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The Best Garmin Running Watches in 2023

 

If you’ve been running for any period of time, you’ve heard of Garmin.

They are the leader in GPS running watches. In fact, many people use the term running watch and Garmin interchangeably. They offer so many different types of running watches, every runner can find the perfect watch.

Our top pick is the Forerunner 255. It’s not Garmin’s most feature-packed watch or its most expensive, but it comes in two sizes, has a nice battery life, and it’s easily Garmin’s best value.

But there’s truly something for everyone and every need, but it may be tricky to find the right one for you due to the sheer number of choices.

To help, we’ve compiled a list of the best Garmin running watches for every need. Let’s have a look at our favorites.

man running with garmin watch

Top 3 Best and Favorites

 

Forerunner 255

 

  • Tracks tons of running metrics
  • Lightweight
  • Two size options
Check Price

 

Forerunner 955

 

  • Long battery
  • Tracks runs, bike rides, swims
  • Tracks running form
Check Price

 

Forerunner 55

 

  • Large screen
  • Wrist heart rate
  • Good battery
Check Price

Best Garmin for Running

1. Garmin Forerunner 255

The Forerunner 255 is in the mid-level range of Garmin’s Forerunner collection, but it’s an affordable, feature-packed multisport watch! Whether you’re looking for your first Garmin or your 10th, the 255 is an excellent choice.

What We Like

The Forerunner 255 is a multisport triathlon watch, designed to track and train for running, swimming, and cycling. This watch is loaded with spectacular features and is Garmin’s most affordable full multisport offering.

The training, tracking, and recovery features are top-of-the-range, making this watch more similar to the higher-end Forerunners.

It’s a sleek-looking watch, featuring the classic five-button design like other Garmins. We like that it comes in two different sizes and you can choose if you want an option that can store and playback music.

There’s no touch screen, but the watch face is fully customizable, so your watch can be set up exactly how you like it. You can even add your own photos to the background.

Like other Garmins, the 255 features their Body Battery, which is great for showing how well you slept the night before and how ready you are for the day ahead. It does lack the Training Readiness feature, though, which is more specific to training and helps you make better training choices.

This watch comes with advanced health metrics, like heart rate variability, advanced sleep statistics, Health Snapshot, Morning Report, and blood oxygenation levels.

But let’s focus on the sporty features of the 255. Triathletes will be pleased that there’s now a multisport mode, which means the watch seamlessly switches between disciplines during one event.

Runners can really narrow down the type of run they’re tracking, which can make a difference to their stats. Choose from running, track running, treadmill running, ultra running, virtual running, trail running, and indoor track running.

Other sports include multiple types of bike runs, swims, and things like snowsports, Pilates, yoga, and more. Training metrics include things like Training Load, Training Status, Acute Load, VO2 Max Trends, Load Focus, and Recovery Time.

Something else that will help transform your training is the revamped Daily Suggested Workout function. Previously, it was simply a recommended workout to get you moving. Now, these workouts are designed according to your race calendar, so you basically have a built-in training program, complete with tapers.

You can get up to 30 hours of battery life in GPS mode, which is great and should be plenty for most runners.

Why We Like It

The Forerunner 255 is a superb multi-sport watch. We’d go so far as to say it rivals the Forerunner 955, but in a more affordable package. Highly recommended for runners, especially if you do the occasional triathlon as well.

What to Consider

The Forerunner 255 has the standard Garmin Body Battery but lacks the more advanced Training Readiness feature. Body Battery is great for overall wellness and recovery, but isn’t training-specific, which may be a dealbreaker for some runners.

You should also consider the fact that things like Body Battery and Sleep Scores can take a few weeks to calibrate to your body. The first few weeks of wearing this watch might be frustrating for some as your metrics may not be what you expect.

