The Best GPS Watch for SUP

The Best GPS Watch for SUP

There are a number of GPS watches on the market but what’s the best GPS watch for SUP?

A GPS watch provides you with important data that allows you to monitor your fitness and activities.

It can also help to keep you safe by tracking your co-ordinates,  providing weather predictions and getting you back to where you started if you get lost!

I bought my first GPS watch around 10 years ago…a Garmin Forerunner. It still works now!

However, the world of multisport watches has progressed a lot since then and GPS watches now offer a tonne of amazing new features.

What features does a SUP GPS watch need?


Some watches that claim to be waterproof or water resistant just aren’t built to withstand watersports.

If your going to be using your GPS watch for paddle boarding, kayaking or other watersports then it needs to actually be water proof.


Locates your device using satellites and tells you whete you are and how far you’ve travelled.

Stroke Count

Counts the number of strokes you’ve done.

Stroke Rate

The number of strokes you make per minute.

Distance per stroke

You can see the distance per stroke along side your other metrics by adding a Vaaka Paddle Cadence Sensor and downloading the Vaaka Distance Per Stroke app.

Heart Rate

Monitor your fitness with a heart rate monitor. Either built into your watch or worn around your chest.


Tells you the direction you’re headed.


Used to predict weather changes…handy when your out on the water.

Phone notifications 

Although your unable to respond this is a handy feature for paddlers. It will let you know if someone needs to get hold of you while your mobile is stowed away safely in your drybag.


Most GPS watches allow you to add widgets or apps. There are lots of useful widgets for paddle boarders , including,  tides, weather and compass.

GPS Watches For SUP Quick Comparison Chart



Garmin Fenix 3 Garmin Fenix 5 Garmin Vivoactive 3



Best GPS Watch for SUP Best GPS Watch for SUP Best GPS Watch for SUP Best GPS Watch for SUP


£££ ££££ ££ £



Yes as standard Yes as standard Yes as standard Yes as standard

Display resolution


218 x 218 pixels 240 x 240 pixels 240 x 240 pixels 72 x 144 pixels
Display type Transflective Colour Display Colour display Sunlight-visible, Transflective Transflective, memory in pixel
Touchscreen Yes No Yes Yes
Weight 82g 85g 43g 31g
Battery Rechargeable lithium-ion Rechargeable lithium-ion 2 x CR1632


2 x CR1632


Battery life 3 months in watch mode.

16 hrs in GPS mode.

2 weeks in watch mode.

24 hrs GPS mode.

8 days in watch mode.

13 hours GPS mode.

7days in watch mode.

8 hours GPS mode.

Built-in memory 32 MB
available 23 MB
64 MB
available 54 MB
Needs syncing after 14 days of activity. _
Built-in heart rate Optional Yes Yes Yes
Smart notifications Yes Yes Yes Yes
Wellness Monitoring Yes Yes Yes Yes
Connect IQ Yes Yes Yes No
Garmin Pay Yes Yes Yes No
Gyroscope No Yes No No
Interchangeable Bands  Yes Yes Yes No
Save Waypoints Yes Yes Yes Yes

The Best GPS Watch for SUP

This best of list is based on our opinions, research and experiences. We’ve tried to be as accurate as possible with data but if there’s anything specific that you want to know it’s worth checking on the manufactures website.

So, let’s take a look…

The Best GPS Watch for SUP (if your a serious athlete)…Garmin Fenix 5

It’s incredible that something with as many features as the Garmin Genix 5 can fit neatly on a wrist!

Best GPS Watch for SUP
This watch is great for data lovers and serious athletes.

What we love about this watch…

Monitoring Performance 

Where the Fenix 5 differs from the others on our list is its ability to deliver advanced performance metrics. This is probably more advanced than most average paddlers will need but it’s great for people who want to keep a close eye on their training.

It uses Training Load and Training Status data to let you know if your pushing yourself too hard or not enough!

It has loads of cool features.

If tracking progress and recording your routes wasn’t enough then this GPS watch can also find a lost phone (handy if you loose yours as often I loose mine!), control your music via Bluetooth and monitor your sleep.

The Garmin Fenix 5 watch dial can be customised by adding additional information so you can view stats easily.

Users can choose to add information such as battery charge level, phone notifications, distance travelled and more.

This watch also allows the user to personalise a shortcut menu which you can access by pressing a single button. It means that you can start a timer, save your position, control your garmin action camera etc really easily!

It has loads of sports options.

