Fitness trackers are a great gift for yourself, or for someone you love. They’re an ideal gift for athletes who are trying to train harder and push themselves further. They’re also a thoughtful gift idea for anyone who needs a helping hand losing weight, particularly those recovering from a health scare, or for women who have expressed a desire for some help losing weight after pregnancy. Giving someone a fitness tracker shows that you care about them, and want them to be a part of your life for years to come. But with dozens of different fitness trackers on the market, finding the perfect fitness wristband to give as a gift is a tall order. That’s why we’ve put together a list of fitness trackers, with recommendations to help you match your lucky giftee with the best possible tracker for their needs. Whether you’re shopping for yourself, a marathon runner, a new mom, your parents, your partner, or even a grandparent, there’s something on our list that will help people train harder and train smarter. You can browse top-rated fitness trackers on sale here, or read on to see our carefully curated list of the best fitness trackers for your unique needs.
1. Best Fitbit Fitness Tracker: Fitbit Alta
Fitbit is arguably the most recognized brand of tracker out there. Shopping for a Fitbit loyalist who is looking to upgrade from a Flex or Charge wristband? The Fitbit Alta, introduced earlier this year, is a standout choice for a Fitbit fanatic. The Alta strikes a nice balance between modern features and the classic, slim look of Fitbits past. The Alta lets you track steps, distance, calories burned, and active minutes throughout the day. In addition, you can get call, text, and calendar notifications on the band, though only when the band is close to your smartphone.
We also like that you can customize the Alta’s look with different bands. The Alta’s battery is estimated to last about five days between charges, though some users have reported getting as many as eight days on a single charge. MacWorld gave this wearable a 4.5/5 star review.
Think your gift recipient might prefer a fitness wristband with a robust touchscreen? Another new Fitbit model to consider is the Fitbit Blaze, which boasts a colorful touchscreen, heart rate monitoring, and connected GPS. You may also be interested in reading our Fitbit comparison guide, which outlines the benefits of each Fitbit on sale in 2016.
While Fitbit may be the most recognizable name in fitness trackers, there are a couple of caveats to keep in mind. Firstly is the company’s past history with skin complaints. Over the years, several different Fitbit models have been tied to skin irritation and rashes. While these issues only affected a small amount of users, it may be prudent to avoid Fitbit models if you’re shopping for someone with extremely sensitive skin. In addition, TIME reported earlier this year that some consumers were suing Fitbit over claims that the devices provided inaccurate data.
This fitness wristband is recommended for: Fitbit brand loyalists, first time fitness tracker owners, folks with light-to-moderate activity levels.
2. Most Accurate Fitness Watch: Apple Watch
Shopping for someone who needs really accurate fitness data? Many on-wrist fitness trackers fall short of the mark when a person starts to exercise hard, and inaccurate data makes it harder to train effectively (to say nothing of potential health hazards from over-exertion). The Apple Watch was recently studied in a clinical setting, and found to be one of the most accurate fitness wearables. According to 9to5Mac, a Cleveland Clinic study found that the Apple Watch was nearly as accurate as medical equipment when it came to heart rate measurements. It’s worth noting that another wearable, the Mio Fuse, did almost as well as the Apple Watch. We’ll talk more about that wearable later in our gift guide.
The Apple Watch is ideal for folks that use iOS devices, and who have expressed an interest in smartwatches. Fitness apps available on the Apple Watch include Strava, Fitstar Yoga, Nike+ Running, Map My Run, Spring, and Carrot Fit. Accessing multiple apps makes this fitness tracker great for people who have a varied exercise routine. It’s also nice to be able to get messages and other notifications sent right to your wrist during a workout.
The Apple Watch is ideal for people who want all day activity tracking, rather than a sport-specific wearable that they throw on for a specific workout and then take off. The biggest complaint about the Apple Watch is battery life, since this wearable does need to be charged every night, unlike some other fitness bands out there that can last for up to a week on a single charge. The high price can also be a turn-off for some, especially those working on a tight budget this holiday season. However, accurate heart rate data is a huge perk of this wearable that can’t be underestimated. Since some fitness trackers tend to offer less reliable HR data the harder you’re pushing yourself, accurate heart rate data is essential to keep older users and unhealthy users working out at an intensity that is safe for them.
There are multiple Apple Watch styles out there. The newest Apple Watch line is the Series 2. While more powerful than Series 1 watches, the body is virtually identical to older Apple Watch models. Either option would be a nice gift for Christmas, though the Series 2 watches do have an edge when it comes to screen brightness and water resistance. In terms of looks, both the Series 1 and 2 watches come in a variety of band styles and case materials, so it’s easy to find a combination that will suit their tastes. You can always pick up some Apple Watch accessories or Apple Watch replacement bands to make your gift more personalized. Tech Radar gives the new Series 2 watches a 4/5 star rating.
