If you are into running and fitness then you have probably heard of Garmin. That’s why you have found this guide. Some people know too well that the Garmin brand has been making world class electronic devices for the automobile, aviation and marine industries for over 30 years. Now they are becoming synonimous with the best state-of-the-art running watches and fitness trackers on the market.
Garmin have become so successful as their devices are easy to use, accurate with powerful tracking functionality and most importantly well priced. Offering a wide selection from the budget Forerunner 10 to the top of the range Fenix 5 Plus range, the brand is proving to have many of the best running watches available for you to buy right now.
Not only with running watches and fitness trackers has the brand created a loyal following, also with smartwatches has Garmin found success. With excellent battery life and the usual notifications Garmin’s smartwatches are considered to be great alternatives to the Apple Watch 4.
Which is the best Garmin for me?
- 1 Which is the best Garmin for me?
- 1.1 1. Garmin Fenix 5 Plus series
- 1.2 2. Garmin Fenix 5 series
- 1.3 3. Garmin Forerunner 935
- 1.4 4. Garmin Forerunner 645 Music
- 1.5 5. Garmin Forerunner 735XT
- 1.6 6. Garmin Forerunner 630
- 1.7 7. Garmin Vivoactive 3
- 1.8 8. Garmin Forerunner 235
- 1.9 9. Garmin Forerunner 620
- 1.10 10. Garmin Forerunner 230
- 1.11 11. Garmin Forerunner 225
- 1.12 12. Garmin Forerunner 35
- 1.13 13. Garmin Forerunner 30
- 1.14 14. Garmin Forerunner 25
- 1.15 15. Garmin Forerunner 15
We have listed the best models here with their specs. as well as their pros and cons so that you can select the best for your needs. Nothing more frustrating than buying a watch with bells and whistles that you don’t need!
1. Garmin Fenix 5 Plus series
The Multisport Fenix gets even better with model upgrade
- Ultimate multisport GPS watch that estimates heart rate at the wrist...
- Wrist-based Pulse Ox Acclimation sensor, a non-medical device that...
- Fit for adventure with rugged design that features scratch-resistant...
- Android requirements is 4. 4 os or later and Bluetooth 4. 0 or later....
- Garmin Pay contactless payment solution (available for supported cards...
- Battery performance: up to 20 days in smartwatch mode and 13 hours in...
Screen size: 1.2 inches diameter | Touchscreen: No | Battery life (GPS): 18 hours | Battery life (Standby): 12 days | Storage: 64GB | Bluetooth: Yes | Smartwatch: Yes | Multi-sport: Many sports available |
- Robust and hard wearing design
- Top-of-the-range features
- Previous model had better battery life
- Very expensive
The Garmin Fenix 5 Plus is the top of the range upgrade of the Garmin Fenix 5. The hardware comes with decent storage capability making it great to store and play music. Garmin Pay and fully routable color topo maps are integrated making it a nice choice.
In our opinion this is one of the best running watches you can get with smartwatch capabilities built in. However all these features and specs. come at a high price. The battery life isn’t as good as we would have expected but still it is good enough for the best of adventures.
What to expect next from Garmin? There are rumors abound of the possible development of a Garmin Fenix 6 series so we might expect the company to release it some time in the future.
2. Garmin Fenix 5 series
Outstanding design and performance
- Premium multisport GPS watch with Elevate wrist heart rate technology....
- Fit for adventure with rugged design that features stainless steel...
- Put key stats at your fingertips with the performance widget that...
- Connected features include smart notifications, automatic uploads to...
- Outdoor sensors, including GPS and GLONASS satellite reception and...
Screen size: 1.2 inches diameter | Touchscreen: No | Battery life (GPS): 24 hrs. | Battery life (Standby): 14 days | Storage: 64MB | Bluetooth: Yes | Smartwatch: Yes | Multi-Sport: Many sports tracking |
- Outstanding design
- Long Battery life
- A little bulky
- Quite expensive
The Fenix 5 is a little larger than the Forerunner 935, despite having more or less the same features and multisport functionality. In addition it has a more durable frame with more colors available.
