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The very best fitness wearables for a summer of sport

Whether you want to track running, cycling, swimming or golf, we'll help you choose the ideal digital assistant

It’s a bank holiday weekend and, surprisingly, the weather is due to be nice. If you’re planning to get out and about, our pick of the best fitness watches and activity trackers for tracking summer sports, such as outdoor running, cycling, swimming, golf and tennis, could help.

What better way to kick off a long weekend than with a jog in your local park, a pedal on your bike, or a dip in the pool? If you plan to keep fit and active this summer, then one of the devices below could help. We’ve got fitness watches and activity trackers from big brands such as Garmin, Polar and Samsung.

Before you dive in, tee off or don your Lycra, tell us which summer sport is your favourite in our interactive quiz.


Just looking for an accurate and comfortable all-rounder? Head to our Best Buy fitness watches and activity trackers to find the top performing devices.

Running

For those that like to run outdoors, built-in GPS is a must for tracking routes without needing to take your smartphone. An integrated heart-rate monitor is good for tracking progress, too.

But we’ve found devices that overstated distance by more than 20% based on the GPS sensors, and understated heart rate by more than 50%, making it difficult to track your run distance progress or improvements in your fitness level.

Garmin Forerunner 235

This fitness watch is aimed at serious runners that don’t have a seriously big budget. It tracks distance, pace, time and heart rate when running.

The compromise is that it doesn’t have specific metrics for tracking other sports, such as golf or tennis, but just estimates data based on time and distance. So how accurate is it for keen runners? Find out in our full Garmin Forerunner 235 review.

Polar M200
The Polar M200 isn’t the newest or most attractive fitness watch around, but it costs less than £100 and will measure and track key running metrics, including time, distance, pace, calories, speed and heart-rate data.

During your run, you’ll be able to view your lap time, heart rate, pace and overall duration. You can also view a history of recent workouts on the watch itself, rather than needing to use the app. Find out more about this fitness watch by heading to our full Polar M200 review.

Cycling

As with running, built-in GPS is a useful feature for keen cyclists. There is a range of cycle-specific devices around, but these wouldn’t suit if you want to track your entire workout or you’re in training for a triathlon, for example.

The two devices below combine cycle tracking with other sport and fitness metrics, so you can get more bang for your buck.

Forerunner 935

This is a top-of-the-line fitness watch that’s advertised as a running and triathlon watch – it would actually fit in any one of the categories here as it’s all-singing all-dancing.

You can pick from lots of biking pursuits, whether that’s a stationary bike, mountain biking, or road cycling. It has built-in GPS, and a compass for keeping your bearings too – useful if you plan to hit the cycle trails.

On the Garmin Connect app you can view graphs with splits on speed, elevation and distance too. So does it successfully combine all these features in to a user-friendly, comfortable and accurate fitness watch? Find out in our Garmin Forerunner 935 review.

Suunto Spartan Trainer Wrist HR

Suunto specialises in making precision navigation instruments. In the 1930s, its founder produced a compact, lightweight military compass for the wrist. Now, it has tracking technology in a similar form.

It has a plethora of sports-tracking options and navigation features, but one of the most interesting for cyclists is the Maps feature. It uses other users’ training sessions to build a heat map of the most popular routes in your area, which you can view on the app.

This could be useful if you’re exploring a new area on your bike, or planning a cycling holiday. It’s the first Suunto device we’ve tested, so how did it perform? We reveal all in the full Suunto Spartan Trainer Wrist HR review.

Swimming

A lot of fitness watches or activity trackers are swim-proof, but that doesn’t mean they’ll help you to track your progress in the pool. If you want a useful device, then look for one that tracks metrics such as stroke type and rate, length time and swim distance.

Garmin Fenix 5


The Garmin Fenix 5 is built with outdoor activities in mind and is one of Garmin’s most expensive devices. It certainly packs a punch when it comes to the number of sports it can track, including running, golfing, strength training and even (weirdly) parachute jumping.

Swimmers can keep track of their interval time, strokes per length, pace and distance, and it can be used in open water and for snorkelling too. Find out if this bulky fitness watch is comfortable, accurate and worth the money by reading our full Garmin Fenix 5 review.

Samsung Gear Fit2 Pro

This activity tracker has a built-in heart-rate monitor and a GPS sensor, and it will let you move effortlessly from the gym to the pool as it’s water resistant to 50 metres, reports on lap time and stroke rate, and comes preloaded with the Speedo On app for tracking your swimming stats.

It can also track loads of exercises, including cycling or running in the gym or outdoors, squats, crunches, rowing and yoga. Read our full review of the Samsung Gear Fit2 Pro to find out whether you should dive in.

Golf

A lot of fitness watches claim to track golf, but there’s also a handful of golf watches available for those that like to hit the links and want to improve their game.

Garmin Approach S60
The Garmin Approach S60 is a GPS golf watch that has more than 40,000 preloaded courses from around the world. It’s got built-in GPS, so you don’t need to take your smartphone with you on the course. It shows yardages to greens, hazards and doglegs, and has AutoShot game-tracking for recording shot distance and location along the fairway.

We gave it to a group of keen golfers to try out, and you can find out what they thought in our full Garmin Approach S60 first look review.

Tennis

It’s a little over a month until the beginning of the Wimbledon championships. Do you fancy yourself as the next Andy Murray, or are you simply looking to improve your forehand to beat your tennis partner?

We haven’t tested any tennis-specific devices, but there are plenty of fitness watches and activity trackers that will let you set a tennis sport profile, including the Garmin Forerunner 235, Polar M200, and Suunto Spartan Trainer Wrist HR.

If you’d like to find out more about the features you could look for in a wearable device, head over to our how to buy the best activity tracker or fitness watch guide.

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