Best GPS Watch for Trail Running & Ultramarathon Races in 2020

Best GPS Watch For Trail Running
They say that all you need to be a runner is a pair of running shoes. Well, I’d like to argue that all you need is a pair of shoes and a good GPS watch.

Some will say that using a watch while running causes you to lose some of the “pureness” of the sport. I believe GPS watches bring so much positive. My watch takes my personal enjoyment of running to a whole new level. It brings data and community to the sport.

In terms of data, you can sync your watch with a platform like Strava.com and see an endless amount of facts for each of your runs – pace, route, heart rate, distance, elevation gain/loss and so much more.

Probably the best part of this data is that it can be shared with your local community and group of friends that will actually result in real friendships and running buddies you may have otherwise never formed. You can give “kuddos” to your running friends and comment on their workouts.

If you are not running with a GPS watch and have a Strava account, then you are missing out!

Entry Level GPS Watch

Garmin Forerunner 10 – Way back in the day, my watch was just a Timex with a stopwatch. Once GPS watches became small enough for runners to wear without looking like they had a cell phone strapped to their wrist, I got on board with a basic Garmin Forerunner 10 ($100).

I had not gotten into ultra running yet and was training for my first marathon so this watch was all I really needed. A handful of hours of battery life was all I needed. This model has 5 hours of battery life in GPS mode.

Intermediate Level GPS Watch

Garmin Forerunner 910XT – Once I made the leap beyond the marathon distance, I realized I needed a lot more battery life if I wanted to capture data from an all day race or really long training day. So, I made the jump to a Garmin Forerunner 910XT ($295).

I’d never spent anywhere close to this amount on anything related to running so it seemed like a big decision at the time and I wanted to make the best choice but still keep it affordable. The big reasons I chose this model were because of the price and 20 hour GPS mode battery life.

This watch was fantastic. It tracked every training day and race I wanted it to, except for my first 100 miler, which took 25 hours to complete. So, to sum it up – you just have to decide how important it is to have 24+ hours of battery life. I was fine with saving a couple hundred bucks at the time and still being able to track 99.9 percent of my activities.

Advanced Level GPS Watch

Coros Apex 46mm – Now that I am doing 100 milers more regularly I am willing to invest more into my gear. Especially since I have qualified for the UTMB 100 finally and would love to capture the entire race with my watch. The latest watches have different levels of tracking that can extend the life of your battery while in GPS mode. Some can track up to 100 hours. Which brings us to the crown jewel of GPS watches…

The best value I could find in terms of price + battery life was the Coros Apex 46mm (@ $350).

This watch ticks all the boxes and is hundreds of dollars less than comparable watches. Coros is the new kid on the block and making waves in the sport watch world. They have a sleek design and incredible value. It’s really a no brainer. With battery life in normal mode at 35 hours, this is plenty for any of my upcoming 100 mile adventures.

  • Tech – The other nice thing about this watch is the very fast satellite acquisition. Just start watch and get running.
  • Battery Life – For the longest battery life, make sure you get the 46mm size.
  • Strapless HR Monitoring – Built-in heart rate monitor. If you are considering getting into HR training. This watch is great, as it does not require a chest strap and takes your beats right from wrist.

If you are looking to upgrade your watch game, this is the one and I can’t recommend it enough. See the latest Coros Apex deals on Amazon here.

Best GPS Watch for Trail Running & Ultramarathon Races in 2020