10 Best Garmin Running Watches (To Help You Be More Active!) - Exquisite Timepieces
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Best Garmin Running Watches

10 Best Garmin Running Watches (To Help You Be More Active!)

Garmin is one of the leading players in the global smartwatch and fitness wearable market. It holds a significant market share and currently competes with major brands like Apple, Fitbit, Samsung, and others.

Marked by accolades such as inventing the world’s first running smartwatch, the Swiss-domiciled company is known for its continuous innovation in the wearable technology space. The brand introduced features like GPS tracking, advanced running dynamics, golf course mapping, and other fitness-centric metrics into its watches.

Despite other brands offering excellent sports watches with unique features, Garmin products set the standard for accuracy, durability, functionality, and style.

Garmin is currently the official running watch sponsor of Under Armour’s Mission Run professional running teams. This is why we present the best 10 Garmin running watches that can provide valuable data, motivation, and convenience for runners and fitness enthusiasts.

About Garmin Running Watches

The Garmin watch brand was established in 1989 by Gary Burrell and Dr. Min Kao in Lenexa, Kansas, United States, under the name ProNav. This name was later changed to “Garmin,” a combination of the founders’ first names. 

Garmin’s initial focus was developing handheld GPS devices primarily for aviation and marine navigation. Just two years after its founding, the GPS 100, a panel-mounted GPS receiver, was launched.

Pilots, sailors, and outdoor enthusiasts used these panel-mounted GPS receivers to determine their precise location, plan routes, and navigate with greater accuracy.

In the early 2000s, as GPS technology became more accessible and miniaturized, Garmin expanded its product offerings to include GPS-enabled fitness devices. 

By this time, the brand was manufacturing about 50 distinct models and quickly sold approximately three million GPS devices.

The world’s first running smartwatch, the Forerunner 201 (along with the models 101 and 301), was introduced in 2003 and marked the company’s entry into the fitness wearables market. This running watch provided basic tracking features for runners and laid the foundation for Garmin’s successful line of running and multisport watches.

With a focus on continuous innovation and technology development, Garmin gradually expanded its range of fitness watches, offering more advanced features, such as heart rate monitoring, GPS tracking for various sports, advanced training metrics, and integration with smartphones for smartwatch functionalities.

In 2010, the company was legally incorporated in Schaffhausen, Switzerland.

Popular models of Garmin running watches include the Garmin Forerunner, Fenix, Instinct, and the more budget-friendly Garmin Vivoactive series.

In 2019, the brand’s CEO, Clifton A. Pemble, announced the release of the MARQ series, a collection of luxury tool watches forged from Garmin’s long-standing heritage.

Today, Garmin is a global leader in GPS technology and offers a diverse range of products, including multisport watches, cycling computers, marine GPS units, aviation devices, automotive navigation systems, and outdoor handheld GPS devices.

The company’s commitment to accuracy, reliability, and user-centric design has made it a well-respected and widely recognized brand in the wearable technology and GPS markets.

What To Look For in Running Watches?

Running watches are wearable time-telling devices designed to assist runners and athletes in tracking their activities, performance, and health metrics. 

If you’re hoping to accomplish specific fitness goals like running a marathon, improving your 5K time, or achieving other milestones, a running watch can significantly help you optimize your workout.

To be worthy of the name, here are some features to look out for before buying a running watch.

1. Training Data

Training data in running watches refers to the various types of information and metrics that the timepiece collects and presents to you (the user) during and after workouts. 

This data is intended to help you monitor your performance, track progress, and make informed decisions to improve your training and achieve your fitness goals.

Most running watches have associated apps or online platforms where you can store and analyze your workout data over time, helping you track progress and identify areas for improvement.

So look out for watches with incorporated apps or platforms where you can examine your workout data, track trends, and review past performances. 

2. GPS & Navigation

GPS (Global Positioning System) is a network of satellites orbiting the Earth. GPS-enabled running watches can receive signals from multiple satellites and use triangulation to determine your precise location. By tracking changes in your position over time, the watch can calculate your speed, distance traveled, and other metrics.

It is important to get a running watch with this feature because you can get a visual representation of your route on a map. You would find this particularly useful when exploring new areas or planning routes for specific distances, as it allows you to follow preloaded routes or set waypoints to guide you during your run.

Some GPS-enabled running watches even go further to incorporate altimeters that track changes in elevation during your run. This is great for trail runners and those interested in monitoring their vertical gain and loss.

3. Health Monitoring

A watch with various sensors and features that monitor the user’s physical activities and overall well-being should be a must, not an option. One thing that can make a massive difference to your general fitness progress is having a wearable device designed to help you track and monitor various health metrics.

Consider watches that can continuously monitor your heart rate, providing real-time data during workouts and rest periods. The timing device may use a reliable and accurate method like an optical sensor or work together with external heart rate straps. 

Some running timepieces can also track the number of steps taken throughout the day and combine data from heart rate, steps, and other factors to estimate the number of calories burned during activities. These features can help you maintain an active lifestyle beyond your running sessions.

