12 Best Garmin Watches for Sports Rated & Reviewed
Garmin Watches are amongst a growing list of gadgets that were gradually introduced into the world of running and athletics. Technology, as always, slowly moves from additions and aids to essential for bettering yourself as a runner. And why not? If this gear can help with training, growth, and performance, what makes it any less essential than a reliable pair of shoes.
Garmin is has become a name associated with reliable GPS. So it should come at no surprise that the fitness trackers and watches they offer are just as dependable. All the information you could possibly need to improve your running and your regimen bundled up in a little piece of technology. GPS watches can accurately track and record data for your personal analysis or for using with an athletics app.
A personal GPS watch is an excellent choice of gear to help improve a runners performance as well as motivate a runner. The ability to track your progress lets the wearer see every little gain, every second shaved, every small victory. And with every notch in a runners belt comes even more reason to try harder. These are good watches with the technology and software to help you be the best runner you can be.
- Fenix 5
- Lighter than Fenix 3
- Garmin Forerunner 735XT
- Multisport data tracking
- Fenix 3
- Unbeaten accuracy
12 Best Garmin Watches
Garmin fenix 5
There’s no problem with reading the screen under sunlight
Simple in use
Looks great on the wrist
Some buyers said that the colors are little bland
Garmin fenix 3
You can see everything despite the sunlight
It is waterproof to 100 meters
Many configuration options
Very nice design
Garmin Forerunner 735XT
There are a ton of features that can be accessed through Garmin Connect. Some of those include detailed live tracking, music control, smart notifications and even access to social media sharing.
You can also get all of your notifications from you smartphone, which is really great, and is becoming more of a standard with theses types of devices.
This fitness watch offers all of the necessary and critical tools that can be crucial to effective training.
- Get emails and other notifications form your smartphone
- Support training data for multiple sports
- Day and night heart rate monitoring with no extra gear
- Get live tracking, audio alerts, and social media sharing through Garmin Connect
- This one is expensive
Garmin Forerunner 235
Read emails, text messages, alerts, reminders and much more when you pair the Forerunner 235 with your compatible smartphone.
Want some help with your training? Receive audio prompts about laps and other tracking alerts regarding your training session.
The battery life is pretty decent too. You can get up to 12 weeks out of a battery while operating in watch mode, but just 12 hours while used in training mode.
- Get text messages, emails and other alerts when paired with your smartphone
- Monitor your heart rate 24/7
- Plenty of fitness tracking tools through Connect I.Q.
- Many suggest that this works best for sustained running, much better than some other fitness training
Garmin Forerunner 630
Easy to read screen
Buyers really liked because it keeps you very motivated
Very stylish watch, available in 3 colors
Some buyers said that it’s very easy to scratch it
Garmin Forerunner 230
Great GPS accuracy
The battery life is excellent
It’s not bulky and it has nice design
Some buyers said that there is too low brightness
Garmin Forerunner 935 GPS
Overall the Garmin Forerunner 935 GPS watch is a strong performer in terms of information and accuracy and comes recommended to the runner who is interested in a sleek and customazable GPS watch.
- Smaller size than other options
- Excellent battery life
- 24/7 accurate HR moniter
- Easy viewable screen
- Accurate GPS
- Lots of customization
- Compiles data efficiantly
- May have syncing issues
Garmin Forerunner 920XT
This easy to use watch is also comfortable and lightweight, wearing easily on the runners wrist. The watch is also water resistant, a great choice for runners that encounter a lot of moisture while out and about. While the watch itself doesn’t have any durability issues, some wearers reported that the strap does wear down easily and would probably have to be replaced a few months after purchase.
Despite the Garmin Forerunner 920XT’s few issues, there are many beneficial features that are in this GPS watch’s favor. The 920XT is an excellent choice for the runner who needs the extra structure for their race training and is inclined towards utilizing technology to improve their performance.
- Water resistant
- Easy to use
- Good battery life
- Connectst to GPS quickly and easily
- Accurate tracking
- Compatiable with many apps alongside Garmin app
- Multiscreen display
- Excellent race training
- Pairs easily with phone
- Straps may have durability issues
- May have freezing issues
Garmin Vívoactive HR GPS
Set your goals and monitor your progress against them. There are even built in sports apps that will help you set and follow custom goals. You can also pair this unit with a compatible smartphone and set notifications to be displayed on the Vivoactive.
