Best Fitbit Watches And Trackers for Runners

Last updated: September 4, 2021

GPS Running Watch / Fitbit / Best Fitbit Watches And Trackers for Runners

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When Fitbit hit the market with their fitness trackers it made such a mark that many competitors like Garmin and Polar started upping their game to make sure that they keep up with all the features Fitbit was boasting.

Whilst Fitbit mainly does a great job at creating fitness trackers for multi-sports, it can most definitely be used as a GPS running watch. We’ve done our best to review the best Fitbit watches and trackers and how they can be used with running.

Best Value
Fitbit Luxe
Fitbit Luxe
Value For Fitness
Fitbit Charge 4
Fitbit Charge 4
Best Screen
Fitbit Sense
Fitbit Sense
Best Features
Fitbit Versa 3
Fitbit Versa 3
Best Battery
Fitbit Inspire 2
Fitbit Inspire 2

Best Fitbit Watches & Fitness Trackers for Running Reviewed

We’ve reviewed some of the best Fitbit Watches and Fitness Trackers available available today and compared them against features, purpose, durability, cost and more. Check it out below.

1. Fitbit Luxe

Key Features

  • 26g (0.92oz)
  • Water-resistant up to 50 meters
  • 120-hour (5 days) battery life
  • Comes in multiple colors and designs

Reasons to buy

  • Affordable
  • Lots of features
  • Superb battery life
  • Good companion app
  • Accurate built-in GPS and trackers

Reasons to avoid

  • Doesn’t have an onboard GPS
  • Screen might be too compact for some

If you want a high-end fitness tracker that will improve your running sessions and monitor your data 24/7, the Fitbit Luxe is a great watch to consider. 

The Fitbit Luxe has a slim, ultra-lightweight design that was specifically made to be a fashion piece. It even has several interchangeable bands designed to make it look like jewelry so that you can wear it no matter where you go. Some might prefer a wider screen, though, as this one is made to be compact.

Function-wise, it won’t carry you through marathons or ultra-runs, but it has great features for your everyday fitness goals. It even has a decent battery life of 120 hours, enough to last you about 5 days before it needs to be recharged.

One of its best features is its accurate wrist-based heart rate sensor that can track when and how hard you work. It also features 20 exercise modes (including runs and walks), a step counter, calorie burns, and other physical metrics.

Fitbit Luxe also has excellent sleep tracking and stress management functions. Since you’re expected to wear it 24/7, the watch will advise you of your overall stress levels by calculating various physical metrics like heart rate, physical activity, and rest. It can even cycle you through different breathing exercises when it senses that you’re feeling too wound up.

However, the lack of a built-in GPS might be a turn-off for most outdoor runners. If you still want to use it outside, you can connect it to your phone’s GPS.

All told, although you probably won’t be relying on a Fitbit to win big races, this watch is one of the best everyday fitness trackers on the market, especially for beginners or hobby runners.

2. Fitbit Charge 4

Key Features

  • 30g (1.06oz)
  • Water-resistant up to 50 meters
  • 5 hours battery life with GPS enabled
  • 168 hours battery life on regular mode
  • Connects via Bluetooth and WiFi

Reasons to buy

  • Accurate on-board GPS
  • Supports Spotify Premium
  • Active Zone feature can optimize your runs
  • Heart rate variation display during navigation
  • Fitness and workout push notifications

Reasons to avoid

  • Extremely short battery life with GPS enabled

Compared to the Fitbit Luxe, the Fitbit Charge 4 is designed more for function rather than form. It has a sharp, modern look with a minimally designed angular display screen and a subtle strap. All-in-all, it exudes a more sporty vibe than the Luxe but still looks great even when worn outside the gym.

When it comes to features, the Fitbit Charge 4 has a lot more offerings than the Luxe. For one, it has an onboard GPS, something that is missing in the Luxe.

Outdoor and trail runners might find this model more preferable since it allows them their route, track pace, and distance without needing to consult their phones every step. The navigation screen displays your heart rate as well, letting you see how you fare on various terrains.

