- Our pick for the #1 Best Overall Garmin Watch is the Enduro 2.
- With a Garmin watch, you can track almost any activity, from running to golf.
- When shopping for a Garmin watch, it’s important to consider your activities, the battery life, the interface display, and the price.
Garmin has been making watches for athletes since before there were smartwatches. The company’s first watch was called Forerunner. The Forerunners came on the scene in 2003, and Garmin geared them primarily toward runners.
Today, Garmin offers multiple watches for basically everyone. From simple GPS trackers to rugged adventure watches, there is a Garmin to fit your lifestyle.
This article will focus on the six best Garmin watches for every use case. We’ve picked the best Garmin devices to help you get the most out of any activity, including running, golf, swimming, and more.
- Best Overall: Garmin Enduro 2
- Best for Running: Garmin epix Pro (Gen 2) Sapphire Edition
- Best for Swimming: Garmin Swim 2
- Best for Golfing: Garmin Approach S70
- Best Multisport Option: Garmin Forerunner 965
- Best for Health Tracking: Garmin Venu 2
#1 Best Overall Garmin Watch: Garmin Enduro 2
- Taps the Sun’s energy for more power
- Maximizes battery life using SatIQ technology
- Lightweight, rugged design with a comfortable fit
- Smart navigation tools with preloaded maps
Our pick for the #1 best overall Garmin watch is the Garmin Enduro 2. This solar-powered watch lasts about 150 hours, or six days — with GPS while solar charging. The Enduro is great for any athlete who takes their exercise outside due to its included positional SatIQ, which determines the optimal GPS needed.
The GPS works whether you’re in a city blocked by tall buildings or in a forest around tall trees. In addition, you can lessen your chances of getting lost due to its topo map app. And, if you’re outside in the dark, you can use the flashlight to help you navigate while avoiding obstacles.
If you want a touchscreen, this watch has one, but if you prefer using traditional buttons, you can opt for that as well. The only cons we can find with this watch are that it’s expensive and only comes in one size.
|You can easily navigate the watch using buttons or a touchscreen.||The Enduro 2 is expensive and only comes in one size.|
Check out the Garmin Enduro 2 on Amazon.
Best Garmin Watch for Running: Garmin epix Pro (Gen 2) Sapphire Edition
- 1.4” AMOLED display and a scratch-resistant sapphire lens
- Endurance score feature
- Built-in LED flashlight
- 24/7 health and wellness monitoring
Our pick for the best Garmin watch for runners is the Garmin epix Pro (Gen 2) Sapphire Edition. Its clear display, helpful maps and health tracking make it a runner’s best friend. No matter which Garmin watch you decide on, it’s helpful to note that each one has several of the same features.
These include a built-in GPS, data based on pace and distance, and adaptive training plans to keep you on track. Additionally, the wrist-based heart rate measurement is reasonably accurate.
The epix Pro Sapphire Edition comes in various sizes: 41mm, 47mm, and 51mm, as well as colors and options for solar charging or sapphire lenses, so you’re bound to find a perfect fit.
The battery life of the epix is pretty impressive, at 31 days. Not only can you keep track of running stats with this Garmin, but you can also track your health and wellness with features like sleep monitoring and stress tracking.
Tracking these helps you analyze how your training affects your overall health levels, letting you adjust as needed. Finally, with the Health Snapshot feature, you can record your data after just two minutes of activity, download the data, and bring it to your doctor during your next visit.
This information could be invaluable to your doctor when it comes to measuring heart and respiration rates. While some Garmin watches with similar price tags have a microphone that lets you make calls or use a voice assistant, the epix doesn’t.
|The watch has excellent, easy-to-see display maps.||It’s expensive.|
|We wish that it included a microphone for voice calling and assist.|
Check out the Garmin epix Pro (Gen 2) Sapphire Edition on Amazon.
Best Garmin Watch for Swimming: Garmin Swim 2
- Up to 7 days of battery life in smartwatch mode
- Records distance, pace, stroke count, and stroke type
- Open-water swim mode
- Includes free online analysis, custom workout creation, storage, and sharing
- Monitors underwater estimated wrist-based heart rate
Our pick for the best Garmin watch for swimming is the Garmin Swim 2. This Gamrin is our top watch pick for swimmers because it has a decent battery life of around seven days, it lets you design your workouts, and it has an auto-stop function.
The Garmin Swim 2 watch is perfect for pool swimmers, and you can opt to buy a heart rate monitor to go along with it. The heart rate monitor band tracks your heart rate while swimming.
