Best Watch for Mountain Biking in 2020: Top Models Reviewed

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If you’re looking for recommendations on the best watch for mountain biking, then you probably appreciate the benefits of this wonderful pastime. Few forms of exercise are as fun, enjoyable, and challenging as mountain biking.

Not only that, but it’s super easy! All you have to do is get on your bicycle, put on some protective gear and you’re good to go!

But, as a modern biker, you simply can’t leave your house without putting on your mountain bike watch.

Best Mountain Bike Watches

Your search for the best mountain bike watch has come to an end. 

In the following post, you’re going to discover some of the best watches for mountain biking, factoring in durability, safety, functionality, affordability, and GPS.

1. Apple Watch Series 5

First up in our list of the best watch for mountain biking we have the Series 5 from the ever-popular Apple Watch range. This one has similar physical dimensions to the previous model, as well as similar features like EKG, fall detection, and size screen.

But, there are also plenty of new features to be excited about. This includes a compass and an “always on” screen. We also noticed improved display view and it was thoughtfully designed to ensure prolonged battery life by becoming dimmer when it’s idle.

The battery has a rather prolonged lifespan of up to 18 hours. So, it’s a good idea to recharge it every night if you plan on using it daily as we did. It’s also worth noting that the battery life might get reduced when you start using things like the optical heart rate, GPS, music streaming, and cellular service features.

For best results, you’ll want to use it reasonably and be careful with the features you utilize in order to preserve the battery longer. For the most part, the battery can at least last for about six hours with Bluetooth and cellular data turned off and GPS turned on.

Pros
  • Lightweight and thin
  • Backed by a 64-bit dual-core processor
  • There’s a wide variety of apps to use
  • Available in two sizes and many colors
  • Built-in GPS
  • Waterproof
Cons
  • It doesn’t have the variety of features that you’d expect from the best outdoor smartwatches

2. Coros APEX Multisport GPS Watch

This is one of the best GPS watches for mountain biking, on account of how precise and compact it is. It’s a wonder how they managed to get all the features it has in there. It’s perfect not just for mountain biking, but other athletic pursuits as well.

Similar to Pace’s previous model, it can maintain all the numerous metric combinations you’d come to expect. The battery can last for up to 100 hours with GPS tracking off. But once you switch it on, that will reduce to 35 hours.

In addition to helping you to track your location, this smartwatch will help you to monitor blood oxygen among other important metrics. Also, there are five screens to choose from including Stamina, which lets you know how much energy you have until the you-know-what hits the fan.

It’s also worth noting that this watch is compatible with ANT+. This means you can use it to connect to a third-party sensor you like. But, you can only use the Bluetooth feature to connect to a smartphone – no other devices!

Pros
  • You can control the watch using the easy-to-use Digital Knob
  • It’s water-resistant for up to 100 meters
  • It comes with a built-in compass, altimeter, barometer, and heart rate monitor
  • The battery can last for up to 24 days with most of the features turned off, 80 hours in UltraMax GPS mode and up to 25 hours in normal GPS mode
  • Made with stainless steel finished with sapphire glass
Cons
  • It’s not long-lasting

3. Garmin Fenix 5 Smartwatch

Garmin, being one of the most well-known names in the outdoor apparel industry, has outdone themselves with this rugged smartwatch. The Fenix 5 is easy to use through the bezel protected circular buttons. These make this watch easy to use even with gloved or sweaty hands.

The screen is always on so it’s nice to know that you won’t struggle with sun glare thanks to its trans-reflective surface.

It’s designed to track several outdoor activities. This includes mountain biking, hiking, SUP paddle-boarding, rowing, swimming, golfing, mountain climbing, running and even bungee jumping. It’s the ultimate outdoor smartwatch!

We particularly appreciated the breadcrumb feature. It’s designed to make for easy navigation so that you never get lost in the sauce when looking for features. There’s also another feature that allows you to include power meters, which isn’t something that you see every day.

Pros
  • You can connect it to power meters
  • Offers superb app data management
  • The customizable display makes it easy to read this outdoors even in the sun
  • You can either opt for the metal or silicone band
  • Rugged design
  • Contains a comprehensive amount of features
Cons
  • The screen is low resolution
  • It’s not cheap

4. POLAR Grit X Rugged Outdoor Watch

As the name implies, the GRIT X from Polar is rugged and has plenty of grit. It competes with the likes of Suunto 9 and the Garmin Fenix. Similar to these watches, the Grit is designed to simplify and streamline your workouts, navigation and it has a long battery life.

