Garmin vs Polar: Comparing Their 8 Best Multisport Watches
When it comes to high-end multisport watches, not many brands do it better than Polar and Garmin.
These two giants of the tech world boast some of the most sophisticated and state-of-the-art fitness watches available on the market, making it a tough decision to choose between them.
And while Garmin’s Instinct, Forerunner, and Fenix ranges have arguably set the bar for the multisport watch world, Polar’s Vantage, Grit, and Ignite ranges are putting up some seriously stiff competition.
Which begs the question, which multisport watches come out on top?
Well, that’s what we’re going to help you out with today.
In this post, we’ve stacked the best similarly priced Polar and Garmin watches up against one another to make your decision between the two super easy.
The 8 Best Multisport Watches Go Head-To-Head
Polar Vantage V2 vs Garmin Fenix 6S
The stupendous Polar Vantage V2 vs the colossal Garmin Fenix 6S, which will reign supreme in this almighty matchup?
Polar’s Vantage is one of their best performing ranges and the Vantage V2 is the cream of this very stacked crop.
On the other hand, Garmin’s Fenix range is arguably the best in the business. And the Fenix 6S is at the forefront of Garmin’s famously well-designed multisports watches.
So who will come out on top of this top of the range head to head?
Let’s take a look.
As its name suggests, the Polar Vantage V2 is the second generation of Polar’s Vantage range. This sports watch boasts 40-hours of full-specced battery, 100-hours of battery saving mode, a ton of different sports specific tracking modes, sleep and recovery insights, and GLONASS, Galileo, and QZSS GPS tracking.
The Polar Vantage V2 has a sleek and easy-on-the-eye design, made from aluminum alloy and reinforced glass fiber polymer casing. These materials make the Vantage V2 very lightweight for a highly specced sports watch, weighing in at just 52grams. It’s also quite comfortable to wear, boasting a swappable 22mm silicone strap.
It has to be stated, one of the best features of the Vantage V2 is its dedicated 130 different sports modes. This means, no matter what sport you’re into, the V2 is bound to have something designed to track and monitor your progress.
Of course though, at the core of the sporting modes remains the most popular activities like running, triathlon tracking, cycling, and open-water or pool swimming.
The Garmin Fenix 6S is the smallest and slimmest of the Garmin Fenix range, making it the perfect watch for female, long-distance, or small-wristed athletes.
Although that’s not to say it isn’t suited to anybody else. The Garmin 6S will still keep even the fussiest sports watch enthusiast very happy.
The Garmin Fenix 6S comes in a 42mm case, smaller than the regular 47mm standard Fenix 6, with a 1.2inch 240x240pixel display. The Fenix 6S weighs 61grams, slightly heavier than the Polar Vantage V2 but no less lighter than the Fenix 6 that weighs in at 83grams.
The Fenix 6S does not have a touch screen, in its place is a five push-button console which is easily navigated and simple to use.
Aligning with Garmin’s feature-packed multisports watches, the Fenix 6S offers optical heart rate monitoring, Pulse Ox sensor, altimeter, barometer, compass, and topographical mapping.
And accompanying these monitoring features is a whole heap of different sports specific tracking.
You’ll get trail, indoor, outdoor, and treadmill running tracking. Indoor, outdoor, and mountain bike cycling tracking. Open-water and pool swimming. As well as skiing, snowboarding, triathlon, SUP, golf, yoga, kayaking, and a whole heap more.
|Model||Polar Vantage V2||Garmin Fenix 6S|
|Battery Life||40 hours of GPS battery life, 100 hours in low GPS mode||25 hours GPS, 50 hours maximum battery tracking|
|Music||Change and select music on a connected device||Change and select music on a connected device|
|Additional Features||130 sports modes, nightly sleep and recovery insights, 8-LED optical heart rate, Fuel Wise reminder feature for food and water intake||Pulse Ox, altimeter, barometer, compass, heart rate monitor, VO2 max, topographical mapping|
Polar Grit X vs Garmin Instinct Solar
The next matchup is the Polar Grit X and the Garmin Instinct Solar.
These two very popular fitness watches have been designed for super long battery life and an extremely tough and no BS design.
So what's it gonna be?
Let's take a look at who reigns supreme in this no-holds-barred battle.
The Polar Grit X is another great addition to the multisport watch world. It offers the same battery life of the V2, the most of any other Polar watch, it’s made tough to withstand long-distance sports, and has a whole ton of sports-specific tracking modes.
