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The ultimate guide to Garmin’s fitness trackers and smartwatches

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Gone are the days when Garmin was only producing car or boat navigation devices. Now the company offers a full array of fitness trackers and smartwatches to complement its automotive and marine navigation devices. Garmin has wearables for a wide range of activities including aviation, hiking, maritime activities and fitness pursuits. Some are big, some are small, some are powerful, and some are basic. No matter what you need, Garmin likely has a wearable to suit you. Below is a roundup of all of Garmin’s current products so you can find the right one for you.

Rugged watches for hiking and trail running

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Garmin’s outdoor watches are known for their rugged exteriors, multisport activity tracking, and abundance of navigation features. Each watch in the series has almost everything you would need for a successful trip into the backcountry.

Fenix 5/5S/5X Plus – $700 and up
If you are serious about your outdoors sports, then the Fenix 5 Plus series is for you. The latest in the Fenix series, the Fenix 5/5S/5X Plus offer color topographical maps, onboard music, and Garmin Pay in addition to robust multisport activity tracking and backcountry navigation. The 5 Plus is the base model, while the 5S is a smaller version for those who don’t want a bulky watch. The 5X Plus is the flagship model with all the features of the 5S/5, along with a pulse oximeter for altitude acclimation. All models have GPS, a three-axis compass, gyroscope, barometric altimeter, and connectivity to a Garmin InReach satellite messenger.

Fenix 5/5S/5X – $550 and up
If you don’t need the latest models, then you can save some cash by grabbing a premium watch at a discounted price. The Fenix 5 series was replaced in 2018 by the Fenix 5 Plus series, but Garmin continues to sell this earlier models at a discount. The Fenix 5 has the basic features you need in an outdoors watch, but it lacks the extras, like onboard music and Garmin Pay, that are found in the newer Fenix 5 Plus. Unlike the 5 Plus watches, which offer color topographical maps as a standard feature, these maps are only available on the premium Fenix 5X watch and not the 5 or 5S.

Fenix Chronos – $900 and up
If you want a watch that looks as good as it performs, then check out the Fenix Chronos. It rivals the Fenix 5 in features, while also offering a chronograph and a jeweler’s-grade design.

Tactix Charlie – $750
If you are in the military, a skydiver or just like tactical features, then you should consider the new Tactix Charlie. The watch blends the tactical features of Garmin’s Tactix series and merges them with the color topographical maps and multisport tracking of the Fenix 5X GPS watch. The Charlie allows you to plan airborne operations with Jumpmaster, enable night vision mode during night operations, and display dual coordinates (GPS, MGRS, and others) at the same time.

Instinct – $300
Want some of the outdoors-focused features of the Fenix, but don’t want to pay $700 to get them? Then check out the $300 Garmin Instinct, a scaled-down version of the Fenix watches with all the base features you need in a hiking and outdoors watch. The Instinct has a rugged, military-grade build with a three-axis compass, a barometric altimeter, and GPS. The multisport watch has a grayscale display with trackback and breadcrumb navigation.

A golf caddy for your wrist (Approach series)

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Tee up in style with Garmin’s Approach series of watches and fitness bands. The series is available in a variety of packages ranging from the basic S10 watch with golf-only features to the premium S60, which offers multisport activity tracking, smart notifications, and more.

Approach S60 – $400 and up
Get everything you need for golfing and more packaged into a watch. Garmin didn’t skimp with the Approach S60. It is a premium GPS golf watch with a color touchscreen display, heart rate tracking (with compatible accessory), fitness tracking, and a slew of golf-related features including course maps, stat tracking, handicap scoring, and more.

Approach X40 – $250
Golfers who want a stylish band instead of a watch should consider the Approach X40. A fitness band with golf features, the X40 includes a wrist-based heart rate monitor, activity tracking, and smart notifications. The X40 falls just below the S60 and offers some, but not all, of Garmin’s advanced golf metrics such as stat tracking, and automatic shot distance calculation.

