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Today’s fitness trackers do far more than the clip-on wearables Fitbit first introduced in 2009. Now, it’s like wearing a personal trainer and life coach right on your wrist. They count steps, recommend workouts, track sleep habits, and motivate you to keep active — some even double as premium smartwatches.
Our top pick is the Garmin Epix. It tracks a range of activities, offers a battery life of up to a week, and has highly accurate GPS. For a budget pick, we recommend the Fitbit Inspire 3. It’s a no-frills wearable with solid battery life and accurate tracking for less than $100.
Picking out the best fitness tracker comes down to how you intend to use it. Some may not need the bells and whistles of Garmin’s Epix, while others looking for a smartwatch may prefer the Apple Watch Series 9. To help, we’ve compiled the best fitness trackers across seven categories below.
Our top picks for fitness trackers
Best overall: Garmin Epix – See at Garmin
Best budget: Fitbit Inspire 3 – See at Amazon
Best Fitbit: Fitbit Sense 2 – See at Amazon
Best smartwatch: Apple Watch Series 9 – See at Amazon
Best for iPhone: Apple Watch Ultra 2 – See at Amazon
Best for Android: Samsung Galaxy Watch 5 Pro – See at Amazon
Best training feedback: Garmin Forerunner 745 – See at Amazon
Best multisport: Coros Apex – See at Fleet Feet
When Garmin released the Epix in 2022, I was curious how it’d slot into the brand’s lineup alongside the Fenix, a wearable that does just about everything. After wearing the Epix as my daily driver for a month, it became clear it’s not only worthy of its own line but it also happens to be the best fitness tracker you can buy.
From a feature standpoint, it has it all. There are the basics like heart rate monitoring and sleep and step tracking, as well as advanced features like stress, hydration, and respiration tracking. It also uses Garmin’s unique Body Battery function that can tell how well you rest each day and whether you should push for a PR or take it easy during your next workout.
This is in addition to the endless list of available activities to track, unique coaching insights and workout tips, recovery time estimates, visual race time predictors, and custom workouts.
But what I’ve been most impressed about while wearing the Epix is that all of these features are legitimately useful. I find myself using so many of them in all facets of my day, too. I use the recovery time estimate to see what workout my body is ready for, the coaching insights for daily inspiration, the race time predictors to adjust my training schedule, and sleep tracking to see how well my body recovers each day.
What’s more is that the Epix can go upwards of six full days without needing a recharge, even if I’m using things like the built-in GPS each day or wearing it to bed to track my sleep. I’ve gone on multi-day camping trips and still had more than enough battery life left on my return trip home.
Yes, the watch is on the expensive side, costing upwards of $900, but it’s not that much more expensive than the $800 Apple Watch Ultra, a similarly rugged outdoor watch that has far weaker battery life.
Because of its laundry list of available features, it’s best used by folks who are consistently active and enjoy getting outside. Of course, anyone can buy one and use it but to get the most value out of it, you want to make sure you’re using it as it’s intended.
The Inspire 3 is one of Fitbit’s latest wearables that blends advanced health and fitness tracking with a subtle, no-frills design. With features like skin temperature sensing and sleep tracking, and a price tag that situates it under $100, the Inspire 3 is a budget fitness tracker that performs like something much more expensive.
What makes the Inspire 3 an especially great wearable is that it’s perfect for people of all fitness levels and skills. Beginners and first-time wearers will find it easy to navigate and it offers plenty of basics such as daily steps taken, calories burned, and several trackable activities.
Seasoned fitness enthusiasts will appreciate the Inspire 3’s advanced health features, including the new skin temperature sensor and in-depth sleep tracker. It’s not as comprehensive as our top pick but the Inspire 3 still offers tons of useful features. It’s compatible with a range of the best Inspire 3 bands, too.
The watch isn’t perfect, though. During our tests, we noted that the lack of built-in GPS may tarnish the experience for more hardcore athletes who don’t always want to work out with their phones. GPS syncing was quick when we brought our phone along, but it wasn’t always ideal. The other major drawback is its lack of downloadable apps.
