Garmin GPS Watch Reviews – Top Models for Fitness Tracking in 2023

Garmin is one of the most popular and trusted brands when it comes to GPS smartwatches and fitness trackers. With a wide range of models catering to various users, it can be challenging to pick the right Garmin GPS watch for your needs. This comprehensive review covers the top Garmin GPS watches for fitness tracking in 2023 to help you make an informed purchase decision.

An Overview of Garmin GPS Watches for Fitness

Garmin offers GPS smartwatches specifically designed for health and fitness purposes. These watches go beyond just telling time and come packed with sensors and software to track various fitness metrics and activities. Key features of Garmin GPS fitness watches include:

Continuous Heart Rate Monitoring

Garmin’s Elevate wrist heart rate technology provides 24/7 heart rate monitoring without the need for a chest strap. This allows you to track your resting, daily, and workout heart rates.

Built-in Sports Apps

The watches come preloaded with apps for running, cycling, swimming, yoga, strength training, cardio, and more. The apps provide you with relevant metrics, training status, and tips during workouts.

Advanced Running Dynamics

Running watches like the Forerunner and Fenix series offer advanced running metrics like cadence, stride length, ground contact time, etc. to optimize your form.

GPS Tracking

The built-in GPS lets you accurately record pace, distance, route maps, and other stats for outdoor activities without bringing your phone.

Smartwatch Features

You get notifications, contactless payments, music storage, and additional smart features for daily convenience.

Battery Life

Garmin watches boast impressive battery life of up to two weeks in smartwatch mode or up to 36 hours in GPS mode.

Companion App

The Garmin Connect app lets you analyze data, set goals, join challenges, customize watch settings, and more.

With all these features aimed at health and fitness, Garmin GPS watches are the perfect blend of sports tracker and smartwatch. Let’s look at the top options.

1. Garmin Forerunner 245 – Best Overall Garmin Running Watch

24/7 Heart RateYes
Water Resistance5 ATM
Battery LifeUp to 7 days
Preloaded Sports AppsRun, Bike, Pool Swim, Treadmill, Indoor Track, Yoga, Pilates, Breathwork
Music StorageNo

The Forerunner 245 strikes the ideal balance of features, performance, and price making it the best overall Garmin running watch.

Key Features and Benefits

  • Lightweight design with 1.2” color display
  • Built-in GPS and GLONASS for fast, accurate tracking
  • Wrist-based heart rate monitoring without a chest strap
  • PacePro feature provides grade-adjusted guidance for pacing
  • Advanced running dynamics and VO2 max estimation
  • Supports Garmin Coach adaptive 5K, 10K and half marathon plans
  • Safety and tracking features include incident detection and live tracking
  • Smart notifications for phone calls, texts, calendar and more
  • Up to 7 days battery life in smartwatch mode, 24 hours in GPS mode
  • Water rated to 5 ATM for pool and open water swimming

Whether you are preparing for your first 5K or training for a marathon, the Forerunner 245 has all the stats and features you need. The comfortable fit and slim profile make it easy to wear all day.

With pace guidance, training status insights and physiological metrics like VO2 max, it helps you train smarter and improve as a runner. Automatic workout detection, personal records and post-run summaries make every run more rewarding.

For the price, no other running watch offers such a robust set of features in a compact and lightweight build.


  • No onboard music storage for phone-free running
  • No built-in altimeter for measuring elevation gain
  • Touchscreen can be finicky at times

For serious runners looking for an affordable watch with advanced training features, the Forerunner 245 is undoubtedly the best Garmin out there.

2. Garmin Fenix 6 Pro Solar – Multisport GPS Watch with Solar Charging

GPSYes + GLONASS + Galileo
24/7 Heart RateYes
Water Resistance10 ATM
Battery LifeUp to 14 days
Preloaded Sports AppsRun, Bike, Pool Swim, Golf, Hike, Climb, Ski, Kayak, SUP, Tactical, Jumpmaster, Row, Trail Run, Mountain Biking
Music StorageUp to 2,000 songs

The Garmin Fenix 6 Pro Solar is the ultimate multisport outdoor GPS watch with solar charging capabilities for unlimited battery life.

