While smartwatches often include GPS and can provide casual athletes with all they need, dedicated GPS sports watches track more data and provide much more customization of the information you are provided while working out. Most provide some basic smartphone notifications, but the emphasis is on focused sports tracking.
Companies today are also taking a broader look at your daily life so that sleep, typical activity, and more are incorporated into calculating adequate recovery time for optimal training periods. Exercises and other activities to help you improve your fitness may be presented while stress measurements, breathing exercises, and more are designed to address areas beyond your focused activity.
In 2018, Coros launched its first GPS sports watch with the Coros Pace. Since then it has continued to offer new products and even better than that it has shown an ability to update its existing hardware with new major features.
The Coros Apex and Apex Pro are excellent multi-sport watches with color displays, sapphire glass, titanium alloy bezels, long battery life, and phone notification support. The Apex Pro is $100 more and has touch screen capability with blood oxygen monitoring.
The latest update for both of these watches includes strength and custom training modes, making these Coros watches some of the best sports GPS watches available today.
After testing out the Coros Vertix for myself last year, I ended up buying the cool Ice Breaker model. The Coros Vertix is the best available model from Coros and is advertised as a GPS adventure watch. I primarily use it for running, but enjoy it for hiking in the mountains and other outdoor activities as well.
If you spend time training on oval tracks, then its tough to beat the Track Mode from Coros. You can customize your workout displays to show the data you need. With a connected Coros POD, you can also view your running power and other dynamic stats from your activities.
One of the best features of the Coros Vertix is battery life that lasts for weeks at a time, including up to 60 hours in GPS mode. There is something to be said of a watch that you can just wear and enjoy without fussing with a charger every day or two.
The Garmin Fenix 6 series is the ultimate GPS multi-sport watch lineup from Garmin, made with premium products and advanced sports tracking features. Data hounds will love the extensive customization options for each display on the watch so as you participate in your sport you are sure to find the data you need scrolling by automatically or manually with a press of a button.
There is no touch screen capability on the Fenix 6 line, which appeals to many athletes who work out in extreme conditions when a touchscreen interface is not practical. The traditional Garmin five-button interface is used to access all options and navigate the watch.
The Fenix 6 series connects seamlessly to Android and iOS smartphones too, in addition to golf club sensors, bike sensors, and more. Even the smallest Fenix 6 is a fairly sizable watch so you have to be a fan of big watches.
Garmin’s Forerunner series is optimized for runners and tri-athletes with long battery life, advanced running dynamics, stand-alone music playback support, and more. The Forerunner 245 will likely meet the needs of the casual runner at hundreds less than the Forerunner 945. The Forerunner 945 is designed for those runners who are analyzing all the details of their runs and trying to improve their results for races and other competition.
Body Battery, menstrual cycle tracking, Garmin Pay, pulse oximeter, and more advanced functions are also present on Garmin watches today.
The Garmin Vivoactive 4 and Garmin Venu don’t offer as much in the way of advanced metrics as the Forerunner or Fenix devices, but for more casual athletes they are still powerful GPS sports watches. Both offer nearly all of the same capability with the major difference being that the Garmin Venu has an AMOLED display.
With the Apple Watch and Samsung Galaxy watches offering brilliant AMOLED screens, Garmin made a smart move in offering athletes an alternative that has a gorgeous display.
The Garmin Vivoactive 4 series comes in more styles and colors at the same $350 price with a couple of options for a larger 45mm version with longer battery life.
The Polar Grit X is the latest offering from Polar with a focus on trail running and running through hills. It offers much of the same functionality as the Polar Vantage V with better watchband design and at a slightly more affordable $430 price point.
With the Grit X on your wrist, you will be reminded when to fuel up, analyze the hills you are running, and navigate with GPS mapping on your wrist. Running power, advanced metrics, custom displays, Nightly Recharge, FitSpark training, and more are included with the Polar Flow experience.
After a considerable amount of time with the Polar Vantage V, it is clear that Polar is a leader in optimal training plans, recovery analysis, and whole-body tracking and improvement. The Vantage V is the premium GPS sports watch while the Polar Vantage M provides much of the same experience for only $280.
The Polar Flow smartphone app and website are fantastic resources for optimal training and health improvement. Advanced sleep tracking, stress relief, and more are available for free as part of your Polar Vantage purchase.
The Suunto 7 is a Google Wear OS smartwatch but is still very focused on the Suunto GPS sports watch experience. It’s a bit pricey at $500, especially when hands-on reviews indicate battery life is shorter than hoped.
Over 70 sports modes are part of the Suunto fitness experience with the Suunto 7 functioning as a companion watch to both Android and iOS smartphones. Offline outdoor maps, 50m water resistance, and more are provided by the Suunto 7.
The Suunto 9 is a capable GPS sports watch, currently available for only $350. With up to 120 hours of continuous activity tracking, the Suunto 9 is designed for those extended workouts or times when you have many activities planned in a week. Typical GPS tracking of 25 hours is provided.
Over 80 sports modes are available in a watch with a 100-meter water-resistant rating. The Suunto 9 connects to your Android or iOS smartphone with a Suunto app and third-party synchronization support.