Garmin Forerunner GPS Watch Comparison Chart And Buyer's Guide

Garmin GPS Watch Buyer’s Guide
And Feature Comparison Charts

The Garmin Forerunner™ series is Garmin's product line for runners and triathletes and is the standard that other running watch brands try to live up to. GPS enabled running watches are generally more accurate and collect better metrics than phone apps which is why I recommend them to runners.  This page is constantly being updated to include new models, as well as information about past models in case you come across a bargain deal on a previous model. 

Quick Links

How to find the best running watch using this guide

One of the most common questions we get as running coaches is "Which running watch should I buy?".  Most often our answer is, "it depends". It depends on what features you would like to have, how you plan to use the watch, and your budget. Generally speaking, the average runner does not need a high priced, higher end watch unless you really dig technology and love capturing and analyzing data.  Most entry level and moderate level watches will do everything the average runner will need.

The best way to use this comparison guide is to figure our your budget and then look for a watch in that specific range that has the features you wish to have. 

How we compare running watches and conduct our reviews

Important: When we do 'feature comparisons', we do comparison of running watch features based on the information provided by the manufacturer, in this case Garmin. Feature comparisons are generally in a chart format. When we do a 'review' of a particular watch, we do it through personal use by myself or one our coaches.  

Unlike other sites, we never hire writers to go out and harvest information from third party sites and write reviews based on never having used the watch.  Many sites dedicated to reviewing running watches, running shoes, other gear etc. have a primary focus of making money using reviews and in some cases they even get paid by manufacturers to review their products whether it is paid directly or via free products. If we review a running watch it is because we paid for and purchased it our of our own pocket and are sharing our experience with it. If you do not see a review on a certain watch, it is because we have not purchased it. In that case, look at the feature comparison only and maybe check out third party customer reviews such as those found on Amazon.

Affiliate disclosure: The RunBuzz website is about sharing information to make people better runners, and is not geared towards product reviews and making money from them.  Having said that, we do put in a link in our reviews and charts that should you choose to purchase a running watch on Amazon, we do get a 'tiny' portion of Amazon's profit and this is at no extra cost to you.  Purchasing through these links does help a little when it comes to supporting some of the costs of running this website, but we surely do not 'profit' from these reviews as it is not the primary purpose of this website. You are never, ever, ever, ever.... required, or obligated to purchase any running watch on Amazon through our links, however we do encourage you to check out their site as their prices and customer service is excellent.   


Best Entry Level GPS Running Watches (Current Models)

There are two models currently in the Garmin product line that fit within the entry level running watch category. Each watch will track pace, distance, and laps/intervals. The biggest difference between these two running watches in that the Garmin Forerunner 35 has a built in, wrist-based heart rate monitoring.  Both of these watches have the ability to pair with your smartphone or computer to auto-sync your workout details to Garmin Connect. For those of you participating in our PaceBuilders Coaching programs or following one of our customized training plans, your workouts will automatically be synced via Garmin Connect to your Final Surge training plan accounts that we created for you. Your training plan and these running watches are synced so all you need to do is focus on your training runs. 

Note:  if viewing on a mobile device, use your finger to slide the chart left and right

More...

Features and Capabilities

Garmin Forerunner 25

Garmin Forerunner 25
Garmin forerunner on Amazon

Garmin Forerunner 35

Garmin Forerunner 35
Garmin forerunner on Amazon

Current Model

GPS Enabled

Yes

Yes

Yes

Yes

Yes

Yes

Water Resistant

Yes

Yes

Estimated Battery Life

8-10 Hours

9 Days / 13 Training Hours

Battery Type

Rechargeable Lithium Ion

Rechargeable Lithium Ion

Touch Screen

No

No

History

Up To 7 Activities

Up To 7 Activities

Heart Rate Monitor

Compatible As Accessory

Yes

Bike Speed / Cadence Sensor

No

Yes

Garmin Connect Compatible

Yes

Yes

Auto Sync

Yes

Yes

Virtual Training

Yes

Yes

Virtual Racer

No

No

Foot Pod

Auto Pause

Auto Lap

Auto Scroll

Ground Contact

VO2 Max Estimation

Race Predictor

Recovery Advisory

Internet Live Tracking

Step Counter

Smart Phone Notifications

Sleep Tracking

GLONAS

Wi-Fi Enabled

Swim Function

Compatible As Accessory

Yes

Yes

No

No

No

No

No

Yes

Yes

Yes

Yes

No

No

No

Compatible As Accessory

Yes

Yes

No

No

No

No

No

Yes

Yes

Yes

Yes

No

No

No

Best Mid Level GPS Running Watches (Current Models)

Note:  if viewing on a mobile device, use your finger to slide the chart left and right

Features and Capabilities

Garmin Forerunner 235

Garmin Forerunner 235 GPS Running Watch
Garmin forerunner on Amazon

Current Model

GPS Enabled

Yes

Yes

Water Resistant

Yes

Estimated Battery Life

9 days or 11 Training Hours

Battery Type

Rechargeable Lithium Ion

Touch Screen

No

History

200 hours

Heart Rate Monitor

Yes

Bike Speed / Cadence Sensor

Yes, Optional

Garmin Connect Compatible

Yes

Auto Sync

Yes

Virtual Training

Yes

Virtual Racer

No

Foot Pod

Auto Pause

Auto Lap

Auto Scroll

Ground Contact

VO2 Max Estimation

Race Predictor

Recovery Advisory

Internet Live Tracking

Step Counter

Smart Phone Notifications

Sleep Tracking

GLONAS

Wi-Fi Enabled

Swim Function

Compatible As Accessory

Yes

Yes

Yes

No

Yes

Yes

Yes

Yes

Yes

Yes

Yes

Yes

No

No

Best Premium or MultiSport/Triathlon GPS Running Watches (Current Models)

Features and Capabilities

Garmin Forerunner 735XT

Garmin 735XT GPS Watch
Garmin forerunner on Amazon

Garmin Forerunner 935

Garmin 935 GPS Watch
Garmin forerunner on Amazon

Current Model

GPS Enabled

Yes

Yes

TBD

TBD

Water Resistant

Yes

TBD

Estimated Battery Life

24 hours UltraTac mode,  
11 days watch mode,
14 hours activity mode

TBD

Battery Type

Rechargeable Lithium Ion

Rechargeable Lithium Ion

Touch Screen

No

TBD

History

100 hours

TBD

Heart Rate Monitor

Yes, available in some package bundles

TBD

Bike Speed / Cadence Sensor

Yes, (optional accessory)

TBD

Garmin Connect Compatible

Yes

TBD

Auto Sync

Yes

TBD

Virtual Training

Yes

TBD

Virtual Racer

Yes

TBD

Foot Pod

Auto Pause

Auto Lap

Auto Scroll

Ground Contact

VO2 Max Estimation

Race Predictor

Recovery Advisory

Internet Live Tracking

Step Counter

Smart Phone Notifications

Sleep Tracking

GLONAS

Wi-Fi Enabled

Swim Function

Yes, (optional accessory)

Yes

Yes

Yes

Yes

Yes

Yes

Yes

Yes

Yes

Yes

Yes

Yes

Yes

Yes

TBD

TBD

TBD

TBD

TBD

TBD

TBD

TBD

TBD

TBD

TBD

TBD

TBD

TBD

TBD

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