Today’s best fitness trackers do a lot more than count steps. Many of these wearables monitor your sleep quality, keep tabs on your heart health and track your post-workout recovery—all of which can help you reach your health and wellness goals. Our overall favorite is the Fitbit Charge 5 because it covers so many bases (waterproof functionality included) without burning a hole in your pocket, but it’s not the only option worthy of your attention.
After hours of researching and testing different fitness trackers ourselves, we rounded up the 10 best options based on accuracy, features, price, battery life, ease of use and style. Many of our recommendations go toe to toe with the best smartwatches and running watches, but some also come with extras like water resistance (if you’re a swimmer, you’ll need one that’s completely waterproof), built-in GPS and specific sensors that cater to your personal needs. No matter where you are on your fitness journey, there’s a model here for you.
- Best Fitness Tracker Overall: Fitbit Charge 5
- Best Budget Fitness Tracker: Amazfit Band 7
- Best Fitness Tracker For Sleep Tracking: Fitbit Sense
- Best Fitness Tracker For Training And Recovery: Whoop 4.0
- Best Fitness Tracker For The Outdoors: Suunto 9 Peak Pro
- Best Fitness Tracker For Runners: Coros Pace 2
- Best Fitness Tracker for Everyday Use: Apple Watch 9
- Best Fitness Tracker For Women: Garmin Fenix 6S Pro
- Best Fitness Tracker for Multisport Athletes: Coros Apex Pro
- Best Waterproof Fitness Tracker: Garmin Instinct 2
Screen: AMOLED touchscreen | Heart rate tracker: Yes | Waterproof: Yes | Activity tracking: Yes | GPS: Yes | Battery life: 7 days | Compatibility: Apple, Android
The Fitbit Charge 5 captures the flag as the best overall fitness tracker because, in many ways, it serves as the template from which all other trackers are created. The Charge 5 represents the culmination of everything Fitbit has learned about making wearables over the years, and includes pretty much everything the average person needs in a fitness tracker. It counts steps, distance and has sleep tracking features. It automatically recognizes when you’re doing a variety of common workouts and starts tracking—20 kinds of workouts in all. It’s waterproof to about 150 feet and you can wear it into a pool to track swim workouts.
The Charge 5 replaces the older Charge 4 and, like most modern wearables, includes a full-time heart rate monitor. You also get an impressive 7-day battery life, but the coolest change in the new Charge 5 is the sleek, vibrant screen that’s two times brighter than the Charge 4, and an always-on display mode that allows you to check your progress with just a glance.
Available in three colors, the FitBit Charge 5 has other noteworthy features include irregular heart rhythm notifications, stress management scores, mood tracking and menstrual cycle tracking. However, to access the full gamut of metrics, like sleep analytics, you’ll need a FitBit premium membership, which clocks in at $10/month.
- Bright AMOLED display
- Built-in GPS and GLONASS
- Supports mobile payments
- No physical buttons
- Clock faces can’t be customized
- Need premium subscription to access all features
Screen: HD AMOLED touchscreen | Heart rate tracker: Yes | Waterproof: Yes | Activity tracking: Yes | GPS: No | Battery life: 18 days | Compatibility: Apple, Android
There’s no denying the fact that fitness trackers are expensive, but you can still get by with an affordable, capable option that doesn’t cost an arm and a leg. For instance, the Amazfit Band 7 still features a brilliant screen, 24-hour heart rate monitoring, sleep tracking and an ultra-long 18-day battery, but it costs a mere $50.
Featuring a display that’s 112 percent larger than the previous generation Amazfit Band 5, software allows you to customize the watch face to your liking and you can also upload a series of personal photos. The waterproof housing is designed to withstand depths up to 50 meters, and a pool swimming mode can capture valuable swim data. If swimming isn’t really your thing, simply peruse 120 different sport modes to find your preferred activity.
All this isn’t to say the Band 7 is perfect. For instance, you’ll need to pair the tracker with your phone to use GPS, and there’s no option to store music for on-the-go listening. You’ll also need to use the Zepp app in order to view your personal metrics, so keep this in mind if you’re already using Strava, MyFitnessPal or another preferred fitness app.
- Impressive battery life for the price
- Vibrant AMOLED screen
- 120 activity modes
- No built-in GPS
- Zepp app required to view metrics
Screen: AMOLED touchscreen | Heart rate tracker: Yes | Waterproof: Yes | Activity tracking: Yes | GPS: Yes | Battery life: 6 days | Compatibility: Apple, Android
Fitbit offers a deep bench of products—both fitness bands and smart watches. The Fitbit Sense is one of the brand’s more popular fitness watches, offering the most complete feature set in the Fitbit lineup. And it’s still moderately priced when compared to similar competition. If, however, you don’t need everything the Sense has to offer, you can save a solid chunk of change by getting the more affordable Versa 3. But keep in mind that if you do, you’ll miss out on some health features like stress testing and ECG monitoring.
