Best Garmin Watches for Trail Running [2023]

Trail running offers a unique challenge and sense of adventure, which is why outdoor enthusiasts enjoy it. To get the most out of trail running, you need the right tools, including an excellent Smartwatch.

Finding the finest Garmin smartwatches for trail running can take time and effort with many available options. From ultra-runners, trail athletes, endurance trail runners, total fitness newbies and casual enthusiasts, Garmin has a smartwatch for everyone.

A decent running watch must be capable of reliably and correctly tracking your location. Whether you enjoy lengthy trail runs, ultramarathons, or multi-day endeavours like fastpacking or weekend hikes.

In addition to producing some of the most remarkable running watches, Garmin also makes a wide from basic smartwatches to sophisticated multi-sport watches. 

We evaluated GPS tracking accuracy, heart rate monitor responsiveness, and training tool quality. To know how each one will feel to wear and use throughout workouts, analyse their battery life, display quality, and overall design.

Reviews of the Best Garmin Watches for Trail Running

Here are the top considerations:

1. Garmin Forerunner 45 S – Overall Best Pick

best Garmin watch for trail runners
Source: Amazon


Display size: 26.3 mm

Weight: 32 g

Battery life: Up to 7 days

Sensors: Yes

Water-resistant: Yes

When it comes to fitness watches, The Garmin Forerunner series has made its mark in fitness-focused smartwatches.

For those who prefer a smaller watch, Garmin offers the Forerunner 45S, a small and stylish wristwatch in the Forerunner range.

This model prioritizes simple navigation and comfort, with the Forerunner line’s innovation remaining intact, including advances in GPS accuracy and user interface.

The Garmin Forerunner 45S is a well-equipped, reasonably priced GPS watch that appeals to many who enjoy spending time outdoors.

Most individuals find that this model stands out because of how small the watch is. The Forerunner 45S is the most significant model in the Forerunner line for users with small wrists because of its 39mm thickness.

You can now customize maps and routes thanks to GLONASS and Galileo GPS protocols, which allow the Forerunner 45S to track a variety of situations.

The Forerunner 45S analyses heart rate, and heart performance conditioning with oximetry data, exactly like most models in the Garmin Forerunner series.

The Garmin Forerunner 45S also has a tonne of extra functions. The improvements made to the watch’s design are good.

Thanks to additional enhancements to track training effects, recovery time, and race prediction for triathlons.

The Forerunner 45S stands out from the series as one of the best models of the Forerunner brand. Innovative and comprehensive activity profiles have now been expanded for marathons, swimming, running, cycling, and other activities.

Although the watch body’s plastic design may be improved because it scratches easily, we are happy that it fits tiny wrists well.

The buttons are well-spaced and small enough to prevent inadvertent pushing, and it does not catch on clothing. The watch’s plastic construction is the only thing we have to criticize.

Everything on the watch is designed for casual runners who want to get fit but want to spend only a little bit of time analyzing data.

The watch measures every running watch’s essential metric, including heart rate, speed, distance, pace, and calories burned.

The Forerunner 45S contains Garmin’s most recent heart rate sensor and an integrated GPS. The heart rate monitor is excellent, working on pace with the other smartwatches and gadgets, including the Polar H10 chest strap, Suunto 9, Garmin 645, and Garmin Fenix 5X Plus.

Triathletes and marathon runners will also welcome the addition of a VO2 Max measurement procedure.

Thanks to this technology, you can now assess your heart rate and the amount of oxygen reaching your muscles.

The GPS is also precise, and the elevation, track, and distance were consistent with Garmin’s other Forerunner watches.

Each notification gently buzzes your wrist and offers information about the sending app and a piece of the forthcoming notice. Without picking up the phone.

Unfortunately, the Forerunner 45S performs inadequately in terms of battery life capabilities especially compared to other models in the series.

The Garmin Forerunner 45S is a versatile fitness smartwatch that keeps track of all the vital statistics that novice and casual runners require.

2. Garmin Forerunner 945 – Best Value Gaming Running Watch

best value running watch
Source: Amazon


Display size: 30.4 mm

Weight: 50 g

Battery life: Up to 2 weeks

Sensors: Yes

Water-resistant: Yes

The Garmin Forerunner 945 GPS running smartwatch is helpful for severe runners and fitness enthusiasts. It offers more than enough battery life for marathon runners, but for ultrarunners or endurance racers, you will need something with a longer battery life.

