Garmin GPS Watch Buyer’s Guide
and Feature Comparison Charts
The Garmin Forerunner™ series is Garmin's primary GPS watch product line for runners and triathletes and is considered the industry standard when it comes to running watches.
I have been using Garmin watches since 2009 and I recommend the following watches to my coaching clients. While other watches do exist and many do a great job, the following watches are among the best running watches you can buy.
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How to Find the Best Running Watch Using This Guide (click to toggle)
One of the most common questions I get as a running coach is "Which running watch should I buy?". The correct answer is, "it depends".
Choosing the right watch depends on what features you would like to have, how you plan to use the watch, and your budget.
Generally speaking, the average runner does not need a high priced, high end watch unless you really dig technology and love capturing and analyzing advanced data. Most entry level and moderate level watches will do everything the average runner will need, and do it well.
The best way to use this comparison guide is to figure our your budget and then look for a watch in that specific range that has the features you need to have. If a watch in your budget range does not have the features you want, then you may need to look at a higher priced watch.
How Do I Compare Running Watches and Conduct My Reviews (click to toggle)
Important: When I do 'feature comparisons', I compare watch features based on the information provided by the manufacturer. Feature comparisons are generally in a chart format. When I do a 'review' for a particular watch, I do it by sharing my personal experience using the watch. If I have not used the watch, there is not a review.
If I review a running watch, I purchased it with my own money. I am sharing my personal experience and therefore, I am not influenced by free products from the manufacturer. If you do not see a detailed review on a certain watch, it is because I have not personally purchased it. In that case, look at our feature comparisons gathered from the Garmin website and check out some of the third party customer reviews like those we link to below.
Best Entry Level GPS Running Watches
There are two models in the Garmin Forerunner product line that best fit the category: beginner or entry level running watch. They are the Garmin Forerunner 35 and Garmin Forerunner 45. Each watch covers the basic features that most runners need. And they do it well.
Comparison Of Garmin Forerunner 35 vs Garmin Forerunner 45
Main Differences Between the Garmin 35 and Garmin 45:
Both Watches Share the Following Features:
Physical Specifications of Garmin FR35 and FR45:
Best Mid Level Garmin GPS Running Watches
If you are looking for a great mid-range quality option, you can't go wrong with the Garmin 235 and 245 models. These running watches are the workhorse's when it comes to GPS watches.
I personally own the Forerunner 235 and it has been a great watch. Watches in this price category level tend to have faster connection times to access the satellite and more advanced options and integrated training tools.
Best Premium or MultiSport/Triathlon GPS Running Watches
If you are working to become the next great runner and your cardio-intensive training goals require more than just an average GPS watch, Garmin FR 935, Garmin FR 945, Garmin Fenix 5 Sapphire, Garmin Fenix Sapphire 6 Pro are currently the best GPS watches to choose from.
The Premium Garmin GPS watches not only track your every move and position but provide in-depth fitness and health analysis. These are helpful and reliable running companions for marathon trainees and serious athletes.
Garmin Fenix Series - Premium Running And Multisport GPS Watches
The Fenix series is Garmin's high end sports watch. I own a Fenix 5 and it is amazing. The Fenix series are sports watches that can be worn with work clothes and looks like a regular watch. The Fenix 5 is a back model, with the release of the Fenix 6 but available about $200 cheaper than it was when the watch first came out. Compared to the 200 series watches, these are a little heavier so make sure you are OK with a slightly heavier watch.
Additional Running Resources
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