Best Running Watch 2020| Top 10 Guide Recommend Compare

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Best Running Watch – Recommendations For the Top GPS Sports Watches

Let’s look at the Best Running Watch for you in 2020. I’ve run with ALL of these watches myself which you can tell from my own images of them so I can give you a great pointer for the right running watch for your particular running needs.  I’ve given you a quick summary for why each running watch is recommended for a particular kind of running and then there are also links to highly detailed reviews about each individual running watches if you want to do more research; but first, here are all the winners in each category starting off with the Garmin Forerunner 245 (best prices here) which is feature-full, reliable, good-looking enough and not so expensive.

Best Running Watch Category Winners - Details Below
  • Best Running Watch – Overall – Garmin Forerunner 245 - 90%
  • Best Garmin Running Watch – Garmin Forerunner 245 - 90%
  • Best Running Watch with Music – Garmin Forerunner 245 Music - 90%
  • Best Running Watch for STRAVA - Polar Grit X - 84%
  • Best Running Watch with Most Features – Garmin Forerunner 945 - 95%
  • Best Running Watch with 'Proper’ Running Features – Polar Vantage M - 95%
  • Most Accurate Running Watch – Suunto 5 - 89%
  • Best Running Watch for Adventure Running – Garmin Fenix 6X Pro Sapphire - 95%
  • Best Running Watch with Altimeter – Suunto 9 Baro - 85%
  • Best Running Watch for Aspirational Runners – Sigma iD.TRI - 85%
  • Best Running Watch for a Cool Runner – Apple Watch 4/5 - 95%
  • Best, CHEAP Running Watch – Sigma iD.FREE - 85%
  • Best Running Watch for Ultra Running – Coros Apex - 83%
  • Best Running Watch for Power Running – Polar Vantage V - 90%
  • Best Running Watch for Hiking – Garmin Fenix 6X Pro Solar - 95%
  • Best Running Watch for Wear OS - Suunto 7 - 89%
  • Best Running Watch for Women - Polar Ignite - 88%
  • Optical HR - no winner, merit Garmin Elevate - 85%
  • Best Running Watch - Smart Fitness/Sports Watch - Apple Watch 4 (or 5) - 95%
  • Bestr Running Watch with no GPS or Connected GPS - Polar Unite - 83%
  • The Best Mid-Priced Running Watch - Polar Vantage M - 95%
  • Best Premium-Priced Running Watch - Garmin Fenix 6 Series - 95%
  • Best Luxury Running Watch - Garmin MARQ Athlete - 95%
  • Best Running Accessory - STRYD - 95%

The “Best Running Watch” for which kind of runner?

You could get a sub£/$100 watch that would count as the Best Running Watch on a budget or you could easily spend over £/$500 on a smart running watch that could probably make you a pre-run latte each morning. I cover them ALL for you here but what is missed out are smartphone apps like Runtastic, STRAVA and Nike RC – they’re great, they’re super cheap but they are not running watches.

Polar Grit X Review Specifications Best Running Watch Category Winner

Features of the Best Running Watch

Pretty much every running watch will give you the basics to gauge your effort level and distances by heart rate and GPS-based pace & distance. Beyond that, everyone’s running needs soon differ, yet, in some degree of order, these are the Top 10 important features ‘most people’ look for

  1. Aesthetics
  2. Links to your preferred apps, sensors and wifi uploading
  3. Optical heart rate for those unable or unwilling to wear a chest strap
  4. Smart and connected features eg text alerts, safety alerts, music, contactless payments and maps
  5. Social and health features
  6. Guided training and coaching plans
  7. Durability in extreme environments eg mountains or just getting muddy
  8. Footpod support or internal accelerometer-based speed eg for cadence or more accurate pace info when running indoors or outdoors
  9. Workouts and Intervals – ability to follow a structured workout plan of some sort
  10. Running Power – for more serious and precise runners.
Best Running Watch Guide Review, Recommendation Comparisons Best Running Watch Category Winner
Forerunner 245 plus STRYD and my New Balance shoes

Best Running Watch – Overall Winner – Garmin Forerunner 245

Overall, the winner is the Garmin Forerunner 245.

The Forerunner 245 will do every running task required by 90% of you who read this, it really is that good and it ticks most of the feature boxes from optical heart rate through to battery life, training plans, smartphone notifications and advanced running features galore. The main downsides are a slight price premium and a relatively cheap build quality.

Best Garmin Running Watch – Garmin Forerunner 245

Naturally, the best Garmin running watch is the also the Garmin Forerunner 245. You could go cheaper to the Forerunner 45 or more expensively to the 645/655 or get a second mortgage for the Forerunner 945 but there’s no point. All of the normal running features and more are on the 245.

Best Running Watch with Music – Garmin Forerunner 245 Music

Suunto 7 Review Best Running Watch Category Winner
Suunto 7 + Google Play Music

The Best Running Watch with Music is the Garmin Forerunner 245 Music mainly because it generally works well with most headphones; it allows you to store your MP3s on the watch; and it supports the music-streaming services Spotify, Deezer and Amazon Music. Being the overall winner of ‘Best Running Watch’ you can rest assured that it will also perform all the other running tasks well.

The Apple Watch 4/5 LTE would be for those who specifically want to stream over a cellular connection. If you want to use your existing Google Play Music service (aka soon Youtube Music) then my recommendation for you would switch to the Suunto 7 and if you want a cheap option that simply lets you use your MP3s then consider the Amazfit Stratos.

Range of Best Prices for Garmin Forerunner 245 Music version

ESSENTIAL READING: Garmin Forerunner 245 Review



Best Running Watch for STRAVA – Polar Grit X

Controversially my recommendation for the Best STRAVA Running Watch is the new Polar Grit X because it properly supports the three main aspects of STRAVA namely STRAVA Live Segments, STRAVA Courses and your post-workout upload to STRAVA. It can do all-things-STRAVA in any running environment even if your favourite Segments just happen to be half-way up a mountain.

