Best Garmin watch 2022 for running, cycling, triathlon and more

The best Garmin watches, including Forerunner, Fenix and Venu models, tested, reviewed and ranked by T3's experts

best garmin watch
(Image credit: Garmin)

The best Garmin watches are the cream of the crop, the best of the best, the most used watches by elite athletes and everyday joggers alike. Wearing a Garmin watch is a testament that you take your chosen sport seriously, and you're not afraid to do whatever it takes to get better at it.

Even though most people associate Garmin with being the manufacturer of the best running watches and best triathlon watches, the company actually specialises in GPS technology and is also known for its car and marine sat navs.

However, Garmin also made a name for itself in the wearable market over the years, and now most other fitness watches are measured against Garmins to determine their accuracy.

Below you'll find the list of the best Garmin watches ranked by T3's expert reviewers. Each entry on this guide aims to highlight the most apparent benefit of every watch. That said, most of them can be used for various purposes, and we strongly recommend reading our full reviews to get a better picture of what they are capable of.

For those wanting to learn more about wearables, we recommend reading our best Fitbit, best Polar watch and best Suunto watch guides. We also reviewed and ranked the best fitness trackers.

NEWS FLASH! Garmin released two new smartwatches, the Garmin Fenix 7 and the Garmin epix. Read our full reviews by clicking on the links.

How do we test the best Garmin watches

Garmin watches are ridiculously overcomplicated fitness wearables. Some Garmin wearables, such as the Fenix or MARQ series, have so many features no people on this earth can test them in depth.

When we test Garmin watches, we aim to use them in various situations, including at least one type of outdoor endurance training (running, cycling, etc.), one type of indoor training (strength training, HIIT, etc.), and, where possible, swimming.

Smart features and health sensors are tested in everyday situations and monitored for at least a couple of weeks to see how they perform.

Best Garmin watches to buy in 2022

The Garmin Forerunner 245 Music on a white backgroundT3 Awards 2021 winner badge

(Image credit: Garmin)

Best Garmin watch overall

Specifications
Weight: 38.5 grams
Case material: Fiber-reinforced polymer
Lens material: Corning Gorilla glass 3
Water rating: up to 5 ATM
Display resolution: 240 x 240 pixels
Battery life: up to 7 days in smartwatch mode
Reasons to buy
+
Excellent value for money
+
Built-in music storage
+
Decent battery life
+
Accurate sensors
Reasons to avoid
-
Although it's updated frequently, the Forerunner 245 doesn't represent the latest generation of Garmin wearables

The Garmin Forerunner 245 Music is an excellent Garmin watch for the price-conscious runner. Other multisport watches, such as the Polar Vantage V2, might provide more metrics. Still, at this price point, the Garmin Forerunner 245 Music is pretty much unbeatable as a go-to GPS watch with a built-in heart rate sensor and music storage.

Despite the onboard multi-system GPS, the battery of the Forerunner 245 can last up to seven days in smartwatch mode and six hours in GPS mode with music on. Realistically, you won't need to charge the watch more than three times in two weeks.

The Garmin Forerunner 245 Music supports Garmin Coach. This adaptive training platform can train you to run a certain distance (5k, 10k or half marathon) within a specific time limit set by you. The plan adapts to your training load and progression and adjusts it accordingly.

The Garmin Forerunner 945 on a white backgroundT3 Award

(Image credit: Garmin)

Best Garmin watch for runners

Specifications
Lens material: Gorilla Glass
Display size: 1.2" (30.4 mm)
Display resolution: 240 x 240 pixels
Weight: 50 grams
Battery life: GPS mode with music – up to 10 hours, GPS mode without music – up to 36 hours, Smartwatch mode – up to 2 weeks
Reasons to buy
+
Full-colour onboard maps
+
Heap loads of sport tracking features
+
Safety and tracking features
+
Contactless payment (Garmin Pay)
Reasons to avoid
-
You probably won't be able to use it to its full potential

The Garmin Forerunner 945 has many of Garmin's latest-gen features, including PulseOx (blood oxygen sensor), Live Event Sharing (for safety), accident detection and assistance (in case you fall off the bike), Body Battery ("energy monitor"), Training Load estimation and many, many more.

The watch comes with GPS and onboard maps so that you can use it for navigation; whether it's running or walking, or hiking, it matters little. The Elevate V3 heart rate sensor is generally considered accurate enough to measure the accuracy of other running watches.

Battery life is excellent, too: the Forerunner 945 has up to two weeks battery life with GPS turned off, 36 hours in GPS mode and 10 hours with GPS and music turned on.

The Garmin Forerunner 55 on a white backgroundT3 Approved badge

(Image credit: Garmin)

Best cheap Garmin watch

Specifications
Battery life: Smartwatch mode: up to 2 weeks, GPS mode: up to 20 hours
Weight: 37 grams
Screen resolution: 208 x 208 pixels
Water rating: 5 ATM
Reasons to buy
+
PacePro enabled
+
Swimming metrics
+
Built-in GPS
+
Garmin Coach ready
Reasons to avoid
-
Physical design is the same as its predecessor

Compared to its predecessor, the Forerunner 55 significantly improved battery life; in both smartwatch and GPS mode, the Forerunner 55 lasts almost twice as long as the Forerunner 45.

