If you’re gift-hunting for a GPS sports watch for a loved one or yourself this Christmas, but are struggling to choose the right one, let us guide you! With a gazillion models out there, each with different features… choosing the right watch can be tricky and it’s easy to overspend on features your loved one (or you) may not need.
A self-professed Garmin geek – I’m here to guide you through the different Garmin Forerunner models available, explaining what each does, so you can determine the best one for your runner!
Best Garmin Watches for Beginners / Running for Fun:
Easy-to-use, these entry-level GPS watches from Garmin are perfect for any runner looking to step up from a phone-based tracking app (the likes of Nike+ Running, RunKeeper or MapMyRun) and have a few more stats on their wrist where they can see them.
Perfect for those who run for fun or those covering 5K-10K distances, the Forerunner 25 is simple to use and provides key information such as pace, distance, time and calories burned. Garmins’ have higher quality GPS sensors than smartphones – meaning route mapping’s more accurate with the FR25. It also has some neat features to help the runner progress – the Auto Lap feature automatically starts/logs a new lap (say you’re running a circuit) and the Virtual Pacer allows you to set a pace for each run – letting you know when you’re ahead of pace, or behind it.
On top of all this, the FR25 can be worn all day as an activity tracker – counting steps and calories, and reminding you when it’s time to move (after periods of inactivity). You can use Bluetooth to upload the day’s data to your free profile on Garmin Connect via the Garmin Connect mobile app.
You get all the features of the FR25 , plus a built-in heart rate monitor (…no chest strap needed); an intervals setting; multiple sports profiles including Bike & Cardio (for those who a do a little more than just run); and phone notifications – the screen will display calls, texts, emails and social media alerts, when the watch is connected to your smartphone via Bluetooth. All this makes the FR35 is perfect for sports and everyday wear!
Best Garmin Watches for Performance and PBs:
Offering more advanced fitness metrics such as VO2 max, recovery analysis and race time prediction, these models will help the serious runner know more about their fitness and performance, and give them an edge when it comes to training and racing.
The Forerunner 235 is packed with features to help the runner get a faster time in their next race. It will measure your VO2 max through the optical heart rate monitor, feeding back detailed information on your fitness level. You can use the V02 max estimate, together with the recovery advisor and race predictor data to predict race times and work out what pace to train at, to meet targets. To make things easier, training plans can be downloaded from Garmin Connect straight your watch, so all training sessions are there, ready to go.
Before heading out, you can setup pace or HR alerts so you run to a set speed or intensity, and customise your intervals by distance or time (…so no buttons need be pressed on the fly). In addition, the watch can be synced with more apps and widgets through Garmin Connect IQ. The screen can even be changed so that it doesn’t look like a running watch! And as was the case for the FR35, with full phone connectivity, phone notifications will display on your watch screen.
It’s the ultimate running watch – featuring all bells and whistles Garmin has to offer! The Forerunner 630 will take you through a guided lactate threshold test – the Holy Grail for a keen runners. With this metric you can discover precisely how fast you should be running and run each run at the right intensity.
The watch will even measure stress levels by measuring the variability in heart rate and indicate whether or not someone should run – helping you to avoid overtraining, burnout and injury. The FR630 also measures how efficiently you’re running by recording ground contact time, balance, stride length and vertical movement.
It’s like having a coach on your wrist and is guaranteed to help the serious runner really hone their sporting performance!
Best Garmin Watches for Multi-sporters:
For those out there who don’t just run, but do triathlons or other multi-sport events, there’s a couple of models that are much better suited to those demands.
The Forerunner 920 is the pinnacle of multi-sport watches. Buy this watch for someone who swims, cycles and runs – as it has a dedicated feature for each sport and a triathlon itself. A swimming mode will measure lengths, strokes per length and pace. Swim sets can be created on the watch too. Open water swim can also be recorded with amazing accuracy as GLONASS is used to track the distance.
A dedicated bike function means that all bike metrics can be seen while out on a cycle. The watch will also pair with a power meter and display the metrics. The FR920 boasts all the features of the best running devices apart from detecting lactate threshold.
It has a (mega) 20 hour battery life, so any long distance triathlon can be recorded. And done so seamlessly with the triathlon mode, which switches from discipline to discipline and includes transitions with the touch of a button!
The Forerunner 735 is Garmin’s latest addition to their multi-sport range and offers triathlon features in a slightly sleeker package. The watch does have less battery life than the FR920 (14 hours in activity mode) but it’s much smaller and much more suitable for doubling up as an everyday watch, whilst still providing all the functions of the FR920.
For those who love Strava, the FR735 will show live segments while out on a run or cycle and alert you at the start and end of a segment – providing live feedback on how you fared against the competition!
The Wonderful World of Garmin Connect
For those unfamiliar with Garmin Connect – it’s a free online tool created specifically for Garmin devices and comes in two forms: a web service and a smartphone app. Each enables you to unlock a whole range of extra tools that can help you become a better runner. You can upload and view your activities, download training plans and connect and share your activities with other users, friends, and family. It’s also the place to update and upgrade the software on your device.
And there you have it! Hopefully this has helped you determine the best Garmin GPS sports watch for your loved one or you! If you have further questions or would like a demo, please don’t hesitate to pop to your nearest store and ask one of the team.