3 Best Watches for a Spartan Race or Tough Mudder

Runners use watches for a variety of reasons. They can help an athlete time themselves, but many others serve additional functions like keeping track of heart rate, how many calories have been burned during a session, and where the user is.

Watches specially designed for running have grown more and more complex as the pastime becomes popular and athletes begin to demand more from their wrist accessory.

You can find devices that do all sorts of things, including keeping track of body fat, heart rate, and a person’s breathing.

3 Best Watches for a Spartan Race or Tough Mudder

1. Garmin Forerunner 920XT

2. Suunto Spartan Trainer

3. Fitbit Versa

Our Top Pick
Garmin Forerunner 920XT
9.7
  • VO2 MAX, RECOVERY TIME & RACE PREDICTOR- Forerunner 920XT estimates VO2 max, recovery time and predicts your race times for several distances when used with heart rate.
  • When used with a power meter, it estimates VO2 max for cycling as well.
    RUNNING DYNAMICS- When paired with the HRM-RunTM monitor, the Forerunner 920XT provides feedback on running form by measuring cadence, vertical oscillation and ground contact time.
  • METRICS THAT MATTER- Record speed, distance, ascent/descent, grade and more. Pair with ANT+ compatible sensors to measure heart rate4, speed4, cadence4 and power4. Control VIRB Elite action camera4 to record and relive your accomplishments
  • SMART NOTIFICATIONS- See incoming email, text messages, call alerts, calendar reminders and more from your compatible smartphone.
Most Features
SUUNTO Spartan Ultra
9.5
  • Suunto Spartan watches use a state-of-the-art color touch screen with a wide viewing angle that offers great visibility outdoors, even in direct Sunlight
  • With 80 Sport modes pre-installed in the watch, Suunto Spartan watches are ready to go for nearly any kind of activity right out of the box
  • For demanding adventures, Suunto Spartan Ultra comes with up to 26H battery life with good GPS tracking accuracy
  • Includes built in altimeter, barometer, compass and GPS with 100 meter water resistance
  • Connect Spartan Ultra with your smartphone to sync your activities, customize on the go and see calls and notifications on the watch.
Best Value
Fitbit Versa 4 Fitness Smartwatch
9.1
  • Get inspired and stay accountable with Versa 4 + Premium - learn when to work out or recover, see real-time stats during exercise and find new ways to keep your routine fresh and fun
    Built for better fitness results: Daily Readiness Score(1), built-in GPS and workout intensity map,
  • Active Zone Minutes, all-day activity tracking and 24/7 heart rate, 40+ exercise modes and automatic exercise tracking
  • Tools to measure and improve sleep quality: personalized Sleep Profile(1), daily sleep stages & Sleep Score, smart wake alarm and do not disturb mode
  • Maintain a healthy body and mind: daily Stress Management Score, reflection logging, SpO2(2), health metrics dashboard(3), guided breathing sessions, menstrual health tracking and mindfulness content


When entering a Spartan race or Tough Mudder, a watch can be significant for you to determine when you are pushing your limits or if you are losing time. But considering how many features these devices, how can you be sure you have the right one? Here are the 3 best watches for a Spartan Race or Tough Mudder.

Right away, you should notice the mud and physical abuse that the watch will endure. A Spartan Race is not the time to bring out your Rolex or your grandfather’s prized pocket watch.

Some of the features it will need include being waterproof, able to handle scuffs and impacts, and a screen that can be seen even in sunshine.

3 Best Watches for a Spartan Race or Tough Mudder

Garmin Forerunner 920XT Black/Blue Watch with HRM-Run
SUUNTO Spartan Trainer Wrist HR - Gold
Fitbit Versa 2 Health and Fitness Smartwatch with Heart Rate, Music, Alexa Built-In, Sleep and Swim Tracking, Black/Carbon, One Size (S and L Bands Included)
Garmin Forerunner 920XT Black/Blue Watch with HRM-Run
SUUNTO Spartan Trainer Wrist HR - Gold
Fitbit Versa 2 Health and Fitness Smartwatch with Heart Rate, Music, Alexa Built-In, Sleep and Swim Tracking, Black/Carbon, One Size (S and L Bands Included)
Rating
Review
958 Reviews
29 Reviews
150,505 Reviews
Waterproof
Yes
Yes
Yes
Display Size
29mm X 21mm
27mm X 20mm
1.34"
Battery Life
25 hours
30 hours
3 weeks
Price not available
$250.00
$98.95
Garmin Forerunner 920XT Black/Blue Watch with HRM-Run
Garmin Forerunner 920XT Black/Blue Watch with HRM-Run
Rating
Review
958 Reviews
Waterproof
Yes
Display Size
29mm X 21mm
Battery Life
25 hours
Price not available
SUUNTO Spartan Trainer Wrist HR - Gold
SUUNTO Spartan Trainer Wrist HR - Gold
Rating
Review
29 Reviews
Waterproof
Yes
Display Size
27mm X 20mm
Battery Life
30 hours
$250.00
Fitbit Versa 2 Health and Fitness Smartwatch with Heart Rate, Music, Alexa Built-In, Sleep and Swim Tracking, Black/Carbon, One Size (S and L Bands Included)
Fitbit Versa 2 Health and Fitness Smartwatch with Heart Rate, Music, Alexa Built-In, Sleep and Swim Tracking, Black/Carbon, One Size (S and L Bands Included)
Rating
Review
150,505 Reviews
Waterproof
Yes
Display Size
1.34"
Battery Life
3 weeks
$98.95

Garmin Forerunner 920XT

Garmin is one of the most well-known smart watch brands in the United States and features several different models for athletes.