The Sense comes packed with an impressive number of sensors, including Sp02, skin temperature sensing, ECG and sleep monitoring. Sleep tracking takes place automatically in the background—the Sense keeps track of your blood oxygen level and skin temperature to make general assessments about your health, but some of the more useful sleep tracking insights are hidden behind a paywall. The watch has all the usual fitness and workout features as well, from step counting to heart rate monitoring.
The Sense has solid usability features like a bright and responsive color touchscreen and voice commands via Alexa and Google Assistant, and works with both Apple and Android phones. It also offers about six days of battery life between charges.
What our editors say: “I had never tried tracking my sleep before, but the FitBit Sense completely revolutionized the way I think about my sleep habits,” says senior strategy editor Katie Simpson. “It shows exactly how long you’ve spent in each sleep cycle, how many times you woke up (and how long you were awake) and your core body temperature when sleeping. I check my stats every morning, along with my total ‘sleep score’, to measure my quality of rest. I now understand just how important the REM and deep sleep stages are—nights where I spend more time in those stages correlates directly with more energy the next day!”
- Impressive GPS tracking for the price
- Well-rounded sleep tracking features
- Sleep tracking insights hidden behind a paywall
- Dim always-on screen
Screen: None | Heart rate tracker: Yes | Waterproof: Yes | Activity tracking: Yes | GPS: No | Battery life: 5 days | Compatibility: Apple, Android
The Whoop is a trendy fitness tracker that’s more oriented towards recovery than anything else. It doesn’t count steps and doesn’t have GPS tracking for your runs or hikes. Instead, it uses biometric data to provide highly detailed analytics about sleep, performance and strain. But because recovery is one of the most important elements of any training plan, the Whoop is one of the most useful tools for serious athletes and provides a solution to the ever-present question “Should I push through my workout or take a rest day?”
Oftentimes, it’s easy to get overwhelmed when it comes to interpreting all the data a fitness tracker provides, and it ends up on the bedside table more than your wrist. But while Whoop provides a whole host of data for those who are interested in the nitty gritty details, it also transforms that data into digestible information. Every morning, you get a score for strain, recovery and sleep to guide your behavior and training for the day. If you wake up with a green recovery score, you know it’s okay to tackle a tough workout that day. For avid athletes and those on a training plan, this is one of the most innovative fitness trackers that’s unlike anything else on the market.
What our editors say: “I tried the Whoop earlier this year, and it definitely made me think about fitness differently,” says senior deals editor Kara Cuzzone, adding that the “stats gave me a better overall picture of how my body was doing and whether I should take a rest day or really push myself in a workout.”
- Customized scores and performance assessments so you can tailor your training
- Knit band is soft and comfortable
- Understand how your behavior, like alcohol intake, impacts your performance
- Specialized data is probably too intense for all but athletes on a training schedule
- Expensive monthly subscription ($30 monthly or $20/month if you pay for 24 months upfront)
- No watch face
Suunto 9 Peak Pro
Screen: Sapphire crystal glass | Heart rate tracker: Yes | Waterproof: Yes | Activity tracking: Yes | GPS: Yes | Battery life: 21 days | Compatibility: Apple, Android
Brands often add durability to their products by increasing heft and in turn, rugged outdoor fitness trackers end up being large and heavy, stuck in an antiquated design for the sake of strength. But the Suunto 9 Peak Pro changes the game by providing military-grade durability in a slim, lightweight package. I tested and reviewed the Suunto 9 Peak Pro on runs and hikes of varying lengths, including a seven-mile hike in Rocky Mountain National Park. While it’s not the most popular watch on the market, I found that it’s still exceptionally sleek, simple and happily understated—and that’s what makes it a success.
The sapphire crystal glass is also scratch-resistant so you don’t have to worry when scrambling rocks, and the waterproofing works up to 100 meters deep. You can track activity for up to 40 hours in GPS mode, which allows you to use this watch for multi-day adventures without needing a charge, but it also offers 30 days of battery life in standard watch mode. Overall, this is a solid choice for multisport adventurers who want to pair a fitness tracker with a watch they can wear every day.
