5 Best Sport Watches for Men: Fitness Trackers for Every Activity Level

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by  David Martin | Last Updated: 

You’ve committed to a killer fitness routine and the only thing left to do is get a sport watch to help achieve your goals. The only issue is that with so many sport watches to choose from, you don’t even know where to start. 

In this article I’ll walk you through the top sport watches across five categories so you can easily choose the best one for your lifestyle.

Best with Heart Rate Monitor
  • Premium multisports watch with advanced tracking features
  • Polar’s flagship H10 heart rate monitor integrates seamlessly with the watch
  • Sleek design at a comparably cheap cost to direct competitors
Best for Running
  • Adaptive training plans from expert coaches at the convenience of your wrist
  • Running Dynamics features that track cadence, stride length, and ground contact time
  • Real time performance condition data
Best with GPS
  • Built-in GPS and turn-by-turn direction powered by Komoot
  • Rugged, stainless steel construction for a durable, performant watch
  • Tested to military standards
Best Under $200
  • Built-in sleep tracking
  • Stress management features that track your history day-to-day
  • Up to seven day battery life
Best for Golf
  • Over 41,000 preloaded golf courses
  • GPS delivers accurate hole distances
  • Typical sport watch features also included

Sports watches are a crucial product when it comes to meeting your fitness goals, but finding the right one for you is anything but simple. 

Since men generally abhor complexity and want it straight, prepare to get whacked over the head with my top sport watch recommendations. 

5 Best Sports Watches for Men in 2021

Best with Heart Rate Monitor: Polar Vantage V2

Polar Vantage V2 top view on marble 1

Polar is one of the original sport watch companies and even debuted the world’s first heart rate monitor in 1977. The Vantage V2 is their premium multisports watch and is equipped with more bells and whistles than an epileptic train. 

Featuring an aerospace aluminum alloy case and Gorilla Glass screen, this sports watch is equal parts sleek, tough, and powerful. 

While the watch itself has wrist-based heart rate measurements, this watch often comes as a package deal with Polar’s H10 heart rate monitor to give users the most accurate data possible. 

Polar H10 Heart Rate Monitor

This heart rate monitor barely feels like it's there at all, but it stays accurate, even on a sweaty summer run.

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Some of its advanced features include a smart fueling assistant, an orthostatic test, leg recovery tests, running performance tests, and cycling performance tests. Best of all, the watch starts at $499, which is considerably cheaper than its direct rivals.

What I Like

  • Sleek, light watch that can withstand extreme conditions.

  • Super comfortable wrist strap.

  • Powerful sleep and recovery monitoring to guide your next workout session.

  • Performance tests that help track and push you towards your goals.

  • Collects a huge amount of data for each activity tracked.

  • Energy burner feature that shows percentage of carbs/fats/proteins that were burned since last workout.

What I Don’t Like

  • The screen resolution is a bit low.

What Other Reviewers Say

The Polar Vantage V2 has largely positive reviews with many users commonly citing the abundance of features and trackers. Other common positive sentiments referenced the watch’s ease of use and simplicity. 

There were no common dissents from what I saw, so any doom and gloom reviews were likely flukes.

The Verdict

The Polar Vantage V2 is a robust multisports watch made with high-quality materials and features. If you’re looking for an all-around solid sports watch with more functionality than you’ll likely ever use, the Vantage V2 is a great option.

Best with Heart Rate Monitor
Polar Vantage V2

If you're a seasoned athlete and you need a tracker with the kind of data granularity and precision that will help take you to the next level, the Polar Vantage V2 is the way to go.

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Best for Running: Garmin Forerunner 945

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While Garmin has a somewhat overwhelming selection of sports watches, I picked the Forerunner 945 as the top running watch for its features. With live performance tracking to guide your runs and advanced metrics like ground contact time, this watch is well-equipped to take you from good to great. 

Coming in at $599, this watch commands a premium price for its sleek looks and perceptive tracking. Additional features tell you whether you’re training effectively or overreaching, what kind of workout you can expect to achieve, and a built-in recovery time advisor that recommends the amount of rest you should take between training sessions.

Garmin also includes the option to have your watch LTE enabled so you can connect to apps, messages, and calls even when you don’t have your phone. If you’re a runner looking for a new best friend, this watch can be it if you’ve got some cash to drop.

What I Like

  • The Forerunner 945 has a sleek, sophisticated design.

  • This watch hosts a huge amount of features for tracking running and recovery.

