GPS Running Watch Buying Guide

GPS running watches are an important tool for the serious runner. These devices use GPS to locate your whereabouts in the world by using satellite data. They can enhance your training in many ways with their many different features.

Types of GPS Running Watch

Fitness trackers are watches that one might mistake for a GPS watch. These, in fact, do not track your GPS location at all. Instead, they can track your steps, the distance youíve traveled, and calories burned throughout your day.

Smartwatches offer some running tracking through native apps and third party apps. Although these could be a good option for those who want a smartwatch and also run occasionally, they are probably not the best choice for the serious runner.

Simple training watches are equipped with GPS information that can locate you anywhere in the world via satellite. They offer information in real-time and are great for post-workout analysis as well. They can display speed, and other data for you to base your training on. They can be very basic or have additional features.

Watches for training and navigation have all of the features of the simple training watches. The difference is that they also have navigational features. If you tend to go off road or off the trail, this may be the sort of watch that is good for you. They can help you plan routes for your training sessions as well.

Pay Attention to

You will want to consider whether you need a device with a heart rate monitor included in it. This may be handy if you are tracking heart rate for medical or for fitness reasons, but many may not need such a feature on their watch. Those who do choose this optional feature of some watches will need to expect to pay more for their watch. In fact, this feature will probably cost about one hundred dollars more than a similarly featured GPS running watch without a heart rate monitor.

Those that want to sync their GPS watches with their computers will likely want to find a watch that is capable of wireless syncing with BlueTooth. Not all watches come with the capability of Bluetooth communication, so if this is important to you, then you should be sure to check the product specifications to be sure that you get it. Even some of the higher priced models do not have BlueTooth features so pay close attention.

Many devices are made to be water resistant, but you will want to make sure that the one you choose can withstand the elements. A watch that is at least splash-proof is imperative, but many of even the less expensive models are water resistant up to 150-200 feet of water. Plus, tri-athletes will be glad to know that there are even watches made especially for swimmers. These types of watches will track swimming metrics such as time, distance, and stroke rate.

Mountain bikers and hikers will want to be sure that their new GPS watch has a barometric altimeter built in to it. This works by using a sensor that measures the barometric pressure and combines the information with the GPS tracker elevation for the most accurate information. You will be able to measure how high you climb during each workout.

You may be interested in interval training or help with your training plans. Some watches will let you create interval session training plans taking factors such as pace, distance, heart rate, and duration into considerations. This type of training helps you to increase your endurance, and if this is important to you, you should look into a watch that offers this capability. Similarly, some watches offer help with your training plans, usually as an online addition. Brands like Garmin, Addidas, and others regularly include this type of help.

Also important to consider is the size of the watch. While this may seem obvious, when you are looking at all the neat features, it is easy to overlook. If you have a small wrist, some of these watches will be much too overwhelming for your size. Style and color may also be factors you will want to consider when you are looking for a GPS running watch.

The battery life of a GPS watch is a very important point to consider. Most of these watches are rated with two types of battery life, standby and GPS mode. In standby, the watch simply acts as a time piece, and battery life in this mode can range from a couple of days to many months. However, the use of the GPS tracker uses a lot of power, and the battery life is always significantly reduced when using the GPS. Typically, you can expect less than a dayís worth of power if the GPS tracker remains on constantly.

Top Brands and Product Lines

Addidas offers running watches at a variety of price points for different types of users.

FitBit offers GPS watches in a variety of price ranges from moderate to upper price limits

Garmin offers GPS watches in a variety of styles and price ranges. Their Forerunner is one of the lower end models that is still capable of GPS tracking.

Magellan makes a watch in the budget category for those who do not want to spend a lot of money.

Polar offers a GPS watch that is in the moderate price range.

Suunto offers a high priced GPS watch geared for tri-athletes that can track swimming as well as hiking, biking, and other land sports.

TomTom also offers watches with a variety of price levels including an upper priced model with a heart rate monitor.