Running watches with GPS can be a game-changing tool for assessing your training and tracking your miles. A certified running coach and long-time competitive runner reviewed the dozens of features and tested the watches with a long-term test of approximately 500 miles and hundreds of heart rate readings.
To help you find the perfect GPS running buddy, we’ve tested the latest running watches. We tested and ranked each of these GPS watches to help you select the right one based on the information they provide during and after your run. Getting the most from your sessions requires accurate GPS, excellent biometrics, and training tools.
We conclude that the Coros Pace 2 is the most appropriate watch for people seeking the ideal running watch. If you want a running watch with plenty of smartwatch features, we recommend the Garmin Forerunner 245.
The top watches for runners of every level, from beginners to ultrarunners, and each one listed here is the best for its category.
Coros Pace 2 (Rating- 4.5)
- Lightweight design
- Outstanding satellite positioning
- A high-resolution color display
Running watch Coros Pace 2 is lightweight and packed with features, making it the perfect mid-range running watch. Although it weighs just 29 grams, it has several features that we’d expect to find in more expensive running watches. With AI-based training, interval, and multi-sport modes, and support for third-party sensors as you can plan your training load for events with the watch’s heart rate monitor and foot pod.
This system has excellent positioning, with GPS complementing GLONASS and Beidu. Even if you stray off the radar, the watch will calculate your stride and cadence length so that you can monitor your performance.
Despite the backlight, the screen was difficult to read under direct sunlight, which put a small dent in the battery life.
Garmin Forerunner 945 (Rating -5)
- GPS tracking and biometrics accuracy
- Maps in full color
- Long battery life
Forerunner 945 offers all the features a runner could ask for in the year 2021, making it the best running watch available. Many helpful training tools can help you get the most out of your runs, including location-tracking and biometrics. One of our favorites is monitoring your training load. It measures your training over the past week and tells you how much it has increased, and you need to dial it back to prevent overtraining or if you need to push harder to improve fitness. The Body Battery feature, which measures your recovery from the previous day’s efforts, helps you maximize the effectiveness of every training run.
Furthermore, we were impressed by the full-color on-screen maps, which facilitate navigation on such an impressive display, and the sheer level of customization available. It is surprisingly easy to create interval sessions based on distance, time, or other factors.
Garmin Instinct Solar (RATING -4)
- Exceptional battery life
- Toolkits for advanced training
- Location tracking with high accuracy
The Garmin Instinct Solar is an extremely tough running watch that keeps its battery topped up for weeks between charges because of its photovoltaic glass lenses.
Garmin Instinct Solar builds upon the success of the regular Instinct by adding features like a pulse oximeter for monitoring blood oxygen saturation. Combined with heart rate variability, this allows the watch to estimate how much stress you are dealing with at any given moment to manage it.
GPS positioning is as accurate and reliable as you might expect from Garmin devices, and the Instinct Solar has many valuable features, including TracBack navigation to help you get back to your starting location and support for Garmin in Reach satellite communication if you’re going off the grid. Instinct Solar’s tough plastic shell means it’s not the most visually appealing Garmin watch, but for a multi-day event in the wilderness, it’s tough to beat.
Garmin Fenix 6 (Rating-4.5)
- Widgets can be used intuitively.
- It saves battery life according to your preferences
- Highly accurate activity tracking
The latest Garmin’s Fenix line is the best multi-sport and adventure watch you can find – if your budget allows it. Above all, the Fenix 6 is reliable, regardless of its fantastic training tools. This running watch’s heart rate monitor is accurate and works underwater and on land. Our tests proved the watch’s altimeter to be accurate and fast, and its GPS connection is fast and reliable.
In regular use, the Fenix 6 will keep running for two weeks, but with GPS running continuously, it will last for 36 hours. Runners will find the Fenix 6 extremely expensive, limiting their ability to use it.
Finding the right GPS running watch for you is essential, whether you are an ultra-runner who needs an extended battery life or want the most features from your watch. The choice is entirely yours.