The Apple Watch Ultra 2 is here in all of its 49mm glory, and the great news is that it's compatible with the Apple Watch (Series 8 and newer) and Apple Watch Ultra bands. Of course, there are also plenty of new first- and third-party watch bands to go with it. So which should you choose, and what should you avoid when picking a band to go with your Watch?
We've reviewed our recommendations and updated all our picks for the best Apple Watch Ultra bands you can buy.
What to Look for in an Apple Watch Band in 2023
The Apple Watch Ultra 2 and its predecessor are designed with activity in mind. It makes sense to match your choice of band to whatever you'll be doing while the wearable is strapped to your wrist. This could be hiking or running up a mountain, exploring the ocean's depths, or hitting new PBs in the gym.
Of course, you'll be forgiven for buying an Apple Watch Ultra even if you have none of those use-case scenarios in mind. Apple's choice of accompanying bands shows that the Ultra is designed for the intrepid explorer, the elite endurance athlete, and the wetsuit-clad deep-sea divers for whom the standard Apple Watch Series models fall short.
With the Apple Watch Ultra bands, style takes a backseat to utility. The Ultra was released in 2022, and there weren't many Ultra-specific bands at the time. Apple initially released three designed specifically to accompany the 49mm model, and more with future revisions. But with the Ultra 2 and a slew of third-party accessory makers joining the fray, there are a lot more options now.
Official Ultra bands are pricey, but they also have an edge when it comes to build quality. Opting for a cheaper clone can seem tempting, but it ultimately may not make sense to pair a $799 timepiece with $20 straps that often don't hold up in terms of quality.
The good news is that the Apple Watch Ultra and Watch Ultra 2 are compatible with standard 45mm (and 44mm) bands. This is great for anyone upgrading from an older Apple Watch with an existing collection of bands. You can also pick up any Apple Watch band designed for the larger 45mm Series 8 and be confident that it will fit as advertised.
This allows you to dress the Ultra up and lose the utilitarian look or use different styles of bands if you prefer. Many 45mm bands are cheaper, starting at $49, so you can grab a spare without spending too much more. Remember that 41mm or 40mm Watch bands won't fit the Ultra, just in case you're upgrading from a smaller model.
On that note, you can also grab any third-party bands mentioned in our best Apple Watch Series band round-up.
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Best Apple Watch Ultra Band for Hiking and Running: Alpine Loop
Rugged polyester should stand the test of time
Dual-layer fabric holds water and may take a while to try
Titanium G hook design holds the strap firmly in place
Takes longer to fasten or adjust than loop-style bands
A good balance of form and function
The Apple Alpine Loop is designed to stay in place no matter what you do. The band is made from two textile layers with individual loops for fastening using a titanium "G" hook. You'll need to slide this into and out of place whenever you put the band on or take it off, ensuring the band stays fastened where other designs come undone.
The band is best suited to hikers, but runners and multi-sport athletes will also appreciate the stability offered by the Alpine Loop. The tough polyester fabric won't dry as quickly as lightweight nylon seen in other straps, but the rugged design should stand up to the elements over time.
The Alpine Loop is available in three colors—blue, indigo, and olive. If you're concerned about your band showing dirt, the blue and indigo are your best bets. You can grab the Alpine Loop in three wrist sizes from 130mm up to 210mm.
Alpine Loop Band (Apple Watch Ultra)
Made from two textile layers of polyester woven together, the Alpine Loop fastens securely with a titanium G hook, which means it's certain to stay in place whatever you're doing.
Best Apple Watch Ultra Band for Swimming and Diving: Ocean Band
Rubberized elastomer band doesn't hold water like fabric bands
Relatively bulky compared to other bands
Stretchy and expandable to fit over a wetsuit
One-size-fits-most means smaller wrists may be left with too much band
Non-fabric bands won't absorb dirt
The Ocean Band is a one-size-fits-most band designed for water sports of all kinds, including "high-speed water sports" like water skiing. This high-performance elastomer tubular band doesn't hold water like the other fabric bands available with the Apple Watch Ultra, making it ideal for frequent dips in the water.
