Garmin Vivoactive is more than an activity tracker, it’s a smartwatch. To be more accurate it’s a GPS enabled smartwatch with a heart rate monitor.

Having said that, you can get it without the heart rate monitor, but why would you? The little extra in price may be a reason, but the benefits outweigh it.

As their website says, Garmin is “a leading worldwide provider of navigation” and that technology has been integrated into this device.

It’s certainly not one of the cheapest on the market, but is that justified? How does this mean machine perform, does it do a good job and is it worth the money?

Garmin Vivoactive Features


  • GPS enabled
  • Built-in sports apps
  • Ultra-thin display
  • Heart rate monitor (available without)
  • Tracks steps, distance, calories burned and sleep
  • Water resistant
  • Smart notifications
  • Long battery life

One of the first things that’s really noticeable about the Vivoactive is that it’s really slim. This is unusual for GPS enabled devices as they tend to be a lot bulkier.

This is probably achieved because of the experience and expertise that Garmin have in this area. Being thin means it’s very lightweight at just 3 grams.

The display itself is always on as it works as a watch too. The screen is high resolution although perhaps it could have been a little higher. Having said that, it is still readable in sunlight. It has a touchscreen so you swipe to move around the menus.

There’s a button on the left hand side which allows you to get to different functions and another on the right hand side to turn the screen on or off.

As you’d expect, steps taken, distance traveled and calories burned are tracked as part of your daily activity. There’s also sleep monitoring which is an important part of measuring overall health and fitness.

There are also built-in sports apps which add additional tracking including GPS enabled running, golfing and cycling apps.

There’s also swimming activity tracking which will be welcomed by swimmers as not all similar devices are waterproof. This one has a water resistance of 5 ATM which means it can be used to a depth of 50 meters.

Unlike most other devices that can be used for swimming, the Vivoactive is able to keep a track on lengths, distance, pace, stroke count and calories burned.

For cycling, it can pair with compatible speed and cadence sensors so you can keep a record of your speed as well as distance.

With golf, by uploading a map of your golf course it’s able to measure various actions including the distance of your shots! Garmin has details of 38,000 golf courses around the world. Golfers, cyclists and swimmers can now feel included with this technology.

The heart rate monitor is an important part of getting accurate data, but you can get away without it.

If you would prefer it included, you should be aware that it’s the type which straps to your chest.

Whilst this may be a little inconvenient, these types do tend to be more accurate. Analysing stats together with results from the heart rate monitor will be a better indicator of your overall fitness and well being.

Like many other similar devices, you’re able to receive notifications of incoming calls, texts, emails and calendar events from compatible Bluetooth enabled devices. These notifications can be made via a vibrating alert.

Although probably not the most important feature, it does mean you can stay in touch without having to carry your phone with you when exercising.

The battery life of the Garmin Vivoactive should be around 3 weeks when it’s being used in watch and activity mode, but if you’re using GPS it will only go for 10 hours.

There’s quite a difference between the two modes but it isn’t likely you’d want the GPS on all of the time.


  • Nicely designed
  • Decent display even in sunlight
  • Good activity tracking including auto-adjusting goals
  • Built-in apps for extra activity tracking
  • GPS
  • Waterproof
  • Vibrating notification alerts
  • Good battery life
  • Customisable watch face

Garmin Vivoactive is an excellent fitness tracker

If you’re looking for a straight-forward, run of the mill, simple activity tracker then the Vivoactive might not be what you’re looking for.

There’s a lot more to this device than meets the eye.

Garmin has certainly put their expertise in the navigation field into it but that does come at a price. Using the GPS function does put a strain on the battery, but that’s not uncommon.

The additional sports apps give an added dimension to what it can do and this does give an advantage. Swimmers, cyclists and golfers are well catered for as well as those who use tracking for working out or running.

Having the option to include a heart rate monitor is a good idea as some people aren’t too bothered about having one.

For those who’d rather not have a heart rate monitor which requires a chest strap, it should be remembered this type does tend to give more accuracy.

With regard to style, it should be remembered this is really a watch and the fact that it has so many functions is amazing given how thin and slender the design is. It looks good and the display is easy to read.

The watch face can even be customized to look the way you want it to, there are various options to choose from.

The connecting app isn’t the best in the world but it does a good job.

It links to smartphones easily, but there has been mention of occasional instability with both IOS and Android although this doesn’t seem to happen very often.

If you’re looking for a hybrid between a smartwatch and activity tracker, this isn’t a bad choice. It’s not perfect, but it does do a very good job and more of them than many other similar devices.

Given its diversity and capabilities, the Garmin Vivoactive is definitely worth consideration and remember to check it out at Amazon.


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