The 10 Best Running Watches of 2020

Track miles and more with these perfect picks

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Our Top Picks
"A pick that does a bit of everything, it tracks your energy levels and sleep, stores songs, and displays follow-along workouts."
"An ideal choice for tracking your heart rate and sleep quality, it also offers versatile features like weather checks and music."
"If being hands-free is a priority, this pick allows you to leave your phone behind with its data, message, and call functions."
"If you don't mind shelling out extra bucks for advanced traits, Garmin's option features a large display, contactless payment, and more."
Best for iPhone Users:
Apple Watch SE at Amazon
"Ideal for iPhone users, Apple's newest watch is a fitness tracker, smart wallet, music player, and a GPS all in one."
Best for Android Users:
Samsung Galaxy Watch Active 2 at Amazon
"Tailored to Android users, it makes it easier than ever to multitask and use your favorite apps as you embark on runs or hikes."
"Not just water-resistant but fully waterproof, Polar's pick is a fitness staple as you swim, dive, snorkel, or scuba dive."
"Whether you're on a trip or in an emergency, Withings' water-resistant smartwatch provides up to 45 days of battery life."
"A heavy-duty choice that can withstand extreme temperatures and varying humidity, it also offers route guidance and a compass."
"A narrow choice that'll likely take up less of your wrist than rectangular options, it stores both notifications and metrics."

To effectively monitor a workout, runners need access to a few core metrics—like heart rate, calories burned, and distance traveled. You also need to be able to keep yourself entertained while you go the distance. For many of us, this means listening to music, audiobooks, or podcasts, and even having access to texts to stay connected.

Sports watches offer a lightweight, space-efficient way for you to meet all your needs at once. Many of them boast fitness-tracking capabilities, which will help you monitor your workouts. A few offer additional high-tech features—like music storage and messaging—which will keep your long runs interesting. And even the most basic versions make it easy to track the time, helping you effectively knock out time-based jogs and stay on schedule. 

Here are the best running watches on the market.

Best Overall: Garmin Venu Smartwatch

Sleek, easy-to-use, and full of helpful features, the Garmin Venu Smartwatch offers everything you’d want in a sports watch. The watch offers a range of health monitoring features, making it easy for you to track your heart rate, sleep quality, stress level, and more—women can even track their menstrual cycle.

The watch syncs with several popular music apps (Spotify, Amazon Music, and Deezer) making it easy for you to download your favorite playlists and listen to them on the go. And since the Garmin Venu Smartwatch is compatible with both iPhones and Androids, you can easily connect your watch with your cell phone—no matter what operating system you’re on. 

When you activate the smartwatch, you’ll notice more than 20 apps populating your watch’s user-friendly touchscreen. These apps come pre-downloaded on every watch, and they’ll give you access to a range of workouts (think: yoga, cardio, strength training, and more).

On a full charge, the watch promises to last up to five days (or up to six hours in GPS mode).

Best Runner-Up: Fitbit Versa 3 Smartwatch

Fitbit is known for its best-in-class fitness trackers, and its Versa 3 Smartwatch doesn’t disappoint. The watch makes it easy for you to track a few core metrics—namely, your heart rate, your workout intensity, and your sleep quality. The sleep quality tracker is particularly robust. It monitors your time spent in light, deep, and REM sleep, giving you more specific feedback than other fitness trackers might. 

Like many high-tech sports watches, the Fitbit Versa 3 Smartwatch boasts several fancy features. Its compatibility with popular music services—like Spotify, Deezer, and Pandora—makes it easy for you to listen to music while you work out. Its advanced GPS system helps you map out running, hiking, and biking routes. And its built-in Alexa capabilities help you do things like check the weather, set reminders, and even control smart home appliances. 

On a full charge, your Fitbit Versa Smartwatch will last up to six days (or up to 12 hours in GPS mode). And if you’re in a hurry, rest assured knowing you can get one full day of battery life out of a 12-minute charge.

What’s nice? Each Fitbit Versa Smartwatch comes with free 90-day access to Fitbit Premium. (This deal only applies if you’ve never used Fitbit Premium before.) 

Best Budget: LETSCOM Fitness Smart Watch

The LETSCOM Fitness Smartwatch is a formidable sports watch, available at a shockingly reasonable price point. The watch offers plenty of health monitoring features, so you can conveniently track your heart rate, sleep quality, activity cycles, and more. The watch also lets you see all of your data at once, making it easy for you to track your progress over time.

