Garmin forerunner 920 XT and 735XT

The Best Garmin Triathlon Watch For You

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:

TRIATHLON MODE

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

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.

MUSIC

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.

A watch with a line for navigation vs a watch with a detailed map
Example with the Garmin 920XT vs.
Garmin 945

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.
Garmin fenix 7s and Forerunner 735XT
My watch (fēnix 7S) and my wife’s watch (Forerunner 735XT)

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).

ModelBudgetCheck PriceWeightSizeBattery Life
Forerunner 255S$$Garmin39 g41 x 41 x 12.4 mm26https://www.garmin.com/en-US/p/780165/pn/010-02641-02
Forerunner 255S Music$$Garmin39 g41 x 41 x 12.4 mm26yeshttps://www.garmin.com/en-US/p/780154/pn/010-02641-23
Forerunner 255$$Garmin49 g45.6 x 45.6 x 12.9 mm30https://www.garmin.com/en-US/p/780139/pn/010-02641-01
Forerunner 255 Music$$Garmin49 g45.6 x 45.6 x 12.9 mm30yeshttps://www.garmin.com/en-US/p/780196/pn/010-02641-21
Forerunner 745$$Amazon47 g43.8 x 43.8 x 13.3 mm16yeshttps://www.amazon.com/Garmin-Forerunner-Essential-Smartwatch-010-02445-00/dp/B08G585XYJ?crid=B8XFGFRJ9SKX&keywords=Forerunner+745&qid=1647964986&sprefix=forerunner+745%2Caps%2C239&sr=8-3&linkCode=ll1&tag=mytriworld0f-20&linkId=cbaaec9cfcbef01e1c8800f1561b753e&language=en_US&ref_=as_li_ss_tl
Forerunner 945 LTE$$$Amazon49 g44.4 x 44.4 x 13.9 mm35yesyeshttps://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
Forerunner 955$$Garmin52 g46.5 x 46.5 x 14.4 mm42yesyeshttps://www.garmin.com/en-US/p/777655/pn/010-02638-11
Forerunner 955 Solar$$$Garmin53 g46.5 x 46.5 x 14.4 mm49yesyeshttps://www.garmin.com/en-US/p/777730
fenix 7S$$$Amazon63 g42 x 42 x 14.1 mm37yesyeshttps://www.amazon.com/Garmin-Adventure-smartwatch-Capabilities-Touchscreen/dp/B09NMLLZDX?crid=1QXVPG8S8EWJO&keywords=f%C4%93nix%2B7S&qid=1647965407&sprefix=f%C4%93nix%2B7s%2Caps%2C420&sr=8-1&th=1&linkCode=ll1&tag=mytriworld0f-20&linkId=44496312f88bd4727d07e64d703cc954&language=en_US&ref_=as_li_ss_tl
fenix 7S Solar$$$Amazon63 g42 x 42 x 14.1 mm46yesyeshttps://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$$$$Amazon58 g42 x 42 x 14.1 mm46yesyeshttps://www.amazon.com/Garmin-Adventure-smartwatch-Capabilities-Touchscreen/dp/B09NMJH9LD?crid=50W27YPW45BQ&keywords=fenix+7S+Sapphire+Solar&qid=1647967106&sprefix=fenix+7s+sapphire+solar%2Caps%2C253&sr=8-3&linkCode=ll1&tag=mytriworld0f-20&linkId=05da26e15256837db70ad695365adc99&language=en_US&ref_=as_li_ss_tl
fenix 7$$$Amazon79 g47 x 47 x 14.5 mm57yesyeshttps://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$$$Amazon79 g47 x 47 x 14.5 mm73yesyeshttps://www.amazon.com/Garmin-Adventure-smartwatch-Capabilities-Touchscreen/dp/B09NMK43XY?crid=2O2IFB2NCRYY&keywords=fenix+7S+Solar&qid=1647967149&sprefix=fenix+7s+solar%2Caps%2C181&sr=8-3&linkCode=ll1&tag=mytriworld0f-20&linkId=c8dbe803fdee979d28709d37afed2d40&language=en_US&ref_=as_li_ss_tl
fenix 7 Sapphire Solar$$$$Amazon73 g47 x 47 x 14.5 mm73yesyeshttps://www.amazon.com/Garmin-smartwatch-Capabilities-Touchscreen-Whitestone/dp/B09NMKNNFR?crid=15TC2F1TJ9T50&keywords=fenix+7x+sapphire+solar&qid=1647965914&sprefix=fenix+7%2Caps%2C256&sr=8-2&linkCode=ll1&tag=mytriworld0f-20&linkId=122ca8bbf253131c55381d00986198bd&language=en_US&ref_=as_li_ss_tl