But even when we factored in those cons, we still feel the Inspire 3 is an excellent fitness tracker that punches above its weight. It’s the best fitness tracker for those on a budget, or beginners or first-time fitness tracker users. It’s even an adequate overall wearable for fitness veterans who seek a no-frills experience.
Read our full review of the Fitbit Inspire 3.
The Fitbit Sense 2 is the best fitness tracker in Fitbit’s lineup and satisfies just about everything you look for in a quality active wearable.
It offers a wide variety of trackable activities and catalogs tons of unique insights into your sleep habits and fitness data while also monitoring your stress and menstrual cycles. It even has a built-in GPS and a battery that lasts around five days on a single charge.
While you could pull those features from the Sense 2 product page, we found the watch to live up to those ambitious expectations at just about every turn. It was highly accurate during workouts, both in terms of GPS syncing and the data it tracked, its health insights were easy to access and actionable, and the battery life was superb.
It’s also an incredibly easy watch to navigate. The swipe controls are simple and intuitive to use and it offers enough customization to make the experience personal.
But the biggest highlight of the Sense 2 is its advanced health and wellness tools. There’s a skin temperature sensor (similar to the Inspire 3 above), the ability to get heart rhythm (ECG) readings, and the aforementioned stress tracker which monitors stress levels in real time.
The watch doesn’t come without a few drawbacks, though. The most apparent of which is the fact it’s just not that impressive of a smartwatch. Yes, it falls into the category of smartwatch on Fitbit’s website but it struggles to fit the bill. This is because it doesn’t offer third-party app support and doesn’t allow access to tools like Google Assistant (even though Google is its parent company). There’s also no ability to store or play music.
Unless you need a fitness tracker that also doubles as a premium smartwatch, don’t let those missing features preclude you from considering the Sense 2. Outside of those cons, it offers a great fitness tracking experience. Plus, it’s still an adequate smartwatch with call, text, app, and email notifications. It’s just not the ideal smartwatch.
But it is an ideal fitness tracker.
Read our full review of the Fitbit Sense 2.
The Apple Watch Series 9 doesn’t represent a huge upgrade over the prior-generation Series 8, but it remains the best fitness-tracking smartwatch you can buy. Thanks to its new S9 processor chip, the Series 9 functions faster than any Apple Watch before it, which has a big impact on the wearable’s overall performance. Navigating the interface is smooth, as is opening any of its apps or starting a workout.
As a fitness tracker, the Series line has always been one of the best on the market, offering a wide variety of trackable activities and accurate GPS. It’s also a highly motivating watch thanks to Apple’s unique gamification which pushes users to close their fitness rings each day. These rings consist of burned calories (called the Move goal), minutes active (called the Exercise goal), and how many hours each day you’ve stood up and moved around (called the Stand goal).
Although there are no significant new fitness tracking features that debuted on the Series 9, it’s still a highly refined version of the Apple Watches before it and offers the best Series line experience to date. This is especially true considering its smartwatch capability, both in terms of its new software and hardware.
Hardware-wise, the Series 9 debuted the above-mentioned S9 chip, which impacts how the watch functions overall. It allows for fast navigation of the interface and a boost in the watch’s performance. The difference may not be noticeable to wearers of the Series 8 or Series 7, but users of older models will appreciate the uptick in speed.
The S9 is also a major player regarding the Seris 9’s software updates, most notably led by the new Double Tap Gesture. Now, users can tap their index finger and thumb together twice to interact with the central button in an app. For instance, this can answer or hang up a phone call or snooze an alarm. It’s a highly unique new feature and one that’s powered by the new chipset.
Other new software features, like the Smart Stack display and redesigned apps, are great new additions as well, though these come packaged in the new WatchOS 10 operating system (which is compatible with Series 4 and newer).
There are also new cycling and hiking tracking features in WatchOS 10, including compatibility with Bluetooth cycling accessories, an updated Compass app, and new topographical map data.
