For the last several months, I’ve been wearing a Samsung Galaxy Watch Active 2. It’s a fantastic watch—easily the best smartwatch for Android. But finding good watch bands for this thing has been a challenge. I’ve tried a bunch, but couldn’t find anything really good—until UAG’s bands, anyway.
The Galaxy Watch Active 2 has 20 mm lugs, so I’ve been testing all of UAG’s 20 mm offering. There are currently four to choose from:
- Scout: A simple sporty silicon band with a traditional buckle-and-tuck closure.
- Leather: A stylish brown leather band with a traditional clasp and free loop.
- Nato: This isn’t a true Nato-style band, but rather Nato-inspired. It’s made of high-quality nylon and robust stainless steel hardware.
- Active: A strong nylon band with stainless steel hardware and hook-and-loop closure.
All of these bands are also available for 22 mm lugs, as well as Galaxy Watch (not Active) and Apple Watch-specific variants. They also have quick-swapping pins, making them easy to change. While I’m focusing on the versions for 20 mm lugs here, you can almost certainly apply everything in this review to the other variants, too.
But yeah, let’s talk about each one.
UAG Scout Band ($30): An Excellent Silicone Band
I’m a big fan of high-quality silicone bands—they’re comfy, don’t hold moisture, and many (including this one) are antimicrobial. The thing is, some silicone bands can be hit and miss—some are thin, get sticky when they’re wet, or generally just be uncomfortable.
UAG’s Scout band is none of those things. This is an excellent band with soft thick silicon that feels robust but still comfortable. The stainless steel buckle isn’t flimsy, and the tuck closure is the best type of loop for a band like this. Here are a few bullets from my time with using the Scout:
- Pro: Immediately comfortable; no break-in time required.
- Pro: The soft-touch silicone feels great.
- Pro: No free loop, so the excess band stays tucked and out of the way.
- Con: Can get sticky when you sweat a lot.
- Con: Comfortable for normal wear, but can be annoying if you wear your watch while sleeping.
Overall, I’m a big fan of the Scout band, and would easily recommend it to anyone looking for an excellent silicone band for any compatible watch.
UAG Leather Band ($70): A Classy Band with the Best Free Loop I’ve Ever Seen
I generally don’t love leather bands—they’re just not my style. Or, at least I thought they weren’t, anyway. UAG’s brown leather band is not only classy to look at or wear in almost any casual situation, but it has the best free loop I’ve ever used.
Most of the time, I don’t like bands with free loops. I have small wrists, so I end up with a lot of excess band that ends up flopping around outside of the free loop—if it stays in it at all. UAG’s leather band solves that issue with a little button on the end of the band and the free loop, so you literally clip the band to the loop. No sliding, no flopping, no annoyance. I’ve never seen this design before, but now I’ll never consider another band with a free loop that doesn’t have this.
- Pro: Very classy aesthetic; would look good in almost any situation.
- Pro: The button on the free loop is literally the best feature on any watch band ever.
- Pro: Comfortable once broken in.
- Con: It’s pretty stiff at first but breaks in quickly.
- Con: Not great for workouts or other sweaty situations.
I don’t know that I’d make this the only band I ever wear, but if you’re willing to change bands for different situations, this one is great to have on hand.
UAG Nato Band ($50): Fixed Loops Make for a Less-Than-Great Band
While I love all the other bands in this review, I had a much harder time getting along with the Nato band. The nylon is stiff and uncomfortable at first, which could easily be overlooked once it’s broken in, but the fixed loops are much harder to get past.
Don’t get me wrong—the band is high quality and feels well-made. But as I stated earlier, I have small wrists, so bands with free loops don’t work well for me. The same goes for fixed loops, perhaps to an even worse extent.
The fixed loops on the Nato band feel solid, but the way they move back and forth can get annoying quickly. There’s a roughly 15 mm difference between the forward and backward position for the outermost loop, which creates an excessive amount of band hangover on my wrist. That makes for a lot of “band flop,” which drives me nuts. People with larger wrists likely won’t have an issue here, but it’s worth considering if you have small wrists like me.
It doesn’t seem like much, but that extra band overhang is annoying.
- Pro: The nylon band is robust and lightweight.
- Pro: The gray color is excellent.
- Con: The fixed loops can be problematic for wearers with small wrists.
Of all the bands, this is the hardest one for me to recommend. At the same time, I realize that my specific issues are subjective, so that’s worth considering. If you don’t mind band overhang or have large wrists, you’ll probably get along with the Nato band just fine. That said, I still think the other options on this list are better all-around choices.
UAG Active Band ($60): The Best Overall Choice
If I had to pick a favorite band of the bunch, it would be this one. It’s easily the most comfortable, once the nylon breaks in, thanks to the hook-and-loop closure. It’s also quick-drying, so it’s great for workouts and such. Also, according to UAG, this band “is designed to be one of the strongest watch bands on the market.” I’d believe it.
- Pro: Very comfortable once it’s broken in, which doesn’t take long.
- Pro: It dries quickly.
- Con: Hook and loop may break down over time.
- Con: Very casual style, so it’s not great in all situations.
The Active band was the first one I tested throughout the review period, and it was instantly my favorite. At the end of the testing, it remained that way. It’s an excellent band—easily the best I’ve ever used on the Galaxy Watch Active 2.
Ultimately, if I had to make a recommendation here, I’d go for the two-band approach: get the Active and the Leather. The former will be great for everyday wear, while the latter should fit any occasion where the Active band is just too sporty.