Best sports and fitness gadget gifts

Shopping for an athletic type this Christmas? Get a sporty victory high-five from them by gifting one of these ingenious gadgets.

If you were glued to the Olympics coverage like the rest of Britain, you may have been struck by just how technically advanced sports training has become.

But it's not just professionals who have access to hi-tech training aids -- there are plenty of sports gadgets that make excellent gifts for friends or relatives hoping to shift that extra Yorkshire pud off their waistline come January.

While national sports teams use a whole host of gadgetry to monitor athletic performance for making minute improvements, any of the following gizmos could make a much bigger step change to a civilian's sports regime -- or simply make it more of a lark.

Nike+ FuelBand

Price: £129 from Nike.

Nike+ Fuelband

The FuelBand is a funky-looking activity tracker that you wear on your wrist as you go about your daily routine. Measuring just 0.6mm thick and weighing a mere 30g, it's light and pretty unobtrusive to wear. It logs stuff like calories burned and steps taken, while also calculating Nike's Fuel Points -- a metric that allows you to compare activity levels across different sports.

There's a small display built in that's made up of 100 white LEDs, while a secondary strip of multi-coloured LEDs shows your progress towards your Fuel Points target for the day. The clasp on the band is actually a USB plug, so you can hook it up to your computer and upload statistics to the Nike+ website.

Aquabeat by Speedo

Price: £100 from Speedo.

Aquabeat

Speedo is a name more associated with budgie-smugglers than banging beats, but while you might not find much space in your skimpy wet-wear for this waterproof MP3 player, it cleverly attaches to your swimming goggles.

It features clips on the back through which you run the strap from your goggles, so it sits against the back of your head. The waterproof headphones have ear clips to keep them in place. There's only 4GB of storage space, but that's still enough for several albums' worth of tunes.

Vyper Air Black by Suunto

Price: £350 from Simply Scuba.

Vyper Air Black

The Suunto Vyper Air Black is a great-looking diving computer for aquanauts that's rammed full of high-end features. It includes various modes for gas switching and it uses Suunto's Deep Stop RGBM algorithm to provide continuous decompression and optimal ascent times on dives.

The large digits and matrix display make it easy to read critical dive information, even in murkier waters. It has a USB port too, so details can be transferred to a PC, allowing users to easily maintain a detailed logbook of their dives.

upro mx+ by Callaway

Price: £200 from Golf Dealers.

Upro mx+

If you need a gift for a golfer, you can't go far wrong with the upro mx+ from Callaway. It's a GPS unit that allows golfers to see exactly where they are on the course they're playing, so they can work out the best club needed for their next shot.

Unlike other golf rangefinders, this one has real aerial imagery and flyovers of thousands of golf courses built in to give a realistic view of each hole. Add in an easy-to-use multi-touch screen and a sensitive GPS receiver and you've got a top-notch golf gadget.

miCoach Speed Cell by Adidas

Price: £70 from Adidas.

miCoach Speed_Cell

The miCoach Speed Cell aims to give sports fanatics that extra edge in tracking their performance and improving their fitness. It straps into a sports shoe or boot and records up to 8 hours of activity by monitoring speed and direction changes.

It comes with a wireless dongle that you attach to your iPhone or iPad to upload data from the sensor to the various miCoach apps or the companion website. Once the data has been uploaded, you can view stats on stuff like total distance travelled, maximum speed, sprint count and time spent training.

ebike by Smart

Price: £2,495 from Smart.

eBike

Smart is a spin-off Mercedes-Benz brand and is best known for its compact city car, but has turned its attention to electric bicycles with the ebike. It's a hybrid bike, so it combines human effort with power supplied from the integrated battery.

It can assist you as you pedal along, making it easier to climb hills, and users can select between four levels of assistance. On the lowest level, Smart reckons the 423W battery is good for a range of around 62 miles, which is much further than the average person is likely to travel on a return journey by bike.

Hero3 Black Edition by GoPro

Price: £380 from GoPro.

Hero3 Black Edition

Extreme sports attract show-offs who would surely find no greater pleasure than through playing films of their derring-do to their mates. GoPro has made a name for itself by making the best and sturdiest action cams. With the Hero3, it's gone even further with the technology by creating a camera that can actually record in ultra-high definition 4K resolution. The frame rate drops to around 15 frames a second in the full 4K mode, but there's also a 2.7K mode that captures video at 30fps.

The camera has built-in Wi-Fi, so its videos can be dumped to a computer without the need to hook up cables. At the time of writing, the Hero3 was available for pre-order from GoPro's website.

Recon MOD Live by Recon Instruments

Price: £308 from OutdoorGB.

Recon MOD Live

This incredible piece of kit is a heads-up display that runs on Android. It projects into your eyeline so it looks as if a massive display is floating in front of you. This is then used to show information such as your exact latitude and longitude, the speed you're currently travelling and how much air you managed to catch over that last big jump.

It even has onboard navigation capabilities so it can show points of interest for the resort you're in, all while managing your music playlist and showing text messages from mates.

Sport Bluetooth Headset by Jabra

Price: £80 from Expansys.

Sport Bluetooth

There are plenty of sports headphones on the market, but most of them connect to a phone or music player via a cable, which can annoyingly get in the way when you're out for a run. The Jabra Sport gets around this problem by connecting to your phone or music player via Bluetooth instead. It also has an integrated mic so you can even take calls on your phone while using it. With US military-grade rain, dust and shock protection, it can take a lot of abuse too.

Swim by Garmin

Price: £117 from Evans Cycles.

Swim

The Garmin Swim is, unsurprisingly, a sports watch that's designed specifically for swimmers. It allows them to easily track and see how far, how fast and how hard they've worked while in the water.

It's bundled with Garmin's wireless USB stick, so when the watch is within range of the stick, it'll download all the information stored in its memory. This data includes length, lap and stroke count, distance, pace, calories and stroke type identification, and can be uploaded to the Garmin Connect website to analyse performance. The watch is shaped so as to reduce drag and it's water resistant to 50m.

Tags:
Gadgets
About the author

Niall has been writing about technology for over 10 years, working for the UK's most prestigious newspapers, magazines and websites in the process. What he doesn't know about TVs and laptops isn't worth worrying about. It's a little known fact that if you stacked all the TVs and laptops he has ever reviewed on top of each other, the pile would reach all the way to the moon and back four times.

 

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