Best Garmin watch in 2022: Choose the right GPS tracker

Best Garmin watch in 2022: Choose the right GPS tracker

Finding the best Garmin watch depends on your needs and your budget. While some of the devices on this list are more of a fitness tracker, designed to count your steps, distance and calories burned, others are clearly designed with hardcore athletes and outdoor enthusiasts in mind. Garmin watches range from the $149 Garmin Forerunner 55, to the $999 Fenix 7X Sapphire Solar Edition, so it’s a good idea to know exactly what you’re looking for before investing. 

All Garmin watches track steps, sleep, and heart rate, and even the watches not specifically designed for swimming are water-resistant. Garmin watches all come with batteries that will last for days on a single charge and should get you through more than one workout when you’re connected to GPS. All watches also sync to Garmin Connect, which offers a detailed look at your health and wellness data, and link you to the global community of Garmin users.

Some Garmin watches have the features you’d expect from the best smartwatches, such as mobile payments, music storage, and color displays. But Garmin devices are better known for their fitness features, and many of them are among the best sports watches and best fitness trackers on the market.

Read on to learn more about the best Garmin watches.

What is the best Garmin watch?

After much running, biking, and sweating with a variety of Garmin watches, we think the best overall is the Garmin Forerunner 255. It packs the best of Garmin’s sensors, training apps, and health trackers into a device that’s comfortable to wear all day and night. There’s also a Music edition that can store up to 500 songs to help power you through your workouts.

The Garmin Forerunner 55 is a stripped-down version of the Forerunner 255. The display is smaller, but the battery life is longer, and you still get access to Garmin’s coaching and training features. The Forerunner 55 is a good bet for anyone who’s new to running, like its predecessor the Forerunner 45, it’s an entry-level watch that really doesn’t feel like it. 

If you’re looking for more of a fitness tracker, Garmin’s latest watch, the Garmin Venu Sq 2 was announced on September 1, 2022 and looks set to take on the likes of the Apple Watch and the Fitbit Versa 4. 

The best Garmin watches you can buy today

(Image credit: Future/Jane McGuire)

The Forerunner 255 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. The newly updated Forerunner 255 also has the ability to track triathlon and multisport activities. 

During testing, we found that the Garmin Forerunner 255 was small and lightweight. The watch comes in two different sizes — 42mm and 46mm, so more petite runners and riders won’t have to lug a huge sports watch around if they don’t want to. It’s also far comfier to sleep in than some of the other running watches on the market. Unlike the Forerunner 245, you can now use Garmin Pay for mobile payments on the move. Read our Garmin Forerunner 245 vs Forerunner 255 comparison here. 

Garmin also offers a Forerunner 255 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. A bonus if you’re a runner who prefers to leave your phone at home. 

The Garmin Forerunner 255 also won our best running watch award in our Tom’s Guide health and fitness awards, as we were seriously impressed by the updates to this already brilliant watch. 

Read our full Garmin Forerunner 255 review here. 

(Image credit: Tom’s Guide)

If you’re starting to get into running, chances are you want a device that’s a step up from a basic fitness tracker but also won’t overwhelm you with too many features. Among Garmin watches, the Forerunner 55 is a clear choice. 

At its core, the Garmin Forerunner 55 is an entry-level fitness watch, replacing the popular Forerunner 45 earlier this year. While it looks very similar to its predecessor, Garmin made some important changes, adding some of the more advanced training tools usually reserved for their more expensive watches. The Forerunner 55 has Garmin’s new PacePro technology, which gives you gentle speed and cadence alerts on the run. There are also suggested recovery times and workouts, based on your training history, fitness levels, and recovery. This is a differentiator from similarly priced watches such as the Samsung Galaxy Watch Active or the Fitbit Charge 5 which track workouts but don’t offer custom coaching plans. 

