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Best Garmin Watches for Running Reviewed & Rated For Quality

last updated Jan 09, 2019

Most experts agree that a fitness tracker watch is almost indispensable for any runner looking to get serious about their fitness and progress. The standard Garmin activity watch can do everything from tracking your run, measuring your heart rate, measuring your pace, and giving you active feedback about your progress. When compared to smartphones, these watches are on average more accurate and easier to use. They are much smaller, more responsive, and more importantly, won’t interrupt you mid-run with a phone call. A Garmin watch is perfect for runners of all levels who need an overview of their progress and are looking for ways to keep improving!

In a Hurry? The test winner after 4 hrs of research

icon
Vivoactive HR
97.6/100 our score
Accuracy
98
Apps
100
Comfort
95
Versatility
95
Watch Face
100
Vivoactive HR
Why is it better?

Boasts a built-in wrist-based heart rate monitor that makes it easy to keep track of your heart rate throughout the day.

The Vivoactive is very moderately priced for a smartwatch and is one of the most cost-effective options currently available.

Comes pre-loaded with dozens of different apps that are tailored to a specific activity or exercise.

Connects and syncs easily with any smartphone and allows you to receive notifications on your watch, access apps, and music, export data, etc.

This product has a long-lasting battery life of up to 8 days depending on usage.

In a Hurry? Editors choice:
Vivoactive HR
Test Winner: Vivoactive HR
Researched Sources
5
Researched Sources
Reviews Considered
10
Reviews Considered
Hours Researching
4
Hours Researching
Products Evaluated
18
Products Evaluated
Sorting Options
Accuracy Apps Comfort Versatility Watch Face By Default
Rank
PictureProduct
Name
Rating
Shops
1
The rating is based on the average rating (1-100) from all the criteria in which we rated this product.
97.6
Accuracy
98%
Apps
100%
Comfort
95%
Versatility
95%
Watch Face
100%
Price Comparison Last Updated (18.01.19)
$229.99
2
The rating is based on the average rating (1-100) from all the criteria in which we rated this product.
94.6
Accuracy
96%
Apps
95%
Comfort
92%
Versatility
100%
Watch Face
90%
Price Comparison Last Updated (18.01.19)
$247.97
3
The rating is based on the average rating (1-100) from all the criteria in which we rated this product.
94
Accuracy
98%
Apps
90%
Comfort
95%
Versatility
92%
Watch Face
95%
Price Comparison Last Updated (18.01.19)
$449.00
4
The rating is based on the average rating (1-100) from all the criteria in which we rated this product.
93
Accuracy
90%
Apps
90%
Comfort
100%
Versatility
95%
Watch Face
90%
Price Comparison Last Updated (18.01.19)
$349.99
5
The rating is based on the average rating (1-100) from all the criteria in which we rated this product.
92
Accuracy
90%
Apps
95%
Comfort
90%
Versatility
95%
Watch Face
90%
Price Comparison Last Updated (18.01.19)
$449.99
6
The rating is based on the average rating (1-100) from all the criteria in which we rated this product.
92
Accuracy
95%
Apps
85%
Comfort
90%
Versatility
90%
Watch Face
100%
Price Comparison Last Updated (18.01.19)
$543.34
7
The rating is based on the average rating (1-100) from all the criteria in which we rated this product.
89
Accuracy
90%
Apps
85%
Comfort
90%
Versatility
85%
Watch Face
95%
Price Comparison Last Updated (18.01.19)
$249.99
8
The rating is based on the average rating (1-100) from all the criteria in which we rated this product.
88
Accuracy
94%
Comfort
85%
Versatility
85%
Watch Face
88%
Price Comparison Last Updated (18.01.19)
9
The rating is based on the average rating (1-100) from all the criteria in which we rated this product.
88
Accuracy
90%
Apps
85%
Comfort
89%
Versatility
86%
Watch Face
90%
Price Comparison Last Updated (18.01.19)
$219.95
10
The rating is based on the average rating (1-100) from all the criteria in which we rated this product.
84.4
Accuracy
89%
Apps
80%
Comfort
88%
Versatility
80%
Watch Face
85%
Price Comparison Last Updated (18.01.19)
$157.96
In Depth Review Top 10
  • Vivoactive HR
  • Vivoactive 3
  • Forerunner 935
  • Forerunner 735XT
  • Forerunner 645 Music
  • Fenix 5 Sapphire
  • Forerunner 235
  • Forerunner 630
  • Forerunner 230
  • Forerunner 35
Table of contents
  • Criteria Used for Evaluation
  • Other Factors to Consider
  • Frequently Asked Questions
  • Sources