The Forerunner 55 also added a load of non-performance features such as respiration rate tracker and women's health tracking, hydration reminders, breathing timer, etc.

The watch has a Pool Swimming profile and can now track a range of swimming metrics. Outside the water, it can help you pace yourself better using the PacePro Pacing Strategies feature.

Garmin Coach offers personalised run workout suggestions based on your training history, fitness level, and recovery time. The adaptable feature is convenient for beginner runners.

The Garmin HRM-Pro on a white backgroundT3 Approved badge

(Image credit: Garmin)

Best Garmin wearable for cyclists

Specifications
Sensor type: electrode pad/transmitter
Battery type: CR2032
Battery life: 12 months (considering one hour of usage per day)
Reasons to buy
+
Bluetooth & ANT+ connectivity
+
Offline workout support
Reasons to avoid
-
No screen
-
Advanced Running metrics are admittedly more beneficial for runners

We agree, the HRM Pro might not be the best Garmin watch, but cyclists don't benefit all that much from using a watch for training. Their screen is the bike computer, and their pacer is the power meter built into the pedal of their bikes.

The Garmin HRM-Pro combines the best features found in other Garmin heart rate monitors, such as the Garmin HRM-Run and Garmin HRM-Swim, making the HRM-Pro the ultimate choice for – well – pros.

The Garmin HRM-Pro can connect to multiple devices simultaneously via Bluetooth and ANT+: you can feed heart rate data into your bike computer and your smartwatch at the same time.

This heart rate strap can also collect data offline. Even if you aren't wearing a watch, heart rate data will still be continuously captured and fed into the Garmin Connect app, as long as you wear the HRM-Pro.

Garmin Venu 2 and Venu 2S on a white backgroundT3 Award

(Image credit: Garmin)

Best Garmin watch for fitness tracking

Specifications
Battery life: up to 6 days
Wrist hear rate: Yes
GPS: Yes, built-in
Reasons to buy
+
Great battery life
+
Large AMOLED screen
+
New Elevate sensor seems to work well
+
Touch controls work seamlessly
Reasons to avoid
-
You're supposed to wear it 24/7 for the algorithm to work accurately
-
Pricey

Suppose you aren't keen on having a dedicated sports wearable wrapped around your wrist and appreciate a good looking smartwatch that has actually helpful health and fitness features. In that case, you'd be silly not to give the Garmin Venu 2 a try.

It has a stunning AMOLED screen, long battery life and features the latest Elevate V4 heart rate sensor. There is also built-in GPS, 25 preloaded sports modes, animated workouts right on your wrist, music storage, countless payments, etc.

The Garmin Venu 2 blurs the line between running watches, smartwatches and fitness trackers, and it does it most fashionably. Highly recommended.

Garmin Forerunner 745 on a white backgroundT3 Approved badge

(Image credit: Garmin)

Best Garmin watch for triathlon

Specifications
Weight: 47 grams
Battery life: Up to a week (Smartwatch mode), up to 6 hours (GPS mode with music), up to 16 hours (GPS mode without music), up to 21 hours (UltraTrac mode)
Reasons to buy
+
Dedicated triathlon features
+
Handsome display
+
Almost identical to Forerunner 945 but lighter and cheaper
Reasons to avoid
-
GPS battery life is not the longest

The Garmin Forerunner 745 is a fantastic triathlon watch. It is somewhat cheaper and trims some of the over-the-top features of the Forerunner 945, and offers a faster and more reliable GPS connection than the cheaper Forerunner 245, especially if you are using your watch for triathlons.

Battery life is not the most impressive, but the Forerunner 745 will still last up to 7 days in smartwatch mode and up to 16 hours in GPS mode. There is an option to load music straight onto the watch, although listening to it directly will deplete battery life.

Most importantly, the Forerunner 745 has activity profiles for running, cycling, triathlon, pool and open water swimming, track running etc. You can switch sports with just one button press for races and brick workouts!

Garmin Fenix 6 Pro Titanium on a white backgroundT3 Award

(Image credit: Garmin)

Best Garmin watch for outdoor enthusiasts

Specifications
Lens material: Sapphire Crystal
Display size: 1.3" (33 mm)
Display resolution: 260 x 260 pixels
Weight: 49 grams (case only)
Battery life: up to 2 weeks in smartwatch mode
Reasons to buy
+
Widget view is excellent
+
Onboard TOPO maps
+
Built-in music storage
+
Garmin Pay
Reasons to avoid
-
A bit on the heavy side
-
Too many features for most users

The Garmin Fenix 6 Pro is an excellent smartwatch for anyone who loves the Great Outdoors. Garmin improved on the formula that made the Fenix 5 Series great, further enhancing the battery life, tweaking the user interface and refining onboard TOPO maps for added clarity.

One slight issue (if you can call it that) is that the Fenix 6 Pro is massively overpowered. The watch feels more like a demonstration from Garmin of what their technology is capable of than a good set of features hikers might appreciate.

