Best Garmin for Triathlon: Get The Most Out of Your Triathlon Training

When you are training to be a triathlete, staying on top of your performance is a must. If you are only guesstimating the number of laps or miles you’ve covered, it will be hard to tell if you’re progressing or not. So for today, we’ve made a roundup of the best Garmin for triathlon.

Garmin made some of the best GPS watches money can buy. For a triathlete like yourself, it’s hard to go wrong with a Garmin triathlon watch. A good multi-sport watch can accurately monitor your running, cycling, and swimming metrics.

Let’s get to it!

Best Garmin for Triathlon

Key Features

Our Rating

Garmin Forerunner 935 Advanced running and multisport features, Built-in barometer, altimeter and electronic compass, Advanced dynamics for running, cycling and swimming, Built-in activity profiles ★ ★ ★ ★ ★
Garmin Fenix 5 Plus Built-in mapping and navigation features, TOPO mapping, Advanced performance metrics, Wrist-based heart rate, Garmin Pay, Easily store and play up to 500 songs, Smart notifications ★ ★ ★ ★ ½
Garmin Forerunner 35 Built in GPS, 5 ATM water rating, 24/7 heart rate monitoring, Vibration alerts, Activity tracking milestones, Virtual pacing progress, Step counter ★ ★ ★ ★
Garmin Forerunner 735XT 24/7 Heart rate monitoring, Built-in activities, Smart notifications, Multisport mode, Step Counter, Advanced Running Dynamics. Move Bar, Recovery Advisor ★ ★ ★ ★
Garmin Instinct Military standard 810G, 3-axis compass and barometric altimeter, heart rate, activity and stress monitor, smart notifications, TracBack feature ★ ★ ★ ★
Garmin Vivoactive 3 15 preloaded GPS and indoor sports apps, VO2 Max feature, Smart notifications, 14 days of activity tracking data, Garmin Pay, Heart rate monitor ★ ★ ★ ½

Best Garmin for Triathlon

1. Garmin Forerunner 935

The Garmin Forerunner 935 is a certified beast when it comes to multi-sport watches. I’ve checked out the newest version of Forerunner, the Forerunner 945, and I think it’s not worth the upgrade yet. This is still the reigning king of Garmin GPS watches.

Takes Your Performance to Another Level

The Garmin Forerunner 935 has been my go-to device for running.

Perhaps one of the best selling points of the Forerunner 935 is the excellent battery life. With every charge, I could squeeze in plenty of workouts before it needs to be charged again. With watch mode, it can last as long as 14 days in a single charge.

Furthermore, the Training Status is a godsend feature that will automatically evaluate your recent workouts. There are even performance indicators to let you know if you did have a productive workout or not. This is a key feature for triathletes who are looking to optimize their training sessions.

Of course, the Forerunner 935 offers some built-in activity profiles for running, cycling, swimming, and plenty of other activities. The watch can provide advanced metrics with just a press of a button. With the information at hand, you can tweak your performance to help you achieve a better lap time.

Ultimately, the Forerunner 935 is one of the best GPS watches that you can get in the market.

2. Garmin Fenix 5 Plus

The Garmin Fenix 5 is one of the more popular watches from Garmin’s collection. The Garmin Fenix 5 Plus is a worthy upgrade to the original, thanks to its numerous impressive features.

A Worthy Upgrade

For starters, the Garmin Fenix 5 Plus is a rugged watch. It’s clearly designed for more rugged activities and is appropriately referred to as a multi-sport adventure watch. Despite being a hard-wearing GPS watch, the design looks sleek and very high-quality.

There’s a bit of bulk to the watch but you won’t have a hard time wearing it all day with plain clothes. It’s utilitarian but sensible at the same time.

As expected, the Fenix 5 Plus offers a wide range of built-in sport modes. However, the watch does let you easily tweak the information that displays on the watch during workouts. The intuitiveness of operating the features is very much appreciated.

For triathlon, the running, cycling, and swimming metrics are all here and come with a rich feature set. For instance, you get advanced swimming metrics such as drill logging, stroke detection, and swim efficiency scoring. Most, if not all, of the monitored metrics are highly accurate.

It’s also worth mentioning that the watch can store up to 500 songs that you can listen to while training.

On a negative note, the Garmin Fenix 5 Plus commands a hefty price tag which is hard to ignore. However, I have to say that it’s a worthy investment.

3. Garmin Forerunner 35

If you are looking for the best Garmin for triathlon that won’t break the bank, the Garmin Forerunner 35 is worth checking out. It’s a great option for triathlon beginners or those who simply run for fitness and fun.