  • There are daily suggested workouts for the user’s convenience.

  • The watch also has training effect features to see how your activity is causing your fitness to progress.

What I Don’t Like

  • It’s a more expensive watch than the majority of its competition.

What Other Reviewers Say

Overall, the reviews are super positive. Most reviewers cited loving the huge amount of features and tracking for running and cycling. 

A small subset of reviewers noted that the watch itself has some software bugs that can make the watch periodically glitchy, especially after updates.

The Verdict

If you want to know the amount of sweat you excreted down to the milliliter on a run, pick up Garmin’s Forerunner 945. That’s a joke, this watch won’t track that, but it tracks just about everything else for running. 

While it comes at a premium price, those who are looking for the amount of running trackers this watch has will likely not mind the cost for what the watch offers.

Best for Running
Garmin Forerunner 945

Equal parts smartwatch and fitness tracker: make sure you're pushing yourself but not overreaching with its intuitive recuperation signals.

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Best with GPS: Polar Grit X

Polar Vantage Grit X watch face detail on marble 1

Tired of running or biking the same old route but lack the discipline to memorize a new one? Polar’s Grit X provides turn-by-turn guidance so you can have the short term memory of a goldfish and still find your way home. 

The Grit X is designed to military standards for extreme heat, drops, and humidity so that you can push your limits without having to worry about damaging your watch. A stainless steel case and Gorilla Glass screen make this watch the cockroach of the watch world, except that it’s much easier on the eyes. 

Besides its powerful GPS capabilities, the Grit X also includes sleep tracking, optical wrist-based heart rate monitoring, a smart fueling assistant, and a host of other handy fitness features.

What I Like

  • The Grit X is a durable, tough watch with a sleek, refined design.

  • Went through testing to meet military standards of toughness and resilience.

  • It also has built-in guided breathing exercises.

  • Smart training load tracking helps to make sure you don’t overtrain.

  • Features Strava live segment integration to help you rank up those leaderboards.

What I Don’t Like

What Other Reviewers Say

Reviewers love the Grit X and many positive reviews note the watch’s durability and ability to handle tracking of pretty much any sport in all conditions. 

Some reviewers noted difficulty in syncing the watch with the Polar Flow app, but these were few and far between.

The Verdict

Polar’s Grit X is a great choice if you’re looking to explore your horizons with confidence. Route planning and turn-by-turn guidance via Komoot facilitate new training sessions and enable variety in your workouts, rather than doing the same run ad nauseum. 

Combine these features with a stainless steel case and military standard testing, and you’ve got yourself a watch that’s tougher than you.

Best with GPS
Polar Grit X

The Grit X is an outdoor multisports watch designed to straddle the line between a rugged, Bear Grylls adventure tool and refined timepiece. The watch is built to military standards, having passed several MIL-STD-810G tests, including extreme temperatures, drops, and humidity. 

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Best Under $200: Fitbit Charge 4

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Not looking to shell out an arm and a leg to get a fitness watch? Fitbit provides smart watchers and fitness trackers with robust features at low prices. The Charge 4 is a great example. 

With a seven day battery life, built-in GPS to track pace and distance, and 24/7 heart rate monitoring this inexpensive and sleek sports watch gets you all the necessary features at a fraction of the cost. 

Those of us who don’t like wearing a mini satellite on their wrist will find the slim profile of the Charge 4 attractive. In addition, this sports watch has some neat add-ins like a built-in stress manager with guided breathing exercises and your blood-oxygen saturation levels.

What I Like

  • This fitness tracker is very affordable and still offers the baseline sports watch features.

  • Its sleek profile won’t be bulky on your wrist.

  • A stress management function tracks your history and gives prompts to maintain your wellness.

What I Don’t Like

  • The Charge 4 has a long battery life designed for continued use.

What Other Reviewers Say

Due to its low price point, the Charge 4 has significantly more reviews than all the other smart watches we’ve reviewed to this point, and they’re largely positive. Positive reviewers love the amount of fitness metrics it records in such a small package

With so many reviews, there’s also a larger amount of negative reviews. I saw quite a few that mentioned inaccurate heart rate monitoring, but some of this can likely be chalked up to user error and not having the watch snug enough to get an accurate reading.

The Verdict

If you want basic fitness tracking and a few nifty features at an affordable price, the Fitbit Charge 4 is hard to beat.

Best Under $200
Fitbit Charge 4

All the basics in a sleek package. With GPS tracking, the Charge 4 is a helpful partner in planning runs and tracking your general fitness and sleep levels.

