Aside from shoes, those who get into running also look for the best cheap GPS running watch. But with so many GPS running watches out there, which model is worth your attention?
We’ve compiled some of the best and cheapest GPS running watches that you can find in the market today.
At a Glance: Our Top Choices for the Best GPS Running Watch
Polar M200 GPS Running Watch – The M200 GPS Running Watch is able to get an accurate measurement of important data even when the user is sleeping. It’s also easy for them to access the information that they need – thanks to the app that can be installed on their phone.
Timex Ironman GPS Silicone Strap Watch – The Timex Ironman is known for being lightweight – barely weighing 2 ounces! It’s 12-hour battery life is also perfect for those who train for extended periods.
TomTomSpark 3 Fitness Watch – The TomTom Spark 3 is the complete package when it comes to features at the price tag it comes with. It acts as your personal trainer and allows you to listen to music on the go.
Reviews of the Best GPS Running Watch
Polar M200 GPS Running Watch
If you prefer going out on a run with a good watch on your wrist that fits your style and your look for the day, then Polar M200 GPS Running Watch is something you should highly consider. You can call this the “coolest” running watch you can find in the market for its price range because it looks stylish and allows you to change its wristband.
However, it also comes with a lot of integrated features that make it more than just a nice-looking running watch on your wrist. It has a great activity tracker and can measure your heart rate even without using an additional strap for your chest. That really is all you can ask for from a good running watch.
Read Our Full Polar M200 GPS Running Watch Review
Timex Ironman GPS Silicone Strap Watch
Do not let the name of this running watch fool you because it really was not just developed for the Ironman athlete. Instead, it is a great fitness watch to use for both high-intensity athletes and casual runners alike because of how it has a lot of features that fit whatever kind of workout you’re doing whether it is swimming, running, or biking. Its GPS function works really well in tracking how fast you are going and how far you have gone so that you can help improve the Ironman in you or just simply know how to get yourself in better shape.
On top of all that, it feels light on your wrist and will not bother you the entire time during your workouts.
Read Our Full Timex Ironman GPS Silicone Strap Watch Review
TomTomSpark 3 Fitness Watch
The TomTom Spark 3 Fitness Watch really is like your own personal fitness trainer that comes in a handy watch on your wrist because it not only helps guide you through over 50 types of workouts but also comes with features that will motivate you to keep on doing better. If you often have trouble running with your earphone wires bothering you, you do not have to worry about this running watch.
Aside from the fact that it is one of the few running watches that actually allow you to listen to music, it also allows you to use your favorite Bluetooth earphones during your run so that you no longer have to run, swim, or cycle with your movements restricted by wires.
Read Our Full TomTomSpark 3 Fitness Watch Review
SUUNTO Ambit3 Run GPS Watch
Are you interested in a running watch that has a build quality that trumps all of the others? Well, you are just in luck because the SUUNTO Ambit3 Run actually got its design from Suunto’s early dive computers and has a design that you can really trust to be sturdy and very high-quality. It also performs well enough to that point that it gives you all of the basic functions a good running watch should have.
In that sense, you will have a running watch that has a premium build and the fundamental functions that any runner wants from a fitness companion on his/her wrist.
Read Our Full SUUNTO Ambit3 Run GPS Watch Review
Garmin Forerunner 35 Running Watch
Garmin Forerunner 35, the key to your problems because of how it is able to monitor your heart rate without an additional strap while also tracking you wherever you go and how fast you are going with its integrated GPS. It also does not feel very cheap as the screen is actually quite visible even under broad daylight. Vibration alerts also notify you of running prompts for your interval training needs and of other reminders too.
And, after you are done with your workouts, you can share your progress online and receive tips and fitness strategies from other people who are also using Garmin’s online community.
Read Our Full Garmin Forerunner 35 Running Watch Review
What is a running watch?