- Military-grade durability
- Easy-to-read font and slim profile
- Similar capabilities to the Apple Watch Ultra, but $250 cheaper
- Band may be too small for larger wrists
- Heart rate sensor can’t penetrate beyond tattoos
Screen: Always-on memory LCD | Heart rate tracker: Yes | Waterproof: Yes | Activity tracking: Yes | GPS: Yes | Battery life: 20 days | Compatibility: Apple, Android
Sure, any fitness tracker with dedicated GPS could track your morning run, but the Coros Pace 2 stands out from the competition for a handful of reasons. First and foremost, it’s incredibly lightweight for its size, which means you won’t be fumbling with your watch when you’re trying to set a new personal best. Beyond the lightweight profile, it features a stronger processor and more memory space for add-on features. And the 20 days of battery life is paired with 30 hours of battery in GPS mode (a 20 percent increase from the original Coros Pace) and 60 hours in UltraMax GPS mode, all of which are respectable numbers whether you’re using the watch casually or competing in your first ultramarathon.
If running isn’t really your thing, the Pace 2 comes packed with a slew of other activity modes that target biking, swimming and strength training activities. And while many fitness trackers boast approximately 120 activity modes, this one comes packed with a staggering 200 exercises that allow you to target your upper body, lower body and core, and a muscle heatmap allows you to see which muscle groups receive the most action.
While it doesn’t feature an Spo2 sensor, the Pace 2 does come packed with an optical heart rate monitor, a barometric altimeter and a thermometer to keep an eye on body temperature in the midst of training.
What our editors say: “I have the Coros Pace 2 and love it,” says executive managing editor Brinda Ayer. “While this model certainly isn’t the fanciest of the watches I’ve had—it’s got a pretty basic watch face display and can’t support media like music (something that other Coros watches can do like the Apex line)—it’s a stalwart and I hope to keep it my rotation for many miles to come.”
- Strong battery life in GPS mode
- Muscle heatmap helps you determine training options
- Over 200 built-in strength training exercises
- Water resistant only up to 5 atm
- Does not feature an Spo2 sensor
Apple Watch Series 9
Screen: Always-On retina display | Heart rate tracker: Yes | Waterproof: Yes | Activity tracking: Yes | GPS: Yes | Battery life: 18 hours | Compatibility: Apple
For iPhone users or anyone forever tied to the Apple ecosystem, the Apple Watch is a high performance smartwatch that keeps getting better every iteration. The latest version, the Apple Watch Series 9, is faster and brighter than last year’s Series 8 while packing the same sensors and tracking options. One feature that’s particularly helpful for workouts is it’s ability to measure heart rate variability (HRV). The smartwatch will notify you of any irregularities, or if your heart beat is too fast or too slow, within parameters that you can set based on your ‘normal’. It also provides data about how fast your heart rate returns to normal after your workout.
Of course, the Apple Watch also embraces all the handy smart features too, like Apple Pay, applications and text notifications. The design on the watch face is sleek with rounded edges and durable glass that feels smooth when you use the touchscreen. As with other Apple products, it takes a few hours to understand how it works, but once you do, the interface is fluid and seamless. The biggest downside is the battery life: At 18 hours, it doesn’t come close to other competitors on this list. Because you’ll have to charge it once a day, it’s not ideal for 24/7 tracking.
What our writers say: “During my cycling workouts, the heart rate metrics are accurate and responsive, changing quickly as my output increases,” contributor Hannah Singleton says about the Apple Watch Series 8, which captures the same metics as the Series 9. “While other fitness trackers are bulky on my small wrists, I can wear this one all day and night without noticing it.”
- Slim design feels natural on the wrist, comfortable to wear to bed
- Seamlessly pairs with iPhones better than other fitness trackers
- Aesthetically appealing watch face that is also scratch-proof
- Battery life is a disappointment
- Only works with an iPhone
Garmin Fenix 6S Pro
Screen: 240 x 240 pixels | Heart rate tracker: Yes | Waterproof: Yes | Activity tracking: Yes | GPS: Yes | Battery life: 9 days | Compatibility: Apple, Android
Based on numbers alone, the Garmin Fenix 6S Pro is outstanding no matter how you decide to use it. Whether you’re tracking a run, hike or walk, the watch relies on an array of global navigation systems (GPS, GLONASS and Galileo) to deliver accurate distance, elevation, speed and health data, while advanced training features like PacePro keep tabs on your pace and offer training advice to help you get the most out of every workout. Like all Garmin wearables, it comes packed with a litany of different workouts to choose from and can advise you to help you get the most out of those post-exercise recovery sessions.
When I tried this tracker myself, I found that it adopts every last feature found on the various watches on the company’s roster. These include music playback, advanced mapping, exceptional battery life, durability and a dash of good looks. While the Fenix 6S Pro is a bit smaller on your wrist (hence the “S” in 6S), it’s just as capable as its larger siblings.
