Whether you’re training for a marathon or a multi-day adventure, in this crowded market, finding the best running watch to keep up with you can feel like a challenge. The Garmin Forerunner 955 is Garmin’s newest top-tier Forerunner watch, and it replaces the Garmin Forerunner 945 in the catalog of running watches from the brand. It’s been three years since the launch of the Forerunner 945, and Garmin has given its high-spec Forerunner a serious facelift.
But how does it compare to some of the other best Garmin watches, in particular, the Garmin Fenix 7 and the Garmin Epix 2, which were also released this year? I’ve gone hands-on with the watch for the past few weeks to put it through its paces, and it’s an impressive gadget. Read our full Garmin Forerunner 955 review below to find out more.
Garmin Forerunner 955 review: Price and availability
The Garmin Forerunner 955 was released in June 2022 and comes in two different versions: solar and non-solar. As its name suggests, the solar version of the watch has a Power Glass screen, which harnesses the power of the Sun to increase the watch’s battery life. Aside from this, the two versions are identical.
The Garmin Forerunner 955 and the Garmin Forerunner 955 Solar are both widely available now at Garmin and other retailers. The Forerunner 955 costs $499/£479 and is available in black and white. The Forerunner 955 Solar costs $599/£549 and also comes in black and white.
The cheaper, non-solar version of the watch is $100 cheaper than the Forerunner 945, which cost $599 when it was first released.
Garmin Forerunner 955 review: Design
As we saw with the Garmin Fenix 7 and the Garmin Epix 2, the Forerunner 955 now has the addition of a touchscreen. As I said in my review of the Garmin Fenix 7, this is normally a huge red running-watch-shaped flag for me, as I’ve never found touchscreens and sweaty fingers work well together.
Thankfully, there are zero dependencies on the touchscreen with the Forerunner 955 and most of the time, I ignore it completely. By default, the touchscreen is disabled in virtually all sports profiles, and Garmin has left its signature five buttons — three on the left, and two on the right, which allow you to navigate around the watch without needing to touch the screen. If touchscreens are your bag, however, go ahead and swipe to your heart’s content, but Garmin’s approach here lets you decide.
Both versions of the Forerunner 955 have a 64-color display, which is the same as that of the Fenix 7 series. It’s by no means as bright as the AMOLED displays on the Garmin Epix or Venu series, but it’s still super-easy to see, even in direct sunlight — I tested the watch on the hottest day the U.K. has ever seen and had no issues (other than my sunscreen running into my eyes). Both the solar and non-solar versions have a 46.5mm screen, which is pretty hefty on the wrist, although weighing in at 52g for the non-solar version, and 53g for the solar, it’s much lighter than the Fenix 7 series, which starts at 63g.
The Forerunner 955 uses the same Elevate V4 sensor as the Fenix 7, Epix, and Venu 2 series. The green light records heart rate, and the red light your blood oxygen levels. These two metrics are important for two of Garmin’s best features: Body battery, which is your energy level, and Training Readiness, which is new on the Forerunner 955, and gives you an idea of how hard you should train that day based on your sleep quality, training load, recovery and more.
Garmin Forerunner 955 review: Battery life
When it comes to battery life, there are some key differences between the solar and non-solar versions of the Forerunner 955, which I’ve highlighted in the table below. Similar in design to the solar panels on watches like the Fenix 7 and the Enduro, the Forerunner 955 has a thin 4mm rim around the display that can catch the sun’s rays. There’s also an invisible solar panel below the glass.
As you’ll see in the table below, Garmin bases its solar estimations on “all-day wear with 3 hours per day outside in 50,000 lux conditions.” For those who weren’t paying attention in science class, lux is the measure of light density. Generally speaking, 50,000 lux would be an overcast day, and 100,000 lux would be a sunny day, so if you’re out hiking in the Sun for most of the day, you can expect the battery life of the Forerunner 955 Solar to last longer than estimated times below.
|Forerunner 955||Forerunner 955 Solar|
|Smartwatch mode||15 days||20 days|
|GPS-only without music||42 hours||49 hours|
|All systems and multi-band GPS||Up to 8.5 hours||Up to 8.5 hours|
|All systems and multi-band GPS and music||20 hours||22 hours|
|Ultratrac mode||Up to 80 hours||110 hours|
Garmin Forerunner 955 review: Running and sports features
Of course, the main reason you buy a running watch is to run with it. The Forerunner 955 has a huge amount of sports modes for tracking just about everything.
The watch can track: Run, Map, Track Run, Treadmill, Bike, Bike Indoor, Pool Swim, Open Water Swim, Triathlon, Multisport (custom), Virtual Run, Indoor Track, Trail Run, Ultra Run, MTB, eMTB, Cyclocross, Gravel Bike, Bike Commute, Bike Tour, Road Bike, eBike, Hike, Climb, Golf, Swimrun, Ski, Snowboard, Backcountry Ski, XC Classic Ski, XC Skate Ski, Snowshoe, SUP, Kayak, Row, Row Indoor, Tennis, Pickleball, Padel, Walk, Yoga, Pilates, Breathwork, Strength, Climb Indoor, Bouldering, Cardio, HIIT, Floor Climb, Elliptical, Stair Stepper. Got all that?
