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Garmin Watches 2023 | How to Choose the Best Garmin Watch

Garmin Watches 2023 | How to Choose the Best Garmin Watch

Garmin watches are as serious about training as you are. Here's your buyers' guide for the best smart watches for golf, running, hiking, women, and more!

***Updated in June 2023 to include new Garmin watches.***

Which Is the Best Garmin Watch?

Read This Garmin Watches Buyers' Guide Before You Decide.

Garmin watches are as serious about training as you are, and in 2023 you have a variety of choices from this popular tech company when it comes to niche-specific GPS smartwatches.

The Garmin brand is known for its generous suite of features that comes standard in most of its mid-range to high-end watches, including its Elevate heart rate sensor for wrist-based heart rate, multi-GNSS for greater accuracy and ultra reliable tracking, multiple sports modes, smart notifications, size and style options, and many other health features like Pulse Ox and Women's Health tracking.

Companion apps like Connect IQ™ and the Garmin Golf™ app often blow training wide open with extra analysis, live segments, customizable workouts, data fields, and watch faces, downloadable maps, compatibility with other products and apps, and more! Factor in that Garmin creates a variety of sport- and activity-specific GPS smartwatches at a variety of price points, and everybody wins!

In this Garmin Watches buyers' guide, we're filling you in on all the best Garmin watches and pointing you to more options, because there's a Garmin out there for everyone!

Short on time? Jump to our Table of Contents to get right to the kind of Garmin GPS smartwatch you're looking for!

Watch a Garmin epix Pro and fēnix 7 Pro Series Review!


Garmin Watches Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

What Is the Latest Garmin Fitness Tracker?

The  easy-to-use Garmin vívosmart 5 is a comfortable fitness tracker that comes loaded with features to track your activity all day and sleep stages all night once set up through the Garmin Connect™ app. You also get wrist-based heart rate, stress tracking, Body Battery™ energy monitoring and more help you stay informed while smart notifications from your paired smartphone keep you connected.

Stay active with built-in sports apps that include profiles for walking, running, yoga, cardio and more.

When connected to your smartphone, incident detection (during select outdoor activities) and Assistance features send a message with your live location to emergency contacts for greater peace of mind 

Which Garmin GPS Is Best for Me?

  • Garmin Approach S70 smartwatch for best golf and smart features

  • Garmin Forerunner 955 running and triathlon watch for training

  • Garmin fēnix® 7 Pro for best overall multisport watch

  • Garmin 42 mm epix Pro for best women's smartwatch

  • Garmin   fēnix® 7X Pro for best men's sport watch

  • Garmin Instinct 2 Solar Tactical for best hiking watch

  • Garmin tactix 7 Pro Solar for the best military watch

What Is the Difference in Garmin Watches?

Garmin designs GPS watches at different price points for a variety of sports and outdoor activities, including smartwatches for running, golf, cycling, and hiking. Garmin watches are known for their accurate and reliable fitness tracking, exceptional build-quality, and both comfy and stylish form factor—you don't often find all of these in one sport smartwatch!

What Is Body Battery on Garmin?

This Garmin-specific feature allows you to track your body’s energy levels so you can find the best times for activity and rest. It does this by monitoring your heart rate variability, stress, and activity to estimate your energy reserves.

What Is the Best Garmin Watch Available?

For the best Garmin watch, the fēnix 7 Pro and epix Pro series have it all—a touchscreen, preloaded topo maps, multiple sports training & performance features, advanced health monitoring, built-in LED flashlight, and multi-frequency GNSS for the most accurate positioning. Plus unbelievable battery life, on-watch music storage, and phone free safety tracking and connectivity. You get solar-charging with the Garmin   fēnix and a vibrant AMOLED display with the epix. And each series offers three sizes for every wrist. 

Is Garmin or Fitbit Better?

The Garmin Venu Sq 2 is a better fitness watch, offering twice the battery life as the Fitbit Versa 3, more workout options, Incident Detection safety tracking, and higher quality material, including Corning® Gorilla® Glass 3—all for nearly the same price.

Garmin Approach S70 — Best Golf GPS Watch

42 mm and 47 mm Garmin Approach S70 golf GPS watches laid out next to each other on the edge of a table

Live on and off the course and look and play the part with the Garmin Approach S70!

