My job as Wearables Editor is to review one smartwatch or fitness band after another, swapping from one ecosystem to the next. Because of that, I'd rarely wear the same watch for longer than a few weeks. Then I tested the Forerunner 965...and now I wear two watches during reviews, no matter how silly I look to passersby.
The Garmin Forerunner 965 is the best running watch I've worn, I never want to take it off, and it's currently the lowest price ever ($50 off) for Black Friday.
I reviewed the Forerunner 965 this August, but only after wearing it for a couple of months, slowly working my way through the dozens of software tricks it offers. I ended up giving it a rare 5-star review, calling it "better than the best" running watches out there. No watch I've tested before or after has measured up yet.
Garmin Forerunner 965:
$600 $549 at Best Buy
Are you a serious runner, cyclist, or swimmer that wants all of the Garmin software tools available to you like maps, ClimbPro, real-time stamina, Endurance and Hill scores, ultra-accurate GPS, and other tools too numerous to list out? Then the Forerunner 965 is for you.
While $50 off may not sound like much, Garmin hasn't discounted the Forerunner 965 before this, except on Prime Day. You'll probably have to wait another year for a better deal, at which point Garmin will probably have moved on to the Forerunner 975. Either buy this now, or accept that you should probably choose a cheaper model instead!
Even though it's still expensive at this price, the Forerunner 965 is essentially Garmin's flagship watch for runners, and any new software features from future models should trickle back to it. It keeps excellent track of your running progress, and guides you on whether to focus on low aerobic, aerobic, or anaerobic runs, and how long to recover before your next workout.
You're making an investment in your health and fitness; in my case, I've written about how following my Forerunner 965's workout recommendations paid off in a boosted VO2 Max score. I've gone from 46 to 49.3 in just a few months, without any proper coaching or running groups. It's perfect for self-motivated runners, and it's why I keep wearing it over other brands.
That said, even if the Forerunner 965 is my favorite running watch, there are better Black Friday options if price is your first priority.
First, I'll point you to the Forerunner 955. This watch essentially is the Forerunner 965, only with an MIP display instead of AMOLED. I prefer AMOLED to MIP, and the Forerunner 965's Gorilla Glass DX has a great anti-reflective coating, but plenty of runners will happily accept a display that's fully visible in direct sunlight and preserves longer battery life. And at 20% off, you'll save $150 compared to what the 965 costs with the same software experience.
Garmin Forerunner 955:
$499 $399 at Best Buy
The less-flashy sibling to the Forerunner 965, the 955 targets those same serious athletes with near-identical software, except for its MIP display. The 955 lasts about a week less time than the 965 as well (15 vs. 23 days), but still gives you plenty of juice with 42 GPS hours to last for any ultramarathon.
Price comparison: Amazon - $399
Your other premium Garmin Black Friday option is the Garmin Epix Gen 2, currently a whopping $350 off for the Steel version.
With the Epix, you get a more stylish finish than the plastic 965, but it weighs about 23g more. It has an AMOLED display, but it's only 1.3 inches instead of 1.4. It has more sports modes and specific tricks for golfers, plus the option to subscribe to Outdoor Maps+, but it uses an older UI than the Forerunner 965. Its GPS battery life is fairly comparable, but it doesn't last as long in smartwatch mode and doesn't have dual-band GPS, only all-systems GNSS.
Garmin Epix Gen 2 (Steel):
$799 $449 at Amazon
The Epix and Forerunner 965 are pretty darn similar, so your choice really boils down to whether or not you want a more functional plastic design or a more stylish steel finish that'll weigh down your wrist more. Like the 965, the Epix Gen 2 receives the highest-end software tricks in regular software updates, so you'll feel like you're getting an uncompromised experience for a ridiculously good price.
Price comparison: Best Buy - $499
If you still want a cheaper Black Friday Garmin deal, that link will take you to my general guide on the best Garmin deals. Other great watches like the Forerunner 265, 255, and 55 all have slashed prices this Black Friday, so you can pay as little as $169 to get running guidance.
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Michael is Android Central's resident expert on fitness tech and wearables, with an enthusiast's love of VR tech on the side. After years freelancing for Techradar, Wareable, Windows Central, Digital Trends, and other sites on a variety of tech topics, AC has given him the chance to really dive into the topics he's passionate about. He's also a semi-reformed Apple-to-Android user who loves D&D, Star Wars, and Lord of the Rings.
For wearables, Michael has tested dozens of smartwatches from Garmin, Fitbit, Samsung, Apple, COROS, Polar, Amazfit, and other brands, and will always focus on recommending the best product over the best brand. He's also completed marathons like NYC, SF, Marine Corps, Big Sur, and California International — though he's still trying to break that 4-hour barrier.