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Best Fitness Watches and Trackers for Women in 2021

 

We’ve reviewed over 50+ fitness watches and fitness trackers for women to find the best available right now.

In evaluating women’s fitness watches and trackers, we looked for watches that worked for a variety of activities and for different budgets. We’ve broken these devices down into sport watches, fitness trackers, and fitness tracking jewelry.

Most importantly we wanted to find watches that provided the best fit for women. Many companies claim their watches are made for women when they are really just “gender-zied” with a pink band.

The problem – especially for a GPS watch – is that they are so big they don’t fit properly on a women’s wrist. Or they fit but are so out of proportion they don’t look good. Our favorite fitness watches fit well and look good.

We also feel that safety is a concern for many women. We placed an emphasis on watches that allow friends and family to see your precise location when exercising outdoors.

Given that criteria, here are the best fitness watches for women currently on the market….

Top 3 Best and Favorites

 

GARMIN VIVOACTIVE 4S

 

  • Built-in safety features
  • Comes in small and large sizes
  • Music storage/playback
Check Price

 

FITBIT INSPIRE 2

 

  • Battery life up to 10 days
  • Customizable fitness tracker
  • Water-resistant
Check Price

 

APPLE WATCH SERIES 6

 

  • Water-resistant
  • Heart rate sensor
  • Up to 18 hours of battery life
Check Price

 

BELLABEAT LEAF

 

  • Lightweight, stylish
  • Versatile – can be worn around neck, wrist, or on clothes
  • Doesn’t require recharging
Check Price

Best Sport Watches for Women

We broke these fitness watches into two categories: sport watches and fitness trackers.

These overlap in some ways. But sport watches are more versatile and can be used for a large range of activities. Because they have GPS tracking, they tend to be physically bigger and more expensive than fitness trackers.

Fitness trackers count steps, monitor sleep, and track basic exercise. They don’t have GPS for accurate exercise tracking.

You’ll notice many of these watches are Garmins. This is not an accident. Garmin is the industry-leader for GPS watches and has put years of research into building the smallest form GPS watches. There are less expensive GPS watches on the market, but they tend to be big and clunky.

Top Sportswatch

1. Garmin vivoactive 4S

The vivoactive 4S is one of our favorite fitness watches for women. It builds off the popular vivoactive 3 – but now comes with more features and a smaller size (if you prefer a slightly bigger watch, there is also the vivoactive 4).

It tracks over a dozen activities including running, cycling, swimming, and golf. Heart rate is monitored on your wrist, eliminating the need for a chest strap.

There is room for lots of customization. Watch bands can be swapped out. The display can be changed – you can even use a personal photo to customize the face. And the side button can change position to wear on either left or right wrist. The vivoactive 4S comes in 4 color options: white with rose gold bezel (pictured above), black, silver with gray bezel, and pink with a gold bezel.

While the vivoactive 4S is not the smallest GPS watch we found, it balances its size well with the number of features. We like how it can be worn on either wrist.

For safety, the vivoactive 4S has the ability to broadcast your activity using Garmin’s Livetrack. This is a link sent out to email contacts (or on Facebook and Twitter). The link lets anyone follow your location on a map in real-time.

It also comes with incident detection and an emergency button. If you find yourself in trouble, selecting the button alerts friends and family of your location. Auto-detection does the same thing automatically if you’ve crashed on a bike.

The vivoactive 4S comes with music storage and playback. Download and play up to 500 songs directly from the watch, including Spotify playlists. You can also control music if listening from your phone. You’ll need wireless bluetooth headphones to listen (we like this pair that lets in ambient background noise). 

The vivoactive 4S has the most features to offer for the best price. Combined with its GPS capabilities and stylish design, it’s our top choice.

PROS:

  • Built-in safety features
  • Comes in large and small sizes
  • Plays/stores music
  • Stylish look

CONS:

  • Heavier than other watches/fitness trackers
 

Best Basic GPS Watch

2. Garmin Forerunner 55

Garmin’s newest watch combines top features from the popular Forerunner 45 to create one of the best easy-to-use GPS watches available.

