FITNESS

Best Activity Tracker: Stay in Shape for Wilderness Adventures

Activity tracker review
Jerry Mueller
Written by Jerry Mueller

An activity tracker is practically a must for people with a busy modern lifestyle. It is important to find out whether your body has had enough exercise for the day or not so that you’ll know when you can stop or when you need to keep going. The best activity tracker will not only help you keep track of your bodily functions, but will also motivate you to keep exercising for the sake of your health.

The best part is that there are tons of products to browse. For instance, if you’re on a budget, you can choose a device that features the most basic tracking functions. But if you want superior functioning, you can get a device with all the bells and whistles, from sleep hour tracking to silent alarms, from goal setting tools to badges you can earn as an incentive for your achievements.

Activity trackers on the hand

Some of the units are available with waterproof functions while others are simply water resistant, so care needs to be given in terms of the features chosen and the actual activities you perform. If you’re raring to go but the thought of sifting through so many brands, product types, and conflicting reviews sap the spirit right out of you, don’t worry because we’ve summed all the important things up right here.

Product nameWeightDimensionsBest ForPrice
Fitbit Charge HR Wireless Activity Wristband0.8 ounces8.2 x 0.8 x 0.4 inches; Available in small, large, and extra large sizesFull Activity TrackingCheck price on Amazon
UP3 by Jawbone Heart Rate, Activity + Sleep Tracker5.6 ounces4.6” x 1.5” x 4.4” inchesSleep CycleCheck price on Amazon
Mio FUSE Heart Rate, Sleep + Activity Tracker1.4 ounces5.8 inches to 7 inches (Small,Medium); Sizes 6.1 inches x 8.2 inches (Large)Accuracy-Oriented UsersCheck price on Amazon
Fitbit One Wireless Activity Plus Sleep Tracker0.3 ounces0.2” x 0.8” x 2.2 inchesFull Activity TrackingCheck price on Amazon
Misfit Shine - Activity and Sleep Monitor0.4 ounces5.24” x 1.97” x 5.91 inchesFull Activity TrackingCheck price on Amazon
Garmin vívofit 2 Activity Tracker0.96 ounces8.3” x 0.83” x 0.42”Night ExerciseCheck price on Amazon
Polar Loop Activity Tracker4 ounces0.51” x 7.87” x 0.59”; 9” wristbands availableAccuracy-Oriented UsersCheck price on Amazon
Fitbit Zip Wireless Activity Tracker3.5 ounces0.2” x 1.2” x 1.8 inchesGeneral Activity TrackingCheck price on Amazon
Fitbit Flex Wireless Activity + Sleep Wristband3 ounces0.6” x 0.4” x 8.2 inches; comes with one large and one small wristbandAll Activity Tracking except SwimmingCheck price on Amazon
Microsoft Band 2 - Medium2.08 ouncesSmall for 5.7” x 6.5”; medium for 6.3” x 7.5”; large for 7.3” x 8.5”sizeAll-Day TrackingCheck price on Amazon

Things to consider before buying

The best activity tracker you can buy will be one that really suits your personal preferences and the type of activity you engage in as well. Consider these factors so you’ll be able to make a purchase that you won’t regret:

Unique Features

Activity trackers usually all have some basic functions in common, but each may also sport a unique feature that is custom-tailored to help users reach a certain health goal. You will need to clearly define your goals before making an investment in a fitness tracker.

Best activity trackers

For this, you need to be honest with yourself as you define some of the features that will match your goals. As a case example, if you’re exercising mainly to strengthen your heart, you should pick up an activity tracker that measures your heart rate. This function is growing increasingly common among activity trackers, but not all of them have it.

Type of Activities

You should identify, not only some of the activities you do now, but you should consider any type of activities you plan on adding. Doing this will make sure you get the most use out of the device you invest in, and that you do not have to get a new activity tracker every time you change your style.

Wearing activity tracker

For example, if you’re planning to take the activity tracker swimming, purchase those that are waterproof. Some activity trackers today can withstand water pressure up to a depth of 50m. Others may stop working once you go past 10m.

Device Designation

You should also see what the device’s software is capable of identifying. For instance, some will track heart rates from the start while others require a sensor that is sold separately. Other devices are water resistant up to a number of meters.

Best activity tracker

Don’t forget to consider the activity tracker’s app. Each brand usually has an app on its own that you need to use in conjunction with the activity tracker. Some are overly detailed—crammed with useless information that makes it hard for you to make out the truly important points. Others are too simple and lacks crucial information. You should pick something that falls in the middle.

