Garmin is a company and brand that offers wrist-wearable watches and trackers. Their constantly evolving smartwatches offer a great way to keep track of your fitness activities. The smartwatches built-in sports apps, wrist-based heart-rate, and activity tracking are only a few of the great features offered by Garmin.
With smartwatches applicable to all kinds of fitness levels and activities, we wanted to go ahead and give you our review of the best Garmin GPS Smartwatches in store. This way you’ll know, which Garmin GPS Smartwatch is best for what. Whether you’re looking for a watch to help you increase activity or simply maintain and keep track of your activity levels, we’ll be sure to lend a hand.
There are many smartwatches and wearables provided by Garmin. For that reason, we decided to keep the focus of this post exclusive to smartwatches. They have excellent activity trackers as well that should perhaps be discussed separately. For now, we’ll be reviewing the best Garmin GPS smartwatches below to wear at home, on the go, or through out your next outdoor or fitness activity!
Garmin Vivoactive Black
great for: swimming, biking/cycling, golfing, running, walking, in-home, at the office.
The ultra-thin Garmin vivoactive black contains built-in sports apps for all kinds of activities. From GPS-enabled running to biking, golfing, and swimming, the Garmin vivoactive smartwatch gives you all the stats you need.
The running app tracks distance, pace, and heart-rate, which can also be accompanied by vibration alerts. Built-in accelerometer, speed, and cadence trackers allow you to keep track of stats when there is no GPS.
A post-run summary can also be synced to your phone, using Garmin Connect Mobile. With it you’ll see burned calories and personal records to keep you motivated. In addition to its running app, Garmin Vivoactive is also great for biking and cycling.
Used to measure distance, speed, time, and calories, the vivoactive smartwatch is great for daily biking commutes or for your favorite cycling class. If you need an app for your golfing activity, vivoactive has got one.
With over 38,000 courses to choose from, Garmin will keep your smartphone synced with the latest course-maps, while keeping all your favorite golfing stats up to date – this includes tallies, par with scorecard, distances, timer, and steps.
The Garmin vivoactive is also great for swimming and diving. Its accelerometer technology allows you to measure total and interval distances, laps, session averages, burned calories, stroke counts, strokes per length, session and interval averages, and length and interval pace.
The vivoactive smartwatch is also great for walking and general fitness or activity. The watch will learn your current activity level and remind you when you’ve been sedentary for too long.
It will also give you a daily step count goal to strive towards and adjust this goal on a daily basis. In addition to tracking your daily steps, it will also track calories burned and distance.
The vivoactive also sends you any notifications you might receive on your phone. This includes any incoming calls, missed call IDs, and text information, including the sender and message itself. You’ll also receive e-mail messages, social media and mobile app notifications, and even weather alerts.
The vivoactive can be purchased with or without a heart-rate monitor and is described as being ultra-thin, sunlight readable, and high-resolution with a sunlight display. Its battery lasts up to 3 weeks in watch or activity tracker mode and up to 10-hours when using GPS!
Garmin Vivoactive HR GPS Smartwatch
great for: running, biking, swimming, snowboarding, skiing, golf, paddle boarding, rowing, in-home, at office.
The Garmin vivoactive HR smartwatch with GPS is great for playing all kinds of outdoor sports. It also uses elevated heart rate technology to measure your heart-rate using your wrist-pulse. This means you don’t need to wear a chest-strap.
The vivoactive HR has an 8 day battery-life when used in watch or activity tracker mode and 13-hours when used in GPS mode. Its water-resistant nature allows you to use the smartwatch through out all kinds of water and winter sports and activities.
The smartwatch’s running app uses both a GPS and built-in accelerometer to keep track of your distance, time, and pace, when running both indoors and outdoors. It can also be used when biking or cycling to measure speed, time, distance, and calories.
Its golf app allows you to play and download from thousands of course-maps available, while keeping track of stats like score, stroke, distance, and holes. Its intensity tracking feature further makes the smartwatch great for walking, climbing, sleeping, and keeping track of intensity minutes.
Other excellent sports that the vivoactive HR smartwatch can be used for include swimming, snowboarding, skiing, rowing, paddle-boarding, and more. The vivoactive HR will further track steps and calories-burned through out the day, making it a good fit for in-home and office use.
The watch can be customized with over 13,000 apps including designs, widgets, and data fields downloadable from Garmin’s Connect IQ store. The smartwatch can also be synced to your smartphone to receive the latest text messages, e-mail messages, calls, and social media notifications.
