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Best Fitness Tracker 2017: 10 best activity trackers and fitness bands

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Moov Now 19

After the over indulgence of Christmas and New Year, January is often the time of year to start thinking about getting fitter and healthier. Unfortunately, come February, all of that good intention can fall by the wayside without the right motivation and push in the right direction.

An effective fitness tracker or activity band can be just the thing you need to make sure you stick to your New Year's resolution. We've picked out some of the very best to help you get in shape for 2017.

Beyond getting to test the best technology every day, many of the TrustedReviews team are just as passionate about health and fitness. Our Wearables and Fitness Editor has often proclaimed 'getting fitter, healthier and stronger is just like overclocking a computer, except you're overclocking yourself'. We'll be surprised if any statement has ever trodden the lines between fitness and technology quite so effectively (or sounded quite so geeky).

An incredible amount of fitness trackers and wearables pass through our offices every year, but only the best ones make it into our list, and that's only after we've properly put them through their paces. Whether you want a basic fitness band for tracking your steps and daily activity, or a full-on GPS watch for serious running and fitness work, there's something in this list for you.

We've tested devices from all of the big manufacturers, such as Fitbit, Garmin, Jawbone, Misfit and TomTom.

Most of the gadgets here are trackers of some kind, but we've also included our favourite pair of heart rate monitoring headphones for good measure. We're not limiting this list to wrist-based wearables, so don't be surprised to see more outlier products appearing over time.

Watch the video below; hit the 'Next' arrow or use the drop down above to view the list; or read on for more advice on how to choose the ideal activity tracker for you. Don't forget to click the link to our full reviews if our summary doesn't answer your question.

Watch: Trusted Explains – Wearables and Fitness Trackers

This Week's Best Fitness Tracker Deals

Moov Now at Amazon.co.uk | Was £69 | Now £49

Jabra Sport Pulse Wireless at Amazon.co.uk | Was £199.99 | Now £83

Garmin Vivoactive at Amazon.co.uk | Was £199 | Now £139

Jawbone UP2 at Amazon.com | Was $99 | Now $28

TomTom Runner Cardio at Amazon.com | Was $229.99 | Now $89

Withings Activité Pop at Amazon.com | Was $140 | Now $90

Garmin Vivoactive at Amazon.com | Was $249.99 | Now $149

Best fitness tracker – features you need

We’ve moved on a bit from the days when the word ‘tracker’ was synonymous with ‘pedometer’. While step-counting is certainly still useful, especially in making you want to walk rather than hop immediately on a bus, fitness trackers are now far more sophisticated. They collect lots more data and come with dedicated apps that analyse your activities and encourage you to incorporate healthier habits into your routine. Some of the more comprehensive companion apps will let you track your food and calorie intake. Diet is just as important as exercise, after all. All of this data is being called the 'quantified self' and makes us all far more accountable for our health and lifestyle decisions.

Most trackers include an accelerometer and gyroscope to monitor general movement and record steps, just like a pedometer. Additional standard features include the ability to count calories burned and track sleep patterns. The latter is just as important as how active you are during the day, as there are plenty of health benefits associated with getting more kip. Good sleep tracking will also give you an idea of the quality of your sleep. It's not just about the number of hours you get each night. If you're still waking up tired in the morning, it could be for any number of reasons both in terms of health and lifestyle. Maybe less caffeine during the day will help, or perhaps it's a sign of an underlying problem such as sleep apnoea.

Fitbit Charge 2

A good fitness tracker and app will provide guidance or added motivation to make you want to exercise and keep active

Beyond these basic capabilities is where things get even more exciting. An increasing number of trackers are coming with altimeters, which can measure changes in altitude, or barometers that instead use changes in atmospheric pressure, and are therefore able to track the number of stairs you've climbed.

So the next time you're headed towards the lift you might instead decide to use the stairs. A tracker might give you a goal to climb 10 flights a day, which is guaranteed to help burn away extra calories and improve your cardiovascular health and leave you feeling fitter and healthier.

Some also include the ability to log food and water consumption, in order to give you a more comprehensive overview of your lifestyle. The better ones let you scan barcodes for food and plug into large food databases, or connect to services like MyFitnessPal that do the job for you. Keeping an eye on how much caffeine you drink during the day can have a major impact on your sleep at night.

Garmin Vivosmart HR%2B

It's important to consider your starting level. Only the more advanced fitness trackers, which are targeted at keen athletes, typically carry GPS and heart rate sensors. They’re designed to bring a more accurate experience to users, as well as a generous selection of training options. These are very much geared towards users trying to improve their overall performance, so can include lots of data and analytics that might be overkill and intimidating for those starting out on a new fitness journey.

It doesn't hurt to plan ahead, however, so if you think the extra data and metrics will be useful down the line, it's worth buying a fitness tracker that can remain useful as you become a more experienced exerciser or runner. This will save you having to think of buying a replacement once you've outgrown your basic activity tracker.