The band sends data in real-time during your rests and once you’re out of the water. If you don’t want to wear the band, you can also see your heart rate easily on your watch face, in or out of the water.
The Swim 2 also tracks your stress and fitness and allows for downloading additional sports apps to make it an all-around sports watch. Unfortunately, the Swim 2 focuses on pool swimming and isn’t better than other Garmin watches when it comes to open-water swimming.
|The auto-stop feature is helpful for those of us that always forget to stop our watch after completing activities.||The Swim 2 is not so great for swimming in open water (the ocean, etc.)|
|The battery life could be longer.|
Check out the Garmin Swim 2 on Amazon.
Best Garmin Watch for Golfing: Garmin Approach S70
- Up to 10 days of battery life in smartwatch mode
- 1.2" AMOLED display
- GPS features enhanced golf course maps for precise targeting
- Bluetooth connectivity
Our pick for the best Garmin watch for golfers is the Garmin Approach S70. That’s because the customizable AMOLED display is brilliant, and it includes features specifically for golf, including helpful hints from the Virtual Caddie app and the preloaded courses.
The Approach S70 and every golfing Garmin watch include a whopping 43,000 preloaded courses and the Green View feature. It allows you to view the shape and layout of the green. It also lets you manually place a pin in position.
The pin allows for more stats and precise targeting. Also included is the green contour view. You can configure the view and display the green’s high and low sections. The contour feature is available if you download the Garmin Golf app and buy the Garmin Golf membership.
The Approach S70 has a handy hazard view that helps you plan better swings, helpful wind speed and direction readings, and a battery that will last up to 16 days. Unfortunately, you might have to keep the Garmin Connect app open to get accurate wind readings.
Finally, the Approach S70 does more than keep track of your golf stats. It also lets you create workouts and uses your age to help determine your fitness age.
In addition, you can load music to your watch and never miss notifications with its smart notification feature. Unfortunately, it’s not a tournament-legal watch.
|The display is easy to read and navigate.||You may need to use the Connect app for accuracy.|
|The abundance of golf-specific features is a golfer’s dream.||The watch isn’t tournament legal.|
Take a look at the Garmin Approach S70 on Amazon.
Best Multisport Garmin Watch: Garmin Forerunner 965
- Up to 23 days of battery life in smartwatch mode
- Training readiness score
- Personalized daily suggested workouts
- You can switch between sports with a button press
Our pick for the best multisport Garmin watch is the Garmin Forerunner 965. We love it because of the multisport profile, which allows you to conveniently and quickly switch between sports which is ideal for triathletes. Also, the race widget lets you see course details and even gives you suggested workouts based on it.
Beyond the body battery that some Garmin watches include is the readiness score. It’s based on your sleep quality and training load and helps you determine if it’s a good day to train hard or take it easy.
The Forerunner 965 integrates well with the Garmin Edge Cycling computer, and you can also track your pool swims. Also, women can keep track of their menstrual cycles or pregnancy, giving them further insight into their exercise needs.
Finally, the Garmin Forerunner 965 gives you insight into your overall health with sleep and recovery tracking. While we love the Forerunner for many reasons, one downside is that it’s less rugged than other Garmin watches because it has a glass lens. However, it’s lightweight due to its titanium bezel.
|The Forerunner 965 is lightweight.||It’s not as tough as some of the other Garmin sports watches.|
|This watch has included apps for every sport you can think of.|
Check out the Garmin Forerunner 965 on Amazon today.
Best Garmin Watch for Health Tracking: Garmin Venu 2
- Choice of two colors with a bright AMOLED display
- Tracks and monitors health, energy, fitness, and more
- Over 25 built-in apps for workouts
- Free-preloaded workouts + adaptive training plans
- Over 600 song downloads to your watch
Our pick for the best Garmin watch for overall health tracking is the Garmin Venu 2. That’s because it comes in multiple sizes: 41mm, 47mm, and 51mm, as well as colors and options for premium features and voice functionality.
The Venu 2 allows you to perform several actions without taking out your phone. It also has an internal microphone that enables you to take calls on your wrist, and if you’re a music fan, you can also store your favorite playlists and control playback using the watch.
Additionally, the Venu 2 lets you monitor your stress, heart rate, and sleep, which, when combined, helps you gauge your energy levels for your next workout. The Venu 2 also works well with the Garmin Connect app while analyzing your health monitoring.
