist. If you demand 100% accuracy CardioCritic recommend a chest strap style heart rate monitor. However, the wrist based heart rate monitors outsell the chest strap style 10:1 due to convenience and improved accuracy. From these off the wrist strapless heart rate monitors the most popular runners watches of 2017 are the Garmin Forerunner 35 | TomTom Spark 3 | Suunto Spartan Trainer | Polar M430 | Polar M200

Heart Rate Monitors for Runners

For the person who runs just for fitness & fun there's the Forerunner 35, the Garmin Vivoactive HR or the Polar M200. The best GPS heart rate monitor for the competitive club runner is either the Polar M400 (chest strap), Polar M430 (wrist HR), Forerunner 230 (chest strap), Garmin Forerunner 235 (wrist HR), or TomTom Spark 3 (wrist HR). For the elite runner CardioCritic recommends the Forerunner 735XT or Forerunner 935 (both wrist HR).

For Android fans we have the Polar M600 or Moto 360 Sport (wrist HR). iPhone users have the Apple Watch 2 Nike+ (wrist HR)

Run with your smartphone? Strava App?

If you frequently run with your smartphone consider one of the many Bluetooth HRM sensors that transmit your heart rate data to your directly to your phone. The Polar H7 / Polar H10, Wahoo Tickr and BlueLeza HR sensor are compatible with hundreds of Android, iOs and Windows smartphones with great apps like Strava and Endomondo.

CardioCritic 5 Star Awards

The Best In Class award goes to the Polar M430. We have awarded our Highly Recommended to the Garmin Forerunner 35. The Best Value GPS Running watch is the TomTom Spark 3. Please click the widgets below to go directly to our shopping partner (Amazon) for low prices and great deals or scroll down for the in-depth product reviews.

Special Mention

In October 2017 Garmin released a new fitness tracker, one that all others will be judged on in 2018. The Garmin Vivosport gets our Best on Test award. Smaller than a Fitbit Charge 2 and Polar A370 amazingly it features built-in GPS as well as wrist based heart rate. It has all the essential features of a running watch including auto-laps, pace alerts, heart rate zone training and even VO2 max prediction ...

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Running Watches reviewed by CardioCritic

  • Garmin Vivosport

    NEW - 2017 - NEW

    The BEST on TEST

    If you want your fitness tracker to include a built-in GPS & wrist based heart rate monitoring the Garmin Vivosport should be at the top of your shopping list. We liked the Vivosmart HR+ plus but it had a couple of minor issues. The Garmin Vivosport addresses all those criticisms and comes packed with new features like VO2 max, Stress Tests, HR broadcast and much more. It's also an excellent watch for runners with auto-laps, personal records, pace alerts and heart rate zone control ...

    Reviewed by CardioCritic

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  • Suunto Spartan Trainer

    NEW - 2017 - NEW

    TOP 3 ALL SPORTS

    A truly stunning piece of training kit at a very sensible price. The Suunto Spartan Trainer with wrist HR & GPS is almost HALF the price of it's bigger brother the Spartan Sport wrist HR but it runs IDENTICAL firmware. If you're in the market for a new performance monitoring training watch whether you're a triathlete, runner, cyclist, walker, rower, sailor ... whatever your sport Suunto have it covered. If you only look at one Suunto watch, take 5 minutes to browse the Spartan Trainer, you won't be disappointed ...

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  • Polar M430

    NEW - 2017 - NEW

    TOP 4 for RUNNERS

    Just what we were waiting for ... the probable permanent replacement for the M400. This is the new Polar M430 GPS running watch with wrist based Heart Rate. With a 6 x LED array for accurate heart rate monitoring and a large display it look great. An all-in-one device, Polar M430 provides wrist-based heart rate, integrated GPS plus core running metrics, sleep tracking and recovery metrics ....

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  • Garmin Forerunner 35

    TOP 4 for RUNNERS

    The Forerunner 35 is the perfect watch for anyone who runs for fun / fitness but isn't too worried about the technical aspects of running.  As well as built-in GPS the FR35 features Garmin Elevate wrist based heart rate sensors. It's also a 24/7 activity tracker / sleep monitor with smartphone notification alerts and connectivity to Garmin Connect smartphone App. More technical runners might prefer the Forerunner 235 ....

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  • Polar M200

    TOP 4 for RUNNERS

    Just when I thought Garmin had stolen the show again with their latest Forerunner model Polar have pulled this beauty from their hat. The Polar M200 is a water-resistant (swim-proof) GPS running watch with wrist based heart rate and 24/7 activity tracker. It includes Bluetooth connectivity providing smartphone alerts & notifications. Specifically aimed at people who primarily RUN whether for fun, to keep fit or to compete ...

