Reminiscing on simpler times is great, but the pre-Garmin era is not something I’m looking to go back to. It’s no secret that I am running gear obsessed and my Garmin is by far my favorite accessory that I own, but it can get confusing when they are constantly putting new and updated products on the market. Who can keep up? Today I’m providing you with a simple guide of how to pick your Garmin. Whether you’re a triathlete, marathoner, new runner, or even someone just looking to make that first step towards health, this post is for you.
After college I worked at a running store to feed my addiction and to kill some time before moving to a new city and starting my first big job. Not only was it one of the most fun things I’ve ever done, but I also learned so much about all things running including gear and technology. It was so intriguing to me that such small devices can do so much for my running. This post is definitely where the running nerd inside me comes out, but uploading my workout to my phone and computer and analyzing things like my heart rate, elevation, and splits is half the fun. It’s also incredibility helpful and motivating.
First things first, why Garmin? There are a lot of other brands out there that do many of the same things so why do I prefer this brand? The biggest thing is that in my experience their GPS capabilities are incomparable. I also love Garmin Connect, which comes with each product listed below. You set it up just like you would with Pinterest or itunes and just automatically upload your stats for the day or workouts right to your computer. From there you can connect them to social media like Strava or Facebook and it’s incredibly motivating. Finally, their tech support is great and they are constantly coming out with new software that can easily be updated on your device as you go.
Garmin’s website of course has all of the info on the A-Z of all of their watches, but today I’m here to put it into layman’s terms to make sure you get the right watch to fit your needs. There are three main categories that I feel apply most to my readers. First there are the vívo watches for the people looking to amp up their healthy lifestyle, the Forerunners are for the entire spectrum of runners, and the XT’s that are specific to you crazy triathletes out there.
The Vívo family is the widest range as far as what it offers. This type of watch is for those of you who may not necessarily be a competative runner, but are looking to become healthier and more active throughout the day.
The Vivofit is your standard activity tracker. Just like the fitbit, it learns your fitness level and then gives you a daily goal to words towards. Once this is set up it keeps up with your steps and alerts you when you need to get up and moving. Along with that it tracks your calories, distance, and even sleep. There is a earlier Vivofit out there, but I would go ahead and spend the extra $30 on the newer version ($99).
The Vívosmart is similar to the Vívofit, but it is also compatible with a heart rate monitor and is able to receive call, text, social media alerts, and emails, which absolutely blows my mind. You can also buy a separate attachable camera and take sweaty selfies at your own discretion. Alone it retails for $149.99.
This is the mackdaddy of the lifestyle watches. The only thing comparable in it’s class would be the apple watch, but this here retails at only $219.99, which is unbeknownst to me. Not only can it do everything listed above, including heart rate, steps, calories, sleep, and social networking, but it can also track activities like running, swimming, biking, and even golf. It’s kind of the ” a little bit of everything, but not too much of anything” watch. It’s not necessarily recommended for running a marathon or training for anything super competitively, but more so for the person who is all around active. I found for even less here* on amazon.
These watches are for the entire gamut of runners. The most complicated part of picking out your forerunner is really finding the best watch for your activity and budget.
Forerunner 15 & 25
These two watches specific to running are perfect for your average every day runner or half marathoner. The Forerunner 15* retails at $119.99, but and the 25 at $169.99. Both can track your steps, calories, and let you know when it’s time to move, but the Forerunner 25* is capable of being paired with your phone to receive notifications and texts. Both get about 8 hrs of better although you can get 10 hours on a larger version of the 25.
There is a Forerunner 10, but by now the software is pretty outdated and the 15 is about the same price anyways.
Forerunner 220, 225, 230, 235
Here’s where things get complicating, but stick with me. These watches as a whole have more features than the 15 and 25 because they have the ability to measure more advanced running data and have a built-in accelerometer so you can run indoors or on the treadmill. They also keep up with your personal records and of course can be paired to your computer or phone to store and share data. The Forerunner 220* is the lowest of this class, but is more affordable at $199.99 and is still an amazing watch. Most everyone I run with has this because it’s really all you need for half and marathon training. The battery life is up to 6 weeks in watch mode and 10 hrs in training and is heart rate compatible as long as you purchase the strap. The Forerunner 225* is essentially the same watch with a built-in wrist heart rate monitor, but it costs $299.99. I’ve tried it and I’m honestly not in love. The chest straps are more accurate, but I’m pretty sure they fixed some things in the later version.
Now you’ll start to see a pattern. The Forerunner 230* has the lifestyle features built in so you can track your daily steps, sleep, calories, etc. and it is also able to connect with your smart phone for music controls, calls, texts, and notification. It costs about $249.99. It’s less expensive than the 225, but it doesn’t come with a heart rate monitor. You can buy a strap with it for the same price at the 225. The Forerunner 235* is all of these things plus heart rate measured at the wrist, which retails for $329.99.
Forerunner 620 & 630
These watches are said to “come with a coach built in.” They are touch screen and when paired with the HR monitor, they’re able to recommend recovery time and VO2 max. It can even give you more advanced data such as cadence, ground contact time and vertical oscillation. I use a Forerunner 620 (they are $349.99 online, but $199.99 here*) and absolutely love it for the long battery life, touch screen, and info that I could send straight to my coach. For more info, I really like this post from Lisa on 3 ways that she uses hers. The Forerunner 630*has the smart features of receiving calls and texts and also give you a little more nerdy running information and stresses recovery and lactate threshold ($399.99).
Lastly, these are for triathletes and are designed to cross between running, biking, and even swimming.
I guess when you’re that intense nothing comes cheap or simple because this watch retails at $399.99 and does more than you would think one little device could. For running and biking it tracks time, distance, pace, and elevation and with swimming it tracks your efficiency, stroke count, pool lengths, and distance.
This watch does everything that the Forerunner 630 does (advanced data plus smart phone notifications) and even gives you more options with swimming. It retails for $449.99 but can do all things and then some.
Any questions? Please comment below! Disclaimer: in no way is this sponsored or promoted by Garmin. It’s just a popular brand that I love and I know people have questions about. There are affiliate links marked by an asterisk* in which I would receive a small percentage if you purchased your watch through my site.
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Are you into techy gadgets or like to keep things simple?
Do you wear a lifestyle or GPS watch?
What motivates you to stay in shape?