This watch even allows the heart rate to be monitored 24/7 without any extra straps or other apparatus. And, of course, This model has a function that Garmin is is the most well known for, Spot on GPS tracking. The Garmin Vivoactive HR is a top seller, purchased and used by runners, hikers, outdoor nuts, and general fitness lovers alike.
There are reviews that even make statements like "the best tracker on the market"!
- 24/7 heart rate monitoring
- Pair with compatible smartphones
- GPS tracking
- Exceptional battery life
- The glass on the face is a bit more fragile than expected
Garmin Forerunner 35
It’s cheaper than fenix models
The accuracy of the GPS tracking is great
Very long life of the battery for this price
This watch charges very quickly
It doesn’t have color display
Garmin vivofit 3
It also tracks the basics like steps taken, distance and burned calories. It even tracks the intensity minutes in your session.
This model is literally intended for tracking progress and activities 24/7. It will even track your sleep.
If you are serious about fitness, but prefer a more subtle fitness watch, the Vivofit would make a really good option to consider
- Set your own personal goals to analyze on Garmin Connect
- Reminds you to stay active with audible alerts
- 1 year + battery life
- Tracks steps, distance, intensity and even sleep
- Some needed more functionality
Garmin Vívosmart HR Activity Tracker
It is also able to be paired with a smartphone to access emails, text messages, call alerts and even social media. This model will also allow you to control your music as well as the controls for a VIRB action camera, if you happen to have one.
Remember to stay active with reminder from the Move Bar as well as vibrating notifications. There is absolutely no excuse not to keep going. If you stop, it seems that this thing will basically call you out and get you moving again.
- The move bar and vibration alerts remind you to stay active
- Sleek comfortable design
- The display is visible in sunlight
- Access your music controls
- This model may not be the ideal choice for more rugged activities.
The Criteria That We Use While Searching For The Best
Below is the list of factors we use in determining the choices on this list. We now providing the detailed criteria for you below so that you may use your own considerations to be as certain as possible the best choice for you.
How important are the features?
Choosing a watch via its features in a matter not of quantity but a matter of necessity. Many people when shopping around will usually consider the watch with the most features the best. But with GPS watches, as with many pieces of commercial technology, the most features will be put onto the tech as possible. Many features are not necessary for most runners. They key is choosing watches that have prioritize mapping and recording features.
Aspects like the ability to play music may not be a priority for some runners but would be for others. Or an aspect such as moisture resistance for runners who often face inclement weather or an altimeter for runners who often find themselves running on hilly or mountainous terrain. We made sure to include watches on this list that would suit a wide variety of needs and weed out anything we thought was unnecessary. We want the watches with only the features that will best suit our readership.
How important is a workout program?
One of the key aspects of maintaining a consistent training regimen is motivation. Motivation can be hard to come by sometimes, even for the most determined athletes. One thing that can bolster motivation is measurable progress. A GPS watches ability to track not only how far you have run but things like times and heart rate gives the runner the ability to visualize their growth over time. That is a key reason why we want to only include the most accurate GPS watches.
Compatible workout programs and apps are also an essential consideration. Having all that compiled information and taking it a step further to create a comprehensive workout guide. Essentially an electronic personal trainer that will set goals for you based on your progress. We want our readership to know that these sort of resources are available to them.
Staying motivated and staying organized are keys to success in athletic training.
Is the cost worth it?
It has always been the opinion of Runnerclick that quality of product and price are not inherently linked. That being said, Garmin is a trusted name in GPS and the watches chosen from their catalog come in a wide variety of price points. While we know that most often you will get more for paying more, you absolutely don’t have to pay for more than they need. Garmin has a large selection of watch models with enough specialization so you will only have to pay for exactly what you need.
Is the display easy to read?
Several aspects can go into the design of a GPS watch and its display to maximize visibility and minimize things that would hinder it. Specialized screens that reduce the glare that comes from running in bright sunlight. Have a large enough display can help those who have sight issues or aiding in a situation where seeing is difficult.
