Outdoor Retail Gear Trends: 2016 fitness trackers / GPS watches

The latest fitness watches headed for retail shelves track, map and even warn runners when a storm is on the way.
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Throughout the next month, SNEWS will recap its coverage of Outdoor Retailer Summer Market 2015 with select stories from the O.R. Daily we published at the show Aug. 5 – 8

As technology progresses, it seems like everything is getting smaller — computers, headphones, even personal trainers. At Summer Market, there are a variety of watches full of tech to help get your customers in shape, prep for a race and even find their way home.

Suunto showcases its new Traverse watch (MSRP $450), built to be an all-adventure timepiece. In addition to GPS navigation, the Traverse gives daily sunrise and sunset times, barometric altitude, will connect with your smartphone, and it’s waterproof down to 330 feet. Our favorite feature? The storm alarm, which lets you know when foul weather is on its way. The composite case and stainless steel bezel keep it rugged without weighing your wrist down.

When it comes to GPS watches, Garmin is always worth a look. This year, check out its Epix GPS watch (MSRP $550). The Epix’s 1.4-inch full-color touchscreen offers a worldwide shaded relief basemap and has 8 gigs of memory to support maps from Topo US 24, HuntView, BirdEye Satellite Imagery and other mapping services. In addition to giving you a full-fledged color map on your wrist, the Epix also offers the usual outdoor watch features: altimeter, barometer and three-axis compass. An update to Garmin’s flagship sport watch, the Fenix 3 (MSRP $500) is slimmer than the Fenix 2, but now has two antennas (GPS and GLONASS) for faster and more accurate GPS reading, settings for everything from running to skiing, full smartphone connectivity, and it connects to a dizzying amount of sensors via ANT+. Heck, it’s even got a fully customizable watch face.

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Soleus is rolling out three new GPS watches for a variety of users, all of which are on the wallet-friendly side of the price range. The company calls the Turbo (MSRP $129) its most sophisticated training tool partially for the “pace partner” feature, which allows you to set your desired pace, then alerts you with beeps and vibrations when you go faster or slower than your pace. Another offering, the Fly (MSRP $99) replaces Soleus’ most popular watch, the Fit, and features tweaks to the Fit’s interface and a sleeker body design. The One (MSRP $79) is technology built for luddites. The one-button start is refreshingly simple, and the lack of features (for instance, you can’t upload to Strava) make it a price-point GPS watch for someone who simply wants to know how far he ran, and how fast.

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--Billy Brown

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