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- Updated guide winter 2020
It's time to renew the best GPS watch guide No new developments are expected in the next two months, so it's a good time to update the list in anticipation of Black Friday week ahead.
The choices I make in this article are the same ones I can offer to friends asking me for similar advice. I do not make the list to satisfy any particular manufacturer, nor do any of them ask me to change my impressions or ratings. Like all the work I do on this page, I try to be as objective as possible.
In order to make this selection before I try all GPS watchesI do not make general recommendations based on the data sheet or the opinions of others. In each section you can find the link to its complete analysis, so I invite you to read the test carefully once you have chosen the model that best suits your use.
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Asphalt running GPS watches
It's the most populated category and where we have the most to choose from, because basically any running clock part of here.
The first thing is to cover this basic and elemental function, and from there it is oriented to other more specific uses.
This year we have had some novelties, but everything focused on the high or medium range and the low range has not had too much movement.
New models have entered, the number of features they bring is greater, but in exchange for higher prices.
This means that what yesterday was mid-range, today is almost an access model, which is not bad for the consumer.
As a general rule, the recommendation if you're a newbie is that you make your choice for a Model more basic and cheapbecause you probably don't know where you want to go yet.
It is better to buy something cheap and simple and, once you decide which discipline you like best (trail, asphalt, ultras, triathlon, etc.), then buy already the model that will satisfy your real needs.
There is no point in buying a 600 euro Phoenix like your first watch if you still don't know if the mountain is going to give you the most satisfaction.
Be careful, it doesn't mean that if you've fallen in love with a particular model because of its aesthetics, or because you want maps even if you're not going to take advantage of the other features, you shouldn't buy it.
With this brief introduction we go through the different categories I have prepared.
Best GPS Watch
Garmin Forerunner 245 / 245 Music, Polar Vantage M
New in this category with the entry of the Polar Vantage MWhich is good, more competition for Garmin Forerunner 245.
The Garmin Forerunner 245presented in 2019, has been removed from the category of best running watch by Garmin 645And as with the 645, a version capable of play music directly from the clock including synchronisation with Spotify.
Is the Garmin 245 superior to the Garmin Forerunner 645? So in some respects yes it is: autonomy and new sensor optical pulse measurement with PulseOxThere really is something that can still make you decide for the 645, mainly the barometric altimeterbut also the wireless payments or count on more sport profilesYou can see all the differences between the two models in Garmin FR245 test by clicking here.
At this moment I think it's the best option for the road racer, also taking into account that it's reasonably priced. I would even prefer it over superior models such as the Garmin 945, Garmin Fenix 5 Plus or Suunto 9, at least if what you're going to do is mainly running.
The Garmin 245 is designed to run on asphalt and has no additional features that you might want to use if you don't. And above all, why pay for them?
As for the race, the features it offers are the same as on the Fenix 5, but the 245 is a Smaller and lighter GPS watch and also counts the same training metrics as the Fenix 5 (and Fenix 5 Plus), or the possibility of play music in 245M.
It also has navigation If you're afraid you won't be able to make a mountain break or schedule a trail during the season, you don't have to worry, but I remind you that the altitude data you have will be exclusive to GPS, so you'll have to wait to synchronize the activity to see real altitude details.
The Polar Vantage M is one of the new additions to the 2019 range and, following the latest upgrade received with sleep and rest control metrics, is a full candidate to be considered as the best GPS running watch, with permission of Forerunner 245.
It has support for measuring running power (although it requires an external accessory such as Stryd), the TrainingLoad Pro can help you plan your workouts and is generally a well-resolved clock.
And as I said earlier, the fact that I added Sleep Plus Stages y Nightly Recharge makes the Vantage M benefit from the best training-oriented platform there is right now.
Unlike the Garmin Forerunner 245, the Polar Vantage M is a multisport watchso if you're planning on doing any triathlon However, it does not have route navigation or the possibility of playing music, which is present in 245 and can be a determining factor.
Best cheap GPS watch
Garmin Forerunner 35, Polar M430
The category of cheap GPS watch is the one I have had the most trouble choosing. There are many valid models in a price range of 100 to 150 euros, all of them with the basics (and not so basic) that you can look for in a GPS running.
Of the three chosen the GPS Garmin is the cheaper GPS watch It is a simple clock with a good contrast screen where you will see the information very clearly.
You have wrist cuff Not that it's the best, but it's perfectly valid for medium runs at a constant pace, but you'll want to use an ANT+ chest pulsometer for series and intensity work. Not that it's exclusive to Garmin, it's the same for all models on the market.