A running watch (also called a GPS watch) is basically still a watch that you wear on your wrist. However, what makes it different from regular digital watches on the market is that it has an integrated GPS receiver that allows it to use satellites to not only pinpoint your exact location but to also track your progress in terms of your speed, pacing, and distance traveled. While these watches can be used for other practical purposes, you often see them on the wrists of runners, cyclists, swimmers, and other fitness enthusiasts for the purpose of training or sports.
What is the main purpose of a running watch?
The most common purpose of a running watch is to help you navigate your way through a certain route in case you are unfamiliar with the trail or the locality. You can also use it for keeping track of your data in case you are regularly checking out your progress and comparing performances on a daily basis. And, of course, these watches have features that help make running easier. For example, a good running watch will notify you of when you need to increase your pace if you are interval training.
In all other cases, you can use a running watch just to monitor your overall health. For example, there are those that track how much calories you have burned on a daily basis even if you did not do any intense physical activity for that day. They also allow you to check your heart rate so that you can use that knowledge or data to your advantage to improve your fitness level or just simply your overall health.
Why should you buy a GPS running watch?
Although you can start running without this equipment, there are benefits to buying a GPS running watch.
- Know where you are
Because of the integrated GPS receiver, you can easily know where you are whenever you are running or cycling. That makes it easier for you to know how you have traveled. It also helps you if you are not familiar with the trail you are running or if you feel like you are somewhat lost. Simply put, having a watch with GPS capabilities make things easier for you.
- Know how fast you are going
The GPS receiver on your running watch is not only for helping you know where you are and how far you are from your destination. It also allows you to know your average speed by calculating how fast you went from position A to position B. A running watch also gives you an idea of your average pace per mile, for example. That means that you can use this to your advantage to improve your pace in your next run.
- Track your sleep
A good running watch can also track and monitor your sleep because it knows that resting is just as important as any physical activity if you want to improve your fitness. You can use this data to check the quality of your sleep and to hopefully get better sleep if you find that your fitness level is not improving with the amount of rest you are getting.
- Keep track of the calories you have burned
GPS running watches can also track the calories you have burned throughout the day and not just during or after your workouts. Knowing such will allow you to see that you are also burning calories by doing common things such as walking to your office from work or doing regular household chores such as cooking and gardening.
- Track the calories you eat
Aside from tracking the calories you are burning, GPS running watches also allow you to keep track of what you eat so that you can see how much what you eat affect your overall fitness goals. And if you integrate the watch with a reliable fitness app, you can also calculate your optimum calorie intake if you are looking to lose weight.
- Easy access to data
Taking note of your performance manually can be difficult without using a GPS watch. With its use, you can automatically get the necessary data and just focus on the workout. The data gathered by the watch is important for planning your workout in the future. It also keeps track of your performance so that you’ll know the progress that you’ve had it running.
- Specialized function
A GPS watch has numerous functions that non-running watches do not have. Yes, you can take note of your time using a regular watch. But how about other important stats such as the distance or even your heart rate? The GPS watch is designed to take note of all data that could be important for tracking and evaluating your workouts.
- Durable and comfortable
The GPS watch may be more durable compared to a regular watch. This equipment is designed to withstand anything that you might encounter while you do your routines. At the same time, GPS watches are made so that they can be worn without getting in the way of your exercise.
- Waterproof fitness companion
The best GPS running watches are waterproof so that you can use them not only when it suddenly rains during your runs but also for tracking your progress whenever you are swimming. That means that you no longer have to worry about your watch breaking down in the middle of the swim while you are trying to gather data to improve your performance.
- Fitness trainer on your wrist
If you happen to have a good GPS running watch, then it can also act as your own personal fitness trainer. It prompts you of when you need to intensify your workout while also guiding you through various types of workouts in a step-by-step manner. It can even motivate you to do better next time by showing you your data and how you can improve on that in the future. Simply put, it is like you have a gym buddy and a personal trainer all on your wrist.
