Update, 09/15/2022: We’ve reviewed our recommendations and have updated a variety of our recommendations based on the release of the Apple Watch Series 8.
What to Look for in an Apple Watch Band in 2022
When Apple first released the Apple Watch in 2015, it was difficult to find replaceable watch bands that fit everyone’s style and needs. Nowadays, bands are a dime a dozen with thousands of third-party options available. However, sifting through that pile of straps can be a hassle, and it’s important to know what to look for to separate the good from the cheap.
For instance, some third-party bands don’t fit in the slots on your Apple Watch as well as Apple’s first-party straps, so they can protrude and potentially malfunction as a result. Then there’s the trouble of spotting the right materials. While bands are inexpensive nowadays, that doesn’t mean they’re all good. Some might look good on the outside, but offer poor construction and cheap parts when you unwrap it.
Getting the right size is also important. Over the years, Apple has made it a little bit confusing when it comes to picking a band that fits your Apple Watch. In 2018, the company switched from 38mm and 42mm case sizes to 40mm and 44mm cases. Despite this, all bands designed for smaller Apple Watches will continue to fit generation over generation, while those designed for the larger model will also fit.
Apple made a similar change in the fall of 2021 with the announcement of the Series 7 Apple Watch. This time, the smaller watch size uses 41mm watch bands while the larger model uses 45mm. Like the previous change, the smallest case size of any series will work with the smaller watch band, and the largest model will fit the larger watch band.
It’s also worth keeping in mind that not all bands are for everyone. There are many different ways you can use an Apple Watch, so it’s important to shop for a band that can strike a balance and accommodates every task and activity you’ll be performing while wearing it.
Below, we’ve highlighted a handful of bands that offer good materials, construction, and looks for whatever you need to use your Apple Watch for.
Best Apple Watch Band for Running: Nike Sport Band
- ✓ Comfortable materials with protrusions for breathability
- ✓ Secure fit with various sizing options
- ✗ Decent list of color options, but not very diverse
Apple’s collaboration with Nike has resulted in various excellent bands for virtually any fitness activity. If you’re a runner or enjoy a good jog around the neighborhood, we recommend checking out the Nike Sport Band.
This band is made of a lightweight fluoroelastomer (a.k.a. silky-smooth rubber) and features lots of perforations that make the band breathable to wick away sweat. The holes also provide many secure points to ensure your Apple Watch is fitted properly before taking off. Speaking of fitting, it’s available in both 40mm and 44mm sizes.
The Sport Band is priced at $49 and comes in various colorways. However, despite the options the colors themselves aren’t very diverse, so there’s a chance you might not find a finish that suits you.
Best Apple Watch Band for Weight Lifting: Nike Sport Loop
- ✓ Very lightweight, breathable material
- ✓ Soft and flexible to move with your wrists
- ✓ Reliable, secure fit
- ✗ Fabric look might not be for everyone
Another great option in Apple’s Nike collection is the Nike Sport Loop. We recommend this one for weight-lifters and other activities involving stretching your wrists in the gym. This Apple Watch band is made of a breathable nylon weave and is extremely lightweight. It doesn’t feel like you’re wearing anything at all, even when you’re curling those biceps.
The Nike Sport Loop uses a hook-and-loop fastener for a secure fit and is easy to wash, both important when sweating at the gym. And, of course, it’s available in 41mm and 45mm sizes.
Some may not care for the fabric look, and there aren’t many colorways to choose from, but this band is more geared for function over form. It’s priced at $49 and will be a great addition to your gym gear lineup.
- ✓ Durable yet comfortable material
- ✓ Secure fit even under 50m of water
- ✗ Price is a bit steep
- ✗ Limited color options
It’s hard to find an Apple Watch strap that’s as good in the water as it is out, but luckily UAG has just that with its Active Watch Strap. Available in both 41mm and 45mm sizes, the band is made of a high-strength nylon weave and stainless steel hardware, helping it withstand being submerged in 50 meters of water all while staying as secure on your wrist as it was before you dive.
The sport strap is a little pricey at $60 and only ships in two colors (orange or black), but if you want a robust watch strap that can handle everything from a surfing excursion to a scuba-diving adventure, the Active Watch Strap won’t let you down.
- ✓ XXL size offered
- ✓ Flexible material
- ✓ Good price and color options
- ✗ Design isn’t anything special
If your wrist happens to be on the larger side, we’ve got you covered. Carterjett’s Apple Watch band is made of silicone and is perfectly flexible. While it ships in sizes up to 10-inches, it can expand a bit, so you’re practically guaranteed a good fit.
It ships in a few different colors including black, red, blue, and a special glow-in-the-dark variant. It’s also pretty affordable at $25 and is available for both 41mm and 45mm watches, although you won’t be showing it off often due to its somewhat standard appearance.
Still, if it’s a large Apple Watch strap you’re after, you can’t go wrong here.
