Garmin has by far the broadest range of sports watches on the market. There are so many models out there that it might be confusing for someone new in the market. In this article, I want to share my experience with the Garmin watches and help you find the watch that would be best for you.
To narrow down your choice, let’s first have a look at the main features you might be interested in:
IMPORTANT FEATURES FOR A TRIATHLON WATCH
Apart from price and esthetic, here are the features you need to consider for your next watch:
That’s an absolute must for triathletes. This mode allows you to record your swim, bike, and run into a single activity. It lets you focus on your race and not worry about starting and saving each activity separately. All watches listed at the end of this article have this feature.
Battery life used to be my second buying criterion. Apart from the triathletes racing full-distance triathlon, I would not be too concerned for the Garmin watches. All current Garmin models I listed have a stated battery life of 11 hours or more. In reality, it might be a couple of hours less than that, but it still gives you plenty of time to finish your race.
Some of the triathlon watches will come with internal music storage, others can start and stop the music (you still need a phone), and on some others, you won’t have anything related to music.
If you are interested in a navigation feature, really check the detail of it. It can either be a full detailed map on your watch or a simple line without any map, which is way less helpful for guidance.
Garmin watches can sometimes be bulky if you have a small wrist. Mine is relatively small for a man (wrist size 6.10 in or 15.5 cm), so it limits my choice quite drastically 🙂
I am pleased with the size of the Fenix 7S, but that’s quite the maximum I can wear.
All current Garmin watches use the Garmin Connect platform, which is compatible with most third-party software and hardware. However, it is always good to check that the watch you plan to buy is compatible with the sensors/software you want to use.
THE DIFFERENT GARMIN SERIES
Garmin organizes its watches per series. For example, you will find some made explicitly for pilots, some for golfers, some for day-to-day fitness, and so on. Many features overlap between the series, so that it might be confusing.
A simple way for triathletes to browse through the Garmin catalog is to look first at the following three series:
- fēnix: those premium watches are made for multisports. You will find of course triathlon and each of its disciplines plus plenty of other sports, most of which you simply won’t have time to use. You need time to train for triathlon after all 🙂 This serie comes in three size options: standard, small (labelled S), large (labelled X), and with or without solar charging.
- epix: looking at the epix 2 released in 2022, it is more or less a copy of the fenix 7 with an amoled display.
- Forerunner: only the high end version of this series is compatible for triathletes. You will find a lot of similarities with the fenix series. I actually see those as a plastic version of the fenix watches. They got released a couple of months/year after the last fenix with most of its features. They are also lighter and relatively cheaper.
MY TRIATHLON WATCH RECOMMENDATION
Disclaimer: The Triathlon Tips of My Tri World are reader-supported. When you buy through links, I may earn an affiliate commission.
You cannot go wrong with those two watches:
- Garmin forerunner 745 (Amazon affiliate link) for triathletes racing up to half distance triathlons. It has all the features you really need and internal music storage. My wife has the previous version (735 XT without music), and she loves it.
- Garmin fenix 7 (Amazon affiliate link) for triathletes racing full-distance events or who want navigation guidance. I upgraded to this watch (7S) for the possibility to use either the buttons or the touchscreen, which is especially helpful when browsing the map.
