The Best GPS Watch for SUP – 2019

The Best GPS Watch for SUP – 2019

GPS Watch for Paddle Boarding

There are a number of GPS watches on the market but which is 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 was definitely built to last as still works now!

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

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What features does a SUP GPS watch need?

Waterproof

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 be properly water proof as it needs to handle more than a little rain!

GPS

Locates your device using satellites and tells you where 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.

Compass

Tells you the direction you’re headed.

Barometer

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

Phone notifications 

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

Widgets

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

GPS Watches For SUP Quick Comparison Chart

Click on the links for full reviews and prices. Links from this post mat be affiliate.

Garmin Instinct Garmin Fenix 3 Garmin Fenix 5 Garmin Vivoactive 3

Garmin

Vivosport

Best gps for sup Best GPS Watch for SUP Best GPS Watch for SUP

 

Best GPS Watch for SUP Best GPS Watch for SUP

Price

$$$ $$$$ $$$$$ $$ $

SUP

Option

Yes as standard Yes as standard Yes as standard Yes as standard No (select cardio)

Display resolution

WxH

218 x 218 pixels 218 x 218 pixels 240 x 240 pixels 240 x 240 pixels 72 x 144 pixels
Display type Monochrome Sunlight-visible, Transflective, Memory-in-pixel (MIP) Transflective, Colour, Display Sunlight-visible, Transflective Memory-in-pixel (MIP) Sunlight-visible, Transflective, Memory-in-pixel (MIP) Transflective, memory in pixel
Touchscreen Yes Yes No Yes Yes
Weight 52g 82g 85g 43g 31g
Battery Rechargeable lithium-ion Rechargeable lithium-ion Rechargeable lithium-ion 2 x CR1632 batteries 2 x CR1632 batteries
Battery life 2 weeks in watch mode.

16 hours in GPS.

40 hours in UltraTrac™

2 weeks in watch mode.

20 hrs in GPS mode.

50 hours in UltraTrac™

2 weeks in watch mode.

24 hrs GPS mode.

60 hours UltraTrac™

8 days in watch mode.

13 hours GPS mode.

7days in watch mode.

8 hours GPS mode.

Built-in memory 16 MB 32 MB
available 23 MB
64 MB
available 54 MB
Needs syncing after 14 days of activity.
Connect IQ™ (downloadable watch faces, data fields, widgets and apps) No Yes Yes Yes No
Built-in heart rate Yes Optional Yes Yes Yes
Smart notifications Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
Wellness Monitoring (e.g. stress, sleep) Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
Connect IQ (downloadable watch faces, data fields, widgets and apps) No Yes Yes Yes No
Garmin Pay No Yes Yes Yes No
Gyroscope Yes No Yes No No
GLONASS (salatellites orbit at 21150 km) Yes Yes Yes Yes No
Galileo (Europe’s satellite support) Yes No Yes No No
Barometric altimeter Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
Compass Yes Yes Yes Yes No
Gyroscope No No Yes No No
Thermometer Yes Yes Yes Yes No
GPS (salatellites orbit at 19130 km) Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
Save Waypoints Yes Yes Yes Yes No
Water Rating  10 ATM 10 ATM 10 ATM 10 ATM 5ATM
QuickFit™ Interchangeable Bands  Yes 22mm Yes 22mm included Yes 26mm Yes No
Verticle speed (handy if you like climbing mountains) Yes Yes Yes Yes No
Text response/reject phone call with text (Android only) Yes No No No No
VIRB® Camera Remote Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
Find My Phone Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
Find My Watch Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
Gym Profiles Strength, Cardio and Elliptical Training, Stair Stepping, Floor Climbing, Indoor Rowing and Yoga Indoor Rowing Indoor Rowing, Strength Training and Cardio Training Strength Training, Cardio Training, Elliptical Training, Stair Stepping, Floor Climbing, Indoor Rowing and Yoga Strength Training, Cardio Training
Cardio Workouts Yes Yes Yes Yes
Strength  Workouts Yes Yes Yes Yes No
GPS speed and distance Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
Downloadable training plans Yes Yes Yes Yes No
Strava features (Beacon, live segments) No No Yes Yes No
Training Status (lets you see if you’re training effectively by tracking your training history and fitness level trend) No No Yes No No
Outdoor Recreation Profiles Hiking, Climbing, Mountain Biking, Skiing, Snowboarding, XC Skiing, Stand Up Paddleboarding, Rowing, Kayaking, Tactical Hiking, Climbing, Mountain Biking, Skiing, Snowboarding, XC Skiing, Stand Up Paddleboarding, Rowing, Jumpmaster, Tactical Hiking, Climbing, Mountain Biking, Skiing, Snowboarding, XC Skiing, Stand Up Paddleboarding, Rowing, Jumpmaster, Tactical Skiing, Snowboarding, XC Skiing, Stand Up Paddleboarding, Rowing
Back to Start Yes Yes Yes Yes No
Distance to Destination Yes Yes Yes Yes No
Breadcrumb Trail in Real-time Yes Yes Yes No No
Storm Alert Yes Yes Yes Yes No
Dual Grid Coordinates Yes Yes Yes Yes No
Available Swim Profile Pool Swimming, Open Water Swimming Pool Swimming, Open Water Swimming Pool Swimming, Open Water Swimming, Swimming/Running Pool Swimming Pool Swimming

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…

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The Best GPS Watch for SUP (if you’re 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.

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It uses Training Load and Training Status data to let you know if you’re 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.

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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 swimming, 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!

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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.

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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 Fenix 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.

Read full reviews here.

If the Garmin Fenix 5 is too pricey or has too many features you don’t need then take a look at…the Vivoactive 3, Fenix 3 and the recently released Garmin Instinct below.

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

Choose between these two:

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.

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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 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.

Read full reviews here.

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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 mapping 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 aswell 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.

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Price

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.

Read full reviews here.

Garmin Instinct

Best gps watch for sup

What we love about this watch…

Great features at a great price.

The Instinct is kind of a mix of both the Vivoactive 3 and Fenix watches. It has almost all of the sensors that the Fenix 5 has at a much lower price.

It doesn’t have Connect IQ which may be seen an issue for some users. Connect IQ allows users to customise watch faces and download new applications and extensions.

Lightweight

If you’re looking for a lighter alternative to the Fenix watches then the Instinct should suit you well.
It’s smaller and lighter than the Fenix 5

Ultratrack

This watch has UltraTrack which will gives you up to 40 hours of GPS-battery life.

It’s tough!

The Garmin Instinct is a strong and durable. It’s well suited to outdoor sports like cimbing, canyoning), mountain biking, trekking, sea swimming and paddle boarding.

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.

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Limitations

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.

Read full reviews here.

Conclusion

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 Garmin Instinct, 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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