What’s New

There’s a lot of new features added to the 255 that weren’t on the 245. It’s a huge step up, and some of the new features include:

  • The watch now comes in 2 sizes
  • You can get music or non-music variants
  • Multi-band GPS support has been added
  • There’s now a compass and a barometric altimeter
  • Triathlon/multisport mode has been added
  • New Race Day Calendar, Race Prediction, and Race Detail widgets
  • Automatic Run/Walk/Stand Detection added

PROS:

  • Available in two sizes and both include a music-enabled option
  • Excellent battery life with 30 hrs in GPS mode and battery life can be extended if you use the Power Saver feature
  • Easy to read the color MIP display in a variety of conditions, including in direct sunlight
  • Includes advanced health tracking features, like blood oxygenation level, sleep, HRV, and stress levels
  • Features an altimeter and barometer

CONS:

  • This watch lacks the Training Readiness feature, which some runners may miss
 

Top Garmin for Triathlons

2. Garmin Forerunner 955

If triathlons are your main goal, the Forerunner 955 is enough of a step up from the 255 to be the best choice for you.

What We Like

The Forerunner has always been a firm favorite of triathletes. Along with its multi-sport design, it’s sleek and slim, doesn’t get in the way during exercise, and has more than enough features for training and performance tracking.

Aside from the multi-sport focus, some of the standout features on the 955 that make it great for triathletes include offline music storage and Bluetooth headset compatibility. It also has offline color map storage and navigation, and multi-band GPS capabilities.

When it comes to training, this is like a coach on your wrist. Access metrics like training load, training effect, performance condition, recovery time, Body Battery, Recommended Daily Workouts, advanced sleep tracking, and women’s health tracking.

Unlike the 255, this one features Training Readiness, which works alongside the Body Battery to indicate what sort of training you’re ready for based on your recovery.

One of the things we really like about this watch is that it comes in both a solar and a non-solar version. This makes it a versatile choice—it’s an excellent watch without solar, but getting the solar watch is worthwhile if you’ve got a bit more cash to spend.

Why We Like It

The Forerunner 955 is a full-featured watch that’s ideal for triathlons. It’s still fairly well-priced for a featured-packed device, so if you need something that’s going to track your training and performance without complicating things, this could be it.

What to Consider

Runners and triathletes have expressed disappointment that the battery life hasn’t been upgraded and remains very average.

If you’re planning on wearing this watch as a daily watch as well as using it to track your triathlons, you may find yourself charging it more often than you’d like. Some runners may also be disappointed that the LTE cell-service model has been discontinued.

What’s New

Perhaps the most noticeable change to the Forerunner 955 is the addition of a touchscreen, a first for the Forerunner.

The Forerunner 955’s GPS has been upgraded with GNSS, multiband, and offline color map storage. The battery is roughly the same as the previous version, but the solar watch can add almost a week of extra battery in smartwatch mode.

While it features the same performance metrics as the 945, the 955 has undergone various software upgrades and also features more advanced HRV tracking during sleep.

PROS:

  • Sleek, lightweight design that can easily fit under a wetsuit sleeve
  • Multi-band GPS is accurate with full-color maps and allows for route planning on-the-go and turn-by-turn navigation
  • 32 GB of storage that also allows for offline map and music storage
  • Tailored daily workout suggestions based on your sleep, stress, HRV, and training load
  • Comes in both collar and non-solar versions

CONS:

  • Average to poor battery life in comparison to others
 

Best Value Garmin Watch

3. Garmin Forerunner 55

If you don’t need advanced metrics but want to track your runs comprehensively, this is the watch for you. It offers exceptional value for its price and does the basics extremely well.

What We Like

This may be Garmin’s least expensive watch, but it’s loaded with an exceptional array of features for its price point. Runners who want to track their runs and some basic cross-training—cycling and swimming—will be more than happy with this choice.

You can choose from various running profiles, including Running, Outdoor Track Running, Treadmill Running, Indoor Track Running, and Virtual Running.

Running-related features and stats include cadence, race predictor, the ability to sync to foot pods, run workouts, recommended rest times, training suggestions, and Garmin’s much-loved PacePro.

