Garmin is a trusted watch brand that can be said is a pioneer of GPS watches. As a brand that focuses on sports, you can find one that suits your needs, whether you are doing the Iron Man, or just going on a regular run around your neighborhood. Garmin watches are at the forefront of the running watch game.
This is due to their experience and mark they have made over the years in the fitness watch industry. If you have already narrowed down your preferred fitness brand to Garmin, then you may be facing another problem – which Garmin running watch is the best one?
Within the brand itself, there are different watch options such as the Garmin Fenix, and more. To help save you time, we have narrowed down the ten best Garmin running watches so you can easily pick out the best one for you. Do you want one with a heart rate monitor? GPS tracking? Running metrics? We have options with all of these features.
View The Best Garmin Running Watches Below
1. Garmin Instinct Rugged Outdoor Watch
Rugged is in the name, so you know what to expect with this Garmin watch. Having a tough design doesn’t mean you need a bulky eyesore on your wrist. The Garmin Instinct comes in 8 different colors to satisfy your inner stylist. You may not have any idea how tough this Garmin running watch is. It was constructed to be military-grade tough equipped with water and shock resistance.
GPS is handy but the Garmin Instinct as a 3 axis compass, a built-in altimeter, global navigation satellite systems, and more. Train well with the Garmin Instinct as it has a heart rate monitor and stress and activity tracking. Not to mention it can connect to your smartphone and has a battery life up to 14 days in smartwatch mode.
+ Comes in different colors
+ Rugged design
+ Comes packed with features
+ Long battery life
Why We Like It – The Garmin Instinct is one of the most robust watches out there, constructed to withstand the toughest environments.
2. Garmin Fenix 6 Pro
While it’s not the most affordable watch out there, the Garmin Fenix 6 Pro is one of the sleekest. It comes in a variety of colors and even options in titanium for that dressy look. The 1.3-inch screen on Fenix 6 has an always-on feature, and although it looks a bit less rugged than the first choice, it is still built to endure harsh conditions.
The enhanced heart rate monitoring paired with the pulse ox helps with advanced sleep monitoring. There are preloaded TOPO maps in this multisport GPS watch, and the environmentally adjusted VO2 max and training status estimates give you a clearer picture of your physical condition. Do you like Music? The Garmin Fenix 6 has music storage for up to 2000 songs and sync with your Spotify playlist.
+ Larger screen at 1.3 inches with always-on
+ Preloaded TOPO maps in this GPS watch
+ Customizable power
+ Long battery life of 60 hours on the Fenix 6
Why We Like It – We love the larger screen on the Garmin Fenix 6. Phones are getting larger to accommodate this need, and this watch face is 17% larger than competitors.
3. Garmin Forerunner 25
The Forerunner line is perhaps the one Garmin is most known for. Starting off the list of Forerunners is the Garmin Forerunner 25, a compact design that has multiple colors that suit the preferences of males and females. The watch is thinner and provides a relatively large screen for this compact watch.
Connect the Forerunner 25 to your mobile or smart devices to share your running achievements with the world. The GPS mode tracks where, how fast, and how far you run. The easy to keep track of activity tracking keeps a finger on your steps taken, calories burned, and distance made every day. In tracking mode of the large Garmin Forerunner, 25 versions can give you a battery life of up to 10 hours! It’s a more basic design and perfect for those with smaller wrists.
+ Long battery life of 10 hours on large versions
+ GPS mode tracking
+ Activity monitor for steps, distance, and calories
+ Multiple colors
Why We Like It – You can share your achievements with the world by downloading the compatible Garmin Connect Mobile on your smart devices.
4. Garmin Forerunner 235
Here we also have a thinner and slimmer design for Garmin watches. The Forerunner 235 has a perforated silicone to make it more breathable on your wrist. The heart rate monitor measures your heart rate at the wrist, and the colorful gauge displays the heart rate zone. You can download workout and training plans via Garmin Connect and customize them and your display to suit your needs.
The Garmin Forerunner 235 tracks your running outdoors or on the treadmill. It tracks your activity as well with the activity tracking that counts calories and steps taken throughout the day. The GPS and GLONASS compatibility of this GPS watch will allow you to locate your position quickly and effectively.
+ Customizable watch face and widgets
+ Heart rate monitor
+ Activity tracking throughout the day
+ GPS mode
Why We Like It – We love the customizability of this running watch. The Garmin Forerunner 235 has the unique ability to customize your watch face.
5. Garmin Fenix 5 X Sapphire
Another multisports watch, the Fenix 5 X Sapphire, has GPS mode and full TOPO maps of the USA. The stainless steel bezel and watch back with the silicone band makes this Garmin Fenix 5 the perfect companion for outdoor adventures.
