Track your training with the best sports watches you can buy in 2022

Nick Harris-Fry Edward Munn Matt Reed
10 May 2022

Here's our pick of the top sports watches this year

When it comes to improving your sporting performance, knowledge is power. Elite athletes have teams of coaches and performance experts logging and analysing their every move; for the rest of us, a sports watch is the next best thing.

And you might be surprised by how much these little wrist-borne marvels can do. They use technology that even elites could only have dreamed of a few decades ago, and can track pretty much every popular sport. As well as basic information such as training time and distance covered, they can provide in-depth analysis of your technique, heart rate and training effect, and some will even coach you on the go.

Here’s our pick of the best sports watches for tracking a variety of different activities, along with our buyer’s guide to help you make the right choice.

Best sports watch: At a glance

How to buy the best sports watch for you

You'll first have to decide which sporting activity you want to track, as this will determine the core features you want. If you’re a runner or a cyclist then GPS tracking is a must, while swimmers will be more concerned with waterproofing. Triathletes need a multi-sport mode to switch between their different disciplines seamlessly, and those who stick to the gym might well want to monitor different forms of indoor workout, such as weight training and HIIT. Whatever kind of sportsperson you are, your perfect watch is almost certainly out there – you just have to pick it.

What else should I look for?

App support is important: check out how user-friendly the watch’s partner app is, and whether it will sync your exercise record to third-party apps such as Strava. You might also want to look for a tracker with a built-in music player, so you can leave your phone behind while still enjoying some audio entertainment during your activity.

Remember, too, that not all important statistics can be tracked from the wrist. Cyclists and triathletes, for example, might want to measure their pedalling cadence and power; for this, you’ll need a watch that can use Bluetooth or ANT+ to communicate with other monitoring devices attached to your body or bike.

Finally, check battery life, especially if you’re planning to use GPS. Some devices need charging daily, but the majority will get through a few days of training, and the best will last you a week or two without needing to be plugged in.

Should I consider a smartwatch instead?

Almost all general-purpose “smartwatches” have some sort of fitness-tracking capabilities; indeed, some are just as good as dedicated sports wearables. If you want the ability to install apps on your watch and receive detail-rich notifications for text, email, WhatsApp and many other apps, all alongside sports tracking, there are several great options. They tend to cost more than “dumber” devices, however – and since they’re designed to be worn all the time, you might have to charge them more often than a sports watch that you only wear while working out.

How much should I spend?

A basic sports tracker, without fancy features such as location tracking, will set you back between £50 and £100. If you want a decent watch with GPS, expect to pay around £100 and up – and if you can stretch to £150 to £300, you’ll find a range of quality options for every kind of sport. You can, of course, spend even more than that: triathletes and runners, in particular, will find some great options in the £300 to £500 bracket. For comparison, sporty smartwatches cost around £250-£350.

READ NEXT: These are the best watches for running

The best sports watches to buy in 2022

1. Garmin Epix (gen 2): The best all-round sports watch

Price: £900 | Buy now from Goldsmiths

It's certainly not cheap, but the second-generation Garmin Epix does everything you could possibly need from a sports watch – and more. It boasts a vivid, super-sharp 1.3in AMOLED touchscreen that's a joy to use, although it does impact battery life. The Epix will last around six days if you always have the display on or 16 days if it only switches on when you lift your wrist.

As you'd expect for this price, the Epix is packed to the rafters with features: topographic maps from around the world, incredible GPS accuracy, a RealTime Stamina tool that estimates how much energy you have left, Wi-Fi connectivity, the ability to store music from the major streaming services and dedicated modes for pretty much every form of exercise, both on dry land and in the water. It even contains the details of 42,000 golf courses.

Its stratospheric price is always going to be a sticking point and there are much better value options below, but there's no denying that the Garmin Epix is simply the best sports watch you can buy.

Read our full Garmin Epix review for more details

Key specs – Battery life: 6 days (screen always on), 16 days (when you lift your wrist); GPS: Yes; Waterproof: Yes; Heart-rate tracking: Yes; Bluetooth/ANT+: Bluetooth & ANT+

Buy now from Goldsmiths

2. Garmin Forerunner 245 Music: The best sports watch for running

Price: £299 | Buy now from Argos

When it comes to sports watches, runners get a wider choice than any other kind of athlete. There are great options available at any price point, from budget picks such as the Garmin Forerunner 45 to premium models such as the Garmin Fenix 6 Pro.

