Best Apple Watch Sport Bands – Straps
You’ve already got your Apple Watch, it’s just that band it came with is not the best when you get all sweaty in the gym, yet you like it, so you’re considering getting a replacement Apple Watch sport band for your workouts but which one? You have two broad design choices the first those from Apple or similar copies that will be significantly cheaper than the original or the occasional gem from an independent strap maker with an original design and is still suitable for sports. A rare breed.
I’m not going to delve too much into my opinions on the aesthetics as that’s a personal call, first, let’s start off with the official Apple Watch bands that are suitable for sport.
Disclaimer: This content is not paid for by any of the companies mentioned but if you buy from the links here then I get a (tiny!) commission. Some of these straps are given free, some I bought, some need returning.
Quick Buying Tips – GENERAL
I’ll keep this brief.
Make sure the strap length is right for your wrist. For some of the own-brand, single-piece LOOP Apple straps, this is critical to get right (don’t buy a LOOP in any case)
Next, make sure that the bit that connects to the watch is the right size for your watch case 42|44mm for newer watches or 38|40mm for AW3 watches, some straps fit more than one size of case.
Finally, phew, make sure that the watch-end of your new strap will match the colour of your Apple Watch case, for some of these replacement straps the end cannot be seen but for others, you could end up with an aluminium connector next to your charcoal AW6 case…which might look silly.
Apple Own Brand – best Apple Watch Sport Loop
This is a tightly woven boucle fabric that is very slightly elasticated. The tiny loops add a degree of cushioning to your skin and are made of synthetic Nylon. It’s a one-piece strap and the width is adjusted as it loops back on itself and a series of velcro-like ovals hold the strap in place against the boucle loops.
- Pro – It’s a good format for a sports band. The big advantage of this strap is that I find it is perfect to easily & quickly adjust the strap tightness in mid-run and there’s no way the watch will fall off your wrist when you do that.
- Con – I’m sure it’s washable but this design just can’t be that hygienic. I’m fine with wearing this for sport but more dubious of its hygienic 24×7 credentials.
Price from Apple: £49.
Watch Strap Co – WsC Sport Loop
The Watch Strap Co (WsC) Sport Loop is very similar to the Apple Watch Sport Loop. I would say it’s identical quality and WsC’s strap is extremely well presented, hence highly suitable as a gift. Some of the 2-tone colours on offer here are perhaps more interesting than those offered by Apple and the WsC Nylon weave is looser and feels softer
- Pros – Same benefits, softer than the Apple equivalent and cheaper.
- Con – Same Cons as the Apple Sport Loop
It’s currently £29/$43.50 (rrp£39/$58.50) from WsC.
Apple Own Brand – Apple Sport Band
This particular design is by Beelzebub himself whilst working at Apple as an unpaid intern. The material is sensible for your more sweaty moments but the locking mechanism is pants. If you overtighten it then a) you’re a genius as I could never get it tight enough even with the help of my entire extended family and b) the end of the strap digs into the underside of your wrist. If instead, you fasten it too loosely then a) the watch moves and you can get a rubbish HR recording and b) it eventually wears and comes undone, risking loss or damage to the watch if dropped.
So, what did I do? That’s right I went and bought another one. I got the Nike version for my Watch SE and I am the first to admit it looks really cool with the black lined holes in the white band. Nevertheless, it’s pants. Do NOT buy one, you will regret it.
Was it ever any better with my AW3 Sport Band? Nah. (WHY! do I keep buying these?)
Price from Apple: £49
If you like the format of the sport band then the one from Nomad is a very high-quality one. The strap material is more robust and the locking mechanism superior to those mentioned above. The slightly thicker material IS fairly comfortable but not as comfortable as the much softer Apple one, that said the Nomad is less prone to sticking into your skin as the strap better holds its shape (and it looks good)
Meridio – #Tide
These are cool. They look like some sort of woven cotton perhaps. However they are made from 100% recycled ocean plastic, so there is some attraction here for the eco-sports warrior. These are the best eco-straps I could find for sports. OK, I’ll come clean, they were the ONLY ones claiming to be both eco and for sports usage. There might be more but I didn’t find any. The Meridio #Tide is the best eco sports strap (that I could find 😉 ). That said, the company failed to honour a commercial agreement they made with me, so I prefer it if you bought something else!
- Pros – Comfy despite feeling inflexible as you put them on. Much easier to keep clean than the woven ones. Fine for sleeping and 24×7 usage. Well made mechanism to attach to the Apple Watch.
- Cons – The extensive packaging is fine for buying the strap as a present for yourself, less so if you are buying it as a gift. On the blue strap, the buckle broke on the 3rd usage.
Direct from MERIDIO.COM: rrp€39.00/$44
Apple Own Brand – Apple Solo Loop Sport & Braided Solo Loop
After Beelzebub left, a sensible intern was co-opted into the design studio for the new LOOP straps that came with the Apple Watch 6. In a Utopian world, this is a great design. Nicely stretchy. Unfortunately in Utopia, everyone has the same size wrist. In the real world, we don’t. This strap is a fine one to buy providing you are supremely confident that you are getting the right sized loop. This was such a problem at launch, IIRC, because Apple initially refused to take returns. They do now but it’s a faff. A real faff. I measured my wrist by two different methods and still got the wrong size.
- Pros – Super clean design, super comfortable and the non-braided loop can easily be kept super clean. Absolutely won’t come off by accident.
- Cons – 9 sizes to choose from. Jeez. Uncertain how much the material might stretch over time with repeated sports usage. Also, it metaphorically feels like slip-on shoes for young children that can’t tie laces.