It has all the same sensors so it can track everything, also smart notifications and the same GPS accuracy to make a perfect sports watch for all occassions.
In addition there is the Garmin Fenix 5S and Fenix 5X with a little extra features which make them a little better than the basic Fenix 5 product.
3. Garmin Forerunner 935
One of the best multi-sports watches available
- Premium GPS running/triathlon watch with wrist-based heart rate;Strap...
- Offers advanced running and multisport Features in a comfortable watch...
- Provides elevation changes with a built-in barometer; altimeter and...
- Evaluates your training status to indicate if you're undertraining or...
- Provides advanced dynamics for running, cycling and swimming,...
Screen size: 1.2 inches diameter | Touchscreen: Yes | Battery Life (GPS): 24 hrs. |Battery Life (Standby): 14 days | Bluetooth: Yes | SmartWatch: Yes | Multi-sport tracking: Yes | Storage: 64 MB|
- Can track more or less everything you want
- Well established and accepted for a long time
- Very pricey watch
- Screen could be a little low resolution for some people
If you are looking for a highly versatile, slim and attractive sports watch that is able to track almost everything, then why look further? The Garmin Forerunner 935 is one of the best of the best sports tracking watches out there easy to get hold of.
Incorporating a barometric altimeter, compass, gyroscope, accelerometer and thermometer so that you can add layers of data to your chosen activity.
With the most of the Garmin range of watches, you can easily upload your data including heart beat to Strava. This is with or without the stars as Garmin has built-in this functionality into the watch itself.
In summary this is one of the best fitness and sports watches out there that you can rely on with full confidence. With this one you can enjoy the long battery life which in itself is worth the extra money compared to other watches in this class.
Read our full Garmin Forerunner 935 review
4. Garmin Forerunner 645 Music
The forerunner series packs a punch with great features and music
- Easily download up to 500 songs to your watch, and connect with...
- Syncs music from select streaming services for offline listening (May...
- Garmin Pay contactless payment solution lets you make convenient...
- Provides advanced running dynamics (when used with Running Dynamics...
- Uses estimated wrist-based heart rate data to offer performance...
- Battery life: up to 7 days in smartwatch mode; 5 hours in GPS mode...
Screen size: 1.2 inches | Touchscreen: No | Battery life (GPS): 5 hrs. | Battery life (Standby): 7 Days (Smartwatch mode) | Storage: 500 songs | Bluetooth: Yes | Smartwatch: Yes | Multi-sport: Yes | Inbuilt heart-rate monitor: Yes |
- 500 Song music storage
- Very attractive design
- Battery Life could be better
- Deezer and iHeartRadio still not enabled
It’s been long overdue now and Garmin finally obliges with the Garmin Forerunner 645 Music which allows you to add music listening functionality to your running.
The first of its kind with Gamin has enough space for 500 songs which you can access either through offline playlist transfer or downloads. So no need to take the phone with you any more for listening to music.
The best part of this model is undoubtedly its unique and stylish design, using an attractive stainless steel bezel. What’s more it is lightweight and easy to forget once its on your wrist. It can also be classified as a multi-sport watch allbeit without open-water swimming and triathlon modes.
Having a second look we are not so keen on this watch and may even go as far as to say that it is probably one of the less capable watches on this list as there is no option to sync music from a streaming source. Originally it was supposed be able to sync into Deezer or iHeartRadio but that hasn’t materialized as of yet.
We also think that the battery life is a tad bit short especially when considering the connectability of the device. In fact it should offer significantly more. The Forerunner 935 coming in with a little higher price tag, does more or less all the 645 except music playback with a stellar battery performance.
Read our full Garmin Forerunner 645 Music review
5. Garmin Forerunner 735XT
An excellent triatholon watch
- Form factor - the most lightweight multisport-capable watch ever from...
- Built-in activities - data support for: running, cycling, swimming,...
- 24/7 Heart rate monitoring - Elevate Wrist Heart technology gives you...
- Connected Features - automatic uploads to Garmin Connect, Live...
- Smart notifications - get any notification from your compatible...