But perhaps most importantly, this watch (along with other Garmin watches) takes into account how different hormones affect women, helping you make sense of nutritional choices and fluctuating workouts over the course of any given month. Simply use the Garmin Connect app to interact with your personal stats whenever you need a little more info. As is the case with other fitness wearables, this one synchs with your phone to display your texts, calls and other notifications.
- Advanced GPS metrics for activities like trail running and skiing
- Always-on feature still maintains long-lasting battery
- Smaller face and strap compliments thinner wrists
- Navigating menus can be confusing
- Very pricey
Screen: Always-on touchscreen memory LCD | Heart rate tracker: Yes | Waterproof: Yes | Activity tracking: Yes | GPS: Yes | Battery life: 30 days | Compatibility: Apple, Android
Similar in many ways to the aforementioned Coros Pace 2, the Coros Apex Pro features a vibrant screen, incredible battery life (40 hours of battery using standard GPS and up to 75 hours in UltraMax GPS mode) and an optical heart rate monitor and thermometer. But because this is a dedicated multisport watch, Coros also packs it with five navigation systems, downloadable landscape and topo maps, and additional features such as back-to-start and off-route alert that come in handy beyond the beaten path. For instance, if you’re taking part in a competitive trail run series, simply download the course beforehand to stay on track day and night.
Unlike the Pace 2, the Apex Pro comes with an optical pulse oximeter to keep tabs on oxygen saturation, and the interface can be controlled via buttons along the bezel or by using the touchscreen display. Use the Find My Phone or Find My Watch feature in the event that you lose a piece of coveted tech, and receive notifications from your phone straight to your wrist.
- Quality build materials (sapphire glass, steel bezel, aluminum case)
- Incredible battery life in GPS mode
- Touchscreen display is easy to use and navigate
- Unstable heart rate monitor accuracy
Screen: 176 x 176 pixels | Heart rate tracker: Yes | Waterproof: Yes | Activity tracking: Yes | GPS: Yes | Battery life: 28 days | Compatibility: Apple, Android
Unlike other fitness trackers that feature a vibrant display and high-end materials, the Instinct 2’s bulky design looks more like the traditional watch you may have worn 10 years ago. But don’t let its outdated appearance fool you—this watch is actually designed to withstand impacts, shocks, heat and water in ways most fitness trackers simply can’t, a result of the fiber-reinforced polymer case and scratch-resistant glass built to military standards for toughness. While other watches are rated for depths up to 50 or 100 feet, the Instinct 2 still works over 300 feet below the surface.
Of course, this watch can do more than survive the next apocalypse. It comes packed with an array of sensors to monitor your heart rate, blood oxygen saturation and stress levels. It also can receives notifications from your phone and the solar edition charges the battery in the sun. Over 100 activity modes keep tabs on your body when you’re getting active, and bold color options stand out from traditional fitness trackers. When I tested out this fitness tracker, I noticed it looks rather similar to the classic Casio G-Shock watches of old, but under the hood, incredible battery life and a build quality that meets military-grade standards helps it stand out from the competition. If you’re looking for a fitness watch that looks as tough as it is, this will serve you well.
- Incredible battery life
- Water, thermal and shock resistance
- Optional music integration downloads music to your wrist
- Pixelated display looks outdated
- Optical heart rate monitor isn’t accurate over tattoos
Why Trust Forbes Vetted
Our team has thoroughly reviewed dozens of fitness trackers, smartwatches and pieces of workout gear to assess which options meet our high standards. From our guides on the best Garmin watches to how to choose smartwatches for kids, we pride ourselves in providing honest and accurate advice based on intensive research, expert insight and hands-on testing. This is especially true for the best fitness trackers of 2023, as many of the trackers listed here were personally tested by Vetted staffers and contributors. I extensively tested the Suunto 9 Peak Pro, and have sported the Garmin Instinct 2 and Garmin Fenix 6S Pro during many activities (hiking included). Co-author and contributor Hannah Singleton, along with other Vetted staffers, have used the FitBit Charge 5, Apple Watch, Coros Pace 2, Fitbit Sense and Whoop for personal activity tracking and training.
We worked with gear-focused updates writer Alexandra Garrett to ensure this guide remains current as new models are released. This story was updated in October 2023 to add Apple’s latest smartwatch, the Apple Watch Series 9, to the list, and to answer common questions readers have about shopping for a fitness tracker.
