Best Garmin watch 2021: we compare Fenix, Venu and Forerunner

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Best Garmin watches tested and compared
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The number of Garmin running and fitness watches continues to grow, making the task of choosing the right device for you all the more difficult.

Our best Garmin GPS watch for intermediate runners is the Forerunner 55, which is the perfect next step up, offering deeper data on runs and workouts.

At the other end of the scale is the incredible Fenix 6S multi sport watch. If the Fenix doesn't track a sport, you simply shouldn't be doing it. There's a reason it costs as much as $600/£600.

And if you're looking for the best Garmin smartwatch, we'd plump for the brilliant Garmin Venu 2.

The breadth of Garmin's range means there's something for everyone, regardless of your budget. Below, we've tried our best to explain each of Garmin's running, outdoor and multi-sport watches.

Update: This article was updated in July 2021 to include the new Garmin Forerunner 55

Quick look: Our top picks

  • Best for beginner runners: Garmin Forerunner 55
  • Best for advanced runners: Garmin Forerunner 245
  • Best Garmin smartwatch: Garmin Venu 2
  • Best multisport watch: Garmin Fenix 6/6S

Garmin watches compared


Price

Sports

VO2/

Analytics

Battery life

(GPS no music)

Music

Forerunner 55

$199.99 Running
Cycling
Cardio (gym)
Yoga

Yes/Yes

20 hours GPS /

2 weeks smartwatch

No

Forerunner 35

$199.99

Running

Cycling

Cardio (gym)

Yoga

No/No

13 hours GPS /

9 days watch

No

Vivoactive 4

$269.99

Running

Cycling

Swimming

Cardio (gym)

Golf

No/No

18 hours GPS /

8 days smartwatch

Yes

(500 songs)

Spotify

Garmin Enduro $799.99Running
Ultra running
MTB and cycling
Swimming
Yes/Yes 80 hours GPS / 65 days smartwatch No
Garmin Lily $199.99Running (no GPS), cycling, open workouts, yoga No/No 5 days (no GPS battery life) No

Garmin Venu 2

$399.99

Running

Cycling

Swimming

Cardio (gym)

Golf

Yes/No

22 hours GPS / 11 days smartwatch

Yes

(2,000 songs)

Garmin Venu Sq $199.99Running

Cycling

Swimming

Cardio (gym)

Golf

Yoga

No/No 14 hours GPS / 6 days smartwatch Music version costs $249.99 500 songs.
Spotify offline

Forerunner 245 Music

$299.99

Running

Cycling

Pool swimming

Cardio

Yes/Yes

24 hours GPS / 7 days smartwatch

Yes costs $349.99

(500 songs)

Spotify offline

Forerunner 645

Music

$349.99

Running

Cycling

Pool swimming

Cardio (gym)

Yes/Yes

Up to 14 hours / 7 days smartwatch

Yes costs $449.99

(1000 songs)


Spotify offline

Forerunner 745 $499.99Triathlon
Running
Cycling
Swimming
Cardio (gym)
Yes/Yes 16 hours GPS mode / 7 days. Ultratrac GPS 21 hours Yes (500 songs)

Forerunner 945

$599.99

Running

Cycling

Pool swimming

Cardio (gym)

Yes/Yes

36 hours GPS / 2 weeks smartwatch

Yes

(1000 songs)

Fenix 6

$699

Running (trail, treadmill)

Hiking

Climbing

Biking

Cardio (gym)

Golf

Snow sports

SUP

Rowing

Kayaking

Jumpmaster

Tactical

Yes/Yes

36 hours GPS

72 hours GPS in power saver


Yes

(Pro versions only)


Spotify offline

Garmin Instinct Solar



$399.99

Running (trail, treadmill)

Hiking

Climbing

Biking

Cardio (gym)

Golf

Snow sports

SUP

Rowing

Kayaking

Jumpmaster

Tactical

No/No

GPS: 30 hours
(38 hours solar)

Max battery GPS: 70 hours
(145 hours with solar)

Expedition GPS: 28 days
(68 days with solar)

No

Garmin Vivomove 3 $219.99Running
Biking
(GPS from phone only)
Pool swimming
Strength
training
Cardio training
Elliptical
training
Stair stepping
Yoga
No/No 5 days in smartwatch mode No
Garmin Swim 2 $249.99Pool swimming
Open water swimming
Running
Biking
No/No Smartwatch mode: Up to 7 days

GPS mode: Up to 13 hours
No

Garmin running watches

Garmin's running watches aren't just about running. Most will track other kinds of sports too, including cycling, pool swimming and offer a general cardio mode to cover off other activities. All the company's fitness watches are now water resistant, too.

