How to Choose the Best GPS Watch for Running

Running seems easy enough. Pick a pair of shoes, throw on shorts and a tank top, and head out the door, right? Well, technically, yes (as long as you find the right pair of shoes). But the more you get into running, the more you realize there are tons of gadgets that can make it easier to get faster, get better, or even just easier to plan your runs. At some point, almost every runner will look into upgrading their basic watch for something a little more technical with a few more features. But then that opens a whole other can of worms – how do you pick one? You can ask your running buddy or running group, but we’ve narrowed it down to four of the best here (and even a couple that won’t break the bank).

Budget

Photo Credit: TomTom
Photo Credit: TomTom

The TomTom Runner is your best option if you are on a budget, coming in right around $100 (we found them anywhere from $89.99-$129.99). It’s one of the more basic watches, with an easy to read screen and reliable GPS. It’s waterproof, and can track indoor miles on a treadmill as well.

Mountain Running

Photo Credit: Suunto
Photo Credit: Suunto

While many other GPS watches track elevation, the Suunto Ambit3 Peak is designed for mountain running. It tracks elevation, weather, multiple sports (swimming, running, biking), heart rate, recovery time, and more. The face is easy to read, the buttons are easy to push, and it can sync with your phone. There are a few color options with the straps, too. But this one is gonna cost you a bit more – $400-500.

Just the Basics

Photo Credit: Soleus
Photo Credit: Soleus

It’s really easy to get into all the different features that these watches offer, so if you are looking for something more simple, the Soleus GPS Pulse + HRM ($199) is a good choice. That’s not to say it doesn’t have features, but the main ones include the typical distance, speed, and pace, as well as calories burned, interval timers, and a backlight.

The One Everyone Has

Photo Credit: Garmin
Photo Credit: Garmin

Garmin is a company that has made a name for itself in the running community. With a variety of options ranging from the Forerunner 15 ($119) that is similar to the basic Soleus, to the multi-sport capable Forerunner 735XT ($449.99) that measures everything from the regular distance to VO2 max and lactate threshold estimates. For a mid-price range watch that will have more than enough features for the average runner, the Forerunner 235 ($329.99) is an excellent option.

Feature Photo Credit: Forward Runner