Best fitness bands and trackers (2017)


So you’ve decided to start getting in shape, or maybe you just want to live a healthier lifestyle, or even simply want to maximize the effectiveness of your workouts – in any case, welcome! To start, first choose what kinds of exercises you will be doing on a day-to-day basis, and then research each one thoroughly so you know whether your form is correct, which muscle groups it targets, and how much calories you burn in the process. Then, start setting goals for yourself by analyzing your performance and comparing it to that of other people. Then, so long as you keep a detailed logbook of your progress, you should be good to go!

...Well, either that, or you can just get a fitness tracker. But which one? Now that’s a good question – there’s actually a number of factors to consider: functionality, form, battery life, sensors, screen, looks, and so on. Choosing the perfect wearable is actually far from a straightforward experience, considering the huge number of available devices, the sometimes arcane terminology manufacturers use, along with one’s own personal preferences. However, despite the big assortment, there’s still a few trackers we consider to be better than the rest, whether you’re just a moderate workout enthusiast or a professional, so we’ve compiled them in a short list for your convenience.

For the casual user:

Samsung Gear Fit2

( Retail: $150; Amazon: $150; Best Buy: $150 | Review )


CompatibilityAndroid | iOS
Band sizeSmall: 4.9" - 6.7" | Large: 6.1" - 8.2"
Battery durationUp to 4 days
Water resistanceIP68

Pros

  • Heart rate monitoring
  • Music capabilities
  • Good looks

Cons

  • Short battery life
  • Not enough apps

With the Fit2, Samsung tried really hard to position itself as a top-of-the-line fitness tracker maker, and almost managed to succeed. The device is stylish and full of features, including GPS, heart rate monitoring, and even onboard music storage. However, there are a few places where the Fit2 misses the mark, such as the relatively bad battery life and the display, which lacks always-on capabilities. The device runs on Samsung’s Tizen OS, which isn’t as widely supported, but the Fit2 still has a few good apps, including a built-in Spotify one.

Misfit Shine 2

( Retail: $100; Amazon: $100; Best Buy: $100 )


CompatibilityAndroid | iOS
Band sizeUp to 7.2"
Battery durationUp to 6 months (replaceable coin battery)
Water resistance5 ATM

Pros

  • Very lightweight
  • Very good battery life
  • Waterproof

Cons

  • The device's unusual looks are not for everyone

Channeling its manufacturer’s name, the Shine 2 is certainly one of the oddest devices on the list – instead of a screen, Misfit opted to put 12 LEDs on the tracker’s face, which can tell time and show workout progress or notifications. The face is also a capacitive touchscreen, enabling users to control music playback on their phone, along with a few smart home devices. It offers most of the essentials for a fitness tracker, but unfortunately doesn’t feature a heartbeat sensor.

Garmin vívofit 3

( Retail: $100; Amazon: $80; Best Buy: $100 )


CompatibilityAndroid | iOS
Band sizeRegular: 5.4” - 7.7” | X-large: 6.5” - 8.9”
Battery durationUp to 1 year (replaceable coin battery)
Water resistance5 ATM

Pros

  • Waterproof
  • Stylish optional bands
  • Great battery life
  • Beeper

Cons

  • Lacks advanced features
  • Default band isn’t great

Compared with its more serious competitors, the vívofit 3 offers a somewhat barebones tracking experience, but that is to be expected, considering the price. For what it’s worth, it does its job fairly well, with its biggest caveat being the tiny screen, which can be tough to read. The most interesting thing about the vívofit 3 isn’t in its features, but rather in its looks – the manufacturer offers a number of stylish designer bands, which almost exclusively target the company's female user base.

Polar Loop 2

( Retail: $70 - $90; Amazon: $70 - $80; Best Buy: $97 )


CompatibilityAndroid | iOS
Band size5.7" - 9.4"
Battery durationUp to 8 days
Water resistanceWR20

Pros

  • Simplistic design
  • Waterproof

Cons

  • Lacks some advanced features

While the A360 is Polar’s attempt at a top-of-the-line tracker, the Loop 2 is a much simpler device, both inside and out. It still has all the essential features, though, and along with them it integrates with Polar’s own Flow app, letting users track, among other things, their activity and sleeping patterns . The band’s design aims to be as unobtrusive as possible, with just a few LED lights instead of a screen.

