Guide To Choosing Your Next Garmin Watch

If you're in the market for GPS, check out City Fit Girls' Guide To Choosing Your Next Garmin Watch. We provide descriptions, special features, comparisons and photos of some of Garmin's most popular Forerunners and the Vivoactive HR. Although the price tag may be expensive on a few models, using a GPS watch to track your activities can help you stick to a structured training plan, track your heart rate during long runs/speed work and allow you to accurately measure your training progress so it's worth the investment. 

Watches included in this guide: Forerunner 25, Forerunner 230, Forerunner 235, Forerunner 630, Forerunner 735XT, Forerunner 920XT and Vivoactive HR. Read through each profile to find out which model is best for your fitness and running needs. 

[P.S. This guide includes affiliate links. If you decide to purchase a Garmin watch after reading this post, help us keep the lights on at cityfitgirls.com by clicking the link.]


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Forerunner 35 $200

The Forerunner 35 tracks distance, pace, calories and has a built in heart rate monitor on the wrist. If you connect the Forerunner 35 to your smart phone, you can receive notifications on your wrist. This watch is great for both beginners and advanced runners.  

  • Special Features: Track runs using Garmin Connect, sleep monitoring, interval training, and more
  • Heart Rate: Monitors heart rate using wrist heart rate technology
  • Activity Tracking Features: Step counter, 
  • Battery Life: Up to 9 days, watch mode; up to 13 hours in training mode

Forerunner 25: Was $140, NOW $99

The Forerunner 25 tracks distance, pace, heart rate and calories. This watch is perfect for anyone who just wants to know the basics about their run. 

  • Special features: Track your runs using Garmin Connect; save up to 7 activities on the watch; Auto pause when you hit a red light; Auto lap at the track; smart notifications.  
  • Heart rate: This watch is compatible with a chest strap heart rate monitor. 
  • Activity tracking features: You can track steps and sleep on the Forerunner 25.
  • Battery life: The small watch lasts for 8 weeks on watch mode; 8 hours in training mode. The large watch lasts for 10 weeks on watch mode and 10 hours in training mode.

The Forerunner 25 is the only watch listed in this guide that does NOT have weather alerts or ability to download custom apps. It is one of two watches that does not have race predictor or recovery advisor. Despite those facts, it's still the perfect GPS watch for anyone who wants basic information. 


Forerunner 230: WAS $250, NOW $175

If you're a data nerd, the Forerunner 230 is the watch for you. In addition to the offerings in the Forerunner 25 (tracks distance, pace, time, heart rate), the Forerunner 230 also calculates VO2 MAX. VO2 MAX is a measure of the maximum rate at which an athlete's body is able to consume oxygen when performing a specific activity, adjusted for body weight. Knowing your VO2 MAX can help you create a program that will make you a better athlete. 

  • Special features: Automatic uploads to Garmin Connect™, live tracking, audio prompts, music controls, smart notifications and social media sharing; The Forerunner 230 stores 200 hours of activity data. 
  • Heart rate: This watch is compatible with a chest strap heart rate monitor. 
  • Battery life: 16 Hours training, 5 weeks watch mode
  • GLONASS: GLONASS is Russia’s version of GPS (Global Position System). When used with GPS, you are more likely to get an accurate read. All the watches on this list (except the Forerunner 25) use GLONASS. 

Forerunner 235: $330

If you like all the features in the Forerunner 230 but would like to have wrist-based heart rate monitoring, look no further than the Forerunner 235. This watch tracks distance, heart rate (using wrist based technology), pace, and time. It has cool features including music control, find your phone, and VO2 Max tracking. 

