First running/hiking watch - time to stop avoiding Garmin?

Wahoo (and other) users who own Garmin products, is it a pain to be in both worlds? If I buy a Garmin watch am I going to want to switch everything else over to Garmin too?

As per the subject, I’ve always avoided Garmin because I bought my first bike computer in 2018 at the height of Garmin’s reputation for head units crashing, eating ride files, etc… Then I avoided all their other products because I didn’t want to end up in their ecosystem with the connect app, etc. I have a Cycliq camera rather than a Varia, I have a Whitings smart scale rather than Garmin, I have Oura for sleep tracking, etc. And when my Wahoo Bolt V1 died (waterproof button covers came off and mount tab snapped, but unit still functions), I bought Bolt V2. Now I’ve been looking for a first run/hike/multi-use watch for a year or so and I keep avoiding looking at Garmin, but they’re not crashtastic anymore so it’s starting to feel a bit dogmatic and I wonder if it’s finally time to give in and join their cult ecosystem.

I’m not a runner at all and have no running ambitions but have started running 3-5k after my Tuesday interval session on the trainer, mostly just to keep a bit of impact in my routine for the sake of joint/bone health. The eccentric muscle contractions also help me to not be in DOMS agony after I go hiking twice a month. And it means I can handle a bigger run (10k-ish) in place of my cycle training if I have to travel for a few days and can’t bring a bike.

I’m sure I don’t need to list the reasons why I want more than just recording runs on the strava app on my phone. I actually really loved the Wahoo app for this at first, but now it crashes all the time and loses the run file (irony, eh?), so I’m done with that too. Sometimes when hiking I’ll put the old Bolt V1 in my pack and then re-label the file from a ride to a hike after the fact, but that’s not ideal either. And I’m kind of ok with using my phone for navigation whilst hiking, but it would definitely be an improvement to know I’m not relying on just that one device for my maps. Only other use-case I can think of is that I want to try cyclocross racing, and I know with bike swaps a watch can be the preferred recording device.

Based on all that, @dcrainmaker’s guide basically says I should go get a Fenix. Maybe a generation older to save a bit of money, but really that’s the watch to have. That or a Coros Vertix, but it sounds like the Coros ecosystem doesn’t integrate that well with other brands.

I’ve been watching the market for a while now, sort of hoping that the Wahoo watch would finally come up to speed for my liking (or that they’d launch a V2 which fits the bill), but with Black Friday sales coming up I wonder if I should just make a move instead of waiting another year. And then if I do pull the trigger do I go straight for the does-everything watch or do I try to tick most but not all of my boxes for a cut price to get me started? I’ve seen Elemnt Rival for £199 but that seems poor VFM when a Fenix 6 Pro can be had at £299.

Anyone got anything else to recommend based on what I’ve said?


I love my Forerunner 245, it works perfectly for my daily dog walk/hike and the body battery info has been surprisingly accurate/useful/addictive.


I recently picked up a used Fenix 5 and it’s amazing. I’ve had older running watches from Garmin but the amount of data this watch tracks is impressive. I believe the Fenix 6 is available on amazon for reduced $$.


Great watch


I have a Forerunner 955 and love it. I returned to Garmin last year with no regrets.

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Yes, it is, I have a Fenix 6s, but stupid Garmin is not updating it with new features. Very annoying. Say what you want about Apple, but at least your investment is protected by years of upgrades after purchase. Top marks for Wahoo for keeping their old products updated too.


I was an “early adopter” of Apple Watch for endurance sports for years and years and totally agree that they and other platforms should be first choice, but my watch broke and I gave up waiting for simple functions to be developed. There just isn’t the financial incentive for app developers.

Switched to Garmin and it’s been good so far. They are putting far more into health and performance than anyone else imo.

But it is, ironically, the old Apple “white goods” approach to technology: Got Problem? Buy Device.

Just get the cheap Garmin FR 55. It works great tracking your heart rate, pace, elevation, mileage…what else do you need for run training?


