FITNESS

Best Garmin Watch: Keeping Track of Your Workout and Your Position Anywhere

garmin watch featured
Jerry Mueller
Written by Jerry Mueller

So, are you a sporty person and you like to keep track of your fitness progress? You have also heard that there’s a gadget that can show you your exercise scores instantly and even motivate you to become better? You know that the Garmin makes great fitness trackers, but which model is considered as the best Garmin watch?

The truth is, they are all great and each model, not only keeps track of your fitness progress, but also allows you to know your position in any given moment and a bunch of other useful data. However, not all models are suited for every situation and finding the one that is tailored exactly for your needs can be a bit tricky as the research needs to be done really thoroughly. But, don’t worry, as we are here to help you out and speed up the process of finding the ideal watch for you.

In this article, you will first have a chance to take a look at the table of the products we reviewed today so that you get a better idea of what’s coming. Then, we will explain everything about the most important features that should be considered before making the final choice. After you get armed with the knowledge on the topic, you will go through the in-depth reviews of the best models on the market, and making the informed pick will be a breeze. So, let’s start.

Product Name Weight (Ounces) Specific FeaturesBest Use Price
Garmin Forerunner 351.6GPS connection, music controls, messaging capabilitiesRunning, cardio workouts, cycling, marathonsCheck price on Amazon
Garmin Forerunner 25 4Built-in heart rate monitor, step counter, virtual pacer, waterproof, GPSQuick workouts, short marathons
Check price on Amazon
Garmin Forerunner 920XT 2Stylish black and blue color scheme, button control, color display, waterproofRunning, swimming, cyclingCheck price on Amazon
Garmin Forerunner 620 1.61-inch color touchscreen display, advanced GPS, accelerometer, wireless pairingRunning, indoor workout routinesCheck price on Amazon
Garmin Forerunner 6301.441.23-inch screen, advanced running dynamics, audio prompts, music controls, recovery advisorRunning, cycling, indoor fitnessCheck price on Amazon
Garmin Forerunner 230 1.44Audio prompts, smart notifications, accelerometer, VO2 max readerRunning, Indoor track, treadmillCheck price on Amazon
Garmin Forerunner 2351.6Lithium-ion battery, 24/7 tracking, color touchscreen display, GPS, audio prompts, wrist-based heart monitorRunning, cyclingCheck price on Amazon
Garmin Forerunner 735XT 1.6VO2 max measurements, lithium ion battery, color display, button controlsRunning, hiking, kayaking, cycling, weightlifting, and skiingCheck price on Amazon

Things to Consider Before Buying

By simply using common sense, one will admit that before buying any type of product, you need to know what to pay attention to, so that you make sure your final choice is the right choice. When it comes to Garmin watches, here is what you should have in mind:

Comfort

Everyone’s different, and a high-end smart watch is only as effective as its comfort level.  Garmin knows this, and besides offering plenty of useful features and modes, they also offer their watches in a variety of sizes and shapes.

Their products are light, with most of them weighing in at less than two ounces.  Some features, partially mesh bands, while others are composed of silicone.  Most of the screens tend to be surprisingly large, helping reduce eye strain. Still, you should first define which size is comfortable for you, as well as what type of band works out best for you, before simply picking a model for its features.

Durability

Whether you are a frequent rock climber or work in a hard-labor position, there are a variety of reasons for considering a rugged design. Watches take their fair share of abuse and are often damaged by small bumps that would likely go unnoticed with a bare wrist.

germin watch on hand

Fortunately, Garmin understands this and offers several rugged options. They are carefully engineered to endure the abuse of hard work and rugged fun. So, basically, any type you choose will be durable, you just need to figure out how durable you need it to be and base your choice on that.

Water Resistance

Some watches are waterproof. Others, water-resistant.  The extent varies between the models, allowing them to offer options between price and necessity. Of course, fitness watches will face some exposure to moisture, but the extent of its resistance should be considered when planning activities.

So, if you plan on taking swims or running in the rain, you will be best off with a waterproof model. On the other hand, if your plans mostly include nice weather and just your own sweat, water resistant model will do just fine.