So, while the Series 9 isn’t a revolutionary update over the Series 8, it’s still the best fitness-tracking smartwatch on the market, especially for iOS users.
Read our full review of the Apple Watch Series 9.
Best for iPhone
Although the Apple Watch Ultra 2 does a lot of the same things as the Series 9 above, it offers a few more advanced activity tracking features that make it the best pure fitness tracker for iPhone users. This includes a brighter screen, which is great for use in bright, sunny conditions, water resistance down to 100m, a wider range of altitudes, and a longer-lasting battery. The Series 9 offers 18 hours of battery life while the Ultra 2 is rated at 36 hours.
These extra features make the Ultra 2 ideal for advanced users like athletes, especially those who need the extra battery life. For instance, the Ultra 2 could comfortably make it through something like a marathon or even a multi-day backpacking trip.
The Ultra 2 also now features an array of watersports features aimed at freedivers and scuba divers, wakeboarders, and kitesurfers. Its built-in Depth app can log diving sessions along with GPS data, water temperature information, and time spent underwater. These features are certainly for a select few users but it’s an example of Apple’s intent on aiming the Ultra 2 at a specific subset of potential wearers.
Like the Series 9, the Ultra 2 also features the new S9 chipset, as well as the useful Double Tap Gesture which can be used to snooze alarms or answer a phone call, among other things. The new chipset is particularly impressive at how fast it makes navigating the interface or opening apps. Ultra 1 users may not notice a difference but it is apparent for anyone coming over from a Series 6 or older.
Beyond those new features, the Ultra 2 is nearly identical to the Ultra 1. It features a rugged, durable design, premium smartwatch functionality, and highly accurate GPS tracking. Those with an iPhone who want a highly capable fitness tracker that seamlessly integrates into the Apple ecosystem should strongly consider the Ultra 2.
Read our full review of the Apple Watch Ultra 2.
Best for Android
The competition for the best Android smartwatch is a stiff one as both Samsung and Google offer premium wearables worthy of the title. However, only one truly lives up to the moniker of best: the Samsung Galaxy Watch 5 Pro.
Building off the solid Galaxy Watch 4, Samsung’s next-generation Watch 5 now comes as a Pro model option that aims to be the Apple Watch Ultra for Android users — and it lives up to that hype. It has a longer-lasting battery and advanced health and fitness features, and once again uses the WearOS operating system which delivers a fluid, intuitive user experience.
For the fitness-focused crowd, the Watch 5 Pro is an exceptional activity tracker. During our tests, we found the watch to be highly accurate in terms of how quickly it synced its built-in GPS as well as how well it tracked activities like runs, bike rides, and hikes. It’s also compatible with a variety of the best Samsung Galaxy Watch bands like canvas options for something more durable or nylon straps for working out.
There’s even a track-back function that lays digital breadcrumbs so you know your exact path on a hike. We do wish this was available on more activities (it’s only compatible with hikes and, oddly enough, bike rides) but perhaps this will be an update on the next release.
Those looking for a smartwatch will also appreciate how well the Watch 5 Pro functions. There are a ton of downloadable apps via the Google Play Store and navigating the watch is incredibly easy. You can even customize the watch face and its displayed data to fit however you prefer to use it. Additionally, all notifications from emails, texts, apps, and phone calls, are simple to interact with.
But perhaps the Watch 5 Pro’s best feature is its expanded offering of health tracking. It has comprehensive sleep tracking which charts your nightly sleep habits, as well as a body composition scanner that tracks your muscle mass percentage, body fat, and water weight.
It’s worth pointing out that the Watch 5 Pro experience is far better when using a Samsung phone. While it does work on something like the Google Pixel, a few features are missing, including the heart rhythm tracker (i.e. the ECG app). We also found there to be some syncing issues when we initially set up the watch.