Extras

Activity trackers today come with all sorts of extra features. There are even monitors that supply users with extras like email, calendar access, and call notification, but these things are not necessary if you just want the most basic of your needs tracked and recorded. Overall, price range tends to reflect the amount of features and functionalities you get.

Device Compatibility

Finally, device compatibility is key when choosing your tracker. Make sure it works with your smartphone device, and operating system. You will find many devices will work with Android and Apple devices, but if you are seeking a Windows device, there is little option other than the Microsoft Band 2.

Best products on today’s market

Now that you know what you need to take into consideration before you jump into action, we would like to recommend to you the top 10 activity trackers on today’s market:

Fitbit Charge HR Wireless WristbandFitbit Charge HR Wireless Activity Wristband

Price: approximately $130

Weight: 0.8 ounces

Dimensions: 8.2 x 0.8 x 0.4 inches; Available in small, large, and extra large sizes

Specific features: SmarTrack™ Compatible with more than 150 smartphone devices; automatic, wireless sync stats function; monitors, heart rate, caloric counts, and sleep sessions;  OLED display

Best use: Full fitness tracking, recording heart, diet, and sleep

The Fitbit Charger HR Wireless Wristband is decently priced and is among the top makes and models that serve as an answer to the question: “What is the best fitness band?” This band has an attractive silver and plum color scheme as well as four alternatives to suit any personality.

For the individual looking for a lightweight, unobtrusive device that provides detailed information about one’s overall health, the Fitbit Charger is ideal. The Fitbit monitors everything by providing you with readings on all activity from exercise to rest; The SmarTrack™ detects when you exercise and records the activity automatically.

The unit also serves as a caller ID plus a watch so you can view daily stats, notifications, and the time(s) you receive calls via the OLED display. The device operates with one Lithium ion battery.

PROS:

  • Sync nicely with other devices
  • Also functions as a caller ID
  • Good value for money
  • Wide range of readings
  • Lightweight
  • Provides users with motivation and get-fit community

CONS:

  • Not very durable, may break after only 1 year of usage

Related: The Fitbit tracker is related to the Fitbit Alta Fitness Tracker. It is available in black, blue, pink, plum, and tangerine options. The Alta is around the same price and offers similar functions to Fitbit Charger but Fitbit Alta doesn’t have the same durability problem.

Check the price on Amazon

UP3 by JawboneUP3 by Jawbone

Price: approximately $60

Weight: 5.6 ounces

Dimensions: 4.6” x 1.5” x 4.4” inches

Specific features: Smart Alarm™, sleep REM, Deep tracking, heart rate monitor, compatible with Android and iOS

Best use: Recording exercise and sleep cycles

The UP3 by Jawbone is definitely affordable. There are huge savings to derive from purchasing this top-of-the-line fitness-tracking device.

The unit is available in the Black Twist design, but it is also available in the Sand Twist and Indigo Twist variations. The device helps track your heart rate all day long and with the Smart Coach feature, you can access personal advice on keeping fit.

The unit captures REM, light, and Deep sleep cycles and records them. The UP3 operates through one Lithium ion battery that, when charged fully, has a maximum battery life of seven days. The Smart Alarm™ offers a silent waking system that stirs you from sleep at a time ideal in comparison to your sleep cycle.

PROS:

  • Affordable price
  • A very slim and stylish device
  • Alerts you if you have been idle for too long
  • Great for measuring sleep cycles

CONS:

  • The clasp does not seem to work properly
  • A bit difficult to sync to other devices
  • App can use some improvements

Related: Related to UP2, and UP4 devices and the Jawbone Heart tracker in the Silver Cross, Ruby Cross, and Teal Cross trackers. The UP series by Jawbone is a bestseller. It has been released in many versions, but most users seem to prefer the earlier versions.

Check the price on Amazon

Mio FUSE Activity TrackerMio FUSE

Price: approximately $80

Weight: 1.4 ounces

Dimensions: 5.8 inches to 7 inches (Small,Medium); Sizes 6.1 inches x 8.2 inches (Large)

Specific features: Operates with Mio Personal Activity Intelligence (PAI), precise heart rate tracking, vibrations alerts, five color LED, stores up to 2 weeks of data, heart rate zones with configurable functions, 30 meters of Water resistance, customizable

Best use: Full fitness monitoring

The Mio Fuse is a great choice for tracking daily exercise, pace, distance, caloric usage, steps taken, and hours of sleep. The device allows for Bluetooth transmission allowing you to see the data it gathers on your GPS watch, bicycle computer, smart phone, or another compatible device.

The unit is not something you should wear while during water exercises, but it is resistant to water at a depth up to 30 meters. The display is fully customizable so you can personalize the way you interact with the unit, and the Mio Fuse is decently priced.

