Running is among the most famous activities to do to lose weight, and nowadays, this activity is usually paired with a GPS tracking device. You may be thinking, “Why would I need a GPS when I run?” Yes, a nice pair of shoes should be enough to keep you going. However, if you want to monitor how your training is going, then GPS–if not the best GPS for running, is necessary.
A GPS tracking device can give you information on how fast you ran, what is the distance you traveled, how many calories you burned, and other measurements that will tell you what your current fitness level is.
Whether you just want to keep track of your fitness progress, or you are training for a race or marathon, a GPS tracker will help you reach your target. It will also benefit those who love to explore and run new terrains because it can keep track of your map, so you do not get lost and find your way back.
In this article, we will compare the features, pros, and cons of the top three favorite GPS devices on the market today, so we can help you choose the best fit for you.
Best GPS for Running: Top Six Picks
Polar Vantage V
Polar has made strides with cutting edge heart rate monitors and other wearable tech innovations since 1977. Its latest addition, the Polar Vantage V gives pro athletes a smart training option that guarantees optimal performance.
Initially popular in cycling, running power is now a key component part of a runner’s performance indicator. Currently, the Polar Vantage V is the only wrist-based running power monitor for athletes. With this watch, you no longer need a foot pod or a power meter when running.
Monitoring the rate of change of mechanical energy, also known as running power, is vital in for any professional athlete. Running power is an indicator of how hard an athlete is working towards utilizing his/her full potential.
- The Polar Vintage V watch is a 7 ounces GPS watch measuring 6 x 4 x 4 inches.
- It provides accurate heart rate data based on skin contact and optical heart rate dimensions. This drastically reduces the possible margin of error when recording in strenuous training conditions.
- The Polar Vantage V watch monitors your recovery from a strenuous workout. This ensures you maintain good training and rest balance that keeps you free from injury.
- All your historical training data is compiled on the Polar Flow platform. The data can then be analyzed and compared against industry standard rates. You may opt to synchronize and transfer this data to other external devices such as Strava and TrainingPeaks.
- This watch can provide feedback based on various running power zones. This is also based on varying levels of maximal aerobic power. Such measurements provide feedback of key parameters including the athlete’s basic endurance training and performance in preparation for a marathon.
- Long lasting battery life
- Classy design
- Running power measurement from your wrist
- Ideal for over 130 sports
- Premium priced
Garmin Forerunner 245 Music
The Garmin Forerunner 245 Music has superior tracking data attributes giving a head start to any competitive runner. For, this 2019 release replaces the Forerunner 235, retailing in music and standard versions. With the music style, you can download up to 500 songs/3.5GB from Spotify®, Deezer, and Amazon Music.
Garmin strives to make cutting-edge running watches in the smallest size possible. In turn, the Forerunner 245 is much smaller and lightweight than its predecessor, with a standard band that fits most wrists.
- Sleek Lightweight Construction
The watch has a 42.3mm case, 12.2mm thick, and a standard 20mm band. Plus, it weighs 38.5g, staying water-resistant up to 50 meters in water.
- Health Metrics
Monitor your calories, intensity, menstrual cycle, steps, heart rate, and stress. Next, get notifications about your 24/7 activity and sleep patterns. The latest feature is a Body Battery™ Energy Monitor that tracks your energy levels to calculate and suggest the best time to exercise.
- Pre-loaded Activity Profiles
The Forerunner 245 has swimming, running, and cycling tracking mode. Plus, it tracks strength training, walking, indoor rowing, and yoga.
- Transflective Display Technology
The 1.2-inch transflective LCD display has no glare. Instead, you can read your metrics even under direct sunlight or when wearing polarized sunglasses.
- Smart Features
Get notifications, weather forecasts, and calendar notifications from your iPhone or Android smartphone. Control the music on your phone. Download widgets, watch faces, training apps, and other data fields. This smartwatch uses GPS/Galileo/Glonass sensors in addition to its compass and health sensors.
