8 Best Budget Running Watches

Running watches, especially GPS running watches, are no small investment. I found 8 budget running watches that include lots of great features without breaking the bank. My favorite is the Forerunner 55 because it has almost all the capabilities of a more expensive watch at a fraction of the cost–it has GPS tracking, bluetooth connectivity, training metrics, and adaptive training programs. Read on to find the best watch to fit your needs!

Running with a running watch can help or hurt your performance depending on how you use it.

The sticker shock of GPS running watches is what keeps most people from buying them—finding it hard to justify so much on a watch that tells you how far you ran or how hard you worked. To help, I have rounded up the best budget running watches for your wallet and training!

GPS watches today offer much more than the simple stats of distance and pace. They come with advanced features such as incident detection, smart phone notifications, health status, fitness workout demos, and training guidance akin to a real-life coach.

And surprisingly, some of these watches have a price point of $200 or lower thanks to advancements in technology.

best GPS running watches
I have had this Garmin Forerunner for years. Running watches can be pricey, but they usually last!

Most of GPS running watches below are under $200 or less, and offer features to take your running or fitness to the next level.

I created this list of best budget running watches by scouring features, specs, reviews and asking my Instagram followers for their favorite running watches and why. The below best GPS running watches were chosen based on their features, battery life, GPS accuracy, multi-sport options, and features.

When trying to decide which running watch on this listis best for you, consider the following:

  • How will you use the watch? If you’re going after specific running goals, then watch models with biometric data, training plans, and coaching is the best option for you. If you want general fitness goals, then a fitness tracker may be a better fit. If you plan to do other activities than running, make sure your multi-sport watch includes your activities including being water-resistant for swimming.
  • How often will you use your watch? If you plan to wear your watch every day and/or run most days, then you’ll want a watch that’s lightweight, comfortable, and has a long battery life.
  • Where will you use your watch? If you run lots of trails or hike, then a watch with superior GPS, downloadable maps, and premier navigation are key.
best budget GPS watch pin
Pin these best budget running watches for later!
  • What do you want your watch to look like? If you only wear your watch for running, then you might not care about the style of the watch. If you plan to wear it all the time, then an attractive sleek design or watch with a interchangeable bands is best for you.
  • And of course, how much are you willing to pay? If you can’t justify spending a ton of money on a GPS watch, then you have several options to choose from below.
  • What is better Garmin or Coros?

    Five of the seven watches on this list are by Garmin or Coros, so I wanted to give a quick overview of these GPS watch brands. Both are quality GPS watches that offer premium GPS tracking, heart rate monitor, and advanced data and features. Below is what makes the two watch brands difference from on another.

    Garmin: styled and designed for everyday wear with style options and lifestyle metrics like stress level, Garmin watches have four buttons on the side to toggle between screens, and updates to new watches initiated by the user. Garmin also offers safety features such as live tracking (with your phone nearby) and incident detection which Coros does not have.

    Coros: designed for your training sessions, Coros has a digital dial, the best battery life available, and updates directly to your watch. It’s GPS is also accurate on the running track.

    best budget running watch instagram post
    These running watches offer the most bang for your buck!

    The Best Budget Running Watches Include:

    • Garmin Forerunner 55
    • Garmin Fenix 4
    • Garmin Venu Sq
    • Coros Pace 2
    • Coros Apex 2
    • Polar Unite
    • AmazFit GTS
    • Samsung Galaxy Watch 4

    Okay, now let’s get to the list!

    8 Best Budget Running Watches

    Garmin Forerunner 55 — $199.99

    Best for Road Runners Wanting to Improve

    The Garmin Forerunner 55 gives you so much bang for your buck including personalized coaching and race prediction in a multi-sport GPS watch. The biggest difference between this Forerunner model and the more advanced models are decreased accuracy, battery life, music storage option, and biometrics data.

    Garmin Forerunner 55
    The Garmin Forerunner 55 is lightweight for everyday wear.

    Biggest pros: The race day strategy and cadence info give you a coach in your pocket.

