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For beginners

For beginners

For beginners

Garmin ForeRunner 45

Garmin ForeRunner 45
Entry-level in the Forerunner line, it will give you all the data you need. It also includes training programs!
Entry-level in the Forerunner line, it will give you all the data you need. It also includes training programs!
Gerton Maurix
Running Expert

best for most

best for most

best for most

Garmin ForeRunner 245 Music

Garmin ForeRunner 245 Music
Including off-line music, more data fields and more customisation, a great offering for its price.
Including off-line music, more data fields and more customisation, a great offering for its price.
Gerton Maurix
Running Expert

triathlon

triathlon

triathlon

Polar Vantage M

Polar Vantage M
Without many bells and whistles but with the ability to track multi-sport events. It also looks great.
Without many bells and whistles but with the ability to track multi-sport events. It also looks great.
Ruggero Loda
Founder and Publisher, Running Shoes Guru

active lifestyle

active lifestyle

active lifestyle

Garmin VivoActive 4

Garmin VivoActive 4
With many of the features of the 245 but in a more stylish package with touchscreen - great companion for an active lifestyle (not only running)
With many of the features of the 245 but in a more stylish package with touchscreen - great companion for an active lifestyle (not only running)
Frank May
Fast Runner, Triathlete and Engineer

best of the best

best of the best

best of the best

Garmin Fenix 6

Garmin Fenix 6
For adventurers, ironmen (and women), hikers... this is the best Garmin has to offer.
For adventurers, ironmen (and women), hikers... this is the best Garmin has to offer.
Frank May
Fast Runner, Triathlete and Engineer

Whether you’re a trail runner or cyclist, plus an occasional triathlete, an outdoor enthusiast and avid swimmer, or an indoor runner wanting to more accurately track pace and calories burned, there’s something for you when it comes to GPS Watches.

Below you’ll find quick descriptions of the top watches on the market, along with some of the many features, and some at-a-glance comparison points to make your decision easier.

Top GPS Running Watches: an Overview

First choice

Garmin ForeRunner 45

Battery life
13 hrs.
List price
199.99 US$

Garmin ForeRunner 45

Check on Amazon  
Reasons to buy
  • Physical buttons
  • Optical wrist heart rate monitor
  • Good battery life
  • Personalized trainings by Garmin
  • Value for money
“The new entry-level sports watch from Garmin is a great watch for every regular runner. It comes in at a decent price and includes a lot of options. Next to the general functions such as GPS, speed, pace and a wrist heart rate monitor it is an activity tracker, it calculates the VO2max, has a color screen and connected to your telephone it has incident detection and shows messages coming in. ”
Recommended for
Gerton Maurix
Running Expert
Read the full review of ForeRunner 45
or buy them here: Amazon
Also consider

Polar Ignite

Battery life
17 hrs.
List price
US$

Polar Ignite

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Reasons to buy
  • Looks
  • Clarity of the screen
  • Optical wrist heart rate monitor
  • Good battery life
  • Info on quality of sleep
“The new sports watch from Polar is great looking and should be fine for every regular runner. It comes in at a decent price and includes a lot of options. Next to the general functions such as GPS, speed, pace and a wrist heart rate monitor it is an activity tracker, it calculates the VO2max, has a color screen and connected to your watch it shows notifications. Additionally, it is measuring your nightly recharge and recommends how to train based on these recovery results. However, it has a lot...”
Recommended for
Gerton Maurix
Running Expert
Read the full review of Ignite
or buy them here: Amazon
Also consider

Garmin ForeRunner 245 Music

Battery life
24 hrs.
List price
349.99 US$

Garmin ForeRunner 245 Music

Check on Amazon  
Reasons to buy
  • Physical buttons
  • Battery life
  • Personalised training programs by Garmin
  • Music (streaming and on the watch itself)
  • WiFi
“The Garmin Forerunner 245 Music is a great watch for all runners. It has many options that are normally only available on the high-end devices, so it covers the need for a wide range of users at a decent price point. The general functions measure oxygen saturation, navigation, connect to your phone, incident detection, and shows messages coming in.”
Recommended for
Gerton Maurix
Running Expert
Read the full review of ForeRunner 245 Music
or buy them here: Amazon
Also consider

