You’ll finally be able to run wild and free
If you’re a fan of Strava but are tired of being tethered to your smartphone when you exercise, there’s good news: plenty of sports watches and smartwatches will give you the freedom you crave. We know that most sports watches from Garmin, Polar, Suunto and TomTom play nice with Strava, but now smartwatches are catching up with standalone apps and smarter integration as well.
The fitness tracking app isn’t just easier to use from your wrist, but also gives you the opportunity to tap into more advanced metrics, accurate GPS and the packed Strava community.
So if you’re ready to take the next step in the Strava universe and compete against fellow cyclist and runners on a refreshed scale, read on to take a look at some of the smartwatches that play nice with the sports tracking app goliath.
Pretty much all of Garmin’s watches are built to play nice with Strava from budget watches like theGarmin Forerunner 35 all the way up to the likes of the Fenix 5 and the Forerunner 935 (pictured above).
The problem, of course, is that Garmin Connect isn’t nearly as fun, informative and motivating as Strava. Thankfully, you can link your account with the app for seamless syncing of runs, cycles and swims.
This allows you to get the best of both worlds: Garmin Connect’s handy insights and workout history and Strava’s impressive Segments, leaderboards and social features. It’s win-win here.
Like Garmin, Polar makes sure that watches like the Polar M200, the feature-packed M430 and even the ageing Polar V800 offers Strava integration.
Those who enjoy using the Polar Flow app can sync runs and cycle rides as well as take advantage of features such as Strava Segments.
To pair the two services, just log into the Polar Flow web account, head to settings, and opt to connect the Flow account with Strava. Log into your Strava account and verify the connection to have your workouts transferred when you sync your device as normal. Then you’re good to get tracking.
Suunto’s Spartan watches are steadily becoming better rivals for Garmin and Polar’s top end devices including the Spartan Sport Wrist HR and the recently announced Trainer Wrist HR, which offers similar features in a slimmer body.
When the two are connected you can track runs, ride and cross-training sessions including Segment support syncing the data to Strava.
The best way to get the two to play nice is to head into the Suunto Movescount from the web application and choose the Connect with Strava option to get the ball rolling.
The running-centric Spark 3 and the TomTom Adventurer both offer some of the best Strava compatibility available on a sports watch.
This is largely thanks to its route exploration mode, which enables you to upload GPX routes to the watch via the TomTom web app, which you can then follow on the watch.
TomTom’s own interface works well, but its impressively seamless integration with Strava helps you enjoy the best of both worlds.
Strava compatible smartwatches
If you crave more smartwatch-like features from your runs and rides, there are some options out there. They’re by no means perfect, so bear that in mind, but here’s our pick of the Strava-friendly smartwatches you can consider.
Apple Watch Series 2
It’s taken some time but we finally go a standalone Strava app that’s compatible with the Apple Watch Series 2. Problem solved, right?
Well, not exactly. While this is a nice addition to the third-party mix, it still isn’t accurate enough to force you away from dedicated GPS wearables. During our testing, we found tracking and pacing to be inconsistent and customisation of the data you see to be quite limited.
It has got better and Apple’s heart rate tracking combines well with the app, but this still feels like the unfinished article.
£369/$480, apple.com | Amazon
Samsung Gear S3
While Samsung doesn’t offer direct support for Strava, you can still sync your data to Strava from the S Health app.
The Samsung Gear S3 offers built-in GPS for activities like running and cycling, plus a host of sensors including a heart rate monitor, barometer and speedometer.
S Health itself is ever-improving and the Gear S3 certainly isn’t the worst device out there that can track your activity. You’ll just have to live with the odd inconsistency with regards to heart rate and GPS.
£349/$454, samsung.com | Amazon
LG Watch Sport
With Android Wear 2.0 and its standalone app goodness recently hitting the masses, you’re free to enjoy Strava on Android without your phone for the first time.
While the scope is there for pretty much any device rocking Google’s new OS to get involved, the LG Watch Sport is, so far, the best in class. Sure, it has a slightly chunky case, but you’ll be too busy running wild and enjoying the untethered GPS and heart rate experience to care.
On the Android Wear front, there is also the New Balance RunIQ, a smartwatch that make it easier to track runs and cycling sessions and get the data synced to the popular fitness platform with minimal fuss. While the Strava integration is actually pretty good, the watch itself is not, so it’s one we’d recommend steering clear of.
$249, lg.com | Amazon