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Best Garmin Watches Of 2021

Garmin—a brand well-known for its GPS devices—penetrated the smartwatch market after releasing its wearables technology line.


Navigation is a strong suit for Garmin watches, and the company has a good reputation for longevity. Its watches stand up to wear and tear for years, and the company continues to upgrade them long after their release dates. We has kept a close eye on a number of Garmin watches and gathered them together in this list to give you a better idea of which ones might serve your lifestyle.


These particular smartwatches have several important functions that can come in handy for the regular biker: GPS services, pulse oximetry capability, and a heart rate tracker to boot. As all of the watches in this guide are from the Garmin brand, the specifications of most of them run along a similar track.


As such, the major considerations for our choices revolved around their battery life, readability, and watch functions. These particular factors seem trivial at the onset, but these will determine how long the watch will last and how well it can do.

1.Garmin 010-02064-00 Instinct, Rugged Outdoor Watch

The Garmin Instinct is for the hardcore of whatever activity you’re into. This rugged GPS watch — which aligns with U.S. Military standard 810G for thermal, shock, and water resistance up to 100 meters is built for tough environments. It features a three-axis compass, a barometric altimeter, and multiple global navigation satellite systems like GPS, GLONASS, and Galileo to track your challenging path. You can also use this watch to monitor estimated heart rate, activity, and stress, and train with preloaded activity profiles.


When paired with a compatible smartphone, you can connect with notifications and automatic data uploads to the Garmin Connect fitness community. A TracBack feature helps you navigate your route so you don’t get lost on the trail. The Garmin Explore website and app help you plan your activities in advance. The Instinct‘s battery lasts up to 14 days in smartwatch mode and up to 40 hours in UltraTrac battery saver mode.

2.Garmin 010-01769-01 Vivoactive 3, GPS Smartwatch

You know the score. You’re out running, making great progress, tracking your heart rate, all looking good then realize you forget your water bottle! Not to worry. With the Garmin Vivoactive 3 featuring contactless payment, you’ve now got it covered! From playing to paying, the Vivoactive really will support your own active life. It’s already loaded with 15 different sports apps too and with its built-in GPS and wrist-based heart rate, you can monitor distance, pace, location as well as VO2 max levels.


There’s not much that this Garmin fitness watch can’t handle. It even has a side swipe scrolling interface allowing you to swiftly navigate through your onboard apps and widgets. This watch really does take fitness monitoring to a whole new elevated level.

3.Garmin Vivoactive 4, GPS Smartwatch, Features Music

The Garmin Vivoactive 4 not only monitors several critical biometrics— like your energy levels, Pulse Ox, respiration, menstrual cycle, stress, sleep, heart rate, and hydration— but it also functions as a virtual coach. The smartwatch uses compelling animations to coach users on how to safely do different movements by sharing the proper form for each exercise. The Vivoactive provides users with a host of workouts ranging from strength training to yoga poses. Overall, there are 20 sports apps to choose from, which include both indoor and outdoor activities. The Vivoactive 4 also supports apps like Spotify, Amazon Music, and Deezer, so you’ll be able to workout with your favorite playlists. We just recommend that you keep your wireless earbuds nearby, so you can listen without your smartphone.


If you decide you want to bring your smartphone along, then rest assured with Vivoactive 4’s added safety features. You can use incident detection and real-time tracking to stay on top of where your phone is. Users also have access to thousands of free watch faces, apps, and widgets through the Connect IQ store. The smartwatch has a battery life of up to eight days in smartwatch mode and up to six hours in GPS and music mode. The Vívoactive 4 is available in two sizes — 40mm and 45mm.

4.Garmin Forerunner 35; Easy-to-Use GPS Running Watch

Ideal for beginners, couch to 5k-ers and those who want a little more info on their regular runs without being overwhelmed by data, it also has activity tracking, bridging the divide between an inexpensive tracker and a serious sports watch.


It packs in all the bare essentials for runners: distance, pace, time, calories, splits and an optical heart rate monitor. Plus, it also delivers smartphone notifications to your wrist.


That’s everything you need if you’re a recreational runner who just wants to keep tabs on how far and fast you’ve gone. And it even does smartwatch notifications and better-than-basic fitness tracking, including tracking resting heart rate.

5.Garmin Forerunner 235, GPS Running Watch

The Garmin Forerunner 235 is lauded by many users and reviews to be one of the most value-for-money Garmin smartwatches in the market. Cheap, durable and efficient, this smartwatch released in 2015 is still garnering attention from people looking for a reliable watch.


Hosting the basics of Garmin technology like the GPS/GLONASS tracking and Elevate™ wrist-based heart rate monitor, the Forerunner 235 is a simple, affordable and straightforward Garmin wearable watch. Unlike the Fenix 6 and the Forerunner 945, its cycling mode only holds the basic functionalities and tracking. Another drawback is that it can’t play music, although it can control your smartphone music via Bluetooth. Unfortunately, it is currently in limited production to make way for newer models.