How much should you spend on a fitness tracker?

The majority of fitness trackers tend to cost between £50 and £200, but there are a number of more and less expensive models. How much you spend depends almost entirely on the level of detail you want your tracker to capture.

If you’re after something basic that will monitor the steps you take and calories you burn as you travel to and from work, you shouldn’t look at shelling out much more than £50. Generally speaking, casual runners who want to improve their general fitness are best off looking at around £100 upwards, typically these will then add in a GPS sensor. Only serious athletes should really go beyond the £200 mark when you're also looking at more in-depth training analysis or multi-sport tracking.

Garmin Fenix 3 31

The Garmin Fenix is a good example of a serious running watch with built-in GPS

Other things to consider

Since fitness trackers need to be worn constantly in order to be as effective as possible, design and form factor are crucial areas to think about. They come in all sorts of shapes, colours and sizes. Watches, wristbands, chest straps, detachable pods and headphones are all available, many of which have digital displays and LED lights.

Needless to say, some undoubtedly look better than others. For example, Withings has been long known for its attractive and discreet fitness trackers that resemble traditional analogue watches under the Activité range. It even recently managed to add a heart rate monitor with the Withings Steel HR, meaning you don't need to miss out on that extra layer of fitness data when wearing a stylish fitness tracking watch.

Other fitness tracker makers are following suit, and there are other hybrid smartwatch options from the likes of Garmin and Misfit now available. It's a trend we would expect to see more of in the future.

Then there are trackers like the Misfit Ray or Fitbit Flex 2,which can easily be disguised as jewellery and worn in different ways. On the other end of the spectrum, the TomTom Spark 3, which is a terrific tracker and sports watch, is unmistakably a piece of technology – albeit a very effective one.

Fitbit Flex 2

The Fitbit Flex 2 is happy to take a plunge

If you want to take your tracker into the shower or go for a swim with it, you need to make sure it's waterproof, rather than water-resistant, because those are two very different things. This will vary depending on which device you buy, but 'resistant' often means a band is merely splashproof rather than fully resistant. Actual waterproof fitness trackers might also offer extra functionality geared towards swimmers, such as lap counting. Then there are trackers targeted towards triathletes, too, and these include cycling functionality and often much more.

Battery life is also really important. Nobody wants to charge another gadget as regularly as smartphone, and trackers can vary from a few days to close to a year of power, depending on whether they're USB-charged or contain a removable watch battery. If you're constantly having to take the device off to charge and forgetting to put it back on, it's rendered useless, so choose wisely depending on your usage style.

Most of the latest fitness trackers come alongside Android and iOS apps. Bluetooth 4.0 support, which enables real-time data syncing, is available on most phones, but it's wise to consult the relevant specs sheets before dipping into your pockets.

If heart rate monitoring is important, it might be worth considering a dedicated chest-based HRM. While many wrist-worn trackers use optical heart rate monitoring, this isn't quite as accurate. They're also not as quick to update their readings compared to a chest-worn HRM. This can be due to different sampling rates, meaning they get heart rate readings less frequently. So if you're involved in a lot of interval training, such as HIIT or sprint work, where your heart rate rapidly changes, a chest-worn HRM might be the better bet.

Some fitness trackers will have ANT%2B compatibility, so will be able to pair with a separate chest-based HRM. The Jabra Sport Pulse are in fact a pair of headphones, but these can take a heart rate reading from inside your ear. We've typically found these have performed better than wrist-worn optical heart rate monitors, but still lag behind something wrapped around your chest.

Upcoming fitness trackers

There's been an increasing trend to merge fitness tracking with smartwatch functionality. The likes of Fitbit have already flirted with the amalgamation through devices like the Fitbit Blaze but so far with only varying degrees of success. With the recent news that Fitbit had acquired smartwatch maker Pebble, followed by the acquisition of Vector, I would fully expect Fitbit to have another bash.

Misfit Vapor

Then there's the Misfit Vapor, which was first shown off at CES 2017. Again, this merges smartwatch features, such as apps and integrated storage for music, alongside Misfit's experience in fitness tracking. Should this get the combination right, it could well be a fitness smartwatch to look out for in 2017. Its price of $199.99 is also potentially great value as well.

Christopher Allen Peer

September 3, 2014, 6:12 pm

I have the polar loop. It's great because it's waterproof, but on very active days the battery last only at most 2 days.

fast_call

March 28, 2015, 11:58 pm

How about Fitbit Charge / Charge HR? They seem to be getting very positive reviews. The Nike Fuelband, which is in this list, has been described by some reviewers as "innacurate" (disclaimer: I own none of these devices so I don't speak from experience)

DigitalFury

March 29, 2015, 7:17 am

Agree, I own a Fitbit Charge HR, and it is a much better product than the old(er) Jawbone UP24.