The Forerunner 920XT features a screen which remains brightly lit no matter how much sunshine is upon it.

Garmin Forerunner 920XT Black/Blue Watch

The display is 29 mm. X 21 mm. and it has a battery life of 25 hours when in fitness mode. 

The display appears in color, which makes it easier for users to interact with it.

Garmin Forerunner 920XT Black/Blue Watch

 One of the greatest uses of this watch during a Spartan race is its ability to turn the run into segments. This means people can track their performance during different obstacles so they can tell what they need to improve and where they were struggling.

The Garmin Forerunner 920XT also has a waterproof rating of 5, which means it can withstand being splashed and some minor immersion.

Finally, the watch syncs with Wi-Fi, so people can upload their statistics to another device to have an in-depth performance review. For these reasons, it is a favorite for athletes on a budget who still want to go big or go home.

PROS:

  • Heart monitor has the sensitivity of a chest strap
  • Can be adjusted to suit different sections of a race
  • Waterproof
  • Clear and easy to read screen
  • Syncs with Wi-Fi
  • Less expensive than similar options

CONS:

  • Large compared to other models
  • Only lasts for 25 hours
  • The Wi-Fi connection can be finicky
Garmin Forerunner 920XT Black/Blue Watch with HRM-Run
958 Reviews
Garmin Forerunner 920XT Black/Blue Watch with HRM-Run
  • Note: This product comes bundled with an HRM-Run heart rate monitor with either a black front or a black front with a red border around it. The border color will not affect the functionality of the unit.
  • RUNNING DYNAMICS When paired with the HRM-RunTM monitor, the Forerunner 920XT provides feedback on running form by measuring cadence, vertical oscillation and ground contact time.
  • METRICS THAT MATTER Record speed, distance, ascent/descent, grade and more. Pair with ANT+ compatible sensors to measure heart rate4, speed, cadence and power. Control VIRB Elite action camera4 to record and relive your accomplishments

Suunto Spartan Trainer

Suunto takes pride in this watch’s durability and compactness, which makes it great for runners who will be moving in rough terrain or facing obstacles.

The device is even named the Spartan Trainer, which seems to hint at its efficiency at tracking the movements of Spartan race participants.

SUUNTO Spartan Trainer Wrist HR - Black

The Spartan Trainer has a thinner band than many other models and was designed for wrist comfort. Its heart rate monitor is considered one of the most accurate on the market, while the display is lit and easy to read in the sunlight. 

SUUNTO Spartan Trainer Wrist HR - Black

The battery lasts for 10 hours in full GPS tracking mode, 30 hours in GPS with power saving, and 14 days of regular time mode.

This watch is also waterproof and resistant up to 50 meters submerged. This means it can be splashed or dropped into a puddle and not suffer from adverse effects. It’s even effective while swimming or hiking on a regular basis.

Unlike some other trainers, this watch features numerous modes which can be toggled on or off. Runners can utilize settings to determine pace, heart rate, calories burned, and distance and then have these statistics transformed into easy to read graphs.

The Suunto Spartan Trainer is slightly more expensive than other models at $200 to $350, but is worth the investment.

PROS:

  • Heart rate monitor is extremely accurate 
  • Long battery life
  • Waterproof
  • Small and light
  • Easy to read
  • Easily customized
  • Can track different sections of a race

CONS:

  • More expensive than similar options
  • Small band with a thick watch
SUUNTO Spartan Trainer Wrist HR - Gold
29 Reviews
SUUNTO Spartan Trainer Wrist HR - Gold
  • Ready for all your sports including swimming, running, cycling, gym, hiking and more with battery life up to 10 hours with best GPS accuracy (up to 30h with power saving options) and 14 days battery life in time mode
  • Water resistant up to 50m, convenient wrist heart rate measurement and compact size and optimal fit for sports and daily wear
  • Personalize your watch with customizable watch faces and get incoming calls, text and calendar notifications to your watch while the customizable sport modes with graphs, easy-to-create intervals, on-screen guidance and automatic laps make your workout easy to follow

3. Fitbit Versa 2

Fitbit Versa 2

Finally, we have the Fitbit Versa 2. This watch is one of the only products on the market that comes with adjustable wrist bands in different sizes. 

This means runners can choose between thick or thin and find one which is comfortable for the wrist during a Spartan race.

The Fitbit Versa 2 is small, compact, and waterproof. It is capable of surviving splashes and minor immersion and can be easily cleaned if covered with mud. 

