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Welcome to The Gear List, a semi-regular series where we spotlight the best discounts and deals on tactical gear, outdoor equipment, and everything in between.
As the maker of some of the best outdoor adventure gear on the market, Garmin consistently produces smartwatches that are always in high demand by readers in the know. Surprisingly, that isn’t stopping the brand from cranking up the heat on summer sales: right now, you can save $230 on the brand new top-dog Garmin tactix 7 Pro with ballistic software, a tactical powerhouse built for the battlefield.
The tactic 7 is a beast of a watch with battery life for weeks, solar charging, a ballistic calculator, stealth mode, an NVG-compatible screen, and a kill switch (that you’ll hopefully never need). It’s quite possibly the most capable piece of tech you can buy to make yourself more effective as a modern warfighter – and it’s pretty badass in everyday life, too.
If you’re looking to spend less, you can take your pick from the versatile fenix 6 Pro, fitness phenom Forerunner 245, and value-packed Instinct Solar. Our crew of gear reviewers has extensive experience with Garmin, and we’ve been impressed at every turn with every new piece of tech the company dreams up. We’ve made sight adjustments with the range-ready tactix Delta Solar AB, tested the technological prowess of the tactix 7, and navigated with a handheld GPS unit. At every turn, Garmin has proven itself worthy of the hype.
All four of these GPS watches are great equipment and awesome deals at these prices. While they cater to different buyers and budgets, they share Garmin’s famous build quality and intuitive features. There are no bad choices here.
These prices were valid at press time, but prices can change and deals do expire.
Price: was $1,599.99, now $1,369.48
The Garmin tactix 7 is the apex predator of the smartwatch world, and the Pro Ballistics Edition piles on tactical features to make it even more effective in a military environment. Right off the bat, this watch is built for a fight with stainless steel, a sapphire crystal, and waterproof housing. On top of all the apps and features you’d get in the watch’s predecessor, the tactix Delta, this one offers a flashlight with adjustable white light output and a field-worthy green light. It can plot routes not only across terrain but through the sky if you’re lucky enough to have an airplane at your disposal. The Applied Ballistics software can provide the information you need to make accurate shots using everything from caliber and barrel twist rate to the bullet grain and muzzle velocity of the specific ammunition you’re using.
If the price seems high, remember that this is essentially several devices in one. It’s a fitness tracker with apps for dozens of sports, it’s a smartwatch that can handle messaging, music, and payments with a full-color touchscreen, and it’s a GPS device that can deliver incredibly accurate data on your position and real-time weather conditions using built-in sensors and feedback from three different satellite networks.
To put it simply, this is about as much tech as you can fit on the human wrist right now. It’s a monster. And it’s on sale for $230 off.
Price: was $499.99, now $359.00
The Garmin fenix 6 takes a lot of the features we love in the tactix 7 and puts them in a package that’s more EDC and less action hero. By leaving out some of the more extreme, cutting-edge tech, Garmin is able to offer the fenix 6 at a fraction of the price. What you’re left with is an extremely capable watch that can make your everyday life on- and off-base a lot more productive.
While you won’t be able to create a flight plan and execute perfectly-timed HALO jumps with the fenix 6, you’ll still be able to track athletic performance, monitor sleep quality, navigate with three satellite networks, and sync the watch with your phone for seamless notifications and control. The 1.3-inch color display is significantly larger than the one on previous fenix models, and you’ll still get premium physical components like a steel bezel and Gorilla Glass lens. Battery life ranges from 14 days in smartwatch mode to 48 days in battery saver mode.
If you aren’t planning on a backcountry expedition or overseas deployment, the fenix 6 has all the technology you need for a surprisingly reasonable price. The current sale puts this GPS watch on par with the Apple Watch, and there are a lot of reasons to pick this over the city-slicker smartwatch from Cupertino.
Price: was $349.99, now $259.99
The Instinct Solar might be on the budget-minded end of Garmin’s offerings, but if you think that makes it less of an asset in the field you’re sorely mistaken. I have a test unit on hand right now, and it’s one of the most tempting watches I’ve used to date. It’s a no-frills, purpose-built piece of gear that you can trust in the field and buy without blowing the budget.
For starters, the silicone band and polymer housing are light and comfortable – it really does seem to disappear on the wrist. The black-and-white display is clearly a cost-cutting measure but it delivers all the information you need in a clear, customizable way. The five-button control layout is instantly familiar and easy to use in all kinds of conditions, with or without gloves. While the data tracking and presentation aren’t as detailed compared to the other watches here, you’ll get the information you need and can sync the watch to your phone using the Garmin Connect app to access the rest.
The Instinct offers the same sport-specific training apps as other Garmin watches and can navigate with a compass, altimeter, and GPS data from the same three satellite networks for pinpoint accuracy around the world. It’s light, tough, waterproof, and stretches the already impressive battery life with solar charging. For $260, I’m really struggling to think of a better buy for service members in the field.
Price: was $349.99, now $214.00
How does a better PFT score sound to you – is that something you could benefit from? Garmin’s Forerunner 245 is a runner’s dream, and it can make improving your run time and overall fitness a lot easier and more enjoyable. In fact, its biometric sensors and fitness apps can make your training and recovery smarter and more effective.
Garmin clearly had an eye on the scale when it designed the Forerunner 245 because this running watch weighs less than an ounce and a half. Some of that is due to materials like the Gorilla Glass lens, polymer case, and silicone strap. Some of the weight savings come from a compact battery that cuts run time down to seven days in smartwatch mode. That’s a far cry from the weeks of battery life you’d get from higher-end Garmin products, but still way better than you’d get from a lot of other smartwatches.
Rather than serving as your guide to the wilderness, the Forerunner is here to make you a better athlete. Use it to listen to music, monitor your physical exertion, evaluate your running form, and train intelligently with Garmin Coach adaptive programming. With the Forerunner 245, you’ll be on the road to your best run time yet. All you have to do now is get stepping.