Best Garmin GPS Running Watches

Buyers Guide 2021

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Whether you’re a beginner or a seasoned vet, having a good understanding of how far you’ve run and at what pace is essential to developing a healthy running routine.

While you could map your routes online or even drive them beforehand to measure out the distance, it’s safe to say most runners are fans of easy-to-use GPS watches.

Garmin designs some of the best GPS watches in the world. With sleek designs and cutting edge technology, these high-powered watches do the hard work for you so you can focus on your run.

From their basic Forerunner 45 to tech-loaded versions like the Fenix 6, Garmin running watches are jam-packed with GPS and health analytics features designed to help you track your runs and understand your body’s performance.

This guide is designed to give you a rundown of all the models and features Garmin has to offer, and help you find the best watch for your lifestyle and training.

A man waits in the pool wearing the Garmin Forerunner 745
A person picks up a dumbbell weight wearing the Garmin Venu SQ
A woman cycles on the street wearing the Garmin Forerunner 745

Garmin Forerunner GPS Watches

Whatever model you choose, each Forerunner watch is designed for the runner in you. From bare basics to in depth fitness analytics, Garmin Forerunner watches provide all the information you need to track your distance, pace and time on any run.

Watch your progress and connect with other Garmin users in the GarminConnect app. Stay safe and connected with smartphone compatibility, and even enjoy a hands-free run with Forerunner models that offer music storage and streaming.

Here's all you need to know about each Garmin Forerunner model:

Garmin Forerunner 45 in red

Best for Beginners: Garmin Forerunner 45

The Forerunner 45 is great for beginners or individuals looking for a no-nonsense interface. All Forerunner watches use five simple buttons to navigate through the features, and the Forerunner 45 comes in a smaller watch face size, the 45S, for anyone with a smaller wrist. Other features include:

  • Wrist-based heart rate
  • GPS distance, pace and elevation tracking
  • Garmin Coach
  • Smart Notifications
  • Safety Tracking
  • 13 hours of battery life in GPS mode
  • 5 ATM waterproofing
  • 42 mm diameter / 45S: 39 mm diameter
Shop Forerunner 45
Garmin Forerunner 245 in charcoal

Best for Music: Garmin Forerunner 245

The Forerunner 245 does the hard work for you. Whether you choose between the classic 245 or the 245 Music, you'll find everything you need to train smarter. In addition to the basic features offered on all Garmin watches, the Forerunner 245 includes:

  • Training status information
  • Advanced workouts
  • Running Dynamics
  • Safety Tracking
  • Up to 24 hours of battery life in GPS mode
  • 5 ATM water rating
  • 42.3 mm diameter
  • Storage for up to 500 songs, or streaming from select services (245 Music only)
Shop Forerunner 245
Garmin Forerunner 745 in white

Garmin Forerunner 745

Designed with runners and triathletes in mind, the Forerunner 745 features preloaded sports apps so you can track a wide range of activities seamlessly. Powerful analytics help you better assess your fitness and even help predict your race performance. The Forerunner 745 also includes:

  • Pre-loaded activity profiles for running, biking, swimming and more
  • In-depth fitness metrics like VO2 max and training load
  • Daily workout suggestions based on your recent training
  • Garmin Pay contactless payment system
  • Store up to 200 songs or stream from select services
  • Up to 16 hours of battery life in GPS mode
  • 5 ATM water rating
  • 43.8 mm face diameter
Shop Forerunner 745
Garmin Forerunner 945 in black

Best for Deep Analytics: Garmin Forerunner 945

Elite-level tracking for powerful performance. The Forerunner 945 provides the most fitness metrics and analytics out of any watch in the Forerunner collection. Full color maps, training analytics and fitness metrics come together to deliver the insight you need to train effectively toward your goals, no matter how big. Other features include:

  • 13 Health monitoring metrics, 43 Training analysis features
  • Pre-loaded activity profiles for running, biking, swimming and more
  • Full color on board maps
  • Store up to 1000 songs or stream from select services
  • Garmin Pay contactless payment system
  • 47 mm diameter
  • 5 ATM water rating
  • Up to 36 hours of battery life in GPS mode
Shop Forerunner 945

Garmin Fenix GPS Watches

When the going gets tough, the tough wear fenix. The Garmin fenix collection is rugged, robust and built to last through off-road adventures and ultramarathons alike.

Along with the standard watch, the fenix also comes in Sapphire and Solar editions. The fenix Sapphire features a scratch-resistant Sapphire lens. The fenix Pro Solar edition uses a Power Glass solar charging lens to increase the longevity of your fenix’s battery life.

Choose from a wide selection of sizing and edition options to find the perfect Garmin fenix for your next expedition.

Garmin fenix 6 in black

Best for Deep Analytics: Garmin fenix 6

The fenix 6 runs the gamut of pre-loaded activities to provide you with over 100 performance metrics, mapping, GPS tracking and so much more. This model is fantastic for multi-sport athletes, outdoor enthusiasts and runners alike. The fenix 6 provides deep analytics essential for elite performance and will track you wherever you go over land and sea.