MOOV NOW

( Retail: $60; Amazon: $60; Best Buy: $60 )


CompatibilityAndroid | iOS
Band sizeSmall: 8.9" | Large: 12.8"
Battery durationUp to 6 months (replaceable coin battery)
Water resistance1 ATM

Pros

  • Waterproof
  • Advanced coaching functionality
  • Lightweight

Cons

  • Some tracked stats are not detailed enough

The only device on this list which is designed to work in a pair, the Moov Now somewhat stretches the definition of sports tracker, aiming at not just showing users data about their workout, but also coaching them in real time about their form. The Moov app comes preconfigured with modes for different sports and analyzes the user’s movements to give them constructive feedback. The device itself looks like something taken straight out of a science fiction movie, with its bold design featuring no screen and just a single button. Even if you use just a single one, though, it can deliver on most of your basic fitness tracker needs.

Misfit Ray

( Retail: $100; Amazon: $100 - $120; Best Buy: $100 )


CompatibilityAndroid | iOS
Band sizeUp to 7.2"
Battery durationUp to 4 months (replaceable coin battery)
Water resistance5 ATM

Pros

  • Very good battery life
  • Waterproof
  • Impressive visual design

Cons

  • Lacks watch functionality

As much a fashion statement as it is a tool, the Misfit Ray manages not to disappoint in both regards. Its cylindrical stainless steel body houses pretty much the same tech as the Shine 2, but in a much more stylish package, which unfortunately means the twelve multicolored LEDs are replaced with just a single one. While, as a result, the timetelling functionality is also gone, the end product is definitely worth it, as the Ray is quite possibly one of the prettiest wearables on the market.

For the hardcore user:

Garmin vívoactive HR

(Retail: $250; Amazon: $250; Best Buy: $250)


CompatibilityAndroid | iOS
Band sizeRegular: 5.4" to 7.7" | X-large:  6.4" to 8.9"
Battery durationUp to 8 days (GPS off), up to 13 hrs (GPS on)
Water resistance5 ATM

Pros

  • Includes a GPS
  • Specialized sports apps 
  • Continuous heart rate monitoring

Cons

  • Coaching feature requires pairing with a smartphone

While some people could argue it's too smart to be called just a fitness tracker, the vívoactive HR is first and foremost a sports-oriented device. It offers apps which specifically target a single sport, and as an added bonus, it doesn't need to be paired to a smartphone to do so. When it is paired, however, it offers a coaching ability to its users, regularly giving them tips about their workout based on their performance. The tracker is also good for swimmers, giving information about stroke count and type, total and interval distance and more, though the heart rate sensor doesn’t work underwater. A built-in store also gives users the option to download more apps and watch faces, the latter of which make good use of the device's large color display.

Fitbit Surge

( Retail: $250; Amazon: $250; Best Buy: $250 | Review )


CompatibilityAndroid | iOS | Windows
Band sizeSmall: 5.5" - 6.3" | Large: 6.3" - 7.8" | X-large: 7.8" - 8.9"
Battery durationUp to 7 days (GPS off) | Up to 10 hours (GPS on)
Water resistance5 ATM

Pros

  • Activity recognition
  • Includes a GPS
  • Continuous heart rate monitoring
  • Widely supported by third-party apps

Cons

  • Isn’t suitable for swimming

The top-of-the-line offering from one of the best-known brands in the business, The Fitbit Surge was bound to make this list, and for good reason: it offers one of the most complete packages feature-wise, and also has excellent first- and third-party support. The device itself is somewhat large for a fitness band, but still manages to look sleek. It’s also one of the few bands equipped with a GPS on this list, but don’t expect to get much battery life with it turned on – Fitbit’s most optimistic estimate is 10 hours. A nice touch is the Surge’s automatic exercise recognition and sleep tracking, which greatly help the device’s set-it-and-forget-it approach to tracking.

