There are a variety of GPS path operating watches in the marketplace, and choosing the proper one could be overwhelming. Along with typical options like monitoring tempo, distance, and pace, path runners NEED a lot of different options like navigation, additional battery, and sturdiness.
Whether or not you’re an off-the-cuff path runner, a mountain runner who spends hours within the backcountry, an extremely runner that races 100-milers, or a quick packer looking for a dependable machine to hold you over a number of days with out service and a charging outlet, there’s a watch on the market for you.
I’ve examined or chatted with fellow runners on every watch listed to provide the finest particulars.
The watches listed under embody the entire options that you’d need for path operating and past from smartphone notifications to nice GPS accuracy. I’ve chosen the perfect path operating watches primarily based on the precise wants for off-road operating.
First, we’ll dive in to the watches after which provide you with extra particulars on what options we thought-about when deciding on them and how one can consider watches by yourself.
Finest Path Working Watches
Regardless of the huge variety of GPS watches in the marketplace, there are 4 essential manufacturers that create prime notch path operating watches.
These manufacturers are: Garmin, Suunto, Coros, and Polar.
They’ve been within the sport for a very long time and are utilized by the perfect path runners and endurance athletes on the planet. In the event that they’re ok for them, they’re definitely a lot nice for you!
All of those watches will include the highest options mentioned later within the article, together with issues customizable screens and an app.
Finest Total Path Working Watch
Garmin Fenix Sequence>>
The Garmin Fenix 6 contains a big selection of options for path runners, together with stellar navigation, an extended battery life, and multi-sport modes to be used in actions like mountain biking, backcountry snowboarding, and paddle sports activities.
The present Garmin Fenix 6 Sequence options 4 totally different watches:
- Fenix 6s – smaller look ahead to smaller wrist
- Fenix 6 Professional – provides Wifi and music connectivity
- Fenix 6 Sapphire – Professional + the scratch resistant display screen
- Fenix 6 Photo voltaic – all options above plus photo voltaic charging
For probably the most half, the options are the identical among the many watches, with delicate variations.
You may learn my assessment for the earlier mannequin, the Fenix 5, to study extra.
- battery lasts 14 days in smartwatch mode
- 10 hours in GPS mode whereas listening to music
- as much as a whopping 48 days in battery saver mode
- Photo voltaic choice will last as long as 16 days in smartwatch mode and 40 hours in GPS mode
Additional, the battery mode is customizable and allows you to choose the options which might be most essential to you. When you discover the battery getting decrease than you’d like, you’ll be able to alter the mode mid-run.
The navigation options on the Fenix 6 are prime notch.
Excessive decision, coloration topo maps spotlight your route and supply turn-by-turn instructions indicating forward of time the place you’ll flip subsequent. This characteristic is tremendous useful whenever you’re out on new trails and means you don’t need to continually pull out your telephone to verify the route.
One other nice navigation characteristic is the Trendline, which collects the billions of miles traversed by the Garmin Join neighborhood and helps you discover the perfect trails and routes to observe.
For instance, when you’re operating on new trails, the characteristic will mechanically discover the routes that different customers have run beforehand.
It’s also possible to add waypoints to point essential stops alongside the best way, like the place the trailhead is positioned, and the closest pizza store on your post-run face stuffing.
One of many extra distinctive options are the security and monitoring sensors. When you really feel unsafe or the watch has detected there was an incident, your watch can ship your location to emergency contacts.
With all these options, this watch ain’t low cost, however you get what you pay for and that’s why that is the highest choose.
Finest Look ahead to Extremely Runners
Suunto 9 Baro >>
$599 (although usually on sale)
The Suunto 9 contains what you’ll need in a GPS look ahead to path operating, reminiscent of an altimeter, climate options, barometer, and a sturdy watch face.
❌Nevertheless, when you’re in search of options like contactless pay or music and exercise downloads that you simply see on the Garmin, this isn’t the look ahead to you.
Identified for his or her extremely lengthy battery life, Suunto watches boast among the longest-lasting batteries in the marketplace.
- battery lasts 25 hours in full GPS mode
- changes that may be made mid-run to increase its life to a whopping 170 hours
- supreme for multi-day occasions like fastpacking or 100+ mile races
You may add maps to the watch, although the navigation options should not as sturdy as these of the Garmin Fenix. The maps should not as detailed and it’s simpler to overlook turns consequently.
