Mountain bikers who like taking on the challenge of cycling for hours know the importance of GPS and health-monitoring features. For this reason, they look for a smartwatch that can provide these data and other beneficial features. That said, what is the best watch for mountain biking?

The best watch for mountain biking on the market today is the Garmin Forerunner 945 LTE. It features a lightweight profile that makes it comfortable to wear, GPS and LTE connectivity, heart rate monitoring, and unlimited customization options.

Best Watch for Mountain Biking

1.   Garmin Forerunner 945 LTE – Best Overall

Quality: 5

Performance: 4.5

Pros:

  • Thin and lightweight profile
  • LTE connectivity
  • Accurate GPS and heart rate monitoring
  • Limitless data customizability

Cons:

  • A bit on the pricey side (the best sometimes costs more)
Garmin Forerunner 945 LTE for Mountain Biking
Garmin Forerunner 945 LTE for Mountain Biking

Display

This smartwatch features a smaller body than its predecessor. It has a 1.2-inch display with backlighting and transflective technology. This smartwatch can use sunlight to brighten up its display, thanks to this feature. You will see everything on the screen no matter how bright the day is.

Features

The Garmin Forerunner 945 LTE proves to be the best watch for mountain biking when it comes to features. For one, you can use it for 35 hours if you only need the GPS. Meanwhile, it can work 12 hours if you use it for LiveTrack via LTE and music playing. The watch will last for two weeks if used as a smartwatch.

Additionally, the watch automatically detects the start and end of your activity and displays data right after. Another notable feature is the Garmin Elevate v4, which utilizes two infrared sensors to see your blood oxygen saturation. (source)

If you’re really into the Garmin Forerunner 945 LTE and want to read the Owner’s Manual here’s a free PDF copy πŸ‘‰ Garmin Forerunner 945 LTE Owner’s Manual

GPS

The Garmin Forerunner 945 LTE (πŸ‘ˆ Link to Amazon for reviews) has safety features that work when your smartphone connects to a cellular connection. The safety feature prompts the watch to send your name and location to the Garmin IERCC. Such is a professional emergency response center that operates 24/7. Once its staff receives an emergency alert, it will communicate with local emergency services to rescue you.

Moreover, this smartwatch can provide trail data using the GPS of LTE. It can also access various navigation systems apart from GPS – Galileo, and GLONASS. This way, you can ensure that you will be on the right track while mountain biking.

Without a doubt, the Garmin Forerunner 954 (πŸ‘ˆ link to Garmin to read more specs) is the best watch for mountain biking today. (source)

2.   Apple Watch Series 7 – Best for Display

Quality: 5

Performance: 5

Pros:

  • Brighter and larger screen than its predecessor
  • Features multiple timers
  • Fast-charging capability
  • QWERTY keyboard for easy typing

Cons:

  • Short battery life

Display

The feature that stands out the most in the Apple Watch Series 7 (shortcut link to Amazon for current prices) is its updated display. For one, the Series 7’s screen is 20 percent bigger than its predecessor. Even better, Apple exerted an effort to make the Series 7’s bezels smaller, giving users a larger and brighter screen for typing and displaying GPS maps.

If you love Apple products, feel confident the Apply Watch Series 7 will perform beyond your expectations. Read more reviews and check prices with this shortcut link to Amazon πŸ‘‰ Apply Watch Series 7

Features

The increased display screen also paved the way for a QWERTY keyboard that works with a QuickPath feature. This way, you can quickly type words by sliding your finger across the letters. Such is so much better and faster than tapping on the tiny letters one by one.

Apple also added a Contour face feature on this smartwatch. You can use your photo as your watch face, and the Contour face feature will position the hour marks on the edge of the screen.

In addition, the Apple Watch Series 7 supports emergency calls with SOS. It also has health features, including detection of loud noise, blood oxygen monitoring, fall detection, sleep tracking, and even ECG. (source)

GPS

Another thing that makes the Series 7’s the best watch for mountain biking is its two GPS variants – GPS and GPS + Cellular. The latter has a built-in LTE chip that connects to a cellular network without an iPhone. The Apple Watch Series 7 does not entirely depend on your iPhone.

