Best Smartwatch For Mountain Biking: Top Picks In 2021!

When it comes to mountain biking, it can be argued that a dedicated cycling computer is still your best bet, but smartwatches have been catching up as of late. Smartwatches are smaller, and generally more convenient to deal with when it comes to mountain biking. There is no extra setup and mounting required. You simply slap it on your wrist, and you’re ready to go! That being said, the next question would be, “What is the best smartwatch for mountain biking?”

While the answer to that question can be relative and have a diverse variety of answers depending on who you are talking to, we have chosen smartwatches we believe meet all of the criteria needed for a good mtb watch. Let’s take a look at some of those features.


What Makes A Good Mountain Bike Watch?

A good mountain bike watch needs 3 basic things: a GPS, good battery life, and water resistance.

GPS

The GPS has become almost a standard in most fitness watches. They are excellent tools for mountain biking. They can help you to plot your course, estimate your time, and are especially useful when biking in unfamiliar areas.

Strava Compatibility

Strava is a service that allows users to share and compare riding data. It is a very popular social network for cycling enthusiasts. A good smartwatch for mountain biking should support the Strava app.

Battery Life

This one is a given. When it comes to biking, battery life is crucial. Mountain biking can tend to go on for long stretches at a time, so you will definitely want an mtb watch that can go the distance. This is especially true when using the GPS, or any other advanced smartwatch features.

How much battery life you get depends on what modes you use on your smartwatch. Typically, you will get up to days of battery life in smartwatch only modes, while in GPS mode, your battery life will be less than a day, but still long enough to complete your activities.

Water Resistance

Water resistance is also a necessity to have when mountain biking. While most people probably don’t go out with the intention of biking in the rain, the weather can be unpredictable, so having an mtb watch that can withstand getting a little wet, is an important feature to have. Not to mention, that for people who sweat a lot, water resistance means sweat resistance as well.

So now that we’ve covered the basics, let’s take a look at our top picks!


Best Smartwatch For Mountain Biking Top Picks


#1: Garmin Fenix 5X Sapphire

It has become pretty obvious that Garmin clearly runs the game when it comes to making some of the best smartwatches for mountain biking. Nowhere is this more apparent, than with the Garmin Fenix 5X. The 5x slightly improves upon the original Fenix 5 by adding full colored topographical maps.

It is true that you van get more even updated versions of the Fenix, such as the Fenix 6. However, the 5X is cheaper than the more recent models, yet still contains all of the features that make for a great mtb smartwatch.

It comes with built a built in GPS, and Glonass compatibility, as well as a barometric altimeter, a gyroscope, and a three axis compass to aid in navigation.

It can sync with your phone seamlessly to allow you to receive alerts and notifications from your phone. You also get compatibility with numerous apps, including Strava. It has preloaded fitness profiles that can track your stats during various sporting activities.

This watch is already built sturdy, but the Sapphire edition also features a scratch resistant sapphire glass window. It has a battery life of up to 12 days in smartwatch mode, or 20 hours in GPS mode.

Finally, the Fenix 5X is water resistant to a depth of 100 meters, so you shouldn’t have any problems with it in the water. Just don’t take it deep diving! Only real downside to this one is the price, as it is a bit expensive. But this is definitely a top contender as the best smartwatch for mountain biking!

Quick Look

  • GPS
  • full colored topographical maps
  • Strava support
  • 3 axis compass
  • water resistant 100 meters
  • battery life 12 days regular mode, 20 hours GPS mode
    • expensive

#2: Garmin Vivoactive 3

There are more recent versions of this smartwatch, but the Garmin Vivoactive 3 is less expensive, yet still comes with a multitude of features.

First off, it has a built in GPS. Then, it also tracks heart rate, VO2 max, and sleep cycles. The Garmin Vivoactive 3 already comes with some fitness apps preloaded that will work without being connected to your phone. These include cycling apps. When your phone is connected, however, it also has support for many other apps, including Strava.

You will receive notifications of texts and other alerts from your phone as well. In addition to these features, you can also make wireless payments with the watch via the Garmin Pay feature.

As for battery life, you can expect to get up to 7 days while in smartwatch mode, or 13 hours of straight GPS mode. It is water resistant 50 meters, so it is suitable for swimming. The Garmin Vivoactive 3 is an overall good value for the price.

Quick Look

  • GPS
  • Strava compatible
  • instant pay feature via Garmin Pay
  • water resistant 50 meters
  • battery life 7 days regular mode, 13 hours GPS mode

#3: Garmin Forerunner 235

Here is yet another good Garmin mtb watch. Sure you could upgrade to a more recent version, but the 235 is less expensive, and I feel it is more than sufficient.

This one has a small, slim, lightweight profile. It has the basic features you would expect from a Garmin smartwatch in a simple, easy to use interface. It has the GPS, heart rate monitor, calorie and steps tracking, Strava compatibility, Glonass support, and smartphone connectivity.
You will receive text and voicemail alerts, etc. from your phone while synced to the watch.

The battery life is about 9 days in smartwatch mode, and 11 hours of active GPS mode. It is water resistant 50 meters, so it can be used for swimming as well.

Quick Look

  • GPS
  • Strava support
  • slim and lightweight
  • water resistant 50 meters
  • battery life 9 days regular mode, 11 hours GPS mode

#4: Polar M430

And now we have a non-Garmin brand smartwatch. The Polar M430 is a worthy competitor to Garmin. It comes with a built in GPS. It tracks heart rate, VO2 max, distance, altitude, steps walked, calories burned, and sleep. As with the others, you can sync it to your phone to receive text and phone alerts.

The Polar M430 syncs with its proprietary Polar Flow app that allows users to share and sync training data. And of course, it is also compatible with other apps, including Strava.

Battery life is a tradeoff, as you will get only 8 hours in GPS mode, but a whopping 20 days in just regular watch mode. It has a water resistance to a depth of 30 meters, so you can bathe and swim in it.

Quick Look

  • GPS
  • Strava support
  • share data via Polar Flow app
  • water resistant 30 meters
  • battery life 20 days regular mode, 8 hours GPS mode

#5: Apple Watch Series 6

And finally, we have the Apple Watch Series 6. The Apple Watch has always been a very versatile watch, good for many different physical activities, including mountain biking. With the Series 6 you get all of the great features you would expect from an Apple watch.

The always on retina display means that you won’t have todo anything to turn the screen on every time you use the watch, which is pretty convenient. It also has the usual GPS, heart rate monitor, phone syncing, and app support. You can track your daily activities as well as workout progress.

One unique feature in the Series 6 is its ability to measure blood oxygen levels. You will also get phone and text alerts, along with the ability to reply to texts and answer the phone from the watch itself.

As with the others, the Apple Watch Series 6 supports Strava. It is water resistant up to 50 meters, so it can be worn in a pool. You will get a battery life of around 18 hours with this one, which is not bad, but it won’t go for days at a time like other mtb watches on this list.

There are a couple of downsides to this watch. One Is that it is a little on the expensive side. Second, is that this watch does not work with Android phones.

Quick Look

  • GPS
  • Strava Support
  • always on retina display
  • measures blood oxygen levels
  • water resistant 50 meters
    • expensive
    • does not work with Android phones
    • only 18 hours battery life

Best Smartwatch For Mountain Biking: Final Thoughts

So do any of these options meet your expectations as the best smartwatch for mountain biking? If nothing else, I hope this guide at least steered you in the right direction when it comes to finding a good mtb watch!

If you are more interested in traditional biking, then feel free to check out our roundup of the best watches for cycling!

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