To add sleep-tracking features to the device, you must update the firmware when you purchase it. The unit is compatible with the IPhone 4s or greater, the iPod Touch 5, and Android devices. However, it will not configure with a Blackberry or Windows device.

PROS:

  • A relatively cheap price
  • Very versatile. Can be customized to your needs
  • Accurate reading. Misreads arm movements as steps much less than other similar devices

CONS:

  • App may seem too brief or not informative enough
  • Pressure-based touch screen is not very responsive. Has to be held upright for it to work

Related: Coming from the same company, the Mio Alpha Heart Rate Monitor Sports Watch offers much of the same benefits as Mio FUSE. The Mio Alpha is better at reading the heart rate, although it has its own caveats such as poor Android connectivity.

Check the price on Amazon

Fitbit One WirelessFitbit One Wireless Activity Plus Sleep Tracker

Price: approximately $200

Weight: 0.3 ounces

Dimensions: 0.2” x 0.8” x 2.2 inches

Specific features: Tracks several health categories including caloric, exercise, and steps,stairs climbed

Best use: Full health tracking with goal setting

The Fitbit One Wireless will track sleep cycles and offers an alarm system that will wake you through a silent alarm. The Fitbit One Wireless also tracks calories and exercise (steps, climbing, distance). The unit is compatible with tablets and smartphones, and features Bluetooth 4.0 for wireless interaction with the Fitbit One Wireless.

You can earn badges as you set goals and obtain them via your continued progress. The device is compatible with more than 150 smartphone devices and stats sync wireless.

PROS:

  • Great compatibility with other devices
  • Great accuracy in readings
  • Lightweight
  • Comfortable to wear
  • Motivates you by giving you badges with each goal achieved

CONS:

  • Expensive
  • Doesn’t offer that many features, although those that are offered work great
  • App is not very user-friendly

Related: You might want to purchase this Buckle Bracelet for Fitbit One for extra comfort as you exercise while wearing this activity tracker. It also provides extra protection so you don’t have to worry about crushing this expensive device in your sleep.

Check the price on Amazon

Misfit ShineMisfit Shine

Price: approximately $40

Weight: 0.4 ounces

Dimensions: 5.24” x 1.97” x 5.91 inches

Specific features: 30 day memory, Tracks points, steps, calories, distance, goal setting, automated sync functions, full health tracker, highlights feature, social media settings

Best use: Cycling, walking, running, jogging, swimming, and for tracking distance, caloric usage, and sleep patterns

The Misfit Shine is an exceptional fitness-tracking device with a super low price. The unit is a full service fitness tracker. The battery is a non-charging lithium ion battery hosting a life span of about 6 months before requiring replacement.

The band comes in a range of colors including black, topaz, champagne, coral, gray, sea glass, topaz, and wine.

With the Misfit Shine you get the round shaped tracking unit, a sports band, a battery tool, a CR2032 battery, a clasp, and a free Shine account and application for a compatible mobile device.

The tracker is compatible with the IPhone 4S or greater, iPhone 3 or greater, the iPod touch 5 or greater, as well as the Android devices like the Nexus 4, 5 Galaxy S4, and Galaxy Note 3. The device is swim proof and constructed with an attractive LED display so the user can view his or her progress.

PROS:

  • Great value for money
  • Great compatibility with other devices
  • Waterproof up to a depth of 50m
  • Great and stylish design
  • Keeps you connected with your friends to motivate you
  • Lightweight

CONS:

  • Does not respond to single-tapping
  • Does not track many things, only the essential ones

Related: The second installment in the Misfit Shine series is the Misfit Shine 2. This device is around $60 more expensive than the first version, which is rather steep, but it also comes with more comfortable bands and better water-resistance.

Check the price on Amazon

Garmin vívofit 2 Activity TrackerGarmin vvofit 2 Activity Tracker

Price: approximately $80

Weight: 0.96 ounces

Dimensions: 8.3” x 0.83” x 0.42”

Specific features: Activity tracker with audible alert functions, lithium ion battery operation, year warranty on battery, recognizes user’s activity levels, Syncs with Garmin Connect automatically

Best use: Total fitness, caloric usage tracking, increasing activity, water resistant, but not waterproof related activities

The Garmin vívofit 2 Activity Tracker is an attractive fitness tracker available in navy, black, white, and pink. You can wear the unit every day, 24 hours, for tracking caloric usage, activity, distance travel, and you can even set up personalized goals.