Polar Vantage M

Battery life
30 hrs.
List price
279.95 US$

Polar Vantage M

Check on Amazon  
Reasons to buy
  • Great value for money
  • Reliable GPS and heart rate measurements
  • Battery life
“The Polar Vantage M is an absolute treasure at this price point - you won't find many options you find in other watches (personalisation, smart functions, music...) but if sports tracking is what you are after, it's a great buy.”
Recommended for
Ruggero Loda
Founder and Publisher, Running Shoes Guru
Read the full review of Vantage M
or buy them here: Amazon
Also consider

Garmin VivoActive 4

Battery life
18 hrs.
List price
349.99 US$

Garmin VivoActive 4

Check on Amazon  
Reasons to buy
  • Sleek and subdued design
  • Garmin Pay and Music in the watch
  • Great sensor set (heart rate, pulse ox, etc.)
“Garmin is really making it hard to justify purchasing a new Forerunner of Fenix watch when you can get 90% of the functionality in something for hundreds of dollars less. Garmin is an industry leader in GPS wrist watches and packs this watch full of sensors (GPS, GLONASS, GALILEO, Pulse Ox, temp, pressure, etc), yet prices it to compete other similar watches like the Apple Watch Series 5, and Samsung Galaxy Watch Active 2. So why is this not on everyone’s wrists yet, and why am I not giving it...”
Recommended for
Frank May
Fast Runner, Triathlete and Engineer
Read the full review of VivoActive 4
or buy them here: Amazon
Also consider

Garmin ForeRunner 645 Music

Battery life
7 hrs.
List price
449.99 US$

Garmin ForeRunner 645 Music

Check on Amazon  
Reasons to buy
  • Lightweight, comfortable and readable
  • 5 physical buttons are easy to use without the problems of touchscreens
  • Access to advanced running metrics
  • Good battery life
“If the price is not an issue, buy this watch. I have been using it for more than two months and I really like it. From a design standpoint it’s really well designed: both functionally and aesthetically. There are some quirks to be ironed out still, but the amount of information you get about your runs, the extreme customisation of the screens, battery life and the fact that it works as a great 24/7 activity tracker justify its price.”
Recommended for
Ruggero Loda
Founder and Publisher, Running Shoes Guru
Read the full review of ForeRunner 645 Music
or buy them here: Amazon
Also consider

Garmin Fenix 6

Battery life
10 hrs.
List price
799.99 US$

Garmin Fenix 6

Check on Amazon  
Reasons to buy
  • Built in map navigation
  • Garmin Pay and Music in the watch
  • Great sensor set (heart rate, pulse ox, compass, air pressure, etc.)
  • Detailed control of battery life
“Garmin makes quality multisport watches. That’s been true for a while, and was a big reason for the need to spend so much to get the best of the best. But now that cheaper daily activity tracking watches are coming with GPS, heart rate tracking, and other workout monitoring metrics, it’s hard to justify the premium prices of a Garmin fenix. ”
Recommended for
Frank May
Fast Runner, Triathlete and Engineer
Read the full review of Fenix 6
or buy them here: Amazon
Also consider

Samsung Galaxy Watch 3

Battery life
3 hrs.
List price
US$

Samsung Galaxy Watch 3

Check on Amazon  
Reasons to buy
  • Amazing Display
  • Superb Smart Watch functions
  • Looks and Feels very premium
“The Galaxy Watch 3 is a fantastic smartwatch, but not the best running GPS watch you can buy. Although the functionality is there - some glitches in the HR monitor and the closeness of the Samsung ecosystem limits this as a serious sport watch.”
Recommended for
Ruggero Loda
Founder and Publisher, Running Shoes Guru
Read the full review of Galaxy Watch 3
or buy them here: Amazon

GPS watches have come a long way since their inception. Forget heavy, brick-like, slow-to-find-satellite watches – today’s GPS watches are sleek, accurate, and come packed with features to enhance your training.