Display

Consistent with the industry, Garmin offers a variety of displays with its lineup.  Some feature the traditional hands and dial.  Others, a touchscreen.  Several displays are also customized for the task at hand. For example, runners will enjoy their Vivo lineup, which features a similar display to the Fitbit.

garmin watch display

Furthermore, a few even feature a wide display for easier viewing, though it may have an impact on comfort for some. Touchscreen displays come in both analog and color.  On models that do not feature a touchscreen, navigating the screen is usually done with buttons or touchpads.

Health Tracking

Smart watches provide a convenient and accurate method of tracking personal fitness. Garmin’s lineup can track steps, elevation, heart rate and calories burned. And, they can also tell you your exact location since all of them come with a built-in GPS.

Certain models can also wirelessly connect with specialized heart monitors for even more reporting. Email and text alerts will help users stay fit once the watch has been synced. So, it all comes down to how hard you work out and how much data you need, so that you can make your choice based on that. If you are a light fitness enjoyer, you won’t be probably needing all the fancy data. But, if you are a hard-core fitness “Freak” you will probably opt for the most advanced model that offers every possible health tracking feature.

Garmin Connect

It takes motivation to maintain an effective fitness regimen, and that’s just what users will find in Garmin Connect.  This feature connects the watch to a smartphone app and online community.
The app can be used to track and share fitness milestones with friends and social media.

garmin wathc connected to phone

Image Credit: dcrainmaker.com

You can, if you wish, even receive personalized feedback and advice from others within the fitness community based on your fitness goals and habits. Some watches even offer personalized electronic coaching to help you reach your goals.  Additionally, Garmin Connect can inform users of incoming messages from email, text and phone calls.

Best Products on Today’s Market

Now, after you know which features are the most important ones for you, you can make an informed choice from our list of the best models on the market.

Garmin Forerunner 35 Watch Garmin Forerunner 35 Watch

Price: Approx. $180

Dimensions: 0.5 x 1.4 x 1.6 in

Specific features: Fitness monitor, GPS connection, music controls, messaging capabilities

Best use: Running, cardio classes, cycling, marathons

Description: True to its name, The Garmin Forerunner 35 Watch is at the forefront of your running regimen.  The forerunner is all about you and your physical activities as it tracks your heart rate, movement and favorite fitness locations.

With this watch, you can say that it’s all about your motivation, as well as about staying connected as it offers messaging, music controls and alerts from your phone, and everything is easily controlled from the watch and the app.  And, the watch is also great for those with a competitive spirit as you can share your progress, message your friends and challenge them to competitions through Garmin Connect.

The only downside of the Forerunner 35 is that it is only water resistant, which means resistant to sweat and light splashing water. It cannot be used to track, swimming or other water sports, so you won’t be able to challenge your friends in lap times around the swimming pool.

PROS:

  • Heart rate monitor
  • Inbuilt GPS
  • Connected features
  • All-day activity tracking
  • Automatic uploading of your data to Garmin Connect

CONS:

  • Not waterproof
  • The data can be imprecise sometimes

Related: Nothing makes the workout more effective than fast beat music. Therefore, to allow yourself to be even more motivated by listening to your favorite workout tunes, we recommend getting a pair of wireless headphones. The Dimica Wireless Bluetooth Headphones are comfortable and lightweight, cancel the surrounding noise, come with a rechargeable battery, and have a microphone, so that you can take calls as well while running or working out.

Check the price on Amazon

Garmin Forerunner 25 Watch Garmin Forerunner 25 Watch

Price: Approx. $110

Dimensions: 0.6 x 1.6 x 1.9 in

Specific features: Built-in heart rate monitor, step counter, virtual pacer, waterproof, GPS

Best use: Quick workouts, short marathons

Description: A more budget-friendly option, the Garmin Forerunner offers a great start for those only needing a basic solution. Garmin Forerunner 25 Watch is a great option for those who would rather track specific workouts rather than daily activity.