Approach S20 – $200
Not everyone needs heart rate tracking and a color touchscreen. Golfers who want a more basic watch will appreciate the Approach S20, a midrange golf smartwatch with activity tracking and smart notifications.

Approach X10 – $170
Golfers new to the sport or new to golf tracking should consider the Approach X10. It’s an entry-level golf band with basic golf-centric features but no fitness tracking or smart notifications.

Approach S10 – $149
Garmin’s Approach S10 watch is an entry-level GPS golf watch that is all about golf. You can calculate the yardages to the green, but it doesn’t have fitness features like step counting or heart rate monitoring.

A runner’s training companion (Forerunner Series)

The Forerunner series is for runners who want to track every step they take and every hill they climb. The models in this series have GPS, are lightweight, and ship with a comfortable wrist strap that breathes when you sweat.

Forerunner 935 – $500
Runners who want to track every aspect of their running performance should look closely at the Forerunner 935. It is Garmin’s premium running smartwatch, with wrist-based heart rate tracking, smart notifications, activity tracking, and all the training, planning, and running analysis you will ever need.

Forerunner 645 Music – $450
The Forerunner 645 Music replaces some of the advanced metrics available on the 935 with more consumer-friendly features such as Garmin Pay and music playback, including Spotify. It’s a fantastic choice for the runner who wants lifestyle features like music without sacrifing performance.

Forerunner 645 – $400
Don’t need music? Then save $50 and grab the Forerunner 645, which has all the features of the Forerunner 645 Music but lacks the music connectivity.

Forerunner 735XT – $350
The Forerunner 735XT offers multisport tracking, smart notifications, daily activity tracking, and a wrist-based heart rate monitor. To keep the price low on the unit, Garmin trimmed some of the advanced features such as all-day stress tracking and training load advice. It’s a great choice for athletes looking to take their performance to the next level.

Forerunner 235 – $250
The Forerunner 235 is a midlevel running watch with a color display and wrist-based heart rate monitor. It doesn’t have the multisport options of Garmin’s premium Forerunner watches, but it covers all the basics you need to track and analyze a run. It also offers smart notifications, daily activity, and sleep tracking. The Forerunner 235 makes a great first smartwatch for a runner looking to track their running performance without breaking the bank.

Forerunner 35 -$170
The Forerunner 35 keeps the core running features, smart notifications and activity tracking of the 235 model, but drops the color display and replaces it with a lower-resolution monochrome display. The Forerunner 35 is geared toward runners who want a no-nonsense watch that is affordable.

Forerunner 25 – $100
Garmin’s Forerunner 25 is an entry-level GPS watch for folks who want to track their running and little else. It’s perfect as a first watch for the non-tech-savvy runner who wants to keep closer tabs on their performance.

Fitness-focused tracking for everyday athletes (Vivo Series)

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Vivoactive 3 Music – $300
The Vivoactive 3 Music bundles a whole lot of fitness and activity tracking into a compact smartwatch. The GPS smartwatch offers built-in sports apps, a wrist-based heart rate monitor, Garmin Pay contactless payments, and music, with Spotify support expected to arrive in the near future. It is ideal for athletes who want the core fitness and lifestyle features of the Fenix watches but prefer a slimmer watch that can go from office to gym.

Vivoactive 3 – $270
The Vivoactive 3 is similar to the Vivoactive 3 Music fitness watch without the music features.

Vivomove HR – $200 and up
If you want a stylish watch but don’t want to sacrifice fitness tracking, then you should look at the Vivomove HR. The hybrid smartwatch has an elegant watch face and a small touchscreen display that shows your heart rate, incoming notifications, and more. The display stays neatly hidden and activates only when you turn your wrist to glance at your watch. There’s also activity tracking using a wrist heart rate monitor and an accelerometer.

Vivosport – $170
The Vivosport bundles a robust set of fitness tracking and activity features in a fitness band. The tracker includes a wrist-based heart rate monitor, GPS, and a sleek color display. The Vivosport will appeal to athletes who want to track multiple sports but prefer the slim profile of a fitness band over a bulky watch.