The smartwatch can connect to Apple Health, MyFitnessPal, and Strava, synchronizing your runs via Bluetooth or wifi. In particular, the Strava synchronization is more accurate than other leading GPS running smartwatches.
- Battery Life
For a smartwatch with a versatile tracking feature, this Forerunner 245 promises seven days of battery life when used as a smartwatch. This duration comes to 24 hours when on the GPS mode. It’s a plus or minus, depending on the features you tap each day.
The Garmin Forerunner 245 uses a super layered menu system. Here, it may take up to 12 clicks at the side buttons to get to the feature you want. For sure, an upgrade to a touch screen is welcome.
- A very lightweight fitness watch
- Over 3.5gb space to store your favorite tunes
- Easily integrates with most Garmin apps and devices.
- Has additional body and overall health trackers.
- Comfortable straps
- The battery is not as long-lasting.
The music software is not very user friendly.
Polar M200 GPS Running Watch
Do you need to monitor your heart rate while running? Try the Polar M200 GPS Running Watch with Wrist-Based Heart Rate. The watch features an easy to use wrist-based heart rate monitor. The feature uses the optical heart rate module to accurately measure your intensity levels and use this measurement to adjust your heart rate zones.
This watch also tracks your activities 24/7 while guiding your workouts towards achieving optimal performance. It utilizes a running index analysis to predict how long you will take to finish your next race. Its GPS tracking enables you to view your training route, with highlights on your best sessions.
- This is a 40g waterproof smartwatch with a display screen measuring 26mm.
- It can display data in sixteen different languages.
- It has a rechargeable battery, a USB A-connector, vibration alerts, an alarm and, a backlight.
- The smartwatch has various sport profile settings that you can customize to suit your training needs.
- This watch has a set of daily activity goals based on your historical physical activity data. It counts all steps taken and the overall distance covered.
- It also utilizes the Polar Flow App to summarize your activity data. This App warns you when you have been inactive during the day for too long so as not to slow down your blood circulation, energy levels, or metabolism. It also tracks the number of hours you spend sleeping.
Use Bluetooth to connect your smartphone and any other compatible device to the Polar Flow App.
- Accurate heart rate monitoring
- Compatible with most Windows, Mac and the Polar Flow Web/App and third party services
- Compatible with Strava and FitnessPal
- Has comfortable fitting straps
- Excellent for swimming
- Long lasting battery life
- Has various alerts to monitor your training
- Lacks cadence measurement vital for a runner
Suunto Ambit3 Peak HR Running GPS Unit
Tuomas Vohlonen founded Suunto in 1936. He also invented the production method of the liquid-filled compass. Since then, he has been considered as the forefront of innovation and design for dive computers, sports watches, and instruments used by adventurers. Suunto aims to equip adventurers mentally and physically through the products they offer, so they can readily conquer the outdoors.
- It measures 5 x 4 x 4 inches and weighs 4.6 ounces.
- It comes with a Lithium-ion battery and has a battery life of 200 hours with an accuracy of one minute.
- It has a liquid-filled compass that can provide navigation and then trackback.
- It can show accurate weather information and altitude.
- It can measure multiple sports in one log.
- It can be programmed for different languages that include English, French, Italian, Russian, and Japanese, to name a few.
- It has a built-in barometer and altimeter.
- It has a GPS with 100-meter water resistance.
- It displays messages, calls, and push notifications
- It measures your heart rate while swimming.
- It comes with the Suunto Movescount application which helps you discover new routes while also keeping you safe with the right directions.
- The package includes one battery
- 200 hours battery life with one-minute accuracy
- Liquid-filled compass
- Shows accurate and stable altitude and weather information
- One log tracks multiple sports
- Can be used in many different languages
- Built-in barometer and altimeter
- GPS is water-resistant up to 100 meters
- Comes with the Suunto Movescount application
- Can be synced with your mobile phone
- Displays messages, calls, and push notifications
- Monitors heart rate when swimming
- Incapable of counting your daily steps
- The synchronization and settings have steep learning curves, especially for a beginner.