This fitness wristband is recommended for: Apple loyalists, those who can’t decide between a smartwatch and a fitness band, those who require accurate heart rate monitoring.
Price: $269 and up, depending on series and styles selected
3. Best Fitness Wristband Under $100: Mio FUSE
Remember that Cleveland Clinic study we talked about earlier? The one where the Apple Watch was named the most accurate fitness tracker when it came to HR monitoring? Well, the same study also gave high marks to another wearable, the Mio FUSE band. You can get all the details of the study from JAMA Cardiology, but what you need to know is that the Mio was almost as accurate as the Apple Watch, and significantly more accurate than other bands tested in the same study. So if you’re looking for a super-accurate tracker at an affordable price, we recommend the FUSE band. This wearable scored a 4.5/5 rating from PC Mag.
The FUSE is water-resistant to 100 feet. The perforated band helps skin to breathe, which can help reduce skin irritation for those with sensitive skin, or those who wear the band for extended workout sessions. FUSE transmits your heart rate via Bluetooth 4.0 and ANT+, so you can display and store heart rate on your phone, bike computer, or other compatible devices. You can also share heart rate data with apps like Strava, MapMyRun, RunKeeper, Endomondo, Wahoo Fitness, and Pear Sports. The FUSE can store up to 30 hours of workout data.
In terms of drawbacks, some users may dislike the relatively simple display. The five-color LED and vibration alerts work together to give you a quick indication of your heart rate zone, but other than that it’s not a particularly dynamic display. You’re not getting a flashy touchscreen like you’d get on the Apple Watch or the Fitbit Blaze. That being said, the fact that you can’t get call or text notifications is kind of nice, if you’re the kind of person who likes to eliminate distractions while working out.
Mio FUSE is available in two sizes. The small/medium band fits wrists between 5.8 inches and seven inches. The Large band fits wrists between 6.1 inches and 8.2 inches. The battery lasts about seven days, depending on length and frequency of your workouts.
This fitness wristband is recommended for: Anyone who wants accurate heart rate readings without having to wear a chest band or pay through the nose for an Apple Watch.
Price: $67.98 and up, depending on size and color selected
4. Best Tracker & Chest Strap Bundle: Garmin Vívofit 2 Bundle With Heart Rate Monitor
A lot of fitness trackers come bundled with a chest strap, to get the most accurate heart rate readings. The Garmin vívofit 2 is one such tracker, and opting to use it with a chest strap will get you readings that are as accurate as possible. Chest strap heart rate monitors are generally more accurate than on-wrist HR monitors.
Aside from the chest strap, we like the Garmin vívofit 2 because it has a “move bar” that reminds you to be active throughout the day. There’s also a backlit display, which is nice for checking your stats during a nighttime run. And if you hate having to recharge multiple times per week, you’ll like the non-rechargeable battery, which lasts about one year before needing to be replaced. This wearable is water-resistant to 50 meters. This fitness wristband scored an 8/10 from Tom’s Guide.
This fitness wristband is recommended for: Runners, athletes, or those trying to get back into shape.
Price: $88.95 for the bundle ($59.99 for the tracker alone)
5. Best Fitness Wristband for Swimmers: Moov Now
You might be tempted to skip over this recommendation if you don’t know any swimmers, but the Moov Now is also great for runners, cardio boxers, and cyclists. However, it’s especially hard to find a wearable that is up to the tough demands of swimming, which is why we especially like this fitness wristband for athletes who spend a lot of time in the water. But no matter which exercise you like best, there’s a good chance the Moov can help you get better at it.
Designed to be worn on your wrist or ankle (depending on your chosen activity for the day), the Moov Now’s big claim to fame is real time coaching. It offers real-time audio feedback to help you improve your form and reduce your risk of injury. The battery lasts for up to six months, and the device is waterproof. The big selling point here is the Omni Motion sensor, which uses three times the sensors found in basic fitness trackers. This lets the wearable interpret your motion in 3D, which is why it can give such fast form feedback in real time. Wareable.com gave the Moov Now tracker 4.5 out of five stars.
If you’re looking for an alternative tracker that’s also nice for swimmers, we also recommend the Garmin Swim Watch. If you’re shopping for someone who doesn’t swim at all, you might be interested in recommendations from our guide to the best running watches.
This fitness wristband is recommended for: Swimmers, triathletes, or runners who are looking to prevent injuries and improve their form.
6. Best Fitness Wristband With Body Composition Monitoring: TomTom Touch
Part of the reason it’s so hard to pick a fitness tracker is that almost every fitness tracker on the market has the same core features: step counting, activity monitoring, sleep tracking, and calories burned. This TomTom wearable does all that, plus heart rate monitoring and smartphone notifications, two feature sets that are also becoming fairly common. But there is a standout feature that makes this wearable really unique: a body composition monitor.
