The Best Garmin Running Watches in 2020

Natalie Cecconi
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The only thing worse than buying the wrong running watch for you, is buying the wrong running watch and realizing it halfway through your next 10k! Let’s get to it then, let’s clear up some misconceptions, and let’s find you the BEST Garmin running watch in 2020!

We’re going to cover the 7 Garmin watches worth considering today, and if you’re skeptical about buying your next running watch online, we’ll even cover how to pick a Garmin running watch in person.

NameCategoryProduct
Garmin 010-02157-00 Fenix 6X ProBest OverallGarmin 010-02157-00 Fenix 6X Pro
Garmin Forerunner 25Budget PickGarmin Forerunner 25
Garmin 010-02063-00 Forerunner 945Upgrade PickGarmin 010-02063-00 Forerunner 945

1. Garmin 010-02157-00 Fenix 6X Pro

Our rating: 9 / 10

Garmin 010-02157-00 Fenix 6X Pro

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And red, Regular (010-02157-00).

The Garmin Fenix 6X Pro is the latest addition to the Fenix line of sport watches that are designed for various activity tracking and in-depth performance monitoring.

It includes built-in GPS, GLONASS, and Galileo tracking to make up for various issues that might arise in areas with a weak cell signal. Combined with precision and accuracy, the Fenix 6X Pro is designed for sports enthusiasts and casual athletes who want an easy way to track their workouts, post them on social media and see their progress.

2. Garmin 010-01863-20 Forerunner 645 Music

Our rating: 9 / 10

Garmin 010-01863-20 Forerunner 645 Music

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Pros:

  • The Garmin is water resistant up to 10-meters
  • It's conveniently designed and would get the job done
  • It has a decent battery life
  • It's reasonably easy to use
  • Have an upper wrist heart-rate monitor
  • Includes wrist-based heart rate monitor
  • Includes easy-to-read color display
  • Includes Garmin Pay contactless payments
  • GPS enabled
  • Music enabled

Cons:

  • The release button is accidentally triggered when the strap is moved
  • It's not as comfortable as it is compact
  • It can be challenging to use
  • It thick and bulky
  • It's lacks convenience

The Garmin Forerunner 645 Music provides a vast array of different sports capabilities. You can connect the Garmin to your smartphone and use it to listen to music, download new apps, and get all of your notifications directly on your wrist. It automatically syncs your data, making the data easy to follow and understandable.

The Garmin is equipped with a water-resistant case. It allows you to get wet but not submerged in water. You can shower with the Garmin, but you should not swim in the pool with it. There is an option for you to purchase a chest-strapped heart rate monitor for added comfort.

3. Garmin Forerunner 245

Our rating: 9 / 10

Garmin Forerunner 245

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Pros:

  • Well-made and durable
  • Customer service is also top-notch

Cons:

  • GPS lock can take a couple extra seconds

The Garmin Forerunner 245 GPS running watch is our top pick. It's GPS tracking is accurate and reliable while its stride sensor is highly effective.

The Forerunner 245 comes with a wrist-based heart rate monitor. Plus, it's activity tracker monitors how many steps you take in a day, and the number of floors that you climb.

Additional features include an advanced fitness web powered by Garmin, and an improved runner's features that provide detailed metrics on distance, time, pace, and speed.

4. Garmin Forerunner 45

Our rating: 9 / 10

Garmin Forerunner 45

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Pros:

  • 8-week activity tracking
  • Long lasting battery (up to 8 hours in training), water resistant
  • Rechargeable battery
  • Deal of the day price; Amazon most popular product
  • Automatic activity tracking monitor
  • Heart rate and VO2 max monitoring support
  • Follow your heart

Cons:

  • Very small
  • No screen backlight
  • Only in pink or black color
  • Battery does not come already charged
  • No USB charging cable included, the watch charge via a wall plug

/Pink, Small/Medium.

The Forerunner 45 is a GPS running watch with a brand new design, a vibrant display with high-resolution color Graphics, and a lightweight comfortable band. The battery life is up to 8 hours in training and the display is easy to read in any lighting conditions … all at a deal of the day price.

The Forerunner 45 motivates you to win with comprehensive stats about your overall activities and your performance. It is the perfect training partner and the best Garmin running watch available at the moment.

