Garmin Forerunner line GPS compatible fitness trackers are incredibly difficult. Plus, the company updates Forerunner models so frequently that even those of us who test them for life sometimes can’t keep up with them. That’s good – new features are almost always a plus – but choosing the right model becomes a challenge.
To further complicate your decision, Garmin added the Forerunner 255 in 2022. The latest model includes multi-band GPS support, a barometric altimeter and vastly improved sleep tracking, along with dozens of other useful additions. The result is a multisport watch that is comfortable for running. At $350, this is one of the best value for money watches in the Garmin lineup.
New and remarkable
For many years I have been using the Garmin 245, which is in the middle of the Garmin Forerunner line and is mainly for runners. With the release of the Forerunner 255, Garmin discontinued the 245.
As with any fitness tracker, how much it will help you depends on what you are doing. For the record, my training program is based on body weight, and during the week I alternate between walking and sprinting. I have also used the 255 for hiking, paddle boarding and sleep tracking.
Like almost all non-touchscreen Garmin watches, the Forerunner 255 has five buttons, three on the left and two on the right. I find the buttons more reliable for navigation than touchscreen models, but the main thing to note is that there is no touchscreen here. The watch face is fully customizable, with a good selection of default watch faces that you can use to customize to your liking.
There are quite a few new features worth mentioning, but the sleep tracking was the one that pleased me the most. Forerunner 255 tracks heart rate variability (HRV) and sleep stages and gives you an overall sleep score with a new morning report that includes the Body Battery feature, as well as a daily greeting, weather and other tidbits. This is similar to what Apple suggests.
To test the accuracy of the Forerunner 255, my wife, who uses the Oura ring for sleep tracking, has been using it for several weeks. (The predecessor needs 19 days of use before it starts making recommendations based on the sleep data it has collected.) To make this review reasonable, the result was that she was no longer worried about replacing her Oura given that the company has a frustrating trajectory. The Forerunner’s data was largely consistent with Oura’s, and nearly as complete. But it doesn’t track body temperature while you sleep, and it doesn’t have some of the other features that Oura offers.
I especially enjoyed my morning report, a good way to get a quick overview of where you are and what you want to do that day in terms of training. Another thing that caught my eye in the first week was the new auto-discovery features.