Garmin is known as one of the best brands when it comes to GPS watches/devices. Garmin watches are the most popular choice for runners of all levels. With advanced features like running metrics, built-in GPS, and customizable screens you can track everything about your run without leaving your wrist. Whether you’re just getting started or are looking to up your game, these watches have the right tools to push you.
These watches come in a variety of designs and styles, which makes them appealing to a wide range of consumers.
Some of the most popular features of these timepieces are:
- Most Garmin Watches Will Display Distance In Miles Or Kilometers
Though most Garmin watches will allow you to customize the display of your distance in miles or kilometers, some watch models will have a preset option for metric distances. When deciding which unit is the best GPS running watch for you, it’s important to consider whether you run exclusively in one country’s system or if both systems are preferable.
- Heart Rate Monitor
For most runners that feel comfortable with using heart rate zones when training, this feature is a must-have for any fitness tracking software. While it can be beneficial to keep track of overall calorie burn, monitor sleep patterns and stress levels, and measure general daily activity, heart rate zones make sure your hard work pays off by maintaining optimal workout intensity within different ranges of heart rate.
- Best GPS Tracking On Your Wrist
When you’re first starting out on the road, it’s important to understand the capabilities of the GPS on your watch. Distance isn’t always measured by pace or watts but is calculated by “breadcrumbing” points along the route.
This allows your watch to gather your route data while you’re out and about. For this reason, we recommend mapping out the routes you plan to take before going for a run so that you’re aware of any potential discrepancies in distance calculation at each point along your route.
- Great Music Storage
For those of us who can’t stand to be without our workout playlists, some Garmin watches come with built-in storage for music. This is a great feature that allows you to carry your tunes without a bulky armband or pocketed phone case.
- Built-In Barometer
While not a must-have feature, the barometer on Garmin watches displays temperature and air pressure readings as well as elevation data which can come in handy when training for certain race lengths such as marathons and half marathons.
The barometric altimeter uses these atmospheric measurements to determine current altitude and altitude trends by tracking total ascent and descent within one session of activity so you don’t have to calibrate the watch manually after every use.
- Temperature Monitor
This is another feature that isn’t essential to your fitness, but it could come in handy if you live in a particularly cold or hot climate. The temperature monitor on some Garmin watches can gauge how warm or cool it is outside so you can ensure you have appropriate workout gear prepared before setting out for the day.
- Training Status Calculator
For those of us who like to use training schedules and workouts, this built-in calculator tracks your weekly mileage compared to thresholds set by coaches or training plans. It’s a great way to keep yourself on track and adjust accordingly if you feel that you might be overtraining or need some rest days.
- Women’s Health Tracking
This is a rather unique Garmin watch feature that keeps track of your menstrual cycle and associated physiological data. It’s helpful for women who may be pregnant or trying to get pregnant but can also come in handy for avid runners who are interested in tracking their overall fitness levels.
- Extended Battery Life
While all of these watches have a rechargeable battery, many come with extended battery life options. For those marathon days where you don’t want to miss a minute of your favorite podcast or a long trail run that requires a full day trip, the extended battery life could be a lifesaver for those who would prefer not to bring along extra chargers on their journeys.
While these are just a few of the best features of newer Garmin watches, don’t let this list limit your research into which option is suitable for you. There are other great specs that might not be included in this list but could be perfect additions to your training plan…
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12 Best Garmin Watches For Runners
When it comes time to make a decision on which Garmin running watch is right for you, consider battery life, screen size, water resistance, customization options, wristband material, and additional features like music storage.
By considering these factors before making a purchase, there’s no doubt that you will be able to find the most suitable GPS running watch available today. We’ll add a few of our selections down below to make your process easier.
1) Garmin Forerunner 745 GPS Running Watch with HRM
This watch is the runner’s ultimate accessory. From design to function, Garmin hit it out of the park with this one. The Forerunner 745 has a nice sleek look and feel but stays light on your wrist. It features an easy-to-read screen and is packed with plenty of running features.
Along with all those features it also has music storage capabilities, as well as swim and cycling options if that’s what you prefer.
There are a few colors to choose from black, red, frost blue, or white. This GPS running watch comes equipped with a rubberized strap for comfortability and quick fastening capabilities.
Battery life lasts up to five weeks in watch mode or 14 hours when paired with the heart rate monitor. This watch is great for any kind of run including marathon training, intervals, and even sprints.
Depending on the weather conditions you’re running in, this GPS watch comes with both built-in GPS and GLONASS to help pinpoint your location whenever needed.
The Forerunner 745 requires no charging because it operates off a rechargeable battery. Some users say they don’t like the lack of ability to customize their own workouts or see swimming data, though those things can be changed by downloading different apps from the Connect IQ store.
