Are you in the market for a new GPS smartwatch but need one that can withstand the elements? A waterproof smartwatch is a perfect choice for anyone who wants a durable and versatile device. These watches are designed to be worn while swimming, showering, or participating in other water-based activities, making them a great choice for athletes or those who lead an active lifestyle.
When shopping for a waterproof smartwatch, be sure to pay attention to the watch’s IP rating, which measures its level of protection against water and other particles. After that, you might need to consider the purpose such as swimming or triathlon. The higher the rating, the more waterproof the watch. We’ve compared some of the models for all budgets below.
Best Waterproof Smartwatches With GPS Reviewed
We’ve reviewed some of the best waterproof smartwatches available today and compared them against their water resistance rating as well as purpose and a deep dive into their features to see what option may be best for you.
1. Garmin VivoActive 4 GPS Smartwatch
Reasons to buy
- Great for multiple sports
- Good battery life
Reasons to avoid
- GPS signal can take a minute or so to find
- Bluetooth can intermittently skip songs (uncommon)
I’ve previously owned a VivoActive 3 before I, unfortunately, lost it and had nothing but praise for it, the VivoActive 4 is no exception.
The design of the watch is elegant enough to not look like you have a supercomputer on your arm, this is at least a preference for me. It’s a casual-looking watch that comes with all the special features you’d expect from a smartwatch.
It’s able to keep an eye on your health 24/7 with active heart rate and health monitoring which is something that I like to look at over time, especially the resting heart rate.
As you know, as people get a stronger cardiovascular system, will often teams experience a lower resting heart rate. I like to keep an eye on those things.
For the primary purpose, it’s not only good in a swimming pool but can be used for more than 20 different activities. The waterproof rating for the device is 50m and is compatible with showing all the data you’d expect such as distance, time, stroke, pace, and so on. There are even animated workouts presented on the screen to help guide you through your workouts.
There is 8 days battery life in smartwatch mode and up to 6 hours in GPS mode where you’re recording the location of your activity. Usually not required as much for a lap pool, but if you’re doing any open water swimming then this could be a feature that you use.
The only minor problem I have with this watch is that sometimes it feels like the music is skipping or choppy when it considers itself not in Bluetooth range (Even though it is).
Although I haven’t had this happen much, I thought it was worth noting. Also, getting GPS data seems to take much longer, as compared to using Strava on my iPhone, but I’m sure phones have better receptors.
All in all, it’s not enough to sway me away from the product. The price that it comes at and the features that it offers are unbeatable in my eyes which makes it one of the best watches for swim workouts.
2. Apple Watch Series 5
- Receive calls, send texts, check emails, it’s all possible with the Apple Watch
- Watch face is always visible with the Always-On Retina Display
- Up to 18 hours of battery life, meaning you would likely need to be charging daily
Reasons to buy
- Always screen-on
- App store designated for Apple watch
- Best ECG feature in the market
Reasons to avoid
- Battery quickly drains if used regularly
This device is a minor step-up from its predecessor the Apple Watch Series 4, which includes upgrades like the always on screen, international emergency calling, and compass. You might not think it as much, but the Apple Watch Series 5 is still way ahead of the competition.
In my opinion, this device is not only one of the best smartwatches for swimming or fitness tracking but in making your life easier in general as well, and the Series 5 is definitely a lot more affordable than the new Series 6 Apple Watch which we’ve also reviewed further down the list.
Its waterproof capability lets me multitask even when I’m in the water. I can read and reply to emails, download applications without using my phone, listen to music, tasked Siri to do something, and take calls with a simple touch of the screen.
This of course is a user preference, and some people just want their watch to perform the primary task of activity recording.
It has a sleek design and full capacity touchscreen that allows you to use the entire screen. The user interface is smooth and responsive, and its HD display is elegant and appealing to the eyes.
The Apple Watch is definitely an eye-catcher and is more a style and fashion statement than it is an ideal watch for fitness tracking, for that there are many other great options that are more affordable. The Apple Watch Series 5 has a water resistance rating of 50M.
3. Samsung Galaxy Watch 4 GPS Smartwatch
- Sleep tracking, heart rate tracking and VO2 max estimate readings all possible with this watch
- Talk, stream and text from your wrist on the go. An affordable option to some competitors that do this
- Google on your wrist: Pay with Google, use Maps or stream from YouTube Music
Reasons to buy
- Very affordable
- Stylish look
- Feature packed for its price
Reasons to avoid
- Found the data to not be as comprehensive as Garmin
- If you’re after a full-fledged fitness tracker, don’t opt for this
Now if you’re looking for a budget watch, even more so than the VivoActive, then this could be a great option for you.