    Biggest cons: The performance data isn’t the most accurate, and not an equal replacement to an actual running coach. Also, if you prefer less feedback from your watch, this one isn’t for you. All the options can make it confusing to use, as well. This watch also does not have swim tracking. 

    Garmin Forerunner 55 Features:

    • GPS: Track your time, distance, pace and speed during your run or walk with built-in GPS.
    • Battery life: Up to 2 weeks of battery life in smartwatch mode and up to 20 hours in GPS mode.
    • Tailored runs: Tailored training guidance with daily run recommendations of varying intensities based on your training history, fitness level and recovery time.
    • Training programs: Adaptive training plans for your goal distance and times feature guidance from expert coaches and free training plans. Workouts sync right to your watch from the Garmin Connect app2.
    • Race day strategy: To help you plan your race day strategy, this feature offers GPS-basedpace guidance for a selected course or distance in the Garmin Connect app. So you can tailor your efforts to what’s ahead.
    • Estimated run finish times: This feature allows you to select a distance and then see a data screen that shows your estimated finish time.
    Garmin Forerunner 55
    The Garmin Forerunner 55 offers lots of training support and guidance.
  • Cadence alerts: If you need to adjust your cadence, this watch gives you cadence alerts to know when you’ve gone outside your target cadence range.
  • Workout helper: When on the track for speedwork, this allows you to record accurate lap distances and see your distances in meters.
  • Recovery advisor: The built-inrecovery time feature will let you know how long to rest before another big effort.
  • Race predictor: This specialized tool takes into account your fitness level and training history to help you work toward your race goal and see the impact of training on your predicted finish time.
  • Comfortable design: Lightweight and comfortable with a silicone band, this smartwatch is the perfect fit for running and for everyday life.
  • Incident detection: Incident Detection signals an alarm to your emergency contacts should you take a fall. Even if you’re unconscious on the ground, your watch is capable of automatically texting an alert with your GPS location to friends or family (with a 15-second grace perio for you to cancel).
  • Phone connection: Like the Forerunner, the Fenix connects to your phone via Bluetooth so you get all the same notifications your watch that you do no your phone like emails, texts, and alerts (when phone is in range).  
  • Related: Safety Tips & Tech for Runners

    Garmin Fenix 5 — $259

    Best for Trail Runners Wanting Fast Times

    If you love the Garmin Forerunner options but want more, then the Garmin Fenix 5 is your watch. It stickers at $499 but you can find it cheaper on other sites than Garmin. While I wanted to include running watches under $200 bucks for this list, the Garmin Fenix was the most popular watch among my Instagram followers, so I had to include it. This is due to it’s ease of use and the attractiveness of the Garmin Fenix series.

    Garmin Fenix 5
    The Garmin Fenix is attractive with lots of advanced tech options.

    You can swap out bands for leather and change the watch face so that it looks like an everyday watch or smart watch. The Fenix is a GPS multisport watch like the Forerunner which offers advanced running and biometric data that the Forerunner doesn’t plus a more detailed navigational system and water-resistance.

    Biggest pros: Interchangeable straps make this a go-anywhere watch plus the detailed stride data so you know how efficient your stride is. Also, this GPS is more accurate, especially if you run in heavily wooded areas often, making this a go-to for trail runners.

    Biggest cons: Doesn’t provide as much race performance data options as Forerunner like race strategy. And it’s not as intuitive to use as other GPS watches. 

    Garmin Fenix 5 Features:

    • Accurate Heart Rate Data: The Elevate™ wrist heart rate technology for offers advanced heart rate
    best budget GPS watch pin
    Pin these best budget running watches for later!