The Fitbit Charge 4 also has the Active Zone feature, which tracks how long you spend in specific heart rate “zones” to help you optimize your exercise sessions. Its 24/7 activity tracking feature can monitor steps, calories, and even rest and recovery stats. Notifications are sent when the watch detects that you’ve been inactive for too long. If you reach your heart zone goals, you’ll also receive a notification congratulating you for the achievement.

Like many other smartwatches, the Charge 4 has a comprehensive set of modern features.  As mentioned above, you can get push notifications sent straight to your watch, and you can even control Spotify Premium.

Of course, it’s also possible to sync it to the Fitbit app, allowing you to track your progress and gain deeper insights right from your dashboard.

However, although its battery life is quite good at 168 hours, this number drops down to just 5 hours with GPS enabled. While this may be acceptable for hobbyists and beginner runners, those looking forward to using this for outdoor activities like camping or off-trail running will likely find this a significant inconvenience.

With more robust features than the Fitbit Luxe, the Charge 4 is a beginner-friendly running watch to have.

3. Fitbit Sense

Key Features

  • 30g (1.06oz)
  • Water-resistant up to 50 meters
  • Bluetooth and WiFi connectivity
  • 12 hours battery life on GPS mode
  • 144 hours (6 days) on regular mode

Reasons to buy

  • Fast-charging
  • Has a built-in GPS
  • Detailed sleep and rest analysis
  • A decent set of performance sensors
  • Convenient and versatile smartphone features

Reasons to avoid

  • Minimal sports modes
  • Doesn’t offer other common performance metrics

The Fitbit Sense feels more like a smartwatch with fitness tracking features than an actual fitness tracker, but don’t let that stop you from picking this up to use as your running companion.

In terms of aesthetics, the Sense features Fitbit’s trademark ultra-modern, minimalist design. It has a rounded square display screen that’s perfectly framed by a thin bezel. Size-wise, the screen is a bit larger than both the Charge 4 and the Luxe. Its understated silicone strap is comfortable yet secure, with a quick-release mechanism that makes it much easier to install interchangeable straps.

The Fitbit Sense also has an adequate set of performance tracking features. You have a built-in GPS that measures pace and distance, an oxygen saturation sensor (SpO2), a step counter, and a calorie-burn counter.

Where Fitbit really stands out as a brand is its health and wellness features, and in this aspect, the Fitbit Sense doesn’t disappoint. It has complete rest and recovery tracking, temperature sensor, stress management, and heart health notification features, which is very helpful for runners who are serious about maintaining their health.

It also has a ton of modern smartwatch features, such as push notifications, voice assistants (Alexa and Google), music storage and controls, and even touchless pay. Lastly, it has an average battery life of about six days (144 hours) on regular mode and 12 hours on GPS mode, but the blazing-fast 12-minute charging time for a full day’s charge makes it all worthwhile.

If you’re looking for a watch strictly for improving specific aspects of your runs, the Fitbit Sense probably isn’t it. But if you’re just looking to condition your body and have a decent running tracker, then the Fitbit Sense should be right up your alley.

4. Fitbit Versa 3

Key Features

  • 23g (0.81oz)
  • Offered in 4 colors
  • Water-resistant up to 50 meters
  • Connects via Bluetooth and WiFi
  • 12 hours battery life on GPS mode
  • 144 hours battery life on regular mode

Reasons to buy

  • Reasonable price
  • Full smartwatch capabilities
  • Active Zones to optimize workout times
  • Inactivity and exercise notifications
  • Excellent rest and recovery tracking and analytics

Reasons to avoid

  • No in-depth performance metrics

Although the Fitbit Versa 3 is somewhat similar to the Fitbit Sense in looks and feel, it offers more value to runners when it comes to features.

As mentioned, the Fitbit Versa 3 looks a lot like the Sense: the same rounded-square watch face, the same minimalist design, and the same comfortable and versatile infinity band. When it comes to function, however, the Versa 3 combines Sense’s health and wellness insights and the Charge 4’s more performance-oriented features.

It has a built-in GPS navigation that allows you to measure pace and distance, step counters, and blood oxygen saturation (SpO2). Its Active Zones feature creates a personal heart rate goal and tracks how long you stay in that zone. You also get various activity notifications during times of inactivity or workouts, including a gentle buzz when you’ve gone over your Active Zone threshold.