To give you even more precise tracking than a regular GPS watch, the Fenix 5 X is equipped with GLONASS capabilities and preloaded running modes. The smartwatch mode connects the watch to your mobile device to include notifications and automatic uploads to the Garmin community.
+ Full preloaded TOPO maps of the USA
+ GPS mode is enhanced with GLONASS capabilities
+ Smartwatch mode
+ Stainless steel bezel and backplate
Why We Like It – The Fenix 5 X has GPS tracking like no other with GLONASS capabilities and a compass, gyroscope, and altimeter.
6. Garmin Forerunner 35
As said, the Garmin Forerunner is a breakthrough line of running watches. It’s hard to find one without GPS mode, as almost every single one is a GPS watch as well. It doesn’t matter where you are; the GPS tracking should be able to locate you even in obstructed environments.
Know your heart rate all day and all night with the heart rate monitoring that doesn’t require a strap on the Garmin Forerunner 35! For those looking for a sleek and simplistic design that doesn’t have complicated knobs and bezels, the Garmin Forerunner 35 is a great option. The updated display on the Forerunner 35 gives high resolution even under direct sunlight.
+ Running metrics helps monitor key aspects of your workout
+ Chemically strengthened glass surface
+ Heart rate monitoring
+ GPS tracking
Why We Like It – A beautifully simple design, the Forerunner 35 watch face is strengthened to endure rigorous activity and gives high-resolution viewing.
7. Garmin Forerunner 935
The Forerunner 935 has been a coveted running watch for many athletes. The extended battery life can last up to 24 hours in GPS mode and is packed full of features suitable different sports and can be synced to your smart devices. It’s quite a lightweight watch weighing in at just 49 grams and is considered the optimal running watch due to its lightness.
It will be able to adjust to elevation changes with the altimeter, barometer, and compass to help you get your bearings. The smartwatch is capable of evaluating your training plans to make sure you don’t overdo it. You can monitor your training and recovery with the Garmin Forerunner 935.
+ GPS watch
+ Heart rate monitoring
+ Can adjust to elevation changes
+ Suitable for many athletes and many sports
Why We Like It – One of the coolest things about the Garmin Forerunner 935 running watch is the ability to view four screens simultaneously.
8. Garmin Forerunner 645 GPS Running Watch
For all the music lovers, the Garmin 645 with Music would be the best option for you. It does come in a regular option without it, but the Music is what makes tedious exercise fun, right? The Garmin Forerunner 645 offers a contactless payment solution, so all you need when you step out is your trusted running watch.
This sleek design offers impressive battery life that can last up to 7 days in smartwatch mode and 12 hours in GPS mode! Running dynamics and the coveted heart rate monitor aside, the Forerunner 645 includes smart notifications and can be customized with free watch faces to make your Garmin running watch your very own.
+ Has a music option for all the Music loves
+ Contactless payment solution
+ Long battery life up to 12 hours in GPS mode
+ Smart notifications
Why We Like It – We love the Garmin Forerunner 645 because it has a music option and the contactless payment solution for you to leave your bag at home.
9. Garmin Vívoactive 3
Known as a GPS smartwatch, the Garmin Vivoactive 3 also comes with the contactless payment solutions. Garmin is a real winner with customizability for many of their running watch designs, and the Vivoactive 3 is no exception. Garmin running watches are meant for running and more.
They are intended to work in the outdoors, so they come preloaded with GPS maps and sports apps for yoga, running, and more. Your fitness level is easily kept track of with the VO2 max. Enjoy a long battery life of 7 days in smartwatch mode and up to 13 hours in GPS mode. Stay connected with the Garmin Vivoactive 3 when you pair it with your smart devices.
+ Contactless payment solutions
+ Customizability for design
+ VO2 max fitness tracking
+ Long battery life up to 13 hours in GPS mode
Why We Like It – Garmin watches are known to be rugged and tough; even the sleeker options can withstand activity and come preloaded with GPS maps.
10. Garmin Forerunner 45S
If you are new to the running watch game, the Forerunner 45S is a great entry-level product with all the basic features you would want. Coming in 4 different vivid colors, the best Garmin running watches are known for using GPS, and the Garmin coach in the Forerunner 45S is great for planning out a schedule. It’s a smaller and lighter design that still offers useful features such as a heart rate monitor, GPS functions, and more.
Once it is paired with your smartphone, the Garmin Forerunner 45S can also alert authorities and medical personnel of your real-time location in cases of emergency. It may not stream Music or play Music, but you can control the playback on your phone with this Forerunner 45S.
+ Basic entry-level design
+ Comes in 4 different colors
+ Heart rate monitor
+ Garmin fitness coach
Why We Like It – A relatively new feature to the Garmin Forerunner 45S is the safety emergency alert feature that sends out your precise location.