  • Dual GPS: Outdoor sensors, including GPS and GLONASS satellite reception and 3-axis compass with gyroscope and barometric altimeter to track in more challenging environments than GPS alone.
  • Advanced navigation: The 3-axis electronic compass keeps your bearing, whether you’re moving or not. In addition, there’s an internal gyroscope to help improve position accuracy (and battery life) in UltraTrac mode.
  • Accessible key data points: Put key stats at your fingertips with the performance widget that puts the effects and progress of your workouts in an easy to see display.
  • Battery life: up to 2 weeks in smartwatch mode (depending on settings), up to 24 hours in GPS mode or up to 60 hours in UltraTrac™ battery saver mode
  • Attractive design: The most versatile watch on this list. The Fenix offers a rugged design that features stainless steel bezel, buttons and rear case, different size watch bands, QuickFit® interchangeable wristbands in leather, metal, or silicone, and custom watch faces.
  • Water resistance: All fēnix 5 versions are water-rated to 100 meters.
  • Advanced Running stats: The Fenix offers more advanced running stats that the lower tiered Forerunner models like training status (a new performance monitoring tool that automatically evaluates your recent exercise history to let you know if you’re training productively, peaking or overreaching), anaerobic training effect metric (which tells you how your training is improving), overall training load (training volume compared to your personal optimal range).
  • Garmin Fenix 5
    The Garmin Fenix 5 provides routes so you don’t get lost.
  • More biometrics: Biomechanical measurements such as cadencestride lengthground contact time and balancevertical oscillation and vertical ratio are the key to understanding your form so you can bring your best on race day.
  • This Garmin also gives you access to additional features such as Garmin Coach, adaptive plans, phone notifications, and incident detection like the Forerunner.
  • Related: The Best Pocket Bras for Runners

    Garmin Venu Sq GPS — $118

    Best for Those With Overall Wellness Goals

    Still not sold on the other two Garmins (and their pricetags), the Garmin Venu Sq GPS offers the basic GPS features in a beautiful design (the white and gold package is drool-worthy) and a colorful display.

    The coolest feature about the Garmin Venu Sq is that it offers a workout trainer that guides you throughout workouts such as yoga or Pilates. This multi-sport watch is perfect for any runner who is looking to improve their overall wellness with features such as a sleep and hydration tracker, and breathwork coach. This watch stickers for $199 though (shockingly) you can find a cheaper watch through a quick online search.

    Garmin Venu Sq
    The Garmin Venu Sq might be the prettiest GPS running watch.

    Biggest pros: The most beautiful GPS watch in its design and screen, it also offers workout demos straight from your wrist.

    Biggest cons: If you want the running data that breaks down each run and projects future performance, this isn’t the Garmin for you. The stats offered tie into overall health like sleep, recovery, and hydration. 

    Garmin Venu Sq GPS Watch Features:

    • Wellness stats: On-the-wrist health and wellness monitoring doesn’t get more thorough than this.
    • Bright color display and sleek design: This watch features a bright color display and optional always-on mode, so you can see everything with a quick glance.
    • Sleek design: With a sleek design that’s suited for every outfit and every part of your day,
    • Battery life: Up to 6 days of battery life in smartwatch mode and up to 14 hours in GPS mode.
    • Workout trainer: Let the watch plan workouts for you, including yoga, strength, cardio, even Pilates.
    • Garmin pay: Touch-free ability to pay while on the go—no phone or wallet needed.
    • Body battery & stress tracker mode: This feature tells you your body’s energy levels throughout the day so you can know the best times for activity and rest. It will also tell you if you’re having a calm, balanced, or stressful day. If also give you relax and breathing reminders throughout the day.
    Garmin Venu Sq
    The Garmin Venu Sq allows you to optimize major healthy habits.
  • Pulse ox meter: The Pulse Ox sensor3gauges your blood oxygen saturation during the day and as you sleep to show how well your body is absorbing oxygen.
  • Hydration, breath, menstrual cycle, and sleep tracking: This GPS watch allows you to log your fluid intake as a reminder to stay hydrated, prompts you through breathing exercises, allows you to track your cycle through the Garmin Connect App, and tracks your sleep and recovery.
  • This watch also features incident detection and Bluetooth connection to your phone.
  • Related: Garmin Metrics Explained: How Accurate is the V02 Max Feature?