If you're looking for something as cheap as possible and want the basic features, the Garmin 35 is the choice.
As for the PolarThe best wrist heart rate monitor of the three. Not that you'll get rid of the chest pulsometer for everything, but it's true that it's a step up from the Garmin or Suunto ones.
Its strong point: the different training options it offers, such as the possibility of performing structured intervals or blocking a rhythm or heart rate zone so that the watch warns us if we go outside it.
It is one of the main options to consider, although it also depends on its price. Unless I make a one-time offer that makes it much cheaper, my choice would still be the Suunto Spartan Trainer.
Other GPS watches to consider
Garmin Forerunner 645, Garmin Vivoactive 4
The Garmin Forerunner 645 It was my recommendation as a race clock until the arrival of the FR245. I would have reason to continue to be so, but thanks to the fantastic autonomy offered by the new GNSS chipset from Sony of the 245 makes me lean more towards the new model.
The only thing I miss in 245 that could make me decide on 645 is the barometric altimeterIn addition to giving you altimetry data, it would also allow you to use the Garmin Running Power.
Anyway everything depends on the prices at which each of them moves and should take into account the different offers you find at any time.
One of the most recent developments has been the Garmin Vivoactive 4 (which also comes in two different sizes, 4 and 4s). The truth is that it's becoming more and more like its cousin the Garmin Forerunner 245.
Both are similarly priced and even the Vivoactive 4 offers some things that the FR245 does not: barometric altimeter, sweat and moisture metrics, breathing rate, Garmin Pay, video-guided exercises o music without having to search for a specific version.
So why isn't the Vivoactive 4 up there instead of the FR245? Because of the functions that the 245 does have, which in theory will be more adapted to the asphalt rider with the intention of competing: advanced training metrics, training status, Training EffectAnd let's not forget either, 245 offers route navigation so it can also allow you to make a slight dabble in the mountains.
However, the Vivoactive 4 is also a very interesting option for the road runner - you simply have to assess whether you need the training status functions or prefer the smart watch possibilities of the Vivoactive 4.
Here I include all aspects of mountain enjoyment: trail, ultratrail, climbing, hiking... In general, outdoor and mountain life. What the Anglo-Saxons understand by "outdoor lifestyle“.
What should you look for in a good mountain clock? Two things.
You should start with a autonomía outstandingNot to mention hiking, where you will be walking for several hours, even for a whole day.
Secondly, there is the navigationalthough it will depend on whether you are going to use a handheld browser (such as the Garmin eTrex 30xGarmin has taken several steps forward in this direction by including maps that, beyond showing you a route on a map and seeing different intersections more clearly, perhaps the most important aspect is that it opens up a world of possibilities when navigating the route itself.
Best Mountain GPS Watch
Garmin Fenix 6 Pro, Garmin Fenix 5 for tighter budgets
It couldn't be otherwise. The arrival of Garmin Fenix 6 to the market has moved the Fenix 5 Plus off the recommendation list. But beware, if you want maps you should opt for the Garmin Fenix 6 Pro, as the regular Fenix 6 does not enjoy them.
There's only one downside: the price. But you knew that in advance and I'm not finding out anything new. It's an expensive watch, mainly because Garmin knows that rivals can't offer something similar.
Extended autonomy, music reproduction, wireless NFC payments, larger screen reducing the edge of the clock... practically anything you can think of you're going to find in the Fenix 6 Pro one way or another.
With the new model Garmin has also added the pulse oximetry sensorThis time, an even larger screen (supporting up to 8 screen data) and a solar-charged version have been added to the Fenix 6X.
If your wrist gets too big you can also choose the Fenix 6S Pro, same features (but with less autonomy) but in a smaller size.
Other GPS watches to consider
Garmin Fenix 5, Suunto 9 Baro
The Fenix 6 Pro is too expensive? Then you have the Garmin Phoenix 5which costs almost half without the latest 6 Pro which not everyone needs.
One thing to keep in mind about the Fenix 5 (the normal one, not the Plus) is that if you are going to use external sensors you might have ANT+ signal problems. This only affects the Fenix 5, not the 5X or any of the Plus. The signal reception sensitivity of the Fenix 5 is lower than usual and there might be disconnections if the sensor is a little far from the clock as it can happen with potentiometers.
Suunto has done a great job with the Suunto 9 BaroSuunto's navigation is really good and has a quality performance, but the maps are the icing on the cake; not only for the convenience of seeing the route on the screen, but also when creating routes directly from the clock.