Other than those, it has Fitbit’s usual strong set of smartwatch features: touchless pay, Alexa and Google Assistant, Spotify controls, downloadable apps, and third-party app integration. Battery life is the same as the Sense at 144 hours, and it charges just as fast, too.

Overall, the Fitbit Versa 3 is a brilliant combination of health and wellness and sports performance, perfect for those looking to seriously improve their stats without the complications of detailed data tracking.

5. Fitbit Inspire 2

Key Features

  • 30g (1.06oz)
  • Water-resistant up to 50m
  • 10 days (240 hours) battery life
  • Connects via Bluetooth and WiFi

Reasons to buy

  • Affordable price
  • Relatively long battery life
  • Basic performance monitoring
  • Adequate goal-setting and tracking

Reasons to avoid

  • No features for serious runners
  • No built-in GPS

If you’re in the market for something basic, the Fitbit Inspire 2 is a simple watch that is still a significant upgrade to its predecessor.

In terms of aesthetics, the Fitbit Inspire 2 looks like a cross between the Luxe and the Charge 4. However, it’s thinner and smaller than both, with a narrower screen display thicker than the previous Fitbit Inspire. It also has an understated silicone band with a stainless steel buckle to keep it safe at all times.

As mentioned above, the watch covers all the basics wonderfully. It has 24/7 activity tracking, which measures steps and calories, among many others. It also has Fitbit’s signature heart rate zone that tells you when you’re working at your peak and rewards you for pushing yourself to the limits.

With a battery life that can last about 240 hours (10 days), the Fitbit Inspire 2 is one of the longest-lasting watches on this list. That said, the Fitbit Inspire doesn’t have a built-in GPS, so if you want to use it for navigation, you’ll have to connect it to a GPS-enabled phone.

Ultimately, while the Fitbit Inspire 2 may not be the most groundbreaking Fitbit on the market right now, it does work excellently as a basic fitness tracker. If you’re just starting to discover the wonderful world of running, this watch will inspire you to do more without overwhelming you with unnecessary features.

6. Fitbit Inspire HR

Key Features

  • 20g (0.704oz)
  • Water-resistant up to 50m
  • Has multiple designs
  • 5 days (120 hours) battery life
  • Connects via Bluetooth and WiFi

Reasons to buy

  • 15+ exercise modes
  • Can display heart zones
  • More accurate sleep tracking
  • Has a 24/7 heart rate monitor
  • Interchangeable bands with the Fitbit Inspire 2

Reasons to avoid

  • Plain design with too-thin screens
  • Not a multifunctional sports watch

A slightly done-up version of the Fitbit Inspire 2, the Fitbit Inspire HR has one additional feature that will surely improve the quality of your runs.

Looks-wise, the Fitbit Inspire HR doesn’t differ all that much from the Fitbit Inspire 2. It has the same plain, lightweight design, the same watch shape, and even the same band. In fact, you can use your Inspire 2 bands with the Inspire HR and vice versa.

It has the Inspire 2’s typical performance tracking: step count, calories, activity time, and rough distance. It also has the same rudimentary goal-setting technology that runners can use to jumpstart their sessions.

That said, the Fitbit Inspire HR has more features than the Inspire 2. As the name implies, the Fitbit Inspire HR has a 24/7 heart rate monitor, as well as a heart rate zone program that tells you when you’re at your peak.

Another improvement over the Inspire 2 is sleep monitoring. The Inspire 2 can only track how long you slept, but the Inspire HR goes further than that and differentiates your sleep between light, deep, and REM sleep phases. This can help you better understand your body’s rest and recovery routines.

It also has more than 15 exercise modes, including running, that you can use to set targets and goals. Battery life is only 120 hours (5 days), but that’s typical of most Fitbits.

The Fitbit Inspire may not be a fully-fledged performance watch, but it’s pretty close. Beginner runners will appreciate its no-frills approach to fitness in addition to the few essential elements that the first two Inspires didn’t have.