4. Durability

A running watch should be able to endure a fair amount of wear and tear, so choose one that is durable and backed by a good warranty. Research the brand’s reputation and read user reviews to gauge the watch’s real-world performance, robustness, longevity, and reliability.

5. Connectivity and Data Syncing

Nothing quenches the flames of a workout faster than groping for your phone every time a text or call comes in. To keep your endorphins flowing continuously, you need a watch that can connect to your smartphone seamlessly. 

Wireless connectivity enables your running watch to communicate with other devices, such as smartphones, computers, and even fitness-tracking platforms. Ensure that the watch is compatible with your smartphone’s operating system (iOS/Android) and that it works well with the apps you intend to use before purchasing it.

6. Battery Life

Consider how long the watch’s battery lasts in various modes (e.g., GPS tracking, regular use). A good running watch should last through your longest runs and possibly multiple days.

10 Best Garmin Running Watches

With that being said, here’s a list of the 10 best Garmin running watches you can get today:

Garmin Forerunner 55

Garmin Forerunner 55

The Garmin Forerunner 55 was released as an upgrade to the Forerunner 45 and is a sleek, discreet, functional, and accurate watch that also feels high-end. It is presented in a 42mm case with a thickness of 11.6mm. The case has five buttons around the circumference and is worn on a sporty silicone band.

Apart from telling the time accurately, the accurate GPS tracking indicator monitors your pace, distance, and routes while running or walking. A built-in heart rate monitor also helps you gauge your performance and fitness level.

The Forerunner 55 is equipped with various useful activity-tracking features to monitor steps, calories burned, and sleep patterns, helping you stay on top of your fitness goals and overall health. 

It currently retails for $200 and comes in three colorways: Aqua, Black, and White.

Garmin Venu 2 Plus

Garmin Venu 2 Plus

With a highly versatile breathtaking contemporary design, the Venu 2 Plus is one of Garmin’s best all-around smartwatches that competes favorably with Apple, Galaxy, and Pixel watches.

As an upgraded version of its predecessor, the Garmin Venu 2, the watch comes packed with unbeatable features. If you want a super-cool, super-trendy, and terrific running watch with longer battery life than most, the Venu 2 Plus comes highly recommended.

With a battery life that lasts up to 9 days, a microphone that allows you to answer incoming calls from your wrist, and a bright, circular AMOLED display, this watch is amazing. The all-purpose smartwatch comes in a 43mm case with a high-resolution display and is compatible with both iOS and Android.

Basic features found in the Garmin Venu series, such as built-in GPS, sleep tracking, heart rate monitoring, and a variety of activity modes to help users track and analyze their workouts are still present. 

But now, the speaker can be used to play back music from third-party apps. The most popular reference is the cream-gold stainless steel case equipped with an ivory band. It retails for $500 MSRP.

Garmin Instinct Crossover Solar

Garmin Instinct Crossover Solar

The Instinct Crossover Solar is a rugged GPS multisport smartwatch known for its long battery life, extended by solar charging capabilities.

The watch is built to meet U.S. military standard 810G for thermal, shock, and water resistance. It is well-built, strongly made, long-lasting, and features a fiber-reinforced 45mm polymer case. The digital display is chemically strengthened, making it resistant to damage from the elements.

The watch utilizes Power Glass™ solar charging lens to harness the sun’s energy, extending the battery life up to 28 days (25 hours GPS). It features an altimeter for altitude tracking, a barometer for weather forecasting, and a 3-axis compass for navigation.

The Crossover Solar comes with all the usual Garmin stuff, including multiple sports and activity tracking modes, such as running, cycling, swimming, hiking, and more. It retails for $450 and can monitor heart rate, stress levels, sleep patterns, and other health metrics.

Garmin Forerunner 265

Garmin Forerunner 265

Priced at $450, the Forerunner® 265 is extremely popular among trail runners and outdoor enthusiasts thanks to its top-notch GPS accuracy and comprehensive running features.

With a touch screen and AMOLED always on display, you can now access a variety of training features, including customizable workouts, interval training, and training status evaluations to optimize your fitness routines.

The watch is ultralight at only 47 grams, and the diameter of the case is 41mm while the thickness is 12.9mm. In addition to the amazing specs that the majority of Garmin running watches come with, the Forerunner 265 is equipped with the Incident Detection feature. 

This is a key accessory that enables the timepiece to detect a hard fall and send out an SOS alert to your emergency contacts.

Garmin Instinct 2X

Garmin Instinct 2X

The Garmin Instinct model is a lineup of rugged GPS outdoor smartwatches designed to provide essential outdoor features in a durable, reliable, and attractive package. Built to military standards (MIL-STD-810G) for thermal, shock, and water resistance, the 2X adventure smartwatch is big, sturdy, and solid.

The watch is an upgraded version of the Instinct 2S and Instinct 2 and comes in a large 50mm polymer case.

