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Best GPS Running Watches 2023: Top Picks for Athletes and Fitness Enthusiasts

Running has become an increasingly popular sport and means of staying fit for many people. Part of what makes running an enjoyable activity is being able to track and measure one’s progress accurately and efficiently. GPS running watches have become a key tool for runners to do this. These versatile devices measure pace, distance, heart rate, and other useful metrics, allowing runners to monitor their improvement, set goals, and fine-tune their training.

A GPS running watch offers advantages over smartphone apps when it comes to accuracy, convenience, and an unencumbered experience. Carrying a smartphone can be cumbersome, and runners may not want to constantly check their phone for updates during a run. A GPS running watch provides the essential information right on the wrist, eliminating the need to carry awkward and potentially distracting devices.

When selecting a running watch, factors like battery life, ease of use, water resistance, and additional features should be considered. Battery life is particularly important for those who embark on longer runs or participate in ultra-marathons, while user-friendliness and water resistance become essential for runners of all levels who don’t want their workouts interrupted. Extra features, such as activity tracking and smart notifications, can add value but may not be necessary for everyone’s needs.

Through rigorous testing and analysis of multiple running watches, we have identified the best models in the market that cater to varying levels of expertise and functionality. These watches strike the perfect balance between reliable GPS tracking, durable design, and useful features to help runners achieve their goals and improve their performance.

Let’s Review The Best GPS Running Watches That Money Can Buy

Discover our top picks of the best GPS running watches to enhance your training experience and reach your fitness goals with ease.

Garmin Forerunner 55, GPS Running Watch

The Garmin Forerunner 55 is a versatile GPS running watch with advanced features and excellent battery life, making it a superb choice for runners at all levels.


Accurate GPS tracking and heart rate monitoring
Personalised training guidance and daily suggested workouts
Long battery life of up to 2 weeks in smartwatch mode


Button controls may require some getting used to
Connectivity issues with Bluetooth
Possibly inaccurate calorie tracking

The Garmin Forerunner 55 goes beyond merely providing stats for your runs. With personalised guidance and daily suggested workouts based on your training history and fitness levels, it not only tracks your progress but also helps you improve. I found the GPS tracking to be very accurate as it effectively measured my speed, distance, and route during runs. Additionally, the watch offers built-in activity profiles for various sports and exercises, giving you multiple options to choose from.

One of the standout features of the Forerunner 55 is its impressive battery life. The watch can last up to two weeks in smartwatch mode and up to 20 hours in GPS mode. As someone who dislikes constantly charging my devices, I was delighted with how long the watch could go between charges.

However, the button-operated interface took some time to get used to, and I experienced occasional connectivity issues with Bluetooth. If you can overlook these minor setbacks, the Garmin Forerunner 55 has a lot to offer, making it a valuable tool for every runner.

Garmin Forerunner 35 GPS Running Watch

The Garmin Forerunner 35 is a reliable and easy-to-use GPS running watch that offers essential features to help you track and improve your running performance.


Accurate GPS tracking for outdoor runs
Convenient wrist-based heart rate monitoring
Helpful all-day activity tracking and smart notifications


Lacks advanced training features
Not ideal for indoor workouts
Limited customisation options

The Garmin Forerunner 35 is an uncomplicated GPS running watch that provides precise tracking of your outdoor runs, giving you real-time information on your pace, distance, and route. With its wrist-based heart rate monitoring, you can keep an eye on your heart rate throughout the day and during your workouts without the need for an additional chest strap. This ensures that you’re training at the optimal intensity for your fitness goals.

In addition to its running features, the Forerunner 35 also includes handy all-day activity tracking, estimating steps, calories, and intensity minutes. Furthermore, it sends you move reminders, encouraging you to stay active throughout the day. When paired with a compatible smartphone, the watch offers connected features such as smart notifications, automatic data uploads to Garmin Connect, live tracking, and music controls. This makes it a convenient companion for everyday use as well as running.

However, it’s worth noting that the Garmin Forerunner 35 may not be the best choice for those who primarily run indoors or are looking for advanced training features. Its indoor distance tracking relies on the accelerometer, which might not be as accurate as an external foot pod. Additionally, the watch lacks customisation options and more advanced features such as interval training or custom workouts, which may be limiting for seasoned runners seeking to refine their training plans.

