Best Garmin Activity Trackers & Smartwatches Buyers Guide 2016

Are you researching the best Garmin activity trackers and GPS smartwatches? We’ve listed the 2016 range from Garmin which will help you to get fitter and live a healthier lifestyle. You know it’s going to take some hard work and the extra motivation from a Garmin activity tracker will help to achieve your fitness goals.

Thankfully Garmin, Fitbit, Jawbone and many others have wearable products that can help inspire and motivate you along the way. We are living in the age of technology, why not use this to help you get fit and more importantly stay fit?

garmin activity trackers and smartwatches

The bulky products of yesteryear are long gone, now sleek and stylish activity trackers have taken their place. These intuitive, wrist-mounted devices act as pedometers, heart rate monitors, sleep monitors, calorie counters and much more, wrapped up into one feature-packed device.

For your convenience, I have listed the best Garmin activity trackers and smartwatches below. You can use these links to see current prices and best deals available. If you would like to find out more about each device, please continue reading.

Best Garmin Activity Tracker Key Features

Activity trackers come in a variety of makes and models and primarily track your movement throughout the course of the day. This can include steps, distance, calories burnt, heart rate and sleep. They are designed to worn 24/7 and are usually waterproof. Each of the main activity tracker brands (Garmin, FitBit, Jawbone) have their own fitness app which works in conjunction with the device, so you can monitor your activity and make sense of it. Social sharing is a large part of this to help with your motivation and sharing of achievements made.

When researching for a new activity tracker or GPS smartwatch it’s important to keep in mind a number of key features. These features will help determine which device is best for your individual requirements. I recommend always looking out for the following:

24/7 ACTIVITY TRACKING / GPS / BUILT-IN SPORTS APPS / CUSTOMIZATION / DURABILITY / FREE FITNESS APP / DESIGN & STYLE

The design of activity trackers is usually determined by it’s use. If it’s designed to be worn 24 hours a day then you’ll find that these are in the form of fitness bands, which are more comfortable to wear round the clock. GPS sport watches such as the Garmin Forerunner and Fitbit Charge also have daily activity tracking features and work much in the same way.

Essential reading: Garmin Vivoactive HR Review – Best GPS Smartwatch 2016.

Best Garmin Activity Trackers & GPS Smartwatches

Why Do You Need A Garmin Activity Tracker?

A large proportion of people now live a sedentary lifestyle, sitting or being inactive for long portions of the day. Your day job may dictate this so it’s easy to pass blame for lack of exercise. Activity trackers are designed to motivate and remind you to keep moving after long periods of inactivity, which is highly recommended to help keep you healthy. Research shows that people who track their daily movement using an activity tracker are usually more successful in reaching their fitness and weight loss goals. Activity trackers take the stress out of manual data entry and capture the data you need for a clear picture of your health and fitness.

ATTAINABLE GOALS/ MOTIVATION / ENCOURAGEMENT / WEIGHT LOSS / COUNT CALORIES / MYFITNESS PAL APP

Activity trackers learn your fitness habits and set daily goals which are targets for you to reach, if you don’t make the step goal on one day then they automatically adjust the next, so you can reach your target. However the aim is to always try and beat yesterday’s goal.

Both the Garmin Vivofit and Vivosmart display a red move bar which gradually increases in length (after every 15 mins of inactivity), eventually softly vibrating after an hour of no movement. Even getting up and walking a short distance can help reset the move bar. This motivation is ideal to keep you moving during the day. Activity trackers can also help with weight loss by keeping you clearly informed of calories burnt and goals met. MyFitness Pal is a popular weight loss app and Garmin fitness trackers can be synced with it. You can closely monitor your calories to help you reach your weight loss target.

Best Garmin Activity Trackers & GPS Smartwatches

Activity Trackers vs Smartphone Apps – Which are Best?

“Why can’t I just use a smartphone app to track my fitness?” I hear you say! Well you can, and there are some great fitness apps available on the various app stores. We often see runners out with their smartphones in hand, listening to audible or motivational alerts. But what happens in the rain or when your phone battery dies? Modern activity trackers, and in particular sport watches, are designed with fitness activity in-mind.

BATTERY LIFE / WATERPROOF / ACCURATE GPS / HANDS-FREE

The Garmin Forerunner range has a long battery life even in GPS mode. They’re also waterproof to 50 meters so can be worn in all weather conditions. Sunlight readable displays make it easier to see your data at glance, without stopping to check your phone.

Garmin vs Fitbit – Who Comes Out On Top?

Garmin were later launching their range of Vivo range of activity trackers and smartwatches. Fitbit had already gained the majority of market share. However Garmin does have the edge over Fitbit in comparison with some of their latest wearables. The Garmin Vivosmart HR is waterproof to 50M so you can wear it 24/7, in the swimming pool or in the shower. The Fitbit Charge HR should not in any circumstances be worn in wet conditions, it’s only splash proof.