But, what sets the Grit X apart is the fact that despite having all of these features, it’s much smaller and more lightweight than other models.

It has a 40-hour battery life when the GPS mode is turned on, which you can boost to 100 hours by disabling all other sensors. All you must do is make sure that it’s recording your location once every two minutes to log it while preserving battery life.

But, make no mistake! This is a high-end watch that’s compatible with all the big fitness platforms that athletes use, including Training Peaks, MyFitnessPal and of course, Strava. This is in addition to Polar Flow, which is available courtesy of Polar.

Pros
  • It can detect your stats when going up and downhill
  • Comes with FuelWise fueling assistant to help keep you energized throughout
  • Features an altimeter and compass
  • Built tough to withstand extreme temperatures
Cons
  • Its GPS feature could use some improvement

5. Huami AmazFit BIP Smartwatch

This AmazFit smartwatch weighs just 1.1 ounces yet it has the longest battery life of any watch in its weight class.

In fact, it can last for up to three weeks at 45%. According to AmazFit, it can last for up to a month or more without needing a recharge. We were pleasantly surprised by the built-in route maps which made our lives that much easier.

In addition to the stopwatch features, you have a heart rate tracker. It’s worth noting that the latter feature requires that you cinch the watch tightly around your wrist in order to work as expected.

For best results, we recommend operating this using the AmazFit app. This is way better than using the single button built into the watch. You can even use the app to switch from default military time to 12 hours and vice versa.

Pros
  • It has a built-in digital operation knob
  • It’s water-resistant for up to 100 meters
  • Comes with built-in compass, altimeter, barometer, and heart rate monitor
  • The battery can last for up to 24 days on power-saving mode, 80 hours on UltraMax GPS mode, and 25 hours with full GPS mode
  • Made with sapphire glass finished stainless steel
Cons
  • It’s not long-lasting

6. Fitbit Ionic Watch

One of the best mountain bike watches for fitness enthusiasts, the FitBit Ionic can be utilized to make mobile payments.

That’s because it has an NFC chip that’s designed to make your life that much easier by performing a task that would ordinarily require a whole other device.

Compared to previous models, the Ionic comes with a lot of incredible features. These make it one of the best fitness trackers available.

Part of what makes this smartwatch so popular is the fact that it comes with a lot of diverse and useful features. Yet it’s lightweight enough for comfortable wearing. You won’t even feel as if you’re wearing it. Naturally, this Fitbit is the best fitness watch for mountain biking.

Pros
  • You can use it to customize your fitness goals
  • It’s water-resistant for up to 50 meters
  • You can store your music playlist on it
  • The battery life is fantastic
Cons
  • The touchscreen can be unresponsive at times
  • It’s slow to synchronize
  • Apps and software can get buggy

7. Polar Vantage V GPS Multisport Watch

Weighing just 66 grams, this is one of the most lightweight and comfortable sports watches on the market. Yet, it’s also one of the most functional and durable. It has a 40-hour battery life and it can last for up to 7 days with the GPS switched off. 

This is one of those watches that you might forget to recharge along the way because its battery life is very strong. Not only that, but you can also pair it with an external heart rate strap and power meters, among other BLE-compatible sensors.

However, what really sets this watch apart from the rest is the fact that it’s easy to use. This is thanks to its intuitive controls and just how easy it is to set up. You can even synchronize it with other sites like Training Peaks and Strava to really optimize your ability to track things like stress, sleep, and recovery levels.

We put this watch through the ringer and after three months of daily use, it was still going strong. The optical heart rate sensor is the most effective we’ve come across yet.

Pros
  • The battery can last for up to 40 hours with the GPS on and up to 7 days with it off!
  • It has one of the very best heart rate monitors
  • It will help to accelerate training precision
  • Has one of the best fitness trackers in the business
Cons
  • It has a knack of disconnecting from the phone

8. Suunto 9 GPS Sports Watch

Next up, we have the Suunto 9 which has favorable dimensions of 50 x 50 x 16.5mm.