The Forerunner 245 Music splits the difference to offer all the essential features runners need, plus a few fancier ones, for £300. There is distance tracking using GPS, GLONASS and Galileo satellites, and we’ve found optical heart-rate monitoring in the 245 to be spot on as well.

You can also sync your music to the watch (there is a cheaper 245 available without music) and link it to a Spotify Premium account to transfer and update your playlists wirelessly. The 245 Music also offers breadcrumb navigation, and can guide you through both individual workouts or an entire training plan for a 5K, 10K or half marathon, thanks to options in the Garmin Coach feature within the Garmin Connect app that you can sync to the watch.

Key specs – Battery life: 24 hours (GPS), six hours (GPS plus music), 7 days (watch mode); GPS: Yes; Waterproof: Yes; Heart-rate tracking: Yes; Bluetooth/ANT+: Bluetooth & ANT+

3. Coros Pace 2: The best-value sports watch

Price: £179 | Buy now from Amazon

The Pace 2 packs an astonishing array of features into its small, lightweight case, offering all the essentials that runners and triathletes in particular need. It has built-in GPS, continuous heart-rate monitoring and a somewhat extraordinary 30 hours of GPS battery life.

It’s a full multisport watch with triathlon and open-water swimming modes, and it offers an impressive level of insight into your training, going well beyond what other watches in its price bracket provide. You get advice on recovery time after workouts, estimated race times and detail on the amount of load you're placing on your body, combined with a rating of your fitness and how well you’re able to tolerate that load.

The feature list goes on and on, with perhaps the only really notable exception being the lack of breadcrumb navigation, but you can forgive that given the low price of the Pace 2. In terms of bang for your buck, the Pace 2 is the clear pick for keen sportspeople.

Key specs – Battery life: 30 hours (GPS), 20 days (watch mode); In-built GPS: Yes; Waterproof: Yes; Heart-rate tracking: Yes; Bluetooth/ANT+: Bluetooth/ANT+

4. Garmin Venu 2 Plus: The best sports watch for everyday tracking

Price: £399 | Buy now from John Lewis

The Garmin Venu 2 Plus is the first watch from the company to include a microphone and speaker, which means you can use it to make phone calls and speak to your phone's voice assistant. Combine those additions with an impressive selection of exercise-tracking tools and you've got the ideal sports watch for everyday use.

The Venu 2 Plus boasts the same 1.3in, 416 x 416 AMOLED display as the non-Plus model, despite being smaller at 43mm compared to 45mm. That results in a slight battery life hit, but the Plus still lasts 24 hours with GPS switched on or nine days in watch mode. Elsewhere, there's a dedicated button to summon your voice assistant of choice, the watch is waterproof to 50m and you can store up to a whopping 650 songs on it.

The microphone and speaker worked brilliantly in our tests – as did the activity tracking. We tested the Venu 2 Plus alongside an ECG chest strap and the watch's heart-rate tracking was only a few beats off, which is impressive. GPS tracking was similarly impeccable and perusing your statistics is a straightforward process. It also covers a massive range of activities, including walking, cycling, yoga, golf and pilates.

In short, the Garmin Venu 2 Plus is a versatile and stylish smartwatch that can moonlight as an equally capable sports watch.

Read our full Garmin Venu 2 Plus review for more details

Key specs – Battery life: 24 hours (GPS), up to 9 days (watch mode); GPS: Yes; Waterproof: Yes; Heart-rate tracking: Yes; Bluetooth/ANT+: Bluetooth and ANT+

Buy now from John Lewis

5. Garmin Forerunner 945: The best sports watch for triathlon and cycling

Price: £396 | Buy now from Amazon

The Forerunner 945 is an outstanding all-round watch. It offers reliable and detailed tracking across a range of sports, as well as in-depth training and recovery analysis, plus smart features like music playback and on-board maps to help you navigate on-the-go.

What makes is so good for cyclists and triathletes starts with its slim, lightweight design, which is comfortable to wear through long activities, plus the open-water swimming and multisport sports mode it offers. The latter can be customised to include the activities you’re undertaking that day, whether it’s a full triathlon, a swimrun, or a brick training session with cycling and running.

