Watch and Learn.
Watch and Learn. (Inga Hendrickson)

Dial in Your Workout Metrics With One of These Sporty Timepieces

We review the top six timepieces for everyone from surfers to backcountry skiers

Watch and Learn.

Heading out the door? Read this article on the new Outside+ app available now on iOS devices for members! Download the app.

Whether you just run on your lunch break, or like to go all day, these watches will help you monitor, and improve, your workouts.  

Best for: Globe-Trotting Surfers


Nixon Ultratide ($300)

Where most surf watches provide only one metric, the Ultratide gives you ten: everything from wave height to tomorrow’s high and low tide. And we’re not talking preprogrammed data. Through a partnership with Surfline, this is the first watch to offer real-time information from 3,300 locations around the world. Sync with the Ultratide app to load your favorites and you’ll be notified when conditions are about to be prime. 

Best for: Data-Obsessed Multi-Sporters


Timex Ironman One GPS+ ($400)

Part sports watch and part smartwatch, the One GPS+ tracks pace and mileage with impressive accuracy. Even better, its bold readout is crystal clear in direct sun, and it offers onboard messaging and 4GB of Bluetooth-able music storage, so you can leave your phone at home. Drawbacks include the painfully slow hunt-and-peck “keyboard” and (for now) lack of bike functions. 

Best for: Monitoring Health


Fitbit Surge ($250)

Maybe you take 10,000 steps before breakfast and think an activity tracker is beneath you. On the other hand, the Surge has so many features, you may find it difficult to resist. It’s hard not to wear it day and night while it monitors your heart rate, ground covered, vertical gain, calories, and sleep patterns. The colorful app is addictive, heart rate (read from your wrist) is fairly accurate, and GPS run tracking is admirably precise. 

Best for: Road and Trail Runners


Suunto Ambit3 Run ($299)

The Ambit3 Run is a runner-focused version of the Ambit3 Sport, complete with preprogrammed workouts and optional voice guidance. On top of excellent satellite acquisition, where the Ambit3 stands out is in its routing and navigation screens, and though the heart-rate monitor is still the chest variety (and an additional $50), it’s more accurate than the integrated wrist kind.

Best for: Number-Crunching Wave Riders

(Rip Curl)

Rip Curl SearchGPS ($400)

For anyone who has ever thirsted for precise data from inside the tube, the “world’s first GPS surf watch” is exactly that: it tracks each wave you catch and, once you sync it with your phone or laptop, logs the number caught, the distance you just rode, the top speed, and the total miles traveled, then maps it out on an overhead view of your break. And yes, it gives you the tide data of a traditional surf watch, too. 

Best for: Serious Training


Garmin Fenix 3 Sapphire ($600)

With the Fenix 3, Garmin may have perfected the GPS watch. Like any Garmin, it’s built tough and includes more actionable data than you could ever need: from an altimeter and compass to storm tracking and navigation, and of course GPS. (The $500 Fenix 3 does all the same stuff, but the Sapphire adds a steel band and a harder crystal.) 

From Outside Magazine, September 2015 Lead Photo: Inga Hendrickson