It’s built to handle a wide array of outdoor activities and environments. You can use it for mountain biking, surfing, swimming, riding, and running.

Also included in its range of features is GPS altitude, barometric, and optical heart rate features. This is to ensure that it can withstand immersion into water, as well as extreme humidity, freezing conditions, and rigorous drops.

But, despite having all of these fantastic features, this mountain biking watch is ready for battle when you are. It has a stunningly stylish design that makes it easy to wear on a daily basis – even on smart-casual occasions.

Pros
  • The graphs are clear and easy to read
  • Touch screen display
  • The battery life is out of this world
  • It’s built to last
  • Consistent altimeter
Cons
  • It’s difficult to understand under sunlight
  • The step counter is inaccurate

How to Get the Best Watch for Mountain Biking

Now that you know our selection, check out the criteria we used to test the models featured on our list.

This will make it that much easier for you to make your final selection.

Design

Smartwatch screens are pretty small so yours should at least have a decent user interface that’s easy to use, especially if you have large fingers.

Also, make sure that you’ll be able to use the screen even if the watch gets wet due to rain or whatever.

Material

The screen of your smartwatch should ideally be constructed from rugged materials like mineral glass.

Paired with silicone straps, this makes for a very comfortable combination.

Battery

Another important feature to look out for is the battery life. A lot of the best models have super long battery life of up to 7 days straight.

The most important thing is to ensure that your watch is compatible with your lifestyle. So, if you’re going to go mountain biking for a time, then you should make sure that your pick can stand up to those requirements.

The real test of a watch’s battery life is its ability to stay on longer when certain features are switched off as opposed to when they’re still on.

Display

Make sure that your watch screen is easy to read so that you can get the most out of all that data it’s cranking out. Size isn’t the issue here. The most important thing is the interface itself.

It should be easy to use and read regardless of the weather conditions. That means that you should be able to read it even under sun glare.

GPS

As a mountain biker, it’s important to ensure that your smartwatch has a GPS tracker that you can rely on to track and maintain your location so long as the battery lasts.

You could also look out for the breadcrumb navigation feature which allows you to track your route and location all the way from beginning to end.

Comfort

The best watch for mountain biking is often marked by comfort. These watches are often made from materials like silicone or rubber.

But, leather and fabric band models are also available for the style-conscious. The most important thing is to make sure that the material you use is comfortable.

This means that the band itself should always be breathable and easy to wear no matter the conditions.

Waterproof

You should also make sure that the watch you choose is water-resistant so that it won’t fail you the moment you come across a little bit of rainwater.

The good news is that most of the watches on our list are water-resistant for up to 100 feet which is quite impressive.

Anything that offers less than that is simply not worth the money.

Heart Monitor

The optical heart rate sensor is a given feature at this point, especially if you’re going to use your smartwatch in outdoor conditions.

Of course, there are some discrepancies in information because this is a wristwatch.

Some models aren’t as accurate in their readings when not tightly worn, and that’s something you want to keep in mind when choosing your watch.

Notifications

You want to be able to view notifications like messages and calls straight from your watch screen, and whenever you feel like it too.

The last thing you need is a smartwatch that beeps every time you receive a notification, interrupting your riding session.

Is Apple Watch the Best Mountain Bike Watch?

Yes, the Apple Watch is perfect for mountain biking. It comes with a variety of beneficial health and navigation features.

Plus, it’s known for its durability. This is one of those rugged watches that look stylish but can handle every condition thrown at it.

Of course, if you prefer to invest in another type of watch, then go ahead. There are plenty of watches that can do a better job.

Conclusion

Well, there you have it! Our review of the best watch for mountain biking in the market.

If you’re still confused about which option to choose, we highly recommend the Apple Watch Series 5.

It’s the best sport watch for mountain biking thanks to its lightweight design, all the apps that you have to choose from, and it has a powerful 64-bit dual-core processor. It’s just that great.

James is a passionate bicyclist who has done about every kind of biking there is. He loves the wind in his hair, the sun over his shoulder and maybe even the bugs in his teeth. No, just kidding about that last item. He isn’t crazy about road burns, either, but acknowledges that to have the good there is the occasional tumble. James feels that his bike is the place where he can unwind, leave troubles alongside the road, meet new people, go new places, and live the life of adventure that he loves. He is ready to share the ride with you.

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