Durable activity trackers for klutzes
September 27, 2017 10:30 AM   Subscribe

I've had Fitbits for a few years and I like them but they have a tendency to get physically destroyed by ordinary wear and tear. Fitbit's warranty service is good but lasts only a year. What is a good fitness tracker that will survive (say) 3 years of 24-hour wear by an active and somewhat clumsy person?

Right now I have Fitbit Charge HR. Features I enjoy: step tracking, continuous HR, sleep tracking. I would like to keep these features but I could be convinced to give some of them up for GPS, which I miss on my Fitbit.

My budget depends on how long the thing will last. To replace my current Fitbit looks like it would cost $72. Let's say this would last a year, and I could spend as much as $72/yr (but would rather not). So it would be ok to switch to a $250 smartwatch if it would last 4 years, etc.

My activities: running, hiking, rock climbing. But more important than any particular activity is just that I tend to destroy clothes and accessories, I don't really know how. Bumping into stuff is part of it.

Bottom line: I don't want to be more careful, I want to own a device that's more solidly put together.
posted by grobstein to Sports, Hobbies, & Recreation (7 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
I wear the Misfit Ray with the paracord necklace because activity trackers as a bracelet are cumbersome and uncomfortable to me and clipped on activity trackers have a tendency to get lost. If worn as a necklace, you probably won't bump and damage it very much there.

It doesn't track heart rate though, and has no GPS. Takes button cell batteries.
posted by Seboshin at 11:06 AM on September 27, 2017

I have a garmin vivosmart 3, it's about 2x the price of the one you had and has the features you mentioned. There's also a GPS version/related product I think. This is my second garmin, I had the first one for several years and only replaced it b/c I thought I had lost the first (turned out I had just misplaced it when traveling), they seem pretty rugged. My only complaint is that you have to charge it (vs. a replaceable watch battery my first one has)
posted by littlerockgetaway at 11:15 AM on September 27, 2017

Buy your FitBit from L.L.Bean and they will accept it as a return if it fails before what you believe its lifespan should be.

My teenage son has a Garmin GPS watch and the band broke in half before the first year was out; his older sister's has lasted longer.

I have gone through several FitBit devices, and none of them last very long. Plus, FitBit's data isn't very accessible (i.e. my iPhone can't use it in the Health app). So depending on what you want to do with the data, and what data you want to collect, maybe an Apple Watch would be better?
posted by wenestvedt at 12:38 PM on September 27, 2017

Response by poster: Is the Apple Watch built to last? I could stomach buying a $300 smartwatch if it was good for several years, but I'm suspicious of the Apple Watch on that score. For comparison, I love iPhones, but I tend to physically demolish them within 3 years.

In the Apple Watch price range I am inclined to think a Garmin GPS watch would meet my needs while being more survivable, but I'm kinda going by looks.
posted by grobstein at 12:51 PM on September 27, 2017

My experience with the Apple Watch has been that it's very durable, but I'm also not usually a person who destroys stuff. That said, my original watch (purchased when they first came out, so about 2.5 years old) has been smacked face-first against concrete multiple times (oops) and generally gotten tumbled around pretty well and still looks and works great. The only exception is that the attachment for the strap doesn't lock in as easily as it once did, but that's 100% because I accidentally shoved a strap in backwards and messed up the clip trying to get it back out. It is the model with the sapphire glass face, but any of the LTE watches in the newest generation include that stronger glass. It's worth noting, though, that unlike a FitBit, it needs to be charged every day and does not include built-in sleep tracking. There's third party apps that work fairly well, but it can be hard to find a time for the daily charge if you wear it to sleep.
posted by duien at 2:36 PM on September 27, 2017

If you were otherwise happy with Fitbit, try emailing their help team and saying what happened and asking for help. They've replaced mine for free before even though the watches died due to normal wear and tear after 2 years or whatever. It's worth a shot.
posted by soleiluna at 4:53 PM on September 27, 2017

Nthing the Apple Watch! Oh, the things I've done to it! To be fair, I've only had it since March 2016, but it's still in tip top shape. My husband has had his since the watch first came out and it still looks good and works well. The newer ones are really, really great for this usage, too.
posted by ancient star at 9:57 PM on September 27, 2017

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