Screen size: 1.23 inches diameter | Touchscreen: No | Battery life (GPS): 14 hours | Battery life (Standby): 11 days | Storage: 80 hours of activity | Bluetooth: Yes | Smartwatch: Yes | Multi-sport: Triathlon
- Decent colors available
- Excellent triatholon functionality
- Quite expensive
- Smart notifications are quite small
A top class running watch especially for those who prefer using buttons rather than the touchscreen of the Forerunner 630. The Forerunner 735XT is perfect for those wanting to work their way into triathlons.
However the 735XT will not have the battery life of the Forerunner 630, although very competitive in good looks especially the blue frost coloured versions. The 735XT comes complete with a heart rate monitor too built-in, so can get your pulse without wearing a chest strap.
It’s really good with tracking a great variety of activities as well as smart notifications built in, it’s definately a great watch for the triathlete.
Read our full Garmin Forerunner 735XT review
6. Garmin Forerunner 630
Great for tracking runners metrics
- 2ND GENERATION RUNNING DYNAMICS -Calculates 6 advanced running...
- PHYSIOLOGICAL MEASUREMENTS -Supports advanced physiological...
- BATTERY LIFE - Long-lasting, Rechargeable lithium-ion
- WIRELESS - Wirelessly transmits accurate heart rate to your compatible...
- SMART NOTIFICATIONS - See incoming email, text messages, call alerts,...
Screen size: 1.23 inches diameter | Touchscreen: Yes | Battery life (GPS): 16 hours | Battery life (Standby): 28 days | Storage: 200 hours of activity | Bluetooth: Yes | Smartwatch: Yes | Multi-sport: Cycling
- Full spectrum running metrics
- Excellent battery life in GPS mode
- No heart-rate monitor built-in
- Lactate threshold function needs update
The third watch that was first introduced to the market in Garmin’s three-pronged 2015 launch is still one of the most exciting the company has produced.
Commanding the biggest price tag of the three, it also boasts the most varied array of features, despite not having heart rate at the wrist.
This advanced smartwatch lays claim to helping runners track just about every metric they can possibly imagine.
As well as the VO2 max function discussed above, the Garmin Forerunner 630 will estimate your Lactate Threshold, stress levels and ‘Performance Condition’ (which gives an insight into how much energy your muscles have left while running), while advanced running dynamics such as ground contact time, balance, stride length and vertical ratio offer a whole new dimension of tracking and analysis.
There really is plenty for the data nerds to get their teeth into with this one – plus, it looks better on your wrist than models from previous years.
7. Garmin Vivoactive 3
A nice stylish smartwatch with great fitness capability
- Garmin Pay contactless payment solution lets you pay for purchases...
- Personalize your watch with thousands of free watch faces, apps and...
- More than 15 preloaded GPS and indoor sports apps, including yoga,...
- Monitor your fitness level with VO2 max and fitness made estimates,...
- Get connected features such as smart notifications, automatic uploads...
- Battery life: up to 7 days in smartwatch mode; 13 hours in GPS mode
Screen size: 1.2 inches | Touchscreen: Yes | Battery life (GPS): 13 hours | Battery life (Standby): 7 days (smartwatch mode) | Storage: 7 timed activities / 14 days activity tracking | Bluetooth: Yes | Smartwatch: Yes | Multi-sport: Yes | Inbuilt heart-rate monitor: Yes |
- Excellent battery life
- Beautiful design
- Garmin pay (check for U.K)
- Limited IOS capability
The Garmin Vivoactive range of watches is truly verstatile offering super-detailed activity tracking functionality as well as superb GPS and heart rate sensors making it a top choice for everyday runners who also like to track general activity.
The Vivoactive 3 comes with the new Garmin Pay contactless payments platform (UK launch as of date pending) as well as smartwatch functionality opening up the world of thousands of hundreds of apps including the likes of Uber and Accuweather for example. Not to mention plenty of interchangeable watch faces through the Connect IQ store.
The Vivoactive 3 comes pre-loaded with 15 sport apps ensuring perfect all round tracking. The 5ATM water resistance is the perfect solution to your swimming needs. The battery life delivers far greater value than the forerunner series. Not to forget mentioning how the stainless steel bezel help transform it into one of the best looking fitness-themed smartwatches available.
