Usually, runners want to keep track of 3 essential things. These are the pace, the distance, and the time. You don’t have to acquire separate gadgets to monitor all these. What you need is a superior running watch. Nowadays, running watches are more complicated. They now have many different functions. However, their prices have gone up significantly too. Don’t lose hope though; there are still some fantastic watches out there which are under $100.
Just because something is cheap, that doesn’t mean it’s inferior. You can use some of these watches to tell you how much time elapsed as you were running. There are also affordable watches, which you can use to record lap splits. Some even have GPS trackers while remaining easy-to-use.
These are examples of convenient features you can source. Try to find them when selecting for your next running watch. In this article, we have reviewed some of the best running watches under $100 for you. Each of these products will help you out as you run. Go through them and maybe you’ll find what you need.
Best Running Watches Under $100
1. Fitbit Inspire 2 Health & Fitness Tracker
Fitbit Inspire 2 is an affordable and easy-to-use health and fitness tracker. It is suitable for anyone who wants to keep tabs on their daily activity, sleep, and heart rates while on a budget. Here, you get a heart rate monitor, a sleep monitor, a pedometer, and a calorie tracker. Plus, you can keep track of time, receive regular text messages and health and fitness notifications on your phone, and plan up to 20 workouts using the pre-installed digital calendar.
Fitbit Inspire 2 watch opts for a simple and elegant design, water-resistant up to 50 meters. It has a small black and white display touch screen that is brighter than the predecessor models. Also, the watch replaces physical switches on the sides with a discrete pressure-sensitive button. Next, there are charging nodes and a heart rate sensor at the back. And, you get a quick release for straps replacement at the top and bottom.
Fitbit Inspire 2 gives new users access to 1 year free trial to the Fitbit Premium subscription. The membership helps tap into your Fitbit stats to create a personalized health and fitness goals. Besides, you can pair the watch with most fitness apps on your phone to generate a detailed analysis of your actual performance against your set goals.
- Slim, easy-to-use design with intuitive features
- Wireless communication via Bluetooth
- Water-resistant up to 50 meters in water
- Compatible with most straps
- Ten days of battery life
- One year of Fitbit Premium membership
- One-year limited manufacturer warranty
- No color display
- No built-in GPS
2. Garmin Vívofit 4 Activity Tracker
The Garmin Vivofit 4 is an entry-level activity tracker retailing below $100. It retains most of the ergonomic traits of its predecessor models, except for a metallic button that replaces the former plastic switch on the face of Garmin Vivofit 3. Then, expect a lightweight heart monitor and accelerometer with activity tracking traits like a step counter, auto goal, calories burned, intensity minutes, and distance traveled. This device retails in small or medium sizes to fit more users.
Garmin Vivofit 4 pairs with Garmin Connect™ Mobile to help you transfer your Vivofit four stats to your phone. Likewise, you can use this app to receive smartphone notifications directly on your activity tracker. Next is a weather widget giving you a snapshot of the current weather in your area. And, if you misplace or lose your smartphone, use the Vivofit 4 “Find My Phone” smart capability to sound an alert on your phone. It is a Bluetooth signal that increases as you approach the missing phone.
Finally, if you are a swimmer, start the timer on your Garmin Vivofit 4 Activity Tracker before plunging into the water. The tracker automatically records and displays swim activity like pool depth and swim intervals. In addition, you can pair your Vivofit four devices, Vívofit jr. 2 for kids, or any other compatible device to activate the 2-minutes Toe-to-Toe™ Challenge. The app pins you against your family or friends in a step competition.
- Small, attractive fitness tracker
- Always on, customizable all-color display
- Pairs with Garmin Connect™ for personalized fitness tracking
- Toe-to-Toe™ feature for instant timed step competition
- 1+ year battery life; no charging required
- Versatile straps with a speckled effect
- No in-built GPS
3. Amazfit Bip S Fitness Smartwatch
Amazfit Bip S Fitness Smartwatch is an upgrade to the original Amazfit Bip. It is an ultra-lightweight running watch that retails with a time display, heart rate monitor, sleep monitor, pedometer, distance tracker, calorie tracker, and built-in GPS tracking.
The smartwatch has an ergonomic design that features a 1.28” transflective color display that is always on. It is an energy-efficient display that supports long battery life and is visible in direct sunlight. Further, this upgraded display shows more colors.
Next, the watch uses an 11mm thick square case, similar to an Apple watch. It is of a resilient polycarbonate material weighing 31 grams. Hence, it is a lightweight and super comfortable watch for running or sleeping. The smartwatch uses basic straps that blend in with the casing. Still, you can easily replace the bands with fancy ones compatible with the watch.
There is only one manual button control on the side of the smartwatch. The control activates the screen or takes you to a menu for accessing the digital features that include ten sports modes tracking.
Finally, as an entry-level running watch, Amazfit Bip S Fitness Smartwatch uses an advanced heart rate monitor and an internal GPS to track your fitness and health goals. Hence, you can use it without connecting it to your smartphone.