Many watches also come with a backlight, making it easily readable if you choose to go running at night. Some watches also offer the option to have a customizable color for the backlight. Being able to read the watch you are utilizing is the most essential aspect of a watch, so only watches that should have little to no issues with regards to readability are available on this list.
Do you need water resistant product?
Water resistance is a must is you live or run in an area with high humidity or high rainfall. Now if you think that doesn’t apply to you consider that there are other circumstances where this sort of structural integrity could be useful. Post gym showering means you won’t have to store your expensive equipment in a locker. Also water resistant doesn’t mean just water, it applies also to moist conditions. Some people have issues with excessive perspiration and having a watch that won’t break simply because you sweat a lot is worth your consideration.
How important is battery life?
Battery life is an interesting point of consideration. Its less about having a battery that last a long time for point of use. It is doubtful you will have to run or use the watch for 14 to 24 hours straight. The point of an extended battery life is so that anytime you life you wrist to utilize the watch it will be available and on. A long battery life is so you can take your off to charge at night, put it on when you wake up and be good to go for the rest of the day. We select watches with longer battery life because the convenience of this sort of accessibility is now a standard and no longer really an option.
Other Important Things To Think About
Is it easy to use it?
Additional features and options may be a really cool thing but there’s one more thing to consider- will I be able to learn how to use it in short time. You may know the feeling when you receive the new product and you want to test it immediately but at first you must read hundreds of pages of instruction. Nobody likes to read the instruction all day. Garmin products aren’t very difficult in use but it really depends on the person. The other problems may appear when you want to connect your smartphone or you want to use special training program.
We recommend reading the instructions first. If you plan to buy this type of watch as a gift for your mom or dad, think whether they will enjoy using it or they will be more nervous as it will be too complicated for them. Also for many adults, using the watch may be hard at the beginning but don’t give up. On Garmin’s website, you can find videos with instructions and everything should be clear after watching these videos.
The lifespan of the watch and guarantee
GPS watches are the type of watches that tend to be very useful in most harsh running conditions. However, they won’t last forever. We’ve often seen that Garmin products will stay with you for many years as long as you take care of it. Unfortunately, there is a chance that your Garmin will be delivered damaged and etc. It doesn’t need to be the fault of the manufacturer- the product could be damaged during the delivery process.
There’s only one option to solve this problem- replace your watch. By replacing we mean return it to the brand. Most Garmin watches have a warranty and it shouldn’t be a problem to get a new one. You need to be aware that sometimes, a different part of the watch has different guarantee period. If you’re afraid that your product will be damaged during delivery, open the package in the presence of the delivery man.
What if you need to stay at home?
It’s not a secret, that the rainy days happen. In some areas, rain is a rarity, in the others, this is something normal. We know that there are people who enjoy running in the rain but most of us want to stay at home. Does it mean we need to resign because of the downpour? Not if we have a treadmill. We know from our experience that some options of particular watches work only outdoor. This is why you need to check it.
What about music?
We won’t lie if we tell that music is one of the most important parts of the running. Most of us use music to make the running more exciting. Music decides about the pace. It also makes us more motivated, especially when we listen to our favorite songs. Whenever we feel tired, music gives as more energy and without these songs, most of us wouldn’t run as often as we do. That’s why you need to care about the music and there’s option to control it only by using your watch. This is really helpful as you don’t need to change the song on your smartphone as long as you have your Garmin on your wrist.
How big and how much it should weight?
Many runners tend to forget about this two aspects but they’re really important as they are key to comfort. Let’s start with size. How big it should be or better question how big is your wrist? Be aware that if you wrist is small, bulky watch won’t look nice and it won’t be comfortable wearing. It shouldn’t be also too small, as you should easily see all the information as the display. What about shape?
There are 3 options- round, square and rectangular shape. What about the weight? If it’s your first watch, you may not know that bulky and heavy watches are really uncomfortable and they don’t look good on your wrist. On the other side, watches with many additional features can’t be also very lightweight and if they’re intended to trail running, they will be more heavy.