The Garmin Approach S70 now puts a vibrant AMOLED display on your wrist and in your game—but it's course management strategy, better decision-making, and overall game improvement that really shine on this golf watch!

An upgraded virtual caddie feature provides a recommended club based on your shot dispersion data, elevation, wind, and more.

Enhanced PlaysLike Distance (slope-compensation) utilizes a built-in barometer, so you’ll know how far each shot is playing.

And on your way to the hole, preloaded green contour data gives you insights into the slope direction of the green (with an active Garmin Golf app membership—$9.99 per month or $99.99 per year).

Plus, you get all of Garmin's other golfing features, activity and health tracking, and smart features that set you up for success beyond the golf course!

And now this top of the Approach lineup GPS watch is available in two sizes—42 mm and 47 mm.

That said, we aren't about to shake a stick—or a club—at the rest of the Garmin Approach GPS golf watches. Read more about your golf watch options in our article all about these best golf watches! (Includes a comparison chart!)

See more of the Approach S70 here.

Compare it to other Garmin Approach golf watches.

Garmin Forerunner 955 Solar — Best Running GPS Watch

This premium powerhouse GPS smartwatch is lightweight and loaded with features for runners and triathletes!

Serious runners, get training and analysis features, advanced health monitoring, and a lightweight, marathon-ready design—right on your wrist! It was dreamt up by Garmin for driven triathletes and the running obsessed who never stop pushing the limits. This Forerunner 955 is the tool that is equipped to keep pace with your goals. Even though it’s made with a high-performance silicone band and an ultra-durable Corning® Gorilla® Glass DX lens, this lightweight ultra running watch won’t bulk up your wrist.

New features on this upgraded Garmin Forerunner watch include:

  • Responsive touchscreen in addition to trusted button operation.
  • Daily training readiness score to know what kind of workout day it is.
  • Customized morning report gives you an outlook on your training, recovery, the weather, and more.
  • Race widget gives you personalized information you need while you train for your next race.
  • New HRV status offers a deeper understanding of your overall wellbeing during training.
  • Real-time stamina to track and manage your exertion.
  • Improved Garmin 955/955 Solar battery life:
    • Smartwatch Mode: Up to 15 days / Up to 20 days with appropriate solar
    • GPS Mode: Up to 42 hours / Up to 49 hours with appropriate solar
    • All-Systems GNSS mode plus Multi-Band with music: Up to 8.5 hours
    • All Systems GNSS mode plus Multi-Band without music: Up to 20 hours/22 hours with solar
    • In Ultratrac Mode: Up to 80 hours / Up to 110 hours with appropriate solar

With the Forerunner 955 multisport watch, you'll chase down your next victory with Garmin Coach for free adaptive training plans, built-in sports apps, including cycling, pool swimming, track running, elliptical, stair-stepper, and much more! You get Running Dynamics (with a compatible accessory) to measure crucial running metrics like cadence, stride length, ground contact time and balance, and more. Training Status, Training Load, and Training Effect help you understand how effectively you are training and compare your recent training history. Health monitoring includes wrist-based heart rate, Pulse Ox, Performance Condition, Body Battery energy monitor, Women's Health monitoring, and more! You also get daily suggested workouts, smart notifications, music from your phone or on-watch, and a big, fat battery life, especially with the solar-charging option.

To learn all the details about what each Garmin Forerunner running watch has to offer, check out the PlayBetter Best Running Watch Comparison and our Garmin Forerunner 955 page.

Garmin epix Pro — Best Garmin Fitness GPS Watch

It's basically a fēnix 7 Pro with a gorgeous AMOLED touchscreen (but not quite the battery life)!

So who's the new Garmin epix Pro (Gen 2) for? Anyone who would basically like a more stylish fēnix 7 Pro with a bright AMOLED touchscreen—and who won't need the gobs of battery life that you get with a fēnix multisport watch.

What that means is you get most everything you get with a fēnix 7: full-touch control (as well as trusty button operation); improved GPS accuracy with multi-band GNSS (Sapphire models only); Garmin's latest Elevate 4.0 heart rate sensor; new stamina date field with real-time feedback; all the best activity tracking features with the same activity profiles; smartwatch features with phone notifications, calandar support, weather widget, and Garmin Pay contactless payment; offline music with storage of up to 2,000 songs from Spotify, Amazon, and Deezer; training tools like VO2 Max, Training Status, Training Load, Load Focus, Recovery Advisor, and more!

