THE BEST GARMIN RUNNING WATCHES IN 2021
Every runner has different needs when they running. Which is why there is why we cannot label one watch as the “The best Garmin Running Watch”. Whether Running your First marathons, want to stick to a Budget Running Watch, prefer a multisport watch, or want a little of everything, Garmin has a watch to fit your needs.
Garmin has been at the forefront of GPS watches for years. It’s no accident they have the best running watches on the market. While Garmin’s watches are not inexpensive, you get a great watch that’s durable with terrific technical support and a one-year warranty.
To help you, we reviewed top 10 Running Watches on the basis of durability, performance, activity tracking and other crucial aspects. We’ve noted some key features and design feature we believe that one needs to keep in mind before purchasing a Running Watch. These are.
ECO Whiff is a participant in Affiliate Programs such as Commission Junction and the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to amazon.co.uk
Table of Contents
Garmin Running Watch Design Features
Design features can be broken down into many categories, and we have selected the most important features that runners would more likely look into.
99% of the time this all comes down to if your a person who needs the latest gadget or you buy gadgets based on their practicality.
Considering that you’ll be using your Running Watch for extensive workouts, its durability should be the topmost priority. What’s the use of investing a fortune in the best brand when all you get is fancy looks? Read reviews, check for the frame material, and decide whether it’ll be able to withstand hard blows and rough workout sessions.
Multiple Activity Tracking
Many Running Watches simply track your steps, calories burned, and distance walked. This might be enough for beginners but for professional athletes, calorie counting is not enough.
Investing in a Running Watch should mean that you are able to work out without having to carry your other smart gadgets. A smart watch should be able to sync to your mobile phone so you don’t miss any important calls and messages while training. This way you’ll be able to work out without worries and expensive gadgets to take care of.
Some people like wearing fitness bands to track their fitness progress. However, those fitness bands cannot work as normal watches.
If you are into smart investments, we suggest, you shortlist smart watches that are smart enough to track your training as well as provide basic functions of a normal watch e.g. like being able to tell the time.
In a Regular Smartwatch mode, Garmin Claim you should get 5-14 days of use depending on the watch your looking at buying.
The cheapest Garmin currently is the Forerunner 35, which in fact was my first ever Garmin Smartwatch for running. On average this would last me 5-7 days on a full cycle and that includes 2/3 runs (1 x longer run at 10k, Parkrun on a Saturday and another midweek 5k)
On the Fenix 6 Garmin Claim you should get 14 days of use before it needs a recharge, if using GPS continuously, that plummets down to 36 hours, or 72 hours when set to max battery GPS mode.
However, you can extend this to 28 days if it’s put in expedition GPS activity mode or even a whopping 48 days in the new battery saver mode. We haven’t had the watch long enough yet to see how accurate these claims are, but we’ll be sure to update you further down the line.
Best Garmin Watch for 2020 / 2021
- Easy-to-use running watch monitors heart rate at the wrist and features GPS to track your pace, distance, intervals and more
- Works with free Garmin Coach adaptive training plans that bring expert, personalised coaching right to your wrist
- Connected features include smart notifications for incoming texts and calls, automatic uploads to Garmin Connect, live tracking and controls for the music playing on your phone
- Safety and tracking features include incident detection (during select activities) and assistance, which both send your real-time location to emergency contacts
- Activity tracking and sports apps for running, cycling, indoor track, treadmill, elliptical, cardio, yoga and more
Garmin Forerunner 45
Garmin has upped the game again with their beginner-friendly, basic GPS watch. The Forerunner 45 tracks runs with GPS, but also doubles as an activity tracker and monitors heart rate with a wrist sensor.
The Forerunner 45 comes in two sizes – the 45 and slightly smaller and lighter 45S. There is some genderization going on here as the 45S comes in purple and white colors while the 45 comes in black and red.
But both versions now come with a color screen that has a higher resolution than both the Forerunner 35 and 25. Battery-life remains about the same with 13 hours GPS mode.
New to the Forerunner 45 are safety features. If you need help during a workout, an assistance button will send a text and email to friends and family alerting them of your location. And if you are riding a bike, the incident detection does the same thing if you crash.
While these watches don’t store or stream music, they can control music playback on an Android phone. This eliminates the need to pull out your phone whenever you need to fiddle with the music.
The Forerunner 35 added interval workouts to Garmin’s basic watch. The Forerunner 45 builds off that and allows you to add advanced workouts. These are basically customizable workouts that can be dreamed up in any manner you (or your coach) can think of.
The Forerunner 45 is a great, basic watch. We’d call it no-frills compared to more expensive models. But it actually does have a few frills that make it a nice option at a reasonable price.
- Lightweight GPS multisport watch for tracking training data
- Tracks heart rate at the wrist day or night
- Provides information on stride length, ground contact time and more. Water rating:5 ATM
- Water resistant up to 50 m. 735XT is compatible with advanced workouts for running, cycling and even pool swimming
- Smart Notifications: receive texts, emails, calls and social media alerts on your watch. Offers VO2 max estimate, lactate threshold³, race predictor and recovery advisor
Garmin Forerunner 735XT
The Forerunner 735XT had been the top of the line watch for triathletes until Garmin released the Forerunner 735. The good news is that it’s still a great multisport watch – but now it’s on sale.