How We Chose The Best Fitness Trackers
Forbes Vetted’s gear team leveraged our hands-on experience with hours of research to find the best fitness trackers available today. We started by first examining popular models from FitBit, Apple, Garmin and other reputable tech brands. We then evaluated the features and specs of each wearable, carefully considering the type of screen, sensors, compatibility and battery life. In some cases, we put these features to the test ourselves and used them daily to keep tabs on our own training progress.
Every fitness tracker we recommended needed to offer the basic waterproofing, activity tracking and heart rate monitoring that benefits most users. They also needed to have stellar customer reviews, meaning they scored no less than 4 out of 5 stars. We know that everyone has different fitness goals, so we made sure to list options for a wide variety of uses, too.
What To Look For In A Fitness Tracker
Buying a new fitness tracker isn’t just a financial investment, it’s a step toward improving your overall health. That’s why it’s crucial to find a tracker that integrates with your daily life, and at the very least, comes with basic features that let you track what’s most important to you.
Not all trackers can recognize all exercises. For instance, if you want to track swim workouts, be sure to look not just for a tracker that’s waterproof, but also one that explicitly supports swimming. Likewise, only a handful of trackers support really unusual sports and workouts. When considering different models, be sure to narrow down your options by reflecting on the various activities you’d like to track.
The most basic fitness trackers are simply pedometers—devices that try to maintain an accurate count of your steps. But most modern fitness trackers do a lot more than that. These days, the best fitness trackers are often bristling with sensors which collect information about your fitness and overall health level. Here are the most common sensors found in fitness trackers:
- Accelerometer: Measures motion, and is often the primary sensor used to ascertain activity levels.
- Altimeter: Measure air pressures, which is helpful when you’re taking the stairs or training on a stairmaster.
- Heart rate sensor: Measures heart rate, heart rate variability and blood pressure.
- Sp02 sensor: Measures the oxygen level in your blood.
- ECG sensor: Measures your heart’s rhythm and electrical activity. However, in no case can or should an ECG be used to detect a heart attack.
Just keep in mind that a lot of the whole-body analytics you get from sensors like these are often not especially actionable; you might get a general sense of your overall health, fitness level or sleep quality, but it can be hard to know what to do to improve. Until that aspect of the software catches up to the hardware, you can consider all of these advanced features pretty optional.
Depending on the build quality, available sensors and screen resolution, battery life can last anywhere from one day to several months. If you intend to use your fitness tracker as a traditional pedometer, you can probably get by with a model that features a smaller battery. But if you intend to use it over prolonged periods of time (for instance, when backpacking or running a marathon), consider opting for a model that features extended battery life or solar charging to supplement the battery in direct sunlight.
As much as we’d like trackers to be completely accurate, third-party testing reveals that this is rarely the case. Manufacturers often rely on algorithms and sensors to track certain metrics, which leads to a small degree of error. With this in mind, consider investing in a fitness tracker that’s designed to support your preferred activities. For instance, a chest strap that measures your heart rate and transmits data to your fitness tracker will be more accurate than the integrated heart rate sensor glued to your wrist.
What Is The Most Accurate Fitness Tracker?
Although fitness trackers aren’t 100% accurate, some can make more accurate predictions than others depending on which activity you’re tracking. In terms of hiking or running outdoors, our editors found that the Garmin Fenix 6S Pro, Garmin Instinct 2, Coros Apex Pro and Coros Pace 2 provide the most accuracy because they use dual-band frequencies—a type of GPS technology known for its precision—to track your location, pace and distance traveled, which is a lot more exact than watches that use single-band frequencies. When it comes to lifting weights or more strength-based activities, our contributor applauds the Apple Watch for its accuracy when measuring her heart rate.
Which Brand Offers The Best Fitness Tracker?
As tempting as it might be to crown one fitness tracker as superior to all others, in reality, it’s entirely dependent on what you hope to gain by using one. If you intend to count your steps, the best fitness tracker may be a simple, more economical option. But if you’re looking for one that’ll help you form healthier habits, from moving more to sleeping better, then you might consider a model with all the bells and whistles.
Be sure to consider what type of activity you’ll use it for. For instance, if you plan to go for a bike ride, opt for one with GPS. Or, if you plan to go swimming, pick one that’s waterproof. That may sound like a broad answer given the available options, but the brands listed here (Fitbit, Garmin, Coros, etc.) will offer an array of features and long-term reliability.
What Is The Best Fitness Tracker For A Beginner?
The best fitness tracker for beginners is one you’ll actually use. After all, it’s about developing those health habits. Look for one that is comfortable to wear, natural to use, has a long battery life and fits your personal style. And, if you struggle to see words on a small screen, perhaps choose a fitness tracker that is connected to an app (so you can view stats on your phone).
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