The best Garmin watches 2024: recommendations for every sport

Collage of the best Garmin watches
(Image credit: Future)

When you're looking for the best Garmin watch, there are lots of factors to take into account. What is your preferred sport, what level are you at currently, what do you want to achieve, how frequently do you train? It's also important to think about how long you'll be able to go between charges, and how much of a beating your watch is likely to take, and last but not least, how much cash you have to spend.

After extensive testing, our pick for the best Garmin watch of 2024 is the Forerunner 955, which is a versatile, powerful watch that'll help take your training to the next level whatever your sport. If you're new to running then the Forerunner 265 or Forerunner 55 are your best options, both offering impressive features for a very reasonable price, and ultra runners should take a close look at the Enduro 2 with its incredible battery life.

Whatever your needs, read on to find the perfect Garmin watch for you. The Advnture team tests new watches all the time, and we'll update this guide with new entries as they're released. 

The quick list

This list lets you compare all the watches in this guide at a glance, and lets you easily jump down the page for a full review of each one.

The best Garmin watches we recommend in 2024

You can trust Advnture Our expert reviewers spend days testing and comparing gear so you know how it will perform out in the real world. Find out more about how we test and compare products.

The best Garmin watch overall

Garmin Forerunner 955 watch on woman's wrist

The Garmin Forerunner 955 might look unassuming, but it's a sports tracking powerhouse (Image credit: Future)
The best Garmin watch all-round, with super accurate GPS and excellent training tools

Specifications

Screen size: 1.3in
Screen type: color memory-in-pixel
Battery life (GPS): 42 hours without solar
Battery life (standby): 15 days without solar

Reasons to buy

+
Extremely tough design
+
Super accurate GPS
+
Excellent recovery tools

Reasons to avoid

-
Shorter battery life than expected
-
Undeniably expensive

It might look unassuming with its plain resin case, but the Forerunner 955 is our pick for the best Garmin watch of 2023. It offers all of the company's best training tools in a neat package that's surprisingly compact and lightweight to wear.

It offers the best GPS tracking of any watch we've tested to date (and there have been a lot), and its advanced training tools are very impressive. It was the first watch to include heart rate variability (HRV) and training readiness scores to help you understand how your body is responding to life and training, and it also delivers a daily morning report to help you prepare for the day ahead.

Navigation is excellent, and whichever type of workout you choose to track, we think you'll be impressed by the sheer depth of data available afterwards. If you're purely a runner then the Forerunner 55 is a much cheaper alternative, and the Forerunner 255 will suit entry-level triathletes well, but if you enjoy getting stuck into a wide range of sports then the 955 is the one for you.

Our only real criticism is that the battery life wasn't as long as we'd expected, but opting for the solar edition stretches it out further between charges.

Read our full Garmin Forerunner 955 review

The best Garmin watch for new runners

Garmin Forerunner 265 watch on woman's wrist

The Garmin Forerunner 265 is a solid choice for new and intermediate level runners and triathletes (Image credit: Future)
A superb entry-level running and triathlon watch that's more than just a pretty face

Specifications

Screen size: 1.1in / 1.3in
Screen type: AMOLED
Battery life (GPS): 24 hours / 20 hours
Battery life (standby): 15 days / 13 days

Reasons to buy

+
Super light and comfortable
+
Great looking AMOLED display
+
Very accurate GPS
+
New touch controls

Reasons to avoid

-
Lacks full maps

The Forerunner 265 is a great choice for beginner and intermediate level runners and triathletes thanks to its super accurate GPS, great looking screen, and accessible design that makes even the more advanced training tools easy to understand and use. It's very similar to the Forerunner 255 that launched in 2022, but with a new AMOLED touchscreen that makes it brighter, bolder, and easier to use.

Despite its modest price, the Forerunner 265 has an impressive set of sensors under the hood, and its GPS outshone most other sports watches I've tested this year. On our tester's pre-measured 5km course, it plotted the route to within five meters, which is remarkable considering it's on roads rather than a track. It also gives you wrist-based running metrics, such as ground contact time, vertical oscillation, and cadence so you can see how your form changes as you fatigue, plus heart rate, speed, and elevation. Everything is presented neatly and clearly, with the upgraded screen making graphs easy to interpret at a glance.

The only real downside is that the Forerunner 265 doesn't support full maps, which seems like a shame. There are basic navigation tools, but for really exploring new areas you'll be better off upgrading to the Forerunner 955 or 965.

