Have you decided to go for a run at the heart of nature? Well, aside from carrying your essentials (energy drink, water, food, safety blanket, jacket, headlamp, etc.) during your trail run, it is also important to wear a GPS trail running watch.
A trail running watch has all the navigational features — navigation and setting to waypoints, route tracking, and return start — for a great outdoor adventure. It may also estimate your resting recovery progress and sense when you’re up to a steep climb.
Trail running watches also gather significant running data, like elevation gain, pace, and mileage. And if you’re a hardcore trail runner or a fitness-minded individual looking for the best GPS tracking smartwatch, Garmin multisport GPS watches sure make a statement.
If you’re interested to know more about the best Garmin watch for trail running, keep on reading. We provided you below an in-depth review of the best GPS sports watches that are ideal for trail running!
Top 5 Best Garmin Watch for Trail Runners
1. Garmin Fenix 6
The Garmin Fenix 6 is an all-around GPS watch that allows you to view advanced training metrics, including running dynamics, recovery advisor, altitude- and heat-adjusted VO2 max, and more to help measure your aerobic or cardiovascular fitness.
With its power manager feature, you also get to view how sensors and settings impact your smartwatch’s battery life. That way, it’s easy to make changes to extend the battery life of Fenix 6 while on the run.
Use also the ClimPro feature ascent planner to view real-time data of your upcoming and current climbs, including elevation gain, distance, and gradient. This Garmin Fenix 6 likewise allows you to access multi-global navigation support satellite systems (Galileo, GLONASS, and GPS).
- With pre-loaded activity profiles for trail running and other sports
- Two-week battery life
- Multi-GNSS support
- ABC sensors
- Safety and tracking features
- Unbreakable design
- Nice to wear all-day
- Detailed activity tracking
- Sophisticated design
- Limited smartwatch functionality
- Expensive than other smartwatch options
2. Garmin Enduro GPS Watch
If you prefer an ultra-performance multisport GPS watch, then choose Enduro. It has a solar glass (Power Glass) charging lens that harvests the sun’s energy and converts it into power.
It features a trail run VO2 max to track your aerobic and cardiovascular fitness level and then adjust it according to the trail conditions. The Enduro GPS watch for trail runners also has a rest timer so you can log the time you spent at the aid stations during your trail run.
The weather-resistant and rugged design of Enduro is tuned for race conditions. Plus, you can use the ClimbPro feature to see data on your climbs and give you information for flats and descents.
- Power Glass™ solar charging lens
- Lightweight but durable
- With navigation sensors
- Up to 80 hours battery life in GPS mode, 300 hours in battery mode
- Advanced training metrics
- With recovery advisor
- Training guidance/ daily run or ride suggestions based on your training status
- Multi-GNSS support
- PacePro feature
- Lack of onboard music
- No mapping capabilities, only navigation features
- Hefty size
3. Garmin Fenix 6X Pro Solar
You will surely love this Fenix® 6 – Pro Solar Edition that harnesses the power of the sun so you can go longer outdoors between charges. It also allows you to view how your body is holding up during a trail run.
This is because it has a wrist-based Pulse Ox and heart rate. And should you need running pace guidance, there’s a special feature for that in this Fenix 6x Pro.
You can navigate your adventure and view TOPO maps on your wrist. In terms of design, the 6X Pro looks sophisticated with its large 1.3” display.
- Water and shock-resistant
- Made from premium materials
- Wrist-based heart rate
- Advanced sleep monitoring
- With TOPO and Ski Maps
- PacePro technology to keep you on pace as you trail run a course
- With daily workout suggestions
- Recovery time data after each workout/ trail run
- Multi-GNSS support
- Respiration tracking
- Complex setup for beginners
- Expensive than other sports watch
- Heart rate may not be accurate when using ski poles
- limited Garmin Pay bank support
4. Garmin Forerunner 45
The Garmin Forerunner 45 is also top-end as far as wearables for a trail runner go. This sports watch has all the trail running-related features you need in a lightweight, sleek design that you would want to wear every day, even at night.
