We look at 10 of the best pedometers and help you find which is the best for your activities. This category overlaps more with fitness trackers every year and becomes more convoluted. To cut through this confusion, we have six award winners for every use and budget. We compare the stand-alone devices to ones that require an app. We measured and assessed the accuracy and capabilities of each model. We investigated key functions and aspects, such as the depth of data collected and its management, smartphone app connectivity, and how securely they attach to clothing and shoes. We also highly recommend checking out our sister site's fitness tracker review.
Read the full review below >
Test Results and Ratings
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Analysis and Award Winners
Updated November 2017
This category evolves fast. A pedometer can be a device that just counts steps or one that has all the capabilities of the fitness tracker. To help you find the option for your budget and activity, we added in a new award winner, the Fitbit Zip and passed on top honors to the Jawbone Up which would have also won Best Buy.
Best Simple Device with an App
Jawbone Up Move
The Jawbone UP Move is a pedometer in the relative definition of the term. It counts steps and distance, monitors sleep, and syncs that information with a smartphone app for organization and monitoring. It does all this at a fraction of the price of the Bellabeat. The main drawback of the UP Move is that it does not allow the user to view data on the device itself. The only way to see your actual step count or distance is to sync to your phone, open the app, and look at your screen. If phone reliance is okay with you, the Jawbone Up Move is an excellent way to save some bucks and would have won Best Buy had it not taken Editors' Choice.
Easy to use and portable
Lacks display screen
Read review: Jawbone UP Move
Best for Women
Comprehensive data collection
Less durable than others
Lacks a data display screen
The Bellabeat LEAF is both the most specialized product in our test and the most feature-laden. As a product both branded to women and a product whose defining characteristic is menstruation tracking, it is as gender-specific as a pedometer can be. This specificity eliminates half the population. In this category, however, the LEAF brings the greatest breadth of data. In addition to tracking step count and distance, which are relatively standard types, the LEAF and associated app monitor sleep, breathing, and menstruation while promoting the practice of meditation.
Read review: Bellabeat LEAF
Best Buy Award for a Self-Contained Unit
OZO Fitness SC2 Digital
We granted two Best Buy winners. In the market for a budget device, there are two distinct camps. There are those that will want absolute simplicity, and there are those that need comprehensive function and data management. For the former, there is the Ozo. The Ozo Fitness SC2 is an entirely self-contained contender that tracks steps, distance, calories consumed, and a couple of other categories. It stores this data for the most recent seven days. For many, this is all you need. For the budget-conscious user looking for a large data collector that doesn't need a smartphone, we recommend the Ozo.
Stores data on device
Collects full range of movement data
No app or cloud connection
Read review: Ozo Fitness SC2
Best With a Digital Display
Fitbit Zip Wireless
If you want to see your activity on the pedometer, the Fitbit Zip was our top choice. It is small and gives you the simple data instantly. For more in-depth reporting on your activities, you log in to their app. It's accurate, and the ease of use is well refined. The main drawback we found, as compared to the other products we assessed, is the need to replace the battery periodically. It also doesnt track sleep or stairs (but the app can do that).
Digital screen on device
No sleep or stair tracking
Read review: Fitbit Zip Wireless
Top Pick Award for Simplicity
CSX Simple Walking 3D
The market for pedometers is a broad one. Technophiles are living "the quantified life" that enjoy the process and technology of monitoring their activity as much as they like the health benefits of increasing that activity. On the other end are Luddites that only want to know how much exercise they have partaken in and how much more they should do. Those in this latter category will love the CSX product. The CSX Simple Walking 3D the most straightforward model we have ever tested. It counts steps, displays that number in large print, and does nothing else. The count accumulates until you want to reset it. That is all. Setup is super easy; the device is the most accurate in our test, and, while we didn't test it long enough to verify this, the LCD (liquid crystal display) and watch battery will work together to provide months of service between battery replacement intervals.
Accurate and easy to use
Easy to read display
Does not store data
Does not measure distance
Read review: CSX Simple Walking 3D
Top Pick for Mindfulness Practice
Spire Mindfulness & Activity Tracker
The Spire is a unique device. It adds breath and mindfulness monitoring that is unmatched in the field. Execution is a little rough, but the intention and overall function are entirely suitable. It tied for highest marks for depth of data and data management.