Despite those drawbacks, however, the Samsung Galaxy Watch 5 Pro is the best fitness tracker for Android users (as well as our top overall pick of the best Android smartwatch currently available). It functions incredibly well as a smartwatch, offers a wide variety of fitness-tracking capabilities, and has tons of unique and actionable health insights.
Best for training feedback
Garmin’s long-made highly advanced fitness trackers that serve the needs of hardcore athletes. The Forerunner 745 brings that in-depth approach to a wider audience, providing highly valuable fitness insight and feedback to anyone, regardless of how active they are.
The beauty of this watch rests in the advanced data it provides. During workouts, the 745 displays everything from time active and heart rate to distance covered and pace. Each of these is highly useful at the moment if you’re interval training or aiming for a certain time on a run or bike ride. It’s also quite easy to customize this screen so you have exactly what you want when you want it.
Though that in-the-moment date is great, it’s what the watch offers after the activity (or between workouts) that’s even better. This includes challenging workout recommendations that adapt to your output, the ideal amount of rest you need between activities (which is highly important), and customized training plans. Neither of these is just tacked on, too, and I found myself gravitating toward them more and more as I tested the watch even though I’ve always preferred my workouts to anything pre-written for me.
Its tracking accuracy is also highly precise, and I found it to be similar to that of Suunto’s 7 and the Apple Watch Series 6. It syncs with GPS rather quickly and consistently produces similar metrics (both in terms of distance and pace) no matter if I cycled or ran.
If there was something to nitpick about the Forerunner 745, it’d be its clunky menu system. Like most Garmin watches, the OS isn’t exactly intuitive, though it does get easier the more you use it (as would anything). It’s not enough to be a dealbreaker, especially considering how much else this watch does that’s superior to most fitness trackers currently available.
Read our full review of the Garmin Forerunner 745.
If you spend much of your active time doing something different from the day before, then the Coros Apex is the best fitness tracker for you. It’s especially adept at tracking running, biking, and swimming, making it perfect for the budding or seasoned triathlete.
But that’s not only who the Apex is for. Coros consistently updates the watch’s software to add new activities and modes, including sports like snowboarding, gym cardio, and hiking. This only adds to its versatility and the newly added modes do a good job of being accessible and easy to use as soon as they’re available.
The Apex truly proves its worth for ultrarunners. Thanks to excellent battery life, highly accurate GPS, and a dedicated trail running mode, it’s the watch a grab for when I know I’m going to be out for a long run that won’t just consist of running on the sidewalk or through my local park. Its comfortable design makes it easy to wear for long periods, too, without irritating my wrist or becoming a drag on my running form.
Though these are its high points, the Apex also offers basic fitness tracking capability in the form of heart rate, steps, calories, and so on, so it’s not just for advanced athletes. Rather, it’s great for anyone looking to spend more time running, biking, or cycling, and who is inclined to try new activities.
Its $300 price point puts it solidly in the middle in terms of other watches featured in this guide but its incredible capability makes it highly worth the expense.
How I test fitness trackers
Each of the best fitness trackers included in this guide went through a series of tests to determine how well they performed across these four categories: Fit & comfort, tracking accuracy, features, and value.
Here’s how we considered each category while testing:
Fit & comfort: If a fitness tracker isn’t comfortable or doesn’t fit well, you’re far less likely to want to wear it — and if you don’t wear it often, what’s the point? Wearable brands know this, so many of the best fitness trackers have bands that not only stay comfortable for long periods but won’t chafe or become bothersome while you sweat. When testing, I looked at everything from how they felt when I put them on to if I noticed any discomfort during short or long workouts.
Tracking accuracy: Testing for accuracy isn’t always easy. You can wear two different watches and get different GPS readings, pace data, and so on. So, instead of using a second tracker to test a wearable’s accuracy, I’d map out how far an exact mile was from my house before running it a few times wearing the same watch. The trackers we recommend all produced results no more than .1 miles off.
Features: This category is mostly straightforward: Does a tracker have any supplemental features outside of tracking steps, calories burned, or heart rate? This could be anything from extra activities it’s capable of logging, the ability to act like a smartwatch and get smartphone notifications, etc. Trackers aren’t defined by their added features but it’s a nice touch and something that can separate a good tracker from a great one.
