The Best Running Watches under $450

Whether you're looking for your first running watch or researching for an upgrade, these are the best GPS watches for runners right now.

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Whether you’re looking to buy your first running watch or an avid runner researching the current best running watch options to upgrade from your current one, we’ve put together this handy runner’s guide to the best watches under $450.

What do we know about running watches? Well, after countless hours of running with many different running watches (we test and review them here at Trail & Kale), for everything from a couple of miles around the block to all-day mountain ultramarathons, we know what good looks like and what the best running watches for your needs are.

For $450 or less, you can buy a high-quality GPS running watch that not only tracks all the essential running stats like pace, distance, time, time vs. goals and has other features like a PR ghost-runner and workout suggestions, but you can use it as your everyday watch and it will monitor your heart rate on your wrist (not an uncomfortable chest strap) and offer you a suite of health and activity tracking features, too.

Note that if you currently or expect to be doing long endurance runs and other sports that last more than 8+ hours you may require (or desire!) a watch with longer battery life, a more robust case and more advanced training features and in-depth navigation capabilities, for example. If that type of watch appeals to you, head over to our guide to the best running watches for trail and ultra running.

What essential features should you expect from your running watch?

All of the watches in this guide have earned their place on here by having the following features which we consider to be essential in a running watch:

  • Built in GPS tracking with reliable GPS accuracy
  • Reasonably long battery life – at least 15 hours while in GPS mode and a week or more with normal use
  • Pace and distance-related data
  • Wrist-based heart rate
  • Connectivity to your phone for downloading and analyzing your run and fitness data
  • Waterproof – typically down to 5ATM / 50 meters (around 160 feet)

Of course, they all also offer significantly more than just the basics, including sleep and fitness tracker capabilities, and we’ve highlighted some notable features for each running watch on this list, together with links to the more detailed product pages if you’re interested to learn more about a specific GPS watch’s features, specifications, color and strap options (they’re essentially all available in black or white, however some offer more exciting colorways).


The best running watches under $450

COROS PACE 3 best running watches 1

Coros Pace 3

  • Cost: $229 at Amazon and COROS
  • Battery life: Up to 17 days, 38 hours with GPS on
  • Weight: 39g (silicone band) or 30g (nylon band)
  • Screen size: 41.9 x 41.9 x 11.7mm
  • Display: Always-on display using memory LCD

The Coros Pace 3 represents, in our opinion, the best bang for your buck if you want a GPS watch that’s loaded with features. Quite frankly, we continue to be amazed at how Coros is able to pack all of these into a watch that costs less than $250.

The Pace 3 includes a comprehensive suite of running, fitness and training functions, including training load, which Garmin only includes on more expensive multisport watches. It also includes the ability to store and play music.

Garmin Forerunner 55 1

Garmin Forerunner 55

  • Cost: $200 at Garmin and REI
  • Battery life: Up to 2 weeks, 20 hours with GPS on
  • Weight: 37g
  • Screen size: 42 x 42 x 11.6mm
  • Display: sunlight-visible, pixelated

The Garmin Forerunner is the best entry-level running watch when you essentially want a watch to track runs with, that you can use for other activities, but don’t want to break the bank or use your running watch for more comprehensive health and fitness activity tracking that other running watches offer.

You’ll still get features such as sleep tracking and the ability to use it for other sports including swimming, but it doesn’t track advanced fitness features such as VO2 max and training effect.

Garmin Forerunner 165 Garmin running watch 1

Garmin Forerunner 165

  • Cost: $249.99 at Garmin and REI
  • Battery life: Up to 11 days, 19 hours with GPS on
  • Weight: 39g
  • Screen size: 43 x 43 x 11.6mm
  • Display: AMOLED (with optional always-on display mode)

If you spend a bit more on a Garmin running watch and go for the Forerunner 165 then you’re buying yourself essentially a more comprehensive fitness and running performance tracking watch, including upgraded features such as a barometric altimeter (which includes tracking your run’s ascent and descent), course guidance and navigation, thermometer and HRV tracking, so all round it simply does a lot more than the less expensive Forerunner 55.