Price from Apple: £45/$49.
Watch Strap Co – WsC Nato
Another WsC strap and WsC Nato is my partner’s favourite pick for their best apple watch band for working out with. I’m positive about it too. This is a good all-rounder and is made from woven nylon for sports usage, so this can be kept clean. The strap is a little firm but not too bad at all, others are much firmer, and so this keeps the comfort factor high. The two black loops nicely keep the end of the strap from flapping about and are a nice design touch in any case, there are also nice details with the stitching. There’s a good colour choice and many are neutrals which ‘go’ with a wider range of clothing. Again, it’s WsC so the packaging is top-notch.
- Pros – All-rounder with good, casual-dress looks. Durable yet comfy. Great stocking-filler.
- Cons – I’m not keen on the loops but my partner likes them. Who is right?
Price from WsC: $58.50/ (rrp$73.50)
Monowear Design – Nylon Band
This is the same design as the WsC Nato. So, what’s not to like? The spec is similar and the strap feels very similar yet the price is significantly lower than the WsC Nato and comes in at $35. If you closely compare the details of the stitching on the monowear to the WsC then the WsC IS a slightly higher quality and the monowear does feel slightly thinner and more flexible.
If you want the best of this design then it’s the WsC however if you buy lots of straps and don’t want to waste too much cash then monowear is a good choice for half the price.
Price from monowear: rrp$35
Nomad – Best Rugged Adventure-Sport Strap (V2, 2020 Version)
This strap is so good it deserved a post of its own! This strap is a bit too bulky for me when running BUT and that’s a big BUT, this is an awesome strap for adventure sports and, if it was a cup, it would be overflowing with DURABILITY. But it hasn’t. It’s just a watch strap, albeit a well-made and well-packaged one.
- Pros – Rugged FKM polymer, Own design. Perfect for outdoors/adventure usage.
- Cons – Perhaps too heavy for running and sleeping. So not an all-rounder for me, personal tastes differ ~(I have quite thin wrists)
Nomad – Best Hybrid-Active Strap – Active Strap Pro
I couldn’t resist showing this other Nomad one as well. This is their Active Strap Pro and is another of my favourites. This has the same FKM polymer as their Rugged Strap V2 on the underside bonded to a real leather outer. However, the leather is hydrophobic and has been specially treated by Heinen. Thus salt, water, sweat and dirt should all wipe off. So it looks super-elegant when you turn up to work but you can keep it on for that lunchtime run as the underside can handle your sweat. In my opinion, the Active Strap Pro looks great and works well but I wouldn’t take it on too many rainy, wet adventure weekends and I would be mindful of using it too much for sport without taking good care of the leather outer.
- Pros – A great trade-off between a smart look and suitability for occasional sport. Comes well-packaged and suitable as a gift.
- Cons- Leather requires maintenance (gel provided) to keep it looking good and you would need to think carefully about using it too frequently for working out and adventures.
From Nomad Good directly $79.95
Monowear – Nylon Active
This strap is a hybrid, perhaps getting the best of both worlds from the Apple Sport Loop and the buckled NyLon band from WsC & Monowear. The main part of the band is strong and lightweight and the end is a plusher, more normal, velcro than found on the Apple Sport Loop. The leather-like square end looks great but might be a tad too stiff.
- Pros – nice hybrid design. A smaller, looped velcro area improves hygiene aspects. Leather-like square end enables easy undoing. Reasonable price tag.
- Cons – Sadly I don’t like the square leather-like end material, at least not for sports.
Price from monowear: $32
Watch Strap Co – WsC Nautilus
Last and certainly not least as a contender for the best apple watch sports band, we have this one. “Wait!” you shout, “That’s leather”.
This is claimed by WsC to be diver’s-grade silicone. And if it’s good enough for diving it’s good enough for sports. Whilst the cotton stitching makes this look somewhat elegant, the leather (I mean, divers grade silicone) is up to 5mm thick at the watch end (lug end). The taper at the tail-end of the strap probably fits this into the unisex category. Even when you get fairly close to it, you might still assume it was leather. It wears well, is soft and durable.
- Pros – If you like the design this is a great all-purpose strap that will handle all but the repeated extreme sports
- Cons – Choose the colour of the cotton stitching wisely. Lighter colours will discolour over time.
Price from WsC: $61/ (rrp$88)
Best Overall Apple Watch Band For Sports, Working out & Fitness?
I think it’s unfair to say any of these is the definitive best. I did research much wider than the four brands here including the more generic ‘cheap’ brands which I wouldn’t consider as proper, branded names and which certainly wouldn’t count for a best apple watch band award of any sort in any case.
Perhaps the Monowear Nylon Active is the best ‘all-rounder, yet I prefer the WsC Sport Loop for sports usage and I would like the Nomad Active Strap Pro as a quality present that looks good and which also works for sport. My partner disagrees and loves WsC Nato.
Other candidates for the best apple watch sport band?
Again, this is NOT a paid-for post so please feel free to add some decent brands in the comments sections below. I will investigate and add them as appropriate.
FAQs – Frequently Asked Questions
The best Apple Watch sport band made by Apple is the Sport Loop but this retains dirt over time. My favourite all-rounder for Sports usage would be the WsC Nato by the Watch Strap Co
Apple sells the Sport Loop and the Braided Sport Loop in many colours, they share the problem that you must get the exact size for your wrist circumference. There are many near-copies also available that look identical for a fraction of the price and varying in quality.
There are several sport styles available as replacements for sports usage, try those made by Nomad Goods, Monowear and the Watch Strap Company who sell high-quality replacements worthy of your Apple Watch.