Upgrade your workouts with these smart running companions.
Whether you’re looking for your first smartwatch or upgrading from an older model, you can’t go wrong with any of these offerings. The technology has come a long way in the past few years and some of these wrist-mounted computers offer functionality that would make Dick Tracy swoon. So if you’re ready to free your hands or leave the phone at home, these are our picks for five great watches that sync with Strava.
Garmin Vivoactive 3
You’re always on the run and the Garmin Vivoactive 3 is a watch to keep up with your non-stop lifestyle. It’s equally adept at recording bike rides, runs and swims as it is recording heart rate during a yoga session or automatically counting your reps in the gym. Like other Garmin devices, the Vivoactive supports Strava Beacon and can display a real-time Relative Effort score so you can make the most of Premium.
With seven days of battery life in ‘watch mode’ and an always on, full-color touchscreen, this watch works well as an everyday accessory. And because it can track your steps and your sleep habits, you might never want to take it off.
The Polar M430 is a great option for someone looking for a workhorse of a watch that is really focused on running. It’s monochromatic display lacks the flash of some of the other options, but the high-contrast makes it easy to read even in bright sunlight. It’s power efficient too, offering up to 30 hours of GPS recording and it’s always on, unlike most of the full-color displays.
In addition to tracking sleep and steps, Polar has a smart coaching feature that guides you through a running training plan. This should be an appealing features for anyone looking to set a new PR!
The Fitbit Versa is aptly named, as it’s one of the most versatile watches in our roundup. It has a full app store with tons of partners. Want to order a Starbucks Latte from your watch after you finish your workout? The Versa can do that. And the Strava app comes pre-installed and supports live matched runs. The screen is full-color and backlit, just like your smartphone. Along with the beautiful display, the battery will last up to four days in smartwatch mode.
Want to do a core routine or a yoga session? The Versa can guide you through indoor workouts, complete with animations of the exercises. Because it doesn’t have a built-in GPS, you’ll need to have the watch connected to your phone to track runs. So, if you are a multi-sport athlete and you want a do-it-all watch then take a closer look at Fitbit’s newest offering.
Samsung Gear S3
The Samsung Gear S3 is a full-fledged smartwatch. It offers rich notifications, tons of apps and even phone-free data! That means you can leave your phone at home and still see text messages and other update. All of that functionality means the Gear is a little bulkier than some of the other watches and has a shorter battery life.
Samsung’s smartwatch records runs, rides and swims and has a built-in heart rate monitor. One feature runners might find appealing is that the watch can connect to bluetooth headphones and play music – no phone required! And it’s trackwheel-type outer bezel is a tactile way to navigate menus on the move. If you’re looking for a super functional companion that will let you leave your phone at home, then look no further.
Apple Watch Series 3
The Apple Watch needs no introduction. Apple’s sleek wrist piece has set the bar for smartwatches and the third version adds many features that address the athlete’s needs. It now tracks runs, rides and swims with it’s built-in GPS as well as supporting heart rate only recording of indoor exercises like yoga or weight lifting. Like the Samsung Gear, Apple’s smartwatch lets you leave your phone at home. Connect your headphones to the watch to stream music with iTunes and hear audio cues from the Strava App.
Like the offerings from Samsung and Fitbit, the display on the Apple Watch is not always on and isn’t the best in bright light. That means it might not be the best option for athletes who are looking for a running specific watch. But if you’re looking for an everyday companion that integrates seamlessly with your iPhone, there is no alternative to Apple’s offering.