The Samsung Galaxy Watch Active 4 comes in a comfortable, sleek shape that will surely not interrupt your strokes when swimming. The watch also has heart rate monitoring, even notifying you when your heart rate is too high or low.
Whilst this smartwatch will record your running distance, pool strokes, lap times, etc we found the interface to not be as in-depth and comprehensive as Garmin Connect, and in particular with the VivoActive series.
The battery life is known to last up to 3 days on a single charge without much strenuous use and about 2 days if you’re using it on an extreme. It also contains the added bonus of having a sleep tracker, like most other smartwatches are doing these days.
Not only that but Samsung has started to do VO2 Max estimates as well to manage how your endurance training is going.
Some other nifty features you might be interested in are that it supports Google apps on your wrist meaning you can use it to pay, get directions or even stream from YouTube music.
The accuracy has been reported as good by many other users and we have found this to be the case when we did our analysis as well. The watch has a waterproof rating of 50m and can comfortably be used in a pool and open water.
All in all, if you’re looking for something to start with as a beginner and are on a budget this could be a good consideration for you. If you’re after a bit more key performance metrics out of your watch then Garmin is your better bet.
4. SUUNTO Spartan Trainer Wrist HR
Reasons to buy
- Lightweight and comfortable
- Accurate heart monitor
- Wide range of watch faces
Reasons to avoid
- Smartwatch-mode battery life not impressive
The Suunto Spartan Trainer is a durable and powerful fitness watch that enables you to track more activities.
In the arena of smartwatches, standing out from the rest is important. What makes this device somewhat unique to other brands is its wide range of activity trackers.
It’s also notable that the device is water-resistant but not waterproof (I’ll explain the difference later). You can go beneath waters for up to 50 meters but may damage the device if you deeper. Also, a water-resistant device can’t remain underwater for long periods. Doing so can malfunction your fitness watch.
Aside from running and swimming, I sometimes hike the woods, and its superb GPS locator gives me confidence that I won’t get lost.
The smartwatch is lightweight that only weighs 56 grams, making it very comfortable to wear. It has a stylish design, making it a suitable everyday watch. I’ve tried the SUUNTO Spartan Trainer Wrist for a couple of weeks, and I love how it feels on my wrist.
Unlike other wristwatches that I’ve worn in the past, this one is very light that you almost feel that it’s not there which makes it a great option for a swimming watch and near the top of the list.
5. Fitbit Versa 3
Reasons to buy
- Comfortably lightweight
- Extensive battery life
- Always-on display feature
- Many use it solely as a swimming watch
Reasons to avoid
- Some reported battery life is less than 6 days and are getting around 4 days at most
This fitness smartwatch has fewer specifications comparing to its competitors, which gave you a minimalist impression when you first use it. However, this factor doesn’t seem to hurt the quality of the device at all. It can still provide accurate monitoring of your health and fitness.
The Fitbit Versa 2 battery life is desirable because it can last for six days without charge, and if not used often. The device can last for 2 to 3 days if it’s continuously turned on and used for fitness tracking features.
The minimalist theme of the device works well during training or physical activities because it’s very light and comfortable.
It, much like other watches on our list has a water resistance rating of 50m. It does 24/7 monitoring of your heart as well as provides you with your sleeping metrics.
An additional feature that the Versa 3 has over some of the other competitors is that it has a built-in microphone and speaker which you can use to take Bluetooth calls hands-free and a useful feature if you’ve grown used to it however most people tend to take calls with their wireless earbuds most of the time.
6. Garmin Forerunner 945 GPS Watch
Reasons to buy
- Provides detailed health and fitness information
- Accurate fitness reading and GPS
- Long battery life in multiple modes
Reasons to avoid
- Expensive if you don’t use all the features
This waterproof smartwatch is popularly known for its exceptional multi-sport and GPS feature.
But I am more impressed by its in-depth health and fitness analysis and ability to change sports mode quickly from running to swimming to cycling.
These specifications are especially helpful for triathlon athletes when changing course from land to body of water.
Also, the detailed data are beneficial because it gives you a more accurate reading of your progress. It also supports open water swimming which is a plus for triathlons. Not to mention that it has a dedicated triathlon mode as well.