The Grit X looks and feels tough. The most rugged-looking of all the Polar watches, its super robust design, 47mm stainless steel case, and fiberglass-reinforced polymer back cover, make it ready for the worst athletes can throw at it.
This ruggedness, however, comes at a cost.
The watch weighs 64grams and is somewhat bulkier than other similarly specced sports watches.
This may just bother some people and perhaps they are best looking for something a little lighter and petit. But really, if you are one to treat your gear rough, look no further than the Polar Grit X.
The Garmin Instinct Solar is a more affordable option over most of Garmin's Fenix models but is no less packed with features. A durable, lightweight, and long battery life all rolled up in a low-cost package, making it a great all-rounder fitness watch.
No doubt, if you are considering buying the Instinct Solar, one of the most important features must be battery life. And well, it’s safe to say, you’ve found the right watch.
The Garmin Instinct Solar’s battery life is not just insane, in some modes it's literally unlimited.
And although it’s listed briefly below, we’ll detail it here in more length. Here’s a quick breakdown of the different Instinct Solar battery modes:
- Use in smartwatch mode: Get up to 24 days or 54 days with optimal solar conditions
- Using Battery Save Watch Mode: Get up to 56 days to unlimited battery life with optimal solar conditions
- With GPS enabled: Get up to 30 hours or 38 hours with optimal solar conditions
- Using Max Battery GPS Mode: Get up to 70 hours or 145 hours with optimal solar conditions
- Using Expedition GPS Activity Mode: Get up to 28 days or 68 days with optimal solar conditions
Aside from its solar capabilities, the Garmin Instinct Solar also allows sports tracking. Particularly designed around, but not limited to, hiking as well as other sports like trail running, swimming, yoga, and mountain bike riding.
The Instinct Solar also possesses many other features that are commonplace in Garmin fitness watches like 24/7 wrist-based heart rate monitoring, Pulse Ox tracking, and SpO2 tracked readings.
|Model||Polar Grit X||Garmin Instinct Solar|
|Battery Life||40 hours of GPS battery life, 100 hours in low GPS mode||70 hours plus 75 hours GPS with solar, 28 days plus 40 days with expedition mode, 56 days up to unlimited battery life in battery saving mode|
|Music||No||Change and select music on a connected device|
|Additional Features||130 sports modes, nightly sleep and recovery insights optical heart rate monitoring, Fuel Wise reminder feature for food and water intake||Pulse Ox, altimeter, barometer, compass, heart rate monitor, VO2 max, Topographical mapping|
Polar Vantage M vs Garmin Instinct
Next, the Polar Vantage M and Garmin Instinct go up against one another.
Both watches make an awesome option for any athlete but particularly to those that are buying their first multisport watches.
They are both super affordable and yet still stacked full of worthy features that are sure to keep everybody happy.
So, which one will come out on top?
Let's find out.
The Polar Vantage M could be considered a hybrid of both the Polar M430 and the Vantage V2, it basically sits somewhere in between.
The Vantage M is tailored towards runners but isn’t as run-orientated as the M430, it still contains another 130 sport profiles that can be used to track all sorts of specializations. And yet, it doesn’t house all the features the Vantage V2 does. Instead, offering a more affordable yet still well together multisports watch.
For instance, the Polar Vantage M still has an integrated heart rate sensor, 24/7 activity tracking, built-in barometer, Polar’s Training Recovery Pro feature, plus Strava compatibility.
The display is still Polar’s standard size of 1.2inches containing 240x240pixel of resolution. Although, the touchscreen is gone and has been replaced with physical buttons. The button orientation is pretty straightforward and no more complicated than what you’d expect.
The Garmin Instinct has been designed to stand up to the harsh conditions of outdoor amateur, professional, and extreme sporting activities. It’s rugged 45mm casing and strong silicone strap not only make the Instinct durable but also very comfortable to wear, even while sleeping.
The Instinct comes with all the bells and whistles you’d come to expect from a Garmin watch. It has GPS along with Galileo and GLONASS to ensure the best mapping coverage. There’s a wrist-based heart rate monitor, of course, plus altimeter, sports tracking, recovery, and sleep monitoring, and music controllability.
Unfortunately, unlike Garmin’s top of the range models, the Garmin Instinct doesn’t have Garmin Pay but its incredible battery life more than makes up for that.
