Which GPS watch is best?
GPS watches can make a big difference in your fitness or safety. Using global positioning systems to track your movement lets users accurately measure and achieve exercise goals or obtain accurate locations and positioning in wilderness and emergency survival situations.
If you are looking for the ultimate GPS watch as a survivalist or hiking enthusiast, the Garmin Instinct Tactical Edition GPS Watch is the top choice. It comes bundled with a 2200 mAh portable power bank that can clip to a belt, keychain or backpack for easy storage and transport.
What to know before you buy a GPS watch
Do you have a preferred brand?
There are a variety of watches manufactured with GPS technology, so you might be able to get one from your favorite brand if there are particular types of watches you already like. There are also brands that make tons of GPS watches. Garmin watches, for example, are known for usually having GPS technology included. Researching the brands that do it best could be a good place to start the search for the best GPS watch for you.
Why are you using a GPS?
One of the main reasons to use a GPS watch is that it can help track information about your running or hiking. Users can check the watch to determine the distance traveled and their pace. If tracking steps is all you need though, a generally cheaper solution could be a wrist-mounted fitness tracker or pedometer. If you only need a basic level of information, you might not need a GPS watch. Setting waypoints and tracking your exact global position can be very useful, of course. If you plan to go hiking or adventuring in the wild, it could be an important safety tool and possible alternative to a handheld GPS.
Do you want a smartwatch?
A dedicated GPS watch could be the best option for people serious about fitness or survival tools. Yet, for the average tech-enthusiast, those features alone might not be enough to convince you that you need your own GPS watch. If you are interested in smartwatches, consider getting one that also has GPS functionality, like many of the Apple watches that are available.
What to look for in a quality GPS watch
The GPS itself is not the only reason to get a high-quality GPS watch. Some can allow for contactless payment scanning, music file storage, remote phone controls and more. Beyond the variety of different tools a GPS watch can provide, the best watches available allow for customization and personalization. If you know what information you want to be displayed on your data screens, you should not have to sift through a bunch of details or metrics of measurement that do not provide useful information for you.
The best options have more than one method of tracking movements to ensure accurate data readings. One method is GPS tracking using satellite technology and the other most common one is similar to the sort of accelerometer you might find in a smartphone. Some GPS watches also allow users to set specific global waypoints. Not every GPS could help you find your way if you become lost, but the best ones have map visuals and a compass to get a better sense of your specific location in an emergency.
If you are using a GPS watch to help with your fitness, you want one that has the ability to create sports profiles for accurately measuring different kinds of athletic activities. Heart rate monitors are standard technology now, but it is an important tool for fitness training to remember. The best GPS watches have training plan compatibility features and can even help provide details on weight lifting and strength training activities. If you have multiple specific fitness activities you care about, it could be worth getting an advanced watch model that can assist.
How much you can expect to spend on a GPS watch
Depending on the quality of the GPS and included features and functionality, the price can range from around $100 – $300. Particularly high-end multisport GPS watches can cost even more.
GPS watch FAQ
Is a smart watch without GPS useless?
A. No, many of the best fitness trackers and smartwatches do not actually have a built-in GPS. However, tons of smartwatches are able to wirelessly connect to the user’s phone in order to access a GPS. You do not necessarily need a GPS inside your wearable. If you want to save some money, you could opt for a more simple smartwatch that can connect to a mobile device that is GPS-enabled for detailed route tracking and other fitness functions.
Are there wearable fitness solutions for swimmers?
A. Yes, there are plenty of waterproof GPS watches available for people who like to swim or participate in other water-based sporting events. It could be difficult or impossible to keep a phone or other non-waterproof device on your person in an aquatic environment, so a GPS watch specifically designed for that task is probably the best bet.
What’s the best GPS watch to buy?
Top GPS watch
What you need to know: This Bluetooth-enabled GPS watch has long-lasting battery and satellite mapping features to serve as an incredible survival tool.
What you’ll love: It has 14 days of continuous battery life and additional power can be stored in the included 2200 mAh portable power bank. It comes in 11 different color patterns to suit different styles. It has tactical features including a stealth mode, waypoint projection, dual-position GPS formatting and a chemically strengthened display with night vision compatibility. The navigation sensors use multiple global navigation satellite systems to get accurate positioning in more environments than GPS alone could do reliably.
What you should consider: A few users report having skin reactions to the material. Depending on the circumstances, the weather may have trouble syncing. It is a fairly expensive tech investment.
Where to buy: Sold by Amazon
Top GPS watch for the money
What you need to know: This affordable Bluetooth-enabled GPS tracker option is waterproof and comes in a couple of different styles for fitness enthusiasts.
What you’ll love: It comes in a few colors and has a long-lasting battery for up to 14 days without being charged. The smartwatch features built-in Amazon Alexa for search questions, translations, alarms, weather, controlling other linked devices remotely and other benefits of smart assistant software. It has 70 different built-in sports modes and tons of extra features and personal details it can track for the user.
What you should consider: Some users had trouble getting accurate heart rate readings, which can also affect information about calorie counts, for example.
Where to buy: Sold by Amazon
Worth checking out
What you need to know: This lightweight GPS watch is specifically designed to cater to golf players and connects users via the companion app.
What you’ll love: It comes in bundles that can include golfing equipment. It provides detailed information about yardage and hole positioning on a golf course. It marks hazards, doglegs and more details for more than 41,000 preloaded golf courses around the world. The battery lasts for 12 hours on one charge. Users can upload their golf performance to the Garmin Golf app and participate in competitions and leaderboards.
What you should consider: Some customers have had problems with the durability of the device. It may be difficult to connect to a computer.
Where to buy: Sold by Amazon
Sign up here to receive the BestReviews weekly newsletter for useful advice on new products and noteworthy deals.
Elliott Rivette writes for BestReviews. BestReviews has helped millions of consumers simplify their purchasing decisions, saving them time and money.
Copyright 2022 BestReviews, a Nexstar company. All rights reserved.