Garmin Forerunner 35 Watch
great for: walking, running, sprinting, racing, biking, spinning, swimming, rowing, in-home, at office.
The Garmin forerunner 35 watch is great for those who enjoy moving around on their feet, as well as for activities like swimming, rowing, and biking. Its built-in GPS is used to track location, movement, and how far and fast you’ve walked or ran.
The forerunner 35 watch is further capable of measuring your heart rate using the pulse of your wrist. This is done with Garmin’s Elevate wrist heart-rate technology. This also allows you to run without a chest strap.
The watch’s run/walk mode further alerts you when you should slow down, speed up, or take a walk-break amidst your run. Key aspects measured include pace, calories, distance, and more.
The watch can be purchased in a performance bundle, with a bike mount, or on its own. Additional features of the forerunner 35 watch include vibration alerts of running prompts, smartphone notifications, activity tracking milestones, and virtual placements.
Smart connectivity further include music controls, automatic updates, and auto uploads, while its high-resolution display makes the watch great for indoor and outdoor viewing.
Garmin Vivoactive 3 GPS Smartwatch
great for: yoga, running, swimming, walking, cycling, biking, cardio, golfing, strength workouts, in-home, at office.
The Garmin vivoactive 3 smartwatch includes over 15 GPS and indoor sports apps. The GPS smartwatch allows you to make contact-less payments right from your wrist using Garmin Pay, allowing you to make easy purchases on the go.
Its GPS also allows individuals to record their pace, distance, and location when performing any one of their outdoor activities. This also includes water-based activities like swimming. The Garmin vivoactive 3 smartwatch will further allow you to track the stats on any number of great sports.
You could find the nearest golf course, go for a bike ride, take a lap around the track, or even do some yoga, only to find your vivoactive 3 hard at work. Included with the watch is Garmin’s Elevate wrist-based heart technology, used to measure heart rate and measure various aspects of your fitness.
Of these, the vivoactive 3 is able to measure your VO2, or maximal oxygen uptake and your HRV, which is your heart rate variability, used for tracking and calculating levels of stress. Similar to other models, the vivoactive 3 can be synced with your smartphone to receive calls, messages, texts, emails, social media updates, and more.
Garmin’s Connect online community also allows you to store data, join challenges, encourage each other, and share progress through social media. Battery life on the vivoactive 3 lasts 7 days on watch mode and 13 hours on GPS mode. The vivoactive 3 is available in white with stainless hardware, black with stainless hardware, and black with slate hardware!
Garmin Forerunner 235
great for: walking, running, sprinting, biking, spinning, racing, swimming, rowing, in-home, at office.
The Garmin forerunner 235 is good for all kinds of activity. Use of Elevate wrist heart-rate always keeps you informed of your heart-rate when needed, without use of a chest strap.
Its use of a vibration alert informs you when you have been sedentary for too long. The forerunner 235 is also capable of estimating your VO2 max levels, indicating your maximal oxygen uptake. Activity tracking on the forerunner 235 further tracks counted steps, distance, and calories through out the day.
The Garmin forerunner 235 is described as having a colored display with advanced workouts. It also has a recovery adviser signaling to you when and how long you should rest in-between workouts. The forerunner 235 monitors both sleep and activity, as well as your wrist-based heart rate.
It also includes pace alert, while Connect IQ allows users to freely download data fields, apps, widgets, and watch faces to style your watch to your liking. Its neat weather widget also allows you to receive current weather forecasts and conditions, while smart notifications allow you to view any incoming calls, texts, e-mails, and other alerts.
The Garmin forerunner 235 further boasts a 9-day long batter when in watch mode and 11-hours long when in training mode. The forerunner 235 watch is available on its own, with a bike mount, or complete biking bundle. It is also available in marsala, frost blue, and a black/gray combination!
Garmin Forerunner 630
The touchscreen forerunner 630 GPS running watch includes a high-resolution colored display with Connect IQ, which allows you to customize your watch to your favorite style. You can do this by downloading various applications, data fields, watch faces, and widgets.
Connect IQ also allows you to download training plans and advanced workouts right to your watch. The forerunner 630’s ability to detect your VO2 max, or your maximum oxygen uptake is accompanied by features like stress core, performance condition, and lactate threshold detection.
Other advanced running dynamics may also be enabled. Such stats include vertical ratio, ground contact time, and real-time stride length. Other HRM-run monitor measurements include vertical oscillation, cadence, and vertical ratio. The watch can also be used to predict various race times.
