Best Garmin Watch | Trusted Reviews


If you’re on the market for a solid sports watch or fitness band chances are you’ll have come across at least a few products from Garmin.

Over the past half decade the company has released a steady stream of excellent wearables targeting everyone from newbie gym-goers to hardcore ultramarathon runners. What’s more, if you’ve been keeping tabs on our best fitness tracker and best running watch buyer’s guides, you’ll know they tend to impress our team of product experts when we get them in for testing.

The devices we’ve tested tend to offer best in class distance tracking, advanced pre and post workout analytics, robust coaching features and lengthy battery life. This is why we use the Fenix 7 as THE benchmark of quality when we evaluate other serious trackers, including the recently unveiled Galaxy Watch 5 Pro.

The only downside, is that with so many different options on the market at the moment, even if you’re settled on your next wearable being a Garmin, knowing which to get can be very tricky.

That’s why we’ve created this guide detailing the best performing Garmin watches we’ve tested that are still on sale. Our team of reviewers have used every watch on this list as their main tracker for at least a week. During that time they test all its tracking and smart features, battery life and build quality to make sure it’s worth your hard earned cash.

As Garmin offers a range of wearables for different types of athlete we’ve made sure to include a range of different devices covering various price points and user cases.

Which is the best Garmin Watch?

How we test

Find out more about how we test Garmin watches

Every Garmin watch we test is used by the reviewer for at least a week – or longer, if the battery life lasts beyond that point or we need more time to trial its features. During testing we evaluate key metrics including usability, battery life, and the accuracy of fitness and distance tracking.
 
For distance tracking, we assess how accurately the device records outdoor runs on tracks we know the length of. We also evaluate the level of battery life lost per hour using features such as built-in or connected GPS. To check heart rate accuracy, we compare the results from the wearable to a dedicated HRM strap.

Next we combine the data recorded with our general experience of using the wearable day-to-day, revealing whether the device proved comfortable to wear, alongside any issues we may have encountered with unexpected bugs over the review period.

Garmin Fenix 7

The best high end option

Pros

  • Strong outdoor tracking accuracy
  • Responsive touchscreen
  • Improved battery life

Cons

  • It’s not cheap
  • Not the full smartwatch experience
  • Core experience similar to Fenix 6

The Fenix line is one Garmin’s most expensive options, and while the Fenix 7 is undeniably pricier and not as pretty as an Apple Watch 7, based on our testing it is definitely worth the money if you’re a serious athlete looking for a multi-sport watch that’ll last for years.

The ruggedised sapphire glass smartwatch is one of the toughest we’ve tried, with it surviving an accidental encounter with a climbing wall rock, crack free. On top of that the device offers all the features any serious athlete will need.

We struggled to find an activity the Fenix 7 couldn’t track. There’s everything from basic outdoor running to surfing and cross country skiing on offer. The watch’s accurate distant tracking, reactive GPS and ability to store maps locally also made it great when we tested it on run and cycle routes we weren’t familiar with. During our checks the GPS connected in seconds, and the watch offered easy to follow turn by turn navigation on our cycle route.

Our reviewer also loved the post workout analytics the watch gave. These included key tracking stats like heart rate zones and VO2 max as well as estimates and advice on how much rest we needed before working out again. Add to this the watch’s local music support, which lets you store and listen to tracks without a phone neaby, and the Fenix 7 became an easy recommendation for any serious athlete.

Reviewer: Michael Sawh
Full review: Garmin Fenix 7 Review

Garmin Forerunner 955 Solar

The best for serious runners

Pros

  • Snappy and accurate multi-band GPS connectivity
  • Comfortable discrete design
  • Local music playback

Cons

  • Limited smartwatch functionality

The Forerunner 955 is one of the best wearables currently available to serious runners. During testing the device outright wowed our reviewer, with it sharing a lot of the same key features as the Fenix 7, despite featuring a smaller form factor, lower price and more overt cardio focus than its premium multi-sport sibling.

The smaller plastic chassis isn’t as rugged as the metal used in the Fenix, but its smaller dimensions and thinner body made it a lot more comfortable to wear, particularly during extended 10km-plus runs.

Under the hood it also supports multi-band GPS, which meant during our tests it was accurate when tracking distances and uniformly offered equivalent data to the Fenix. During our 5km check we detected a maximum variance of just 0.1km, which is seriously good considering the fact our reviewer’s test track is in a busy signal area in London.

But it was the watch’s advanced post run analytics and coaching powers that really won us over. As well as tracking VO2 Max estimates, SpO2 and heart rate zones, the watch is also the first we’ve tested that can offer training recommendations based on upcoming events in your calendar.

Specifically the watch will factor races you’ve entered into its recommendations as well as the biometric data it collects. This, plus its custom training readiness metric made it a lot easier for us to trust its recommendations and avoid overtraining ahead of races. The only thing stopping it from being our recommended tracker for all Garmin fans is that the plastic frame and lack of a Sapphire Glass option make it a poor fit for climbers, extreme sports participants and watersports fans. For these, we have different recommendations.