Like the fenix 6X Pro, it has tons of features for runners, cyclists, and swimmers alike. It has an extended battery life designed for long workouts or races – up to 24 hours in GPS mode. In fact, the Forerunner 735and fenix series are very similar. The biggest difference is the thinner and sleek design of the 735. It has a plastic casing, so it’s not quite as robust. But the thinner design makes it easier to peel off a wet suit during a tri.
For runners, you get advanced metrics including training status and training load. These help evaluate your runs to ensure you don’t under or over train. It also helps with form when paired with Garmin’s Running Pod. This little device tracks cadence, foot strike, and how much you bounce up and down. Together, it will help improve the efficiency of your running form.
Like most of Garmin’s watches, the Forerunner 735 has wrist-based heart rate monitoring. But you can also wear a standard chest strap for more accurate tracking. The 735 can be purchased with stronger heart rate monitors to wear while open or pool swimming.
Triathletes can track open and pool swims. Transitions at triathlons are smooth with one-button switching between activities.
For Strava users, the Forerunner 735 syncs with Strava to let you know when you are starting and finishing a segment. It also lets you know when you’ve hit a new PR for that segment.
- Tracks heart rate, VO2 max estimate and recovery advisor through Elevate Wrist Heart Rate technology. Water rating : 5 ATM
- Connected features: Automatic uploads to Garmin Connect, live tracking, audio prompts, smart notifications, social media sharing and music control
- Customised training plans from Garmin Connect on your watch for real-time coaching. Smartphone compatibility: iPhone(iOS 9.0 or Later), Android(4.4 OS or Later)
- Tracks heart rate at the wrist day or night to provide more accurate calories burned information. The display size is 1.23 inches and the display resolution is 215 x 180 pixels
- Activity tracking counts steps, distance, pace, heart rate and calories burned indoors and out
Garmin Forerunner 235
The Forerunner 235 was Garmin’s first watch with wrist heart rate and a color screen. Now it’s on sale and offered at a discounted price having been replaced by the Forerunner 245. But it’s still a great watch for runners of all experience levels.
The Forerunner 235 is lightweight and comfortable. It has a large, color display with clear resolution. It comes in 3 different color options. The band is made with light silicon that helps keep its comfortable feel, and as an added plus, the silicon helps keep runners cool.
The Forerunner 235 tracks distance, pace, and time. It doubles as a fitness tracker and counts steps and monitors sleep. For runners, the watch has advanced workouts and interval training. It uses heart rate to determine your VO2 max and to track how effective your training runs are.
With the Garmin Connect app, data is automatically uploaded when near your phone. You’ll also receive phone notifications on the watch.
The Forerunner 235 has been out for a few years now. It may be on the end of its Garmin lifecycle – i.e. it might be discontinued at some point in the near future. But it’s still a nice watch offered at a good price.
- Lightweight and easy-to-use running watch with high-resolution display and built-in GPS that tracks how far, how fast and where you run
- Tracks heart rate at the wrist day or night, to provide more accurate calories burned information
- Connected features include smart notifications, music control, automatic uploads to Garmin Connect and the ability to track your runs with LiveTrack software
- All-day activity tracking counts steps and intensity minutes and reminds you when to move. Compatibility - Android: 4.4 OS or Later & Bluetooth 4.0 or Later. Apple: iOS 9.0 or Later. Display Size: 23.5 x 23.4 mm
- Meet your fitness goals with activity profiles, run/walk mode, intervals and vibration alerts to keep you motivated
Garmin Forerunner 35
Garmin’s Forerunner 35 is a basic GPS watch with wrist heart rate. It’s been replaced by the Forerunner 45; however, this watch is still a nice option and has been heavily discounted.
The design of the Forerunner 35 resembles an Apple watch. It has a black and white, square-shaped display. The display features 128 X 128-pixel resolution, easy to read and brighter than other models that are a similar price. A pretty good battery with up to 13 hours in GPS mode.
The watch tracks time, pace, and distance with GPS for outdoor runs. But it also has profiles to track indoor runs, cardio, walking, and biking. You can program intervals on the watch. Or for beginner runners, you can program run/walk intervals (i.e. 60 sec run / 60 sec walk).
It may not be as flashy as other Forerunner models, but the 35 allows you to receive smartphone notifications from your watch. You can read texts, see who is calling, and have the ability to accept or deny each call without lifting your phone.
