TOP 8 Best GPS Running Watches of 2021 Tested & Reviewed

Jeff Baldelli
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You may be one of those people who are looking for something to track their running or walking distances, calories burned, speed, and more!

If you are one of these people you are in luck because I have spent a long time researching these devices here and I am going to share all that information with you in this guide.

You will find the top 8 best GPS running watches of 2021 that I have tested and reviewed in detail so that deciding which one is best suited for you will not be that difficult. I also discuss additional important factors such as the battery life, heart rate monitoring and other features.

NameCategoryProduct
Garmin Forerunner 935 Running GPS UnitBest OverallGarmin Forerunner 935 Running GPS Unit
Polar M430 GPS Running WatchBudget PickPolar M430 GPS Running Watch
Garmin 010-02063-00 Forerunner 945Upgrade PickGarmin 010-02063-00 Forerunner 945

1. Garmin Forerunner 935 Running GPS Unit

Our rating: 9 / 10

Garmin Forerunner 935 Running GPS Unit

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Pros:

  • Ability to customize different views of stats
  • Runner/Triathlete mode for versatile training
  • Connect IQ app support (for additional training apps)
  • Can track VO2 max
  • Connectivity – Bluetooth, ANT+, WiFi, and more.
  • All the features of previous models plus some new ones.
  • The heart rate strap can be worn on either wrist.
  • Battery life is excellent – lasts about a week with regular use
  • Features an extended wireless range when wirelessly connected to your smartphone
  • Auto Strava upload

Cons:

  • It is a hefty watch. It feels slightly big on the wrist but comes with a hard plastic case you can put it in if you don't want to wear it all the time.
  • The touchscreen can be a little unresponsive at times.
  • The watch is bigger than then Forerunner 235, which can be a plus or a minus depending on your preference.

This GPS watch is a fantastic option for a wide array of athletes. From Runners to Triathletes to casual gym goers, this watch can work for practically everyone! See our full review here.

2. Coros APEX Premium Multisport GPS Watch

Our rating: 9 / 10

Coros APEX Premium Multisport GPS Watch

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Pros:

  • Built to military standard 810G.
  • Text/call notifications, music control.

Cons:

  • Design is a bit dated
  • Startup speed is slow

Compatible, G-Metrix Sport, Hiking & Trekking, Outdoor.

Overall, this is an ideal watch to take on long treks or runs at night in the park. With its large display and long battery life, you do not need to worry about your battery running out while you are on a trail or a running track. Its barometer function is also an interesting addition to the fitness watch. It gives you a feeling of being in a complete set of sports watches that you can use for a variety of purposes.

Don’t let a little rain or a bit of wind stop you from enjoying your run. This is one of the best GPS running watches that will protect you from the elements as you exercise.

3. Garmin 010-02120-20 Forerunner 245 Music

Our rating: 9 / 10

Garmin 010-02120-20 Forerunner 245 Music

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Pros:

  • Colorful screen provides lots of information and is easy to read.
  • Good for swimming, cycling, and running.
  • Sleek design; relatively lightweight for a watch with GPS capabilities.
  • Rechargeable GPS with Music storage.
  • Colorful, easy-to-read screen.

Cons:

  • The setup of this machine is not simple
  • Once you have it set up to your smartphone
  • the music downloads are pretty simple
  • This is a huge positive if you want GPS-based workouts supported with music at your fingertips.

Some people expressed a great deal of difficulty with the setup of this machine. I personally felt it was just like setting up the similar device, the Vivoactive 3, which was fairly easy.

Once you’ve got it all set up, especially the wifi piece, you are ready to download any workouts you find on Connect (their online community) from Garmin’s website and apps.

The Garmin 010-02120-20 watch supports store up to 500 songs. You can download the app, Garmin Express, and put your Garmin on your wi-fi network. Then with a couple of screen taps and a wifi connection, you can choose to download music onto your watch from either from Spotify or from Google Play Music.

4. Garmin 010-02063-00 Forerunner 945

Our rating: 9 / 10

Garmin 010-02063-00 Forerunner 945

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Pros:

  • No matter where you take it, it performs excellently.
  • The Garmin Link app is easy to use and makes it easy to share data with others.
  • Has useful smart features, such as the ability to read your text messages.
  • The battery life is excellent.
  • Nice performance in low light situations.
  • The design is cool, trendy and offers a range of colors.
  • Good battery life.
  • Post-exercise racing analytics.

Cons:

  • There are no built-in cycle routes, but this can be rectified with the Garmin Connect Mobile app supporting browse-and-add. Versions 8.xx onwards of this do.
  • Monochrome display has rather small text, and can be hard to read in certain lighting conditions.

The Garmin Forerunner 945 is one of the best GPS running watches, and is packed with features that serious runners will appreciate. It is very light at just 42 grams, and the included heart rate monitor means that serious runners won’t have to consider using a separate chest strap for faster heart rate tracking.

5. Polar M430 GPS Running Watch

Our rating: 7 / 10

Polar M430 GPS Running Watch

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Pros:

  • Sleek design
  • Provides accurate tracking
  • Has tons of configuration options
  • GPS is accurate

The Polar M430 GPS Watch comes with a tri-axial electronic heart rate sensor, activity tracking (steps, distance, calories), GPS and GLONASS support, and Smart Calories support.

It also has running features like AutoRun, which enables it to determine your running cadence and provide live feedback on your running form.

This watch gives you many options when it comes to configuration. It includes a color touch screen and is compatible with iOS and Android devices.