In addition to offering built-in health tracking, this smartwatch offers an array of helpful features. You can use it to play music, take calls, set alarms, and more. The watch's display is customizable—you can control whether you want to see the time, the day, the date, your steps traveled, your calories burned, or any messages you’ve recently received.

This user-friendly customization makes the LETSCOM Fitness Smartwatch a particularly great choice for beginners who may find higher-tech features distracting or intimidating. 

Best Splurge: Garmin Premium Multisport Watch

The Garmin Premium Multisport Watch is a high-tech sports watch with long-lasting battery life and plenty of fancy features. Like many sports watches, this one lets you track classic health and fitness metrics, like heart rate and sleep quality. It also monitors your altitude acclimation at higher elevations.

The watch’s music storage system is easy to connect with third-party platforms, so you can conveniently download and stream your favorite songs while you work out. Depending on what country you’re in, you can even use the watch for contactless payments.

These capabilities are incredibly useful, but what really sets this watch apart is the rest of its feature set. Like many sports watches, this one comes equipped with a GPS system. It also comes with sensors for a three-axis compass, a gyroscope, and a barometric altimeter. The watch comes preloaded with thousands of topographic maps. These features make it a particularly apt choice for hikes, climbs—and even ski trips.

What’s more? On a full charge, it'll last up to 21 days (or 15 hours in GPS mode). And since the watch comes equipped with solar-charging technology, you can extend the battery life by an additional three days, even if you’re completely off the grid.

Best for iPhone Users: Apple Watch SE

iPhone users have long coveted the Apple Watch. And Apple’s latest release, the Apple Watch SE, is a budget-friendlier take on the must-have. Despite its reasonable price point, the Apple Watch SE is loaded with high-tech features. Its built-in fitness tracker will let you monitor your heart rate, sleep quality, and activity levels—and it will even send you a notification when your heart rate is particularly high, low, or irregular.

Its music storage feature makes it easy for you to stream your favorite songs, podcasts, and audiobooks. And of course, since the watch syncs with your iPhone, you can easily answer calls and respond to texts from your wrist. 

True to form, the fancy capabilities don’t stop there. The watch comes equipped with a GPS system you can use when running, biking, hiking, or simply getting around. And since the watch syncs with Apple Pay, you can leave your wallet at home and use your watch to pay for things, instead.

The Apple Watch SE doesn’t advertise a particular battery life, but Apple has said its watch batteries are designed to last up to 18 hours at a time. The watch also boasts a swim-proof design, so you don’t have to worry about it getting ruined the moment you get caught in the rain.

Best for Android Users: Samsung Galaxy Watch Active 2

The Samsung Galaxy Watch Active 2 is a solid sports watch—and an excellent choice for Android users. The watch acts as a fitness tracker, allowing you to track classic metrics, like sleep, heart rate, stress levels, and activity levels. Like the Apple Watch, the Samsung Galaxy Watch Active 2 will send you a notification if your heart rate is unusually high or low. 

Using Bluetooth, you can easily connect the watch to your phone and gain access to all your favorite apps, including your go-to music services and messaging platforms. This makes it easy for you to multitask while you work out, allowing you to listen to music, answer calls, and reply to text messages whenever you need to.

On a full charge, the Samsung Galaxy Watch Active 2 will last up to five days. But if you’re on-the-go and running low on battery, don’t worry—you can use other Samsung devices to wirelessly charge your watch (just make sure those devices are new enough to be Qi-compatible!). 

Best Waterproof: Polar Ignite Advanced Waterproof Fitness Watch

Many sports watches are water-resistant, but the Polar Ignite Advanced Waterproof Fitness Watch promises to be fully waterproof. The watch tracks an array of health and fitness metrics, making it easy for you to monitor your heart rate, sleep quality, and progress in achieving your goals. It also offers a range of swimming-specific features, allowing you to track your heart rate, distance, strokes, and pace as you swim

The Polar Ignite Advanced Waterproof Fitness Watch also comes equipped with a few fancier features. For starters, the watch will sync with your phone, allowing you to receive texts, calls, and emails on-the-go. It also comes with a built-in GPS system, which will help you craft routes for runs, walks, hikes, and bike rides.

These features are handy, but the waterproof watch's coolest value-add is its Polar Fit Spark Daily Training Guide. The guide, which comes built-in to the watch, will train you virtually by giving you daily workouts that take your fitness goals and training history into account. 

