Once a costly extra, waterproofing is now commonplace on fitness trackers
Once upon a time, fitness trackers were extremely vulnerable to the elements – which was unfortunate for something designed to be worn in all weather conditions. I know I’m not alone in sending the clip-on Fitbit One through the washing machine, either.
Nowadays, the majority of fitness trackers have some kind of waterproofing. The degree varies from one tracker to the next, but almost all will withstand a bit of sweat or a splash of water, and plenty of them can be taken in the shower, bath or swimming pool without worry.
Still, to be absolutely safe, below are the best waterproof fitness trackers we’ve had the pleasure of reviewing. But first, a little bit of extra information…
How to find the right waterproof fitness tracker for you
How waterproof is waterproof?
You may be familiar with IP ratings. These are standards drawn up by the International Electrotechnical Commission that define how protected any electronic device is from dust, dirt, sand and fresh water.
The letters “IP” are followed by two numbers, and the first refers to solids. It’s almost always six, which is the top rating: “Protection from contact with harmful dust.” The second number is “moisture protection” and this runs from one to eight. For waterproof wearables, you definitely want an eight: “protected from immersion in water with a depth of more than 1 metre”. In other words IP68.
All the devices in the list below promise to be waterproof to depths of up to 50 metres.
What about ocean swimming?
You’ll notice the above only refers to “fresh water” – that means that an IP68 rating on its own doesn’t guarantee protection against other liquids like coffee, beer, lemonade or salt water – which could be a problem if you want to swim in the ocean.
The moral here is to specifically check what the product you’re interested in says about swimming. Fitbit’s help page, for example, specifically highlights six trackers as being swimproof in lakes, pools and oceans of up to 50 metres.
Apple, meanwhile, warns users that “water resistance isn’t a permanent condition and may diminish over time,” and adds that it would not recommend “exposing Apple Watch to soaps, shampoos, conditioners, lotions, and perfumes as they can negatively affect water seals and acoustic membranes.” Some, like Garmin’s Vivosport tell you to rinse devices in fresh water after exposure to chlorine or salt water.
In short: check with the manufacturer before taking your waterproof fitness tracker into the ocean.
Does waterproof mean it’ll track swims?
You’d have thought so, but “not necessarily” is the answer. Again, it’s best to look this up. While both the Fitbit Versa and Versa Lite are waterproof up to 50 metres, only the Versa actually track swims.
What about smartwatches?
While the line between fitness trackers and smartwatches is becoming increasingly blurry, we’ve kept the list below to fitness bands and hybrid watches for simplicity’s sake. However the same rules above apply to smartwatches, so keep an eye on IP number, salt water protection and swim tracking if those things are important to you.
Best waterproof fitness trackers
1. Fitbit Inspire HR: Fitbit’s best waterproof tracker
Price: £90 | Buy now from Amazon
The Fitbit Inspire HR is a real return to form for Fitbit. It looks stylish, offers decent functionality and – at £90 – is quite competitively priced too. If you enter your pool length before you jump in, it’ll track your swims as well.
There’s no GPS, but it will still track runs and bike rides by piggybacking off your phone’s sensor if you’re happy to take it with you. Best of all, of course, it syncs with the superb Fitbit app, which has a huge community ready to push you onwards with friendly competition.
Key specs – Screen size and type: 1.4in monochrome OLED; Battery life: 5 days; GPS: No; Waterproof up to: 50m.
2. Huawei Band 3 Pro: Best for GPS on a budget
Price: £80 | Buy now from Amazon
The Huawei Band 3 Pro has pretty much everything you could possibly want from a fitness band, including that all-important waterproofing up to 50 metres. It promises to track your swimming both in the pool and in open water, with insights on calories, number of turns and average SWOLF (“swim golf” score – stroke count plus time taken).
It can do this in open water because, unusually for the price, it manages to pack GPS tracking into the mix. The only real let down is its reliance on Huawei’s own limited health app, which limits data sharing to MyFitnessPal and Google Fit – no Strava, Runkeeper or anything else.
Key specs – Screen size and type: Colour AMOLED; Battery life: 21 days; GPS: Yes; Waterproof up to: 50m.
3. Garmin Vivosport: Best for data obsessives
Price: £170 | Buy now from Amazon
Fans of Garmin watches and trackers will know they don’t half offer a lot of information in the excellent Connect app, and the Vivosport is no exception, with a ridiculous number of stats about your sleep, heart rate, stress and VO2 max.
It has built-in GPS, so is a good choice for all-weather runners, though despite its 50m waterproof credentials, there’s no swim tracking to be seen. On top of this, the tiny 0.38in screen makes it rather fiddly to operate, but if you just want something for recording data and don’t care about analysis on the go, it’s still a fine choice.
Key specs – Screen size and type: 0.38in colour memory-in-pixel; Battery life: 7 days; GPS: Yes; Waterproof up to: 50m.
4. Honor Band 5/Xiaomi Mi Band 4: Best for budget buyers
It’s a bit unusual to include two fitness trackers by different companies in the same listing, but there’s so little to choose between the Honor Band 5 and Xiaomi Mi Band 4 that budget buyers will be fine with either, as both can be had for under £30.
They’re both basic trackers without GPS, although both support swim tracking as part of the mix. Crucially, both have monster battery life – 14 days for the Honor and 20 days for the Mi Band – so you can put either on and forget you’re wearing them. That difference in stamina may make you lean towards the Mi Band, but it’s worth noting that it can’t measure blood oxygen saturation, which the Honor Band can. So go with your personal preference.
Key specs – Screen size and type: 0.95in AMOLED; Battery life: 14 days (Honor Band) or 20 days (Mi Band 4); GPS: No; Waterproof up to: 50m.
5. Withings Steel HR Sport: Best hybrid fitness tracker
Price: £190 | Buy now from Amazon
Somewhere between a smartwatch and a fitness tracker is the Withings Steel HR Sport. At a glance, it looks like a normal analogue watch, but the tiny OLED screen springs into life to offer notifications and more. A smaller analogue dial shows how you’re progressing towards your step target for the day.
It’s waterproof to 50m and offers swim tracking automatically, provided you swim for more than ten minutes in the pool. All in all, it’s a classy looking wearable that you don’t have to take off.
Key specs – Screen size and type: 1.4in analogue and OLED; Battery life: 25 days; GPS: No; Waterproof up to: 50m.