The Forerunner 55 comes one size that’s not too big for slender wrists (this is different from the Forerunner 45, which came in two sizes). Clearly, Garmin is aiming for some gender roles here with their band’s color schemes. But the slim design makes it a good fit for women.

Like other Garmin watches, this one records running, walking, and cycling using GPS to track time, pace, and distance. A built-in activity tracker counts steps, sets daily goals, and monitors sleep. An all-day stress monitor keeps tabs on your daily wellness.

The Forerunner 55 has a hi-res, color screen. A nice 20-hour battery (with GPS), wrist heart rate monitor, and lightweight design add to the features.

This Garmin watch includes safety functionality. If you find yourself requiring help during a run, push the assistance button and a text and email are automatically sent to chosen friends and family. They’ll instantly be alerted of your location. There is also an incident detection feature that does the same thing, but automatically if the watch detects a crash during a bike ride. 

Like earlier Garmin watches, Livetrack is included which allows friends and family to follow your progress in real-time. This is great for both safety reasons and to locate you during large events.

PROS:

  • Color screen
  • Good battery
  • Safety features
  • Lightweight

CONS:

  • Expensive relative to other similar watches
  • No longer offered in smaller size
 

Top Value Watch

3. COROS Pace 2

The COROS Pace 2 is the lightest GPS watch out there, weighing just 29 grams with a nylon strap. You’ll hardly even feel it on your wrist, but you’ll have a hardy watch with a wide variety of advanced features.

It’s a durable watch, with the bezel made from fiber-reinforced polymer material and scratch-resistant Corning glass on the screen. You can get 60 hours of battery in UltraMax GPS mode and 30 hours in full GPS mode. In regular mode, the battery can last up to 20 days. In standby mode, you’ll get more than a month of battery.

This is a great watch for sporty women. If you run, you’ll appreciate the Intelligent Stride feature that learns and adapts to your running form. It’s also compatible with Stryd power meters.

There are 200 preloaded exercises so you can customize your own workout. It also has a unique Strength Activity mode that automatically detects the number of reps you’ve done in an exercise.

ABC sensors, 4 different GPS systems, a gyroscope, thermometer, advanced training analysis, and special training for triathlons, intervals, and multisports.

PROS:

  • Intelligent Stride model
  • 50-meter water-resistant
  • 200 pre-loaded exercises
  • Lightest GPS watch on the market

CONS:

  • The heart rate sensor can be inaccurate
 

Best Adaptive Fitness Watch

4. Suunto 3

Contrary to many fitness watches on the market, Suunto 3 provides adaptive training guidance, which is basically a 7-day training schedule that can drastically improve your fitness.

One of the great benefits of the adaptive training guidance is that it will automatically adapt to your regular exercises, so you don’t ever need to worry about updating it.

The adaptive training guidance is successful because it’s based on your training history and fitness level, and the planned exercises are extremely easy to activate.

While you are completing the planned exercises, make sure to check your watch periodically so that you remain at the right intensity.

Every person that works out knows that maintaining a good night’s sleep is vital to optimal health, and the Suunto 3 Fitness makes getting the proper rest every night easy. The watch offers innovative tools to track your sleep, including stats on the duration of your sleep and how well your sleep promotes optimal recovery.

Plus, the watch will also track your stress levels throughout the day to ensure that you are balancing activity and recovery appropriately.

To keep you updated on your important sleep, activity, and fitness trends, the product can log all of your activities on the new Suunto App. With the use of your mobile device’s GPS, the app can also track your distance, speed, and route.

When you connect the product to the Suunto App, you can also interact with other users in the community.

PROS:

  • Clear display
  • Great for tracking multiple types of activities
  • Very lightweight

CONS:

  • Complicated interface
 

Top High-End Sports Watch

5. Garmin fenix 6S

The fenix has been one of Garmin’s most popular GPS watches for the past several years. It works equally well for running, cycling, hiking, triathlons, the gym, or just wearing casually. But has been a big, heavy watch. For years, a major complaint was its size and sheer bulk.

