Fitness Tracker Buying Guide

Here’s a list of some of the best and most popular fitness trackers available in 2018.  Many of these I have reviewed myself and links to the full reviews are included as well as current prices.  This buying guide includes budget friendly fitness trackers with basic tracking abilities (steps, heart rate, sleep) to some of the most popular and featured-packed fitness trackers with built-in GPS, advanced metrics, navigational support and more.

Budget Friendly Fitness Trackers

Lintelek Fitness Tracker

Unlike the very basic WP-112, the Lintelek Fitness Tracker supports 14 different activities: walking, running, bicycle, hiking, mountaineering, badminton, fitness, indoor cycling, treadmill, yoga, basketball, football, tennis, and dancing.  This one tested out good on everything but tracking my heart rate during activities.  Others have had better results with it so I’m not writing it off.

Heart Rate Sensor: Yes
Built-in GPS: No, Supports Connected GPS
Music Storage: No
Can Wear Swimming: No
Multi-Sport: Yes
Sleep Tracking: Yes

 Read the Full Review

 View the Lintelek Fitness Tracker on Amazon


Diggro DB-05 / PowMax GPS Watch

The Diggro DB-05 also branded as the PowMax GPS Hiking Watch is a surprisingly capable watch that tested out very good for GPS accuracy.  Yeah, it has a built-in GPS!  It also supports 8 different activities including: running, walking, basketball, soccer, badminton, treadmill, climbing/hiking, outdoor cycling.

I only had two major gripes about it.  One, I couldn’t get it to change from the metric to the imperial system but I can live with that.  Secondly, the screen brightness setting didn’t change for me.  It has 3 levels of brightness but that feature didn’t work on my watch and I’m assuming my test unit was defective.  Anyway, it made it difficult to view the screen outdoors.  Otherwise, the watch tested out well.

Heart Rate Sensor: Yes
Built-in GPS: Yes
Music Storage: No
Can Wear Swimming: No
Multi-Sport: Yes
24/7 HR Tracking: No
Sleep Tracking: Yes

 Read the Full Review

 View the PowMax GPS Watch on Amazon
View the Diggro DB-05 @ Walmart


Amazfit Bip

Amazfit Bip

If you’re in the market for an affordable fitness tracker/GPS watch the Amazfit Bip is the one I would suggest.  Yeah, there’s cheaper options but you’re probably better off spending just a little bit more and getting something you’ll be happy with in the long term.

The Bip features a long battery life (30+ days), a great color transflective display for awesome outdoor visibility in bright sunlight, GPS+GLONASS for decent distance estimates, a heart rate sensor that usually tested very well (make sure you read the review for all the details), a compass, GPS coordinates display, and more.

The Bip is very lightweight, has easy to change straps, and is extremely comfortable to wear.  Amazfit is also a company that produces other quality fitness trackers like the Amazfit Pace going for $155.46, on Amazon is a very good running watch, and the new Amazfit Stratos going Check on Amazon on Amazon.

Heart Rate Sensor: Yes
Built-in GPS: Yes, GPS+GLONASS
Music Storage: No
Can Wear Swimming: Yes but doesn’t track swimming (see full review)
Multi-Sport: Yes
Sleep Tracking: Yes

 Read the Full Review
 View the Amazfit Bip on Amazon

Bracelet Style Fitness Trackers

There are several very good name brand fitness trackers in the bracelet form to choose from.  This style of tracker makes a lot of sense from a practical point of view.  They’re lightweight, unobtrusive, and tend to stay put on your wrist. Of course, Fitbit is probably the most recognizable name in fitness trackers sporting this style but Garmin and Samsung are also very popular.

Samsung Gear Fit 2 Pro

My personal favorite band-style fitness tracker is the Samsung Gear Fit 2. The newest version is the Gear Fit 2 Pro and the only difference between the two is that the Pro version can be worn swimming and it has an improved strap.  The strap on the Gear Fit 2 had a tendency to come loose, although mine didn’t start doing that until after a year of wearing it.  I would recommend getting the Pro version for that improved strap and it’s also great to have a watch that can get wet for peace of mind, even if you don’t plan to swim with it.

With the Gear Fit 2 and Gear Fit 2 Pro you’re going to get an extremely responsive gorgeous looking screen, very good heart rate monitoring, built-in GPS, music storage, support for Spotify, syncing with MyFitnessPal and lots of good stuff.  You can also reply to text notifications with quick reply responses (Android).

I highly recommend the Samsung Gear Fit 2 Pro if you’re looking for a bracelet style fitness tracker, especially for Android users.

Heart Rate Sensor: Yes
Built-in GPS: Yes
Music Storage: Yes
Can Wear Swimming: Gear Fit 2 No; Gear Fit 2 Pro Yes
Multi-Sport: Yes
24/7 HR Tracking: Yes
Sleep Tracking: Yes

Price Compare:

 View the Samsung Gear Fit 2 Pro @ Amazon
View the
Samsung Gear Fit 2 Pro @ Walmart


Fitbit Charge 2

A safe bet for fitness tracking is the Fitbit Charge 2.  It’s probably the most popular fitness tracker out there and believe it or not, I haven’t personally tested it.  I’m waiting for the Charge 3 but I’ve read through loads of reviews and most of them are very good.  The only issue I’ve seen pop up are durability issues with the Charge 2, although most people have very good experiences with it.

