Best Garmin watch for runners and fitness trackers

Fitbit might be king of the fitness trackers, but Garmin is untouchable when it comes to fitness watches. Whether you’re looking for a running watch, a golf watch, a fitness tracker, or a watch that can do it all, Garmin has something for you.

Related: Fitbit vs Garmin: Which ecosystem is right for you?

In fact, Garmin has so many options it can be hard to keep track of them all. Allow us to help! Here are the best Garmin watches you can buy in 2018.

Best Garmin watch for runners

Garmin Forerunner 935

best garmin watches

The Garmin Forerunner 935 is one of the best Garmin watches for hardcore runners, swimmers, bikers, and triathletes. It provides advanced dynamics to help you improve your runs, such as contact time balance, stride length, and more.

It also comes with a two-week battery life in smartwatch mode, up to a full day in GPS mode, and up to 60 hours in UltraTrac mode. UltraTrac mode is a GPS setting that makes the watch track sensor data less frequently, allowing you to squeeze out some extra battery life if you don’t need all of your data recorded.

It’s basically a less-bulky version of the fenix 5.

Garmin Forerunner 735XT

best garmin watches

If you’re looking for something a little less pricey, the Forerunner 735XT is one of the best Garmin watches you can buy. This GPS running watch offers VO2 max estimates, lactate threshold, and support for many different sport profiles. Whether you’re running, cycling, swimming, cross-country skiing, or strength training, the 735XT will be able to track your workouts.

In addition, the auto multisport feature on the 735XT will be able to keep track of your different activities during du/triathlon races.

This watch has been out for a couple years now, which means the price has dropped quite a bit since launch. You can find it on or Amazon for around $350.

Budget pick: Garmin Forerunner 235

best garmin watches

Okay, the term “budget” means something a little different in everybody’s minds. The Forerunner 235 is about $100 cheaper than the 735XT, and it’s still a solid running watch.

It has a built-in GPS, heart rate sensor, and will track your steps, distance, pace, calories, and more. Like all other Garmin watches, the 235 will provide smartphone notifications from just about any app, too.

You can find it on Amazon for just $250.

Best multi-sport Garmin watch

Garmin fenix 5

best garmin watches

Garmin’s fenix 5 lineup might be jack-of-all-trade devices, but they’re some of the best multi-sport watches you can buy today.

All three fenix 5 models come with preloaded multisport functionality for running, hiking, swimming, biking, and more. They all feature Garmin’s impressive Elevate heart rate trackers, built-in GPS (of course), water resistance up to 100 meters, as well as navigation features with a 3-axis compass, gyroscope, and barometric altimeter.

Don’t miss: Garmin fenix 5 review Best heart rate monitors and watches

They all also feature a variety of connected features that make these devices true smartwatches. Users can get call, text and email smartphone notifications. All Sapphire models are also Wi-Fi enabled, so users will be able to connect with their home network and upload statistics even if their smartphones aren’t around.

Not crazy about the regular fenix 5? The smaller fenix 5S might be for you. It has all the same specs as the fenix 5, though it’s built for people with smaller wrists and has a slightly smaller battery. Looking for something even more beefy than the fenix 5? The fenix 5X is much larger and comes with preloaded with TOPO U.S. mapping, routable cycling maps and other navigation features like Round Trip Run and Round Trip Ride. The 5X will even display guidance cues for upcoming turns.

Best Garmin smartwatch

Garmin vivoactive 3

Garmin’s vívoactive 3 is not only a huge step up from its predecessor, it’s also a great all-around smartwatch.

It has a bright, colorful touchscreen display that’s easy to read outdoors. It’ll also give you all the smartphone notifications you could ask for, plus music control and weather information right on your wrist.

Further reading: Garmin vivoactive 3 review | Best smartwatches

There are a total of 15 activity tracking profiles built in, so most athletes will be covered here. It also has a super accurate GPS and heart rate monitor, a battery that will last around five days on a single charge, and stress tracking.

Garmin Forerunner 645 Music

best garmin watches

One of the best Garmin smartwatches out there is the Garmin Forerunner 645 Music. Although it has a clunky name, there’s nothing clunky about this watch — it’s packed with features, comfortable to wear, and is actually Garmin’s first wearable that supports onboard music storage.

The big news here is the ability to story music directly on the watch, which means you don’t need to take your phone with you on a run if you want to listen to music. Garmin says the watch can hold approximately 500 songs at one time, and you can also download offline playlists from select music services like iHeart Radio. Once your watch is loaded up with music, just pair it with some Bluetooth earbuds and you’ll be on your way.

This is also a great option if you need a training watch. The Forerunner 645 Music comes with training features powered by Firstbeat, which will help you better prepare for a race by letting you know if you’re training productively, peaking, or overreaching.

Best Garmin fitness tracker

Garmin vivosport

best garmin watches


The best fitness tracker on the market is the Garmin vivosport.

This new device packs a GPS and a heart rate monitor, which is pretty incredible considering its slim and lightweight design. It’s also waterproof up to 50 meters, will last up to seven days on a single charge, and comes with a Chroma touchscreen display that’s miles better than the display on the vivosmart 3. The display is a little small for my liking, however.

The vívosport is available now for around $149.99. That’s an absolute steal for the best fitness tracker on the market right now.

Garmin vivosmart HR Plus

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The Garmin vivosmart HR Plus is a bit older, but it’s still a powerful little device. 

It’s super comfortable to wear all day, and has a touchscreen display on the front. While it’s not a color screen, it is larger than the vivosport’s screen, making it easier to navigate around to different menus.

More: Fitbit Charge 2 vs Garmin vivosmart HR Plus

Like the vivosport, this device also has a built-in GPS and optical heart rate sensor. It’s waterproof up to 50 meters and supports smartphone notifications, too. The best part? It can be yours for under $100 right now, which is a steal for a fitness tracker with a built-in GPS.

Garmin vivofit 4

best garmin watches

Garmin’s vívofit 3 was one of our favorite inexpensive fitness trackers of 2017. Is the vívofit 4 a worthy successor? That depends.

Related: Garmin vívofit 4 review | Best fitness trackers for kids

In many ways, the vívofit 4 is an improvement over its predecessor. It’s more comfortable, has a new color display, and plenty of useful extras. But the lack of heart rate monitor connectivity is unfortunate, and we hope it returns with the next model.

Throughout our two weeks of testing, the vívofit 4 was so close to delivering accurate results but ultimately fell short more often than we’d like. To its credit, it does offer users a general idea of their performance levels, which is why most people will buy the vívofit 4. It’s an inexpensive fitness tracker that you basically never have to take off, and it keeps track of the basics. If you need a device you basically never have to take off, the vívofit 4 is for you. If you own a vívofit 3, it might not be worth it to upgrade.

Best looking Garmin watch

Garmin vivomove HR

best garmin watches

The Garmin vivomove is probably the best Garmin watch for style.

The vivomove HR is a touchscreen device, complete with a small digital display that only appears when you turn your wrist. It supports vibration alerts for most notifications you receive on your phone, and it gives you the ability to control music that’s playing on your phone.

Related: Garmin vivomove HR hands-on | Best hybrid watches

It’s swim and shower safe, lasts up to five days on a single charge in smartwatch mode, and tracks your steps, intensity minutes, sleep, heart rate, and more.

Next: Best Fitbit alternatives: Garmin, Misfit, Samsung, and more

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