Put simply, the Forerunner range is huge. The more expensive the watch generally means the greater the battery life, more advanced analytics based on heart rate and the ability to store/listen to music. Here are our picks.

Garmin Forerunner 55

Best Garmin watch 2021: we compare Fenix, Venu and Forerunner

Price when reviewed: $199.99 | Forerunner 55 specs

The successor to Wareable favorite the Forerunner 45, the new Forerunner 55 takes the same small and comfortable running watch and adds a load more advanced features for runners, making it an even better all round running companion.

In addition to tracking core metrics like pace, time and distance – there are also metrics for cadence. What’s more, there’s also a cadence alert, which will notify you if your steps per minute land outside of your desired target.

Garmin has included support for Garmin Coach, which means you can do guided run workouts from the wrist for distances like 5k and half marathon distance. It's now inherited Garmin's PacePro pacing strategies feature, which has previously needed mapping support to put it to use. While the 55 lacks those mapping features, it is still able to make use of PacePro to help tackle races.

There’s a renewed focus on recovery, and the Forerunner 55 will advise you on how long to rest after a session. It also offers daily suggested workouts based on logged sessions, the useful race predictor and unlike the 45, has full Connect IQ Store access.

It’s a much more advanced feature set than the Forerunner 45. Although we loved the simplicity, there’s a lot more for runners here than before.

We love…

We don't love…

In-depth: Read our full Garmin Forerunner 55 review


Garmin Forerunner 35

Garmin Forerunner 35

Available for: $99.99 | Forerunner 35 specs page

The Forerunner 35 has been upgraded in the shape of the Forerunner 45 and 55, and a quick look on Amazon shows minimal price differences between the two. However, if you spot a deal for less than $100, and we can see the appeal.

Ideal for beginners, couch to 5k-ers and those who want a little more info on their regular runs without being overwhelmed by data, it also has activity tracking, bridging the divide between an inexpensive tracker and a serious sports watch.

It packs in all the bare essentials for runners: distance, pace, time, calories, splits and an optical heart rate monitor. Plus, it also delivers smartphone notifications to your wrist.

That's everything you need if you're a recreational runner who just wants to keep tabs on how far and fast you've gone. And it even does smartwatch notifications and better-than-basic fitness tracking, including tracking resting heart rate.

So what don't you get? There's not a wide range of other sports – just running, swimming and biking – and the data is simple. You won't get insights into training load, the effect of sessions or recovery. Also, things like cadence are out as well.

But, if you're thinking about moving beyond tracking runs on your phone, this is the next step up.

We love…

  • The price
  • The simplicity

We don't love…

  • Ugly as sin
  • Light on features
  • No music

In-depth: Read our full Garmin Forerunner 35 review


Garmin Forerunner 245 Music

Garmin Forerunner 245 Music

Price when reviewed: Music: $349.99 Standard: $299.99 | Forerunner 245 specs page

The Forerunner 245 Music (there's also a cheaper version without music support) was released back in 2019 – but it's been given continual updates by Garmin and it's still a top running watch for dedicated runners, and we'd recommend over the 645 and even 945.

The Forerunner 245's 42mm case is still suited to smaller wrists and makes it a unisex choice, for those that want more data from their training sessions.

On top of all the usual stats, the 245 leverages the optical heart rate sensor to take VO2 Max readings, which are then turned into insights on your recovery, the effect of each session (Training Effect) and Training Load, which aims to help stop overtraining. Naturally, you'd need to be pushing your body hard for this to be useful, so it's a level above the Forerunner 45.

An update added the PacePro feature, which uses GPS data to pace races to your desired finishing times – even taking hills into account. And a 2021 update added the improved sleep tracking, which now uses FirstBeat algorithms, which helps improve the Body Battery and stress tracking.

If you opt for the more expensive Music edition, you can sync playlists from streaming services like Spotify, Amazon Music and Deezer to the watch and hook up some headphones. It's a bit clunky, but you can run without your phone. You've got enough for around 500 songs, which is not as many as the 945 can hold (1,000 songs), but it should still be enough for most.