5. Garmin 010-02063-00 Forerunner 945

Our rating: 8 / 10

Garmin 010-02063-00 Forerunner 945

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Pros:

  • Easily customizable watch face
  • Bluetooth and WiFi connectivity for automatic syncing
  • Good battery life
  • Customizable GPS, touchscreen, and alerts

Cons:

  • The wrist band is large and bulky
  • Screen isn’t super clear

Having a fully functional GPS, heart rate monitor, and music player is a huge plus for joggers. But it comes with some tradeoffs – its bulkiness, a long charging time, and a long battery life.

The Garmin Forerunner 945 is packed with over 30 features such as advanced running dynamics, a color touchscreen, advanced heart rate, and Vertical Oscillation and Ground Contact Time Balance.

The watch comes with Garmin Connect and Garmin Elevate which will help you track your progress and make appropriate changes to your workouts based on your results. It gives you a lot of bang for the buck and that what makes it one of the best running watches in it’s price range.

6. Garmin 010-02174-11 Vivoactive 4

Our rating: 8 / 10

Garmin 010-02174-11 Vivoactive 4

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Pros:

  • Stylish design
  • Inbuilt heart rate monitor
  • The built-in GPS is very accurate
  • Tracks cycling and swimming
  • Large and colorful touchscreen
  • Large amount of built-in apps
  • Can be used for fitness, sports, Yoga, or outdoor running

The Vivoactive 4 by Garmin is a feature-packed activity tracker that makes it one of the best GPS watches made. It has similar features to the comparable Fitbit Surge GPS Plus and the Polar A360. These features include sleep and stress tracking as well as smart notifications for texts, calls, and social media feeds. You can also pay for things and find your phone using built-in NFC technology.

Vivoactive 4 is a multisport GPS tracking device that offers an all-day heart rate monitor and advanced fitness tracking features. It can track running distance and pace, as well as offering cycling and swimming functionalities, providing a whole weekend of activity tracking. It can also record your daily steps, sleep, and calories burned with its 24/7 heart rate monitor. The heart rate monitor is also useful for keeping an eye on your pulse when you first wake up and before you go to sleep.

7. Garmin 010-02173-11 Venu

Our rating: 8 / 10

Garmin 010-02173-11 Venu

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Pros:

  • Compact design
  • Pulse ox sensor for checking blood oxygen saturation
  • Stairs climbed feature
  • Move IQ automatically detects when you are walking, running or climbing
  • Waterproof
  • Heart rate monitor
  • Smart notifications and alerts
  • Battery life of almost 3 days
  • GPS tracking, smart notifications and alerts
  • Time, distance, calories, speed, pace, intervals, stroke rate, watts, stroke count, heart rate, and more

Cons:

  • The Garmin app is difficult to navigate
  • Sometimes hard to determine which button to press
  • The Garmin app is not as straightforward as some others
  • The battery might last two weeks instead of three as advertised
  • Charging cover is not part of the package

A smartwatch with activity tracking and GPS, the Garmin 010-02173-11 Venu can track running, hiking, cycling, swimming, cross-training, and rowing. It’s also compatible with select Garmin devices, so you can pair it with your Garmin watch for even more functionality.

8. Garmin Forerunner 935 Running GPS Unit

Our rating: 8 / 10

Garmin Forerunner 935 Running GPS Unit

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After considering the features offered and reading user reviews on Amazon, the Garmin Forerunner 935 Running GPS Unit emerged as the best Garmin running watch for the large number of features it offers. It comes with a lot of things that you would expect in a running watch – distance, time, pace, and calories. It also comes with a cool notification feature that allows you to receive text messages, see emails or even receive calls without ever having to touch your phone.

Another great feature is the auto-start that allows you to start a run simply by detecting your stride. Then there’s Garmin connect which is basically a social platform that connects you with other athletes as well as coaches and helps you with your running training.

9. Garmin Forerunner 645

Our rating: 8 / 10

Garmin Forerunner 645

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Pros:

  • Lightweight
  • Best GPS running watch
  • Has extra features like Pulse Ox to measure oxygen saturation and temperature
  • Has on-pulse measurement to reduce the margin of human error in measuring heart rate
  • Support contactless payments by Garmin Pay
  • Battery life of about 11 hours when used continuously

Cons:

  • It does not have a built-in GPS but has to be paired with a compatible GPS watch
  • It does not support music
  • The Garmin Forerunner 645 GPS watch is one of the latest running watches from Garmin. This model of Garmin running watch supports contactless payments through Garmin Pay and Pulse Ox and temperature monitoring.

The Garmin Forerunner 645 was released in the third quarter of 2018. This is one of the top rated running watches for runners. We have listed it number one in our list of top five running watches.