Nevertheless, if you can justify the price – and weight – of the Garmin Fenix 6 Pro, you should get one because it just feels great on the wrist and represents what fitness smartwatches are capable of.

Garmin Enduro on a white backgroundT3 Award

(Image credit: Garmin)

Best running watch for trail running

Specifications
Lens material: Power Glass
Display size: 1.4" (35.5 mm)
Display resolution: 280 x 280 pixels
Weight: Steel – 71 g, Titanium – 61 g
Battery life: Smartwatch: Up to 50 days/65 days with solar, Battery Saver Watch Mode: Up to 130 days/1 year with solar, GPS: Up to 70 hours/80 hours with solar, Max Battery GPS Mode: Up to 200 hours/300 hours with solar, Expedition GPS Activity: Up to 65 days/95 days with solar
Reasons to buy
+
Superb build quality
+
Solar charging
+
Battery life is just crazy
+
Trail-running specific features
Reasons to avoid
-
No offline music
-
Quite expensive

Despite the Garmin Enduro being tailored to a niche market, non-ultra trail runners will also benefit from wearing the watch. Sure, the extra-long battery life will certainly come in handy if you're an endurance trail runner.

Even if you primarily run in urban environments, having features onboard that take incline into account when calculating VO2 max will help get more accurate results without going off the beaten path.

The Garmin Enduro is not a watch you'll use for a year or so and throw away; the premium features and build quality will help the watch retain its value for longer.

Garmin Approach S42 on white backgroundT3 Approved badge

(Image credit: Garmin)

9. Garmin Approach S42

Best Garmin watch for golf

Specifications
Battery life: 15 hours in GPS mode, 10 days in smartwatch mode
Courses: Over 42,000
Waterproof: Yes
Reasons to buy
+
Clear colour display makes it easy to view
+
Cutting-edge GPS delivers accurate distances
+
Offers a raft of smartwatch features
Reasons to avoid
-
Screen is not the crispest

The Garmin Approach S42 is the successor to the immensely popular S40, offering an improved battery life and improved internal functions. 

A combination of cutting-edge GPS technology and a sunlight-readable 1.2-inch colour touchscreen enables you to calculate distances to the front, middle and back of the green, as well as any hazards. 

AutoShot game tracking records your every pitch and putt, so that you can learn from your mistakes post-match. And data from 42,000 global courses give you the opportunity to compare your score with others who’ve played there.

Add in Bluetooth, notifications from your smartphone, and accurate sleep and fitness tracking, and the Approach S42 is a true all-rounder when it comes to golf GPS watches.

Garmin Marq watches on a white backgroundT3 Award

(Image credit: Garmin)

Best premium Garmin watch

Specifications
Works with: iPhone and Android
Size: 46mm
Battery life: 12 days
Heart rate sensor: Yes
Operating System: Garmin OS
Reasons to buy
+
Luxurious
+
Extremely well made
+
No expense spared
Reasons to avoid
-
Eye-wateringly expensive
-
Software doesn’t quite match the design

There’s no denying that the Garmin MARQ is a luxurious watch packing some damn right gorgeous, high-quality materials. Of all the watches Garmin produced over the years, the MARQ feels more of a statement than a watch. It's like Garmin tried to put together a watch just so they can say they have an OTT watch that could possibly compete with Swiss premium watches.

Still, most opinions about this watch will be split into two camps: you’ll either think it’s a ridiculous waste of money, or you think it’s a beautiful object that you just have to own. And to be honest, either is fair. If you’ve got the dosh and want to treat yourself, go ahead: you’re likely to be disappointed (well, maybe except for the display).

person meditating in their living room wearing the Garmin Lily watch

(Image credit: Garmin)

Are Garmin watches worth it?

Garmin watches are definitely worth it, especially if you are serious about training. Most Garmin watches have a myriad of sensors and GPS which takes money and time to develop and continuously update.

Not to mention, Garmin offers all its services, including access to advanced health and fitness metrics in the Garmin Connect app, free of charge, unlike competitors such as Fitbit or Whoop.

You have to pay a lump sum for a Garmin watch but from that onward, all the support, update and the community are for free. Not a bad deal!

Which Garmin has longest battery life?

This is a curveball as from a practical point of view, the Garmin Enduro has the longest battery life. It can last up to 50 days (65 days with solar) on one charge and the GPS battery life is also insane.

However, theoretically speaking, the Garmin Instinct Solar has the longest battery life of any Garmins right now. Under optimal circumstances (adequate sun exposure, battery saver mode on, etc.), the Instinct Solar can run indefinitely, which is certainly longer than 65 days in our books.

Matt is a fitness fanatic (a.k.a. fitness and nutrition writer) who's been rambling on about all things health and fitness for over two years now here at T3. His achievements include a short-lived fitness podcast called Fit Mentality Podcast and being a judge on the Fit&Well Awards 2021. In his free time, he works out at home, runs, cycles and loves a good ol' walk around the city. He writes about general fitness stuff, fitness tech, workouts, workout gear/equipment, nutrition and much, much more.