Read the Garmin Vivoactive 3 review
8. Garmin Forerunner 235
Nice ‘n’ good looking, lightweight smartwatch
- GPS Running Watch with Wrist-based Heart Rate and display type is...
- Customize Your Watch and Your Training, Larger Screen - a 44% Larger...
- Audio Prompts - Receive Audio Prompts from Your Connected Smartphone...
- Smart Notifications - See Incoming Email, Text Messages, Call Alerts,...
- Battery Life 11 Hours Training, 9 Days Watch, Activity Tracking,...
Screen size: 1.23 inches diameter | Touchscreen: No | Battery life (GPS): 11 hours | Battery life (Standby): 9 days | Storage: 200 hours of activity | Bluetooth: Yes | Smartwatch: Yes | Multi-sport: Cycling | Heart-rate monitor built-in: Yes
- Detailed activity tracking features
- very lightweight
- Feels a bit flimsy
- Optical heart-rate tech needs an update
The Garmin Forerunner 235 is an upgrading version of the 230 as it features Garmin’s Elevate technology.
The 235 includes music controls and audio announcements as well as smart notifications for calls, messages and social media updates as long as you couple it to your phone on your run.
Although the 235 has been heavily discounted recently, it’s excellent functionality alongside it’s good looks, make it a world class fitness tracking system that is hard to beat.
Read the full Garmin Forerunner 235 review
What to expect next from Garmin? There are rumors abound of a Garmin Forerunner 245 Music which is going to hit the market by storm so maybe hang in there for the perfect timing.
9. Garmin Forerunner 620
Nice touchscreen watch with loads of functionality
- It Knows Your Potential
- Rest Day or Run Day
- Following Your Form
- Can send your data wirelessly to Garmin Connect
- Can estimate your VO2 max
Screen size: 1 inch diameter | Touchscreen: Yes | Battery life (GPS): 10 hrs. | Battery life (Standby): 42 days | Device storage: 1000 laps | Bluetooth: Yes | Smartwatch: No | Multi-sport: Cycling | heart-rate monitor built-in: No
- Plenty of statistics
- Syncs instantly with Wi-Fi
- Touchscreen not responsive
- Heart-rate monitor NOT built-in
Garmin have called the touchscreen Garmin Forerunner 620 as an ‘Advanced running watch with Recovery Advisor’. Once upon a time it used to be Garmin’s flagship running watch but has now been superceded by the watches further up on this list. Nevertheless it still has enough pulling power to justify it’s continued consideration.
Being an earlier model the Forerunner 620 does not have smartwatch capability. Despite that it does have VO2 max estimates and when you pair it with an HRM-Run monitor, it can deliver upgraded results with data for cadence, ground contact time and vertical oscillation.
Read our full Garmin Forerunner 620 review
10. Garmin Forerunner 230
Stylish minimalist design coupled with smart functionality
- This Certified Refurbished product is tested and certified to look and...
- AUDIO PROMPTS - Receive audio prompts from your connected smartphone...
- LARGER SCREEN - A 44% larger screen than the 220 but the same physical...
- ACTIVITY TRACKING - Forerunner 230 doubles as a watch and activity...
- SMART NOTIFICATIONS - See incoming email, text messages, call alerts,...
Screen size: 1.22 inches diameter | Touchscreen: No | Battery life (GPS): 16 hrs. | Battery life (Standby): 35 days | Device Storage: 200 hours of activity | Bluetooth: Yes | Smartwatch: Yes | Multi-sport: Cycling | Heart-rate monitor built-in: No
- VO2 max calculations
- Excellent battery life
- Lacking running dynamics
The Forerunner 230 great value for money despite not having a built-in heart rate monitor, but it does have smartwatch capabilities and a very nice and long battery life.
The 230 does include some nice post-run metrics like for example VO2 max calculation and Training Effect data output. The 230 will give you the VO2 max value at the end of a run (if it has changed). It’s super intelligent feature will in a nut-shell help you assess the impact a particular run has had on your body.