It’s worth noting that the Garmin Forerunner 55 doesn’t support music storage, mobile payments, or third-party apps. It also has a relatively small display, at just over 1 inch. If these are must-have features for your Garmin watch, you may want to consider a higher-end device. If you are looking for a cheaper watch, the Forerunner 45 is often in the sale right now, following the release of the Forerunner 55, so it’s a good time to buy. 

Read our full Garmin Forerunner 55 review.

(Image credit: Future/Tom’s Guide)

The Garmin Forerunner 955 is the upgraded version of the Forerunner 945. It’s a top-tier running watch, and possibly the best Forerunner we’ve ever tested. If you’re trying to decide between the newer model and the older version, read our Forerunner 955 vs Forerunner 945 face-off here. 

The Garmin Forerunner 955 comes in two different versions: solar and non-solar. As its name suggests, the solar version of the watch has a Power Glass screen, which harnesses the power of the Sun to increase the watch’s battery life. Talking of battery life, the solar version of the Forerunner 955 has a top battery life of around 20 hours in smartwatch mode, 49 hours in GPS mode without music, and 110 hours in Ultratrac mode. 

On the run, the watch was easy to read and navigate around. Off the run, Garmin has added a touchscreen to make the watch feel more like a smartwatch. There’s also a bunch of impressive training metrics, including Garmin’s new Training Readiness metric, which shows you at a glance how ready you are for a difficult day of training based on sleep, recovery time, HRV status, acute load, and stress.

This is a fantastic running watch, with all of the features of the Fenix 7 in a much cheaper package, so unless you’re planning on rock climbing or doing really extreme sports, we’re not sure why you’d opt for anything else on your wrist.

Read our full Garmin Forerunner 955 review

(Image credit: Future)

Garmin watches aren’t just for serious athletes. The Venu 2 Plus is a stylish smartwatch on a par with the Apple Watch and Fitbit Versa 3 —- and it’s rugged enough for bike rides, strength workouts, and playtime with the kids. It’s also a step up from the Garmin vivoactive 4 with an AMOLED display and a stainless steel bezel.

The Garmin Venu Plus 2 blends the fitness- and health-tracking features you’d expect from a Garmin device with smartwatch features such as mobile payments, notifications, a touchscreen, and storage for up to 650 songs. The watch also boasts a much better battery life than most smartwatches, even with its AMOLED display. 

One big improvement with the Garmin Venu 2 Plus is the voice assistant features. To better challenge its big-name competitors, the $449 Garmin Venu 2 Plus introduces on-wrist calls and voice assistants. While it maintains Garmin’s reputation for thorough fitness tracking and accurate GPS, the Venu 2 Plus is now a stronger sell for those who want their smartwatch to act as an extension of their smartphone.

Read our full Garmin Venu 2 Plus review.

(Image credit: Future/Tom’s Guide)

The Garmin Epix smartwatch is epic in just about every way: its design, its display, its battery life are all superlative — as well as its price. While not the first of the company’s devices with an AMOLED display, it’s their highest-end model to sport this feature, so that also means you’re getting absurdly long battery life, the ability to track almost every activity, on-board music storage, mobile payments, and much more. 

If you like the sound of the Fenix 7, but fancy something that looks a little more beautiful on your wrist, the Epix Gen 2 is the watch for you. The 1.3 inch AMOLED touchscreen is wonderfully bright and easy to read, even in direct sunlight. 

When it comes to health and fitness tracking, the Garmin Epix’s features are identical to that of the Fenix 7, in that it can track just about everything. In addition to a heart rate monitor, the Epix 2 has a blood oxygen sensor that can keep tabs on your levels throughout the day, as well as perform on-the-spot checks. 

All-in-all, this is a fantastic watch and built for adventurers. The main difference between the Fenix 7 and the Epix 2 is the battery life — in Expedition mode, the Fenix can last up to 40 days (74 days with solar), whereas the Epix will wind down after just 14 days. 

Read our full Garmin Epix 2 review here. 

