Running Buyer's Guide

Best GPS Watch For Cycling And Running 2020

best gps watches for cycling and running

Whether you’re crushing your first 5km or working to become the next great triathlete. Your goal of intensive cardiovascular training requires more than just the right nutrition plan, speed endurance, and a pair of elite sneakers. Achieving that goal at the highest level requires data. More specifically, a portable device that can record that data and make everything accessible on your wrist. For that purpose, we will review the best GPS watch for cycling and running.

There’s nothing wrong with your standard fitness tracker. But GPS watches offer more next-generation features that make them more wrist-friendly computers than a glorified pedometer.

GPS devices track your every move and position on the road. Plus they also often offer detailed health and fitness analyzes to improve your conditioning. This includes HRM (Hearing Frequency Monitoring), Pace, Rest Times, Speed, and more.

And your smartphone? You might discover some innovative mobile fitness accessories and amazing running and cycling apps to match your device to do it all.

But are you comfortable living at the great risk of dropping your baby, screen first on the sidewalk? I do not think so. You can run with more confidence without using the phone with a powerful watch that offers many of the same functions on your wrist.

Thus, you can see why GPS watches are the optimal running and cycling companions,. It’s better to get familiar with the key features of GPS watches.

best gps watch for cycling and running

What To Look For IN A GPS WATCH?

ANT + / Bluetooth

When looking at cycling GPS watches, it is important to consider whether or not it will work with the sensors you already have

If you wear a heart rate strap, a speed and cadence sensor, or a power meter, you’ll also want a watch that connects to it. For the most part, Bluetooth seems to be the medium of choice for all the brands. Garmin now allows some of its devices to work well with Bluetooth.

The prevalence of Bluetooth in GPS watches creates some difficulty when connecting to power meters. Because the SRM and Quarq units only transmit an ANT + signal. While the Stages and Powertap units can do both.

Bluetooth connectivity also allows the watch to connect to your phone. What this allows varies from watch to watch. But most allow trips to sync wirelessly, create and edit activity modes, and download apps, watch faces, and metrics.

The Bluetooth connection also shows your phone notifications. There might be some inconsistency in the app notifications of the watch. But they can all be limited to calls and text messages only during an activity or be turned off entirely.

While most Garmin watches use the ANT + protocol to connect to sensors, they have built-in Bluetooth to allow connection to a smartphone.

Many of these watches also can connect to your home’s WiFi network. So they can sync your travels without a smartphone connection.

best gps watch for cycling and running
Battery Duration

A watch is not good for you if it is dead, so you should consider battery life before spending the hard-earned money on a GPS watch.

While it is quite common for watches to claim that their battery will last for several weeks. Be sure to check the “activity” or battery life of the GPS, as the internal GPS chip consumes quite a lot of battery.

best gps watch for cycling and running
Built-In Sensors

Most watches in this category have built-in GPS and don’t need to connect a smartphone connection to track your journey. For greater precision, many of these watches can also connect to the GLONASS network. Some fitness trackers require a connection with your phone to track speed and distance-related metrics.

It is worth noting that all of these wireless connections weigh heavily on battery life. To combat this, many of the units allow the frequency of the GPS position to be lowered slightly. Which in our experience greatly extends battery life without sacrificing too much precision.

Some of the latest watches have a built-in optical heart rate

Some of the latest watch models have BikeRadar’s built-in optical heart rate

Like many of these watches, they are designed for activities ranging from other endurance sports, such as running and swimming, to SUP and mountaineering. They have built-in altimeters, barometers, and compasses, as well as accelerometers and gyroscopes.

With these, the watch can verify metrics such as speed and distance from what the GPS is reading for a more accurate reading, as well as rely on built-in sensors when GPS coverage is erratic.

There are quite a few watches and fitness trackers that now feature wrist-based optical heart rate monitors. All wrist-based systems are based on an optical reading, which means they shine light from a series of LEDs through the skin and read the heart rate based on the blood pulse through the capillaries. The straps Heart rate works like an EKG / ECG machine that reads electricity. activity in your heart.

To get a reading, they must be in direct contact with your body and cannot be worn on top of arm warmers or jackets, and there have also been reports of strange results read through tattoos. They should also be worn hard on the wrist, and driving over rough terrain can cause inaccurate readings.

best gps watch for cycling and running
Navigation

Some of the high-end GPS watches offer some definition of breadcrumb style navigation. Routes must be preloaded on the device, but with most of them, POIs can be placed at junctions so that the clock rings when you approach them.

best gps watch for cycling and running
Po Meter Supportive

If you’re traveling with a power meter, you’ll want to verify that your watch of choice is compatible with your meter of choice. Some of the more “activity tracker” styles watch lack this feature, while others may be limited to certain units.

best gps watch for cycling and running
Adaptive Multisport

Many of these watches are attractive to multi-sport athletes due to a large number of modes of activity and the ability to switch between them.