The AMOLED display—that now comes in 3 sizes—on the Garmin epix 2 is the standout feature here. And it is fantastic in that it is super-bright and easy to read in full sunlight with minimal glare—making it a joy to use! And the refresh rate is high and responsive. You have the option of getting a Sapphire model which gives you extreme durability over your AMOLED display.

Another benefit of the epix 2 Sapphire edition is that it comes with preloaded full-color topo maps and uses multi-band GNSS for optimal GPS tracking.

Plus, this upgraded Garmin epix now comes with a new built-in LED flashlight in every size. This feature was previously only available on the fēnix 7X.

To learn more, check out our epix Pro page or compare Garmin epix 2 and the fēnix 7 lineup in this article! Cheers!

Garmin fēnix 7/7S/7X Pro — Best Multisport Watch of 2023!

The 2023 Garmin fēnix 7 Pro Solar/Sapphire Solar is the best multisport GPS watch that Garmin has ever made!

Why? the highly-responsive touchscreen interface, updated design, improved battery life, new heart rate sensor, multi-band GNSS for drastically improved GPS accuracy during your activities, new training tools, updated nav and weather features—and a powerful LED flashlight on every model!  

Meet your match with the Garmin fēnix 7/7S/7X Pro Solar and Pro Solar Sapphire lineup, packing training tools such as New Hill Score and Endurance Score features, Real-Time Stamina, Running Dynamics, PacePro, Race Predictor, VO2 Max, Training Status, Training Load, Load Focus, Recovery Advisor, and more!

Plus, the fēnix 7 Pro series offers you a lot of options: 9 premium multisport GPS watches—all with solar-charging technology now (in Standard or Sapphire)—with 3 size options—7S (42 mm), 7 (47 mm), & 7X (51 mm).

Now, let's talk improved battery life. The fēnix 7 series was doing fine as a leader in battery life for multisport watches. But the fēnix 7 series has improved on it. Jump to this page to see the amazing solar-charging battery life on each size.

And for you mountain and trail runners and cross-trainers, when you leave the grid, so does the fēnix 7 GPS watch. It has full-color maps topo maps (preloaded on Sapphire Solar; downloadable on the Standard Solar), preloaded maps for 2,000 ski resorts, profiles for backcountry skiing, mountain biking dynamics, surfing features, PacePro technology for grade-adjusted guidance, and 41,000+ preloaded maps to golf courses around the world.

There's gob s more to learn about this incredible Garmin Watch, so visit our official Garmin fēnix 7 page for everything you need to know—including a review from Dave at Chase the Summit!

Most Affordable Running Watch—Garmin Forerunner 255

White Garmin Forerunner 255 Music running watch with sleep insights and HRV on display

This more affordable Forerunner gives you a nice chunk of Garmin running metrics in two sizes—plus the music models store up to 500 songs!

The Garmin Forerunner 255/255S offers a lot of training tools and feedback, including VO2 Max for Run and Trail Run, Race Predictor, PacePro, Recovery Advisor, Training Status, and Training Load. And for health, factor in wrist-based heart rate, Body Battery energy monitor, Pulse Ox, and advanced sleep monitoring.

And this latest mid-range Garmin Forerunner watch is updated with training features such as morning report that summarizes your sleep, HRV status, and daily workout suggestion in one place as soon as you wake up. It also adds a race widget and wrist-based running power.

Additionally, you'll have multi-frequency positioning for the most advanced GPS tracking and a compass, accelerometer, and new barometric altimeter for elevation metrics. Even though it is not preloaded with all the maps that come with the fēnix 7 and FR 955, the FR 255 still offers some highly useful navigation tools like point-to-point and back to start.  

At this price range, this Garmin Forerunner does not have the compatibility to integrate power meters or third-party platforms like Strava.  

Battery life, while not as robust as higher-end Garmin watches, is still impressive for a mid-range-priced sport watch.

On the music models—available in both sizes—just download your must-have workout tunes from your Spotify, Deezer, or Amazon account and go.