The onboard GPS is surprisingly good. Another thing that gets a big thumbs-up from us is the incident detection and Live Track safety features. They’re not always seen on budget models, so it’s a welcome addition to an already great watch.

It has a slightly more basic design, lacking a touchscreen and with a lower-quality display than other Garmins. It also has a plastic casing rather than Gorilla Glass, so it’s not as durable as higher-end watches, but treat it carefully and you’ll be fine.

Why We Like It

The Forerunner 55 offers amazing value for its price point. It’s the ideal choice for runners who don’t want fancy features but want to be able to track their runs in detail.

What to Consider

You should note that the display on this watch is a little lower quality than you may see on a Forerunner 255 or 955. It’s still perfectly fine for tracking metrics, but some people may be disappointed with the quality. It also doesn’t have a touchscreen.

What’s New

The Forerunner 55 has an impressive list of new features, all of which are usually featured on Garmin watches of higher price points. The following features have been added to the 55 since its last version:

  • PacePro
  • Daily Suggested Workouts
  • Track Mode
  • Virtual Run Mode
  • Finish Time Estimator
  • Predicted Race Times
  • Women’s Health Tracking
  • Recovery Time
  • Connect IQ Support
  • Extra sports modes

In addition to these added features, the watch also has an improved battery life, and now has 4 data fields instead of 3 per page. It also now comes in only one size rather than the regular and S sizes.

PROS:

  • PacePro lets you plan your race day strategy and provides GPS-based pace guidance
  • Built-in GPS connects quickly to satellites, is accurate, and provides information such as time, distance, and pace on all your runs
  • Lets your friends and family track you by providing real-time location through LiveTrack
  • Features Recovery Time suggestions based on your training history

CONS:

  • The display is a little low quality compared to others
 

Top Garmin for Running and Outdoor Activities

4. Garmin fenix 7X – Solar

The fenix 7X is an excellent choice for those who run and also do other outdoor activities like hiking, skiing, or biking.

While the fenix comes in many sizes and models, we like the 7X – Solar, their beefiest fenix, for its long battery and comprehensive features.

What We Like

The fenix series is another well-loved Garmin range, and the 7X Solar is one of the most robust of the lot. No matter what kind of activity you plan on doing, this watch should be able to handle it.

We love the touchscreen on this watch, which makes everything easier. There are still the usual 5 buttons, which now feature button guards to prevent accidental presses, along with automatic screen locking during workouts.

This is the solar version, which is an excellent choice for those who spend a lot of time outdoors. You can get 3 weeks of battery in smartwatch mode, and up to 173 days in battery-saver mode.

Some of the features we really like on this watch include the Real-Time Stamina Mode, which shows a visual of how your energy declines throughout your workout; a Race Predictor chart on your wrist; onboard music; TracBack; a built-in flashlight; and Course Creator in Garmin Connect.

For more adventurous types, you’ll be happy to know that this watch is water-resistance to 100 meters for watersports and features an altimeter, a compass, and a temperature sensor. Mapping is exceptional for cyclists, and the watch also auto-tracks climbing.

Maps and tracking are excellent. You can easily leave your phone at home and get all the everyday functionalities of a full GPS on your wrist. Map Manager allows you to easily download your chosen set of maps for use.

Why We Like It

We love the solar charging feature on this watch, which adds significant battery life to the watch for outdoor use. It’s also full of exciting outdoor-related features that you don’t just find on other watches.

What to Consider

This watch features a blue backlight, which isn’t nearly as bright as some others. It can make the display seem a little muddy, especially if you’re used to top-quality screens.

