The Best Small Fitness Trackers of 2021

The Best Small Fitness Trackers

Fitness trackers have become an essential fitness accessory in recent years. But that doesn’t mean that they have to be obtrusive. There are plenty of small fitness trackers available that provide you with all the functionality you need without drawing attention to themselves. In this article, I’ll review the 9 best small fitness trackers in the market. I’ll also provide a full buyer’s guide and reveal how accurate fitness trackers really are. 

A Quick Overview of the Top 3


Best Overall Small Fitness Tracker: BellaBeat Leaf Urban Smart Tracker

  • Resembles a bracelet
  • 6-month battery life
  • Sleep monitoring
  • Ideal for women

Most Stylish Small Fitness Tracker: Pard Fitness Tracker

  • Elegant design
  • Blood pressure monitoring
  • Tracks 8 different sports
  • Sleep monitoring

Best Clip On Small Fitness Tracker: FitBit Zip Wireless

  • Extremely portable
  • 6 months battery life
  • Clips to clothing
  • Accurate monitoring

The 9 Best Small Fitness Trackers:

1. BellaBeat Leaf Urban Smart Tracker

Best Overall Small Fitness Tracker

BellaBeat Leaf Urban Smart Tracker

Pros:

  • Resembles a bracelet
  • 6-month battery life
  • Sleep monitoring
  • Ideal for women

Cons:

  • No display
  • Does not monitor blood pressure

The BellaBeat Leaf Urban Smart Tracker is the fitness tracker you wear when you’re not wearing a fitness tracker. It looks just like a piece of fashionable jewelry and can be worn on either the wrist or around the neck like a pendant. 

There is no display console on the BellaBeat Leaf tracker so you need to pair it with your phone to access the app. There you will get data on your activity, sleep, and stress levels. The BellaBeat Leaf is specifically designed for female fitness followers. It features a unique menstrual cycle tracker and comes in an elegant leaf shape. The tracker is available in two colors; rose gold and silver black. 

As well as wearing the device on your wrist, you can also wear it around your neck or clip it to your clothing like a bracelet. The device monitors your steps taken, calories burned, level of inactivity and sleep. It will also provide you with push activity reminders. The six-month battery life of this cool tracker is pretty impressive.

2. Pard Fitness Tracker

Most Stylish Small Tracker

Pard Fitness Tracker

Pros:

  • Elegant design
  • Blood pressure monitoring
  • Tracks 8 different sports
  • Sleep monitoring

Cons:

  • Quite heavy

The Pard Fitness Tracker is one of the most elegant-looking fitness watches that I have come across. It looks just like a high-end lady’s wristwatch, yet is packed with some impressive fitness tracking features. It tracks 8 different sporting activities, including basketball and badminton. For each activity, the device will keep a record of your calories burned, heart rate, and activity time. 

The Pard Fitness Tracker also features 24-hour continuous blood pressure monitoring. There is also in-depth sleep monitoring functionality built into this device. This fitness watch features a link chain stainless steel band and is available in two colors. The battery will last for up to 7 days. 

3. FitBit Zip Wireless

Best Clip On Small Fitness Tracker

FitBit Zip Wireless

Pros:

  • Extremely portable
  • 6 months battery life
  • Clips to clothing
  • Accurate monitoring

Cons:

  • No sleep monitoring function

The FitBit Zip wireless activity tracker is the smallest, most portable device in the FitBit range. Rather than wearing it on your wrist, you simply clip it to your clothing. This device looks like a simple pedometer but has a whole lot more functionality than you’d expect from such a simple-looking unit. It doesn’t track your sleep or monitor your heart rate but covers most of your other fitness and health tracking diagnostic requirements.

The FitBit Zip is fitted with a battery that will last for six months. It features a 3-axis accelerometer and is Bluetooth enabled so that you can sync to your phone or tablet. In fact, it is compatible with more than 200 devices. The simple screen on the FitBit is easy to read. For such a small device, it is also impressively accurate. 

4. FitBit Inspire HR

FitBit Inspire HR

Pros:

  • Waterproof
  • Heart Rate monitoring
  • OLED Display
  • Sleep monitoring

Cons:

  • No GPS

The FitBit Inspire HR packs all of the features that you expect from a FitBit into a minimalist design that is both stylish and functional. It features activity tracking, heart rate monitoring, and sleep tracking. The slimline band comes in three color options (black, lilac, and white)  and is made of silicone (though you do have the option of upgrading to steel). 