The Forerunner 25 measures distance and speed, while also monitoring your heart rate and calories burned during workouts.  Furthermore, it also connects with an online community through Garmin Connect Mobile, so that you can compare your daily scores with your friends, and set or take on challenges.  But, with only 8-10 hours of runtime, it has a relatively short battery life and, if used to track all activity, including global positioning, it will likely need to be charged on a daily basis.

However, if you don’t need to know your position all the time, you can drastically improve the battery life by turning off its GPS. It can last up to 10 days without the GPS turned on, while still tracking and displaying all your workout statistics.

PROS:

  • Heart rate monitoring
  • Great advanced running dynamics features
  • Smart notifications
  • Automatic upload

CONS:

  • Short battery life when the GPS is turned on

Related: It is always a smart idea to have spare parts for any product you buy. In this case, the most sensitive part and most likely to get damaged first is the watch wristband. Therefore, we recommend getting the Garmin Forerunner 25 GPS Running Watch Wristband in advance so that if the band gets damaged, you don’t have to wait for the replacement to come and have a break from collecting the important workout data.

Check the price on Amazon

Garmin Forerunner 920XT Watch Garmin Forerunner 920XT Watch

Price: Approx. $275

Dimensions: 0.5 x 1.9 x 2.2 in

Specific features: Stylish black and blue color scheme, button control, color display, waterproof

Best use: Running, swimming, cycling

Description: The Garmin  920XT Watch offers excellent versatility, especially for triathlon competitors.  The price is a little below the average of the company’s options, but lack much to make up for it.  It doesn’t have a touchscreen display, but the navigation buttons are actually intuitive.

Furthermore, the watch comes bundled with an HRM-Run heart monitor, which offers, even more, feedback than available with any fitness watch.  In fact, it can go so far as to measure VO2 Max and recommend how much rest should accompany each workout.

Also, it can provide VO2 feedback on a bike, when used with a power meter, and, is also waterproof and provides real-time feedback while swimming or doing any other type of watersports. For example, When you are doing laps at the pool or swimming out in the open water, the watch monitors detailed swim metrics, such as distance, pace, stroke count, stroke rate, and SWOLF score.

So, all in all, even though it does lack in some areas, the Forerunner 920XT definitely makes up when it comes to water-based workouts and is a great choice for swimmers.

PROS:

  • Waterproof
  • Affordable
  • Plenty of workout modes for various types of sports

CONS:

  • Doesn’t have a touchscreen

Related: Since this is a quite versatile watch model, and is a great choice for triathlon competitors, it would be a shame not to use its full potential, such as VO2 feedback while on a bike, among other things. That’s why we recommend that you take a look at the Garmin Bike Speed Sensor and Cadence Sensor and seriously up the ante on your next triathlon training. 

Check the price on Amazon

Garmin Forerunner 620 Watch Garmin Forerunner 620 Watch

Price: Approx. $290

Dimensions: 1.8 x 1.8 x 0.5 in

Specific features: 1-inch color touchscreen display, advanced GPS, accelerometer, wireless pairing

Best use: Running, indoor and outdoor workout routines

Description: The Garmin Forerunner 620 Watch is another great choice for the buyers with a cautious budget.  The watch offers valuable workout feedback for a variety of metrics, including cadence, oscillation, and even the degree of bounce.

Also, the partially mesh strap is as breathable as it is comfortable, even if your wrist gets sweaty during extensive workouts. Furthermore, the watch features both a touchscreen and a touchpad, for easier use.  The screen splits information into segments, which allows you to keep track of multiple data sets simultaneously.

The Forerunner 620 also works with a variety of training plans which were carefully designed by fitness professionals for Garmin Connect.  In fact, these plans even provide coaching, offering athletes the benefit of private training, all without any additional cost.

Furthermore, the watch can also be paired up with the heart rate monitor for keeping track of your fitness level through advanced features such as recovery advisor, race predictor and VO2 max estimate. But, the heart rate monitor is sold separately.

