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.
It's tough to pin down a single watch that will work best for everyone, but we've tested all the current models and put together this guide to help you pick the right one for you. Garmin makes many of the best GPS watches, and all of the ones here come highly recommended for their accuracy. Some also have on-board storage for music, so you can pair up your best running headphones and run to the beat without the need to carry your phone.
Whatever your needs, read on to find the best Garmin watch for you. We test new watches all the time, and will update this guide with new entries as they're released.
The best Garmin watch to push your fitness to the next level, with improved fitness and recovery tools
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
The Garmin Fenix 7 takes our award to for the best Garmin watch overall. If you're interested in taking your running, cycling, swimming or hiking to the next level, it's the ideal training tool for you.
We were particularly impressed by the new real-time stamina tool, which shows how much energy you have remaining in real time during a workout. If you're starting to run low then you might choose to dial back the effort a little or bring things to an end sooner, but if you've still got plenty in the tank then you might choose to push yourself a little harder.
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 almost as swiftly as a chest strap heart rate monitor.
During our tests 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, which is otherwise nearly identical.
Read our full Garmin Fenix 7 review
2. Garmin Venu 2 Plus
The best Garmin watch for style and practicality, with a stunning display and handy built-in microphone
Screen size: 1.1in / 1.3in | Screen type: color AMOLED | Battery life (GPS): up to 22 hours | Battery life (standby): up to 12 days
If you're considering trading in your Apple Watch for something more sports-focused, the Garmin Venu 2 Plus could be exactly what you're looking for. It's packed with all the fitness tracking tools you'd expect from a modern sports watch, but also includes lots of useful extras that make it an ideal watch for everyday wear.
The bright AMOLED display is crisp and easy to read in all conditions, and in our tests we found it much easier to read messages and view maps on the Venu 2 than many other Garmin watches. We also appreciated the addition of a microphone to the left-hand edge of the case, which allows you to answer calls and access your phone's voice assistant without digging your handset out of your pocket. If cash is a little tight, you can also pick up the regular Venu 2, which has all the same features except for the built-in mic.
There's only one case size available, and if you're used to the Apple Watch's wireless charging then you might find it frustrating to mess about with a fiddly charging cable, but with a battery life of up to 14 days, you won't need to charge the Venu 2 Plus anywhere near as frequently as one of Apple's devices.
3. Garmin Forerunner 55
The best Garmin running watch for new and intermediate level runners, with great training tools
Screen size: 1.04in | Screen type: color memory-in-pixel | Battery life (GPS): up to 20 hours | Battery life (standby): up to 14 days
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.
Although it was only released in 2021, you can already 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, this one should tick the most important boxes.
4. Garmin Instinct 2
The best Garmin watch for outright battery life – especially if you opt for one of the solar models
Screen size: 0.79in / 0.9in | Screen type: monochrome memory-in-pixel | Battery life (GPS): up to 48 hours | Battery life (standby): up to indefinite
If you're hard on your watches, then the Instinct 2 is the best Garmin Watch for you. Like the original Instinct before it, this watch is built like a tank with a tough resin case topped with Gorilla Glass and a design made to shrug off bumps and knocks. After several camping trips and a spot or two of mountain biking, we can confirm that it works.
The Instinct 2 also offers remarkable battery life, particularly if you opt for one of the solar models, which feature Garmin's Power Glass. Provided you're able to get outdoors and soak up a little sunshine, you'll notice that the battery meter barely drops, even with GPS active. Garmin itself claims that the solar edition of the watch can run indefinitely if it catches enough rays, though admittedly you'd need to keep all its most interesting tools switched off to achieve that.
GPS is excellent, as we've come to expect, and during testing we particularly appreciated the watch's new training tools, including suggested running workouts. The only real drawback is that the monochrome memory-in-pixel display isn't great for displaying maps. There's very little detail, and no hues to differentiate different parts of the landscape. If you don't need help navigating though, the Instinct 2 comes highly recommended.
5. Garmin Enduro
A super tough Garmin watch that'll go the distance for ultra marathons and hiking expeditions
Screen size: 1.4in | Screen type: color memory-in-pixel | Battery life (GPS): up to 95 days | Battery life (standby): up to 1 year
It might not have the potentially unlimited battery life of the Instinct 2, but the solar-powered Enduro is the best Garmin watch if you're looking for something similar to the Fenix 7 with superior battery life. It's also an excellent watch to take camping, as you can forget about the charger for weeks or even longer depending which GPS and power settings you choose. It's all fully customizable, so you can enable only the specific features you want to use in order to maximize battery life.
During testing we also appreciated the Enduro's tough design, with a smart stainless steel or titanium bezel, plus a woven nylon band rather than the typical silicone. It saves a few grams (more noticeable for the lighter titanium version), and keeps the profile nice and snug against your wrist.
The downside is that you don't get the same great turn-by-turn navigation you do with the Garmin Fenix 7 or Epix, which is why the Enduro isn't higher in our rankings. It's a superb watch for tracking your fitness and monitoring recovery though, particularly if you're going off-grid for an extended time.
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Cat is the editor of Advnture, She’s been a journalist for 13 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).
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