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  • Polar H10 HR sensor

    NEW 2017

    The Polar H10 is everything that the Polar H7 was but better. Improved heart rate accuracy from a new algorithm. The Polar H10 heart rate sensor is compatible with the GoPro Hero 4 & 5 adding HR data to your videos. It can transmit heart rate to your V800 when swimming. The H10 features an internal memory for 1 training session, up to 65 hours, allowing you to train without your phone or watch  ...

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  • Spartan Sport Wrist HR

    NEW - 2017 - NEW

    TOP 4 for TRIATHLON

    This is the Suunto Spartan Sport Wrist HR with heart rate off the wrist, no chest strap required. The Spartan Sport Wrist HR is aimed at multisport users performing activities up to 8 hours. Those undertaking FULL Ironman Distance should consider the Suunto Spartan Ultra with 18 hours battery life. A highly recommended GPS outdoor sports watch  ....

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  • Garmin Forerunner 935

    NEW - 2017 - NEW

    TOP 4 for TRIATHLON

    The Forerunner 935 takes all the very best features and functions from the Garmin Fenix 5 and the Garmin Forerunner 735XT. With everything from waypoint to waypoint navigation, true multisport Triathlon mode and a barometric pressure sensor - the new Forerunner 935 caters for ALL serious sports adventurers ....

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  • Polar V800

    TOP 4 for TRIATHLON

    The Polar V800 for professional athletes & demanding amateurs, as used by World ITU champion Javier Gomez. The V800 combines your workout training load with your regular daily activities, giving you a true picture of your required recovery. The dual transmission Polar H7 HRM belt providing heart rate feedback while swimming. Optionally measures heart rate, cadence and power ....

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  • Suunto Spartan Sport

    The Suunto Spartan Sport replaces the Ambit3 Sport. Water resistant to 100 meters and featuring a tough high colour touch screen with great visibility in direct sunlight. The Spartan Sport is aimed at multisport GPS adventure racers and triathletes (up to Olympic distance). Those undertaking FULL Ironman Distance should consider the Suunto Spartan Ultra with 18 hours battery life. Note > new Spartan Sport HR with wrist based heart rate available now ...

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  • Garmin Forerunner 235

    TOP 4 for RUNNERS

    The Garmin Forerunner 235 picks up heart rate from the WRIST. One of the best GPS running watches we have ever tested. A highly technical but easy to use GPS runners watch with advanced features such as Interval sets and pace & distance alerts. It's also a competent activity tracker with daily targets and time to move alerts. Smartphone notifications and data upload to Garmin Connect APP ....

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  • TomTom Spark 3

    TOP 3 ALL SPORTS

    The TomTom Runner 3 (Spark 3) adds route exploration to the Runner 2 model. With all the same functions that made the Runner 2 one of my favourite GPS running watches the Spark3 features built-in heart rate sensor, 24/7 activity tracker, sleep monitor and internal memory for music storage ....

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  • Fitbit Ionic

    NEW - 2017 - NEW

    With all the best features of the popular Fitbit Blaze and Fitbit Surge plus a host of new features the Fitbit Ionic is a true fitness focused smartwatch. With access to the Fitbit App Gallery, built-in GPS and wrist based heart rate the Ionic is certain to be a HUGE success. The list of fitness features is endless including Cardio Fitness Level and new Swim tracking. If you've been considering the Apple Watch then the Fitbit Ionic could be the better alternative for sports focused customers ....

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  • Polar M600

    Android Wear

    The Polar M600 smartwatch utilises Android Wear operating system to give access to dozens of proven and popular Apps. The M600 is compatible with both Android phones and iOs devices like iPad and iPhone. The M600 builds on all the best features of the A360 activity tracker (built-in Heart Rate sensor) and the Polar M400 with it's highly accurate internal GPS. High spec, wearable technology from Polar ....

     

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  • Garmin Vivoactive HR

    Replaced by > Vivoactive 3

    TOP 3 ALL SPORTS

    The Vivoactive HR was replaced in Sept 2017 by the new Vivoactive 3. However, it is still a highly recommended & great value for money all round GPS sports watch with wrist based heart rate. Garmin's intelligent smartwatch with an emphasis on fitness. Key features are a built-in GPS & heart rate sensor (no need for chest strap). Smartphone notifications and alerts from compatible iOs and Android devices. If you like smartphone technology, partake in one or more sports and you also want to increase your daily activity then the Vivoactive HR could be for you ....

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  • Polar M400

    Assuming you are happy to use heart rate chest sensor then this is a highly recommended heart rate monitor. The M400 is especially suited for runners and cyclists looking for a wrist worn solution. The Polar M400 combines the best of GPS and 24/7 activity tracking with advanced sports technology using Bluetooth Smart. If you want strapless heart rate, consider the Polar M430 .... 

