In today’s technologically-inclined world, it’s possible to do pretty much anything on your smartphone – including GPS tracking. But when you’re on the trail during a mountain biking excursion, your phone’s GPS might not be the most accurate way to track your movements and location.
However, GPS watches specifically designed for mountain biking not only solves this problem but can help improve your own experience on the trail. With these watches, it’s possible to keep an eye on how far or fast you’ve ridden, and can even help you improve as you track each ride.
Whether you’re an avid mountain biker or just starting out, you’ve probably already realized just how many mountain biking accessories are on the market right now. With all of the potential choices, it can be difficult to pinpoint which GPS watch really is the best for you.
That’s why we’ve put together a guide to help you make the right purchasing decision. With product comparisons and individual reviews, you’ll be on your way to finding the GPS mountain biking watch that’s best for you!
Top 5 Model Comparison Table
|GPS Battery Life
200hrs with a full charge
Smartwatch: up to 12 days; GPS: up to 18hrs
Smartwatch: up to 2 weeks; GPS: up to 10hrs
Best GPS Watches for Mountain Biking Reviews
1. SUUNTO Ambit3 Peak HR Running GPS Unit
The SUUNTO Ambit3 GPS watch provides accurate GPS, compass, barometer, weather, and altimeter reading with up to 100 meters of water resistance. With 200hrs of battery life on a full charge, this GPS also provides heart rate tracking and connectivity with smartphone devices.
Via the Movescout App, this watch can sync your activities, calls, and other notifications to ensure that progress is always being tracked. The watch can be adjusted on the go for sharing photographs and updates about your trail ride.
The watch is built for durability and has a large face for optimal notification and location visibility. The GPS tends to be quite accurate, and once paired with a smartphone notifications come in immediately. Additionally, as the compass is not GPS based, it can be used reliably at all times regardless of connectivity.
It’s important to note that the temperature reading feature on the watch sometimes provides a 5-10 degree higher reading than the actual temperature.
This product comes in two colors.
- Up to 100 meters of water resistance
- 200 hours of battery life
- Smartphone connectivity
- Durable build
- Accurate compass doesn’t rely on GPS
- Temperature readings may be inaccurate
2. Garmin Fenix 5 Plus
The Garmin Fenix 5 Plus is a multi-sport GPS smartwatch that includes color maps to help you locate and follow popular paths. Additionally, the watch estimates heart rate and includes a built-in navigation sensor with a three-axis compass, gyroscope, and barometric altimeter.
The Fenix 5 Plus also functions as a smartwatch, allowing you to store and play up to 500 songs on the watch. It connects both to your smartphone and Bluetooth headphones. This also features Garmin Pay, which allows you to use the watch to pay for purchases.
This watch is designed with either stainless steel or DLC titanium bezel, buttons, and rear case, depending on the watch color you choose.
There may be connectivity issues when it comes to internet connection and smartphone syncing. Additionally, the tracking system and some of the maps may take a while to load on the watch.
Cost is a factor to consider with this watch, with prices on the higher side.
- Functions as both GPS and smartwatch, with a smartphone and Bluetooth connectivity
- Designed for durability with either stainless steel or DLC titanium body
- May have connectivity issues
- The tracking system may be slow to update
- The watch comes with a high price point
3. SUUNTO Spartan Sport Wrist HR
This GPS watch is designed to help track your progress both during your rides and over time. It comes with a convenient heart rate monitor, as well as a durable color touch screen and up to 100M of water resistance. This screen is designed for optimal visibility outdoors.
This watch also includes sport expertise and support for those athletes looking to set and beat their workout goals. During your ride, the watch can be conveniently operated with both the touch screen and the three side buttons.
In addition to tracking your daily activity and heart rate, the watch includes data about your step count and calorie consumption levels. The watch can also be synced with your smartphone.
The watch is built with mineral crystal glass and stainless steel bezel for durability.
The battery life on this watch isn’t the longest, particularly when the GPS is used for longer periods of time. Additionally, there isn’t much in the way of customization when it comes to the watch faces, and it can be slow and difficult to sort through all of the menus on the watch.
This product comes in multiple colors.
- Full-color screen designed for outdoor visibility
- Convenient heart rate, activity, and calorie consumption tracker
- Software and interface can be slow and difficult to use
- Battery life is short when GPS is used
4. Garmin Forerunner 945
The Garmin Forerunner 945 is designed to monitor your training with adjustments for heat, altitude acclimation, and GPS tracking. With a compatible heart rate strap, the watch also tracks heart rate throughout your ride.
