The Best Garmin Sports Watches for 2023

Garmin is one of the best fitness tracker options out there. It’s perfect as an overall sports watch. There are several options on the market, with different price tags but also different levels when it comes to tracking your workout. Whether you’re looking for a running watch, a triathlon watch or a golf watch, Garmin has a product (well… more than one). Their most expensive watch may or may not be worth it for you, so we’ve reviewed best seller Garmin watches to help you understand the many variations to choose from.

Best Garmin Outdoor Watch

What is Garmin Connect and What Can it Do?

Garmin Connect is the brain of your Garmin watch. It is the mobile App and web tool that pairs with your Garmin watch to track, analyze and report the health and fitness data it collects. Garmin Connect is free to download and compatible with both Android and iOS devices. It is the brain for any Garmin sports watch. It doesn’t matter what sport or activity you use your Garmin watch for, Garmin Connect will handle all the tracking, graphing and insights for you. Here’s an overview of what you can expect from Garmin Connect:

Performance Statistics

The Garmin interface is customizable: you get to choose what you want to see. Steps, run time, pace and map, heart rate graphs, average resting heart rate, active minutes, etc. From your activity to your health to the overall progress of your fitness goal, as long as you’ve connected a Garmin watch and have it set up with your mobile phone, it’ll track it.

A Coach to Push You

Garmin Coach is a free feature in Garmin Connect, that empowers you to meet your running goals. Once you’ve told Garmin Connect your target run time, you’ll be given a customized workout plan to load onto your watch. The workouts will adapt to your progress and determine what you need to do on your next run to achieve your goal in the timeframe you’ve set. It’s essentially free motivational and professional-level coaching.

Social Connection

Sync with friends, social media, and even earn progress badges. Everything you need to get yourself socialized and let the world know you’re hitting your targets, and when. Nothing like a motivational booster from social networks cheering you on. It’s obviously an optional feature, as some of us don’t like to share our workout summaries with the world.

And More…

Specialized for females to follow pregnancy or menstrual cycles as desired. It doesn’t stop there with courses available to download, in case you don’t know where to start, and a live track feature for those closest to you to track the progress with you. Note that for the golfers and divers out there, Garmin has separate apps: Garmin Golf and Garmin Dive. Read more on our sport-specific pages: Golf and Diving.

The Best Garmin Watches for 2023

There’s something for everyone here as Garmin watches come preloaded with enough features, applications, maps and information right out of the box and for free. Setup is made easy for all the watches, so now it’s really about finding the right watch for you. Whether you’re looking for one to go white water rafting with, or to head to your next yoga class with, Garmin smartwatches have you covered.

Since a lot of them come with similar packages, what we outline below are the differences between their main lineup of watches and which one will work best with your fitness regime and lifestyle.

The best Garmin watches based on consumers’ trends in 2023 are the following ones:

  • Garmin Fenix 7 series
  • Garmin Forerunner 945
  • Garmin Forerunner 245 Music
  • Garmin Venu 2
  • Garmin Vivoactive 4 series

Garmin Fenix 7

Garmin Fenix 7
You get a lot more for your money than with the earlier Garmin Fenix 6 model

The Garmin Fenix 7 series was released in January 2022. As always, it’s exciting to see what features Garmin has improved on or added to make their latest multisport smartwatch stand out.

What We Like: Improved battery life, improved memory, both touchscreen and button controls, music storage on watch, 10 ATM water resistance, compatible with Garmin Golf, real-time settings sync with Garmin Connect App, has a mode for almost every sport out there.  

Other Considerations: Relatively expensive, a significant upgrade relative to the Fenix 6 series, need to select which model variation is the right one for you (eg. Solar, 7S, Sapphire)

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Garmin Forerunner 945

Garmin Forerunner 945
An excellent product – one of the best sports watches out there

The Garmin Forerunner 945 is one of the best Garmin watches for running with a reliable in-built GPS and music storage of up to 1,000 songs. It will report on your pace, your distance, the elevation of your course, map your run and sync to Strava if you want to. It has on-wrist heart rate, respiration rate and blood oxygen saturation monitoring and will alert you if it detects abnormally low or high heart rate. It has a 5 ATM water rating – the equivalent of a 50 meters depth resistance – so it’s a suitable watch for swimming in the pool and a good open water swimming watch. It is undeniably one of the best triathlon watches on the market. It’s an excellent triathlon watch as is, and some seasoned triathletes purchase add-ons to make it even better like triathlon and swimming-specific heart-rate monitor chest straps. 

What We Like: Durable, music storage on watch, water-resistant, packed with a host of useful features, long battery life, perfect choice for runners, swimmers and triathletes, a little bit less expensive than the Garmin Fenix 7.

Read More: Compare Garmin Forerunner 945 and Garmin Vivoactive 4

Other Considerations: High price point, can be bulky for some, not touchscreen (but good control through buttons). One of the best Garmin fitness watches.

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Garmin Forerunner 245 Music

Garmin Forerunner 245 Music
A great option if you are price conscious and on-watch music is a priority.