With advanced training features and a built-in flashlight to keep you going when it gets dark, this ultratough watch is not for the faint-hearted.

It is solar-powered and comes with a multi-band GNSS, health/wellness monitoring sensors, and ABC sensors. Everything about the bold design screams action and adventure.

With a 100-meter water-resistant rating, you can safely swim in pools, lakes, or the ocean without worrying about damaging the watch. You can get it for $450.

Garmin Forerunner 965

Garmin Forerunner 965

Released in March 2023, the Forerunner 965 is pretty much the fancier version of the Forerunner 265 which we looked at earlier. Though still functionally identical to the Forerunner 265, this watch is sharper, more fashionable, classy, and trendy.

The case size is large at 47.2mm, but thanks to that, the OLED display has all the space it needs to fit a lot of information on-screen. It doesn’t do anything significantly better than its other siblings (the Forerunner 265 and 265S) apart from having a better battery life and sleek features.

The battery of the 965 is about three days longer than the 265, as it can last up to 10 days of wearing around the clock before needing to be charged. Another improvement here is that it is clearer, brighter, wider, and thicker and has a great combo of touchscreen and buttons.

The watch is well-protected against accidental spills and exposure to water during everyday activities like washing your hands, doing dishes, or cleaning. It retails for $600.

Garmin Fenix 7X Pro

Garmin Fenix 7X Pro

Designed for larger wrists, the Fenix 7X Pro is a top adventure watch with a 51mm fiber-reinforced polymer case. Despite the advanced features, the 7X Pro boasts an impressive battery life of more than a month with the Power Sapphire™ solar charging lens1. 

The running watch features a scratch-resistant sapphire solar-charged display, over 30 sport profiles, a responsive touchscreen, traditional buttons, and health and training data. Another amazing feature worth noting is the hill score and endurance score metrics, which measures your ability to run uphill and sustain prolonged efforts, respectively.

The watch is super functional and has a built-in LED light at the top edge with variable light intensities. Let’s not forget the rugged design, advanced navigation capabilities, and health-oriented features, like sleep monitoring, stress tracking, and even pulse oximeters to measure blood oxygen levels. It retails for $1,000

Garmin Epix Pro (Gen 2)

Garmin Epix Pro (Gen 2)

Priced at $900, the Epix Pro (Gen 2) provides detailed metrics and data analysis for activities like running, cycling, swimming, and more. The Pro-standard edition has a case that measures 47mm across, but you can get the watch in a smaller 42mm case or a larger 51mm size.

All the cases are crafted from fiber-reinforced polymer, with a titanium bezel and a stainless steel case back. We have already established that anytime Garmin adds a ‘Pro’ or ‘Gen 2’ branding to an existing product line, it doesn’t mean it is a major upgrade or new product series.

This holds for the Gen 2 of the Epix Pro. The basic software features in all the Epix units are to be expected, including Hill Score, Endurance Score, the new shaded relief maps, detailed health features, and so on.

Like the 7X Pro, it comes equipped with a built-in led flashlight and can last up to 16 days (in smartwatch mode) after a full charge.

Garmin Enduro 2

Garmin Enduro 2

Whether you’re trying to navigate a mountain range in a blizzard or dashing out on a trail run, the Enduro 2 is up to the challenge. Heavy-duty and highly functional, this watch is the ultimate running watch designed to remain unscathed through the toughest and harshest environments on the planet.

With a large dimension of 51 x 51 x 15.6 mm, the sophisticated sports watch is not wearable for most people, but the good thing is that visibility is amazing. Despite being packed with so many features, the Enduro 2 is designed to not be too cumbersome on your wrist. 

The large 1.4” solar-charged display ensures you get up to 34 days of battery life, while the responsive touchscreen and button controls offer you quick access to desired selections and functions. Worth noting are the ClimbPro and PACE PRO™ features that offer you real-time information on your climbs,  elevation gain, pace, gradient, and distance. It retails for $1,100.

Garmin Vivoactive 4

Garmin Vivoactive 4

Lastly, the Vivoactive 4. An absolute must-have for every serious ultra-athlete looking for a sleek and functional running watch to unlock their best performance.

At $330, this timepiece delivers a solid value proposition at a fairly affordable price. If you want the best of the best at your fingertips, the Vivoactive 4 is a great example of what might ensure your mission’s success despite the terrain.

It features a 45.1 x 45.1 x 12.8 mm fiber-reinforced polymer case with a stainless steel bezel and silicone strap. Apart from being essential for runners, the watch is like a first aid kit or any other survival tool. It offers health and wellness features like stress tracking, women’s health, hydration, and respiration tracking.

The battery lasts up to 8 days on a single charge, and the watch is equipped with various sports and activity tracking features to help you train for your next 5K, 10K, or half-marathon.


Garmin has put significant effort into developing watches with various training features tailored for runners. Runners can trust that a watch from the brand will assist them in reaching their goals, provide accurate data, and improve their overall performance.

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