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Best GPS sports watch for running 2021

While smartwatches often include GPS and can provide casual athletes all they need, dedicated GPS sports watches track more data and provide much more customization of the information you are provided while working out. Most provide some basic smartphone notifications, but the emphasis is on focused sports tracking.

While smartwatches often include GPS and can provide casual athletes all they need, dedicated GPS sports watches track more data and provide much more customization of the information you are provided while working out. Most provide some basic smartphone notifications, but the emphasis is on focused sports tracking.

Companies today are also taking a broader look at your daily life so that sleep, typical activity, and more are incorporated into calculating adequate recovery time for optimal training periods. Exercises and other activities to help you improve your fitness may be presented while stress measurements, breathing exercises, and more are designed to help you improve your overall health and wellness.

Coros offers affordable GPS sports watches with plenty of power and a record of updates for years. Garmin has a plethora of offerings for athletes who focus on different sports and activities. Polar is known for its heart rate technology and offers new wearable every couple of years. Suunto also continues to release GPS sports watches.

Coros PACE 2

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Image: Coros

The original Coros PACE was the first GPS sports watch I tested from Coros and since then the company has released a few new watches. The newest addition is the Coros PACE 2, the lightest GPS sports watch available today.

The PACE 2 has a 1.2 inch 240x240 color display with Corning Gorilla Glass material. The watch incorporates a 20mm quick release band system so you can swap it out with your preferred band. The watch weighs in at only 29 grams with the nylon band and 35 grams with the silicone band.

30 hours of battery life with GPS tracking is provided as Coros continues to set the bar for battery life. Track running, strength training, and even running power from the watch are supported.

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Coros Apex and Apex Pro

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Image: Coros

In 2018, Coros launched its first GPS sports watch with the Coros Pace. Since then it has continued to offer new products and even better than that it has shown an ability to update its existing hardware with new major features.

The Coros Apex and Apex Pro are excellent multi-sport watches with color displays, sapphire glass, titanium alloy bezels, long battery life, and phone notification support. The Apex Pro is $100 more and has touch screen capability with blood oxygen monitoring.

The latest update for both of these watches includes strength and custom training modes, making these Coros watches some of the best sports GPS watches available today.

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Coros Vertix

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After testing out the Coros Vertix for myself last year, I ended up buying the cool Ice Breaker model. The Coros Vertix is the best available model from Coros and is advertised as a GPS adventure watch. I primarily use it for running, but enjoy it for hiking in the mountains and other outdoor activities as well.

If you spend time training on oval tracks, then its tough to beat the Track Mode from Coros. You can customize your workout displays to show the data you need. With a connected Coros POD, you can also view your running power and other dynamic stats from your activities.

One of the best features of the Coros Vertix is battery life that lasts for weeks at a time, including up to 60 hours in GPS mode. There is something to be said of a watch that you can just wear and enjoy without fussing with a charger every day or two.

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Garmin MARQ series

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Image: Garmin

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If you are looking for fantastic GPS sports watches that rival luxury watches and are considered tools by Garmin then you should check out the Garmin MARQ series. I had the chance to spend a month with the Garmin MARQ Golfer and it is a stunning wearable.

The MARQ series offers many of the same functions found in the high end Fenix line with each watch focused on different sports. There are models for boating, golfing, racing, and more.

Long battery life, oxygen saturation, offline music support, smartphone notifications, and more are provided by the Garmin MARQ series.

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Garmin Fenix 6 series

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Image: Garmin

The Garmin Fenix 6 series is the ultimate GPS multi-sport watch lineup from Garmin, made with premium products and advanced sports tracking features. Data hounds will love the extensive customization options for each display on the watch so as you participate in your sport you are sure to find the data you need scrolling by automatically or manually with a press of a button.

There is no touch screen capability on the Fenix 6 line, which appeals to many athletes who work out in extreme conditions when a touchscreen interface is not practical. The traditional Garmin five-button interface is used to access all options and navigate the watch.

The Fenix 6 series connects seamlessly to Android and iOS smartphones too, in addition to golf club sensors, bike sensors, and more. Even the smallest Fenix 6 is a fairly sizable watch so you have to be a fan of big watches.