To support all the main aspects of STRAVA in a Garmin watch you would need a top-end Fenix 5/6, soon-to-be-replaced Forerunner 645 or Forerunner 945. If you wanted to record your run with the STRAVA app then you might consider the Suunto 7 which would even record your HR in the Wear OS STRAVA app. For those of you who want to view Strava Relative Effort live then you could go for the Suunto 9 but I don’t consider Strava Relative Effort to be that important for most runners.

Don’t worry about choosing Polar over Garmin, Polar has been supporting runners for longer than Garmin and their app is runner-focused, not tech-focussed.


Range of best prices for Polar Grit X


Most-Featured Running Watch – Garmin Forerunner 945

The best-featured running watch is the Garmin Forerunner 945 which can do pretty much everything a running watch needs to do. It works well and still looks sporty. It’s really a pro-tri-watch (FWIW: I use one).

It will give you all the racing, pacing and run training features you will ever need. No other, non-Garmin, running watch has as many features.

Comments: The Forerunner 945 contains pretty much every Garmin running feature. It is expensive and plasticy yet only has a few additional features over and above those on the Garmin Forerunner 645. The 645 has questionable looks; questionable GPS; and a battery life that’s not as good as the 945. On the other hand, the smaller format of the 645 is IDEAL for thinner wrists and the optional MUSIC variant (645M); is super cool if you also want music or Payments on a high spec watch…but the 945 has that too.

ESSENTIAL READING FULL REVIEW: Garmin Forerunner 945 Review

Range of best prices for Garmin Forerunner 945




Best Running Watch just with ‘Proper’ Running Features – Polar Vantage M

Polar Vantage V Review, Polar Vantage M Review Best Running Watch Category Winner
Vantage M – HR Zone Summary

This is an award for an old school watch. However, it morphed into an award for a watch that is not pretending to be anything other than what it is designed to be. The Vantage M is a running watch…for, ahem, runners. It just happens to be a PROPER triathlon watch as well (I used one for racing in 2019).

The Vantage M is cheaper than the Vantage V but has very similar components and software inside. However, the Vantage M seems to make the GPS and oHR work better than on the V model.

The only real downside of the Vantage M is the lack of audible alerts, although can just about here the vibration alert instead. If that bothers you then consider the Polar Grit X which also adds a degree of ruggedness into the running mix.


Range of best prices for Polar Vantage

The Best Sports Watch For Women

Polar Ignite Review SpecificationsI don’t like to make gender-specific recommendations…but here goes, please don’t bite me. The average female runner menstruates, has thinner wrist than the average man and is probably more inclined to also partake in sporty, non-running activities like gym classes and to be more attuned to dietary requirements. My personal experience is that women tend to run more with other people, run in safer places and listen to music when running alone. To combine all those features you would probably want me to recommend the Fitbit Versa 2 or the Garmin Forerunner 245M.

However, despite a good social platform, Fitbit has got financial issues, female-specific health tracking is best covered by a smartphone app and both the Fitbit and Garmin need to pretty-up a bit. The Versa does not have proper GPS either. So that leaves you with a choice of either an Apple Watch 3 (or newer) starting at $199 or a Polar Ignite. You know that the Apple has all the apps you want and is certainly worth considering if you use an iPhone but we both know that the Apple Watch has the individuality of a brick.

Yet I think that women generally want to be smarter in how they train. So the best Sports Watch for women is the Polar Ignite which meets most of the features above and also has FitSpark adaptive training guidance which will guide you to train more holistically in support of your running and fitness

ESSENTIAL READING: Full Polar Ignite Review

Range of best prices for the Polar Ignite

The Most Accurate Running Watch – Suunto 5

The Accurate Runner wants accuracy. You would have thought that this might cover many sports watches but in fact, you would be wrong. You might assume that more expensive watches are more accurate; again you would be wrong. In fact, most (all!) running watches are far from accurate, especially when they need to reliably tell you how fast you are running. Strange…but true.

Best Running Watch Guide Review, Recommendation Comparisons Best Running Watch Category Winner

The Suunto 5 wins here because it’s delivered the best GPS results to me and GPS directly affects accurate running pace and distance. The accuracy of the oHR is variable and, for me, no oHR seems to work to a level that I would consider to be accurate from ANY running watch. Its altimetry is from GPS and not from a barometer but I suspect many of you would be less concerned about that.

The bottom line here is that NO RUNNING WATCH is accurate enough for me to hand-on-heart recommend. The Suunto 5 is the best of the ‘could-all-do-better’ crowd for a sensible price.

I would recommend the addition of STRYD and a decent HR chest strap to deliver AWESOME SPEED & DISTANCE ACCURACY to many other running watches that I could name. Then if you also want more accurate ALTIMETRY you would get the Fenix 6 which NAILS ALTIMETRY with its inbuilt DEM – very few sports watches have DEM. If you want to spend over $/£1000 in search of total sensor accuracy then you would get the Fenix 6 + STRYD + HRM-DUAL and turn off the oHR and GPS-derived speed and distance.

Generally, Polar and Suunto have the most accurate GPS/GNSS. Polar’s best GPS-performer is the V800 but that’s an old, discontinued tri watch and does not have oHR. This leaves us with the Suunto 5 which is well-priced and also has oHR. That’s the winner.

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Best Adventure Running Watch – Garmin Fenix 6X Pro Sapphire

Garmin Fenix 5S Plus Review
Fenix 5

Garmin’s Fenix 5X Plus (Review here) or the Fenix 6X (reviewed here) are the clear winners in this category, both with reservations. They have the PROPER routable maps onboard that no other running watch has for this category. The Fenix 5+/6 series have oodles of extra smart functions but, as an adventurer, you will need very, very few of those features.

For the adventure runner, the main problem with alternatives like the Fenix 3, 5, 5s, 6s (not 5X, 6, 6X) and the Suuntos is that they do NOT contain a good-quality, routable map. For a ‘proper’, map-based solution you might instead consider an app on your mobile phone or a specialist outdoor navigational unit.

You will likely get better GPS functionality and in CHEAPER, more established watches that also have weather alerts – albeit only marginally better. But you won’t get the breadth of outdoor features that only the 5X/6X can deliver and which are also sufficiently durable beasts for your adventures.