In conclusion, the Garmin Forerunner 35 GPS Running Watch is a solid choice for those seeking a straightforward and dependable running watch that offers accurate GPS tracking, wrist-based heart rate monitoring, and all-day activity tracking.

Garmin Forerunner 45 GPS Running Watch

The Garmin Forerunner 45 is an excellent GPS running watch, designed for both casual and dedicated runners, with a sleek design and essential features for an enjoyable running experience.


Accurate GPS tracking for pace, distance, and intervals
Garmin Coach training plan support
Comprehensive sports apps for various activities


Battery life could be better in GPS mode
No built-in music storage
Incident detection limited to select activities

The Garmin Forerunner 45 has an impressive set of features to enhance your running experience, with its accurate GPS tracking system that allows you to monitor your pace, distance, and intervals seamlessly. It’s a lightweight smartwatch, with a sleek design that makes it comfortable to wear throughout the day and during your runs. The watch is easy to use and offers reliable heart rate monitoring at your wrist.

One of the unique aspects of the Garmin Forerunner 45 is its compatibility with Garmin Coach, a personalised training plan system that is accessible right on your wrist. This adaptive coaching function adjusts to your performance to help you reach your running goals effectively. Additionally, the watch comes with various sports apps catering to different activities such as cycling, indoor track, treadmill, yoga, and many more.

The Garmin Forerunner 45 also has connected features, including smart notifications for texts and calls, and automatic uploads to the Garmin Connect online community. It even offers live tracking and control for the music playing on your paired smartphone. The safety and tracking features are helpful, with incident detection for some activities, allowing the watch to send your real-time location to emergency contacts through your paired smartphone.

However, the watch does have its limitations. The battery life might not be sufficient for ultra-long distances, lasting up to 7 days in smartwatch mode and 14 hours in GPS mode. Plus, there’s no built-in music storage, relying on your paired phone for tunes. Additionally, the incident detection feature is only available for select activities.

Overall, the Garmin Forerunner 45 GPS running watch is a fantastic investment for both amateur and committed runners, offering essential features and support necessary to boost your running experience.

Garmin Forerunner 245 GPS Running Smartwatch

The Garmin Forerunner 245 is a high-quality GPS running smartwatch, perfect for dedicated runners looking to improve their performance.


Advanced training features
Performance monitoring
Customisable and expandable with Connect IQ store


Some advanced features require additional accessories
Battery life is limited in GPS mode
Price may be high for budget-conscious consumers

The Garmin Forerunner 245 is an impressive GPS running smartwatch designed to help you improve your running performance. Its advanced training features, such as adaptive training plans from Garmin Coach and custom workout creation on the Garmin Connect online fitness community, make it an excellent choice for those serious about their exercise routine.

While using the watch during my runs, I appreciated the performance monitoring features that allowed me to see if I was overtraining or undertraining and helped me avoid injuries. I also enjoyed the option to customise and expand the watch’s functionality with free watch faces, apps, and more from the Connect IQ store.

One drawback could be that some of the advanced running dynamics require additional accessories, like the Running Dynamics Pod or HRM Run or HRM Tri monitors, which are sold separately. Another potential issue is the battery life being limited to up to 24 hours in GPS mode, which might not be enough for lengthy ultramarathons or multi-day events. Lastly, the price may be considered high for budget-conscious consumers, but the features and performance of this watch make it worth the investment.

In conclusion, the Garmin Forerunner 245 GPS Running Smartwatch offers an excellent combination of advanced features, customisability, and performance monitoring to help you elevate your running game. If you’re serious about improving your performance and willing to invest in a smartwatch that will support your goals, then the Garmin Forerunner 245 is definitely worth considering.

Garmin Forerunner 735XT

An excellent multisport GPS running watch, perfect for those seeking a feature-packed, reliable companion for their athletic endeavours.