Battery life is around seven days, though hammering the music features will dent that. But if you just save the audio for your workouts, it'll make it through the week. It does lack payment support and an altimeter, but, overall, it's a great running watch for anyone that has been looking for those music features, too.

We love…

  • VO2 Max data
  • Advanced training and recovery metrics
  • PacePro
  • Spotify playlists and MP3 playback

We don't love…

  • Pricey
  • Not so stylish

Wareable verdict: Our full Garmin Forerunner 245 Music review


Garmin Forerunner 645 Music

Best Garmin update May 2021

Price when reviewed: Music: $449.99 Standard: $399.99 | Forerunner 645 Music specs page

The Forerunner 645 Music was the first Garmin to offer music features, and unlike the 245 Music, it comes with payment support and a more stylish design. It also has a barometric altimeter, which will please trail runners with all that elevation data. Check out our Garmin Forerunner 245 vs 645 guide for all the key differences.

For tracking, it will cover running, cycling, pool swimming (yes, 5ATM water resistance is here), walking and much more. If you're serious about running, you can tap into the likes of cadence, stride length, ground contact time and balance, vertical oscillation and vertical ratio. And no matter what kind of training you're involved in, you can also access the Training Status, Training Effect and Training Load features for aiding recovery between workouts.

But, crucially, while being a heavyweight in the tracking department, this was the first Garmin that allowed for music streaming directly from the wrist. There's enough storage to load 500 songs, while offline playlists can be accessed from Deezer, iHeartRadio and now Spotify.

Like the Vivoactive 4 (below) and the Forerunner 245, Garmin does offer a Forerunner 645 without music, and, again, that should save you some money if music isn't an essential feature for you.

We love…

  • Spotify support
  • More stylish look
  • VO2 and advanced training analysis

We don't love…

  • Forerunner 245 is better and cheaper
  • No PacePro… yet

In-depth: Our full Garmin Forerunner 645 Music review

Garmin Enduro

Garmin Enduro

Price when reviewed: $799.99 | Garmin Enduro specs page

The Garmin Enduro is the company's latest specialist variation of the Fenix 6X Solar, but built specifically for ultrarunners. The headline feature is the mammoth battery life, that claims up to 70 hours GPS battery life and up to 200 hours in lower power mode. And that rises to 80 and 300 hours with the Power Glass solar display.

We ran a 40 mile ultramarathon and it drained just 10% from the battery. Conceivably, you might only have to charge this watch just a handful of times in a year.

There are profiles for running, treadmill running, indoor track running, trail running, ultra running and virtual running – an MTB cycling and swimming is also well supported.

The ultra run mode has a clever rest timer, splits out how long you at aid stations and the new trail VO2 Max estimate takes slower off-road runs into account, and adjusts your VO2 Max accordingly.

Garmin’s excellent ClimbPro feature now also includes descents as well as ascents. So you get a full picture of the quad-burning that awaits you on your preloaded courses, including real-time information on the current and upcoming climbs and descents with gradient, distance and elevation gain/loss.

One of the biggest criticisms the Enduro faced at launch was the lack of maps. An ultra adventure watch without TOPO maps does seem like an oversight. But the navigation options are still as rich as most of the competition.

You still get breadcrumb turn-by-turn navigation with the ability to create, load and follow routes.

Read our full Garmin Enduro review.

We love…

  • Insane battery life
  • Stylish and comfortable nylon strap
  • Good ultrarunning features

We don't love…

  • Big price tag
  • No mapping
  • Huge case



Best Garmin smartwatch

A slightly confusing concept, as even the most basic watches are capable of tracking more than one type of activity, Garmin's multi-sport watches tend to include more than just running, cycling and pool swimming.

We've also classified its three "smartwatches" here. Essentially, look into this list if running is just one part of your weekly fitness schedule.

Top choice: Garmin Venu 2

Garmin Venu 2

Price when reviewed: $399.99 | Garmin Venu 2 specs page

If you want a Garmin watch with a screen to rival what Apple, Samsung and Fitbit can offer, then it's the Venu 2 that you want.

