THE waterproofness aspect of a fitness tracker should be considered as important as its ability to track activities. Why? Because sooner rather than later your dear gadget is going to get in contact with your soggy after-exercise skin or the rain, as you jog back home determined not let the weather interrupt your workout program. It’s virtually bound to happen, and that could mark the end of your short-lived camaraderie with your prized asset.
But does this really need to happen when you can spend a few extra pounds and get yourself a device that you won’t have to alter your exercise schedule to protect? Of course no. I’m going to leave this article here so that when you decide to purchase a waterproof fitness tracker any time in 2017, you can have these ten to choose from.
1. TomTom Spark 3 Cardio + Music GPS Watch
The TomTom Spark 3 Cardio + Music is the ultimate go-to if you’re the type who gets motivated by music as you go about your daily workout. And, yes, you can get into the pool and still listen to music because the waterproof fitness tracker doesn’t need a phone to play. For this reason, you’re going to need to fork out at least £205 to obtain a unit from Amazon.
Save for the dull architecture and a strenuous procedure of adding music, the Spark 3 Cardio is a hands down top notch device, and has been fashioned to suit the requirements of all sorts of athletes: swimmers, runners, cyclers and… well, sleepers.
It counts steps, estimates distance and offers sleep monitoring. Additionally, it has an accurate heart rate sensor, the smart alarm feature, and built-in music storage, and displays stored and real-time stats on a large screen, in one of the most vivid and easy-to-grasp manners.
As relatively large as it may look, the TomTom Spark3 Cardio is actually one of the lightest gadgets you can have strapped to your wrist. It weighs less than 1.7 ounces and hardly causes irritation even when worn for a long time.
2. Garmin Vivoactive HR
For less than $50, there are a few waterproof fitness trackers you can find that can outperform the Garmin Vivofit. Accuracy in counting steps and measuring distance covered, time spent in slumber land and calories burnt, as well as the use of a coin-cell battery, which can last for over a year before draining, stand as its main upsides, and a flawed design as its core weakness. It cannot count stairs climbed either, tell you about your REM cycles or automatically detect that you’ve drifted off and activate sleep mode, not to mention serve as a heart rate monitor; it’s not that comprehensive, in a nutshell, but guarantees perfection in the little it does.
What interested me most in the Vivofit is how it takes you through your goals. Its default goal is 7,500 steps per day, but you can adjust that to something more challenging like 10,000 steps, which is the baseline for most fitness trackers. Once you meet your target, the band increases your goal, depending on how long you took to meet the current one. Same for sleep; it uses your past performances to set you new goals.
To view your stats, the Vivofit syncs with your PC through a USB ANT+ stick.
3. Garmin Vivoactive HR
The Vivosmart HR is yet another product from the tech giant, Garmin, which does not only count the number of steps you make, measure the distance you cover and calculate the amount of calories you burn, but also make you do them. It reminds you to get up and do something whenever you are too idle by buzzing gently on your arm.
Rated at 5ATM, the Garmin Vivosmart is safe for use to a depth of 50 meters and is thus suitable for use in pro swimming and diving. It comes with a designated swimming app, keeping your lane workouts in the pool on track.
Compared to its less defined sister, the Garmin Vivofit, the Vivoactive HR has more to offer and is clearly worth the $199.99 it goes for on Amazon. It has a longer battery life, has a better waterproofness rating, has the silent alarm feature and keeps reminding you about your goals. The bodywork is also undeniably better, although it can still not measure up against the Jawbone fitness trackers in sleekness and slimness. The design seems to be Garmin’s hugest setback in its ratings.
4. Misfit Flash Link
The Misfit Flash Link, with its $19.99 price tag, would fit better in a list of the cheapest waterproof fitness trackers of 2017, but thanks to its fair tradeoff, merits a slot in the ”BEST waterproof activity trackers”. Unlike most of its rivals in this list, the Flash Link is not worn around the wrist but rather designed to be clipped on a garment like a bra, belt etc. or just placed in the pocket. Since it rarely comes into direct contact with the skin, the fitness tracker lacks heart rate and body temperature monitors. It nonetheless offers step counting, distance estimation and the rest of the activity tracker basics with first rate accuracy and dexterity.
It uses Bluetooth 4.0 and syncs with Android 4.3 and iOS 6.1.3, but unfortunately, has an app that is only compatible with iOS devices only.
For runners and workout buffs, the tracker has a set of LED lights that detect and light when you’re in ”activity mode”, and also measure the intensity of your drills. For swimmers, it can track how long your sessions last and tell you about the intensity of your workouts.
Cheaper than its predecessor, the Misfit Flash, the Flash Link sports a built-in replaceable coin cell battery which can last for a maximum of six months, eliminating the everyday-charging stress.
5. TomTom Runner 3 GPS Watch
The TomTom Runner 3 GPS Watch doubles as a smartwatch and an activity tracker and belongs to TomTom’s new line of GPS watches that is giving the market’s best a run for their money.
It goes at around $120 on Amazon and can be used by both runners and swimmers to track pace, distance and time both during training and on the field of play. It lacks a built-in heart rate monitor (there’s a chest strap sold separately), but with a set of ergonomic buttons, a sizeable LCD display, and an above average design, the watch offers nothing less than what you’re paying for.