Look is also important part of the watch. Even if your watch has many cool options but it has strange design, the probability that you will enjoy it less is very high. Garmin is a good brand if you search for stylish watches. They offer special bends that can be changed so you don’t need to buy a new watch, you just change the bend. There are many color options you can choose from- who said that the watch must be black?
You should look at your wrist and you can ever measure it with ruler. Let’s say that display screen is 48 mm. See how big it is comparing to your wrist. Bulky watches look terribly especially when you’re woman. What about colorful display? It is much more readable and it’s not boring. You need also think about the width of the band- do you want wide or narrow one? We know that some people also pay attention to the buttons, for example- Garmin Forerunner 235 has buttons around the dial but some people don’t like it.
Q: I run the same route in my neighborhood everyday as part of my routine, and never take my run outside of my route. Is a watch with GPS really necessary?
If you really only keep your run on a route that you have measured the distance of and know well, then GPS would be an option that you may not need.GPS option is perfect for runners who love discover different tracks, roads and etc. There are many adventurous runners who run in new places every day. GPS option is good when you run in unknown areas and you’re afraid of getting lost. If you really want to run on the same track every day, GPS is unnecessary. What’s more, watches without GPS tend to be much cheaper. Instead of GPS function, you should look for features more connected with creating running plan and all basic metrics to show you your results even on this one track you use.
Q. I’ve heard than you don’t need to buy a Garmin Watch because the technology is developing and all you just need is smartphone.
To be honest, we wouldn’t agree with that. It’s true that smartphones are very useful, we can download a lot of running applications and use apps to track our progress. However, have you ever wondered why Garmin Watches are so popular? It’s because of accuracy they provide.
You can have all applications on the smartphone but they’re not as accurate as those in a watch. Garmin watches make easier to boost the performance and keep the records. Let’s say you want to check your heart rate. With smartphone, you will need chest wraps which are unpleasant for most of the runners and this is also an additional cost.
Q: Are the product that are reviewed in the list above all of what Garmin offers.
No. Garmin produces many different models that are also available on Amazon. The purpose of our list is to showcase and review the product which have the highest customer ratings.You should be aware that there are many different products that Garmin offers and you can choose from many watches. We’ve created this list to make it easier for you to find the best of the best. Remember however that the product that would be the best for you, may not be on our list.
Every person has different demands, needs. In most watches on the list, there’s GPS function- you may not need it. Or maybe you just need the simplest watch, you don’t care about smartphone connection, you just want the watch to provide the track and basic metrics.
Q: Can I swim with one of my Garmin GPS products?
They produce some multisport models in which swimming is one of the activities that is tracked, so the answer is yes for many models. In some products on our list, there’s special swimming mode. It can measure the distance, pace, strokes and many more. Many watches on our list weren’t only designed for running. As you’ve read in our review, many watches have this ski or swimming mode. If you want to take part in a triathlon, you can find on our list watch with swimming mode. However, Garmin doesn’t make watches only for runners. There’s special watch called Garmin Swim which was designed especially for swimmers and professionals. It’s your choice which one you choose but you must be aware that Garmin Swim is very good for swimming but not for running.
Q: I tend to do a lot of trail running. Are these fragile, or will they stand up to more rugged activities?
They do make some model that are designed for more rugged use and environments, but when you are looking for more, expect to hand over a little bit more money. It’s not a secret that off-road running is much more demanding not only for the runner, but also for clothes and running stuff. Some products on our list shouldn’t be used during trail running as the display screen and bend aren’t hard enough. Firstly, your display needs very good protection, it can’t be the plastic one. Also, stainless steel is something recommended. We think that fenix may be a good watch for you. While buying the watch with intentions of trail running, you need to purchase the product that is water resistant and you can easily see the screen even in more harsh conditions.
If you want to pair your watch with your smartphone to take full advantage of all of those kind of features, you will need a compatible smartphone. For that information, you will want to check the specifications and requirements of the specific model of watch that you are planning to purchase. This may be a big problem if you don’t have a smartphone. However, you can always search for the watch which can send data and all information on your computer. This option is less popular but you can still try to look for it. If you have problem with checking which smartphone is suitable for particular watch, you can call Garmin consumer support or just simply send an e-mail.