The successor to the Venu, which launched in 2018 now comes in two size options, 40mm (Venu 2S) and 45mm (Venu 2) with the bigger model giving you a screen size that matches what you'll get on the Vivoactive 4. It's packing a higher resolution AMOLED screen that makes it much nicer to view stats and notifications. Garmin has also updated the interface to make it easier to use than its predecessor and make better use of the touchscreen display.

In terms of sports and health tracking, you get the same as the Vivoactive 4. Running (indoor, outdoor, treadmill), cycling (jndoor/outdoor), swimming (pool only thanks to 5ATM water resistance), golf, strength, cardio, elliptical, indoor rowing, yoga and more. Garmin has added more tracking modes for HIIT workouts like setting up Tabata times and will now display muscle heat maps to compliment the automatic rep counting. It's also added new Health snapshots and Fitness Age insights to let you know how fit and healthy you really are.

It's got all of the same smartwatch features as the Vivoactive 4 but does up the storage capacity for the music player giving you room for up to 2,000 songs.

It offers some nice improvements on the original Venu and crucially offers a boost in battery life even with always-on display mode in use. It's capable of going beyond a week and around 4 days with the screen on 24/7. There's now also a rapid charging feature to give you a day's play or 1 hour of GPS tracking off a 10-minute charge.

Check out our Garmin Venu 2 v Venu v Vivoactive 4 comparison.

We love…

  • The screen
  • The sports tracking
  • Music and Spotify

We don't love…

  • Pricier than first Venu
  • No improvement in HR accuracy

Read all about it: Full Garmin Venu 2 review


Garmin Lily

Garmin Lily

Price when reviewed: $199.99 | Garmin Lily specs page

Garmin has released its smallest smartwatch to date – aimed at women. It features a diminutive 34mm case and 14mm strap, making it the smallest mainstream smartwatch on the market.

The screen is a low-res LCD affair but when the screen dims it leaves a patterned design on the screen, so you won’t be carrying a dead display around on the wrist.

It's hardly a fitness powerhouse. There's no GPS although you can borrow your smartphone's if you take it along for a run or ride. However, there's plenty of health and wellness features, with SpO2, heart rate, Body Battery (energy level metric) and advanced sleep tracking all supported.

And as you might imagine, it supports Garmin's cycle tracking (that's menstrual not two-wheels) and the all-new pregnancy mode that helps the watch make sense of your rapidly changing biometrics.

It's not the perfect sports watch for active females (look at the Fenix 6S or Forerunner 45S for that), but for more casual users looking for something slender, this has plenty of potential.

Garmin estimates up to five days of battery life with an average amount of activity and interaction and the pulse ox mode switched off. We found a life of close to four days with the pulse ox on, with a drop of around 10% overnight.

Read our full Garmin Lily review.

We love…

  • Patterned glass
  • Slim build and 14mm strap
  • Good health and daily activity features

We don't love…

  • No GPS built in
  • Simplistic fitness features


Garmin Venu Sq

Garmin Venu Sq

Price when reviewed: $199.99 | Garmin Venu Sq specs page

The Venu Sq is the latest addition to the company's smartwatch range, and offers a less refined package that enables Garmin to provide the same features as the Venu and Vivoactive 4 for less.

You get the same massive array of tracked sports including running, cycling, swimming, gym, yoga, walking, pilates and snow sports to name a few. And there's even breathwork too.

You get GPS built-in, and there's an SpO2 sensor which does spot checks, and if you opt-in, night and daytime blood oxygen monitoring.

It will track stress, and we love the Body Battery feature that studies your readiness for exercise, and can guide you as to when to have a rest (or go hard on a session).

All the sports tracking metrics are pretty basic, so you won't get many of the VO2 Max and deep insights you'll find on the Forerunner 245 or 645.

The watch itself also lags the Vivoactive 4 and Venu and Venu 2 in terms of build quality. It's a plastic build, boxy design. It blends touchscreen and two physical buttons, but the interface is fiddly to navigate. This is the biggest sacrifice – but for many, it's worth the $100 saving over the round Venu.

There's also a music version at $249.99, which means offline Spotify/Pandora playlists on the wrist. But for us, that takes it to a price point too far.

We love…

We don't love…

  • Poor, fiddly interface
  • Screen isn't great

Read our full Garmin Venu Sq review.


