If you like to spend your exercise time on land and in the water, having a watch or fitness tracker that can survive a dip in the pool is likely to be something quite high up on your features wish list.
The good news is that if you’re casting your eye over a Garmin, the wearable maker does a pretty good job of making sure its collection of devices are fit for the water.
Whether that’s letting you it’s for weekly swim workouts or getting in the sea for some open water action, Garmin applies a water rating to all of its latest devices. These ratings dictate how water resistant or waterproof they are and what activities they’re actually most suitable for.
If you’re looking for the one that can really go the distance, we’ve detailed each watch and what they’re capable of when it’s time to grab your goggles.
Which Garmins are water resistant?
Garmin Fenix 6 Series | water resistance rating: 100 meters
The Fenix 6 is Garmin’s flagship 'adventure' watch, and each model in the series is suitable for pool swimming and heading into the open water. All of the Fenix 6 models offer dedicated modes for pool, open water and swimrun activities, along with dedicated pool-based workouts to put an extra training edge on your swim sessions.
Garmin Instinct Series | water resistance rating: 100 meters
The Instinct is another rugged outdoor watch from Garmin. While it doesn’t quite match the Fenix for features, it does offer the same water resistant rating of up to 100 meters. It also includes swim tracking modes for pool and open water swimming, offering a variety of metrics to analyze during or after your workout.
Garmin Venu | water resistance rating: 50 meters
The Venu was the first Garmin watch to feature an AMOLED colour display, and you can take it to up to 50 meters underwater. It offers a pool swim tracking mode only (nothing for outdoor swimmers) but it can track lengths, track Swolf efficiency scores and recognize stroke type, all of which you can review in Garmin’s Connect app post-swim.
Garmin Vivoactive 4/4S | water resistance rating: 50 meters
Both versions of the Garmin Vivoactive 4 are equipped to be submerged in water of up to 50 meters. There’s also support for tracking pool swimming sessions, letting you set up time and distance alerts. There’s the promise of measuring heart rate to assess effort levels when you’re powering through your front crawl, too.
Garmin Vivomove | water resistance rating: 50 meters
The Vivomove is Garmin’s hybrid analog/digital smartwatch, and all models in the family are suitable for swimming or jumping in the shower with. Tracking what you do in the pool is bit more basic than other Garmin watches, but it still gives you some data to pore over when you’ve dried off.
Garmin Vivofit Jr 2 | water resistance rating: 50 meters
Garmin’s kids' fitness tracker is suitable to be submerged in water up to 50 meters, even if it’s highly unlikely your little ones will anywhere near water that deep. You won’t find any specific swim tracking features here, but the water resistance does at least make it a more durable wearable for them to live with.
Garmin Forerunner 945 | water resistance rating: 50 meters
The 945 is designed for triathletes, so it’s no surprise to find it’s fit to live in the water up to 50 meters depth. It offers dedicated swim tracking modes for the pool, open water and swimrun, including a host of metrics and the ability to pair it up with an external heart rate monitor for more reliable effort insights.
Garmin Forerunner 245/245 Music | water resistance rating: 50 meters
The follow-up to the very popular 235, the 245 (with or without music storage) offers the same water resistance rating, but adds a pool swimming mode giving you a bigger hit of swim tracking data including pace, stroke count and the ability to follow swim-based workouts.
Garmin Forerunner 45/45s | water resistance rating: 50 meters
The Forerunner 45 and 45s are watches predominantly designed for runners and cyclists, but they do carry a 5ATM water rating. That does mean it’s safe to get in the water wearing one, even if you’re not able to track specific swim metrics with it.
Garmin Approach S62 | water resistance rating: 50 meters
The Approach S62 is a golf watch, and it’s fit for water hazards as well as the putting green. It’s safe to be submerged up to 50 meters, and includes a pool swim tracking profile offering metrics like average pace, stroke count and Swolf efficiency scores.
Garmin Vivosmart 4 | water resistance rating: 50 meters
Garmin’s super slim fitness tracker is water resistant up to 50 meters and keeps things basic in terms of what you can track. You’ll be able set up a simple rest timer, and record swim intervals and pool lengths to look over when you’re done.
Garmin Swim 2 | water resistance rating: 50 meters
It’s no surprise that the Swim 2 is fit for the water. The follow-up to the Swim has tracking profiles for pool and open water swimming, and includes all the usual metrics. It also offers an auto rest mode for when you need to take a breather between lengths and sets, and a countdown start to let you get into swimming position.
Garmin Vivosport | water resistance rating: 50 meters
The Vivosport is the only Garmin fitness band with built-in GPS and also carries a 50 meter water resistance rating. It lacks a dedicated swim tracking profile, but it is safe to shower and take in the water when you’re cooling off from the activities it's capable of tracking.
Garmin Vivofit 4 | water resistance rating: 50 meters
The Vivofit 4 is Garmin’s budget fitness tracker, which can offer a year’s worth of battery life and during that time is safe to be submerged in water up to 50 meters depth. Despite its low price, it offers a rest timer for pool swimming to make it more useful when you jump into the water.
Garmin Marq Collection | water resistance rating: 100 meters
Garmin’s luxury watch collection all come with the same water rating, which makes them safe to live in water up to 100 meters deep. It matches Garmin’s Fenix range for swimming features and if you opt for the Marq Captain, you’ll get a host of modes that make it a great sailing companion too.
What do Garmin's water ratings mean?
Garmin notes on its website that it rigorously tests its devices to make sure they're suitable for the kind of water-based activities they’re designed for. It also lists what each water rating means and determines what activities it can handle to make sure your wearable remains fully functioning after it’s had a watery encounter.
Those two water ratings feature an IP rating, or in the case of most of Garmin’s wearables these days, an ATM rating. When talking about IP, or Ingress Protection ratings, we're referring to a standard created by the International Electrotechnical Commission. This commission is used to determine how well sealed electrical devices are to withstand moisture and things like dirt.
Some older, non-wearable Garmin devices include an IPX7 water rating. This is defined as something that is able to withstand incidental exposure to water up to 1 meter for up to 30 minutes. That means it’s something that’s good for splashes, rain, snow and showering. A device with an IPX6 rating is protected against powerful jets of water and is the kind of device suitable for a driving rain or outdoor use in rough sea conditions.
As we said, most Garmin watches and trackers adopt the ATM (atmosphere) water rating, which determines that it has been tested in laboratory to withstand static pressure for a short period of time at a certain depth.
So if you see a Garmin watch or tracker with a 5ATM or 'Swim' rating, this is something that able to withstand pressures equivalent to a depth of 50 meters. It doesn’t really mean that it’s suitable for diving at those depths, more being suitable for shallow water activities. That means splashes, rain, snow, showering, swimming, diving into water and even snorkelling.
A Garmin with a 10ATM water rating is defined as something that can withstand pressure to a depth of 100 meters, offering all the same situations where a 5ATM rated device is suitable as well as offer as well being a good fit for high-speed water sports.
Most Garmin wearables offer a 5ATM rating at the very least, or a 10ATM rating for something that’s designed to spend more time in the water. Garmin outlines what all of its water ratings mean on its website, if you’re still unsure.
- Take a look at our complete guide to the best running watches