Technology has pushed the limit of what fitness devices can do in today’s times. Of course, a lot of this progress is owed to the rapid rise of smartwatches that have blurred the line between the most rudimentary fitness electronics and modern cellphones. With so many options available to choose from, it’s expected for one to experience choice paralysis when going for waterproof fitness trackers.
Best Rated Waterproof Fitness Trackers
Any fitness electronic worth your money should be immune to splashes of water and, depending on your activities, completely waterproof to a certain point. Whether you’re a gym rat ready to hit a quick shower after pumping some iron, or a dolphin wannabe who spends more time underwater than stranded whales, the purpose of a fitness tracker is only half met if it’s going to die on you the moment it gets wet.
Obviously, this incontrovertibly important feature shouldn’t be the be-all end-all decision during your purchase, and it certainly doesn’t narrow the options down enough to come to a concrete decision. Luckily, we’ve compiled a list of some of the best waterproof trackers on the market based on performance, technology, reliability, and ease of use.
Garmin Forerunner 735xt
Incredible Performance and Features
With a 5ATM (50 meters or 164 feet) rating and a phenomenal battery life that can last over 10 days, the Garmin Forerunner 735XT is in our opinion the best fitness tracking smart device on the market.
Best Performance and Design
Samsung Gear Fit2 Pro
Incredible Performance and Reliability
The Samsung Gear Fit2 Pro is what you’d call a hybrid between a fitness band and a smartwatch. It’s got a small enough footprint to be a simple band, but it has the basic bells and whistles (and connectivity) to qualify as a smartwatch. This makes it a great option for individuals who want a good amount of both without steering too far either way.
It’s not the newest boy in town, but despite its release two years ago the Garmin Forerunner 735xt still succeeds in trumping the competition. It combines great smartwatch features with an array of activity tracking options, with a very accurate GPS ideal for triathletes. In fact, everything about this watch screams TRIATHLETE, as it boasts features perfect for anyone looking to take on multiple endurance activities.
With so many features, the Garmin Forerunner 735XT does demand a hefty fee, with a price of nearly $450 in the US. And if you’re into aesthetically pleasing watches, then the 735XT might fall to a lower rank in any list of yours that would feature some of the other fitness trackers in this article.
- Incredible set of monitors that track an array of activities
- Great compatibility options (Win, Mac, iOS, Android)
- Fantastic battery life
- Plastic design isn’t the most eye-catching
It’s hard not to say that for fitness tracking and overall performance, the Fitbit Ionic can go neck-and-neck with the Garmin Forerunner 735XT and at the same time save you around $150. Fitbit abandons the conventional circular shape for a more aggressive boxy design with defined edges and almost no curves. This might appeal to some, but others may consider it the smartwatch’s most egregious aspect. The aluminum used for the body is high grade, but the material choice makes the Fitbit Ionic prone to scratches and dings.
Regardless of what you think about its looks, it’s hard to deny just how well the Fitbit Ionic performs in activity tracking. In fact, it has perhaps the best HR monitor among smartwatches. Looking at its underbelly reveals two red, one blue, and one green LED lights that help measure your heartrate. This gives a more accurate reading than its competitors.
That’s not all though: there’s NFC Payment as well which is even cooler than paying with your smartphone, and you can change the straps easily to any of the several ones sold separately. The area where the Fitbit Ionic does need improvement is its app ecosystem, but if you’re content with what it offers out of the box (everything that has to do with fitness and exercise, basically), then the Fitbit Ionic is an excellent alternative to the Forerunner 735XT.
- Beautiful vibrant touchscreen
- Good battery life
- Open SDK for app development
- Great range of activity tracking
- Great compatibility options
- NFC Payment
- Boxy design might not be for everyone
- Chassis scratches easily
- Very thick design
- Limited apps
The Apple Watch Series 2 was and still is a great smartwatch – arguably the most feature packed, in fact, but it didn’t quite cover the fitness aspect as well as others. In comes the Apple Watch Series 3. It’s loaded full of fitness tracking abilities and a fantastic HR monitor that rivals and in certain aspects trumps the Fitbit Ionic.