Perhaps more important is the fact that the 945 is compatible with any sensor you’d like to pair with it, including cycling power meters and running footpods, and you can use either ANT+ and Bluetooth to link them with the watch.

Key specs – Battery life: 36 hours (GPS), 10 hours (GPS plus music), 14 days (watch mode); GPS: Yes; Waterproof: Yes; Heart-rate tracking: Yes; Bluetooth/ANT+: Bluetooth & ANT+

6. Coros Vertix 2: The best-value premium sports watch

Price: £588 | Buy now from Amazon

Garmin has ruled the roost at the high end of the sports watch market for some time now, but Coros is beginning to make in-roads and its second-generation Vertix offers a keenly priced alternative to Garmin’s Fenix series.

For £600 you get a watch with a big, 1.4in sapphire crystal display and a tough, titanium body, something you'd have to pay at least £100 more for in a Fenix.

Aside from its design, though, the Vertix 2 holds several other key attractions, its biggest strength being its superb battery life – we found it lasted a month at a time, training for around five to six hours a week. It has a dual channel, all-systems GPS radio, which means supreme accuracy, even in tricky conditions. It also comes with offline maps and good optical heart-rate monitor accuracy, and the Coros app and new web training platform are superb.

All in all, it’s a great-value package and a strong alternative to a Garmin Fenix.

Read our full Coros Vertix 2 review for more details

Key specs – Battery life: 25 days; GPS: Yes; Waterproof: Yes; Heart-rate tracking: Yes; Bluetooth/ANT+: Bluetooth

7. Withings Steel HR: The most discreet sports watch

Price: £170 | Buy now from Withings

Not everyone likes the overtly sporty look. If you prefer to keep your fitness functions low-key, the Withings Steel HR is a great option, as it looks just like an ordinary watch. Yet beneath the unassuming facade sits all the tech you need to track everyday activity and record basic info about your fitness.

The Withings Steel HR automatically tracks walks, runs, swims and sleep, and gives subtle insights into how you’re progressing via the sub-dial and small OLED display. There’s no GPS tracking or in-depth workout stats, but if you want a tasteful watch with fitness tracking thrown in, it’s the perfect choice.

Read our full review of the Withings Steel HR

Key specs – Battery life: 25 days; GPS: No; Waterproof: Yes; Heart-rate tracking: Yes; Bluetooth/ANT+: None

8. Apple Watch Series 7: The best sports smartwatch

Price: £390 | Buy now from Amazon

Apple’s latest smartwatch isn’t a massive update on its predecessor, the Series 6 (which previously occupied this position in our roundup). Nevertheless, it’s arguably the best smartwatch you can buy.

Most of the sports tracking features remain the same as last time around; instead, the key updates focus on subtle hardware improvements. The display on the Series 7 is 20% larger than before, the cover glass is thicker and, therefore, more resistant to damage (the watch is also now dust- as well as water-resistant), and the watch comes with a charger that tops up the batter a claimed 33% faster.

As with all Apple Watches before it, the battery life is nothing to write home about. However, it should be capable of logging all but the longest workouts, and the Series 7 is undoubtedly deserving of its place on this list.

Key specs – Battery life: 18 hours; GPS: Yes; Waterproof: Yes; Heart-rate tracking: Yes; Bluetooth/ANT+: Bluetooth

9. Huawei GT 2e: The best budget sports smartwatch

Price: £106 | Buy now on Amazon

The Huawei GT 2e sits somewhere in between a smartwatch and a sports watch. It’s not a full smartwatch because it doesn’t run Wear OS and so has no app store, but it has a large, bright AMOLED touchscreen and you can put music on it (Android users only). By not using Google's software, however, Huawei has been able to massively increase the battery life of the GT 2e compared to most Android smartwatches, with the GT 2e lasting around a week even if regularly using it to track outdoor exercise.

With 100 workout modes it’s definitely fair to say the GT 2e shines on the sports front, and it offers runners, in particular, impressive insights into their training load and overall fitness, using the same Firstbeat technology that you find in Garmin devices. There are also some preset running workouts you can use, and training plans for events ranging from 5K to a marathon.

