Today, Garmin is most known for its formidable line of fitness trackers, but the company actually started out making GPS receivers for the U.S. military. Garmin’s multisport smartwatches need no introduction, offering the very best in terms of fitness features that rival the Apple Watch, but consumers are a little less acquainted with its satellite receivers. Explorers, backpackers, and thrill-seekers, in general, have one important rule to follow whenever they go off to one of their off-the-grid adventures: Come back safely. Even if you already own a smartphone, most remote places have limited to no signal at all. Satellite communicators work by hooking into the world’s GPS satellite network to locate your position, and another network of satellites to send and receive messages. So before you set off into the unknown, do your loved ones a favor and get yourself a satellite communicator. Below are some of the best GPS communicators and smartwatches that Garmin has to offer, and they’re available at amazing discounted prices on Amazon for Black Friday.
The best thing about the Garmin InReach Mini is that it’s tiny, unlike its big brother the Explorer+ (see below). Because of its Lilliputian size, this, unfortunately, means weaker reception, particularly in places with dense foliage. You’ll encounter zero issues when you’re in open ground, but when you’re in deciduous forests, it would take roughly five minutes for it to tether and send/receive a message.
This device has a monochromatic screen and lacks mapping, but you can pair it with your phone through the Earthmate app to access offline maps, which you have to download in advance. It communicates using the Iridium satellite network which offers 100% global coverage, allowing the Mini to stay in touch with the outside world even when you’re in the North Pole or on top of the Himalayas. A compromise of its small size is its battery life. The Mini can run for about 50 hours between charges, which is half of what the Explorer+ offers.
The Garmin InReach Mini normally retails for $316, but for Black Friday you can get it on Amazon for just $275 — that’s $41 worth of savings. You can also enjoy an additional $60 off instantly upon approval for the Amazon Rewards Visa Card, cutting the price down to $215.
AS mentioned above, the Garmin InReach Explorer+ uses the Iridium satellite network to keep you in touch wherever you might be on the planet. It basically looks the same as the Mini, but similar in size to an in-home cordless phone and with a full-color TFT screen. Its larger size also means a heftier battery pack, making this device capable of lasting 100 hours, or four days, in tracking mode, and up to 30 days in power save mode. With an IPX7 rating, the Explorer+ is water-resistant and rugged enough to survive the outdoors, even accidental drops on rocky surfaces. There’s an SOS button located on the side that transmits an SOS signal. This alerts Garmin’s GEOS tracking system, a command center manned 24/7 which can communicate directly with the InReach user, determine their immediate needs, and coordinate a search-and-rescue operation if it’s necessary.
Moreover, the Explorer+ possesses a few extra features that you normally won’t find in other satellite communicators, most notably a built-in digital compass, barometric altimeter, and an accelerometer too. It also comes preprogrammed with detailed topographic maps, which can come in handy while trying to navigate in the backcountry.
Garmin InReach Explorer+ normally costs a hefty $450, but for Black Friday you can get it for $75 less. Get ready to explore and never worry about getting lost for $375. To make the deal even sweeter, you can get an additional $60 off instantly upon approval for the Amazon Rewards Visa Card, reducing the price further to $315.
Let’s start with the most affordable, the Garmin Forerunner 35. This budget-friendly smartwatch might not cost much, but it is near-perfect for runners. It’s rugged, handsome, easy-to-use, and most importantly, boasts a good set of features that make it a genuine bargain purchase. The Forerunner 35 is slim and lightweight and has a squarish design similar to an Apple Watch (most Garmin watches are normally round). On its right side are two buttons: One for navigating through the menu items and one for selecting your workout. Its monochromatic display is bright and crisp and doesn’t fog up when you exercise, but it’s not a touchscreen. This watch is water-resistant to depths of up to 130 feet which makes it OK for swimming but not for scuba diving.
The Forerunner 35 has a built-in GPS that tracks how far, how fast, and where you run. The all-day activity tracking counts your steps, calories burned, distance covered, and sleep time. It features the Garmin Elevate wrist heart rate technology, a 24/7 heart rate monitor that observes your pulse while you work out and when you sleep. You can sync the Forerunner 35 with your smartphone for it to receive smart notifications, and it’s also capable of music control. It doesn’t have onboard music storage, though, so it needs your smartphone nearby for you to listen to your music. This fitness watch also has a Move alert: If it notices that you’ve been sitting for a long time, it will lightly vibrate and tell you to take a 5-minute walk.