Read our full Garmin Forerunner 265 review

The best Garmin watch for advanced runners

Garmin Fenix 7 Pro GPS watch on woman's wrist

The Garmin Fenix 7 Pro has an upgraded heart rate monitor, handy built-in flashlight, and new training tools (Image credit: Future)
A Garmin watch to push your fitness to the next level, with improved recovery tools

Specifications

Screen size: 1.2in / 1.3in / 1.4in
Screen type: color memory-in-pixel
Battery life (GPS): up to 122 hours
Battery life (standby): up to 1+ year

Reasons to buy

+
Extremely accurate GPS
+
Useful training tools
+
Choice of case sizes
+
Extra tough design

Reasons to avoid

-
Colors sometimes look muddy
-
One of the most expensive options

If you're interested in taking your running, cycling, swimming or hiking to the next level, the Fenix 7 Pro is the ideal training tool for you. It's very similar to the original Fenix 7, but with an upgraded heart rate sensor, an incredibly handy flashlight, and a handful of extra tools to help you train more effectively.

There are all the training tools a runner could wish for, including the ability to easily import workout plans from services like TrainingPeaks, wrist-based running dynamics, and a variety of tools that put your biometric data into a context that's easier to understand. For example, the new Endurance Score features uses various sources of long and short-term data to assess your ability to sustain long efforts, and see your progress over time

GPS proved particularly accurate, and during an intense indoor cycling interval session, we found that changes in heart rate were detected by the Fenix 7 Pro's updated sensor almost as swiftly as a chest strap heart rate monitor.

On test we found that the watch's blue backlight tended to make colors look a little muddy, particularly when navigating using the watch's on-board maps and GPS, but that's a fairly minor complaint. if you'd prefer to have a watch with an OLED display, take a look at the Garmin Epix Pro, which is otherwise nearly identical.

Read our full Garmin Fenix 7 Pro review

The best Garmin watch for ultra runners

Garmin Enduro 2

The Garmin Enduro 2 is a watch built with tough multi-day events in mind (Image credit: Future)
A top quality multi-sports watch that makes no compromises for long distance events

Specifications

Screen size: 1.4in
Screen type: color memory-in-pixel
Battery life (GPS): up to 714 hours
Battery life (standby): up to 550 days

Reasons to buy

+
Exceptional battery life
+
Great GPS accuracy
+
Super bright flashlight

Reasons to avoid

-
Costs almost $1,000
-
Only one size

The Garmin Enduro gives you the training tools of the Fenix 7 with the battery life of the Instinct 2, and it's a joy to use. This is a watch that makes no compromises. It's big and bold (which is necessary to accommodate its large solar cell). with a titanium bezel, sapphire crystal lens, and an enormous 1.4in screen for displaying stats and maps. It's even packing a bright LED flashlight that's incredibly handy for early morning and late evening runs, or around a campsite.

GPS accuracy is exceptional (with Garmin's SatIQ automatically switching between satellite tracking modes to maximize battery life), and although the display isn't as bright as that of the Epix (Gen 2), it's still bright and detailed enough to make navigation a breeze.

The only question is, are you really going to be off-grid enough to justify it? The Enduro 2 can run for weeks between charges even with regular GPS use, but if you're not planning any ultra runs or long backpacking expeditions, a Fenix or Forerunner might be a better option.

Read our full Garmin Enduro 2 review

The best Garmin watch for hikers

Garmin Instinct 2X Solar watch on man's wrist

(Image credit: Michael Sawh)
The likeable rugged watch is brought up to date with a bigger screen, multi-band GPS, and a bright flashlight

Specifications

Screen size: 1.1in two-window design
Screen type: grayscale memory-in-pixel
Battery life (GPS): 60 hours (145 hours with solar)
Battery life (standby): 40 days (unlimited with solar)

Reasons to buy

+
At 67g, the bigger case isn't super heavy
+
Flashlight is surprisingly bright
+
Battery life is solid

Reasons to avoid

-
Some slow loading times
-
Would like more screen real estate
-
Still no full mapping support

The Garmin Instinct 2X takes one of the most likeable and more unique watches in Garmin’s range and brings it up to date with a bigger screen, a bright flashlight, multi-band GPS powers and a battery life that goes for weeks. If you like the idea of having a bigger, more rugged Instinct 2 then you’ll have a lot of time for what the Instinct 2X is packing.

