Sleek enough to pass acceptably through your presentation to the board, the Garmin Vivoactive HR GPS stealthily utilizes wrist-based heart rate reading to take your daily activity tracking and training data analysis to the next level. Whether you're keeping tabs on your daily steps, training for a multisport event, or running after your adventure cat who has just squirmed out of its harness, this watch is there to capture it all.
The big news about the Vivoactive HR GPS is its ability to continuously monitor heart rate through its proprietary Elevate optical sensor at the wrist, eliminating the need for a bulky, uncomfortable chest strap. The continuous data stream lets the watch not only provide feedback on current heart rate, but also accurately assess your resting heart rate in addition to all its other activity tracking features. This can help indicate fitness and health changes over time and is a huge perk for athletes looking to catch early signs of overtraining. While Garmin claims Elevate is appropriate for tracking intense activities and training zones, it may be a good idea to stick to your traditional chest strap for interval sessions until Elevate's accuracy is proven, given the issues with many of the other optical sensors currently on the market.
The Vivoactive is GPS-enabled to track routes, distance, speed, and other metrics depending on your choice of activity, which can be uploaded to Garmin Connect for in-depth analysis. It connects to Garmin's app store, Connect IQ, which opens the unit up for virtually limitless customizability through third-party apps and features. It also comes with some unexpected features, like activity goals—assigned based on inveterate activity levels—and sedentary alarms—which warn you when life at the desk is threatening your daily activity goals.
The Vivoactive HR GPS also brings the usual functionality that we've grown to expect from smart wearables, including text and call notifications, calendar synching, playlist control, steps taken, calories burned, sleep patterns, and even social media alerts, so you know the moment someone poaches one of your Strava segments.
For all these features, the Vivoactive's strongest selling point may be its body. The screen is a huge, always-on affair that's readable even under the bright Kona sun. Despite the impressive display, Garmin still manages to keep the claimed weight to just under 48g, and the profile is slim enough to transition seamlessly from saddle to pool to track or even to the golf course in the event you want to ruin an otherwise restful recovery day with a frustrating 18 hole walk.
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Reviews & Community
I bought this for my hubby and he loves it that he only has to charge it about every two weeks. It isn't very bright on the screen but it last awhile on the charging. The features on the watch is good.
Good for tracking workouts
- Familiarity: I've used it several times
Overall, I like it - great for tracking runs/hikes/bike rides. There are many apps available for it, but I ran into some problems trying to add some of them - the app store kept telling me I needed to update my watch's software, but the watch (and Garmin Connect) kept telling me it was all up to date. And I find it too large to wear 24/7 - certainly not while sleeping. So I wouldn't necessarily recommend it to replace your fitbit, but it's perfect for recording and keeping track of workouts - and I like that it automatically detects and pairs with the ANT+ chest strap that I already owned, which I feel is probably more accurate than the wrist sensor.
Small case, good and durable but overall just an ok. does not get close to the Fenix's.
- Familiarity: I've put it through the wringer
I walk my dog first thing in the morning then go hike the mountains with my wife and really like all the features it has to offer.The reason I didn't give it five stars is the weather widget stop working less than 24 hours after I got the watch.I've tried everything I could figure out to do and have even talked to harming support twice and they are saying it's a IOS issue and there working on it well that's been about a month ago and still nothing,after reading some of the other reviews I'm not seeing anyone else having that issue maybe I just got a funky one.I guess I'll call Backcountry tomorrow they always seem to be very helpful.
Good....While It Lasted
- Familiarity: I've put it through the wringer
I am not going to lie...this is a hard one for me to review because I ended up returning the watch. I gave it four stars because I think it was the specific to my unit and the fact that Backcountry were so great on working with me to get my money back!
*Comfortable to wear all day. I was really surprised how it would just forget I was wearing it. I was afraid that the heart rate monitor would dig into my wrist, but I never knew it was there.
*Heart Rate monitor was accurate enough. I noticed it was usually 2-3bpm off, but that was more than good enough for me.
*Swiss Army Knife of fitness trackers/GPS watches. It did everything from count your steps everyday and give you goals to reach, to track your sleep, to track your runs (or the other trillion sports it does). I mean it was great. GPS would pick up and it would be very accurate.