(Image credit: Future)

If you’re looking for an activity tracker that doesn’t look like an activity tracker, the Garmin Lily is for you. It’s arguably Garmin’s most fashionable smartwatch and has a number of useful tools for female users, including menstrual or pregnancy tracking, giving mums-to-be a better understanding of their day-to-day health. 

The Garmin Lily looks like actual jewelry and comes in two different models – Classic and Sport. The Classic costs $249.99 and features a dual-tone leather strap, whereas the Sport version has a soft silicone band that’s easier to clean post-workout and costs $199.99. That said, if you’re a serious runner or cyclist, you might find the lack of GPS on the watch frustrating.  

Where the Garmin Lily shines is in its display and its responsive, monochromatic touchscreen, which is easy to use, even in direct sunlight. This would make a brilliant first-time smartwatch for the fashion-conscious shoppers out there, especially someone with a smaller wrist. It’s also one of the best cheap smartwatches on the market.  

Read our full Garmin Lily review

(Image credit: Tom’s Guide)

If golf is your game, then the Garmin Approach S62 is the watch for you. With a scratch-resistant ceramic bezel and silicone straps, it’s rugged enough for a round of 18 while stylish enough for the 19th hole in the clubhouse.

The Garmin Approach S62 comes with key golf features such as access to data on 41,000 courses worldwide, GPS readings on distance and hole hazards, and a shot-tracking function. There’s also a virtual caddie that recommends clubs based on distance to the pin. It may be a lot for a novice golfer (if that’s you, check out our Garmin S20 review,) but veteran golfers will appreciate the insight —- and may even leave the rangefinder at home.

Off the course, the watch tracks a variety of additional indoor and outdoor exercises, including swimming, along with heart rate, sleep, and Garmin’s “Body Battery” energy monitor. 

It also works well as a smartwatch, with Garmin Pay and customizable smartphone notifications.  

Read our full Garmin Approach S62 review

(Image credit: Tom’s Guide)

The Garmin Forerunner 745 is the best watch for athletes who want more functionality than the Forerunner 45 but don’t need all the bells and whistles of the Forerunner 945. While it’s not a robust smartwatch like the Garmun Venu, it does support mobile payments and music storage — two key features for anyone who works out regularly — and supports some third-party apps. You’ll also get step tracking and sleep tracking, though neither are front and center on the watch like they tend to be on lower-end fitness trackers.

The Garmin Forerunner 745 supports more than a dozen types of indoor and outdoor workouts, provides feedback on your training (including recommended workouts and recovery times), and picks up a GPS signal in a matter of seconds. The battery won’t last as long as the Forerunner 945, but 16 hours in GPS mode will still get most athletes through several workouts in between charges.

Read our full Garmin Forerunner 745 review.

(Image credit: Future)

The Garmin Fenix 7 is a rugged watch for outdoor adventurers. The device supports everyday fitness activities such as running and swimming, and it comes with Garmin’s typical health-tracking features, but it’s really designed for anyone who gets an adrenaline rush from scuba diving, backcountry skiing, or a multi-day hike deep in the wilderness.

Make no mistake: With a weight that starts at 2 ounces for the standard Fenix 7S, and tops out at 3.1 ounces for the 51mm Fenix 7X Saphire Solar addition, this watch is a beast. But the trade-off is storage, battery life, and water resistance up to 100 meters (330 feet). It’s also easy to swap out bands — no small thing if you’ve just spent days in the woods without a shower.

The Fenix 7 has one major improvement on the Fenix 6 — a touch screen. The screen is super responsive, even when being used in the rain, and makes moving around and customizing the watch a lot easier. There’s also a new Stamina metric, and the watches come loaded with more maps, and sports tracking modes than ever before. It’s a brilliant watch, and you’ll be hard-pressed to find a fitness tracker with a better battery life. Do check out our showdown of the Garmin Fenix 6 vs Garmin Fenix 7.

Read our full Garmin Fenix 7 review here. 

