Fitness trackers have been around for some time now and ever since they came out they have been looked upon as a gimmick. Still, more and more people are beginning to use them every day so there must be a good reason for that, right? The main reason behind their rising popularity is that they are a simple way of tracking your heart rate and progress throughout your workout. For people who emphasize on cardio workouts there is no better way of constantly having an eye on your heart rate.
As their popularity rises people start using them for a variety of activities including cycling, tennis, and all water sports. That raises the need for those devices to be resistant to both dust and water. This is why we decided to review some of the best waterproof fitness trackers for this year and showcase their strong and weak spots to you.
Choosing the ideal fitness tracker should happen based upon a couple of factors – its waterproof capabilities, its tracking accuracy, how durable it is, and most importantly – does it have a good price-to-value ratio. There are, of course, some additional features that will make using your tracker easier. Some of those are a digital display, longer battery life, and more tactile buttons.
Before we move onto the guide section, let’s check out how our favorite models for this year stack up against each other and what are their main advantages…
Best Overall – Fitbit Inspire HR Heart Rate & Fitness Tracker
It is no surprise that one of the leading fitness trackers on today’s market is made by Fitbit. The company is one of the pioneers in the wearable fitness tech and their Inspire HR tracker is a class-leading model that offers you everything you might need during your workout. It tracks your heart rate throughout the day, as well as through the various heart rate zones when you’re exercising. It also keeps data for your steps, calories burned, distance travelled, active hours and most importantly – your sleep. It is an all-in-one tool that will improve both your daylight and night-time performance. On top of all that, the Inspire HR comes at a bargain price that cements its place at the top of its class. To find out more about it, head over to our full review…
Garmin vívosmart HR+ Regular Fit Activity Tracker
As a worthy competitor to the Fitbit models, Garmin has recently upped their game in terms of the quality of their fitness trackers. Across all the price ranges, there is a Garmin model that will fit most of your needs. Of course, one of the biggest advantages with models like the Vivosmart HR+ is the extremely accurate GPS-tracking which delivers an almost perfect data reading on your movement and travelled distance. It uses Garmin’s state of the art satellite network which makes sure that your running, cycling, or swimming information will be as accurate as possible. Pair that with a waterproof rating of up to 50 meters and you get a reliable fitness companion.
Fitbit Charge HR Wireless Activity Wristband
At third place is yet another Fitbit product in the face of the Charge HR. It is a slightly older model but it still is a great deal today thanks to its functionality. It tracks day-to-day activity quite well, although it might struggle a bit with sleep tracking and monitoring. In terms of connectivity, it pairs nicely with devices using its Bluetooth 4.0 connection. The OLED display goes easy on the battery, allowing the tracker to go on without a charge for as much as 10 days. That display also shows all sorts of notifications from your paired device. For more of our thoughts on the Charge HR fitness tracker, head over to our full review!
Best Budget Tracker – Xiaomi Mi Band 4
The Xiaomi Mi Band 4 is yet another appealing fitness tracker which has a couple of notable features. The best one is the battery life. On a full charge, you can easily go for more than 15 days without having to reach for the charger. The heart rate monitor works surprisingly well for such a budget model and the sleep monitoring system is also fairly accurate. There are 6 workout modes here including basic exercise, running, walking, cycling, swimming, and treadmill. During those exercises, the Mi Band 4 will cover your distance, calorie burned, and step metrics. If that wasn’t enough, this tracker is also waterproof of up to 5ATM and has a bright and colorful 0.95 inch AMOLED display.
Best For The Gym – Fitbit Flex Wireless Activity + Sleep Wristband
If you are looking for a distraction-free fitness tracker that also does a good job at measuring your exercise progress, you have to at least consider the Fitbit Flex. Even though it lacks a display of its own, it easily pairs with any device (both android or iOS) and tracks all important metrics. The heart rate sensor is good and the snug fit of the wrist band isn’t going to cause any inconveniences during your workout. It also comes in a large array of colors and has a battery that can keep it running for more than 8 days on a single charge. Head over to our full review to learn more about it!
Withings Steel HR Hybrid Smartwatch & Activity Tracker
Coming in quite the unique form-factor, the Withings Steel HR is a one-of-a-kind fitness tracker that can double as your daily watch thanks to its sleek design and great aesthetics. Don’t get fooled, though, since that watch can also track your heart rate throughout the day, monitor your sleep, and is even entirely waterproof, so taking it to the swimming pool won’t be a bad idea. The battery here is also exceptional since the tracker can go on its maximum capacity for as much as 25 days and last 20 days more on its power-reserve mode where it only shows you the time and tracks basic activity levels only. The only notable drawback of this watch (or any other Withings product for that matter) is the price which is double or even triple the one of other more traditional-looking trackers.
