LIKE EVERY PIECE of gear you wear on your body day in and day out, fitness trackers are incredibly personal. They have to be comfortable and attractive, sure, but they must also fit your lifestyle, as well as when and how you like to work out. Do you bike, row, or do strength training? Do you run on trails for hours at a time, or do you just want a reminder to get up every hour?
No matter what your needs, there’s never been a better time to find a powerful, sophisticated tool that can help you optimize your workouts or jump-start your routine. We’ve tested dozens over the past four years to bring you these picks. While you’re at it, don’t forget to check out our guides to the best smartwatches and best running gear.
1. Fitbit Charge 5
Even as Fitbit has faced stiff competition from other manufacturers—most notably, the Apple Watch—its trackers have always won me over. They hit a very specific sweet spot between attractiveness, affordability, accessibility, and ease of use. They’re perfect for everyone who isn’t an ultra-marathoner or a semipro powerlifter trying to hit a PR.
The Charge line has consistently reached the top of our rankings, and the Charge 5 (8/10, WIRED Recommends) is no exception. This year’s iteration has softer lines, a bright AMOLED screen, and almost every sensor you could want, from stress scans to ECGs. Like the Apple Watch does with iPhones, the Charge 5 fast-pairs to Android phones and has both onboard and connected GPS so you can track outdoor workouts without a hitch. You do still have to pay $10 per month for a Fitbit Premium subscription to access the new Daily Readiness feature and personalized sleep and stress insights, but the hardware is still less expensive, and the subscription is cheaper than others on this list.
2. Garmin Vívomove Sport
Picking a fitness tracker often means taking the proprietary software into consideration, as well as the hardware. Fitbit’s app is really easy to use, but I also like Garmin’s Connect, which I have found to be one of the most comprehensive digital health apps—if you discover that you like running, for example, it integrates easily with Strava. Therefore, Garmin’s newest entry-level smartwatch is one of my top picks for a first fitness tracker, especially since it doesn’t look particularly sporty. It comes in a variety of colors and looks like an analog watch. Simply swipe along the bottom half of the touchscreen to log activities and check notifications.
Not only can you track workouts, but you can also track your sleeping, and your heart rate, and check a few other of Garmin’s proprietary algorithms, like your Body Battery, or how ready you are for the day. However, it’s worth noting here that most people get a Garmin because it is GPS-enabled, and the Vivomove Sport only uses connected GPS from your phone. For more Garmin suggestions, check out our guide to the best Garmin watches.
3. Letsfit Fitness Tracker
Letsfit’s smartwatch is a knockoff of the Fitbit Versa, right down to the typeface used on the watch face, but the differences are obvious to anyone who has used (and loved) a real Versa. The latch is made from cheap plastic, the tracked metrics on the watch face are rudimentary, and the VeryFitPro app is unattractive and not a joy to consult.
However, the tracker is waterproof, and the pedometer is reasonably accurate. The battery lasts about one week between charges, and the band is soft and comfortable. If you’re willing to spend a little more, look for older Garmin or Fitbit models that came out a year or two ago. Those regularly go on sale for well under $100.’
4. Apple Watch Series 7
Each year’s Apple Watch update can feel iterative. But if you want a fitness tracker and you own an iPhone, you can’t do better than the latest version. The Series 7 (8/10, WIRED Recommends) is more waterproof and dustproof than ever before, and this year’s upgrades include improved algorithms for cycling, such as better fall detection and the ability to differentiate between biking and regular biking.
When you get an Apple Watch, you also get access to all of Apple’s features, like integration with Fitness+, Apple’s workout streaming subscription; Apple’s addictive activity rings game that will have you closing circles by marching around your kitchen at night; integration with Apple Maps to guide you while running or biking, and the full suite of comprehensive sensors that can track your sleep or measure your blood oxygen. However, unlike almost any other tracker here, you have to charge it daily—an annoying inconvenience if the only time you can work out is 6:30 am, before getting your kids ready for school. For more information, check out our Best Apple Watch guide.
5. Coros Pace 2
For years, I was convinced that no running watch would ever beat a Garmin. That changed when I tried the Coros Pace 2 (8/10, WIRED Recommends), which is now my favorite. It’s unbelievably light, and the battery lasts for weeks between charges, which is a feature you won’t find in any other watch on this list. It also integrates with Strava for mapping your runs and rides, and it uses the same multi-system satellite positioning system as Garmin to trace your route.
On the minus side, it has a basic LCD screen, and EvoLab—Coros’ analytics platform, meant to compete with Garmin’s Connect—is still in its early stages. Accuracy can be iffy; a few of my outdoor runs were improperly tracked. But Coros also offers a ton of small, useful features, like a locking screen and simple two-button operation, at a very accessible price.