The OP question is somewhat similar to Mac vs Windows, iOS vs Android, etc … basically, do you want to work across multiple ecosystems or be all in on one.

For me I have a Suunto watch (Spartan Trainer Wrist HR - awesome budget full tri watch circa 2018). It’s been rock solid. The Suunto 5 would be a comparable replacement if / when necessary but I will likely go with a Garmin, even if it costs a little more (within reason), to have everything in one ecosystem.

I use Training Peaks to collate all of my workout files and view everything in one place (I have an Edge 830 for cycling) but many things like sleep, steps, etc don’t cross platforms between Suunto, Garmin, and TP.

Garmin Connect is superior to Suunto’s app, IMHO. Yes, I could manually import anything recorded on the Suunto watch into Garmin but, honestly, one more manual process is the last thing I need (total first world problem).

Anyway, just my perspective.

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I’d say using pretty much anything non-Garmin with Garmin is a frustrating (rather than a painful) experience. It’s like everything sort of works, but has been deliberately downgraded so that it’s not quite as good as using Garmin stuff. For instance, you can get running dynamics stuff with a Wahoo HRM, but for some reason not running power - it’s an annoyance, but not a dealbreaker. And I wouldn’t trade my FR954 for a Rival unless it got a significant feature set upgrade in a V2.

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As others have said, definitely check out the Forerunner series as well. Personally I love the Forerunner form factor (significantly lighter and thinner than Fenix).

The new generation (255 and 955) do HRV if you care about that or think you might care about that in the near future. I’m very happy with my 945, and won’t upgrade any time soon, but if I was buying new now I’d probably go 255.

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Thanks all, this is really helpful.

This is my main concern. I keep thinking about ending my TP subscription since TR does most of the same analysis, but TP is the only one that will also deal with all those non-cycling activity types. I’m sort of envisioning that if I pick up a Garmin watch I’ll gravitate towards preferring their analysis platform (over TP) and then find myself trying to import outside ride data (from Wahoo), smart scale data (from Whitings), etc.

Thankfully HRM isn’t a huge cost (and my original Tickr is 4 years old and on its third strap, so I’ve had my money’s worth already & it wouldn’t do power anyway). What’s the process like trying to get ride data from another platform? Or daily weigh-ins?

This would be the obvious way to find something far less expensive than Fenix series, but at the moment I can get a Fenix 6 Pro cheaper than a FR 955, 945, or 255. That makes the Fenix seem like an abnormally good deal even though it’s a generation old. is afree alternative to TrainingPeaks. It doesn’t solve the issue of duplicates / manual updates but it is free and has some very powerful analysis capabilities.

I think some smart scales do integrate with Garmin Connect. Check out for the particular scale you have / are interested in. I have a “dumb” scale and just manually enter my sleep hours, sleep quality, weight, and anything else each morning into TrainingPeaks. It takes maybe 30 seconds. Here is this morning’s entry into TP.

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Have you tried side-loading the Alpha update? Check it out here:

I was resistant to the smart watch trend and just rely on my head units (wahoo roam and bolt) but was researching the competition for a while and like the OP just did not want a Garmin for what ever reason. Ended up with a lightly used Suunto Peak 9. Got a great price but still have buyers remorse as i don’t use it much and don’t like the buttons, screen and basic menu functionality. also did not do my research and realize that it does not really have a map but a bread crumb " turn here" mapping. Might give this to my daughter and just go back to a apple watch. I thought that i needed it for racing CX which at my armature-hour level it really doesn’t matter. I’ve used my pit bike once this year and really find looking at my wrist distracting and lightly dangerous riding on the dirt. Still think the far out extension with a head unit the best option. Being a huge watch collector i thought this would be a cool addition the collection. now it just sits there charging making weird update noises which i cant figure out how to turn off.

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I use a Forerunner 245 for all activities that aren’t bike related (although have used it occasionally if I don’t have my headunit). I really like the data and information GarminConnect gives me with recovery times, approximate “fitness” and V02 max data.

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