2) Garmin Forerunner 245 GPS Running Watch with HRM
The Forerunner 245 is worth considering because it features a sleek design, easy to read screen, and plenty of running capabilities. It has the ability to track your pace, distance, heart rate (when paired with the necessary monitor), cadence (steps per minute – for runners only), ground contact time (in other words how much time you spend on your feet compared to airborne during each step) and vertical oscillation (vertical bounce).
The watch screen allows for customization options like different data screens that can all be displayed at once or turned off if preferred. If music isn’t your thing then this watch also allows you to listen via phone Bluetooth.
The Forerunner 245 has a rechargeable battery that can last up to a week before it needs a charge, but the larger screen and additional features may lead to faster power consumption.
It comes with an optical heart rate monitor for added accuracy. The watch band is made of rubber but is wide enough to be comfortable and fasten quickly. Plus, it is water-resistant.
3) Garmin Forerunner 945
The Forerunner 945 is a lightweight watch with a 35-hour battery (using GPS, but not music). It is a GPS sports watch with music capabilities, capable of tracking runs, bike rides, swimming (pool and open water), and multisport functionality to create one file for brick workouts and triathlons.
The upgraded Galileo sensor improves GPS tracking and precision. Street names appear on the full-color screen, which is fully detailed with real city locations that match their online counterparts. And you also get alerts for texts, calls, social media updates, and more from your compatible phone.
It’s easy to use and the latest addition to the Forerunner family, this watch is a must-have GPS multisport watch for runners and triathletes.
4) Garmin Fenix 6
The Fenix 6 Runners Watch is the epitome of what you can expect from a GPS running watch. It is sleek and streamlined, with no unnecessary bells and whistles that may affect your performance during an activity.
What we like: The Garmin Fenix 6 features a color display that provides tireless battery life and works well in all lighting conditions (indoor or outdoor), and it’s waterproof down to 165 feet (50 meters).
Whether you’re training indoors or out, using map navigation, or tracking GPS mileage through preloaded satellite data, this model has the capabilities you need for ultimate accuracy. More than 100 performance metrics are available on this model–perfect for runners looking for advanced analytics relevant to their specific sport.
It has an easy-to-use interface that allows you to quickly swipe through features while working out. Its SpO2 sensor also helps monitor vitals around the clock when paired with a compatible pulse oximeter. This model is equipped with both GPS and GLONASS satellite connectivity–this means it will work in more challenging environments where the signal may be obstructed.
This watch collects vast amounts of data, making it a great choice for those who are striving to achieve maximum performance.
5) Garmin Vivoactive 4 & 4s (GPS, Heart Rate)
Both of these Garmin watches have a few stand-out features that make them great choices for a runner. The primary reason that the Vivoactive 4 & 4s is our best recommendation for runners is its overall value at a relatively affordable price.
The model has a wrist heart rate technology, basic activity tracking (steps, sleep, etc), smartwatch-like functionality with customizable watch faces and apps, smartphone notifications, and excellent GPS reception.
The Vivoactive 4’s biggest advantage over other watches is its battery life which lasts up to seven days in smartwatch mode and 10 hours in GPS tracking mode. This makes it a great choice for runners looking for a device that they can keep on their wrist throughout the week without having to recharge every night.
The Vivoactive 4S is almost exactly like the Vivoactive 4 but with one significant difference: it has a smaller screen size – 42mm rather than 44mm. The smaller display allows this model to have an even better battery life of up to 14 days in smartwatch mode and five hours of GPS tracking.
This makes it ideal for runners with thinner wrists who want something easier to wear on a daily basis which will last nearly two weeks without having to be charged.
6) Garmin Instinct Solar Watch
The Garmin Instinct Solar Watch is the company’s newest entry into the solar-charging survival watch category.
This watch has all of the features that a hiker or trail runner would want, including GPS tracking for route mapping and altitude measurements, multiple time zones, sunrise/sunset times for your current location, weather forecasting with an included barometer and altimeter, activity tracking (steps taken, calories burned), date and day display, count down timer feature for timing yourself on workouts or races, 50m water resistance rating (enough to take it out in light rain but not swimming), smartwatch notifications from your phone about incoming calls or text messages, vibrations when you receive them so you can know what someone said without having to stop moving, and a sunset/sunrise alarm that changes color on your watch face as the days get shorter or longer.
The solar charging feature of this watch is pretty unique compared to other devices on the market right now. The battery life is quite amazing at roughly a year before you’ll have to charge it again – assuming you wear it outside for an hour a day with good sun exposure. This is ideal for those who spend a lot of time camping or hiking in more remote locations where electrical outlets aren’t readily available anyway.
One thing we don’t love about the Instinct Solar Watch is its large size and weight but heavier watches help runners gauge their location more easily on trails since they’re less likely to be blown off the ground and into a boulder.