Smart notifications are also worth considering. The Garmin Vivosmart HR, when paired with your bluetooth smartphone, will display notifications from your phone, on it’s always on touchscreen display. Fitbit Charge HR will only notify you to an incoming call so it’s smart notification features are limited.

garmin connect insights - best free fitness app for activity trackers

Garmin Connect – Motivation and Data Tracking Fitness App

Fitness training apps usually accompany activity trackers and the major players are still Garmin and Fitbit. The Fitbit app has the social sharing edge over Garmin as more people use it. Simply put there are more Fitbit’s sold than Garmin fitness bands at this point. The Garmin Connect app always being updated and improved and is now one of the best free fitness apps available. However without a Garmin device it’s useless, so you’ll need to buy a Garmin activity tracker or fitness device to start using it.

Garmin Connect Daily Insights

Garmin Connect now gives you personalized feedback on your data, so you know if walking 10,000 steps in one day are good (or bad), although you would assume it was a good thing. The same applies to sleep. OK so I know I had a bad nights sleep – now how does that effect my fitness?

Style and form also play a big role in the Garmin Vs Fitbit debate. Garmin activity trackers usually have a large screen to view your data on, with clear bold lettering and digits. The Garmin fitness band design is clunkier though and less attractive. Garmin did partner with Jonathan Adler to design the Vivofit Signature series. A range of stylish, interchangeable, accessory bands, which add some class to the Vivofit wrist strap.

Best Garmin Activity Trackers & Smartwatches

Garmin has many years of fitness wearable technology experience, launching the original Forerunner sports watch range over 10 years ago. They have built up a loyal following of runners and fitness enthusiasts. There is a good reason for this. Garmin sports watches are among the best in the business, from entry level to advanced training watches, there is a Garmin Forerunner to help you train whatever your level and ability. I’ve detailed some of the best Garmin activity trackers below to help you on your way. Shop links are also included to the current pricing and deals.


garmin vivoactive hr gps smartwatch

Best GPS Smartwatch 2016 – Garmin Vivoactive HR

2nd generation GPS smartwatch with built-in sports apps and wrist heart rate

The Garmin Vivoactive HR is the go to watch for sport and fitness enthusiasts. It has built-in sports apps for just about every activity imaginable. Garmin Elevate wrist heart keeps an eye on your ticker and smartphone notifications keep you up-to-date with the world. You can customize the screen with new widgets and apps from the Connect IQ store.

GPS SMARTWATCH / BUILT-IN SPORTS APPS / WRIST HEART RATE / 8 DAYS BATTERY / SMART NOTIFICATIONS / CONNECT IQ / MOVE BAR ALERTS / WATER RESISTANT / AUTO SYNC / INTENSITY MINUTES / FLOORS CLIMBED / MOVE IQ

  • GPS smartwatch with high-resolution, sunlight-readable touchscreen colour display
  • Garmin Elevate heart rate technology measures heart rate at the wrist 24/7
  • Built-in sports apps include running, biking, swimming, skiing, paddle boarding and more – no phone connection required
  • Intensity minutes monitors your progress against aerobic activity goals suggested by World Health Organisation
  • Tracks floors climbed thanks to an integrated barometric altimeter Built-in activity tracker counts steps, distance, calories burned, floors climbed and heart rate throughout the day
  • Garmin Move IQ motion detector automatically records your daily activities such as walking, running, biking, swimming and elliptical training for later review on Garmin Connect
  • Displays smart notifications, such as emails, texts and calendar updates, as well as weather information
  • Customizable watch faces, widgets and apps via free download from Connect IQ
  • Allows you to remotely control your music and VIRB action camera whilst keeping your smartphone in your pocket
  • Follows your progress 24/7, even monitoring sleep quality
  • Send real-time heart rate data to compatible Garmin devices
  • Up to 8 days battery life and water resistant up to 50 meters

Click here to see Garmin Vivoactive HR current prices.


garmin vivomove stylish activity tracker

Best Luxury Smartwatch – Garmin Vivomove

Luxury all day activity tracker in the style of an everyday watch

[easyazon_link keywords="Garmin Vivomove" locale="US" tag="bestgpstech-20"]The Garmin Vivomove is luxury activity tracker with all-day activity tracking. It’s a stylish watch which tracks steps, monitors sleep and syncs with the Garmin Connect app. It has an impressive 1-year battery life and lets you track activity 24/7 without having to worry about charging it every night. Choose a Vivomove design which complements your style best.