Key Features and Benefits

  • Rugged design built to military standards with scratch-resistant domed sapphire lens
  • Power manager with solar charging lets you go weeks without charging
  • Onboard maps, TopoActive maps, navigation sensors and pace guidance for outdoor adventures
  • Wrist-based heart rate, Pulse Ox for altitude acclimation, performance metrics and training status
  • Full-color topo maps, 3-axis compass, gyroscope, barometer and altimeter
  • Support for tempe sensor for ambient air temperature readings while exercising
  • Garmin Pay for contactless payments and onboard music storage
  • Golf features include 41,000 preloaded courses and Green View display
  • Dual-band GPS, GLONASS and Galileo support provides increased accuracy
  • Up to 14 days in smartwatch mode, 36 hours in GPS mode with solar
  • 100m water rating, rugged titanium or stainless steel bezel options

The Fenix 6 Pro Solar takes Garmin’s outdoor multisport watch to the next level for hikers, trail runners, adventure racers and other outdoor athletes. The solar charging lets you stay off the grid longer while the maps, data and tracking keep you on course.

It provides the most detailed metrics, training tools, and mapping of any Garmin watch. The premium build quality and materials stand up to the most demanding activities.


  • Expensive, especially the high-end editions with sapphire and titanium
  • Large size may not suit smaller wrists
  • Overkill for casual fitness users

With unmatched features and battery life, the Fenix 6 Pro Solar is the ultimate adventure watch for outdoor athletes with the budget for premium specs.

3. Garmin Vivoactive 4 – Best Garmin Fitness Watch under $300

24/7 Heart RateYes
Water Resistance5 ATM + Swim 2.0
Battery LifeUp to 8 days
Preloaded Sports AppsRun, Bike, Pool Swim, Golf, Yoga, Pilates, Indoor Climb, Floor Climb, Breathwork, Rowing
Music StorageUp to 500 songs

The Garmin Vivoactive 4 offers an excellent array of health, fitness and smart features at an affordable price point.

Key Features and Benefits

  • Slim, lightweight design with bright 1.3” color touchscreen
  • Built-in GPS, GLONASS, Galileo, heart rate, compass, thermometer sensors
  • Body Battery energy monitoring, pulse ox sensor, respiration tracking
  • Preloaded sports apps with animated workouts, training status and insights
  • Garmin Pay contactless payments, music storage for 500 songs
  • Safety and tracking features include incident detection and live tracking
  • Stress tracking, hydration logging, menstrual cycle tracking
  • Up to 8 days in smartwatch mode, 6 hours in GPS with music
  • Pool swimming metrics with advanced swim 2.0 feature
  • Customizable watch faces, apps, and widgets from Connect IQ store

This versatile watch tracks everything from steps, calories and sleep to more advanced metrics for running, cycling, and swimming. The animated on-screen workouts provide guidance for strength, cardio, yoga and Pilates.

With wrist-based heart rate, GPS, Garmin Pay and music storage, you can leave your phone behind. Extensive health tracking, safety features and smart notifications round out the package.


  • No multisport modes for triathletes
  • Lacks navigation of higher-end Fenix/Forerunner watches
  • Battery life is shorter than Forerunner in GPS mode

For the features and price, the Vivoactive 4 is undoubtedly the best Garmin fitness watch under $300.

4. Garmin Lily – Stylish Garmin Smartwatch for Women

GPSConnected only
24/7 Heart RateYes
Water Resistance5 ATM
Battery LifeUp to 5 days
Preloaded Sports AppsWalk, Run, Bike, Pool Swim, Golf, Pilates, Yoga, Breathwork
Music StorageNo

The Garmin Lily is a fashion-forward fitness tracker designed specifically for women with its petite round watch case and stylish leather or silicone bands.

Key Features and Benefits

  • Stylish design in 38mm or 42mm sizes with 14mm slim profile
  • Caters to women with menstrual cycle tracking, pregnancy tracking, stress monitoring etc.
  • Heart rate monitoring, sleep tracking, steps, calories burned, intensity minutes
  • Receive notifications for calls, texts, social media, calendar alerts
  • Get smartphone GPS data for outdoor walks and runs via connected GPS
  • View workout animations for yoga, strength, cardio and Pilates on display
  • Up to 5 days of battery life in smartwatch mode, GPS reduces to 14 hours
  • Interchangeable leather and silicone bands for versatile styling
  • Customize watch faces to match style through My Design feature
  • Swimproof with pool swim workout feature and water resistance up to 50 meters

The Lily provides core fitness and health tracking in a compact and feminine design. The bold patterns and easy band changing facilitate versatile styling. Though the connected GPS instead of built-in GPS and lack of onboard music are downsides, the Lily offers great value for the price.


  • Lacks built-in GPS
  • No onboard music storage
  • Mediocre battery life compared to other Garmins

For women seeking a stylish fitness tracker with feminine design and essential smart features, the Garmin Lily is a top choice.

