Whether you’re trying to lose some weight, beat your best running time, or want to monitor your sleep habits, you’ll want to pick up a waterproof fitness tracker.
The best waterproof fitness trackers fit around your wrist like a watch (in some cases your fitness tracker is a watch) to read your bio-metric data (heart rate), and track your movements, for a more complete picture of your day-to-day activity.
Technology and water don’t usually mix, but the newest fitness trackers are waterproof and dust-proof, or at the very least, water-resistant. This allows you to track activities like swimming, or running in humid conditions. This feature also prevents your waterproof fitness tracker from getting damaged by sweat.
We did some research and found the best waterproof fitness trackers that fit different people’s needs. All of them have crossed a certain bar of quality (more on that below), but each one has standout features, too.
This particular part of the gadget world has grown significantly over the past few years, so if you’re looking to upgrade your current fitness tracker to a waterproof model, or are jumping in for the first time, our guide can help.
What You Need to Know Before Buying a Waterproof Fitness Tracker
There are many factors to think about when choosing the right waterproof fitness tracker for you; below are the most important ones, which we considered while we were researching this list.
Durability: If you’re getting a waterproof fitness tracker, durability is the most important feature to consider. Technology (say, a pair of headphones) is generally given a rating on the IP (Ingress Protection) scale, which determines how well it can handle water and dust. Fitness trackers are assigned a maximum depth instead, and we’ve chosen waterproof fitness trackers that can work up to 50 feet under water.
Health Features: The point of wearing any fitness tracker is to monitor your health, so we made sure that all of the options in this guide covered some basic health features. All of them can track your calories burned, distance traveled, heart rate and sleep.
Battery Life: Nobody wants to go for a long run only to find out their fitness tracker died and didn’t record it. The waterproof fitness trackers we’ve selected can go at least one day without charging, but some last up to a week.
Smart Features: While fitness trackers have traditionally been used for one purpose — monitoring your health — the ones in our guide have smart features, too. Whether it’s displaying your text messages, or the ability to use a smart assistant to help guide workouts, these features are meant to complement the primary function of your waterproof fitness tracker.
Keep in mind that getting a waterproof fitness tracker does not guarantee that you’ll see improvements in your health. Your diet and the intensity and frequency of your exercises will play a huge role in the results you see. A waterproof fitness tracker can give you the information you need to succeed, but how you use it is entirely up to you.
1. Fitbit Charge 3
A variety of useful health features and impressive durability makes this the best waterproof fitness tracker for most people.
The Fitbit can be used underwater at depths up to 50m (around 150 feet), which means you can wear it while swimming, diving, or finishing up a jog in the rain. Extremely hot water may damage this waterproof fitness tracker, though, so Fitbit recommends avoiding use in a hot tub or sauna.
This waterproof fitness tracker distinguishes itself from its competition by including a full suite of health tracking features. It can track your calories burned, steps taken, distance traveled, heart rate, and sleep. The tracker can walk you through a guided breathing session to reduce stress, and allows you to set over 15 exercise modes. By setting an exercise mode, the waterproof fitness tracker can more accurately gauge how many calories you’re burning.
All of this data is collected into into an app (iOS and Android), which can display your daily exercises, and track progress over time. The app also allows you to challenge people who use fitness trackers made by the same company to competitions to see who can move the furthest or burn the most calories over a set amount of time.
This waterproof fitness tracker’s battery can last up to one week (this will vary based on your usage), which is in line with what you should expect from a newer waterproof fitness tracker. You should still get several days of use even if you exercise for about an hour every single day.
In terms of smart features, this fitness tracker scores remarkably well. It can display all of your phone’s notifications (text messages, Twitter mentions, Instagram DMs, etc.) on its slim touch display. You won’t be able to respond to any of them, but the option to screen notifications to see the important ones is major plus.
Pros: Extensive health tracking features, impressive durability, solid battery life, notification support, and excellent durability.
Cons: Its digital challenge modes only work if your friends and family use similar fitness trackers.
2. Garmin Vívosmart 4
While Garmin is best known for its GPS hardware, its latest waterproof fitness tracker proves it’s serious about fitness tracking, too.
The waterproof fitness tracker has earned a 5ATM rating, which means it can survive under 150 feet of water. This puts it on par with similar fitness trackers, and well ahead of smart watches.
In terms of health features, this option covers the basics, including tracking your calories burned, distance traveled, heart rate, and sleep. It also has dedicated modes to more accurately track certain types of exercises. Where this waterproof fitness tracker stands out is in its in-depth sleep and heart health tracking, which keeps track of more information than the other choices in our guide.