fenix 7X Solar$$$$Amazon96 g51 x 51 x 14.9 mm122yesyeshttps://www.amazon.com/Garmin-smartwatch-Capabilities-Touchscreen-Whitestone/dp/B09NML4YKL?crid=QEX6RJY6276F&keywords=fenix%2B7X%2BSolar&qid=1647967321&sprefix=fenix%2B7x%2Bsolar%2Caps%2C203&sr=8-3&th=1&linkCode=ll1&tag=mytriworld0f-20&linkId=addf362fe975f30f100a9aa8daf0375a&language=en_US&ref_=as_li_ss_tl
fenix 7X Sapphire Solar$$$$Amazon89 g51 x 51 x 14.9 mm122yesyeshttps://www.amazon.com/Garmin-smartwatch-Capabilities-Touchscreen-Whitestone/dp/B09NML711L?crid=1LF7267HAMAFN&keywords=fenix%2B7X%2BSapphire%2BSolar&qid=1647967346&sprefix=fenix%2B7x%2Bsapphire%2Bsolar%2Caps%2C211&sr=8-3&th=1&linkCode=ll1&tag=mytriworld0f-20&linkId=a22a0503e342f65a5de1e4625bc80dd9&language=en_US&ref_=as_li_ss_tl
epix 2$$$$Amazon76 g46 x 46 x 14.5 mm42yesyeshttps://www.amazon.com/Garmin-smartwatch-Wellness-touchscreem-Adventure/dp/B09NML7BF7?crid=3BVQFUWIGSIUT&keywords=epix+2&qid=1647967391&sprefix=epix+2%2Caps%2C197&sr=8-1&linkCode=ll1&tag=mytriworld0f-20&linkId=d1067579db6b1db77675ee925088aebe&language=en_US&ref_=as_li_ss_tl
epix 2 Sapphire$$$$Amazon70 g46 x 46 x 14.5 mm42yesyeshttps://www.amazon.com/Garmin-smartwatch-Wellness-touchscreem-Adventure/dp/B09NMM46QD?crid=30SKTZ78VCIO5&keywords=epix%2B2%2BSapphire&qid=1647967458&sprefix=epix%2B2%2Bsapphire%2Caps%2C198&sr=8-1&th=1&linkCode=ll1&tag=mytriworld0f-20&linkId=2a88bee5a19dc1b3d90e99b3b40ad26e&language=en_US&ref_=as_li_ss_tl
Marq Athlete (~ all Marq)$$$$Garmin94 g46 x 46 x 14.1 mm28yesyeshttps://www.garmin.com/en-US/p/633625/
Enduro (Steel)$$$Garmin71 g51 x 51 x 14.9 mm80https://www.garmin.com/en-US/p/702797/
Enduro (Titanium)$$$$Garmin61 g51 x 51 x 14.9 mm80https://www.garmin.com/en-US/p/702797/
Instinct 2S$$Garmin42 g40 x 40 x 13.3 mm22https://www.garmin.com/en-US/p/741374/
Instinct 2S Solar$$Garmin43 g40 x 40 x 13.3 mm28https://www.garmin.com/en-US/p/741462/
Instinct 2$$Garmin52 g45 x 45 x 14.5 mm30https://www.garmin.com/en-US/p/775421/
Instinct 2 Solar$$Garmin53 g45 x 45 x 14.5 mm48https://www.garmin.com/en-US/p/775697
Descent Mk2$$$$Garmin103.8 g52 x 52 x 17.8 mm48yesyeshttps://www.garmin.com/en-US/p/633356/
Descent Mk2S$$$$Garmin60 g43 x 43 x 14.15 mm18yesyeshttps://www.garmin.com/en-US/p/701618/
Descent Mki$$$$Garmin99.6 g52 x 52 x 17.8 mm48yesyeshttps://www.garmin.com/en-US/p/632320
tactix Delta Sapphire$$$$Garmin97 g51 x 51 x 14.9 mm60yesyeshttps://www.garmin.com/en-US/p/696005
tactix Delta Solar$$$$Garmin97 g51 x 51 x 14.9 mm66yesyeshttps://www.garmin.com/en-US/p/696004/
D2 Delta S$$$Garmin65 g42 x 42 x 15.4 mm11yesyeshttps://www.garmin.com/en-US/p/633685
D2 Delta$$$Garmin76 g47 x 47 x 15.8 mm18yesyeshttps://www.garmin.com/en-US/p/633654
D2 Delta PX$$$$Garmin87 g51 x 51 x 17.5 mm32yesyeshttps://www.garmin.com/en-US/p/633646/
quatix 6$$$Garmin83 g47 x 47 x 14.7 mm36yesyeshttps://www.garmin.com/en-US/p/633646/
quatix Titanium$$$$Garmin72 g47 x 47 x 14.7 mm36yesyeshttps://www.garmin.com/en-US/p/700139
quatix 6X Solar$$$$Garmin82 g51 x 51 x 14.9 mm66yesyeshttps://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