The interface is easy to read and not affected by sunlight or other inconveniences.

Fitbit Versa 2 Health and Fitness Smartwatch with Heart Rate, Music, Alexa Built-In, Sleep and Swim Tracking, Black/Carbon, One Size (S and L Bands Included)

People can also toggle between an active and regular mode to save battery life. Fitbit is widely regarded as one of the top running watches. I LOVE the durability of this watch. As you can see I have worn my a lot and it still looks in pretty good shape!

Fitbit Versa 2

Some of the watch’s features include a heart rate monitor, calories burned, steps, and active minutes. It is less expensive  than most fitness watches, only costing between $150 and $250.

Fitbit Versa 2.

PROS:

  • Comes with Heart rate monitor& numerous other features 
  • Long battery life
  • Waterproof
  • Built-in GPS
  • Can play music while you run
  • Easy to read interface
  • Inexpensive

CONS:

  • Chunky Design
  • Thick wrist strap
  • Has Wi-Fi connectivity issues
Sale
Fitbit Versa 2 Health and Fitness Smartwatch with Heart Rate, Music, Alexa Built-In, Sleep and Swim Tracking, Black/Carbon, One Size (S and L Bands Included)
150,505 Reviews
Fitbit Versa 2 Health and Fitness Smartwatch with Heart Rate, Music, Alexa Built-In, Sleep and Swim Tracking, Black/Carbon, One Size (S and L Bands Included)
  • Use amazon Alexa built in to get quick news and information, check the weather, set timers and alarms, control your smart home devices and more all through the sound of your voice (third party app may be required; amazon Alexa not available in all countries).Water resistance depth:50 meters
  • Based on your heart rate, time asleep and restlessness, sleep score helps you better understand your sleep quality each night; also track your time in light, deep and REM sleep stages and get personal insights
  • Play music and control Spotify from your wrist. Subscriptions required for use of music service; not available in all countries

What is a Spartan Race or an OCR?

A Spartan Race is a type of obstacle race designed to truly challenge runners and athletes. They vary in length from 5 kilometers to full marathons and can include any type of impediment, including walls, dirt hills, and monkey bars that need to be used to cross sections.

A lot of people participate in this type of race and undergo months of training to become healthy, fit, and strong enough to stand a chance. A person’s watch additionally needs to be able to handle the challenges of this type of run.

This video accurately demonstrates the numerous elements your watch will need to handle during a Spartan Race:

When entering a Spartan race, a watch can be significant for helping a runner determine when they are pushing their limits or if they are losing time.

But considering how many features these devices have nowadays, how can you be sure you have the right one?

If you would rather skip right to the comparisons, here is a simple table that should help you. Continue reading for more in-depth analysis. Here's your answer... 

Why is a Watch Important 

As mentioned earlier, many runners rely on their watches to not only track time, but to also keep track of their fitness and personal records.

Most modern devices can be considered trainers that monitor health and wellness by keeping statistics and warning wearers if they are pushing themselves too hard.

1. Studies published by the Department of Psychiatry at Columbia University found that running, especially over a long distance, increases the endorphins in the body

Endorphins are a pleasurable response to an activity, which makes it more enjoyable and a person more likely to continue to do it. Unfortunately, these endorphins can also mask pain or the harsh realities of exercise.

2. Heart rate monitoring is important, especially for athletes over the age of 35. A person’s maximum heart rate is a person’s age subtracted from 220.

This means a 30 year old runner should not go above 190 or else they put themselves at risk of too high blood pressure and other ailments.

Scientific American and the American Heart Association (AHA) recommend doing exercises that are between 50% and 85% of a person’s maximum heart rate.This means the above 30 year old should not have their heart rate rise above 161 beats per minute.

It might not sound like a lot, but your heart would need to beat almost three times in a second to reach this level.

3. Most modern watches can therefore help runners make sure they aren’t running too hard or putting themselves at risk of a heart attack or chest pain.

Another benefit of the watch during something like a Spartan race is simple time tracking.

Most runners enter competitive runs with personal goals in mind. If you can’t monitor your time, how will you know how well you are doing, if you need to speed up, or if you need to slow down? Simply put, you won’t.

The watch helps keep you in check and can often be a form of encouragement for individuals who strive for personal success.

4. For those who want to lose weight or burn fat, a digital calorie counter will also be a helpful tool.

So, the reason a runner will have a watch during a Spartan race will vary, but most use them. If you would like to find the best watch, check out the following examples below.

Each one has a different price point and packs different features, but all are beneficial for the average athlete.

Conclusion

You want a watch as tough as you when you run a Spartan race. These options provide runners with a range of prices as well as different strengths and weaknesses. The best way to tell if a watch will work for you is to try it on and see how comfortable you feel. It’s important to be your best self before heading out on the course.


Hi, Jeremy Here, 

I am the the guy behind Train for a 5K. On this site, I share everything that learned along my running journey. The content I create is the running training I wish I had before we started this journeyAbout Me.

Last update on 2022-11-29 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API