Out goes contemporary watch designs and in comes Apple’s signature minimalistic and modern approach to looks and feel. The watch looks and feels like an iPhone on the wrist, with a beautiful OLED display that is bright enough in daylight and large enough to catch anyone’s eye. Yet the watch fits comfortably if you buy the relevant watch size (yes, it comes in two sizes).
The watch comes at $329 for the standard model, and if you want the much-advertised LTE feature with an inbuilt sim, you’ll have to pay an extra $70. That puts it in the upper echelons of the smartwatch price range, but it has a lot to show for it. It’s packed with the industry standard 5ATM water resistance, and the number of apps you’d come to expect from a dedicated Apple device. The downside? It can’t be paired with anything other than an iOS device, so you’re out of luck if you’re an Android user or wish to connect it to your PC/MAC.
That’s not the only place it falls short; battery life is disappointing consider other competitors have greatly improved in this area, with less than a day’s worth of juice in the watch. This is further exacerbated if you’re running GPS or LTE; expect no more than 6 hours with either features turned on.
If you can look past the poor battery life and own an iPhone, then there’s not many better smartwatches with great fitness tracking than the Apple Watch Series 3.
- Fantastic design
- Gorgeous Display
- Great set of options (size, LTE)
- Water resistance makes it very usable for fitness tracking
- Great array of apps
- LTE version also available
- Extremely limited compatibility (only iOS)
- Poor battery life
Perhaps the biggest selling point of the Samsung Gear and Fit2 series is that it has a Spotify app that works offline. This gives the illusion that Spotify is ubiquitously available for all of Samsung’s major smartwatches and fitness trackers. That’s simply not true. Unfortunately, Spotify is only available in the US for these devices.
Now that we have that out of the way, let’s get back to the Gear Sport as a smartwatch and how it works well as a fitness tracker. As a smartwatch it’s fantastic. It has a robust built that is slightly on the weightier side, but nevertheless feels comfortable, and can be further adorned by custom third-party straps widely available everywhere.
The Tizen OS is simple yet efficient, proudly advertising the beautiful AMOLED display that is the crème de la crème when it comes to displays in mobile devices. The OS is supported primarily by Galaxy Apps, which is either filled with great custom watch faces and relevant apps or bloated with terrible watch faces with no meaningful application – it all depends on where you live. As a smartwatch, the Gear and Fit2 line of devices from Samsung can be considered a hit or miss for this very reason.
The Gear Sport is heavily marketed as the fitness variant of the most recent Gear line, which also include the Gear S3 Frontier and Gear S3 Classic. Yet despite its sporty looks and targeted audience, the actual performance of the fitness tracking is not quite up to par with the Apple Watch Series 3, and certainly nowhere near as good as the Garner Forerunner 735XT or Fitbit Ionic. The readings and sensors are all a bit inconsistent, sometimes being on point while other times showing totally inaccurate results.
If fitness tracking isn’t only a secondary concern for you, then Gear Sport at $299 is the ideal choice for a blend of regular smartwatch functionality with specs such as 5ATM water resistance. If, however, you’re a serious athlete or looking to become one, perhaps you should explore other options.
- Efficient, no nonsense design
- Good battery life
- Good third-party fitness apps
- Samsung’s iconic beautiful AMOLED display
- Wide variety of compatible straps
- Works across both major mobile platforms
- Fitness tracking performance isn’t consistent
- Certain apps like Spotify aren’t available globally
The biggest selling point of the Samsung Gear Fit2 Pro is design. It’s a curved wrist band with a gorgeous 1.5-inch curved AMOLED display. The watch material feels a little cheap and plastic-y at first, but extended usage shows that it’s a sturdy enough device if you’re not sprinting wrist-first into a rock. The default wrist bands aren’t the most appealing, but they can easily be swapped for better aftermarket options.
The Fit2 Pro suffers from lack of applications outside the realm of fitness, which makes its smartwatch capabilities restricted to basic tasks such as reading notifications (and replying to them with quick messages), listening to music (the Spotify app is only available in US), and accessing basic weather information.