Don’t get us wrong, it’s no Instinct Solar but the Garmin Instinct will last 14 days on smartwatch mode, 16 hours on GPS mode, and 40 hours on Garmin’s UltraTrac GPS mode.
|Model||Polar Vantage M||Garmin Instinct|
|Battery Life||30 hours of GPS battery life||14 days smartwatch mode, 16 hours GPS mode, 40 hours UtraTrac GPS mode|
|Additional Features||130 sports modes, tracks running, swimming, and cycling, Polar Precision Prime heart rate tech, compatible with Strava, GLONASS GPS||Wrist-based heart rate monitoring, multisport tracking of running, cycling, swimming, hiking, skiing, and more, GLONASS and Galileo GPS|
Polar M430 vs Garmin Forerunner 245
And last but not least, the battle ends here with the Polar M430 and the Garmin Forerunner 245.
These two awesome fitness watches have been designed particularly for runners.
They're both lightweight, super comfortable to wear, and have a ton of different running modes to keep track of your athletic efforts.
Let's take a look at how they compare against each other.
Although Polar M430 is a runners watch it's also still a genuine multisports watch. With built-in GPS, a six-LED heart rate monitoring sensor, sleep and recovery tracking, and swimming and cycling modes, there's no doubt it makes a very affordable option for those that want to do more than just run.
However, it should be stated that it doesn’t possess Polar’s typically standard 130 sports modes that are found in high-end Polar sports watches.
The M430 is slightly larger than most other Polar watches, measuring in at 1.3inches rather than the standard 1.2inches, and it’s one of the lightest sports watches Polar makes, coming in at 51grams.
The M430’s overall design is minimalistic and simpler than most other Polar watches, coming in three different colors from black to white to a retro orange.
Oh and, of course, there are a ton of different run tracking modes, choose from 5k, 10k, half marathon, or marathon training plans, make use of Polar’s Recovery Status and Runnin Index features, or switch on the GPS and simply track any run no matter the length.
The Garmin Forerunner 245 is Garmin’s best-valued Forerunner model. And, just as its name suggests, it’s a runner’s fitness watch loaded with a whole heap of extra features.
Choose from a heap of advanced metrics like Pulse Ox, heart rate monitoring, GLONASS, and Galileo GPS, plus a few cycling and pool swimming tracking modes to boot.
The Forerunner 245 doesn’t possess a touch screen, rather in its place is a five physical button interface that’s generally easy to navigate.
The watch has a 1.2inch, 240x240pixel display, so there are no sacrifices here in terms of screen resolution or size compared with other high-end Garmin multisport watches.
The Forerunner’s wristband is a 20mm silicone strap that can be swapped out at any time for a different color. Couple the wristband with a 45mm fiber-inforced polymer case and you’ve got yourself quite a comfortable to wear and super functional sports watch.
|Model||Polar M430||Garmin Forerunner 245|
|Battery Life||8 hours of GPS battery life, 30hours in low GPS mode||7 days smartwatch mode, 24 hours GPS, 9 hours in GPS + GLONASS mode|
|Additional Features||Wrist-based heart monitoring, sleep and recovery tracking, SiRFInstantFix GPS||Pulse Ox, heart rate monitoring, tracks running cycling, and swimming, GLONASS and Galileo GPS|
Is Garmin or Polar better?
There is no clear winner between Garmin and Polar sports watches. A choice between the two will really come down to your personal preferences and how much money you’d like to spend. Generally, Garmin watches are extremely versatile and cover a ton of different sporting disciplines. Whereas Polar watches are typically less expensive and easier to use.
Are Polar watches good?
Yes, Polar watches are generally a great sporting watch option. They are typically very affordable, come in a range of different models specific to any sporting discipline, are well-designed and durably constructed, plus are backed by Polar’s comprehensive 2-year warranty.
What is the best Polar watch?
The Polar Vantage V2 would have to be one of Polar’s best sporting watches. It possesses a ton of different features like 130 sport-specific tracking modes, has integrated GPS, GLONASS, Galileo, and QZSS functionality, possesses 40 hours of training mode battery life, only weighs 52grams, plus has up to 100meters of water resistance.
Which Garmin watch is the best?
The Garmin Fenix 6 is currently Garmin’s best addition to its comprehensive range of multisports watches. The Fenix 6 has not only been designed to stand up to the harsh conditions of outdoor and indoor sports conditions but is also packed with a ton of awesome features.
When it comes to multisport watches, Polar and Garmin make some of the best you can find on the market.
All their models are packed full of features, are well built and durable in design, come in a ton of different variations to suit any sporting discipline, and, no matter your budget, you are sure to find a fitness watch that will match your preferred price range.
The trouble when choosing between the two manufacturers won't just be based on integrated features. Nope, there are a heap of different styles and colors that will no doubt seriously affect your final decision as well.