June 30, 2020

10 Best Watches for Mountain Biking (Review) 2020

June 30, 2020

Mountain biking is a sport that satisfies both the thirst for adventure and the longing for nature. It needs little resources to start one’s way onto new experiences outdoors: a faithful off-road bicycle, basic supplies, and for those seeking a technological edge, a watch. Our team at Spring Bar collated the 10 best watches for mountain biking.

It can be said that mountain biking is an American invention. It started in 1896 when the Buffalo Soldiers modified their bicycles for their off-road expedition from Montana to Yellowstone. Mountain biking has come a long way from its military roots: it is used today primarily for exercise and somehow as a form of therapy for restless wanderlusting souls. It’s a fun and fulfilling activity, but it has its fair share of dangers like accidents and getting lost. This list attempts to factor in not only durability and affordability, but also functionality in terms of exercise functions, safety features, and GPS.

Our team also has a previous article <insert hyperlink on “article”> on the best Garmin watches for general cycling. It is a great source for more information regarding casual cycling and exercise cycling.

Products

Prices
Key Features
Garmin Vivoactive 4
$297.98Incident detection and assistance
8 days battery smartwatch mode; 6 hours GPS/music mode
Garmin Forerunner 945

$524.99Fiber reinforced polymer case
Incident detection and assistance
2 weeks battery smartwatch mode; 10 hours GPS w/ music; 60 hours ultratrac
Garmin Fenix 6 Pro
$549.99Multiple global navigation satellite system
14 days smartwatch mode; 10 hours GPS w/ music; 28 days GPS activity mode; 48 days battery saver watch mode
Apple Watch Series 5
$499Massive amount of apps to choose from Apple store
64-bit dual core processor
Very thin and lightweight
Samsung Watch Active 2
$279Massive amount of apps to choose from Google Play
Very lightweight aluminum case
Military grade shock protection
Suunto Spartan Sport HR
$289.93Glass fiber reinforced polyamide case
GPS Navigation
24/7 activity tracking
Fitbit Ionic Watch
$204.54Lightweight aluminum case
Dynamic personal coaching
Polar M430
$146.906 LED optical heart rate sensors
24/7 activity & sleep tracking
Satellite prediction technology

1 1. Garmin Vivoactive 4

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Garmin is one of the most famous sports smartwatch brands today. And for good reason: it combines all the best features available with today’s technology not only in terms of exercise functionality, but also for survival and safety. The Garmin Vivoactive 4 is an awesome smartwatch. It not only keeps track of important exercise data like heart rate, oxygen levels, stress, and hydration, but also has a built in incident detection system so it can alert a cyclist’s emergency contacts for any unforeseen circumstances. It is similar with other Garmin entries on this list, but it stands out because it offers all these features for such a low price – only sacrificing battery life and weight by using stainless steel.

+PROS

  • Incident detection and assistance
  • 8 days battery smartwatch mode; 6 hours GPS/music mode
  • Very affordable for its features

-CONS

  • Lower battery life than other Garmin watches
  • Heavy in comparison to other smartwatches
The Basics:

Brand: Garmin 

Model: Vivoactive 4

Price: $297.98

Diameter:  45.1mm

Case Material: Stainless steel 

Crystal Material: Gorilla glass

Water Resistance: 50m

Strap Bracelet: Silicone

Strap Bracelet Width: 20mm

Watch Type: Smart watch

The Movement/Specifications:

Movement: Battery operated

Functions/Complications: 

  • Keeps track of your energy levels, Pulse Ox, stress, sleep, estimated heart, hydration and more
  • Battery life: Upto 8 days in smartwatch mode; Upto 6 hours in GPS and music mode
  • Safety and tracking Features include incident detection and assistance which both send your real time location to emergency contacts
Key Features:

Brand: Garmin 

Model: Vivoactive 4

Price: $297.98

Diameter:  45.1mm

Case Material: Stainless steel 

Crystal Material: Gorilla glass

Water Resistance: 50m

Strap Bracelet: Silicone

Strap Bracelet Width: 20mm

Watch Type: Smart watch

2 2. Garmin Forerunner 945

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Another offering by Garmin is the Garmin 945. It could be considered a premium version of the Vivoactive 4 as it offers similar features but doesn’t scrimp on its battery life and case material. Its rechargeable battery can last up to 2 weeks in smartwatch mode and 10 hours in GPS w/ music and 60hrs in  Ultratrac – a GPS mode with reduced update rates to decrease battery consumption. It also uses a fiber reinforced polymer to give it much needed durability while maintaining a low weight. It also has on-board maps, training status w/ adjustments for heat and altitude. Like the Vivoactive 4, it can send incident reports to your emergency contacts in real time.