I can recommend the 5X Plus but I’ve just edged towards adding in the newer 6X Pro Sapphire (I’ve never looked at the 6X Solar myself). I think you will still get a few minor bugs until well into 2020. So if your adventurous life depends on your watch go for the 5X Plus but that birthday present for 2020 has to now be the 6X Pro and if you are spending all that money a little extra on an extra hard lens is a sensible move too.

ESSENTIAL READING FULL REVIEW: Garmin Fenix 6 Review (6 series)

Check latest Garmin prices at a range of LOCAL retailers




Best Running Watch with Altimeter – Suunto 9 Baro

Suunto 5 Review Best Running Watch Category Winner

For supreme, altimetry accuracy in general outdoor usage, the DEM Altimetry offered by top-end Garmins like the Fenix 6X will be hard to beat. However, in extreme mountain conditions, Garmin’s GNSS fix might not put you in the right place and hence it could look up and display the wrong altitude. Sure the Garmins have barometers too but I would prefer to rely on a properly calibrated Suunto in extreme conditions.

For the Best Running Watch with an accurate altimeter look at the Suunto 9 Baro.

Check a range of Suunto prices at local retailers

Best Running Watch for Aspirational Runners – Sigma iD.TRI

Sigma iD.TRI Review


Sigma has taken over my recommendation at the budget end of the market with a great offering in a classic rectangular format. Either the iD.FREE or id.TRI will suffice, they are very similar.

Despite the CHEAP price ($110/£130ish) they are VERY WELL FUNCTIONED and easy to use. The aesthetics may not be to everyone’s liking but they will be great for a beginner runner and also will still be great for the same runner two or three or more years down the line.

The iD.TRI should do all the running-related stuff you need but it’s not going to have much of the smart functionality or features that look properly at physiology, sleep patterns and the like.

Garmin’s budget offering is the Forerunner 45 and 45S (small version), despite being the budget option with several smart features, they are over-priced.

Polar’s budget offerings are the M200 and M430 and the Coros Pace or Amazfit Stratos are also worth a look.


Buy Sigma iD.TRI/iD.FREE here.

Best Running Watch for Cool Runners – Apple Watch 4/5

Best Running Watch Guide Review, Recommendation Comparisons Best Running Watch Category Winner
Versions 4 and 5 of the Apple Watch introduced new, techy innards and they are pretty competent when it comes to sports. Couple decent sensors with a decent app from the app store, of which there are many, then the Apple Watch 4 is the obvious choice for those of you who want a degree of sporting competence but, above that, a cool watch that you can wear 24×7.

Naturally, if you want a SMART watch then this baby has SMARTs-galore.

The Apple Watch 3 is well-priced below $/£/Eu200 but the internal sensors are not as good.


Best Watch for Ultra Running – Coros Apex

The best ultra running watch is the Coros Apex

Coros Apex Pro Review Specs Best Running Watch Category Winner

The Coros Apex offers a very well-featured alternative to Garmin at a significantly lower price. The Coros app is alright but you probably will want to get your data out to STRAVA or somewhere else quickly, which luckily Coros facilitate, and you may not like the Apple-like crown. Apart from that, it’s a winner that is stacked full of features and an infeasibly long battery life.


The best watch for running with power is either of the Polar Vantage Mor V, both let you use either Polar’s version of running power or that from STRYD.

Polar Vantage V Review Best Running Watch Category Winner

The Power Runner just wants to be able to run with Power to augment pacing by HR or PACE and the power can be from STRYD or natively from a high-end Garmin Baro watch eg 945+ HRM-TRI, or natively on a Polar Vantage or Suunto 5/9. Each has their advantages and I keep changing my mind over which is the best as they all have their unique disadvantages too. STRYD’s new Garmin CIQ app is super-sweet but I’m now using the Polar Vantage V Titanium more in 2020 just because of the unique (power) ZONE lock functionality and because my Garmin 945 has to be returned for repair (again).


Check a range of Polar prices at local retailers

Best Hiking & Running Watch – Garmin Fenix 6X Pro Solar

Garmin fenix 6 review specifications Best Running Watch Category Winner

The best GPS watch for lovers of hiking and running is the Garmin Fenix 6 (Review here) It has all the top-end Garmin running features and all the top-end Garmin outdoors features that cover maps, environmental ABC sensors and safety alerts.

The problem, again, is the access to maps and routing, which are obviously important for navigation. If you REALLY MUST squeeze a map onto a tiny watch that you can’t read then it has to be the Garmin Fenix 6. The 5/5+/6s are smaller so get a larger 6/6X. Even then the default maps are often not great so you could get a Wear OS watch and an app that shows a beautiful map but the battery life will then be very negatively impacted. You could happily use a Wear OS watch for Geocaching but not for scaling Everest.

Casio Pro Trek Smart Review WSD-F30 Best Running Watch Category Winner

The WearOS-based Casio WSD-F30 or WSD-F21 merits some consideration but battery life will be a perennial issue with those two despite some good ABC sensors and interesting Wear OS App features.

At the lower end of the price scale, Garmin Instinct clears the battery issue by relying on an awful and low-powered screen but then offloads some of your navigation needs onto your smartphone – it sounds messy but is a reasonable compromise if you want simple environmental and directional information on your wrist and the ability to re-plan in full-map & app glory on your phone.

Check latest Garmin prices at a range of LOCAL retailers




Best Running Watch for Wear OS

Suunto 7 Review Best Running Watch Category Winner

I have just finished my Suunto 7 review and, whilst expensive, it is an awesome piece of tech. Furthermore, it is beautiful and easily the best-ever smart running watch for WearOS. The Suunto Wear OS app is great and all the issues identified when it was launched have now been added, even if you don’t like the Suunto Wear OS app there are many other sporty Wear OS apps you can choose to admire on the awesome screen it comes with.

DETAILED REVIEW Full Suunto 7 Review

Check a range of Suunto prices at local retailers

Best Running Watch with Optical HR – None

I’ve tried to avoid any kind of recommendation in this category. Garmin’s ELEVATE v3 sensor is the one that works best for me for running. However accurate oHR varies by person and by your usage.

Elevate v3 is found in the Garmin 245 (Reviewed here) but also in Garmin’s watches announced from 2019 onwards including the Fenix 6 and Forerunner 945.