The GT 2e has built-in GPS, a heart rate monitor and can also track your blood oxygen levels using a SpO2 sensor. Along with sports it does a solid job of tracking everyday activity and Huawei’s sleep tracking is right up there with Fitbit and Polar’s as among the best available on any watch. The only significant caveat is that sadly the Watch GT2e won’t interface with Strava. If Huawei fixes that, this is a truly formidable watch for the money.

Key specs – Battery life: Up to two weeks; GPS: Yes; Waterproof: Yes; Heart-rate tracking: Yes; Bluetooth/ANT+: Bluetooth

10. Garmin Enduro: The best Garmin sports watch for battery life

Price: £629 | Buy now from Amazon

If you want the ultimate sports watch for features, choose a Garmin Fenix, but if battery life is the most important thing in the world, the Enduro is the watch you want. While training for a marathon, we found it would last a month between charges, but if you use one of Garmin’s battery-saving modes you can extend it out even longer. The watch is rated at up to 80 hours of continuous GPS and heart-rate use, and in max battery mode you can use the GPS for up to 300 hours continuously with the help of the solar glass on the front of the watch.

The watch has a large, transflective memory-in-pixel (MIP) display, which means it’s readable even in bright sunlight. As you’d expect of a premium Garmin sports watch, the Enduro comes with a raft of fitness-related features and supports a huge array of external sensors, from chest belts to cycling power meters.

However, thanks to the focus on battery life, the Enduro does miss out on a couple of key features: onboard maps and music storage and playback from Spotify.

Key specs – Battery life: Up to 65 days; GPS: Yes; Waterproof: Yes; Heart-rate tracking: Yes; Bluetooth/ANT+; Bluetooth smart, ANT+

11. Garmin Vivomove Sport: The best hybrid sports watch

Price: £120 | Buy now from John Lewis

A lot of sports watches have just that look: digital clock, big bezels and sporty illustrations. That’s fine if all you’re using it for is fitness activities, but if you want to wear your watch throughout the working day alongside formal attire, it might look a little out of place. Step up the Garmin’s minimalist marvel, the Vivomove Sport.

Continual heart rate and sleep monitoring, step counting and other bodily sensors for a range of fitness activities, from yoga to swimming, form the basis of a comprehensive health and wellness watch – but you wouldn’t guess from appearances alone. In fact, turn off any smart features and you would never know the Vivomove Sport had those brainy capabilities.

That’s because of a watch face that features moving arms and really looks the part through its minimalist, all-black design (although, other sleek mint and ivory varieties are available). We found it to be lightweight and comfortable on-wrist too, making it ideal for any occasion including sleeping. In terms of value for a hybrid sports watch, or any smartwatch from Garmin, this is up there with the best we’ve seen.

Read our full Garmin Vivomove Sport review for more details

Key specs – Battery life: 5 days (smartwatch mode), 6 days (watch mode); GPS: No; Waterproof: Yes (5ATM); Heart-rate tracking: Yes; Bluetooth/ANT+: Bluetooth & ANT+

Buy now from John Lewis

12. Garmin Fenix 7: The best sports watch bar none

Price: £559 | Buy now from Amazon

If you can afford it, you can’t do better than the Garmin Fenix 7. Absolutely packed with features, the Fenix 7 somehow improves upon the already outstanding Fenix 6 Pro, pulling streets ahead of the competition.

The design tweaks include the addition of the first touchscreen in the Fenix series, and the battery life has been extended – you’ll get roughly 10 hours with music playing, 57 hours with just the GPS activated and a whopping 18 days of activity in watch mode.

Unlike the 6 series, all models of the Fenix 7 now come equipped with onboard mapping and turn-by-turn navigation as standard, as well as supporting all-system, multi-band GNSS (global navigation satellite system). Garmin’s new Elevate optical sensor provides more accurate heart rate and blood oxygen saturation monitoring, and a host of new training features maximise your workouts.

Read our full Garmin Fenix 7 review for more details

Key specs – Battery life: Up to 18 days; GPS: Yes; Waterproof: Yes; Heart-rate tracking: Yes; Bluetooth/ANT+: Bluetooth & ANT+

Another option worth considering:

Garmin Fenix 6 Pro: A performance-focused upgrade | Buy now (£431)