- Sleek, affordable smartwatch
- Works independently using an advanced heart rate monitor & in-built GPS
- Access to 10 sports modes tracking
- Super responsive, transflective color display
- Retails in versatile color options
- Up to 40 days of battery life
- Waterproof up to 50 meter
- The screen lacks an edge-to-edge display
4. xuweicn Fitness Watch For Men & Women
Just like the name suggests, Xuweicn is a product of China. However, unlike most Chinese products, this watch has stood the test of time. It comes with advanced technology, and the construction materials are of high quality.
This smartwatch connects to almost all smart devices, including your Android or iPhone watch, your Bluetooth-enabled heart monitor, your favorite Apps stores, and all music streaming platforms. Let me mention that your phone will find the watch and not the other way around.
It comes with the standard 22mm width band, which means should you need to replace or upgrade, the watch will fit any 22 mm band on the market. That includes both metallic and rubber bands.
We love the long-lasting battery. Even with everyday use, you’ll only need to recharge the battery once every one to two weeks.
If you are looking for a watch that allows you to see your phone calls while on the run without pulling out your phone, this watch will do precisely that and more. You can also see the messages and phone alerts and notifications and answer your calls. The only thing you won’t do is reply to the text messages.
With regards to fitness, Xuweicn fitness watch over-delivers. From the accuracy of recording your steps to the multiple fitness icons, you can access. These include your oxygen levels meter, blood pressure, and heart rate, monitors.
- Long-lasting battery
- Very easy to set up on any smart device
- Accurate with recording fitness data
- Stylish and comfortable flex band
- Multiple fitness icons
- Doesn’t respond to text messages
5. Timex Full-Size Ironman Endure 30 Shock Watch
If you fancy the 20th Century timepieces, opt for Timex Full-Size Ironman Endure 30 Shock Watch to bring back the vibes. It is a robust full-size watch that reminisces the original 1986 IRONMAN® watch. Only, you now have additional functions like a countdown timer and a customizable alarm. And the watch retails in a shock-resistant resin case and straps to last a lifetime.
Timex Full-Size Ironman Endure 30 Shock Watch has innovative functions like a real-time calendar clock, 30-lap memory recall, a 99-lap counter, 2-time zone settings, and a daily, weekday, and weekend alarm. Next is a 24-hour countdown timer, hourly chime, 100-hour chronograph with lap and split storage, and on-screen prompts that facilitate setting the time. And there is a top pusher for easy operation.
Timex Full-Size Ironman Endure 30 Shock Watch has a stylish INDIGLO® Light-Up Watch Dial with a night mode. The digital display under the mineral glass lens has an electroluminescent backlight and large fonts that make it effortless to check the time while on the move.
Whereas this timepiece is not a diver watch, still, it has a water resistance of up to 200 meters. Hence, it will hold up well when swimming or during accidental drops in the water as long as the lens, pushbuttons, and case remain intact.
- Rugged, utilitarian, stylish, & economical full-size watch
- Uses original 1986 model resin straps and case
- Easy to read display, day and night
- Passed the ISO test for shock resistance
- Robust buckle system
- One-year limited warranty
- Optional warranty extension by 1, 2, or 3 years upon registration
- A bulky design
You already have an idea of the best running watches under $100, but do you have some basic understanding of what to look for in a running watch? Looking at the price and brand is a good thing, but you should know the features that you need from a running watch.
Since the very first thing we usually look at when buying a running or GPS watch is the price tag, let’s start with it. GPS watches are usually pricey. You can find some budget watches under $100, but most of the decent ones are around $200 and above.
Whether you are on a tight budget or you have the money for expensive brands, you should know what to expect from a GPS watch based on its price. Here they are:
Low-Cost GPS Watches
These watches are available around $150 and below, and you can expect that they can do the bare minimum when it comes to running watches. They can track time, distance, pace, and speed, as well as burned calories. They can also create laps and they look like a normal sports watch.
Most low-cost GPS watches are also waterproof so that you can bring them to swimming. Additionally, battery life is pretty good; in fact, they can be used for around 10 to 20 hours in activity mode.
Mid-Range GPS Watches
The features are pretty much the same as the low-cost watches, but mid-range priced GPS watches have better battery life. The only difference is that they usually have interval workouts and wrist-based heart rate monitors. Most of these watches are also made for more specific people like runners, hikers, and multi-sport athletes.
High-End GPS Watches
In terms of battery life and features, high-end GPS watches offer a lot more. Aside from the basic features, they also have more advanced features that you cannot find in low-cost and mid-range GPS watches. These watches are for almost every type of athlete, and you can customize your activity profiles.
2. Activities Tracked
Some running watches excel at a particular activity, while others are designed for multiple activities. Let’s look at the tracking features that you need depending on the type of activity you are planning to do.
Walkers and Runners
For casual runners and walkers, a basic watch that can track time, distance, and speed is already enough. You won’t benefit from an advanced running watch since you might not really need the extra features.
On the contrary, for intermediate runners, you will need a watch with interval training as well as heart rate monitors. Heart rate monitors can be used to gauge the intensity of the workout. As for interval workouts, it is programmed on your watch to alert you when to start or stop the interval.