Besides the basic activity tracker functions of step-counting and estimation of distance covered, the tracker also helps swimmers know the intensity of their swimming (low, average or high)and the number of strokes they make throughout their swimming sessions. That’s something most of the activity trackers can seamlessly accomplish, though, and if we had to pick one outstanding feature about the TomTom Multi-Sport GPS Watch, it would be its large LCD display and awesome controls.
6. Basis Peak
While most fitness trackers will adhere to a command that you directly have to feed it with, the Basis Peak will detect runs, bicycle rides and sleep automatically and record proceeds without you having to remind it. With a few advanced functionalities, it doubles as a smartwatch, and its ability to monitor heart rate and skin temperature make it the most sophisticated activity tracker on this list.
With a touchscreen display, it has no buttons at all, and this could make it pretty much difficult to handle immediately after a sweaty workout or swimming session. Another downside is that it cannot measure distance – which is an issue for runners – basically due to the absence of the GPS tracking feature. That said, I find the Basis Peak one overpriced fitness tracker (goes at $149.70 on Amazon) and can be easily substituted by Runtastic Orbit which comes at around $20 cheaper. I don’t know how much you hate taking out your phone to read social media notifications and text messages, though, because the Runtastic Orbit won’t give you that.
7. The Garmin Forerunner 920XT
Just like the Basis Peak, the Forerunner 920XT – which is the immediate precursor for the Forerunner 910XT – includes automated syncing and text messaging, making it half smartwatch, half fitness tracker. For swimmers, it records the amount of time you spend in the pool, the number of strokes you make, and the intensity of your session. As an activity tracker, it tells the number of steps you make, the distance you’ve traveled and the number of stairs and flights of stairs you’ve climbed, and uses this to calculate the amount of calories you burn over a specific period of time. For either (swimming or working out), you can set time and distance goals, and the wristband will alert you once you reach them with a slight vibration.
As a heart rate monitor, the Garmin Forerunner 920XT has been shown to perform best when placed near the chest, especially during swimming where discreet detection of the pulse is difficult. For that reason, Garmin has an exclusive accessory, the HRM-Swim chest band, to firmly hold your 5 ATM-rated device to your chest as you cruise through the pool.
At Amazon, the sophisticated fitness tracker is available for $496.99, which makes it the most expensive we have on this list.
8. The Polar V800
Here’s another waterproof activity tracker you should not think about if you’re on a tight budget. The gadget goes at a whopping $349 and is one of the few fitness trackers a pro athlete can completely bank on for accuracy and efficiency. With this, there is no need for a chest band, as it can independently monitor heart rate from your arm even under water, thanks to a built-in dual-mode transmitter. It has an integrated GPS tracker which allows you to accurately measure distance traveled, for runners and bikers, and track previously used routes.
It is rated at 3 ATM, meaning it can remain water resistant to a depth of 30 meters. It perfectly counts the strokes you make in water and gives you a breakdown of the session’s activity and lets you compare the day’s stats with those of a previous session. You can also set goals if you wish, set time limits, and leave the rest to the device. It will tell you by how many steps, strokes or meters you missed the goal by – if you did – or automatically increase the target in case you surpass the current one.
9. Finis Swimsense Performance Monitor
And now to the cheapest…
The Finis Swimsense has been particularly developed for swimming (you can just move on to the next entry if you’re looking for an all-round activity tracker). It has built-in accelerometers and magnetometers to capture every single detail of your swim workout; it tracks strokes rates, stroke counts, distances and calories burnt to help you analyze your performances in the pool as well as your daily progress, all by just pressing the swim button on the left side of the screen.
You can view your stats instantly on the display or choose to sync the data to websites such as the popular SportTrack, TrainingPeaks, and Runkeeper. On these sites, you can easily compare your stats for different periods, evaluate your progress and share with your trainers and friends.
The Swimsense is rated at 3 ATM (30 meters) and can be obtained for $34.95 at Amazon. So, if you know you’re not going to use your fitness tracker anywhere outside the swimming pool, then the Finis Swimsense is the best option you have. No other activity tracker of its class can come for 34 dollars, and very few are so specialized for swimming.
10. Exmetrics Swimming Tracker
Xmetrics swimming tracker is a one of kind swimming activity tracker that you clip on to a goggle band and strap it to the skull to track your aquatic life. It’s not yet really a mainstream product, but that has nothing to do with underperformance or any kind of inferiority. In fact, the waterproof activity tracker has been shown to match the accuracy of some of the most reliable products on the market. It actually edges over them with a fairly more ergonomic design, which is quite a respite to individuals who find this kind of gizmos irritating.
The “state of the art” technology utilized in this device combines biometric data sensors and refined algorithms to breed unmatched precision. This data-driven analysis facilitates maximum utilization of every second you spend in the pool, in the long run, and consequently improves performance.
Data gathered by the Xmetric Swimming Tracker can be shared with friends and fellow swimmers on Twitter and other social media platforms.
Update: January 2017
Garmin have just announced their new Flagship Waterproof GPS Running and Activity Watch – The Garmin Fenix 5.
The Fenix 3 was one of the best reviewed Fitness Watches and we expect the Fenix 5 Watch will be the must-have item for any serious runner.
Stay tuned for further updates!