There are plenty of great fitness trackers on the market right now, each of which cater to different users with different needs. Just need to keep an eye on your daily activity levels? Maybe the Fitbit Charge 2 or Garmin vívosmart HR+ will suit your needs. Looking for something even cheaper than that? Garmin’s vívofit 3 or Xiaomi’s Mi Band 2 might do the trick. But if you’re a more serious athlete that needs something a bit more powerful – something that can track your long runs and not skimp on the handy watch features – what are your options? Today, we’re going to walk you through our list of the best GPS running watches on the market.

If you’re a serious runner and need something that will accurately track your routes, has a big, easy-to-read screen, a built-in heart rate monitor, and of course, a GPS, this list is for you. Some of the options on here are a bit pricey, but that’s par for the course in this segment of wearables.

Without any further delay, let’s get started!

Editor’s Note: We will update this list as more devices hit the market.

Best GPS running watch

Garmin fenix 5

Garmin’s new fenix 5 lineup is finally here, and these are the best GPS running watches on the market right now.

All three fenix 5 models come with preloaded multisport functionality for running, hiking, swimming, biking, and more. They all feature Garmin’s impressive Elevate heart rate trackers, built-in GPS (of course), water resistance up to 100 meters, as well as navigation features with a 3-axis compass, gyroscope, and barometric altimeter.

They all also feature a variety of connected features that make these devices true smartwatches. Users can get call, text and email smartphone notifications. All Sapphire models are also Wi-Fi enabled, so users will be able to connect with their home network and upload statistics even if their smartphones aren’t around.

Not crazy about the regular fenix 5? The smaller fenix 5S might be for you. It has all the same specs as the fenix 5, though it’s built for people with smaller wrists and has a slightly smaller battery. Looking for something even more beefy than the fenix 5? The fenix 5X is much larger and comes with preloaded with TOPO U.S. mapping, routable cycling maps and other navigation features like Round Trip Run and Round Trip Ride. The 5X will even display guidance cues for upcoming turns.

Get ready to fork over a good amount of cash, though. The fenix 5 and 5S both start at $599.99, while the fenix 5X can be yours for $699.99.

Specs

  • Display: 1.2-inch glass or sapphire crystal lens display
  • Heart rate sensor: Yes, optical
  • GPS: Yes
  • Waterproof: Yes, 10ATM (up to 100 meters)
  • Battery life: Up to two weeks
  • Notifications: Call, text, email, alarm, idle alerts and more
  • Colors: Black, Slate Gray, White, Champagne

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Runner-up

Garmin vívoactive HR

See more vívoactive HR photos

The Garmin vívoactive HR is basically a jack-of-all-trades fitness band… it really does it all. Not only is this a solid GPS running watch, it’ll also track your swimming, biking, golfing, rowing, SUP (stand-up paddle boarding), and much more. Of course, it can also track your daily activity, heart rate and sleep, just like all of the other watches on this list.

While many runners aren’t thrilled about using a touchscreen display on their activity trackers, the vívoactive HR’s colorful screen is super easy to navigate while working out. That big screen also allows you to see plenty of smartphone notifications, which is good news – the vívoactive HR has notification support for just about any app you have installed on your phone.

The best part? The vívoactive HR costs just $250 ($300 less than the fenix 3 HR), making this one of the best bang for your buck options on this list. Basically if you aren’t keen on spending around $500 for a GPS running watch, the vívoactive HR is for you.

Specs

  • Display: Touchscreen
  • Heart rate sensor: Yes, optical
  • GPS: Yes
  • Waterproof: Yes, 5 ATM (up to 50 meters)
  • Battery life: Up to 8 days
  • Notifications: Call, text, email, alarm, idle alerts and more
  • Colors: Black (with interchangeable bands in Lava Red, Force Yellow and White)

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Honorable mention

TomTom Spark 3 Cardio + Music

TomTom’s Spark 3 Cardio + Music is a great option if you aren’t interested in the Garmin vívoactive HR.

It has everything you need in a GPS running watch – an accurate heart rate monitor, a built-in GPS (of course) and support for a ton of different running applications. Plus, this model comes with a Route Exploration feature that not only lets you track where you’ve run, but also lets you get routes from any website and upload them to your watch if you’re interested in trying out a new route.