Its GPS tracks distance, pace, intervals, and more. It also monitors your heart rate at the wrist. Should you prefer to receive notifications for important texts, you can also read that on your smartwatch.
There’s also a Garmin Coach feature so you can access adaptive training plans. If you need assistance or feel unsafe during your trail run, it has built-in assistance and incident detection features so the watch itself sends your location to your emergency contacts.
- Up to 7 days battery life
- With safety and tracking feature to send your location to emergency contacts (if the smartwatch senses an incident)
- Easily to control music from your phone
- With built-in GPS
- Wrist-based heart rate
- Garmin Coach adaptive training plans
- Sporty and lightweight materials
- Design for runners
- Does not support third-party apps
- Limited features for advanced athletes compared to other GPS smartwatches
5. Garmin Forerunner 245
Garmin Forerunner 245 is a great fitness tracker for trail runners who want to improve their performance. It comes with helpful features, including incident detection, pulse oximeter sensor, and Elevate heart rate sensor, to name a few.
You can view heart rate data in this watch and it sends alerts too if your heart rate stays too low or too high while you are at rest. Then, you can gauge your heart rate during the run itself or other activities, even underwater.
If you like trail running and want to track your tracks and monitor your training load, this is one of the best ultramarathon watches for you!
- With Pulse OX sensor
- Heart rate or HR monitor built-in
- Measures important running metrics, like stride length, cadence, balance, and ground contact time
- Up to 7 days battery power
- Lightweight and sleek design, ideal for trail running or everyday wear
- Guidance from experts or running coach via Garmin Coach
- Evaluates your recent exercise performance and history
- Tracks user’s body energy level to find best times for rest and activity
- A little buggy when syncing Spotify playlists
- Takes lots of clicks (in the side buttons) when navigating the watch
- The night light is not bright enough, especially when used in dark conditions
What to Look for When Buying a Garmin Watch for Trail Running
Here are the primary features and benefits that you should look out for when buying a trail running watch:
Built-in Topo Maps
Topographic maps are important for trail runners, backpackers, and hikers to plan their routes, find good campsites and water, and estimate their travel times. They also get to track their trail run progress with this feature.
A trail running watch should have a hydration tracking feature that allows you to log your daily fluid intake to estimate your body hydration levels. This feature may also measure fluid loss during the trail run or other sports.
The hydration tracking feature updates your hydration goals and calculates your sweat loss too.
GPS Ability/ Multi-GNSS Support
Most trail runners are familiar with a navigation system (GPS). This is why Garmin offers this functionality in their smartwatches. So, when buying a running watch, consider one with a GPS ability or offers access to Galileo and GLONASS positioning.
That way, when one network goes down, vertical and horizontal data continues to function even in extreme situations.
Long Battery Life
Having a long battery life is a crucial component in a smartwatch for trail runners. After all, every recording and sensor requires power so there’s only enough battery life to use during your trail run.
That being said, most Garmin GPS watches have up to 25 hours of battery life when used in GPS mode or 9 days when used as a regular smartwatch.
Bottomline: Which One Should You Buy?
Technically speaking, although we all love the GPS watches listed above, our top pick for wilderness trails would be the Garmin Fenix 6X Pro. Well, it’s a close fight with Garmin Enduro.
The 6X Pro has health-focused features, like the pulse oximeter to track how much oxygen is in the user’s blood as well as a Body Battery tool to quantify the user’s energy levels during a trail run.
Almost every sport you’d want to measure is also there, including trail run, hike, run, bike indoor, bike, open water swim, triathlon, navigate, golf, multi-sport, indoor track, treadmill, and more!
The moment you select a sport, it will just show the GPS and heart rate acquisition status and sensor connectivity. Overall, this GPS watch is made for extreme endurance athletes like you.
If you like this review, you might want to read our other reviews at EvesWatch.com.