Best Garmin Fitness Watch

December 28, 2018

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Choose the Garmin Watch that Best Suites Your Needs


Let’s face it we all lead very busy lives between work, family, school, and social obligations so fitness often times takes a back seat.  While fitness may not be something we love to do, many of us love our high tech gadgets so why not purchase one that can help motivate and keep track of your fitness goals?  Fitness watches, a relatively new phenomenon are just the device you need.  Fitness watches come with really great features like step tracking, heart rate monitor, sleep tracking as well as having the ability to pair with your smartphone ensuring that you will not miss that urgent phone call or text.  If you find yourself traveling or choosing to run or bike in new locations, many fitness watches come with built-in GPS, and some even have full-color maps ensuring that if you choose the path less traveled you will still have the peace of mind that you can find your way back home.  Fitness watches come in many different styles, colors, and materials and the vast majority of them are waterproof, so you do not have to worry about rain or even if you want to use the device while swimming.  Fitness watches provide convenient health monitoring without having to purchase or wear multiple and often times uncomfortable devices.  With a variety to choose from fitness, watches are great for beginners as well as experienced athletes.

Why Garmin?  We chose Garmin because of its brand recognition and ability to provide a quality product.  Garmin was founded in 1989 and quickly became a leader in GPS navigation and wearable technology and now have 60 offices located worldwide to ensure that their customers receive quality products and customer support.  With a clear mission and values including honesty, integrity, and respect Garmin is a brand you can trust to deliver a quality product.  Below we have reviewed 5 of the best Garmin fitness watches to help take the guesswork out of which fitness watch is best for you, as well as breaking down the individual features to ensure the right fit for the right person. While we love Garmin watches, you may want to explore other brands as well. If you are looking for Garmin specific reviews, read on. If you want to see reviews about other heart rate watches, click here.

Forerunner® 35

The Garmin Forerunner 35 is a low priced fitness watch that covers all the basics and is an excellent choice for your first fitness watch.  This device is also an excellent option for those who just want the basics want quality tracking and are not interested in the number of applications that can be crammed into one device.  You can view all the available features that come on the Garmin Forerunner 35 conveniently at  The Garmin Forerunner 35 is a great choice for individuals who prefer a low tech base model that is packed with the fitness features they want and none of the extra mumbo jumbo they don’t.  Although this watch does not offer a lot of features, it excels at the ones it does.  With a square .93 inch display that is waterproof up to 50 meters this watch is easy to read and can go wherever you want rain or shine.  With built-in wrist heart rate monitor and GPS, you have the ability to track the intensity of your runs and have the peace of mind that you will never get lost no matter where the road takes you.  This fitness watch also has the capability of connecting to your smartphone so no matter where you are you can keep track of phone calls and messages with simple button controls so you can work out without the worry of missing any important calls.  The Forerunner 35 comes with 24/7 monitoring so you can wear it all the time and keep track of your stats including heart rate, steps, calories, distance and even sleep to ensure that you have the right information to keep yourself healthy and active.The Garmin Forerunner 35 also benefits from the ability to sense movement through Move IQ; the watch can detect you either running or walking automatically and has a built-in heart rate monitor.  Move IQ is a fantastic feature because if you are like me and remember to stop the watch when taking a break, but then forget to restart it when you start running again the watch will have your back.   This would become exceedingly frustrating especially if you are just starting out and having to switch modes manually is just a reminder that you are not up to par and not a plus for motivation that’s for sure.  Another feature of this watch we really valued was the built-in-heart rate monitor, hooray no more stopping and checking your pulse because who wants to do mental math while they are working out?  Since no watch can be perfect, there were a couple of features we did not like including it not being multi-sport capable and the inability to pair well with smartphone features.  While the Garmin Forerunner 35 is capable of pairing with your smartphone and listening and controlling music, it, unfortunately, does not always work and can be frustrating.  This watch is not multi-sport capable, so if you are just a runner or walker then this watch is for you, but if you want to track other sports or exercises, then some of the other watches in this review might be a better choice.See more reviews on best running watches.