Garmin finally fixed that with the fenix 6, which comes in numerous sizes and price ranges. The 6S is one of our top picks for best women’s fitness watch. It’s still not a small watch, but it’s not a huge watch that looked ridiculous on small wrists.

The key difference between the fenix 6S and the vivoactive 4 is the sheer amount of data it tracks. You can program customized workouts directly on the watch. It comes with a barometer to accurately track elevation while hiking and to monitor the weather. To navigate, the fenix 6S has great mapping features including real street and topo maps.

Like Garmin’s other watches, Livetrack projects your activity to friends and family. But the fenix 6S Plus also works with Strava, including the Strava Beacon. This feature is similar to Livetrack; however, it allows you to send tracking information by text as well as email. It can be programmed to automatically send a text every time you start an activity.

Incident detection allows you to send an alert to friends and family with a button push if you find yourself in trouble. Auto-incident detection does the same automatically if you crash on your bike.

The fenix 6S comes in multiple color options. Different bands can be quickly swapped in and out using Garmin’s quickfit band system.

With contactless payments, you pay for items with the watch, similar to Apple Pay.

PROS:

  • Awesome battery life
  • Tracks tons of activities
  • Nice navigation features

CONS:

  • Even the “small” watch is relatively big and bulky
 

Best Smartwatch

6. Apple Watch Series 6

There is no denying the Apple Watch is a versatile and nice looking watch. And now the Series 6 is even more fitness-oriented than the original.

It’s hard to fully run-down everything the Apple Watch can do. Especially because 3rd party apps further enhance its features and capabilities. But some key takeaways include: GPS tracking along with the step-monitoring of a fitness tracker. On the go music and phone notifications. And wrist heart rate.

The Apple Watch can also be purchased with cellular service without a phone. This is pretty awesome since it lets you text, make calls, play music and talk to Siri without carrying your phone.

Unlike Garmin watches, there is no way to broadcast your runs and rides to let friends know where you are. But it does have the SOS emergency feature. Basically, you can call 911 directly from the watch.

The biggest downside to the watch is its poor battery life. You’ll be lucky to get 5 hours in GPS mode. This compares to 10-15 for every Garmin. You’ll probably need to charge it every couple of days. Without GPS it does better – up to 18 hours.

In the end, this might not matter. Our recommendation, if you are really serious about outdoor activities, is go with a Garmin. But if you want a watch that’s capable of a lot more than just working out, go with the Apple Watch.

PROS:

  • Water-resistant design
  • Wrist heart rate monitor
  • Lots of apps

CONS:

  • Pricey
 

Top Fitbit Smartwatch

7. Fitbit Sense

The Fitbit Sense, like a lot of Fitbits out there, is more smartwatch and fitness tracker than GPS watch. But it fits the bill for exercising even if the running functions are weaker than what you’ll find on a Garmin.

The Sense really shines as an all-purpose fitness tracker and smartwatch. It’s great for people who do a variety of activities from running to strength training to hitting the gym. It can be worn all day where it tracks steps, heart rate, distance, floors climbed, and active vs stationary minutes.

And when you decide to head outside, use GPS to accurately track your runs including distance and pace. The Fitbit Sense also tracks swim workouts. And it counts reps when doing strength work at the gym.

It’s a fairly small form watch, so it fits nicely on thinner wrists. 

Similar to the Apple Watch, the Sense has some nice features for everyday wear. This includes phone notifications and wireless payments made directly with the watch. It also stores up to 300 songs that can be played through a set of wireless headphones.

The battery is pretty good, although – again – not as good as a Garmin. You’ll get about 6 days when it’s used as a fitness tracker. And only 12 hours in GPS mode.

PROS:

  • Small form fits nicely on wrist
  • Buiilt-in GPS for accurate outdoor activity tracking
  • Great for fitness and activity tracking

CONS:

  • So so battery, not as good as Garmins
 

Best Fitness Trackers for Women

Fitness Trackers – also called activity trackers – are mainly used to count steps and monitor sleep. They can be used for running, cycling, or the gym, but don’t have the full set of features of a sports watch.