It has a semi-bulky appearance but doesn’t affect the overall weight. Although it’s not as aesthetic as other brands, it’s still reliable and has a sturdy built quality. Another notable feature is its music capability which allows you to connect to your phone and enjoy music while doing workouts or training.
You may, however, prepare your budget because it’s a little bit pricey. But if you’re a tri-athlete or committed to an active lifestyle, then buying the Garmin Forerunner 945 is reasonable.
This will suit all your swim workout needs and is a great choice for a first swimming watch where you know you’re going to need a lot more battery life than most of the other options.
It also boasts an amazing battery life with up to 36 hours in GPS mode and 14 hours if you’re playing music with the same mode on. This watch also contains a water resistance rating of 50 meters.
If you’re after a feature-packed athletes watch that can be used for triathlons, swimming, running and you want key metrics in these areas then the Garmin Forerunner is a great waterproof smartwatch for you.
It will lack in features such as being able to take calls on it and having a speaker if that’s even if your thing.
7. Apple Watch Series 6 GPS Smartwatch
Reasons to buy
- Contains a feature to monitor blood oxygen levels
- Contains 5G connectivity
Reasons to avoid
- Very expensive
- Battery life not as great as others in same price range
- Not many changes compared to the Series 5
Whilst not completely different from the Series 5 Apple Watch, both visually and in battery life, it does boast a lot of new features that seem rather exciting. The Series 6 watch contains a blood oxygen sensor which is a revolutionary new sensor from Apple, that even contains a Blood Oxygen app.
The Series 6 is compatible with 5G and has improved battery life for certain workouts, with improved charging. The Series 6 is up to 2.5 times brighter than its predecessor.
What hasn’t changed, however, is that the water resistance rating is still 50M. The Apple Watch Series 6 is a fairly minor improvement to the Series 5 and if you’re on a budget the Series 5 will still fit all of the primary purposes.
What you’re paying for at this stage is simply 5G connectivity, and having the blood oxygen sensor that has been implemented in the new model.
Overall, if your purposes are just to have a waterproof smartwatch, then the Apple Series 5 is still a great choice. However, if you’re one of those people that always like to buy the newest and the best like me, then let it be known that it’s very similar to the series 5, with the added features mentioned above.
This smartwatch can serve great as a swim watch and can be used in open water swimming or pool swimming.
How To Choose The Best Waterproof Smartwatch With GPS
Before you purchase a smartwatch, the first thing you have to consider is how well it performs underwater or when you accidentally spill water over it, in case.
However, you also have to take note of other factors to optimize your fitness experience. Keep in mind that your decision should go beyond the brand, aesthetic, and price.
Take time to look at this buyer’s guide where I’ll show you the factors to look for when choosing the best waterproof smartwatches for exercising that suit your needs.
Smartwatch Swimming Features
Of course, if you’re looking for a smartwatch for swimming purposes you’re going to want to make sure that the smartwatch you’re investing in is capable of tracking swimming as a fitness activity, some of them may only be built for running or cycling for example.
If you’re not after a fitness tracker, and just want a waterproof smartwatch for swimming, then ignore this.
If however, you’re looking to record your swimming activity then you’re going to want a smartwatch that records the length, your pace, laps, and some are even capable of recording what stroke you’re doing such as the Apple Series Smartwatch.
If you’re here for triathlon purposes then you probably want one that has the lot – the Garmin Forerunner 945 is definitely a great option for this as it supports open water swimming.
Waterproof And Water-Resistant?
When you’re looking at a product, you may probably stumble on the words water-resistant or waterproof.
Also, you may not be aware that the two of them bear different meanings. But never really cared if they’re different since the word waterproof or resistant is in there.
Although they essentially have the same meaning, their function is not necessarily similar.
When you see the word water-resistant, it indicates that the device can tolerate tiny amounts of water like rain or getting wet when you’re washing your hands.
However, the device might malfunction if you try to submerge it underwater for long periods.
In other words, water-resistant means that special mechanisms are set in place to prevent water from damaging the electrical components of the device. But it doesn’t mean that it can hold water for that long.
Hence, you might surmise that waterproof is the real deal. Well, not quite so. Although it can function underwater, the level of waterproof capability may also vary depending on the device.
Thus, it is always important to refer to the package to know their rating of waterproof. No watch is completely waterproof, though many are doing a great job and unless you’re diving, these smartwatches will fit the bill.
You may need a waterproof smartwatch over a water-resistant one if you’re going to use it for diving. But casual swimming is alright for water-resistant smartwatches.
