Fit Find: Fitbit Surge

The first GPS watch from Fitbit has arrived. But how's it stack up to the competition?

January 22, 2015

It's been a few months now since Fitbit announced three new products: The Charge, Charge HR, and the Surge. Whereas the Charge models upped the ante on the fitness tracker's classic technology, the Surge is new territory for the company -- their first GPS watch, and this week's #FitbieFind. From the get-go, I've been super interested in what the Surge had to offer, a little more than your typical GPS tracker, heart rate recognition built into the unit itself, no chest strap required. 

I was almost sold completely before even putting the band on, as the box totes inspirational lingo encouraging athletes to kick things up another level. (Appropriately put on the inside of the packaging: "Every moment counts when you're striving to be the best. Don't just start. Surge.") What I loved the most, however, from the moment I removed the Surge from the packaging is its slim size and lightweight feel compared to other GPS watches I own. 

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But let's talk bread and butter, other specifics and functionality. The watch constantly tracks steps, distance, calories burned, and floors climbed just like previous models, and does so really well. What I was most interested in, though, was how it handled an outdoor run. There's no doubting that the watch stands up to the competition when it comes to pairing time with GPS satellites (roughly 15 to 30 seconds). As running progresses, you can check heart rate, calories, pace, average page, steps, total distance, and the total activity time. And when you're done, it's super simple to navigate all of the date from your workout on the Fitbit mobile app. 

As for distance measured, I've never tried two watches that gave me the same readings. However, this distance count's pretty on point with the Nike+ Sportwatch I've used regularly for a few months now (and dramatically more accurate than any app-based tracking such as MapMyRun or Nike+ when used without a watch/chip pairing). It also paired well on the "Treadmill Run" setting. Granted, new users will need to configure their stride length to get accurate readings. (Find out how to calculate your stride length, here.) 

The coolest thing this watch offers (tied with the ability to read text messages on the watch face) is the heart rate monitor, hands down. DIY interval training has never been easier, with the heart rate monitor enabling the user to gauge different cardio zones with one simple tap. When paired with your mobile device, users can see real-time tracking, and compare resting heart rate over time. So now, aside from aiming for those 10,000+ steps per day, the user can also see exactly how an upper level in activity can affect resting heart rate. 

So the question: Do I recommend it? If you're a Fitbit user who's down with wearing a bigger model 24/7, for sure. It's cool to have all the functionality of my classic Flex with that extra oomph. Looking for a performance-based GPS watch in a world dominated by Garmin, Tom Tom, and Nike? Fitbit's a contender, for sure. I'm interested to see what grows from here.

What else we love:
• 7 days of battery life
• Available in three colors: black, tangerine, blue
• Available in three sizes: small, large, extra large
• Multi-sport modes to record cross-training, running, and cardio workouts

The Details: Fitbit Surge, $249.95, fitbit.com

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