- Koomot powers flip by flip navigation
- Route planning is completed by way of Koomot on desktop or app, then pushed to your Suunto app, then to the watch
- As famous this doesn’t provide you with a full map on the watch, however a breadcrumb fashion (photograph from DC Rainmaker)
The big contact display screen works in all types of climate, together with within the rain and whereas sporting contact suitable gloves. New customers might have some hassle studying the best way to navigate to totally different menus on the watch, attributable to unintuitive button necessities.
Those that just like the options, however want it was a tad smaller will discover all the identical options out there within the new Suunto Peak. It’s actually designed to be a smaller lighter model of the Baro.
Finest Worth Path Working Watch
Coros Apex >>
A comparatively new child on the block, in comparison with others on this listing, the Coros Apex is a beloved watch among the many path operating neighborhood. It has the entire primary options you’d need in a GPS watch at a really inexpensive worth and is straightforward to discover ways to use with simply 1 knob and no extra buttons.
Nevertheless, that single knob was one thing I didn’t like. So know thyself.
You may learn my full assessment of the Coros Apex >>
The watch is available in three totally different fashions:
- Coros Apex 42mm
- Coros Apex 46mm – 35 hours battery life full GPS, barely bigger than the 42mm
- Coros Apex Professional – touchscreen, 47mm, barely longest battery life at 40 hours full GPS
- battery life compares to that of the Suunto 9 Barro
- 35 hours in common GPS mode for the 46mm and as much as 40 on the PRo
- in common mode, the battery lasts 30 days
- alter to UltraMax setting for 100 hours of battery whereas utilizing restricted GPS (24 days and 80 hours for the 42mm, respectively)
This period is a lot lengthy for extremely endurance races like 100 milers.
It expenses shortly, in simply 70 minutes. Whilst you can cost with use, you do need to take the watch off, which implies you’ll be able to’t monitor your coronary heart price or see the info as simply.
You may add routes and observe together with the bread crumb path that may provide you with a warning when you go off track.
The map will not be as detailed as what you’ll discover within the Garmin Fenix, but it surely’s a pleasant choice to have to make use of together with an offline map in your telephone.
A built-in barometer reads the climate and the watch makes use of information from the standard metrics (pace, time, tempo, coronary heart price) to calculate VO2 Max, although I discovered the center price monitor to be fairly a bit off. Others have had the identical expertise, so I like to recommend utilizing a chest strap.
The sapphire glass display screen comes as an ordinary with the Apex for additional sturdiness.
The Coros Apex Professional goes to incorporate extra options like 24/7 blood oxygen monitoring, offline mapping and I do respect the complete physique exercises out there on the Coros App. However once more you might be not within the price range class when transferring as much as the Professional.
Finest for Backpacking, Via Mountaineering, and Fastpacking
Garmin Enduro >>
A brand new addition to the Garmin household of GPS watches in 2021, the Garmin Enduro is actually outstanding for its distinctive battery. Actually, that’s the actually the MAIN purpose to pick this watch over the huge set of options within the Fenix line up.
Just like the Fenix, the Enduro contains options reminiscent of an altimeter, barometer, and multi-sport modes. The Climb Professional characteristic tells you upcoming ascents, desents, in addition to particulars just like the gradient and elevation achieve.
The light-weight design doesn’t compromise on sturdiness. Select between a chrome steel or scratch-resistant DLC-coated bezel that may deal with the gnarliest of circumstances.
- as much as 80 hours in GPS mode
- as much as 300 hours in “max battery mode”
- battery life is because of the Energy Glass photo voltaic charging lens that expenses on the run
- anybody planning an extended, multi-day journey with no or little entry to a charger, that is the watch to choose.
❌Don’t anticipate the identical navigation because the Garmin Fenix, which eats the battery. The Enduro contains a breadcrumb-style navigation system, which is ok, however might require frequent checking in together with your telephone or map.
If that’s a key characteristic for you then, I’d go for the Garmin Fenix Photo voltaic as an alternative.
It should even have a extra correct VO2Max for path runners than different watches and features a “relaxation timer”. This lets you hold the full time operating, however see how lengthy you stopped at an help station for instance.
It’s also possible to choose to purchase it with a Nylon strap, which might be extra comfy when sporting for lengthy durations.
