Which Fitness Tracker Should You Buy? An Essential Guide

There are a number of fitness trackers on the market, with no one-size-fits-all solution. Find which fitness tracker has the right features for you.

Which Fitness Tracker Has the Features You Need?

If you're a swimmer, for example, waterproofing is essential, but if you're a hiker, it's a pointless expense.

What Are Your Fitness Goals?

Before you decide which fitness tracker is best for you, you need to think about what you want to get out of your fitness routine. A basic fitness tracker will usually help you track your steps and other movements to give you an idea of how many calories you're burning through your daily movements. If you set a goal for calories burned per day, they can help you to see how close you are to that fitness goal. If you're a serious athlete who wants to map your jogging route, log the number of laps you swim, or monitor your heart rate and breathing patterns, you'll want to invest in a more complex (and more expensive) training tracker or running watch. If you want help for a specific sport, read fitness band reviews to see which one is best for your needs.

How Much Do You Plan To Spend?

You can't buy a fitness tracker with all the bells and whistles on a shoestring, so a realistic budget will help you to decide what features matter most to you. If you only want to track basic data like calories burned, steps taken, and sleep quality, you can easily find an attractive and functional fitness tracker for less than $100 or even less than $50. Some, like the Misfit Flash or Razer Nabu X, are essentially budget versions of more expensive trackers that are made from cheaper materials. The Flash is a less expensive plastic than the Shine, and the Razer Nabu X uses flashing LED lights rather than a screen for notifications to keep the cost down. On the flip side, more expensive trackers might use a wider variety of sensors to better track the exact calorie burn of your workout, be made of higher-quality materials, have additional smartwatch features and syncing capability with your mobile devices, analyze low-, moderate-, and high-impact activities, and more. Exercise bracelet reviews show that some features cost more than they're worth. For example, trackers that automatically pick up cycling and elliptical data are useless if you don't do those types of workouts. Others might be handy if you're looking for a truly in-depth analysis of your fitness. Only you and your wallet know for sure.

Which Style Suits You?

Most fitness trackers have a wristband design, but this is not the case with all of them. You can find trackers that clip on your belt or in your pocket, ones that attach to your ankle or shoelaces, or even models that you can wear pendant-style around your neck like the Misfit Ray. Some clearly look like fitness trackers; others, particularly those made by Withings, Fossil Q, and Skagen Hagen, look like pricey watches. It may seem like a trivial consideration, but if you're planning to wear your tracker everywhere as you study the effects of taking the stairs at work or jogging in place at the bus stop, you need something that is comfortable and that matches your overall style. Fit tracker reviews can help, but the best way to see which fitness tracker to buy is to actually try it on. You won't know how comfortable it is to wear all day or how well it goes with your wardrobe until you try, and all the fit tracker reviews in the world won't let you actually feel it on your wrist or shoelace.

What Other Devices Do You Use?

Your fitness tracker will be at its best if it can sync with your computer, tablet, or smartphone, allowing it to upload your data to fitness apps for better workout tracking or to examine a GPS map of your running or cycling path. If you're an Android user and accidentally pick up a tracker that's only compatible with Apple products, you'll be stuck with little more than an expensive pedometer. Windows users have a particularly small set of options compared to those who use Android or Apple, so make sure to check which fitness tracker is compatible with your handset. Of course, if you have an Android phone, an iPad, and a Windows laptop, your tracker will be at its most versatile if it's compatible with all three.)

How Concerned Are You About Sleep?

Several fitness trainers will also help you with sleep monitoring. If you wear the tracker when you're asleep, it can check when you roll over and wake up and may also monitor REM sleep and body temperature, which drops when you enter deep sleep and rises slowly as you wake up. If you generally don't have trouble getting a good night's sleep, you probably don't need to break the bank on sleep monitoring features. If you're tired all day and don't know why, the sleep monitor may help you figure out the root of your problem. If you know your sleeping patterns, you'll be better able to identify why you're having a poor night's sleep. For example, if you discover that you always start to wake up at 3:00 in the morning, you might be able to figure out what's happening at that time to wake you. Exercise bracelet reviews can tell you which fitness trackers are most comfortable for sleep and have the best sleep features.

Is Waterproofing Essential?

You don't need fitness band reviews to tell you that if you're a swimmer, you'll need waterproofing. Different fitness bands have different levels of waterproofing. The Apple Watch Series 2 can be submerged in up to 164 feet of water, for example, while others can't handle that level of pressure. Even if you aren't a swimmer, you might want to consider getting a water-resistant tracker for days that you run or walk in the rain - or in the case of foot-mounted trainers, times when you exercise near puddles. If you exercise purely indoors, any sort of waterproofing may be an unnecessary expense unless you're worried about leaving it in your pocket when you put your clothes in the washer or your toddler throwing it down the toilet!