Finally, the battery for the Venu 2 lasts up to 11 days, making it a well-rounded health tracker for anyone. Despite the watch having a smart message feature, iPhone users can’t use their watch to reply to any texts.
|We love that you can take calls on this watch.||It has limited iPhone capability.|
|It has great battery life.|
Take a look at the Garmin Venu 2 on Amazon today.
How to Pick the Best Garmin Watch: Step by Step
Most people think of a few determining factors when deciding which Garmin watch to buy. These factors include:
- Activity use case
- Battery life
- User interface and display
Let’s look at each one in more detail.
Activity Use Case
Perhaps the most critical factor in picking the best Garmin watch is determining how you’ll be using it. After all, there’s no point in getting a Swim 2 if you only use your watch for golfing.
Of course, if you like various sports, it’s not an issue. That’s because a lot of Garmin watches do multiple duties. Most can track running, cycling, and swimming pretty well, which only requires you to buy one device. However, some watches are better suited for one particular sport.
Choosing which activities you’ll be using your watch for most often should be reasonably straightforward, so once you know your use case, you can move on to other factors, such as battery life.
The battery life of any watch is a factor, but when you’re using a Garmin for sports and outdoor activities, suddenly, battery life is a huge consideration. You want your watch to track your adventures without worrying about it dying on you.
Some Garmin watches will automatically pause or stop your activity tracking, making it easier to save battery life. In addition, you can opt for other battery-saving features like brightness adjustment, or just get a watch that has an explicitly battery-saving feature that can quickly save your last day or two of battery.
If you’re not one to take off on week-long adventures, watches that average seven days or so of battery life should suffice. However, if you’re an ultra runner, or long-distance hiker, opting for a solar-charging watch may be your best bet.
User Interface and Display
Another important factor in picking a Garmin watch is the interface and display. The top-of-the-line Garmin watches feature a crystal display. These watches have many advantages:
- Scratch resistance
- Water resistance
- Chemical resistance
- Better clarity
- Better durability
- Better looking
Also, while some Garmin watches have multiple features, the interface may become too confusing for everyday users. Some watches feature a touchscreen, while others are easily controlled with traditional buttons. Some watches have both, so you can access what you need faster and easier than with just those buttons.
A final major factor in watch selection is the price. And Garmin watches can get spendy. Once you know what sport you’ll use your watch for, you can narrow down your choices more accurately.
And once you have a few choices based on the use case, you’ll probably be able to compare prices and let that decide which Garmin watch to buy.
Sticking to a budget can be hard when purchasing a new piece of top-of-the-line gear, but having an idea of the price range of all Garmin watches may help reduce the shock of Garmin price tags.
What to Know Before Buying Garmin Watches
If you’re in the market for a smartwatch, you can’t go wrong with a Garmin. However, there are a few things to keep in mind before making your purchase. First, the activity you plan to use your watch for should be at the front of your buying decision.
There’s a Garmin for every activity, from rock climbing to yoga. And a lot of the watches can track a multitude of sports. But, if you’re a swimmer, you should look at Garmin watches specifically geared toward swimmers.
While other watches can track your swimming distance, the Garmin Swim series will also your stress and body battery, making it a more all-around watch. The next thing to consider is the battery life.
There’s nothing worse than being out on a trail and having your electronics run out of juice. Consider how long you must go without a charge to help you make the best decision. For example, ultra runners will need a much longer battery life than someone who just wants to track their daily steps.
Finally, the interface and display of the watch will dictate how you use it, so make sure to get one that’s easy to see in the conditions you’ll be using it in. Some Garmin watches have a brilliant AMOLED display, while others have a sapphire crystal display.
The newer models should all be brighter, clearer, and easier to read, but the older models are no slouches. So, if a top-of-the-line new crystal sapphire display is too expensive, you’ll still get great results with regular glass displays.
Using Garmin Watches: What it’s Like
Using a Garmin watch is like having a computer on your wrist. This computer locks into your heart rate, stats, steps, elevation, water depth, and pretty much anything you need it to analyze, it does.
There is a Garmin watch out there for most athletes and budgets. From the simple Venu and Vivoactive to the most advanced Enduro, epix, and Forerunners, there is a Garmin watch for you.
|Best Overall||Enduro 2|
|Best for Running||epix Pro (Gen 2) Sapphire Edition|
|Best for Swimming||Garmin Swim 2|
|Best for Golfing||Approach S70|
|Best Multisport Watch||Forerunner 965|
|Best for Health Tracking||Venu 2|
The image featured at the top of this post is ©Lukmanazis/Shutterstock.com.