Vívoactive® 3

The Garmin vívoactive® 3 is an excellent fitness watch for anyone who is looking for a high-end activity tracker with a mid-range price.  This watch combines sporty and sophisticated into a watch with a ton of features, but the price tag won’t send you into sticker shock.  If you enjoy constantly switching up your fitness routines and are looking for an activity tracker that has the capability of tracking all then the  Garmin vívoactive® 3 is just what you were looking for.  Some other great features included on this fitness watch are personalization, GPS, fitness apps, and smartphone compatibleYou can view all the available features that come on the Garmin vívoactive® three conveniently on the website. The Garmin vívoactive® 3 is an excellent choice for anyone who is into keeping healthy from novices to fitness aficionados with lots of great features packed into a great looking watch.  This watch combines style and elegance with a sporty feel. This is a great combo that can transition from the office to the gym with no problem.  With a 1.2 inch display that is full color and waterproof up to 50m this watch has the ability to go anywhere you want and perform flawlessly during varying activities.  You also have the ability to personalize your watch face and download various apps and widgets to customize your watch to suit your different needs.  This watch comes with a preloaded GPS and several sports apps that include running, swimming, yoga, biking, paddle boarding, and golfing to name a few. The Garmin vívoactive® three also has the capability of being paired with your smartphone so no matter your location, you will never miss a call or text again adding peace of mind to your daily workout regimen.  In order to ensure that you are getting the most out of your workouts this watch is able to monitor and track your workouts and analyze how your body reacts to certain situations so it can then alert you when you are experiencing a heightened physical or emotional stress level so you can take steps to relieve the stress and take pressure off your body.  If you like to compete with friends and family or just need extra motivation to keep working out, you can utilize Garmin Connect and compete in challenges or just help motivate and celebrate each other’s fitness accomplishments making sure you are always connected even over distances or time zones.The Garmin vívoactive® 3 has a couple of features that are absolutely incredible for a fitness watch in the mid-price range, and they include Garmin Pay and touchscreen display.  Garmin pay is a great feature that allows you to pay for purchases remotely and safely by merely adding your credit cards to your virtual wallet.  This feature allows you to leave your wallet at home, so it’s one less item you have to carry or worry about because your watch gives you the ability to buy anything from bottled water to grabbing an Uber if perhaps you were a little ambitious.  Another feature we like is the optional touchscreen; no more fumbling with bulky buttons now you can simply swipe through apps and calls easily and conveniently with less frustration. This is one of those features which initially I thought was just a gimmick, but having used it for a few days, it is hard to explain just how valuable it is.In contrast, there are a couple of features that we did not like, and they include the inability of iOS users to respond to texts and no music playback with a base model. In defense of Garmin, we believe that this is a limitation of IOS rather than Garmin’s fault. Apple tie down their operating software to tight that this feature is just not available on iPhone, but it is still important to mention it in this review. While the watch comes touchscreen capable not everyone has the ability to utilize this feature, and iOS users do not have the ability to respond to messages even those that are canned like “OK.”  Personally, I don’t want to have to buy a new phone just to buy a fitness watch, so this is a real bummer.  We also did not like that the base model does not have the ability for music playback you have to spend more money in order to get this feature, and this is perhaps an even more significant oversight or omission by Garmin.  Music and fitness seem to go together like peas and carrots so not having the capability of playing music unless you spend more money could be a deal breaker for some customers.