Polar A360 Fitness Tracker & HR Monitor
The Polar A360 isn’t going to be the best price-to-value product on your shortlist but it is one of the most well-rounded trackers here. It has a 24/7 activity tracking feature combined with a surprisingly accurate heart rate monitor. It also comes with a colorful touchscreen monitor that shows you all the information you need. It also displays any type of notifications you might get from your paired device. The A360 also comes with a range of colorful and waterproof wristbands which are quite comfortable on the hand and don’t get in the way when you are training in the gym or swimming. Check out our full review to learn more about its features…
Best For Swimming – Moov Now 3D Fitness Tracker
If you want to take your fitness tracker to the nearby pool or ocean, then the Moov Now 3D fitness tracker is one of your best solutions. Thanks to its minimalistic design it is entirely water and weatherproof and is designed to specifically fit the needs of active swimmers. It can track your stroke type and count, give you lap analysis, and on top of that it also shows you ways to improve your swimming. The Moov Now 3D also comes with a real-time audio coach for cycling, running, boxing, cardio training or body weight training. While you aren’t training it still keeps a track of your daily activity and sleep quality and can last up to 10 days on a single charge.
Fitness Trackers Buyer’s Guide
Fitness trackers (or activity bands) haven’t been around for too long but are already becoming one of the centerpieces of modern training. Thanks to improvements in screen, battery, and sensor technologies we now see far more accurate trackers that can last us weeks on a single charge and can monitor our health and exercising progress without an issue.
Still, before we get into the various features you need to look for, let’s first answer one very important question.
What exactly are fitness trackers?
If you are still wondering what those devices are, don’t worry. There are a lot of people that are yet to be introduced to trackers and an even larger number of people who train still feel that these devices don’t have a lot of advantages. While that might be right for some professional athletes, the everyday person that goes out for a jog every once in a while or needs some coaching might benefit hugely from a device that can do all of that.
This is exactly where fitness tackers kick in. They can calculate your distance travelled through the day, measure your heart rate constantly, let you know when you need to be more active or in which heart rate zone you are. They also monitor your calorie burning and keep all that data stored on your device or app. Other parts of their functionality includes:
- A gyroscope and accelerometer which are both ideal for measuring any type of movement you perform (swimming, walking, running, cycling).
- Sleep monitoring capabilities. Most trackers are able to track your sleep and measure its quality by tracking your body movements through the different stages of your sleep. To kick it up a notch, some models even offer silent alarms or the option to wake you up in your lightest sleep stages, which will feel the closest to a natural wake up.
- Altimeters. This is a feature which is usually found on more expensive models and is typically paired with barometers. Both altimeters and barometers have a role of measuring how much your altitude is changing during your day or workout based on the changes in air pressure.
- In-App capabilities. Some fitness trackers let you customize your daily goals or even input your food intake so that the tracker can then more accurately calculate your total daily calories.
Now that we are familiar with what exactly those devices are, let’s take a look at some of their biggest advantages…
Advantages of fitness trackers
One of the main advantages of owning a fitness tracker is the fact that you can improve your health based on the data you get from your exercises. With that data, you can easily see in which areas you need to improve and most importantly – you will be able to see where you can push harder.
With a good heart rate monitor, you can see in which heart rate zone you are and adjust your output accordingly.
Fitness trackers also eliminate the need of a phone either entirely or at least partially. This means that you can leave your phone at home and just go out training with your wrist band.
Most trackers are waterproof, meaning you can swim with them or train in heavy rain or wet conditions in general. You can even shower with them, although most companies don’t recommend that for a number of reasons.
Another great feature (at least for some people) is that your tracker opens the door to share your workout results with people from all over the world or at least your friends. You will also be able to post your results on most social media platforms, where some tracker apps allow for direct sharing from within their proprietary app.
Sleep tracking is yet another great advantage of wearable trackers. Nowadays, more and more people suffer from sleep disorders and sleep apnea. Trackers allow them or their doctors to monitor their sleep on a daily basis and see if there are any apparent issues that can be worked on.
The last advantage we think is also one of the more important ones is that most fitness trackers can easily double as your daily watch, eliminating the need for further investments to get a separate watch. Companies like Withings specialize in exactly that. They make watches that are both great looking and extremely convenient when it comes to training data.
Features to look for
Here are some of the main features that you need to look for in your future waterproof fitness tracker:
- Design & Construction
- Tracking Capabilities
- Heart Sensor
- Sleep Monitoring
- Compatibility & Connectivity
- Additional Features
Now let’s take a look at each of those aspects individually…
Design & Construction
One of the main features of any wearable tech is the design. After all, we are talking about something that will stay on your hand, so comfort and an ergonomic design should come first.
Look for trackers that have a rubberized coating as opposed to fully plastic ones, which won’t provide a lot of comfort during your workout unless they have a band that wraps nicely around your wrist.
Another issue with fitness trackers is that their Heart Rate sensor usually requires some space and most models have a bulge at the back of their body to house the sensor. That can be quite irritating before you get used to it, if you ever get used to it in the first place.