Best Smart Running Watch – for Fitness – Apple Watch 4/5

The best smartwatch for fitness and running is obviously the Apple Watch 5, although the Apple Watch 4 is nearly identical.

Best Running Watch Category Winner

The ‘fitness watch’, ‘smartwatch’ or the ‘sports’ watch is not a pure running watch. Sure you can still run with them. Sure they are watches and WAY more people will buy these kinds of watches than the entirety of all the other categories put together! It’s just that running is not their primary purpose and you will most likely encounter several annoying sporting features of the ‘smart’ watch when running with it. Maybe it might lack a lap button or have too short a battery life or too inaccurate an optical HR.

The main/best/well-known watches in this category are the Apple Watch 4/5, the Suunto 7, the Garmin Vivoactive 4/Venu and the Fitbit Ionic/Versa 2. Of course, all smartphone vendors like Samsung and Huawei sell something similar. Looks and brand image will play a BIG part in your purchase of one of these. You can ‘just run’ with any of them…they WILL all be broadly ‘fine’

The Apple Watch will be the one that you buy if you like Apple. The Fitbit will be the one you buy if you like Fitbit. The Garmin may be a bit of a safe bet as it is the most sportingly-competent of the 3.

As much as I may have a degree of personal antipathy towards Apple’s platform, the Apple Watch 4 (or 5) is the best Smart Fitness/Sports running watch. It’s expensive and the battery life isn’t great BUT all the smart stuff on it generally works and it boasts a huge choice of apps.

Hey. The winner is the Apple Watch 4…or 5

Best Running Watch with no GPS or Connected GPS – Polar Unite

The best running watch with no GPS is Suunto 3.

Suunto Fitness 3 Review Best Running Watch Category WinnerThis is an unusual category dating back to early running watches (2009?). I suspect that few people specifically WANT a RUNNING watch with no GPS or one that relies on the presence of your smartphone for GPS, yet they tend to be relatively cheap and have good battery life. Perhaps the reality is that these kinds of sports watches are better suited to those of you who train more indoors but either run occasionally OR always run with a smartphone.

The Polar Unite I reviewed in 2020 is a great piece of modern, high tech kit with a sweet screen and a great ‘adaptive’ training program to guide you towards the best type of exercise for YOU to perform TODAY.

The Suunto 3 watch has optical HR and is also worth a look. At a Eu/£/$160 (lower in the sales), you might want to look very carefully as there are probably better running watches WITH GPS at this price. Its selling point is also a clever adaptive training program. Alternatively, Fitbit offers the Versa 2. Again, with no GPS on the watch. The Versa looks a bit like the Apple Watch but, err, isn’t. By a long way. Versa lacks MANY sporty features and I wouldn’t recommend it. Both the Suunto 3 and the Fitbit Versa takes connected GPS from your smartphone which you must carry with you if you want to get an idea of your speed and map of where you ran for later.

DETAILED Polar Unite Review

 Check a range of Polar prices at local retailers

Let’s consider the main price bands as separate categories

Best Cheap Running Watch

If you want a price-based recommendation then the Sigma iD.FREE is the best, cheap running watch.

Check Sigma id.TRI / id.FREE prices HERE

Best Mid-Priced Running Watch

Polar Vantage M is the best mid-priced running watch.

Check a range of Polar prices at local retailers

Best Premium-Priced Running Watch

Either the Garmin Fenix 6 or Polar Vantage V is the best premium running watch

Check latest Garmin prices at a range of LOCAL retailers




Best Luxury Running Watch

The Garmin MARQ ATHLETE is the best near-luxury running watch

Check latest Garmin prices at a range of LOCAL retailers




Best Running Accessory

The best accessory for running is the STRYD footpod. It gives accuracy to pace and distance measurement and produces POWER which is a great way to judge your true effort levels.

stryd discount code coupon offer special price STRYD Review
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Best Running Watch Category Winners - Details Below
  • Best Running Watch – Overall – Garmin Forerunner 245 - 90%
  • Best Garmin Running Watch – Garmin Forerunner 245 - 90%
  • Best Running Watch with Music – Garmin Forerunner 245 Music - 90%
  • Best Running Watch for STRAVA - Polar Grit X - 84%
  • Best Running Watch with Most Features – Garmin Forerunner 945 - 95%
  • Best Running Watch with 'Proper’ Running Features – Polar Vantage M - 95%
  • Most Accurate Running Watch – Suunto 5 - 89%
  • Best Running Watch for Adventure Running – Garmin Fenix 6X Pro Sapphire - 95%
  • Best Running Watch with Altimeter – Suunto 9 Baro - 85%
  • Best Running Watch for Aspirational Runners – Sigma iD.TRI - 85%
  • Best Running Watch for a Cool Runner – Apple Watch 4/5 - 95%
  • Best, CHEAP Running Watch – Sigma iD.FREE - 85%
  • Best Running Watch for Ultra Running – Coros Apex - 83%
  • Best Running Watch for Power Running – Polar Vantage V - 90%
  • Best Running Watch for Hiking – Garmin Fenix 6X Pro Solar - 95%
  • Best Running Watch for Wear OS - Suunto 7 - 89%
  • Best Running Watch for Women - Polar Ignite - 88%
  • Optical HR - no winner, merit Garmin Elevate - 85%
  • Best Running Watch - Smart Fitness/Sports Watch - Apple Watch 4 (or 5) - 95%
  • Bestr Running Watch with no GPS or Connected GPS - Polar Unite - 83%
  • The Best Mid-Priced Running Watch - Polar Vantage M - 95%
  • Best Premium-Priced Running Watch - Garmin Fenix 6 Series - 95%
  • Best Luxury Running Watch - Garmin MARQ Athlete - 95%
  • Best Running Accessory - STRYD - 95%

72 thoughts on “Best Running Watch 2020| Top 10 Guide Recommend Compare

  1. I have to question your judgement a bit… SSU more pretty than the F3 or F3HR or coming 5 series?… come on. ? I know beauty is in the eye of the beholder but fact is with changeable bands like Ti or SS or leather the Fenix looks like a “real” suit watch. SSU looks like a Ugly sportswatch…and I’m from Suuntos home country…I should be Polar and Suunto biased. But as long as they keep making ugly sports watches with ugly strap and exterior designs… I will rock my f3hr and maby f5x one day ?

