Have you been inspired by the Winter Olympics 2018, or are you simply looking to improve your ice skating, skiing or snowboarding skills? We’ve tested wearable devices that could help.
The Games, which officially commenced in Pyeongchang on Friday 9 February, see athletes brave snow, ice and often sub-zero temperatures to compete for gold in events such as bobsleigh, curling, figure skating, ice hockey, ski jumping and snowboarding.
While we don’t know of any devices that will help you with a more accurate curl or getting faster on the luge, we’ve tested fitness watches and activity trackers that have dedicated metrics and useful sensors for the ice rink or hitting the slopes. Will any of these devices help you win gold, or are they snow good?
– the coolest devices from our tough testing.
Garmin Fenix 5
The Garmin Fenix 5 is built with outdoor activities in mind and is one of Garmin’s most expensive devices. It certainly packs a punch when it comes to the number of sports it can track.
It makes use of both GPS and GLONASS (a variant of GPS) for distance and location tracking, meaning it should have you covered even at the top of a mountain.
It has a multitude of preloaded sports profiles – including hiking, skiing and snowboarding – in addition to the already advanced gym, running and training metrics.
You’ll receive weather and storm alerts on your wrist, and the ‘back to start’ feature is designed to help you find your way even if the weather does close in.
It all sounds very fancy, but it still needs to get the basics right and be durable, too. Read the full Garmin Fenix 5 review to find out more.
Garmin Forerunner 935
The Forerunner 935 is slimmer than the Fenix 5 and is advertised as a running and triathlon watch, but does it have winter sport fans covered too?
If the specs are anything to go by, then it’s a pretty cool customer. It has all the same sensors as the Fenix 5, meaning it will have skiers and snowboarders covered whether they’re looking for tracking, weather updates or help with their location.
How does it compare when it comes to battery life and activity tracking accuracy? To see for yourself, read the full Garmin Forerunner 935 review.
Our test labs didn’t list the full suite of tracking options for the Polar M600 – there are simply too many – instead stating that it can track almost any sport you can think of.
Given the number of sensors, this is unsurprising. It makes use of GPS and GLONASS for distance and location tracking, and uses the GPS to calculate altitude.
Sports profiles, including skiing and snowboarding, can be added to the watch via the companion app for instant tracking, and over 100 other sports can also be tracked.
It’s waterproof up to 10 metres but doesn’t have any specific swim metrics. Is this device good for everyday use, and is it accurate? Read the Polar M600 review for all the information.
Suunto Spartan Wrist Trainer HR
Suunto specialises in making precision navigation instruments. In the 1930s, its founder produced a compact, lightweight military compass for the wrist, and it now uses this technology in a range of wearable devices.
The Suunto Spartan Wrist Trainer HR can track ice skating, skiing (both alpine and cross country), snowboarding and even snow shoeing.
We put it to the test in our labs to find out if this fitness watch shows promise. Click through to the full Suunto Spartan Wrist Trainer HR review to see if it delivers on its claims.
What should you look for in a winter sports wearable?
While we don’t specifically test wearables for the quality of their winter-sport tracking, we do know which features will come in handy for those sub-zero sports.
Altitude or atmospheric pressure sensor: If you want detailed information about your ascent or descent, or the atmosphere conditions at a particular altitude, then this is the feature for you.
Built-in GPS or GLONASS: For any fans of outdoor sports, whatever the time of year, GPS is an important feature. GLONASS is the Russian equivalent, using separate satellites and covering additional ground to GPS. These will let you track your route without your phone, and even view maps on your wearable device – great if you find yourself half way up a mountain with a dead phone battery.
Durability: We put the screen durability of every device to the test, so we know which models will survive a tumble on the ice and which will end up scratched and unusable. If you plan to put your fitness watch or activity tracker through the ringer, no matter the season, make sure you check out its score in our durability testing first.
Waterproofing: You’ll want to ensure the wearable on your wrist is hardy enough to cope if you spend a lot of time on the ice or slopes.
Weather forecast: It’s not just winter sports that are impacted by the weather, but if you are planning a day on the side of a mountain then the weather conditions are an important consideration.
If winter sports aren’t for you, then we’ve rounded up our pick of the best fitness watches and activity trackers for everything from step tracking to swimming in our top 5 activity trackers guide.