If you're not going to use the maps (because you don't value them or prefer the convenience and reliability of another device) then Suunto 9 is a contender to consider, especially for its fantastic battery management thanks to FusedTrackThis is the first time that a GPS track has been recorded, which, despite the fact that it records GPS points every two minutes, offers quite good quality tracks.
Suunto 9 is not far from the Fenix range, in fact there are many things in Suunto that I like more than in Garmin models, starting with the data screen settings and the size and quality of its screen, but you need that extra (pun intended) to be able to keep up.
There are two versions of the Suunto, the 9 Baro and the 9 normal. The difference between the two is that the first has a barometric altimeter and sapphire crystal and the second doesn't. Logically the version we will all prefer - especially for use in the mountains - is the Baro version.
This category is reserved for watches that allow for multisport activities, in the sense of being able to chain one after another without having to stop the activity.
When we think of a multi-sport model we do so with triathlon in mind, but it is not only that. There are many other sports that combine several disciplines in a consecutive way, such as duathlon or aquathlon.
Therefore, they must allow you to switch from one sport profile to another and support specific swimming metrics, both in the pool and in open water. And by the way, if you are looking for a swim clockany triathlon watch will do perfectly well with what you're looking for.
Best triathlon watch
Garmin Forerunner 945
The Garmin 945 The Garmin 935 has taken the place of the best triathlon watch. It is clear that with the renewal of the model it will be the new one that takes its place. Aesthetically it is almost identical to the model it replaces, but it includes many more new features than its slight change in appearance might suggest.
Garmin continues to lead the triathlon segment, if you think of a triathlon watch you think of a Garmin GPSThe dominance of the Americans in the sector is simply overwhelming, just take a look at any box of the race to realize that Garmin is the most widely used brand in the sport.
At the level of performance it is the maximum available today, at the level of the new Garmin MARQ Athlete 1,500In addition to the new features of the Fenix 5 Plus range (music playback, wireless payments and map navigation), it also has the new training metrics which, frankly, I'm using quite assiduously now.
In fact, it could well be another recommendation as the best mountain GPS watch, and if I don't include it is because you may prefer the somewhat more "rugged" and resistant design of the Phoenix or Suunto.
Personally, when I'm not testing any other GPS watch, it's the model that takes up my wrist (replacing the Forerunner 935), and of all the ones I have, it's my choice if I have to compete.
Other GPS watches to consider
Garmin Forerunner 935
It is at the same level of performance as the Fenix 5 range, but it is a much more lightweight due to the use of materials less nobleAh! and it has WiFi (in the Fenix 5 you have to go to the sapphire crystal to get it) and it doesn't suffer the connectivity problems with sensors.
It has been until very recently my trusted watch, the one I have used at all times when I was not testing anything else and that has only been replaced by the arrival of the 945. And at an interesting price I certainly would not rule out buying it because it has less features than the new model.
Best cheap triathlon watch
Polar Vantage M
The Polar Vantage M repeats on the list and displaces the Garmin Forerunner 735XT that was previously in this section.
The reasons that lead me to recommend it are the same as those seen previously as a racing watch, but we must not forget that it is a complete multi-sport watch, which allows you to set up a specific triathlon profile and has support for swimming in open water.
For a basic (and not so basic) use, it fits perfectly whatever your level as a triathlete. It has more than enough autonomy to withstand an Ironman and without any doubt preparing long distance races with many hours of training is where Training Load Pro the more it's going to shine.
Garmin Swim 2
One of the surprises left by 2019 is that Garmin has resurrected its specific swimming model. Garmin Swim 2 There are no longer any models that are primarily focused on swimmers, since pure swimmers are not usually watch lovers.
But of course, the pool is one thing and open water swimming is quite another. In the pool you can be guided by the clock on the wall, in open water you have no choice.
The Garmin Swim 2 is basically Garmin Forerunner 45 with software adapted to swimming and with some different functions that are not present in any other Garmin watch. But being something exclusive comes with a price. I'm not going to lie to you the Swim 2 is an expensive watch for what it offers.
And precisely because of that price too high I never forget the other options. You can basically use any of the multisports, including the Garmin Vivoactive 3.
But keep in mind that the Vivoactive 3 does not have an open water swimming profile, if you need it, I refer you back to the previous section of triathlon watches, they are the ones that usually have an open water profile with a slightly more lucid GPS management, but don't expect wonders, the performance in these conditions is quite limited by how the technology works.
So far the list of recommendations, there have been a few categories I have reviewed. If you think I left something out just leave your comment below and I will add it. And remember that you can expand the information of all the models I have included in their individual analysis. Click on any of the links to access them.
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