Garmin When you feel it’s time to elevate your exercise from a steady walk down to the shops to lacing up for 10K or looking ahead to 2021 with marathon training, the chances are you’re now thinking of keeping some sort of record. Yes, you could just use an app that lives on your phone, but glancing down at your wrist to check your average pace without breaking a stride is definitely a lot easier to do.
Garmin has been making sports watches for a long time and, along with Polar and Suunto, dominates the conversation. Garmin watches have been built with some basic principles in mind: reliable GPS tracking and big battery life.
Over time, its watches have evolved to track more sports with new sensors like a heart rate monitor and smartwatch features like contactless payments and offline music. That’s all wrapped up in more attractive designs too. Crucially, Garmin hasn’t neglected the sports tracking to make sure you have reliable data and the battery tech to avoid having to charge the watches alongside your phone every night.
Whether you’re looking for a Garmin watch that’s a good fit for someone that’s new to running or you want something that’s a good mix of sports watch and smartwatch, these are the best Garmin watches to buy right now.
What’s the best Garmin watch in 2020?
If you want the very finest that Garmin has to offer right now, the Fenix 6 Pro Sapphire Edition (£800) gets our vote as the best Garmin watch on test. The Fenix has got the best that Garmin has to offer in both sports and smartwatch features. It has now made it a less of a hulking beast to wear day and night. Going for the Pro version means you get the full complement of features, including the great mapping support.
For a budget Garmin watch, the Forerunner 45 (£149) is the one to go for if you only mainly care about running. It’s a big step up from its predecessor the Forerunner 35 and offers solid, dependable battery life too.
If you’re happy to spend a bit more, the Forerunner 245 (£230) without music is a really good sports watch that offers more in the way of smartwatch features than the 45. It’s our best Garmin smartwatch.
Garmin Fenix 6 Pro Sapphire Edition
WIRED Recommends: The Fenix 6 gives you the best watch features Garmin currently has to offer
Screen: 1.2in 240×240 transflective | Works with: iOS/Android | Battery life: 25h (GPS) 14 days (smartwatch) | Water resistance: 100m | GPS: Yes | GLONASS: Yes | Heart rate: Yes | Weight: 72g
If you prefer the trails to the treadmill, the Fenix 6 Sapphire Edition is the Garmin watch built firmly with outdoor adventuring in mind.
Like its predecessor the Fenix 5, Garmin isn’t shy on offering a range of models. In fact, the Fenix 6 is available in a quite frankly ridiculous amount of options, including the Fenix 6S for those with slimmer wrists. There’s also the 6 Pro Solar, which is the priciest of the bunch and comes with a solar powered display letting you top up on battery when you’re out and about. The Fenix 6 Pro Sapphire Edition (£800) with the titanium case offers the best combination of design and features.
Garmin Forerunner 45
A budget Garmin for sports tracking newbies
Screen: 1in 208×208 transflective | Works with: iOS/Android | Battery life: 13h (GPS) | Water resistance: 50m | GPS: Yes | GLONASS: Yes | Heart rate: Yes | Weight: 36g (45)
If you are just getting into running and don’t want to spend huge amounts on a training companion, the Forerunner 45 (from £129) is the Garmin watch that best fits the bill.
This is the follow-up to the Forerunner 35 (£100), which you can still buy and still offers a really strong basic running watch experience. The 45 though takes things up a notch as far as offering a fairly stylish-not-ugly design and a better display. There’s now also the Forerunner 45s (£170), which offers the same features in a smaller design, which means a slightly smaller display too.
Garmin Forerunner 945
The best choice for triathletes
Screen: 1.2in 240×240 transflective | Works with: iOS/Android | Battery life: 36h (GPS) 14 days (smartwatch) | Water resistance: 50m | GPS: Yes | GLONASS: Yes | Heart rate: Yes | Weight: 50g
The Forerunner 945 (£500) is Garmin’s option for triathletes, taking pretty much every feature you get on its Fenix outdoor watch and putting it into a smaller, lighter design.
Along with tracking cycling and swimming (pool and open water), it’s also a strong choice for runners who want a wider fix of metrics, to glance down at on the move and pore over when you whip off those running shoes. It builds on the training-focused insights added on its predecessor the Forerunner 935, with new Training Load data, helping you to see if you’re spending enough time on aerobic and anaerobic training.
Garmin Forerunner 245 Music
An excellent all-round package for runners
Screen: 1.2in 240×240 transflective | Works with: iOS/Android | Battery life: 24h (GPS) 7 days (smartwatch) | Water resistance: 50m | GPS: Yes | GLONASS: Yes | Heart rate: Yes | Weight: 38.5g
The Forerunner 245 is the successor to the 235, a hugely popular option for runners thanks mostly in part to offering richer metrics you won’t find on cheaper watches, a good sized screen and some basic smartwatch features.
The 245 builds on the 235 in a whole host of ways including adding a Forerunner 245 Music model (£280) that adds a music player with storage for 500 of your own songs. It also lets you transfer over playlists from Spotify, Deezer and Amazon Music. One smartwatch feature missing that you will find on other Garmin watches is support for Garmin Pay for contactless payments, though.
A colour screen makes this Garmin’s first true smartwatch
Screen: 1.2in 390×390 colour | Works with: iOS/Android | Battery life: 6h (GPS) 5 days (smartwatch) | Water resistance: 50m | GPS: Yes | GLONASS: Yes | Heart rate: Yes | Weight: 46.3g
The Venu (£299) breaks new ground for Garmin, introducing a colour touchscreen display on one of its watches for the first time.
That sharp AMOLED screen helps to bring more life to new features like animated workouts – you can build these yourself or simply follow the ones already preinstalled. That improved display doesn’t hamper giving you a week’s worth of battery life or a few days short of that when you switch to always-on mode.