The bests things about Fitbit is that the mobile app is easy to use and displays useful information.  I think Fitbit does sleep tracking better than anyone else and I do like the Cardio Fitness Score that it assigns users.  I think that’s useful information to know for your health.  Also, because Fitbit is so popular, there are zillions of accessories for it.  You can change out the band and dress it up or just simply reflect your personality and style more with a more funky band.

Heart Rate Sensor: Yes
Built-in GPS: No, Supports Connected GPS
Music Storage: No
Can Wear Swimming: No
Multi-Sport: Yes
24/7 HR Tracking: Yes
Sleep Tracking: Yes

Price Compare:

  View the Fitbit Charge 2 @ Amazon
  View the
Fitbit Charge 2 @ Walmart


Garmin Vivosmart HR

Even though this is the older version of the Vivosmart HR, I think it’s the better deal.  For one thing, it’s very affordable and secondly, it is still receiving positive reviews.

The Garmin Vivosmart HR is a very good choice for an entry-level name brand fitness tracker.  It tracks your steps, distance, calories, floors climbed, and heart rate.  It can also detect, what Garmin refers to as, intensity minutes.

It’s recommend by many health professionals to reach at least 150 intensity minutes each week.  Intensity minutes are those times when you’re more physically active and your heart rate is higher.  I use this metric with my Fenix 5s to make sure I’ve included enough vigorous fitness activities throughout the week.

The Vivosmart HR is a no-nonsense, easy-to-use tracker with a reflective display for great outdoor visibility.  It also has a move bar on the screen to encourage you to keep moving.  It also shows basic notifications on the screen.

The Vivosmart HR is still a very good option.

 View the Garmin Vivosmart HR on Amazon
View the
Garmin Vivosmart HR on Walmart


Garmin Vivosmart 3

The newer Garmin Vivosmart 3 (View on Amazon) is thinner,  and includes VO2 max estimates to determine your aerobic fitness level.  It also includes tracking for strength training workouts with the ability to count sets, reps, and rest periods.  It also has true 24/7 heart rate tracking and stress tracking.  It’s definitely a good option to look at too.

Price Compare:

  View the Garmin Vivosmart 3 @ Amazon
View the
Garmin Vivosmart 3 (with included headphones) @ Walmart

Smartwatch Fitness Trackers

This is a category that is the most fun to review because these watches not only track fitness activities but also come with some handy smartwatch features such as the ability to add apps and/or widgets to extend the functionality of the watch to fit your needs.

This is also a category in which the lines are being blurred more and more by the year, if not month.  I could put the Apple Watch in this category because it also does fitness tracking but I still think of it as primarily a smartwatch.  I’d say the same thing for most Wear OS watches.

Instead, in this category I’ve selected watches that do fitness best but also offer some useful smartwatch features.

Samsung Gear Sport

The Samsung Gear Sport is one of my personal favorites.  It has very good fitness tracking abilities but also supports some of my favorite apps MapMyRun, Endomondo, MyFitnessPal, and some decent navigational apps.  There’s also news apps, games, weather radar apps, and tons of watch faces to choose from in the app store.

The Gear Sport also features a rotating bezel, buttons, an a touch screen for navigating through the various menus and screens.  It also supports swimming, has a built-in GPS, and music storage.

If you have a Samsung smartphone or any other Android phone then the Gear Sport is definitely worth looking at.  It works with iPhones too but you won’t be able to reply to text messages like you can with an Android phone.

There’s two things that I feel are missing from the Gear Sport and that is a mic for talk to text and breadcrumbing for hiking but third-party apps (MapMyRun & Endomondo) do let your see your live path on a map.

Heart Rate Sensor: Yes
Built-in GPS: Yes
Music Storage: Yes
Can Wear Swimming: Yes
Multi-Sport: Yes
24/7 HR Tracking: Yes
Sleep Tracking: Yes

 Read the Review

Price Compare:

View the Samsung Gear Sport @ Amazon
View the
Samsung Gear Sport @ Walmart


Fitbit Ionic

The Ionic is Fitbit’s first smartwatch released in late 2017.  It’s now joined by Fitbit’s second smartwatch, the Fitbit Versa (View on Amazon) which should encourage much more app development to turn both watches into legit rivals for both Samsung and Apple.

I haven’t personally tested the Ionic but I have read dozens and dozens of reviews and the verdict is that the fitness features are very good.  The Ionic has built-in GPS and music storage- two things most people these days want on their fitness trackers.