10 Best Garmin Watches for Running

1. Vivoactive HR

The rating is based on the average rating (1-100) from all the criteria in which we rated this product.
97.6
Vivoactive HR
Accuracy
98
Apps
100
Comfort
95
Versatility
95
Watch Face
100
best offer for today
$229.99
Pros:

Boasts a built-in wrist-based heart rate monitor that makes it easy to keep track of your heart rate throughout the day.

The Vivoactive is very moderately priced for a smartwatch and is one of the most cost-effective options currently available.

Comes pre-loaded with dozens of different apps that are tailored to a specific activity or exercise.

Connects and syncs easily with any smartphone and allows you to receive notifications on your watch, access apps, and music, export data, etc.

This product has a long-lasting battery life of up to 8 days depending on usage.

Cons:

The altimeter can sometimes display incorrect results or not pick up on your movement.

While this product is technically a smartwatch, it still delivers the same reliable and accurate performance that you’d expect from a device that is dedicated to running and exercise. The Vivoactive HR boasts a high-resolution touchscreen display, built-in heart rate monitor that works 24/7, a long battery life, and easy connection to any smartphone. This is a powerhouse of fitness technology and is suited to a wide variety of athletes for versatile and efficient training.

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The Vivoactive HR boasts a variety of built-in apps dedicated to a specific sport or activity. This allows you to simply open up the app and start tracking your progress. Using the apps will allow you to get more accurate data specific to the sport or activity that you’re performing.

No more uncomfortable and unnecessary chest straps! The Vivoactive HR boasts a highly accurate and reliable wrist-based heart rate monitor that gently monitors you throughout the day. This way you get accurate stats about your resting and working heart rate to understand your health a lot better.

Despite the fact that the Vivoactive is technically a smartwatch, it still has a fairly moderate price compared to other smartwatches on the market. This product offers all the easy connectivity that you’d expect from a smartwatch but with the added benefit of highly accurate performance tracking, that is a definite must for the athlete looking for a multi-functional device.

2. Vivoactive 3

The rating is based on the average rating (1-100) from all the criteria in which we rated this product.
94.6
Vivoactive 3
Accuracy
96
Apps
95
Comfort
92
Versatility
100
Watch Face
90
best offer for today
$247.97
Pros:

The Vivoactive 3 allows you to link your bank card via Garmin Pay for easy contactless payments.

This device is compatible with the Garmin Connect IQ store where you can download thousands of apps.

Each device comes with 15 pre-loaded sports apps that allow you to accurately measure and track your performance.

This device has a long-lasting battery life of up to 2 weeks depending on usage.

The Vivoactive 3 is very reasonably priced compared to other smartwatches currently available.

Cons:

The battery life can be highly variable and can last for anything from 13 hours to 2 weeks.

The Vivoactive 3 combines accurate activity tracking with smartwatch intelligence. This device can be tailored to a wide variety of exercises and activities including running, yoga, strength training, swimming. It has various highly sensitive monitors for highly accurate and comprehensive data over your activities. Moreover, this device features all of the functionality that you’d expect from a smartwatch such as contactless payments, apps, and receiving notifications.

Read more

Each Vivoactive 3 device comes pre-loaded with 15 different indoors sports applications. This allows you to maximize your effort and get the most out of every workout. While exercising, your device will track comprehensive biomechanical stats to make you a better athlete day by day.

Never fumble around for your wallet again. With Garmin Pay, you can easily connect your bank card with the Vivoactive 3 that will allow you to simply tap your watch to pay. With this feature, you can keep your wallet safe from prying eyes and wear it safely on your wrist.

Compared to the majority of other smartwatches currently available on the market, the Vivoactive 3 is practically a steal. Considering its commitment to sports performance and GPS accuracy, this device is ideal for the athlete who wants more functionality from their activity trackers.

