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Best GPS Watch for Running in 2018 Reviewed and Compared

Best GPS Watch for Running

The days of old-school compasses, outdated maps, and paper notepads are long gone. No one uses these stuffs in the age of smart fitness watches. You can now plan, navigate, and predict weather condition a hiking trail with the best GPS watch for running, a technology designed to take running and workout escapades to the next level.

The best GPS watch for running can help you a great deal to find your path in the wild and your way back home after a long run in the places you have never been to before. So you can enjoy the great outdoors, without worrying missing your workout metrics.

Of course, there are many GPS watches for running out there. But – like you guessed it – not all of them are worth buying. Unfortunately, some are low standard, and some are completely rip-offs with worst battery life and substandard functionality.

The goal of this guide is to help you find the best GPS watch for running that won’t disappoint you. From providing navigational tools like ABC sensors to featuring onscreen maps, these recommendations are worth both the asking price as well as your money.

In Summary: Our Top 3 Picks

Garmin Fenix 5 - Slate Gray with Black Band has been in the limelight for long, thanks to the quality of the design as well as the unique bells and whistles. In fact, if you are looking for the best smartwatch that comes with legit maps, this is the right smartwatch for you.

Garmin Forerunner 935 Premium Multisport Watch 010-01746-00 is a good watch for people who are looking for advanced multisport as well as running features in a smartwatch. Because it weighs only 49 grams, the Forerunner 935 Premium remains the most comfortable wearable to put on every day. You won’t even notice that you have it on your wrist.

Samsung Gear Sport Smartwatch is known as one of the best options on the market today. Because it is Bluetooth enabled, it will work quite well with the Samsung connect App. And given that it can keep charge for a long time, you can use the watch for a long period before the next charge.

In Reviews: What is the Best GPS Watch for Running? 

1. Garmin Fenix 5 - Slate Gray with BlackBand


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Garmin Fenix 5 - Slate Gray with Black Band
790 Reviews
Garmin Fenix 5 - Slate Gray with Black Band
  • Premium multisport GPS watch with Elevate wrist heart rate technology. Physical size- 1.8 x 1.8 x 0.6 inches. QuickFit watch band compatible-included (22 mm)
  • Fit for adventure with rugged design that features stainless steel bezel, buttons and rear case. Display type : sunlight-visible, transflective memory-in-pixel (MIP)
  • Put key stats at your fingertips with the performance widget that shows the effects and progress of your workouts
  • Connected features include smart notifications, automatic uploads to Garmin Connect online fitness community and personalization through free watch faces and apps from our Connect IQ store.Display size: 1.2" (240 x 240)
  • Outdoor sensors, including GPS and GLONASS satellite reception and 3-axis compass with gyroscope and barometric altimeter

If you already know about the new Fenix 5, it would be best if you ignore the introduction part. But for those who are arriving here for the first time, let me get you catch up, before I dive into the actual details.

So, what’s new about the Fenix 5? Well, Garmin Fenix 5 is one of the best GPS watches for running that stays true to its promise of delivering the best results in geolocation just like the best gps watches for hiking.

 By now, you should know that the Fenix 5 edition has legit maps. The watch measures approximately 47mm wide, it has a display size measuring about 1.2 inches, and it is offered in both regular glass and sapphire glass. Its resolution has been improved to 240p to 240p. Its battery life depends on how you use it.

Also, the watch features rear case, stainless steel bezel and buttons.

With the help of Garmin Fenix 5, you can get smart notification from emails and text messages.

Its outdoor sensors are a 3-axis compass with barometric altimeter, gyroscope, and GLONASS and GPS satellite reception.

With the performance widget, you can put key stats at your fingertips. This is because they show progress and effect of your workouts.

Some issues have been reported by some of the customers, and perhaps the most common claim is that the distance measurements are off a little bit.

​2. Garmin Forerunner 935 Premium Multisport Watch 010-01746-00


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Forerunner 935 GPS Running/Triathlon Watch
5 Reviews
Forerunner 935 GPS Running/Triathlon Watch
  • IN THE BOX: 1 x Garmin Forerunner 935 Premium Multisport Watch
  • GARMIN FORERUNNER 935 : It is Premium GPS Running/Triathlon Watch with Wrist-based Heart Rate

Garmin Forerunner 935 Premium Multisport is a comfortable watch that you can have on your wrist all day. It is lightweight, weighing only 49 grams, so you won’t feel its weight at all.

Watch offers advanced multisport and running features.

In the package, you will get a wall USB charging adapter, a screen protection pack, and a wearable4u power bank (2200mAh).

In GPS mode, Garmin Forerunner 935 Premium Multisport watch can run smoothly for 24 hours on a single charge. The battery life is far much better in watch mode. You can use it for 14 days before the battery runs out. In UltraTrac mode, the watch has a battery life of 60 hours.

Forerunner 935 can easily evaluate your training status, so you can easily judge whether you are under training or overtraining. Further, the watch also provides advanced dynamics for swimming, running and cycling (this includes ground contact time).