    COROS APEX 2$349

    Best for Outdoor Adventures & UltraRunners

    The COROS APEX has it all, which is why it is the most expensive watch on this list (but you can find it cheaper on third-party sites). COROS has become a fan favorite GPS running watch brand, in large part because of its battery life.

    Coros Apex 2
    The Coros Apex 2 has pretty much every option imaginable in a GPS watch except safety features like incident detection.

    When my husband was training for a 100 miler, we realized his Garmin wouldn’t last for his long runs. It was a predicament! The solution was a COROS which has a 100-hour battery life plus it offers breadcrumbs and downloadable routes so you don’t get lost on the run.

    For the road runner, it has accurate splits on the track whereas Garmin always undershoots or overshoots. The coolest feature, in my opinion, is the customized workouts from pro athletes, from strength to swim—and everything in between.

    Biggest pros: Ultra multi-sport option from trail running to speedsurfing; ultra-long battery life in GPS mode (30 days!), and reliable GPS. This watch also has a music storage option.

    Biggest cons: The backlight isn’t very bright, the heart rate data can be inaccurate at times, and the GPS can lose signal (unlike with the COROS PACE 2 below).

    COROS APEX 2 Features:

    • Accurate splits: Offering “Track Run Mode”, COROS’ a proprietary algorithm, allows you to accurate measure your splits while on the track.
    • Battery life: Astonishing 17 days regular use and 45 days in GPS mode. (The Pro model goes up to 75 hours in GPS mode!)
    • Ultra accurate GPS: The “All Systems On” modelets the watch use any of the satellite systems (GPS, GLONASS, Galileo, BeiDou, QZSS)
    • Never get lost: Thanks to track and navigation features, the COROS Apex watch allows you to upload and display routes on a grid as a breadcrumb trail with real-time alerts about elevation and direction so you don’t get lost.
    • Sturdy & attractive design: The Apex is a durable and attractive design.
    Coros Apex 2
    The maps on the Coros Apex 2 are incredibly clear and detailed for a small watch.
  • Music storage option: offers 8 gb for music storage or downloaded maps.
  • Unparalleled battery life: In UltraMax setting, the battery is made to last up to 100 hours using GPS. While using normal mode will yield up to 35 hours, and regular usage up to 30 days.
  • Simple watch navigation: Changing screens and using devices can be overwhelming with traditional buttons like on Garmin. The APEX has a digital dial so you can easily switch between modes and features.
  • Advanced biometrics: The data of this watch will tell you your recovery status, predictive stats for training, fitness, and race performance so you can peak at the right time. Specifically, it offers training status, training effect, training load, and recovery time indicator. It also offers real-time running data like power and form so you can be more efficient while on the run.
  • Training advisor: Using a unique algorithm plus your personal data including lactate threshold, VO2 Max and heart rate, the COROS Trainer calculates a perceived effort and recommend a time for full recovery.
  • Personalized fitness workouts: With COROS Training mode, you can create, share and even download workouts from professional athletes and coaches. Build your own workout in the COROS App for Running, Cycling, Swimming or Strength Training with virtually no limitations. Select from more than 200+ preloaded exercises to create your ideal strength training session. 
  • Related: How to Pace Yourself When Running

    Coros Pace 2 — $199

    Best for Triathletes

    The COROS PACE 2 is like a down-scaled version of the APEX in a lot of ways. The COROS PACE is a stand-out for its ultra-lightweight design and navigational maps. Like other COROS, it has reliable GPS, an ultra-long battery life, and access to the COROS coaching team.  It also offers a cool muscle heat map to show you what

    COROS Pace 2
    The COROS Pace 2 offers so much for your money. It’s good enough for pro runners like Molly Seidel.

    muscles did the most work in your workout (though, I feel certain your body can tell you that, too).

    The PACE 2 is a perfect training partner for triathletes, covering running, cycling, and indoor/outdoor swimming. (The PACE 3 has some more biometrics features for $30).

    Biggest Pros: Longer battery life than the APEX in GPS mode, one of the most lightweight watches on the market, and many advanced features for the money.

