It’s almost 2018 and while we don’t have flying cars or injections to make us superhuman, we do have gadgets that help enhance our bodies.
From wearables to hearables the modern age of body-based gadgetry is better than ever, so there are fewer excuses than ever for you to be anything but your best - and the same goes for your friends and family. Give one of these as a gift this year to help someone you know enhance their life.
If they’re a runner, cyclist, swimmer, gym buff, yoga fan, or still sticking to couch-dwelling, these are the gadgets that can help them become better. From spoken guidance while training to tracked data that helps anyone see their improvements, using these wearable helpers mean their goals for 2018 can actually be reached.
Note: we've ranked these from cheapest to most expensive according to prices at time of writing.
1. Moov Now
Great value, great battery, great swim-tracking
For water babies there isn’t a swim tracker out right now that’s much better than the Moov Now. Sure, this multi-sport tracker does manage run, cycle and even boxing monitoring, but it excels at swimming.
Not only will this track laps, time, distance, pace and strokes when swimming but it will break down the data for analysis afterwards with useful metrics like distance per stroke and stroke rate. That even includes tips on how to improve performance based on the data collected.
While training, the Moov Now requires a smartphone connection for GPS but it can then offer real-time coaching via connected headphones.
One of the best things: the Now will keep going for six months before the affordable watch battery runs out, making it an ideal gift.
- The Moov Now is a big hit in our best fitness trackers list
2. Skulpt Scanner
Makes sure you're making progress
A lot of people train for one simple goal - to lose weight. So a tracker that measures fat and muscle to show what training works and what doesn’t makes sense. The Skulpt Scanner is designed for gym buffs, HIIT fanatics, cardio crew and anyone that enjoys training in a way that traditional wearables don’t track so well.
By getting an accurate measure of muscle quality and fat content at 24 different areas of the body it’s possible to focus training more accurately.
The only negative is that this system requires you to hold a bulky, moistened unit onto that muscle area while it measures.
This is a post-workout faff that may be dropped by some people, although since improvements aren’t going to be instant it could be a weekly or bi-monthly tracker session anyway, with the app then advising on how to improve and hit goals. Beefcake!
3. Beddit 3
Takes sleep tracking to the next level
Give the gift of sleep, it doesn't get much better than that, right? The Beddit 3 takes sleep tracking to the next level with a dedicated slimline 1.5mm unit that slips under the bedding to track many metrics.
That means not only sleep tracking via movements but heart rate tracking, ambient noise awareness, temperature and humidity tracking - it even tracks snoring. Plus it’s all powered via the mains so doesn't require charging, and uses Bluetooth to send the data right to an accompanying app on a phone.
This app takes the data collection to the next step by offering actions which can lead to a better night’s kip. You can add in details about your day like #NoBeer, #LateWork, #Tea and so on to better understand what caused the lack of sleep that day.
That way, when analyzing trends over time you can more clearly see what affects your sleep most, which is what we all really want to know, right?
- The Beddit does well in our list of best sleep trackers
4. Fitbit Charge 2
A good all-rounder
As fitness trackers go, the Charge 2 is one of the best out there with plenty of features crammed into a compact, comfortable and good-looking package.
While the straps can be swapped out (for a price) the screen remains and runs the show with its large touchscreen OLED offering that easily packs in data while training.
You get the usual tracking like steps, calories and distance, but also wrist-based heart rate and sleep tracking. Just don’t expect swim monitoring as this isn’t waterproof, just splash resistant.
While GPS isn’t on board you can connect to a phone to use that GPS while running and cycling. That also means notifications for calls, messages and calendar alerts but little more.
The free accompanying app is easy to use and has lots of data to dive into, plus you get access to guided breathing exercises to help with training.
All that and the battery keeps going for a good five days too, making the Fitbit Charge 2 a great pressie for someone looking to get fit in 2018.
- Where the does the Fitbit Charge 2 land in our list of best Fitbits?
5. Polar M430
Simple, smart and effective
Polar, as a company, was built on running tracking and it’s gone back to its roots with the Polar M430, which offers wrist-based heart rate training and in-depth running guidance. The sporty looking watch tracks things like pace, distance, cadence (with Bluetooth stride sensor) altitude and heart rate, and includes built-in GPS.
But it also offers fitness tests using the HR tracker and personalized running training plans based on goals. And it carries on into the night with Polar Sleep Plus, which tracks sleep and offers ways to improve to help push a better performance.
