So your family knows that you run. And they know you travel a lot. So what to get you? They have all these new running watches…
Let’s takes a look at 3 running watches (and a pair of earphones) that work very well for the travelling runner..
Soleus GPS Sole + HRM strap
First, we have the Soleus GPS Sole. As an international traveler, I often find myself running in areas it wouldn’t be the wisest to have a $600 watch on my wrist. That is where the Soleus GPS Sole comes into its own.
Although this watch currently retails for $199, I don’t expect that price to remain for very long. With another highly capable watch on this list for sale at the same exact price, Soleus will have no choice to market this highly capable watch for an incredible price. The technology to sync to strava, although it works, doesn’t appear very advanced, and it’s no longer Soleus’s top of the line watch. But where this watch may lack in sophistication, it more than compensates with an amazing battery-life. I have literally (without exaggeration) forgotten about this watch for over 3 months only to find the watch with over 60% battery life still remaining. Of course, with GPS use and everyday running, the battery will not last that long – but it’s still pretty stunning in this era of daily-recharge phones/iphones/Apple Watches. And the sophistication of this watch is hidden behind a watch face that appears like your standard digital watch. In fact, it reminds me of my first digital watch almost 20 years ago – and it would not be one to normally attract the eyes of potential thieves. I might still decide not to wear it on my wrist in certain areas (a pocket will do just fine), but it will certainly stay on my wrist more often than the other choices below.
It’s also the lightest watch on this list – if you don’t like something that feels like a lead weight on your wrist, then the Sole will feel like a feather.
One thing to keep in mind – As far as I can tell, this watch uses a proprietary HRM strap, which means you can’t use your own ANT+ or Bluetooth HRM.
And, despite the classic-retro look of the band/watch face, this watch does a rather admirable job of keeping track of a GPS signal. So don’t judge a book by its cover!
- Light weight
- Not-fancy looking
- Easily replaced HRM strap battery
- Long Battery Life
- Basic display
- Proprietary HRM strap
- Expensive for now; At $99, it would be a steal.
- Only one sport
Timex Ironman One GPS
At the same price as the Soleus, but without the bluetooth HRM, the Timex One GPS contains a huge wealth of capability. From its touch screen to the ability to sync with AT&T’s network and keep you in touch without your phone (and listen to music with a massive memory), the Timex is one of the few “does it all” running watches. If you’re going for light weight, this watch will fit the bill. If it contained a camera, it would the only thing I’d use.
It does, however, still look like an expensive running watch, but its simple, bluetooth based recording and ability to upload to Strava make it a simple, worthy watch for everyday use.
- One Device to Rule Them All (Music, Tracking, Phone Calls)
- Works with any bluetooth HRM
- Easy setup
- Easy to use
- Can’t wear as everyday watch
- No steps tracking
- Battery good for about 8 hours
- Only one sport
Garmin Fenix 3
This is the Grand Daddy of watches.
Perhaps its a bit unfair to compare this watch to the other two, as the Fenix is a premium watch at around $600. But the things it can do…. If you have the cash, this is THE watch. But a serious downside – if you get mugged, they’re gonna want this watch.
- Multiple Sports
- Garmin Connect/Strava support
- Bluetooth w/ phone
- Not “subtle”
Three Watch Accuracy
So how do the watches compare in GPS accuracy? Well on Christmas Eve I went for a short run with all three watches – two connected to the MIO ANT+/bluetooth HRM, and the Soleus connected to its own HRM strap. Here are the results:
Garmin Fenix 3
5.37 mi Distance
80.0 °F Avg Temp
Timex Ironman One GPS+
1:01:01 Moving Time
Elapsed Time: 1:05:56
Soleus GPS Sole
1:00:21 Moving Time
Elapsed Time 1:04:15
Note: Since some of the data comes from Strava, and strava overwrites or provides data not given by the watch (such as elevation change), the Timex and Sole appear the same in elevation and close to calories since Strava does its own calculations. On the Sole watch, my calories showed much, much less since I forgot to input my user data; The Sole Watch thought I was a 5’1″ 119lb male… and I most certainly am not.
No run is complete without a glass of Nuun both before, during, and after your run. Best to stay hydrated! And of course, a good pair of bluetooth headphones, such as the Sol Republic Shadow. Oh, and the MIO bluetooth/ANT+ optical wrist HRM was sure handy!