In our tests, the newly added multi-frequency GPS really did deliver the improved accuracy you need in places like tall, wooded areas. We used the Instinct 2X alongside the Forerunner 965 and found data by large was very consistent, and the metrics attached to that improved positioning data. It uses more power, but is worth it when you're out exploring, and battery life is still excellent with it enabled.

The new flashlight, accessed via the top left button, is more than just a gimmick, offering a surprisingly bright light to work by. We only wish the Instinct 2X had a higher screen resolution for more detail and proper support for mapping to help us navigate in the wild.

Read our full Garmin Instinct 2X Solar review

The best Garmin watch for the gym

Garmin Epix (Gen 2) watch on woman's wrist

The enormous AMOLED display of the Garmin Epix (Gen 2) is a thing of beauty (Image credit: Future)

6. Garmin Epix (Gen 2)

All the best features of the Fenix 7, topped off with a gorgeous AMOLED screen

Specifications

Screen size: 1.3in
Screen type: color AMOLED
Battery life (GPS): 42 hours
Battery life (standby): 16 days

Reasons to buy

+
Stunning display
+
Advanced but accessible fitness tracking
+
Great for maps and navigation

Reasons to avoid

-
Shorter battery life than Fenix 7

The Garmin Epix (Gen 2) is essentially the same as the Fenix 7, but with an AMOLED display rather than memory-in-pixel, making it easier to read in all lighting conditions, including the dark realms of the spin studio or Crossfit box. It offers a huge range of activity tracking options for indoor and outdoor sports, and has all the training tools you'd expect from a premium Garmin watch including daily workout suggestions tailored to your fitness, hill score, endurance score, and training readiness.

If that sounds overwhelming, don't worry; everything is clearly laid out, and that super crisp display means graphs, charts and figures are extremely easy to read and interpret. On-screen muscle maps help you balance your strength training, along with animated yoga and pilates workouts, which offer clear illustrations and time you through each movement.

There's no solar charging (Garmin is still working on a way to make this happen for AMOLED watches), but that doesn't matter if most of your workouts are happening indoors, and in our tests we found that the Epix (Gen 2) will still go a week between charges in ordinary use.

If you do decide to venture outdoors, you'll benefit from fantastic maps and navigation. If you want to explore a new area, the Epix (Gen 2) is one of the best watches for the task, showing roads, trails and paths in excellent detail.

Bear in mind that this particular variant of the Epix is only available in one size (47mm). If you want a smaller or larger watch, you should check out the recently released Garmin Epix (Gen 2) Pro, which also has an updated heart rate monitor and built in flashlight.

The best Garmin watch for everyday wear

Garmin Venu 3 watch on woman's wrist

The third-generation Garmin Venu is the best yet; more subtle than a Forerunner or Fenix, but still packing serious workout and recovery tools (Image credit: Future)
The perfect blend of everyday smartwatch features and advanced fitness tracking

Specifications

Screen size: 1.2in / 1.4in
Screen type: color AMOLED
Battery life (GPS): up to 26 hours
Battery life (standby): up to 14 days

Reasons to buy

+
Sleek, slim case (in two sizes)
+
Super bright, crisp display
+
Excellent GPS accuracy
+
Handy built-in microphone

Reasons to avoid

-
Pricier than entry-level Apple Watch Series 9
-
No maps and navigation

Torn between a smartwatch and a dedicated sports watch? The Venu 3 strikes a great balance, offering excellent GPS and fitness features, plus everyday smartwatch tools like quick access to your phone's voice assistant, and the ability to take calls from your wrist via the built-in microphone. It's hard to overstate just how useful that is; during testing our tester found themselves using Google Assistant far more often than normal, as it was easy to answer those little questions that come up during the day right on their wrist.

It's a step up from the Venu 2 Plus (released in 2022) with a new heart rate sensor for more accurate biometrics, and a choice of two sizes rather than just one. It was the first watch to feature Garmin's new Sleep Coaching and if you're in the US you can use it to check for an irregular heartbeat using the ECG app.

The biggest drawback is the lack of mapping. Despite its bright, high resolution screen, which seems ideally suited to navigation, you can't download maps or GPX routes to the Venu 3. If that's something you really need, and you want an AMOLED display, you should take a look at the Garmin Epix (Gen 2) instead.