On the other hand, the GPS variant works via Wi-Fi. (source)

3.   Polar Grit X – Best for Accuracy

Quality: 4.5

Performance: 4

Pros:

  • Sturdy design
  • Polar Flow app integration
  • Responsive training suggestions

Cons:

  • It does not have offline maps
Polar Grit X for biking
Polar Grit X for biking

Display

The Polar Grit X is a durable yet stylish smartwatch for mountain bikers. It features sturdy and comfortable silicone straps that you can adjust into 22 different options. This smartwatch is also water-resistant to 100 meters.

As for the display size, the Polar Grit X features a touchscreen that measures 47mm in diameter. The watch collects your mountain biking data and provides meaningful feedback that you can use to improve your activity.

Features

Polar integrated a heart rate tracker to the Polar Grit X. The monitor is pretty accurate, making the Grit X the best watch for mountain biking. There is also a feature called the Hill Splitter, which primarily works for runners. However, you can also use it for mountain biking.

The Hill Splitter feature tracks the uphill and downhill parts of your ride, providing you with climb and descent data in the Polar Flow app. (source)

GPS

However, its built-in GPS makes the Polar Grit X an excellent smartwatch for mountain biking. The GPS can pick up signals smoothly and fast. The data picked up is relatively accurate and detailed, although it does not work when there is no Wi-Fi connection.

Moreover, the GPS battery life can last up to 40 hours, along with continuous heartrate monitoring. This capability is possible thanks to the Polar Grit X’s 346mAh battery. Suppose you want the battery life to last longer. In that case, you can reduce the accuracy of the GPS or disable the heartrate monitor.

All in all, the Polar Grit X’s features can provide what you are looking for in the best watch for mountain biking. (source)

Using Watch GPS while Mountain Biking
Using Watch GPS while Mountain Biking

4.   Coros PACE 2 Premium GPS Sports Watch – Best Entry-Level

Quality: 4

Performance: 4

Pros:

  • Straightforward, easy-to-read display
  • 20-day battery life with regular use
  • Lightweight

Cons:

  • The nylon strap retains sweat and moisture
  • Lack of user manual

Display

The Coros PACE 2 is fantastic entry-level sports watch out there. It is lightweight, making it comfortable to wear for long hours. This smartwatch also has the essential features that you need for mountain biking.

This mountain biking watch has a display size of 1.2 inches and a resolution of 240 x 240. The screen is an always-on memory LCD, which will display data even when you are not turning the monitor on.

Features

This watch has a health monitoring feature, GPS, and Coros’ mobile application connectivity. It even has an Altimeter, Barometer, and Compass function that work perfectly for mountain bikers.

Another feature that makes the PACE 2 the best watch for mountain biking at an entry-level point is its heart rate sensor and an ANT+ connection. The ANT+ connection pairs with various sensors, such as a speed/cadence sensor, heart rate chest strap, and bike power meter. This smartwatch may not be as good as the expensive ones on the market, but it provides all your data and tracking needs. (source)

GPS

The watch’s battery lasts for 30 hours on GPS mode. If you want longer battery life, you can switch to UltraMax mode. However, it is worth noting that this feature will reduce the accuracy of your GPS data. (source)

5.   Coros Apex Premium Multisport GPS Watch – Best For Quality

Quality: 5

Performance: 4.5

Pros:

  • Excellent quality
  • Intuitive design
  • Provides accurate data

Cons:

  • Accuracy issues for the heart rate monitor
  • The display lacks brightness

Display

The Coros Apex features a simple design yet packs the features that every mountain biker needs. In terms of the display, it has a 1.2-inch touchscreen memory LCD. It has a resolution of 240 x 240, making it the best watch for mountain biking.

Features

This smartwatch has an Altimeter, Barometer, Compass (ABC), and various activity profiles. It also features a heart rate monitor that is a little inaccurate, a downside that you can look past if you need a GPS smartwatch for your daily mountain biking activity.

If you are mountain biking for fitness, you’ll find the Coros Apex useful, thanks to its course creation, pedometer, and calories burned data. (source)

You can get the Coros Apex directly from Coros with this link -> Coros Apex at Coros or from Amazon with this shortcut link -> Coros Apex on Amazon. I suggest checking both for the best price!

