Fitbit is arguably the most well-known fitness tracker brand, but the company has come under fire several times in recent years. In 2014, Fitbit issued a voluntary recall of their Fitbit Force fitness tracker. The recall happened after a small number of Force owners reported rashes and contact dermatitis after wearing the tracker. As we reported then, under two percent of Fitbit Force owners reported skin irritation.
And then in 2015, Fitbit came under fire again after consumers reported more skin problems after wearing the fitness trackers. Yahoo’s Alyssa Bereznak caused a stir when she posted pictures on Twitter which show the skin rash she got after wearing a Fitbit Charge fitness tracker.
Fitbit blames the rashes on a variety of causes. Fitbit argues that people are wearing their bands too tightly, or that perhaps skin irritants like sweat and soap are being trapped under the band. Fitbit tells people that the rash will go away after a few hours or days without wearing the tracker. However, Bereznak and others have noted that not wearing a tracker for that length of time sort of defeats the purpose of having a tracker in the first place.
It’s been a while since similar issues with today’s Fitbits dominated the headlines. That being said, cautious consumers with sensitive skin are still a bit concerned about forking over their hard-earned cash for a wearable that might not work for them.
Skin issues aside, there are other consumers looking for cheaper trackers, or trackers with unique feature sets that Fitbit doesn’t offer. With consumers losing confidence in the Fitbit line, many shoppers are looking for an alternative to Fitbit trackers. If you’re looking for a replacement for your Fitbit, or just want to avoid the brand’s known problems with skin irritation, here are some solid options to consider.
1. Pebble Time
What a difference a few years makes. Pebble has gone from one of the hottest wearables to an also-ran. Pebble was at the top of its game in 2014, and secured a respectable stable of fitness partners, including Jawbone, ESPN, Misfit, and Swim.com. But in late 2016, the company was bought out by Fitbit. You can still buy new Pebble trackers, but the company is no longer producing new stock.
While the demise of Pebble is sad, it’s good news for those looking for a high quality tracker at a close-out price. The Pebble Time, one of the last models they started making before the sale of the company, has lots of great features, including some features not found on basic Fitbits.
Highlights to note here are the built-in mic for dictation/notes, the Pebble Health app, and a water-resistant design. Sleep tracking and activity are also standard. This is a good fitness tracker option for those looking for a watch-like form factor at a bargain price, but beware that this tracker may have limited support in the future. If you want something made from more premium materials, you could consider the Pebble Time Steel instead.
Price: As low as $50 for select colors (67 percent off MSRP)
2. Withings Pulse O2 Activity, Sleep & Heart Rate Tracker
There are lots of fitness trackers out there to choose from. One underrated brand is the French company Withings. Their Pulse O2 fitness tracker is featured in the video above. However, the band pictured is not the standard band that comes with the device. This is a nice selling point, however: unlike the Fitbit bands, the Withings O2 and other similar devices let you swap out the band for something more skin-friendly.
The Withings O2 tracker works with companion apps for both iOS and Android. You can track activities like steps, elevation, distance, running, and calories burned. It also tracks sleep, and even supports real-time coaching through the Health Mate app. You can wear it on a clip, or on your wrist. The clip option is another way that you can minimize skin issues. You could alternate between your left wrist, right wrist, and clip orientation each day.
It should be noted that Withings just came out with a newer tracker, the Withings Activité Pop Fitness Tracker. This new, relatively expensive tracker’s debut may mean that the Pulse O2 sees an even bigger price drop in the coming months.
Price: $89.99 (25 percent off)
3. Garmin Vivofit Fitness Band
Get a detailed review of the pros and cons of this tracker in the video above.
While Garmin may have gotten famous for their in-car GPS devices, the company is arguably better known today for their fitness trackers. The most notable feature here is their “move bar,” a bar that shows up after you have been inactive for an hour. Leading health research now indicates that it’s important to get up and be every active every hour or so, rather than do all your activity at once during a long gym session. Garmin’s “move bar” is a great way to be more mindful of how long you have been sitting.
Additional move bar segments light up for every 15 additional minutes of inactivity. If you get up and walk around, you can make the bars disappear. This is a great feature for people who need a reminder to get up and move around during the day, if only for a few minutes.
In addition to tracking your movement, the Vivofit will help you count calories burned, track your base metabolic rate, and even monitor the quality of your sleep. Users can also check out Garmin’s free fitness community to earn virtual badges and stay motivated. This tracker is a bit cheaper than many other competitors, which also makes this a good band for the budget-conscious.
Additional features we like in this band include the huge range of color options, and the slim form factor. If you want something that’s similar in form to the Fitbit wristbands, this is an option worth considering. Plus, you have the option of getting one with or without a heart rate monitor.
Want to learn more about Garmin’s fitness trackers? Check out our comparison post on Fitbit vs. Garmin.
Price: $49.99 (8 percent off)
4. Jawbone UP 24 Fitness Tracker
Check out CNET’s take on the Jawbone UP 24 in the player above.