    …now a working Black Ti SSU with whr and changeable bands (leather and Ti …hex screws) might intrest me…if that day comes.

    1. well Anton. I agree that beauty is in the eye of the beholder 😉
      my ssu is the watch that I think looks best on me. that’s my genuine opinion.
      in defence of your argument one of my best friends did not approve of the SSU’s looks.
      but that brings us back to the ‘beauty is in the eye of the beholder’ argument
      I would say that one of my ‘other’ jobs is I the design industry but then even that makes me no more of less qualified to have an opinion on beauty than anyone else.
      maybe if we all found beauty in the same thing there would be one watch that we all wore or one (wo)man that we all lusted after.
      I am about to order a F5 (f5 or F5x ???) and a 935. maybe my opinions will change. the good thing with having a ‘mind’ is that you can change it.

      thanks for the VALID contribution
      I write my opinions in my stuff. You guys write yours in the comments. That’s how it works. It’s good to talk. Enjoy and thank you again

      1. It’s all play and games bantering…until someon takes out the swords ??

        Don’t get me wrong, I don’t blame you for thinking the SSU is pretty…but saying it is prettier than the f3?…bold move ?

        I did rock the original TT multisport cardio for a year (only in the most business-business occasions did it come off). But that was and is still in my opinnion an ugly watch…also Had the Polar F70…also ugly. Before the f3hr came the 235…an improvement but looked way too much like a sports watch in my opinnion.

        I can kind of “get” that some get a kick of sporty-sporty design.
        But me, if I am paying the (lets be honest here) ridiculous sums asked for SSU or F3hr(when it came out) or the F5… I expect there to be choice. Choice for sporty-sporty or classic-elegant.

        I am sporty, but I am more of a conservative in the manner that I like a Bentley more than a Lamborghini.

        With the f3 and f5 series the user can choose Silicon, Titanium, Leather or Stainless Steel…to their taste.

        I just can not get my head around why Suunto (except for Traverse) and Polar simply refuse to give the option of choice…..Silicone as far as the eye can see.

        I might have bought the SSU, if I could have gotten an extra band (that I can change without watch maker skills) option in leather or metal…
        But no, Suunto was like; here is an awesome watch, but only in silicone.
        ? sigh!

  2. Let me say a good word about the Epson SF810, doesn’t appear to have caught on but after 15 months use I can say that it ticks most of the boxes.
    It finds the GPS signal quickly, usually in less than 30 seconds, very occasionally it will take a minute. The signal has never dropped. My first experience of a GPS watch was a second-hand Forerunner and that was terrible in this respect, very often 5 minutes for a fix and dropping even 2 or 3 times during a run at least once a month. The GPS is usually very accurate, occasionally there is a slight discrepancy but we are talking about 1% in the worst case scenario and usually a lot less. The HRM seems to be fairly accurate provided the watch strap is worn tightly enough, this is my impression anyway.
    Working the settings and various functions is not the easiest thing or rather it needs a bit of practice before you get the hang of it although there are plenty of features. This is the only thing that lets the watch down a little bit, the software is not the best and the Run Connect site could be improved, but it links with Strava OK. The price is quite reasonable and every so often it is on offer so all in all I consider it good value for money.

  3. You kinda didn’t mention battery life there. It’s nice to charge your device once every 2 weeks. That’s what I do with my 5x. I run 25 miles a week, 3 runs a week plus use it as my daily watch in the office and it lasts for 2 full weeks. From what you wrote in your SST preview it only last couple of days, that’s a huge difference.

    Also 5X doesn’t have any connectivity issues of Fenix 5, it just works. It’s bulky, it’s expensive but it works.


    1. true, true. thanks Paul
      battery life will be mentioned in the reviews.
      i’ll think about it.

      5x “but it works”…depends what you mean. altimeter doesn’t work properly, ohr doesn’t work properly. gps doesn’t work well. apart from that, yes the battery does work well compared to others. 😉

      1. My unit must be defective then 😉
        GPS works fine, it tracks my run pretty accurately, i dont really use oHR but my short tests show that it’s better than 3HR I had before. Altimeter – not sure as I don’t really use it that much but elevation gain data for my runs seems on par with everyone else using different watches.

        Maybe give it another go on a new firmware 😉

          1. I check your google sheet file with GPS test results sometimes and I noticed that you have tested 5X in GPS only mode. When you were testing 935 you did both: just GPS and GPS+GLONASS and there was a big difference in favor of GPS+ GLONASS. Pretty sure it’s the same case with 5X plus there is a new software now also.

            Just test it again on new software and in GPS+GLONASS mode and maybe you’ll like it 😉

        1. maybe it’s improved. maybe after next week’s firmware it’s even better. what about next month? what about the 20 or so other watches?
          where does it stop? the test is >10 miles. I have a day job.
          I tested a production firmware version. it’s up to Garmin what they release as ‘production software/hardware.’
          my conclusions are stated against the firmware version at the time. I would also say that they are based on experience MUCH wider than just the formal ‘test’ itself. The 5X was truly AWFUL on some occasions and those occasions were when GLONASS was enabled.
          Look at the other garmin watch results of significantly more established firmware versions…still not great. but is ‘adequate’ sufficient for a premium brand?

          your experiences are equally as valid as mine. thank you for sharing.

          1. I would use a fenix 5X with GPS-only. It uses less power and seems much more accurate in real life. The worst GPS fail of my life in a race was f5X GPS+GLONASS.

            It was a XC race that looked like a crayon scribble after it was over. And two other mates with fenix 3/5 and GLONASS enabled had the same crazy malfunction that same day. There is clearly something less than optimal with Garmin’s implementation of the MediaTek chipset and GLONASS.

            I tried Galileo and GLONASS in the fenix 5X and I never saw any advantages. Only increased power drain and equivalent or worse GNSS accuracy to plain GPS.