What’s New

Multiple welcome changes have been made to the newest version of this watch. Here are some new features you can expect:

  • Addition of SatIQ, which automatically changes GPS settings to save battery
  • Now uses the Garmin Elevate Gen 4 Optical HR sensor, now glass-covered
  • Support for music, WiF-, and Garmin Pay
  • Added multi-band GPS
  • Up Ahead feature added
  • Real-Time Stamina feature added
  • Automatic Run/Walk/Stand tracking
  • Also includes Map Manager on the watch
  • Preloaded skiing and golfing maps
  • Garmin SkiView and Cross Country Ski Trails
  • A new flashlight feature with multiple modes

In addition to these features, the solar surface area has been made about 54% larger and solar charging has been added to the Sapphire version of the watch. The battery life has improved by around 33%.

In terms of physical features, they have added guards to all buttons, which helps to reduce accidental presses. Also new are metal or titanium lug covers for added protection, and the watch itself is a little thinner and lighter than before.

PROS:

  • Improved battery life allows for almost 33% longer use than previously
  • Button guards help to reduce the chance of accidental presses
  • Real-time stamina meter helps you allocate energy during a workout
  • Excellent GPS with full turn-by-turn instructions on your wrist

CONS:

  • Blue backlight can make the display seem muddy
 

Best Garmin Smartwatch for Running

5. Garmin Venu 2

While Garmin considers the Venu 2 a Apple Watch competitor, it’s still pretty darn good as a running watch!

What We Like

The first thing to note, and the thing that’s most spoken about when it comes to the Venu 2, is the exceptional screen. At 416 x 416 pixels, the 1.3-inch AMOLED display is high-quality and looks amazing.

You may assume that this uses up battery life quite a lot, but the truth is the watch handles its battery really well. Without GPS, you can get up to 11 days, and with GPS, 22 hours. If you want to listen to music with GPS, you can expect 8 hours. In comparison to other Garmins, that’s actually quite good.

Speaking of GPS, it’s impressively accurate on this watch, which is great news for runners. Another thing runners will like about this watch is Garmin’s coaching features. Pick a training program on Garmin Connect that suits your goals, and it’ll pull the workouts through to your watch every day.

As well as following a dedicated training plan, you’ll also be able to join challenges, view the leaderboards for those challenges, and get a detailed summary of every workout when you’re done.

Keeping track of your health is also important for most runners, so the Venu 2 features health tracking features like heart rate, respiration rate, blood oxygen—which may lower the battery life—and good sleep tracking. Garmin Body Battery is also present, as is stress tracking, which can be handy.

For those who enjoy running to music, the Venu 2 can hold up to 650 songs, more than enough to power you through even long runs! And if you do want to cross-train, it has a number of other sports profiles as well.

Why We Like It

The Garmin Venu 2 has a spectacular screen. Aside from its attractiveness, it offers a wide range of features that runners will love, including options for cross-training.

What to Consider

There are a lot fewer third-party apps to choose from on this watch than you might find on others. However, if you’re just after running metrics, you most likely won’t need to download a bunch of other apps.

It’s also worth noting that keeping the pulse oximeter on can drain the battery fairly quickly. Thankfully, there is an option to turn it off.

What’s New

The screen has received an upgrade, and is now even more high-quality than it was before. You can also store more music on the new version of the watch,

PROS:

  • High-resolution AMOLED display is excellent quality and easy to read
  • Extremely accurate GPS is ideal for running training
  • Great combination of running and other sports for cross-training
  • Exceptional battery life for such a high-resolution screen

CONS:

  • Not a large variety of third-party apps
  • The pulse oximeter drains the battery quickly
 

Top Garmin for Battery Life

6. Garmin Enduro 2

If long battery life is your main priority, then the Enduro 2 is your best bet. As its name suggests, its endurance is impressive!

What We Like

The Enduro 2 is built for ultrarunners or any runner who doesn’t want to regularly charge their watch.

You can expect 46 days in smartwatch mode, 150 hours of battery life in GPS-only mode, or up to 81 hours in multi-band mode. That’s significantly more than most others, so if battery life is your main concern, this watch should definitely be your top consideration.

