Best Waterproof Fitness Tracker 2016
With the rapid expansion of the fitness tracker industry over recent years, manufacturers are bringing to market devices designed to meet the demands of more and more people. For years, activity trackers rated poorly when it came to operating under water. Many of them still do.
However, there is now a growing number of very impressive trackers specifically designed for swim training. In this article, we’ve captured the 5 best waterproof fitness trackers that are available in 2016.
Our best rated swimming fitness tracker is the Garmin VivoActive. The TomTom Spark was a close second for us, followed by the MisFit Speedo Shine. Rounding out the top five were the Moov Now and the Polar A360.
Waterproof VS Water Resistant
A lot of fitness activity trackers advertise the fact that they are water resistant. Only a few actually claim to be water proof. This causes a lot of confusion in the minds of potential buyers. So, can you take your water resistant activity tracker into the pool with you? And, what is the difference between a device being water resistant and water proof?
A fitness tracker that is water resistant is very different to one that is water proof. Water resistant trackers give you the lowest level of water protection. The design of the tracker has been specifically created to make it difficult for water to get into the inner part of the unit.
An activity tracker will not be affected by water. So, rather than trying to keep water out of the device, the mechanics will work perfectly well regardless of the level of water penetration.
As of this writing, however, there is no industry standard as to just what constitutes a water proof device. Without a standard, the door is left open for inferior quality. Something could be listed as water proof when it is actually only water resistant.
There are a number of abbreviations that you need to know about in order to make an informed decision around this area:
The first digit in the IP rating addresses the ability of the device to stop dust from penetrating. Zero is the lowest category and six is the highest.The second addresses the ability of the fitness tracker to stop water from getting in. Zero is the lowest category here, with 9 being the highest.
ATM: ATM - ATM stands for atmospheres. This measures the water depth pressure a fitness tracker can withstand when you are swimming. A rating of 5 ATM means that you can safely go down to 50 meters under water.
Fitness trackers with an ATM rating of between 1 and 3 are not considered safe to take into the water.
5 Best Waterproof Fitness Trackers
The Polar A360 is Polar’s new do-it-all fitness tracker. It tracks all day fitness, metrics, sleep and exercise. It has a color touch screen display and it is completely water proof.
The Polar A360 brands itself as being one of the simplest to use fitness trackers on the market. It has a very intuitive and easy touch screen. It includes a couple of Smartphone features, such as call and text notification. It has a rectangular, elongated design which is similar to the Polar Loop.
A standard USB charging port can be used to charge the internal battery. However, to charge it you do have to disconnect the main body from the band. When you do this you will see that there are two thin rubber straps that keep the band together. These are potential weak links so you will have to be careful with the strap when the body is removed.
The band itself is made out of a soft latex rubber material and is extremely comfortable. Bands are easily replaceable in case they wear out. The band is secured with a pin style clasp and loop. It gives a very secure fit and wear.
The Polar A360 can be set up with your computer or smartphone. The initial set up includes some software updates. In terms of heart rate monitoring you get both an optical heart rate wrist monitor and the option of pairing the device with a Bluetooth enabled chest strap. The band has a nice grippy texture on the underside to allow the optical heart rate sensor to work optimally.
The Polar A360 gives a very accurate heart rate reading when you’re working out in the gym. However, when you’re jogging it is less reliable. It will not show your steps and distance while you are jogging. The same thing applies when cycling.
So, how does the Polar A360 operate under water? Unfortunately, not that great. The touch screen function is difficult to use when it has been exposed to water. The swimming features are pretty light. It will tell you how long you’ve been in the water and what your swimming heart rate is. However, the pulse recording is not that accurate.
- Very accurate heart rate monitoring for gym work
- Simple to use
- Call and text notifications
- Comfortable, sturdy band
- Light on swim features
- Heart rate not accurate in the water
The Moov Now is a very simple device. It consists of a small button that has no screens or fancy dials. All you have is a small LED indicator which lets you know if the battery is working.
The Moov Now has a replaceable 3 volt lithium cell battery. The battery life is six months. But you will have to replace it after that. When you purchase your Moov, you get two breathable bands. One is designed to fit on your wrist, the other on your ankle. Both straps have plenty of adjustability.
The Moov will track your physical activity, as well as your sleep, at all times. But it will only send that information to the Smartphone app via Bluetooth when it is engaged in syncing mode.
When you first open up the Moov app, you can see an activity indicator which lets you see how many minutes you’ve been active throughout the day. You can then tap into the device to get a detailed breakdown of your activity.
The device can measure your sleep cycles. It does a good job of recognizing your sleeping and waking times. The Moov include a number of coaching programs which give you a breakdown of your training statistics.
