Oura Ring: the best wearable for action sports

When I first read about a wearable device that fits on your finger I struggled to believe that it would be comfortable or particularly effective. After all, how much tech can be squeezed into a ring and what data can be collected from a digit (i.e. your finger). When I heard about Oura partnering with WSL I decided to give this tiny device a try.

Surfing with wearables

I’ve used and tested many wearables, ranging from Apple Watch to Fitbits and even the Weret smart surf watch, which streams Magicseaweed data into an analogue interface. I found that I really didn’t enjoy surfing with a bulky device strapped to my wrist – especially when wearing a wetsuit, which is pretty much year-round where I reside. Watches have a tendency to get trapped between hand and wrist when duck diving. It also feels a little risky taking what is essentially a wrist-mounted computer into conditions that are anything over a couple of foot.

I’m well versed in health metrics and regularly track sleep, heart rate and activity. However, I found that watches can be distracting in day-to-day life and I increasingly left even my Apple Watch at home. What a relief – no-one telling me to breathe or remind me that I haven’t moved today.

But that left a gap, because I still wanted to track heart rate and sleep. Enter Oura.

The Oura Ring

I selected the Heritage Stealth model which has a matte finish and dark gray color. I like the flat edge that helps you easily feel which side is up – great for repositioning the ring in the dark. If you take a look around the inner surfaces you’ll see what resembles a computer motherboard – green rectangles onto which a range of sensors have been mounted.

Made of titanium, the ring is actually lighter than a steel or silver jewellery ring despite containing bluetooth networking, a battery and all of that sensor technology. At 4 grams, this is a seriously lightweight piece of tech. What astounded me is the battery life – I have only charged the ring around once per week since receiving it. Compare that to an Apple Watch which requires daily juice if you’re tracking exercise. Of course, Oura doesn’t have any LEDs or a screen and the device connects to the app on-demand rather than continuously. Clever choices by this Scandinavian tech firm.

From a surfing perspective the ring is designed to safely operate up to 100m – or 328 feet – underwater. Most of us are not planning to surf Nazare or Jaws in the near future so don’t need to worry about testing out this capability.

The purchase process is excellent – I liked how Oura send a sizing kit first so that you’re 100% certain you’ve chosen the right size. They then encourage you to share the kit with your friends. What a great onboarding process and I’m pleased to report that the actual ring arrived a couple of days after I submitted my sizing through their website.

The Oura App

This is perhaps my favorite feature of the Oura experience. Their app is super minimal yet incredibly useful. It is the first app I look at each day and one that I most enjoy reviewing. Oura have developed a Readiness score which is determined by factors such as your sleep, previous activity and your recovery. I love that heart rate variability (HRV) is one of the key metrics used to determine how well you’re recovering and dealing with the challenges of life.

The Automatic Activity Tracking (AAP) is another fantastic feature. No more fiddling around with watch menus to tag your workout correctly – the Oura Ring notices patterns of movement along with your heart rate and then suggests a workout automatically in the app. Simply confirm or edit and you’re done. It’s great! And if you don’t wear your ring for a specific activity but retrospectively want to add a workout you can. Simply click the + icon to record something you did earlier, sans ring.

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