The Garmin Forerunner is a popular fitness watch notable for its ability to accurately monitor distance, speed, heart rate, time, altitude, and pace. Equipped with the advanced GPS features for which Garmin’s flagship products are well-known, the Forerunner is a popular watch for trail athletes exploring unknown spaces. But is the Garmin Forerunner waterproof?
The Garmin Forerunner is not a waterproof device in the strictest sense. It is only safe to use the Forerunner at depths of up to 50 meters. As a result, it is marketed as a water-resistant—not waterproof—fitness watch.
With that said, water-resistance of up to 50 meters is highly impressive and will serve the needs of most users, including many water athletes. It is not possible to function at depths of 50 meters without the assistance of specialized equipment, so scuba divers are likely the only demographic for which the Forerunner’s water resistance capabilities would be inadequate. Below, we’ll cover just how waterproof the Garmin Forerunner is and what this means for you.
How Waterproof is the Garmin Forerunner?
Although the Garmin Forerunner is not waterproof by definition, many users would never know it; for most types of day-to-day and recreational activities, such as running in the rain, showering, and even swimming, the Garmin Forerunner will perform seamlessly.
The only people who have to worry about water damage to their Forerunner are scuba divers and, perhaps, those participating in extreme water sports.
This is because the Forerunner is engineered for protection against atmospheric ingress and not water exposure, per se. When diving to depths of 50 meters or greater, the water pressure becomes too intense for the Forerunner to resist. In addition, an extreme water sport participant may experience water damage to their device due to force of contact.
What is the Garmin Forerunner’s Water Rating?
When looking at the packaging and product descriptions online, customers will notice that the Forerunner has a water rating of 5 ATM. This stands for “5 Atmospheres” and means that the device can withstand water pressure to depths up to 50 meters, as well as any less intrusive forces. Some common types of water exposure that Garmin notes are suitable for devices with a 5 ATM water rating include:
- Rain or snow
- Diving into water
Although a 5 ATM water resistance is not the highest offered by electronic devices, it is much better than most. For example, the lowest level of protection, IP65, only protects the device against light sprays and mists. A middling water resistance of 1 ATM will protect the device during normal rain or while showering.
Can the Garmin Forerunner Track Water Activity?
Although the Garmin Forerunner can be used in full-submersion activities, such as swimming and snorkeling, without incurring water damage, it cannot accurately monitor physical activity during water exercise as it can for dryland activities.
The number of strokes, stroke rate, and distance traveled in the water are all metrics that must be monitored with other types of technology.
In addition, water use may also make it difficult for the Forerunner to accurately monitor heart rate and pulse.
Are Different Models of Forerunner More Water-Resistant?
The first Garmin Forerunner was introduced in 2003 (Forerunner 101), and a multitude of subsequent models have been unveiled during the past two decades, with the Forerunner 55 and 945 LTE both hitting the market in 2021. As a result, it may seem intuitive to assume that water resistance has improved over the years.
However, the water resistance for all Garmin Forerunners, regardless of model or release date, is consistent at 5 ATM.
Garmin Forerunner vs. Garmin Fenix
Sometimes, a brand becomes synonymous with a product line. In the GPS/fitness tracking sphere—and because there are so many models of Forerunner—many people point to their fitness watch and say they have a “Garmin.”
This may cause some confusion, as Garmin is known to have a waterproof fitness watch. However, the product is not a Forerunner and is part of their less widely adopted Fenix series.
Unveiled in 2019, the Fenix is marketed as an adventure watch, whereas the Forerunner is marketed as a fitness watch.
The Fenix has a water rating of 10 ATM, making it water-resistant up to 100 meters. This means it can be used in every water-based situation—including scuba diving and extreme water sports—with little threat of water damage.
The Garmin Forerunner is a popular type of fitness watch, a favorite among trail athletes who rely on its GPS capabilities to guide them through unknown locations. While the Forerunner is not waterproof in the strictest sense, it does have a water rating of 5 ATM, meaning that it can resist water pressure of up to 50 meters. This makes it suitable for nearly all types of normal use that may involve water, including swimming, diving, and snorkeling.