Best Apple Watch Running Band – Sport Strap
You’ve already got your Apple Watch 7, it’s just that the band it came with is not the best when you get all sweaty in the gym or all grimey on a trail. Maybe you have a mini-adventure planned and you are concerned about protecting and charging your Apple Watch in more extreme circumstances. Maybe you do weight training and your HR results are not accurate when you wear your Watch on the wrist; you’ve seen others with Whoop bands on their biceps and they seem to get accurate results, is that a possibility for Apple Watch?
Must Read: Apple Watch 7 Review – Detailed
Let’s answer ALL those questions and more.
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.
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 my favourite.
Athlytic Recovery App Shown
Apple Straps – the best Apple Watch Sport Loop Band
The APPLE SPORT LOOP comprises 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.
Generally, my partner and I both like these.
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 boxed & presented, hence highly suitable as a gift. Some of the 2-tone colours are perhaps more interesting than those offered by Apple and the WsC Nylon weave is looser and feels softer than Apple’s.
- Pros – Same benefits, softer than the Apple equivalent and cheaper.
- Con – Same Cons as the Apple Sport Loop. Plus replicas on eBay/Amazon are less than $/£5 and are similar in quality.
It’s currently £29/$43.50 (rrp£39/$58.50) from WsC.
We like the WsC strap but the velcro seems to become less sticky after 6-months, or so, of continuous usage.
Apple Own Brand – Apple Sport Band
This particular design was 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 OH WHY! do I keep buying these?
Price from Apple: £49
If you like the format of the Sport Band then the one shown below from Nomad is a very high-quality alternative version. The strap material is more robust and the locking mechanism is superior to those mentioned above from Apple. 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 as if it is a superior quality strap.
We like the Nomad design but it’s still hard to buckle up.
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 company failed to honour an 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. As genuinely eco-friendly as your diesel car.
Direct from MERIDIO.COM: rrp€39.00/$44
I also love their eco-packaging which, as you can see below, is vegan friendly although having 4-layers of eco-packaging is a somewhat comical notion (they really do have 4-layers! as shown)
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 first 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 – Minimalist design, super comfortable and the non-braided loop can easily be kept 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.
Braided Version from Apple: $/£99, ouch, similar straps from 3rd parties can be as low as $10.
Watch Strap Co – WsC Nato
Another WsC strap.
WsC Nato is my partner’s favourite pick for their best apple watch band for working out with. I’m thinking positive things about it too. This is a good all-rounder and is made from woven nylon specifically for sports usage, so this can be kept clean. The strap is a little firm but similar alternatives are firmer still, and so WsC keep the comfort factor high.
The two black loops nicely keep the end of the strap from flapping about and are a great design touch in any case, there are also good details with the stitching. There’s a wide 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 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 Band does feel slightly thinner and more flappy.
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, 2020-22 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 isn’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. Holds the watch well and gives a good HR track even when running.
- Cons – Perhaps slightly too rigid for running and sleeping. So not an all-rounder for me, personal tastes differ and I have thin wrists.
Amazon and Nomad both sell this. £57.00, Eu63, although right now it’s less than $50 on Nomad’s own US site.
Nomad – Best Hybrid-Active Strap – Active Strap Pro
I couldn’t resist showing this other Nomad strap. This is the Active Strap Pro and is another of my favourites. It comes with 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 is suitable as a gift.
- Cons- Leather requires maintenance (leather conditioner 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 to be practical
- 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
Yet another contender for the best apple watch runners’ sports band is 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 land-based 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 quickly.
Price from WsC: $61/ (rrp$88)
Best Apple Watch Strap for Weights
The accuracy of the Apple Watch during gym work and weights is generally not as bad as other tech when worn on the wrist. However, when wearing your Apple Watch on your wrist you might find it sometimes gets knocked by metal weights or just simply gets in the way. TwelveSouth’s ActionSleeve takes inspiration from a Wahoo 4.0 Sleeve and allows you to wear & protect your Apple Watch on your bicep. You almost certainly will get more accurate HR data this way.
Q: Can this be used as an Apple Watch ankle strap?
A: Yes the ActionSleeve can easily be worn around the fleshy parts of the ankle for highly mobile upper body exercise and, perhaps, also for simple, low-impact leg movements like when walking or hiking.
