Best Activity Tracker: Overview And Top 7 List

a woman setting her fitness tracker watch before she go for a run

People have been trying to get active. One aspect of this trend has been the creation and rise of the activity tracker. This started out as a pedometer that could be clipped on the belt or pocket to track the number of steps taken in a day. Fast forward a few years and activity trackers are everywhere. Turn on the TV, scroll through your Facebook feed and try to find someone who isn't wearing one.

In terms of features, those seem to be expanding just as quickly as new trackers are brought to market. There always seems to be one brand that tries to outdo the others – much like smartphone companies. When you think you've seen a product that has every feature you thought possible to put on a tracker, another company comes out and adds one more. Pretty soon you can become bogged down in the reality of how many products are out there that you don't even understand.

When it comes to buying an activity tracker, there are some essential features you want to look for and some bells and whistles you don't need. To help make your decision more comfortable, we've put together this list to help you find the tracker that will lend you the most help in your quest to move more.

Comparison Table

Product

Preview

Ratings

Price

Fitbit Blaze – Fitbit

product photo of Fitbit Blaze activity tracker

No products found.

Samsung Gear Fit2 Pro – Samsung

product photo of Samsung Gear Fit2 Pro Tracker

No products found.

Moov Now – Moov

product photo of Moov Now tracker

No products found.

Fitbit Charge 2 HR – Fitbit

product photo of Fitbit Charge 2 HR tracker

No products found.

Garmin Vivoactive HR - Garmin

product photo of Garmin Vivoactive HR tracker

No products found.

TomTom Spark 3 – TomTom

product photo of TomTom Spark 3

No products found.

Garmin Vivofit – Garmin

product photo of Garmin Vivofit – Garmin

No products found.

Fitness Trackers v. Smart Watch

fitness tracker and smart watch attached to a tree branch

Primary function is to track activity and steps. While there are features of some watches that interface with your phone, they are not themselves phones. You can't call or return texts from your activity tracker like you can on your Apple Watch. Those that interface with telephones are a convenience, but that is not the expectation.

Top Features of Activity Trackers

8 activity trackers with different color, sizes and styles while attached to a tube

An activity tracker was created to keep track of your level of movement throughout the day. Lately, tracking sleep has also become quite a favorite feature, with Fitbit making claims that their trackers can accurately keep count of your different levels of sleep, just by your heart rate and your lack of movement.

Heart rate is another favorite feature as this can be helpful in getting a more accurate picture of your overall calories burned and activity level. Without heart rate, it seems like it would be much more difficult to track actual effort as in the difference between running and walking. Your stride length does come into play a bit, but some people can speed walk with a relatively short stride that resembles jogging. Without a heart rate monitor, how will the tracker know to calculate the calories burned accurately?

Benefits of an Activity Tracker

graphics that list benefits in using an activity trackers

The power of suggestion is just that: powerful. When an activity tracker has been idle for a bit, it may remind you to start moving. If you want to hit your step goal, you are more willing to comply with that nudge than an actual person asking you to get up and move. If you are a person who is competitive by nature, the challenges are going to be an excellent way to keep you aware of your activity level. If you see that your college roommate is up on you by 200 steps, you may find yourself doing laps around your dining room table at 10:30 at night to get a leg up.

In this way, activity trackers are doing something people really need: they are getting them to move and take action. Too much sitting around has taken a definite toll on our health, and with the rate of obesity and Type 2 diabetes on the rise, now more than ever movement is essential. Even if you aren't running marathons and only walking around your dining room table, you're still taking healthy steps (literally) to get moving in the right direction. Whether you intend to extend that out into the rest of your life with eating habits that is up to you. The intent of an activity tracker is to get you started in one area.

How We Came Up With This List

close-up photo of a fitness tracker

Activity trackers used to be virtually non-existent, but that is no longer the case. While the technology is always developing to improve them and give them more sensitive sensors or a bigger and brighter screen, there are now many entrants into this game where there used to be none. In order to bring you the best activity tracker, we did the research you don't have time to do. We looked through the main features including battery life, GPS tracking, heart rate monitor and price, and we put them all together in this ranking. We intend to make this process an easier one to get you the tracker that will work and get you moving sooner rather than later. We know you are depending on our information being accurate and precise, and we take pride in knowing we are providing you with that.

The Best Activity Trackers in 2018

1. Fitbit Blaze – Fitbit

product photo of Fitbit Blaze activity tracker

No products found.

Heart Rate Monitor

Yes

Built-in GPS

No - Must use your phone

Battery Life

Five Days

Price

$$$

Pros

  • Considered the most accurate tracker in terms of stats gathered such as stairs climbed and steps taken.
  • Large, colorful display is easy to use and interact with.
  • On-screen workouts give you a full routine to fit your current desired workout length.
  • As with other Fitbits, you can engage in challenges and "adventures" right from the Blaze screen.
  • Interfaces with your phone to report incoming calls and texts.
  • Sleep mode tracks the amount of time you're asleep and makes suggestions for how to sleep better.

Cons

  • The tracker is significant in size and may not be the best choice for smaller framed people.
  • The price tag is also pretty high.

Customer reviews:

People who have this product enjoyed it and used it as an activity tracker and not a smartwatch. Features such as text and call notifications were appreciated and enjoyed.


Overall rating:

4.7 out of 5 stars.

No products found.

2. Samsung Gear Fit2 Pro – Samsung

product photo of Samsung Gear Fit2 Pro Tracker

No products found.

Heart Rate M​onitor

Yes

Built-in GPS

Yes

Battery Life

Three days

Price

$$$

Pros

  • Waterproof, it’s the only smartwatch on the list.
  • Gives you notifications, allows you to play games and apps and lets you reply to texts and phone calls.
  • One of the best heart rate sensors in a wrist tracker.