All of these sports modes can be fully customized, both on the watch, and in the Garmin Connect app — a handy feature Garmin rolled out with the Fenix 7. From your phone, you can configure just about anything on the watch, from data screens to menus.
I’ll get onto the other health and fitness features that really make this watch far more than just something to track your runs below, but on the run, the GPS on this watch is impressive. I tested it alongside the Forerunner 255 and the Fenix 7, and found the GPS was pretty much identical on all of the watches. It also connected to the GPS in seconds.
The Forerunner 955 has a lot of the same running features as the Fenix 7, including Stamina, which tells you how much energy you have left to give during the workout, and the race widget, which gives you a race day-specific performance prediction, race day weather, and a countdown clock, all in one place. The Forerunner 955 also gives you daily suggested workouts based on your past performance, and running features like PacePro.
Garmin Forerunner 955 review: Health features
The average runner isn’t likely to use 90% of the sports modes on the Forerunner 955, so why would you buy this over, say, the Forerunner 55 or the Forerunner 255? To put it simply, because of the battery life, and the additional health features packed into this watch.
I’ll start with the Morning Report, which gives you a summary each morning of how well you slept, how well you’ve recovered, and how hard you trained the day before, as well as extra information like the day’s weather. The report can be fully customized — but only to an extent, you can add your body battery, yesterday’s intensity minutes and steps, and your calendar.
One huge thing that’s missing in my opinion is menstrual tracking. As well as using a period-tracking app, I track my cycle on my Garmin so I can see at a glance if I need to take things easier at certain times of the month, but there’s no way to add this to my morning report, or even see my cycle from my wrist without the clunky steps of downloading the Women’s Health Tracking widget first. If you have the tracking tech, why not make it easier to access, right?
There’s also the new Health Snapshot feature which first appeared on the Venu 2 last year. It’s a two-minute measurement that looks at your heart rate, blood oxygen level, respiration rate, stress, and heart rate variability (HRV). These measurements should be taken while sitting down, and relaxed, at the same time each day, to help you build up a snapshot of your overall health.
As mentioned above, the Forerunner 955 has Garmin’s new Training Readiness metric, which shows you at a glance how ready you are for a difficult day of training based on sleep, recovery time, HRV status, acute load, and stress. Each category carries a different weight, so your Training Readiness might go up during the day, as your needed recovery time goes down. It’s a handy feature and, during testing, I found it accurately reflected how I was feeling. I also appreciated that it looks at sleep and stress history, so my Training Readiness wasn’t thrown off by one bad night’s sleep after one too many Aperol Spritz’s the night before.
Finally, anyone who has ever had an ‘Unproductive’ training status flash up will be thrilled to hear Garmin has made some tweaks here too. Your training status is based on your acute load, HRV status, load focus, and VO2 Max trends. The Unproductive message is usually shown when you’re doing too much of one thing, for example too much high-intensity training, or too much low intensity training. Garmin has added more data to the training status screen, helping you see at a glance what you need to tweak.
Garmin Forerunner 955 review: Smartwatch features
The Forerunner 955 definitely looks like a sports watch on the wrist, but features like the touchscreen and the swappable wristbands mean there’s no reason why you couldn’t wear it 24/7. As well as Garmin Pay and the ability to store music and podcasts on the watch, the Forerunner 955 has smartphone notifications, although you can’t reply to any messages from your wrist.
There’s also the option to download apps to the watch from the watch by connecting to the Connect IQ App Store, although there aren’t an awful lot of apps available.
Garmin Forerunner 955 review: Verdict
The Forerunner 955 is undeniably a fantastic running watch, in fact, I’d go as far to say that it’s the best Forerunner on the market right now. It has all of the features of the Fenix 7 in a much cheaper package, so unless you’re planning on rock climbing or doing really extreme sports, I’m not sure why you’d opt for anything else on your wrist.
The Training Readiness score is clever, and as someone who has had a running coach for years, it almost feels like a virtual coach on your wrist. If I’m feeling run down, my coach will ask about my sleep, nutrition, menstrual cycle, and overall health, not just how well I ran yesterday, and the Training Readiness score helps you do the same from your wrist.
If you’re looking for a cheaper watch, I was also impressed with the Garmin Forerunner 255, which was released at the same time as the Forerunner 955 and shares a few of the newer features. If you are looking for a more premium-looking watch, the Fenix 7 line looks beautiful on the wrist and has models with gold and silver bezels that won’t look out of place in the office, or on a date.
All in all, this is a fantastic running watch, and for now, it’s the watch I want on my wrist for my next marathon.