But they are smaller and less expensive than GPS watches. The downside is they aren’t as accurate or have displays that are large and easy to read.

Most don’t have GPS, so they usually can’t beam out your location to family while you are running or cycling outside.

Here are our picks for the best activity trackers for women.

Best Fitness Tracker

8. Fitbit Inspire 2

The Fitbit Inspire 2 is the perfect device to ensure that you start the day off right.

The Inspire offers all-day activity tracking, so it’s easy to track your calories burned, steps, active minutes, and distance. The device will even give you friendly reminders to ensure that you don’t forget to stretch your legs and take at least 250 steps each hour.

The product’s automatic exercise recognition feature is designed to record your running, walking, bike riding, and swimming workouts by logging them in the app for you.

The watch can also automatically track your sleep with the use of silent alarms, and bedtime reminders can be set on the app.

The Inspire 2 also offers a variety of health and wellness tools. The product allows you to optimize exercise sessions by recording your heart rate and resting heart rate at any time of the day. The product’s guided breathing sessions are perfect if you would like to experience moments of calm throughout the day.

With the Fitbit Inspire, it’s extremely easy to stay connected to the outside world. Whenever your phone is nearby, you’ll receive calendar, call, and text alerts. Plus, you’ll receive notifications from your phone.

Once you hit a milestone, the watch will give a “high-five” with its goal celebrations feature.

Due to its water-proof components, the Inspire is designed for every aspect of life, so feel free to wear it in the pool, shower, and beyond.

The product can be paired with many accessory bands and clips to motivate you toward your fitness goals.

The fitness tracker only has 10 days of battery life – which is great for a fitness tracker.

PROS:

  • Customizable tracker
  • Battery life up to 10 days
  • Water-resistant
  • Value priced

CONS:

  • Better at tracking steps than activities
 

Top Value Tracker

9. Garmin vivomove

The Garmin vivomove is an elegant-looking watch. The watch face is analog, so it looks just like a normal watch, but it features a secret touch screen to switch between informational screens. It comes in a variety of stylish colors as well.

Although it doesn’t look like a conventional smartwatch, you’ll be able to track your steps, monitor your sleeping patterns and an inactivity tracker too. Connect to the Garmin Connect app for more advanced insights.

Here you’ll have access to all-day Health Monitoring, which includes your steps, your calories burned, and how many calories you’ve consumed so you can track your progress. Menstrual cycle tracking, Body Battery monitoring, hydration tracking and stress tracking are other useful functions.

GPS means you’ll never be lost, and the Garmin Pay function is a safety feature that means you don’t have to carry cash with you.

You won’t get advanced sports metrics on this watch, which could be a downside for some ladies. But you also won’t find a more elegant and prettier smartwatch.

PROS:

  • All-day Health Monitoring
  • Hidden Touchscreen display
  • Connected GPS
  • Garmin Pay

CONS:

  • No advanced sporting metrics
 

Best Coaching Tracker

10. Polar Unite

The Polar Unite is a well-priced smartwatch that has an uncomplicated design. It’s also very light, at 32 grams, which is suitable for women who don’t want a heavy watch on their wrist.

It has a range of features that one expects to find on a smartwatch, like step counting, distance counting, calorie tracking, 24-hour heart rate monitoring, sleep tracking and running index.

In terms of what it’s lacking, you won’t find a “multisport mode”, so triathletes may be disappointed. It also doesn’t have a built-in GPS, but if your phone is nearby it can use the GPS function on the phone.

You can save up to 20 sports modes on the watch, and there are almost 100 different sports to choose from. Polar’s FITSPARK Training Guide offers personalized workouts tailored specifically for you.

Another feature that’s useful is the Nightly Recharge recovery measurement. It will help you to understand your body better and learn how long it takes you to recover after exercise. With this information, you can make better exercise choices.