  • Pre-loaded activities ranging from running, biking and swimming to hiking and skiing
  • Find the most advanced performance metrics Garmin has to offer–over 100 to be exact.
  • Color display, point-to-point map navigation, sunlight visible
  • Interchangeable bands to match your unique style
  • Garmin Pay contactless payment system
  • 10 ATM water rating
  • fenix 6S: 42 mm / fenix 6: 47 mm / fenix 6X: 51 mm diameter
  • Up to 72 hours of battery life in GPS mode
Shop Garmin fenix 6

Garmin Venu GPS Watches

The ultimate fitness tracker and lifestyle watch wrapped into one, the Garmin Venu captures the full spectrum of your health.

The Garmin Venu GPS watches feature sleek design, a full color touch screen and all the health data you need to measure your activity. Even while you're on the move, the Garmin Venu series watches keep you connected through smart notification delivery and Garmin Pay contactless payment system.

Garmin Venu in slate gray

Garmin Venu

The Garmin Venu is ideal for first-time users looking for a GPS watch that can track a wide range of activities and still provide lifestyle functionality. It’s built to last through whatever your day throws at you, and it delivers the style that matches yours. Choose from customizable wristbands and watch faces to add a flare of your unique aesthetic to this essential piece of technology.

  • Over 20 pre-loaded sports apps
  • Download up to 200 songs from your streaming service of choice
  • Color, AMOLED display
  • Garmin Coach and workout animations
  • Garmin Pay contactless payment system
  • 5 ATM water rating
  • 43.2 mm diameter
  • Up to 6 hours of battery life in GPS mode
Shop Garmin Venu
Garmin Venu SQ in white

Garmin Venu SQ

The Garmin Venu SQ and SQ Music create their own aesthetic with a square watch face and sleek silicone band. The Venu SQ and SQ Music are geared more toward individuals looking to lead an active lifestyle, but who still want all the benefits of a traditional smartwatch. The Venu SQ Music allows you to download up to 500 songs from your preferred music service so you can enjoy a phone-free running experience.

  • Garmin Coach plans workouts for yoga, pilates, cardio and more
  • More than 20 pre-loaded sports apps track a broad range of activities
  • Health monitoring gives insights on heart rate, step count, hydration and sleep
  • Garmin Pay contactless payment system
  • 5 ATM water rating
  • 40.6 mm diameter
  • Up to 6 hours of battery life in GSP mode
Shop Garmin Venu SQ

Garmin vivo GPS Watches

The GPS watches in the Garmin vivo collection are all designed with a focus on simplicity. From sleek looks to easy-to-read faces, the vivo collection offers GPS watches and fitness trackers for individuals of all activity levels.

Whether you love to run or are a pilates junkie, the vivo collection watches can track your activity, provide valuable insight to your fitness, and are stylish to accompany you to a post-workout brunch.

Garmin vivosport in charcoal

Garmin vivosport

If you're looking for bare-bones fitness tracking, look no further than the Garmin vivosport. Boasting sleek, minimalist design and all the health metrics you need, the Garmin vivosport keeps everything you need in a neat package. Select between bold colors and accommodating sizing to find the right fit and feel for you and your activity level.

  • GPS tracking on indoor and outdoor activities
  • Fitness and stress monitoring helps you stay in tune with your body all day long
  • Garmin Chroma Display
  • Swim water rating, not meant for deep dives or long-term submersion.
  • Rectangular face is 9.7 mm x 19.3 mm
  • Garmin vivosport Small/Medium: wrists 122-188 mm around. Garmin vivosport Large: wrists 148-215 mm around.
  • Up to 8 hours of battery life in GPS mode
Shop Garmin vivosport
Garmin vivoactive 4 in black

Best for Beginners: Garmin vivoactive 4

Whether it’s your first time hitting the gym or you’re an athlete who prefers something simple, the Garmin vivoactive 4 GPS watch provides you with the guidance and analysis you need to set, and meet, your fitness goals. Features like Garmin Coach and animated, on-screen workouts provide the motivation and instruction you need to exercise creatively and consistently. The vivoactive 4 is also available in the 4S for individuals looking for a smaller watch face.

  • Over 20 pre-loaded sports apps
  • Fitness tracking, sleep monitoring, mindful breathing guidance
  • Garmin Coach and on-screen animations guide you through custom workouts
  • Store up to 500 songs from any music streaming service to enjoy a phone-free workout
  • 4: 45.1 mm diameter/ 4S: 40 mm diameter
  • 5 ATM water rating
  • Up to 15 hours of battery life in GPS mode
Shop Garmin vivoactive 4

Standing Behind Our Picks

We picked the best Garmin GPS watches based on what we think will work for the most people in the most situations. If you buy a Garmin GPS watch from us and you don’t like the way it looks, fits or performs, bring it back within 60 days for a full refund.

Plus, we offer free shipping on all orders over $99 on fleetfeet.com, and we’ll match a lower price from a qualifying retailer. That’s our Happy Fit Guarantee.