Last updated: August 9, 2021

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In order to find the ideal and suitable GPS running watch for you, you should first consider many criteria and aspects. A GPS running watch can have a lot of extras and functions that naturally meet your expectations of a perfect GPS running watch.

On the basis of our GPS running watch test 2021, we have compared the most diverse GPS running watches for you and also answered some questions that you might ask yourself in relation to GPS running watches. With the help of our research, we were also able to find out the advantages and disadvantages of a GPS running watch in order to help you with your purchase decision.

Summary

  • The ideal GPS running watch is essential if you are pursuing certain sporting goals. With the many different functions, you can put together your individual GPS running watch according to your wishes and ideas.
  • Of course, you should also pay attention to the material, the weight and the wearing comfort, because every watch is different and should of course be perfect for you and also please you.
  • The extras that a GPS running watch offers can also be an advantage. Be it a calorie counter, step counter or an altitude measurement

The Best GPS Running Watch: Our Choices

Buying and evaluation criteria for GPS running watches

With the help of various criteria that are important for the purchase decision of a GPS running watch, you can decide which watch is best for you. We have picked out the most important aspects to help you a little.

Therefore, we would like to list the most important buying criteria in the following paragraphs:

Battery life

Battery life is one of the most important aspects when it comes to buying a GPS running watch. You should be aware of what you will use the GPS running watch for. Are you only going to run for an hour every day or do you want the watch to be your companion on a hike lasting several hours?

The battery life of a GPS running watch varies between 8 and 50 hours.

You should know that a GPS running watch in particular consumes an enormous amount of power and if you use several functions at the same time, the battery will be discharged very quickly.

Therefore, you should be aware of what you are using the GPS running watch for and therefore buy a suitable and appropriate watch.

Design / Comfort / Material

Before you finally decide on a GPS running watch, you should first find out whether you like the watch and how comfortable it is to wear. The material is also an important factor when buying a GPS running watch.

But the weight also plays a very important role. The watch should not be too heavy, especially for children or women, to ensure ideal wearing comfort. Most watches weigh between 40 and 80 grams and should not be heavier.

If you want to buy a watch on the spot, you can test the wearing comfort right there and also become aware of whether you like the look of the watch. The GPS running watch should be about two fingers wide above the wrist, as this is where the blood flow is best.

Online, the material and weight of the running watch are already listed.

Furthermore, you should wear the GPS running watch on your wrist all the time for accurate measurements, but also make sure that the watch is not too tight, otherwise the blood circulation will be disturbed or interrupted and it can be difficult to measure the data accurately.

It is also important to know whether the GPS running watch is waterproof and dirt-resistant. Because if you do sports in the forest, you might come into contact with dirt, so you should pay attention to these factors.

But waterproofness also plays a big role. Whether you are running in the rain or washing your hands, the watch should not let any water through during such activities.

Functions / Extras

Before you buy a GPS running watch, you should think carefully about which watch with which functions you need and can use.

Function description
Heart rate monitor measures your pulse and thus prevents total exhaustion after a few minutes
Music function especially when running it is very pleasant and relaxing to be able to listen to music on the side, in addition music gives you a certain motivation for running
Bluetooth easy connection with a chest strap to get the personal data
Calorie consumption / fat burning to reach your optimal goal, many GPS running watches also have a calorie counter and a fat burn indicator, so you can control everything yourself
Altimeter an altimeter gives you the ideal information about how many metres of altitude you have covered
Speed measurement if you want to track your speed, the speedometer is the right extra for you

No matter what functions or extras your watch has, it should be perfect for you and meet your wishes and expectations of an ideal GPS running watch.

Guide: Questions you should ask yourself before buying a GPS running watch

The next section deals with the most important questions about GPS running watches. We hope that we have answered all the essential questions in this chapter to help you make the right decision when buying a GPS running watch.

What is so special about a GPS running watch?

The abbreviation GPS means Global Positioning System

A GPS watch offers important features in terms of route guidance and navigation while running. The special thing about a GPS running watch is that it detects various differences in altitude, which is ideal for planning a route, and it also offers you sensible navigation. GPS running watches often also include geocoaching.

GPS Laufuhr

With the help of GPS, you can not only determine your location, but the feature is also a perfect navigation aid for you. (Image source: freetousesounds / unsplash)

Furthermore, a GPS running watch records your speed and counts your steps. This allows you to carefully monitor and, of course, adjust your individual training plans.

But not only your speed is measured, but also your distance and time.

With the help of the Anti Lost function, your watch can be found at any time.

After a run, with most GPS watches you can either view the route on the watch or connect the watch to your smartphone. This way, all data is available on your mobile phone, because most GPS running watches have their own app that makes it even easier to use

Furthermore, the GPS watches also have a Bluetooth function, often also WLAN and a thermometer.