+PROS

  • Fiber reinforced polymer case
  • Incident detection and assistance
  • 2 weeks battery smartwatch mode; 10 hours GPS w/ music; 60 hours ultratrac

-CONS

  • Pricey
The Basics:

Brand: Garmin

Model:  Forerunner 945

Price: $524.99

Reference Number: 010-02063-00

Diameter: 47mm

Case Material: fiber reinforced polymer

Crystal Material: corning gorilla glass 3 + dx coating 

Water Resistance: 50m

Strap/Bracelet: silicone 

Strap/Bracelet Width: 22mm

Watch Type: Smart watch

The Movement/Specifications:

Movement: Battery operated 

Functions/Complications: 

 

  • VO2 max
  • Training status with adjustments for heat, altitude acclimation status, training load focus, recovery time, and aerobic and anaerobic training effects
  • Full-color
  • On-board Maps
  • Incident detection and assistance; both send your real-time location to emergency contacts

 

Thickness: 13.7mm

Weight: 48.19g

Key Features:

Brand: Garmin

Model:  Forerunner 945

Price: $524.99

Reference Number: 010-02063-00

Diameter: 47mm

Case Material: fiber reinforced polymer

Crystal Material: corning gorilla glass 3 + dx coating 

Water Resistance: 50m

Strap/Bracelet: silicone 

Strap/Bracelet Width: 22mm

Watch Type: Smart watch

3 3. Garmin Fenix 6 Pro

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The Garmin Fenix 6 Pro is Garmin’s offering for users who are keen on knowing their exact location at any point on the planet. Mountain bikers often find themselves in unfamiliar places and the Fenix 6 Pro offers a solution through its multiple global navigation satellite system and its preloaded topographical maps. It also has a monster battery life of 14 days in smartwatch mode, 10 hours in GPS w/ music, and most importantly, 28 days in GPS activity mode. The Fenix 6 Pro also has a 48 day battery saver watch mode for extended trips in the wilderness.

+PROS

  • Multiple global navigation satellite system
  • 14 days smartwatch mode; 10 hours GPS w/ music; 28 days GPS activity mode; 48 days battery saver watch mode
  • Sunlight readable display

-CONS

  • Does not offer incident detection and assistance
The Basics:

Brand: Garmin

Model: Fenix 6 Pro

Price: $549.99

Reference Number: 010-02158-01

Diameter: 47mm

Case Material: Stainless Steel

Crystal Material: Sapphire

Water Resistance: 100m

Strap Bracelet: Silicone

Watch Type: Smart watch

The Movement/Specifications:

Movement: Battery operated

Functions/Complications: 

  • With preloaded TOPO maps, ski maps for over 2,000 worldwide ski resorts, multiple global navigation satellite system (GPS, GLONASS and Galileo) support and built-in sensors for 3-axis compass, gyroscope and barometric altimeter

Thickness:  14.7mm

Weight: 83g

Key Features:

Brand: Garmin

Model: Fenix 6 Pro

Price: $549.99

Reference Number: 010-02158-01

Diameter: 47mm

Case Material: Stainless Steel

Crystal Material: Sapphire

Water Resistance: 100m

Strap Bracelet: Silicone

Watch Type: Smart watch

4 4. Apple Watch Series 5

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Because of its flexibility even for non-exercise related purposes, more casual mountain biking enthusiasts may want to go for the ever reliable Apple Watch Series 5. It has a massive amount of apps to choose from through the Apple store and one may modify the smartwatch for any number of uses even outdoors. Because of its 32GB capacity, 64-bit dual core processor, and aluminum case one can rest easy that the Apple Watch is tough and reliable both inside and out. The only disadvantage is that it lacks the highly specialized apps and technology in more outdoor geared smartwatches.