Good battery life
No data visible on device
Read review: Spire Mindfulness & Activity Tracker
Analysis and Test Results
We limited our selection to devices that count steps and distance and clip to one's shoe or pocket, but many different electronic devices monitor range and activity. Most people look to acquire this gadget for one of two primary reasons: some look to track their daily activity or exercise while others want to motivate regular motion. If you are physically active already, and interested in using a device to track that, your needs will be different from someone who is looking to use a tool to inspire healthy habits. Either way, every device in our test servers either of these types of user.
Our rigorous OutdoorGearLab testing regimen, as applied to Pedometers, should highlight for you just how to calibrate our results. Our experts tested under harsh outdoor conditions, but mainly in urban, pedestrian day-to-day applications. First, we examine the entire field in an ongoing fashion. We're watching for trends, stand-out products and technology, and the discontinuation of specific products. Each time we redo the review we select new products to compare to the existing tested equipment. What is left in our test roster is only the best of the best.
We purchase this sub-list of the market and use them as they are intended, with a rigorous, hard-core approach. We test every function, and then some. With pedometers, this means long days on the go, miles, and miles of jostling. We scrutinize the accuracy to the nearest meter and single step. In doing this with the current round of devices and examining the collected data in the context of our extensive knowledge of the market and consumer patterns, we can sort out the variables as well as the user's various applications. We divide our observations into the following scoring metrics.
Depth of Data
All the devices we tested count steps. It is in the title of the category; pedometer translates to "step counter." Our Top Pick CSX Simple Walking 3D and the 3DFitBud Simple Step Counter do exactly that, and nothing more. Additionally, most of the products collect other sorts of information as well. Steps are counted with an electronic "accelerometer" that simply senses movement. It is algorithmic digital processing that deduces steps from this movement. The device can further interpret that step information to deduce distance traveled. The rest of the products, excluding also the Top Pick Spire, in our test estimate distance traveled.
The Omron Alvita, Fitbit Zip Wireless, and Striiv Smart all track steps and distance traveled, but use the accelerometer for nothing else. The Best Buy Ozo Fitness SC2 does all this, plus speed. The Ozo does not collect any other information besides this activity and movement data.
Beyond steps and distance, the accelerometer can be used to quantify (roughly) the quality of one's sleep. In our test, the Leaf, the Jawbone UP and the Spire all measure sleep quality. The most obscure use of the device's accelerometer is in the Bellabeat Leaf's breathing attributes and the Spire's breathing and mindfulness tracking plus its integration of guided meditations with the accelerometer data. The associated apps of these latter two Top Picks direct different meditation drills, and the devices themselves, placed on the chest, monitor and record the movement associated with breathing.
In addition to the data derived from the accelerometer, some included device apps record various types of user-entered information. This attribute can be used, for instance, to collect information about your food consumption to log alongside your activity information for calorie balance information and weight control. Concerning user-entered information, the LEAF and Spire are the big winners. We granted the Bellabeat product a Top Pick Award for the depth of data collected. In addition to the information derived from the accelerometer, the leaf directs meditation, breathing drills, and monitors a woman's menstrual cycles. Other products in our test, notably the Fitbit devices and the Jawbone UP Move, collect diet and mood information in their apps.
All these devices collect reliable data. However, it is the way the information is viewed, saved, and shared that sets them apart from one another. On one end of the spectrum, the simplest and least expensive self-contained (as opposed to requiring a smartphone or computer) device in our test, the CSX Simple Walking 3D gathers accurate data, but stores only a running tally of steps, until the user resets the count. Next up, one of our Best Buy Award winners, the Ozo Fitness SC2, stores the most recent seven days' information and can't be backed up or transcribed except by hand. The Omron Alvita has functions similar to the Ozo, in a less robust package. Many will like this simple interface. For the Luddites out there, syncing their device to a smartphone is a step they don't need to take.
Others that have this simple on-device management in our review are the 3DFitBud Simple Step Counter with a special mention of the Striiv Smart. The Striiv can be used entirely on its own, with basically all the quantitative and motivational attributes available even without another device. One can also store the data and activate other features with the attendant computer application. The instrumentation in these simpler tools like the Omron or CSX isn't much different than that held in the spendier options; what is different is the interface and data collection.
The more expensive and higher-rated models in our test come equipped with very well thought out interactive apps or on-device screens. For sustained use and efficient integration of one into your daily life, an interactive and useful interface is crucial. None of our testers maintained the organization and motivation to use a non-app-connected device for more than a week or so at a time. The Jawbone UP Move has excellent accompanying interfaces. The Bellabeat LEAF, also a Top Pick Award winner, has a very robust app data management system as well.