Garmin Vivoactive 4

Garmin Vivoactive 4

Price when reviewed: $269.99 | Garmin Vivoactive 4 specs page

The Vivoactive 4 is Garmin's sport focused smartwatch, designed to offer the benefits of notifications and smart features with a jack-of-all-trades sports tracking which supports up to 20 activities.


Like its main rivals, the Apple Watch Series 5 and Fitbit Ionic, this is a watch that's aiming to bring more than just fitness smarts to your wrist. An upgrade to the Vivoactive 3, it still boasts a relatively low resolution transflective display, but this time it's been given a glossy screen that makes the whole package a lot more stylish.

It still has Garmin Pay and support for Spotify, as you'd expect, and you can install apps via Connect IQ, which also does a roaring trade in watch faces and widgets, too.

In terms of sports tracking, it's pretty comprehensive – you get running (indoor, outdoor, treadmill), cycling (indoor and outdoor), swimming (pool only), golf, strength, cardio, elliptical, indoor rowing, yoga and more. That enough for you? And, yes, you guessed it, 5ATM water resistance is on board.

None are tracked with the insane level of detail used by the specialist Forerunner or Fenix devices though, so you'll miss out on stuff like recovery, training load, training status, VO2 Max and the like.

You will get decent fitness tracking, and sleep is aided by the pulse ox sensor that will deliver advanced sleep stages and information on your respiration as you sleep. Hardcore stuff.

And when you think that the Apple Watch Series 5 will only last a single day and won't get you through a marathon unless you turn off the heart rate monitor, the fact that this will give you a week in smartwatch mode with 13 hours of GPS is pretty excellent.

We love…

  • Loads of tracked sports
  • Shiny new display
  • Crammed with features
  • Music and Spotify

We don't love…

  • Lack of VO2 Max
  • Light on data

Full test: Garmin Vivoactive 4 review



Best Garmin multi-sport and triathlon watches

Whether you're a seasoned Ironman (or woman), dabbling in triathlon, or you just hate to be pigeon holed into one sport, these are the Garmin watches you need.

Top choice: Garmin Fenix 6 Pro

Garmin Fenix 6 Pro

Price when reviewed: $599 (Fenix 6) / $699 (6 Pro)
Fenix 6 specs page

The Fenix range is the pinnacle of the Garmin line-up, and the Garmin Fenix 6 is one of the best all-action sports watches you can buy.

The watch built for the outdoors features modes to track hiking, climbing, cross country skiing, regular skiing, cycling, swimming, open water swimming, running, trail running, indoor workouts, triathlon, golf and more. If there's something you want to track, the Fenix 6 series watches likely can.

If you love swimming, it's set for open water and pool dips with 10ATM water resistance.

All the new Fenix 6 models take tracked metrics to the extreme, offering full insights for VO2 Max, race prediction, stress scores, Training Effect and Training Status: they're all found here and they're seriously meaningful. Data-loving runners will be in heaven.

Runners will particularly love the PacePro feature, which uses a library of user generated GPS routes to help you pace your running races, even up and down hills.

And for trekkers there's the TOPO mapping, so you can see what's around you, including major trails, and navigate to points of interest right from the wrist.

There's also a new Garmin Fenix 6 Solar (and 6S Solar) which adds 4 hours of standard GPS tracking, upping tracking to 40 hours (from 36), with Max Battery mode at 93 hours (up from 72 hours) and Expedition Mode at 36 days (up from 28 days).

We love…

  • Lighter design
  • Incredible array of tracked sports
  • So. Much. Data.
  • Music and Spotify

We don't love…

  • Crazy price
  • Very masculine design
  • Big Solar price increase adds comparatively little for most users

Wareable verdicts: Garmin Fenix 6 review | Garmin Fenix 6X review


Garmin Fenix 6S Pro

Garmin Fenix 6S

Price when reviewed: $529.99 | Fenix 6S specs page

We could have just thrown the Garmin Fenix 6S in with the Fenix 6 listed above, but it's worthy of its own place in this list of top Garmins.

The Fenix 6S scales back the case size to a more manageable 42mm case – down from 47mm on the standard Fenix 6. That's a game changer for female wrists and for anyone that doesn't like to feel encumbered with a large watch. We used it for Crossfit and loved the smaller form factor when throwing weights around.

