FUDiabetes

Best BG meters for running

This is a comparison of two meters I use for running. This is not a general meter review, or a discussion about the best BG meter.

It is a comparison and review of two different meters for one specific purpose, and one specific purpose only - for use while running.
(See: how-to-make-an-exercise-bg-meter-holder)

I looked at many different meters with this in mind. I ruled out some because of a shape or size that wasn’t good for running, or issues with accuracy as reported by various sites.

There are two meters that fit the bill extremely well - the ReliOn Micro and the Contour Next One. This is a little comparison between them.

Meter size and shape:
These two meters are almost identical in dimension. For both, the meter shape works well for wearing it on a sweatband, and both meters come with holders that make it easy to put onto a sweatband. They are both small enough to be worn easily while running.
Advantage - Neither

Meter display and orientation:
For both the ReliOn Micro and the Contour Next One, the numbers are easy to read and are oriented in a way that make viewing the results easy while running. Both meters have a large enough display that is easy to see while on the move. As a comparison, some other small meters (such FreeStyle Lite), have the results displayed in such a way that it would be difficult to wear it, test (strip position much more difficult), and read the results while running. Both ReliOn Micro and the Contour Next One have a large display which is easy to read and is correctly oriented for wearing.
Advantage - Neither

Left arm vs. right arm:
Both meters have the strip insertion on the left side. Which means you have to wear them both on your right arm. Otherwise you would have to either insert the strip back-handed with the insertion side facing your elbow, or you would have to wear the meter so that the BG display would be upside down. Neither of those options works well while running. Wearing it on your right arm means you have to insert the strip with your left hand, and draw blood on your left hand. I am right handed, and it is not a problem for me, but just something to be aware of.
Advantage - Neither

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Blood draw:
One of the things I liked initially about the ReliOn Micro was how it drew the blood off your finger very easily. This was very helpful when running. You don’t have to try to carefully place your finger on the spot and try to get blood on the strip. The Contour Next One is very similar in how it draws blood off your finger. So for this category, I think they are the same.
Advantage - Neither

Strip insertion:
The strip position of both the ReliOn Micro and the Contour Next One is perfect for use while running. Both of them leave the tip of the strip in an ideal position for applying blood while moving. How easy is to insert a strip in each meter when running? They are about the same. Neither has an advantage. It takes a bit of practice, but it is manageable with either one.
Advantage - Neither

Display light:
The Contour Next One displays the BG result with light, whereas the ReliOn Micro does not display with light and has no backlight. If you are running in the dark, you are out of luck with the ReliOn Micro. I saw this a while ago in an evening race where the last few miles were in the dark. Same for very early morning races, the first few miles the ReliOn result would be difficult to see.
Advantage - Contour Next One

Accuracy:
There are so many websites that have accuracy ratings, and scores. Don’t need to revisit all that. The Contour Next One is always at the top of all those ratings. No need to question it with my running experience. I am comfortable with the ReliOn Micro accuracy. But the ratings for the Contour Next One are always extremely favorable from everyone else. So I give the advantage to Contour.
Advantage - Contour Next One

Strip stability:
How well do the strips hold up to moisture and soggy or humid conditions. I have had failures from both when sweat gets on them. I don’t have enough miles with the Contour Next One to say for certain it is better or worse. But since I have had success with both, and failures with both when they get sweat on them, I will call this one a push.
Advantage - Neither

Automatically display last result:
Once very nice thing the ReliOn Micro does is display the previous test result automatically whenever you insert a new strip (this is something you can setup). Knowing the previous result is very useful, and having the meter do it automatically is great because trying to remember your last result becomes difficult as the miles progress. The Contour Next One does not do this. You have to go through painful button-pushing to see your previous result with the Contour Next One. Not something you want to do when running. To me this is a very nice feature of the ReliOn Micro.
Advantage - ReliOn Micro

Viewing all your results while running:
Trying to go through all your results while running is painful with either meter. It is awkward to cross one hand across your body to access the meter, and hit the button over and over. This really isn’t something you want to do. Neither meter makes it easy, and it isn’t something I mess with while running.
Advantage - Neither

Strip cost:
The current cost of the Contour Next One strips on Amazon are about 22 cents. The ReliOn Micro strips (from Walmart) are 34 cents. But…the Contour Next One strips seem to fluctuate very much, based on the vagaries of Amazon pricing and the demand. The nice thing about the ReliOn Micro strip price is that it has not changed in 5 years. To me that is amazing. Let me repeat that - the ReliOn Micro strip price has not changed in 5 years! Sure, Contour is cheaper today, but no telling what it will be months from now. For that reason, I am calling this one a draw.
Advantage - Neither

Personal confidence level:
This is just based on the confidence I have gained from using them each. I have been using the ReliOn Micro for much longer than the Contour Next One. For me, the total miles I have using each is extremely one-sided for ReliOn Micro side. The same for use in races, for me the Contour Next One is a rookie. So I am still a bit more comfortable with the ReliOn Micro just from a ridiculous over-familiarity with it. I have so many more miles with the ReliOn than the Contour Next One, and I am so much more familiar with it, that makes me personally more comfortable with everything about it, quirks and all. Familiarity is a good thing. For that reason, from my personal experience with each, I give the advantage to ReliOn. I will be using the Contour Next One more in coming months, so this one will eventually even out.
Advantage - ReliOn Micro


So that is just a comparison between the two. Either of these serves the purpose very well.

Take your pick, and enjoy the miles!

6 Likes

What an outstanding comparative review!

4 Likes

Any reason why the FreeStyle Lite wouldn’t be good on a run?

Some attributes:

  • Pro: small size and light weight.
  • Con: screen is 90 degrees off for a runner (would point toward your fingers unless you wore it sideways)
  • Pro: finger light can help with finger sticks in the dark
  • Con: finger light can only be enabled once strip is inserted!
  • Pro: backlit display shows results clearly in the dark
  • Con: reviewing past readings is possible, but a hassle just like those you described
  • Pro: The test strips have this “ZipWik” technology and the meter uses an incredibly small amount of blood - if you’re used to other meters you might be surprised by how little blood this one needs - a significant Pro.
  • Con: FreeStyle Lite doesn’t come with a molded plastic clip like those you have pictured… you’d have to make one or cobble together some kind of superglue / rubber band gizmo.

Note: FreeStyle Lite is my normal meter and I like it a lot.

The FreeStyle Freedom Lite is gigantic and features big bold, legible numbers for those who have poor eyesight but I wouldn’t recommend it for running due to its size.

3 Likes

Hey, first off, glad you joined us! Welcome here!


I like the FreeStyle Lite. It’s pretty much my everyday normal meter. It’s really a good meter. Small, accurate, all the things you mentioned.

But for running, there are a few issues I have with it.

If you wear it like this, the strip insertion is more difficult than the others when you are running!
image

And if you wear it like this, the strip insertion is easy, but the numbers are sideways. For me it’s difficult to see them sideways when running. And if I am tired enough, processing sideways numbers in my brain just doesn’t work!
image

And the other thing is the display. I can’t quite see the numbers as well as the other meters. They are a little smaller and not as bright. My eyes are just a few days older than yours. :wink:

But all of these are personal preferences. If you try it and it it easy to manage, that’s what is important. In general it is a great meter, no doubt.

I am glad to have another runner join the site. Always looking for shared info. Awesome to have you!

5 Likes

Okay, remind me, although I’ve seen your handiwork in person, how you connected the meter to the sweatband…I can go get it at Walmart, and the strips, but I can’t remember how it’s attached.

EDIT: Nevermind, I am silly. I see the link now.

2 Likes