$549 at Amazon $550 at Walmart $550 at Best Buy

Garmin Forerunner 245, 745 and 945

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Garmin's Forerunner series is optimized for runners and tri-athletes with long battery life, advanced running dynamics, stand-alone music playback support, and more. The Forerunner 245 will likely meet the needs of the casual runner at hundreds less than the Forerunner 945. 

The Forerunner 745 has most of the same functions as the 945 at a launch price $100 less. It is a smaller and lighter GPS sports watch that is likely to satisfy a majority of people.

The Forerunner 945 is designed for those runners who are analyzing all the details of their runs and trying to improve their results for races and other competition.

Body Battery, menstrual cycle tracking, Garmin Pay, pulse oximeter, offline music support, and more advanced functions are also present on Garmin watches today.

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Garmin Vivoactive 4, Venu, and Venu Sq

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The Garmin Vivoactive 4, Garmin Venu, and Garmin Venu Sq don't offer as much in the way of advanced metrics as the Forerunner or Fenix devices, but for more casual athletes they are still powerful GPS sports watches. Both offer nearly all of the same capability with the major difference being that the Garmin Venu and Venu Sq have AMOLED displays.

With the Apple Watch and Samsung Galaxy watches offering brilliant AMOLED screens, Garmin made a smart move in offering athletes an alternative that has a gorgeous display.

The Garmin Vivoactive 4 series comes in more styles and colors at the same $350 price with a couple of options for a larger 45mm version with longer battery life.

$252 at Amazon $260 at Walmart $350 at Best Buy

Polar Vantage V2

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Image: Polar

It's been a couple of years since Polar launched the Vantage V. The new Vantage V2 is now available for $499.95, bringing some of the new functions found in the Polar Grit X with new testing features to help you improve your fitness and achieve your goals.

GPS sports watches are fantastic and collect an amazing amount of health and activity data. Polar takes things a step further by providing you with knowledge and understanding of your data so you can practically use it to improve. It's new tagline is "Knowledge is progress" and with this you will find Polar coaching you from your wrist.

The Polar Vantage V2 brings advanced heart rate tracking, up to 40 hours of GPS training time, color display, running and cycling performance testing, music controls, running power, and much more.

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Polar Grit X

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Image: Polar

The Polar Grit X is the latest offering from Polar with a focus on trail running and running through hills. It offers much of the same functionality as the Polar Vantage V with better watchband design and at a slightly more affordable $430 price point.

With the Grit X on your wrist, you will be reminded when to fuel up, analyze the hills you are running, and navigate with GPS mapping on your wrist. Running power, advanced metrics, custom displays, Nightly Recharge, FitSpark training, and more are included with the Polar Flow experience.

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Polar Vantage V and M

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Image: Polar

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After a considerable amount of time with the Polar Vantage V, it is clear that Polar is a leader in optimal training plans, recovery analysis, and whole-body tracking and improvement. The Vantage V is the premium GPS sports watch while the Polar Vantage M provides much of the same experience for only $280.

The Polar Flow smartphone app and website are fantastic resources for optimal training and health improvement. Advanced sleep tracking, stress relief, and more are available for free as part of your Polar Vantage purchase.

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Suunto 7

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Image: Suunto 7

The Suunto 7 is a Google Wear OS smartwatch but is still very focused on the Suunto GPS sports watch experience. It's a bit pricey at $500, especially when hands-on reviews indicate battery life is shorter than hoped.

Over 70 sports modes are part of the Suunto fitness experience with the Suunto 7 functioning as a companion watch to both Android and iOS smartphones. Offline outdoor maps, 50m water resistance, and more are provided by the Suunto 7.

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Suunto 9

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Image: Suunto 9

The Suunto 9 is a capable GPS sports watch, currently available for only $350. With up to 120 hours of continuous activity tracking, the Suunto 9 is designed for those extended workouts or times when you have many activities planned in a week. Typical GPS tracking of 25 hours is provided.

Over 80 sports modes are available in a watch with a 100-meter water-resistant rating. The Suunto 9 connects to your Android or iOS smartphone with a Suunto app and third-party synchronization support.

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