Best Battery Life: Withings Steel Hybrid Smartwatch

If you find yourself without a charger, the Withings Hybrid Smartwatch is the sports watch you want on your wrist. A full charge will keep most sports watches going for about a week (sometimes, even less), but it will keep this pick going for up to 25 days. And if you switch into reserve mode (where you have access to activity tracking, but nothing else), you can extend the watch’s battery life by another 20 days. You read that right—charge your Withings Hybrid Smartwatch once, and your watch will last you up to 45 days.

In addition to boasting seriously impressive battery life, the smartwatch offers a range of useful features. The watch’s built-in fitness tracker makes it easy to monitor your heart rate, sleep cycles, workouts, and more. And you can connect it to your phone to get access to your calls, texts, and notifications.

Also nice? The watch is water-resistant (up to 50 meters), which means you don’t have to worry about ruining it when you take a shower, get caught in the rain, or even go snorkeling

Best Durable: Polar Grit X Outdoor Watch

Designed with the outdoors in mind, the Polar Grit X Outdoor Watch is one heavy-duty sports watch. The watch can hold up against drops, extreme temperatures, and humidity. True to form, it’s also water-resistant. Like many sports watches, this one makes it easy to track metrics like energy used, workout intensity, and hydration level.

Unlike many other sports watches, though, the Polar Grit X Outdoor Watch is equipped with technology that can detect ascents and descents. This makes it easy to more precisely track your walks, runs, and hikes. You can see how you fared on the uphill and downhill portions of a workout, instead of just receiving general feedback.

The watch’s feature set is rounded out by other hiking-friendly additions. For one thing, the watch comes with a built-in compass and altimeter, helping you track direction and elevation on more complex routes. It also boasts advanced GPS technology that enables you to plan multi-day adventures.

Love a hike you just went on? The Polar Grit X Outdoor Watch will store that route for you, so you can return to it any time you want to.

Best Discreet: Timex Metropolitan S Smartwatch

The Timex Metropolitan S Smartwatch offers a sleeker take on the sports watch. Where many watches are round and bulky, this one is rectangular and relatively narrow. That said, it still boasts the easy-to-use interface you’d expect from a sports watch.

Its feature set isn’t lacking, either. The watch offers 24/7 activity monitoring, allowing you to track your heart rate, sleep quality, and workout intensity. It also has a built-in GPS system, which you can use when running, biking, or hiking outdoors, and you can connect the watch with your phone to stream music and send texts.

On a full charge, the watch will last up to 14 days—which is pretty formidable for a sports watch. You can also customize your watch face to make it as simple or as decorative as you’d like it to be. 

Final Verdict

With its user-friendly display and robust feature set, the Garmin Venu Smartwatch is a worthwhile buy. Plus, it gives you access to your texts—without forcing you to commit to an operating system. If you’re looking to save, though, the LETSCOM Fitness Smartwatch offers incredible value. For a fraction of the price of most sports watches, you can get a fitness tracker, a music player, and a watch all in one. 

What to Look for in a Running Watch

Health and Fitness Tracking:

Many sports watches monitor a set of core health and fitness metrics. On the more basic end, these may include things like steps taken, distance traveled, calories burned, and heart rate. On the higher-tech end, you may find things like sleep quality, stress level, and workout intensity. Consider the metrics you’d like to track and make sure the sports watch you’re looking at has those capabilities.

GPS Capabilities

Many sports watches come with GPS capabilities, which make it easier to map out routes for runs, hikes, bike rides, and more. If you frequently engage in these activities, consider prioritizing a watch with a built-in GPS tracker.

Music Storage and Streaming

Some sports watches are compatible with third-party music services, like Spotify and Amazon Music. If you love listening to music, podcasts, and audiobooks while you work out, look for a watch that makes it easy to download and stream your favorites.

Messaging

Some sports watches let you make calls and send text messages directly from your watch. If this capability is important to you, be sure to look out for it. And make sure the watch is compatible with your phone’s operating system. 

Battery Life

Like any high-tech device, sports watches need to be charged. And battery life varies immensely. If you intend to wear your watch for just a few hours at a time, you likely won’t need to worry about this. But if you plan to wear ir for days at a time between charges, look for a watch with long-lasting battery life. 

Why Trust Verywell Fit

As a seasoned health and fitness writer, Lindsey Lanquist understands how vital quality product recommendations can be. She is careful to recommend products that are reliable, comfortable, and genuinely well-reviewed by those who’ve tried them. 

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