The name may be a giveaway, but Apple designed the Ocean Band to accommodate even the most adventurous of water lovers. Pick up the Ocean Band Extension (an additional $49) and increase the size of the band by an extra 50mm so that it can be worn on top of a wetsuit. This transforms the Apple Water Ultra into a dive-ready wearable paired with the dive computer capabilities of the Oceanic+ subscription.
If you're more of a swimmer than a diver and would rather something a little less bulky, consider the 45mm Sport Band designed for the standard Apple Watch Series 8. It won't hold water either, and it comes in many colors, but you won't be able to get it over a wetsuit.
Ocean Band for Apple Watch Ultra
The Ocean Band is made from flexible elastomer that doesn't hold water like a fabric band. It is designed to be worn over a wetsuit and for use in high-speed water sports.
Best Apple Watch Ultra Band for Weightlifting and Training: Trail Loop
Lightweight and comfortable Apple Watch Ultra band
The two-tone colorway won't be to everyone's tastes
Easily adjustable velcro design
Not as secure as other Ultra bands
Relatively quick-drying nylon
Fabric will trap moisture until it dries
Which Apple Watch Ultra band you choose for weight-lifting ultimately depends on your preferences, but anyone who prefers resistance training over other forms of working out will want something sporty but lightweight and comfortable.
The closest band for the Apple Watch Ultra is the Trail Loop, a lightweight, comfortable, and adjustable band with a pull tab for quickly fastening or tightening your wearable as needed. It's available in two sizes, with a range that spans 130mm to 220mm wrist sizes.
There are three colorways to choose from—green/gray, blue/black, or orange/beige. The usual caveats surrounding lighter fabric bands apply here. If you want your Trail Loop to look new for longer, consider going for a darker shade instead of the lighter orange/beige.
The "loop" design lends itself to resistance training since it's easily adjustable and relatively quick-drying. However, it's fabric, so you'll want to wash it regularly to keep unpleasant odors at bay. The band will also give way fairly easily if you need it to (like if something gets caught on it in the gym) since it's only held in place by velcro.
If your gym sessions are especially sweaty, consider a Sport Band variant instead. The Nike+ Sport Band, in particular, is worth considering since it has holes in it to help sweat dry.
Trail Loop for Apple Watch Ultra
One of the most comfortable of the Apple Watch Ultra-specific bands, the Trail Loop is lightweight and thin. It fastens with velcro rather than a hook or traditional pin, which makes adjusting your Watch quick and easy.
Best Apple Watch Ultra Band for Large Wrists: Ocean Band with Ocean Band Extension
Fits a wrist circumference of up to 250mm with expansion
Bulky compared to fabric bands
Elastomer won't trap moisture like fabric
Only three colors
Flexible and rugged
Only provides an extra 5mm compared to the closest 45mm Sports Band and Sports Loop options
Most Apple Watch bands are available in multiple sizes, with the standard 45mm Midnight Sport Band available in "XL" sizes that fit a wrist circumference of up to 245mm. But the 49mm Ocean Band can go even better than that when paired with the Ocean Band Extension.
The Ocean Band Extension is made from the same material as the Ocean Band and can lengthen the latter by an additional 50mm. Primarily designed to help accommodate a wetsuit, this combination of band and extension comes with an additional adjustable loop to contain any additional slack you may have.
If you want to keep it Ultra and go with a band designed for the 49mm wearable, this seems like the best bet. The Ocean Band has a distinctive look and feel, and the flexible elastomer won't trap moisture like a fabric band. If rubberized bands aren't your thing, some 45mm Sport Loop colors also come in an "XL" size of up to 245mm.
Ocean Band Extension for Apple Watch Ultra
Add this extension to your Ocean Band to fit larger wrists (or even slip over a wet suit).
Best Apple Watch Ultra Band for Small Wrists: Alpine Loop
Designed with wrist circumferences of 130mm or above
Less secure than other bands
Lightweight and comfortable
Easily adjust your Apple Watch fit throughout the day
If you're looking for a high-quality band that easily adjusts to fit your wrist, the Alpine Loop is one of your best options. The S/M size starts at 130mm, while the L size can easily wrap around 165-210mm wrists. It is made from woven textiles containing recycled polyester and recycled spandex.
