Best Watches for Trail & Ultra Running: Top Choices for Your Money in 2019

Best Watches for Trail & Ultra Running – Top 10 Choices for the Elites

Product imageProduct nameEditor's ratingPrice
Garmin Fenix 5 Plus, Premium Multisport GPS Smartwatch4.8 out of 5 starscta
Suunto 9 GPS Watch4.8 out of 5 starscta
Garmin Forerunner 935 Running GPS Unit (Black)4.8 out of 5 starscta
Garmin Forerunner 35; Easy-to-Use GPS Running Watch, Black4.7 out of 5 starscta
Fitbit Charge 2 Heart Rate + Fitness Wristband, Black, Small (US Version)4.7 out of 5 starscta
Fitbit Versa Smart Watch, One Size4.7 out of 5 starscta
Garmin Forerunner 235, GPS Running Watch, Black/Gray4.6 out of 5 starscta
Polar M430 GPS Running Watch4.6 out of 5 starscta
Garmin Instinct, Rugged Outdoor Watch with GPS4.6 out of 5 starscta
YoYoFit Smart Fitness Watch with Heart Rate Monitor, Waterproof 4.6 out of 5 starscta

When trail running, you want a watch that will help you monitor your performance.

It should display the time, pace, distance, location, and much more.

You also want a device that feels light on the hand, has a smooth texture and isn’t affected by sweat, dirt, moisture, light rain, movement, shaking and vibration.

The following review looks at the 3 best watches for trail and ultra running you can have right now.

Garmin Fenix 5 plus, Multisport GPS Smartwatch

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This watch comes in a rugged design.

It will prove useful on the outdoors and should handle the terrains and environments well.

It comprises diamond-like carbon titanium or stainless steel bezel.

It will, therefore, withstand scratches, dents, bangs, falls, impact and more.

We also love the clear display which gives you easy access to the many features and modes.

The GPS navigation and colorful TOPO maps help you to ascertain your way in the location.

It has smooth and flexible rubber straps which don’t dog into or scratch the skin.

They are also less prone to sweating, sticking to the skin, or leaving discoloration or marks.


  • Well built and tough
  • Good size and weight
  • Easy to use


  • The rubber strap isn’t super strong

Suunto 9 GPS Trail Watch

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This trail running watch is lightweight and also very compact.

Wearing it for a long time is therefore not a challenge.

It also handles shocks, vibrations, and impact fairly well.

The unit maintains its effectiveness even after frequent banging, falls, or knocks.

It comprises a tough sapphire glass which doesn’t get scratched, discolored, break, or shatter easily.

It also has clear glare-free views for easy viewing.

The large memory will track performance for as many as 120 hours while the battery should last for a long time.

And with a water resistance of 100 meters, you are assured of it still working even in heavy rain, drinks spilling on it, sweat dripping on it, or accidentally falling in the water.


  • High quality and easy to operate
  • Good water resistance
  • Good battery life and large memory


  • The mapping isn’t very detailed

Garmin Forerunner 935 Running GPS Unit (Black)

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Coming in a simple black color, this watch should look okay on both men and women.

It feels solid despite its light weight (49 grams).

Wearing it for extended periods should be convenient.

It comes with several useful features (barometer, maps, altimeter, electronic compass….) to help you monitor your environment and prevent getting lost.

Many consumers give it the nod for being accurate, easy viewing, sturdy construction, and also simple to maintain.

Moreover, battery life and memory seem to outscore most of its rivals.

The advanced dynamics plus the versatile nature make it a suitable option for running, jogging, cycling, swimming and more.


  • Good battery life
  • Effective GPS navigation
  • Accurate and decent backlight


  • The display isn’t touch screen

What to watch out for when buying watches for trail running

best watches for trail running


A good watch will feel very comfortable on the wrist.

It will have a smooth surface/texture which doesn’t scratch the skin.

It also won’t make the section too sweaty, stuffy or sticky.

Moreover, it will be lightweight to prevent undue weight and stays in place without moving too much.

Battery Life

Imagine the watch dying out on you in the middle of nowhere?

First, you may be depending on GPS navigation.

Secondly, you may be monitoring your performance.

Such things are best avoided by picking a piece that has a long-lasting battery.

Reading reviews and going for reputable products comes in handy.


You like many other people want the exact results.

You don’t want to believe your performance is improving or declining on to discover later that your watch is giving you erratic figures.

The best type is very precise, delivers instant results, and also has a large memory for tracking performance.


The truth is that the watch will be put under severe stress over its lifespan.

You’ll bump, bang it against objects.

Scratch it, drop it, accidentally seat on it, pour liquids on it, expose it to dust, moisture, sweat and much more.

Wearing a durable and sturdily-built piece will help to combat such effects and extend its lifespan.

Weather and waterproof

When running on the trails, you’ll be exposed to the elements.

At one time it may be very sunny and dusty, in the next instant it’s humid and misty, and in other situations, you’ll be caught up in the rain.

A good product will handle the weather well and won’t be harmed by rain, strong winds, low or high temperatures.


Trail running will take you to new environments.

This may happen especially if you have relocated or have decided to run while on vacation.

In such situations, you’ll rely on the navigation to know where you are at and where you are going.

Poor GPS tracking may mean you getting lost in the mountains or wilderness.

Actionable features

You are advised to always go for a product with many useful features.

These allow you to monitor your performance, keep time, set targets, and also review your progress over time.

A barometer helps to measure the pressure, which is critical if you like running at high altitudes.

O2 sensors keep tabs on blood oxygen saturation while Heart Rate (HR) Monitor keeps track of the pulse or heartbeat.

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Best Watches for Trail Running
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My name is Rob, and I'm a watch enthusiast by heart. I love writing about impressive watches that could make people stand out. And I'm also an amateur collector who loves to share his collection with everyone. Feel free to connect with me whenever you want.