The sensor portion of a pedometer is relatively simple and reliable. In our testing, however, accuracy varied between the devices fairly significantly. The least accurate device had a margin of error many times greater than the most accurate. In a remarkable performance, the Top Pick CSX Simple Walking 3D had nearly perfect accuracy. This CSX product only counts steps (no distance measurement), but it logged close to perfect step counts in multiple quarter mile trials.
At the other end of the spectrum Ozo Fitness SC2 and the Striiv Smart demonstrated up to 20 percent error, with an average deviation from the actual of about 10 percent each. Former Best Buy Omron Alvita logged high accuracy scores in both step count and distance, while the remainder of the pack fell between these apparent outliers. The Bellabeat LEAF and Spire both missed about 5 and a half percent of steps and/or distance.
If and when the user's goal is to track relative amounts of exercise and activity from day to day, the degree of error is hardly a factor. Provided the user uses the same device from one day to the next, the trends in his or her activity level will be apparent. Therefore, the degree of accuracy is not very important in overall consideration. It is important to note the limitations of these various devices, but the actual accuracy is not as important.
Ease of Use
We evaluated each product's ease of use regarding the setup process, and then ongoing user-friendliness. You will most likely set up your pedometer just once, but some of the devices are much easier to get going than others. Notably, the Striiv took a long time to sync with its downloadable PC interface. The non-connecting devices (Omron, Ozo, CSX, 3DFitBud) had easy-to-read instruction manuals and quick setup procedures.
The app-enabled products come with streamlined and efficient setup procedures. Nonetheless, there are inherently more steps with these commodities. Jawbone, Bellabeat and Fitbit are ever refining their setups, but one will always have to deal with apps and batteries, etc. The CSX is the absolute simplest contender we have ever used. We granted it our Top Pick Award for precisely this reason. Activate the battery, and start walking. Reset the count whenever you want.
Every model in this review uses a miniaturized electronic accelerometer which detects movement. Each uses a slightly different combination of sensors and algorithms to translate the flow of the device into a human's activity. All data displayed by or exported from the devices we tested is an indirect translation of the movement of the apparatus. The translation of that movement is a function of the design and programming of the instrument as well as data entered by the user. In some cases, for instance, the user must enter his or her stride length. The device senses the movement of a single step, and distance is derived by multiplying the step count by the user's (or population's) average stride length. Additionally, some of the tested models come with accompanying smartphone and/or computer apps that can process and correlate user-entered data like subjective mood measure, food intake, body mass, etc.
The use of fitness equipment, especially pedometers, requires absolute convenience and simplicity. The product is of no use if the user doesn't have it on them. These tested devices, intended to be carried every hour of every day, must transport inconspicuously and handily. Portability scores and performance includes both the convenience and aesthetics of carting these around. One will carry these not just during exercise, but to meetings and dinners and events. All will work to some degree in the user's pants pocket, but none work if not on the body. Each person will have different wardrobe and comfort requirements and most workplace appropriate outfits can be configured to carry yet conceal a belt-mounted design.
Special mention must be made of the Striiv Smart. The Smart can be configured in a few different carry modes. The simplest version comes with a belt clip and key chain. The same device can be purchased with these same two options, as well as an arm band, soft rubbery case, and carabiner style clip. The Bellabeat LEAF earns its portability scores also with versatility. It comes equipped to be clipped, worn as a necklace, and worn on the wrist. It must be noted that in every configuration, our test team found the LEAF to be visually pleasing. The clipped styles of the Jawbone, Omron, and both Fitbits are utilitarian and compact. The ultra simple CSX and 3DFitBud tools are set up to be carried only in one's pocket. This simplicity of moving is not the liability you might expect. Testers across the board liked their smooth profiles and reasonable size.
The only extreme portability fail in our test was with the Top Pick Spire. One routine day, while wearing the Spire in the recommended belt clip orientation, our lead test editor lost the Spire. It must have just come unclipped; this is not a minor issue. However, we purchased another and continued testing. At OutdoorGearLab, we are committed to following through with a test. The Spire's breath tracking is calibrated to carry only clipped to a waist belt or a brassiere. Carrying it in one's pocket, which we also tested, seems to deliver a usable step count, but the breath tracking was noticeably compromised.
We have put many hours into testing pedometers. We believe in their function for you. We stand by our test results and our professional conclusions. In our test roster, there is certainly a product that is well suited to your needs. From budget, super simple offerings, to state of the art multi-modal wonder-tools, and everything in between, we have sorted the market to set you up for shopping success.
— Jediah Porter
Still not sure? Take a look at our buying advice article for more info.