This watch can automatically detect some activities like swimmming, cycling and running.  It also has loads of other activities that  are preloaded for you to select from. It includes paddle boarding, open water swimming and golf!

It’s well made.

Garmin have been making these for years…they know what they’re doing!

You can choose the tougher Sapphire screen if you prefer or if you’re not too worried about the odd scratch you could save money and go for the normal glass option.

It can control your camera too!

Amazingly, the Fenix 5 can connect to Garmin’s VIRB action camera meaning that you can control it from your watch!

Customisable Widgets

From the time screen you can scroll between your widgets. There are several included as standard but it’s easy to choose more online at the Connect IQ Store.

Widgets that are useful for paddle boarding include ABC (combines altimeter, barometer and compass information), weather, VIRB (controls Garmin Action Camera).

Battery Life

The battery on the Femix 5 lasts 2 weeks in watch mode or 24 hours with GPS on constantly.

The Garmin Fenix 5 Models

There are three different Fenix 5 watches: 5, 5S and 5X.

Put simply the 5X is the chunkiest and most expensive model. It includes additional mapping features and a tougher sapphire face as standard (this is an optional extra on the 5 and 5S).

It may be worth upgrading to the Fenix 5X model if you’ll be using your watch for hiking or trail running as well SUP.

The Garmin 5 and 5S are essentially the same watch but the 5S is smaller and therefore more suitable for smaller wrists.

If the Garmin Fenix 5 is too pricey then you should take a look at it’s predecessor…the Vivoactive 3 below.

The Best GPS Watch for SUP…(if you’re not a serious athlete)

Garmin Vivoactive 3

Best gps watch for sup
Ooh, I like…

What we love about this watch…

Great value

This watch is basically a cheaper Garmin Fenix 5 with many of the same features.  It doesn’t have some of the more advanced features that serious athletes or data junkies might like but it is still an excellent piece of kit.

It looks good.

The stainless still edge around the screen looks amazing and it doesn’t have the visible screws of the Fenix models. You can also switch the straps if you want a different look.

It’s easy to use.

You control the watch by using the single button and the the touchscreen.

Aside from the controls the Vivoactive 3 is pretty much the same as the Fenix 5 (which also has an additional 64MB of memory and a gyroscope for increased GPS accuracy.)

The Vivoactive 3 is another of Garmin’s GPS watches that lists SUP as an option out of the box.

Battery Life

The battery fairs pretty well on the Vivoactive 3. Around a week in watch mode or 8 hours with GPS on constantly.

Other great options… Garmin Fenix 3 HR

Best GPS Watch for SUP
Basically the Fenix 5 for those who don’t care about the extra features.

What we love about this watch…

Battery Life

The Garmin Fenix 3 has the best battery life in watch mode of all the watches on our list. It boasts an awesome 3 months in watch mode and 16 hours using GPS. You can also switch this to UltraTrac which records GPS every minute and stretches the battery life to 50 hours.

Save Waypoints 

The Garmin Fenix 3 allows you to set routes and waypoints at home aswel as save them on route. This is great of you want to paddle to a particular spot or navigate back somewhere later. It’s also handy if you enjoy off-road running or biking.


Since the release of the Fenix 5 the price of the Fenix 3 has dropped (incase you’re wondering, there was no Fenix 4!) Now you can grab a bargain multi sport watch that has some awesome features.

Garmin Vivosport HR

Best GPS Watch for SUP
Cheap and cheerful!

What we love about this watch…

It’s Affordable 

This is a great watch to buy if you’re on a tight budget. It includes loads of good features and has a pretty good battery life.

Good Looks 

Let’s face it, GPS watches are usually pretty big and you either love or hate wearing a massive watch on your wrist.

The Vivoactive HR is slim and looks more like a Fitbit.

It’s easy to use.

This clever little watch will start monitoring your activity if it senses exercise for more than 10 minutes.


It’s not possible to add any sensors to this watch so adding a chest strap to monitor heart rate more accurately isn’t an option.


If you’re a serious athlete looking to monitor your daily activities and fitness levels then the Garmin Fenix 5 may suit you well.

If you’re still pretty serious but don’t need such advanced features then check out the Vivoactive 3 or Garmin Fenix 3.

If you’re on a budget but still want to track your routes and activities then the Vivosport HR should be a good option.

You may also like to read…

Choosing a SUP board

SUP boards for kids

We hope you’ve found our guide to the best GPS watch for SUP helpful.

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