Accurate GPS and heart rate monitoring
Multisport features for running, cycling, and swimming
Smart notifications and Garmin Connect integration


Slightly uncomfortable band for long wear
Wrist heart rate accuracy may decrease when wet
Battery life may be insufficient for ultra-distance athletes

The Garmin Forerunner 735XT is a versatile multisport GPS running watch that offers a plethora of features to help athletes improve their performance. Whether you’re a seasoned triathlete or someone who simply enjoys outdoor activities, this watch has something for you. With its wrist-based heart rate monitoring, advanced dynamics for running, cycling, and swimming, and compatibility with various accessories for additional data, you’ll get comprehensive insights into your training progress.

One of the most appreciated aspects of the Forerunner 735XT is its easy-to-use interface. Transitioning between sports is as simple as pressing a button, making it a breeze for triathletes on race day. The watch is also highly customisable, allowing users to select from an array of watch faces and apps through the Connect IQ store. This personalisation, along with smart notifications and automatic uploads to Garmin Connect, makes it feel like an extension of your athletic journey.

However, it’s worth noting that some users may find the watch’s band uncomfortable during extended wear, particularly during sleep. Additionally, the wrist heart rate monitor’s accuracy might reduce when the skin is wet, which could impact readings during intense or water-based activities. The battery life, while sufficient for most users, may not last long enough for ultra-distance athletes who require continuous GPS tracking over many hours.

In conclusion, the Garmin Forerunner 735XT is a reliable, feature-rich GPS running watch that caters to a wide range of sports and activities. Its customisability, advanced tracking capabilities, and ease of use make it a worthy companion for any athlete striving to push their limits.

EZON GPS Running Watch

This affordable GPS running watch is great for athletes seeking to monitor their progress and remain motivated, despite some limitations.


Accurate GPS tracking of speed, pace, and distance
LED backlight for visibility in the dark
50m water resistance, suitable for swimming and snorkelling


Short battery life of up to 6 hours in GPS mode
Buttons can be accidentally pressed during daily use
Difficult to get in touch with the manufacturer

The EZON GPS Running Watch offers valuable tracking features for athletes looking to monitor their performance. The GPS function accurately calculates your running pace, distance, and speed, helping you see your progress and stay motivated throughout your training. The watch also boasts a helpful LED backlight that ensures visibility in the dark, making it suitable for those who prefer running at night or in dim conditions.

However, the EZON GPS Running Watch does have some drawbacks. One notable issue is the battery life – lasting only up to 6 hours in GPS mode, you may need to charge it after each use, which can be an inconvenience for some users. Additionally, the watch’s design makes it easy for the buttons to be accidentally pressed when bending your wrist during daily use, which might be irritating.

In terms of water resistance, the watch can be submerged up to 50m, making it suitable for swimming and snorkeling. This feature, combined with its GPS capabilities, makes it a versatile option for those into different types of sports.

All in all, the EZON GPS Running Watch is a budget-friendly option that delivers essential tracking features for athletes who want to monitor their progress. However, its short battery life and button placement might be inconvenient for some users. If you can overlook these downsides and prioritize tracking capabilities, this watch could be worth considering.

Garmin vívoactive 3 Music GPS Smartwatch

Ideal for fitness enthusiasts seeking a versatile GPS smartwatch with music storage and essential sports tracking features.


Onboard music storage for up to 500 songs
Garmin Pay for convenient contactless payments
Over 15 preloaded sports apps for versatile activity tracking


Renewed item, not brand-new
Potential glitches in music functions
Short battery life for some users

The Garmin vívoactive 3 Music GPS Smartwatch is a fantastic companion for those who want to keep track of their fitness progress while enjoying their favourite tunes. One of its standout features is the ability to store up to 500 songs directly on the device while connecting it to Bluetooth headphones for phone-free listening, which is perfect for those who want to leave their phone at home during workouts.

Not only is this smartwatch equipped with more than 15 preloaded sports apps, including running, swimming, yoga, strength training, and many more, but it also lets you create and download custom workouts, making it a versatile piece of kit. Plus, it monitors your fitness level with VO2 max and fitness age estimates, giving you valuable insight into how well you’re handling stress.

However, it must be noted that this is a renewed item and not brand-new, which might be a drawback for some. Additionally, some users have reported encountering glitches with the music functions, although others found it easy to operate. Lastly, a few users experienced short battery life, but this could vary depending on individual usage patterns.