This running and workout watch may not be the top choice for serious marathon and triathlon training, but it's definitely got the music and sport features to motivate serious daily pavement pounders, trail runners, and workout hounds!

Best Running Watch with AMOLED Display—Garmin Forerunner 965

Outshine the competition with Forerunner 965, Garmin's premium triathlon watch with a glorious AMOLED touchscreen display and sleek build with titanium bezel.

Wake up to a personalized morning report with HRV status to see health insights with an overview of sleep, recovery and training outlook (data presented is intended to be a close estimation of metrics tracked).

Take advantage of the training readiness feature to know when you’re primed for a productive session — while daily suggested workouts adapt to performance and recovery alongside the race widget, which provides training tips, course details and completion time predictions.

Go where you want confidently with multi-band GPS and full-color, built-in maps. And do it your way with traditional buttons and a touchscreen display that make it easy to tap into your training status and know whether you’re training productively, peaking, or strained.

If outshining the competition is high on your list of goals, the Forerunner 965 is there to light up every run with up to 23 days of battery life in smartwatch mode.

Discover more about this brilliant running smartwatch.

Compare 965 to other Garmin Forerunners.

Best Value Garmin Watch with AMOLED Display—Forerunner 265

The Black and Amp Yellow Garmin Forerunner 965 with AMOLED display laid flat on a white table

The Forerunner 265 series adds several new features over the FR255, most notably—a gorgeously vivid AMOLED display!

Additionally, this mid-level Forerunner is now a touchscreen like the higher-end Garmin Forerunner 965, fēnix 7 series, epix (Gen 2) and Enduro 2 GPS watches. Don’t worry, you still have the traditional 5-button operation as well. And if you need to, you can disable the touchscreen.

The FR 265 now adds Training Readiness to its load of training tools. Originally offered only on Garmin’s more expensive multisport watches, the Training Readiness feature gives you a score and a short message that helps you determine how ready you are for training each day. The score is continuously calculated and updated throughout the day using these factors:

  • Sleep score (last night)
  • Recovery time
  • HRV status
  • Acute load
  • Sleep history (last 3 nights)
  • Stress history (last 3 days)

Due to the AMOLED screen, the Forerunner 265 series offers slightly less battery life than the previous FR 255. Still, it is highly competitive with other top brands. Plus, you can manage your settings to control and save battery life.

Unlike with the previous Forerunner 255, this series offers on-watch music storage in every watch—standard and smaller size. That means you can download up to 500 songs plus playlists from your Spotify, Deezer, or Amazon Music accounts (subscription required) and go phone free!

As far as price, the Forerunner with the new AMOLED and touchscreen technology is only $50 more than the Forerunner 255.

Best Garmin Watches for Women — Venu Sq 2

From advanced activity and health monitoring to comfortable form-factor to sleek style, the Garmin Venu Sq 2 earns every bit of its place on your wrist!

Workout wherever you want, however you want, with loads of preloaded GPS tracking and indoor sports apps. Track you heart rate, oxygen saturation, stress, sleep, respiration, hydration, energy levels, and more to get the most out of your exercise. Get smart notification on the fly and pay for that post-run drink all from the wrist.

And now let's talk the gorgeousness of this watch. Show off your wrist with the square-cased 1.41" diagonal vibrant AMOLED color touchscreen. Both the Venu Sq 2 and the Venu Sq 2 have 3 color palettes to choose from:

Venu Sq 2 Colors:

  • Slate bezel with Shadow Gray case and silicone band
  • Cream Gold bezel with White case and silicone band
  • Metallic Mint bezel with Cool Mint case and silicone band

Venu Sq 2 Music Colors:

  • Slate bezel with Black case and silicone band
  • Peach Gold bezel with Ivory case and silicone band
  • Cream Gold bezel with French Gray case and silicone band

For more Garmin Venu Sq 2 details, jump over to our official Garmin Venu Sq 2 page!

If you're a golf gal at heart, you should pop over to our Best Garmin Golf Watches for Women!

Best Watch for Men — Garmin Venu

Slate Garmin Venu fitness GPS watch with health stats on the display

Why do we think the Garmin Venu is the best sport watch for men in 2022? Because with the release of this fitness watch, Garmin put a vibrant AMOLED color touchscreen on wrist. It's perfect for all-day style and activity.