Fēnix® 5X

The Garmin fēnix® 5X is an excellent GPS enabled multisport fitness watch to have on hand (or wrist) to ensure that you never get lost again.  With everything you need from smart notifications and full-color maps to a built-in heart rate monitor, this watch packs a lot of power and data.  Unlike other models, this fitness watch has multiple sports settings making it great for users who like to change up their routines.You can view all the available features that come on the Garmin fēnix® 5X conveniently by visiting  This watch can take anything you throw at it no matter how extreme the sports or recreation activities that you enjoy.  With its scratch resistant 1.2-inch full-color display screen, built-in wrist-based heart rate monitor, and water resistance of up to 100 meters this watch can function wherever you do.  With the ability to monitor and track your training habits the Garmin fēnix® 5X   can even offer suggestions on how to adjust your activity level and intensity to get the most out of your workout.  With its multisport capability, this watch goes beyond running and can help with other activities including biking, swimming, rowing, skiing, hiking, and golf conveniently right on your wrist.  Included with this device are full-color maps which not only work with GPS but also utilizes a 3-axis compass, barometric altimeter, and gyroscope. This might seem a little extreme but it is one of those features that comes into its own should you ever need to use it. As someone that has the rather annoying habit of getting lost on a regular basis, this extra level of security is in my opinion well worth the additional cost of the device.See more reviews about triathlon and multi-sport watches here.This fitness watch comes with a couple of features we really like including customizable watch faces and changeable watchbands.  The full customizable watch face gives the user the ability to choose a photo from their smartphone and apply it to the watch face allowing you to show off your personality on this smooth looking device. This also helps with the longevity of the device, because if like me you are a tech addict, then a watch face that cannot be changed can quickly become stale and boring, but with the ability to personalize the device, I found new gadget addiction quenched by the various options that the Garmin fēnix® 5X offers. The Garmin fēnix® 5X also has QuickFit watchbands that come in a variety of styles and colors like silicone, metal, and leather, and this watch has the ability to easily transfer from the boardroom to the surfboard quickly and effortlessly. Another benefit of this feature which many people don’t fully appreciate is the chance to change bands if you are allergic to a particular type of material. I have a friend who bought a sports watch that had some kind of silicone strap. Because this watch was in the lower price range, he was unable to change the strap, and within a few days, he found the strap started to irritate his skin. Should this happen with the Garmin, changing the strap is a quick and easy process, which can become quite addictive… be warned.  Unfortunately, we found a couple of features that we think could be improved like including touchscreen capability and better 3rd party apps.  This watch would be a lot more user-friendly if it came with a touchscreen instead of having to use multiple buttons to scroll through apps, as this can be tedious and frustrating.  While there is the ability to download and use 3rd party apps they are not good quality and need to be modified to make them more applicable and easier to use. This might come across as harsh because the reality is that it is the responsibility of the third party app manufacturers to make their apps available on the Garmin platform, but it is somewhat of a chicken and egg scenario. The watches need to be popular enough to justify the investment in building the app, but without the apps, some potential customers will not invest in the system.

 Vívomove® HR

The Garmin vívomove® HR is an excellent fitness watch for individuals who need to dress formally but still want to track their fitness.  If you fall into the category of an individual who wants to track their steps, heart rate, calories, but need or want a more sophisticated looking fitness watch then the Garmin vívomove® HR is the watch you have been dreaming about.  This smartwatch packs several features into a watch that does not look bulky or sporty, and most people will not even notice that it is a fitness watch. So whether you are off out to a formal dinner, or maybe enjoying a night at the opera, the Garmin vívomove® HR will not look out of place.

You can view all the available features that come on the Garmin vívomove® HR conveniently on the website.  This amazing hybrid smartwatch allows you to have the best of all worlds, with moving watch hands and the interactive hidden touchscreen you can seamlessly track your statistics while keeping up on calls and messages all packed into an elegant looking watch.  This more sophisticated looking fitness watch comes in great face colors like rose gold, gold, black, and silver and can be paired with quick release bands that come in leather, suede, and silicone and encompass a variety of colors, so you have the ability to match with any outfit you choose.  This watch may have style, but it also comes with great fitness features that include all-day stress tracking, sleep monitoring, step count, heart rate, calories burned, and distance.  In addition to the important fitness features, this watch can be paired with your smartphone, so you don’t have to worry about missing any important texts or phone calls when you step out for a quick workout.  With Garmin connect this watch also allows you to store your data as well as join challenges with friends to keep motivated or just help encourage friends and family to keep fitness a priority.

While the Garmin vívomove® HR comes with some features we really like including hidden touch screen and elegant look; there were also a couple of features that were missing on such a prestigious device. Perhaps the most disappointing omission was the lack of GPS and the rather small screen. Naturally, when choosing which features to add to a device there will always be budgetary constraints, but we can’t help but feel that not adding GPS was a poor choice by Garmin.