Note, however, that if you want to store and play music on your running watch then this is an option if you spend an extra $50 on the ‘music’ version of the 165 – but that feature is included on the Coros Pace 3, which is arguably this Garmin watch’s closest competitor.

Coros Apex 2 running watch 1

Coros Apex 2

  • Cost: $349 at Amazon and COROS
  • Battery life: Up to 14 days, 40 hours with GPS on
  • Weight: 53g (silicone band) or 42g (nylon band)
  • Screen size: 43.0 x 42.8 x 12.8mm
  • Display: Always-On Memory LCD

If navigation mapping is important to you in a running watch, then the Coros Apex 2 is a great choice, offering the features of the Pace 3, plus pre-loaded global maps and downloadable topo maps. It also boasts a couple of extra features beyond the Pace 3, including a more robust Sapphire glass screen and Titanium (as opposed to polymer) case, and the ability to take an ECG.

There’s also a Pro version (the Coros Apex 2 Pro) to consider for an extra $100, which increases the size of your watch’s screen, and significantly better battery life.

Polar Pacer GPS Running Watch

Polar Pacer

  • Cost: $230 at Polar and Amazon
  • Battery life: Up to 7 days, 35 hours with GPS on
  • Weight: 40g
  • Screen size: 45 x 45 x 11.5 mm
  • Display: MIP (memory-in-pixel) reflective color display

The Polar Pacer has an attractive minimalist design, multiple color options and arguably the most accurate heart rate monitoring there is, thanks to Polar’s Precision Prime OHR Technology. This is a great GPS running watch option you can wear all day and night for activity and sleep tracking, plus it includes advanced features such as VO2 max and training load monitoring.

For an extra $100, also consider the Polar Pacer Pro, which offers, among other additional features, route guidance and wrist-based running power tracking.

Apple Watch Series 9

Apple Watch Series 9

  • Cost: $399+ at Apple
  • Battery life: Up to 18 hours, depending on use (36 hours in low power mode)
  • Weight: n/a
  • Screen size: 45mm or 41mm case size
  • Display: Always-on retina display

No list of the best watches for runners would be complete without the Apple Watch. Of course, the Apple Watch Series 9 can do almost anything you can think of that you may want to use it for throughout your day, and that includes tracking your runs with GPS using either Apple’s fitness app or a third party app such as Strava.

It also provides sleep tracking and other fitness apps including the ability to take an ECG, and monitoring of your resting heart rate, and you have the option to use mapping and play music while you run. All this comes at a cost, however, as the Apple Watch has shorter battery life than the other more sports-focused GPS smartwatches on this list.

If you’re curious about the Apple Watch Ultra, which has longer battery life (among other things) compared to the Series 9, head over to our list of the best running watches for trail and ultra runners to learn more about that watch and other, more premium GPS running smartwatches.

Suunto Race GPS Sports Watch Review

Suunto Race

  • Cost: $449 at Amazon and Suunto
  • Battery life: Up to 12 days (26 days with daily HR off), 40 hours with GPS on
  • Weight: 83g
  • Screen size: 49 x 49 x 13.3 mm
  • Display: AMOLED

The Suunto Race is Suunto’s ultimate performance watch for training and racing, new in 2024. It features some cool functions such as the ability to challenge yourself with performance tests such as RaceTime and synched Strava segments, as well as customizable displays and detailed offline mapping and navigation features. It’s tested to military standards and features a stainless steel housing and sapphire glass screen.

Helen
Helenhttps://www.trailandkale.com/
One of Trail & Kale's co-founders, a mom, and guardian of our resident trail dog, Kepler, Helen can be found trail running with Kepler and enjoying road runs with her mini in a jogging stroller, all while testing out the latest running gear for our readers.

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