Is your Apple Watch your favourite workout partner? These are the toughest and most comfortable bands to get you through.
The latest Apple Watch Series 8 is a formidable workout companion, packing an electrical and optical heart rate sensor, as well as the ability to measure things like blood oxygen levels and the ferocity of your movements thanks to accelerometers and gyroscopes. A bespoke Workout app on the Apple Watch now allows users to customise the experience to suit their fitness goals, from setting and tracking targets (running 10km in a week, for example) to offering custom heart rate zones, so you can quickly see how hard you are working.
That said, the band that came with your Apple Watch or Apple Watch Ultra might look ridiculously cool, but it could miss the mark on function during sweaty, high intensity training sessions. Here, we have tracked down some of the best bands for Apple Watch and Apple Watch Ultra that perfectly compliment regular workouts.
Apple / Pocket-lint
Apple Sport Band
Best band overall
The clue is in the name with this one. Fashioned from a high-performance fluoroelastomer material, this exceptionally smooth and lightweight rubbery strap feels featherweight against the skin and offers Apple’s clever pin-and-tuck closure system that ensures a snug fit that won’t accidentally spring open while you are hill-sprinting on the treadmill. There is an array of colour options on the table, from muted Sky to the more rambunctious Bright Orange, as well as options for 41mm or 49mm cases.
Apple Sport Loop
Best band for larger wrists
Available for both 41mm and 45mm cases, this breathable and lightweight band is made from a stylish woven nylon that is both extremely robust and adds in an element of breathability, allowing sweat to pass through the double-layer weave. It is soft against the skin, although we’d say this probably isn’t best if you are going to be in the water a lot, as it can be a bit of a pain to dry after a long swimming session. Designs are slightly more muted than those offered on the Sport Band.
Apple / Pocket-lint
Apple Nike Sport Band
Best lightweight band
Nike’s co-branded band uses a similar high-performance fluoroelastomer as Apple’s own offering, but here it packs a series of compression-moulded perforations that increase the breathability credentials by a large margin.
There is the same pin and tuck closure system for added peace of mind during tough workouts, while four distinct colour options ensures there is a shade to suit most gym outfits. Pair it with Nike’s exclusive Apple Watch face for added style points.
Twelve South / Pocket-lint
Twelve South ActionBand
Best for gym bunnies
Fusing the worlds of traditional sweat band and watch strap, the ActionBand from Twelve South neatly comes in 40mm-45mm options to accommodate a range of Apple Watch bezel sizes, while a reinforced bumper houses the Apple Watch itself and gives the user full access to the digital crown, without hindering the heart rate sensors that are used on the back. Fashioned from a mix of terry cloth and lycra, the band easily stretches to fit most wrist sizes and doubles up as a great way to mop sweat.
Dot Outfitters/ Pocket-lint
Dot Outfitters Yoga Band
Best for yogis
Although offered for FitBit and Samsung, Dot Outfitters also sells an Apple Watch-compatible version of its popular Yoga Band. Designed with utmost comfort in mind, these are made from a stretch-knit fabric that quickly wick moisture and breath easily.Offered in two wrist sizes, covering smaller and larger wrists, as well as a choice of hardware option – including Rose Gold, Black and Silver – the Yoga Band can be customised to the user’s tastes. It’s available in loads of colours.
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Makcpoimer Alpine Loop
Best value option
Clearly taking inspiration from Apple’s own Alpine Band, which comes as an option on the latest Apple Watch Ultra, this version is made from similar rugged woven nylon but comes with its own unique closure system. Here, there is a clever magnetic buckle that simply snaps shut when the two parts come in contact. It’s arguably less fiddly than Apple’s own G-hook design but likely isn’t as fail-safe if you are thinking of hitting the climbing wall in it.
Nereides Nylon Woven Sports Band
Best for outdoor fitness fans
If you are the type that likes to take your wellness outdoors, the Nereides band is well worth a look, purely because it offers additional protection for those likely to bump, scrape, bash and drop their beloved Apple Watch. Compatible with SE and Series 4-8, the soft TPU strap is mated to a PC plastic upper frame that sits proud of the watch face, meaning this reinforced area is the first to take the brunt of any unexpected blows.
Thwalk Sport Ocean Band
Best for swimmers
Looking eerily similar to Apple’s Ocean Band, this durable silicone strap stainless steel buckles and a familiar pin and tuck mechanism that ensures it stays firmly on the wrist. We’ve suggested this one for swimmers and other water sports fanatics, purely because it sheds water with ease and packs a neat tubular design that stretches over thick neoprene wetsuits. At this price, the band lacks the titanium buckle of Apple’s own option, but it comes in a lot more wallet friendly.
Which is the right Apple Watch workout band for you?
Apple Watch bands come in many colours, styles and materials, with some better suited to fitness activities than others. As a general rule, we’d suggest steering clear of the more fashion-orientated metal bands, as these will likely rub and cause discomfort during a session.
Instead, go for the rubber or woven nylon options that are generally more breathable and much softer on the wrist.
Is Apple the only place I can buy a compatible Apple Watch band?
In short, no. A number of brands and sellers have popped up that offer a variety of comfortable and stylish bands that are compatible with most generations of Apple Watch.
Can I swim in a nylon watch band?
Most of the bands we have featured are suitable for swimming, particularly those made from silicone or any other rubber-based material. The nylon weave bands are also fine, although you will find they take a while to dry once you are out of the drink.
We’d suggest avoiding taking plusher materials in for a dip, such as the ActionBand and Yoga Band. Although both claim to be machine washable, they will take an age to dry and will take on water like a sponge, potentially leading to your watch dropping to the bottom of the pool or worse still, the ocean.