It’s no new news that fitness trackers these days are designed to get wet. Beyond just getting splashed while you wash your hands, these fitness-focused smartwatches can handle sweaty workouts, inclement weather, and in most cases, even swimming.
If your workout routine involves hanging out in the deep end of the pool, you’ll need a waterproof fitness tracker. While most trackers on the market can hold up to a few splashes or be worn in the shower, you’ll want to look for certain features — like a good water resistance rating and open water and pool swim tracking — before you take the plunge.
What to look for in a waterproof fitness tracker
If you’re planning on using your smartwatch in the water regularly, there are a few things to look out for. First, you’ll want a water resistance rating of at least 30 meters (read more on water resistance below). Second, look for watches that can track open water swim, pool swim, and can give you lap times. Bonus points if the watch supports underwater heart rate tracking. Lastly, check to see if the watch has a specific water lock feature. Water locks prevent accidental screen touches while submerged, so you’ll never send a text or open apps while you’re swimming.
How is water resistance measured in fitness trackers?
The terms water-resistant and waterproof are used pretty much interchangeably with fitness trackers these days. But, if you’re looking to go for a dip with your smartwatch on, you’ll want to make sure it’s safe to be fully submerged at least 30 meters.
Most fitness trackers on this list (and in general) have a water resistance rating of WR50, 5 Bar, 50 ATM, or 50 meters. All of these measurements mean exactly the same thing — that these trackers are waterproof up to 50 meters.
A water resistance rating of 50 meters means that open-water and pool swimming is totally fine to do. However, if you’re interested in an activity that’s more intense than swimming or one that requires long-term submersion — like water skiing, snorkeling, or surfing — you’d probably do best with a watch that’s more durable and has a higher water resistance rating. For reference, Apple says that Apple Watches shouldn’t be used for any activities that involve “high-velocity water or immersion below a shallow depth.” This is true for most popular fitness trackers, including Fitbits. You’ll need an outdoor sport-focused fitness watch like one from Garmin or Polar for the more extreme water sports if that’s your thing.
All of the trackers on this list are waterproof at least up to 50 meters. You’ll see in this story that we refer to water resistance level with WR and a number.
What is the most accurate waterproof fitness tracker?
The Garmin Vivoactive 4(opens in a new tab) and the Polar Grit X Pro(opens in a new tab) are the only fitness trackers on this list that truly support underwater heart rate monitoring, so these are the most accurate for swimming purposes. The Apple Watch Series 7 can track heart rate during swimming workouts, but the water might affect its sensors, making it slightly less accurate. Fitbits, on the other hand, don’t support underwater heart rate tracking at all. Both Apple Watches and Fitbits rely mainly on their accelerometers to measure calories burned while swimming.
Accuracy isn’t the only criteria you should choose a fitness tracker off of though. Whether you’re a casual swimmer looking to track laps in the gym pool or a water sports athlete looking for a durable smartwatch, dive into our top picks for all of the best waterproof fitness trackers below.