You may download songs to your watch from your Spotify and Amazon Music playlists, among other music libraries.

In addition, you can keep track of your performance, V02 Max, and training advancement. Adjustable elements include temperature, altitude acclimatization condition, training load emphasis, recovery time, and others.

In Smart mode, the battery can last up to two weeks, but in GPS mode, it can only last for 10 hours, which is just enough time to finish a half-Ironman.

The Garmin Forerunner 945 provides more than a dedicated runner could want in a wearable. Although you will probably never utilize every feature, if running is your primary focus and you are training hard, this watch is for you.

The Garmin Forerunner 945 is still a suitable model in the Forerunner family regarding the art of running. The 945 is a complete powerhouse with all the features a runner could desire, like tracking of adaptation, training volume and recovery period.

With its most recent smartwatch, the Garmin Venu, Garmin has begun experimenting with more stylish sports watches, but the 945 keeps to a more durable, conventional Garmin style.

It only comes in two colours and one case size (47 x 47 x 13.7mm) (black with a black strap or black with a blue strap).

There are five buttons on the screen, three on the left and two on the right. They are all used to navigate the user interface (UI), and each one clicks pleasingly.

That 1.2-inch screen from Garmin includes a transflective display, which increases its visibility in direct sunlight.

Additionally, a backlight can be activated manually by pushing the top-left button or automatically by turning the wrist.

The backlight during exercises is helpful for evening runs and swimming sessions. The heart rate monitor on the watch’s underside sticks out just a tiny bit to provide more excellent skin contact.

The unattractive strong appearance of this watch gives the impression that it can handle anything you throw at it. Despite being water-rated to 5ATM, we have routinely taken it swimming without any issues.

3. Garmin Vivoactive – A High-End Option

high quality Garming running smartwatches
Source: Amazon


Display size: 28.6 x 20.7 mm

Weight: 38 g

Battery life: Up to 10 hours

Sensors: Yes

Water-resistant: Yes

The Garmin Vivoactive, one of our favourite fitness trackers, is now available in an enhanced version called the Vivoactive HR. As you may guess from the name, the most notable new feature is a continuous heart rate monitor.

Numerous other components from its predecessor are also included, like vibrating push notifications, on-screen weather reporting and built-in GPS to record outside runs and sleep tracking. 

Compared to its predecessor, the Garmin Vivoactive HR is heavier and thicker. The original Vivoactive is noticeably more comfortable on the wrist. 

The Vivoactive HR is fastened to the wearer by a black rubber strap that mimics a watch. Red is currently the only colour option, but you can change it to another colour. However, doing so is difficult because you need a screwdriver that isn’t included. 

There are only five brightness levels, and the screen constantly seems dull, even at the maximum setting.

Despite this, using the touch screen is simple. Swiping up or down displays the time of day, how many flights of stairs you climbed, steps you have taken, calories burned, and distance travelled.

When held in, the left button either turns off the gadget or illuminates the screen. Bicycling, golfing, running, swimming, walking, skiing, and many other activities that you may add and curate on the app appear when you press the right button.

You may switch watch faces, manually synchronize with the app, add applications and widgets, and view your activity history in the Settings menu when you hold the right button.

Battery life drops from the original, although it is still above average. The shelf life of Prior Vivoactive is three weeks. The Vivoactive HR typically lasts up to eight days on a single charge when the GPS is turned off.

The tracker can run for up to 13 hours with GPS turned on. A specific charging wire is included. You may submerge the tracker up to 164 feet below because it has a water resistance rating of 5ATM.

Therefore, diving, swimming, snorkelling, or taking a shower won’t damage the device.  The Vivoactive HR connects to iOS and Android devices through Bluetooth 4.0.

There are numerous advantages to Vivoactive HR. It monitors numerous activities, has an instant GPS that works, is waterproof, and even provides weather information. It has everything you could need for a runner.

4. Garmin Forerunner 955 – Premium Pick

Garmin brand smartwatch for trail running activities
Source: Amazon


Display size: 33 mm

Weight: 52g

Battery life: Up to 20 hours

Sensors: Yes

Water-resistant: Yes

Whether you are training for a marathon or a multi-day excursion, finding the best running watch to keep up with you in this crowded market might be challenging.

Garmin has dramatically improved its premium Forerunner three years after its release, the Forerunner 945.