There are 15 exercise modes on this device to allow you to precisely track your activity through whatever type of exercise you are engaged in. There is no built-in GPS but you can easily pair it to your phone’s GPS to track your running route. The FitBit Inspire HR will also monitor your sleep pattern. 

FitBIt claims that you will have 5 days of battery life on a single charge. You also get Smartphone calls and message notifications.

5. MOOV Fitness Tracker

MOOV Fitness Tracker

Pros:

  • Waterproof
  • Great value
  • Can be worn on the ankle

Cons:

  • Does not monitor heart rate

The MOOV fitness tracker is a stylish, durable device that is ideal to monitor your training performance, whether you are running, boxing or doing high-intensity interval training. This tracker features a lightweight silicone band that can be worn on either the wrist or ankle. 

The mechanism of the MOOV fitness tracker is quite unique in that it makes use of 3 motion sensors that accurately track your movements and convert them into usable data. Another extremely cool feature is the audio coaching feature which trains you through five different sporting activities. You also get a full bodyweight training and boxing program.

The battery life of this tracker is an incredible six months, putting it on par with the Bellabeat Leaf Urban Smart Tracker. 

6. Polar A370

Polar A370

Pros:

  • Polar Sleep Analysis
  • Well priced
  • Waterproof

Cons:

  • Requires manual syncing

The Polar A370 is a slimline, minimalistic tracker that hardly feels like you’re wearing it. It comes in a range of colors and features a rectangular screen with a large digital display. It provides more activity tracking options than many competitors, including continuous heart rate monitoring. The detailed and accurate Polar Sleep analysis on this device is a standout feature.

The Polar A370 is compatible with a range of different apps over and above the Polar smartphone app. You do, however, have to manually sync the device with your phone.  Battery life on this unit is 4 days. This fitness tracker is waterproof down to 30 meters. 

7. Garmin Venu SQ

Garmin Venu SQ

Pros:

  • Sleep monitor
  • Well priced
  • Blood oxygen monitoring
  • Preset workouts

Cons:

  • Vibration notification a little weak

The Garmin Venu SQ fitness tracker packs a whole lot of fitness tracker functionality into its small dimensions and its comparatively low price point. This device has outstanding fitness tracking capability with its blood oxygen monitoring, breathing rate tracking, and constant pulse tracking along with all the standard features you’ve come to expect. 

The Garmin Venu SQ features a square watch face with a bright display featuring large, easy-to-read digits. It has an aluminum bezel, with a plastic case and buttons. It is sufficiency sturdy while also looking smart and slimline. It features a vibration notification activity sensor but this is not overly strong so you may not actually notice it.

The sleep tracking system on this device is above average, allowing you to identify the stages of REM sleep and length you were in each of them. There are a number of workouts preset into this tracker, allowing you to use the device as a personal coach.

8. Letscom id115 HR Plus

Letscom id115 HR Plus

Pros:

  • 14 sports and activities monitored
  • Sleep monitor
  • Push notifications
  • 7 day battery life

Cons:

  • No GPS

The Letscom id 115 HR Plus is a very simple-looking slimline black band that doesn’t look like much. However, it’s packed with an impressive amount of functionality for the fitness enthusiast. The tracker covers 14 sports and activities, including hiking and high-intensity interval training (HIIT). The device will monitor your steps, heart rate, calories burned, and distance. It also provides you with sleep analysis.

The Letscom id 115 features push notifications for your calls and messages. This device is waterproof and has 7-day battery life. However, there are no inbuilt GPS so you will have to carry your phone with you to capture your running route.

9. Samsung Gear Fit2

Samsung Gear Fit2

Pros:

  • GPS
  • Spotify
  • Very accurate

Cons:

  • Not waterproof

The Samsung Gear Fit2 is another minimalist wrist device that features a rectangular display with large, easy-to-read digits. It features a built-in GPS capability to track your running route and more accurately capture your workout data. It will also track your active and inactive minutes over every 24 hour period.