The Venu sports a 1.2" display with a slate bezel with a black case and silicone band. Get sleep score and insights by Firstbeat AnalyticsTM. The Fitness Age widget estimates the body’s age using chronological age, activity, resting heart rate, and either body fat % or BMI. See your body’s energy levels throughout the day so you can find the best times for activity and rest with the Body Battery energy monitor. The Pulse Ox sensor gauges your blood oxygen saturation during the day and as you sleep to show how well your body is absorbing oxygen. And track other important wellness factors like hydration, stress, and respiration.

This Garmin watch includes activity profiles for running, biking, swimming, skiing, snowboarding, paddleboarding, and rowing. Plus it's loaded with some of Garmin's golfing features.

And if you buy it right now on PlayBetter, you can get an EXCLUSIVE DISCOUNT with FREE 2-day shipping.

Jump over to our Best Sport Watches for Men page for even more great watches for guys!

Best Garmin Smartwatch — The Venu 2 Plus!

Garmin's smartest GPS watch let's you take and make calls while your phone's in your pocket!

The Venu 2 Plus does everything the Venu 2/2S smartwatches do, including look gorgeous on your wrist with a stylish design and vibrant AMOLED display. But that's not all that Garmin puts on your wrist with this savvy GPS watch.

With the Venu 2 Plus, now you have the ability to use many of your smartphone functions while your phone stays in your pocket or bag—without the added cost of a cellular plan on your watch!

When paired with your compatible smartphone, enjoy the convenience of making and taking phone calls from your wrist with your new Venu 2 Plus.

Additionally, use your compatible smartphone's voice assistant to respond to text messages, ask questions, control compatible smart home devices, and more!

It's the perfect size of any wrist with a 1.3" AMOLED display and a 43 mm case size that is smack in the middle between the Venu 2S and Venu 2.

To learn more about this game-changing Garmin smartwatch, visit our official Garmin Venu 2 page!

Garmin Instinct 2 Solar–Tactical Edition — Best Hiking Watch

Tactical-specific features, enhanced battery life, advanced GPS-tracking, & built-in sports apps!

Whether you're on a hiking adventure or a backcountry mission, the Garmin Instinct 2 Solar Tactical has the features you need at a price you'll love!

Explore longer and more equipped with tactical-specific tools like Night Vision Compatibility, Stealth Mode, Dual-Format GPS, Projected Waypoints, and Jumpmaster Mode!

Plus, the Garmin Instinct 2 series has military standard toughness so it can go through anything you do and unprecedented battery life for those that explore under the sun! Get up to 28 days/Unlimited with solar in Smartwatch Mode; up to 65 days/Unlimited with solar in Battery Saver Watch Mode; up to 30hrs/48 hrs with solar in GPS Mode; up to 70hrs/370 hrs with solar in Max Battery GPS Mode; up to 32 days/Unlimited with solar in Expedition GPS Activity Mode.

Get next-level navigation with ABC sensors, including an altimeter for elevation data, barometer to monitor weather, and three-axis electronic compass; multi-GNSS for tracking in more challenging environments; and TracBack routing and point-to-point navigation. Plus, stay more aware with barometric trend indicator with Storm Alert, Sight 'N Go, Area Calculation, and Distance to Destination.

Keep in shape for your adventures with preloaded activity profiles for running, hiking, mountain biking, swimming, and more. Moreover, the Instinct 2 GPS watches now have loads more activity profiles and performance metrics on par with high-end Garmin watches like the fēnix 7 and Forerunner 945, including VO2 Max, Training Status, Training Load, and Race Predictor.

Explore more on our official Garmin Instinct 2/2S page!

Garmin tactix 7 Pro Solar — Best Military Tactical Watch

The Garmin tactix 7 military tactical GPS watch with Stealth mode selection on the display

Be mission-ready with advanced tactical features, a solar-charging lens, and touchscreen display.

The tactix 7 – Pro Solar Edition is the multisport GPS smartwatch featuring a Power Sapphire solar-charging lens with the most trusted traditional button controls and a highly responsive touchscreen display.

Its rugged yet sophisticated design includes an always-on 1.4” solar powered display with sapphire lens, custom front bezel design, black DLC-coated steel bezel and black PVD-coated steel rear cover. This puppy is ultra