As a user, you are able to keep you bearings with the built-in altimeter, barometer and electronic compass. If you are a runner, a swimmer or a cyclist, I would prefer you have one of these, because I am so sure that this wearable won’t let you down. We have reviewed 

​3. Samsung Gear Sport Bluetooth Smartwatch 


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Samsung Gear Sport Smartwatch (Bluetooth), Black, SM-R600NZKAXAR – US Version with Warranty
326 Reviews
Samsung Gear Sport Smartwatch (Bluetooth), Black, SM-R600NZKAXAR – US Version with Warranty
  • Gear Sport is swim-ready and water-resistant up to 50 meters.
  • Get accurate, all-day fitness tracking, easy calorie entry and personal coaching.
  • With Samsung Pay NFC compatibility, easily make a payment from your wrist.
  • Check your updates and receive and reply to calls and texts with a turn of the bezel.
  • Compatible with Android and iOS smartphones.

Let me start by saying, Samsung Gear Smartwatch is one of the best GPS watch for running that you could ever spend money on and not feel the pinch.

Samsung Gear smartwatch supports Bluetooth connectivity. And, it is able to utilize the Samsung connect App. With that said, it is important to remember that not all smartphones that support Bluetooth connectivity can be paired with the watch.

That aside, Samsung Gear Sport Bluetooth Smartwatch can keep charge for a long period of time. This means that a runner, you can runner for short or long distances knowing that your activity is being monitored.

While the watch has a good battery life, how long the battery lasts will depend on the modes you set the watch to.

The watch is water-resistant up to 50m (per ISO 22810:2010 standard), some good news to people who also love to hit the water the same way they love to run.  As much as it can be used for swimming, it doesn’t mean it is good for scuba diving. You can check more waterproof activity trackers for swimming  that are specifically made for swimming.

When using this watch, avoid two things: high-velocity activities and sudden temperature changes.

The Samsung Gear Sport can make about five transactions without having to reconnect to a network. Apart from the transactions, there is also the notification system. As far as the alert feature goes, you can receive call, text messages, and emails through this wearable.

For those who have fallen in love with music, the watch can still entertain you. All you need to do is connect it with a Bluetooth wireless headphone.

​4. FitBit Ionic Smartwatch


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Fitbit Ionic Smartwatch, Blue-Gray/Silver, One Size (S & L Bands Included)
3,390 Reviews
Fitbit Ionic Smartwatch, Blue-Gray/Silver, One Size (S & L Bands Included)
  • Start dynamic personalized workouts on your wrist with step-by-step coaching
  • Store and play 300+ songs or download stations from Pandora or playlists from Deezer
  • Use built-in GPS/GLONASS to track pace, distance & routes and get Pure Pulse continuous heart rate tracking & real-time zones
  • Access your favorite apps for sports, weather & more and make payments on the go with a built-in NFC chip
  • Track runs, swims (Fitbit Ionic is water-resistant to 50 meters), rides, workouts, all day activity and sleep with 4+ day battery life (varies with use & other factors)

FitBit have been the talk in activity market. Slowly by slowly it has managed to take on smartwatches. The FitBit Ionic not only does what fitness Fitbits do but also takes things to the next level with built-in GPS, onboard music, and contactless payment. Unlike other fitness watches in the FitBit series, The Ionic has a wide touchscreen, a plus for people that love big screens.
It also allows you to access your favorite apps, thanks to the built-in NFC chip. If my guess is correct, this could be why FitBit calls the Ionic a smartwatch.

An OS 2 FitBit update was released in late March 2018 for the Ionic. This has brought out clock faces and new features.

The watch has an amplified brightness of about 1000 nits and an increased pixel. Thanks to the well-though design, the watch can function in very low and high temperature (-4 to 113 degrees Celsius).

This watch’s maximum operating altitude is approximately 30, 000 feet. Because the screen of this watch is damage resistant, it can be quite hard to break. In fact, the screen won’t break if the watch falls to the ground by error.

For people that love music, the Ionic has something cool for you. The FitBit Play functionality lets you listen to your favorite music as you workout.

​5. Suunto Spartan Sport Wrist HR


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Suunto Spartan Sport (Wrist - Hr), Blue
57 Reviews
Suunto Spartan Sport (Wrist - Hr), Blue
  • Battery life up to 12H in training mode
  • Steel bezel, mineral Crystal Glass, and an outdoor-grade color touch screen
  • Strong and sleek design with 100 meter water resistance
  • GPS route navigation
  • Sport-specific training modes and support for over 80 sports with racing and interval use

Suunto comes in three colors: sakura, black and blue. The watch is about 0.6 inches thick and about 2 inches in diameter. This awesome watch only weighs about 2.5 ounces. It is by far the most lightweight device on this list.

Most of the fitness trackers with HRHs (Heart Rate Monitors) on other smartwatches tend to stick out, but Suunto doesn’t stick out. You can even dive into a pool with it still on, because it is water resistant about 100 meters and 330 feet, far much better than Garmin and FitBit watches – so to speak.

On training mode, the battery can ‘live’ for up to 11 hours.

Talking of its dark side, the watch is very slow to synchronize, and its heart rate monitor is inaccurate.

The goods thing with the watch is it feels comfortable when you have it on, it collects a lot of data, and you can easily view the data through the large screen display. Also, it supports almost all sports.

If you are a runner or you engage in other sports activities, Suunto may be the best smartwatch to invest in to monitor your activities.

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