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Our Top Trail Running Watches — Quick Highlights

Best Overall Trail Running Watch

WHY? Multi-GNSS, ABC Sensors with Elevation Data, Advanced Navigation, Trail Run Profile, Long Battery Life, Performence Data Metrics, Perfect Blend of Size & Battery

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Best Battery Trail Running Watch

WHY? Outstanding Battery Life, SpO2 with Altitude, Durable, Lightweight, Easy to Use, Training & Recovery Recommendations, ABC Sensors with Elevation Data

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Best Trail Running Watch for Training

WHY? Smart Training & Recovery Features, Best Heart Rate Tech, Multi-GNSS, Lightweight, Advanced Navigation, Long Lasting Battery Life, Elevation Profiles

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Go Where You Want with One of These
Best Watches for Trail Running

The best trail watch needs bring it in several specific areas, including battery life, GPS tracking, elevation, navigation, durability, and performance metrics. Size will a major factor for many trail runners. One camp may want a sleeker, lighter watch, while others while not be willing to sacrifice battery power and ruggedness that come along with a larger wearable.

The Garmin fēnix 6S Pro is a perfect blend of both worlds, which as why we have choosen it as the best overall GPS watch for trail running. But the other outstanding watches on this list bring their own special sauce of features, and it is only you—the runner—who can determine the one that will be right for you while you're out there beating your own path.

At PlayBetter, we only offer the most-trusted brands in our running watch collection, including Garmin, COROS, and Polar. Below, we go through all the trail running must-haves in each of these watches, so that you can find the one that's right for chasing your summit!

Trail Running Watches
Made for the Intrepid.

Best Trail Running Watch — fēnix 6 Series

The fēnix 6S Pro is the best overall trail running watch in our collection. This outdoor fintess watch hits the mark on all the specifics you'll want on wrist, in a size that's just right.

Battery Life

The fēnix 6S Pro battery life, is a top-notch option for trail runners with a variety of ways to manage your battery life. Depending on which size and model you get, it varies, but all are able to go the distance. Below are the numbers for specific modes on the fēnix 6S Pro. (For solar charging, you will have to upgrade to the fēnix 6S Pro Solar.)

  • Smartwatch: Up to 9 days/10.5 days with solar
  • Battery Saver Watch Mode:
    Up to 34 days/59 days with solar
  • GPS: Up to 25 hours/28 hours with solar
  • GPS + Music: Up to 6 hours
  • Max Battery GPS Mode:
    Up to 50 hours/64 hours with solar
  • Expedition GPS Activity:
    Up to 20 days/26 days with solar


You won't find better navigation than on one of the Pro, Sapphire, or Pro Solar models in the fēnix 6 series. Each one provides Multi-GNSS, including GPS, Galileo, GLONASS, for more advanced tracking in challenging enviroments—perfect for off-the-grid long runners. You'll also get ABC sensors—an altimeter for elevation data, a barometer to monitor weather, and a 3-axis electronic compass. Topo maps, road and trail maps, preloaded ski resort maps, round-trip course creator, and Trendline™ popularity routing come standard as well as great navigation tools like Point-to-Point, real-time Bread Crumb Trail, Back to Start, TracBack®, Around Me Mode, Distance to Destination, Climbpro™ Ascent Planner, and it's compatible with BaseCamp™. Told ya—fēnix 6 series is loaded with the Nav features you need when your out there!

Training & Performance

The fēnix 6S Pro includes profiles for Running, Treadmill Running, Indoor Track Running, Trail Running, and Virtual Running. With a Garmin GPS, you get highly accurate wrist-based heart rate. You'll also get VO2 Max for your running profiles—including trail running—which tells you how you might expect to perform with heat or altitude factors. Use running Dynamics (with a compatible accessory) to measure crucial running metrics like cadence, stride length, ground contact time and balance, and more. Training Status lets you know if you’re training productively, peaking, or overreaching. Training Load compares your most recent stats to your optimal and historical fitness stats. Use PacePro™ pacing strategies and keep on pace with grade-adjusted guidance as you run a course.

These are just some of the training features and performance data you can expect out of a Garmin fēnix 6 series watch.  

Size & Durability

The fēnix 6 series watches are rugged GPS smartwatches with sophisticated style. The fēnix 6S Pro has a 1.2" color display with a Corning® Gorilla® Glass DX lens. The bezel is stainless steel with a durble Diamond-like Carbon (DLC) coating. These watches are also water-resistent and the silicone strap perfectly pairs with a sweating wrist and is tough enough for the elements.

Because it has a fiber-reinforced polymer case with metal rear cover and a physical size of 42 x 42 x 13.8 mm at 58g, it has just a smidge more bulk than the lightest watches in this lineup. However, it's more lightweight and slimmer than the rest of the fēnix 6 family. For size, it compares with the Forerunner 945, but has more battery power and durability.