The Samsung Gear Fit2 is one of the most accurate small fitness trackers that I have come across. This is no doubt thanks to the multiple sensors, including barometer, gyroscope, and accelerometer that are built into the device. Spotify is preloaded onto the tracker so you can enjoy your favorite workout music anywhere, anytime. 

Fitness Tracker Buyer’s Guide

​Shopping for one can be a dizzying experience, especially for the uninitiated. Every few months we see new technologies that allow for new adaptations designed to sweep you off your feet. We now see trackers that are, in effect, hybrid smartphones.

To make sense out of your options, let’s break down the key buying considerations:

Also Read:   Garmin Forerunner 230 GPS Running Watch Review

Design​

​The majority of fitness trackers are designed to look like a thin band that you wear around your wrist. But you can also buy trackers that come with a clip to allow you to attach them at your hip. Others, such as the Misfit Ray can be worn around your neck like a lanyard.

Most trackers have a sophisticated, stylish, slimline look to them. You’ll find LCD displays on the majority of trackers. There are a few, however, such as the Jawbone UP 3, that do not feature a display.

Waterproof Feature​

When it comes to fitness trackers, being able to take it in the poll takes on a whole new significance. You’ll be able to record your swimming exercise activity. While most trackers will only give you information about your heart rate and the amount of calories burned, there are a few that will drill down deeper to give you more information.

If you purchase a Misfit Shine 2, you’ll have the ability to track lengths, while the Moove 2 will tell you about your stroke count and even give you feedback on your technique.

​If you’re a swimmer or an aqua aerobic exerciser, the extra cost of a waterproof watch may well be worth the investment.

To determine how waterproof a fitness tracker is, you need to take a look at its IP number. The IP number relates to a rating system established by the International Electrotechnical Commission. It has two digits following the letters IP. The first digit tells you how dust-resistant the device is. The second tells you how resistant to water it is. The higher the number, the better the level of protection you’ll receive.​

Heart Rate Tracking Technology​

​While most fitness trackers may look alike, the technology that powers them may be very different. This will give you different heart rate reading abilities.

FitBit devices have the ability to monitor your heart rate 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. They’ll even record your resting pulse rate when you wake each morning.

Data​

You don’t want to be one of those people who buy a device with a host of features that you never use. That’s why you need to think hard about the features that you’ll actually use in a Fitness Tracker. The most basic function is steps taken. But if that’s all you’re using a device for, you may as well invest in a much cheaper pedometer. As your pulse rate upon waking is an important indicator of your fitness level, you’ll probably want a device that can record this.

​You can find trackers that will monitor your various types of exercise, such as working out in the gym, cycling and swimming. For it to do this, however, you’ll have to program in your workout details.

​The latest tracking innovation is known as continuous heart rate monitoring. It allows you more closely and accurately to track your use on a huge range of activities. This technology is still in its infancy. The leading brands in terms of this innovation are FitBit with its PurePulse, and Surge, along with Basis Peak and Microsoft Band 2.

The App​

Your fitness tracker is equipped with a mobile App. This is the engine that drives all of the cool features that keep users motivated. It analyses your data, produces result graphs, challenges, goals and social media notifications.

You’ll need to verify that the tracker’s App will work with your mobile phone. That shouldn’t be a problem as the majority now support Android and iOS. You should be aware, however, that, with some brands, there is a big difference in functionality between Android and iOS Apps. This was the case with Misfit – Android users discovered that quite a few of the features that were standard on iOS were non-existent in Android. 

Battery Life​

Fitness Trackers are battery-operated. Considering that you’ll be wanting to wear the tracker all day long, the length of the battery life becomes a key concern. You don’t want to have to leave it at home to charge up every few days. And, if it’s charging overnight, you won’t be able to take advantage of the sleep feature.

When it comes to battery life, there are two types of trackers:​

  • Trackers that need recharging every 5-6 days
  • Trackers that come with a watch battery that will run for about 6 months

Those that have to be recharged every week generally feature better metrics. 

Frequently Asked Questions

How Do Fitness Trackers Work?

Fitness trackers make use of sensors contained within the unit to take readings of your data. They then sync with your computer or mobile device to relay the information to an app where it is prepared for your analysis. Some trackers will put the information into graph and chart form for easy comparison and to enable you to monitor your progress over time.