- Multisport GPS smartwatch that estimates heart rate at the wrist and includes colour TOPO maps featuring Trend line popularity routing to help you find and follow the best paths
- Fit for adventure with rugged design that features stainless steel or diamond-like carbon (DLC) titanium bezel, buttons and rear case. Display size is 30.4 mm diameter. Physical size is 47 x 47 x 15.8 mm
- Easily store and play up to 500 songs on your watch, and connect with Bluetooth headphones (sold separately) for phone-free listening. Display resolution: 240 x 240 pixels
- Garmin Pay contactless payment solution (available for supported cards from participating banks) lets you make convenient payments with your watch. Water rating: 10 ATM
- Built-in navigation sensors include three-axis compass, gyroscope and barometric altimeter as well as multiple satellite system (GPS, GLONASS and Galileo) to track in more challenging environments
Garmin Fenix 5 Plus
The Garmin Fenix 5 Plus is a rugged watch for the rugged user, the kind of person who’s just as at home in a canoe as they are in the desert or flinging themselves off a mountain.
Multisport adventure watches like this aren’t often that pretty to look at. If the Garmin Forerunner watches are like having a sleek sports car parked in your driveway, the hard-wearing Fenix range has been much more like parking a tank there.
However, the Fenix 5 Plus shows just how far Garmin has come on the design front. It’s still clearly a chunk of watch but at the same time, you’ve got something you can wear all day with smart clothes, without feeling like you’re making a statement about how SAS you are. In short, it’s a very nice looking and sophisticated – if a bit big – piece of kit.
- Fit for performance with rugged, sophisticated design that features an always-on 1.3-Inch (18% Larger Than previous Fenix models) sunlight-readable display with stainless steel bezel, Display resolution: 260 x 260 pixels
- Features enhanced wrist heart rate (the data and information provided by these devices is intended to be a close estimation of your activity and metrics tracked, but may not be precisely accurate) and pulse ox (this is not a medical device and is not intended for use in the diagnosis or monitoring of any medical condition)
- Advanced training features include pacepro for grade-adjusted pace guidance throughout your activity Plus environmentally adjusted VO2 max and training status estimates
- Navigate the outdoors With preloaded TOPO maps, ski maps for over 2, 000 Worldwide ski Resorts, multiple global navigation satellite system (GPS, GLONASS and Galileo) support and built-in sensors for 3-axis compass, gyroscope and barometric altimeter
- Support for Garmin Pay Contactless payments (not all countries and payment networks are eligible), music storage with premium streaming service (may require a premium subscription with a third-party music provider) support, smart notifications and more
Garmin Fenix 6 PRO
The fenix 6X Pro is Garmin’s most robust, featured-packed watch. It works great not just for running, but also cycling, swimming, hiking, skiing, paddle sports, plus a ton of other activities.
The first thing that stands out is that this is a big watch. Garmin watches seem to love industrial styles, and this watch is no exception to the rule. With its size comes a large screen with 280 X 280 resolution.
The fenix 6X Pro comes with color street and topo maps that can be viewed right on the watch. This is a huge deal when navigating new routes or finding your way on the trails. It also comes with a barometer for elevation tracking. Garmin has built some nice climb and elevation tracking features into the watch.
Wrist heart rate monitoring is standard. And like past versions, the 6X Pro has Garmin Pay – pay for things directly with your watch. It can also store music (up to 2000 songs) and one of the few watches that syncs Spotify playlists.
For running, the fenix 6X Pro can be programmed with workouts or use Garmin’s virtual training features to track pace. Advanced metrics are monitored like cadence, fitness level, and fitness recovery time.
Battery performance is pretty awesome. You’ll get 21 days in regular watch mode. Up to 60 hours in GPS mode and 15 hours with GPS and music. But new to the fenix 6X is Power Manager. This shows you how different features impact battery life. Customize the watch to use your favorite features, disable the ones you don’t need, and save battery power. You can even adjust these on the fly during your run.
Watch bands and the watch face can be customized quickly and easily.
- Sporty smartwatch with built-in GPS, sports apps and wrist-based heart rate. Display resolution is 240 x 240 pixels. The watch fits wrist with a circumference of 12.7-20.4 cm
- High-resolution colour touchscreen display for enhanced readability in all light and side swipe interface to scroll through widgets and menus
- Sports apps include yoga, cardio, strength training, running, swimming and many more; download pre-set workouts or create custom ones
- Includes fitness monitoring, such as VO2 max and fitness age estimate, plus all-day stress tracking and relaxation-based breathing timer
- Smart notifications including the ability to send prewritten responses to text messages, LiveTrack, Connect IQ watch faces and apps and more
Garmin Vivoactive 3 GPS
The Vivoactive 3 was released over two years ago and has been a popular fitness tracker ever since. Now that there’s a successor available, it’s important to compare the two wearables so you can decide which one is the better pick. The Vivoactive 4 brings some subtle changes that are worth discussing, as well as some big changes that just might win you over.
From offering two different sizes to making music storage a standard feature, there are a lot of positive upgrades here. Both editions provide you with a solid all-around fitness smartwatch that’s going to meet the needs of most casual lifestyle athletes. If you were a fan of the Vivoactive 3, you’ll certainly appreciate all the features that come with the new model. It’s got a hefty price tag, but it may just be worth it for all that you get this time around.