5. Garmin Venu 2 Plus – Garmin’s Best Smartwatch with Speaker

24/7 Heart RateYes
Water Resistance5 ATM
Battery LifeUp to 9 days
Preloaded Sports AppsRun, Bike, Pool Swim, Golf, Pilates, Yoga, Strength, Breathwork, Indoor Climb
Music StorageUp to 650 songs

The Venu 2 Plus takes Garmin’s popular AMOLED display smartwatch and adds voice calling, voice assistant and speakerphone capabilities.

Key Features and Benefits

  • Bright AMOLED color display with always-on option
  • Built-in microphone and speaker to take calls and access voice assistant
  • Music storage for playlists and Garmin Pay for contactless payments
  • Robust health tracking including heart rate, sleep, stress, hydration logging and respiration
  • Body Battery energy monitoring feature
  • Preloaded sports apps with animated workouts, training status and insights
  • Built-in GPS tracks pace, distance, route; GLONASS and Galileo support
  • Women’s health tracking includes menstrual cycle, pregnancy tracking
  • Up to 9 days smartwatch mode, 8 hours GPS mode with music
  • 5 ATM water rating, scratch-resistant Corning Gorilla Glass

With the Venu 2 Plus, you get the vibrant AMOLED display and polished smartwatch features along with handy voice functions. The voice calling and voice assistant integration set it apart from other Garmin watches.


  • Shorter battery life compared to basic LCD Garmin models
  • Lacks advanced training features of Forerunner/Fenix series
  • Higher price tag

If you want a sleek smartwatch with crisp display and voice functions from Garmin, the feature-packed Venu 2 Plus is the one to get.

6. Garmin Vivoactive Jr. 3 – Kids Garmin Watch with Disney Themes

24/7 Heart RateYes
Water Resistance5 ATM
Battery LifeUp to 8 days
Preloaded Sports AppsPool Swim
Music StorageNo

The Garmin Vivoactive Jr. 3 combines activity tracking and Disney-themed character watch faces in a rugged, swim-friendly kids watch.

Key Features and Benefits

  • Kid-friendly design with adjustable silicone bands and 33mm case size
  • Features popular Disney themes like Mickey Mouse, Minnie Mouse etc.
  • Pool swim metrics and preloaded apps for step counting and challenges
  • Rewards kids for daily movement goals and sleep
  • Move bar reminds kids to stay active with on-screen celebrations
  • No internet required – safe for kids with no social media etc.
  • 55g lightweight build comfortable for little wrists
  • Up to 8 days battery life, waterproof up to 50 meters
  • Kids can customize character watch faces in Connect IQ store
  • Pairs with parent’s phone via Garmin Jr. app for oversight

With fun Disney designs, activity tracking, and swimming functions, the Garmin Vivoactive Jr. 3 promotes healthy habits in kids aged 4 to 7. Parents can connect to the watch via the Garmin Jr. app to assign tasks and approve friends.


  • No onboard GPS for tracking outdoor activity
  • Very basic activity tracking compared to adult Garmin watches
  • Touchscreen not as responsive

**For Disney fans aged 4-7, the Garmin Vivoactive Jr. 3 is the best kids GPS watch under $150 for swimming and

daily movement.**

7. Garmin Instinct – Rugged Garmin GPS Watch for Outdoor Use

24/7 Heart RateYes
Water Resistance10 ATM
Battery LifeUp to 14 days
Preloaded Sports AppsRun, Bike, Swim, Hike, Climb, Ski/Board, XC Ski, Kayak
Music StorageNo

Built to military standards, the rugged Garmin Instinct is purpose-built for outdoor sports and adventure.

Key Features and Benefits

  • Rugged build with fiber-reinforced polymer case for thermal and shock resistance
  • Chemically strengthened display withstands scratches and damage
  • Built to MIL-STD-810G standards for water, thermal, and shock resistance
  • Activity tracking, heart rate monitoring, GPS/GLONASS, ABC sensors
  • Preloaded apps for running, cycling, swimming, skiing, hiking, paddling and more
  • Built-in 3-axis compass, barometric altimeter and multiple global navigation satellite systems
  • TracBack routing helps navigate back to start point
  • Smart notifications, automatic data sync, weather/ski info
  • Up to 14 days in smartwatch mode, 16 hours in GPS mode
  • Easy-to-use buttons ideal for outdoor use and gloves

With its durable, purpose-built design, ABC sensors, navigation features and onboard sports apps, the Instinct delivers everything the outdoor adventurer needs in an action-readywatch.

The monochrome display provides excellent sunlight visibility, while the rugged build is meant to take a beating whether climbing, kayaking or hiking off the grid. It excels as an outdoor-optimized sports watch.