For those runners who like to also cycle, the 230 helpfully includes a cycling mode, which can be paired with ANT+ speed and cadence sensors as well.
11. Garmin Forerunner 225
This is where Garmin’s ventures started with heart-rate
- WRIST-BASED HEART RATE - Run without a strap - the Forerunner 225 uses...
- GRAPHIC INTERFACE - A colorful gauge shows your zone at a glance:...
- GPS - GPS-enabled, Forerunner 225 provides accurate distance and pace...
- ACCELEROMETER - A built-in accelerometer provides distance and pace...
- ACTIVITY TRACKING - It doubles as a watch and activity tracker. Count...
Screen size: 1 inch diameter | Touchscreen: No | Battery life (GPS): 10 hrs. | Battery life (Standby): 28 days | Device storage: 200 hours of activity | Bluetooth: Yes | Smartwatch: No | Multi-sport: No | Heart-rate monitor built-in: Yes
- Heart rate on wrist 24/7
- Easily customize interval workouts
- No running dynamics
- No micro USB charging port
The Garmin Forerunner 225 was Garmin’s first wrist watch to feature the heart rate monitoring innovation albeit using a sensor made by Mio, rather than Garmin’s proprietory Elevate technology, which was developed later.
Noteworthy is how Garmin has been highly successful recently to make it’s watches really user friendly including the most advanced models.
A great example of Garmin’s legendary user friendliness is quite apparent in the 225’s interface, celebrated by most of us as being as intuitive and straightforward as the more basic devices below. The 225 Garmin also features a sharp, color LCD display which really livens the display up when the color-coded heart rate zone training function come into use.
While the Forerunner 225 lacks some of the super-advanced features of the more newer models above, nevertheless it is still able to fulfill the needs of the most statistics orientated runners in the game.
The Forerunner scores more points with it’s intervals tool, which provides delivers great workout customization functionality so that you can incorporate workouts via Garmin Connect, giving you the possibilty to combine metrics like pace, time, distance, heart rate and intensity.
Read our full Garmin Forerunner 225 review
12. Garmin Forerunner 35
Another stylish watch with heart-rate built-in
- Built-in GPS - built-in to acquire satellites quickly to track how...
- 24/7 heart rate monitoring - warm gives you heart rate all day and...
- Vibration alerts - helpful vibration alerts notify you of running...
- Updated display - new high resolution display that is perfect for...
- Smart connectivity - auto uploads, smart notifications, live track,...
Screen size: 0.93 inches x 0.93 inches | Touchscreen: No | Battery life (GPS): 13 hrs. | Battery life (Standby): 9 days | Device storage: 7 activities | Bluetooth: Yes | Smartwatch: Yes | Multi-sport: Cycling |Heart-rate monitor built-in: Yes
- Heartrate from wrist
- Nice and long battery life
- Just a little pricey
- Bit slow to register rapid rises and falls in heart-rate
Moving on to Garmin’s mid-range Forerunner 35, suitable for the more fashion conscious fitness and runners with some pretty powerful capabilities.
Garmin introduced it’s Elevate technology with this watch enabling heart rate monitoring from the wrist.
That translates to no more strapping your chest up with a heart rate monitoring strap before every run. That’s great because you can now have your heart rate measured throughout the day in order to build up a detailed profile.
Although really beneficial, the wrist-based heart rate monitoring does have it’s own peculiar faults, especially when you want to track your heart rate during interval sessions.
Comparing this wrist-based heart rate monitoring device to the traditional chest-strapped monitor, we can conclude that the wrist-based version reacts with a little lag when it comes to rapid rises and falls in heart rate. Nevertheless it does really well on steadier runs.
Coming to . the pricing, we find the Forerunner 35 is a little pricey, but worth it if you are eager to have a go with Garmin’s Elevate technology with a relatively modest sum without burning a hole in your pocket. In anycase you can’t go much wrong with this nice looking number offering decent smartwatch functions as well.
13. Garmin Forerunner 30
This is the long awaited replacement to the 35
- Monitors heart rate at the wrist all day and night, using Elevate...