+PROS

  • Massive amount of apps to choose from Apple store
  • 64-bit dual core processor
  • Very thin and lightweight

-CONS

  • Lacks some features found in exercise and outdoor focused smartwatches
The Basics:

Brand: Apple

Model: Apple watch series 5

Price: $499

Reference Number: 

Diameter: 44mm

Case Material: aluminum 

Crystal Material: Sapphire crystal 

Water Resistance: 50m

Strap/Bracelet: silicone

Strap/Bracelet Width: 

Watch Type: Smart watch

The Movement/Specifications:

Movement: Battery operated 

Functions/Complications: 

  • Built-in GPS: GLONASS, Galileo, and QZSS
  • S5 with 64-bit dual-core processor
  • Barometric altimeter
  • Capacity 32GB
  • Optical heart sensor, Electrical heart sensor
  • LTPO OLED Always-On Retina display with Force Touch (1000 nits) 
  • Digital Crown with haptic feedback
  • Bluetooth 5.0
  • Built-in rechargeable lithium-ion battery, Up to 18 hours of battery life
  • watchOS 5

Thickness: 10.7mm

Weight:  47.91g

Key Features:

Brand: Apple

Model: Apple watch series 5

Price: $499

Reference Number: 

Diameter: 44mm

Case Material: aluminum 

Crystal Material: Sapphire crystal 

Water Resistance: 50m

Strap/Bracelet: silicone

Strap/Bracelet Width: 

Watch Type: Smart watch

5 5. Samsung Galaxy Watch Active 2

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Similar to the Apple Watch, the Samsung Galaxy Watch Active 2 is an excellent watch for more casual mountain bikers. It offers a massive selection of apps from the Google Play Store and can be customized and modified according to the needs of the user. Samsung does away with Apple’s high tech Retina display, 64 bit dual core processor, and other special hardware in order to offer a smartwatch at nearly half the price. The Galaxy Watch Active 2 however offers military grade shock protection, but suffers in the same way as the Apple Watch with the lack of features geared specifically for outdoor use.

+PROS

  • Massive amount of apps to choose from Google Play
  • Very lightweight aluminum case
  • Military grade shock protection

-CONS

  • Lacks some features found in exercise and outdoor focused smartwatches
The Basics:

Brand: Samsung

Model: Galaxy Watch Active 2

Price: $279

Reference Number: SM-R830NZKAXAR

Diameter: 40mm

Case Material: aluminum 

Crystal Material: gorilla glass DX +

Water Resistance: 50m

Strap/Bracelet: fluoroelastomer

Strap/Bracelet Width: 20mm

Watch Type: Smart watch

The Movement/Specifications:

Movement: Battery operated 

Functions/Complications: 

  • Automatically Track Workouts
  • Running Coach Gives Real-Time Advice
  • Heart Rate Monitor with 8 Photodiodes
  • GPS & GLONASS location technology
  • Military grade (MIL-STD-810G) shock protection

Thickness: 10.9mm

Weight: 25.52g

Key Features:

Brand: Samsung

Model: Galaxy Watch Active 2

Price: $279

Reference Number: SM-R830NZKAXAR

Diameter: 40mm

Case Material: aluminum 

Crystal Material: gorilla glass DX +

Water Resistance: 50m

Strap/Bracelet: fluoroelastomer

Strap/Bracelet Width: 20mm

Watch Type: Smart watch

6 6. Suunto Spartan Sport HR

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Suunto is another popular sports smartwatch brand today and is one of the main competitors of Garmin in the exercise/outdoor niche. The Suunto Spartan Sport HR is an excellent watch that uses powerful GPS navigation technology and has 24/7 activity tracking over 80 sport modes for more focused exercise and accurate data collection. It uses a tough glass fiber reinforced polyamide case. It’s the perfect watch for the data-driven mountain biker.

+PROS

  • Glass fiber reinforced polyamide case
  • GPS Navigation
  • 24/7 activity tracking

-CONS

  • Lacks automatic emergency detection
The Basics:

Brand: Suunto

Model: Spartan Sport HR

Price: $289.93

Reference Number: SS022662000

Diameter: 50mm

Case Material: Glass fibre reinforced polyamide

Crystal Material: Mineral glass

Water Resistance: 100m

Strap Bracelet: Silicone

Watch Type: Smar

The Movement/Specifications:

Movement: Digital

Functions/Complications: 

  • Over 80 sport modes
  • Gps Navigation (GPS&GLONASS)
  • Long battery life
  • Wrist heart rate monitoring
  • 24/7 activity tracking
  • Wide viewing angle

Thickness:  16.8mm

Weight: 74g

Key Features:

Brand: Suunto

Model: Spartan Sport HR

Price: $289.93

Reference Number: SS022662000

Diameter: 50mm

Case Material: Glass fibre reinforced polyamide

Crystal Material: Mineral glass

Water Resistance: 100m

Strap Bracelet: Silicone

Watch Type: Smar

7 7. Fitbit Ionic Watch

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On the lower end of watch options for mountain bikers is the Fitbit Ionic Watch. Fitbit made a name for itself in pioneering the large market for exercise bands. In the years following their success, they decided to venture into the smartwatch market. One of their offerings is the Fitbit Ionic. It’s a very affordable watch with the exercise options found in their popular wristbands and more. It doesn’t have all the dynamic biking features found in the other watches on this list.