STEPS / 1+ YEAR BATTERY LIFE / MOVE BAR / TIME / STEP GOAL / WATER RESISTANT / SLEEP / WIRELESS SYNC

  • Up to 1-year battery life
  • Displays time, move bar and steps on the watch face
  • Syncs with Garmin Connect via mobile app or desktop to view stats such as distance, steps and sleep in more detail
  • Red move bar shows how long you’ve been inactive and reminds you when it’s time to move
  • Personalized auto goal appears on Vivomove display – your step count gets updated throughout the day showing you how close you are to your goal
  • Fashionable, timeless design that is easy to use as soon as it’s out of the box
  • Customisable, tool-less watch straps let you easily swap your band for leather or silicone
  • Variety of watch designs lets you choose the design that best complements your style
  • Swim and shower safe – water resistant up to 50 meters (Avoid prolonged exposure to water on leather bands)

Click here to see current Garmin Vivomove prices.


garmin vivosmart hr + GPS activity tracker

Best Activity Tracker for Running – Garmin Vivosmart HR+

GPS Activity Tracker with Garmin Elevate Wrist Heart Rate

The Garmin Vivosmart HR+ is a newer edition of the original Vivosmart HR and adds GPS. This means you can use it for running as it tracks distance, pace and personal records. Other features include step counter, calories, floors climbed and intensity minutes. Automatically sync Vivosmart HR+ with Garmin Connect App where you can receive meaningful digital insights such as daily motivation and healthy tips.

WRIST HEART RATE / GPS / RUNNING METRICS / STEPS / MOVE BAR ALERTS / SMART NOTIFICATIONS / TIME / STEP GOAL / INTENSITY MINUTES / CALORIES / FLOORS CLIMBED / GARMIN MOVE IQ

  • Tracks distance, time and pace using GPS technology
  • Garmin Elevate heart rate technology measures heart rate at the wrist 24/7
  • Intensity minutes monitors your progress against aerobic activity goals suggested by World Health Organisation
  • Get extra credit for floors climbed thanks to an integrated barometric altimeter
  • High resolution, sunlight readable display shows steps, distance, pace, calories, floors climbed, intensity minutes and time of day
  • Garmin Move IQ motion detector technology automatically records daily activity
  • Displays smart notifications with vibration alert, such as emails, texts and calendar updates, as well as weather information
  • Learns your activity level and proposes a personalized daily step goal; additionally, lets you manually set floors-climbed and intensity minutes goals
  • Acts as a remote device for VIRB action camera and music on your phone
  • Monitors your sleep allowing you to keep track of your rest
  • Sleek silicone band provides 24h comfort and touchscreen display
  • Up to 5 days of battery life and water resistant up to 50 meters

Click here to see Garmin Vivosmart HR+ current prices.


garmin vivosmart hr activity tracker

Best Selling Activity Tracker – Garmin Vivosmart HR

Activity Tracker with Garmin Elevate Wrist Heart Rate

The Garmin Vivosmart HR is an advanced fitness activity tracker. It uses Garmin Elevate technology to monitor heart rate at the wrist, now you can get an accurate heart rate reading 24 hours a day. Along with heart rate it also has advanced fitness tracking features including workout intensity to measure your gym sessions. Standard features include steps, distance, calories burned, floors climbed (new feature), music control (with paired Bluetooth smartphone).

WRIST HEART RATE / FLOORS CLIMBED / INTENSITY MINUTES / STEPS / MOVE BAR ALERTS / SMART NOTIFICATIONS

  • All day monitoring your heart rate using Garmin’s Elevate wrist heart rate technology
  • Intensity minutes monitor your progress against aerobic activity goals suggested by World Health Organisation
  • Automatically syncs with mobile device throughout the day
  • Displays smart notifications with vibration alert, plus weather
  • Displays steps, heart rate, calories, distance, floors climbed and time of day
  • Send real-time heart rate data to other Garmin devices (Forerunner, Edge, VIRB)
  • Sunlight-readable, touchscreen display in a sleek band
  • Acts as a remote device for VIRB action camera and music on your phone
  • Save, plan and share your data on Garmin Connect
  • Up to 5 days battery life and water resistant up to 50 meters

Click here to see Garmin Vivosmart HR current prices.


garmin vivofit 3 best activity tracker

Best Budget Activity Tracker 2016 – Garmin Vivofit 3

Activity tracker with automatic activity detection

The Garmin Vivofit 3 automatically detects activities such as walking, running, biking, swimming and elliptical training with the Garmin Move IQ feature. It has 1-year battery life and lets you track 24 hours a day including sleep. The red move bar reminds you when to move and you can also view stats like steps and calories on its easy-to-read high-resolution display.