Garmin Running Watches Buyer’s Guide
Having to evaluate different watches within a brand can be tough, and this is the case for Garmin watches. A Garmin Watch in the exercise world is a revered item that lets you get down to business when you exercise.
From heart rate tracking to battery life, the best Garmin watch will need to have certain features. Using GPS could take up a lot of battery life, which is why paying attention to the battery life of your new Garmin watch in GPS mode is important. Other features include activity monitoring and even playing Music.
It doesn’t matter if you purchase a Garmin Forerunner 945 or a Forerunner 245, knowing what it is you want your running watch to do is important. We have put together a list of features to look for the next time you purchase a Garmin watch.
The first thing to be aware of is the activity. Chances are you purchased your Garmin watch to track some sort of sports activity. What is it that you want to use your new Garmin watch to track? Is it your heart rate when you are running, swimming, hiking, or just the daily steps are taken? If you are a swimmer, you need to be sure the tracker counts distance, pace, maybe heart rate, and be waterproof.
There is a Garmin watch for pretty much anything you can think of, but it may not all be bundled up in the same device. You don’t want to purchase your next running watch only to find that it doesn’t do the job. The Garmin Forerunner 945 is a great choice as well as the Forerunner 245. Time, distance, and pace are what most fitness watches track, but some more advanced options can do a whole lot more than that included preloaded sports modes for more precise monitoring depending on the activity you choose.
Most, if not all, Garmin watches have a digital display. How important is it for you to find one with a large screen? Screen size can be used to narrow down your choices; the Fenix 6 Pro is an excellent watch choice because it boasts a 17% larger screen at 1.3-inches.
Some Garmin designs have touchscreens that are intuitive and easy for you to navigate, whether you are using GPS, checking the battery life, streaming Music, and more. Some users may be happy with the old-fashioned route of using buttons for control.
Make sure the display is durable. Ones with strengthened glass or sapphire crystal are among the most durable. The best Garmin wristwatch will also be easily viewed indoors and out and in any lighting condition.
By design, we mean the appearance of the watch. Do you want a robust and chunky design that simulates an army watch? Or do you want a sleek and minimal look that can be mistaken for a dress watch? Running watches have the advantage of coming in many different styles with lots of features.
If you only plan to wear your running watch for certain activities, then the utility of the watch matters a lot more than the appearance. If you are determined to make your new watch an everyday part of your life, then find one that will complement your lifestyle and outfits.
The size matters too in terms of ergonomics. Running watches don’t always need to be bulky; you can find some sleek options as well that boast a long battery life, plenty of features, and GPS. You can refer to our watch size guide for help on what size would look the best for your wrist. Just make sure the watch doesn’t get in your way during daily activities.
There are a whole lot of other features other than the necessary heart rate monitoring and activity tracking. Most Garmin watches have GPS. Many of us love to listen to Music when going on a daily run. Not all Garmin wristwatches offer music streaming or control, but there are a few that do, such as the Forerunner 645 with Music.
As far as music integration goes, some options such as the 645 have built-in music storage for up to 2000 songs! You may not need that much, and there are others with smaller music storage capabilities for up to 500 songs. Other features include sleep monitoring, emergency notifications, and device syncing.
Speaking of device syncing features, it brings us to device compatibility. If you plan on syncing your best Garmin watch to your phone, you need to be sure it is compatible. iOS, Android, and Windows systems mesh with Garmin watches without question, and Bluetooth and Wi-Fi connectivity often come with that.
Garmin also has its app that can be downloaded to your device and work in tandem with the watch. Look under the name Garmin Connect Mobile to be part of the global community while keeping track of your fitness on the dashboard.
The battery life is something the brand has mastered. The battery life of a Garmin watch is one of the most impressive features. The battery life will significantly diminish for those using GPS, anywhere from a few days of battery life down to 12 hours. You need at least 24 hours on smartwatch mode and 12 hours of battery life using GPS.
Battery life on these watches will vary depending on the mode and type of tracking you are running. Since watches now have an always-on feature that many people are scrambling to own, you need to make sure the battery life of the always-on features doesn’t drain your battery.
Taking care of your watch battery, recharging it in the right way, and replacing the battery (depending on the watch you have) at the right intervals will also keep your watch healthy. Proper maintenance and use are also the keys to battery performance.
If your Garmin has a rechargeable battery, you would want the charge time to be as short as possible. You want to aim for all-day battery life for GPS modes. How does your battery charge, and how do you charge it, how often you charge it, etc. all have a hand in how the battery life lasts.
