Hi, and welcome to The Running Channel,
I’m Anna. And today, along with Andy,
we’re going to be taking a look at some
of the best GPS running watches out
there, no matter what your budget is.
It’s really important to
note before we get started,
that we’re not paid to say nice things
about any of these watches by the brands.
These reviews are
entirely our own thoughts.
So it doesn’t matter whether you’re
looking for an entry-level budget watch to
get you going. Or if you want an
all singing, all dancing watch,
that will keep you out on the
trails for hours. Actually,
none of them sing or dance,
but you could sing and dance along to
some of them that have got music included.
Now we know there’s quite a big price range
when it comes to running watches out
there. So we’ve grouped them by
price, starting with the cheapest,
going right up to the most expensive.
Now we’ve grouped them by recommended
retail price because that’s the most straightforward,
but top tip shop around because there’s
definitely some bargains out there to be
had. We’ve gone for price
ranges under 200 pounds,
200 pounds to 300 pounds and
then 300 pounds and above.
But before we dive in and find out what
we think are the best watches out there
right now, please do hit subscribe
and tap the bell icon to be notified
When we upload new videos, all about
running, which we do every week,
We’ve got the Garmin Forerunner 45 or
45s. Now they’re the same watch,
but the s denotes a
slightly smaller form factor,
even though they both
have the same features.
The s is what you’ll
see on screen here.
Now this replaces Garmin’s Forerunner
35, and it’s their entry-level watch.
But in this case, entry level
very much does not mean basic.
And actually you get a lot of pretty
advanced features that were previously
reserved for more expensive models.
It’s lightweight at 32 grams for the
and 36 grams for the slightly larger
It’s got optical risk based heart rate
monitoring built in GPS and also smart
notifications. If you do want
to connect it to your phone,
it has a 208 pixel by 208 pixel display.
So not the highest
resolution on test here,
but it’s clear and easy
to read out on a run.
There are five physical buttons around
the face of the watch that allow you to
navigate the screens and
start and stop for example.
And if like me, you do a fair
bit of interval training.
You’ll be glad of that
dedicated manual lap button.
You get approximately seven days of battery
life or 13 hours in continuous GPS
mode. And if you take your
phone out with you on runs,
you can take advantage of a couple
of nice safety features like incident
detection and assistance. If you keen
to get the most out of your watch,
you might choose to wear it
when you’re not running too,
to take advantage of things like
heart rate and sleep tracking,
which contributes with
Garmin body battery stats,
which basically give you an indicator
of how fatigued you are a bit like
tracking your phone’s battery
use throughout the day.
You can also take advantage
of stress tracking,
which uses heart rate monitoring
to give you an idea of your stress
levels throughout the day too. Garmin
Connect is the app that allows you to
connect to all Garmin watches and also
gives you access to Garmin coach,
which provides you with training plans
for specific goals or distances that you
might be training for. You can also
use the Forerunner 45 for different sports.
It allows up to six profiles
on the watch at any one time,
although there isn’t currently a
dedicated swimming profile.
You get a lot for your money
with the Garmin Forerunner 45.
So this is a watch that’s worth considering
both for new runners and experienced
When it was first launched the Coros Pace
2 was the lightest GPS
running watch on the market at just
29 grams. And that
includes the strap as well.
There’s some pretty nifty
features on this watch,
considering it’s in our lower
price bracket. For example,
it’s got a track running feature on it,
so you can set your activity to
track running and then select which
lane of a 400 meter
track you’re running in.
And then the GPS signal will snap to
that particular lane to give you more
Cause if you’ve ever run on a track wearing
a GPS watch before you might find that
it may be cuts off some of the
bends in your GPS activity.
So that’s a nice little bonus
if you enjoy running on a track,
much like our very own Kate does. The
charging time for the chorus pace 2,
is around two hours for a full charge.