Finest Path Working Look ahead to Information Nerds
Polar Grit X >>
$429 – $599
I’m an enormous fan of the Polar Vantage V2 and wished to take a look at what choices Polar has for path operating. The Grit X contains the entire identical enjoyable information statistics of the Vantage, like % of fats vs carbs burned and has among the best coronary heart price screens in the marketplace.
✅When you follow low coronary heart price coaching, then Polar is the model for you. The Precision Prime wrist monitor works with pores and skin contact and optical sensors to get a constant studying of your pulse.
Once more we’ve three fashions:
- Polar Grit X
- Polar Grit X Professional – sapphire watch face, even higher GPS entry, higher navigation instruments
- Polar Grit X Professional Titan – above plus 12% lighter
This is identical throughout all three fashions
- battery lasts 40 hours in GPS mode
- 7 days with non-GPS use
- choices to increase the lifetime of the battery on the street in energy save mode
- I’ll additionally add my Polar Vantage V 2 lasts for much longer than the reported instances
Different nice characteristic Polar affords that attire to path runners are Komoot route steering, reactive hill splits that present efficiency on uphill and downhill sections of your session, and adaptive fueling recommendations that provide you with a warning when it’s time to eat some energy.
- Once more it’s breadcrumb solely navigation
- Again to start out options, flip by flip navigation
- Loading routes by way of the Komoot app then to Polar app
- Visible of your elevation profile so you’ll be able to see what climbs are forward
The Grit X has undergone navy grade efficiency assessments for sturdiness, together with excessive temperatures, drops, and humidity.
It additionally contains operating energy meter for many who want to coach with this information over HR.
Options to Search for in a Path Working Watch
When you’re hitting the path, there are a number of options you’re going to need in a path operating watch.
The entire watches on this listing embody these options, so in the event that they’re not talked about particularly, know that they’re certainly requirements.
The most effective path operating watch will nonetheless come all the way down to the one that matches you finest, has the fundamentals instruments you’ll use on a regular basis and good GPS.
Lengthy Battery Life
Relying on the variety of hours you’ll be on the path, your time might exceed the lifetime of the battery with a single cost, particularly when you’re operating 100-mile races or multi-day occasions.
You don’t need to need to continually fear about your watch battery dying on you or need to sacrifice dependable monitoring to increase its life.
Listed here are the GPS watches that final the longest >>
Path networks could be complicated and intensive, in an effort to decrease your probabilities of veering off path, you’ll respect a watch with the power to add routes and supply turn-by-turn instructions. Every watch above defined the totally different types from a full coloration map on the Fenix to breadcrumbs on most others.
The paths could be rugged and you could be extra vulnerable to tripping and falling or need to scramble up rocks. Search for a watch face with a scratch-resistant floor, like sapphire glass. You’ll additionally need a watch band that’s simple to wash when you usually get muddy!
On-wrist Coronary heart Charge Monitor
A wrist-based coronary heart price monitor will probably be way more comfy and fewer vulnerable to chafing than a chest strap on extremely lengthy runs. Although do be aware that I’ve examined MANY manufacturers and solely discovered just a few to stay constantly correct by way of the wrist strap. Particularly operating within the chilly.
Mountain climate can change right away, and a barometer will let you know the present temperature and air strain, and might warn you of pending storms. It should additionally present present elevation and altitude statistics, which will probably be extra correct than a GPS elevation learn.
From excessive warmth to freezing temps, snow and rain, you’ll need to make sure that your watch can deal with various climate circumstances. The entire watches under are water-proof as much as 100 meters.
Whether or not you’re cross coaching or coaching with one other sport throughout the low season, a watch that may monitor your whole endurance endeavors will probably be invaluable.
If you end up off monitor in unknown territory, you should utilize the Trackback operate to information your self again to your start line alongside the identical route. The watch will present a breadcrumb route with directional arrows displaying the best way.
Selecting the Finest Path Working Look ahead to You
When you’re nonetheless not sure about which watch to decide on, contemplate which options are most essential to you. What statistics and data are you in search of after your runs that you simply don’t have together with your present watch or which might be non-negotiables in an improve?
To assist kind between manufacturers, I’ve put collectively a number of posts evaluating the manufacturers talked about on this put up:
What options do you search for in a path operating watch?
What’s your favourite model for path operating watches?
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