6.Garmin Fenix 5 Sapphire - Black with Black Band

Launched in 2018, the Fenix 5 comprehensively updated the Fenix 3, but was soon updated by the Fenix 5 Plus models, which offer more overall. That means the Fenix 5 misses out on some of the latest features – support for Garmin Pay and music via Bluetooth headphones, but it still offers great sports tracking and performance.


If you’re looking for a quality watch to track your sports, the Fenix 5 still rivals the Garmin Forerunner 935 in terms of what it offers – and the enhanced looks might make it better suited to everyday wear.

7.Garmin Forerunner 645 Music, GPS Running Watch

If you’re running with tunes in your head, you will appreciate the Garmin Forerunner 645 Music, which lets you download songs to your watch with playlists from your Spotify, Amazon Music, or Deezer subscription. Among this watch’s major selling points is syncing music from select streaming services for offline listening during your routine. It also facilitates the Garmin Pay contactless payment feature, so you can use your watch for purchases when paired with supported cards from participating banks.


It supports many advanced running dynamics, including speed and distance, stride length, cadence, vertical ratio, ground contact time, and balance. For swimming, it tracks laps, distance, stroke count, and lap pace. Garmin rates the Forerunner 645 with its silicone strap as waterproof to 50 meters. The battery lasts up to seven days in smartwatch mode, but only five hours in GPS mode with music.

8.Garmin Forerunner 245, GPS Running Smartwatch

The Forerunner 245 is Garmin’s best all-around watch. Along with an accurate GPS, a long-lasting battery, and the ability to track many types of workouts, the watch features the same fitness metrics as Garmin’s latest higher-end GPS watches: Training Status to track progress, Training Load to see workouts over a seven-day period, and Training Effect to measure anaerobic and aerobic. It also supports sleep, stress, blood oxygen saturation, and menstrual cycle tracking. When synced with your phone, the Forerunner 245 – along with many other Garmin watches – can send (and also cancel) emergency notifications at the push of a button.


The Garmin Forerunner 245 is small and light, so it won’t weigh down your wrist during workouts or feel uncomfortable during everyday wear or while you’re sleeping. It comes in five different colors along with interchangeable accessory bands, which will help match your personal style. The watch does fall short on smartwatch functionality – it doesn’t support mobile payments and won’t let you respond to notifications – but it’s a best-in-class health and fitness tracker.


Garmin also offers a Forerunner 245 Music edition, which comes with onboard storage for up to 500 songs and syncs with Spotify or Deezer accounts. You can change tracks using the buttons on the watch or through the controls on your headset. The watch maintains a steady connection to headphones throughout a workout, which is a critical feature for a watch built around music. The battery will last six hours in GPS mode with music playing.

9.Garmin 010-02173-21 Venu, GPS Smartwatch

The Garmin Venu is definitely one of the more casual watches to be included in this list. Aside from being quite affordable, the Venu’s beautiful AMOLED touch-screen display makes it a good choice for a casual watch. Its Pulse Ox and cycling features also make it a highly competitive sports watch.


The Venu’s cycling features are a little below the capabilities of the Forerunner 645 Music, but its Pulse Ox function can make it a better choice. The biggest drawback would be in its AMOLED screen, which could make it difficult to see under intense sunlight as compared to the other Garmin watches’ sunlight-visible, transflective memory-in-pixel (MIP) display. The Venu is definitely a better choice for those looking for a more casual piece.

10.Garmin fenix 5X Plus, Ultimate Multisport GPS Smartwatch

Akin to the Fenix 5, its Fenix 5X Plus counterpart is also tough and provides metrics and other features suitable for hikers, mountain climbers, and travelers. The watch’s tough casing, bezel, and glass screen, as well as its water resistance rating of 10 ATM, can ensure that it can withstand extreme outdoor conditions.


Then, of course, there are the hiking metrics, such as the Elevation Profile, Barometric Altimeter, Storm Alert, Auto-climb and vertical speed, and more. It even has preloaded maps and cartography support that can be downloadable through Garmin’s ConnectIQ feature present in the watch. Yet, what sets this one apart from the Fenix 5? Well, the Fenix 5X Plus has this feature called “ClimbPro Ascent Feature” which tracks the grade, distance, and elevation gain on your upward movements, as well as the remaining distance on your upward trail.


However, much like the Fenix 5, this watch can also be heavy to carry on outdoor adventures. Comparing these watches through its price, the Fenix 5X Plus is also moderately priced, but a tad higher than the Fenix 5 watch. Nonetheless, this watch is still worth buying for its hiking metrics that could give you real-time information on your climbing and hiking progress.