And with that, you get a pretty
decent battery life. In fact,
Coros claim that the battery life on
this particular model can last up to
So if you are looking to do an ultra
then this watch will see you through on a
single charge and sticking with
the battery life theme as well,
when you have a full charge in this watch,
it will give you up to 20
days of full use in regular
modes. So not bad if that’s something
that’s particularly important to you,
when you’re looking at
buying GPS, running watches.
You control the Coros
Pace w with buttons.
So there is no touch screen on this model.
And also if you are into trail running,
then you will find that there aren’t
any specific trail or mountain features
featured in the different sport
options for this watch. Now,
Andy did do a full in-depth first
look review when this watch was
launched and that’s on The Running
Channel. So be sure to check that out,
if you want a more in-depth
guide to the Coros Pace 2.
The Fitbit Versa 3 is the only other
watch on our list with a similar form
factor to the Apple watch. Now
it’s not a dedicated running watch,
but it is worth considering if you’re
looking for an all-rounder and the styling
from an all-day wear perspective is
important to you too. Particularly if you’re
already familiar with Fitbit’s
ecosystem. Speaking of that ecosystem,
the Fitbit app has lots of data in
it. It’s really nicely laid out,
and it’s really clear and easy to read.
The display on the watch itself is pretty
high resolution at 336 by 336 pixels.
And it’s really bright and really
vibrant. Now there’s no physical buttons,
but there is an indentation
on the left-hand side,
which you can press as well as a touch
screen to navigate the menus. Now,
because it’s not a
dedicated running watch,
if you’re heading out to do things
like interval training, quite a lot,
you might find the lack of physical
buttons and increased functionality,
slightly frustrating, and
potentially not up to task.
But if you’re looking for an activity,
sleep and heart rate tracker,
then that’s the sort of thing
that Fitbit do really well.
The sleep is really intuitive and there
are really nice features like tracking
your mindfulness as well as following
along with guided meditations in Fitbit’s
app. Built in GPS is a step up
from some of Fitbit’s other models,
and it does a pretty good job
overall in terms of accuracy.
It’s just not quite on the level of some
of the other models on this roundup.
So this is a great looking
watch with a bright screen
that’s easy to use for those who are
looking for something to wear all day to
track their activities, which do include
runs, but who aren’t too worried about
some of the more advanced insights into
training and running that you might get
from some of the other models.
The Polar Vantage M, comes with
20 different sports settings.
So you can track all kinds
of activities on this watch.
It also has precision prime
optical heart rate sensors.
So that includes nine LEDs on the
back of the watch to give you the most
accurate heart rate reading,
which you can have on 24/7
or just during activities.
So the battery life on the
Polar Vantage M is at around
30 hours in full GPS
mode from a full charge.
And that will give you a GPS
signal ping every one second as
with the majority of Polar models,
which means that realistically
your GPS tracking should be
pretty accurate from it.
There’s a whole ton of
options in the polar flow app,
which you can get on mobile and desktop
and means that you can look more in
depth at the metrics that
you get from your runs.
And also from your day-to-day
recordings, like, as I mentioned before,
heart rate, for example.
Now this Polar is a cheaper price point,
then a lot of the other
Polar devices, but with that,
it does mean that it
comes with fewer features.
So there isn’t route navigation
or music capabilities,
for example. So you control
the Polar Vantage M,
by using five buttons. So you’ve got two
on one side and three on the other.
There’s no touch screen capability for
this watch, which some people do prefer,
especially when out running in case
your sleeve catches you touch screen and
then changes your metrics or your data
screens and what you’re looking at,
for example. And you can get smart
notifications through on this watch,
as you can, with most GPS
watches nowadays. Finally,
the Polar Vantage M also has the
ability to track your sleep data.
So it can tell when you went to bed,
track any movement during your sleep and
also work out when you
got up out of bed as well,
unless you sit doom
scrolling after you wake up,
because it does sense the movement of
getting out of bed rather than your actual
eyelids opening, which is
understandable. And on the whole,
the tracking of your sleep is pretty
accurate on the Polar Vantage M as well.