In conclusion, the Garmin vívoactive 3 Music GPS Smartwatch is packed with features that cater to fitness enthusiasts who want a well-rounded device for tracking their activities. However, it’s essential to consider the potential drawbacks, such as some music function glitches and battery life, before making a purchase.

Garmin Forerunner 255 Music GPS Running Smartwatch

This Garmin Forerunner 255 is a perfect option for athletes seeking a GPS running watch with advanced insights and music capabilities.


Impressive battery life – up to 14 days in smartwatch mode and 30 hours in GPS mode
Music storage, supports Spotify, Amazon Music, and Deezer playlists
Advanced performance and recovery insights


May require additional accessories for certain features
Difficulties in connecting to music services
Battery life doesn’t always live up to expectations

The Garmin Forerunner 255 Music GPS Running Smartwatch offers long-lasting battery life for both casual and professional runners. The watch’s slim design and always-on, full-colour display make it comfortable to wear and easy to read in various lighting conditions. Users can benefit from its compatibility with Spotify, Amazon Music, and Deezer, but some have reported issues when attempting to connect to these services.

One notable feature of the Garmin Forerunner 255 is its advanced performance insights, aiding in training and recovery. It provides personalized daily suggested workouts and completion time predictions based on weather, course details, and past performance. Additionally, the watch monitors heart rate variability (HRV) while you sleep, granting a deeper understanding of your overall wellness and recovery process.

However, some aspects of this watch might present obstacles for certain users. To obtain the most out of its features, additional purchases, such as the Running Dynamics Pod or HRM-Pro monitor, may be needed. Moreover, users in Canada have reported issues with the Garmin Pay system, which in some cases, may not support major banks.

In conclusion, the Garmin Forerunner 255 Music GPS Running Smartwatch is a reliable choice for athletes in search of advanced performance insights and music capabilities. However, potential buyers should be aware of the possible need for additional accessories and connectivity issues with music services.

Buying Guide

When choosing a GPS running watch, there are several factors to consider. In this buying guide, we will discuss the essential features that will help you choose the best product for your needs. Remember, it’s important to select a watch that complements your running goals.

Battery Life

One of the primary things to consider when evaluating GPS running watches is the battery life. Make sure to choose a watch with a long-lasting battery that will not die mid-run, as this can be frustrating and inconvenient. Look for watches with multiple battery-saving features or the ability to swap to a lower power mode when needed.

GPS Accuracy and Speed

GPS accuracy and speed are crucial for runners who need real-time data on their performance. Choose a watch that has a fast GPS connection and can provide accurate tracking. Some watches may offer additional satellite systems like GLONASS or Galileo to improve location accuracy and speed.

Ease of Use

Opt for a GPS running watch with an accessible and easy-to-understand user interface. It should have clear navigation, big buttons, and a user-friendly menu system. Touchscreen models can provide an intuitive experience, but ensure the screen is responsive and usable even when your hands are wet or sweaty.

Tracking Metrics

Choose a GPS running watch that tracks various running metrics such as distance, pace, time, and elevation. You may also want to consider watches that monitor advanced metrics like cadence, ground contact time, and stride length. This information can prove invaluable in helping you improve your running performance over time.


Being able to customise your GPS running watch is another essential factor to consider. Look for a watch that allows you to set up custom workouts, alerts, and training plans. Additionally, some watches offer personalised training guidance and coaching features, which can help keep you motivated and on track.

Heart Rate Monitoring

Some GPS running watches come with built-in heart rate monitors, which can be helpful for tracking your fitness progress and improving your training. Ensure the watch you select has a reliable and accurate heart rate monitor that does not require wearing an additional chest strap unless you prefer the additional accuracy they can provide.


Make sure the GPS running watch you choose has excellent connectivity options, such as Bluetooth or Wi-Fi, to easily transfer workout data to your smartphone or computer for further analysis. Compatibility with popular running apps and platforms can be an added bonus.

By considering these factors and features, you can select a GPS running watch that best suits your needs and helps you achieve your running goals.

The post Best GPS Running Watches 2023: Top Picks for Athletes and Fitness Enthusiasts first appeared on BusinessMole.

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