Virtually all fitness bracelets use an accelerometer to record information. An accelerometer will convert the mechanical motion of movement into an electrical signal.

The accelerometer is used to measure the following data:​

  • Steps taken
  • Up -down movement
  • Side-to-side movement
  • Front-to-back movement

Depending on the features that the tracker offers, it may also make use of the following additional sensors:

  • Heart rate monitor
  • Gyroscope to determine your position (standing, sitting, swimming etc)
  • GPS to monitor your location
  • Magnetometer to pick up specific movements and determine what direction you are traveling in
  • Barometer to detect your altitude – this can be used to determine how many flights of stairs you have climbed.

Some fitness trackers that do not offer features like heart rate monitoring will, nonetheless, allow you to sync with an external heart rate monitor. Other trackers provide extra features that are similar to Smartphones, such as texting, Instant Messaging, incoming call alerts, and email capability. Others have a vibrating alert function to tell you when it’s time to exercise. There is even one tracker which provides you with a (non-lethal) electrical shock if you fail to meet your fitness goal for the day.

What is a Fitness Tracker?

A fitness tracker, also known as an activity tracker, is a wearable device that monitors the wearer’s level of fitness activity. Most exercise tracking devices are worn around the wrist and look very much like a wristwatch. Some, however, are attachable to other parts of the body such as a belt or collar.

They typically monitor the following aspects of physical activity:

  • Distance traveled in steps
  • Calorie consumption
  • Heartbeat

Some devices also measure the quality of the wearer’s sleep. These devices are synced to the wearer’s computer. By means of this synchronization, the user is able to generate a lot of detailed information about their health and activity level.

What is the difference between a fitness tracker and a pedometer?

In essence, a fitness tracker is a modern take on the pedometer. Pedometers have been around for decades. They are small devices that are usually worn on the belt and track the number of steps a person takes. With the addition of altimeters and accelerometers, fitness trackers are able to do much more, in some cases even graphing heart rate and sleep quality.

Early versions of these fitness gadget bracelets, such as the original FitBit, were worn on the belt like a pedometer. However, today the majority are worn on the wrist.

Why have fitness trackers become so popular?

One of the reasons that these gadgets have become so popular is that they allow the user to turn their fitness activity into a game. They are able to compete against other people to meet a certain step goal, or with themselves. These devices also allow you to plug into a social community. The shared goal aspect of this provides extra motivation to continue on a fitness lifestyle.

The key appeals of these fitness watches are measurement and motivation. To get better at anything, you have to track your progress. This means that you need data. Well, fitness trackers provide you with plenty of data.

A tracker will give you an objective report on your physical activity. While the majority of people are useless at gauging how much exercise they do, with a tracker there’s no escaping reality.

According to John Batholomew, a health education professor at the University of Texas at Austin, “By having this sort of equipment and this sort of technology, it allows you to actually track and look back to see how active you actually are. You can’t lie to yourself.”

​A fitness tracker can also be a great motivator. It can turn the everyday, boring things you do each day, like walking upstairs or mowing the lawn, into a part of the game – you’re keen to do it because it will get you to your goal quicker. You’ll get instant feedback on how many calories you’ve burned, and how many steps you’ve taken. This, in itself, can be motivating.

In addition, every time you hit a goal – such as achieving 10,000 steps in a day – you are motivated to do a little bit more the next day. And then, being able to share your successes via social media, adds another aspect of motivation when your online friends give you encouragement and congratulations. And, when you become part of a fitness community, you find an extra level of commitment and accountability.

For many people, the motivation of getting to their activity goal has them actively looking for ways to get in more activity through the course of their day. And that has got to be good for them.​

Final Thoughts

The 9 fitness trackers detailed in this article will deliver all the functionality you need to monitor your training while also providing a stylish, minimalist outfit accessory. Just remember not to get too carried out with the analysis of your workout – it’s the performance that really counts!

This article was last updated on October 14, 2021 .

By Steve Theunissen

Steve is a former gym owner, personal trainer, and 20-year veteran of the fitness writing industry. Steve has written for websites such as Hardcore Muscle, Fitness, Carblite, and Men's Health and has been a fitness expert columnist for 2 international magazines.