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Nomad Apple Watch Ultra bands: Waterproof bands a rugged as the watch

The Apple Watch Ultra was designed for extreme outdoor adventures and Nomad has bands built to match this durability that are much more affordable than band options from Apple.
Written by Matthew Miller, Contributing Writer on
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Several waterproof options for the 49mm Apple Watch Ultra

Matthew Miller/ZDNET

The Apple Watch Ultra is the best smartwatch available today and when you order one you have three band choices. If you are looking for something different than the default band, Nomad has leather, metal, and waterproof options to meet your needs at affordable prices.

Apple offers silicone bands, fabric bands, leather, and stainless steel options. The sport bands are $49, leather bands run from $99 to $539, and the stainless steel link bracelet is priced at $349. Apple's bands are high quality products, but there are more affordable options available from third parties.

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The silver hardware looks great with the titanium watch

Matthew Miller/ZDNET

Nomad offers a range of band options with FKM fluoroelastomer rubber, Horween leather, and titanium materials. Prices range from $59.95 to $299.95, with very high quality fit and finish. We spent time with a few of the waterproof options with the Apple Watch Ultra.

Also: I put the Apple Watch Ultra through a Tough Mudder: Here's how it held up

Nomad Rugged Strap

Nomad offers the Rugged Strap for the Apple Watch Ultra in black and ultra orange with black or silver hardware options. We tried out the black band with both black and silver hardware, but prefer the silver hardware that closely matches the titanium material of the Apple Watch Ultra. I ordered an ultra orange band, but it has been extremely popular and mine is not scheduled to ship until January.

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A perfect fit into the Apple Watch Ultra

Matthew Miller/ZDNET

The Rugged Strap/Rugged Band is constructed of high quality flexible FKM fluroelastomer rubber material that is pre-curved just a bit so it lies nicely on your wrist right out of the box. The lugs and buckle are made with 316L stainless steel material so you never have to worry about these elements on the watch band, which is important for the Ultra since it is designed to be worn out in the elements.

The top of the strap has lines across the width and underneath you will find widely spaced notches in the band. These notches allow the band to fit your wrist and also provide areas for sweat to run free from under the band.

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The hardware and loops keep this band securely in place in all conditions

Matthew Miller/ZDNET

Two loops are provided to secure the bitter end of the strap, with one fit into a notch near the buckle and the other sliding along the strap for optimal placement. The band is designed for wrist sizes ranging from 150mm to 210mm.

I've worn the two straps with the Apple Watch Ultra while running, biking, swimming, and fly fishing. The Nomad Rugged Strap looks brand new and it is my favorite band for the Apple Watch Ultra. I can't wait to received my ultra orange color one that matches the orange highlights of the Apple Watch Ultra.

Nomad Sport Band

The Nomad Sport Band is available for $59.95 with six color options, including that limited edition ultra orange that currently also shows a January ship date. Other color options include black, lunar gray, ash green, marine blue, and dune. We tested the black and marine blue band colors.

As we saw with the Rugged Strap, the interior of the Sport Band has the same ventilation channels to provide openings for water/sweat and adequate ventilation for your wrist. The pin and tuck arrangement is used on the band to secure it around your wrist, with the closure pin being constructed of aluminum material.

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The Sport Band (left) is wider and more substantial than the Slim Sport Band (right)

Matthew Miller/ZDNET

The rubber material slides right into the Apple Watch Ultra like other bands with a seamless and secure fit. There are adjustment openings along the entire length of the band so it will fit any wrist size with the 49mm Apple Watch Ultra.

Apple Watch bands are plentiful, but in my experience very few can match the quality of what Apple offers. Nomad bands match that quality while also providing more substantial material and design elements that make Nomad Bands better than most bands from Apple while also remaining affordable.

Also: Apple Watch 8 is a sleeper hit, even if it doesn't match Samsung's sensors

Nomad Sport Slim Band

The newest series of bands to grace the pages of the Nomad website are the Sport Slim Bands. These waterproof bands have similar design elements to the Nomad Sport bands, but are lighter in weight, have a smooth exterior, and have a narrower width tapering from the lugs on the Apple Watch Ultra.

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The Slim Sport Band helps lighten the load of the Apple Watch Ultra

Matthew Miller/ZDNET

The same FKM fluoroelastomer rubber material is used in the band body with a custom stainless steel closure pin used in the pin and tuck securing mechanism. The Sport Slim Band is available in black, bone, sage, glacier blue, and white. We tried out the glacier blue band and love the color and the lighter weight of the band when compared to the Sport Band. It clearly feels sleeker than the Sport Band so it should appeal to those with smaller wrists that still want to enjoy the large Apple Watch Ultra.

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