It does have a new touchscreen, but you can do everything you need using the buttons as well. The watch is extremely well-made. Featuring a titanium bezel and rear cover, as well as a Power Sapphire lens, it can withstand rugged conditions nicely and even has solar charging capabilities.

Designed for long activities, the watch also features topographic maps for outdoor adventurers, and an impressive array of sports modes—the most of any Garmin watch in fact, tied with the fenix 7.

Runners will love intelligent features like Grade-Adjusted Pace, Next Fork, and the Visual Race Predictor, all of which add extra insight to your training. It’s also a bonus that the new version of this watch has space for music.

We love that the Enduro 2 comes with both a silicone strap and a nylon strap. It’s a thoughtful touch that not only offers variety but keeps in mind those may be allergic to silicone.

Why We Like It

Whatever your reason for wanting exceptional battery life, the Enduro 2 is a good choice for you. It’s an excellent watch for anyone from dedicated runners to all-around outdoor adventurers.

What to Consider

Runners on a budget may not like the price of this watch. It’s also quite chunky, so those with more petite wrists might not like the look or feel of it.

What’s New

The original version’s battery life was already impressive, but it’s been upgraded to be even better. It also includes an updated flashlight. New features include:

  • Topographical maps
  • Added SatIQ battery manager
  • Grade Adjusted Pace
  • Auto Rest Timer
  • Touchscreen
  • Added music storage

PROS:

  • Exceptional battery life designed for ultrarunners and endurance athletes
  • Topographical maps make an excellent addition for adventurers
  • Comes with both silicone and nylon straps in the box
  • Holds the most sports modes on any Garmin watch

CONS:

  • This watch is pricey
  • It may feel too big on the wrist for some
 

Top Solar Garmin Watch

7. Garmin Instinct 2 Solar

If having a solar watch is what you’re really after, then you can’t beat the Garmin Instinct 2 Solar.

What We Like

As solar watches go, this is the one we’d recommend if solar charging is a feature you’re after. It’s got superb battery life, with Garmin labeling it as “unlimited” in smartwatch and expedition GPS mode with solar charging.

Without solar charging, it’s still pretty decent. 28 days in smartwatch mode, 65 days on battery saver mode, 30 hours on multi-GNSS GPS, and 70 hours max-battery GPS. With the addition of solar, you may never need to actually charge this watch if you live somewhere sunny!

There are a ton of sports modes on this watch, some of which are indoor, but many of which are outdoor so you can make full use of that solar charging feature.

Like most other Garmins, this watch features things like Daily Suggested Workout—new to the Instinct—Body Battery, sleep tracking, Training Status, Training Load, and things like VO2 Max and cadence, which is split separately for running and cycling.

Outdoor enthusiasts will also be pleased to know that the Instinct 2 Solar is waterproof up to 100 meters, shock-resistant, and temperature-resistant. Bring on the adventure!

Why We Like It

Superb battery life! This watch is an excellent choice if you spend a lot of time outdoors in the sun.

What to Consider

If maps are important to you, you might be disappointed with this watch. It has no onboard map, instead relying on either breadcrumb navigation or direct-to-point navigation.

However, the breadcrumb trail feature has a limit of 50 points per trail, so if you set a trail containing 100 different “breadcrumbs”, it’ll only take you halfway!

What’s New

Multiple changes have been made to the Instinct 2 over the original. These include:

  • The addition of the smaller S model
  • Increased screen resolution from 126 x 126 to 176 x 176
  • Improved battery life over the Instinct 1
  • Upgraded optimal HR sensor
  • Garmin Pay added

PROS:

  • Multiple sizes, colors, and models to choose from
  • Unlimited battery life with solar charging
  • All-day health monitoring features for health insights
  • Water-resistance to 100 meters and shock- and temperature-resistance

CONS:

  • No maps on this watch
 

Best Fitness Tracker for Running

8. Garmin vivosmart 5

If you’d prefer to wear a fitness tracker rather than a GPS watch, the vivosmart 5 is our top choice. It’s ideal for those who don’t want anything fancy but still like their running data.