            I think there is a reason that GPS-only is the default. The only scenario where you should try GLONASS or Galileo is if you live in a major city with tall building and have trouble with GPS reflections. You might have better luck using the alternative configurations in that scenario.

          2. There’s a cracking good deal atm on the fenix 5x Sapphire where I live. I’m tempted but I keep reading about fenix 5 issues with the GPS and a cracking HR sensor. I’m wondering if I should wait for a sale on one fo the Fenix 6 models instead. I don’t mind old gen, I do mind hardware issues.

  4. Given the August update to your recommendation list, what do you think is a better watch for a new but committed runner?

    Polar M430 or Garmin FR235?

    Given a new M430 and refurb 235 are a similar price, but one is new and one older. One is BLE, one ANT+.

    1. i think neither will make you faster and both are good. with ohr you have the risk of it not working on you, so be careful where you buy from.
      if you are committed to training ‘properly’ then you need some way to quantify+control your effort eg hr, pace, power, time/duration. the last one is easy but with the rest, then the polar is probably more accurate. polar web infrastructure is a bit better if you want to get into looking at your performances a bit more after the workouts.
      I guess both have the looks of a sporty watch that people will generaly wear only for sport.
      ant and ble are no different as far as most people are concerned. if you plan on pairing accessories to many apps and watches then BLE is a PITA (that’s what I do 😉 ) but you should be fine.

      so unless you have any specific criteria then all I can do is waffle a bit like that really!!

  5. Do you think the VA3 will have improvements in GPS accuracy? Will it be good fo hiking and gym work or is the Suunto Spartan Trainer better?

  6. I’ve just bought the Spartan Ultra and tested it against my Ambit3 Run, the gps track was terrible compared to my Ambit. This was with the latest update 1.9. Maybe I have a faulty unit, wish I could confirm that somehow.

    Accuracy should be the main selling point of a gps watch, I know gps is only accurate +/- 5 meters, but a watch in 2017 should be better than and old watch like the Ambit.

    Right now it seems to be, fill the watch with everything and forget about what it’s suppose to be.

    1. make sure you have a correct satellite fix and have the a-gps (google it)
      I found the ULTRA ok with the GPS but I found he SPORT and TRAINER as one of the best GPS.
      gps should be +/- 5m as you say. same 5 years ago!!

  7. Thanks Duathlon. Do you mean, leave it on in training mode a while before running, never had a problem with the Ambit3 Run, so not sure what you mean.
    May return it and get the Sport or Trainer.

    1. turn it on
      get a satellite fix.
      sync with movescount (this will updated a-gps)
      put it in an open space for 30 minutes RECORDING (GPS on)
      then go for a run with both watches
      compare results
      if it’s still bad then change the watch

  8. Quick update on gps track with my Spartan. Followed your instructions, but could only leave watch 15mins before starting run. Result: tracks were as good as my Ambit3, so I’m happy.

    One thing i did notice though, the Spartan wouln’t sync my HR belt after it had started the move. Unlike the Ambit which will, I know this because I’ve had a few races when the belt couldn’t be found on the start line, then once into the run it picks it up.

    Hope I don’t have to do that procedure all the time though, would be difficult at a trail event.


      1. Must be a bug I suppose. Well… another run done, sync’d watch before run. This Spartan Ultra is very inconsistent with gps tracking, some parts excellent – other parts terrible. I think it’s a return job.

  9. Hi, do you think the 645 will include the Galileo technology, or you know if there is future release that will use the three technologies (GPS+GLONASS+GALILEO)


    1. yes i would expect that the chip will be galileo compatible.
      quite a few previous garmin and other brand devices have compatability of the chip.
      the issue comes in whether or not that capability is used.
      i am pretty sure that, at least not for a while, the 645 will NOT use galileo for positioning. i suspect that will come first on the F5. *IF* there is an F5plus in the next few weeks/months then THAT will set the direction for galileo

  10. For the Adventurer / Ultra-Runner / Navigation, I seriously recommend a handheld, and based on my experience, the etrex 30x (although I haven’t tried a variety of options).

    + Rugged (water resistant)
    + full support for offline maps with navigation
    + 25 hours on 2 AA batteries (replaceable for multi days adventures/ultramarathon)
    + Small enough to fit in a chest pocket
    + Connects to Ant+ devices
    + Costs just over a third of a Fenix 5x

    – Not a watch

    The biggest advantage over a Fenix 5x would be the replaceable batteries.

      1. I disagree. It’s no fun to run with an eTrex. They are big and heavy and clunky. It’s a mission to manage a handheld and poles. And maybe the ones I have used are old but they didn’t get anything like that kind of battery life for continuous navigation — only a fraction of what you described in my experience.

        Adventure races I have been in require you to have a GPS with navigation (such as a Garmin or Suunto watch) and a backup GPS and a smart phone in flight mode (and sometimes a Spot beacon). The smart phone can serve as the backup navigation device with an app like GaiaGPS or Garmin Explore. I feel like carrying a smart phone and an eTrex is redundant gear to schlep.

        On the other hand, I’m not convinced the actual maps in the fenix 5X and later are a huge improvement over the ubiquitous “breadcrumb” system they replaced in actual wilderness trail running where there are few to nomarked trails and roads in the map data. The TOPO lines and rivers can be somewhat helpful to orient yourself, but not a huge deal. On the other hand, the map screen is a power hog when active. The clever stuff is actually what Garmin enabled from the DEM data in the maps — like ClimbPro profiles and continuous barometric altimeter correction.

  11. I understand the recommendation of the Fenix 3, but an important downside for some people is that they are limited in the Garmin app store to datafields that support 16kB. While the newer Garmin watches support 32kB. Though that 32kB is in reality 28kB, it is still a big leap in functionality. Just compare my Datarun and Datarun-plus datafields for the Fenix 3 and Fenix 5/FR935/FR735xt. It isn’t even possible to release Datarun plus for the Fenix 3.