PROS:

  • Advanced features
  • Well built
  • GPS works flawlessly

CONS:

  • The touchscreen can have glitches
  • The wireless upload often fails

Related: Since this watch is sold without a heart rate monitor, and if you do wish to check your heart rate and other important workout feedback, we recommend checking out the Garmin Premium Heart Rate Monitor. It comes with a very comfortable strap and is compatible with the Forerunner 620 watch model. 

Check the price on Amazon

Garmin Forerunner 630 Watch Garmin Forerunner 630 Watch

Price: Approx. $250

Dimensions: 1.8 x 0.5 x 1.8 in

Specific features: 1.23-inch screen, advanced running dynamics, audio prompts, music controls, recovery advisor

Best use: Running, cycling, indoor fitness

Description: The Garmin Forerunner 630 Watch comes as an upgrade over the Forerunner 620 model.  It does come with a higher price, but also offers new features to match.  The screen is larger, at 1.23-inches, and more vivid.  Despite this, it actually weighs less than its predecessor, making it one of Garmin’s lightest watches.

Furthermore, the charts displayed right on the screen offer useful information based on your activities, and are designed with ease of understanding in mind.  Also, a stress score will help you determine whether you are pushing yourself too little or too hard.

The watch also comes with live tracking, which means that your friends and rivals, can follow your workout in real time, including your statistics. All you have to do is to pair the watch with your phone, and use the watch to activate LiveTrack. The Forerunner 620 also allows you to share your results, by using the Garmin Connect mobile app to post updates on social media. And, the watch also offers free training plans for real-time coaching while you run, at Garmin Connect.

PROS:

  • Advanced features
  • Comfortable
  • Light
  • The touchscreen is very responsive

CONS:

  • Can give false data if the GPS is turned on for indoor workouts

Related: Nobody likes to have a watch with a scratched screen, especially if that screen is touch sensitive. To protect your touchscreen, we recommend checking out the Exun Screen Protector Glass. The glass is specifically designed for Garmin Forerunner 235/225/630/620/220/230 models, and offers protection from impacts, and is hard to scratch. 

Check the price on Amazon

Garmin Forerunner 230 Watch Garmin Forerunner 230 Watch

Price: Approx. $300

Dimensions: 0.5 x 1.8 x 1.8 in

Specific features: Audio prompts, smart notifications, accelerometer, VO2 max reader

Best use: Running, indoor track, treadmill

Description: When paired up with your smartphone, the Garmin Forerunner 230 Watch offers pretty much everything you need to measure and enhance your fitness regime.  The large screen, it comes with, provides a split view of pertinent information. The screen, actually, is the same overall size as the older, 220 model, but the screen to the non-screen area of the display is 44% bigger with the 230 model.

Furthermore, it keeps track of steps, calories, and even inactivity as the watch vibrates to inform you when your body has been at rest for too long.  It will also keep track of your pace, and even offers a timer function.  The Forerunner 230 also allows you to stay connected as it displays texts, emails, call alerts, and even calendar notifications from your smartphone.

All in all, the Forerunner 230 is a great choice for people with an active lifestyle and for running in the backcountry as it comes with an exceptional GPS as well as GLONASS, and its software can be further enhanced with downloadable upgrades, including widgets and even a number of useful fitness applications.

PROS:

  • Personal record tracker
  • Virtual pacer
  • Customizable screen
  • Step counter
  • Wrist-based heart rate monitor

CONS:

  • The strap falls apart rather quickly

Related: If you like to run in the backcountry, you know how easy it is for your watch screen to get scratched or broken. Therefore, you need to make sure the screen is protected, yet fully functional. We recommend the Supershieldz 2-Pack Tempered Glass Protection for Garmin 220/230 and other same screen size watches. The glass is scratch proof, has the anti-fingerprint abilities, and comes with a lifetime replacement warranty.