The Garmin Forerunner 245 Music is a step up
in price and functionality from the 45.
And whereas with the 45, you can control
music on your phone using the watch.
In this case, you can ditch your phone
altogether and have music and podcasts,
including episodes of playlist
on Spotify on the watch itself.
You get all the same features
that we mentioned for the 45,
but you also get a bigger
screen and better battery life.
23 hours in GPS mode for continuous GPS
provided that you’re not listening to
music at the same time.
You’ll also benefit from a couple of additional sensors,
namely a compass for navigation
and a pulse-ox monitor,
as well as some additional monitoring
tools in terms of hydration and menstrual
cycle tracking. You’ll also benefit
from in watch cardio workouts, strength,
workouts, and automatic rep counting.
But ultimately the biggest changes
you’ll see will come in the form of the
running training features.
No your data is combined to give you
insights into things like your training status,
which is how effectively you’ve been
training based on your training history,
as well as training load,
which tells you how hard you’ve been
working overall and could help give you an
early indicator of
Then there are cool
features like pace pro,
which helps with your pacing strategy
for runs and races and other things like
race predictor. Something else,
which is really cool is the ability to
plan a route and then follow it on the
watch using point to point navigation.
You can also ask the watch to send
you back to the start of a run
if you happen to get lost. There’s
a swimming specific feature too,
and that has clever features like
stroke detection to work out what stroke
you’re doing, and the watch supports
multiple other sports as well.
The Samsung Galaxy Watch 3
looks more like your typical
watch than an activity tracking watch.
So something that you can probably still
get away with wearing if you’re in a
smart suit or a nice dress
at a wedding or similar.
So the Samsung Galaxy Watch 3
has tons of smart notification compatibilities,
and will work with Android
5.0 and above and iOS 9 and
above or iPhone 5 and above. There’s a
rotatable bezel around the outside,
which means that you can cycle through
screens quite easily just by turning
it, which is a really nice feature of
this watch that you don’t see on a lot of
GPS running watches. Battery life wise,
it has 43 hours at
regular use and up to 120
hours at low use.
So that’s something to bear in mind when
considering the Samsung Galaxy Watch 3.
And it also has plenty of different
customisable watch faces too.
So if that’s your bag and you want to be
able to change the face of your watch,
then there are plenty of options there.
There a 4g version
or Bluetooth version
that’s at a lower price point as well.
So that is something worth looking into.
If this is a little bit
out of your price range,
there are still cheaper
It has multi-sport capabilities,
and you can also measure your heart
rate as well on the Samsung Galaxy Watch 3.
There’s also alerts that you can set
up for if your heart rate dips below a
certain number of beats per minute,
or goes above a certain
number of beats per minute,
which is a nice additional safety feature.
The Apple watch series six,
like most Apple products is a
physically beautiful thing to look at,
but it’s also had six different
iterations to get to the point where it’s
arguably the best smart watch for an
all round perspective that you can buy.
There’s also a cellular version, which
allows you to go out without your phone,
but still stay in contact with the rest
of the world as per the series five.
There’s an always on screen feature,
which is great for runs because it
always means you can see your data
clearly. The screen is bright
and always easy to read. For me,
there’s a big advantage in a
dedicated physical lap button,
like on some of the specialist watches
on a test here because it isn’t always
practical to tap or double tap
on a touch screen at all times.
And it’s in running specific areas
that the Apple watch is slightly less
accomplished than some of the running
specialists that we’ve got on testing.
This Roundup that said the GPS
tracking is now really accurate.
And the heart rate monitoring is excellent.
Add to that the added bonus of Apple’s
ring systems to keep you
motivated and to hit your goals.