- Built-in GPS tracks how far, how fast and where you run, walk or ride
- Includes VO2 max estimate, a measurable indication of your aerobic...
- Connected features include basic smart notifications for calls and...
- All-day activity tracking counts steps and calories and reminds you...
Screen size: 0.93 inches diameter | Touchscreen: No | Battery life (GPS): 8 hrs. | Battery life (watch mode): 5 days | Device storage: 7 activities | Bluetooth: Yes | Smartwatch: Yes | Multi-sport: Running / Cycling | heart-rate monitor built-in: Yes
- Under $100
- Smart notifications included
- Smaller display than other Garmins
- Low device memory
The new Garmin Forerunner 30 replaces the Forerunner 35 despite having an unusually lower model number.
The new Forerunner 30 model has very similar features to the 35 with the main addition of a cycling auto-detection function.
Although this Forerunner 30 delivers some solid features it might be better sticking to the Forerunner 35 especially if it is cheaper
Read our full Garmin Forerunner 30 review
14. Garmin Forerunner 25
Basic GPS watch with smart notifications
- Garmin Forerunner 25 GPS-Enabled Sport Watch
- Battery Life:
- 10 Weeks In Watch Mode
- 10 Hours In...
- Smart Notifications
- Activity Tracking
- Foot Pod Compatible & Time/Distance Alert
Screen size: Purple/Black & White/Pink: 0.73 inches x 0.73 inches; Blue/Black & Black/Red: 0.91 inches x 0.91 inches | Touchscreen: No | Battery life (GPS): Small – 8 hrs., Large – 10 hrs. | Battery life (standby): Small – 56 days, Large – 70 days | Device storage: 7 activities | Bluetooth: Yes | Smartwatch: Yes | Multi-sport: No | Heart-rate monitor built-in: No
- Simple easy to use
- Without running dynamics
- Without virtual partner
Being one of the most affordable Garmins out there the Forerunner 25 offers Bluetooth and smartwatch capabilities in addittion to the features of the Forerunner 15.
The Forerunner 25 has a bigger screen than the Forerunner 15 and still manages to be better looking and more streamlined than the Forerunner 15.
Yes the running functions are relatively basic compared to the rest of Garmin range, yet a decent set of metrics including distance, pace, heart rate, calories and activity tracking are available.
The main attraction of this watch however is the ability to instantly upload your data onto Garmin Connect using Bluetooth, which contemporary Garmin models require a USB connection to do so.
15. Garmin Forerunner 15
Avery simple and affordable GPS watch
- GPS Running Watch;
- Tracks Distance/Pace/Calories
- Heart Rate Monitor Optional
- Reminds You When It's Time to Move
- Rechargeable Lithium-Ion Battery; Save, Plan, Share Your Activities...
- Display Size : 0.98" x 0.94" (25 x 24 mm)
Screen size: Black/Green, Teal/White & Violet/White: 0.81 inches x 0.77 inches; Black/Blue & Red/Black: 0.98 inches x 0.94 inches | Touchscreen: No | Battery life (GPS): 8 hrs. | Battery life (standby): 35 days | Device storage: 7 activities | Bluetooth: No | Smartwatch: No | Multisport: No | Heart-rate monitor built-in: No
- Easy to use
- One of the cheapest GPS watches
- Simple screen
- Basic functions
This little wonder from Garmin is one of the cheapest heart rate tracking devices from Garmin. A great entry level on a tight budget into the world of Garmin, great for those who want to use a heart rate strap pulse check while having a good old jogging session.
The Garmin Forerunner 15 is not the most beautiful of watches in the Garmin range and might even appear to be a little flimsy but it is still very useful and great value for money.
Worth mentioning that as with other Garmin watches, the data from the Forerunner 15 can be sync with Garmin Connect, thereby opening up another level of analysis and sharing capabilities.
When also considering the heart rate monitoring and activity tracking, the Forerunner 15 is a great bargain for a slightly more advanced running watch, without breaking the bank.
Read our full Garmin Forerunner 15 review
Last update on 2019-04-23 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API / All Prices incl. tax, excl. shipping. FREE Shipping and other benefits with Amazon Prime subscription (Click Prime logo)