Comprehensive Running Watch Review

It’s the week after Thanksgiving and now is a great time to run off all of that pumpkin pie! Over the past week I ran with three different running watches that all have strengths and weaknesses. Below I rated characteristics of these watches like fit, data collection and presentation, waterproof capabilities and batter life. If you’re looking for an awesome workout gadget to put on your christmas list, check out the watches below!

This is not a paid advertisement for any of the following watches, just a helpful review!

Garmin Forerunner 220 (My current running watch)

Fit and feel: Comfortable, if slightly large on the wrist, this watch is a sturdy piece of equipment. The no-slide material of the band helps the face from bouncing around while you’re running, and has more than ten different holes to accommodate for a variety in wrist sizes.

Data presentation: With five buttons to navigate the countless features of the Garmin watch, getting used to the system can be a little tricky but after one or two trials, using the buttons becomes second nature. The watch shows distance run, time elapsed, pace, and calories burned, and when you connect it to the online Garmin website, it shows altitude change, mile splits and more. One of my favorite features on the Garmin is the motivating “beep” sound it makes after every mile completed.

Waterproof ability: Having worn this watch in the rain and accidentally in the shower several times, I can definitively say that it is waterproof.

Battery: The battery life on the Garmin Forerunner is one of the only downfalls of this otherwise phenomenal watch. I am not someone who remembers to plug in all of my technology every day, and the Garmin only lasts about 24 hours before it needs a fresh charge. It also takes a long time to charge from 0% battery.

Other capabilities: This watch also measures biking and walking, so if you are looking for a watch that will be flexible and record your cross-training, this will do the job.


Apple Watch Series 2

Fit and feel: The Apple Watch is definitely in a different tech category than running watches I’ve worn in the past. The sleek touch screen threw me off while I navigated the workout features, but compared to the Garmin, the watch felt thinner, lighter and more natural on my wrist.

Data presentation: I borrowed this watch from my sister, and though I only had a day to get used to the settings before I ran with the Apple Watch, the workout features were fairly simple to navigate with one scrolling button and the touch screen. The watch displayed distance run, time elapsed, pace and heart beats per minute, then incorporated my run into my “daily goals” of moving, standing and exercise.

Waterproof ability: I also accidentally wore this watch in the shower (sorry, Ellie!) and it survived! I later learned that the Series 2 is water resistant and will survive in the rain, shower, and drenched in sweat. Thank goodness!

Battery: According to my sources, the Apple Watch lasts about two days with a full charge. This is much better than the Garmin that, for some reason, doesn’t hold a charge long enough for two long runs in two days, but not up to the week that the Fitbit Charge 2 promises.

Other capabilities: I didn’t realize how often I get notifications until I decided to sync the Apple Watch to my iPhone. Every text, calendar alert and breaking news alert sent a vibrating buzz through my wrist and I was distracted each time. This feature is great for someone who wants to keep up with the digital world but texts and news alerts seriously interrupted my concentration during my run. I’m sure with a little more time I could have figured out how to turn off the buzzing but I appreciated the notifications during the rest of my day… I guess that feature is a hit or miss! You can even buy an esim iwatch so you can text and call when your phone isn’t nearby.


Fitbit Charge HR 2

Fit and feel: This watch was my favorite in terms of wrist feel. The band molded perfectly around my wrist and the solid, boxy face felt like a natural addition to my arm. I was surprised at this comfort because of the thin nature of the watch, but my good friend who loaned it to me swears by the Fitbit and now I see why.

Data presentation: Like the Apple Watch, the Fitbit only has one button, but unlike the Apple Watch, it does not have a touch screen. The button allows the wearer to scroll through data and features, start and pause a run, and turn the watch on and off. This simple system is very easy to learn, and I was able to master it within five minutes of putting the watch on with no assistance or tutorials. The watch face shows distance run, time elapsed, pace, and calories burned, and heart beats per minute, and the Fitbit app lays out all of this information and more in a user-friendly format.

Waterproof ability: Similar to the Apple Watch, the Fitbit Charge is water resistant, but not waterproof. Fitbit recommends not showering with the watch on, though it is “rain and splash proof.” I managed to take this watch off before I could test the waterproof ability, but my friend vouched for the water resistant feature!

Battery: I had this watch for a very short time and was unable to test the battery life, but Fitbit claims that the Charge HR 2 watch lasts up to 5 days. This is a great improvement to the Garmin and the Apple Watch, and the Charge HR 2 does most of the same things that those watches do combined.

Other capabilities: The Charge HR 2 syncs with multiple phones, not just iPhones, and alerts the user to texts, calls and other notifications. My phone was not synced to the watch at the time that I used it to run, but according to regular Fitbit users, the alerts are subtle and not distracting. The Fitbit watch also tracks weight workouts and yoga, and has guided breathing exercises built into its system. This wide range of activity-related features makes it a great watch for cross-training.


Overall, my favorite watch to run with was the Fitbit. My current running watch is the Garmin Forerunner 220, and for all of its positive qualities, the Garmin does not have the same natural feel and multi-functional use that the Fitbit provides. In terms of every day function, the Fitbit is definitely more of a lifestyle watch while the Garmin is only intended to be worn while running or working out. The Apple Watch was too much for my easily distracted brain to handle, though I enjoyed seeing my “goal circles” slowly complete themselves, but the Fitbit was a straightforward, active watch and definitely won me over. After reviewing these three watches, I will definitely be adding the Charge 2 to my Christmas wish-list!



“Have the courage to follow your heart and intuition. They somehow know what you truly want to become.” -Steve Jobs