Many of these watches are attractive to multiple sports athletes due to a large number of modes of activity and the ability to exchange BikeRadar with each other

GPS watches are also a huge hit with triathletes and adventure runners among us.

For this same crowd, the ability to change sports mid-activity or create activities like “Swim / Bike” and “Triathlon” is paramount to their training.

best gps watch for cycling and running
Strap And Screen Material

For convenience, most of these watches come with flexible silicone bands, but to classify them, some are available with metal bands. Even more, others offer aftermarket leather and fabric bands. Some watches offer a “tool-free” strap change system, while others require some Torx or Allen screws removal to change them.

A scratched watch face is no good for anyone, and the plastic screens of old Timex Ironman watches have been left behind. Current GPS watches come with Gorilla or mineral glass while the premium one comes with a sapphire display.

best gps watch for cycling and running
Buttons Or Touch Screen

Buttons or touch screen? Touchscreens are great, but watch faces are quite small

As with phones and GPS head units, many multi-sport and cycling watches receive touchscreens. It’s a great feature, but remember that watch screens are quite small and for those with big toes (like this writer) they are quite frustrating.

Not all touchscreens work particularly well when wet, either, and others require gloves to be removed to operate.

The button lock is also a feature to look out for. There is nothing worse than getting home after a trip only to find that your watch stopped 15 minutes. It’s surprising how easily buttons are accidentally pressed into the hand positions you experience on your journey, so button lock is good

Best GPS Watch For Cycling And Running Of 2020

best gps watch for cycling and running

1. Garmin Fenix ​​6 Pro Sapphire Edition GPS WATCH

Best GPS Watches For Cycling And Running

If you prefer trails to the treadmill, the Fenix ​​6 Sapphire Edition is the Garmin watch built firmly with outdoor adventure in mind.

Like its predecessor, the Fenix ​​5, Garmin is not shy about offering a range of models. The Fenix ​​6 is available in a downright ridiculous number of options, including the Fenix ​​6S for those with slimmer wrists. There’s also the 6 Pro Solar, which is the most expensive in the group and comes with a solar-powered display that allows you to recharge the battery when you’re out and about. The Fenix ​​6 Pro Sapphire with the titanium case has the best features and design.

The big difference between the Fenix ​​and the Forerunner 945 with similar specs (below) is that you’re getting a much nicer watch, which includes a lighter titanium Fenix ​​and the option of a sapphire glass lens to offer an extra layer of durability.

There is a standard Finex, but Pro is recommended. Because it gives you some extra features like a built-in media player and color maps. There’s also additional Wi-Fi connectivity that gives you another way to sync your data with the companion Connect app.

You’re getting the best of multi-sport features you can find on a Garmin today, including more outdoor-focused features like point-to-point navigation and profiles for climbing and hiking tastes. The Garmin Phoenix is ​​known for its great battery life, and the Series 6 can keep you tracking outdoor activities for up to 20 days. New battery saving modes mean you can take things even further, too.

It is definitely worth paying more for the Pro, just for the mapping, making it probably the best sports watch you can buy right now.

Pros
  • Packed with features
  • Lighter and smaller design
  • Great battery life
Cons
  • Using pulse oximeter drains the battery
best gps watch for cycling and running

2. Garmin Forerunner 45 GPS WATCH

Best GPS Watches For Cycling And Running

If you are just starting to run and don’t want to spend large sums on a training partner. The Forerunner 45 (from £ 129) is the Garmin watch that best fits the bill.

This is the follow-up to the Forerunner 35 (£ 100), which you can still buy and still offer a really solid basic race watch experience. However, the 45 takes things to a higher level as it offers quite a sleek, not ugly design and a better display. Now there’s also the Forerunner 45s (£ 170), which offers the same features in a smaller design, which means a slightly smaller screen too.

Running remains the primary focus of indoor and outdoor tracking, offering you basic metrics like distance, time, pace, and cadence. Garmin allows you to pair it with a pedometer if you want to increase running data. There is an on-board heart rate monitor that allows you to train in heart rate zones and transmit that data to third-party devices and applications.

What also makes it a great option for beginner running is the support for Coach. The Garmin training platform that allows you to load plans for 5k, 10k, and half marathons created by trainers that can be followed on the watch.

You get the best of Garmin’s physical activity tracking features, though its smartwatch features are kept in notifications and music playback controls. You have access to Connect IQ, but you are limited to downloading only additional watch faces.

Battery life is good for a week with 13 hours of GPS tracking with no energy depletion features getting in the way to achieve battery performance. It is a watch that adheres to the basic principles of tracking. And if you are satisfied with that this is the Garmin watch for you.