PROS:

  • Advanced wrist-based heart rate
  • Nightly Recharge recovery measurement
  • FITSPARK Training Guide
  • Supports up to 100 different sports

CONS:

  • No internal GPS
 

Best Fitbit Tracker

11. Fitbit Charge 4

The Fitbit Charge 4 straddles the line between the simpler Inspire and the Sense. It’s mainly an activity tracker, but provides GPS tracking outdoors when paired with a phone.

Wrist heart rate monitors heart rate all day and night. The Charge 4 uses this to determine your overall fitness level and even offers breathing tips when you are feeling stressed out.

The high-resolution screen is easy to read. Smartphone notifications appear when the Charge 4 is near your phone.

Like the Fitbit Inspire, there are size options to fit different types of wrists. It’s not as small as the Fitbit Inspire, but it fits slender wrists pretty well. Bands can be swapped out for a change of pace.

The Charge 4 has a touch-screen display (compared to push buttons on earlier Charges) that’s also about 40% bigger with a sharper resolution. The battery life improves to 7 days. The Charge 4 can also make wireless payments.

PROS:

  • Part fitness tracker, part smartwatch
  • High-res touch screen
  • Phone notifications
  • Swappable bands

CONS:

  • Fairly big for a fitness tracker
 

Top Garmin Fitness Tracker

12. Garmin vivosmart 4

Garmin vivosmart 4 enables you to keep track of your active life. The device tracks calories burned, steps, floors climbed, and intensity minutes. There is also a “move-bar” on the device, and you’ll receive vibration alerts to let you know it’s time to move.

When you use Garmin vivosmart 4, you can track your workouts like never before. For example, the strength training activity provides you with an estimate of your exercises, reps, sets, and rest times so that you don’t have to carry a notebook around all the time.

If you forget to set a timer for your activity, the Move IQ feature on the product will automatically detect exercises like running, swimming, walking, cycling, and much more.

Because sleep is so important to your overall health, the vivosmart 4 offers advance sleep monitoring to successfully track your light, deep, and REM stages of sleep. If you would like more insight, all you need to do is turn on the pulse OX feature to monitor your blood oxygen levels during sleep. As soon as you get up in the morning, you can then review your sleep stats in the Garmin Connect Mobile App.

Almost everyone experiences stress at some point of the day, but do you know exactly how much? The product can track your stress levels by monitoring your HRV. If you regularly have high-stress levels, you may want to take advantage of the relax reminder feature to receive a simple vibration alert on your wrist, reminding you to take time to breathe.

Staying connected during workouts is extremely easy with the Garmin vivosmart 4. The product allows you to check the weather, listen to music, and receive smart notifications.

Like many Garmin products on the market, the watch can be connected to the Garmin Connect online community, which is an excellent place to share fitness success stories, participate in challenges, and earn colorful badges. Offered on the web or on a convenient app, Garmin Connect is completely free.

The product’s battery was made to keep up with your runs as it can last up to seven days.

PROS:

  • Awesome battery
  • Simple to use
  • Monitors stress levels

CONS:

  • Not a strong tracker to monitor activities
 

Fitness Tracking Jewelry

Our final type of fitness tracker is jewelry. These are the most limited type of tracking device. But if you want something with style and basic fitness tracking, this is a good option.

The main advantage besides looking good is they tend to be small and lightweight. You should hardly notice wearing them. Some are necklaces, so they are good if you don’t like wearing something on your wrist or if you already have a non-tracker watch that you love to wear.

Most Versatile Jewelry Tracker

13. Bellabeat Leaf

Bellabeat Leaf is a beautiful device that can track many different aspects of your life including your steps, calories, reproductive health, sleep patterns, menstrual cycle, distance moved, and stress.

The Leaf is incredibly versatile. It can be worn on your wrist, as a necklace, or attached to your clothing.

By using the app, the product can be synced to a new device at any time.

One of the most amazing features of this device is its coin cell battery. This sophisticated battery does not need charging and can last up to six months.

PROS:

  • Wonderful design, doesn’t look like a fitness tracker at al
  • Can be worn in different ways
  • Long, lasting battery

CONS:

  • Need app to access data
 

FAQ

What do fitness watches do?

