Wet and Worry Free: The Best Waterproof Fitness Watch 2016
When it comes to great and popular fitness watches, big names like Fitbit and, of course, the Apple Watch dominate the conversation. However, these and many other fitness watches are lacking a seemingly minor but still important feature: they’re not a waterproof fitness watch. Sure, they’ll be alright if you get caught out in the rain, and they can certainly handle a little arm sweat, but going swimming with one of them strapped to your wrist is the equivalent of tossing a few hundred quid in the trash pile.
Fortunately, if you want a fitness watch that can stand up to swimming and water aerobics, or if you just want one that will hold up in the shower, you’re in luck. The ten fitness watches we’ve listed here are all perfect for those things and more. Here are, in no particular order, the ten best waterproof fitness watches.
Alternative: The Best Waterproof Fitness Tracker
1. MOOV NOW
This second iteration of the MOOV wearable may not have a watch face, but it is watch-shaped, it’s focused on fitness, and it’s totally waterproof. It’s an affordable choice for anyone with an interest in taking part in lots of sports, as it can track everything from running to boxing to swimming and more. In fact, the MOOV NOW really shines in the water: it can count laps, tell you your lap and flip times, measure pace, automatically decipher stroke type, and more.
The big appeal of MOOV NOW, though, is its in-ear and in-app coaching. If you’re wearing headphones, MOOV will give you pointers to go faster, go farther, and move in a healthier fashion. The app can also walk you through some pre-programmed workouts and offer advice to improve your form. Best of all? It retails for just $59.95 USD (about £41).
2. TomTom Multi-Sport GPS Watch
At just $99.99 (or £69), the TomTom Multi-Sport GPS Watch is a great little sports watch for triathlon training and tracking just about anything. You can run and bike with it, but with its 5ATM waterproof rating (making it good up to 40 metres), it’s a good choice for swimming as well.
It’s a little less automatic than some of the other watches on this list in that it doesn’t detect much automatically. You need to choose the SWIM function from the activities menu before you get going, and you’ll also need to tell it the pool size so that it can properly count laps, measure your stroke length and speed, and rate your overall efficiency.
3. Polar A300
If you’re not a serious swimmer but still want a good waterproof sports watch, the Polar A300 is one you might consider. With a waterproof rating of WR30 (so, up to 30 metres), it will hold up just fine for laps, and when you pair it with a Polar H7 chest strap heart rate monitor, it can track the intensity of your pool workouts.
What the A300 won’t do, however, is count laps, detect strokes, or keep track of any other swimming-specific metrics. Still, if your primary fitness activities are more land-based, the A300 is a quality device.
It does have a sporty, watch-like appearance, with a choice of coloured bands and a digital readout on the face. It retails for $99.95 (£69) for just the watch, or $139.95 (£96) for the watch plus the chest strap heart rate monitor.
4. Garmin Vivoactive HR
Looking for a comprehensive and waterproof fitness watch that tracks just about any sport, looks great, has built-in GPS and heart rate monitoring, and offers a colour touchscreen display? The Garmin Vivoactive HR may be what you’re after. It’s built for the true fitness lover, as it can keep tabs on data for your running, walking, cycling, swimming, and even golf workouts.
In the pool, the Vivoactive HR is waterproof to 50 metres, but what makes it truly valuable is all of the automatic swim tracking features. It counts your laps and strokes, keeps track of your time across several metrics, and even gives you a SWOLF efficiency score (What is SWOLF?).
The only downside is the price: it retails for £209.99. It’s a lot, but when you consider all that it does, plus the GPS and heart rate monitoring capabilities, it starts to sound more reasonable. And, if you want the Vivoactive but can live without the heart rate monitoring, the non-HR version is a more reasonable £159.99.
5. Garmin Swim
If you want a waterproof fitness watch predominantly for swimming, then the Garmin Swim is for you. Its lack of all non-essential swimming features (like GPS and ordinary fitness tracking) keep it priced at a fairly affordable £129.99, but it’s still robust enough for even the most serious swimmers.
What the Swim does so well is automatically track all of your swimming data. Like its more expensive Vivoactive cousin, the Swim can measure distance, pace, stroke count, stroke type, and laps. When you’re done, you’ll get a SWOLF efficiency score, and you can analyse and compare workouts in the corresponding app.
The Swim definitely looks like a sports watch, but as long as you’re OK with that aesthetic, it’s perfectly fine for all day wear. Finally, its 5ATM rating means it’s good to 50 metres.
6. Finis Swimsense Performance Monitor
Another waterproof sports watch that’s focused solely on swimming performance, the Finis Swimsense is a real powerhouse. It can automatically track distance, splits, laps, strokes, and much more. Its sensor is so refined that it can even tell the difference between backstroke, breaststroke, butterfly, and freestyle.
In the looks department, the Swimsense is much less appealing; if you remember the plastic-y digital watches from the 1980s, that’s about what this device looks like. You certainly could wear it all day, but let’s just say that it’s much less appealing than a good wristwatch or many other fitness watches on the market today.
Of course the Swimsense is waterproof, but it’s not without its drawbacks. For example, it’s not really designed for open water — it’s for pool swimming only. Nonetheless, if you’re serious about swimming, the Finis Swimsense may be for you.
7. Misfit Speedo Shine
Like the MOOV NOW, the Misfit Speedo Shine is more watch-shaped than an actual watch; there’s no display on the face. Still, this Speedo edition of Misfit’s popular Shine tracker is waterproof to 50 metres and includes some swimming-specific features that the company’s other devices simply don’t have.