What We Like

Garmin’s answer to Fitbit, the vivosmart 5 fitness tracker is perfect for those who want to track their basic fitness metrics but don’t want the hassle of a full smartwatch. It’s compact and comfortable, and it comes in a variety of cool colors.

View things like your heart rate, calories burned, steps taken respiration, blood oxygen levels—not available in all countries—hydration, stress levels, sleep, women’s health data, and Garmin’s Body Battery energy meter.

It features a few built-in sports modes, and if you want to use GPS for your run, walks, or rides, it’s easy to connect to your phone. When connected, you can also get smart notifications and make use of Incident Detection, which is great to see on a fitness tracker.

Why We Like It

This fitness tracker is nothing fancy, but it does the job very well. It’s also comfortable and unobtrusive in comparison to a full smartwatch, so if you only need basic tracking, the vivosmart 5 is an excellent choice.

What to Consider

The vivosmart 5 is a bit larger than the 4. Those who are used to the 4 may be disappointed with this update, as it might feel a little more cumbersome on the wrist.

What’s New

The display has been upgraded in both size and brightness from the 4. One of the most practical changes is the addition of a physical button to start/stop activities, over the haptic system of the vivosmart 4, which wasn’t well-received by everyone.

You can also change the bands of this watch, which is an improvement over the previous version. It’s slightly larger as well.

PROS:

  • Compact and comfortable to wear on any sized wrist
  • Tracks all relevant metrics without unnecessary features
  • Features Garmin’s Body Battery energy level tracker
  • Connects easily to your phone’s GPS to track your runs or walks

CONS:

  • This fitness tracker is slightly larger than the previous version
 

Best Discontinued Garmin Watches

Top Value Discontinued Watch

9. Garmin Forerunner 245 and 245S

Our top choice, the Forerunner 255, replaced this watch. Garmin will be discontinuing this model, but for now it’s still available at a discounted price.

What We Like

If you’re looking for a great value watch without breaking the bank, this is a good choice. It’s a step behind the top watch on this list, but still loaded with excellent features.

A variety of sports features give you plenty of training options. If running is your main sport, you’ll be pleased to find advanced running dynamics, which provides you with data like stride length, cadence, VO2 max, ground contact time, vertical oscillation, balance, and more.

You’ll also get Daily Suggested Workouts, which keep you active, especially if you aren’t quite sure what you want to do on the day. Something we like is the Intensity Minutes, which counts down your active time to make sure you’re hitting the CDC-recommended numbers for health.

For performance, you’ll also be able to see things like Training Loas, Training Status, Training Effect, and Recovery Time, so you can plan your workouts better. Add the excellent GPS, and you’ve got a well-rounded watch that can still pack a punch.

Why We Like It

It’s still a great watch, despite being on the road to being discontinued. The biggest bonus is that it has most of the features of our top watch, but at a much nicer price point.

What to Consider

The pulse oximeter is notoriously inaccurate on this watch, so don’t use it as a medical device. Keep in mind that if you choose this watch, you won’t have access to some of the latest tech included on the upgraded version.

PROS:

  • Great choice for those on a budget who still want a fully capable watch
  • Daily Suggested Workouts keep you active and keep things exciting
  • Advanced running dynamics help you understand your performance
  • Daily Intensity Minutes help you stay within CDC health requirements

CONS:

  • The pulse oximeter is not the most accurate
 

Best Discontinued Multi-Sport Watch

10. Garmin Forerunner 945

The Forerunner 945 is an excellent choice if you want a multi-sport watch at an affordable price.

What We Like

This watch is loaded with exceptional features for runners who enjoy doing other sports too. It’s designed primarily for multi-sports athletes, so those who are just runners might find it to be a bit too much.

It’s got all the running dynamics and data you need to train effectively and monitor your progress as you go. But it’s also loaded with sports profiles like biking, swimming, triathlon, climbing, winter sports, water sports, and various cardio machines.