FIND YOUR GARMIN WATCH
Now that you know the key features of the watch you are looking for, it is time to find yours! You can use the filters below to narrow your search or sort the watches by clicking on a column header.
The battery life is the manufacturer’s stated life using GPS (in hours).
|Model||Budget||Check Price||Weight||Size||Battery Life|
|Forerunner 745||$$||Amazon||47 g||43.8 x 43.8 x 13.3 mm||16||yes||https://www.amazon.com/Garmin-Forerunner-Essential-Smartwatch-010-02445-00/dp/B08G585XYJ?crid=B8XFGFRJ9SKX&keywords=Forerunner+745&qid=1647964986&sprefix=forerunner+745%2Caps%2C239&sr=8-3&linkCode=ll1&tag=mytriworld0f-20&linkId=cbaaec9cfcbef01e1c8800f1561b753e&language=en_US&ref_=as_li_ss_tl|
|Forerunner 945||$$$||Amazon||50 g||47 x 47 x 13.7 mm||36||yes||yes||https://www.amazon.com/Garmin-Forerunner-Premium-Triathlon-Smartwatch/dp/B07QTVMWVL?crid=30PD22BQMREGB&keywords=Forerunner+945&qid=1647963609&sprefix=forerunner+945%2Caps%2C198&sr=8-3&linkCode=ll1&tag=mytriworld0f-20&linkId=77f8201de958828247c86d71953acb05&language=en_US&ref_=as_li_ss_tl|
|Forerunner 945 LTE||$$$||Amazon||49 g||44.4 x 44.4 x 13.9 mm||35||yes||yes||https://www.amazon.com/Garmin-Forerunner-Triathlon-Smartwatch-Connectivity/dp/B093R9Y5DG?crid=3B8TGJCJMMOWJ&keywords=Forerunner+945+lte&qid=1647964914&sprefix=forerunner+945+lte%2Caps%2C280&sr=8-3&linkCode=ll1&tag=mytriworld0f-20&linkId=7bbf1642f9331774c8837a6bbfa2a207&language=en_US&ref_=as_li_ss_tl|
|fenix 7S||$$$||Amazon||63 g||42 x 42 x 14.1 mm||37||yes||yes||https://www.amazon.com/Garmin-Adventure-smartwatch-Capabilities-Touchscreen/dp/B09NMLLZDX?crid=1QXVPG8S8EWJO&keywords=f%C4%93nix%2B7S&qid=1647965407&sprefix=f%C4%93nix%2B7s%2Caps%2C420&sr=8-1&th=1&linkCode=ll1&tag=mytriworld0f-20&linkId=44496312f88bd4727d07e64d703cc954&language=en_US&ref_=as_li_ss_tl|
|fenix 7S Solar||$$$||Amazon||63 g||42 x 42 x 14.1 mm||46||yes||yes||https://www.amazon.com/Garmin-Adventure-smartwatch-Capabilities-Touchscreen/dp/B09NMK43XY?crid=8XHP5XCCPER0&keywords=f%C4%93nix+7s+solar+edition&qid=1647965848&sprefix=f%C4%93nix+7S+%2Caps%2C306&sr=8-1&linkCode=ll1&tag=mytriworld0f-20&linkId=290da7da2d0f982a04ecfcd488c691d7&language=en_US&ref_=as_li_ss_tl|
|fenix 7S Sapphire Solar||$$$$||Amazon||58 g||42 x 42 x 14.1 mm||46||yes||yes||https://www.amazon.com/Garmin-Adventure-smartwatch-Capabilities-Touchscreen/dp/B09NMJH9LD?crid=50W27YPW45BQ&keywords=fenix+7S+Sapphire+Solar&qid=1647967106&sprefix=fenix+7s+sapphire+solar%2Caps%2C253&sr=8-3&linkCode=ll1&tag=mytriworld0f-20&linkId=05da26e15256837db70ad695365adc99&language=en_US&ref_=as_li_ss_tl|
|fenix 7||$$$||Amazon||79 g||47 x 47 x 14.5 mm||57||yes||yes||https://www.amazon.com/Garmin-Adventure-smartwatch-Touchscreen-Wellness/dp/B09NMJMXS1?crid=1TZCJDV1I1H7D&keywords=fenix+7&qid=1647965881&sprefix=fenix+7%2Caps%2C184&sr=8-2&linkCode=ll1&tag=mytriworld0f-20&linkId=6fbbe16431e734046104cfa12be1f7c1&language=en_US&ref_=as_li_ss_tl|
|fenix 7 Solar||$$$||Amazon||79 g||47 x 47 x 14.5 mm||73||yes||yes||https://www.amazon.com/Garmin-Adventure-smartwatch-Capabilities-Touchscreen/dp/B09NMK43XY?crid=2O2IFB2NCRYY&keywords=fenix+7S+Solar&qid=1647967149&sprefix=fenix+7s+solar%2Caps%2C181&sr=8-3&linkCode=ll1&tag=mytriworld0f-20&linkId=c8dbe803fdee979d28709d37afed2d40&language=en_US&ref_=as_li_ss_tl|
|fenix 7 Sapphire Solar||$$$$||Amazon||73 g||47 x 47 x 14.5 mm||73||yes||yes||https://www.amazon.com/Garmin-smartwatch-Capabilities-Touchscreen-Whitestone/dp/B09NMKNNFR?crid=15TC2F1TJ9T50&keywords=fenix+7x+sapphire+solar&qid=1647965914&sprefix=fenix+7%2Caps%2C256&sr=8-2&linkCode=ll1&tag=mytriworld0f-20&linkId=122ca8bbf253131c55381d00986198bd&language=en_US&ref_=as_li_ss_tl|
