The best Apple Watch bands to buy in 2021

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This story is part of Holiday Gift Guide 2020, CNET’s gift picks with expert advice, reviews and recommendations for the latest tech gifts for you and your family.

Looking for a super simple, easy gift to get for your friends? For any of them who wear an Apple Watch, a stylish new Apple Watch band will certainly put a smile on their faces. Thanks to the surge in third-party bands for the Apple Watch, you’ll have no problem finding an Apple Watch band for anyone or for any purpose (that’s right, no need to stick with an official Apple Watch band). Even better, no matter which model your friend has — whether it’s an Apple Watch Series 6 or an Apple Watch SE — there’s something out there for them. Seriously, this might be the easiest gift to give for the holidays.

And there are so many options! You can go for the office-acceptable nylon strap, a ballroom-worthy link bracelet, a rugged woven nylon band or a sport loop band. Different watch bands come with different closures as well, so if you’re on the lookout for a stainless steel buckle or a magnetic clasp, chances are they exist. Franky, there are thousands of Apple Watch band options featuring a variety of closures to suit different needs and watch sizes. Here are some of the best Apple Watch bands, and we’ll update as we test more.

Read more: Great cheap accessories for your new Apple Watch

Amazon

An official Apple accessory, the Apple Watch Sport Loop utilizes a double-layer nylon design that features extra cushion and comfort, making it ideal for many activities and all-day wear. Nylon is breathable, so you can wear this sports loop band straight from a morning workout to a morning meeting. This Apple watch strap also comes in a multitude of colors, so there’s something for everyone. 

Apple

You can surely find rubber watch bands on Amazon for less than $49 (The official apple watch band accessories aren’t the most affordable to buy), but I’d urge buyers to be cautious if they have plans to wear a watch band during high-intensity, sweaty workouts. If you like to throw down in the weight room, consider the sports band made in partnership with one of the largest sportswear manufacturers worldwide. The Nike Sport Band features durable synthetic rubber with a pinhole design for ultimate breathability. 

Amazon

Again, Apple’s official Apple Watch model accessory bands are hardly cheap, but some are worth the price tag. The popular Milanese Loop band is a great choice when you want something more professional than silicone, but aren’t into a leather strap. The Milanese Loop features a woven design of stainless steel, in rose gold, silver or black, which results in a flexible fit and comfortable yet sturdy band that you can wear with professional clothes.

Amazon

A protective case and band combo is a smart option for anyone who wears their Apple Watch while doing any sort of manual labor, high-intensity exercise with weights, outdoor activities like rock climbing, or any other activities that could damage your watch.

This protective Apple Watch band comes from Supcase, which has long made quality protective cases for the iPhone. The Supcase Unicorn Beetle Pro doubles as a case, which snaps onto your Apple Watch to provide shock absorption, and the raised bezel design acts as screen protectors to help you avoid screen damage and scratches.

Amazon

Looking for a sleek steel upgrade from the basic silicone band your Apple Watch came with? Try a stainless steel watchband — combined with an analog clock face, your smartwatch could look as classic as a high-end designer timepiece on your wrist. This Kades stainless band comes in a brushed-metal finish that looks just as great with a casual outfit as it does with a formal one. Plus, at just $22, it’s a budget-friendly option.

Amazon

There are a lot of silicone Apple Watch bands out there, but there aren’t many with this thick, textured design. The tire-tread silicone on this Carterjett band makes it perfect for people who need durability in a band, and the rugged aesthetic is a bonus for outdoorsy or adventurous types. It comes in a variety of color option choices with sizes from small to extra-large.

Nomad

Apple manufactures its own suite of leather Apple Watch bands, but the least expensive leather band models start at $99, and the rest (especially those Hermès bands) are priced high enough to sticker shock most people. Though I’m the last to say $70 is inexpensive for a watch band, the Nomad Modern Strap, made for Horween leather, still helps you save compared to Apple Watch leather bands. And, this leather option is still high quality, highly rated and provides a comfortable fit. Linked here is the genuine leather band in rustic brown with matte black hardware, but this leather band comes in other colors, too.

Palmetto Bands

These handmade elastic Apple Watch bands are spunky and stretchy. They come in fun, bright colors, and easily slip on and off your wrist with no need for buckling and unbuckling. If you do a lot of computer work and find that metal clasps bother your wrist, an elastic band might eradicate that issue, as they’re soft and smooth throughout.

Salty USA

For those who want to stick with the classic, simple smartwatch look, nylon is the way to go. This woven style can be extremely durable and long-lasting if you choose the right brand. Salty USA, a Utah-based company that makes Apple accessories, offers budget-friendly woven nylon Apple Watch bands in two sizes (38/40mm and 42/44mm) and they come in more than 20 colors. 

Epic Watch Bands

If you have large wrists or long or muscular arms, you might find that many watch bands look oddly minuscule on you — or they don’t fit at all. Epic Bands solves this problem with its adjustable stainless steel link bands, which you can customize to fit any size wrist. The band itself is already rather hefty (Epic Bands even clarifies that customers with smaller wrists may not like this band), and it fits wrists up to 8.7 inches (220 mm) as-is. If you need the band to fit a larger wrist, you can purchase additional links to make the watch band as long as you need. 

Amazon

Many people, particularly those with smaller wrists, feel that most watch bands fit too wide or thick. If you’re looking to wear a thin wristband, try this Secbolt leather watch band that’s earned an Amazon’s Choice label. This leather strap comes in more than 20 colors and patterns, and the brand offers a one-year full warranty so you can buy with confidence. The genuine leather wrist strap with fine stitching conforms easily to small wrists, and the leather strap can be adjusted to wrist size, thanks to the stainless steel buckle.

More iPhone accessory recommendations 

The information contained in this article is for educational and informational purposes only and is not intended as health or medical advice. Always consult a physician or other qualified health provider regarding any questions you may have about a medical condition or health objectives.



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