3. Forerunner 935

The rating is based on the average rating (1-100) from all the criteria in which we rated this product.
94
Forerunner 935
Accuracy
98
Apps
90
Comfort
95
Versatility
92
Watch Face
95
best offer for today
$449.00
Pros:

Training Status keeps a detailed record of your performance history and compares each workout to your previous runs.

Accurately tracks all biomechanical performance stats such as cadence, ground contact time, and stride.

You can use the device for a variety of activities including hiking, running, walking, cycling, swimming, and strength training.

Connects effortlessly to any iPhone, Android, or Windows smartphone that allows you to share your workout data.

Has a battery life of up to 2 weeks depending on usage.

Cons:

The Forerunner 935 is somewhat more expensive than most other activity trackers.

A well-loved favorite among runners and triathletes alike, the Forerunner 935 takes the mystery out of your training program. The Forerunner 935 measures every aspect of your training and performance and can be used for a variety of activities such as running, swimming, cycling and gym cardio training. While it offers the accuracy of an activity tracker, it includes the convenience of a smartwatch. You can easily connect to your smartphone to get notifications to your watch and to export all data to any health and fitness apps on your phone.

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Unlike most other watches, the Forerunner 935 can be tailored to a wide variety of exercises including running, swimming, cycling, etc. This watch provides detailed feedback on various aspects of your training including pace, stride length, ground contact, etc. to help you improve your form.

The Forerunner 935 is easily compatible with iPhone, Android, and Windows devices. With Garmin Connect you can receive notifications from your smartphone, listen to music, share your workouts and export all your training data to your smartphone for deeper analysis.

The Forerunner 935 is considered a mid to high-end product when it comes to running trackers. However, this device offers immense value for money with its highly accurate sports performance analysis, its multi-functional approach, smartphone compatibility, and durable construction.

4. Forerunner 735XT

The rating is based on the average rating (1-100) from all the criteria in which we rated this product.
93
Forerunner 735XT
Accuracy
90
Apps
90
Comfort
100
Versatility
95
Watch Face
90
best offer for today
$349.99
Pros:

The Forerunner 735XT is one of the most affordable multi-sport watches currently available.

This device can be used to track a wide variety of activities such as swimming, cycling, hiking, running, etc.

Features a highly lightweight and compact design with a soft silicone strap to ensure the wearer’s comfort.

The strap includes an accurate heart-rate monitor that allows you to measure your heart-rate 24/7 during workouts and rest.

This device connects effortlessly to any iPhone, Android, or Windows device to sync workout data to health and fitness apps.

Cons:

The backlight is not very strong and reading the display may be difficult in low-light situations.

The GPS signal can be lost frequently during open water swimming.

The Forerunner 735XT remains one of the top activity watches for triathletes out there thanks to its simple design and accurate performance measurement. This powerhouse device is suited to a variety of sports and includes a heart rate monitor in the wristband for an accurate performance analysis. The device itself features an ultra comfortable silicone strap with an old-school button display. This is ideal for the serious athlete with a no-nonsense approach to fitness.

Read more

The Forerunner 735XT is perhaps one of the most lightweight activity trackers out there. It fits effortlessly on any wrist and is small and lightweight enough to not interfere with your workouts. The silicone strap ensures a comfortable fit and includes a built-in heart rate monitor.

Ideal for triathletes or simply the sports enthusiast, the Forerunner 735XT comes pre-programmed with several modes suited for a variety of activities such as running, hiking, cycling, swimming, etc. Simply select your exercise and the 735XT will measure your performance accordingly.

With its mid-range price, the 735XT is perhaps one of the most affordable solutions to an accurate multi-sport tracker. Each device includes various sensitive tracking sensors for accurate performance analysis and you can connect it to your smartphone to export the data.

5. Forerunner 645 Music

The rating is based on the average rating (1-100) from all the criteria in which we rated this product.
92
Forerunner 645 Music
Accuracy
90
Apps
95
Comfort
90
Versatility
95
Watch Face
90
best offer for today
$449.99
Pros:

Allows you to download up to 500 songs for easy on-device storage and listening.

You can access various music streaming services and use in offline mode during your runs.

Compatible with Garmin Pay that allows you to conduct contactless card payments.

Measures complex biomechanical data during every run to give you a comprehensive overview of your performance.

Automatically compares your recent exercise with all previous exercise to constantly monitor your progress.

Cons:

This device is significantly more expensive than the majority of other activity trackers currently available.