Pros
  • Easy to use
  • Garmin Technical Support
Cons
  • Cannot download applications
best gps watch for cycling and running

3. Garmin Forerunner 945 GPS WATCH

Best GPS Watches For Cycling And Running

The Garmin Forerunner 945 is as good as it gets technological, but also as expensive as it gets.

Not everyone will need the type or number of features the 945 offers. But if you like to track your metrics and appreciate the best of what technology has to offer, regardless of price, this could be your watch.

Outside, it’s very similar to its predecessor, the 935, but technology has made major improvements, including a more accurate heart rate monitor and the ability to store music.

This is the watch you want if you are looking for something that allows you to leave your phone at home on the go. This is the best GPS running watch in 2020 and the best GPS running and walking watch due to built-in topo maps.

Pros
  • Raise the optical heart rate sensor.
  • Music storage.
  • Garmin Pay compatible.
  • Built-in topographic maps for navigation.
  • 10-hour battery life in full GPS mode.
Cons
  • Expensive.
best gps watch for cycling and running

4. Garmin Forerunner 935 GPS WATCH

Best GPS Watches For Cycling And Running

If you don’t have the budget or need for the 945 yet but still appreciate the best of what Garmin has to offer. The Forerunner 935 is a great alternative.

It has all the training metrics you might need or want, including workout status, maximum VO2, and a built-in barometric altimeter for precise elevation change.

Garmin Forerunner 935 comes in a fairly durable and sturdy package with chemically reinforced glass and a sturdy case. It is also multi-sport compatible and waterproof.

Monitoring the heart rate of the wrist is not as accurate as of the 945. But this is a fairly new technology and no one has succeeded. But, the 935 combines with chest strap heart rate monitoring for even more accurate metrics.

Garmin’s next best choice and a great value option. Especially if you already have a chest heart rate monitor to pair with.

Pros
  • 24-hour battery life in GPS mode.
  • All training metrics.
  • Smart notifications.
  • Different wristbands are available to change styles.
  • Wrist-based heart rate and chest strap support.
Cons
  • No Garmin music storage or payment.
  • Marginally less accurate than the 945 but still well ahead of the smaller models.
best gps watch for cycling and running

5. Garmin Forerunner 245 Music GPS WATCH

Best GPS Watches For Cycling And Running

Another slight step down in the Garmin series for less expensive yet quality-conscious riders, the 245 Music is a great value option.

It is especially suitable for runners who want to leave their phones at home but still have music to listen to while running.

The Garmin 245 Music allows you to store music or stream from Spotify while still having all the workout metrics you could want, including wrist heart rate, maximum VO2, cadence, and stride length.

This is a high-quality, highly-rated Garmin GPS watch that is ideal for racers of all abilities, as long as you don’t need the navigation aspects of the 935/945.

Pros
  • 2-weeks battery life in smartwatch mode.
  • 6 hours of battery life in full GPS and music mode.
  • Bluetooth and Wi-Fi connectivity.
  • Music storage.
  • Advanced training metrics.
  • Garmin Coach and Garmin Connect.
  • Compatible with multiple sports.
Cons
  • Low battery life in full GPS and music mode than 935 and 945.
  • No barometric altimeter or preloaded topographic maps.
best gps watch for cycling and running

6. Suunto 9 Baro  

Best GPS Watches For Cycling And Running

A dream for trail racers, the Suunto 9 is Suunto’s answer to the Garmin’s Fenix ​​(which isn’t on this list because it’s a tougher version of the Forerunner 945; if you’re interested in more trail-focused watches, including the Fenix, see our article here)

If your priorities are on performance metrics and battery life. And you’re not too concerned about the smartwatch side, the Suunto 9 Baro outperforms Garmin watches.

It is very durable with extreme battery life, multi-sport capability, optical heart rate sensor wrist ac, Bluetooth connectivity, and FusedTrack technology that increases precision.

If battery life and tracking metrics are your priority and you’re not looking for something to duplicate like a daily smartwatch when it’s not running, then this is a high-quality, durable watch with accurate GPS and route tracking. Rivals Ga Fenix ​​by rain will be the best GPS watch for trail running.

Pros
  • 120-hour battery life in full GPS mode.
  • Bluetooth and USB connectivity.
  • Water-resistant up to 100m.
  • Barometric altimeter for elevation readings.
  • The big screen is easy to read.
  • Combine with the Suunto app to track daily activity and sleep.
Cons
  • Wrist heart rate monitoring is not accurate enough while running; You better pair this watch with a chest strap.
best gps watch for cycling and running

7. Apex Choros Premium Multisport GPS Watch

Best GPS Watches For Cycling And Running

More affordable than the Garmins and Suunto, but with excellent battery life and tracking metrics. This is a high-performance watch with multiple sports and performance.

It has all of the latest training metrics including VO2 Max, Lactate Threshold, Stride Length, and Personal Fitness Index, while accurately tracking your running stats.