6. Polar Ignite

Our rating: 7 / 10

Polar Ignite

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Pros:

  • Tracks heart rate, and water output accurately.
  • Silence your phone with a simple button stroke
  • GPS runs fast and GPS + GLONASS satellite tracking is accurate; good for biking and swimming.
  • Automatic activity detection.
  • Smart Coaching health reports
  • Sleep Aid.
  • Water resistant up to 50 metres.
  • Large screen size.
  • Slimline design, fits well underneath clothes
  • Multiple sports activities

Cons:

  • Heartbeat can become jittery when swinging arms.
  • Unable to swim in sea swimming activities.
  • No way to see your heart rate zones and for interval training.
  • Size too large for smaller wrists
  • Heart rate slightly erratic in the cold.

The new Polar Ignite brings together some of the best features from the former Polar M200 and the Polar A370 together with a stylish OLED display.

7. Polar Vantage V

Our rating: 7 / 10

Polar Vantage V

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Pros:

  • Great Features
  • Waterproof
  • Smart Coaching
  • GPS works great
  • Good fit for larger wrists

Cons:

  • Only one button for navigation
  • Only available with a heart rate monitor
  • Not the prettiest watch

I am a big fan of the Polar brand. Polar is an established company that has been around for a while, and the brand is synonymous with heart rate monitors. The Vantage V watch is a good-size watch that looks like a classic. If it has a disadvantage it is that the look is perhaps a little staid, so this one is best for women who are less fashion conscious.

This is one of the most complete running watches around. It can keep track of all your workouts as well as possible routes on a map. And it does a good job of tracking fitness levels and your heart rate as you go along.

It does have some important features for runners, including a GPS that can track where you have been and your distance, plus it has a heart rate monitor and a stopwatch for running.

8. Suunto 9 Multisport GPS Watch

Our rating: 6 / 10

Suunto 9 Multisport GPS Watch

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Pros:

  • Suunto 9 is the next-generation of the popular Suunto Ambit range of multisport watches.
  • Suunto 9 has leading outdoor navigation functions plus extended sports functionality for tracking running, swimming and cycling details.
  • Suunto 9 is the first GPS running watch to include a wrist-based heart rate module to give the most accurate readings.
  • Suunto 9 uses extended sport modes including swimming, trail running, hiking and skiing. Features include navigation, barometric altimeter, compass, tracking and run coaching.
  • Suunto 9 has a 220-hour (11-day) battery life in UltraTrac mode.

Cons:

  • Only comes in two sizes: Regular and Large, but it’s recommended to choose the large for a more comfortable fit.
  • It’s a tricky watch to use. I’d recommend spending time learning the watch before taking it out for a run or a swim.
  • The watch can come off as a bit pricey.

Suunto 9 is the latest in the long line of GPS watches from the brand. It was released as a successor to the Ambit3 Peak, however it doesn’t do much to make this watch better than its predecessor.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

Which watch has the most accurate GPS?

Garmin Forerunner 920XT is able to adjust the measurement of data to your specific body by utilizing the VO2 Max algorithm. In the matter of accuracy the winner is thewith the tested Accuracy of ±4.3.

Every GPS watch on our list was able to accurately measure distances when running but the Garmin’s were the most precise.

What is the most accurate fitness tracker 2021?

If you want to get the most accurate tracking possible from a fitness tracker there are some additional features you want to look for.

GPS: GPS finally is available on almost all activity trackers and GPS watches now.

For the most accurate data, GPS is not only a must-have, but it is essential. GPS trackers both provide distance and speed, and they also put the data into the appropriate context.

Strokes: If the goal is to row more like a sculler, then count strokes.

Heart Rate: You need a heart rate monitor and a chest strap for the most accurate data.

Speed and Distance: Use GPS if you are serious about accurate distances.

Multiple Activity: If you are going to be running and cycling, get an activity tracker that covers both.

Which watch has the most accurate heart rate monitor?

The Garmin 220 includes a Heart Rate Monitor which is located on the wrist just above the main watch and it will measure your heart rate with light, wrist-based optical heart rate technology. It easily syncs with your watch by putting your finger on the heart rate monitor so the watch gets your heart rate.

The Garmin 225 has the same watch and moves the heart rate monitor to the center top of the watch and also had a slight change in the metrics.

The Garmin 230 has a new watch face that I am trying to get used too and has a different set of metrics from its predecessors.

The Garmin 235 has the new Vibration Alert function and a distance alert which will vibrate your watch when you have reached your goal for the day.

The Garmin 235 has the new Vibration Alert function and a distance alert which will vibrate your watch when you have reached your goal for the day.

What is the best running watch 2021?

GPS watches allow you to track your fitness from a more holistic view. That is, the watch itself tracks your progress during your run. These watches also act as a fitness tracker for your overall training and diet.

A good GPS watch will also allow you to track other fitness activities like cycling or other sports. It will also track your weight using an added scale. It will sync with your smartphone so you can view your data on an app. The app will also allow you talk to other runners to find out their favorite routes, share data and also challenge your friends.

The following are the top GPS running watches available to you in 2021:

The Garmin Forerunner 35 is a very user-friendly and inexpensive way to start your GPS running experience. The watch includes an optical heart rate monitor, a medium-sized colour display, a stopwatch feature, and a basic course-navigation feature.

Conclusion

If you are thinking about picking up a Garmin Forerunner, you probably already know how much these types of watches can do.

Garmin makes the best GPS running watch, and it will make a great addition to anyone's running apparel. With this watch, you can view your constant pace, calories burned, and distance. You can also view your heart rate and race against previous times on certain courses.

This is one of the best GPS running watches that is also great for sports and activities like hiking, biking, and more.

Our Recommendation

NameCategoryProduct
Garmin Forerunner 935 Running GPS UnitBest OverallGarmin Forerunner 935 Running GPS Unit
Polar M430 GPS Running WatchBudget PickPolar M430 GPS Running Watch
Garmin 010-02063-00 Forerunner 945Upgrade PickGarmin 010-02063-00 Forerunner 945