And you’ve also got sleep tracking,
although that isn’t as accomplished as a
lot of the other more specialist watches
in this roundup. It’s worth
mentioning Apple fitness too,
which provides lots of classes like
dance, cross training and core,
which integrate directly with the watch.
So if you’re doing a
hiit workout on the TV,
but it will read out the details from
your watch, like heart rate and so on.
You do have countless
straps to choose from,
and it’s a very comfortable watch to wear.
And there are also a wealth
of apps on the app store.
So you might want to replace the native
worker app with a different one that you
prefer, or you might want to use an app
for things like yoga or strength and conditioning,
because it’s designed to have every
aspect of your life and not just running
those of you considering buying the Apple
watch will need to bear in mind that
you might need to consider
charging it almost every day.
And whilst it’s brilliant
at loads of things,
it won’t be able to compete with the specialist
running watches that we’ve got on
the test here in terms of in-depth
analysis and on run functionality.
So we’ve already covered
the Coros Pace 2
and I suppose you could describe
the Coros Apex Pro as its big brother.
So Coros is a pretty big brand
in trail running and ultra running
in the U S but it’s only really been
over the last six months to a year or so
that Coros have become a bit bigger
and more well known here in the UK.
So the Coros Apex Pro really is
a meaty watch and will pretty much
do everything you want it to do
apart from make you a cupper.
This watch has a huge battery
life up to 30 days in fact,
and it really is squarely aimed
at the ultra markets as is
probably quite obvious because
of that massive battery life.
It’s waterproof up to a hundred
meters and has multi-sport functionality,
as you would expect. Built into
it is a thermometer, barometer,
accelerometer, gyroscope, and oximeter.
Basically, as I said,
anything that you could possibly
want it to measure this watch can.
So this watch has three
So one on each side of the middle button,
which is shaped like a crown
and has a scrolling feature.
So some people may find that when
scrolling buttons sit on their wrist,
that they can accidentally
knock them. But with this,
there is an auto lock so that
you can stop it from doing that,
which is obviously very welcomed,
if you’ve ever accidentally paused your
activity without realising because your
button is hit on your wrist. Another
thing about this watch is that,
although it has such a big battery life,
it’s actually pretty light weight
compared to the others in the
same sort of market as it.
And another big plus for this
watch is that it can go from
flat to a full charge in
under two and a half hours,
which is pretty handy.
If you’ve grabbed your watch from your drawer
about to go out for a run and realise
that you haven’t charged it. You can sit and have
your breakfast while it charges. One final
additional point about this watch that
makes it an ultra runners dream is that
you can set reminders for fueling
and drinking along the way as well.
So if you want someone else or
something else to take the pressure
off of you remembering, especially
when you’re getting tired,
then you can set those alerts to make
sure that you’re topping up on fuel and
water as needed.
The Suunto 9 is
Suunto’s flagship watch,
and it’s a big one at that. Whilst it
weighs in roughly the same as Garmin’s
Fenix 6, it’s physically slightly
bigger. So depending on your wrist size,
you might want to take that into account,
particularly when fit is so important
when it comes to optical heart rate
accuracy. But if you’re wrist can take
it, then the size does bring with it
the big benefit of increased battery life,
particularly when it comes to GPS
performance for the hardiest and longest
adventures that you might take on. Claiming
120 hours and hardy and adventure are
probably the right words
here. It’s a very sturdy,
tough watch that looks and
feels incredibly well-built.
There are three buttons on the right
hand side, coupled with a touchscreen,
which is disabled during activities. The
screen is nice and big as you’d expect,
but it doesn’t actually extend all the
way to the bezel to make full use of the
real estate on offer. And actually
sometimes in bright sunlight,
I did find it quite difficult to read.
There are various settings to get the
most out of that battery life called
performance endurance and ultra
with each progressive setting,
endeavoring to eat more battery
life out of a single charge.
It will also try to let you know whether
a reminder potentially to charge your
watch ahead of the time that you
usually take on your longer activities.