Vivosmart 4 – $130
The Vivosmart 4 is slim and smart activity tracker with a wrist-based Pulse Ox sensor used in sleep analysis and innovative body battery energy monitoring. It’s perfect for the person who wants fitness-focused tracking in a band that is stylish enough to be worn 24/7.

Vivofit Jr 2 – $80
The Vivofit Jr is an easy-to-use fitness band for children. The band tracks steps and sleep in a way that is fun for kids. It syncs to an app that parents can use to organize chores and schedule alerts. Best of all, it never needs charging.

Vivofit 4 – $80
The Vivofit 4 is a no-fuss fitness band that requires minimal effort to use. It offers basic activity tracking with an accelerometer to track steps and monitor sleep. The waterproof (swim/shower) band has an always-on color display and a one-year battery that doesn’t need to be recharged.

Watches to help you fly (D2 Series)

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Using the Fenix 5 Plus series as its template, Garmin designed the D2 aviator with pilots and aviation enthusiasts in mind. The watches in this series share the same base features as the Fenix 5 Plus series but offer pilot-centric features such as GPS, altitude, airspeed, groundspeed, magnetic heading, outside air temperature, and more.

D2 Delta – $900 and up
Pilots who are serious about tracking their aviation and everything else will want to look at the D2 Delta watches. The D2 Delta is Garmin’s premier aviation watch series with aviation features, music storage, Garmin Pay, and multi-sport support. The series includes the base Delta model, the smaller Delta S, and the premium Delta PX which has a pulse oximeter. Pricing starts at $899 for the Delta aviator watch, $949 for the Delta S, and $1,249 for the D2 Delta PX titanium edition, with the Delta S.

D2 Charlie – $800 and up
Pilots who want to focus on their flying and fitness, but don’t need all the bells and whistles of the D2 Delta should consider the D2 Charlie. It is a step up from Garmin’s basic Baviationtioan watch but it lacks music storage, Garmin pay, and other premium features found only on the Delta series watches. The Charlie does include a wrist heart rate monitor and some mapping features.

D2 Bravo – $550 and up
Pilots who want to track their flights, but don’t need fitness tracking should check out the D2 Bravo. The Bravo is an entry-level aviator watch with a variety of pilot-focused features including a colorful moving map but none of the extra bells and whistles. There is no wrist heart rate monitor so this watch is meant more for flying and less for fitness.

Command your boat from your wrist (Quatix Series)

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The Quatix are marine-focused watches with connectivity to your boat that allow you to pilot your boat without being at the helm and control an onboard ANT-enabled entertainment system. When you are not on the high seas, the watch offers multi-sport activity tracking and smart notifications.

Quatix 5 Sapphire – $800
The Quatix 5 has everything you need to pilot your boat, plot your sailing course, and entertain your guests. Stylish as well as functional, the marine watch has a sapphire lens and classic steel band. It’s for the captain who wants it all in a watch that looks good and is built to last.

Quatix 5 – $550
The Quatix 5 offers the same comprehensive boating features as the sapphire edition but swaps the sapphire lens and metal band with a glass front and silicone strap. Mariners can save some cash by choosing this sportier model.

Watch for Diving

Descent Mk1 Diving watch – $1,000

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The Descent Mk1 is a dive computer for your wrist. Built for underwater explorers, the Descent Mk1 can help you plan your dive down to the minutest detail. The integrated GPS can mark your entry and exit points, while the built-in dive log and color mapping can help you track your underwater route. No need to worry about running out of air, the customizable alerts ensure you stay within your dive limits. When topside, the MK1 offers the same activity tracking and notifications as the Fenix 5X multisport GPS watch.

Kelly Hodgkins
Kelly's been writing online for ten years, working at Gizmodo, TUAW, and BGR among others. Living near the White Mountains of…
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