Choose the best fitness tracker, best activity tracker or best fitness band for you based on our expert reviews.
We review dozens of fitness trackers every year, but only the best ones make it into our list. 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.
Every activity tracker has been thoroughly tested and reviewed – don't forget to click the link to our full reviews if our summary doesn't answer your question.
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.
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.
Watch: Trusted Explains – Wearables and Fitness Trackers
We’ve moved on a bit from the days when the word ‘tracker’ was synonymous with ‘pedometer’. While step-counting is certainly still useful, fitness trackers are now more sophisticated. They collect lots more data and come alongside 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.
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.
A good app with useful analysis and advice is very important and you can often try the apps before you buy
Beyond these basic capabilities is where things get exciting. An increasing number of trackers are coming with altimeters, which can measure changes in altitude, and are therefore able to track the number of steps you've climbed. So the next time you're headed towards the lift you might instead decide to use the stairs.
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.
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.
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, while only serious athletes should really go beyond the £200 mark.
The Garmin Fenix is a good example of a serious running watch with built-in GPS
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, the beautiful Withings Activité looks equally great at the gym or a dinner party thanks to an inconspicuous and stylish design, while the Misfit Flash can be easily hidden away inside a pocket or sock. On the other end of the spectrum, the TomTom Runner Cardio, which is a terrific tracker, is almost offensive to the eyes and there's no mistaking it for a piece of technology.
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.
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.