Reviewer: Alastair Stevenson
Full review: Garmin Forerunner 955

Garmin Enduro

The best for battery life

Pros

  • Big battery life
  • Lighter titanium option
  • Solid sports tracking

Cons

  • Only breadcrumb navigation
  • No music player
  • It’s not cheap

The Fenix 7 is great and the week and a half battery life we recorded is brilliant compared to most smartwatches that struggle to last more than a couple of days in our experience. But if you want a Garmin watch with the longest battery life possible then the Garmin Enduro is our current recommendation.

The Enduro, as the name would suggest, is a dedicated wearable from Garmin with a singular focus: offering the best possible battery life. Garmin quotes the watch as offering 65-days general use and 80-hours worth of battery life with GPS active. We found the claims rang true with the wearable easily lasting a full month’s heavy use. This entailed tracking a morning 30-minute workout and four 5km runs per week.

Offering a near enough core tracking experience to the Fenix, the Enduro is a great option for marathon runners or people who like to take incredibly long hikes/cycles. The only downside is that it is extortionately expensive and the Velcro wrist strap did rub a bit on occasion during longer workouts. This, plus the lack of local music support is a key reason we recommend the Fenix 7 above it to most other serious athletes.

Reviewer: Michael Sawh
Full review: Garmin Enduro Review

Garmin Venu 2S

The best for small wrists

Pros

  • Huge improvement on battery life
  • The new UI is a pleasure to use
  • Super-fast GPS connectivity
  • Health snapshot is an ingenious idea

Cons

  • There are more robust wearables for pro athletes
  • Garmin Pay is still a letdown

One constant criticism our reviewers have mounted at Garmin wearables is that, while they’re great fitness trackers, they’re not the prettiest of devices. Most feature utilitarian, chunky designs that focus on performance and not their looks. This has meant that some of the team with smaller wrists, and a degree of fashion sense, have often opted for other more discrete looking trackers from the likes of Fitbit.

Thankfully, Garmin’s fixed this problem with the Venu 2S which is our recommended option for people who don’t want a chunky watch. Venu is Garmin’s fashion focussed line of wearables and the 2S is the best option in the line-up that we’ve tested. Out of the box its thinner, circular design and OLED screen immediately made it feel more like a smartwatch than the other options on this list.

Though it doesn’t track the same amount of sports or metrics as the Fenix, for mid-to-entry level athletes its activity and post workout analytics are more than good enough. We found the GPS to be suitably reactive and accurate to track 5km runs and the odd cycle. Offline music and Spotify support are also welcome features that are rare on wearables at this price. The only downside is that it’s not quite as rugged as the Fenix or Enduro. If you engage in regular water/extreme sports then you’ll be better off looking elsewhere as a result.

Reviewer: Thomas Deehan
Full review: Garmin Venu 2S Review

Garmin Vivosmart 5

The best affordable option

Pros

  • Reliable fitness tracking for the price
  • Week long battery life
  • Comfy gym-ready fit

Cons

  • Screen is too small for most notifications
  • Limited smartwatch functionality

If you’re after an entry level tracker that won’t break the bank then Garmin’s Vivosmart 5 is one of the best on the market.

The discrete band design is wonderfully comfortable to wear and offers all the analytics and features an entry level runner or a gym newcomer will need. During testing we found that the watch is capable of tracking all the basic activities well, supporting indoor and outdoor running, cycling plus basic cardio and swimming.

As an added bonus, while it doesn’t have local music or Spotify support, the Vivosmart 5 can be used to control music being streamed from a phone. We found this feature particularly useful when treadmill running, as it saved us from having to awkwardly paw at our phone when an unwanted track made its way into the playlist.

Post-workout analytics are stripped down to make them understandable, but offer all the detail you need to make a difference. Highlights include your intensity minutes plus useful metrics like your body battery, VO2 Max estimate and fitness age. These are rare insights for a wearable at this price. Fitbit, by comparison, hides some of them behind a paywall.

The only real compromise we noticed is that due to the lack of untethered GPS connectivity, distance tracking when running outdoors could be a little hit and miss. Without a connected GPS the wearable had a tendency to add or remove around 0.3km from our 5km runs.

Reviewer: Alastair Stevenson
Full review: Garmin Vivosmart Review

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FAQs

What activities do Garmin watches track?

This varies between different Garmin watches. The top end Fenix devices are multi-sport focussed and can track everything from running to specialist extreme sports. More basic trackers in the firm’s Vivo-lines tend to focus on essentials and can only track standard activities like cardio, running, cycling and swimming.

Do all Garmin watches have GPS?

Garmin is one of the best companies for accurate location and distance tracking, but many of its more affordable wearables do not have built-in GPS functionality. Instead, the cheaper wearables tend to have “connected GPS” which lets them offer GPS tracking using a paired smartphone.

Are Garmin devices smartwatches?

Garmin wearables tend to have an overt fitness tracking focus and use the firm’s proprietary operating system. This means they do offer some smartwatch functionality, like alerts, music controls and weather reports, but don’t have the same app support as Apple’s watchOS or Google’s Wear OS devices.

Comparison specs

You can see a detailed breakdown of all the wearables specifications below.

UK RRP

USA RRP

Manufacturer

Screen Size

IP rating

Waterproof

Battery

Size (Dimensions)

Weight

ASIN

Operating System

Release Date

First Reviewed Date

Colours

GPS



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