Just like the name suggests, the Forerunner 645 Music is the ideal solution for the music lover. This device offers reliable performance tracking with the added feature of downloading up to 500 songs on to the device itself. In addition, you can access various music streaming services to listen to your favorite songs via Bluetooth earphones. This device also includes advanced biomechanical measuring during your runs.

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The Forerunner 645 Music allows you to keep all your favorite songs right on your wrist. You can download up to 500 songs to listen to via Bluetooth earphones. You can also access all your favorite music streaming services to listen to music offline.

This device provides you with a simple way of keeping on top of your performance and progress. The 645 Music provides a comprehensive overview of all your biomechanical statistics during your runs. This way you can easily track your progress as an athlete.

The Forerunner 645 Music is arguably more expensive than the average activity tracker. However, this device offers much more functionality than the average fitness tracker. It allows you to store music, access music streaming services, conduct contactless payments, keep a comprehensive overview of your performance, and so much more.

6. Fenix 5 Sapphire

The rating is based on the average rating (1-100) from all the criteria in which we rated this product.
92
Fenix 5 Sapphire
Accuracy
95
Apps
85
Comfort
90
Versatility
90
Watch Face
100
best offer for today
$543.34
Pros:

Contains various outdoors sensors such as a barometer, gyroscope, GPS, and GLONASS reception.

Features a rugged design of stainless steel and scratch resistant glass that is ideal for outdoor use.

Can connect easily to any smartphone device to export training data, sync devices, download apps, etc.

Comes with a built-in Elevate wrist heart-rate monitor for accurate monitoring throughout your day.

Has a crisp and bright LED display and backlight to make reading your stats easy and comfortable in rain or shine.

Cons:

This device is significantly more expensive than most other activity trackers currently available.

Start training smarter with the unique features of the Fenix 5 Sapphire. This multifunctional activity tracker combines accurate, reliable tracking with all the added convenience that you’d expect from any smartwatch. This product includes an Elevate wrist heart rate monitor, a rugged design for durability, and a user-friendly interface that allows you to access all your training stats with the touch of a button. This versatile device is ideal for any level of athlete of fitness fanatic that is looking to up the ante on their training routines.

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The crisp LED display with ultra-high resolution allows you to quickly read all your stats even while you’re on the go. The Sapphire version also includes crystal clear, scratch-resistant glass to make reading your stats effortless, regardless of the weather conditions.

The Fenix 5 Sapphire was made with adventure in mind. With its ultra-durable construction of stainless steel and scratch resistant glass, the Fenix 5 Sapphire is perfect to take with you wherever you go. Whether you like to get your kicks in the gym or in the great outdoors, the Fenix 5 Sapphire can take whatever life throws at it.

This product is perhaps one of the most expensive Garmin activity trackers and with good reason. Every single aspect of this watch simply shouts premium quality. From its highly rugged design to its sensitive outdoors sensors, and added smartwatch functions, this is a multi-functional watch that is well worth the investment.

7. Forerunner 235

The rating is based on the average rating (1-100) from all the criteria in which we rated this product.
89
 Forerunner 235
Accuracy
90
Apps
85
Comfort
90
Versatility
85
Watch Face
95
best offer for today
$249.99
Pros:

Has a bigger display with high-resolution that makes it easy to read stats and operate the device.

Includes a built-in heart rate monitor that makes it easy to get the most out of every workout.

Stores up to 200 hours of training time and tracks your progress by comparing your training sessions.

The battery can last for up to 2 weeks depending on usage and the mode that it is used in.

Is compatible with all smartphones and you can sync devices easily using Garmin Connect.

Cons:

It is impossible to view the stats of your current training session when you hit pause.

With its eye-catching design and high-resolution display, the Forerunner 235 will appeal to even the pickiest athletes. This activity tracker has a built-in wrist heart-rate monitor, a large screen display for easy reading, easy smartphone connectivity, and up to 12 weeks of battery life. It effortlessly trains you to be a better athlete with audio prompts that give you info about lap times and distance covered. This is the ideal solution for beginner to mid-level athletes who are looking for a more comprehensive overview of their training sessions.

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Wear your heart on your wrist with the Forerunner 235’s built-in heart rate monitor. This monitor tracks your heart rate 24/7 to give you a better insight into your overall health. There is no need for any other uncomfortable chest straps, simply put on your watch and go.