|fenix 7X Solar||$$$$||Amazon||96 g||51 x 51 x 14.9 mm||122||yes||yes||https://www.amazon.com/Garmin-smartwatch-Capabilities-Touchscreen-Whitestone/dp/B09NML4YKL?crid=QEX6RJY6276F&keywords=fenix%2B7X%2BSolar&qid=1647967321&sprefix=fenix%2B7x%2Bsolar%2Caps%2C203&sr=8-3&th=1&linkCode=ll1&tag=mytriworld0f-20&linkId=addf362fe975f30f100a9aa8daf0375a&language=en_US&ref_=as_li_ss_tl|
|fenix 7X Sapphire Solar||$$$$||Amazon||89 g||51 x 51 x 14.9 mm||122||yes||yes||https://www.amazon.com/Garmin-smartwatch-Capabilities-Touchscreen-Whitestone/dp/B09NML711L?crid=1LF7267HAMAFN&keywords=fenix%2B7X%2BSapphire%2BSolar&qid=1647967346&sprefix=fenix%2B7x%2Bsapphire%2Bsolar%2Caps%2C211&sr=8-3&th=1&linkCode=ll1&tag=mytriworld0f-20&linkId=a22a0503e342f65a5de1e4625bc80dd9&language=en_US&ref_=as_li_ss_tl|
|epix 2||$$$$||Amazon||76 g||46 x 46 x 14.5 mm||42||yes||yes||https://www.amazon.com/Garmin-smartwatch-Wellness-touchscreem-Adventure/dp/B09NML7BF7?crid=3BVQFUWIGSIUT&keywords=epix+2&qid=1647967391&sprefix=epix+2%2Caps%2C197&sr=8-1&linkCode=ll1&tag=mytriworld0f-20&linkId=d1067579db6b1db77675ee925088aebe&language=en_US&ref_=as_li_ss_tl|
|epix 2 Sapphire||$$$$||Amazon||70 g||46 x 46 x 14.5 mm||42||yes||yes||https://www.amazon.com/Garmin-smartwatch-Wellness-touchscreem-Adventure/dp/B09NMM46QD?crid=30SKTZ78VCIO5&keywords=epix%2B2%2BSapphire&qid=1647967458&sprefix=epix%2B2%2Bsapphire%2Caps%2C198&sr=8-1&th=1&linkCode=ll1&tag=mytriworld0f-20&linkId=2a88bee5a19dc1b3d90e99b3b40ad26e&language=en_US&ref_=as_li_ss_tl|
|Marq Athlete (~ all Marq)||$$$$||Garmin||94 g||46 x 46 x 14.1 mm||28||yes||yes||https://www.garmin.com/en-US/p/633625/|
|Enduro (Steel)||$$$||Garmin||71 g||51 x 51 x 14.9 mm||80||https://www.garmin.com/en-US/p/702797/|
|Enduro (Titanium)||$$$$||Garmin||61 g||51 x 51 x 14.9 mm||80||https://www.garmin.com/en-US/p/702797/|
|Instinct 2S||$$||Garmin||42 g||40 x 40 x 13.3 mm||22||https://www.garmin.com/en-US/p/741374/|
|Instinct 2S Solar||$$||Garmin||43 g||40 x 40 x 13.3 mm||28||https://www.garmin.com/en-US/p/741462/|
|Instinct 2||$$||Garmin||52 g||45 x 45 x 14.5 mm||30||https://www.garmin.com/en-US/p/775421/|
|Instinct 2 Solar||$$||Garmin||53 g||45 x 45 x 14.5 mm||48||https://www.garmin.com/en-US/p/775697|
|Descent Mk2||$$$$||Garmin||103.8 g||52 x 52 x 17.8 mm||48||yes||yes||https://www.garmin.com/en-US/p/633356/|
|Descent Mk2S||$$$$||Garmin||60 g||43 x 43 x 14.15 mm||18||yes||yes||https://www.garmin.com/en-US/p/701618/|
|Descent Mki||$$$$||Garmin||99.6 g||52 x 52 x 17.8 mm||48||yes||yes||https://www.garmin.com/en-US/p/632320|
|tactix Delta Sapphire||$$$$||Garmin||97 g||51 x 51 x 14.9 mm||60||yes||yes||https://www.garmin.com/en-US/p/696005|
|tactix Delta Solar||$$$$||Garmin||97 g||51 x 51 x 14.9 mm||66||yes||yes||https://www.garmin.com/en-US/p/696004/|
|D2 Delta S||$$$||Garmin||65 g||42 x 42 x 15.4 mm||11||yes||yes||https://www.garmin.com/en-US/p/633685|
|D2 Delta||$$$||Garmin||76 g||47 x 47 x 15.8 mm||18||yes||yes||https://www.garmin.com/en-US/p/633654|
|D2 Delta PX||$$$$||Garmin||87 g||51 x 51 x 17.5 mm||32||yes||yes||https://www.garmin.com/en-US/p/633646/|
|quatix 6||$$$||Garmin||83 g||47 x 47 x 14.7 mm||36||yes||yes||https://www.garmin.com/en-US/p/633646/|
|quatix Titanium||$$$$||Garmin||72 g||47 x 47 x 14.7 mm||36||yes||yes||https://www.garmin.com/en-US/p/700139|
|quatix 6X Solar||$$$$||Garmin||82 g||51 x 51 x 14.9 mm||66||yes||yes||https://www.garmin.com/en-US/p/725447/|
BUYING NEW OR SECOND HAND
There is no doubt that triathlon watches are expensive. If the current models are outside your budget, you can consider buying a previous model. From my own experience, the Garmin watches are really durable. I used the same Forerunner every day for 5 years until I upgraded to the Fenix 7S in 2022, mainly for its map functionalities.
If you find a good deal on a previous version, I would not be too concerned to buy second-hand.
If you’re not exclusively considering Garmin watches, check out this article that covers all brands: 9 Things You Need To Know Before Buying A Triathlon Watch