It’s worth noting there are a few different models in the Spark 3 lineup: the TomTom Spark 3, Spark 3 Music, Spark 3 Cardio and our pick, the Spark 3 Cardio + Music. Though less expensive, the Spark 3 and Spark 3 Music unfortunately don’t offer a heart rate monitor. The Spark 3 Cardio certainly offers a lot for the money, though we believe the onboard music storage and pair of Bluetooth headphones that come with the Spark 3 Cardio + Music provide a better value overall. The Cardio + Music model only costs $60 more.

Specs

  • Display: 1.3-inch LCD display
  • Heart rate sensor: Yes, optical
  • GPS: Yes
  • Waterproof: Yes, 5 ATM (up to 50 meters)
  • Battery life: Up to three weeks
  • Notifications: No
  • Colors: Black

Also read: The dark side of fitness trackers: how to avoid common mistakes that could hurt your fitness goals

Best budget GPS running watch

Polar M200

If you’re on a budget, you can’t go wrong with the Polar M200.

This is a waterproof running watch with a built-in heart rate sensor and GPS that will track your speed, distance and route during a run, and will also keep tabs on your daily activity, steps, calories burned, sleep time and quality. This is also a sleek-looking device. In our opinion, it’s much better looking than its predecessor, the Polar M400.

Plus, this device also comes with Polar’s Running Index, which will show you how your running performance is improving overtime. In the Polar Flow app, you’ll get a Running Index score that’s automatically calculated after every run, based on your heart rate and speed data.

Specs

  • Display: 1-inch always-on display
  • Heart rate sensor: Yes, optical
  • GPS: Yes
  • Waterproof: Yes, up to 30 meters
  • Battery life: Up to 6 days
  • Notifications: Call, text, email and more
  • Colors: Black, Red

Best smartwatch for running

Polar M600

See more Polar M600 photos

Polar’s M600 sport watch is by far the best GPS running smartwatch on the market.

With a built-in GPS, IPX8 water resistance rating, optical heart rate monitor and 4GB of on-board storage, the M600 is quite the feature-packed watch. It also comes with support for Polar’s wonderful Flow app, allowing you to track just about any activity you can think of – rowing, skiing, hiking and much more. You’ll also be able to squeeze about two days of battery life out of this thing, which is impressive for an Android Wear watch.

It’s pretty pricey, though, starting at $329. You can certainly find Android Wear devices for less than that, but the M600 provides much more than other devices. If you’re in the market for a GPS running smartwatch and don’t mind spending upwards of $300, look no further.

Specs

  • Display: 1.3-inch TFT touchscreen display
  • Heart rate sensor: Yes, optical
  • GPS: Yes
  • Waterproof: Yes, IPX8
  • Battery life: Up to two days
  • Notifications: Call, text, calendar alerts, and many more
  • Colors: Black, White

Read more


So there you have it – our list of the best GPS running watches on the market! Did we miss anything? Let us know your thoughts in the comments below!

Next: How to use your fitness tracker to actually get fit – a comprehensive guide

Jimmy Westenberg
Lover of all things Android, Star Wars, dogs, coffee, and music.
  • Joms

    Yes Samsung Gearfit 2 and at $129 right now. =D

  • philnolan3d

    No mention of the Gear Fit2? I love mine. Use it’s GPS every time I go running and use other fitness features when I’m at the gym.

  • thespacecowboy

    This title should have read ‘Best GPS SMART running watches (February 2017)”

    You neglected pure running watches like the Garmin Forerunner series, which is I believe the leading watch in that category.

  • Basson

    Indeed you did – Suunto

  • I currently own a Pebble Time. But i wish to own a Samsung Gear S3 Frontier! It’s just amazing! 😍😍😍

    https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/dd8283dcc164e838c666eec859a39d3988f529734c2d8c3ece3d7fd4b56e82b5.jpg

  • SimonPieman

    Fail, as obviously, the Sony Smartwatch 3 is cheaper, better and more flexible (metal band turns into a rather flash Smartwatch, with the sport band it’s a great waterproof sports watch, with GPS, 4gb music storage, Bluetooth etc etc)

  • balcobomber25

    My vote goes to the Amazfit Pace. I have been using one for a few weeks now and couldn’t be happier, especially considering how cheap you can get one.

  • Vouwr Fract

    I still like Fitbit because they have the best app among all these. Plus I anyway have my phone GPS on all the time so connected GPS is fine for me.

  • Giles Peach

    The Garmin Forerunner 935 is better than the Fenix 5 as a runners watch. It’s got exactly the same internals and feature set, but in a composite body that is more than 50% lighter in weight. If I remember correctly it’s about 80g vs. 50g. A very noticeable difference.