STEPS / GARMIN MOVE IQ / MOVE BAR / 1+ YEAR BATTERY LIFE / TIME / STEP GOIAL / WATER RESISTANT / CALORIES / SLEEP MONITORING / WIRELESS SYNC

  • Garmin Move IQ motion detector automatically records your daily activities such as walking, running, biking, swimming and elliptical training for later review on Garmin Connect
  • High-resolution, sunlight-readable display shows steps, distance, calories burned, intensity minutes, goals and time of day
  • Gauges your activity level and sets personalised daily goals
  • “Time to move” with audible alerts reminds you to stay active throughout the day
  • Follow your progress 24/7, even monitoring sleep quality
  • Wireless Sync via USB ANT Stick or Bluetooth Smart technology
  • Activity Timer records activities with or without a heart rate monitor
  • Backlit display shows your stats, even in the dark
  • 1 year+ battery life and water resistant up to 50 meters

Click here to see Garmin Vivofit 3 current prices.


garmin vivofit 2 best activity tracker

Best Budget Activity Tracker 2015 – Garmin Vivofit 2

Entry level activity tracker with backlight display

The Garmin Vivofit 2 has all the best features of Vivofit and more. It learns your activity level and motivates you with personalized daily goals. The 24/7 Vivofit display is always on, displaying steps, calories, distance and heart rate. A backlight allows you to view your stats in the dark, and the move bar with audible alert tells you when you’ve been sitting too long. You can also pair Garmin Vivofit 2 with a heart rate monitor during fitness activities, or keep it simple, recording just time, distance and pace.

STEPS / 1+ YEAR BATTERY / MOVE BAR / TIME / STEP GOAL / WATER RESISTANT / CALORIES / SLEEP MONITORING / HEART RATE / WIRELESS SYNC

  • Backlit display shows your stats, even in the dark
  • Activity timer records activities with or without a heart rate monitor
  • “Time to move” with audible alerts reminds you to stay active throughout the day
  • Automatically sync with paired mobile devices

Click here to see Garmin Vivofit 2 best prices.


garmin vivofit best activity tracker

Cheapest Activity Tracker – Garmin Vivofit

Basic entry-level tracker with budget in-mind

The Garmin Vivofit was the first entry level activity tracker from Garmin and is ideal if you just require the basics. It counts steps, assigns daily goals, monitors sleep and heart rate. Vivofit does lack a backlight display which can be frustrating at night especially if you are wearing it to track your sleep movement. The band is easily interchangeable and there are a great range of colors and patterns now available. You can also buy the original Vivofit cheaply so it’s a good choice if you just need to test one out before going for an advanced version.

STEPS / 1+ YEAR BATTERY / MOVE BAR / TIME / STEP GOAL / WATER RESISTANT / CALORIES / SLEEP MONITORING / HEART RATE / WIRELESS SYNC

  • Displays steps, distance, calories burned and time of day
  • 1+ year battery life; stores up to 3 weeks of 24/7 activity data
  • Gauges your activity level and sets personalized daily goals
  • “Time to move” feature alerts you to prolonged periods of inactivity
  • Follows your progress 24/7, even monitoring sleep quality
  • Water resistant up to 50 meters
  • Save, plan and share your data on Garmin Connect
  • Wireless sync via USB ANT Stick or Bluetooth Smart technology
  • Compatible with heart rate monitor

Click here to see Garmin Vivofit best prices.


best activity tracker for kids - Garmin vivofit JR

Best Activity Tracker for Kids – Garmin Vivofit Junior

Fun and rewarding all day activity tracker just for kids

The first activity tracker designed for kids on the go. Garmin Vivofit JR is swim friendly and features funky, kid-approved designs, a 1-year battery life, and a free, parent-controlled mobile app. The app lets you motivate with rewards and a mobile adventure trail participants can unlock by meeting their activity goal.

60 MINUTE ACTIVE TIME / 1+ YEAR BATTERY LIFE / REWARDS / SWIM-FRIENDLY / ULTRA STRETCH BAND

  • 1-year battery life – no recharging needed!
  • 24/7 wearability, even in water
  • Free parent mobile app includes fun and educational mobile adventures for kids and task/behaviour management for parents
  • Preloaded tasks are managed through the parent’s mobile device and can be set to recur daily or weekly
  • Daily step challenge – turn every day into a fun competition as parents and kids compete as a family
  • Kids earn coins that can be redeemed for agreed-upon rewards with parents
  • Tracks steps, sleep and active time, which can be viewed on the way to their recommended 60-minute daily goal
  • Kid tough, easy to put on and comfortable to wear
  • Move bar reminds kids to stay active
  • Personalized watch face with name tells time and includes date

Click here to see current Garmin Vivofit JR prices.
Read the Garmin Vivofit Junior Review

Related posts:
Garmin Vivosmart HR vs Fitbit Charge HR Activity Tracker Comparison
Garmin Vivoactive 3 Review

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