*Great Battery Life. I could go about a week on a charge. That was running four times a week about an hour each time.
*Touch Screen but it still had tactile buttons to use.
*Great APP for your phone. Seriously loved this app. I now use Movescount with my Suunot watch and it is not nearly as nice.
Mine kept wanting to auto update and every time would lose all my info. Because of this I sent it back. I have friends who I later found out owned this watch and they have reported no such issues for them. Once I returned it I realized I didn't need all the fitness tracking features of this watch and got an Suunto Ambit 3 Run....for running.
I didn't put it through the wringer, but I used more than a few times.
I don't normally geek out on technology. I have basic apps for my smartphone and I am usually late to upgrade my technology. But I just couldn't wait for this watch to be delivered.
I was researching activity trackers this spring. A friend of mine let me use his Vivosmart HR for a ski tour in the spring and thought it was interesting. So I looked around at what was on the market. Garmin had info on this watch on their website and I decided it had everything I wanted in one unit.
Here's the thing, I really like the watch. I didn't think I would because I haven't worn a watch for years because my phone became my watch. I like how easy it is to use the watch and how comfortable it is to wear.
If you're looking for a do-it-all watch with GPS at a great price, this is it!
Nice watch despite several shortcomings
- Familiarity: I've put it through the wringer
Having been a long time Garmin user (Edge 500 on my bike), I waited a long time for this watch and although there are some issues, I'm glad I bought it. Prior to the Vivoactive HR I've never been interested in wearables including Fitbits or the Apple Watch. But since I've started taking up running, I wanted a dedicated running watch so I don't have to rely on the Strava app on my iPhone. Despite the fact that I have several analog watches that I wear on a daily basis. since I got the Vivoactive HR, I haven't worn them at all!
Screen resolution is low.
Heart rate monitor doesn't track very well when asleep. (not sure if this is intentional?)
Backlighting is not very bright.
Doesn't track steps very well if you're not swinging your arms (like when you're walking with a stroller.)
Doesn't track floors climbed very well when you're indoors or if you go up too fast.
Noticeable light bleed from the bottom left corner of the screen. Kind of a bummer, especially since I expected better quality from Garmin. (BTW. This is my second Vivoactive HR. The first one I bought from a big box electronic store. Based on the serial number, that one was manufactured before my current one. And the light bleed on that unit was horrendous, it was actually the primary reason why I returned it). This one is much better.
Battery lasts forever! Worn 24hrs/day, one full charge lasts ~6 days with 3-4 5k runs sprinkled in for good measure.
It charges quickly. I charge it in the car sometimes.
Customizable faces. There are good user developed ones available (and bad ones too!)
Phone notifications are quick and there is no delay.
Heart rate monitor is within 2-3bpm compared to my chest strap.
Find my phone feature is useful.
Watch face is "always on", unlike the Apple Watch or some Fitbit.
Great legibility outside in the daylight.
The Garmin app is robust and automatically syncs to Strava!
Customizable data fields (you can download user generated options online) for your activity (run,bike,swim,etc.) apps.
And as always, the Backcountry customer service (my rep was Miranda!) is top notch.
Good initial impression
- Familiarity: I've used it once or twice and have initial impressions
I have only had this watch for a few days so this isn't going to be very in depth.
I did a lot of research before I bought a GPS/smart/fitness tracking watch. I was first pretty interested in the Fitbit Blaze but unfortunately it does not have GPS capabilities without being connected to a phone so it was a no go.
This watch can pretty much do it all. The built in heart rate monitor is pretty cool. It is fun to keep track of your heart rate throughout the day and helpful when working out.
Right out of the box it is set up to track everything from biking to running to golf to stand up paddle boarding. It can literally do it all. It also is able to track flights of stairs climbed and skiing/snowboarding which other watches are not able to do.
It is also totally customizable with different watch faces, widgets, and applications. A fun feature for you to get the watch exactly how you like it.
The only thing I am not super excited about is the shape. I would prefer to have a more standard looking watch like the FR235 but I see why Garmin made it the way they did. This is made to compete directly with the Fitbit Surge so they made it a similar form.
So far the battery seems to be pretty good even though the heart rate monitor is going 24/7. The battery won't last as long as watches that don't have that but it is still a good life on it.
So far so good.