Garmin Forerunner 230
Garmin products are engineered for the outdoor life so that consumers can pursue their passion while making the most out of their time. They bring wearable technology and GPS navigation to aviation, automotive, outdoor, marine, and fitness industry. They have a knack for seizing opportunities to discover and innovate.
- It measures 1.8 x 1.8 x 0.5 inches and is lightweight at 1.44 ounces.
- It has a color display with high resolution.
- It has a built-in accelerometer that tracks pace, distance, and heart rate.
- It can identify your personal records.
- It has connectivity features like social media sharing and live tracking via the Garmin Connect mobile application, allowing you to get motivating feedback from friends real-time.
- It comes with extra training features so you can set up alerts for your pace, heart rate, and run or walk intervals.
- It has audible and vibration alerts that you can easily customize.
- It shows a post-run summary immediately.
- It comes with a hinged wristband which is sturdy yet comfortable for any wrist size.
- It comes with simple buttons which are easy to operate.
- It stops and continues timer based on your speed
- It notifies you when you hit your record or target.
- High-res color display
- Built-in accelerometer
- Identifies personal records
- Connectivity features and Garmin Connect mobile application
- Extra training features
- Audible and vibration alerts
- Post-run summary
- Comfortable hinged wristband
- Easy to operate buttons
- Automatic timer pause and continue based on speed
- Notification for hitting your target
- Not recommended for triathlon training since there is no bike functionality
- Does not get accurate data when used in the water
- Settings and synchronizations may be too complicated for a beginner
U Wear UW90 Outdoor Sports Smart Watch GPS
U Wear was built in 2007. It is a new high technology local enterprise that is committed to providing smart wearable one-stop services through sales and manufacture. The company is focused on developing native smart wearable technologies in the industry, and their mission is to ascend into an international brand and continue to self-develop.
- It comes with 11 professional modes such as cycling, running, climbing, hiking, treadmill, skiing, rock climbing, surfing, boating, marathon, and golfing.
- It has GPS positioning, and it is easy to navigate.
- It can be connected to your mobile phone via Bluetooth.
- It can monitor your heart rate real-time.
- It has an IP68 construction which makes it waterproof.
- It can display your workout data from the application.
- It can function as a compass, an alarm clock, and a stopwatch
- It has a standby time of 10.5 to 15 hours in GPS-operating mode, and the battery can last for 20.5 days under regular mode.
- It is made up of a steel dial plate that has military-grade quality.
- It comes with a shatter-resistant and anti-scratch display screen.
- It comes with a silicone strap which ensures comfort and stability.
- It is fit for both women and men.
- 11 professional modes
- Easy to navigate
- GPS positioning
- Bluetooth connectivity
- Real-time heart rate monitoring
- Workout data display through the app
- Can be used as a compass, an alarm clock, and a stopwatch
- Long battery life, whether in GPS mode or under normal usage
- Military-grade steel dial plate
- Shatter-resistant and anti-scratch screen
- Silicone strap for comfort and stability
- Applicable for indoor and outdoor sports, as well as professional training
- There may be skips when used in prolonged training.
- Continues to track steps even on rest
After a detailed comparison of the features, pros, and cons of the top GPS products on the market these days, you should be able to choose the best GPS for running.
Our top pick is the Garmin Forerunner 230 because it is offered in a reasonable cost yet it is also rich in features. It is lightweight, and it comes with a sturdy and comfortable-to-wear wristband.
It also has buttons that are easy to operate so you can continuously enjoy your training. Plus, it has social media sharing and live tracking capabilities which allow you to contribute and get motivational feedback from your friends and loved ones.
Overall, we can say that these devices are competitive. What you need to consider is the level of training and activity you are after so you can weigh each product’s features and see which will best match what you need.