Nick Mankey Hook Strap2

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The Apple Watch has grown to become a superb multi-sports fitness watch that can trade blows with the likes of Garmin and Suunto.

Of course, it is not perfect; die-hard Garmin users will no doubt argue about battery life or the ability to pair up multiple sensors, including power meters and more. The Apple Watch is also expensive and less durable than a proper sports watch.

However, no Garmin can compete with the number of smartwatch features the Apple watch has.

For your average fitness enthusiast, the Apple Watch is more than enough, as long as you are not doing any long endurance events.

If you are committed to using the Apple Watch for fitness, then it is a good idea to get a decent fitness focussed watch band for it.

The best material for an Apple Watch fitness band

For me, there are two main styles to choose from, either a sweat-resistant fluoroelastomer rubber band or an elasticated nylon band. This applies to all smartwatches and sports watches.

My logic here is simple. The rubber bands are hassle-free, don’t smell, dry quickly and have a bit of elasticity, allowing you to get a reasonably tight fit for improved heart rate accuracy.

The elasticated nylon straps have significantly more elasticity and make it easier to wear your watch further up your arm without it sliding down and therefore increasing heart rate accuracy. However, nylon doesn’t dry out as quickly, and I imagine it could start to smell a bit (my Polar Sense arm strap would confirm this).

Ever since I moved to a nylon strap on my Garmin Fenix 6 Pro, I have noticed a significant improvement in heart rate accuracy for both running, cycling, and rowing machine. I no longer bother to use my Polar Sense at the gym anymore.

For fitness, I do not recommend leather or metal straps. At least with my bony wrists, I can’t get a fit that’s quite right for fitness. Wearing it higher up, I can get the level of tightness that will keep a watch in place, which inevitably leads the watch to slide down a bit towards the wrist joint, which is terrible for accuracy.

Best Apple Watch bands for fitness, including running and cycling

Made by Apple Sport Band

It is an obvious choice, but it is still a good choice, especially as you can buy the watch at the normal RRP with one of these included. For many people, this will be all you need.

Apple Nylon Sport Loop

Similarly, the nylon sport loop is a good option.

I have not personally used this one, but Apple (and clones) use a hook-and-loop fastener for quick and easy adjustment with it being held in place with a velcro fastening. I am sure this works amazingly well, but my personal preference is a nylon loop with a metal hook design where there is some reassurance it will not come loose.

On a positive note, this nylon strap does have some stretch to it which give you a bit more flexibility to get a secure fit that’s a bit higher on your wrist.

Nick Mankey Hook Strap

Nick Mankey Hook Strap
Via Nick Mankey

Nick Mankey is a US-based company that will charge $13.00 for shipping and has an 8-week lead time but has reasonably priced nylon loop straps. I originally found this brand looking for a strap for my Garmin. The various Reddit recommendations are what put elasticated nylon hook straps on my radar.

The Nick Mankey straps require a spring bar strap connection allowing you to loop the band around it. The Apple Watch lacks this, but Nick Mankey sells a watch adaptor for a reasonable $5.

Etsy / Generic Elasticated Nylon Hook Straps

Generic Elasticated Nylon Hook Straps
Via: Etsy

There is a wide range of elasticated hook straps on Etsty. They don’t work quite the same as the Nick Mankey Hook Strap as you hook it into a woven-in hoop point. This is what I personally use, and I have been very happy with this style of strap.

Apple Watch Braided Solo Loop

Apple Watch Braided Solo Loop

I have noticed a few people recommend this loop. It looks great, and there is some flexibility to the material, allowing you to shift it up a bit to a more reliable position. A downside is that I have already read reports that the loop will begin to stretch with time. Not an issue for daily use, but not ideal for sports use.

There are some good-looking and cheaper third-party alternatives too:

Twelve South ActionSleeve

Twelve South ActionSleeve

If you are happy with the faff and expense of having a dedicated strap/sleeve for fitness, then the Twelve South ActionSleeve is arguably the best option on this list.

You have to mess around with removing your daily band and then mount it into the sleeve, but with this option, you shift the watch to your bicep area where it is more fleshy and no joints are getting in the way. This should significantly improve heart rate tracking performance. I’d expect a similar sort of performance as the Polar Sense optical heart rate monitor.

The downside to the sleeve is that you won’t be able to view the display easily.

An alternative option is the Twelve South ActionBand, which places the watch in a sweatband on your wrist. This will allow you to glance at your watch for any fitness data you want to see, but I feel like the placement won’t be as good for accuracy.

Nomad Rugged Band

Nomad Rugged Band

This is a FKM fluoroelastomer rubber using a traditional watch clasp which is preferable to me as it feels more secure and less likely to pop off.

Apparently, this FKM fluoroelastomer is a soft yet strong fluoroelastomer that combines all-day comfort with lasting durability. It should have enough flex for you to get a sufficiently tight fit away from your wrist joint.

Last update on 2024-06-15 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

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