As a certified running and endurance coach, I often get asked what are the best GPS watches available out of the dozens out there. Well, my answer would change depending upon what you are looking to use your sport watch for and your budget.
Here are my favorites based on personal experience as well as the experience of my athletes. Below the list, you can compare the features of these models together, side by side.
Best Overall GPS Watch
The Garmin Forerunner 910XT, while pricey, is hands down my favorite of all current-production models. The best part is that it includes any feature you may need and can be used for multi-sport athletes such as triathletes, or individual sports like running, swimming, and cycling. You can purchase with or without a heart rate monitor and frankly, its a Garmin.
Best Out Of Production Watch
The Garmin Forerunner 305, while out of current production is a great watch for those who can still find them. Prices have really dropped as a result of it being a back model, and they have everything I need in a sports watch. While it can get wet, it is not designed for long term exposure like swimming. I have owned two Garmin 305′s and my second one is going strong. My daughter now owns the original.
Best for running, can also use for biking
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Best Entry-Level GPS Watch
The Garmin Forerunner 10 is a popular entry level watch and runs about 1/3 to 1/2 the cost of the more expensive watches. Its simple to operate, and has all the basic features than most people “actually” need like GPS distance, pace, speed, auto-pause, and audio alerts. If you want the best GPS watch at its low price point, then this is a great choice. But keep in mind you will not get a heart rate monitor or some of the more advanced features found in the higher end sport GPS watches.
Best for Running, Swimming
The Garmin Forerunner 610 is a runner’s favorite and gives the 910XT a run for its money. The only issue is that is is not truly a multi-sport watch. While it can get wet, it is not designed for swimming like the 910XT above. The biggest differentiators with this watch is its touchscreen feature and advanced features (too many to list). The 610 has an improved touchscreen over the previous model’s bezel which some people complained about when their fingers were sweaty. (e.g Forerunner 410). I have not had any issues with this on the 610. This is a great watch if you want a high quality GPS running watch.
October 2013 update: The Garmin 610 is currently in the process of being replaced by the Garmin Forerunner 620. I do not own the 620, but have personally seen it via our local Garmin rep at my local running store. It is due in November, 2013 at Amazon.com. If considering the 610, you may want to take a serious look at the 620. I was impressed. Check out my blog post on the Garmin 620 for more information.
Best for Running