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  • Wahoo Tickr RUN

    Wahoo Tickr comes in three formats. This is the Tickr RUN specifically designed for those who run with their smartphone. The Tickr RUN will add heart rate functionality to your smartphone (iOs / Android) and provide detailed running dynamics feedback to help you become a more efficient runner ...

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  • Garmin Forerunner 920XT

    The Forerunner 920XT is a true multisport GPS sports watch designed specifically for triathlon. When in the water measure distance, pace, stroke type/count and pool lengths. Drill logging and SWOLF score to measure swimming efficiency. Now with HRM-tri and HRM-swim belts for heart rate while swimming. On the bike you can monitor predicted VO2 max (with HRM strap and Vector pedals). Finishing with the run, you have access to advanced running dynamics, even a metronome to guide your running cadence, If you want HR from the wrist consider the Forerunner 935 or 735XT ...

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  • Garmin Forerunner 25

    What do you really need from your sports watch? GPS for running speed and distance, optional heart rate (chest strap belt) auto-laps to clock each mile/km, virtual pacer to help you achieve your next PB.... and daily activity tracker to keep you moving when you are not training.... that's the Forerunner 25 ....

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  • Garmin Fenix 3 HR

    Top 3 Outdoor Adventure

    The Fenix range have the perfect balance of fitness, navigation and tech / connected functionality to satisfy most outdoor racers, explorers and performance athletes. The Fenix 3 Sapphire HR is a stylish, yet exceptional robust, GPS sports watch that can withstand harsh environments being water rated down to 100m. Featuring Garmin Elevate off the wrist heart rate, no need for a chest strap ....

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  • Garmin Forerunner 630

    Technical Running

    The Forerunner 630 with Advanced Running Dynamics you have access to ground contact time, balance and stride length metrics. The 620 can even calculate your estimated VO2 max and then predict your race times for several distances. The F630 is an ADVANCED watch for runners. If you are not overly bothered about running every race as a PB then you may want to consider the Forerunner 235 with off the wrist heart rate ....

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  • TomTom Runner 2 (Spark)

    REPLACED by Spark  3

    The TomTom Runner 2 (Spark 2) Cardio + Music has the same built-in heart rate sensor with the addition of 24/7 activity tracker, sleep monitor and internal memory dedicated for storing your favourite exercise tracks. If you want your sports watch to provide > Heart Rate, Pace & Distance, 5 x Heart Rate Zones, Multi Sport profiles, Customisable display fields, Intervals and MUSIC while you workout ....

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  • Garmin Forerunner 230

    The Forerunner 230 offers full colour display with VO2 max calculations and predicted recovery requirements. It's a GPS runners watch with advanced features such as Interval sets and pace and distance alerts PLUS it's a competent activity tracker with daily targets and time to move alerts. Remember there's also the Forerunner 235 with OFF the WRIST heart rate ....

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  • Apple Watch 2 Nike+

    BEST for iPhone

    Needing no introduction the Apple Watch 2 takes the original Apple Watch and adds built-in GPS. Combining the wrist based heart rate sensor with this built-in GPS Apple now have a serious runners watch. The Apple Watch Nike+ comes with the Nike+ Run Club app pre-installed. If you own an iPhone and want a competent GPS running watch with off the wrist heart rate then the Apple Watch Nike+ should be in the shortlist ....

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  • Motorola Moto 360 Sport

    The Motorola Moto 360 Sport (2nd Gen) is an Android Wear powered GPS sports watch with wrist based heart rate. Aimed at those looking for a wearable tech running watch with a high level of connected functionality. The Moto 360 Sport comes with Moto Body running application ready to go ....

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  • Fitbit Surge

    REPLACED by - Fitbit Ionic

    The FitBit Surge is everything we look for in a well designed fitness band. It's got everything that 95% of people need without any unnecessary clutter. This FitBit, like the Charge HR and Blaze, takes heart rate directly from the wrist, no need for a chest strap. The Surge also features a built in GPS so it's great for running or biking when you don't want to take your phone ....

     

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  • Garmin Vivosmart HR +

    If you're a runner looking for a competent fitness band with steps, distance, calories and floors climbed with the addition of built-in heart rate (off the wrist, no belt required), smartphone notifications & alerts plus an accurate GPS, then the Vivosmart HR+ could be just what you're looking for ...

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  • Suunto Spartan Ultra

    Top 3 Outdoor Adventure

    The best GPS outdoor adventure / ABC /multisport watch of 2015/2016 was the Suunto Ambit3 Peak. That has now been replaced with the Suunto Spartan Ultra with high colour touchscreen display. Like the slightly less functional Spartan Sport the Ultra is a top quality GPS multisport watch designed with ULTRA Triathlon and other ultra endurance events in mind ....