One of the Forerunner’s most impressive feats is its long-lasting battery. This device can last for up to 12 weeks depending on usage and which mode it is used it. Regular watch mode can last for up to 12 weeks, while training mode can last for up to 12 hours.

What makes the Forerunner 235 even more ideal is its price. This device enjoys a low to mid-level price that makes it a great choice for entry-level or intermediate athletes. Despite its low price, it still provides accurate biomechanical stats and stores up to 200 hours of training sessions for comparison.

8. Forerunner 630

The rating is based on the average rating (1-100) from all the criteria in which we rated this product.
88
Forerunner 630
Accuracy
94
Comfort
85
Versatility
85
Watch Face
88
best offer for today
Pros:

Has a bright touchscreen display with a high-resolution that is easy to read.

Is capable of measuring advanced running dynamics such as stride, cadence, ground contact, etc.

Automatically tracks your progress and keeps records of previous runs to compare your performance.

You can easily customize your goals and workouts by using Garmin Connect for a fully personal running experience.

This device can be paired with any smartphone that allows you to receive smart notifications, access music, etc.

Cons:

This product is only suited for walking, jogging, or running and cannot be used for other activities or exercises.

Expect accurate data in real-time from all your training sessions with the Forerunner 630. This device has been designed to be simple yet powerful with its touchscreen display, advanced built-in sensors, and smartphone connectivity. The Forerunner 630 is dedicated to second-generation running metric and accurately measures all your advanced running data such as stride, cadence, ground contact, vertical ratio, etc.

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Take your runs up a notch with the Forerunner 630. This device accurately tracks and records advanced second generation running dynamics to help you get the most out of your runs and become a better athlete.

The 630 is capable of automatically interpreting your data to help you track your progress in a way that is easy to understand. It creates charts based on your performance to give an overview of your progress so you can easily identify where there is room for improvement.

What makes the Forerunner 630 particularly attractive is its mid-range price. This watch has enough advanced high-end sensors and accurate data tracking to appease the advanced athletes, while its moderate price and user-friendly interface makes it approachable enough for beginner and intermediate runners.

9. Forerunner 230

The rating is based on the average rating (1-100) from all the criteria in which we rated this product.
88
Forerunner 230
Accuracy
90
Apps
85
Comfort
89
Versatility
86
Watch Face
90
best offer for today
$219.95
Pros:

Doubles as an activity tracker throughout the day and tracks your steps, calories, and send reminders to get you up and moving.

This product has a larger screen display than previous models for quick and easy reading during exercise.

You can easily sync this device to your smartphone to receive all incoming notifications directly on your watch.

The long-lasting battery is capable of lasting for up to 5 weeks depending on usage.

The built-in accelerometer is capable of accurately measuring both indoor and outdoor running.

Cons:

This unit does not have a built-in heart rate monitor and this should be purchased separately.

With its simplistic design and powerful tracking capabilities, the Forerunner 230 is almost as dedicated to your health and fitness as you are. This device is capable of tracking everything related to your fitness including steps taken during the day, calories, and even sends you reminders to get up and move if you’ve been sedentary too long. This is the perfect companion for anyone at any fitness levels who are looking to improve their overall condition.

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The Forerunner is so much more than a GPS watch. With its simple, unobtrusive design and multi-functionality, this is a watch you can take beyond your daily runs. It tracks your exercise and all other activities during the day, calories burned and sends you reminders to move.

The battery life is perhaps one of the biggest upgrades that the 230 received in comparison to older models. While battery life varies widely based on how you use it, the Forerunner 230 can last up to 5 weeks when used in watch mode.

This product enjoys a mid-range price compared to other similar devices currently available. The Forerunner 230 offers tremendous value for money with its larger screen display, accurate tracking of all your stats, 27/7 activity tracking, and long-lasting battery life. This is a great choice for both entry-level and intermediate runners.

10. Forerunner 35

The rating is based on the average rating (1-100) from all the criteria in which we rated this product.
84.4
Forerunner 35
Accuracy
89
Apps
80
Comfort
88
Versatility
80
Watch Face
85
best offer for today
$157.96
Pros:

A built-in Elevate heart rate monitor makes it easy to track your heart rate 24/7.