GPS

The Coros Apex can work for 25 hours in GPS mode and up to 25 days in regular smartwatch use. Its GPS is pretty accurate even when you are on a remote trail. The sports watch even has a breadcrumb mapping, allowing you to track back the map data that you previously gathered. (source)

6.   Polar Ignite GPS Fitness Smartwatch – Best for Value

Quality: 4.5

Performance: 4.5

Pros:

  • Provides adaptive training recommendations
  • Advanced sleep and recovery insights
  • Solid battery life

Cons:

  • Frequent screen timeouts
Polar Ignite GPS Fitness Watch a great value
Polar Ignite GPS Fitness Watch a great value

Display

This fitness smartwatch is an affordable option for people on a budget. It has a diameter of 1.2 inches and a resolution of 240 x 204. The LCD is a touchscreen, making it extremely easy to use.

Features

The Polar Ignite GPS Fitness Smartwatch is the best watch for mountain biking in terms of value. It boasts multi-sport profiles. However, the most notable feature is the Nightly Recharge recovery tracker. This feature provides you with the data the smartwatch gathered after an entire day of mountain biking.

The Polar Ignite GPS Fitness Smartwatch boasts the Polar Flow app, which mountain bikers will find helpful. For instance, the app analyzes your mountain biking data and recommends the ideal length of time you need to mountain bike for the upcoming week. This way, you can enjoy mountain biking and reach your fitness goals. (source)

Considering the Polar Ignite? You can get it directly from Polar with this shortcut – Polar Ignite GPS Watch

GPS

Moreover, GPS connectivity works fast. The battery life lasts about 17 hours on GPS mode and heart rate monitor combined. With an accurate GPS, you can ensure that you are always on the track and will not lose your way in the woods. (source)

7. SUUNTO 9 Peak – Best for Size

Quality: 4.5

Performance: 4.7

Pros:

  • Features various sports mode
  • Long battery life and customizable battery modes
  • Easy to use

Cons:

  • Large black bezel
  • The software can be a bit sluggish

Display

What makes the SUUNTO 9 Peak (link to manufacture for more) the best watch for mountain biking in terms of size is its 10.6mm thickness and a case that measures 1.2 inches. The downside is that the bezel around the watch makes the display smaller. Still, the screen is visible even when the outdoor light is bright.

Get a FREE copy of the Users Manual with this link – Suunto 9 Peak

Features

The SUUNTO 9 Peak (link to Amazon for reviews) features 80 sports modes divided into indoor and outdoor activities. The core sports are swimming, running, and of course, cycling. These core sports will have their activity data tracked via rich metrics compared to primary sports with only duration and heart rate profiles.

The heart rate tracker measures your effort levels while mountain biking. If you do not trust the accuracy of the watch’s heart rate monitor, you can connect it with external heart rate sensors.

A digital compass and barometric altimeter also record your altitude, ascends, and descends. It boasts weather-related features, including temperature readings, sunrise and sunset schedules, storm alarms, and sea level pressure monitoring. (source)

GPS

Another thing that makes the SUUNTO 9 Peak the best watch for mountain biking is its responsive GPS. This smartwatch can quickly fetch a GPS signal when you need a trail map for mountain biking. To make GPS maps more accurate, the SUUNTO 9 Peak has a snap-to-route feature that works perfectly in tricky areas. (source)

8.   Garmin Instinct – Best for Data Tracking

Quality: 4.5

Performance: 4

Pros:

  • Excellent sports tracking
  • Navigation support

Cons:

  • Does not have a complete mapping
Garmin Instinct for Mountain Biking
Garmin Instinct for Mountain Biking

Display

The Garmin Instinct has a transflective display screen that measures 23mm x 23mm and a 128 x 128 resolution. While the LCD is not a touchscreen, the watch’s five physical buttons are easy to navigate.

Features

At its heart, the Garmin Instinct (link to Garmin for specs) features three core tracking modes – cycling, running, and swimming. Mountain climbing, hiking, and other activities also have their dedicated modes. You can also upload the courses you want to follow using the watch’s point-to-point navigation support.