(Image credit: Tom’s Guide)

The Garmin vivoactive 4 toes the line nicely between a fitness tracker and a smartwatch,  though as you’d expect from a Garmin device, it’s a fitness tracker first. 

Unlike the Forerunner and fenix watches, the Garmin vivoactive 4 offers a touchscreen. It also comes in two sizes: 40mm and 45mm. In order to maintain battery life, though, the watch uses the LCD display that’s typical for Garmin watches. (If you want an OLED display, go for the Garmin Venu.) You can add a range of third-party apps through the Garmin Connect IQ store, though you won’t find the same selection as you would in the Apple Watch store. 

Where the Garmin vivoactive 4 shines — and beats the other smartwatches on the market — is in its fitness-tracking capabilities. Along with Garmin’s industry-leading features for tracking training and recovery, the vivoactive 4 comes with preloaded exercises, such as yoga and Pilates, which play as guided animations directly on the watch. 

Read our full Garmin vivoactive 4 review

(Image credit: Future)

The Vivomove series is the most stylish of all the best Garmin watches.  There’s also no sub-dial to clutter the watch face with activity or notification data. You have to swipe on the OLED touchscreen to view this information – and while the display size is limited, the analog watch face always stays in view. 

The Vivomove sport is the latest in the Vivomove series. It’s smaller and lighter than the Vivomove HR Sport version, with a 40mm bezel, and weighing 33.8g. The watch comes in four different colors — cocoa (brown), ivory (white), black, and cool mint. The silicone band matches the watch face as standard, but the watch is compatible with Garmin’s 20mm quick release bands, so you could swap in a leather, or suede band should you wish. 

However, there’s a trade-off for the style: Garmin’s Vivomove watches don’t come with a GPS sensor. You have to track workouts, as well as control music, by pairing the watch with a smartphone, and you’ll need to use the Garmin Connect app to view your workout data. That said, the Garmin Vivomove can track ten different activity types from the watch, and it also comes with Garmin’s health-monitoring sensors such as heart rate, blood oxygen saturation, and sleep.

The Vivomove Sport is a good health tracker for someone taking their first steps into fitness, or just hoping to get a better overall picture of their health in 2022.

Read our full Garmin Vivomove Sport review

(Image credit: Garmin)

 It’s a niche market, but if you’re looking for a watch to keep up with your ultramarathon running adventures, the Garmin Enduro will do just that. It’s almost an update, or an improvement on, the Fenix 6 Pro Solar, as it’s smaller, more comfortable, and cheaper. Otherwise, it offers all of the same metrics, as well as a battery life that will last months (should you need it) and most of the features you’ll have come to expect from Garmin’s higher-end watches. 

Make no mistake: this watch isn’t for everyone. While still being comfortable, aesthetically it’s pretty bulky on the wrist and definitely looks like a “sports watch” when you’re not exercising. Also, unless you’re literally spending hours outside, the Solar charging is an expensive feature if you don’t need it, but if you do, get ready to unplug that charger and run, ride or even ski to your heart’s content. 

If you’re not planning on signing up for the Western States 100 anytime soon, you’ll probably find plenty more equally impressive Garmin watches with similar features for hundreds of dollars less. However, if ultra adventures are your bag, this is a seriously impressive piece of kit, so much so, we named it the best smartwatch for the outdoors overall in our 2021 Health and Fitness Awards

Read our full Garmin Enduro review  

(Image credit: Future/Tom’s Guide)

The Garmin Instinct 2 boasts an infinite battery life — yep, it has the power to last forever, charging with the sunlight. There are a few catches, from which features work on solar power, to which versions of the Garmin Instinct 2 even pack a solar panel, to how many hours a day the watch needs to be exposed to sunlight. But beyond that, the Instinct 2 is better than the first Garmin Instinct in almost every way. 

It retains it’s rugged feel, while borrowing features from some of Garmin’s more expensive watches. It also now comes in a smaller 40mm size — the 2S, designed for smaller wrists.