With that being said, this watch is still worthy of your consideration, because not everyone wants to wear a watch that screams fitness fanatic.  Sometimes there are sacrifices when it comes to fashion, and for this fitness watch it was clearly the smaller watch face.  In order to keep the watch less bulky and more fashionable the screen needed to be smaller, and while this looks great it can sometimes be hard to read messages due to the small size, particularly when you are half way through a marathon, and even putting one foot in front of the other is hard work!

Buyer’s Guide

When you are in the market to buy a fitness watch, it is important to make sure you are getting the right watch to fit your needs.  With so many choices and so many different gadgets and gizmos, it may become a bit overwhelming figuring out what fitness watch is the best for you.  There are many great features to look for when buying a fitness watch and below are some important features to look for:

  • Battery Life

Perhaps the most important element of any fitness watch is the battery life, and how quick and easy it is to recharge the battery.  The battery life of fitness watches can vary widely from hours to days and often depends on which applications are being used at the time. The last thing you need is to be out on a long run in a new place and lose your GPS because your battery died.   It is important to make sure you are purchasing the right watch for your needs, and you will also want to see how you need to charge the device.  Some watches come with a USB cable that can easily be attached to any USB capable device while others utilize a specific charging dock making them more bulky and hard to take with you if you need to recharge your device.  Also take into consideration that with any watch that utilizes a proprietary charging cable, you need to be confident that it is easy and relatively cheap to replace should you misplace it. After all, without that cable, the watch will quickly become useless.

  • Waterproof Rating

The term waterproof does not always mean the same thing, and the last thing you want to do is ruin your expensive new fitness watch by using it in the wrong water conditions.  Waterproof ratings vary from 1 ATM or 1 Bar which means it is resistant to rain, but you will not be able to wear it swimming to 100 ATM or 100 BAR which means it is capable of deep sea diving up to 1000 meters or 3300 feet.  In order to better understand waterproof ratings, you can visit Gadgets & Wearables.  It is also important if you plan on using your smartwatch while swimming or diving to make sure it is “waterproof” and not “water resistant” these terms are sometimes used interchangeably and may cost you a lot of money if you are not careful.

  • Apps

It is important to make sure you are purchasing a fitness watch that comes with the right apps and features to suit your fitness needs and goals.  If you want to be able to download and switch apps depending on which fitness program you are following you will want to make sure your fitness watch has the ability to download apps.  If you’re going to run multiple apps on your device, you will also want to make sure your device of choice is capable of storing a large amount of data.  There are many different fitness apps available on the market today, and you can locate some good ones by visiting Men’s Journal.

  • Compatibility

If you want or need to pair your fitness watch with your smartphone, it is important to make sure they are compatible.  Unfortunately, not all devices are built the same and while some may be compatible with all smartphones if you need to keep apprised of phone calls and texts it is important to make sure the fitness watch you choose is compatible with your smartphone.  For more information on how to pair your devices visit Digital Trends.

  • Price

It always comes down to price, doesn’t it?  Well, price does matter, and you also want to make sure you are not overpaying for a device that comes with apps and features you will never use.  Fitness watches come in basic models that are just for one sport like running and utilize buttons and a primary black and white watch face to advanced models that are multi-sport capable with touchscreen and full-color watch faces.  The best place to visit to check out the latest prices in our opinion is

Final Thoughts

Whether you are an experienced triathlete or an individual setting out on their first run, a fitness watch can help ensure that you are meeting your health and exercise goals.  Thanks to significant improvements made to fitness watches you no longer have to purchase or wear multiple bulky devices that can interfere with your work out.  Advances in technology allow fitness watches to come equipped with many helpful features to ensure that you are getting the most bang for your buck.  All the watches we reviewed above can be paired with your smartphone giving you the peace of mind that while you are working out, you will not miss any important phone calls or text messages allowing you to stay connected with friends and family or clients even in remote locations.  Many of the products above also come equipped with GPS, so you do not have to worry about getting lost if you are in a new location or if you just get lost in time while working out, your fitness watch will make sure you have the ability to make it back safely.  If you are techy and like multiple gadgets and options or an individual who just wants a straightforward fitness watch without all the bells and whistles, Garmin makes a model that is perfect for you.  From simple devices that track running and walking to more advanced pieces with multi-sport capabilities, there is a Garmin fitness watch that will suit your needs.

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