Garmin Vivoactive Review

A few months ago I switched out my first ever fitness tracker, the Fitbit Zip, out for a Misfit Flash, with somewhat mixed reviews between the two.  You can read about that experience here.

Then, after my most recent half, I decided it was time to upgrade my old Timex GPS watch. I hemmed and hawed over what I thought I “needed” compared to prices, and my own ingrained frivolity, which you can also read about here.

In the end, I went with ditching my “need” for wrist-based HR and went for something that I actually thought I’d consider wearing all the time. I’ve started to like knowing how many steps I’ve taken each day outside of just fitness activities, and the Garmin Vivoactive was a great price ($150 through amazon at the time!). It claimed to do everything else I wanted, minus the HR. Even that, if I decide I want it, I could also integrate a strap.


Here are my thoughts after a month of wear:

  1. Look

-First and foremost, I was not a watch-wearer every day prior to this purchase. I’m slowly adapting. I really like that this doesn’t look like an athletic watch. I’ve actually had people ask me if it is an Apple watch, so that is probably the closest thing to compare to, look-wise. I LOVE that you can download different “faces” for the watch. I picked one with rainbow colored runners – and when I hit half way to my 10k step goal, a RAINBOW appears on the screen! It is so cute. It also tells me my charge level, steps, date and time. Everything I need right on that first screen. Some of the reviews noted that the screen was dim. This is true, but it is in no way unreadable. I find it perfectly fine. It isn’t always the easiest to photograph on cloudy days or inside, but I’ve made it work and my need to Instagram it will surely be just fine (esp with the ability to do app screen shots with even more data!).

  •  Everyday Wearability

-Garmin does a pretty good job of having accessories / bands available, though I do wish there was a metal version to look a little nicer with my work clothes. I did buy the white leather band because I felt way too informal wearing a plastic watch band at work every day (I work in a pretty traditional office). Changing the bands is a little wonky, but easy enough. I am really enjoying how thin this is, though if you have super tiny wrists I’m sure this would look a bit bigger.

  1. Battery life

Way better than I expected! So far the charge is lasting about a week at a time for me. I run 3 to 4 times a week and have biked or swam at least once each week since I’ve had it as well, so 4-5 activities using the GPS each week. I thought I’d be charging this every other day, but it has been far better than that.

  1. Function
  • Fitness

GPS functionality is awesome. I’ve used this mostly for running so far and this is my first ever Garmin. Holy stats! The App that it connects to on my phone tells me SO MUCH! Its definitely fun seeing all of the numbers: paces, elevation, actual route, calories, speed, cadence… I could go on and on. I will likely now be hooked on all of this stuff. This watch is also waterproof, and you can set the distance of your pool and it will track laps as well. That was a great bonus for me! The screens are easy to scroll through while being active. GPS connected very quickly, so no complaints there either. You can also go back through the “history” on the actual watch to see past workouts, so you don’t have to look at your phone every time you want to look back  (though that’s where the most detailed info is).

  • Step Tracking

Like with many trackers, you can set up your own goals. I set mine at 10k steps, and am finding that this seems much more accurate on my wrist than the Misfit ever was. I felt like I was being jipped steps when that was on my wrist – not really with the Garmin.

  • Smartwatch stuff

This is also a smartwatch, so it gets my texts/calls and buzzes to let me know I have a message or call coming in. I can’t answer them from the watch, but I can see them. That has been surprisingly freeing – I’m finding myself leaving my phone on silent AND in my purse much more often than previously. I can glance at my watch, decide if I need to pick up now or respond, without looking like that girl who is constantly staring at her phone. It also gets the calendar alerts from my phone. I like this a lot more than I thought I would.


Overall, I’m still pretty new to this watch, but so far am loving all of the built in choices for activities, as well as notifications. I’ve found it very easy to use. I did buy a screen protector to put on it immediately as a precaution (I’m rough on jewelry). I would say it is an awesome value for the price, as well. Form and function, at a low low price 😉


2 thoughts on “Garmin Vivoactive Review

  1. Pingback: The Garmin Band Thing | The Slow Sheep

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