Best Apple Watch Strap for Sweat and Indoors
Here is another option from TwelveSouth that combines a secure retainer for your Apple Watch with a sweatband. This is great for wiping away a bit of perspiration and also great when worn further away from the wrist on the lower arm. Again this will boost accuracy and reduce the chance of damage. The downside though is that the sweatband can get particularly yucky and in reality needs a good rinse after each use.
A Stainless Steel Strap For Sports?
A stainless steel strap is good for sports in one key way and the clue is in the word stainless. You absolutely can use these in sport and keep them on in the shower before donning your suit and heading back to work. The downsides of the stainless steel strap for sport are manyfold namely: they tend to be more expensive; they are heavier, leading to less accurate HR; and they need to be a tad tighter than normal during sports…changing a link before a run is impractical.
So maybe Apple’s Milanese loop is good for your sport? Another stainless steel band. Hmmm. No.
Although it is stainless steel, the locking mechanism is magnetic. It’s strongly magnetic but not strong enough to prevent the strap from loosening with vigorous arm movements. You won’t lose the watch but you will lose a good HR track when wearing the Milanese Loop.
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 which vary in quality.
There are several sports styles available as replacements for sports usage, try those made by Nomad Goods, Monowear and the Watch Strap Company which sell high-quality replacements worthy of your Apple Watch.
Q: Are there 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.
Quick Buying Tips – GENERAL
I’ll keep this brief.
Make sure the strap length is right for your wrist. For some of the Apple-branded, single-piece LOOP straps, this is critical to get right (don’t buy a LOOP Band 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 so AW7 has a 43|45mm case but the respective 42|44mm straps fit perfectly.
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 or your stainless steel AW7 case…which might look silly… or you might like the contrast.
Take Out: Best Apple watch Running Strap
It is slightly fiddly to change an Apple Watch Strap. Unbranded straps often are just not quite so good at being changed as the real thing from Apple.
Nevertheless, it makes sense to use a running strap when, err, running. But it also makes sense for some people to only wear one strap that’s suitable for their 24×7 Apple lifestyle.
Specialist kinds of running that involve knocks or environmental extremes might also favour specialist bands both for the security of your expensive watch as well as for ease of adjustment and the ability to maintain the watch’s position to get a good HR reading.
- Best Overall Running Strap – Apple Sport Loop Band. Also consider the same design from other, recognised brands like WsC (WsC Sport Loop). Even the $5 knock offs are not so bad.
- Best Specialist Gym Strap for weights/strength work/Cross-Fit- TwelveSouth Action sleeve
- Best elegant sport strap – tricky. Nomad’s stainless Steel Band wins this for me as a generic recommendation for other people. Yet my personal preference is the leather look of Nomad’s Active Strap Pro.
- Best Rugged, Adventure Strap – Nomad’s Sport Strap V2 is the clear winner and this strap is also good for regular running if you prefer a more meaty strap
I absolutely DO wear all those 5 straps myself and I probably wear the WsC Sport Loop the most. I’m wearing a Nomad Active Strap Pro now as I type this and last week I wore the Nomad stainless Steel 24×7.
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4 thoughts on “Best Apple Watch Band for Running ? Sports Strap – Definitive Guide | Workout | Fitness | Adventure |”
Does anyone know of a watch band (or ring) with Bluetooth start/stop & lap buttons? This would be a killer solution to the problem of swiping (or pressing crown+side buttons) to take lap splits and to start/stop the session.
i’ve not seen that
Apple workout app: double tap the screen to take a lap 😉
however i would point out that your APP controls the functionality of the buttons.
thus other apps do allow a single press of a single button to take a lap. from memory i think ismoothrun can do that (although my default setting isn’t that). I’m pretty sure stryd app does that too
if you enable watch screenshots (crown+button) then that might shift your current app’s lapping functionality
finally ! 😉 the killer solution is better than you think and is free and is this: https://the5krunner.com/2021/07/12/running-use-gesture-control-to-take-a-lap/
other readers should note that Ian has a rather cool running channel: https://www.youtube.com/c/RunningOtaku . worth a sneaky, quick subscribe
nice roundup 🙂
What is the app on the second screenshot of this review? (the one with the “ready to train” emntion, the HR, R-R..N?
enjoy, i think there is some good science in that app.
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