And you barely make any sacrifices for the shrink in size. The Fenix 6S still features the same epic array of sports tracking, including running, trails, cycling, and golf – and there's full access to Connect IQ for even more functionality.

The only real downside is battery life. The smaller case means a smaller battery, so you won't get the same insane longevity as a full-sized Fenix. However, we'd say the quoted 9 days as a smartwatch and 25 hours of GPS tracking will be enough for most people. You can also use power saving modes to up to 50 hours of GPS tracking if you're willing to give up accuracy, and this is best for walking or trail speed only.

But for our money this is a modest sacrifice for a smaller, cheaper Fenix.

We love…

  • Small 42mm case
  • The same tracked sports as Fenix 6
  • Music and Spotify

We don't love…

  • Shorter battery life than Fenix 6

Wareable verdicts: Garmin Fenix 6S review



Garmin Forerunner 945

Garmin Forerunner 945

Price when reviewed: $599.99 | Forerunner 945 specs page

The Forerunner 935 was our top running watch pick for a long time, but with even more functionality packed into the 945, its successor has taken the crown.

However, while it carries the Forerunner branding, it's an incredibly effective multisport watch designed for triathletes – and serious ones at that – aimed at those who run long, fast and need to pay particular attention to load and recovery.

The triathlon-friendly watch essentially squeezes in everything you get in the latest Fenix watch, including multi-sport tracking, payments, a built-in music player, navigation features and full color maps.

On the running front, it covers everything from the treadmill to trail running and provides plenty of metrics to pore over after your training session.

It still has stellar battery life, while the built-in heart rate monitoring and great new training effect, load and focus features make sure you're not over-exerting yourself.

It's another top notch multi-sport GPS watch that makes a fine running companion for serious athletes.

We love…

  • Advanced analytics
  • Triathlon tracking
  • Cheaper than Fenix
  • Music and Spotify

We don't love…

  • Not quite as stylish as Fenix 6
  • Big price tag

In-depth:Read our full Garmin Forerunner 945 review



Garmin Forerunner 745

Garmin Forerunner 745

Price when reviewed: $499.99 | Forerunner 745 specs page

The Garmin Forerunner 745 delivers rich sports tracking and the new training insights are useful as long as you make a chest strap your training partner.

Garmin sticks to its transflective display technology that has served it well on other watches to help give you good battery life and strong visibility in bright light.

It's the same 1.2-inch size and 240 x 240 resolution you'll find on the cheaper Forerunner 245.

It boasts 5ATM water resistance which means it's safe to swim with up to 50 meters, and it's suitable to take in the shower. As this is a watch aimed at triathletes, you do have open water and pool swim tracking support covered.

It covers running including a new track mode, which has also rolled out to other watches and serves big metrics for cycling and swimming too.

You also have profiles for other outdoor pursuits like skiing, hiking, rowing and kayaking. These bring point-to-point navigation with the ability to upload routes and follow breadcrumb trails in real time.

You do have a triathlon mode of course, which works in a similar fashion to how it does on the 735XT and the 945. And you can hit the back button (bottom right) to transition to different sports in brick sessions, customise the legs of your event or training, follow course navigation and access your training schedule and workouts.

The Forerunner 745 promises up to seven days in smartwatch mode, up to six hours with GPS and music in use, 16 hours in GPS mode and there's an UltraTrac mode giving you up to 21 hours.

Check out our Forerunner 745 in-depth review.

We love…

  • Small, light design
  • Useful recovery advisor feature
  • Solid sports tracking

We don't love…

  • Battery life isn't great
  • Iffy sleep tracking
  • Feels too expensive


Best Garmin outdoor watch

If you're looking for a true outdoors watch then you have two main options in the Garmin range. The pinnacle is the Fenix 6, which we've named a top pick above. But its price tag is outrageous – which is why Garmin has launched cheaper alternatives that don't skimp on the stuff trekkers need.

Top choice: Garmin Instinct Solar

Garmin Instinct Solar

Price when reviewed: $399.99 | Garmin Instinct specs page

The Garmin Instinct is a rugged outdoor sports watch that comes with the same DNA as Garmin's Fenix range.

The Instinct has just been updated to the Instinct Solar, which offers hikers and outdoors types significant battery life improvements over the standard Instinct.