While Garmin has been the industry leader for over a decade, new GPS watches from established companies such as Magellan, TomTom, Timex, and Polar have entered the market. GPS watches made today come in a wide range of prices and styles, and are often designed for specific types of athletes.

With so many choices available, it’s important to consider certain factors when selecting a GPS watch. Intended use, the style of watch, and how much you are willing to spend should be determined prior to selecting a GPS watch. From this, you can choose the features that will be most beneficial to you.

Intended Use

Almost anything done outside can be monitored with a GPS watch. Running, cycling, skiing, hiking, even walking your dog, can be tracked.

While GPS watches are primarily made for runners, there are specific features found on some watches useful for cyclists, triathletes, and hikers. When shopping for a GPS watch, it’s important to determine what you plan to do with your watch to ensure it comes with features beneficial to that activity.

Additionally, you will want to consider your skill level. Higher-end GPS watches come with advanced features designed for experienced athletes. For example, Garmin’s new Forerunner 645 tracks heart rate and foot cadence; it can determine your VO2 Max; and can be programmed with interval or advanced workouts. If you are a beginner or intermediate runner, you may be better off with a more basic watch.

Watch Style

Just a few years ago, most GPS watches were big, bulky, and heavy. But current models, while still large, have shrunk considerably.

But on the other end of the spectrum, brick-style watches, reminiscent of early GPS watches, still exist. Their advantage is screen size. While you wouldn’t want to wear one to your best friend’s wedding, these watches can display lots of data (the Magellan Switch and Switch Up display 6 fields per screen), making it easy to view important training metrics.

Price

At their core, all GPS watches track time, distance, and pace. But as price rises, the number of features increases.

While it varies watch by watch, these are the main differences between budget, mid-range, and high-end GPS watches:

Budget (less than $100)

These track time, distance, and pace/speed. Most lack support for accessories like heart rate monitors and foot pods. Some – but not all – can sync with a computer to download workouts.

Mid-range ($100-$300)

These GPS watches support heart rate monitors as well as other accessories. They sync with a computer, generally have good battery life, and can be programmed with interval workouts or pace training aids (like Garmin’s virtual partner).

High-end ($300 and up)

GPS watches at this price point, support every GPS watch accessory made. They can be programmed with advanced workouts via computer and have highly customizable screens.

High-end GPS watches also tend to be split into specific activities. Triathlete watches track swimming distance and count strokes; running watches are thin and sleek and have advanced running features; mountaineering watches have barometric altimeters and compasses.

Features

While it would take too long to review every individual feature available today, generally, they fall into these categories:

Hardware

This includes things like battery-life and any additional sensors beyond GPS. While usually found on high-end watches, examples are: thermometers, accelerometers, compasses, and barometric altimeters.

Data Fields

This is the type of information a watch can track and record. Time, distance, and pace are standard. But it also includes: calories, elevation, heart rate, cadence, swim laps and strokes, and many more.

Maps and Memory

Maps are found on a few GPS watches, although they are typically simple lines displaying your route. Other watches store waypoints. These are navigational coordinates that mark important locations (like your house or a public bathroom).

How much information a GPS watch stores varies greatly. Some can hold just a few activities, others can store hours and hours of workouts.

Training Aids and Alerts

These are things like auto lap and auto pause. Alerts will flash on the screen, beep, or vibrate when you reach a lap or achieve some other goal. Some GPS watches also have tools to help you train. Examples include interval workouts and pacing aids programmed on the watch.

Syncing

Most GPS watches will download workouts – sometimes wirelessly – to a computer. Others can download to a smartphone. They often integrate with Twitter and Facebook to make sharing easy.

Accessories

Different accessories can be paired with GPS watches. These include heart rate monitors and foot pods — as well as bike speed and cadence sensors and power meters for cyclists.

One other factor should be considered when discussing features: simplicity. Like price, as the number features climbs, so does its complexity. If you’re easily intimidated by technology or just want to push a button and start running, it’s better to avoid feature-heavy watches.

Summary

A GPS watch is an incredibly powerful training tool. It has the potential to do much of the heavy lifting when training. And it makes your workouts more fun and varied. Hopefully, this guide has provided you with some insight when purchasing your next GPS watch.

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