Activity trackers are meant to be worn almost constantly. After all, how can a tracker do its job if you take it off to go for a swim and then forget to put it back on again? So you'd think that most activity trackers would be waterproof—but you'd be wrong.
Many popular activity trackers and smartwatches, like the Nike+ FuelBand SE, the Apple Watch, and Fitbit's entire lineup, are water-resistant, but not waterproof. This means they'll be fine if you get caught in the rain or work up an impressive sweat, but you probably shouldn't subject them to a lengthy shower. And you definitely shouldn't swim with them or wear them in situations where you might end up underwater (such as while you're parasailing). Not exactly ideal for active people who live near the beach, to say the least.
Bottom line: Your fitness tracker should be something you can wear all the time, whether you're swimming or sleeping. And these five top-rated waterproof trackers are perfect for all-purpose, 24/7 wear.
The Best of the Best: Moov Now
While most activity trackers on the market are aimed at sedentary office workers looking to introduce a little more movement (in the form of steps) into their lives, the Moov Now is pure fitness tracker. This small, slim disc can be worn on the wrist or ankle, and features a special nine-axis Omni Motion sensor for tracking specific movements during specific workouts, such as running posture and cadence. Although the Moov Now is targeted at athletes looking for a workout companion, it's also perfect for 24/7 wear. It tracks steps, calories, and sleep; it runs on a replaceable watch battery (so you get six months, rather than a week and change, of battery life); and it's waterproof to depths of 30 meters, and dustproof when you shift from wet environments to dry ones.
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In lieu of a screen, the Moov Now has a small LED indicator light, so you have to rely heavily on the Moov companion app to view and track your progress. But the Moov app is more than just a data mine—it also houses Moov's flagship feature: workout coaching. The app uses the Moov Now's extra-accurate ability to sense three-dimensional movement to track you through running/walking, boxing, cycling, and swimming workouts, with a real-time audio coach that provides feedback and motivation. There's even a 7-minute workout option for when you want something quick and (relatively) easy.
The Moov Now isn't just waterproof; it's ruggedized and designed for swimmers. Many activity trackers that manufacturers call waterproof are rated for pressure but not movement through water, or are not fully immersible. They're fine for when you wash your hands or get caught in the rain, but not so great for watersports or even an heavy downpour. You won't have to worry about this with the Now, however, because this fitness tracker is perfectly pool-safe and even tracks swimming as a separate activity.
Here are our runner ups.
Garmin Vivosmart HR
The Garmin Vivosmart HR has something for everyone: activity tracking, heart-rate monitoring, an always-on touchscreen, and (limited) smartwatch features. It's also waterproof, with a water rating of 5 ATM, which means it can withstand water pressure to depths of 50 meters. Water pressure is different from ruggedization, though, and its water rating doesn't necessarily mean that the Vivosmart HR can withstand moving water. Still, Garmin says that you can safely wear the Vivosmart HR in the shower or while swimming.
The Vivosmart HR is designed for everyday tracking rather than for workout-specific tracking, but you can connect it with other Garmin or third-party sensors (such as bike sensors) for more-accurate tracking. Although this tracker fits the bill as a 24/7 wearable, its rechargeable battery lasts only about a week on a full charge (we'll blame the touchscreen and the constant heart-rate monitoring). It's not quite a smartwatch, but you'll appreciate the convenient phone notifications and vibrating alarms when you're doing laps.
TomTom Spark Cardio + Music
The TomTom Spark Cardio + Music comes very close to qualifying as a smartwatch, so let's call it a 24/7 fitness watch instead. This wearable features activity-specific tracking (including swimming and sleep), built-in GPS and heart-rate monitoring, and built-in music storage and playback. It's also waterproof, though the optical heart-rate monitor will not work in the water. (You can use a chest strap, if you're so inclined.)
The Spark Cardio + Music is a bit bulky because it's a watch, but its flagship feature will appeal to people who don't like to be tied to their smartphone. The watch has an impressive 3GB of storage space for music (far more than the Apple Watch's 1GB), and it can stream music to any pair of wireless Bluetooth headphones (including underwater headphones). As a result, you can go for a run unencumbered by wires or by your smartphone—a huge plus if you happen to like running in the rain.
The Misfit Shine looks and feels like the Moov Now (it's a small, circular disc that you can fit into an array of straps and clips, and it runs on a replaceable watch battery), but it's aimed at casual, rather than sports-oriented, users. The Shine is probably the only activity tracker that I'd call pretty, thanks to its smooth, brushed metal finish (which comes in multiple colors) and the company's focus on jewelry-like accessories.
The Shine is an excellent all-day activity tracker, and it tracks sleep automatically, so you don't have to put it in sleep mode to start logging your hours. It's also waterproof to a depth of 50 meters (it doesn't have specific swim-tracking capabilities, but Misfit's $80 Speedo Shine does), and it comes with a magnetic clip as well as a wristband so you can wear it discreetly if necessary. While the Shine was an all-around winner in terms of design and aesthetics, its successor, reviewers found the Shine 2 less impressive. The Shine 2 is very similar to the Shine, but it has a few additional features such as support for capacitive touch (swiping, instead of just tapping) and the ability to control your music and receive phone notifications.
Polar Loop 2
Other activity trackers in our roundup have a watchlike aesthetic (even the Moov Now and the Misfit Shine are more watch than bracelet), but the Polar Loop 2 looks more like a typical activity tracker. The Loop 2 is a soft, silicone wristband, similar to Nike's Nike+ FuelBand SE or Jawbone's Up4, that wraps around your wrist and comes in a variety of fun colors. It's not terribly stylish—unless fitness tracking is the trend you want to show off—but it is waterproof (to 20 meters deep), unlike similar-style trackers.
Despite being a bit bulky for everyday wear, the Loop 2 is ultra-comfy; and it tracks activity and sleep, so it's a great all-day tracker. It also has a handy marquee-style LED display that shows your activity (steps and calories), the time, and very limited smartphone notifications (for example, it can notify you that you got a text message, but it can't display the text message itself). The Loop 2 doesn't track elevation, nor does it have a built-in heart-rate monitor, but you can pair it with chest-strap monitors if you want the extra data. The Loop 2 has a rechargeable battery and lasts for up to eight days—a decent figure, but nowhere near the longevity of watch-battery-based trackers.