On the wrist, it’s hard-wearing (with a Military Standard 810 rating against extreme environments and temperatures), waterproof up to 100m, and it’s display is bright and easy to see, even in direct sunlight. Unlike the new Garmin Fenix 7 range, there’s no touchscreen, but the five-button functionality is easy to figure out, and use on the move. 

All in all, this is a brilliant adventure watch, perfect for those looking for the battery life of the Fenix 7, without the price tag. 

Read our full Garmin Instinct 2 review

How to choose the best Garmin watch for you

Because Garmin watches span a wide range of prices and features, it’s important to identify which are most important to you within your budget.

Battery Life
Most of Garmin’s watches have excellent battery life, but some are better than others. For example, the Forerunner 945 will last for 14 days in smartwatch mode and 36 hours in GPS mode, while the fenix 6 will last up to 20 days in expedition GPS mode. If you plan to spend extended periods of time outdoors, choose your watch accordingly.

Training features
Most of Garmin’s watches have excellent training features as well, but pay attention to the metrics that matter to you. In addition to standard metrics, some models like theGarmin Forerunner 945 also track heat and altitude, which are key for planning the impact of outdoor workouts. Others, like the Garmin Approach S62, offer in-depth golf training, too.

GPS
Garmin is known for its GPS technology, so it’s no surprise that nearly all of its watches have excellent GPS features. The watches in the vivomove series are the only Garmin watches without a GPS sensor. 

Smartwatch features
Some Garmin models have more smartwatch features than others. The Venu, for instance, has a touchscreen and an AMOLED display, which are both rare for Garmin devices, along with support for mobile payments, onboard music, and a stainless steel bezel. 

Onboard music
Not all Garmin watches support onboard music with built-in storage. For athletes who want to bring music on their go in their workouts, you’ll want a tracker that lets you leave your phone behind. Some Garmin series even offer a dedicated music variant, like the Forerunner 245 Music.

Price
There’s a good range of Garmin watch prices for every budget. For under $150 the Forerunner 45 is a good value, as you get access to Garmin Coach and all of Garmin’s other training features. On the other hand, you can spend up to $1,149 fenix 6X Pro Solar Edition Titanium. Most models, however, fall between $200 and $500. If you want to save a little extra on your purchase, have a look at out Garmin coupon codes page to see the latest discounts.

How we test Garmin watches

By wearing them, of course! When Garmin comes out with a new watch, we fully charge it up, then strap it on our wrist for about a week or so to test out all its features.

First and foremost: How does it feel? Some watches are pretty bulky, which means they won’t fit comfortably on smaller wrists or make sense for all-day wear. Next, we look at fitness features such as heart rate monitor, GPS, and custom workout tracking. How accurate are the Garmin’s sensors, and how well does the watch track your exercise and your overall health? 

We also look at the other features of the Garmin, including sleep tracking, female health tracking, mobile payments, and smartphone notifications. 

We also look at Garmin’s battery life claims, and compare it to our actual use. Some sensors chew up juice faster than others, so if you’ve got the screen on constantly, or you’re always using the heart rate monitor or Pulse Ox sensor, your mileage may vary. We also check to see if battery-saving mode will still meet your workout-tracking expectations.

How to download Garmin Connect 

You’ll need to download the Garmin Connect App to sync your watch to your phone. It’s available on both Android (opens in new tab)and iOS (opens in new tab), and once you’ve downloaded the app and signed up, you’ll be able to connect your Garmin to your phone. 

The Garmin Connect app lets you see all your data at a glance in an easy-to-read format. Depending on your tracker, it’ll give you deeper insights, such as your body battery (based on your sleep data) and your fitness age. There are also challenges, and in-depth sleep reports for you to keep an eye on.

As well as this, depending on your watch model, you’ll be able to use the Garmin Connect app to use Garmin Coach to download running and cycling training plans and upload them directly to your watch. To do this, head to more, then training in the Garmin Connect app. You’ll then be able to select training plans and download the best one for you depending on your ability and your goals. 

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