For many of us, GPS technology has changed the way we live our lives. It makes it easier to get places and helps us navigate and orient our lives.
GPS trackers can help to locate a missing dog or cat, and GPS watches can do the same for your children.
A good GPS watch should do more than just tell time and track your location, however. The best GPS watches function as sports watches, providing heart rate information, fitness trackers and other details.
Thanks to advances in technology, GPS watches aren’t as expensive as they used to be. In fact, some cheaper models are on par with other sports watches that lack GPS technology.
There has never been a better time to buy a GPS watch, and we’ve tracked down ten of the best watches on the market to help you out. Are you ready to find a watch to fit your lifestyle?
What You Should Know
Watches have long been an important part of our lives, and usually for more than just telling time, although watches remain the quickest and most convenient way to tell the time.
Watches have long been an item of fashion, and are for many athletes a helpful tool that helps them regulate and make the most out of their exercise routine.
With watches meaning so many things to so many people, making a definitive list of everything you need to watch for is impossible. But here are five things that are important for almost everybody.
1. App Quality
Unlike traditional watches, a GPS watch is only as good as the app that connects it. Some apps are better than others
2. Battery Life
One major appreciable difference between a GPS watch and a regular watch is the battery consumption. Because of the energy demands of GPS technology, these watches have a limited battery life and need to be recharged from time to time.
Most GPS watches have a computerized display, and some are easier to read and understand than others. Some of these displays are very small, so if your eyesight isn’t the best, you might want to buy a watch with a larger digital face.
A weak strap or a broken buckle can render even the best watch pointless. The material of a strap determines both its strength and its comfort level, so be sure to pick one that you’re not going to mind wearing.
An entry-level GPS watch costs less than $100. A high-end watch can cost $500 or more. Low-end watches won’t have all the features of a more expensive watch and may have inferior battery life
The Best GPS Watches
Best GPS Watches Under $150
Epson E11E222012 ProSense 57 GPS Running Watch
The Epson ProSense 57 GPS Running Watch lacks the modern-looking display of the TomTom and Garmin GPS watches and looks instead like a more traditional digital watch display. But the face still displays a lot of valuable information, including a heart rate monitor.
The Epson ProSense uses GPS technology to provide accurate information on your speed, distance, route, calories burned and other information.
The watch has a wrist-based heart monitor built in that monitors your heart rate without the need for additional peripherals. It has an easy navigation screen and offers up to ten hours of battery life with the GPS sensor turned on.
Much like the Garmin vívoactive, this watch is not waterproof and can’t be used underwater. However, it is a great watch for exercising. Its display is easy to read, and the built-in heart rate monitor is super convenient.
Best GPS Watches Under $200
TomTom Runner GPS Watch
The face of a watch has always been important, and that counts double for a GPS watch. Smart, intuitive designs are essential for a good GPS watch. That’s one thing the TomTom Runner GPS watch has going for it right off the bat, with a stylish, easy-to-read screen that gives you all the information you need to know.
As the name implies, this watch is designed with runners in mind. It keeps track of a number of vital statistics, such as time, pace, calories burned, distance covered and over various live statistics.
It can be paired up with a heart rate monitor as well. The watch has built-in training programs that let you measure your workouts against your own effectiveness.
The watch is stylish, lightweight and waterproof up to 165 feet. It has Bluetooth capabilities and comes with a USB charger to keep it powered up and running.
This watch lacks some of the advanced features that more expensive watches have, but it’s a great introductory/low-cost watch to get you started.
TomTom Runner 3 Music GPS Fitness Watch
Music is an integral part of the exercise routine for many people, myself included. Listening to the right music not only helps to set the tone, but it also serves to motivate and inspire you, helping you to get the most out of your exercise.
The TomTom Runner 3 makes it easier to listen to your beats while you work out. The watch has three GB of storage, letting you listen to hours of music, audio books, or whatever it is that motivates you while you exercise.
It comes with Bluetooth headphones that connect directly to the Runner 3, so you don’t have annoying cables getting in your way.
Like the TomTom Runner, the Runner 3 also provides feedback on all your exercise information, including time, distance, speed, pace, calories burned, and more. It works with heart rate monitors, although they are not included, and it is waterproof up to 40 meters, or 130 feet.
Garmin Forerunner 235 GPS Running Watch
The Forerunner 235 is yet another advanced exercise watch from Garmin. The 235 is outfitted with an extra large watch face that’s super easy to read and displays colorful charts and graphs to help you get more out of your training exercises.
As the name indicates, the Forerunner is built especially with runners in mind and has powerful app tools to help you get the most out of your fitness routine.
The Forerunner 235 is Bluetooth-enabled and connects straight to your phone, providing you with real-time audio updates on various information, such as alarms, lap times and other figures.
In addition, the watch can provide you notifications of e-mails, text messaged or missed phone calls so you can know when to check – or not check – your phone when you’re exercising.
Also built-in is a heart rate monitor, conveniently bypassing the need for a second device. The watch has 11 hours of battery life in training mode and provides up to 9 days of standard operation, depending on how frequently the GPS feature is turned on.
If you’re looking for an exercise companion that works in sync with your phone, the Forerunner is a great choice. In fact, it’s the best-selling Garmin Forerunner on Amazon, so clearly they’re doing something right.
Best GPS Watches Under $250
Garmin vívoactive Black
When you’re serious about fitness, you need a good watch to help you keep track of all of your fitness information. When you can keep track of your progress from day to day, it becomes that much easier to motivate yourself and watch your progress develop.
