In the world of wearables that Apple Watch and Fitbit dominate, the best Garmin watches reserve a special place on the wrists of those who enjoy the great outdoors. How could it not be? The Apple Watch seems like the best wearable to make you look good on occasions. Meanwhile, Fitbit is great for tracking your physical pursuits.
The answer lies in wanting a watch for daily use but also one that can help you track your physical activities. This is because Garmin is the handsome choice in the catalog of fitness watches in the market today. And in this article, we will be covering the best Garmin watches to choose for active pursuits in 2022.
Also read: 13 Best Budget Smartwatches to Get Now
Best Garmin Watches for Sports
As you may have already figured out, there is a Garmin watch ideal for swimming, cycling, and more. Let’s go over the best Garmin watches fit for sports first, shall we?
Taking a quick glance at the Garmin Fenix 6X Pro, one could conclude that it is not different from the Garmin Fenix 5 Plus. However, the screen on the Fenix 6X Pro does look different and better than the previous generations of this watch. We love this new generation of the Garmin Fenix because it is loaded with sports tracking and activity options while leaving you with an added option to add others not found on the list.
On a micro level, what changed in the Fenix 6X Pro from its previous generations is that you’d be able to see graphical data points on the watch’s screen. This is something we have not quite appreciated before, but it’s there on the screen, giving this watch better productivity than other Garmin watches.
However, the biggest change is the eight tracking field displays on the screen. This is the reason why the Garmin Fenix 6X Pro is best for hikers or cyclists. You get to see data trackers for heart rate, distance, temperature, battery level, the time elapsed, time of the day, and the likes at once.
Additionally, the power saver mode in this device has been improved to the point that it can save battery life significantly to suit your custom needs. The widgets on the device are well arranged and easy to access compared to their previous generations. It’s also a plus that the screen looks crisp even in very bright environments, which, on other Garmin watches, may cause the screen to display poorly.
- 1. More widgets to choose from
- 2. Better screen display and variety of watch faces
- 3. Improved battery management tools
- 1. Pricey
- 2. Features note as good as those on the Fenix 5X
The Garmin Venu 2 is the newest of the wearables featured here. Of course, only being new doesn’t immediately make it one of the best Garmin watches for sports. It should have sports-related perks. So, let’s discuss those right now.
The Venu 2 is loaded with smart health and fitness tracking functions, which can help you assess your preparedness for sports. For example, it can give you data about your energy and stress levels, hydration, and respiration. It also lets you select preset workouts or customize those via the Garmin Connect app. What’s more, there are 25 apps on it for walking, running, cycling, HIIT, swimming, golf, and other activities.
Besides the intelligent functions, what makes the Venu 2 one of the best Garmin watches is its vivid AMOLED display and big storage for music. So, whenever you need entertainment while doing physical activities, you’re definitely covered.
- 1. Many fitness tracking parameters
- 2. Saves up to 650 songs from music streaming services
- 3. Garmin Pay-compatible
- 1. Third-party apps not supported
- 2. Basic smartwatch features
The Garmin Vivoactive 4 is also among the best Garmin fitness watches in the market today.
This Vivoactive watch makes a departure from having just one configuration button on the side. It has two side configuration buttons allowing you to navigate it easily and make the most of its functionalities.
And since this is a fitness watch, there are a number of widgets in the watch that will allow you to track your fitness and physical profiles. The Garmin Vivoactive 4 watch is particularly powerful because of the Garmin Elevate heart rate sensor that is capable of reading your heart rate and respiration accurately.
- 1. Easy to navigate from one widget to another
- 2. Features animated guided workout videos
- 1. Uses two companion apps to get your widgets and watch faces
- 2. Battery life depleting fast because of configurations and tracking functions
The Garmin Forerunner 945 features advanced training metrics. This metric tracker allows you to track your VO2 Max or the maximum oxygen intake during exercises, as well as the amount of time you take to run a certain distance. It is also equipped with the Garmin Elevate heart rate sensor, which also tracks blood oxygen saturation.
While the main alteration to the Forerunner 945 is its slightly bigger dimension, the majority of its features and displays remain similar to the version that came before it.
What we love about this watch is it features full offline mapping capabilities — something that is missing on other Garmin watches. This means you can navigate through any course directly from your wrist without using an actual computer or mobile device. And even with this feature, the Forerunner 945 still has better battery life compared to its successor, the Forerunner 745.
- 1. Can store music directly into the watch storage
- 2. Garmin Pay-compatible
- 1. GPS capabilities less accurate than the Forerunner 745
- 2. Heart rate accuracy less accurate than the Forerunner 745
Best Garmin Watches for Running
Running is a physical activity that involves no other equipment (save for running indoors using a treadmill). It’s comparatively less taxing than doing multisport activities. However, it is widely preferred by many to keep their body moving considering the busy schedules they might have.
