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GPS Watches 2021 - What 110 OCR Athletes Think

Updated: Jun 20

GPS watches can be extremely valuable tools for OCR training and racing. Depending on your training methods, the feedback GPS watches provide can be extremely beneficial to your overall performance. We hear and see a lot of questions about which GPS watch is best for OCR, so we put out a survey in dozens of OCR facebook groups, and we put together the results from the first 110 people who responded! We hope you find this information very beneficial in deciding which watch may be best for you.

To view data from our most recent survey, visit: GPS Watches 2023

You can check out our article from 2019 and see how the results may have changed. GPS Watches - What 52 OCR Athletes Think

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Question 1:

What were the 3 most important factors you considered when purchasing your current GPS watch?

It was so close between the Top 3 reasons! Quality, Battery Life, and Durability are what the masses want! Obviously, waterproof is a huge bonus. I personally thought that price would have been higher up on the scale because some of these GPS watches are up to $700+ now, but hey, people want quality! Weight is one I rarely hear talked about for watches, though I personally like light watches. All of the other options, yeah, no one cares!

Question 2:

If forced to use a different brand apart from the one you currently use, which would you choose?

It's probably not much consolation to these brands that they are the top choice for second fiddle, but it's better than nothing, right? If I had to choose an alternative watch to my current (Suunto 9) I'd choose Coros, Garmin, then Polar. But I'm no GPS watch expert, so these are all probably pretty solid choices! I will say, only 58 people answered this question. The others couldn't bear the thought of not having their favorite GPS watch ;).


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Question 3:

Is there a watch brand or model that you tried and didn't like? If so, which one, and why?

Most responders said "N/A". However, here are a few of the short reviews people did write: "Samsung had a short battery life"

"Fitbit. Not tough enough."

"All of the fitbit models I’ve tried have been less than I expected. Battery was horrible, and the durability was poor."

"Fitbit, ionic, failed to start, flaky software. Went through two before changing to a Garmin.

Apple is garbage for racing as is Samsung."

"Tomtom. Just didn't like how it physically felt."

"Polar M430. Bad design"

"Apple. Not durable and battery life is too short for ultra races."

I'll also add that there were far more negative reviews for Fitbit than any other brand...maybe something to consider. I've never personally used a Fitbit, and that's why surveys like this exist! To share information.

Question 4:

What is the model of watch that you currently use? (I've listed the Top 5)

Yes, I condensed models because there are SO MANY model numbers. And yes, I also made Apple just "Apple" because all the models are pretty much the same, right? ;). Anyway! The drop off here is astounding between the different models being used. Clearly the Fenix, and Forerunner have taken up the majority of space on people's wrists. The poor Suunto Spartan is just barely hanging in there.


Question 5:

Which GPS watch brand do you currently use for racing and/or training?

Holy cow. Garmin pommeled every other brand. Well, they do have some amazing watches, and I've heard their app is very good as well. Clearly, Garmin is out there as the extreme lead watch brand in OCR. Fitbit, Apple, and Polar are all close, and Suunto is clawing up the list a bit now, but Garmin is crushing it. I just recently found out about Wahoo Fitness's GPS watch (it's pretty new) so it's cool that some people have that! I did think that Coros would have more users though. They've come out with some crazy watches and stats for their watches, and they've gotten a lot of publicity, but apparently that has yet to translate to lots of users; at least for this survey.

I hope this article, and the information in it, have been helpful for you in finding a solid watch for OCR! If you have questions about training for OCR, or if you need programming, please reach out to us! We'd be happy to help you reach all your goals!


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