While there are plenty of companies making great GPS running watches—includingApple,Polar, andCoros—Garmin remains the dominant brand in the category. It’s basically the Kleenex of GPS running watches. The company has been making wrist-based run trackers since 2003, when it launched theForerunner 101, a giant pill-shaped watch that did little more than track your distance, time, and pace. In the two decades since, it’s built out an entire lineup with models for every kind of runner.Best ValueForerunner 245amazon.com$349.99$298.99 (15% off)SHOP NOW Biggest BatteryFenix 6X Proamazon.com$598.00SHOP NOW Budget PickForerunner 45amazon.com$199.99$139.00 (30% off)SHOP NOW Triathlon FeaturesForerunner 945amazon.com$599.99SHOP NOW Most StylishVenu Sqamazon.com$199.99$149.99 (25% off)SHOP NOW
Modern GPS watches, even the most affordable models, do far more than that old 101. In most cases, you get run tracking, but most watches also come with some sort of smartwatch functionality—think showing your notifications without you having to pull your phone out of your pocket. But, as the price of the watch goes up, you tend to get more advanced features, some of which you may never even use.
Watches at the top end of the spectrum, like the Fenix 6 Series, are packed with altimeters, barometers, and gyroscopes to help you navigate trails and off-the-grid destinations. If, however, you find yourself primarily on dawn patrol around your neighborhood loop, you may want to save some cash and pick a model that gives you more roadie-specific metrics and personalized workouts.Trevor RaabJeff Dengate
Our staff of experienced test editors has used each of these watches for several months. We evaluate the devices based on features, accuracy, battery life, connectivity, and what they’re like to use on our daily runs. Award-winning watches satisfied our data-tracking needs and delighted us with intuitive user experiences and additional apps and features.
Here are the best Garmin watches and why you might want to choose one model over the others. Looking for something not made by Garmin? Check out our roundup of thebest GPS running watches.
Quick Take: An update to a tried-and-true GPS watch, the 245 has enough new features to make you consider upgrading from the classic Garmin 235.
Connectivity: Bluetooth, ANT+, WiFi | Battery Life: 7 days in smartwatch mode; 6 hours in GPS with music.Forerunner 245Garminamazon.com$349.99$298.99 (15% off)SHOP NOW
Quick Take: Detailed maps and exceptional battery life.
Connectivity: Bluetooth Smart, ANT+, Wi-Fi | Battery Life: Up to 72 hoursFenix 6 ProGarminamazon.com$649.99$517.39 (20% off)SHOP NOW
Quick Take: A “beginners” watch in name only.
Connectivity: Bluetooth, ANT+, USB | Battery Life: 13 hoursForerunner 45Garminamazon.com$199.99$139.00 (30% off)SHOP NOW
Quick Take: A gigantic watch that catches eyes and lasts forever.
Connectivity: Bluetooth, ANT+, WiFi | Battery Life: 13 hoursFenix 6X ProGarminamazon.com$699.99$529.80 (24% off)SHOP NOW
Quick Take: Every training tool a runner or triathlete could want.
Connectivity: Bluetooth 4.2, ANT+, Wi-Fi | Battery life: Up to 36 hours (10 hours with music)Forerunner 945Garminamazon.com$599.99SHOP NOW
Quick Take: Style not commonly found on a sports watch that can still keep up with your daily jog.
Connectivity: Bluetooth | Battery Life: 14 hours in GPS mode; 6 days in watch modeVenu SqGarminamazon.com$199.99$149.99 (25% off)SHOP NOW
Quick Take: Buy this if every percentage of battery life is vital.
Connectivity: Bluetooth, ANT+ | Battery Life: 70 hours; up to 200 hours in extended run modeEnduroGarminamazon.com$899.99$801.76 (11% off)SHOP NOW
Simply put, buy this watch only if you’re into multi-day adventures and don’t have any opportunity to recharge your watch along the way. The Enduro is basically a Fenix with some functionality stripped away to extend battery life. RW video producer Pat Heine wore it on his FKT of Pennsylvania’s Mid State Trail, charging it just once (for three hours) during the 327-mile run. That’s mighty impressive given the watch was recording Pat’s GPS position every second—extended settings reduce the frequency of those samplings to save battery life. To make that run time so impressive, Garmin did away with things like mapping, music, and Wi-Fi sync, which may be a deal breaker for some of us.Jeff DengateRunner-in-ChiefJeff is Runner-in-Chief for Runner's World, guiding the brand's shoes and gear coverage.