Best Apple Watch Band for Large Wrists
Carterjett Tire Tread Band
When you have big wrists, it can be difficult to find an Apple Watch band that fits and isn’t expensive. Carterjett’s band is both!
- ✓ Various size options for a snug fit
- ✓ Soft, breathable material for all-day comfort
- ✗ May take a couple of tries to get the size right
For smaller wrists, we recommend Apple’s Braided Solo Loop. This band comes custom-fitted to whatever size wrist you have, so you can find the right size that fits perfectly. Available for 41mm and 45mm watches, the band is made of stretchy, breathable polyester and ultrathin silicone blended together for maximum comfort. It’s also good at wicking away sweat and water if you get it wet.
The only real downside is the sizing process. If you don’t nail Apple’s size test on the first try, it’ll take you a bit longer to finally get the watch band you’re after since you’ll have to ship the incorrect one back and wait for the new one to come in. But it’s worth it for the perfect fit.
- ✓ Classic design that’s very elegant
- ✓ Branding that’s well-known
- ✓ Beautiful construction thanks to Apple’s partnership
- ✗ You’ll definitely pay a designer price
- ✗ Leather might not be for everyone
- ✗ Only available for 41mm Apple Watch users
If what you’re looking for is something luxurious, classy, and (dare we say) designer, look no further than Apple’s Hermès collection. The $489 Leather Attelage Double Tour Band, in particular, is a stunner with its twice-wrapped design and elegant accents.
Its minimal aesthetic makes for a classy addition to any outfit, and artisans in France carefully craft its construction. This is a surefire way to make a statement no matter the occasion, and its price certainly matches that.
However, this band is only available for 41mm Apple Watches–if you have the bigger-sized watch, you won’t be able to use this. The good news is that you can pick up a different leather Apple Watch band instead.
- ✓ Fantastic leather finish and design
- ✓ Good construction
- ✗ Price is a bit high
- ✗ Very limited color options
- ✗ Only available for 45mm and 49mm Apple Watches
When it comes to leather accessories, few companies do them as well as Nomad. The company’s Modern Band for Apple Watch is our pick for the best leather strap you can buy.
Nomad’s design and high-quality genuine leather make for a classic, modern, and rustic band. It’ll also patina over time as you use it, giving it a unique worn look.
It’s relatively pricey at $60, and there aren’t any colors to pick beyond brown, but it’s a great look nonetheless for 45mm Apple Watch users. If you have a smaller Apple Watch, you’re unfortunately out of luck with this Nomad band, though you can pick up a band that’s even more designer.
Best Apple Watch Band for Sensitive Skin: Apple Sport Loop
- ✓ Soft, breathable material
- ✓ Hook-and-loop design makes for easy adjustment
- ✓ Available in a wide variety of colors
- ✗ Can slide around if you’re sweating
It doesn’t matter how useful your Apple Watch is if you can’t wear it without irritating your skin. If this is a problem for you with certain watch bands, the Apple Sport Loop is the watch band for you.
The Sport Loop is made using a double-layer nylon weave and fastens using a hook-and-loop system, making it easy to adjust. The fabric is soft and breathable, and the dense loop side of the hook-and-loop is the side that contacts your skin, for a cushioned feel that doesn’t hold moisture.
When it comes to Apple-made watch bands, the Sport Loop is as affordable as they get. Even better, it’s available in a wide variety of colors. The Sport Loop comes in 41mm and 45mm varieties, with an X-Large variant on the 45mm model.
Best Apple Watch Band for Sensitive Skin
Apple Sport Loop
The Apple Sport Band is made with a fabric that is soft, comfortable, and most importantly, breathable, which makes it a great option if you have sensitive skin.
- ✓ Metal weave design looks stunning
- ✓ Magnetic design makes finding the right fit easy
- ✓ Three different finish options
- ✗ Mesh design can occasionally snag arm hair
Metal watch bands look great, but they aren’t always the most comfortable, and they can be tough to adjust. The Apple Milanese Loop addresses both of these issues, with a great look and comfort and wearability you don’t often see in metal watch bands.
The Milanese Loop uses a stainless steel weave instead of big, chunky metal. This gives the band much more breathability than expected in a metal watch band. You might think this is thanks to new technology, but this band is based on a design from Milan near the end of the 19th century.
You don’t have to worry about a buckle, either. Instead of the buckle you’d normally see on a metal watch band, the Milanese loop uses a magnetic design. This makes the band infinitely adjustable, so finding a good fit is easier than other metal watch bands.
The Apple Milanese Loop is available in 41mm and 45mm versions. Color varieties are Graphite, Gold, and Silver.
Best Metal Apple Watch Band
Apple Milanese Loop
The Apple Milanese Loop is a new take on a 19th-century design, combining a stunning classic look with useful features like a magnetic design for easy adjustment.