Thanks to the apps wireless connectivity, you can also receive weather forecasts, conditions, and notifications directly to your watch. Its wireless connectivity allows for automatic uploads to Garmin Connect, audio prompts, live tracking, music notifications, sharing on social media, and smart notifications.
The watch also provides you with a recovery time feature, letting you know how much time to recover and wait in-between your workouts. It also has a virtual pacer, step counter, and is able to track stats like distance, time, pace, and calories. The Garmin forerunner 630 can be purchased with or without a heart rate monitor.
You can also check out the Garmin forerunner 735XT, which has the features of the forerunner 630, as well as a wrist-based heart rate monitor and strava suffer score.
Garmin Fenix 3
great for: indoor rowing, racing, swimming, running, golfing, outdoor recreation, cycling, walking, in-home, at office.
The Garmin Fenix 3 smartwatch is available in many different kinds of materials and packages. It can be purchased with or without a wrist-based heart rate feature. It can be purchased with a glass or sapphire lens material.
Its strap material can be purchased in a TPU, steel & TPU, silicone, or silicone & titanium material. There are many different customizable options when it comes to the Garmin Fenix 3. The Garmin Fenix 3 with HR for example, can be bought in a number of bundles.
These include the single base model, a base model with temperature sensor, base model with a silver bezel, a performer bundle, special edition stainless steel, and special edition titanium. The Garmin Fenix 3 sports-watch can also be used for all kinds of activities.
It can be used in the gym, while running, or for a number of great outdoor recreation activities like hiking, climbing, skiing, and more. The multi-sport Garmin Fenix 3 is further described as rugged, smart, and capable. It has an omni-directional EXO antenna with GLONASS & GPS satellite reception.
It also has advanced running dynamic features to indicate metrics like vertical oscillation, V02 max, vertical ratio, recovery adviser, and more. Great for outdoor navigation, the Garmin Fenix 3 also offers a 3-axis compass, barometer, altimeter, and TracBack feature.
These allow you to monitor stats like ascent/descent metrics, weather changes, and movement tracking. The TracBack feature specifically allows you navigate your way back to your starting point with other pertinent information. The watch can also be used to create and customize your own courses and pathways.
The Garmin Fenix 3 HR further allows for wrist-based heart rate technology. The battery life on the Fenix 3 HR last 2 weeks with 24/7 heart-rate monitoring, while the battery life on all other Fenix 3 smartwatches can last 3 weeks, depending on settings.
Garmin Fenix 5
great for: indoor rowing, strength training, running, golfing, outdoor recreation, cycling, swimming, in-home, at office.
Similar to the Garmin Fenix 3, the Fenix 5 has many customizable options and styles to choose from. There is the Fenix 5S, the Fenix 5, the Fenix 5S Sapphire, the Fenix 5 Sapphire, and the Fenix 5X Sapphire. All options use the Elevate wrist-based heart rate technology.
The Fenix 5S Sapphire, Fenix 5 Sapphire, and Fenix 5X Sapphire all use a scratch-resistance sapphire lens. They are also all wi-fi enabled. The Fenix 5X sapphire also has pre-loaded topographic and cyclic maps available.
Built-in activity profiles on the Fenix 5 further allow you to use the watch for all kinds of sports and activities. Whether you’re looking to go on a hiking trip or strength train at your local gym, the Fenix 5 will equip you with the necessary performance metrics.
Advanced running dynamics will show you how to improve overall performance via performance conditioning, stride length, cadence and lactate thresh-hold. Other metrics include stress score, ground contact time and balance, and vertical ratio and oscillation when paired with the HRM-run.
You’ll also find the Fenix has plenty of special features and functions to help with many distinguished sports and activities. In addition to sports, the Fenix 5 offers outdoor sensors for outdoor recreational use, as well as GPS and GLONASS satellite reception. It also has a built-in altimeter, barometer, and 3-axis compass.
Each watch is furthermore, bluetooth compatible without taking up too much energy. It is also ANT+ compatible. Display sizes of each watch are anywhere from 1.1″ to 1.2″ and all feature smart notifications. QuickFit bands allow for interchangeable styles with a choice of leather, silicone, or metal wristbands.
A performance widget can further show your progress through out each workout or activity, while connectivity features allow for further personalization and style by downloading watch faces and apps from Connect IQ.
The Fenix 5’s great readability is enhanced by a high-resolution, bright, full-color display, while use of a transflective technology makes the watch even more readable, especially under direct sunlight.
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