You get access to the online fitness community with the inclusion of Garmin Connect, and there are badges you can earn as you progress through to your goals. The unit comes with a small band, a large band, and has a water rating of 5 ATM or 50 meters. It comes with a USB ANT Stick as well. The tracker has a backlit display, clock, audible time to move alerts, and automatic reset features for move alerts once you get up and walk.

PROS:

  • Great motivation system with badges
  • Can be taken for a swim
  • Great strap that fits comfortably
  • Backlit screen makes it easier for you to exercise at night

CONS:

  • The alerts are a bit lacking.
  • The audible alert can be annoying and there’s no vibrating alert option
  • Lacks several basic functions, such as alarms

Related: If you want a cheaper option, Garmin 010-01225-00 Vivofit Fitness Band can be it. This is an older model, so it lacks a few of the upgrades that the company has added to the newer Garmin vívofit 2 Activity Tracker, but it’s still a great device. The Garmin vívofit is available in the Wings for Life version as well as with or without a heart monitor.

Check the price on Amazon

Polar Loop Activity TrackerPolar Loop Activity Tracker

Price: approximately $30

Weight: 0.26 pounds

Dimensions: 0.51” x 7.87” x 0.59”; 9” wristbands available

Specific features: USB charging unit, tracks sleep quality & duration, access to the Polar Flow application and service

Best use: Day and night tracking; great for watersports. If you want heart rate tracking, you have to buy the unit separately

Polar Loop Activity Tracker is very affordable. This wrist wearable tracker will record information 24 hours, 7 days a week, including the hours one is sleeping.

The device has features that help the wearer both set and achieve the goals he sets. The device has a LED display; ad will track the time of day, the numbers of steps one takes, and the calories one burns. The tracker has Bluetooth Smart features so it can automatically synchronize with the app and training community. Ideal for water sports and the battery has a five-day lifespan when used continuously. The heart rate sensor is compatible with the tracker but is sold separately.

PROS:

  • Very affordable
  • Waterproof, which is a surprising thing on such a cheap device
  • Automatic and wireless sync

CONS:

  • Does not track heart rate if you don’t buy the sensor
  • Does not support vibrating alert
  • App needs some work

Related: If you want a newer device that comes with several upgrades, consider purchasing the Polar Loop 2 Activity Tracker instead of the first installment. This one is around $15 more expensive, but it has better user interface and accuracy.

Check the price on Amazon

Fitbit Zip Wireless Activity TrackerFitbit Zip Wireless Activity Tracker

Price: approximately $60

Weight: 3.5 ounces

Dimensions: 0.2” x 1.2” x 1.8 inches

Specific features: Tracks calories used, distance, and steps, supports Bluetooth for ease of syncing with tablets and smartphone devices, set goals and earn badges based on achievements, companion app for iOS and Android

Best use: Excellent for general fitness tracking

The FitBit Zip Wireless Activity Tracker comes with a battery door tool, clip, CR2025 battery, and a sync dongle. The unit is compatible with Mac OS software 10.5 or greater and Windows OS XP, 7, 8, and Vista. The unit displays select fitness information including distance, caloric usage, steps you have taken, and it features a clock. Your recent activity gets highlighted by a Fitblit Smiley.

The coin battery has a life span of about six months. This unit stores data too; the minute-by-minute storage is seven days, and the daily stats are stored for 30 days at a time. The unit comes in Blue, Magenta, Blue Wireless Unit, and Charcoal.

PROS:

  • Affordable price
  • Great motivation system and grants access to community
  • Does not need you to manage anything. This smart device works independently
  • Great app and device sync

CONS:

  • Heavy for its small size
  • Not very durable

Related: For those that like a bit more variety in their life, you can purchase one of these WoCase ZipBand Fitbit Zip Accessory Wristband Bracelet Collection. These bands come cheap and offer many color options.

Check the price on Amazon

Fitbit Flex Wireless Activity WristbandFitbit Flex Wireless Activity

Price: approximately $80

Weight: 3.0 ounces

Dimensions: 0.6” x 0.4” x 8.2 inches; comes with one large and one small wristband

Specific features: Rubber, flexible wristband, tracks active minutes, calorie usage, distance, and sleep, alarm, goal setting features, Sync stats automatically and wirelessly, compatible with more than 150 smartphone devices

Best use: Excellent for sleep and fitness tracking during the day. Not recommended for underwater sports

Fitbit Flex Wireless Activity Wristband comes with one small band and one larger band. It comes complete with sync, wireless dongle, charging cable, and the tracking unit. The rechargeable device features five indicator lights so it will light up when the device is charged completely. The unit will track the steps you take, how far you travel, the minutes you remain active, the number of times you awaken, and the number of hours you spend sleeping.