    Biggest Cons: Plastic construction makes it less durable. Also, this watch has fewer multi-sport options than others on this list and doesn’t have the same training analysis as the COROS Apex 2 like training status and load (see below).

    COROS PACE 2 Features:

    • Massive battery life: Battery life of 24 days in smartwatch mode or 38 hours of GPS operation.
    • Light and simple design: Weighing under 30 grams, this is one of the lightest GPS running watches on the market. That’s thanks to a nylon band. The design as features a digital dial (like the APEX), making it intuitive to operate.
    • Ultra accurate GPS: The “All Systems On” modelets the watch use any of the satellite systems (GPS, GLONASS, Galileo, BeiDou, QZSS).
    • Maps & downloaded navigation options: The PACE 2 hastopographic and landscape maps perfect for hikers and trail runners with the option to preload maps off the COROS website.
    • Accurate splits: The COROS PACE 2 also automatically detects that you are on a track to ensure GPS and data accuracy with the Track Mode.
    COROS Pace 2
    The COROS Pace 2 also offers downloadable maps and clear navigation.
  • Advanced biometrics: The PACE 2 via the COROS Training Hub desktop portal provides in-depth analysis and management features including VO2 max, threshold pace, threshold heart rate, recovery timer, race predictor, and a muscle heat map. It also includes an optical heart rate sensor, blood oxygen measurement sensor, and a barometric altimeter, giving you accuracy for metrics such as pace, distance, GPS tracking, and heart rate.
  • Gait data: If you get the COROS POD 3, you have access to even more advanced running metrics, such as Ground Time, L/R Balance, Stride Height, and Ratio. Perfect for non-GPS situations, get next-level accuracy for your hard-earned data on treadmills and indoor tracks.
  • Customized coaching option: You also have access to the companion coaching app that offers 1-on-1 advice from the COROS Coaches.
  • Extra features: Includes a sleep monitor, workout scheduler, pre-designed plans, and personalized workout builder.
  • Related: 14 Reasons Why Your Heart Rate is High on Easy Runs

    Polar Unite — $139.00

    Best for Those with Basic Fitness Goals

    Just the facts, ma’am. (Anyone remember, Dragnet? I am dating myself). If you are looking on of the best cheap running watches that has the essential features of GPS tracking and heart rate monitoring, then the Polar Unite watch is your watch. What makes the Polar Unite special is its accurate heart rate data and focus. (It does come from the supreme heart rate data company, Polar, after all).

    Polar Unite Watch
    The Polar Unite Watch boasts Polar’s accurate heart rate sensor

    The Polar Unite gives you daily workout guidance, 24/7 heart rate and activity tracking, and automatic sleep and recovery applications. It’s simple and straightforward, telling you what you’ve done and whether it’s too much or too little. Polar Unite is like a pocket-sized personal trainer to help you with your fitness goals.

    Compare this to the Fitbit Sense 2 or Polar Pacer which are about double the price but with advanced features such as an ultra-accurate heart rate sensor that can assess your heart rhythm for atrial fibrillation with the compatible ECG app and easily share results with your doctor and heart rate variability stats.

    Biggest Pros: The motivation and inspiration and ease of use makes this watch a game-changer for those with general fitness goals. I also love the breakdown of what macros you burned in a given workout.

    Biggest Cons: This watch requires your phone’s GPS to track your runs. It also doesn’t offering running specific stats, feedback, or coaching. Also has a short battery life of just 4 days.

