Adrian Weckler’s guide to the best wearable stroller gadgets for every budget — and wrist
What is the perfect wearable device for a walker? It may vary. Some hikers don’t need a tracking tool as advanced and fancy as, say, a marathon trainer. On the other hand, some walkers are looking for a larger, fancier screen that’s better suited to controlling a wider range of recreational features, like an easy-to-use podcast, radio, or music player, while happily strolling along.
One thing is for sure: most hikers want more than just a pedometer, which is included in every smartphone sold these days.
So here are three options for different types of hikers.
1. Fitbit charging 5
Good for: the gadget minimalist
Fitbit’s main calling card is that it doesn’t look like you’re wearing a computer on your arm — it’s a slim band that wraps discreetly around your wrist. The latest Charge 5 model comes with a color touchscreen, more advanced health sensors, and a slightly larger battery. While its basics (step counting and long battery life) are still in abundance, the Charge 5 (right) has added some advanced features like stress testing (via a skin activity sensor) and ECG measurement. The built-in GPS also means it works with any smartphone fitness app, giving you a map overview of where you’ve been. And there’s also basic smartphone-synced notifications if you want them on. Its only real downside is that the screen is still necessarily small and thin due to its slim form.
2. Apple watch
Good for: the media-infested stroller
Along with some excellent walking, fitness and health features of its own, this device has additional “smart” features that you might appreciate. For example, if you’ve set up Apple Pay (which is easy on your iPhone), you can just swipe your Apple Watch (left) against a store’s contactless card reader to pay for anything. It’s also great as a music and podcast player, and is compatible both as a controller and as a download repository for Apple Music, Spotify, or Audible. And its screen is by far the best in terms of typing and visibility. You can even make and receive calls (if you have your smartphone in your pocket) thanks to the microphone and speaker.
The big relative downside of the Apple Watch is battery life: you rarely get more than a day or two per charge due to its advanced features and great screen.
3. Garmin Forerunner 55
Good for: the statistics junkie
For those who want their exercise machine to move between walks and the occasional jog or run, this is the next step up from a traditional slim Fitbit. Garmin’s Forerunner 55 (below) is a really good, mid-range, wallet-friendly option for those who dip their toe in the great outdoors. In addition to gait exercises and tracking, it offers a wide range of “regular” exercise and fitness programs, from running, cycling, and swimming to things like yoga and Pilates. It has great battery life (around 10 days if you go easy on the GPS) and supports much of what Garmin’s more expensive fitness training watches offer at less than half the price. This is basically a “Lite” version of Garmin’s excellent high-end fitness watches.