The watch also features onboard music storage to see you through whatever exercise you’re doing. Plus, you’ll get up to 10 hours of battery when you’re using GPS and listening to music at the same time, which is excellent.

Incident Detection and other safety features, Garmin Pay, and Garmin’s beloved Body Battery are also included, making this a safe and versatile watch for everyday use as well as sports-related use.

Why We Like It

Before its upgrade, the Forerunner 945 enjoyed the distinction of being the most full-featured multi-sport smartwatch on the market. Even with new tech and new upgrades, it remains a superb watch.

What to Consider

Multiple reviewers have mentioned their disappointment with the Forerunner 945’s buttons. They’re meant to “click” when pushed, but users have described them as being mushy and lagging when pressed.

PROS:

  • Onboard music storage and playback using Bluetooth earphones
  • Up to 10 hours of battery when using GPS and listening to music
  • Excellent array of metrics for the avid data-studying runner
  • Affordable choice for those wanting an excellent multi-sports watch

CONS:

  • The buttons are not comfortable to press or the most responsive
 

Top Discontinued Rugged Watch

11. Garmin Instinct

If rugged, chunky watches do it for you, you may want to consider the Instinct. It’s chunky in design but friendly in price, and it has many similar features to the newly-upgraded Instinct 2.

What We Like

This watch can withstand almost anything you throw at it. It’s designed to be rugged and handle outdoor use, with a polymer-reinforced body, scratch-resistant glass display, and water- and heat-resistant body. You can go almost anywhere with it!

To help you stay safe on your adventures, the watch also features multi-GNSS support and TracBack feature, which helps you to find your way back to the start of your journey.

Multiple built-in sports apps allow you to do whatever kind of activity you like. Stress tracking also helps you to gain more insight into your own daily stressors.

And if you’re a dog person, this watch has a handy feature that you may love—it syncs up to Astro and Alpha dog devices so you can monitor your pup’s health too!

Why We Like It

We love the durability of the Instinct. It’s also got enough sports modes to handle anything you feel like doing on any day.

What to Consider

There are no built-in maps on this watch. It has a great GPS and various navigation features, but doesn’t give you maps or turn-by-turn directions.

PROS:

  • Military-standard, scratch-resistant display with reinforced body that’s water-resistant, shock-resistant, and heat-resistant
  • Excellent GPS with multi-GNSS support and TracBack feature
  • Syncs with Astro and Alpha dog devices

CONS:

  • No street maps or topography maps
 

Best Discontinued Smartwatch

12. Garmin Venu Sq

Despite being discontinued, you can still find the Venu Sq at reduced prices. If you’re looking for an excellent watch at an excellent price, it’s worth considering.

What We Like

The Venu is one of Garmin’s few square-shaped watches, so if you prefer this style, then this one is definitely a good choice. It looks good enough to wear to the office but has enough functionality to be a great sports watch.

Keep track of your health with features like hydration levels, stress tracking, sleep tracking, women’s health, and even a Mindful Breathing app. Fitness tracking features like step count, calorie count, and intensity minutes help you keep up with your everyday activity.

In terms of sports, there are more than 20 preloaded sports built into the watch, so it’s ideal for most people. You can join training plans or create your own workouts, so it’s very versatile.

Why We Like It

The Venu Sq is worth considering if you like the square shape. It’s got great built-in sports features, preloaded workouts, and access to training plans in Garmin Coach. In short, it’s got everything you need to keep track of your fitness and sports.

What to Consider

Some users have expressed disappointment that the Venu Sq is more of a fitness tracker and less of a smartwatch. This could be down to personal preference, though.

PROS:

  • Square shape is unique for a Garmin and may appeal more to some users
  • Daily tracking features like hydration, stress, sleep, and women’s health
  • Built-in sports settings with preloaded workouts that start with onc click
  • Create your own workouts in Garmin Connect or select a Garmin coach program

CONS:

  • Better for fitness tracking, lacking in smartwatch features
 

Buyer’s Guide – Garmin Running Watches

Here are the key features runners should consider when shopping for a Garmin running watch, to make sure you’re getting the right one for your needs.

