Best Sports Fitness Watches 2018
updated December 1, 2018
The general market for fitness trackers and watches has exploded in recent years. As a result, you can find dozens of devices that will record your steps, calories and heart rate. That’s great for general fitness enthusiasts. But what is available to meet the needs of the serious athlete or sports person. In this article, we’ll uncover the 5 best fitness watches for men of 2018 with our fitness watch reviews.
The best sports watch of 2018 is the Garmin Epix. This is a heavy weight device (with a matching price point) that accurately covers every metric you could wish for. Our silver medal winner was the FitBit Surge, followed by the Polar V800. Rounding out the top 5 were the Samsung GearFit and the Nike + Sports watch.
Sports Watch or Fitness Tracker?
So, what’s the difference between a sports watch and a fitness tracker? You can find Fitness bands that don’t have a display, but all sports watches will have a screen that shows you the time as its default setting. The Sports watch combines the features of a fitness tracker with those of a Smartwatch. As well as tracking steps, calories and distance traveled, a sports watch will usually also include a GPS, elevation recorder and be water proofed.
Sports Watch Buyers Guide
When you’re shopping for a sports watch, unless you know what to look for it’s easy to be overwhelmed by the flash and glitz. Looking beyond the flash, here are the key things you need in a decent sports watch:
It doesn’t matter how cool the features of your watch are, unless you feel comfortable wearing it, it’s going to spend a lot of time sitting on your bedside table. You want it to be secure but not too tight, have a reliable locking system and to be breathable. Ideally, your watch will have a resizeable strap.
Water resistant / Water proof
For the best water protection you want a device that is water proof to at least 50 meters. If you are going to be swimming, surfing or boating, you will need this level of water protection. For those who are going to be confined to land based activities, a good level of water resistance is all you need.
You will want to know the IP rating of the sports watch that you are considering. IP stands for ingress protection. It refers to a standard set up by the International Electrotechnical Commission (IEC). Ratings such as IP67 are commonly seen on Fitness Tracker packaging.
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.
Heart Rate Monitor
An accurate heart rate monitor is an indispensable addition to any decent sports watch. The reliability of optical wrist sensors on fitness monitors is notoriously bad. If you’ve got a sports watch that pairs with a chest strap you will get a far more accurate reading.
You’ll want a display that is easy to read and that takes into account the sunlight over the course of the day. Watches with an ambient light sensor will allow you to be able to clearly see the display at all times. A complex watch face might look impressive, but when you’re working out, simplicity is the key.
An accurate, easy to use stopwatch is an invaluable addition to a sports watch. Make sure that it can be set up with just one or two touches and that it won’t fade out while you’re performing. It should also have a clear beeping signal function.
A sports fitness watch with a built in thermometer will allow you to regulate your temperature when training under hot and humid conditions. This is also a handy feature to have on your sports watch if you are a regular camper.
A Global Positioning System will allow you to know exactly where you are and to track your training route. But not all GPS systems are equal. Here’s what you need to know about the GPS options out there . . .
- Simple Training Watches: The GPS in a simple training watch is used to track your training position. It will display your speed and distance and other training parameters. It does not have navigation features. If you are running on trails, this type of GPS will be suitable for you.
- Watches for Navigation: If you are running off trail or off road, you will need a sports watch with built-in navigational GPS. It may have a track-back feature. More advanced GPS sports watches will have a pre-trip route planning feature. You can map out your route from home and then follow through on your watch when running.
Best Fitness Watches 2018
The Willful Fitness Tracker is a relative newcomer to the home fitness market that is getting a lot of traction. It has adopted the latest heart rate sensor technology to give an accurate ongoing record of your pulse rate. It will also track your heart rate, and give you all the performance monitoring that you’d expect from a fitness tracker.
The tracker will allow you to monitor your steps taken, distance travelled, calories burned, as well as supporting cycling, running and treadmill exercising. You can automatically track your real time data as well as graphing your results on the accompanying app.
The sleep monitor automatically tracks every aspect of your sleep activity. Your deep sleep, light sleep and awake time will be fully analyzed to allow you to optimize your sleep patterns. It also has a built-in silent alarm to wake you without disturbing others.
The app that pairs with the Willful fitness tracker is responsive and user friendly, providing you with all the analysis of your training that you could ever ask for. The tracker also provides you with social media notifications.
This tracker is IP67 waterproof so that you can wash your hands, allow sweat to run on the tracker and get caught in the rain with no problems. However, you should not have a shower with this tracker on your wrist.
- Heart Rate monitor
- Cycle tracking
- IP67 Waterproof
- Vibration alarm
- May be a little wide for some wrists
The TicBand Fitness Tracker provides all day activity tracking of your steps, heart rate, calories burned, active minutes, floors climbed, hourly activity and stationary time. It also provides you with a personal cardio score to allow you to better understand your fitness level and set goals for improvement. You also get continuous automatic, wrist based heart rate and simplified heart rate zones.
You can automatically track your sleep quality and wake up peacefully with a vibrating silent alarm. You can also view your smart notifications with a glance. An interactive display allows you to easily view your stats. Simply tap the screen to get the information that you need.
This tracker gives you a long battery life of up to 5 days while the 24/7 heart rate monitor is on. When the monitor is switched off, you get up to 30 days of battery life. The TicBand has an amazingly light, ergonomic design that makes it comfortable enough to wear all day and all night.
- 24/7 heart rate monitoring
- Personal cardio score
- Sleep monitoring
- Long battery life
- Potential battery charging issues over time
The Garmin Epix is a heavy duty watch for the extreme outdoor sports person. It comes with a standard worldwide map, but there are plenty of topographical maps you can download separately. It has 8 gigabytes of internal storage, allowing you to download lots of information.
Garmin Epix is the most advanced wrist based outdoor watch on the planet. It has navigation, altimeter, barometer, and compass.
It has a very rugged design and comes with a whole portfolio of sports and health features.
- Activity and sleep tracker
- Alarm and move reminders
- Sport profiles
- Triathlon / Smartwatch features
- Phone notifications
- Access to Connect IQ
- Connect Mobile App
Despite being big and bulky, the Garmin Epix is surprisingly lightweight and comfortable. It is water resistant down to 50 meters. You’ll get 50 hours of battery life (24 hours in GPS mode).
The full color touch screen display makes looking at maps a joy. You get both GPS and GLONAS for a double insurance on your navigation tracking.
For most people, the Epix will be overkill. However, for triathletes, hikers and mountain men this is the ideal selection.
- GPS and GLONAS
- Feature packed
- 8 gigs of internal storage
- Full color touch screen
- 50 hours of battery life
If you’re a serious outdoor athlete you need to look beyond the popular general fitness devices and seek out a specialized training watch that is up to the task. Our overview of the best workout watches of 2018 will provide you with a great headstart. We recommend checking out the Garmin Epix first, which we consider to be the best sports watch of 2018. If that device is a bit of overkill for you, then you can’t do any better than the Willful Fitness Tracker.