Lastly, experienced runners would need a more detailed GPS watch. That is because you need to be able to create custom workouts.
For casual cyclists, you need to look for a watch that can display your speed in miles per hour, while for intermediate cyclists, the watch should have bicycle-specific features and accessories. Finally, for advanced cyclists, the GPS watch should be compatible with a power meter.
3. Additional Features
You only need additional features if you require certain functions that a basic GPS watch doesn’t offer. One example of this is health features. Most GPS watches don’t have this kind of feature, but there are a few brands that would provide such.
Hardware pertains to the most important parts of the watch. The most important pieces of hardware include the battery, touch screen feature, and water resistance.
Most watches actually run using lithium-ion batteries, and they can last for about 10 to 12 hours in GPS mode in a single charge. Being able to use a watch for 10 hours straight is already a good sign, and it will go up depending on the type of feature that you are using and the amount of time you are using it.
Waterproof or Water-resistant
You have to know the difference between the two. Every watch is actually waterproof since you can still use them even when they are wet. However, a water-resistant GPS watch is different because it means that you can submerge it underwater without damaging it.
If you are looking at the water-resistant ability of the watch, make sure that it is water-resistant for up to 30 meters.
When you are looking for a GPS watch, you need to pay attention to accuracy, but don’t be too picky. No watch can produce 100% accuracy. Usually, there would be about one to three percent discrepancy, but it is still pretty close.
If you try to look for a 100% accurate GPS watch, you will spend your whole life waiting, and you still won’t find one. That said, pay attention to some of the extremely inaccurate watches. Cheaper watches are usually inaccurate, and there is a big difference with the actual data.
6. Learning Curve
For beginners, running watches can be a bit difficult to use, especially for people who don’t often use high-tech items. There is definitely a learning curve when using a GPS watch, but it won’t be too much of a hassle for techy people.
If you are already old and you plan to use a GPS watch, you might want to read everything carefully so that you can learn how to use it properly along with its advanced features.
In today’s technology, it is essential to look for a GPS watch that would sync to different gadgets and applications. Well, you are in luck because most of the newest GPS watches can be synced to various platforms.
You can now download the workout from the watch to your computer, and you do it through a USB cord or wirelessly through Bluetooth.
Your GPS watches can also be synced to your Facebook and Twitter accounts. If you are the type of person who likes to share their results on social media to show off to their friends, it is now possible. There are GPS watches that will allow you to do this.
There are different types of accessories that a GPS watch usually has. Here are some of them:
- Heart Rate Monitor: This is the most common accessory of a GPS watch and something worth considering. This will help measure the intensity of the workout.
- Foot Pod: This is a pill-shaped accessory that can do two important things. One is to act as a substitute for the GPS when you are running on a treadmill or out of coverage area. Another is it will count foot turnover to determine cadence.
- Speed and Cadence Sensor: This is found in almost half of the watches available today. It is often mounted on your bike. It will count the rotation of the wheel to know the speed and distance. For the cadence sensor, it will count the number of rotations on the pedal.
Frequently Asked Questions
1. Is It Worth Getting a Smartwatch for Running?
Getting a smartwatch will allow you to track your progress. It doesn’t matter if you are just running for fun or doing it as a passion. You need a watch that can help track your progress and to help you make adjustments.
Using a regular watch can be a good choice, but it is only meant for people who don’t really care about anything else. If you just want to run without tracking anything, then get a regular watch.
2. What Are the Disadvantages of Running Smartwatches?
Well, the first one is probably its price. Compared to standard watches, they are definitely more expensive because of the extra features they offer.
Also, these watches can break easily since they have a lot of small and moving parts. If you accidentally dropped them, there is a bigger chance that they would break. The cost of repair is also expensive.
3. How Many Years Does a Smartwatch Last?
A smartwatch can last from one year up to five years or more. It depends on how you maintain your watch and how you use it.
Basically, your watch can last for many years if you know how to take good care of it. If you don’t have any idea how to perform maintenance on your watch, you can expect that it will only last about one or two years.
4. Can Smartwatches Give You Cancer?
This is probably one of the most important questions asked by consumers because they are afraid of getting cancer just by using gadgets such as smartwatches. There is no solid proof or evidence that smartwatches can release radiation that will, in turn, give you cancer.
5. Do Smartwatches Need Data Plans?
It can be a yes or a no, and it will depend on how you plan to use the smartwatches. Well, they are often reliant on smartphones, so as long as your smartphones have a data plan, your smartwatches don’t have to be enrolled in a data plan.
However, it is more convenient for smartwatches to be enrolled in a data plan since you won’t have to rely on your phone to use their features.
Whichever running fitness tracker you settle for, ensure you can tick against these five must-haves:
- A wireless syncing that allows you to update your stats in real time to other devices as you exercise
- A notification alert to mark your starting and finishing points within your milestones
- Water resistance since sweating is inevitable in any rigorous exercise
- A warranty of at least one year so that you know your investment is safe in case of any manufacturers defect
- And finally, a comfortable unisex design that is size adjustable to suit every size (you might add or lose weight in the process)
Our top five choices of the best running watches under $100 have all of these features. Which is your favorite model?