The fitness applications though are plentiful; not only does Samsung pepper it with the proprietary Samsung Health apps, it also offers Under Armour and Speedo applications that track your runs through GPS, swimming, and more. This gives users a lot more options and features to utilize during workouts, making Fit2 Pro stay true to its “fitting” name.
- Great band-like design which is aesthetically pleasing
- Gorgeous curved display
- Feels and fits comfortably on any wrist
- Fantastic set of third-party apps from Under Armour and Speedo
- Very limited application options, further exacerbated if you don’t live in the US
Motiv Ring – Best Alternative
One ring to rule them all. Okay, we all knew that joke had to be made. It may seem odd to suggest a display-less ring as an alternative to a smartwatch / fitness tracker like the Samsung Gear Fit2 Pro, but this category is after all about design and performance, and that’s where the Motiv Ring absolutely shines.
After all, it’s literally a ring that tracks your sleep, heart rate, steps, calories, and every other appropriate fitness parameter while staying on your finger. All that is topped with 5ATM water resistance to ensure you completely forget you ever have it on when in the shower or going for a swim.
Fitting the essentials of a fitness tracker into an elegant ring that may make your fiancé jealous is ingenious engineering design, and all the functions work accurately and reliably. The brushed titanium provides ample strength and stops it from accumulating scratches and dings – just make sure you’re not handling diamonds while wearing this thing.
With such a small form factor, there’s obviously no display or speaker to tell you what’s going on. There’s also no vibration motor to shake your finger. This makes the Motiv Ring almost entirely dependent on the associated application. While that’s fine for the most part, it’s not too practical to actively monitor performance while taking a swim. That’s where the deliberate design decision to make it a ring falls short.
Furthermore, the Android application for the Motiv Ring is still in its beta stages, making it limited in comparison to the fully functional and streamlined iOS variant. Motiv promises further development and better support for Android devices, but to get the best out of this ring, you need to be carrying an iPhone.
In the end though, it’s not the Android compatibility that is the biggest eyebrow raiser, but its price. At $199, you must question if the subtlety and form factor are worth the sacrifice of a standalone OS and display that you’d get in the Samsung Gear Fit2 Pro for the same amount. Nevertheless, it’s still a fantastic product that serves its niche very well.
- What’s not to love about a fitness tracker that is basically an elegant ring?
- Well designed app
- Great charger
- Incredibly discreet
- Depends heavily on app
- Android support is in its infancy
- Hefty price for a ring
Nokia Steel HR – Best Hybrid
Nokia completed its takeover of Withings last year and since then has released a couple of hybrid smartwatches. That’s just a fancy term used by the tech industry for regular looking watches with a few tricks up their sleeves. The Nokia Steel HR is similar, but the few tricks it has up its sleeves are right up our alley since they’re all fitness related.
This gorgeous time piece is an analog watch with built-in fitness trackers that monitor your heartrate, steps, runs, and other activities, and send that data to the dedicated Nokia Health Mate app, which gives you a snapshot of how you’ve performed. It’s simple, it’s effective, and if you’re going to work out or swim in a tuxedo, then it’s the perfect device to wrap around your wrist.
Hybrid watches are ideal for those who don’t wish to overcomplicate their life with a mini smartphone on their wrist, and Nokia Steel HR is the epitome of that concept. A small digital display does discontinue the beautifully minimalistic watch face, showing basic information such as heartrate and calories, but it requires minimal input and manipulation and is hardly disruptive. And because of it, there’s a fantastic battery life of 25 days that keeps you going.
The Nokia Health Mate app does hold it back a bit though, but mainly due to its layout and current features. That’s not to say it is bad – far from it, in fact. The Health Mate app is filled with potential, and hopefully Nokia will continue to improve it further to get it up to speed with the rest of the fitness tracking market.
At a price range of $179.95-$199.95 (depending on the size), the Nokia Steel HR gives you the best of both worlds: a classic time piece that gives relevant health data for your fitness tracking needs.
- Classy design and build
- Great heartrate monitor and run tracking performance
- Impressive battery life
- Associated app is quite basic
- Swimming data not always accurate
As a waterproof fitness tracker, the most basic fitness features are an absolute must. We’re talking about heartrate sensors, pedometers, calorie burned, distance covered, and of course high levels of water resistance.