But the measurement of calorie consumption and fat burning are also special criteria of a GPS running watch.

What types of GPS running watches are there?

There are several types of GPS running watches, so you should think carefully about which watch you choose and possibly try out two or three watches. We have listed the most common types here to give you a little guidance.

Pulse measurement on the wrist

The pulse rate, i.e. the number of heartbeats per minute, shows you how active your cardiovascular system is. The more you exercise or strain your body, the more your heart pumps and the more often your body gets enough oxygen.

GPS Laufuhr

Measuring your pulse on your wrist saves you from having to wear additional equipment on your body. (Image source: Tim Foster / unsplash)

Of course, it is very practical to wear a heart rate monitor directly on your wrist instead of putting on an extra chest strap again.

The watches have LED sensors, which project a green light onto the wrist. The volume of the blood is decisive here and is thus reflected differently and faster. This is then recorded by the watch using the sensors and converted into the heart rate using mathematical algorithms.

In the past, this data was not so accurate, but nowadays the data is considerably better, especially for less strenuous sports such as running or cycling.

So if you want to avoid wearing an uncomfortable chest strap, a GPS running watch on the wrist is a very good alternative for you.

It should be noted, however, that tattoos or birthmarks, i.e. deviations on the skin, do not indicate the pulse result correctly. This is because dark tattoos in particular block the light from the sensor and therefore the measurement is not accurate.

Therefore, you should pay special attention to certain factors if you want to measure your pulse on your wrist. Here are some advantages and disadvantages of a GPS running watch with wrist-based heart rate measurement:

Advantages
  • no extra equipment on the body
  • higher wearing comfort
Disadvantages
  • not so precise measurement
  • tattoos and birthmarks can limit measurement

It should also be mentioned that a GPS running watch worn on the wrist does not measure the data permanently.

Heart rate measurement via chest strap

Pulse measurement with a chest strap is done with small electrodes. To get a constant heart rate measurement right from the start, you should moisten this surface a little. A sensor in the chest strap transmits your heart rate data to your GPS running watch.

You can wear a chest strap for better transmission of your heart rate data during any sport. Chest straps are especially popular for endurance sports, as they provide very accurate and precise data.

There are some advantages and disadvantages that you should consider before you decide to buy a chest strap.

Advantages
  • more precise data collection
  • continuous measurement
Disadvantages
  • extra equipment on the body
  • possible skin irritation
  • uncomfortable to wear

Nevertheless, if you are aiming for accurate data, you can't go wrong with a chest strap. The chest strap not only provides an exact heart rate measurement, but also a continuous measurement of your pulse.

The evaluation of the data and the recording of the data in general is certainly better with a chest strap than with a pulse measurement on the wrist. That is why many athletes use a chest strap to measure their heart rate.

What does a GPS running watch cost?

You can buy a decent running watch without GPS for as little as 22 euros. However, the price range can vary greatly. It also depends on what extra functions the watch has and what brand it is.

You can buy a running watch with GPS for as little as 60 euros. However, the price range also varies from 60 to 800 euros for a watch. The average value, where you get a very good watch, where price / performance is perfect, you get between 150 and 300 euros.

Furthermore, the functions and the manufacturer also play a major role in a running watch with GPS.

For a better overview, we have created a small table:

Type Price
Running watch without chest strap from 22 euros
Running watch with chest strap from 30 euros
GPS running watch without chest strap from 60 euros
GPS running watch with chest strap from 150 euros

Many watches do not include a chest strap and you have to buy one separately. You can decide for yourself which GPS watch is right for you, with or without a chest strap.

What are the advantages and disadvantages of running watches with GPS?

There is a huge selection of GPS running watches on the market. To help you find the right one for you, we have listed some of the advantages and disadvantages of a GPS watch.

Advantages
  • exact evaluation on PC, smartphone or tablet
  • wearing comfort maximised
  • integrated navigation
  • recording of altitude differences
  • effective training
Disadvantages
  • often very expensive
  • overload of many extra functions
  • slow reception
  • battery life decreases

It is precisely the high battery consumption and the high costs that can discourage a purchase. You should actually use the many extras frequently to make the purchase worthwhile.

Conclusion

So if you buy a GPS running watch, you can always be found if something happens to you or you get injured. Of course, the GPS feature is also very useful for viewing your route after running and making any adjustments or changes to your running route.

However, you should never forget that the GPS feature requires an enormous amount of battery and you should plan this into your running routes.

Above all, you should find the right GPS watch for you. Decide which extras and special features you really need and which are helpful for you. If you buy a GPS running watch with heart rate measurement, you should also consider whether you prefer heart rate measurement on the wrist or whether you prefer to wear a chest strap.

The right material, design, wearing comfort and possibly the brand also play an important role in the purchase decision.

Image source: Maridav / 123rf

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