      1. The limit of 2 ConnectIQ data fields per activity is still there in the latest and greatest.

        I would also point out that the proprietary C#-like MonkeyC language that ConnectIQ is based on seems to be an virtual machine interpreter and anything ConnectIQ causes a noticeable hit to battery performance that you do not find with the native code, built-in watch faces, widgets, data fields, and apps. ConnectIQ memory and batter efficiency problems relative to native become obvious with things like watch faces which struggle to fit anti-aliased hands and a second hand into the memory limits while drastically curtailing battery life. (As an aside, I’m sure this is a big part of why Apple doesn’t allow people to create watch faces.) And despite being a virtual machine ConnectIQ things can sometimes destabilize or crash your watch.

        ConnectIQ: cool but flawed. Use sparingly.

        1. well…yes.
          I was having problems with my old 820 recently and it was grinding to a halt. I blamed that on firmware deliberately slowing it down. but i uninstalled some ciq stuff and it was noticeable quicker.
          as you say, flawed but brilliant

          1. I am using self made watchfaces and datafields on my fr935 with no impact in battery life – but you need to work hard to take care about memory footprint and speedness when creating IQ apps.
            My approach was to create my own tools controlling the editor, compiler, simulator, editing fonts, check code speed,…

          2. @Puffolino

            I used GearMin on my FR935 (and my old F3HR) for years and had zero issues. The Dev came back and enabled it for the 945, battery life was a disaster.

            I have moved on from Garmin to the Apex Pro and Gasp! I’m not using it as an Ultra Runner. I am also on day 10 since I’ve charged it and that includes:

            (2) hour-long runs with GPS+Glonass enabled with an H10 chest strap AND the Coros Running Pod used
            (6) 45 min to hour-long “Gym Cardio” (It’s the catch-all activity of gym work whether weights were used or if it was cardio or HIIT) Also with the H10 used.
            The backlight on all the time, 1s HR tracking for activity, basically I have everything the watch can run going at full-power

            And dare I say it, the Watch Faces Coros offers are better than anything I’ve seen on Garmin? There are things I’d like to see Coros do that Garmin offers (better internal control of activity options, A few more widgets, STRYD SUPPORT!!) but the biggest one is more connections to 3rd party apps.

            Other than that, I’ve used the watch for two months and have charged it roughly 5 times. I don’t know how they do it, but I’ve never owned a sport watch with this good of a battery.

  12. Need a device for sprinting, short sprints of 25/50/100m , during my hey days I do struggle with 800m ! So, definitely not a marathoner,. I mean really fast something like 35-40km/hr range in short sprints ! Any suggestions ?

    1. You need a decent footpod to accurately display such speeds. You will still have several seconds delay with a footpod. Even stryd, from memory, has a 3 second smoothed average, so you would not know (or record) peak speed.

      However I question whether or not you will be looking at your watch when you are sprinting. so instead are you trying to record accurate HR? if so, anything that uses a chest strap will be fine. but even then over less than 100m your HR will potentially not be going up by that much to make what is recorded of any subsequent use.
      polar m430, garmin 645, suunto trainer

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  13. Some great reading here that mentions the future of running watches and also watches without gps. Given foot pods are relatively cheap and arguably more accurate than GPS I often wonder why someone doesn’t make a cheaper watch made to only connect with additional sensors. If I want pace/distance I’ll add a pod, if I want HRM I’ll add a strap. Does such a thing exist at a cheaper price than the Apple watch?

    1. well. your comments are generally where i am heading for a ‘training watch’
      the answer lies in the tech produced 5 or more years ago.
      but you can even get a polar v800 for $200/£150 that is FULL of functionality and will link to a hrm+footpod

  14. I’m unsure why Suunto FusedAlti is better than Garmin’s F6-series continuous DEM calibration.

    FusedAlti uses 3D GPS to recalibrate the altimeter and says it will take 4-12 minutes to find a reference value. It doesn’t say but I assume it only finds the reference values every few minutes to recalibrate the barometric altimeter and they must have some secret sauce for error correction on spurious readings.

    Garmin basically copies this feature along with the battery manager from Suunto. The Garmin implementation takes 2D GNSS coordinate — which is easier to get — and uses the onboard DEM survey data to look up altitude to calibrate the barometric altimeter. They don’t say but I assume this only happens every so often and there is some secret sauce for dealing with spurious readings or they would just use only use DEM and never bother with the barometer at all.

    Garmin has had terrible elevation drift issues on barometric models up until the F6 — if you enable continuous calibration during activities (off by default). It’s astonishingly repeatable on hilly roads for me to within 1 meter of elevation on the same course on subsequent weeks.

    My sense is the reason that Garmin uses DEM is that they already have the map data on board which nobody else has. If you have ever calibrated your elevation from GPS, you will realize it takes a watch quite a long time to acquire the vertical portion. My assumption is that the DEM lookup is faster and lower energy than using GNSS to calculate elevation. In principal a reasonable 2D coordinate should be easier to acquire but you have the potential of DEM survey error, DEM resolution, and the x/y coordinate +- a few (many?) meters as sources of error. My map set has DEM at 3 arc-second resolution. An arc-second is 30.87m for latitude and longitude at the equator. As you move in latitude away from the equator it becomes 30.87m x cos(latitude-degrees).

    All that means that the elevation is available in the map data on my watch where I am in 80-something meter x ~92 meter cells. Obviously the real world isn’t made of giant Minecraft blocks like that. 80 or 90 meters is pretty far running, but even an extreme 20% mountain grade that is only 18m vert in 90m horizontal. Is DEM then the better solution? How does the altimeter fill in the meters between the DEM blocks and smooth things reasonably? I don’t know.

    Historically there was no contest and Suunto had this figured out quite a while ago with FusedAlti. I have wondered if a Suunto 9 with FusedAlti does a better job on elevation than a F6X in practice or if they essentially have arrived at the same place but I don’t have access to one to try.

    1. hi Brian,
      yes i’m coming from the same angle as you there.
      my bottom line would be that the ‘secret sauce’ can’t work properly in urban areas, gorges and on cliff faces etc – potentially very poor gps fix areas
      so the best barometer will give the best results in those scenarios where it MIGHT really matter, at least for a relatively short period of time, until perhaps weather causes it to drift

      but for 99% of people NOT in extreme conditions DEM must be best.

      1. I’d love to have someone actually test these two systems side-by-side in the unfavorable conditions you described. I would guess that they perform essentially the same IRL.

