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How to select the best Garmin GPS watch for running

Garmin is the most popular GPS watch manufacturer out there and is best known for their high quality GPS products across a wide range of applications. They are the first name to come to mind when considering GPS.  They have manufactured all kinds of devices including those designed for automotive use, handheld devices, and sport watches.

Garmin is the brand that we personally recommend you start with (incidentally, it is also the brand that we personally have the most experience with). You can see our top picks below. As a side note, I have found that when it comes to using Garmin equipment, or when I need to get answers to specific questions, the Garmin forums are the best place to get fast answers.

Garmin divides their sport watches into categories depending on the type of activity (or activities) the watch is designed for. Note: some watches cross more than one sport (e.g. triathletes, etc).

The Forerunner Series is Garmin’s official watch line for runners and fitness enthusiasts. A few of the models can be used by swimmers or cyclists as well, but Garmin provides better options for those sports if you are purely a swimmer or cyclist. Garmin Forerunner watches have a strong reputation in the market for being durable and incredibly accurate, and are very popular as a result.

 

Compare Garmin GPS Watches Using The Following Feature Comparison Chart

 

Forerunner Series

forerunner 10 features
garmin forerunner 220 features
forerunner 310xt features
garmin forerunner 620 features
forerunner 910xt features
good running watch
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good running watch
best gps watch
good running watch
read user reviews
read user reviews
read user reviews
read user reviews
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best gps watch prices
best gps watch prices
best gps watch prices
best gps watch prices
Current Model
Yes
Yes
Yes
Yes
Yes
GPS Enabled
Yes
Yes
Yes
Yes
Yes
Water Resistant
Yes, up to 50m
Yes, up to 50m
Yes, up to 50m
Yes, up to 50m
Yes, up to 50m
Estimated Battery Life
5 weeks in power save mode; 5 hours in training mode
up to 10 hours
up to 20 hours
up to 10 hours
up to 20 hours
Battery Type
rechargeable lithium-ion
rechargeable lithium-ion
rechargeable lithium-ion
rechargeable lithium-ion
rechargeable lithium-ion
Touchscreen
No
No
No
Yes
No
History
Yes
Yes
Yes
Yes
Yes
Heart Rate Monitor
No
Yes, as a purchase option
Yes, as a purchase option
Yes, as a purchase option
Yes, as a purchase option
Bike speed/cadence sensor
No
No
Yes, optional accessory
No
Yes, optional accessory
Garmin Connect Compatible (online community where you can analyze and share your workout data)
Yes
Yes
Yes
Yes
Yes
Auto-sync data to your computer
No
Yes
Yes
Yes
Yes
Virtual Trainer (train against a virtual person)
No
No
Yes
Yes
Yes
Virtual Racer (compete against other activities)
No
No
Yes
No
Yes
Foot Pod
No
Not Needed (internal accelerometer)
Yes, optional accessory
Not Needed (internal accelerometer)
Yes, optional accessory
Auto Pause (pauses when watch detects you stopped)
Yes
Yes
Yes
Yes
Yes
Auto Lap (starts a new lap when watch detects a new one)
Yes
Yes
Yes
Yes
Yes
Auto Scroll through multiple data screens
No
Yes
Yes
rechargeable lithium-ion
Yes
Running Dynamics (including vertical oscillation, ground contact time, etc)
No
No
No
Yes
No
VO2Max Estimation
No
No
No
Yes
No
Race Predictor
No
No
No
Yes
No
Recovery / Overtraining Advisor
No
No
No
Yes
No
Internet Live Tracking
No
Yes, with Smartphone
No
Yes, with Smartphone
No