A watch is one of the most iconic pieces of men's wristwear. From a first childhood watch to a luxury Rolex, these pieces are used by everyone regardless of age or status. A standard watch only tells the time. A fitness tracker tells the time and provides dozens of other metrics to help you operate at your best.
Fitness trackers do so much more than simply track how close you get to 10,000 steps in a day. They can help you plan and track workouts, heart rate, metabolism, and more. Those who have never used a fitness tracker before may doubt how useful the tool could be. If you have donned a tracker, you know just how much it has to offer.
Below, we will compare fitness trackers from various companies in two core categories.
What To Look For in a Fitness Tracker
The most basic requirement of fitness trackers is that they be able to tell when steps are taken. This lays down the groundwork needed to track physical movement. The first pedometer appeared in Japan in the 1960s. Shortly after that, the world was introduced to the first heart rate monitor. Our love of fitness trackers was solof=diffied in the late 2000s when smartphones really took off.
Your modern fitness tracker should be more than just a number-crunching apparatus to showcase your vitals. Used over time, it can be a way to identify problems and track your overarching progress. More complex metrics like Vo2 max and more now come standard to fitness trackers.
Your bare minimum should be a fitness tracker that can measure major vitals, save this data, and use discrete GPS. This way, your watch will track your activity with accuracy even when you lose service when exploring nature.
What Are the Best Entry-Level Fitness Trackers?
Versa vs. Fitbit
We’ll start our listing with some simple entry-level pieces by comparing two Fitbits: The Versa 2 and the Versa 3. The former has a price point of $110, which is about the cheapest you can find a decent tracker for. The Versa 2 tracks oxygen levels, heart rate, and steps but lacks many of the features taken as a given. With only a $50-$100 differential between it and other watches on this list, avoid the Versa 2.
The Versa 3 and Fitbit Sense are far more interesting to compare. Both feature an altimeter, accelerometer, BlueTooth, microphone, and speaker. Its battery life of six days is competitive with many smartwatches at this price point. Both also feature a water resistance of 50 meters, meaning that you can readily take them in shallow water.
The Fitbit Sense has a few other features. These include gauging stress levels, tracking your skin temperature, and monitoring your heart rhythm. These extra three features come with a higher price point.
At retail, the Fitbit Sense costs $299.95 compared to $229.95 for the Versa 3. It’s up to you if the extra 70 dollars is worth it. As slightly older fitness trackers, both of these can usually be purchased at lower prices from other companies.
Apple Watch Series 3
The Apple Watch Series 3 has some attractive compatibility options, but they are overshadowed by one glaring flaw. The battery life of this series is a measly 18 hours. With little pushing it above its competition, this high-maintenance tracker is hard to recommend.
The options above are for those who value simplicity or the budget-minded. Next, we’re going to examine what companies can create operating at their peak performance.
What Are the Best Fitness Trackers for Elite Athletes?
Venu 2 vs. Apple Watch Series 7
One company we have yet to highlight is Garmin. While they have wonderful offerings at every level, they especially impress at the height of their powers. The most up-to-date model from Garmin is the Venu 2. In our initial comparison, we’ll be putting it up against the Apple Watch Series 7.
In some ways, they meet each other as equals. Activity tracking even extends to your sleep and stress levels. 50 meters of water resistance means you can take them swimming. They also have similar price points, retailing between 350 and 400 dollars.
The Series 7 has a larger display as well as voice command recognition. It even has the option for built-in cellular communication, which can help you text, make calls, and more. These don’t affect your fitness but add an extra layer of convenience. ECG readings allow the Series 7 to monitor you for certain heart conditions.
The Series 7 is only compatible with phones running iOS. The Venu 2, meanwhile, is compatible with both Android and iPhone. There are also other factors at play that make the Venu 2 more attractive. It represents a significant improvement in battery life, lasting up to 12 days.
The Series 7, meanwhile, is still saddled with a meager 18-hour battery life. The Venu 2 also has more fitness options in the form of Body Battery and Fitness Age. The former tracks your energy to suggest ideal exercise and rest times and tracks your general physical health. It also comes with preloaded workouts so that you can improve your training.
If you want a smartwatch with plenty of quality-of-life features, the Series 7 comes out ahead. If you want a fitness tracker that will help you reach new personal fitness levels, choose the Venu 2.
Who Might Benefit From Whoop?
Whoop is sleeker and slimmer than the smartwatches listed above. Instead of providing full GPS and watch functionality, it is a true fitness tracker.
The Whoop is significantly smaller than the other items on this list. It fits much more like a bracelet, and each successive generation has gotten smaller. The 4.0 marks a 30% reduction in size from the 3.0. It’s also much easier to charge.
It charges through a battery pack that can be attached while still on your wrist. For a piece designed to be worn throughout your day, it’s easy to keep it on and charged.
Whoop provides suggestions for fitness and monitors your heart and sleep habits. It also gives suggestions for ideal recovery times once you work out. These are based on your heart rate variability, resting heart rate,
Whoop also has matching accessories designed to improve your life. These include apparel that has trackers built-in to take your physical data. Be warned, though, that compared to other trackers, the Whoop is only water-resistant up to 10 meters.
This apparel won’t work without Whoop, which can be tricky considering part of what makes Whoops' approach special. Unlike the other trackers on this list, you don’t have to purchase the Whoop outright. In fact, you can’t.
Whoop requires a monthly subscription, which varies from 20 to 30 dollars a month, depending on your subscription package. This means that the initial investment can easily be below a normal fitness tracker.
With planned obsolescence in many technologies, you’ll never have to worry about falling behind or becoming outdated. When new technology is released, you can always upgrade for free.
Which Brand Comes Out on Top? Apple or Whoop?
In order to choose the ideal fitness tracker for you, you have to judge what you want from your piece.
If you are looking for a tracker that balances smartwatch functionality with fitness tracking necessities, choose the Apple Watch. It offers versatility with several devices, a superior battery life, and numerous metrics for your fitness. Plus, if you are already part of the Apple Ecosystem, you can pair your watch to the rest of your devices, including apps on your phone like Apple Maps and iMusic.
If you want to splurge and invest in a piece that will continuously improve, then the Whoop merits some notice. The way it stores your data and calculates it is superior to any other fitness tracker on the market. You can easily track your progress and evolution through the app and set your own fitness goals.
Both pieces have their benefits and drawbacks. Some may dislike the subscription model, preferring to buy a product and have it through its natural lifespan. Others may solely want fitness trackers for the health benefits they can provide. Either way, these two trackers target different sides of the market to create the right tracker for anyone.
A Full Lifestyle Set-Up
Once you have your tracker, it's time to use it. Program your favorite workouts, and get situated. A fitness tracker can reveal weaknesses you may not have been aware of and provide a roadmap to success. The core of the fitness tracker isn’t just for your workouts; It’s also for rethinking how you sleep and recover.
The technology supporting it is just one pillar that can make for a healthier life. Your choice of diet, routine, grooming, mental health care, and attire all impact the way you live. At the nexus of performance, information, and style, there’s only one group that provides totally comprehensive service: We are Olivers, forging a better tomorrow for the men of today.
10,000 steps a day: Too low? Too high? I Mayo Clinic
Heart Rate Variability (HRV): What It Is and How You Can Track It I Cleveland Clinic
Planned Obsolescence Definition I Investopedia