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  • TomTom Runner Cardio

    REPLACED by Spark 3

    This TomTom Runner Cardio is still a great GPS running watch with off the wrist heart rate monitor. If you don't want internal music storage or activity tracking we can still recommend this model. It has everything you'd expect from an advanced runner's watch including RACE MODE to race your previous sessions. Train in one of 5 heart rater based intensities from EASY to SPRINT ....

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  • Suunto Ambit3 Run

    REPLACED by Spartan Sport

    This is still an excellent product. Available in Lime, White or Black. The Suunto Ambit3 Run has the perfect feature set for RUNNERS. A high sensitivity GPS sensor giving accurate pace, speed & distance and built in accelerometer giving access to your leg cadence (strides per minute). Connect it to your smartphone for incoming call alert, message alerts and more ....

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  • Suunto Ambit3 Sport

    REPLACED by Spartan Sport

    I still regard this product as a top performer. If you don't need the barometric weather functionality of the Ambit3 Peak, but you still want MultiSport support, consider the Ambit3 Sport. Available in several colours including blue, coral, black, white and sapphire. The Suunto Ambit3 Sport is the perfect watch for Triathlon  even though it's been sidelined by the Spartan....

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  • MultiSport Cardio

    REPLACED by Spark 3

    Superseded by the Runner 2 Cardio (Spark) this TomTom MultiSport Cardio is still a highly recommended GPS sports watch with BUILT-IN heart rate sensors for anyone who runs, bike, swims and gyms. The newer models include 24/7 activity trackers and, in some models, an internal music store to keep your favourite 500 training tunes (required Bluetooth headphones) ....

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  • Epson Runsense SF-810

    The Epson Runsense SF-810 will accurately measure your running performance with it's internal Smart Stride, GPS and built-in heart rate sensors. No need to wear a chest strap with the SF-810, it is taken directly from your wrist. With this watch you will be able to run longer thanks to a healthy 20 hours battery life with GPS and heart rate tracking turned on ....

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  • Mio Alpha 2

    With STRAPLESS heart rate monitoring this new HRM is supported by a very comprehensive and easy to use Android and iPhone APP. The Mio Alpha 2 has a built in HRM sensor on the back of the watch, so no need for a chest strap, it also features a sensitive 3 axis accelerometer that gives remarkably accurate speed, distance and pace feedback WITHOUT GPS ...

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  • Timex Run X20

    A smart, sleek and competent GPS runners watch. The Timex Run X20 offers 6 hours of GPS running time with auto lap alerts after each mile or kilometer. Customisable display allowing the user to switch between 2 or 3 lines of data. Essential real time speed/pace, distance and calories. For such a competitive price we were pleasantly surprised to even find TWO interval alarms (time or distance based) ....

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  • Espon Runsense SF-710

    The Epson Runsense SF-710 is a competent GPS runners watch. It combines highly accurate GPS tracking with in-built Stride Sensor to help improve your running style. The stride sensor will track your running pace and distance when inside (treadmill or indoors track). View real time data at on four customisable screens. One of the key features of the Runsense is it's 30 hours battery life while tracking GPS signal ...

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  • Epson Runsense SF-310

    This is the entry level GPS sports watch from Epson for Runners. The Epson Runsense SF-310 has all the essential features for a recreational runner to help them improve and reach their training targets. The SF-310 has similar features to the SF-510 but it does NOT feature the in-built stride sensor so it will NOT give running distance data on a treadmill etc ....

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  • Epson Runsense SF-510

    This is the Runsense SF-510 GPS runners watch from Epson. Take the SF-310 and add an in-built stride sensor. If GPS signal is lost due to overhead cover or interference, such as running through woodland or near tall buildings, Runsense will continue to track distance and pace data. View live training data at a glance on four customisable screens ....

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  • Polar RC3 GPS HRM

    REPLACED by - Polar M430

    You will probably see Polar RC3's for sale on discount websites and auction sites... I'd STRONGLY ADVISE that you consider the Polar M400. It's better all round with Bluetooth connectivity to smartphones and built-in 24/7 activity tracker, smartphone notifications  and WRIST BASED heart rate monitoring ....

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  • TomTom Runner

    REPLACED by Spark 3

    If you don't want activity tracking or heart rate taken directly off the wrist then this is still a good value for money GPS watch especially for runners. The TomTom RUNNER has pretty much everything you really need from a GPS sports trainer. Featuring a LARGE clear display you can monitor live speed, distance and pace. The TomTom Runner's best features are, QuickFix GPS, ease of navigation and a 10 hour battery ...

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