An attractive feature of this watch is its affordability: it’s one of the more affordable solar watches on the market, with some models going for even less than that during limited-time promotions. This price point makes it an excellent choice for folks who want to try out a solar watch without having to invest too much money in case they don’t like it.
7) Garmin Forerunner 245
In terms of price, size, and overall quality, the Garmin Forerunner 245 is easily our best choice. This modernized version of the popular Forerunner 235 features a sleek and stylish design with many features and customization options that contribute to making this product a great choice for runners.
The device also includes an improved battery life that lasts up to 24 hours in extended mode (up from 11 on the previous model). Additionally, all models come with wrist heart rate technology and compatibility with Bluetooth headphones.
Our personal favorite feature of the watch is its ability to connect with Firstbeat Training Load Pro software. With Garmin’s proprietary algorithm working in conjunction with Firstbeat’s algorithms, you can receive much better information regarding your running performance by utilizing both pieces of software.
It can also track swimming which is definitely a plus making it waterproof. But it’s not suitable for triathletes since it cant track multisports.
In terms of downsides, the Forerunner 245 comes in two options, music and non-music storage. The music added watch costs you more than the non-music option.
8) Garmin Forerunner 55
The Forerunner 55 was Garmin’s first GPS watch that features a wrist-based heart rate. The device keeps things simple with just 11 functions. As a result, it’s the easiest to use of the watches on this list, which makes it perfect for new runners or those who don’t want to spend too much time fiddling around with settings before putting it into action.
Another thing that some people will love about this product is its affordability. While there are less expensive devices on the market, none offer such a great combination of features and ease of use.
If you’re looking for something that’s sleek and stylish but also super affordable then the Forerunner 55 should definitely be one of your top options when shopping around for running gear.
The screen is a basic, easy-to-read LCD interface. The downside with this watch is the fact that you cant connect it to your phone, so if you want notifications or music then it’s not for you.
9) Garmin Vivoactive 3 Music
A smartwatch that doubles as a running watch? The Garmin Vivoactive 3 Music is their fitness band, which also has a music player.
It looks like a standard smartwatch but has many other great features such as GPS tracking and numerous connectivity options like Wi-Fi and Bluetooth. To add to the convenience, the device can store up to 500 songs while providing enough battery life to last 4 days without needing an electric charge while playing back music continuously (which is a lot for a watch in its category).
The Vivoactive 3 Music is one of the best smartwatches for runners because it provides just about everything you need from an activity tracker, plus more. It comes with options that include GPS tracking, heart rate monitoring, step counting, and many other features too.
Its shape is also fantastic as well, featuring a touchscreen design that’s incredibly easy to use. The major downside with this device is definitely its price point. While it does have numerous features and functions, you may want to go with another option if cost is your biggest concern when shopping around.
10) Garmin Venu 2
The Garmin Venu 2 is the upgraded version of the new Garmin vivoactive. It’s basically identical to the vivoactive models, except it has a better display and around 1 more day of battery life.
The good news for runners is that this watch is waterproof up to 50m, so you can wear it in the pool or shower without worry. Also, there are no buttons on this watch – all control is done through the touchscreen interface.
This may take some getting used to, but I find it works quite well. The screen itself looks great and has vibrant colors, so you won’t have any trouble viewing your stats while running anywhere.
11) Garmin Vivosport
The Garmin Vivosport is the newest addition to Garmin’s sports-focused smartwatch lineup. It comes with all of the bells and whistles you’d expect out of a fitness tracker like this, but it’s not as great for runners as some other models on this list.
Although the Vivosport does have GPS built-in, which gives you accurate distance readings without having to carry your phone around, it lacks GLONASS (a Russian satellite system used for navigation) as most other Garmin watches do.
This means that there will be times when it has trouble locking onto a GPS signal or struggles to keep track of your route. The good news is that setting up Bluetooth sensors is fairly easy, so you can use it with your heart rate monitor or running watch to get accurate stats.
I personally use this watch as my daily wearable these days, because it does exactly what I need without adding any complexity or bloat. Plus, battery life is pretty good too.
12) Garmin Forerunner 45
The Forerunner is ideal for novices or people who want a no BS approach.
With a simple layout, five buttons are used to access the functions on all Forerunner watches. For people with smaller wrists, the Forerunner 45 has a reduced watch face size.
It is also waterproofed to 5 ATM, has a 42 mm diameter, and lasts 13 hours on a single charge.
It features the following additional functions: Wrist-based heart rate monitoring GPS distance, speed, and elevation tracking. Garmin Coach Smart Notifications, Safety Tracking, 13 hours of battery life in GPS mode, waterproofing, 42 mm diameter / 45S: 39 mm diameter.