If you’re looking to track your running or your swimming, the Garmin Forerunner 245 Music will do that for you for about half the price of the Forerunner 945. Compared to the Forerunner 945, this is like a lower cost relative. It’s a great multisport watch when your whole focus is to have a proper tracker over other more premium features. Compared to the Garmin Forerunner 945, the 245 Music is missing features such as respiration rate monitoring, some sleep tracking features and the ability to pair with the Garmin Golf and Garmin Pay apps. All the other functionality that Garmin includes in their watches come such as the ability for GPS tracking and notifications, albeit at a bit of a delay. It’s a slower watch with less processing power than some counterparts, but for the price point, it gets the job done. 

This watch version allows for music download and storage over wifi without the need for a phone, leaving you lighter on your run. You can store up to 500 songs.  It has a 5 ATM water rating, so can be safely used as a swimming watch, an open water swimming watch and a triathlon watch. 

Battery Life: The Garmin Forerunner 245 Music battery life is decent: up to 7 days on smartwatch mode and up to 24 and 6 hours when the GPS is on and music off and on respectively.

What We Like: Great price point, very light, music storage on watch, waterproof at 5ATM (same as Forerunner 945).

Other Considerations: Not a powerful watch, can be a bit cheap looking and feeling compared to other options as it’s primarily made of plastic, not touchscreen, does not pair with Garmin Golf or Garmin Pay.

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Garmin Venu 2

Garmin Venu 2
Both a smartwatch and a good GPS sports watch, but not the best options for golfers, open water swimmers, hikers, etc.

The Garmin Venu 2 watch is definitely a silent winner in many cases. It doesn’t have the bulk of sports watches or fitness bands, and it is all about the technology on the inside. Whereas other watches such as the Fenix 7 or the Garmin Forerunner series focus on being sports watches, the Venu 2 combines day-to-day living and sports features. As expected of a Garmin watch, it has one of the best health tracking features out there and is one of the top options for sleep tracking.

The best part? It’s usually lower priced than either the Fenix 7 or Forerunner 945. Not that you would have a problem with it having an even higher resolution than the Garmin Fenix 7. Similar to the other Garmin watches on this page, it has smart notifications and can be used with Garmin Pay for easy payment. 

It will track your heart rate, exercise, and hydration levels. It is water-resistant (50 meters depth) and is a good swimming watch but won’t suit the open water swimmers out there. Overall, it’s not as powerful as the Forerunner and Fenix watches when it comes to tracking a wide range of sports and it is unlikely in my opinion to meet all the needs of cyclists, hikers and golfers either. 

Battery Life: The Venu 2 has a battery life of 11 days between charges in smartwatch mode and up to 22 hours with the GPS on. With both the GPS and music on, it’ll last up to 8 hours before a recharge is needed.

What We Like: Best resolution (416 X 416 pixels versus 240 X 240 for Fenix 7S and Forerunner 945), larger display size, health-focused but still one of the better workout watches, music storage on phone, high quality yet light, optional always-on mode.

Other Considerations: This is a prime choice for those that want to get a holistic view of their health and wellness, but aren’t expecting all the high-end sports features of other Garmin series. Not the best battery life compared to other watches.

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Garmin Vivoactive 4

Garmin Vivoactive 4
Another good mid-tier watch by Garmin with most high-end features, but in my opinion inferior to the Venu 2.

The style of the Garmin Vivoactive 4 gears towards standard watches, without the bulkiness of a Forerunner 945 or a Fenix 7. The band itself is silicone and the watch can come in a variety of colors. It’s not as costly as the Fenix 7 or the Forerunner 945, but you’ll have to compromise on battery life and sports features.

The Garmin Vivoactive 4 watch is somewhat similar to the Venu 2, both in price and when it comes to features and functionality. However notable differences are that the Vivoactive 4 doesn’t pair with Garmin Golf, has inferior battery life, inferior resolution and stores up to 500 songs instead of up to 650 songs. I prefer the Venu 2. 

That being said, the Garmin Vivoactive 4 is health-focused and, when compared to the Fenix and Forerunner series, a cheaper alternative watch to do that all-important heart rate monitoring, run and sleep tracking. It’s a mid-priced watch that comes with some neat features such as tracking sports activities for not just running. It also tracks skiing, pilates, yoga, rowing and even your elliptical workout. Even at this price point, it comes with the pulse OX tracker for your blood oxygen saturation and is a good sleep tracking watch. 

The Garmin Vivoactive 4S is a good size for those that are looking to get one of Garmin’s workout watches but want them a little bit on the smaller side. Overall, a suitable candidate for smaller wrists making it a good cardio watch for women. 

Battery Life: The Garmin Vivoactive 4 has a battery life of up to 8 days in smartwatch mode and up to 18 and 6 hours when GPS is on and music off vs. on respectively. That’s very decent but incomparable to the impressive battery life of the Fenix 7 for instance.

What We Like: lots of sports features that will be sufficient for a majority of people, touchscreen, smart notifications, music storage on watch, light, 5 ATM water resistance, animations for some workout types.

Other Considerations: At that price point, I prefer the Venu 2 which has better battery life, better resolution, is compatible with more sports and stores more music. Doesn’t pair with the Garmin Golf app.

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