In terms of swimming, the Moov will tell you how many strokes you’ve achieved, your turn times, your stroke times and what style you were swimming in. You’ll also get an analysis of your pace and ability and a measure of the number of calories burned during your swim session.
Unfortunately, the accuracy of the Moov in the water is not the same as on dry land. The strokes per length count is inconsistent, which then throws off all the other counts.
- Easy operation
- 6 month battery life
- Comfortable fit
- Inconsistent water readings
- No pedometer function
The MisFit Speedo Shine is MisFit’s swimmer’s edition activity tracker. It features a lap counter which is activated by triple tapping the device. This is the most accurate lap counter that we have come across.
The Speedo Shine is not heavy on swim features. You don’t actually get any feedback on your swimming performance, style or technique.
What it will do is to tell you how many meters you’ve traveled. It will then convert this to a point score and add it to your daily activity count.
- Accurate lap counter
- Automatically adds your swim exercise to your activity count
- Light on swim features
- Calorie count not overly reliable
The TomTom Spark Cardio and Fitness fitness tracker is a power packed device. It features GPS, and has three gigs of onboard music storage as well as continuous heart rate monitoring. This is a massive fitness tracker which takes up a lot of space on your wrist.
Unlike many devices the display on the TomTom Spark is not a touch screen. You have to navigate around by way of a button to find what you need.
The 3 gig of music space allows you to store up to 500 songs on your device. TomTom even provide a pair of Bluetooth headphones with the Spark. The Spark will track running, cycling, swimming and most any other activity which gets your heart rate up. It will even track your sleep.
However, you may find wearing the device to bed just a bit too cumbersome.
The TomTom has a lot of great features. But TomTom has sacrificed style, comfort and usability to bring them to you.
It is in the swimming monitoring, however that TomTom comes into its own. You are able to do a detailed analysis of your swim session with this device. You have the ability to break down your swim into sets and sessions, with varying degrees of intensity. The tracker will buzz you whenever you need to change up your power or stroke.
The swimming goal feature actually allows you to view your session’s progress. The tracker will buzz you when you surpass your goal. The TomTom is a little slow, however, to pick up on turns in the water. This means that it may give late notifications on when to change your stroke.
In contrast to the TomTom’s impressive performance in the water, the post swim analysis is not exactly ground-breaking. It will give you a break-down of your pace and speed but not a lot on your efficiency, turns and technique.
- Very impressive in the water functions
- 3 gig music storage
- Feature packed
- Light on swim analysis
- Device is very bulky
The Garmin VivoActive waterproof monitor tracks your swimming length, depth and time. It will track your running, hiking, swimming, walking and even your golf. It has a high resolution touch screen and, while the square face is a little bulky, it has a rather thin profile. You can switch around the display face to fit your style and activity.
The Garmin has such widgets as notifications for email and instagram. It also has music controls, a weather app and your daily step count.
The apps include programs for running, biking, cycling, swimming and walking. You can also download extra apps as well as extra data fields for your apps.
In terms of its swimming functionality, the Garmin VivoActive provides the best range of onscreen swim data. It will record your distance, time, stroke, temperature, pace, speed and SWOLF (Swim Golf). When you reach mid way markers, the device will buzz you.
The VivoActive also gives you a better post swim analysis of your performance than you get from the TomTom Spark. Overall, we think it’s the best waterproof fitness tracker.
- Impressive swim data
- Accurate in the water
- Detailed post swim analysis
- User interface not as advanced as competing brands
How Waterproof is the FitBit Range?
While being industry leaders in many areas of fitness tracker technology, FitBit are not up there with the best when it comes to swimming heart rate monitors. They are yet to release a true swim friendly addition to their tracker range.
Here’s what the FitBit website has to say about their trackers and water . . .
We also don't recommend showering with your tracker; though a little water won't hurt the device, wearing it 24/7 does not give your skin a chance to breathe. Whenever you get your tracker wet, dry it thoroughly before putting it back on.
The best choices in terms of FitBit water resistant devices in the FitBit stable are the FitBit Charge HR and the FitBit Blaze. These are listed as resistant to sweat, rain and accidental splashing. The FitBit Surge is ATM 5 rated, but still should not be taken into the pool.
The Fitness Tracker swim wear range is still an exclusive club with a wide range of abilities and accuracies. In the next two years this category is bound to see rapid progress. Until then, we recommend sticking with the Garmin VivoActive. It’s the most reliable, feature packed swimming tracker we’ve ever come across and is, as a result, the best fitness tracker for swimming. Check out this article for the best fitness watches available out there.