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The Full Story

Best Sport Watches

Garmin was founded in 1989 with headquarters located in the United States.

Despite their diminutive size, sports watches can really pack a punch. These modern timepieces put the power of a GPS device onto your wrist, allowing you to track your movements, follow a preloaded route, or even navigate complex terrain—hands-free. Important for many users, they’re also capable of compiling a seemingly endless amount of data, including your distance, elevation, pace, cadence, heart rate, recovery time, and sleep quality.

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The best sports watch isn’t the most expensive option, the one with the most features or activity modes, or even the watch that your favorite pro athlete wears. The best sports watch is the one with features you’ll use not too few, not too many


In addition to an intuitive user interface, strong battery life, and accurate tracking. With this in mind, the Garmin Forerunner 255 is the top recommendation, with a Goldilocks design that hits a sweet spot for most runners, swimmers, bikers, hikers, nordic skiers, and more.

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Garmin’s Fenix 7 undoubtedly is expensive, but it’s hands-down the best backcountry-ready sports watch collection on the market. With a number of variations (including three sizes and Solar and Sapphire models), the powerhouse line boasts top-notch build quality and durability, a crisp and easy-to-read screen, accurate tracking for a wide array of activities, and enough advanced metrics to satisfy even the most discerning athletes.


Importantly, the Fenix 7 offers far and away the best available watch-based mapping: You get preloaded maps (including detailed contour lines, trails, and geographic place names) and extensive navigation tools for activities ranging from hiking and mountaineering to trail running and skiing.

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The Forerunner 955 is a top-notch sports watch for serious and data-hungry athletes who like to stick a little closer to home.


You get a very similar feature set, including multi-band GNSS support, a barometric altimeter and compass, optical heart rate monitor and pulse oximeter, music storage, and great navigation with preloaded topographic, road, and trail maps.

It all adds up to a premium watch that’s purpose-built for triathletes, runners, cyclists, and others focused on traveling fast and light. 

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Sports watches are designed to look good during a workout, but they don’t always make the cut for wearing to work.

It comes to convenient extras like contactless pay, music, and health monitoring. The Garmin vívoactive 4 listed here strikes an excellent middle ground, with an elegant exterior

In addition to a very capable set of features, including multi-GNSS support, a compass and barometric altimeter, 15 sport modes (but no triathlon setting), and Garmin’s most sought-after smart features.

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With a rugged aesthetic and bare-bones black-and-white display, the Instinct Solar has long been considered Garmin’s function-first watch for the outdoor and tactical crowd.


That is, until a recent update gave it a new lease on life, infusing the dated design with a solid group of modern features that bring it up to speed with many watches here.


The main talking point is still the inclusion of solar charging: In sunny conditions, the Instinct 2 Solar runs for up to 48 hours in GPS mode (surpassing most models by over 10 hours) and has virtually unlimited power in smartwatch or expedition GPS modes—assuming it sees three hours of sun a day.

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