Fitness watches have come a long way since the basic stop-watch. Today’s fitness watches track your every move, provide insight into your current fitness, and motivate you to keep exercising every day.

The most basic fitness watches count daily steps and monitors sleeping habits. They set daily step goals to provide a concrete number of steps you should walk every day. As your fitness improves, the step goal gradually increases.

On top of counting steps, most fitness watches also track total distance walked and calories burned. Some even provide reminders to get up and move when you’ve been inactive for too long.

Many fitness watches also monitor heart rate – usually with a heart rate monitor built into the watch itself. This eliminates the need to wear a chest strap like older heart rate monitors.

Better fitness watches track running, swimming, cycling, and other outdoor activities. They record how far you went, how long it took you, and your speed. This data is usually tracked in real-time so you’ll know how far you’ve gone mid-run or ride.

Most of these types of fitness watches use GPS to accurately track outdoor activities. Like a GPS for your car, these watches record exactly where you’ve gone and use that information to determine speed and distance traveled.

Almost every fitness watch today syncs wirelessly with a phone. This allows you to see all the data it’s recorded in easy-to-read graphs and charts.

The phone-watch connection also means that phone notifications appear on the fitness watch.

Many of the latest fitness watches can also play and store music, make payments wirelessly directly from the watch, and have watch bands and watch displays that can be customized.

What’s the difference between a GPS watch, sports watch, fitness watch, fitness tracker, and activity tracker?

A GPS watch syncs with GPS satellites to accurately track data for outdoor activities like running and walking.

A fitness tracker uses an accelerometer to count the number of steps taken on a daily basis along with monitoring sleep patterns. These are also known as activity trackers and are often used interchangeably.

A fitness watch and sports watch are more or less the same thing. A more stylish design is usually common for a sports watch. Ideally, both types of watches can be worn all day while exercising and for casual wear.

A GPS watch and a fitness tracker can both be a fitness watch and a sports watch. But because a sports watch implies a classic or stylish look, usually a fitness tracker wouldn’t be thought of as a sports watch.

How do fitness watches calculate calories?

A fitness watch uses an algorithm that takes your age, weight, height, and combines that with how much you exercise (either steps taken or a more intense activity like running) to calculate the number of calories burned. More advanced watches will also incorporate heart rate into the calculation.

But you have to remember these calories are just estimates. They should be used as a general guideline and not a true number of calories burned.

How do I choose a fitness watch?

A simple way to choose a fitness watch is to decide what types of activities you like to do, then combine that with how much you are willing to spend.

The most expensive fitness watches count steps and monitors your sleep – just like a basic fitness tracker. But they also do a whole lot more.

So it’s really deciding if basic step tracking is good enough for you. Or do you want to use it for running or other outdoor exercises?

These are the main factors you should consider when choosing a watch:

Price

A basic fitness watch that tracks steps costs about $75-$100. The cost rises as the number of features increases. Fitness watches that track running, walking, and other outdoor activities using GPS cost between $100-$250+. Those types of watches do cost more, but you get a much more accurate speed and distance than less expensive watches.

Daily Use

Do you want to track how far you walk every day? Then a fitness tracker should be fine. Would the watch also be used regularly for running, cycling, or hiking? Then think about getting a watch with GPS. Just doing a little bit of outside activity? A higher-end fitness tracker will count steps and have basic GPS for occasional outdoor use.

Weight and Watch Size

A basic fitness tracker is a fairly simple device and doesn’t weight much. Fitness watches that can do more and have long batteries are heavier and bigger.

Extras

In addition to counting steps and outdoor activities with GPS, some of these watches add on extra features. These are usually minor features like counting floors climbed, fitness scores, or tracking intensity exercise minutes. If these are important to you, check each watch for specific types of features.

Brand Ecosystem

Each brand has its own software and app that go with it. They are all unique and generally do the same sort of thing. We wouldn’t say that one is dramatically better than the other. But do note that if you ever switch watch brands in the future, it can be hard, or even impossible, to move your old data to the new software system. Just keep this in mind when choosing a watch.

The Wired Runner