While wearables and smartphones are offering more ways to track health than ever, there's still a place for the powerful and accurate GPS sports watch.
Sports watches are actually learning from the new kit and becoming smarter. Plenty now go beyond GPS location tracking and heart rate monitoring, offering smart notifications from a connected phone too. Designs and builds are also improving with plenty offering looks good enough to leave the watch on all the time.
Then there's battery life, this is always a tough one with GPS but dedicated sports watches are becoming longer lasting than ever.
So we've rounded up the best of the bunch that we have seen in the flesh or reviewed to help you decide which is the one that will accompany you on your path to a fitter, healthier self. We will be updating this list as we review more watches throughout the year.
Our top recommendation
Here's our recommendation for the best all round sports watch on the market.
1. Garmin Fenix 3
The Garmin Fenix 3 is for the adventurer who wants a rugged multisport watch that'll also deliver notifications.
On top of GPS, smart notifications and a look that's good enough for day-to-day use, the Fenix 3 adds deeper waterproofing. This beast will be good for 100 metres depth and also has a new colour display plus an EXO antennae built into the frame for better and faster GPS and GLONASS accuracy.
The Fenix 3 is also able to handle multiple sports like hiking, skiing, cycling and more, plus there's the option to create your own with any layout of data fields you like. Navigation is also key here with waypoint routes programmable that offer vibrations and an arrow to keep you on track.
Extras like Running Dynamics, Recovery Advisor and activity tracking make this a seriously complete package, whatever the sport. Garmin says it'll last six weeks in watch mode, 20-hours with GPS or 50-hours with UltraTrac GPS.
All that adds up to a princely price of £370. There is also a Fenix 3 Sapphire HR with wrist heart rate tracking and scratch resistant sapphire screen for £470.
Read the full review: Garmin Fenix 3 first impressions
Best of the rest...
The Garmin Fenix 3 isn't for everyone though, and there are plenty of other great sports watches to consider whatever budget you are on. Here are the ones that you should also look at:
2. Garmin Forerunner 630
Garmin has been about since 1989 and has been specialising in GPS tracking ever since. The Forerunner is the flagship running watch model which has evolved over the years to the current Forerunner 630.
The result of all these years of work is a running watch that's smaller and more attractive while also offering longer battery life, more smart functions and running metrics than ever before.
The Forerunner 630 can manage 16 hours of constant GPS enabled tracking or up to a month with notifications from a connected smartphone. So getting texts, WhatsApps, emails and call notifications while out allows this device to act as a smartwatch too. It will track daily activity using its accelerometer, as well as track heart rate or things like cadence using ANT+ sensors and it is good for up to 5 ATM of water resistance.
Smart running metrics that the Forerunner 630 offers include lactate threshold estimate, recovery time, vertical oscillation, ground contact time and plenty more. All that should add up to a very accurate way of varying training and seeing the effects on performance. This is all saved to the cloud-based Garmin Connect app, which can be viewed on a phone or computer, anywhere.
The Forerunner 630 is like a do-it-all combination of GPS sports watch, activity tracking wearable and smart notification centre all rolled into one slim and attractive package. Not bad for £330.
Read the full review: Garmin Forerunner 630 review
3. Polar V800
Polar has traditionally been a running watch brand focused on heart rate. With the V800, the company has integrated GPS while sticking to chest strap connected heart rate monitoring.
This model is better looking than any Polar device before it, with a metal finish and buttons plus a super comfortable strap.
The V800 also has added smart notifications as well as activity tracking. The metallic finish looks like a day-to-day wearable and the battery life is decent at 13 hours of training time and a month in activity tracking mode. This also tracks sleep and offers inactivity alerts.
The Polar Flow app pulls all the data together in a large community where you can be competitive. Snap one up with heart rate sensor for £355.
Read the full review: Polar V800 review
4. TomTom Spark
TomTom GPS tracking is well known for in-car navigation. It's been cramming that down into sports watches since the Cardio and in this latest generation has managed to get even more into a smaller package.
The TomTom Spark features a built-in heart rate sensor along with accelerometer for all day activity tracking and sleep monitoring. It'll track pretty much anything, from cycling to gym workouts if you want and it'll work with a chest strap for those that want super accurate heart rate data.
The watch, rather uniquely for a GPS watch, offers 3GB storage for music which it can play directly to connected Bluetooth headphones. It'll also offer voice coaching over the headphone connection so you don't even need to look at your wrist.
The TomTom MySports app collates all your training data for access anywhere. All that will set you back just £190.
Read the full review: TomTom Spark first impressions
5. Fitbit Surge
Fitbit is traditionally a company that's been all about activity tracking. With the Surge it's moved into GPS sportswatch territory. It's a decent size, offers smart notifications, tracks multiple sports and has a built-in heart rate monitor.
Now that other GPS watches also offer notifications for calls and messages, the unique pull of Fitbit's expertise is lessened. Also the fact its altimeter proved inaccurate in our tests didn't help. It does however offer the good looks of an activity tracker with a comfy elastomer strap, clear app platform and excellent touchscreen monochrome display.
The Surge offers constant heart rate monitoring, which we found to be a few beats off the gym machine. It'll also track activity and sleep. All that translates to a battery that'll last about four days with moderate use. In GPS mode you'll be lucky to get five hours out of the wearable.
There may not be as many metrics as the established watches, nor the ability to personalise screens, but at £199, it undercuts the big boys and offers a cheaper way for newbies to get a GPS sports watch.
Read the full review: Fitbit Surge review
6. Garmin Epix
If you're venturing out into the wild there are few items more important to take than the Garmin Epix. This is a tough, smart and long lasting workhorse that'll locate you, with a map, pretty much anywhere on the planet.
Thanks to offline maps all you need is a GPS signal and you'll be able to find yourself in relation to trails, points of interest and even data like sunset or storm warnings.
Track metrics like pace, distance, speed and more which can all be viewed on the watch of connected smartphone with Garmin Connect app - making it easy to share your adventures with the world. You can even allow other to live track your movements if you're feeling particularly worried about where you're venturing off too.
Since the battery lasts for weeks, or days of constant GPS use, you won't have to come back in a hurry either - unless you're running from a bear of course.
Read the full review: Garmin Epix review