You get access to the Fitbit Dashboard online as well, where you can choose the wrist you will wear the device on by selecting the dominant hand function: This allows for greater accuracy of the readings collected. The dashboard gives you tools for setting your sleep sensitivity levels, and you can choose what personal goals you want the device to display.

The dashboard you get access to is compatible with Apple Safari, Google Chrome, Microsoft Internet, or Mozilla Firefox. The rubber wristband is available in seven colors including black, slate, tangerine, teal, blue, pink, and red.

PROS:

  • Many color options make this a fun device
  • Great motivation system
  • Great accuracy in readings

CONS:

  • Clasp does not seem to want to latch on
  • Mediocre battery life
  • Relatively waterproof but can only be taken for a swim up to a depth of 10m

Related: The next installment in the popular Fitbit Flex product line, Fitbit Flex 2 comes with a sleeker design and better waterproof capacity. On the other hand, it does not read your heart rate, and this might be a deal-breaking con for some.

Check the price on Amazon

Microsoft Band 2 – MediumMicrosoft Band 2

Price: approximately $160

Weight: 2.08 ounces

Dimensions: Small for 5.7” x 6.5”; medium for 6.3” x 7.5”; large for 7.3” x 8.5”size

Specific features: Tracks UV exposure, elevation, heart rate, location, sleep, steps, calories; GPS, The Microsoft Band 2 features an ambient light sensor; Galvani ski response sensors and a barometer

Best use: Biking, running, golf, jogging, walking, and other outdoor activities. Also good for 24 hours wear

The Microsoft Band 2 is available in small, medium, and large sizes. The Microsoft Band 2 fitness tracker offers up tools for tracking sleep sessions, calorie usages, and your heart rate.

The device will work with an Android phone, Windows Phone, and an iPhone as well. You can get call alerts as you use the device, and you can access a calendar, text, and email. Sensors in the device are advanced enough to detect the type of activity you are engaging in so it can be tracked accordingly.

PROS:

  • Fits comfortably and the clasp works great
  • Great compatibility with other devices
  • Tracks many things and comes with many useful extra features such as the barometer
  • Great screen quality

CONS:

  • Expensive
  • Not very durable

Related: The Microsoft Band 2 comes with a high-quality screen, which deserves to be protected. All you have to do is purchase this Microsoft Band 2 Screen Protector and you’ll be able to enjoy a high screen resolution as well as high-quality screen responsiveness without worrying about damaging it.

Check the price on Amazon

Wrap Up

There should be little doubt that one can easily get an activity tracker that will serve one’s personal needs. Whether you are looking for a device that is for all daywear and tracking or you want a gadget that is light, comfortable, and capable of tracking you all through the night, there is an array of activity trackers to choose from on the market today.

With so many to choose from it is remarkably easy to get a tracker that not only suits your feature preferences, but fits great in terms of size, functionality, color, and price. Meeting your budget is entirely possible while not having to compromise on quality.

Best activity tracker designation

Of all the activity trackers we mentioned above, which one do you think is the best for you and why? Do you have any other suggestions? Tell us what you think by posting a comment in the section below. 

ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Jerry Mueller
Jerry Mueller

Jerry ‘Boy Scout’ Mueller spends 99% of his time camping or teaching others how to live in the wild. He became an Eagle Scout which is the highest rank attainable in the Boy Scouting division when he was 17 and after that he still lives the scout life. Jerry always plans neatly every trip, takes leadership very seriously and if you listen to his tips and stories, you can learn tons of useful things.

  • Elisa Blair

    I wanted something that would track my daily caloric burn and collaborate with MyFitnessPal app, so I could stay motivated, and I bought Mio Fuse HR. It’s very comfortable and made out of flexible silicone, and it feels soft even when you wear it snug, as suggested. It is highly accurate if you wear it right

  • Jerry Mueller

    The Mio Fuse HR is one of the most affordable fitness tracker around. I love it’s streamlined and sleek look. It’s very simple and for those who don’t go for a lot of bells and whistles, this fitness tracker is the one for you.

  • Jake Bryan

    Has anyone had any issues with the Fitbit Charge in terms of rashes? Or any fitness tracker for that matter… I’m having to take breaks from wearing it quite regularly now as it seems to be leading to a rash and flaky skin. Any suggestions as to how best to deal with this or what could be causing it? I’d hate to have to get rid of it – has everything I need!

  • Jerry Mueller

    You have to clean the watch well since the rashes may be caused by the moisture trapped in the band. Most people develop rashes since some watches have tight-fitting straps. Treat the rashes first, refrain from wearing the watch to let your wrist “rest”.

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