And it will show you how much battery
life you have ahead of starting an
activity using the existing settings.
A great thing about the Suunto 9
are the navigation features things like
realtime bread crumb trails as well as
route planning. Although ironically,
I found the navigation of the
menus within the watch itself,
not to be particularly intuitive compared
to some of the other brands on tests,
and that required a little bit of a time
investment on my part to feel like I
was ready to actually go where
I wanted to go within the watch.
There are 80 different sport modes and
you get accurate GPS even using the
battery saving measures. There’s
optical heart rate and a barometer.
And you’ll also get weather insights
and information. Alongside that,
you can track your sleep
and recovery using epeoc,
which is excess post exercise,
oxygen consumption to hopefully
get the most out of your training.
So if you’re looking for a rugged
running watch that can cope with even the
longest adventures that you
might throw at it, or just one,
which will last you more than a
week, including a fair few runs,
then this could be worth looking at.
So we’ve included the Fenix 6
series in this roundup because although
Garmin have recently launched their
Enduro and the solar power addition
to this range as well,
which is a great plus point
if extreme battery life is
what you’re after, the Fenix
6 series is a group of watches
that we have all tested here on The
Running Channel and love and know in quite
a lot of depth. So that’s why we’ve
decided to pick this one for the roundup.
But if ultra watches are your bag,
then do check out the Enduro as it has
some pretty cool additional features,
like being able to track the time that
you spend at aid stations on ultras,
for example. So into
the Fenix 6 series.
So what does this watch
have for features? Well,
that is a feature that I particularly
love and did me an absolute
solid when I was running Amsterdam
marathon and that is pace pro.
So the pace pro feature means that you
can add a distance or a GPX route for
and you can program in your
goal time to complete it.
You can play around with things like
whether you want to do negative splits or
whether you want to run harder or
easier up the hills, easier please.
And it will then tell you what each
of your mile or kilometre splits
should be. You set the pace pro
running while you’re running,
and it gives you mile by mile
or kilometre by kilometre,
whether you are ahead, behind
or on track for your goal time.
So that’s a feature that I
particularly love about this watch.
You can navigate using this watch, so
you can upload routes that you’ve created
on Strava. You simply favourite them
and then sync your watch through
Garmin Connect and your route is then
available for you to give you turn
by turn directions out on the run.
The Fenix 6 Series does everything
that you would expect it to from a
high-end GPS running FITPOLO WATCH.
So it has heart rate,
sleep tracking, training,
data loads of metrics that you
can go into more detail in,
in the Garmin connect app. And
it also has built in music.
So you’ve got the ability to store up
to 2000 songs and you can connect it to
Spotify or Deezer streaming services.
You’ll also get audio prompts
in your Bluetooth headphones.
So when you set up a workout, it’ll
tell you which step is coming up next,
as you’re about to start it. And
will also give you audio prompts.
If you’ve set a specific pace
intensity that you want to hit,
that will tell you whether you
are ahead or behind that pace.
The battery life on this watch can vary
depending on what setting you have it on.
So it can be anything from
72 hours up to 48 days.
Lots of people have asked whether
I charged my Garmin Fenix 6s
during the Tribe Run For Love
ultra. The answer is yes,
but only once whilst we were at a
hotel in the middle of the race itself.
So that one did me across six
days with one full charge.
So that hopefully gives you an idea of
how big a battery life that is if you
make certain tweaks to the settings.
So I mentioned there that
I had the Fenix 6s.
There are three sizes of watch
in the Fenix 6 range,
the 6S the 6 and the 6X.
And there are two different versions
as well, the pro and the base.
So pro has things like
wifi, maps and music,
as well as golf maps if that’s your bag.
Whereas the base one does
not have those features.
So those are our top picks for the best running
GPS watches on the market right now.
Did any of them take your fancy or you
already have one that you swear by let us
know in the comments below, and we’ll
see you next time on The Running Channel.