The Garmin 645 running watch supports Pulse Ox that measures oxygen saturation and temperature to help runners, cyclists, rowers and paddle boarders see how their fitness levels are with the help of advanced performance monitoring.

The Garmin Connect IQ also gives a lot of options to customize the watch to the users’ needs and preferences.

10. Garmin 010-01689-00 Forerunner 35; Easy-to-Use GPS Running Watch

Our rating: 8 / 10

Garmin 010-01689-00 Forerunner 35; Easy-to-Use GPS Running Watch

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The Garmin 010-01689-00 Forerunner 35 is an affordable model running watch that has everything you need if you are just starting out. Equipped with Garmin’s ingenious Elevate heart rate technology, it will track your heart rate as well as your calories throughout your workout.

The Forerunner 35 has the ability to map your route as well as have the data displayed in Garmin Connect. This model has a good battery life and is easy to use, and it’s also lightweight, small enough to fit comfortably on your wrist.

The disadvantage of this model is that the tempo trainer is a little complicated to program. If you don’t like being bothered during your workout, it’s not something you would use a lot. But if that’s not an issue for you, then you will like this watch for its ease of use and its ability to be used 24/7.

11. Garmin Forerunner 25

Our rating: 8 / 10

Garmin Forerunner 25

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Pros:

  • Large display makes stats easy to read
  • Several fun color options
  • Long battery life
  • Very lightweight
  • Built-in heart rate monitor
  • Stats for running and swimming
  • Can sync with Bluetooth
  • Can set personal goals for your workouts
  • Up to nine miles of run tracking

Cons:

  • Lacks connection with third party apps
  • Not too stylish in appearance
  • Only has basic features

The Garmin Forerunner 25 is a simple running watch that provides all the metrics necessary for creating a challenging workout pattern. It tracks distance, pace, calories burned, and heart rate. It also lets you review the information afterwards. It has an accelerometer that tracks miles and a bold display that is easy to read. The real-time data is wirelessly synced as you work out.

The battery life is amazing and the watch itself is astonishingly light. It is also constructed using high grade materials that contribute to its durability.

One complaint is that this watch is not that attractive. Another complaint is about the lack of connection with third party apps, such as Strava. However, this watch is within the best Garmin running watch list in 2020 because unlike other Garmin watches, the Garmin Forerunner 25 is an inexpensive everyday training partner.

12. Garmin vívosport Smart Activity Tracker

Our rating: 7 / 10

Garmin vívosport Smart Activity Tracker

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Pros:

  • Affordable
  • Takes GPS
  • Automatically monitors sleep
  • Has activity alarms
  • Connected GPS
  • Heart Rate Monitor
  • Monitors Stress
  • Calories Burned
  • Pair w/ Smartphone
  • Tracks Activity

Cons:

  • GPS is not great at tracking distance
  • Because of the screen it may be hard to see GPS in direct sunlight

The Garmin vívosport Smart Activity Tracker might be the best in the activity tracker Department from a well known name in Tracking devices. Garmin, famous for GPS location devices and technology, has used its research and technology to create one of the best monitors available for your health.

This tracker will tell you distance, speed, pace, and calories burned information easy to read in a variety of different colors and formats. It also tracks both indoor and outdoor workouts, so you can easily exercise on your schedule.

It also uses the Garmin Connect Mobile app to help you track and improve your exercise patterns, monitor your nutrition, and to keep track of your workouts. It will also have automatic activity tracking and daily logs so that you can keep a close watch on your health.

13. Garmin Forerunner 235

Our rating: 6 / 10

Garmin Forerunner 235

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The Garmin Forerunner 235 is a fully featured GPS running watch with a simple-to-use interface delivering advanced running dynamics to push you to new heights.

The Garmin Forerunner 235 features built-in GPS tracking, so you can accurately monitor distance, time and pace without a separate ANT+ dongle. With connected features3 like Smart notifications, automatic uploads to Garmin Connect and personalization through free watch faces and apps, plus up to seven days of battery life in watch/activity tracking mode, you can stay connected, motivated and in sync with your day.

Includes access to the comprehensive fitness ecosystem, Garmin Connect, where you can personalize your device, track, analyze and share your fitness and compete, virtually, with friends and family around the clock.