+PROS

  • Lightweight aluminum case
  • Dynamic personal coaching

-CONS

  • Lacking features compared to more expensive watches
The Basics:

Brand: Fitbit

Model: Ionic watch

Price: $204.54

Reference Number: FB503GYBK

Diameter: 30mm

Case Material: Aluminum 

Crystal Material: Corning Gorilla glass 3

Water Resistance: 50m

Strap/Bracelet: elastomer

Strap/Bracelet Width: 

Watch Type: smart

The Movement/Specifications:

Movement: battery operated

Functions/Complications: 

  • Dynamic Personal Coaching
  • PurePulse® Heart Rate
  • Popular Apps
  • All-Day Activity
  • Accessory Bands
  • Multi-Day Battery
  • Multi-Sport Modes

Thickness: 21mm

Key Features:

Brand: Fitbit

Model: Ionic watch

Price: $204.54

Reference Number: FB503GYBK

Diameter: 30mm

Case Material: Aluminum 

Crystal Material: Corning Gorilla glass 3

Water Resistance: 50m

Strap/Bracelet: elastomer

Strap/Bracelet Width: 

Watch Type: smart

8 8. Polar M430

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Polar was founded specifically to respond to the demand for outdoor smartwatches. Among the selection of amazing outdoor smartwatches offered by Polar is the M430. What sets it apart from the other watches on this list is the powerful integrated GPS with their very own satellite prediction technology which allows for accurate GPS tracking. It lags behind when it comes to features, but the sub-$150 price point makes it worth considering.

+PROS

  • 6 LED optical heart rate sensors
  • 24/7 activity & sleep tracking
  • Satellite prediction

-CONS

  • Lacking in features compared to more expensive watches
The Basics:

Brand: Polar 

Model: M430

Price: $146.90

Case Material: Stainless Steel 

Water Resistance: 30m

Strap Bracelet: Silicone 

Strap Bracelet Width: 

Watch Type: Smart

The Movement/Specifications:

Movement: Digital 

Functions/Complications: 

  • Wrist-based heart rate
  • Indoor running metrics
  • Polar Running Program
  • 24/7 activity & sleep tracking
  • Integrated GPS with SiRFInstantFix™ satellite prediction technology.

Thickness:  12mm

Weight: 51g

Key Features:

Brand: Polar 

Model: M430

Price: $146.90

Case Material: Stainless Steel 

Water Resistance: 30m

Strap Bracelet: Silicone 

Strap Bracelet Width: 

Watch Type: Smart

Key Features to Consider In Buying a Watch for Mountain Biking

 

In this guide, we compared the best mountain biking watch options in terms of functionality, durability, and affordability:

 

  • Functionality is the primary factor in considering a mountain biking watch. A good mountain biking watch must have: exercise features which allows one to monitor progress and receive data of one’s workout, and safety features like GPS and incident detection which allows one or one’s family to know their precise location.

 

  • Outdoor activities offer conditions much more difficult than in the office or at home, so durability is an important factor in choosing a mountain biking watch. More often than not a mountain biker will find himself in harsh conditions and would need a watch tough enough to endure.

 

  • Affordability is always an important factor because there are a myriad of options to choose from that come with all sorts of high tech features. What sets apart the watches on this list is that they offer an excellent amount of features for a price equally as excellent.

What apps can I download on my watch to help me in my Mountain Biking?

There are plenty of apps available to aid in mountain biking. Among these are Strava: an exercise and networking app which allows one to record stats, network with other bikers, and even compare stats with them; the Go Pro app: which is the companion app to the Go Pro camera for recording rides; and Trailfolk which is the largest database for mountain bike trails around the world.

What is GPS and how will it benefit me in Mountain Biking?

The Global Positioning System is a satellite based radionavigation system that provides geolocation and time information to a GPS receiver anywhere on Earth. It allows one to know where exactly in the globe one is. It benefits mountain bikers by giving them their precise location rather than merely relying on landmarks.