        But, I would not put it past Garmin to malfunction in an entirely ridiculous way. To be fair, though, I have not had any significant problems with the activity functionality of the f6X at any stage in the past 8 months — only the “frivolous” stuff — and I have pressed my luck with beta firmware a few times.

        These days I am doing a lot of treadmill running in my gazebo, so the altimeter is not doing a hellava lot for me.

        However the continuous SpO2 monitoring does give me reassurance that I don’t have covid-19. Apparently you can have insanely low blood oxygenation without realizing it in early stages of covid pneumonia.

  15. Hi,

    I see you prefer the vantage V for power based running (with Stryd)….

    Can you use structured power based tainings exported from Trainingpeaks somehow on the Vantage?
    (or get them into Polar Flow?)

    Or how do you do this? 🙂


      1. too much money for titanium. polar vantage v (standard) has almost the same price as garmin forerunner 245. is there any difference between Polar VV and VV Titanium except titan case?

      1. Up to you I guess.

        If you’re happy recommending tech manufactured in a country which has caused so much pain in recent years – avian ‘flu, SARS, and now our present little virus, to say nothing of the working conditions in their factories – just so Garmin, Polar, et al., can add a few extra $’s to their profits, then knock yourself out.

        Personally I’d prefer to read someone who raises his eyes from the glittery ‘features’ or price point on the latest running toy and looks at the wider issues when recommending tech.

        And yes, I know that Suunto are just as guilty with certain products. But at least they retain some European manufacturing facilities.

        1. I am aware of the re-education of minorities like the Uyghur Muslims in Xinjiang, I am aware of issues around IP protection and the changing dominance of the prevailing economic and politicals blocs. I do have strong political views but a tech blog is not the place for them, although I admit to the occasional tweet or sentence slipping out from me on such matters. It’s dangerous ground though, one person’s patriotic views become someone else’s nationalistic views which then slip to Xenophobic views and then onto racism. It’s a slippery that I’d rather take the steps down to avoid.

  16. I am pleased to hear you have a peripheral knowledge of some of the issues relating to the PRC.   

    I don’t believe I suggested you should turn your blog into a soapbox for your political views.

    I did suggest you give appropriate weight to the country of origin when making your recommendations, in the same way you allow your personal views and findings on the relevance, accuracy and ergonomics of HRM’s to affect your recommendations.

    If this is a step too far for you, fine.  At least I know what value I – and others of a similar mind – may allocate to your recommendations.

    1. And, for clarity, I’m a strong supporter of many of the programs currently implemented in the PRC.  But I also believe that when anyone – state or individual – gets things wrong there should be a price to pay. 

      Runners / cyclists / triathletes do not exist in a bubble.  We’re part of a community.  And I don’t feel it’s unreasonable to expect those who influence that community take *everything* in the real world into account when making their recommendations.

      You don’t have to adopt a political posture to consider recommending appropriate sanctions against the products of a state or organisation which has, for the third time in recent memory, released pathogens into the world.  Pathogens which screw up our training regimes, to say nothing of killing people.  It’s just common sense.

      1. “You don’t have to adopt a political posture to consider recommending appropriate sanctions against the products of a state or organisation which has, for the third time in recent memory, released pathogens into the world. Pathogens which screw up our training regimes, to say nothing of killing people.” I think the PRC government would not agree with your statement. They would admit the outbreak of cv19 started in wuhan but not that it came from there.
        what you are saying is absolutely political. (and I’m not saying that my politics agree or disagree with you, and i’m not saying i agree or disagree with yoru other comments)

        I’m just not going to the place you are suggesting.

        For sure I agree that the legal process says that proven damages deserve compensation for loss.

        Having said that, perhaps someone could include the C.O.O. of these goods. that is a statement of fact (ish) and then the buyer can weight that factor themselves.
        although even a product of Finnish COO might only mean that all the parts are made in China and assembled in Finland…globalisation has made things difficult in that regard.

  17. I’ll go no further down the ‘source of pathogen’ rabbit hole.  I’m sure time will reveal all…

    I’m confident you’re aware of the legal requirements which have to be met before a manufacturer can mark their product with the country of origin.  I’m happy that they represent a fair picture of the manufacturing input made by that country.

    Finally, I wonder who would be in an *ideal* position to inform consumers of a products country of origin prior to them purchasing said product?  Perhaps it would be someone who has the opportunity to access and review these products before or upon general release?  And perhaps it would be as simple as adding a field noting the country of origin to their review?  

    Nothing more. No need to get political or judgemental.  Leave that to the consumer.  But use your position to inform so your readers may make an educated choice prior to purchase.

    1. yes time will tell and that will be after the american elections !
      yes i am brodly aware of the requirements you talk about
      dcrainmaker is in an ideal pre-eminent market position. good luck with getting him to do what you ask.

      who decides WHAT ASPECTS I need to inform my readers on? these are highly complex products. I am pretty certain vastly more buyers of these watches care about cost and, for example, gps accuracy rather than COO. I have decided to exclude COO, I fully support your right to tell me I am wrong…you’ve done it in a nice way which is super-cool and your views here will stay for all to read sa I have ZERO PROBLEM with people commenting on COO if it is improtnat to them #Kudos to you

      for what it’s worth, in my personal life I DO care about where my stuff comes from…more than most.

  18. I strongly suspect that DC’s life and income are a little too closely allied to retaining ‘good’ relationships with product suppliers to waste my time asking him to consider something which most suppliers would rather not have a light shone upon. You, OTOH, seem a little less concerned about who you upset.

    Anyway, this blog is your game, your rules. Thank you for the courtesy and understanding you’ve demonstrated in our exchange. I wish you and 5krunner blog continued success.

  19. Are there any running watches being made now that DO NOT have a pulse rate monitor built into the watch itself? I use an external pulse rate monitor that communicates with my old Garmin FR220 ( which will soon require replacement due to battery)

    1. I’m struggling to think of any. great question.
      only one i could think of would be the Lezyne Micro WATCH. It’s essentially a bike computer…but a watch.
      edit:failing that i would go back to the suunto spartan (non-ohr versions, which i liked a few years back)

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