WALKING AND GENERAL TOURISM: FITBIT CHARGE 2
For your typical walk-around-town-and-explore–style holiday, the Fitbit Charge 2 (US$150) is the best basic fitness tracker for most people.
It’s small but mighty. The thin band doesn’t attract too much attention, but it tracks everything from steps walked and floors climbed to calories burned and the quality of the sleep you’re getting in that hotel bed.
It has a built-in screen so all of those stats are no more than a glance away and it has a built-in heart-rate monitor to give you a better estimate of how much exercise you’re really getting.
It even has a few smartwatch features, like displaying your text messages and letting you know who’s calling.
SKIING/SNOWBOARDING: GARMIN FENIX 3
The Garmin Fenix 3 (US$500) is more than just the best watch for skiing and snowboarding; it’s arguably the best outdoor watch, period.
For snow sports, though, it’s most certainly unsurpassed. It keeps track of each of your runs down the mountain, constantly tracking your speed, vertical drop, time and more.
It has an auto-lap feature, too, so you don’t need to remember to hit pause in between runs; it knows when you get on the chairlift and when you start again.
You can even compare your time between runs.
Add in the fact that it has 24/7 activity tracking—plus that it’s great for hiking, swimming, running and just about everything else—and the steep cost is justified.
HIKING: SUUNTO TRAVERSE
The Suunto Traverse (US$350) sets itself apart from the hundreds of hiking-specific watches by including some very good topographical maps.
It can even be set to vibrate with different patterns when you need to turn right or left, which helps you stay on track without forcing you to stare at your wrist the whole time.
The Traverse provides weather alerts when the built-in barometer thinks a storm is coming, and it can keep you informed on how much sunlight you have left so you’re not hiking back to camp in the dark.
It also offers day-to-day step and calorie tracking, and can display alerts from your smartphone.
Really solid battery life, too.
SURFING: RIP CURL SEARCH GPS
We surfers love to brag to one another about how many waves we caught, how long our rides were and how fast we were going.
Until now there was no way to back up these claims, or even accurately know ourselves if they were true. Enter the Rip Curl Search GPS (US$400), the first watch made specifically for surfing.
Simply start tracking and the watch automatically knows what break you’re at.
It keeps track of how long you’ve been in the water, the distance you’ve covered (including paddling), the number of waves you catch, the length of each ride and the top speed achieved on each wave.
Sync it with your phone once you’re done and you can see each ride overlaid on a satellite map.
A single charge gets you 10 hours of GPS tracking and quantifiable bragging rights.
SWIMMING: XMETRIX PRO
The gold standard for detailed data while you swim is the XMetrix Pro (US$250).
Not only is wearing a tracker on your wrist liable to get you somewhat muddied data, it’s also a bit of a distraction.
The XMetrix Pro is worn on the back of your head, attaching to your goggle strap.
Besides tracking extremely detailed data points (stroke type, strokes per lap, speed, turn time, etc) it actively provides you with real-time coaching as you swim, through a pair of included waterproof earbuds. That’s pretty unbeatable.
When you get out of the pool you can sync all the data to your smartphone (iOS or Android) and really get into the nitty-gritty.
Have you tried using any of these gadgets? Share your review with us below in the comment box.
Main photo: iStock