  • Monochrome display lacks vividness of color screens
  • Lacks maps, music and Garmin Pay of higher-end watches
  • Short GPS battery life compared to solar models

For a rugged GPS sports watch optimized for outdoor activities, the Garmin Instinct is the top choice for adventurers and thrill-seekers.

Garmin GPS Watch Buying Guide – How to Choose the Right Model for You

With Garmin’s broad range of GPS watch models, it helps to consider these key factors when choosing the best one for your needs and budget:

Intended Use

  • Running watch like Forerunner 245 if you’re a runner training for a race
  • Rugged outdoor watch like Instinct for adventure sports
  • Golf watch for golfers wanting course data
  • Premium multisport watch like Fenix 6 Pro for triathlons and outdoors
  • Lighter fitness tracker like Vivosmart 4 for casual users
  • Garmin Jr. for kids focused on fun themes and basic tracking


  • Built-in GPS for accurate outdoor tracking without phone
  • Onboard music storage for phone-free workouts
  • Long battery life of 1 week+ is ideal
  • Multi-GNSS support like GPS + GLONASS or Galileo for improved tracking
  • Advanced metrics like training load, VO2 max, recovery time for serious training
  • Smartwatch features you want – Garmin Pay, notifications, voice control etc.

Design and Comfort

  • Compact, lightweight build for smaller wrists
  • Big, high-contrast display for easy data viewing
  • Silicone or fabric straps for comfort during workouts
  • Appealing design, slimmer profile for daily wear


Garmin GPS watch prices range from $99 for the most basic to $1,000+ for the high-end Fenix models with sapphire and titanium. Consider what features you really need vs. want so you don’t overspend. The Vivoactive and Forerunner series offer the best value for money.

Customer Reviews

Check out customer reviews and feedback on sites like Amazon to gauge real-world performance, accuracy, comfort, ease of use and how it holds up over time. Look for common pros and cons.

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By considering these factors, you can zero in on the perfect Garmin watch for your fitness level, training needs, and budget. Focus on the features most important for how you actually plan to use the watch.

Frequently Asked Questions about Garmin GPS Watches

Q1. Do Garmin watches require a monthly fee?

No, Garmin GPS watches do not require a monthly fee or subscription. Once you purchase the watch, you own it and can use all of its features at no additional cost. The Garmin Connect app to sync your data is also free. Optional premium Connect features can be purchased but are not necessary.

Q2. Are Garmin watches accurate for tracking steps, distance, and calories?

Yes, Garmin watches use accurate GPS tracking so they precisely measure distance traveled and pace during outdoor activities like running and cycling. They also use wrist-based heart rate and sophisticated algorithms to estimate steps, calories burned, and intensity minutes with a reasonable degree of accuracy.

Q3. How long does the battery last on Garmin GPS watches?

It varies by model, but most Garmin watches last 7-14 days in smartwatch mode and 16-36+ hours in active GPS tracking mode. Higher-end models like the Fenix 6 Pro Solar can last much longer – weeks or months without charging due to solar charging capabilities.

Q4. Can you shower with a Garmin watch?

Most Garmin watches have 5ATM or 10ATM water resistance ratings meaning they can withstand swimming, showering and submersion up to 50-100 meters. Refer to specific model specs – some are only sweat and rain resistant while others can handle greater depths.

Q5. Do Garmin watches track heart rate underwater?

Yes, Garmin’s wrist-based Elevate heart rate technology uses LED lights to monitor heart rate from the wrist even during swimming workouts. It provides accurate underwater heart rate data. Heart rate is recorded on swims for later review.

Q6. Can you reply to texts / take calls on Garmin watches?

Some of the newer Garmin watches have built-in microphones and speakers allowing you to take calls and reply to texts on your wrist. Models like the Venu 2 Plus, Forerunner 955, and Fenix 7 allow quick call and text responses. Most other Garmin models allow viewing notifications only.


Garmin offers the broadest, most advanced lineup of GPS smartwatches tailored for fitness, sports, outdoor adventure and overall health tracking. Models like the Forerunner 245 provide the essential metrics runners need to optimize workouts without costing a fortune. Rugged options like the Instinct meet the demands of hikers, climbers and more with ABC sensors and weather data.

For those seeking a stylish, fashionable tracker, the Garmin Lily offers core functions in a petite, lightweight design for women. And if you want the latest features like voice calling and voice assistant, along with an extra vibrant AMOLED display, the feature-packed Venu 2 Plus delivers excellent value.

Hopefully this rundown of the best Garmin GPS watches helps you select the perfect model based on your fitness level, intended use and budget. Garmin’s reputation for accuracy, reliability and innovative training features ensures you can find a watch suited for your individual needs.

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