Anything additional will depend on what your needs are. If you want something that is both a fitness tracker and a smart device, then a smartwatch with excellent fitness tracking features is recommend. This article is primarily meant for that audience.
However, that does not mean there aren’t devices that offer a leaner experience. The Motiv Ring is one good example. There are also many others. We just feel though that smart fitness trackers are more sought after.
After all, who wouldn’t want a tracker that can also tell the time and can play music too?
Comparability is an extremely important part of waterproof fitness trackers. Most waterproof smart devices area compatible with almost all major mobile systems. Certain companies such as Fitbit and Garmin will go further and make them compatible with computer OS such as Mac and Windows as well.
Apple, like always, likes to keep things in its own circle, so you won’t get much compatibility with Apple smartwatch devices as you would with a Samsung or the two brands mentioned above. It’s important that you but a fitness tracker that is compatible with your mobile device. Any gadget that isn’t is, frankly, worthless.
Some connectivity options do fall in basic key features, such as Bluetooth and Wifi. There are also additional options like GPS tracking and LTE in certain smartwatches that double as waterproof fitness trackers. While we don’t consider LTE an absolute essential, GPS can be very helpful for runners who like to track their runs.
We recommend that you buy a fitness tracker with at least Bluetooth and Wifi. GPS is welcome when it works and if there are good compatible applications for it. LTE is purely optional; it’s a nice feature to have on paper, but the amount of battery drain (particularly when working out where multiple sensors are active) is just not worth the extra cost unless you’re a business person who cannot miss a call.
This bit is often overlooked by buyers. We’re not just talking about the quantity of apps but also the quality. In fact, we’re mainly talking about quality. Trackers like the Motiv Ring aren’t bestowed with a billion apps, but the one app that it has works really well (only on iOS though), which makes it a great product for iPhone users.
The types of apps and their quality – particularly the main app that connects the tracker to your phone – should be important when weighing your options. A great set of streamlined dedicated fitness apps makes a good fitness tracker become a great one.
What is a good price point for a smart fitness tracker?
The price point of a fitness tracker should directly depend on how many features you need from it as well as its build quality. Smartwatches that double as fitness trackers are obviously expensive, but they may be beyond what you need from your device.
We don’t recommend going beyond $250 if what you’re looking for is simplicity without any of the additional smart features. If you do want smart features though, the price point will largely depend on your budget.
Do remember that there’s a diminishing return, and a lot of what’s asked at the higher price point is not always for features but mostly for brand name and aesthetics.
Is battery an essential part of the experience?
We certainly believe so. Anything that’s going to last you less than a day will be disconcerting and annoying. That is one of the reasons why that the Apple Watch Series 3, despite being the most feature-packed device on this list, is not one of our featured products or the top product.
While tracking your runs using GPS or reps during a swim, it’s important to have ample battery life for continuous heartrate monitoring as well as GPS monitoring for the former. The Apple Watch Series 3 is great for those who work out a few times a week, but if you like spending at least one hour daily in the gym, you would want something that can do all the monitoring and tracking without being dead by the time you have your final meal of the day.
As a newbie, will purchasing a fitness tracker motivate me to work out?
Short answer: yes. Long answer: yessssssssssss.
Well, buying a fitness tracker – even an inexpensive one – is one step in several to subconsciously motivate yourself to work out. Many fitness trackers not only give you notifications of what you do, but also of what you don’t.
There are options in most of the smart devices that will notify you if you are inactive for a certain period of time. This can send you on a long enough guilt trip to make the required effort to work out.
Moreover, the raw data presented to you so easily gives you extra motivation to push just a little harder the next time around – or if it’s live workout data, then that much harder while you’re doing it.
Buying a tracker that measures what you’ll be doing accurately is important though. If it’s cardio, then sensors measuring heartrate (and subsequent calculations of calories burned) should be accurate and reliable. If it’s swimming, then they should measure the distance and number of reps accurately.
Overall, we can assure you that buying a fitness tracker absolutely does motivate an individual enough with the raw data and notifications to encourage them to train harder.