Eat, sleep, walk, repeat with these top activity bands
Best fitness trackers have gone beyond cheap, plasticky step trackers. New activity bands from the likes of Fitbit, Garmin and Withings pack serious style,24/7 heart rate monitoring and incredible insights into your health.
The right fitness tracker for you will be based on your individual needs and how active your lifestyle is. Some will just look for step counting and reliablesleep tracking, others want GPS for running, advanced resting heart rate and VO2 max data. The good news is that there’s something out there for everyone.
Essential reading: Best smartwatches money can buy
We’ve completely reworked our round up of the best fitness trackers and added a new at-a-glance feature list to try and make it easier to spot the right band for you.
Got any questions about fitness trackers? Let us know in the comments section below and we’ll see if we can lend a helping hand.Best fitness trackers
Best fitness trackers
Garmin Vivosmart HR+
Our Garmin Vivosmart HR+ review broke the record for an all-time high score for fitness trackers and for good reason: it’s all singing, all dancing and packed with tech, although that still might not make it the perfect choice for everyone.
Its top mix of features and performance also made it a worthy Fitness Tracker of the Year at the Wareable Tech Awards 2016.
The Vivosmart HR+ offers a great mix of activity, heart rate and GPS tracking, which makes it a no-brainer for those thinking about a Fitbit, but nonplussed by the idea of taking a phone along for a run.
While the band is still a little chunky for some, and the screen is nowhere near as attractive as the Blaze, it offers up around a week of battery life, is devilishly good when it comes to notifications and it’s water resistant to about 50m – although the lack of a swimming mode is a disappointment.
Run stats are a little light – if you want more than pace, distance or basic HR data then you’ll need to head into proper GPS running watch territory.Best fitness trackers
Feature check: Steps, sleep monitoring, 24/7 heart rate monitoring, GPS.
Wareable verdict: Garmin Vivosmart HR+ review
Best fitness trackers general
Fitbit Charge 2
Fitbit raised the bar with the Charge 2, but in spite of the device falling slightly short of its own expectations, it still got a deserved commendation at theWareable Tch Awards.
As well the usual steps and sleep tracking – all logged within Fitbit’s superb app – the Charge 2 tracks heart rate continuously, monitors resting heart rate and now rates VO2 Max, a scientific gauge of fitness. New breathing training to combat stress adds to a stellar line-up of wellness features – so why isn’t it topping the table?
Teething issues with screen responsiveness, a fiddly interface and flaky heart rate tracking during very intense workouts make for an experience that falls short for the more active user. It will accurately track runs, but you need to take your phone out with you.
However, if general wellbeing is more important to you than getting sweaty at the gym, the Charge 2 is one of the strongest devices on the market. Best fitness trackers
Feature check: Steps, sleep monitoring, 24/7 heart rate monitoring, breathing training, VO2 Max.
Wareable verdict: Fitbit Charge 2 review
Best for simplicity
Stylish and sleek, Misfit broke from the traditional design of its circular Shine tracker to offer something a little more discreet. The Misfit Ray offers steps and sleep tracking, all within Misfit’s sleek and clean app. It will also alert users to messages and calls from a paired smartphone. There are now decent strap options from Misfit, and it can be worn as a pendent. Decent customisation mixed with strong (if no frills) fitness tracking and a good price mean you can’t go wrong with the Ray.Best fitness trackers
Feature check: Steps, sleep, buzzes for smartphone notifications.
Wareable verdict: Misfit Ray review
Best for style
The Fitbit Alta is the company’s best-looking device to date, and it’s a real head turner. While we’ve often said that devices with screens can’t be alluring, the Alta with its big range of coloured straps does a fine job. On the tech side, it records steps, sleep and elevation and delivers basic notifications to the wrist, although support for third-party apps is patchy.Best fitness trackers
Feature check: Steps, sleep, customisable bands and notifications.
Best for stroller-pushing parents (clip-on)
Misfit Shine 2
When the Misfit launched the Shine back in 2012, it proved that you can count your steps from a fitness tracker that didn’t look like an ugly piece of plastic around your wrist.
The Shine 2 remains faithful to its original features and now adds a redesigned action clip, smartphone notifications and vibration alerts. Also, the battery life pretty much kicks the ass of any of the trackers on this page.
Where it really impresses though is data accuracy. When we put the Shine 2 up against a GPS running watch recently, there was 0.1km difference in the readings. If reliable data is your priority, then this is the one to go for.
However, for us it stands out because of its versatility. It ships with a clip, and has modes for attaching to shirts, waistbands, shoes and pockets, meaning buggy-pushing parents can get credit for their days – a common request on Wareable’s comments and forums.Best fitness trackers
Feature check: Step tracking, sleep monitoring, smartphone notifications, waterproof for swim tracking.
Best for sleep tracking
We talked and Jawbone listened. After receiving mediocre reviews for the Jawbone UP3, the San Francisco company went live with new firmware addressing a number of the key concerns – and automatic sleep tracking is now on offer. That’s great news because the UP3 is incredibly in-depth when it comes to tracking your zzzz’s. By monitoring a user’s bpm, respiration rate, body temperature and galvanic skin response, it can give you your REM, light and deep sleep stats.Best fitness trackers
Feature check: Heart rate (resting and passive), steps, sleep.
Best for getting in shape
Moov Now is a small, round element that you clip into a strap to wear around your leg and pair with a smartphone. The aim of the game is advanced sports training plans, at which it excels, with actionable running, swimming and cycling data aimed at making you better at the sports you love.
The band boasts ever-increasing levels of difficulty which offer a gradual but tangible improvement curve, and with both running and seven-minute workout included, it has all bases covered.
Even better news is that Moov Now – the second generation product – also works as a daily step and sleep tracker, making it a decent activity band when you’re not busting out interval times.Best fitness trackers
Feature check: Steps, sleep, advanced sports coaching, run/bike tracking.
Best for a tight budget
Xiaomi Mi Band Pulse
Now available outside China, the Mi Band Pulse is cheap and cheerful, yet somehow manages to pack heart rate monitoring onto the wrist for an astonishing price. Xiaomi has shifted more than a million of its bands in China alone, making this possibly the Best fitness trackers.Best fitness trackers
Feature check: HR tracking, steps, sleep, smart alarms, incoming call alerts.
Best for losing weight
While it’s far from the perfect fitness tracker – read our review to find out why – the TomTom Touch is uniquely placed to help users track weight, thanks to its build-in body composition sensors. Place your finger on the sensor and you’ll get a (pretty) accurate analysis of your body fat and muscle percentages. There’s a few percentage points difference between scales, but it’s a great way of tracking the benefits of your new exercise regime.Best fitness trackers
Feature check: Sleep, steps, 24/7 heart rate, body composition.
Best for multisports Best fitness trackers
Garmin Vivoactive HR
This everyday sports wearable blends fitness and sports features with reliable notifications in a reasonably priced package. It’s not exactly a looker, but don’t let that put you off – the Vivoactive HR uses GPS to accurately track running, cycling and swimming with live pace and distances. It’s not perfect – the screen is dull and the heart rate tracking can’t beat a chest strap – but as an easy to live with sports companion with access to Garmin Connect, this is a brilliant buy.Best fitness trackers
Feature check: Daily steps, 24/7 heart rate, GPS run/bike/golf tracking, notifications.