The UP 24 is the newer, thinner version of Jawbone’s UP fitness tracker. It plays nice with lots of different apps, including Runkeeper, MyFitnessPal, and IFTTT.
This device tracks steps, exercise, overall calories burned, hours slept and quality of sleep. You can also use the UP App’s food score capability to judge the balance of your food, drink, calories, and nutrient intake. It also has a similar form and profile to the Fitbit line. This is an older fitness tracker. While still having a robust number of features, the fact that this device is a little older means it’s available at bargain basement prices, which may actually be a selling point for those on a tight budget, or those who simply want to try a fitness tracker for the first time at an affordable rate before they upgrade to a newer model.
Want to learn more about the whole Jawbone lineup? Check out our post comparing Fitbit vs. Jawbone.
5. Jaybird REIGN Fitness Tracker
Check out a detailed review of this fitness tracker in the video above.
A relatively new arrival on the wearables scene, the Jaybird REIGN is a fitness tracker without a display. The REIGN stands out because of a couple key features. The automated activity detection system helps you to recognize when you’ve been inactive for too long. There’s also five-day battery life, which is great for people who hate having to charge their tracker every day or two. There’s also waterproofing to help the device last longer. While the color options are a bit limited, this cool wearable is a good candidate for replacing your current Fitbit.
The REIGN also has some nice sleep features. It tracks your sleep patterns, and helps suggest when you should sleep so that you can have the energy to tackle tomorrow’s troubles. Jaybird also uses something called “Go-Zone,” which is a scoring system that lets you know how well your body is recovering from a workout. Each day, your score reflects how ready your body is to tackle another big workout.
The REIGN’s band is stain-proof, and made from soft silicone that shapes to your wrist. The band comes apart, then re-attaches using sand-blasted chrome clips and a magnetic pin-locking-system for a secure fit. If you don’t want to accidentally lose your tracker, this is a nice feature.
6. Misfit Shine
Unlike some other fitness trackers, the Misfit Shine comes in a huge array of beautiful colors. The colors are a big selling point for some Fitbit converts, especially given that many Fitbit models come in only one or two colors. You can use this tracker to monitor sleep, as well as common activities like walking, running, swimming, cycling, soccer, tennis, or basketball. A replaceable battery means that you won’t have to recharge the device every week. The battery lasts about six months.
A “halo” of lights is used to indicate your activity level throughout the day, providing gentle encouragement to get up and get active. The halo can also be used to tell the time, making this is nice option for people who prefer minimalist watch designs.
Want a different form factor? You could also consider the Misfit Ray sport band.
Price: $48 and up, depending on color selected (31 percent off MSRP)
7. Garmin Forerunner 220
If your main form of exercise is running, then a running watch may be a better choice for you than a general purpose fitness tracker. The Garmin Forerunner 220 can work with a heart rate monitor, but it can also be used without one if you prefer. This is an advanced GPS running watch, making it very accurate. Ideal for both beginning runners and the demanding needs of serious marathoners, this Garmin watch can help any person achieve their fitness goals.
Price: $249.99 (17 percent off MSRP)
8. Samsung Galaxy Gear Fit
The Samsung Galaxy Gear Fit is the slimmest of all the Galaxy Gear smartwatch offerings, and it has a form factor that’s not entirely dislike the Fitbit. The Gear Fit allows you to quickly respond to notifications and track your heart rate. You can easily customize the look of your Gear Fit, which makes the experience feel more personalized (an area where Fitbit hasn’t really excelled yet). If you want a fitness tracker with a full-color display, this is a nice option to consider.
9. Microsoft Band
The relatively new Microsoft Band is an interesting wearable, and it may be a better fit for some people than the Fitbit line of devices. This device tracks your heart rate, steps, calorie burn and sleep quality. It’s also a really nice wearable for golfers, thanks to a partnership with TaylorMade. You can get notifications and alerts, a feature that only the most premium Fitbits can offer. Despite being a Microsoft product, the band can pair with Windows Phone, Android devices, and iPhones. As of 2016, Microsoft has continued the Microsoft Band line, so keep that in mind. You aren’t likely to see new bands in the future, though being discontinued may mean you’ll get a bargain when you go to buy this tracker.
Price: $66.99 and up, depending on size selected
10. adidas miCoach Fit Smart
Only a couple of Fitbit models offer heart rate monitoring. This wearable from adidas offers continuous heart rate monitoring, which is a nice perk for those who want that crucial fitness feature. This wearable plays nice with the miCoach Train & Run app, and offers both motivation and coaching advice to help you train smarter. If you want to train like an athlete, this wearable may be better for your needs than a lower-end tracker from Fitbit.
Still not sure what fitness tracker is right for you? We’ve compared Fitbit, the leading fitness tracker brand, against a huge array of competitors. Check out our posts comparing Fitbit vs. Jawbone, Fitbit vs. Basis, Fitbit vs. Garmin, Fitbit vs. Misfit, Fitbit vs. Mira, Fitbit vs. Microsoft Band, Fitbit vs. Sony SmartBand and Fitbit vs. Withings.