    Polar Unite Watch Features:

    • Accurate heart rate data: Polar Precision Prime™ sensor fusion technology offers 24/7 heart rate tracking from the wrist combining optical heart rate measurement with other sensor technologies to rule out motion artifacts that produce unreliable readings.
    • Personal trainer in your pocket: FitSpark® personalized training guide offers daily, on-demand workouts that are easy to do, and match your recovery, fitness level, and training history. It sends you new workout suggestions every day for cardio, strength, or mobility direct to your watch plus daily inspiration based on your personal metrics. Get real-time guidance and walk-throughs, tailored cardio, strength, and mobility workouts.
    Polar Unite Watch
    The Polar Unite Watch offers unique biometrics data such as what type of energy (calories) you burned.
  • Fitness data: Harnessing its reliable heart rate data during a 5-minute fitness test, the Polar Unite gives you your VO2max The smartwatch also gives you weekly training stats and summary to see your progress, as well as your training history, plans, and stats.
  • Macro Calorie Burn Calculator: The Polar Unite watch shows you what energy source your body uses in percentages during training, broken down into fats, carbohydrates, and proteins for each session.
  • Recovery & breath rate tracker: Learn how well you recovered with Nightly Recharge which helps you make the best choices for overall health and fitness goals.
  • Connect watch to your phone’s GPS: Record the routes, speed, pace, and distance of your outdoor training using the GPS on your phone.
  • Battery life: 4 days
  • Related: Should You Ditch Your GPS Watch?

    Amazfit GTS — $69

    Best Budget GPS Watch for Those Wanting Simple Stats

    It is crazy to me you can get a GPS watch for under $100, but this is no joke! The Amazfit GTS is a GPS watch that gives you the basic metrics you need to keep track of your training, for 12 different sports such as swimming, elliptical, treadmill running, and skiing. It is one of the best fitness trackers you can buy in a price range you can’t argue with.

    Biggest Pros: One of the cheapest running watches you can buy.

    Biggest Cons: This watch doesn’t have the bells and whistles of the other watch. If you want that analysis, this is not your watch. If you want a step-up from your Casio, this is it!

    The AmazFit GTS
    The AmazFit GTS gives you the basic data needed to advance your training.
    • Accurate heart rate: Amazfit GTS uses a next-generation PPG sensor for accurate heart rate monitoring.
    • Sleep tracking: Analyze your sleep patterns. Measures total sleep, light sleep, deep sleep and awake times.
    • Basic GPS monitoring: GPS + GLONASS will accurately track your routes
    • Water resistant: ATM water-resistance to ensure a normal use up to 50 meters water pressure.
    • Sleek, lightweight design: Slim metal body, durable design
    • Battery life: 14 days battery life  

    Samsung Galaxy Watch — $119

    Best for Those Wanting Use a Smart Watch for Fitness

    If you’re wanting a smart watch to do it all but not for the price tag of an Apple Watch series, the Samsung Galaxy Watch is for you—with the series 4 coming in at under $120! This watch is very similar to an Apple Watch where it wears many hats but doesn’t offer the bells and whistles a GPS running watch can offer you like training plans, running breakdown, turn-by-turn navigation, reliable GPS, and training status.

    Biggest Pros: This watch offers accurate heart rate data including an ECG, plus body composition breakdown, and all the perks of a smart watch at a low price.

    Biggest Cons: The GPS isn’t very accurate or reliable. You also don’t get any of the advanced running data a standard GPS running watch would offer you.

    Samsung Galaxy Watch 4 Features

    • Multi-sport options: options such as running, swimming, circuit training, basketball, or jumping rope, snowshoeing, alpine skiing, aqua aerobics, ballroom dancing, and even hang gliding.
    • Step counter: Track your steps each day
    Samsung Galaxy Watch
    The Samsung Galaxy Watch is the best budget smart watch you can buy.
  • Biometrics data: Optical heart rate tracking, ECG via electrical heart sensor, and body composition tracking via a bioelectrical impedance analysis sensor (with a mini-tutorial on how to take a measurement accurately.)
  • Sleep tracker: Get a breakdown of your sleep cycles with its sleep tracker and sleep coach
  • Workout breakdown: With its GPS, accelerometer, barometer, gyro sensor, and geomagnetic sensor you’ll be able to track your runs with real-time location data.
  • You can’t go wrong with any of these options. Just depends on what you want! Hope this list is helpful to you, your goals, and your wallet!

    If you want guidance with your running goals, check out my run coaching services. Also, be sure to check out my free training plans:


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