Cons

  • The price is definitely a con, and it seemed a little challenging to set up at first.

Customer reviews:

An overwhelming majority of current customers state their Gear Fit2 Pro is comfortable to wear and use, makes an excellent tracker and functions perfectly as a smartwatch. The only people who seemed to complain stated their tracker broke and customer service didn't offer them a solution.


Overall rating:

4.7 out of 5 stars

No products found.

3. Moov Now – Moov

product photo of Moov Now tracker

No products found.

Heart Rate Monitor

No

Built-in GPS

No - Through phone

Battery Life

Six Months

Price

$

Pros

  • Voice commands tell you if you're falling behind a previous pace or push you to go further or faster than you have before.
  • Audio coaching offered in boxing, swimming and cycling.
  • It provides the most sensitive and advanced swim lap counter.
  • Check Circle
    Waterproof and will measure your swim strokes, distance and the like.
  • Check Circle
    Measures your motion impact, so if you are playing a sport like volleyball, it will measure how fast you've come down to determine how high you're getting.

Cons

  • No screen so this tracker doesn't even double as a watch.

Customer reviews:

Overall, customers seemed to enjoy this tracker especially the waterproof feature and the voice coaching. The price on this tracker and the battery pack were also features customers reported being happiest with.


Overall rating:

4.4 out of 5 stars

No products found.

4. Fitbit Charge 2 HR – Fitbit

product photo of Fitbit Charge 2 HR tracker with purple bracelet


No products found.

Heart Rate Monitor

Yes

Built-in GPS

No - only with phone

Battery Life

Three Days

Price

$$

Pros

  • The Fitbit Charge 2 has many features that the Blaze has, but it's cheaper and slimmer.
  • You can get call and text notifications.
  • Reminders to move can be programmed in through the app.
  • Check Circle
    Guided breathing exercises on the tracker to help you get through a stressful time.
  • Check Circle
    The band can be changed.

Cons

  • This tracker is not waterproof at all.
  • The battery may seem to run out quickly after it dies at least one time.
  • The GPS only tracks with the phone.

Customer reviews:

The Charge 2 HR is, by far, a fan favorite. Most of the reviews were positive stating the ability to swap out the band was a huge deal to them (before that most activity trackers didn't give you a choice of bands). The cons all had to do with the battery dying too soon or the GPS tracking not working, even when the phone is in hand.


Overall rating:

4.3 out of 5 (would be higher just because of the price)


No products found.

5. Garmin Vivoactive HR - Garmin

product photo of Garmin Vivoactive HR tracker

No products found.

Heart Rate Monitor

Yes

Built-in GPS

No - only with phone

Battery Life

Eight days

Price

$$$

Pros

  • Waterproof with swimming as a sports setting option on the phone (and on the app).
  • The screen is bright enough to be read in the sun.
  • Download apps and customize your watch to fit your needs.
  • Check Circle
    It displays all notifications including social media.

Cons

  • No GPS. 
  • Shows all notifications including social media. 
  • The screen itself is a tad on the large side, but we managed.

Customer reviews:

Customers generally enjoyed the tracker and used it for the purposes it was created. Some customers claimed it wasn't waterproof as was suggested by many things. Their customer service received high reviews from anyone who had a problem.


Overall rating:

 4.2 out of 5 stars

No products found.

6. TomTom Spark 3 – TomTom

product photo of TomTom Spark 3

No products found.

Heart Rate Monitor

Yes

Built-in GPS

Yes - no phone required

Battery Life

Three weeks with GPS off; 11 hours with GPS on

Price

$$$

Pros

  • Built-in GPS means you don't have to carry your phone around to know how far you've gone.
  • Music app that lets you listen to and control your music respondent from the tracker.
  • Waterproof and rugged.

Cons

  • Pricey and the screen could be difficult to see in the sunlight.

Customer reviews:

Customers seemed to enjoy the Spark 3. The course mapping feature due to the built-in GPS was a hit. The music storage too seemed to please those who bought it. The cons we found merely had to do with price or lack of function. The battery is drained so quickly by the GPS feature being turned on was a problem as well.


Overall Rating:

4 out of 5 stars.

No products found.

7. Garmin Vivofit​​​​ – Garmin

product photo of Garmin Vivofit – Garmin

No products found.

Heart Rate Monitor

No

Built-in GPS

None

Battery Life

One year

Price

$

Pros

  • This primary tracker gets the job done by motorizing your steps, stairs climbed and the like.
  • Its slim and sleek design makes it easy to wear.
  • Tells you when to move and for how long to keep you moving every hour you are sitting.

Cons

  • Not waterproof or resistant.
  • There are no advanced features like the other products on this list including no heart rate monitor.

Customer reviews:

Customers really liked the price and basic functionality of the Garmin Vivofit. The most significant complaint people appeared to lodge through the forum was the fact the tracker can start to wear out after a while.


Overall rating:

4 out of 5 stars

No products found.

The Verdict

a man reading his fitness tracker watch that he is wearing

In the arena of the activity watches, it appears like Fitbit Blaze and the Samsung Gear were a close one and two. Their distinct features and overwhelming extras made them an excellent choice for those who either wanted to get their first activity tracker or for those who were looking to change things up a bit. The straightforward interface of both trackers is a definite factor, and the fact they are both waterproof is a huge plus. There is a slight edge with the Gear only because it is a smartwatch, and it can read and respond to emails, texts and the like on the watch. However, because the price was so steep, we decided to put the Blaze in the top spot for this particular list. While it too is not the cheapest product on our list, it is the one that made the best impression on us.

After careful thought and consideration, as well as the data and the research gathered, we have decided to name the Fitbit Blaze as the best activity tracker of 2018.

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