The body composition feature will let you know how much of your body weight is muscle, and how much is fat. Tracking these changes over time is a great way to stay motivated, and see how your current exercise plan is impacting your body over time. Gadget Flow gave this fitness wristband a perfect score, and if you’re shopping for someone who is overweight or trying to get their old body back after pregnancy or injury, you’re likely to agree with their assessment.
This fitness wristband is recommended for: Those who want to lose weight, build muscle, and keep tabs on their body composition as they continue on their fitness journey.
7. Best Fitness Wristband Under $50: Xiaomi Mi Band 2
Okay, so technically this tracker retails for $79.99, but it can often be found online for less than $50. Xiaomi may not have the brand cache of Fitbit, at least not in the US, but Xiaomi’s Mi Band 2 is an affordable alternative to the Fitbit line. This wearable is rated IP67 for water and dust resistance. The battery life can be up to 20 days. While the heart rate monitor isn’t the most accurate on the market, this tracker does a fine job with basic sleep tracking and activity monitoring. Some reviewers dislike the app interface, but if you’re looking for a basic, simple experience, it should be sufficient for your needs. Android Authority gave this wearable a 7.6 out of 10.
This fitness wristband is recommended for: Casual exercisers on a budget.
Price: $40.88 (49 percent off MSRP)
8. Most Elegant Fitness Wristband: Withings Activité Steel
Shopping for someone who doesn’t like the “rubber band” look of typical fitness trackers? This elegant steel smartwatch is a nice alternative. The Withings Activité Steel fitness watch has a professional look and feel. It tracks sleep, offers real-time coaching advice during workouts, and monitors steps, distance, swim, run routes and total calories burned. This watch has a 316L stainless steel case, chrome hands and a soft silicone sport strap. Wareable.com gave this tracker 4/5 stars. Looking for a cheaper alternative? You could opt for the $80 Withings Go, which Wareable gave a 3.5 star rating.
This fitness wristband is recommended for: People who hit the gym at lunch, and want a wearable that transitions easily from fitness center to boardroom.
9. Best Fashionable Fitness Wristband: Misfit Ray
The Misfit Ray is one of the most attractive fitness trackers out there. It’s available in a wide variety of colors, along with multiple band materials. Colors include gold, rose gold, forest green, and navy blue. It can be worn on the wrist, or attached to a necklace. The battery is designed to last six months before being replaced. In their review of the Ray, the Verge highlighted its simple, minimalist design, and gave the wearable a 7/10 score.
If you’re looking for a fitness tracker without a distracting display, this may be the right option for you. However, if you think your recipient will really prize features like GPS and heart rate monitoring, look elsewhere.
This fitness wristband is recommended for: Those who want a fitness tracker that looks more like jewelry, and less like a gadget.
Price: $99.99 and up, depending on band style selected
10. Best Fitness Wristband for Weight Lifting: Atlas Wristband 2
This fitness tracker doesn’t look like anything else on our list, and with good reason. The unusually wide screen is designed to fully display the long names of certain exercises. While it may look a little odd, this tracker is actually a nice option for those who spend a lot of time at the gym. The wearable features Adaptive Motion Tracking™ technology, designed to automatically detect every exercise a person does, and also pick up on every repetition of that movement. It is water-resistant to 30 meters. With automatic rep counting and form analysis, this tracker is positioned as a top choice for weightlifters. A cool feature is the vibration alter, which nudges you when you have competed a set, and then alerts you again when you’ve rested sufficiently to begin the next set of reps.
Atlas calculates your ideal target zone to reflect your fitness goals, be it to tone existing muscles, bulk up, or slim down. The device provides free curated workouts to keep things fresh. In their review of the Atlas 2, TechCrunch called the device an “odd-looking thing” and “cost-prohibitive for casual users” but went on to praise the device’s quality of tracking and “bevy of sensors.”
All that being said, this wearable may not be the best choice for those who mix a lot of cardio in with their strength training, or those who can’t get over the unusual shape. However, for those who need a waterproof wearable for activities like CrossFit, HIIT, and swimming, this is a solid choice. The price does mean that you either really need to like the person you’re gifting, or that person needs to have a serious dedication to hitting the gym every day for extended periods.
This fitness wristband is recommended for: Strength training and body building enthusiasts.
Need help finding great gifts for your friends and family? Visit our Gifts page for thoughtfully curated gift guides, or check out our Toys page for gift ideas for your kids. You may also be interested in our mega gift guides where we recommend over 100 great gifts for women and gifts for men. Need some Christmas ornaments, too? Check out our guide to the best funny Christmas ornaments. And if you’re looking for gifts for the whole family, check out our guide to the best family gifts. Looking for small gift ideas? Get inspired by our list of the best small gifts for Christmas.