This fitness watch automatically uploads your workout stats on the Garmin Connect app, a free online fitness community where you can check your progress and fitness milestones and share them through social media. If there’s a major drawback to the Forerunner 35, it’s that it only keeps track of running and cycling exercises. Plus, it only syncs with your smartphone via Bluetooth, not Wi-Fi. Still, for only $100 this Black Friday, which is $70 less than its normal retail price of $170, Amazon’s deal on the Forerunner 35 is pretty sweet, as long as you use it exclusively as a running watch.
The Vivomove HR is a hybrid smartwatch that features a classic analog face with mechanical hands. It deceptively hides its smart features. It measures 43mm across and is quite slim considering it has a heart rate monitor at its back. It comes with a silicone strap that’s not the most luxurious thing you’ll ever wear, but it’s perfect for working out. Besides, you can replace it with a fancier leather strap (sold separately) if you choose.
When it comes to wellness features, this watch is pretty bare-bones. Aside from step count and heart rate monitoring, it also includes stress tracking: After getting your heart rate it then gives you a score from 0 to 100 on how stressed you are. You can also track your sleep and calories burned, as well as store all that information on Garmin’s Connect app.
What you’re really paying for is its unique and sophisticated looks, and for that, the Garmin Vivomove HR gets high marks. Its subtle digital display is something you won’t see in other smartwatches. So while its fitness tracking capabilities may be below average and it is barely visible outdoors, it’s still worth recommending. Get it for just $150 instead of $200 on Amazon this Black Friday. And if you pay via the Amazon Rewards Visa Card and get approval, you’re entitled to an additional $60 off instantly, bringing the price down to an irresistible $90.
The Vivoactive 3 isn’t your typical big burly Garmin watch. This understated smartwatch is slim, lightweight, and comfortable to use, and it almost seems like you’re not wearing it. It has a water-resistance rating of 5 ATMS, which means you can take it with you diving in waters up to 50 meters in depth. Its 1.2-inch LCD touchscreen is bright and colorful, protected by a Gorilla Glass 3 lens and a polymer case, and surrounded by a stainless-steel bezel.
This watch boasts a gamut of built-in sensors, including GPS, a heart rate monitor, a barometric altimeter, a compass, an accelerometer, and a thermometer. It can track an array of exercise metrics, including step count, stairs climbed, calories burned, distance traveled, intensity minutes, and sleep time and quality. It can also track numerous sports and outdoor activities like walking, running, swimming, cycling, snowboarding, and more.
If connected to your smartphone through Garmin’s Connect Mobile app, this watch receives smart notifications with a vibration alert. Unfortunately, the vibrations are very weak (the weakest we’ve ever encountered, actually), so chances are you might miss an important call or text message. Even when set at “high,” you cannot count on this watch to notify you of something.
Since this watch is the Music version, it includes music playback and streaming capabilities. You can listen to your favorite songs through Spotify or other apps. What’s more, it has enough internal space to store at least 500 songs.
The Garmin Vivoactive 3 normally costs $280, but this Black Friday it is on sale on Amazon for $200 — that’s $80 worth of savings.
The Garmin Forerunner 935 is smaller and more subdued-looking than most of Garmin’s smartwatches. From its size alone, it’s hard to believe that is has a built-in optical heart rate monitor, barometric altimeter, compass, gyroscope, accelerometer, and thermometer. It also connects to smartphones via Bluetooth, external sensors via ANT+, and networks via Wi-Fi. It may not look chunky enough to hold that much tech inside it – but it does!
This watch includes loads of preconfigured apps for tracking a multitude of sports (not just running), including road cycling, mountain biking, walking, hiking, swimming, snowboarding, skiing, stand-up paddling, rowing, and even golf. All your fitness metrics get stored and are presented neatly and comprehensively on the Garmin Connect app, where you can create training programs as well. It also covers lots of daily fitness metrics like steps tracking, calories burned, floors climbed, intensity minutes, distance traveled, sleep time and quality, and 24/7 heart rate monitoring. You can receive notifications for calls, texts, and calendar alerts, real-time weather updates, and music playback control. This watch also allows you to answer a call, locate a lost phone, and remotely control a Garmin Virb action camera.
If there’s one issue that we found with this watch, it’s that its swim tracking is not the most precise. When we did some laps in a 50-meter pool, the watch seemed to get confused and oftentimes leaped ahead a lap or two, tracking hundreds of meters already when in fact we’ve just been swimming for a few minutes. But then again, we’re already nitpicking, as overall this is a superb smartwatch that we wholeheartedly recommend.
Get the Garmin Forerunner 935 for $400 this Black Friday on Amazon, which is $100 less than its normal retail price of $500.
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