I am looking to purchase a waterproof GPS running watch. I also occasionally do triathlons and need a GPS watch that has a waterproof rating that will support swimming, yet versatile enough to train during long runs. I see running watches that have various IPX ratings. What exactly do these mean and how do I know my watch complies with this rating?
First, thank you for the question. As you mentioned, IPX is purely a rating standard that distinguishes the level of water proof capability a watch has, as far as a watch being water resistant vs. waterproof. Generally speaking, a water resistant watch is OK for running. But for swimming, you’ll want a GPS watch that is waterproof, so that it can hold up to long periods of immersion. Below, I have recommendations for two running/swimming watches that will allow you to handle multi-sport events (like triathlons), while being protected from water.
First, let’s look at the IPX ratings and what they mean.
IPX6 Waterproof Standard
Protected against heavy splashing and rain. Must not fail or show water seepage when exposed, but not when immersed.
IPX-7 Waterproof Standard
Protected against short durations of water immersion. Max immersion for less than 30 minutes and at a depth of less than 1 meter. IPX-7, while water resistant, is still not recommended for swimmers, as a precaution.
IPX-8 Waterproof Standard
Designed for continuous underwater use. The best rating for sport/GPS watches used for swimming.
If you’re wondering which watch is the best water resistant or waterproof watch or want to get my opinion on the best Garmin watch available for runners, check out my Garmin GPS Comparison Chart. I share the models I recommend and either use myself or encourage my coached athletes to use.
Photos courtesy of Ebay and Chris Hunkeler