Check the price on Amazon

Garmin Forerunner 235 Watch Garmin Forerunner 235 Watch

Price: Approx. $270

Dimensions: 0.5 x 1.8 x 1.8 in

Specific features: Lithium-ion battery, 24/7 tracking, classic watch design, color touchscreen display, GPS, audio prompts, wrist-based heart monitor

Best use: Running, cycling

Description: The Garmin Forerunner 235 Watch uses GPS technology to provide accurate information about your workout routines.  In addition to measuring steps and distance, it can even offer feedback regarding elevation change.

Furthermore, the watch also tracks physiological metrics, including calorie loss, VO2 max, and even sleep patterns.  The 235 also offers a feature that we found especially useful if you work out mostly in the outdoors, the weather updates. This feature allows you to quickly change your fitness plans, according to current weather predictions. And, you can do it all while keeping up with real-time message alerts via Garmin Connect.

Another useful feature is that you won’t have to worry about pushing yourself too hard because the Forerunner 235 watch offers recommended recovery times based on your unique physiology and the readings it gets from the optional heart rate monitor. So, in general, it’s like having a personal trainer and a meteorologist, working out together with you all the time.

PROS:

  • Precise GPS
  • Weather alerts
  • Advanced fitness based features

CONS:

  • Navigation takes getting used to
  • No virtual pacer feature

Related: Having a spare watch band for your fitness watch is never a bad idea as it can get easily damaged during the workouts. But, having more bands, in a different color, is even a better idea as you can actually pair them with the rest of your workout gear. Therefore, we recommend the MoKo Soft Silicone Replacement Watch Band. The package includes 6 soft and comfortable bands in different colors.

Check the price on Amazon

Garmin Forerunner 735XT Watch Garmin Forerunner 735XT Watch

Price: Approx. $350

Dimensions: 0.47 x 1.75 x 1.75 in

Specific features: Support for a variety of activities, silicone band, VO2 Max measurements, lithium-ion battery, color display, button controls

Best use: Running, hiking, kayaking, cycling, weightlifting, and skiing

Description: One of the best features of the Garmin Forerunner 735XT Watch is its customized settings for a variety of sports.  You can keep track of your running distance with a step counter, count the number of laps with its swim settings, and even measure elevation as you hike the mountains, or speed while cycling. You can even measure the statistics for paddle sports, weightlifting, and skiing.

A specially designed silicone band keeps it comfortable and durable through it all. Regardless of your chosen activity, it will also keep track of your heart rate throughout the day all on its own.  It can be connected to your smartphone for automatic information storage, music controls and message notifications.

The 735XT comes with a higher price tag, but it is certainly worth the extra cost for the most enthusiastic and versatile athletes. Sports professionals will find the 735XT’s ability to estimate race times particularly useful.

Check the price on Amazon

Wrap Up

With the Garmin Forerunner 735XT watch, we have reached the end of our post. After going through everything here, you now possess all the important knowledge for making the right choice when it comes to Garmin’s Smart watches. Just remember to summarize all the features that are important for your personal fitness or other sports needs, and base the final choice on that.

Now, if you are still not sure which model might be the perfect one for you, we can help out by saying that, for example, if you are a professional or fully active sportsman, and need plenty of data to make the right assessment of your workout routines, you should pay attention to the last model in our list, the Forerunner 735XT, as it comes as the most advanced one on our list.

garmin watch

On the other hand, if you don’t need to much feedback, but simply want to have the basic data of your fitness routines, you will be fine with the less advanced, and more affordable model, the Forerunner 25. It comes with less data collecting but is a reliable watch nevertheless.

At the end, it’s your turn to share thoughts. Have you used any of the reviewed models? If so, what are your experiences? Did we forget to include a model that you think should be on the list? Let us know by leaving a comment in the comments section below. Thanks for reading, and if you think that your friends can benefit from reading this article, feel free to share it on social media.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Jerry Mueller

Jerry Mueller

Jerry ‘Boy Scout’ Mueller spends 99% of his time camping or teaching others how to live in the wild. He became an Eagle Scout which is the highest rank attainable in the Boy Scouting division when he was 17 and after that he still lives the scout life. Jerry always plans neatly every trip, takes leadership very seriously and if you listen to his tips and stories, you can learn tons of useful things.