Polar A360

( Retail: $200; Amazon: $143 - $294; Best Buy: $151 )


CompatibilityAndroid | iOS
Band sizeSmall: 5.1" - 6.7" | Medium: 5.9" - 7.9" | Large: 6.5" - 8.8"
Battery durationUp to 14 days
Water resistanceWR30

Pros

  • Continuous heart rate monitoring
  • Good battery life
  • A large amount of sport profiles

Cons

  • Splashproof only
  • Doesn’t have GPS
With the A360, Polar’s banking on users wanting more than a simple data aggregator, to which effect they’ve included a “smart coach”, offering guidance and activity goals, which can be reached at whatever pace suits the wearer. The tracker includes more than a hundred sport profiles, including a special running program, designed to train users for one of several running events. Polar’s Flow app, however, is a bit too simple compared to its competitors, so to get the most out of the A360 you’ll need to regularly sync it with your PC.

Fitbit Charge 2

( Retail: $150; Best Buy: $150 )


CompatibilityAndroid | iOS | Windows
Band sizeSmall: 5.5" - 6.7" | Large: 6.7" - 8.1" | XL: 8.1" - 9.3"
Battery durationUp to 5 days
Water resistanceSplashproof

Pros

  • Continuous heart rate monitoring
  • Activity recognition
  • Widely supported by third-party apps

Cons

  • No GPS, but a paired device’s can be used instead
  • Isn't suitable for swimming
The Fitbit Charge 2 manages to pack most of the Surge’s features in a slightly more compact package while retaining its high-end feel. Gone are the GPS and some of the less-used sensors, and so is the big battery, but the rest remains pretty much the same. The Charge 2 uses the same software as the Surge, meaning one still gets automatic activity detection, multi-sport modes, and sleep tracking. A heart rate sensor is still present, and it can trigger “breathing sessions” throughout the day, reminding the user to take a breather.


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13 Comments

1. ianbbaa

Posts: 332; Member since: Mar 20, 2013

Just skip on Garmin guys...vivosmart hr - worst device I ever had. I d better bought 5usd dumb watch.

5. Landon

Posts: 1245; Member since: May 07, 2015

What issues did you have with the Vivosmart HR?

10. KParks23

Posts: 725; Member since: Oct 13, 2010

I have the Vivoactive hr and it works great, had it a couple months now with no problems.

2. surethom

Posts: 1691; Member since: Mar 04, 2009

Loving my gear fit 2 & with fantastic phone notifications just a shame virtually no apps. But the best u can get before u jump to Android wear smartwatches.

11. KParks23

Posts: 725; Member since: Oct 13, 2010

My buddies gear fit 2 would keep falling off.. u don't have this problem?

12. greyhulk

Posts: 184; Member since: Jun 30, 2010

I haven't had that happen with the stock band, but you can very easily buy a third party band for cheap ($5-7) that will resolve that.

3. fistigons

Posts: 368; Member since: Feb 11, 2012

Mi band 2 and Mi band 1s are better than half of the trackers on this list.

7. Adsr14

Posts: 118; Member since: Aug 08, 2015

loving my mi fit 2 also

9. Neoberry99

Posts: 69; Member since: Jun 30, 2015

Bullshyt. Lol

4. Landon

Posts: 1245; Member since: May 07, 2015

I'm waiting on Garmin to release a Vivoactive HR successor. Hopefully it will improve on aesthetics.

6. miketer

Posts: 520; Member since: Apr 02, 2015

Don't use any of the tracking devices on a 24 hour basis, boys & girls. Emits EMVs & other waves. Not good so close to the body on a continuous scale.

13. greyhulk

Posts: 184; Member since: Jun 30, 2010

There is zero scientific evidence to support that.

8. det_bradlee

Posts: 162; Member since: Jun 08, 2015

UGG Gear Fit2... Has built it GPS. Yet can't count steps unless you are actively swinging your arm. Useless.

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