The Instinct already provides many of the power saving modes only found on the Fenix range. UltraTrac will extend battery life from 16 to 40 hours of hiking by reducing pings to the satellite, which is great for walkers and acceptable for ultra-distance trail runners.

The Instinct Solar changes things dramatically. GPS lasts 30 hours rising to 38 if you expose it to three hours of strong sunlight. There's also now Max Battery GPS mode, which lasts 70 hours and up to 145 hours with solar.

And finally, there's an Expedition battery setting that can provide tracking for 28 days, rising to 68 days with solar. Those are huge numbers and a big boost for the Solar Edition.

The Instinct will track running, hiking, cycling, swimming, climbing and even skiing, boating and other types of outdoor pursuits. There's also a new Instinct Solar Surf edition, which packs specialist tracking and things like tide times.

Built to withstand the toughest of elements, the Instinct has all the usual skills you'd expect to see from one of Garmin's outdoor-friendly watches.

There's GPS along with GLONASS and Galileo support to offer plenty of mapping coverage. There's a barometric altimeter to measure elevation when you're climbing up mountains, a heart rate monitor and the Instinct Solar adds a pulse oximeter, which it uses to check elevation against blood oxygen on its new Acclimatisation Widget.

Unsurprisingly, this hardcore outdoor aid places a big emphasis on features that should come in handy when you're trekking or hiking, including course navigation, the ability to import GPX routes and TrackBack, which guides you to the start of your workout using breadcrumbs.

Sitting in between the Vivoactive and Fenix ranges, it's priced at $299.99, with the Solar Edition rising to $399.99.

We love…

  • UltraTrac GPS for long hikes
  • General running and workout modes for everyday fitness
  • Battery life on Solar Edition

We don't love…

  • Not the most stylish
  • Low-res display
  • No music

Read more: Garmin Instinct review | Garmin Instinct Solar review


Garmin swimming watches

Garmin Swim 2

Garmin Swim 2

Price when reviewed: $249.99 | Garmin Swim 2 specs

The Garmin Swim 2 is in no uncertain terms a massive upgrade on the first Swim as far as what it’s capable of when you’re in the water.

It’s the cheapest Garmin you can buy to get open water and pool swimming features though it would be even more attractive at a slightly lower price.

If you can’t stomach paying for a top end Forerunner or Fenix, this is the swimming-focused Garmin watch to go for instead.

There are more metrics, settings to play with and of course a smattering of smartwatch features to make it useful when you're not swimming. The Swim 2 will track lengths, distance, pace, stroke count and SWOLF.

It can also detect stroke type, offer pace alerts, critical swim speed insights and a handy auto rest feature.

Many of these can be viewed in in real-time on the watch, but you'll get a better overview in the Garmin Connect app. Like most Garmin watches, it'll also play nice with Strava.

Check out our Garmin Swim 2 review.

We love…

  • Easy to use
  • Plenty of swim metrics
  • Accurate tracking

We don't love…

  • Basic smartwatch features
  • Doesn’t have full Connect IQ support
  • Screen a bit on the small side

Garmin hybrid watches

Garmin Vivomove 3

Vivomove 3

Price when reviewed: From $219.99 | Garmin Vivomove 3 specs page

The Vivomove 3 is undoubtedly one of the best looking smartwatches you can get your hands on, and, in a slightly weak field, is probably the best hybrid on the market, too.

It mixes an analogue face with a digital display on the dial that will show essential information such as heart rate, steps and call notificaitons – and you get a week of battery life.

There's no GPS, so those who want accurate run or cycle tracking will have to do so with their phone, but you do get a healthy array of overall tracking. Long-pressing the screen will bring up the option to select activities, at which point you can cycle between runs, cycles, walks, gym workouts and more.

It's definitely susceptible to the odd software hiccup, but generally the hidden screen technology responds extremely well and is home to a wide array of features.

We wouldn't recommend serious sporty types pick up one of the Vivomove 3 devices – they should turn to the rest of Garmin's range – but it's a more than capable fitness tracker for regular users.

Read our full Garmin Vivomove 3 review.

We love…

  • Stylish design
  • Software works beautifully
  • Gamut of features

We don't love…

  • Mild software hiccups
  • Sleep tracking issues
  • Style and Luxe models are pricey


This article was first published in July 2015. However, we update it frequently to reflect the newest Garmin devices, making sure that we've tested the latest and greatest devices available to buy.