Check out this thorough article on the entire fēnix 6 series to get the details on all the models. Or visit the product page for each watch:

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Best Battery in an GPS Trail Running Watch

We highly recommend the COROS APEX PRO in our watch lineup for trail runners. This GPS smartwatch is built for longer runs—and can help create long-runners—with the stunning battery life that COROS is known for.

Battery Life

The APEX Pro has got 14% more battery life in full GPS than the original APEX multisport watch. When you're out running in the backcountry, you can count on 30 days of regular use, 40 hours in Full GPS mode, and 100 hours in UltraMax mode. Perfect for any of your trail run endeavors!


Go with confidence! APEX'S advanced tracking offers GPS/QZSS, GLONASS, and BeiDou satellite connections right on the wrist. Take advantage of built-in ABC sensors—an altimeter for elevation data, a barometer to monitor weather, and a compass. Use Bread Crumb and Back-to-Start navigation for those long, off-the-beaten path runs.

Training & Performance

This trail-tested, athlete-approved rugged running watch tells you your stride length, cadence, and elevation change along with a measurement of your aerobic and anaerobic productivity—all from a color touchscreen that lets you move and zoom in/out on your navigation track. Run the toughest trail with monitoring features for extreme conditions—like 24/7 blood oxygen monitoring with altitude acclimatization assistance and COROS EvoLab (VO2 Max, Fatigue, Training Load, Threshold Pace, etc). Keep tabs on how hard you're pushing it with wrist-based heart rate monitoring. Use the Training mode to create, share, and download specific workouts from pro athletes and coaches. Build your own workout and select from 200+ preloaded exercises. Plus take advantage of Night mode for nighttime activities that leaves a backlight on that's bright enough so you can see, but dim enough that you get the best battery life out of your GPS watch. Run profiles include Run, Indoor Run, and Track Run.

Size & Durability

This durable, lightweight trail running watch comes with a silicone strap (59g) or with a nylon strap (49g). A scratch-resistant sapphire glass lens protects the 1.2" display. This rugged GPS wearable also has a Grade 5 titanium alloy bezel with an aluminum cover. Pysical size is 47 x 47 x 13.4mm, making the COROS APEX Pro a pretty sleek watch for running the wild path with more than substantial battery life!

Best Training GPS Watch for Trail Running

The Polar Vantage V2 premium watch for trail running is the ultimate tool for tapping into personalized smart training. This GPS smartwatch with color touchscreen will guide you toward intelligent training and your next personal best in all your runs through the outdoors!

Battery Life

Get up to 40 hours of continuous training time with the Vantage V2 GPS watch. Multiple power save options boost the battery life all the way up to 100 hours, making it ideal for those challenging trail runs.


Get accurate location, speed, and distance data. Train with the best positioning experience anywhere in the world with assisted-GPS for faster fix times, supported by GPS, GLONASS, Galileo, and QZSS satellite systems. The stylish, lightweight aluminum unibody also acts as an antenna signal booster for the built-in GPS, so you know you're getting the best tracking support. Also, import Komoot to your Vantage V2 trail running watch and let the turn-by-turn guidance do the navigating for you. Get back to your start point with Track Back, and visualize all slopes and routes right on your watch with Elevation Profiles.

Training & Performance

The Polar Vantage V2 has all-day wrist-based heart rate monitoring—technology that Polar excels at. Recovery Pro™ reveals how training strains the body and provides metrics that show when it’s time to recover. Training Load Pro™ shows how your training sessions strain different parts of your body and how much you’ve been training, so you can determine if you’re hitting the mark. Get an idea of how well you recover during the night from the demands of your day with Nightly Recharge. Track your progress and personalize your heart rate, speed, and power zones with Running Performance Test. Leg Recovery Test tells you whether your legs are ready for high-intensity training in just a couple of minutes without any special equipment—just your watch! Get access to Polar Flow, an uber-comprehensive training platform that offers extensive training planning and analysis tools, an automatic training diary, progress reports, and much more!

Size & Durability

The durable Polar Vantage V2 is made from aerospace aluminium alloy and has a glass fiber reinforced polymer with a laminated Gorilla glass lens with anti-fingerprint coating. Its sunlight-visible, transflective color touchscreen is 1.2". This GPS watch for trailblazers is one of the lighter models in this lineup, weighing in a 52g with physical dimensions of 47 x 47 x 13, making it one of the slimmer ones as well. It comes in 2 band sizes: Small (120-190 mm wrist circumference) and M/L (145-215 mm wrist circumference).