7. Fitbit Versa Lite

Key Features

  • 22.9g (0.8oz)
  • 96 hours (4 days) of battery life
  • Water-resistant up to 50 meters
  • Connects via Bluetooth and WiFi

Reasons to buy

  • Very lightweight
  • Decent price
  • Interchangeable bands with the Versa 3
  • More running-oriented features

Reasons to avoid

  • No GPS
  • Reduced battery life

What if you wanted the Fitbit Versa 3’s excellent performance trackers for your runs, but you have no need for all its extra wellness and smartwatch features? Enter the Fitbit Versa Lite.

In terms of design, it doesn’t differ a lot from the Versa 3 at all, except perhaps for the small Fitbit logo on the bottom of the screen. Other than that, the two models look pretty much identical, down to the interchangeable bands.

When it comes to features, the Versa Lite has the same core features as the Versa 3, such as 24/7 heart rate tracking. You can also monitor how your runs affect your body, track and set exercise goals in the companion app, monitor your sleep, and wirelessly connect with third-party apps such as Fitbit or Strava.

In exchange for a slightly more affordable price, the Versa Lite doesn’t have a built-in GPS, although you can still track your runs by connecting it to your smartphone. The smartwatch functionalities on the Versa 3 such as music storage and touchless pay were also removed.

Unfortunately, the Versa Lite also gets a surprising reduction in battery life. Instead of the 144-hour battery life on the Versa 3, the Versa Lite can only last up to 96 hours on a single charge.

That said, if you’re looking for a relatively more affordable Fitbit and don’t really need all the extras, then the Versa Lite is a solid choice.

8. Fitbit Versa 2

Key Features

  • 39.9g (1.41oz)
  • 144 hours (6 days) battery life
  • Water-resistant up to 50m
  • Connects via Bluetooth and WiFi
  • Offered in 6 variations

Reasons to buy

  • Reliable sleep tracking
  • Smart and stylish design
  • Complete smartwatch features
  • An adequate set of performance trackers
  • More affordable compared to the Versa 3

Reasons to avoid

  • Lacked a built-in GPS
  • Somewhat dated look

The predecessor of the excellent Versa 3, the Fitbit Versa 2 is a competent fitness tracker in its own right.

Of course, being an older model, the Versa 2 has a slightly more dated look than the Versa 3, although the differences might as well be negligible. The case is a bit thicker, the bezels more prominent, and the strap has a more traditional metal lock design instead of the quick-release design that the Versa 3 has. Nevertheless, the Versa 2 still looks smart and stylish.

In terms of performance tracking, the Versa 2 has all the core features that make Versa 3 great: 24/7 heart rate monitoring, step tracking, distance, calories, and time spent being active. It doesn’t have a built-in GPS, unlike the Versa 3, which we think it should have for the price you’re paying.

One of its best features is sleep monitoring. Like the Versa 3, this watch can track your sleep down to the light, deep, and REM sleep levels. It can also measure the time you spent awake and even set an alarm for your optimal waking time based on those data. This can help you properly condition your body for your daily runs.

Aside from that, you have a full smartwatch function with smart notifications, Fitbit Pay, a built-in Alexa voice assistant, Spotify and Pandora support, and 6-day battery life.

If you’re a casual runner, the Versa 2 can help you keep your body active and well-rested, ultimately improving your runs.

9. Fitbit Inspire

Key Features

  • 98g (3.46oz)
  • Water-resistant
  • Has multiple designs
  • Connects via Bluetooth
  • 120 hours (5 days) battery life

Reasons to buy

  • Very affordable price
  • Basic sleep tracking
  • Basic performance monitoring
  • Basic goal-setting and tracking

Reasons to avoid

  • Battery life isn’t that great
  • Not a functional sports watch

The Fitbit Inspire is fitness tracking at its core – and its cheapest.

It looks very similar to the other Inspire models, with an all-plastic watch case and a removable silicone band that you can replace with plenty of different-styled straps.

Function-wise, it’s understandably a step below the Inspire HR or Inspire 2. It does allow you to track your step count, calories expended, time spent being active, and a rough calculation of the distance from those factors, though. Using these, the Fitbit Inspire can create rudimentary fitness goals and congratulate you whenever you achieve those goals.