Additionally, breadcrumb trails let you track back the data you previously fetched. Other features include sunrise and sunset alerts, a built-in compass, and elevation data. (source)

GPS

The Garmin Instinct’s GPS can reliably provide trail data with great accuracy. (source)

9.   Samsung Galaxy Watch3 – Best for Fitness Features

Quality: 4.5

Performance: 4.5

Pros:

  • Features a rotating bezel
  • Fantastic fitness features
  • Easy to use

Cons:

  • Expensive
  • Lacks third-party app support

Display

The Samsung Galaxy Watch3 features a vivid display and sophisticated design. Its Super AMOLED capacitive display monitor measures 46.2 inches in diameter and has a thickness of only 11.1mm.

The bezel is touch-sensitive, so you can easily navigate the screen regardless of size.

Features

The Samsung Galaxy Watch3 (link to Samsung to read more) has some fitness features that make it the best watch for mountain biking. This sports watch can track 40 sports profiles — 33 profiles involve manual tracking, while the remaining seven track automatically.

It has a heart rate monitor that tracks that works fine even when you are pedaling for hours. However, some users find it a little inaccurate. There is also blood oxygen monitoring, sleep tracking, and VO2 Max reporting.

But this smartwatch’s feature that stands out the most is its automatic emergency contact. The watch will automatically notify your emergency person when it detects a fall, allowing rescue to reach you quickly in case of an accident. (source)

GPS

The Galaxy Watch 3 also has different navigation systems besides the standard GPS. That includes Galileo, GLONASS, and Beidou. There is also an optional LTE connectivity. (source)

10.   Polar Vantage V – Best for Appearance

Quality: 4

Performance: 4

Pros:

  • Lots of running metrics
  • Long battery life
  • Excellent data recovery

Cons:

  • Control can be a bit confusing
Riding with Polar Vantage V
Riding with Polar Vantage V

Display

Similar to the other watches in this review, the Polar Vantage V has a 1.2-inch screen with a sharp and colorful display. Even better, the display is visible regardless of the bright lighting conditions.

Features

One feature that makes the Vantage V the best watch for mountain biking is its fitness measures. Serene is a guided breathing exercise that helps you regulate your breath in and out. It also has a VO2 Max feature that measures your blood oxygen.

Additionally, the Nightly Recharge feature tracks sleep quality and how your body regenerated after yesterday’s activity. This way, you’ll know whether or not your body is in condition for mountain biking.

Another excellent feature is the Recovery Pro, which measures how you performed an activity. It will also tell you the ideal recovery time before you can do a strenuous activity again. (source)

GPS

This smartwatch utilizes a combination of GPS and GLONASS systems. Both navigation systems are accurate, so you can ensure that you stay on track while in the woods. (source)

Tips For Choosing the Best Watch for Mountain Biking

Choosing the best watch for mountain biking is not a matter of getting the most popular one. There are features that you need to examine. You also need to assess whether a smartwatch’s features meet your needs and requirements.

With countless smartwatches available today, finding out which will work best for you can be tricky. To help you with your purchasing journey, we have compiled the factors mountain bikers should look for when buying a sports watch.

1.   GPS

One of the most crucial smartwatch features for mountain bikers is GPS. This feature provides an overview of the trail where you will have your adventure, ensuring you will not lose track of your way. Having GPS on your smartwatch will also track how long the distance you covered is and how fast you pedaled for the entire ride.

However, it is essential to note that using GPS can drain your battery life faster.

2.   Battery Life

You want your smartwatch to last for at least 24 hours, if not for days. True enough, the more expensive a watch is, the longer its battery life. However, you do not need to invest a hefty budget on your smartwatch if you will do not mountain bike regularly.

To choose the proper battery life, you must consider how often you go into the woods. If you are only mountain biking once a week, you will already benefit from a watch that lasts for an entire day.

3.   Fitness Features 

The best watch for mountain biking should have a heart rate sensor, especially if you are a hardcore mountain biker. This way, you can ensure that you are not compromising your fitness while mountain biking. Most watches with heart rate monitors also can notify your emergency contacts if things go wrong. So, help will immediately be on your way in an emergency.