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Lightest Ultramarathon Watch

The Garmin Forerunner 945/945 LTE is the lightest watch in this lineup that still has all the features you want in an trail running watch. Feature-wise, it's very close to the fēnix 6 Pro. But even the smallest model in the fēnix 6 family has just a bit more bulk and weight than the Forerunner 945, which can make all the difference for some runners. But you pay for it by sacrificing bit of battery life and durability. Ultimately, it comes down to a runner's preference.

Battery Life

The Forerunner does not have the robust battery life management as these other watches, nor quite the power. Still, it's certainly enough for long tail races. The 945 battery life offers up to 2 weeks in smartwatch mode, up to 10 hours in GPS mode with music, and up to 36 hours in GPS mode without music. The 945 LTE battery life provides up to 2 weeks in smartwatch mode, up to 12 hours in GPS with music mode, up to 10 hours in GPS mode with LTE LiveTrack, up to 7 hours GPS mode with music and LTE LiveTrack, and up to 35 hours in GPS mode without music.


Get pretty much the same navigation as the fēnix 6S Pro (the Forerunner 945/945 LTE does not have ski maps on watch).

Training & Performance

Again, the Forerunner 945/945 LTE is pretty much in line with the fēnix 6S Pro pro when it comes to training features and performance data.

Size & Durability

This is also where the lesser bulk makes a difference between these 2 Garmin watch lineups. The Forerunner 945 has a 1.2" display—the same as the fēnix 6S Pro, but is even lighter and slimmer, weighing in at 50g with a physical size of 47 x 47 x 13.7 mm. The Forerunner 945/945 LTE has a fiber-reinforced polymer bezel and cover, instead of a stainless steel bezel and metal cover like the fēnix 6 series.

Trail Running Watch with Most Battery Life—And Weight

The VERTIX 2 adventure watch is the latest in the COROS lineup of GPS watches created for the most extreme athletes in the most extreme settings. It offers brow-raising features that trail runners will love. The only downside? It is the heaviest and bulkiest watch on this list. Trail runners will have to weigh (quite literally) that one feature against the benefits of the rest when it comes to this impressive adventure GPS watch.

Battery Life

Known for their long-lasting batteries, we didn't imagine a COROS watch could outdo the battery life of the VERTIX—but the VERTIX 2 has ... impressively. Amazingly, this ultimate GPS watch gets:

  • Up to 60 days in watch mode
  • Up to 140 hours in Standard Full GPS
  • Up to 240 hours in UltraMax GPS mode
  • Up to 50 hours in All Systems + Dual Frequency On


Get 5 major satellite systems—GPS, GLONASS, Galileo, Beidou, and QZSS—accessed by your VERTIX 2 GPS sport watch at the same time! Dual Frequency satellite communication acts as an express lane for a faster, better signal previously only available in aviation products! Take advantage of built-in ABC sensors—an altimeter for elevation data, a barometer to monitor weather, and a compass. The VERTIX 2 GPS offers global offline mapping, and includes: Landscape, Topo, and Hybrid modes. Get a full global Landscape map out of the box and users can download their Topo map by regions for free from By zooming in and out of the map with the digital-dial, or dragging around the map with the highly-responsive touchscreen, the VERTIX 2 offers the best experience for on-wrist navigation. Plus have Breadcrumb and Back-to-Start navigation at your disposal.

Training & Performance

Use the new electrocardiogram (ECG) to get Heart Rate Variability (HRV) straight from your wrist. The HRV metric measures your body’s response to stress and its ability to recover—pretty handy knowledge when you're pushing in the extremes. Plus you get Altitude mode, advanced training analytics, and recovery time. Running profiles include Run, Indoor Run, Trail Run, and Track Run.

Size & Durability

The COROS VERTIX 2 adventure watch is built for the extremes. It's water resistant, opterates at extreme temperatures, and has a scratch-proof sapphire lens. Both the bezel and cover are constructed from highly durable Grade 5 titanium alloy with PVD coating. But this rugged, powerful, advanced tracking GPS watch is big, putting a 1.4" display on you wrist with dimensions of 50.3 x 50.3 x 15.7 mm and a weight of 89g.

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The PlayBetter Bottom Line

Obviously, the best trail running watch for you will be the one that has the combination of battery life, durability, actionable performance metrics, navigation, and size that is just right for you.

We recommend the fēnix 6S Pro, Sapphire, or Pro Solar, because it is a sleeker, highly durable watch with a smaller display that offers powerful, customizeable battery life. But if you know you want a lighter watch, you may want a Garmin Forerunner 945, COROS APEX Pro, or Polar Vantage V2.

If you want to pair ultimate battery life with premium navigation and maximum durablility—and do not mind running with a bit more heft on your wrist—you probably lean toward a fēnix 6 or 6X Pro, Sapphire, or Pro Solar or the COROS VERTIX 2.

Whatever you preference, we're confident that you'll find the perfect trail running watch in our PlayBetter GPS running watch collection!

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