Value: The value of a fitness tracker isn’t just its sticker price but also how valuable it is from a function standpoint. Does it have the features you need? Will it track and compile the data you want it to? Can it serve as something that benefits your fitness? These are all questions you want to consider when shopping to find a tracker’s true value. This becomes more of a subjective category when viewed that way but when testing, I still was able to judge how well each tracker held up across the above categories — and still considered how much they cost, as well.
Are fitness trackers worth wearing?
Yes, so long as you use the tracker, and the data it collects, to inform your fitness goals. This means understanding what the fitness tracker you buy offers, and opting for one that offers insight into what you specifically need. For instance, if you just need something to motivate you to increase your daily activity, you shouldn’t buy a full-featured watch like the Coros Apex or Suutno 7. Something like the Apple Watch or Fitbit’s Versa 3 would be better suited to your lifestyle.
Although there’s nothing wrong with wearing a fitness tracker to only keep tabs on your daily steps or calories burned, that information it accrues can be vital for anyone who wants to develop a daily, weekly, or monthly fitness routine.
The term “worth” as it applies to fitness wearables is relative to how exactly that information is used and who is using it. You first need to decide how you intend to use a fitness watch to truly determine how worthwhile it can be.
What does a fitness tracker do?
The best fitness trackers monitor and accrue a variety of activity data such as the number of steps a wearer takes each day, how many calories they’ve burned, and the flights of stairs they’ve climbed, among many others.
Basic fitness trackers often offer tracking for just those listed above while more advanced wearables, and fitness smartwatches, provide a slew of advanced features such as workout tracking (running, cycling, weight lifting, etc.), heartbeat monitoring, smartphone notifications, and more.
Some trackers even have compatible smartphone apps that centralize the data they collect, allowing users to chart their progress over time via a dashboard or activity calendar.
What are the pros and cons of fitness trackers?
Deciding whether the pros of a fitness tracker outweigh its cons ultimately comes down to how you intend to use it. If you plan on being routinely active and using the data it collects to develop and maintain a fitness routine, then it can be extremely beneficial.
However, if you don’t ever look at the amassed data or buy a watch that has too many features you’ll never use, then it will surely become an expensive digital timepiece that tracks fitness data for no reason.
Fitness trackers are powerful tools that can offer deep insight into one’s health profile — but they can also be quite expensive. This is why it’s important to not only figure out how you want to use the watch before you buy one but to research which watch is best fit for your lifestyle and your goals.
What should I look for in a fitness tracker?
Those looking for a device dedicated to tracking daily activity, workouts, and sleep have a vast number of choices even without including members of the smartwatch family. Here’s what to consider:
Comfort and design: Since you’ll wear the tracker daily (even to bed for sleep tracking), comfort is a high priority. If it’s not comfortable, you won’t want to wear it. The same goes for design. If you have a small wrist, you may want a tracker with a sleek, understated look. Fitness trackers come in all shapes and sizes, so you’ll be able to find one that suits your style.
Features: If you’re looking for a no-frills fitness tracker, then one that only tracks steps and your sleep habits may suffice. However, if you work out often or want insight into how your activity impacts your overall health, a more advanced tracker with a heart rate monitor or built-in GPS may be the one for you.
You should also consider the types of workouts you like to do. For example, if you’re a swimmer, waterproofing is a must. If you’re just starting a new fitness routine, then a device that coaches you and gives you goals to work towards may provide the extra motivation you need.
App experience: Most fitness trackers are designed to work in tandem with your smartphone, syncing the data collected with a downloaded application. This allows you to gain even more insight into your health and save the information collected to track your progress over time.
Unfortunately, not all companion apps are that effective and you may find there are some experiences you prefer over others. It’s important to choose a fitness tracker that gives you a good app experience. Easy navigation and compatibility with your phone’s operating system are a must.