It also has basic sleep tracking. Although it’s far behind what normal sleep trackers offer nowadays, it’s still great to have at this price point.

Lastly, the Fitbit Inspire can show notifications straight from your phone. It’s not limited to SMS or chats, too. Whatever notification appears on your phone appears on your Fitbit’s screen, albeit in a fairly basic presentation.

The only real downside we can see for its price is the battery life. Even though it consumes a minimal amount of power, its battery life is still a relatively paltry 120 hours.

We concede that the Fitbit Inspire probably won’t satisfy most serious runners since it feels more like a glorified step counter than anything. However, it does have great step tracking features, and the motivational notifications might just be what beginner runners need to get to the tracks.

10. Fitbit Ionic

Key Features

  • 295g (10.4oz)
  • Water-resistant up to 50 meters
  • Connects via Bluetooth and WiFi

Reasons to buy

  • Clean retro aesthetics
  • Has an on-board GPS
  • More fitness-oriented than most models
  • Can reliably track common fitness metrics

Reasons to avoid

  • Dated smartwatch functions
  • Heavy weight

As the first true smartwatch slash fitness tracker from Fitbit, the Fitbit Ionic was an important stepping stone for the brand’s future success. If you’re buying a Fitbit in the 2020s, though, the Ionic might not be your first choice.

The Ionic has a unique screen design that is not present on the more recent Fitbit fitness trackers. It rocks the retro style with clean lines, sharp edges, and thick bezels. The strap design, too, looks a bit dated, though not necessarily unappealing.

The Fitbit Ionic can track all the basics: heart rate, steps, pace, distance, and calories burned. It even has an onboard GPS to map your runs and see how your routes affect your stats.

One thing we appreciate is its automatic start and stop function for the tracking features. For instance, the watch will automatically pause tracking if it detects that you’ve stopped running and resume only when you do. It can do this for multiple tracking modes as well.

Another standout function is personal coaching. The Ionic can play several pre-programmed workout sessions and show you how to do it right on your wrist.

As a smartwatch, it’s certainly not the best, but it’s decent enough. You can enable notifications, download 2GB worth of music and apps, and use touchless pay. Battery life is slightly disappointing at 96 hours, though.

Just like most of the other watches on this list, the Ionic won’t win you any competitions – but it can get you off your seat and into the track.

How to Choose the Best Fitbit Watches Or Trackers for Runners

Fitbit is known for creating top-of-the-line fitness trackers that focus on overall wellness and convenience. Although it’s not designed specifically for running, beginner and hobby runners can still benefit greatly from everything that Fitbit’s fitness trackers can offer.

For instance, Fitbits work very well as a general physique watch that newbie runners can use for physical conditioning or exercise.

The most versatile and stylish of them all is, of course, the Fitbit Luxe. Designed to be worn 24/7, you can bring the Luxe from the gym all the way to a black-tie event, courtesy of its luxurious aesthetics and multiple strap designs.

If you need something good at monitoring your stats, the Charge 4 and the Versa 3 are good picks. If you want something to help you manage your stress, you can get that and more with Fitbit Sense. Lastly, if all you want is something to count your steps and ensure that you’re living a fit life, the Fitbit Inspire 2 is a great choice.

Frequently Asked Questions

Which Fitbit is the most accurate?

Fitbits are definitely among the best fitness trackers when it comes to monitoring physical metrics, such as heart rate and SpO2. That said, Fitbits have virtually the same level of accuracy, so you’re safe picking anything you might like.

What is the best Fitbit for women?

When it comes to physical monitoring, women will appreciate the additional features that Fitbit Versa 3 offers. In addition to its various features related to fitness, it also includes menstrual health tracking, allowing you to log your periods, note symptoms, and track your ovulation patterns.

Should you wear your Fitbit to bed?

Fitbits are designed to be worn all the time. These watches will measure physical stats such as resting heart rate and sleep levels while you’re asleep and use those measurements to give you relevant advice.

Conclusion

Although not always true running watch, Fitbit watches are some of the most widely-used fitness trackers around. With their solid tools and thoughtful features, it’s not hard to see why.

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