Price

This is usually the deciding factor when it comes to choosing a Garmin watch. The higher the price, the more features the Garmin is likely to have.

With that being said, the most expensive Garmins are not necessarily the best choice for everyone. It’s a good idea to list the features you need and choose a watch that suits you.

The wide range of Garmin watches means there’s sure to be a watch that suits both your needs and your budget.

Battery Life

Battery life is an important factor. If you’re running every day or every other day, it’s important to know how long the battery is likely to last. Nobody wants to have to charge their watch every day.

You can expect most Garmin watches to last a few weeks with regular use. However, some of the latest models have a vastly improved battery life over the older models, but you may have to pay a little more for them.

Training Analysis

You’ll need to decide what training features are important to you on a watch. Most watches have basic running data like time, distance, and calories burned.

If you want to track things like ground contact time, vertical oscillation, VO2 Max, and so on, you’ll need to look at the higher-end Garmin watches.

Safety Features

Garmin’s safety features are excellent in comparison to many other watch brands. Most of their watches have good safety features built in, but it’s a good idea to check this before buying. Definitely worth having, though—safety can never be understated.

Maps

All Garmin watches come with maps, but to a different degree. There are three different map features you can find on Garmin watches: route tracking, Open Street Maps, and Garmin TOPO Maps.

Not everyone will need topographic maps. For many runners, Open Street Maps and route tracking will be enough. But topographic maps offer significantly more information, so double-check this before you choose your watch.

Music

For some, music is not a necessity. For others, it is! Having music on your watch means you can leave your phone at home, so it may be convenient for you.

Be aware that the watches with music cost more than those without.

Other Features

If you do other forms of cross-training, check if the watch you like has a profile for that particular sport. Most Garmins come with a variety of other profiles, usually including regular cross-training sports like cycling and swimming.

However, if you want to track a specific activity, it’s a good idea to check if there’s a profile for you on the watch you like. Some Garmins include activities like skiing, triathlon, and golf, but it can be hard to find things like jumping rope or rowing.

FAQs

Is a Garmin Watch Better Than Fitbit?

Everybody has their own preferences, but when it comes to running, Garmin is the top of the top if you want to track your data and use it to improve your performance. Most Garmin running watches are loaded with superb features for runners of all abilities.

Do I Need My Phone When Running With Garmin?

Most Garmin watches come with built-in GPS, which means you don’t need your phone to track your run. You can easily leave your phone at home without missing any data.

However, some of the more advanced data does require your phone to be within reach, so it’s a good idea to check this before you head out for a run.

Do You Have to Pay a Monthly Fee for Garmin?

You don’t have to pay to use a Garmin watch. However, Garmin does offer a variety of subscription plans that you can sign up for, including things like Tacx Premium Subscriptions, Garmin Golf Membership Plans, Navionics Marine Chart Subscriptions.

Depending on what exactly you need your watch to do for you, you may or may not want a subscription plan. But if you just want to run or do triathlons, you can do so without paying for any subscriptions.

Can Garmin Work Without Internet?

You don’t need to be connected to the internet for things like data tracking, Garmin Pay, or GPS. However, Garmin Connect needs the internet to sync your data.

Why Use a Garmin Over a Phone?

Having everything on your wrist when you’re running is very convenient. A phone takes up valuable space in a pocket or running belt, and can sometimes also bounce when you run.

With a Garmin, you’ll be able to run freely and save some storage space as well. Most Garmins offer features that your phone would normally give you, like music, GPS, and tracking.

Ben Drew

Ben Drew

Ben is an avid road and trail runner, and has completed multiple marathons and ultras. A former running store owner, he now shares his knowledge and experience writing these articles.

The Wired Runner
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