This device is one of the most budget-friendly products currently available.

The built-in GPS picks up satellites quickly and accurately tracks your running distance, route, and pace.

You can receive vibration alerts to notify you about fitness milestones and other info relevant to your run.

Easily sync this device to your smartphone to export data, access music, receive smart notifications, and much more.

Cons:

This device can only be used for running, walking, or jogging and cannot be tailored to other exercises or activities.

The Forerunner 35 holds a special place in the annals of running technology since it was one of the very first running watches and still is one of the best budget buys for runners of all levels. This product features a built-in heart rate monitor, GPS, and can even connect to your smartphone. This watch is capable of accurately measuring and tracking all your standard running metrics and exporting it to your favorite health and fitness apps. This is a great way to get the beginner level athlete more motivated about their daily runs!

Read more

The Forerunner 35’s highly accurate built-in GPS takes the guessing work out of your daily runs. It connects quickly and easily to measure everything from your running distance, running speed, and your route.

This device features an Elevate heart rate monitor built into the wrist strap itself. This allows for much more accurate and convenient measurements 24/7. You can measure your heart rate while you’re resting and on-the-go to help you improve your overall health.

The low price of this great device makes it ideal for all entry-level runners. While it may not offer the extensive biomechanical measurements of more high-end devices, the Forerunner still offers plenty of bang for your buck with its highly accurate built-in sensors and great overall performance.

Criteria Used for Evaluation

Accuracy

Any seasoned runner knows that accurate data is vital when it comes to improving your performance. Any statistic that is just a little bit off could possibly throw off your progress, this s why the accuracy of your device is of such vital importance.

The accuracy of your device will more or less rely on its GPS capability. Most GPS watches or activity trackers rely on the Global Positioning System (GPS) to figure out where you are and where you’re running to. In turn, this data is also used to determine other factors such as your running speed, pace, and distance.

However, not all devices were created equally and there can be a vast discrepancy in accuracy that varies from devices but even from the kind of activity that you’re doing. The strength of your GPS signal can also be determined by external factors like the occasional obstacle that temporarily gets between you and the GPS signal.

It’s these external factors that usually cause a lag in connecting to the GPS satellite or could cause your connection to break off mid-run. However, a device with a less than perfect GPS capability could potentially give you inaccurate results.

So how do you make sure to get the most accurate device for your budget? Firstly, you should make sure that the device you’re buying is absolutely tailored to your preferred exercise. If you prefer running on a treadmill, opt for a device that can accurately pick up indoor running. If you love open water swimming, you should cherry pick devices whose signals don’t get crossed while its underwater.

By selecting a device that’s most suited to your preferred activity you will always get the most accurate results.

Apps

Ever since the dawn of the smartphone, most people have started to use an ever-increasing amount of apps to help manage their lives. Most tech devices quickly incorporated this app culture and this is no different when it comes to activity trackers.

Whether your not you need access to a wide variety of apps will largely depend on your needs as a runner or athlete. You still get basic GPS watches that simply allows you to track your run and a few basic stats associated with it.

However, the growing trend is to allow the user to access a wide array of health and fitness apps using their watch and to share training data between these devices. Most mid-range devices allow you access to a fairly varied number of health and fitness apps using Garmin’s Garmin Connect and Connect IQ store.

However, the advanced devices really up the ante when it comes to apps. Most devices in this level area come pre-loaded with dozens of apps, each suited to a different exercise or activity for optimal tracking.

At the end of the day, your app preference will largely depend on you. The triathlete or sports enthusiast will likely be drawn to devices that have pre-loaded apps and access to other existing health and fitness apps, while the beginner might simply want to go outside and run, without giving it too much thought.

Comfort

When you’re at that last stretch of your training the last thing you want is an ill-fitting watch that distracts you and causes you discomfort. More importantly, when your device has a built-in heart rate monitor, it is vital that your watch strap fits correctly to ensure accurate monitoring.

The ideal watch should be lightweight, have an unobtrusive watch face, fit comfortably around the wrist, and be constructed of a soft yet durable material that won’t annoy your wrist.

A lightweight watch is essential to ensure that it does not impede your performance or interfere with your daily life in any way. This same goes for the watch face design. Take care to stay away from products with overly big watch faces, or any significantly protruding buttons as this can easily get caught on clothing during workouts.

