If you’ve never owned a GPS watch before, do yourself a favor and deck your wrist with some hardware. To be clear, we’re talking about watches that have built-in GPS rather than trackers and other watches that require a phone’s GPS. Those are great, too, but that’s a MensFitness.com story for another day!
The latest GPS watch models on the market are high-tech tools that seriously enhance your training so you can work harder and recover faster.
We’ve highlighted five of the most standout features rocking the tech and fitness world today, plus an example of a watch for each that’s making good use of it. Find the wearable that speaks to you and get to work.
Samsung Gear S2 with 3G Connectivity
There’s a common dilemma with technology and running: You want to decompress and get away from the noise and commotion of everyday life, but you don’t want to leave your phone at home in case of an emergency, so you’re stuck strapping it to your arm and praying your sweat doesn’t cause water damage. That’s not the case with this GPS watch from Samsung. The Gear S2 boasts a 3G phone and messaging app, so you can call, text, or email your partner if you get locked out of your apartment after a meandering eight-mile run; or call 911 if you get attacked by a swarm of hornets on your backcountry trek. The watch has speakers and a microphone, and is bolstered with onboard GPS and supports apps like Nike+ to record and track your every move.
Garmin Forerunner 735xt
This impressive piece of hardware delivers advanced metrics whether you’re running, cycling, swimming, strength training, trail running, hiking, cross-country skiing, or doing paddle sports. Simply choose one of the built-in activity profiles, press the start button, and go. During a run, the Forerunner 735xt can tell you your ground contact time balance (which can reveal if you’re favoring one leg, putting more weight on one over the other), stride length, vertical oscillation (the amount you bounce up and down; you want to expend your energy forward, not up, so the lower the percentage, the better), estimate your VO2 max, lactate threshold, and predict your race times and outcomes after a few runs. There’s even a du/triathlon multisport feature. You can easily move between sports using the automatic transition feature; or, if you prefer, you can manually switch from sport to sport with the press of a button while you’re in the “triathlon” or “multisport” profile. If you’re doing the traditional trifecta—swim, bike, run—you press start so your swim is recorded (there’s a swimmer icon so you know you’re tracking the right sport); then, when you’re done and ready to bike, press the lap button (a biker will appear)—so on and so forth. Not a traditional triathlon sort of guy? No problem. You can customize multisport modes, so you can SUP-bike-run. Or, you can do this Shred-athon. You can also select whether or not to include transitions.
Suunto Ambit3 Vertical Blue
Nothing ruins a 10-mile hike or run like tacking on an additional 10 because you got lost meandering through uncharted territory in the mountains. Well, this will never happen again with the Ambit3 Vertical. This Suunto GPS watch might as well be a Sherpa. The large display shows an altitude profile of your route so you can follow a map as you climb. Plus, the watch vibrates to alert you when you veer off course. You can even keep track of your total vertical gains from day-to-day or even the year’s ascents; and plan your high-altitude training with the Suunto Movescount App.
Motorola Moto 360 Sport
Your coach on the field and boss in the office become one… on your wrist, with the Moto 360 Sport GPS watch.Thanks to built-in WiFi, you can set reminders if, say, you think of an idea while you’re resting between laps on the track; all you have to do is speak into the watch face. You can access podcasts or music from Google Play™ if you’re in need of entertainment on a long run, read Gmail and calendar invites, talk to friends on Whatsapp, check weather and traffic reports, even update Facebook. With the power of Android Wear™ and Moto Voice, you can control your phone hands-free. The smartwatch has little juice, though; the battery lasts only about four hours.
Polar M400 GPS Running Watch
There are a multitude of signs you’re overtraining. But one of the simplest way to ensure that doesn’t happen is to spread your workouts out with sufficient rest in between to make sure you’re not taxing one specific energy system too much or burning out altogether. Or, you can use the Polar M400. The GPS running watch analyzes how your training affects you and helps you compare the load on your body over different sessions. For example, it can monitor how much stress a sprint workout creates one day versus a long interval workout on another, so you can recognize your personal weak points and adjust your training accordingly. Small tweaks to the intensity and duration of your sessions can make you a better athlete. Plus, the watch suggests how much time it will take you to recover before your next difficult training session—so it really takes a lot of the guesswork out of the equation.