If you are mountain biking for fitness more than adventure, then you need more than just a heart rate sensor. You will also benefit from fitness features like ECG, blood oxygen level monitoring, and sleep quality tracking. With these features, you will know when you are in the best condition for mountain biking.

4.   Phone Compatibility

Some sports watches need to connect to your smartphone to access the internet. Without your phone, these watches cannot gather GPS maps and provide the necessary data. For this reason, you need to ensure that your chosen sports watch is compatible with your phone.

On the other hand, some smartwatches can connect to a cellular network even without a smartphone. Such models are more useful as they will still work even when your phone runs out of battery.

5.   Emergency Contact

The best watch for mountain biking should provide you with safety features. For one, it should have the ability to send an SOS alert to your emergency contact in case of a fall. This feature is beneficial if you are mountain biking alone and have had an accident.

6.   Design And Personalization

When choosing a sport to watch, it is ideal to go for one that has a silicone strap. Some watches have nylon straps, and while they look good when worn, they retain water, sweat, and dirt. When nylon straps are wet, they can be uncomfortable to wear.

On the other hand, silicone straps dry quickly. While they may accumulate dirt, they are relatively easy to clean, making them easier to maintain.

7.   Pricing

Another thing worth noting is that sports watches can be pretty expensive. A basic sports watch can cost more than $100 if it is an old model. On the other hand, smartwatches with modern features can cost between $200 to $500, depending on the number of features they have.

Watch Name (link to Amazon or Manufacture for current prices)Price USD (prices vary, check link)
1. Garmin Forerunner 945 LTE$460
2. Apple Watch Series 7 $399
3. Polar Grit X$300
4. COROS PACE 2$199
5. Coros Apex Premium Multisport GPS$299
6. Polar Ignite GPS Fitness Smartwatch $229
7. Suunto 9 Peak$455
8. Garmin Instinct $259
9. Samsung Galaxy Watch 3$104
10. Polar Vantage V$399

Moreover, most sports watches today offer many customization options in terms of design. For instance, some sports watches allow you to choose the material and band color you want.

Whatever your chosen smartwatch is, you must ensure that your choice is comfortable. You want to avoid a smartwatch that is difficult to wear as it may compromise your comfort. Fortunately, most modern sports watches today are now easy to wear and feature a standard buckle. (source)

Final Thoughts

After careful deliberation, it is clear that the Garmin Forerunner 945 LTE is the best watch for mountain biking. Its long battery life allows you to use GPS for your entire ride. It also has features that can help you track your fitness.

Furthermore, comparing the best mountain biking is essential as it allows you to find the proper smartwatch for you and your daily activity.

David DIY MTB

David Humphries is the creator of DIY Mountain Bike. For me a relaxing day involves riding my mountain bike to decompress after a long day. When not on my bike I can be found wrenching on it or casting a fly on a small mountain stream. Read more about David HERE.