Read our full Garmin Venu 3 review

The best Garmin watch for value

Garmin Forerunner 55 watch with black strap

The Garmin Forerunner 55 is an affordable GPS watch that'll suit beginner and intermediate runners alike (Image credit: Future)

8. Garmin Forerunner 55

The best Garmin running watch for new and intermediate level runners, with great training tools

Specifications

Screen size: 1.04in
Screen type: color memory-in-pixel
Battery life (GPS): up to 20 hours
Battery life (standby): up to 14 days

Reasons to buy

+
Affordably priced
+
Workout suggestions
+
Recovery time guidance
+
Well designed controls

Reasons to avoid

-
Not the best display for maps
-
No touchscreen

The Forerunner 55 is Garmin's entry-level running watch, and very reasonably priced, but we'd happily recommend it to intermediate level runners as well. You're getting a huge amount for your money here – despite its modest price tag, it's a very accurate GPS watch with impressive heart rate monitoring, sleep tracking, recovery stats, and training tools including workout suggestions and recommended recovery periods.

OK, its color memory-in-pixel screen isn't as vivid as the AMOLED display of the Venu 2 Plus or Epix, but it's still clearly visible in most lighting conditions, with a backlight for when things get gloomy, and all your stats are clearly presented with graphs and charts to illustrate trends over time.

It was released in 2021 so you can snag it for much less than its list price, making it a particularly great deal. If you're not sure which Garmin watch to choose and you're on a budget, this one should tick the most important boxes.

The best Garmin watch for small wrists

Workout stats on Garmin Lily 2 watch

(Image credit: Lucy Miller)
A featherweight, discreet fitness watch

Specifications

Screen size: 1in
Screen type: LED
Battery life (GPS): N/A
Battery life (standby): 5 days

Reasons to buy

+
Subtle, discreet design
+
Extra light (20.4g with nylon strap)
+
New dance activity tracking modes
+
Optional Garmin Pay

Reasons to avoid

-
No on-board GPS
-
Relatively short battery life (5 days)
-
Some light-colored straps are marked easily

The Lily 2 is the smallest Garmin watch, and the best option if you find regular sports watches overwhelming. It's targeted at women, but its subtle design means it's a device anyone could wear if they have slim wrists.

The Lily 2 is even lighter than the original Lily thanks to the switch from stainless steel to aluminum, and our tester Lucy Miller appreciated its slim profile. "Not only does it slide easily under your cuffs but under bedclothes too," she said. "If you want to make the most of the sleep monitoring, that's quite a big deal."

You get Garmin's daily health features, such as body battery and sleep tracking. Period and pregnancy tracking are positioned prominently in the menus, making it easy to log symptoms for more accurate predictions of your cycle.

The biggest downside is that it doesn't have its own GPS transceiver, which means you'll need to carry your phone in order to track your location, speed and distance during outdoor workouts. It's a shame, but likely due to the sheer size of the watch; radio aerials need a certain amount of space to avoid interfering with one another and the Lily 2 might be just too petite.

Read our full Garmin Lily 2 review

How we tested these Garmin watches

We test each Garmin watch for at least two weeks so the watch and its companion app have time to build up a full picture of our health and fitness. We wear each watch day and night so we can assess its sleep and recovery tools, and compare its results against those from a Withings Sleep Analyzer sleep tracker.

To test each watch's GPS, we take it for several runs and walks in a variety of locations, including built-up areas, open fields, and wooded areas that present a challenge of satellite navigation. We also take each watch on a pre-measured route to see how accurately it records distance.

To test the accuracy of each Garmin watch's heart rate monitor, we put it to the test in a series of intense interval training sessions and compare its results to those from a chest strap heart rate monitor, which serves as a benchmark.

For more details see how Advnture tests products.

Meet the expert

Cat Ellis running
Cat Ellis

Cat has been testing Garmin watches for years, having previously worked as fitness editor for Advnture's sister site TechRadar. After all these years, she still geeks out about badges on Garmin Connect.

Cat Ellis
Editor

Cat is the editor of Advnture, She’s been a journalist for 15 years, and was fitness and wellbeing editor on TechRadar before joining the Advnture team in 2022. She’s a UK Athletics qualified run leader, and in her spare time enjoys nothing more than lacing up her shoes and hitting the roads and trails (the muddier, the better), usually wearing at least two sports watches.