If you’ve been curious about fitness trackers but haven’t hopped on the bandwagon yet, there are plenty of reasons to do it. First, they’re a data lover’s dream come true, allowing you keep tabs on your daily wellness habits, from meals to movement to sleep. Even if you’re not that into the “quantified self,” you can’t help but motivated by all the gentle nudges to stand up, get your steps in, keep moving, and get to bed. They’re also insanely easy to use— just clip or strap a device on, and data uploads to your computer and mobile devices so you can see trends, share your progress with friends and family, and get better at reaching your health goals.
A lot of people wait until the New Year to start on their wellness resolutions, but now is as good a time as any to kick your wellness up a notch. Plus, if you start using a fitness tracker before the holidays instead of after, you’ll have valuable insight that can prevent you from veering off track in the first place (I’m looking at you, pecan pie).
A few years ago, Fitbit and Jawbone lead the tracker charge, but now there are tons of smart, fashionable competitors on the market at a great price. So let’s compare five of the best fitness trackers under $100 and see how each shapes up.
You might think you’re making concessions at this price point, but you get tons of features in all of these options. As a baseline for comparison, each model featured in this roundup has some iteration of the following functions:
- Ability to log activity level, steps taken, distance traveled, activity time, and sleep quality and length
- Built-in goal-setting and tracking tools so you can see your workouts, steps, meals, and sleep, plus share your stats with others
- Ability to sync to your computer or a smartphone app so you can track your progress in real time
Read on to choose the best fitness trackers for you. You’ll be hitting those personal milestones in no time.
The first thing to note about the Fitbit One is that it’s not worn as a wristband. It’s super small – about the size of a thumb drive – and clips discreetly to your bra, belt, or pocket. So if fitness tracker bracelets cramp your style, this tracker may be the one for you (just make sure you don’t forget about it and accidentally launder it… been there). Other cool stats: It stores seven days’ worth of motion data and 23 days’ worth of daily totals in case you don’t get around to syncing it daily. It also works at up to 113 degrees F and 30,000 feet, making it a good choice for those who frequent the great outdoors.
Cool Feature: The silent, vibrating alarm won’t wake everyone in your house when you get up for that 6 a.m. spin class.
Battery Power: 14 days per charge
Water Rating: While it can handle sweat and minor water splashes, it isn’t swim-proof. So you may want to skip it if swimming laps is your workout of choice.
Cheaper option? In case your eyeing the cheaper Fitbit Zip, be advised it won’t track floors climbed (if you train on stairs), and doesn’t have the alarm feature below.
Price: $99.95 on Amazon
Fitbit Flex 2
If you like what the Fitbit One offers but would prefer to wear it on your wrist rather than clip (and potentially lose) your tracker, the Fitbit Flex 2 is a great option. It’s slimmer than it’s predecessor but has many of the same great features. It slips into a variety of sleek wristband casings (some from Fitbit, and some third party) or pendants so it’s easy to wear it different ways and match it to your mood. But the big news is that Flex 2 is the first waterproof tracker from Fitbit. With this device, you’ll be able to track your swim, and it can automatically tell if you’re swimming (or walking, running or doing aerobics, etc.) without you having to enter your work-out, which is a godsend if you’re prone to forgetting to let your wrist know what the rest of your body is doing. It stores a bit more data than the Fitbit One (7 days’ worth of motion data and 30 days’ worth of daily totals) but matches its capabilities in terms of temperature and altitude (works at up to 113 degrees F and 30,000 feet).
Cool Feature: You’ll get call and text notifications on your wrist, so you don’t have to have your phone on you to stay connected.
Downer: No readout on the wristband, only a few dots that show you how close you are to your goal.
Battery Life: Up to 5 days per charge.
Water Rating: It’s waterproof.
Price: $99.00 on Amazon
Garmin vívofit 3
OK, let me start off by saying that I’m not a huge fan of how the Garmin vívofit 3 looks, and if I’m going to put it on my wrist, it’s got to look good (interchangeable bands give you some stylistic choices, but mostly they make the whole thing even heavier on your wrist). But the third iteration of this tracker from Garmin is packed with features: Move IQ technology will automatically detect the type of exercise you’re doing, monitor your sleep, it’s waterproof and doesn’t need to be charged. Plus you get a read out on the screen, which is rare at this price point: Steps, calories, distance, “Intensity minutes” and time of day. And it won’t let you get too comfy on the couch— a red bar and gentle alarm encourage you to get up after an hour of inactivity.
Cool Feature: Inactivity alarm, interchangeable bands.
Battery Life: 1+ year.
Water Rating: 5 ATM – higher than both Fitbit models above – which means you can swim, snorkel, and shower with it on (though you should avoid scuba diving and high-speed watersports).
Cheaper option? Garmin doesn’t make a cheaper band.
Price: $99.00 on Amazon
Jawbone is one of the long-time innovators in this space, and what you get from them across the board is a lightweight band that you can wear without feeling bogged down, or like you’ve got a silicone cuff on. The app is one of the best in it’s class, where you’ll be able to pour over your sleep tracking data, as well as keep a food log, and of course track your steps, workouts, calories and distance. Like all of the above, the silent alarm will wake you without disturbing others, and like the Garmin vívofit 3, it gives you idle vibration alerts if you’ve been inactive for too long.
Cool Feature: UP3 includes a unique passive heart health tracking feature that gives you updates on your resting, passive, and active heart rates throughout the day, and offers suggestions as to why your baseline trends may have changed (due to dehydration, for example). You can then use this info to gauge how well your heart is functioning and make lifestyle adjustments based on the trends you see.
Battery Life: 7 days per charge, charges via USB for 60-90 minutes
Water Rating: Can handle sweat and minor water splashes, but it isn’t swim-proof. So again, if you’re a swimmer, you may want to skip it.
Cheaper option? The Jawbone UP2 is less than half the price at $35, but is missing the heart rate analysis and gives you a more basic analysis of sleep.
Price: $53.80 on Amazon
Swimmer-friendly? Style-conscious? Check and check. Like the Garmin vívofit 3, the Misfit Ray is an awesome choice for swimmers, divers, and outdoors lovers who don’t want to worry about getting their device wet. It’s also the most fashion-friendly of this roundup: The small metallic cylinder can be worn on a variety of wristbands and necklace chains so it blends in with what you’re wearing, whether you’re at the gym or getting pizza after (guilty). It automatically tracks steps, distance, calories, and light and heavy sleep, plus an in-app Counting Upgrade by Speedo makes it the most sophisticated swim tracker we’ve seen at this price point, letting you track swim laps, distance and time when you’re in the pool. You’ll also get those vibration alerts for call and text notifications, movement reminders, and a wake-up alarm. Like the Fitbit Flex, you’ll have a minimal LED light read-out to show you your progress.
Cool Feature: It’s smart button-enabled, which means it can control connected household devices.
Battery Life: No charging— batteries last up to 6 months.
Water Rating: Water-resistant up to 50 meters – great news for swimmers and divers.
Cheaper option? The Misfit Shine is half the price at around $50— you’ll lose incoming call and text vibrations, movement reminders, and your smart alarm, along with the smart button capability.
Price: $99.95 on Amazon
Did I miss one of your favorite Fitness trackers? Let me know in the comments! And check out some of our other Smackdowns while you’re here, like our personal blender, single serve coffee maker, smart lock comparisons!