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Best GPS running watches (February 2017)

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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.

  • The best fitness trackers
  • Which Fitbit is right for you?

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 3 HR

Garmin’s new fenix 5 lineup may be on its way soon, but for now, the fenix 3 HR is the best GPS running watch on the market.

Whether you’re going out for a quick run through your neighborhood or a long hike in the mountains, the fenix 3 HR will have your back. It’s packed full of sensors, including a GPS (of course), altimeter, barometer and compass, and will even help navigate you back to your starting point with Garmin’s TracBack feature. It’ll also provide heading, elevation and weather changes as they happen.

This device also sports Garmin’s Elevate heart rate sensor, but there’s also a slightly cheaper model with no GPS if you’d like to save a few bucks. It’s worth noting that you can pair the fenix 3 (without the HR sensor) to a chest strap, so that might be the better option if you don’t need heart rate tracking on your wrist.

The 3 HR isn’t just for running, though. It’ll also be able to track your swim training, skiing, golfing and paddle sport activities, including stand up paddle boarding and rowing. All in all, this is a feature-packed GPS running watch that’s definitely worth your time.

With all of that said, the fenix 5 lineup is just a few weeks from coming to market, so it might be a good idea to hold off on buying a fenix device until then. The standard fenix 5 is launching for $599 in Q1 2017, so we’ll likely see the fenix 3 HR drop in price sometime soon. If you need a powerful GPS running watch now, though, you can’t go wrong with the 3 HR. You can buy it on Amazon or Garmin for $549.99.


  • Display: 1.2-inch Sapphire lens display
  • Heart rate sensor: Yes, optical
  • GPS: Yes
  • Waterproof: Yes, 10ATM (up to 100 meters)
  • Battery life:
  • Notifications: Up to two weeks in smartwatch mode, 16 hours in training mode
  • Colors: Black

Buy now from Amazon Buy now from Garmin


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.


  • 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)

Read more

  • Garmin vívoactive HR review

Buy now from Amazon Buy now from Garmin

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.


  • 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

Buy now from Amazon Buy now from TomTom

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.


  • 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

Buy now from Amazon Buy now from Polar


Polar M400

Despite the naming convention, the Polar M400 is actually the M200’s predecessor. It’s been around for awhile, but it still holds up compared to the other budget-friendly GPS running watches out there.

The M400 is a waterproof GPS running watch that offers 24/7 activity tracking, allowing you to ditch your other fitness trackers. And as you may have guessed, it sports most of the same great activity tracking features found on other Polar devices. It’ll track your steps taken, distance traveled, calories burned, sleep, and a whole lot more.

Oh, the M400 also comes with support for Polar’s Running Index, too, which will help you improve your running performance overtime.


  • Display: Always-on display with 128 x 128 resolution
  • Heart rate sensor: Yes, optical (there’s a cheaper option with no heart rate sensor, too)
  • GPS: Yes
  • Waterproof: Yes, up to 30 meters
  • Battery life: Up to 8 hours of training time with GPS and Bluetooth
  • Notifications: Call, text, email and more
  • Colors: Black, White, Blue, Red

Buy now from Amazon

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.


  • 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

  • Polar M600 review
  • Polar M600 specs, price release date and everything else you should know

Buy now from Amazon Buy now from Polar

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

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