Most devices are available in a wide variety of wrist strap sizes and the product description will generally give the exact dimensions of the various sizes. If you know that you have a larger or smaller wrist than the average individual, it is well worth considering to opt for a smaller or larger size to ensure a snug fit.

Lastly, the material should soft enough to not annoy your skin, while being durable enough to withstand the weather. Materials like silicone are ideal since they are not compromised by excess sweat and fit well around the wearer’s wrist.

Versatility

As a runner, you may not necessarily require versatility from your device, however, for the sports enthusiast this could a valuable added extra.

Versatility refers to two all the activities that your device is capable of tracking as well as other general functions that it could offer.

Versatility would be an essential criterion for triathletes and individuals who partake in multiple sporting activities. These individuals should consider what other activities their device is capable of measuring and with what degree of accuracy.

Generally speaking mid to high-end devices offers a lot more choice in this regard. The user can easily navigate through a variety of pre-loaded apps that are specifically tailored to a certain sport of activity. This app is automatically configured with all the stats that should be measured while performing this activity.

However, there is another aspect of versatility and that is simply all the other functions that your device is capable of performing beyond the sporting field or gym. Thanks to technology, most activity trackers act more like smartwatches and allow you to do everything from receive notifications to conducting contactless payments.

The choice of versatility, however, should ultimately be decided upon by the user as while some might find this added functionality useful, others may feel that it hinders their performance.

Watch Face

The face of the watch itself is of major importance for two reasons: Firstly, the physical construction of the watch face itself and secondly, the display of the watch.

The physical construction can be a major deciding factor in your love or hate in a watch, especially when it comes to a watch that has been designed to be used for exercising. Ideally, the watch face should lightweight and compact so that it won’t annoy you or interfere with your workout or daily life in any way.

Then there is the display. Ideally, the display should be easy to read in a variety of weather and light conditions. Opt for a bright, high-resolution display with a font size that is comfortable to read during exercise. Other added extras to look for is scratch resistant glass, a strong backlight, and a watch face that is weather-resistant.

Expert Interviews & Opinions

Most Important Criteria (According to our experts opinion)
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Do you need all of the extras?

GPS watches come preset for different uses such as running, cycling, swimming, hiking, or multisport function. If you need all of the extras, really need them, then go for it. If you ponder it for a moment, realizing that there are functions you might never use, the same brand has several models, some with the right functions you will need, and it might save you a little money.

Location, Location, Location!

Today we expect technology to simply work when we want it to. Well, there are some limitations, and some locations could be the limitation for GPS watches.

You could have a watch that you use mostly for running, and when you decide to go hiking under a thick canopy of forest, you could find that the signal isn't so great anymore. If you think you will be using the watch for different situations, consider an option that operates with both GPS and GLONASS. It could save you from a headache.

Other Factors to Consider

Advanced Features

With all of the technological advancements in the past few years, it's only logical that smartwatches follow the trend. Many of the Garmin watches offer much more than just the basic running metrics like pace, speed, and distance. Some of the watches may provide users with other information such as an altimeter to gauge how far you've climbed on hill runs or your heart rate so you can track how hard you're working and how your resting heart rate changes over time.

Band

The material that the band is made out of can make or break your running experience. Some bands don't agree with sensitive skin types and some just don't look as nice. Silicone is a comfortable band option but some folks might like the feeling of a woven band or prefer a magnetic option instead. Because the market is saturated with a ton of third-party market band options, even if you purchase a watch and you're not entirely sold on the band that came with it, you can rest assured knowing you will most likely be able to buy a replacement band on websites like Amazon.

Frequently Asked Questions

q: Does my device come with a heart rate monitor?
a:

The vast majority of new devices comes with a heart rate monitor of some kind. Some devices, such as the Forerunner 935 operate with a heart rate monitor strap that you wear around your chest. Most devices, however, come standard with a built-in heart rate monitor in the strap of the watch itself.

If your device is not equipped with a heart rate monitor, the product description will clearly state this information and advise you which additional heart rate monitors will work best with your chosen product.

q: Can I listen to music from my watch?
a:

For the most part, yes you can! Most devices allow you to connect to your smartphone and to access music in this way. You can connect to your smartphone’s music via your device and listen to it using wireless Bluetooth earphones.