14. Garmin Forerunner 735XT

Our rating: 6 / 10

Garmin Forerunner 735XT

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Pros:

  • Rugged and stylish design
  • Excellent performance and long battery life
  • Excellent metrics and insights that can be relayed to other wearable devices or mobile phones
  • The GPS and GLONASS satellite reception is quick and accurate
  • The GPS function measures distance and pace

Cons:

  • Can be quite bulky (even for runners with large wrists)
  • The Bluetooth function can drain the battery quickly

The Garmin Forerunner 735XT is a tri-band GPS running watch with a high-resolution display, non-reflective optical glass, a 100-hour rechargeable battery, wireless connectivity via Bluetooth, astrand-sensitive HR monitoring, and smart notifications.

The highlight of the Garmin Forerunner 735XT is the advanced metrics. The watch comes with Stryd’s running power analysis, which uses accurate running metrics to calculate the efficiency of a runner while a workout is in progress.

The watch connects with indoor rowing machine apps like RowPro, so you can use this watch in the gym too. This is useful for those who are training for rowing races.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

Which is the best Garmin watch for running?

There are a number of Garmin models that are considered to be the best when it comes to GPS watches for running.

The Garmin Forerunner 235 was given the RunnerClick seal of approval when it was released in 2015. It boasts all of the usual Garmin features such as a barometric altimeter, heart rate monitor and rep counting. But it also offers the global positioning functionality that other Garmin models miss. It doesn’t come cheap though. But if you want a Garmin that is made specifically for runners, this one ticks all the boxes.

The Forerunner 25 is another great option. It will track your running distance, calories, steps, sleep and more. It is also incredibly light and thin, making it ideal for Garmin users on the go. However, it doesn’t come with a heart rate monitor and some users have reported inaccurate distance calculations.

What is the best running watch 2020?

It is easy to see why the Garmin brand is so popular with so many runners. Garmin is one of the leading companies manufacturing GPS running watches that are reliable, accurate, and easy to use. Their line of GPS watches are perfect for any person who loves exercise and fitness or is training to qualify for competitions.

Why Use A Garmin Watch?

No longer will you have to guess your running pace. Garmin watches are easy to use and provide an accurate reading of the distance you have traveled, your running time, and your speed. Other features you will find in Garmin running watches include:

Motivating virtual challenge running partner that talks. You will be able to customize the voice of your running partner so that it sounds like your personal trainer.

From the touch screen, you will be able to view your distance, pace, and time.

What is the most accurate fitness tracker 2020?

It goes without saying that every person is different; their physical fitness, body type, height, and even weight can vary quite drastically. Any fitness tracker that is well designed, will be able to accommodate most of these differences. How does it do this? Well, most top fitness trackers have a companion app, which will enable you to get a very accurate reading of your physical stats. You can then enter some important numbers such as your height and weight. This way the accuracy of the data you are getting from your fitness tracker will greatly improve. Some of the best fitness trackers in the market are Garmin Forerunner, Garmin Vivofit 2, Garmin Vivofit Jr. 2, Fitbit Charge 2, Fitbit Alta HR, Fitbit Blaze, Fitbit Charge HR, Fitbit Flex 2, Fitbit One, Fitbit Zip, Fitbit Zip HR, Jabra Sport Pulse, Jawbone UP Move, Jawbone UP2, and TomTom Spark.

What is the most accurate running watch?

In short, no one can answer that question definitively. Running watches are all optimized for different runners with different goals. Each Garmin running watch has its own strengths.

The best watch for you depends on your needs, and those are different than the needs of other people.

For example, the Garmin GPS running watches are the most accurate and reliable watches for outdoor running. They provide advanced tracking features like a customizable 10k virtual partner.

However, many people prefer to have a watch with a built-in heart rate monitor. These running watches, like the Garmin Fenix 5 Plus or Garmin Forerunner, might not provide the same level of GPS accuracy that the Garmin GPS watches can. The extra features, however, may offset the higher cost.

And, then there is the matter of smartwatches like the Garmin Fenix 5X Plus with their feature sets that include notifications and other non-running focused features.

Conclusion

Those of you who enjoy running or consider themselves to be fitness buffs might already know that a Garmin watch can be a great addition to your everyday kit.

Garmin sports watches are popular among many runners for a number of reasons and we’ll show you why in this article. By the end of this article, you’re going to know exactly how to choose the right watch for your needs.

Our Recommendation

NameCategoryProduct
Garmin 010-02157-00 Fenix 6X ProBest OverallGarmin 010-02157-00 Fenix 6X Pro
Garmin Forerunner 25Budget PickGarmin Forerunner 25
Garmin 010-02063-00 Forerunner 945Upgrade PickGarmin 010-02063-00 Forerunner 945