The company’s newest premium Forerunner watch, the Garmin Forerunner 955, replaces the Garmin Forerunner 945 in its lineup of running watches. The Garmin Forerunner 955 was made available in solar and non-solar variants in June 2022.

As its name suggests, the Power Glass screen of the solar watch uses solar energy to prolong the battery life of the timepiece. It is the only distinction between the two versions.

Garmin has kept its recognizable five buttons, three on the left and two on the right, so you can use them to navigate the watch without touching the screen.

However, feel free to swipe all you want if touchscreens are your thing. In this situation, Garmin’s approach gives you a choice.

Both versions of the device have the 64-colour display that the Forerunner 955 shares with the Fenix 7 series.

Even while it isn’t nearly as bright as the AMOLED screens on the Garmin Epix or Venu series, it is still effortless to see, even in direct sunshine.

Although the solar and non-solar models’ 46.5mm screens are a bit large for the wrist, at 52g and 53g, respectively, they are both substantially lighter than the Fenix 7 series.

Garmins has two best features, Body battery, which gauges your energy level, and Training Readiness, which estimates how hard you should train that day based on your sleep quality, training load and recovery time.

There are potentially significant differences between the solar and non-solar Forerunner 955 models regarding battery life.

Garmin based its solar estimates on all-day wear with 3 hours per day outside. Numerous sports settings on the Forerunner 955 can be used to track practically everything.

Since all of these sports modes can be customized entirely on the watch and in the Garmin Connect app. Although the Forerunner 955 looks like a unique sports watch on the wrist, you could wear it all the time.

Thanks to features like the touchscreen and adjustable wristbands. With the Forerunner 955, you can store music and podcasts, receive notifications from your smartphone, and use Garmin Pay.

The Forerunner 955 is a fantastic top-tier running watch with many outstanding features. With exceptional battery life, ease of use on and off the run, and Garmin’s new Training Readiness features, it’s the best Forerunner.

5. Garmin Fenix 7X – For Pro Trail Runners

Pro Runners smartwatch from Garming Fenix
Source: Amazon


Display size: 35.56 mm

Weight: 96g

Battery life: Up to 37 days

Sensors: Yes

Water-resistant: Yes

This flagship timepiece can do almost everything thanks to a bigger battery, enhanced GPS, and lighting. Perhaps the best smartwatch I have ever worn is the Garmin Fenix 7X Sapphire Solar.

The Fenix 7 series from Garmin is the top-of-the-line multi-sport watch for people searching for a wristwatch with all the bells and whistles.

Garmin went big with the Fenix 7X Sapphire Solar Edition. It is significant in terms of the variety of tasks it can carry out and the casing size, which is around 50 mm across and 15 mm thick.

When using a silicone strap, the watch weighs a little under 90 grams. The watch is uncomfortable to wear when jogging and is noticeable due to its size and weight.

Fortunately, Garmin was foresighted enough to equip the Sapphire Solar Edition with a robust titanium bezel and, safely tucked beneath it, a scratch-resistant sapphire lens that withstands all nasty knocks.

The case consists of a metal base with an integrated pulse/oxygen saturation sensor, a fibre-reinforced polymer shell, and a charging port.

If the 7X is too large for your liking, think about the smaller Fenix 7 or the Fenix 7S, the most miniature model in the Fenix 7 families.

The more streamlined Fenix seven variants do without two critical features of the more considerable 7X variation.

Let’s start with the practical LED light, which functions as a flashlight and a red/white safety light for late-night jogs and even synchronizes with your breathing pattern.

The second advantage is the incredible battery life, which can last anywhere from a day to several weeks. This performance deserves nothing but praise. At the same time, the clock collects GPS data regularly while in expedition mode, and the battery barely decreases daily.

The Fenix 7X is incredibly brilliant. Daily life allows you to leave your smartphone in your pocket because it transfers phone calls and messages notifications directly to your wrist.

The Fenix 7X can also be managed via the 1.4″ touchscreen. Especially if you choose a destination on the map from the watch itself.

The Fenix 7X watch will automatically generate a fitness profile if you wear it frequently while exercising. The stamina function lets you know how much energy you have expended and how long you can continue moving forward at your present rate until you pass out.

Final Verdict

There are three essential factors to consider when selecting a Garmin watch: the sport you are interested in, your level, and your budget.

If you are serious about your training and looking for the most comprehensive information regarding your health and fitness, the Fenix 7X is a fantastic choice.