The Forerunner 645 Music has the added benefit of allowing you to download and store up to 500 songs on the device itself which is great for offline listening. You can also access various music streaming services via the Forerunner 645 Music.

q: Is this device compatible with my smartphone?
a:

Garmin devices have been designed to be compatible with any iPhone, Android, or Windows device. Setting up your devices and syncing them is an easy process and necessary if you’d like to export your data to other health and fitness apps.

Some smartwatch models, such as the Vivoactive HR will require that you at least iOS 10 or Android 4.4, but this information will be clearly stated in the product description or user’s manual.

q: What do I receive with my purchase?
a:

Most Garmin products will come standard with the watch itself, including the strap, a charger, user’s manual, and chest strap (if applicable).

However, this could vary depending on your chosen product and your retailer or seller. Some box sets can include added accessories such as bike mounts. For the most accurate information, you should consult the product description or contact the seller if you’re unsure about the exact contents of your purchase.

q: Is this device waterproof?
a:

While most devices have definitely been designed to be rugged and durable, this answer will vary greatly depending on your chosen product.

Typically multi-sport or smartwatches are more likely to be waterproof up to a greater distance than traditional GPS watches. In addition, multi-sport watches are more accurate while used in water than their traditional counterparts.

For accurate information that is specific to your chosen device, simply consult the product description or user’s manual. If you’re still unsure whether you can use your device in water, you can contact the seller or manufacturer for detailed information.

q: How long does it take for the GPS satellites to connect to my device?
a:

It’s impossible to give any definite answer to this as the connection time can vary greatly depending on your personal circumstances.

Factors such as your physical location and your device itself will greatly contribute to how long it takes before your device picks up the GPS satellites. More high-end devices may take no more than 5 minutes to connect, while entry-level devices could take up to 15 seconds depending on your location.

q: How do I recharge the device?
a:

Each device comes with a USB cable for recharging it. You can simply plug the cable into any USB port such as charging dock, laptop, power bank, etc. This will fully recharge your device and allow you to continue using it.

q: How long does the battery last?
a:

The battery life is very dependent on how you use the device and of course the device itself. Some watches can last for up to 5 weeks if you simply use it in watch mode. However, once you turn on the GPS and use other tracking functions, this can drain the device significantly to last only up to 12 hours.

Your chosen device’s product description or users manual will be able to give you more accurate estimates of the product’s expected battery life.

q: Is the device protected by a warranty?
a:

Most Garmin devices have a standard warranty of 12 months. However, this could vary depending on the retailer that you buy it from.

Before purchasing your chosen product, you should check the product description to make sure what the warranty terms and conditions are.

If you experience any issues with your device after your warranty has expired, you should still contact the manufacturer as they can usually help you to fix the problem or refer you to a qualified technician in your area that can help.

q: How do I download apps to my device?
a:

If your device can connect to a smartphone and can be used to access Connect IQ and Garmin Connect then you can download a wide variety of apps dedicated to health and fitness.

Simply use your smartphone or laptop to download the app, and sync your devices using Garmin Connect. This will allow you to access your selected apps via the device itself.

q: Can this device track my sleeping patterns?
a:

This would depend on your selected device. However, most mid to high-end products are capable of tracking your sleep and resting periods. It will be able to track with relative accuracy light sleep, deep sleep, or just resting periods.

Simply make sure that your device has enough battery power before nodding off and it will start tracking.

q: Can I respond to texts or calls on the device itself?
a:

Devices that can connect to smartphones will allow you to receive all notifications on the device itself. This includes notifications of calls, texts, emails, and in some cases social media notifications.

However, it does not allow you to respond to texts or calls on the device itself. You can answer a call using the device, but you’ll have to take the call on your actual smartphone. Similarly, you will be able to see text and email notifications, but you will only be able to respond to them on the smartphone itself.

You can also opt to switch off notifications if you find it annoying to receive these during your workouts.

q: What kind of exercises can I track using my device?
a:

As a general rule of thumb, any device will be able to effectively track any walking, jogging, or running exercises.

However, more sophisticated devices will allow you to use it to track your daily activities as well as a variety of sports or exercises such as indoor cardio, weight training, swimming, hiking, cycling, golfing, rowing and many more.

To find the best product to suit your needs, you should try to find one that will accommodate and accurately track the kinds of activities that you do the most.