Whether you’re backcountry skiing or counting your dance steps at a wedding, there is an activity tracker for you. As the saying goes, “the best gear is the gear that you’ll actually use.” Nowhere does this saying apply more than with your fitness tracker, which you need to wear constantly in order to monitor your step count, heart rate, and sleep quality. Studies might be mixed on their benefits, but fitness watches have longer battery life, better software, and more stylish designs than ever before.
1. Fitbit Versa Lite Edition
The Versa Lite is the best fitness tracker for most people and at the best price. It works with both Android and Apple phones. It has an easy-to-use app that lets you communicate with Fitbit’s enormous user community and check their comprehensive sleep-tracking features, which Apple has yet to bake into Apple Health. And you still can’t beat the battery life.
2. Xiaomi Mi Band 3
If you’re not using your fitness tracker to improve your pacing or find your way home in the woods, you don’t need to spend $100 or more on it. The Mi Band 3 is a simple, basic fitness tracker that, um, looks a lot like the Fitbit Flex 2 but is half the price. The waterproof tracker unit pops into a comfortable rubber wristband. It’s easy to swipe up and down, and you can hold your finger on the indented button to record exercise or take a heart rate measurement.
3. Apple Watch Series 5
The Apple Watch Series 4 has (poof!) disappeared after just a year, but no matter—the Series 5 has many of the same features, and now a digital compass and a useful always-on display. It still has a gyroscope and accelerometer to detect if you’ve fallen, the addictive “fitness rings” game, as well as the FDA-cleared app that can detect cardiac irregularities and maybe save your life.
4. Apple Watch Series 3
If you have an iPhone, this is a killer price for a smartwatch that is still a perfectly capable fitness tracker. It has the Workout app and will let you close rings; it’s waterproof, so you can take it in the pool. However, it does have a two-year old processor and won’t be able to detect your falls or take ECGs.
5. Garmin Fenix 6S Pro
Garmin’s new Fenix 6S Pro is the best outdoor multisport watch that I’ve had the pleasure of using. Unlike the bigger 6X Pro Solar, it doesn’t have solar charging. But in addition to Garmin’s impressive satellite navigation systems and tons of different sport modes, it also has a plethora of new power management features to extend the battery life if it looks like you’ll end up outside for longer than you thought.
6. Garmin Forerunner 645 Music
Garmin makes the most accurate GPS watches. Our editor-in-chief Nick Thompson prefers the Forerunner 935, but because I’m spoiled, I love the Forerunner 645 Music. It’s small, light, and waterproof, with a display that’s readable in sunlight and navigable via a five-button system. In addition to giving you recommendations on rest and recovery time, it can measure your stride length and estimate your times for a 5K, half-marathon, or marathon.
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