Sources

  1. Gian Luigi Canata, Henrique Jones, Werner Krutsch, Patricia Thoreux, and Alberto Vascellari. The Running Athlete: A Comprehensive Overview of Running in Different Sports. Springer Nature, 2022. https://books.google.com.ph/books?id=KWBsEAAAQBAJ&pg=PA79&dq=Garmin+Forerunner+945+LTE&hl=en&sa=X&ved=2ahUKEwjHmZ-rm9L4AhW0QPUHHTUtDxgQ6AF6BAgCEAI#v=onepage&q=Garmin%20Forerunner%20945%20LTE&f=false.
  2. Polar Grit X. Amazon. Accessed June 28, 2022. https://www.amazon.com/POLAR-Grit-Military-Level-Durability-Ultra-Long/dp/B0876JJSYL/ref=sr_1_2?crid=2NOIHQQ37BK6D&keywords=Polar+Grit+X&qid=1656490596&sprefix=polar+grit+x%2Caps%2C1185&sr=8-2.
  3. COROS PACE 2 Premium GPS Sports Watch. Amazon. Accessed June 28, 2022. https://www.amazon.com/Coros-Silicone-Barometer-Connections-Training/dp/B08GNV86NR/ref=sr_1_1_sspa?crid=1GA3FIQ1PVX02&keywords=Coros+PACE+2&qid=1656490782&sprefix=coros+pace+2%2Caps%2C446&sr=8-1-spons&psc=1&smid=AUNJEJTT1D1RD&spLa=ZW5jcnlwdGVkUXVhbGlmaWVyPUExQjU0NjZURUdHMFI0JmVuY3J5cHRlZElkPUEwNTExMTU3SE05Q0ZKSjhVVU1KJmVuY3J5cHRlZEFkSWQ9QTA2MDkyMDkySjk5TUJNQk5MVTNCJndpZGdldE5hbWU9c3BfYXRmJmFjdGlvbj1jbGlja1JlZGlyZWN0JmRvTm90TG9nQ2xpY2s9dHJ1ZQ==.
  4. Coros Apex Premium Multisport GPS Watch. Amazon. Accessed June 28, 2022. https://www.amazon.com/COROS-APEX-Premium-Multisport-Watch/dp/B07XKW73D7/ref=sr_1_3?crid=1U4GLJVUOKSJC&keywords=Coros+apex&qid=1656492015&sprefix=coros+ape%2Caps%2C610&sr=8-3.
  5. POLAR Ignite. Amazon. Accessed June 28, 2022. https://www.amazon.com/POLAR-Ignite-Waterproof-Precision-Integrated/dp/B07X5GBVB2/ref=sr_1_3?crid=2W3W0G1UPCTIH&keywords=Polar+Ignite+GPS+Fitness+Smartwatch&qid=1656490887&sprefix=polar+ignite+gps+fitness+smartwatch%2Caps%2C611&sr=8-3.
  6. SUUNTO 9 Peak. Amazon. Accessed June 28, 2022. https://www.amazon.com/SUUNTO-9-Peak-Moss-Gray/dp/B094R64CTN/ref=sr_1_1_sspa?crid=3M7R89VFV90NG&keywords=SUUNTO+9+Peak&qid=1656490962&sprefix=suunto+9+peak%2Caps%2C416&sr=8-1-spons&psc=1&spLa=ZW5jcnlwdGVkUXVhbGlmaWVyPUEzNDRYWDk1Wks2T1Q2JmVuY3J5cHRlZElkPUEwMDgwMzQxMlhWRUFXUVdBTEVENCZlbmNyeXB0ZWRBZElkPUEwODU1NzE4M0VaSzlQVE8zN0FFUSZ3aWRnZXROYW1lPXNwX2F0ZiZhY3Rpb249Y2xpY2tSZWRpcmVjdCZkb05vdExvZ0NsaWNrPXRydWU=.
  7. Garmin 010-02064-00 Instinct. Amazon. Accessed June 28, 2022. https://www.amazon.com/Garmin-Instinct-Features-Monitoring-Graphite/dp/B07HYX9P88/ref=sr_1_3?crid=DZF1E98SJXSJ&keywords=Garmin+Instinct&qid=1656491201&sprefix=garmin+instinct+%2Caps%2C550&sr=8-3.
  8. Samsung Galaxy Watch3. Amazon. Accessed June 28, 2022. https://www.amazon.com/Galaxy-Watch3-LTE-Monitoring-45MM/dp/B08QDRP6YW/ref=sr_1_3?crid=1TWFCXQPEYJ5W&keywords=Samsung+Galaxy+Watch+3&qid=1656491321&sprefix=samsung+galaxy+watch+3+%2Caps%2C331&sr=8-3.
  9. Polar Vantage V. Amazon. Accessed June 28, 2022. https://www.amazon.com/Polar-Vantage-Multisport-Triathlon-Waterproof/dp/B07HC9TVFC/ref=sr_1_4?keywords=Polar+Vantage+V&qid=1656491356&sr=8-4.
  10. Sarah Rowell and Wendy Dodds. Trail and Mountain Running. Crowood, 2013. https://books.google.com.ph/books?id=ApR8AwAAQBAJ&pg=PT120&dq=gps+watch+features&hl=en&sa=X&ved=2ahUKEwiowsK2n9L4AhVUm1YBHcHEADUQ6AF6BAgHEAI#v=onepage&q=gps%20watch%20features&f=false.