In this section, we will go over some of the best Garmin watches for running.
Garmin Forerunner 745 sits between its predecessors, the Forerunner 245/645 and the flagship Forerunner 945. This smartwatch is a multisport watch but has always been good for running. It’s also preferred by those who want some features found in the 945 and also advanced features such as open water swimming and triathlon.
The Forerunner 745 is equipped with Garmin’s Elevate heart rate sensor as well as the Pulse Ox sensor that is capable of tracking the oxygen level in your blood. Additionally, you’d be able to monitor your calories with a breakdown of your active calories in a chart view.
The wearable also comes with offline music storage and playback capabilities. This allows you to store music in the device and stream them when doing your run. Other than that, you can view your calendar and weather information when paired to your phone.
- 1. Gets one-way notification when paired with the user’s iPhone
- 2. Can reply to text messages using pre-defined responses when paired with an Android phone
- 3. Good battery life depending on usage
- 1. Can receive a call but has to use the mobile device to answer
Enduro is Garmin’s first solar-powered ultra-performance GPS multisport watch. At first glance, it does look smooth and premium, with titanium bezels locking the watch face punctuated by green accents. It’s a plus that this watch resembles the Garmin Fenix series watch slide, but we’d rather focus on what the watch can do.
We love the number of activity profiles and training menus you can have on this watch. This is particularly good for those who love physical activities indoors and outdoors due to this watch’s tracking and monitoring capabilities.
One advanced feature that Garmin equipped the Enduro with is the Trail Running VO2 Max, which makes oxygen monitoring during trail running more accurate, especially in challenging terrains. The previous VO2 Max monitor was designed to monitor running on flat surfaces for road running.
With its good battery life, it does market itself as one of the best Garmin watches for those who love extended time outdoors.
- 1. VO2 Max on by default, working seamlessly with any trail run profiles
- 2. Full 200 hours of use with the max battery options turned on using the Power Mode
- 1. A watered-down Fenix 6X Pro Solar watch sans the maps, WiFi, and music features.
Garmin Instinct is a watch developed to come in between the other Garmin watches. It blends all the features under a different design that is a departure from what a signature Garmin watch would normally look like.
The watch is made of plastic, but make no mistake — it is US military-grade built to 810G for thermal shock and water-resistant down to 100m. Still, it is a lightweight watch and should fit a variety of wrists.
It’s a little bit off that the display is monochromatic through and through but it has a good contrast display which makes it good for reading under direct sunlight.
This is one of those best Garmin watches that is loaded when it comes to the basics you need in a fitness watch. For one, it comes with open water swimming, live track, and trail run auto-climb profiles. Another is that it has a hunt/fish calendar widget, sun and moon info, and dual grid coordinates among other cool features perfect for outdoor activities. Plus, we did not have issues with its GPS capabilities and its solid tracks features.
- 1. Made of chemically strengthened glass
- 2. Customizable screen display
- 3. Good battery life, perfect for outdoor runners
- 1. Screen display feeling too loaded and constricted because of the bezels
- 2. VO2 Max feature not available
- 3. No mobile payment compatibility
- 4. No offline music streaming storage
- 5. Connect IQ not available
The Garmin Vivoactive 3 watch is so slim you’d tend to forget it’s there on your wrist. This is despite the fact the heart rate sensor is at the rear of the watch. It’s also among the best Garmin watches for running because of this feature and it works in the way it should.
The Vivoactive 3 does look sleek and premium with its Gorilla Glass 3, which is scratch-resistant. It also reads well even under direct sunlight, similar to other best Garmin watches.
It is a good watch for active people who run and cycle a lot, thanks to its battery life that lasts five full days. This is an average count, especially if you are using your GPS a lot during activities. The watch, though, is marketed to last for seven days but five full days of active use is a good count.
The wearable comes with the Garmin-native sports profiles pre-installed. Moreover, the GPS accuracy in the Vivoactive 3 watch is also pretty good.
- 1. Lightweight
- 2. Side-swipe feature that allows users to navigate the watch efficiently
- 1. Not compatible with HRM-Tri, HRM-Run, and HRM-Swim
Final Word on Garmin Watches
It does not escape us that the best Garmin watches we listed here may be a lot for some pockets. However, if you want a watch that does not only cost and look premium but performs premium, it’d be wise to go for these units.
Meanwhile, there are honorable mentions; these Garmin watches do not only cost less but also perform like top-tier watches by Garmin. Watches like the Garmin Vivosmart 4, Garmin Vivosport, and Garmin Vivofit also come with GPS capabilities, Garmin Elevate heart rate sensors, and the usual active profiles. Choosing any of these would not leave you worse off.
At the end of the day, what matters most is you stay fit and any of these watches will help you track your fitness.