Apart from the design and the build quality, the next important thing is how well a tracker, well… tracks. Some models are narrowly specialized for a certain type of training, such as:
- Everyday tracker
First of all, make sure that the tracker you like accurately measures the basic things – activity, pace, distance travelled, and calories burned. After that, you can start looking deeper into more advanced features such as swimming stroke recognition, intensive period tracking, heart rate zone tracking, step and floor counting, etc.
For runners, we suggest picking out a watch that has GPS routes options and interval-training settings.
Bikers will need a watch that accurately measures distances and speed. Garmin watches equipped with state-of-the-art GPS measuring systems tend to be great for that.
We will get more into waterproofing later but for now we just want to say that having a good waterproof fitness tracker is almost always a bonus. When you train you sweat a lot, almost to the same level of moisture which the tracker might face under a shower. Sweat is also salty, which isn’t great for any piece of tech if it gets inside of it. This is why waterproof devices are always a must if you plan on training with them.
Heart sensors are still a developing technology but most brands seem to be nailing it better and better each year. Nowadays, almost all fitness trackers come with a built-in heart rate monitor which uses lasers (usually green) to measure your cutaneous blood flow by which it calculates the overall heart rate.
Having a wrist band that can track that is great but for now there isn’t anything more accurate than a chest heart rate monitor since it measures your heart rate directly over your heart.
These are super handy if you want to see in which heart rate zone you are training or want to push yourself to limit (but safely doing so by knowing your maximum heart rate).
This is also another technology which isn’t yet fully developed but is becoming more and more accurate with each year.
In the core of sleep monitoring stays the movement of your body during the night which your activity tracker picks up. By doing that it monitors how active you are during the night and in what intervals you are, since activity is common in the lightest stages of non-REM sleep as well as REM sleep. That way, it can more or less determine the amount and duration of your sleep cycles.
By knowing when you are in your lightest stages of your non-REM sleep, it can also wake you up gently avoiding you feeling like you haven’t slept in 3 months when waking up.
Compatibility & Connectivity
This category is becoming more and more obsolete since almost all modern devices pair up and sync easily with iOS and all Android devices. Still, make sure that your device is compatible with your mobile phone or computer by checking with the manufacturer first.
Most fitness trackers require you to download an app on your phone (or computer) which will be used to store all the data.
Pay attention to the range of connectivity if its Bluetooth and whether or not you can use your tracker paired with your Bluetooth headphones.
Some of the more important additional features that are worth looking for are:
- On-board storage for music and other files
- Phone notifications compatibility
- Call and text alerts
- Vibration/Light alerts
- Removable/Replaceable bands
- Multiple color and sizing options
If you want to learn how to get the most out of your fitness tracker, head over to my full article on the topic!
Last but not least is the price. The best thing you can do is decide your budget before you start browsing. This is important since there are countless of models out there and if you don’t have a hard maximum set before you start browsing, it is really easy to go overboard on a tracker that might provide far more than you actually need during your workouts. Look for models that have the features that you are looking for and are a good price-to-value ratio. It is always safe to bet on the reputable brands such as Fitbit, Garmin, Xiaomi, Samsung, etc.
Waterproof vs Water-resistant
First of all, let’s define what does waterproof and water-resistant mean.
Waterproof devices are entirely immune to water damage since they are isolated well and can usually withstand pressures of up to many atmospheres. Most modern fitness trackers are waterproof of up to 50m. These devices are impervious to water when not submerged.
Water resistant devices, on the other hand, are only designed so that they keep water out on the most basic level. This means that they can do an alright job with sweat and an occasional splash but submerging them poses a risk of damaging their internal parts.
There are two major ways in which resistance to water is described in products:
- IP Rating (Ingress Protection) – You might’ve seen IP ratings such as IP68. The first digit (6) describes the resistance of your device to dust and other fine and solid objects. The second digit is what matters to us here. It is what signifies the resistance to water. The higher that number is, the more resistant to water your device is. Anything above 7 should mean that your device is okay for you to take it for a swim.
- Atmospheres Rating (ATM) – Atmospheres is the older measurement unit which is used in pressure-testing devices. The value of this rating signifies the water-pressure your device can take. 1 ATM is roughly the pressure water enforces 10 meters below the water level. Most modern trackers have a rating of 5ATM, meaning they can safely go as deep as 50 meters (or 164 ft) below the water.
Fitness trackers are not just hype. You don’t need to wear one to become fit, but using one could motivate you to challenge yourself to become more active every day. While many fitness activity trackers are splash-resistant, the products we listed above are the best waterproof fitness tracker options to go for if you are looking for a device that can really withstand moisture.
Aside from being water-resistant, these fitness activity trackers can measure the distance you walked or ran, count all your steps, tabulate the calories you burned, and measure your heart rate. With these devices, you won’t have to worry about taking them off your wrist when you jump into the shower, or hop in the pool.