Fitness trackers are the latest in exercise technology and have gained a popular following for their ability to take control of your workouts. A high-quality fitness watch, sensor or wristband can help you monitor your performance levels, improve your cardiovascular endurance and encourage you to spend more time recovering after an intense workout.
This list compiles the six best fitness trackers of 2021, with various options suitable for ultra-marathoners, powerlifters, crossfit enthusiasts, hikers, hunters and people who enjoy exercising recreationally.
1. Garmin Fenix 6 Multisport GPS Watch
The Garmin Fenix 6 tracker is a high-end model ideal for people who are serious about solo hiking, rucking—walking with weight—and distance running. Though more expensive than other models, this product has a waterproof and weather-resistant construction and comes with a premium-grade, integrated GPS tracking feature.
This GPS technology uses data from the Galileo satellite and the Global Navigation Satellite System to provide industry-leading coverage. No matter where you are in the world, you can use this exceptional tracker to check in on your precise location and plan your route.
If you’re rucking for fitness, you can use this watch’s real-time pacing feature to check your speed and stick to your time goals for every circuit. You can also tap into the oximeter’s data to monitor your body’s oxygen levels and make sure the rucking is paying off: An effective rucking workout should temporarily increase the amount of oxygen in your bloodstream.
2. Fitbit Charge 4
This Fitbit model has several great integrated features that make it one of the best fitness trackers on the market. It has an impressive seven-day battery life off a single charge, and it tracks your step count and heart rate with precision.
Given this product’s relatively affordable price, you might not expect it to include an accurate GPS tracker, but it does. The Charge 4 also has a built-in and pressure-based altimeter, as well as an innovative Fitbit Pay function that allows you to buy snacks and magazines when you’re out and about. There’s no need anymore to bring your wallet whenever you set off on a long walk into town.
The Fitbit Charge 4 is also water-resistant in depths of up to 50 meters, so you won’t have to worry about taking it off every single time you take a shower or bath.
3. Garmin Forerunner 245
If you’re someone who likes to listen to motivating tunes when you’re on your morning run, invest in this multipurpose fitness tracker. The Garmin Forerunner 245 has a rugged construction and sleek display screen providing you with useful, real-time data. This information includes total distance covered, current heart rate and the predicted recovery time before your next workout.
You can download 500 songs onto this watch to keep you going through the uphill sections of your daily circuit. If you prefer using streaming services, you can download specific playlists and listen to these via wireless headphones instead. This design feature means you won’t have to worry about carrying your phone as you run, as all your favorite pump-up hits are stored on the Garmin around your wrist.
4. Beast Athlete Beast Sensor
Those searching for a product that accurately tracks strength training will love this Beast Athlete Beast Sensor, assessing your athletic profile and monitoring each workout’s effectiveness.
You attach the sensor to your wrist, and it provides real-time, precise data on the force and speed of your lifting, pulling and pushing movements. This smart feature allows you to adjust the power and increase each lift’s functionality, improving every single repetition’s overall quality.
You can access a full breakdown of this data on the convenient Beast web portal, which acts as a reliable training journal, allowing you to track your weight gains, movement efficiency and technical expertise over weeks, months and years.
5. WHOOP 3.0 Strap
The Whoop 3.0 strap has a simple, functional design, so you’ll barely notice it’s on your wrist when you’re out running or strength training. You can also attach a handy battery pack to the top of the sensor so you don’t have to worry about taking the strap off at any point during the day.
This unit tracks sleep cycles accurately, providing real-time data on your nightly REM, slow wave and light phases. However, the major integrated feature that distinguishes the Whoop strap from similar tracking options on the market is the Strain Coach. This technology tells you your daily strain number daily, reflecting the intensity and quantity of cardio you’ve done that day.
Most importantly, the Strain Coach technology takes into account the recovery time you take after each workout. If you’re not taking suitable measures to roll out, stretch, refuel and loosen up your muscle groups after an intense workout, your strain number goes down.
This feature emphasizes the benefits of active and effective recovery in bolstering and sustaining your peak performance level, making you a better athlete in the process.
6. Polar Vantage M GPS Watch
If you regularly go hiking by yourself, invest in this Polar model, with its 30-hour GPS-mode battery life and accurate heart rate tracking feature. This watch provides useful real-time data on the amount of strain your body’s under, allowing you to monitor how well your cardiovascular system responds to a strenuous hill climb or a windy plateau.
The unit’s GPS technology uses data from the Global Navigation Satellite System to provide accurate data on your altitude and pacing. You can also use the Polar Running Program to form a customized regimen that takes your starting fitness level and improves your cardiovascular endurance over several weeks.
There are plenty of high-quality fitness trackers available on the market, ranging from high-end watches with professional-standard GPS technology to affordable wristbands that monitor your step count and heart rate. Before investing in one of these products, consider what exactly it is you’re looking for in a tracker.
If you’re searching for a unit that measures the power of your cleans, jerks and snatches, opt for a tracker that specializes in providing data on strength-based workouts. If you want something that measures your speed and allows you to reach your ultra-running goals, invest in a watch with a real-time pacing feature.