The battery life is a component of the durability of your Garmin watch, but so is the build of the watch itself. You need your runner’s watch to have all the basic features (and more if possible) without draining battery and to withstand the harsh outdoors.
In general, all Garmin watches, including the Forerunner 245 and the Forerunner 945, are built to last. They are properly constructed with the most durable materials, including silicone watch cases and heavy-duty silicone bands. If you plan on scaling walls and taking a few tumbles on your adventures, then your Garmin Forerunner 945 or 245 will take a beating. A more rugged and robust design such as the Garmin Instinct Rugged Outdoor watch is a better option than the Forerunner 945.
Don’t worry about GPS because most, if not all, Garmin watches will have GPS features as a fundamental capability.
Depending on the type of sport you excel at, water resistance is one of the most important features. If you are a swimmer, maybe having access to your music playlist won’t be as important as shock resistance. A lot of Garmin designs are splashproof, but not all are waterproof and can be submerged in water.
So if you are a swimmer, you need to make sure your GPS Garmin watch is water-resistant.
Heart Rate Monitor
Just how important is a heart rate monitor in a watch meant for sports and running? The answer is – VERY! We all have different bodies, so we need different features in a fitness watch. However, one of these features we all need to gain a clear picture of our progress. It allows you to control your workout without overdoing it. It also acts as a personal coach. With access to your heart rate, you will know whether to take it easy or to push harder to reach your goals.
Your heart rate is also an indicator of the calories burned. For those looking to work towards that summer body, your heart rate is the metronome you need to follow. It also allows you to be safer during your workouts, and you can tailor your routine to the recommended heart rate of your age group and body type. This is an indispensable feature to have and one of the best ways to keep track of your heart health.
GPS is one of the most important features for runners. Luckily, the best Garmin watches all come with GPS. In cases of emergency, a GPS watch can broadcast your location to rescue services, which can make all the difference. GPS can also track your route and distance when making those strides towards a marathon or triathlon training. Bonus points if you can find a Garmin watch with music compatibility to keep you pumped up during your run.
Last but not least, you should keep the price in mind. A Garmin watch is usually over 100, but the best ones and higher-end ones will be pricier. The premium choice we offered goes up to nearly 1000! Thankfully, most Garmin wristwatches come with all the basics, such as GPS, heart rate monitors, and activity trackers. However, you might have to pay a bit more to have Music in your life. Those who like to control their Music or listen to Music during a workout might need to shell out a bit more.
Music apps such as Spotify and other streaming programs can be synced with your device. Scroll your music playlists and get pumped up before, during, and after your run! If you are looking for the best, you might need to prepare yourself to spend more than 100.
Are Garmin Devices Any Good?
What’s so good about a Garmin wristwatch, and why is everyone raving about them? Well, for one thing, they are incredibly well made. They are smartwatches that provide fitness tracking capabilities that exceed their competitors by far. They can be synced to your smartphone and act as an extension of your smart device.
Not only are they amazingly well-built, but they are stylish as well. Some of them weigh under 50 grams and are fully functional and practical. They are chock-full of capabilities that regular watches do not have. They are not limited to only telling time and can be your companion through it all.
For those who take fitness and health seriously, a Garmin device is more than just one that keeps you on track. It also tracks your daily activities, your heart rate, and sometimes even monitor your sleep. This gives you a clear picture of your holistic health and helps you plan better training schedules and routines.
Not to mention, you have a vast array of designs that suit any budget. There are affordable options and ones that can hit the 1000 mark to fit anyone wanting a piece of Garmin. As said before, Garmin products are known for their impressive battery life and customization. You can personalize your watch face by downloading the compatible app.
There are also different styles ranging from heavy-duty military to sleek everyday watches. Whichever design you choose, you must make sure that the features fit your needs. All in all, Garmin products are amazing for a reason.
These watches do everything you can think of. From telling time to those with altimeters and barometers, these watches really can accommodate the casual runner to marathon trainers, a regular swimmer to advanced hikers, and even people who love snow sports. It doesn’t matter what you like or your needs, you can find one of these watches that will be the perfect partner.
If you want a digital running companion, this brand is the way to go! The only question is which one to choose. These watches are considered to be on the more high-end, but they also produce lower-end devices to cater to people with different pockets.
It doesn’t matter what sport you are committed to; we are sure there is no way GPS, heart rate monitoring, activity tracking, and long battery life is something that drives the price and incentive for the product down. If you are tentative about which watch to purchase, just follow our buyer’s guide or choose one from our top picks!
To take proper care of your new watch, make sure you don’t expose it to oils or chemicals or anything oily to preserve the appearance of your watch.
Did You Know?
You should regularly clean your watch to make sure there is no buildup or residue of sweat, dirt, and grime.