Covers the Basic

As the budget option on this list, the Garmin Forerunner 35 doesn’t have all the bells and whistles of other, more expensive Garmin GPS watches. However, it’s still a very good activity tracker for all fitness levels.

The Garmin Forerunner 35 provides the expected features and functionalities without dialing it to 11. With this GPS watch, you get the usual features like intervals, auto-laps, daily alarm, notifications, and heart rate monitor. Again, nothing too crazy here but it gets the job done beautifully.

The wrist heart rate (Garmin Elevate) works great and I’ve had no issues with accuracy. The display is easy to read but the quality of the screen could be better. But that’s to be expected from a budget-friendly Garmin watch. The vibrating alarm is also another feature that works well and is a welcome addition to the watch.

Style-wise, the Forerunner 35 looks like your typical smartwatch. The square face reminds of the Apple watch which is not a bad thing at all.

If price or simplicity is your thing, the Forerunner 35 offers a tremendous value.

4. Garmin Forerunner 735XT

Another candidate for the best Garmin for triathlon is the popular, Garmin Forerunner 735XT. This multi-sport watch is very comparable to the Forerunner 935 with some key differences. This is a good watch to consider if you think the 935 is too expensive.

A Great Multi-Sport Watch With a Learning Curve

For starters, the Garmin Forerunner 735XT is a great option if you’re looking for a thin and lightweight triathlon watch. Whether you’re in the track or the gym, you’ll forget that it’s even there.

Although it’s light in weight, not so when it comes to features.

The Forerunner 735XT comes with built-in sports profiles. It supports a wide variety of activities such as running, cycling, swimming, hiking, skiing, weightlifting, and cardio. A neat feature is the ability to track multiple activities as one which is obviously great for triathletes. All you need to do is to press the lap button so enable the feature.

As mentioned, there’ a bit of a learning curve to use the Forerunner 735XT. There are five buttons to operate which can be confusing for first-time users. However, if you have used other Garmin GPS watches before, operating the watch shouldn’t be that hard.

Once you get the hang of it, the Garmin Forerunner 735XT should cover most of your triathlon needs.

5. Garmin Instinct

The Garmin Instinct is your watch of choice if you are a triathlete who also loves to explore the great outdoors. Although it’s mainly a hiking watch, the superior GPS and mapping features are useful for triathlon training.

Tough Watch With Superior Navigation

When it comes to looks, the Garmin Instinct can be a bit polarizing – you either love or hate the look of the watch. If you are a fan of Casio G-Shocks, there’s a good chance that you’ll love the Instinct’s design.

With that said, the main draw of this watch is the navigation features.

The Instinct features a built-in 3-axis compass so you won’t need to guess your bearings while training. The TracBack feature is a great addition especially when you like running on a less-traversed trail. Basically, it allows you to easily backtrack to your starting point.

Also, there’s the ULTRATRAC battery mode which gives the watch a battery life of 40 hours. It’s a neat power-saving feature especially when I don’t like charging watches every so often.

Customization is excellent when it comes to setting workouts. You can choose to follow a predefined workout or create one using Garmin Connect – all of which can be done on-the-fly.

Wrapping up, there’s so much to unpack with the Garmin Instinct. It’s not your typical triathlon watch but it gets the job done and more.

6. Garmin Vívoactive 3

Hardcore ironman athletes will likely find the Garmin Vívoactive 3 to be a bit inadequate. It’s not specifically designed for triathlon but its a pretty good multi-sport watch for orienting yourself with training concepts.

Feature-Packed Multi-Sport Watch

Unlike watches that are designed for triathlon, the Vívoactive 3 lacks a way to transition from one activity to the next. However, the watch does support various sports profiles and you can even set custom workouts. For triathlon, it comes with unique tracking features for running, cycling, and swimming.

Furthermore, the Vívoactive 3 is not only waterproof but also comes with a compass, barometric altimeter, and accelerometer. Whether you’re working out indoor or outdoor, this watch has got you covered.

In terms of accuracy, the GPS and heart rate monitor are both fairly accurate. However, for serious triathletes, the gold-standard accuracy is simply not here. For steadier pacing, the watch is accurate. On the flip side, accuracy becomes erratic at higher intensities.

Overall, the Vívoactive 3 is more of a fitness tool but it packs enough features to be a reliable triathlon training companion.

Garmin Knows Triathlon Watches

This concludes our buyer’s guide for the best Garmin for triathlon. Garmin makes excellent GPS watches, so it’s hard to go wrong with any of our selection. Here’s hoping we have helped you find the best triathlon watch to help with your training.

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