Heart Rate Sensor: Yes
Built-in GPS: Yes
Music Storage: Yes
Can Wear Swimming: Yes
Multi-Sport: Yes
24/7 HR Tracking: Yes
Sleep Tracking: Yes

Price Compare:

 View the Fitbit Ionic @ Amazon
View the
Fitbit Ionic @ Walmart


Fitbit Versa

The Fitbit Versa, released in April of 2018 is Fitbit’s newest smartwatch, and as I thought would be the case when I first learned of it and saw it, has widespread appeal.  In just the first two months of its release, it’s already sold over 1,000,000 units.  This was exactly what Fitbit needed as many consumers are wanting a great tracker but also a smartwatch in the same package.

The Versa is a lightweight and comfortable watch, very reminiscent of the Fitbit Blaze but with the same operating system as the Fitbit Ionic which supports apps that can be downloaded to the watch.

The Special Edition of the Versa also supports wireless payments.  Current Price on Amazon: $179.00

The Versa has become my everyday watch because it is so comfortable to wear, looks good, has an accurate heart rate sensor and good step tracking.  The only thing lacking is a built-in GPS.  Instead it uses connected GPS which requires that you bring your phone along for your outdoor fitness activities in which you want distance estimated by GPS.

While app selection is limited right now with the popularity of the Versa I would expect to see many more quality apps being added soon to extend the functionality of the Versa.

Heart Rate Sensor: Yes
Built-in GPS: No, Has Connected GPS
Music Storage: Yes
Can Wear Swimming: Yes (also tracks swimming)
Multi-Sport: Yes
24/7 HR Tracking: Yes
Sleep Tracking: Yes

 Read the Review

Price Compare:

  View the Fitbit Versa @ Amazon
  View the
Fitbit Versa @ Walmart

Best GPS Fitness Trackers / Hiking Watches

Hiking is my favorite activity so many of the products that I look for are those that have very good navigational features, long battery life, and accurate GPS tracking.  Suunto and Garmin are the kings of this category.

Garmin Fenix 5s

My Custom Workout

I’ll just say it flat out.  The Garmin Fenix 5s is the best fitness tracker on this list or probably on any list.  It does everything.  I’ve yet to write the full review for it because of all the features it has.  I don’t even know where to start but as a hiking watch, I can say that it does a very good job.  It doesn’t support maps, except through third-party apps, like the larger Fenix 5x but the 5s will navigate you along your hiking and trekking adventures well.

You are able to create and download courses (routes) to the watch and be guided by navigational prompts.  You can also use the handy TracBack feature to return to your starting point for your freestyle hiking and trekking routes.  Points of interest can be designated and navigated to and breadcrumbing allows you to see where you are along your path.

The Fenix 5s also supports several other activities and I use it for anything and everything and it does a very good job.  The heart rate sensor has worked very good for me but it also supports ANT+ and Bluetooth chest heart rate straps for greater accuracy.

It also supports custom workouts and training plans.  The mobile app will show you tons of data about your workout.

If you’re really, really into fitness and/or hiking then you got to take a look at Garmin.  It’s expensive but Garmin is very good at supporting their products for a number of years with continued updates and support if you need it.

The Fenix 5s is also an attractive watch at a size that will look good on almost any wrist.

Heart Rate Sensor: Yes
Built-in GPS: Yes, GPS+GLONASS
Music Storage: No
Can Wear Swimming: Yes
Multi-Sport: Yes
24/7 HR Tracking: Yes
Sleep Tracking: Yes

Price Compare:

  View the Garmin Fenix 5s @ Amazon
View the
Garmin Fenix 5s @ Walmart

 

Smartwatches (That also have good fitness tracking!)

Ticwatch E

The Ticwatch E is the most affordable Wear OS smartwatches in 2018.  It’s been a hit for Mobvoi.  With Wear OS (formerly branded Android Wear) you’ll have full access to all Wear OS apps.  You’ll also have Google Assistant and Google Maps.  The Ticwatch E also had a mic and speaker for answering and making phone calls while connected to your phone. (Android phones only.) You can also respond to text messages by voice (Android) which is super handy and a feature I use quite a bit.

The Ticwatch E is a great option for an inexpensive but full-featured smartwatch.  It also has very good fitness features that were carried over from the Ticwatch 2.  In addition, the Ticwatch E supports Google Fit workouts and several third-party fitness apps.

Heart Rate Sensor: Yes
Built-in GPS: Yes
Music Storage: Yes
Can Wear Swimming: No
Multi-Sport: Yes
Sleep Tracking: No, third-party apps offer this however for Android

 Read the Review

Price Compare:

 View the Ticwatch E @ Amazon
View the
Ticwatch E @ Walmart

 

Apple Watch Series 3

Of course, I have to mention the Apple Watch because it is still the most popular smartwatch on the market and one of the most highly rated.  iOS 5, the software for the Apple Watch was just announced and includes some new features that will be available to Series 1, Series 2, and Series 3 Apple Watches.  For more on that click here.

Heart Rate Sensor: Yes
Built-in GPS: Yes
Music Storage: Yes
Can Wear Swimming: Yes
Multi-Sport: Yes
Sleep Tracking: No, but third-party apps are available

Price Compare:

 View the Apple Watch Series 3 42 mm @ Amazon
View the
Apple Watch Series 3 38 mm or 42 mm @ Walmart