The only advantage that the UP3 will have, when it actually goes on sale, is water resistance.

DigitalFury

March 29, 2015, 7:31 am

We will see how popular the Withings Activité is, because it's neither quite a smartwatch or a 'real' (i.e. mechanical movement) Swiss watch. It's quartz-based like all lowball watches, and unlike all the pictures we see will let one to believe, it's actually quite thick - i.e. not thin and refined.

Even if you put a leather strap and a sapphire crystal on it, it remains a glorified technology product, not a piece of jewellery and piece of craftsmanship like a complications-based chronograph is.

A. Mir

May 7, 2015, 5:35 pm

How does the Garmin stack up with these? Anyone?

I also thought Nike discontinued their FuelBand range?

shnatiw

May 7, 2015, 6:51 pm

Garmin are generally regarded as one of the best when it comes to fitness watches. Build and software is probably the best. And they hit a wide range of price points. I have had a 210 for the past three years with no issues.

A. Mir

May 8, 2015, 1:57 pm

I'm just surprised to see that the VivoFit isn't included here.

tengig

June 1, 2015, 10:16 pm

You need to update your review on the Jabra Sport Pulse. It's rubbish. Their most recent update (1.3.0) of the app broke heartrate monitoring and battery detection. It barely works after a full reset and reinstall and usually only once. It's complete garbage now.

roc

July 10, 2015, 7:57 am

Fitbit charge are crap there battery so called 10 days is false advertising. This is why I am now looking for a new type of watch . I have had two fitbits in a 4 month period and the service centre has a brick wall around it so don't even bother . they are full of reasons not to help. a great big waste of money I would never recommend.

Peace has no chance now

December 30, 2015, 8:32 am

For me, the Vivoactive wins this round. Especially with the new updates from Garmin fixing almost all nagging issues.

Mario Miniaci

February 7, 2016, 10:24 pm

It's hard to find something that has heart-rate, waterproof, more than a couple of days battery life and tells the time. Fitbit Charge HR needs a v2.0.

Fredrik Selvig

March 1, 2016, 9:22 pm

I got excited when Fitbit announced more products, but let down when none of them were that great. I have been looking at upgrading from Charge to Blaze, but I just don't see that it's worth the price upgrade. I like the Alta, but I wish it was waterproof and had HR.

cleanupcars

March 23, 2016, 7:38 pm

I have had a Moov Now Tracker for 4 months it performed brilliantly for both swimming and walking, although I have had to order 2 clasps for the wristband as they can get detached in normal use.

The battery has now run out. I and various friends of a diy bent have tried changing it. There is a tool supplied, a video on-line and a user manual. Can any of us prise the body apart? No. Moov Support just send me standard issue memos referencing the same video and user guide.

In my view, the battery change issue is a major design flaw in an otherwise excellent product. May have to pay a watchmaker to do it, assuming they can.

Please can reviewers try out such mundane tasks as changing the battery and also the security and longevity of the strap before arriving at a final score for these products.
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Update: Moov have offered to exchange the Core (ie the battery powered sensor) via post to California!
Good customer service,
Hopefully the exchange Moov Now will be easier to change the battery. Sending to CA for a battery swap every time is a little extreme!

Pradip J. Patil

March 24, 2016, 6:13 pm

Nice article, Fitness tracker is best device which keep track of your activity.

Noah Baudie

March 24, 2016, 6:15 pm

Nice article,I got one for my son.

Fritz Bernazzi

April 25, 2016, 4:48 am

I am so bugged that i cant find anyone really reviewing the one i have from www.rem-fit.com. I have really been loving it. it has done everything that i have wanted from a tracker. have you looked into this one before?

AllanEllen Wexler

July 27, 2016, 12:30 pm

Fit bits are poorly made- I have had 3 that all fell apart in less than a year

Helen E Taylor

September 6, 2016, 2:34 pm

Does anyone have a Fitbit Alta. I have had one since they came out, however the wristband is recording totally different data to their app on the phone (when you manually activate an activity). It is supposed to automatically record from the wristband to the app without you having to trigger for example a walk. On walking and checking every mile, the wristband is recording a lot less than the activated app on the phone. Its is loosing over a 1/4 mile per mile and that builds up over a long walk! I can understand steps perhaps being different but not distance. Fitbit say that that is what happens but I bought it to accurately record my number of steps in a day from a wristband, not by having to run the walking app all day on my phone (cant the batttery wont last!) - anyone else have these problems?

Darkedge

December 1, 2016, 1:37 pm

Hmm interested to see the misfit shine 2 hasn't made the cut as alot of reviews rate it as excellent and compared to most of these fugly things it's quite attractive looking (apart from the withings obviously)

Marie_O

February 22, 2017, 2:53 pm

Has anyone experienced pain in their wrist / arm after using a Fitbit?

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