The Garmin vívoactive Black helps you to do just that. This smartwatch actually has a built-in fitness app that works independently of the accompanying app on your smartphone, allowing you to look up vital your information without having to pull out your phone. The app tracks activities such as hiking, running, biking and golfing.
The battery lasts up to 10 hours with GPS tracking enabled or up to three weeks without it. It also comes with a heart monitor to keep track of your vital statistics and help you get the most out of your workouts. The watch sometimes has trouble connecting to the app, but is otherwise an excellent product.
Epson E11E221012 ProSense 307 GPS Multisport Watch
The Epson ProSense 307 GPS Multisport is the latest in Epson’s GPS watch technology. It takes the best of what the ProSense 57 did and pairs it with a hip, stylish strap design to make an attractive, modern watch that’s sure to please.
Like the ProSense 57, the 307 is designed for easy navigation, with just five buttons giving you full control over the display and all of your exercise functions. It has a heart rate monitor built into the strap, so you never have to worry about buying or wearing any additional hardware, which is inconvenient and sometimes uncomfortable.
The biggest difference between the ProSense 307 and the 57 – or almost any GPS watch, for that matter, is the battery life. The watch has a battery life of 20 hours with the GPS activated, almost twice as much as the average GPS watch. This is perfect for anyone who is away from home for a while and doesn’t have the ability to charge it right away.
The watch lacks the customization of the Garmin vívoactive HR, but it makes up for it with improved battery life. Not everyone needs a GPS watch with a 20-hour battery life, but if that’s what you’re looking for, this is a great fit.
Garmin Forerunner 920XT
The Garmin Forerunner 920XT is similarly priced to the Forerunner 235, but they’re clearly different watches with different functions. Both are marketed towards running athletes, but the digital display of these two watches is quite a bit different. If you’re measuring running performance, a heart monitor is essential. That’s why the 920XT has a heart monitor built right in.
The heart monitor measures statistics like cadence, vertical oscillation and how long you maintain ground contact and uses this information to provide valuable feedback on your performance. It also measures metrics such as your record speed, distance covered, the grade of the terrain and more.
Like the Forerunner 235, the 920XT is also powered by Bluetooth and outfitted with alert notifications to inform you of important phone calls or reminders. A variety of information is available on the screen, including detailed charts and graphs that detail your performance ratings.
Personally, I think the 920XT is superior to the 235, but the 235 is more popular. They are both competitively priced, and at the end of the day, it comes down to preference.
Best GPS Watches Under $300
Garmin vívoactive HR GPS Smart Watch
The Garmin vívoactive GPS Smart Watch is a new and improved model of the vívoactive Black, providing you with heart monitoring technology without the need for a second attachment. It also features a modernized display that makes it easy to keep up to date with your exercise routine.
Like the vívoactive Black, this watch has several built-in apps, including running, biking, golf and intensity tracking, all of which let you keep track of important information specific to each of these activities, such as distance covered, number of steps, pace, stride and other statistics. The use of touchscreen makes it easier to use your watch.
One of the biggest draws of this watch is its customization. It is compatible with over 13000 different apps, allowing you to control every aspect of the display to your liking, as well as downloading specific apps to help you work on particular exercises.
It is the ultimate in smartphone-meets-smartwatch, giving you ultimate control over the world of exercise. The main downside is that the battery life isn’t very good. Even with the GPS off, the watch only runs for 8 days. Still, it’s a minor complaint of an otherwise excellent piece of technology.
Garmin Forerunner 735XT
I’m not really sure what kind of numerical system Garmin uses to categorize their Forerunners, but it doesn’t make a lot of sense to me. That said, the Forerunner 735XT is still a workhorse of a GPS watch, with all the advanced features you need to take your exercise to the next level.
One of the great features of this watch is that it has apps tailor-made for a variety of different forms of exercise. From running, swimming and cycling to hiking, cross-country skiing, and rowing, this watch is programmed to assist you with virtually any cardio-vascular exercise. And yes, that includes basketball too.
Like the other Forerunner models, the heart rate monitor is built in and doesn’t require a second strap. It also features smart notifications, as well as other conveniences such as audio prompts and media controls that make it easier to work out the way you want and get access to the data you need more quickly.
The one thing I don’t like about this watch is that the interface doesn’t seem nearly as streamlined as the 235 or 920XT. That said, this is a great GPS watch with plenty of features, and it’s well worth the money.
Garmin fēnix 3
The Garmin fēnix 3 is a gorgeous, modern, streamlined watch that combines the latest in GPS and sports technology with a timeless aesthetic, including a traditional clock face when the various exercise apps aren’t in use.
Unlike the Forerunner series, the heart rate monitor is not built into the watch, although it is included in a separate bundle. The watch is rated for a depth of 100 meters, or 330 feet, making it suitable for swimming and water sports.
It also uses an omni-directional EXO antenna which magnifies its GPS performance for more accurate results. The fēnix 3 also has excellent battery life. With 20 hours of GPS battery life, it rivals the ProSense 307 as the longest-lasting GPS watch on the market. When you combine that with its timeless appeal and advanced fitness apps, the fēnix 3 makes for an excellent, if somewhat expensive, sports GPS watch.
Everything is getting smarter. Our televisions, our phones and our cars can do more than ever before, and now, so can our watches. Now that you’ve finished, you’re ready to make a purchase. You can’t go wrong with the Garmin vívoactive, but these are all excellent watches.
Look for the perfect combination of price and power, and you’re in for business. Good luck!
0.3 x 1.6 x 10.1 inches
Up to 8 days
Up to 13 hours
0.3 x 1.6 x 10.1 inches
Up to 8 days
Up to 13 hours