Trail running watches can monitor data such as heart rate, time, pace and distance. But what are the best watches for trail running? We decided to conduct a study and create this article about the best trail running watches.
In this list below, we selected the best ones – those that will show you useful information while running, and that is strong enough to survive an accidental fall, and with good battery life.
Best Overall: Garmin Fenix 5
Garmin Fenix 5 Rating: 8.6/10
Why it’s great: This is the best choice – but at the same time it’s an expensive option. But we think that the Garmin Fenix 5 is the best watch for trail running and many other activities. They offer a variety of functions for trail-running – a long battery life, and a stylish appearance, thanks to which they will fit almost any outfit.
In addition to running metrics, such as pace, distance, time and heart rate, the Garmin Fenix 5 provides a very detailed route map, with which you will determine your location. A dotted line is displayed on the map showing the route you are following.
You can download the routes in advance. The map will not indicate directions, but it will help you navigate at intersections and will let you know if you have strayed from the route. In addition, you can add waypoints and they can be installed anywhere on the map – these can be trails, peaks, campsites or other attractions.
The Garmin Fenix 5 can keep track of the altitude while using a barometer for the most accurate determination of altitude. The Garmin Fenix 5 watch also measures the vertical speed (you can find out how fast you climb or descend). And the Fenix 5 automatically updates the altitude information on the screen, if this watches detects that you are climbing a mountain.
There are three versions of these watches (each version comes in different colors): Fenix 5S – the smallest version, the Fenix 5, similar in size and function to Fenix 3, and the Fenix 5X which is the largest and most expensive of the three, but is the only model with real topographical and street maps.
The Fenix 5 – is a strong and durable watch. A handy watchband can easily be replaced with a synthetic rubber strap for trail running or with a more casual metal strap. The Fenix 5 also perfectly tracks other activities such as mountain biking, skiing, swimming, and rowing. So, if you are not only running but also do other activities, then seriously think about this option.
Current price, reviews and full description:
Garmin Fenix 5XView at Amazon
Garmin Fenix 5View at Amazon
Garmin Fenix 5SView at Amazon
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Best Trail Running Watch No.2: Suunto Ambit3 Peak HR
Suunto Ambit3 Peak HR Rating: 8.7/10
Why it’s great: Just like the Fenix 5, the Ambit3 Peak watch offers a lot of useful features for trail running. But the Ambit3 Peak outperforms the Fenix 5 in terms of battery life, as they provide as much as 30 hours of battery life.
In addition to the good battery life, the Ambit3 Peak also boasts the creation of routes and mapping. You can create routes using the Movescount-Suunto application and upload your routes to your watch.
So-called “heatmaps” are unique for Suunto. These are routes that were followed or created by other users of Suunto. Their popularity is manifested in varying degrees of brightness – the greater the brightness, the more popular the route (hence the name).
The Suunto Ambit3 Peak also has distinct advantages in mapping, namely, it displays the relief profile. When following a certain route, you can see exactly where you are. The Ambit3 Peak does not display the full map, however, you can still see where you are, and whether you deviate from the route.
The Ambit3 Peak measures altitude, relying on barometer data and combines this data with GPS data to provide the most accurate altitude readings. They also know how to measure the speed of ascent and descent.
Ambit3 Peak – it is a strong and durable watch. A 30-hour battery combined with mapping and accurate height data makes this watch an excellent option for trail running.View at Amazon
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Garmin Forerunner 35
Garmin Forerunner 35 Rating: 8.6/10
Why it’s great: If you are looking for a simple and easy-to-use watch, and you are not particularly interested in functions such as mapping and altitude measurement, then the Garmin Forerunner 35 is a good option for you. Although they do not have a built-in barometer and do not offer a very long battery life, they do not cost as much as most watches.
Nevertheless, the Forerunner 35 is equipped with a good battery, which is enough for 13 hours, and it perfectly tracks the speed, distance, and heart rate. It comes with a heart rate monitor that also works as a tracker of activity (besides running) and counts the steps, monitors the performance of already set goals and creates new daily goals. All this is hidden in a compact body with a large display.
When synchronizing with the Garmin Connect application, the Forerunner 35 automatically uploads all the information to your smartphone. In the app, you can see key data such as routes, pace, distance, and heart rate and other useful data.
The Garmin Forerunner 35 is ideal for those who want a lightweight, easy-to-use watch that can track jogging routes and provide a good set of data that can be analyzed later.View at Amazon
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Garmin Forerunner 230 Watch
Garmin Forerunner 230 Rating: 8.9/10
Why it’s great: Among the basic GPS-watches, the Garmin Forerunner 230 is one of the best options. They have a large, colorful display. Along with the basic GPS data, you can upload an individual training plan.
The only thing the Forerunner 230 lacks is a heart rate monitor. If this makes you sad, then look at the Forerunner 235 – it’s the same as 230, but with an optical heart rate sensor.
In general, the Forerunner 230 is a fairly easy-to-use watch. And this watch has enough additional features, which justifies their high cost.View at Amazon