I publishing my entire research guide on sports activities tech suggestions, masking an extensive range of sport gadget areas. My aim right here is to present my specific suggestions – precisely the same guidelines I’d deliver to my very own buddies and own family.
This post isn’t here to list every alternative on the market with the intention to make every manufacturer happy. Of direction, as an increasing number of businesses get into the marketplace, there finally ends up being an increasing number of feasible scenarios as the goods make bigger in capability.
One ought to try to write recommendations for each feasible edge case, however realistically I assume there’s possibly already too many categories underneath as it’s miles. Plus, that’s what the remarks section is for. I strive as high-quality as feasible to answer all those quirky edge-case questions.
Finally, if you use the Amazon links, you help support the site. You can pick up most devices below through Amazon links in the tables. By doing so, you not only support the site (and all the work I do here). And, if you are picking up items that are more than $49, you can get free US shipping as well.
With that, let’s dive into it!
RUNNING GPS WATCHES:
This year we saw a handful of new running-specific watches, but overall, not too many. We lost companies like TomTom’s wearables, so that hurt the running-specific options a fair bit. On the flip-side, we did gain more options in the mid-range fitness tracker market, which can definitely be used for running (for example, the Fitbit Versa’s of the world). We also gained more options in the triathlon/multisport-specific range, which can also be used for just running (but can often be overkill too).
Ultimately though, this particular section hasn’t really changed a ton since last year. Mostly because there haven’t been any massive updates to most of these watches. Sure, all companies advanced the bar forward, but most of it was evolutionary served with a side of brand/model name tweaking.
The Fenix 5 became the Fenix 5 Plus, the Suunto Spartan Ultra became the Suunto 9, the Vivoactive 3 slapped some music on it to get the Vivoactive 3 Music, and the Apple Watch went from 3 to 4. None of these were major new models, all of them minor increments.
Road Running – Best All Arounder GPS Watch: Garmin Vivoactive 3, Polar M430, Suunto Spartan Trainer Wrist HR
1-Garmin vívoactive 3 Review
From playing to paying, vívoactive 3 is the smartwatch for your active life. Make contactless payments with ease, right from your watch, and with more than 15 preloaded sports apps — you can choose how you like to get fit. Built-in GPS lets you record the distance, pace, location and more for your outdoor activities.
Fits You and All You Do
Feel free to take this watch outside in all kinds of weather. Not only is it safe for swimming and showering, but its Garmin Chroma Display is also easy to read — even in direct sunlight — and housed under extra-durable Corning Gorilla Glass. It also features the Side Swipe interface, which makes for quick scrolling and swift navigation of menus and widgets. Whether you scroll with your thumb or index finger, you can choose how to wear it. Comfortable, convenient and easy to see — vívoactive 3 just fits.
Download and Create Workouts
Keep your workout schedule fresh and invigorating. Create your own custom running, cycling, cardio or strength workouts, and download them to your watch. Then, your vívoactive smartwatch will keep track of the exercises, reps, sets and rest time for you.
I have also been incorporating other activities such as yoga, spin and strength training. While I do really enjoy using the 235 the lack of additional work out features was very frustrating for me personally. I took a chance on this watch and must say that I am very pleased as I am very picky.
This watch is very sleek and visually appealing but at the same time very easy to use. You can customize the data screens to each workout to your specific needs or wants just like the 235.
You must remember that no watch will ever be perfect but when set up correctly this is a really great watch and I would highly recommend it.
- Sleek design
- Provides accurate metrics
- Good battery life
- Great value
- Cannot store music on the watch
- Garmin Pay not universally supported
- One-button operation is not ideal
2- Running watch Polar M430 with GPS
A highly capable tool for goal-driven runners, the Polar M430 takes nearly all the best bits from the best-selling M400, adds solid wrist-based heart rate tracking, better GPS, sleep tracking and smartphone notifications to create one of the best mid-range running watches to buy in 2020.
The M430 is a capable piece of kit. Alongside all the basics your usual running watch serves up, such as pace, distance, speed, and cadence, there’s optical heart rate from the wrist, full daily activity tracking, advanced sleep-tracking, fitness tests, and recovery time advice, all of which can be mined for insights once you’ve synced to the increasingly capable Polar Flow app or web tool.
- No frills, retro feel
- Comfortable, compact and light
- Uncomplicated, easy to use on the move
As we mentioned earlier, the M430 looks a lot like the M400 and despite coming in three colors: dark grey (what most people would consider black), white and go-faster orange, the truth is its appearance isn’t particularly exciting.
It looks like a sports GPS watch and if the style is high up on your running watch priority list, there are definitely snazzier options out there – the Apple Watch 2, for example. This isn’t a sleek running watch that doubles as a stylish timepiece for day-to-day life – it’s clear you’ve got something fitness-led on your wrist.
The M430 retains the old school monochrome-style display that was on the M400. There’s no fancy color touchscreen here, but that’s no bad thing because the screen is clear and easy to read on the run in almost any light.
As you’d expect you can also choose to invert the display and tap on a backlight so that it’s easier to read in darker conditions.
- Good battery life
- Easy to use
- Reliable and accurate
- Annoying charging lead
- Not the best looking
- Some smartphone syncing issues
3-Suunto Spartan Trainer Wrist HR review
This Suunto Spartan Ultra takes the Spartan Sport and gives it superpowers. The main differences between the two models (apart from the optional Titanium bezel) are: battery life, barometric pressure sensor, thermometer & watch face glass material.
For most people looking for a highly functional, competent GPS sports watch with Triathlon mode and the ability to switch between ANY of the sports profiles within the watch mid-session the Spartan Sport is ideal.
However, for those undertaking FULL IRONMAN racing distances or any other mega endurance events taking more than 8 or 9 hours then you will need to get this Spartan Ultra version with it’s extended battery life.
Naturally, if budget no real issue, or you need/want the barometric pressure sensor and you like the titanium bezel & sapphire crystal watch face then you’re in the right place. The Suunto Spartan Ultra has been reviewed by Tristan Haskins aka CardioCritic (formerly HeartRateMonitor UK)
Who Is It For?
The Suunto Spartan Ultra is for people who rely on their GPS watch to monitor their performance, recovery, and location. It’s for the athlete who does more than pound the pavement or eats up road miles on the bike.
It’s for people who partake in several different sports, sometimes one after the other, in the same MULTISPORT session.
It’s also very specific for the TRIATHLETE with it’s dedicated triathlon mode. If your exercise/race times are less than 10 hours you may consider the cheaper Suunto Spartan Sport.
This mode, the Ultra, features an extended battery life of 18 hours in standard GPS mode (1 second) and 26 hours in battery save mode. If you are short on time you may skip to my review conclusion and price checks here.
- Decent battery life
- Easy to use
- Huge range of sports to track
- Amazing heart rate accuracy
- Poor app
- Sleep tracking useless
- Chunky design
All three of those watches make great running watches, all are about a year old, and all very close in the price of roughly $200-250USD or less. All have optical HR in them, and all can do more than just running. There are slight nuances though that are worthwhile pointing out. The Vivoactive 3 has Garmin Pay, which is contactless payments at stores (plus apps on Connect IQ). The Polar M430 meanwhile is a bit less expensive than the other options. At the other end, you’ve got the Spartan Trainer Wrist HR, which is a full-blown tri watch capable of displaying running power too, but not as sleek as the others.
If you’re looking for the most stylish day to day option, I’d say it’s the sleek Vivoactive 3, while the Spartan Trainer is the most powerful option. Note my goal for this section was to keep the options to under/around $250 inclusive of GPS, which is why the Apple Watch isn’t in here.