Its corrosion-resistant titanium G-hook slides easily into the hoops for a secure, flexible, and highly adjustable fit which prevents the watch from pressing uncomfortably into your wrist. This allows you to quickly adjust the Ultra for a more comfortable fit whether you're running a marathon or scaling a mountain.
Alternatively, a standard 45mm band may also fit the bill. The stretchy Braided Solo Loop might be a good choice, starting at 130mm (smaller than many other 45mm bands). We found that the Solo Loop can be hard to get on if you have large hands since the band can be difficult to stretch over your hand for a snug fit. If you have smaller hands and smaller wrists, this shouldn't be a problem.
As always, if the size is a concern, you should head to an Apple Store and try out the Ultra and any band combinations you're curious about before you part with your cash.
Alpine Loop for Apple Watch Ultra
Made from two textile layers of polyester woven together, the Alpine Loop fastens securely with a titanium G hook, which means it's sure to stay in place on any size wrist
Best Apple Watch Ultra Band for Sensitive Skin: Trail Loop
The most lightweight and breathable Watchband
Skin sensitivity issues could be a problem with any band
Easily adjustable throughout the day
Fabric will hold moisture and need time to dry
Made from comfortable and soft premium nylon
Sacrifices stability for comfort
Fabric should dry relatively quickly
With so many skin sensitivities, making a blanket recommendation for those with sensitive skin can be hard. Depending on your skin, you could have issues with any of the bands listed here. With that in mind, the Trail Loop might be a good starting place if skin irritation is your main concern.
The Trail Loop is a lighter version of the standard Sport Loop found with the Apple Watch Series. The main difference is the thickness, with the Trail Loop being thinner, more flexible, and with a softer feel. It's also a bit wider to better accommodate the larger 49mm Apple Watch Ultra.
The Trail Loop is easily adjustable too, which means you can loosen it off throughout the day, depending on what you're doing. You might want the Watch tighter during a workout for better heart rate readings, with the option of wearing it a little looser for comfort during office hours.
Fabric isn't to everyone's tastes, but the nylon Trail Loop is probably the most breathable band that Apple sells. Nylon will hold water but is a relatively fast-drying material. If irritation from trapped moisture is a concern, even rubberized bands could pose an issue since they can trap moisture between the band and your skin unless you remove the Watch to dry it.
If silicone sounds better for you, the Nike Sport Band has holes that should help sweat dry faster, so give that a look too.
The best thing to do is buy your Apple Watch directly from Apple and take advantage of the 14-day money-back guarantee if you encounter an issue. You can then switch to a different band if you need to.
Trail Loop Band (Apple Watch Ultra)
If you have sensitive skin, the Trail Loop is your best bet for the Apple Watch Ultra, with the highly breathable nylon fabric.
What is the difference between the Apple Watch and the Apple Watch Ultra?
The major difference between the Apple Watch and the Apple Watch Ultra is that the Ultra is thicker and bigger, with a bigger battery that lasts twice as long as the Apple Watch. The Ultra also has a higher water-resistance rating, among other features that make it an ideal companion for hikers, deep-sea divers, and pro athletes. The Watch Ultra is also far more expensive, starting at $799.
Is the Apple Watch Ultra waterproof?
No, the Apple Watch Ultra is water-resistant but not waterproof. According to Apple, it has a water-resistance rating of 100m under ISO standard 22810:2010 and is EN13319-compliant. This is twice the water-resistance rating of the standard Apple Watch. You can also use the Apple Watch Ultra while scuba-diving up to 40m.
Can the Apple Watch Ultra go in salt water?
Yes, the Apple Watch Ultra can go in salt water. It can be used for shallow-water activities, such as swimming in an ocean or a pool in Open Water Swim mode. It can also be used for diving, water skiing or other activities involving submersion below shallow depth or high-velocity water.
Can I use an Apple Watch band on the Apple Watch Ultra?
Yes, you can use a standard 45mm or 44mm Apple Watch band (from an Apple Series 8 Watch or earlier) on the Apple Watch Ultra, and it’ll fit just fine. However, for best results, 49mm Apple Watch Ultra bands are recommended.
Can I use an Apple Watch Ultra band with the Apple Watch Ultra 2?
Yes, the Watch Ultra 2 is compatible with Apple Watch Ultra bands, and even those from the larger-sized Apple Watches.