The 9 Best GPS Running Watches

Track miles and more with these pieces of wearable technology

Our editors independently research, test, and recommend the best products; you can learn more about our review process here. We may receive commissions on purchases made from our chosen links.

Our Top Picks
"Multi-sport tracking and wrist-based heart rate monitoring."
"Powerful enough to meet your training and race timing needs."
Best Heart Rate Monitor:
Apple Watch Series 4 at Walmart
"Has personalized coaching and challenge features."
"Comes with a built-in GPS and over 15 preloaded sports apps."
"Tracks calories burned and pauses and resumes based on speed."
Best for Beginners:
Casio Sports Watch at Amazon
"Perfect if you're just getting started with running."
Best Smartwatch:
Fitbit Ionic Watch at Amazon
"Store and play over 300 songs from Pandora playlists."
"Activity tracking, personalized coaching, and detailed analysis."
"Lightweight, flashy, and built to last."

Best Overall: Fitbit Charge 3 Fitness Tracker

Whether you’re gearing up for a 5K, training for a marathon, or you’re just looking to make running more of a habit, the Fitbit Charge 3 boasts plenty of smart features to help you optimize your runs—and win your next race. This top-rated running watch has multi-sport tracking that you can record to your dashboard (so you can track your post-run yoga session, too!), wrist-based heart rate monitoring, and top-of-the-line GPS capability so that you’re able to map your routes. For an extra price, you can get a premium leather wrist band to make your watch office appropriate too.

Best Budget: Timex Ironman Rugged 30 Triathlon Watch

If you're looking for an inexpensive running watch without GPS technology, the Timex Ironman Triathlon Watch is simple and very easy to use, yet it's powerful enough to meet your training and race timing needs.

It features a 100-hour stopwatch with 1/100 second resolution; 50 lap memory, 50 split memory, 50 workout memory; a training log with best lap, average lap, and total segment time with date; indiglo backlight for easy viewing in low light conditions; 3 alarms; and 2 interval timers with 99 rep counter. In addition, it's very sleek, stylish, and available in several different colors.

Best Heart Rate Monitor: Apple Watch Series 4 with GPS

You may consider Apple products a bit of a splurge, but the company's latest Apple Watch is worth it if you're a running pro or are training for a race. This do-it-all piece of gear has GPS and cellular functions so you can seamlessly track your routes and stay on top of incoming notifications if need be. The watch measures your cadence, heart rate, pace, and other important metrics, plus you can track hikes and yoga workouts during any cross-training days.

The watch is rechargeable using the included USB cable. If you really want to get into improving your sport, try the watch's personalized coaching and challenge features that will keep you motivated to reach the next level. No matter your fitness goals, the Apple Series 4 Watch has the features you need.

Best with GPS: Garmin Vivoactive 3 Smartwatch with GPS

Create a winning fitness plan with the Garmin Vivoactive 3 GPS Smartwatch, whose superior features and customizable elements will undoubtedly help you dominate your next race. Thanks to this watch’s built-in GPS, you can easily record your location, pace, route, distance, and other important data.

In addition, the Garmin Vivoactive watch has over 15 preloaded sports apps, if you want to supplement your runs with other workouts. This popular watch is also perfectly safe in all types of weather.

Best for Trail Runners: Garmin Forerunner 235 Running Watch with GPS

Any runner who is into gadgets or tracking their distances will love one of these Garmin Forerunner wristwatch GPS systems. They track all kinds of information, including how far you ran, how to get back to your starting point, and lots of statistical data that can all be downloaded onto your computer. The Forerunner tracks the amount of calories burned and calculates them over the course of a workout. It also lets you know when you achieve a personal record for a distance. Another feature that runners like is that it pauses and resumes based on speed, so you don't have to keep pressing the stop and start buttons. The latest models feature a wrist-based heart rate monitor and also allow you to get text, call, and email notifications from your smartphone.

Best for Beginners: Casio STR300-1C Sports Watch

If you're a female runner who is just getting started with running and don't want to invest in an expensive watch, this basic running watch from Casio is perfect. Very inexpensive and lightweight, it also features an auto LED light, alarm, countdown capability, and stopwatch with 60 lap memory.

Best Smartwatch: Fitbit Ionic Watch

When it comes to advanced sport watches, it doesn’t get much more high-tech than the Fitbit Ionic. This popular watch packs a mighty punch with its wide range of features that include a gyroscope, accelerometer, and NFC optical heart monitor, all housed in a wonderfully sleek device. Music fans will undoubtedly love that the Fitbit Ionic allows you to store and play over 300 songs, in addition to downloading Pandora playlists.

Plus, this top-selling watch comes with both large- and small-sized bands for the perfect fit.

Best for Training: Samsung Gear Sport Smartwatch

Trendy, functional, and ultra-luxe, the beloved Samsung Gear Sport can pretty much do it all: This well-designed sport watch provides passive activity tracking, personalized coaching and tips, and detailed analysis of your pace, heart rate, and other fitness facts.

Runners will especially love that the Gear Sport has an auto-pause feature—which is perfect for those pesky red lights—and access to Spotify, so you can blast Beyonce tunes during your next jog. The Gear Sport is also water-resistant (just in case you accidentally wear it in the shower or get caught in a rainstorm), and compatible with Android and iOS smartphones.

Best Design: SUUNTO Suunto Spartan Wrist HR Sports Watch

Lightweight, flashy, and built to last, the Suunto Spartan Sport Wrist HR is both a fashion statement and a highly efficient running watch. Boasting a battery life of up to 12 hours (in training mode), this durable, practical watch is perfect for runners and any other experienced endurance athletes.

The Suunto’s impressive features include an outdoor-grade color touch screen, mapping, training insights, and customized sport modes (80 in total!), in addition to 24/7 activity tracking and an optical heart rate monitor.

Our Process

Our writers spent 468 hours researching and testing the most popular GPS running watches on the market. All of this research adds up to recommendations you can trust.

What to Look for in a GPS Running Watch

Features: From basic models that track just distance and pace to those that track your stats and monitor your heart rate, running watches offer a wide array of features. Some also allow you to receive texts and calls from your phone and even play music. How much functionality you want will depend on your fitness goals and, of course, your budget.

Fit: Running watches come in a variety of styles, so you want to make sure you pick one that’s comfortable and won’t be a distraction while you run. Pay attention to things like the material the band is made of as well as the width of the band and the weight of the watch. If you intend to wear it all day, you want to make sure it’s still comfortable when you do tasks like typing, too.

Durability: You want a watch that will keep up with your level and type of activity. So if you sweat a lot and swim as well as run, you may want to select a waterproof model. If you just jog occasionally, you may be fine with a more basic model. You also want to take a look at the battery life to make sure it can keep up with you and the miles you log.

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Article Sources
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