If you’re only using it for jogging or strength training, then water-resistant devices are also okay. Most fitness trackers will be able to handle all types of sports from triathlon, to running, swimming, and even golf.
If you’re getting a waterproof GPS smartwatch for triathlons then you should look for one that supports open water swimming, some watches will only support lap pools so you would need to take this into consideration if that’s your goal.
GPS (Global Positioning System)
A GPS tracker gives you an accurate location of where you’re at when you go out jogging or cycling. This is particularly helpful when you go to places you’re not familiar with.
It eases your mind from worrying about getting lost and gives you the confidence to explore.
Besides, if you’re doing open water swimming, you might want to record your crazy movements in the water on the GPS, so it’s a great option to have, especially the ones that have the safety feature of sending out a distress signal via GPS. Very handy.
Accurate Health Reading
In any fitness device, the question of accuracy is the common denominator when it comes to features. It may have incredible storage capacity and features and sleek design, but if it’s not giving you accurate information, then it’s practically of no use to you.
You may want to stick to reputable brands and refer to customer comments to get a better description of the product you planning to buy.
The storage is just a plus if you want to listen to music while swimming. Although most smartwatches have remote access to music on your phone, it cuts off anytime I went out of the Bluetooth range.
I find this annoying and extremely inconvenient. Especially if you’re in the water.
In choosing smartwatches with built-in storage, I prefer those with large capacity so I can put in at least a few hundred songs. I love listening to music while swimming or doing other exercises because it keeps me pumped throughout.
In buying, the price is the first thing the comes into my mind—and at times the major deal-breaker. Most of the time, you would probably not buy a device if it’s a bit pricey. You would usually instead retreat to less expensive smartwatches than spend a lot of money.
You may find that investing in quality smartwatches is worth the price since you’re using them for a long time. Also, most cheaper devices are substandard and don’t give accurate readings of your activities.
Not only this but the battery life of the cheaper products doesn’t last as long and you don’t get the awesome features that most of the prominent brands like Garmin come with.
Most smartwatches today have accompanying mobile apps, but there are also those that don’t. Be sure to check the product description before buying to avoid potential hassles like returns and waiting for the right package to arrive.
Since the specifications vary depending on the device, then it’s important to check the user interface if it suits your needs.
Personally, knowing how many applications it can handle is a must because I like doing stuff even when I’m not on my phone.
Like getting notifications from my phone—it gives me the convenience to have an easy glance at my notifications and quickly reply.
Just remember not all watches support messaging and talking through the device itself, and it might only be a notification.
There are three designs to choose from—band, circular, and square. The primary purpose of smartwatches is to support us with our activities, but if you’re like me, then looking great with the smartwatch is also a factor.
I like circular fitness devices because I can use them as an everyday wristwatch. Plus, it gives me that elegant style even when I’m not exercising.
Also, take note of the built-in quality and overall weight. Preferably lightweight enough to be comfortable because you will wear it regularly and probably all day at work.
When thinking of buying a new smart device, it’s perfectly practical if we check out the specs first. Without looking at the specs and entirely depending on what it looks like is unwise.
If your watch’s epic unboxing fails on YouTube, some of the mistakes people make are taking the product at face value. The results are substandard products that are way below their expectation.
When I see a product I like, the particular specifications I look at first are battery life, memory, storage, operating system, Bluetooth connectivity, and processor speed.
Frequently Asked Questions On Waterproof GPS Smartwatches
This depends, if you’re an ocean swimmer (Which is common for triathlons) then it will be useful to have the GPS functionality so you can see the distance that you’ve covered on the map. Please be mindful that not all smartwatches will support open-water swimming which is what triathlons go through, they might only support pool strokes so keep an eye on that.
This is very useful for determining key metrics such as your heart rate during exercise, your resting heart rate, and calculating your VO2 Max score. Although the watch one is not completely accurate, it may be better to use an external heart rate monitor that will usually come with a strap you put around your chest like the ones Garmin offers.
Once you’ve decided which key features and metrics you need then you should be able to select the best waterproof smartwatch that suits your needs.
The worse feeling you can have is getting a product that you thought you needed, and then it’s not what it’s supposed to be when it arrived. There’s a saying, that goes, “haste makes waste”.
So take time and look carefully at your potential waterproof smartwatches to avoid these from happening.
Marko Rakic is a trail runner and fitness enthusiast from Sydney, Australia. He is the lead writer for The Ultimate Primate and believes the best way to live a happy life is through constantly challenging yourself.