This watch is yet another that features smartphone and Bluetooth connectivity, including the ability to sync music from streaming services when paired with a smartphone. Additionally, up to 1,000 songs can be stored on the watch.
Safety is another feature of the Garmin Forerunner 945, with built-in tracking features such as incident detection, which can send your real-time location to your emergency contacts when paired with a smartphone. The battery life is up to 2 weeks as long as it’s in smartphone mode but drops to 10 hours in GPS mode.
The watch also features full-color maps and guides, as well as Garmin Pay.
The side buttons on the watch have some functionality issues at times, and the battery life appears to drain quickly whether or not the GPS function is enabled.
- Features smartphone and Bluetooth connectivity
- Includes safety and tracking features such as incident detection
- Button functionality may be spotty
- Battery life may drain quickly, whether or not the GPS function is enabled
5. Garmin Vivoactive 3 GPS Smartwatch
The Garmin Vivoactive 3 GPS Smartwatch helps monitor your fitness levels before, during, and after your rides. Made with Corning Gorilla Glass 3 and stainless steel bezel, as well as a fiber-reinforced polymer stainless steel rear cover, this watch is designed for durability.
The watch’s activity tracking features include a step and floor counter, distance traveled, sleep monitoring, and stress tracking. Additionally, you can plan your rides and other exercises via the training, planning, and analysis feature that comes built-in. GPS speed and distance, customizable data pages, and multiple heart rate feature all come included.
The battery life on this watch tends to drain quickly, whether or not the GPS is being used. On top of that, the step tracker is inconsistent at times. Additionally, while this watch is designed to work with both Android and iPhone smartphone models, there are more customizable options for Android users.
- Designed for durability with polymer stainless steel and Corning Gorilla Glass 3
- Sleep monitoring, stress tracking, and route planning come included
- Step tracker may be inconsistent
- The battery life of the watch may drain quickly, whether or not the GPS is being used
- May have less customizability for iPhone users
Mountain Bike GPS Watches Buying Considerations
With so many different models of GPS watch on the market – and a variety of technological add-ons to choose from – it can seem difficult to narrow down your purchasing decision to just one.
GPS Tracking vs. Smartwatch Capabilities
It’s important just how you’ll use your watch before making that decision. Consider whether or not you’re looking for a watch that’s just focused on GPS tracking and exercise, or one that has smartwatch capabilities as well. Is Bluetooth connectivity important to you? If so, you’ll want to go for watches that have better connectivity software.
Determine Your Personal Needs
Of course, this is just one of the things you may want to think about before you take the plunge. With the five GPS watches we’ve reviewed, you’ll find that some fit your mountain biking needs better than others and may be the best choice for you moving forward. And if you’re still not sure that you found the right one, you can click here for more information.
The Final Word
When it comes to choosing the right GPS watch for mountain biking, you’ll want to weigh the functionality that will best suit your everyday use. Whether you’re looking to just start out mountain biking or you’re already an expert, using the right GPS watch is the perfect way to take your adventure to the next level.
Take a look at some other models available on Amazon:
- GPS running smartwatch with advanced training features
- Battery life: up to 7 days in smartwatch mode and up to 24 hours in GPS mode
- Get free adaptive training plans from Garmin Coach, or create your own custom workouts on our Garmin Connect online fitness community
- Provides advanced running dynamics, including ground contact time balance, stride length, vertical ratio and more (When used with Running Dynamics Pod or HRM-Run or...
- Safety and tracking features include incident detection (during select activities) which sends your real-time location to emergency contacts through your paired...
- Gps running Watch with Garmin Coach training plan support.Supported Application:GPS,Fitness Tracker,Heart Rate Monitor,Sleep Monitor,Music Player. Connectivity...
- Smaller-sized easy-to-use running watch estimates heart rate at the wrist and Features GPS to Track your pace, distance, intervals and more
- Works with free Garmin Coach Adaptive training plans that bring expert, personalized coaching right to your wrist
- Connected features include smart notifications for incoming texts and calls, automatic uploads to our Garmin connect online community, live tracking and controls for the...
- Safety and tracking Features include incident detection (during select activities) which sends your real-time location to emergency contacts through your paired...
- GPS running watch with Multisport features
- Estimates heart rate at the wrist so you can run free on race day
- Provides advanced dynamics for running, cycling and swimming7, including ground contact time balance, stride length, vertical ratio and more (when paired with a Running...
- Offers VO2 max estimate, lactate threshold (when used with a chest strap heart rate monitor), race predictor and recovery advisor
- Connected features4: smart notifications, automatic uploads to Garmin Connect, live tracking and more