  • Special features: Download data fields, watch faces, widgets and applications; automatic uploads to Garmin Connect™, live tracking, audio prompts, smart notifications and social media sharing
  • Heart rate: This watch has wrist-based heart rate technology. 
  • Performance features: Some of the stand out performance features include Interval training (set up exercise and rest intervals), Advanced workouts (create custom, goal-oriented workouts) and 'Training Effect' (measures impact of an activity on your aerobic fitness)
  • Battery life: 11 hours training, 9 days watch + activity tracking + notifications + heart rate

Forerunner 630: WAS $400, NOW $230

Another GPS watch for the data nerds, the Forerunner 630 tracks advanced running dynamics including ground contact time balance, stride length and vertical ratio. When you pair the Forerunner 630 with a heart rate monitor, you can access more data about your run than you can imagine. 

  • Special features: Touchscreen GPS running watch with a high resolution color display
  • Heart rate: Heart rate monitoring is available with a chest strap. 
  • Performance features: Stress score function, lactate threshold, guides you through HR zones. 
  • Battery life: 16 hours

Forerunner 735XT: $450

The  Forerunner 735XT is the perfect watch for the triathlete. Use this watch for running, sprinting, swimming, cycling, and on race-day at your triathlon. Like the Forerunner 235, the 735XT uses wrist-based heart technology. 

  • Special features: The 735XT is a multi-sport watch - it gives you the power to switch between activities with a click of a button. It has a color screen. The watch uses your stored data to predict your race finish time. 
  • Heart rate: The 735XT has wrist-based heart rate technology. 
  • Performance features: Provides advanced dynamics² for running, cycling and swimming, including ground contact time balance, stride length, vertical ratio and more; Offers VO2 max estimate, lactate threshold³, race predictor and recovery advisor. 
  • Battery life: Up to 24 hours in UltraTrac mode without optical HR; up to 14 hours in activity mode with GPS and optical HR; up to 11 days in watch mode

One of our features on this watch are the swimming features. Even if you're not training for a triathlon, you can still benefit from some of the swimming features like: Pool swim metrics (lengths, distance, pace, stroke count/rate, calories), stroke type identification, open water swim metrics (distance, pace, stroke count/rate, calories), and swim workouts. 


Forerunner 920XT: WAS $450, NOW $200

Like the Forerunner 735XT, the 920XT is a multi-sport watch that tracks running, swimming and cycling activities. The major difference between the two watches is that the 920XT does not have wrist-based heart rate technology. It does make up for it with the special features listed below: 

  • Special features: When you use a heart rate monitor, the 920XT allows you to work on your running form. It reports 6 running dynamics metrics including cadence, stride length, ground contact time, ground contact time balance, vertical oscillation, and and vertical ratio. 
  • Heart rate: The 920XT is heart-rate compatible with a chest strap. 
  • Performance features: Virtual Partner  allows you to train with a digital person and Virtual Racer lets you compete against previous activities. 
  • Battery life: Up to 40 hours in UltraTrac mode; up to 24 hours in training mode; up to 4 months in watch mode

Vivoactive HR:WAS $250, NOW $220

The Vivoactive HR is the ultimate activity tracker for fitness enthusiasts. With less focus on running data, the Vivoactive HR tracks multiple activities including swimming, cycling, golf, rowing, skiing, snowboarding, running and walking.

  • Special features: You can customize the watch with free watch face designs, widgets and apps from Connect IQ and receive smart notifications when your pair the watch with your phone. 
  • Heart rate: Wrist-based heart rate monitoring
  • Performance features: Auto lap, Auto Pause, 
  • Battery life:  Up to 8 days in smartwatch mode (with 24/7 heart rate monitoring, No-GPS), up to 13 hrs in GPS mode

 

Unlike the 735XT and the 920XT, the Vivoactive HR is NOT a multi-sport GPS watch. That means that if you were doing a triathlon, transitioning your watch from swim to bike to run requires a little more effort and your recorded time will not be continuous. It also does not include an open water swimming mode. 


Side by side comparison:

We pulled together a comparison table from the website DC Rainmaker so that you can see how the running features compare in all of the watches we listed above. To conduct your own GPS product comparison at DC Rainmaker, click here. 


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City Fit Girls does not own the right to the Garmin Forerunner and Vivoactive HR photos that were included in the blog. You can view more product photos at garmin.com.