Garmin’s Forerunner line of fitness trackers with GPS is mind-bogglingly complex. Also, the company updates Forerunner models so often that even those of us who test them for a living sometimes struggle to keep up. That’s a good thing – new features are almost always a plus – but it makes choosing the right model a challenge.
To further complicate your decision, Garmin added the Forerunner 255 in 2022. The latest model offers multiband GPS support, a barometric altimeter, and much-improved sleep tracking, among several dozen other welcome additions. The result is a multisport, runner-friendly watch. At $350, this is one of the best value watches in the Garmin lineup.
New and remarkable
For years I’ve used the Garmin 245, which falls in the middle of Garmin’s Forerunner line and is aimed primarily at runners. With the release of the Forerunner 255, Garmin retired the 245.
As with any fitness tracker, it depends on what you’re doing. For reference, my workout routine is based on body weight, with alternating walking and sprinting sessions throughout the week. I also used the 255 on hikes, paddleboarding, and for sleep tracking.
Like almost all Garmin non-touch watches, the Forerunner 255 has five buttons, three on the left and two on the right. I find the buttons more reliable to navigate with than the touchscreen models, but the important thing to note is that there’s no touchscreen here. The watch face is fully customizable, with a good selection of default watch faces that you can customize to your liking.
There are quite a few new features worth mentioning, but the one I was most excited about is sleep tracking. The Forerunner 255 tracks heart rate variability (HRV) and sleep stages and gives you an overall sleep score, with a new morning report, which includes the company’s Body Battery feature, as well as a daily greeting, weather and other tidbits. It is similar to what Apple offers.
To test the accuracy of the Forerunner 255, I had my wife, who uses an Oura ring to track sleep, use it for a few weeks. (The Forerunner needs 19 days of use before it starts making recommendations based on the sleep data it collects.) To keep this review reasonably long, the upshot was that she no longer has to worry about replacing of her Oura, given the disappointing trajectory. The Forerunner’s data largely matched that of the Oura and is nearly as complete. But it doesn’t track body temperature while sleeping and lacks some of the other features the Oura offers.
I especially liked my Morning Report, a good way to get a quick overview of where you are and what you want to do that day, training-wise. The other thing that caught my eye in the first week was the new auto-detection features.