The display on the watch is big and clear, but monochrome and simplified - ideal for some but lacking detail for others perhaps. But dive into the app and there’s plenty of data to analyze in the hunt to find the perfect training path to an amazing race performance.
- Check out the Polar M430 in our best running watch list
6. LifeBEAM Vi
Your personal fitness coach
The LifeBEAM Vi could be the future of fitness gadgetry, leading the way by combining artificial intelligence with hearable tech.
Developed by military tech specialists using the same smarts used by fighter pilots, this headphone wearable is all about going beyond tracking to offer personalized feedback and training guidance.
Vi offers aerospace grade biosensors to track heart rate, motion, elevation, proximity and touch for up to six hours of use. Feedback and music come through Harman Kardon developed headphones for high-quality sound.
Vi is controlled using Automatic Speech Recognition, meaning a simple question like “How fast am I running?” will get a direct answer, as if working out with a real personal trainer.
This is great for heart rate zone training where looking at a watch screen can be distracting.
Runners, cyclists and even HIIT fans can use this to get better, but Vi is also great to help beginners face training with an assistant that can make it all a bit less scary.
7. Bragi The Dash Pro
Wireless and phone-free earbuds
Bragi The Dash Pro is a truly wireless earbud setup that not only offers onboard music but tracking too, meaning you can train and leave your phone at home.
It doesn’t have GPS so that tracking might not be as accurate as you’d like for running and cycling, but with a connected phone GPS can be used.
And you do get metrics like steps, distance, cadence, heart rate, breaths and more with the earbuds alone. Bragi The Dash Pro also auto-detects activity using its movement and heart rate sensors, so you don't have to tell it you're exercising.
While the Dash Pro has 4GB of onboard storage for around 1,000 songs it can also stream music from a connected phone. It’s IPX7 water resistant and comes with a charging case that extends the five hour battery life for multiple charges when out and about.
As if all that wasn’t enough, the Dash Pro also offers an iTranslate service via a phone, meaning you can hear translations of a person talking in another language, in real-time... just like Google's Pixel Buds.
8. Apple Watch 3 / Samsung Gear Fit 2 Pro
More than just fitness trackers
Fully-fledged smartwatches are really capable fitness trackers these days, which is why we're recommending the Apple Watch 3 or Samsung Gear Fit 2 Pro. Both offer built-in GPS for tracking running and cycling without a connected phone, but work better on iOS or Android respectively.
But when the phone is near, you have notifications to keep you connected and audio feedback plus the option to enjoy your music too.
Yes these are pricey, but you get a lot for your buck with an entire ecosystem of ever-evolving software. That means updates that can deliver improvements to things like voice controlled search, mapping guidance, contactless payments and more.
The Gear Fit 2 Pro can work on iOS or Android, where the Apple Watch is locked down to just the Cupertino ecosystem - but the two watches here are the best for each phone choice.
- The Apple Watch 3 is a powerful option in our best smartwatch list
9. Garmin Forerunner 935
Powerful and future-proof
One of the best Garmin products to date, which says a lot when you consider how long this company has been perfecting its wearables. The Forerunner 935 might be pricey but that’s because it does so much.
From running tracking of vertical oscillation, stride length, cadence, pace and more to Strava cycling tracking, hiking tracking and beyond with personalization for things like stand up paddle boarding - this does it all.
This manages GPS and heart rate tracking for a whopping 24 hours, or up to 60 in UltraTrac mode without HR.
The Forerunner 935 is pretty smart day-to-day with smartphone notifications for calls and messages as well as step and sleep tracking.
All that data means the app can be a bit cluttered for some tastes, but with a dedicated app store there are always new ways to personalize and improve the watch, helping it become more future-proof than some of the competition.
- The Forerunner 935 is a popular choice in our best Garmin Watch
10. Garmin Fenix 5X
A feature-packed tracker that keeps on going
Big watches look good, but when you’re off adventuring do you want the extra weight? In the case of the Garmin Fenix 5X, the answer is yes. That size means a battery life that’ll keep you tracking over days, not hours, and a build that’s solid enough to withstand more than the puny body it’s attached to.
Onboard maps are also a great feature that let you follow a trail without carrying maps or traditional GPS trackers.
Of course Garmin has also built the Fenix 5X for everything else, meaning smartphone notifications, activity tracking, sleep tracking and any other sport.
From running and cycling to paddle boarding and skiing, this beast has it all covered. All that, and with general use the battery can last almost two weeks.
There’s even a selection of apps on the dedicated store for personalization. The fact this also looks good, especially with the metallic strap option, is just a bonus.
- We've also picked out 10 great gifts for runners