For example, the Speedo Shine can count your laps and measure your overall swimming distance, no matter what stroke you use. Plus, if you don’t want to wear it on your wrist (some swimmers dislike the uneven weight, even though the device itself weighs under 10g), it can easily clip onto your swimsuit.
When you buy a Misfit Speedo Shine for $79.99 USD (£55), you get more than just an affordable and comprehensive swim tracker — you also get a full fitness tracker and sleep tracker. This is a great waterproof fitness watch for anyone who’s counting steps or monitoring their sleep because it can do so much.
8. Basis Peak
One of the first true smart watches (it’s been available for around two years at this point, which is a lifetime in the tech world), the Basis Peak is a waterproof fitness tracker with an interactive touch screen, smart notifications, integrated music control, continual heart rate monitoring, and even sleep tracking. And yes, it’s waterproof, with an impressive 5ATM rating.
However, while you can go swimming with your Basis Peak, it’s not really going to do much for you in terms of tracking your laps as a workout. There’s no lap counting, stroke detection, or anything like that. It’ll know you’re active in the water, but that’s about it. Ultimately, the Basis Peak is a solid waterproof fitness watch, but if you’re a dedicated swimmer who wants to analyse your pool workouts, you’d do best to look elsewhere. It retails for $169.99 USD (about £117).
9. Runtastic Orbit
The Runtastic Orbit is a powerful fitness and sleep tracker masquerading as a cute and colourful bangle; it comes in 11 colours, and the wristbands are interchangeable. It keeps tabs on all the expected metrics — steps, distance, calories, sleep duration, and so on — and it’s also waterproof to an astonishing 100 metres.
However, like several other waterproof fitness watches on our list, it’s not really designed to track swim workouts. Sure, you can jump in the pool with it, but as far as counting laps or strokes, forget it. If Runtastic could somehow build these abilities into the next firmware update (and maybe release a dedicated Runtastic swim app or include a new tab in its current app), it would be the perfect blend of functionality and affordability.
The Orbit can be bought for $79.99 USD, or £55.
10. Mio Alpha 2
The Mio Alpha 2 is, as the name implies, the second iteration of Mio’s impressive little smart watch. It’s a bit more cartoonish looking than some other devices in this category, which may appeal to some individuals, and with a 3ATM waterproof rating (that’s up to 30 metres), it’s totally safe in the pool, in the shower, and anywhere else you might get wet.
However, the Mio Alpha 2 is not a swimming watch. It will track your activity throughout the day, keeping data on things like steps, distance, calories, pace, and even heart rate, and it’s got some built-in memory, so you don’t always need to be near your phone for syncing. If you want the peace of mind that a waterproof fitness watch affords, it’s a great choice for $149 (about £103). If you’re a serious swimmer, though, it may not be what you want.
11. Pebble Watch
The Pebble was one of the first smartwatches to really make a splash, and you can literally make a splash when you’re wearing a Pebble because almost every model is waterproof to at least 30 metres. The Time Round model can’t take more than a splash or two, but the Classic, Steel, Time, and Time Steel are all just fine for the pool.
But wait, is the Peeble Watch a fitness watch? Actually, it sort of is. Pebble has invested a lot of resources into its relatively new Pebble Health tool, a proprietary app that tracks steps, distance, active time, and calories burned, then gives you detailed analyses on your data. However, Pebble Health is mostly for land-based activities; it won’t detect strokes or count laps or anything like that, so it may not be the best solution for serious swimmers. Still, you don’t have to take it off before diving in.
Pebble smartwatches can run all sorts of apps, just like an Apple Watch, and can sync with your smartphone to offer notifications. It also features a neat timeline interface, which organises all of your information — dates, weather, news, and whatever else you want — in chronological order.
Which waterproof model will you choose?
There’s the £199.99 Time Steel, the £149.99 Time, the £119.99 Steel, and the £79.99 Classic. Or, if you’d prefer to have the latest and greatest, Pebble has a Kickstarter campaign (it’s third) up for its new Pebble 2 and Time 2 for £129 and £199 respectively, though early backers can get them for less.
Pebble has proven that it can make good on Kickstarter promises, unlike some startups, so you can feel confident that you’ll get your new waterproof fitness watch in the fall.
What to Look for in a Waterproof Fitness Watch
The biggest factor in which waterproof fitness watch you choose for yourself is how much you need swim tracking. While all of these watches will continue to function in the pool and after you get out, they won’t all track things like laps and distance, detect strokes, and rate your efficiency in the water. If you want those functions, you can easily eliminate about half of the devices on our list. You’ll also pay a little extra for the ability to track swim metrics, though.
On the other hand, if you are just looking for a more rugged fitness watch that can hold up in all conditions, you can probably save some money on your purchase if you’re just going for the basics. However, additional features like heart rate monitoring, smart coaching, and onboard GPS will all tick the price up.
We suggest spending some time listing the waterproof fitness watch capabilities that are important to you. Then, consider your budget and your aesthetic preferences, and you’ll be sure to pick the right device for you.
Do you use your waterproof fitness watch for swimming? Which one do you own and what is it that you particularly like or dislike about it?
See recommended fitness trackers on Amazon
Fitbit Charge 2
Garmin Vivosmart HR+
Misfit Shine 2
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