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Best for Golf: Garmin Approach S40

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Outside the range of your typical multisports watch, a golf sports watch has preloaded courses that include the holes on the course, distances, and other useful information for the modern golf enthusiast. 

The Garmin Approach S40 has over 41,000 available courses for you to choose from, which is more than I could ever play in a lifetime. The watch is also equipped with GPS, so when you’re midway down the fairway and trying to decide what iron to use, your watch can give you an accurate distance to the hole. 

The Approach S40 also has normal sport watch features, like sleep tracking, activity tracking, and smart notifications.

What I Like

  • The Approach S40 as an Auto Shot detection feature to track where your ball landed with precision.

  • It can track your shots for each hole on your wrist, rather than your card.

  • This watch also has normal sports watch features for the rare times you’re away from the links.

  • The watch has a slim profile and sleek exterior.

What I Don’t Like

  • There are no heart rate monitoring features.

What Other Reviewers Say

Golf enthusiasts are big on the Approach S40. Positive reviews referenced the long battery life, accurate GPS and distances, and sharp aesthetics. 

There were a fair number of negative reviews that reported their local course not being supported, but that’s probably because their local course was a mom and pop’s ancient par three that no one should be playing in the first place.

The Verdict

If you’re looking for an extra boost to get on the green, Garmin’s Approach S40 will definitely help. Accurate GPS and shot auto tracking help you play a more strategic game and get more out of your time on the course.

Best for Golf
Garmin Approach S40

With over 41,000 courses in their database (and growing), the Garmin Approach is the ultimate golf watch.

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What Are the Different Types of Sport Watches?

Polar watches overlapping on marble 1

Most sport watches these days are multisport watches, meaning they track a number of different sports to varying degrees. Multisport watches have the most features and support for biking, running, and swimming, which are probably the main sports you want to track anyway. 

Although Polar includes a sport profile for Finnish baseball, you won’t have the same granularity of metrics recorded as you will for running, and I think this is due to popularity. You could conceivably create a sports watch specifically for Finnish baseball, but that’s an incredibly niche market. 

Thus, sports watches cover the largest and most broad categories of sports. Here are four main categories:

  1. Multisport Watches: Have a large selection of sport profiles that can be tracked. The Polar Vantage V2 and Grit X are great examples of this.
  2. Running Watches: As the name suggests, sport watches that only track running, but do it well and don’t have extra unnecessary features. These tend to be cheaper than multisport watches.
  3. Fitness Trackers: Like many fitbits, they simply track current heart rate, number of steps through the day, and may have a sleep tracker function.
  4. Golf Watches: Sports watches with a boat-load of golf features. Golf is often tracked on most multisport watches, but not to the granularity and functionality of a designated golf sports watch. 

How to Choose the Right Type of Sport Watch?

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This all comes down to individual preference. If you just want something that tracks your step count better than your phone and can set a step goal for each day, go with a regular fitness tracker. 

If you want the deets on every golf course before you get there, and want a little computer to tell you where your ball went, grab a golf watch like the Garmin Approach S40.

If you’re a running purist like Forrest Gump but don’t want to break the bank, go with a running watch. Polar’s M430 is a designated running watch and is considerably cheaper than their other offerings.

And lastly, if you want to track every data-loving heartbeat you have, your blood-oxygen saturation, a plethora of sports, and your sleep, go for a premium multisports watch.

Get Trackin’

My top pick for best sport watch is the Polar Vantage V2. Through the combination of price, features, and aesthetics it’s hard to find better bang for your buck in the sport watch world. Right behind the Vantage V2 comes Polar’s Grit X, which is a bit more friendly to your wallet, but offers most of the same features in a military-standard package. 

Best with Heart Rate Monitor
Polar Vantage V2

If you're a seasoned athlete and you need a tracker with the kind of data granularity and precision that will help take you to the next level, the Polar Vantage V2 is the way to go.

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But more importantly, pick up a piece that’s going to help you push your limits. Because after all, what’s a good sports watch without a good workout?

FAQs

What is the use of a sport watch?

A sport watch is used to give insight to your training and workouts. They track things like speed, heart rate, distance covered, and route.

What should I look for in a sport watch?

On a base level, look for a sport watch that tracks the weather, is shockproof, and records your heart rate.

Do I really need a sport watch?

A sport watch is a good investment for anyone who wants to track and achieve fitness goals, and some aren’t very expensive.

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Polar Grit X
For rugged adventurers
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