Technology makes it easier to track every piece of your exercise routine. But maybe the greatest innovation is that the watches themselves are more than bearable to look at too. GQ’s Best Stuff has the low down on the best fitness smartwatches for every kind of exercise and every budget.
Garmin Fenix 5
Technology has made fitness more quantifiable and precise. Gone are the days of running to the lamppost just past the bandshell in the park, turning back, and calling it “four miles.” Now, not only do you know you’ve actually been running 3.8 miles (slacker!) but precisely how fast you went each step of the way. For years Garmin, the Kansas-based GPS behemoth, has been the leader in GPS fitness watches. And that’s not changing anytime soon. Their newest multisport watch, the Fenix 5 , is unquestionably the gold standard.
Sure, the price tag is a little steep. But we like the Fenix 5 because it is down for whatever. Running (outdoors or on the treadmill), swimming, cycling (on your commute or in spin class), hiking, climbing, snowboarding, stand-up paddleboarding, skiing, snowboarding, rowing, and golf (seriously). They weren’t lying when they said multisport. It’s also the first GPS watch I’ve tested over the last decade that my partner did not clown on me for wearing in public. “Wow, that looks like a normal watch,” she said. Progress!
But seriously: If you’re a fit dude looking for one watch to track your every move—it also has a built-in fitness tracker and wrist-based heart rate monitor—that you can wear to a meeting without looking like a character from Tron, the Fenix 5 is for you.
4 Reasons We Love the Garmin Fenix 5
1. The ridiculous capabilities. I’m training for a triathlon right now. And this watch has become my trusted companion. Running, swimming, biking—I never have to take the watch off. But the metrics it spits out are helpful not just for lunatic triathletes with no discernible social life, but half marathoners and weekend warriors alike. A former swimmer from high school getting back into the pool? The watch measures how many strokes you take on each lap, among other wonky-but-useful swim metrics. Trying to get in shape for your local Firecracker 4th of July 10k? There is a ton of performance data to obsess over, from heart rate (you’re going too fast my man!) to VO2max and Grade Adjusted Pace (your pace adjusted for flat land vs. climbing or descending). I really can’t express how much shit you can do with this watch. It has its own subreddit.
2. There are lots of options. It comes in all sorts of colors—black, silver, white, turquoise, highlighter yellow—but more importantly: three different sizes. One of the knocks on fitness watches, especially Garmin, is how hilariously big and clunky and outright hideous they are. Earlier versions of the Fenix made me feel like a Marine in the field. The Fenix 5 comes in sizes ranging from normal to Rambo. We like the Fenix 5s—the smallest version—which, at 42 mm wide, is smaller than your average Shinola.
3. It’s built to last and will never be obsolete. I bought a Garmin Forerunner watch when I trained for my first marathon in 2011. It’s still kicking. Garmin is good about constantly—almost annoyingly so—updating the software on their watches, so even if there is a new shiny watch on the market, the technology itself is never really out of date. There’s no denying that $600 is a lot of money for a watch, but it’s far superior to the Apple Watch and, at $200 more, far more capable and far more durable.
4. You can Customise the hell out of it. It’s not just a watch for running nerds. You can get texts, keep track of your Uber, and drop a pin in the airport parking lot to find your car. And there are tons of fitness-specific apps, for everything from marathon training to prescriptive.