From advanced GPS features to the ultimate in water resistance, these workout gadgets do it all. Read on for a round-up of watches that fit every need.
Macey Hall 1 / 12
Whether you’re running mountain trails or riding waves, you need a high-performance watch that makes your life easier.Tide information for 230 beaches worldwide? Check. Notification every time you complete a mile? Check. Reverse GPS that automatically takes you back to your start point? Check, check.Yes, Men’s Fitness went on a quest to find the high-performance sport watches, and if you heed our advice, you’ll never have to interrupt an intense training session for technical difficulties (like resetting your lap time or recalibrating the GPS) again.And best of all, with one of these little wrist-gadgets taking such a heavy load off of your other concerns, you can put more energy and attention into what really matters—that is, getting the most out of your workout.
1. Suunto Ambit, $500Best for backcountry skiing, hiking, and mountain climbingWith this watch, your altitude, navigation, speed, heart rate, and weather conditions are all at your fingertips. Plus, you can personalize your Ambit, selecting exactly what you need it to do for you. Some of its numerous features include GPS with waypoint navigation, barometer, enhanced battery life, vertical speed, barometric altimeter, advanced heart rate tracking, and an online planning and analysis tool—so that you can keep the ultimate sports diary. Buy online at Suunto.com.
2. Nixon Supertide, $200Best for surfingThis is the watch for surfers everywhere. Featuring a high-res digital display screen, it has sunrise, tide, and sunset data for over 230 beaches worldwide, plus it syncs you up with the motion of the waves—so you know exactly when to catch the best ride. (Rad!) Buy it—in red, blue, black, white, or green—at surf shops or Nixon.com
3. Columbia Switchback, $125Best for deep woods hikingWhen hiking, this watch has your back to get you back—literally. Using Trakbak technology, it automatically reverses your coordinates 180 degrees with the push of a button, bringing you back to your starting point and ensuring that you’ll never get lost again. In addition to its advanced GPS features, the Switchback reads temperature and has a chronograph, 50-lap memory, and 10-run data storage too. Buy it at Cabelas, Bass Pro Shops, and Columbia.com starting October 1, 2012.
4. G-Shock Lap Memory 60, $99Best for interval running and trainingConsider this your economy lap-watch that looks pretty damn good too, because not only is it affordable and built for interval runners—but it also offers the same sleekness and fashion-forward design G-Shock is known for. It’ll help you achieve your goals, storing up to 60 records in memory (including date, lap and split time) and logging up to 24 hours of data, plus you can set its repeating countdown timer to get an audible alert every time you need to slow down or speed up for an interval.But its coolest feature? Turn your wrist to face you…and it automatically illuminates. Buy it at Macy’s, Bloomingdales, and on GShock.com.
5. Highgear XT7, $250Best for on-mountain hiking and climbingMade specifically for vertical spaces, this GPS-enabled watch offers a heart rate monitor, plus it tracks speed, distance, and pace. Use its altimeter to tell you how high you’ve climbed and its barometer to ensure you don’t get stuck on the mountain in a crazy storm. You can buy it in black with blue accents or green at select REI stores and at REI.com.
6. New Balance NX990, $199.99Best for cardio training and weight lossMeet your new personal trainer! This watch can’t yell at you to work harder, but it can help you get results in other ways—namely, its heart rate monitor and calorie-burn tracker will help you ensure you’re working hard enough to reach your goals. Bonus features: Easy-to-use software for downloading workout data to your computer (sorry Mac users: it’s PC only); a rechargeable battery; and a digitally-coded chest strap for no crosstalk—so you don’t pick up the heart rate signals from those running around you. Check it out at NBmonitors.com.
7. Adidas AdiPowerTR, $125Best for running, cardio training, and soccerThis sleek watch has the functions you’ll need as you train: 100-lap memory, 20 ATM (which means water resistance up to 200 meters), chronograph, start lap, and training and interval timer. The referee function instantly turns you into a ref — you’ll be manning the weekend soccer game’s clock right from your wrist. Plus, never get stuck with a dead battery a mile into your run — it’s low battery alarm keeps you in the clear. Buy it at watchstation.com.
8. Garmin Forerunner 10, $129.99Best for distance runningDespite being Garmin’s lightest watch yet, the GPS-enabled Forerunner 10 is still damn high on functionality. It displays distance on one screen and calories and pace on another — plus it motivates you on all those long runs, automatically alerting you when you complete each mile.And as if that’s enough to put you on the PR track for your next race, its Virtual Pacer feature compares your current running pace to your target—and then, when your workout is over, it will upload your run to your computer so you can see your route on a map. Check it out at Garmin.com.
9. Timex Ironman Run Trainer, $229Best for triathlon trainingPerfect for everyone from beginner triathletes to hardcore Ironmen, this watch not only tracks distance and pace, but it also displays extras, like elevation gain and heart rate, and the 50-meter water resistance means you can go right from the bike to the water without breaking your stride. Only drawback: You need to manually switch from run to cycle mode, but don’t worry—while annoying, it only takes a second. Find it on Amazon.com.
10. Nike+ Sportwatch GPS, $149Best for cardio and weight loss (especially if you need extra motivation)Powered by TomTom, the GPS and navigation company, this watch is connected with nikeplus.com, allowing you to measure burned calories and track how hard, fast, and often you train. Its backlit LCD display provides pace, distance, and heart rate, plus it serves as your personal motivator — including run reminders and messages to inspire you before and after every workout. Because who doesn’t need a watch that tells you how amazing you are? Find it in sleek black, blue, and neon green at Nike.com.
11. Tissot Racing Touch, $625Best for the serious all-around athleteSure this watch is a splurge, but consider it like vital piece of sporting equipment—or an investment. This is the only watch with a touch-screen enabled surface, meaning you can change routes or read your split times with one simple touch. Plus it has 11 other touch-activated features, including dual time zone capabilities, lap info (you can even track the time of someone competing in the same event), a compass for hiking, a tide calculator for water sports, a backlight, and a special logbook feature that saves up to 99 lap times, for the serious athlete who wants to track their training progression. Buy it at Tissot.ch