The main reason behind its popularity is that it is very sleek and lightweight, unlike Suunto. That makes it suitable for use in different environments. 

With all the workout and tracking metrics you could want for your run. A massive battery life, and a sleek, stylish package that wouldn’t be out of place in the office.

Pros
  • 35-hour battery life in GPS mode.
  • It can be used for navigation by pre-loading a navigation route.
  • Optical wrist heart rate monitor.
  • Barometric altimeter
  • Water-resistant up to 100m.
  • Smart battery life reminders.
Cons
  • Predictable accuracy problems with the wrist heart rate.
best gps watch for cycling and running

8. Polar Vantage Premium GPS Multisport Watch

Best GPS Watches For Cycling And Running

The Polar Vantage V is on par with the top two Garmin Forers when it comes to price, and is possibly similar in performance.

It has an impressive 40-hour battery life in GPS mode and comes with all the latest performance and performance metrics, including route guidance from charged points.

Its unique performance metric, Power, measures your effort as a percentage, giving you an idea of ​​how hard you’re pushing and how much harder you could push.

Whether you go with Polar Vantage over Garmin Forerunner, it will all come down to your personal preferences and what your priorities are.

At the moment, Garmin outperforms GPS accuracy. But Polar has better battery life and potentially a slightly more accurate wrist heart rate sensor.

Pros
  • Single Execution Metric – Power.
  • 40 hours of battery life on full GPS.
  • High-quality optical heart rate monitoring.
  • All top performance metrics including training load and recovery.
  • Waterproof – compatible with multiple sports.
  • Barometric altimeter.
Cons
  • Some problems with GPS accuracy.
best gps watch for cycling and running

9. Polar Ignite Advanced Waterproof Fitness Watch

Best GPS Watches For Cycling And Running

With one of the most accurate wrist heart rate monitors on the market, the Polar Ignite is a slightly more affordable but very popular alternative to previous watches.

Real-time metrics and Smart Coach tools make this watch easy to use, with the exception that the default display mode is black until you actively move the watch towards you, a battery-saving quirk but inconvenient.

However, he prioritizes sleep tracking and guides his training sessions based on how effective his recovery was. All the training and tracking metrics are there despite the lack of smartwatch features, making it a great choice for tracker-focused runners.

If you’re looking for a lightweight, minimalist daily watch with all the tracking metrics you might need for sleep and training, the Polar Ignite is a great choice.

This is the best GPS running watch if you are looking for something you can take to the office.

Pros
  • Sleep and recovery monitoring.
  • The sleek, minimalist design is safe for the office.
  • Color touch screen.
  • Very light.
  • Water-resistant up to 30m.
Cons
  • Minimal smartwatch functions.
best gps watch for cycling and running

10. Polar M430 GPS Running Watch

Best GPS Watches For Cycling And Running

The Polar M430 is listed to provide yet another cheaper but highly functional alternative to expensive options.

It’s not as attractive as the Ignite, with a defined sporty feel, but it’s high-performance when it comes to tracking your runs.

Similar to the Ignite but with buttons instead of a touch screen and more specific operation instead of multisport, the M430 is a popular and highly rated GPS watch for good reason.

If running instead of multi-sport metrics is what you’re after and you don’t care about the sporty look, the Polar M430 is the best GPS watch for people on a budget.

Pros
  • A precise optical heart rate of the wrist.
  • Affordable.
  • 8-hour battery life in GPS mode.
  • Sleep tracking.
  • Polar Flow app.
  • Training load and recovery status.
Cons
  • Delay time on the screen that lights up while in use.
best gps watch for cycling and running

Frequent Questions

Trail Runner looking at watch heart rate monitor

Do I need a GPS watch?

No, if you don’t mind running on your phone. If you want to be able to track any basic running metrics other than time, but you don’t want to have to run on your phone, then a clock makes more sense.

best gps watch for cycling and running

Are GPS watches accurate?

GPS accuracy varies between watches and brands. It also varies depending on the speed at which you are traveling and whether you are running through a forest, an urbanized city, or an open road.

All the GPS watches discussed, are accurate in their metrics.

What is the best GPS running watch?

There is a certain degree of personal preference here, but most will agree that the best GPS watch is the Garmin Forerunner 945 followed by the Coros Apex.

best gps watch for cycling and running

Are GPS watches worth it?

If you want more complicated metrics than your phone. And also if you appreciate the easiness of heart rate monitor on the wrist and not wearing a chest strap. Then a GPS watch is the best choice for you. It will have additional technology, most often a built-in altitude barometer, that your phone won’t.

best gps watch for cycling and running

CONCLUSION

I hope you enjoyed my choices for the best GPS watch for cycling and running of 2020.

These are not an investment that you should take lightly. But, make the right choice and you will have a loyal training partner for many years.

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