- Look good while working out
Finally, most GPS running watches are actually very stylish and trendy. They might not look like regular watches but they sure do like you are wearing future tech. If the techie look is not your style, there are other running watches that allow you to change wristbands so that you can adjust the look of the watch with whatever style you are trying to pull off. As such, you can look as trendy and as sporty as you want to not only during your runs or workouts but also during casual occasions.
What should be considered when buying a GPS watch?
Now that you have enough reasons to buy a GPS watch, what should be your basis for buying?
- The speed of GPS connectivity
Connecting to GPS as fast as possible is a major concern for runners. This allows them to measure the distance that they have covered accurately. The sooner they get GPS connectivity, the sooner it is for them to start running. After all, you do not want to be left behind by all of the other runners while you are still struggling to get a connection on your watch’s GPS receiver.
- Added features
Aside from the basic GPS function that all running watches should have, they should also have other neat features that make them much more complete. For example, a good running watch should also be able to check your heart rate. You can also say that a good running watch should have many different workout features that adjust to your style of exercise. In that case, whether you are running, swimming, or biking, there should be features that suit your needs and preferences.
Having a sleep monitor function on your GPS running watch is also great so that you can monitor the quality of sleep you are getting. After all, sleeping is an important part of improving your overall fitness level. Rest might even be more important than training. So, with that knowledge, you should be able to get better sleep if your watch has a sleep monitor.
- Built-in Calendar
Because GPS running watches should be able to give you data on a per-day basis, they should have calendars that are already built in so that it will be easier for you to monitor your fitness goals and progress on a day-to-day basis.
- USB plug
Though different running watches have different ways of charging, having a USB plug makes things easier for you so that charging is easier. A USB plug also allows you to connect the running watch with a computer if you want to upload your data on your laptop or desktop device.
- Sensing Features
An additional feature that will make any GPS running watch good is a sensing feature that allows the watch’s screen to light up whenever it senses that you are looking at it or turning your wrist to look at the watch face. This allows you to save battery time as the watch only needs to light up whenever you need it to.
Depending on how intense your workouts are, you need a running watch that can actually withstand and survive through a tough training session. You are going to be moving your body around a lot when you are working out. In some cases, you might even end up hitting objects with your wrists if you aren’t too careful. Of course, whenever you are swimming, the watch should be able to resist water damage.
That said, your GPS running watch should be made out of durable materials and must be resistant to sweat and water damage. After all, you do not want it to suddenly stop working after one of your most intense workout sessions.
- Battery Life
Being connected to GPS significantly consumes the battery. Thus, knowing how long it can operate while being in-use is something to be considered. This is a huge factor for people who run marathons regularly. They don’t want their watch to run out of energy just a few steps away from the finish line.
Why would you want a USB running watch that feels like you are carrying wrist weights? A good running watch should be light enough for you to feel almost nothing at all because you should go for something that is not only comfortable on your wrists but also does not slow or hold you back in any way during your runs. As such, make sure that your USB running watch is as light as any can be so that it won’t feel like a load on your wrist.
Should I go basic or advanced?
One question that might come across your mind when you are thinking of getting a GPS running watch is whether to get a more expensive advanced watch or just stick with a basic and affordable watch that already gives you entry-level features.
In that case, ask yourself how pressing your workout needs are? If you happen to be an advanced-level athlete that needs a lot of features to monitor your training sessions and help you break through your limits, you might be better off with an expensive GPS running watch.
However, if you are only looking for a running watch that already provides you with all of the basic functions you need for your different workouts (running, cycling, interval training, or swimming), then it might be better if you just stick with an affordable product.
If we are to pick a winner out of the best cheap GPS running watch models presented above, it would be the TomTom 1RR0.001.01 Runner GPS Running Watch.
This model is not only known for providing a GPS signal fast, but its full-graphic screen is something unique compared to the other watches in the list.
Its battery life is considerably good, and it can be conserved by turning on airplane mode. The great look that it provides when worn also makes up for the lack of an option to customize the watch.