Its heart rate sensor can monitor your blood oxygen level while you’re active and sleeping. The company who makes it goes out of its way to say that this isn’t a medical device, and cannot be relied upon to diagnose medical emergencies. Having this information may help tip you off that something’s wrong, but that’s far from a guarantee.
Its advanced sleep monitoring is a lot more reliable. It not only tracks how long you’ve slept, but also the quality of the sleep you’ve gotten. This waterproof fitness tracker’s sensors can track your light, deep, and REM stages of sleep, and how much you’ve moved around at night. Knowing this information can give you a better sense of why you may be feeling groggy in the morning, and troubleshoot ways to get more restful sleep
This waterproof fitness tracker takes all of this data — sleep quality, blood oxygen level, heart rate, activity — to gauge your body’s “energy level.” Garmin says this can help you determine whether it’s better to be active, or take the day off. It uses this same information to determine how stressed you are, and can send you a reminder to relax. Despite this advanced 24/7 monitoring, this waterproof fitness tracker still gets up to a week’s worth of life from a single charge.
In terms of smart features, this option performs pretty well. It can display your phone notifications on its display, and lets you answer text messages (Android only). It may not have the back-end infrastructure that its competition has (you can view your progress on an iOS or Android app, but there’s no competition mode), but this waterproof fitness tracker earned a spot in our guide for its in-depth heart and sleep tracking.
Pros: Advanced sleep monitoring, blood oxygen level tracking, solid battery life, great waterproof rating.
Cons: Not as much back-end infrastructure as Fitbit.
3. Apple Watch Series 5
This smartwatch has become the gold standard for smartwatches, but that’s due in part to this company’s work on improving its health and fitness tracking features.
The company has always been hesitant to assign this smartwatch a specific waterproof or water resistance rating (Apple says it’s “swim-proof”) but I’m recommending it out of personal experience. I’ve worn it while swimming, gotten caught in the rain while wearing it, and taken showers with it on with no damage.
I’ve routinely done this, and have had no problems; your millage may vary, and I wouldn’t recommend taking it on deep dives or snorkeling trips, but it’s durable enough to survive regular exposure to water.
This smartwatch’s health features are ultimately what make it a solid waterproof fitness tracker. It can track your calories burned, steps taken, distance traveled, and heart rate. The manufacturer says its heart rate monitor cannot replace advanced medical equipment, or prevent a heart attack, but it does allow you to take an ECG (electrocardiogram), and detect Atrial Fibrillation. These tests and tools can help you determine whether or not you should check in with a doctor, but should not be used in place of a checkup, or considered foolproof.
Heart-tracking aside, the smartwatch’s health features may seem a little bare-bones, but the key to its success in this area is the ability to install third-party apps. You can download apps that track your sleep using the watch’s heart rate sensor and accelerometer to monitor your sleep cycle and movement.
Other apps can walk you through guided meditations (there’s an app called “breathe” that’s built in, too), high intensity interval training, or dozens of other exercise regimens. Mixing and matching apps to fill in this smartwatch’s gaps is a huge advantage over single-purpose waterproof fitness trackers.
By default, this smartwatch monitors how many minutes you’ve been active, whether you’ve stood up for one minute each hour, and how many calories you’ve burned. Your progress is displayed on three circular rings, which fill up as you make progress. You’re rewarded with an animated graphic when you hit each goal, and can earn medals by accomplishing certain milestones. By making the information available at a glance, this smartwatch encourages you to work a little harder to fill your rings.
When it comes to battery life and smart features, this smartwatch is a mixed bag. The company that makes it says you should get one full day’s worth of battery life before you need to plug it in, and that’s been consistent with my experience. This battery life is far less than what you’ll get on the dedicated waterproof fitness trackers we recommend, but that’s balanced out by its smart features.
This smartwatch can receive all your notifications, allow you to respond to text messages, make or take phone calls, run non-health related third-party apps, play music, and summon Siri to control smart-home devices, answer questions, or access certain features.
It’s a true extension of your phone (and sorry, it only works with the iPhone), in addition to a waterproof fitness tracker. If you don’t mind plugging it in every night, this won’t be an issue, but it may get annoying to monitor the battery on yet another device. Plus, if you’re an Android user, you’re out of luck.
Pros: The ability to install third-party apps fills in its health tracking gaps. We also like the atrial fibrillation monitoring and ECG scanning, and its full suite of smart features.
Cons: Far less battery life than a dedicated fitness tracker, no Android support.