Showing results for 
Show  only  | Search instead for 
Did you mean: 
Welcome REI Co-op Members!
We're glad you're here. If you can't access the Co-op Members section of the community,
click here for instructions on how to join the section that's just for you.

Questions about the basics of Garmin smartwatches.


I'm looking for (2) devices (I think):

–A wristwatch with Bluetooth and MP3 playback for my 7-year-old son, ideally with maps, fitness tracking, other fun tools but no games. This would be a tool he would grow with for a decade, instead of getting an off-brand MP3 watch from a suspect manufacturer in China.

–A GPS device for me to use in the backcountry (hiking/backpacking/skiing, including remote areas of the Southwest), ideally with fitness and music playback capabilities for cycling and other in-town fitness.

I'm wondering:

–Do these devices need their own data plans, or how do they connect to GPS outside of our in-home wifi?

–What kind of interface / partner devices do they need for loading music or other functions? (My gen-2 iPod still needs to plug into my laptop to load it with new music)

–Would the device I get for my son work for the backcountry GPS needs? (in which case, I can keep going with my phone in my pocket while cycling)


Thanks for your advice!

3 Replies

@PatrickM Thanks for reaching out!

In terms of GPS watches that also play music, you have a couple of options that fit the bill for your son:

Those watches will come with access to the Garmin Connect IQ app store, which should give you different options in terms of maps and fitness tracking. You'll also want to look at music compatibility to make sure your chosen platform is supported by one of those watches. 

Are you also looking for a GPS watch for your use in the backcountry? If the music capability is a must then a watch is likely the best way to go. Here are a few options:

Additionally, take a look at this list of all of the available Garmin GPS watches that feature music on them. None of these watches require a separate data plan, most will sync with your phone via bluetooth and update on your home's wifi when you are charging them. They connect to GPS satellites outside of your home via a small antennae in the watch, independent of the wifi connection. Depending on which music service you use, you should be able to sync with your phone to upload your music to your watch.

In terms of using one watch between you and your son, the watches that were recommended for your son are not true 'backcountry' GPS watches and more focused on GPS features that track your speed, direction, and elevation for fitness or training.

Hopefully this helps, thanks!

At REI, we believe time outside is fundamental to a life well lived.

for my 7-year-old son... This would be a tool he would grow with for a decade, instead of getting an off-brand MP3 watch from a suspect manufacturer in China.

@PatrickM  Just a general comment.

I wouldn't count on any smartwatch lasting a decade.

First, while some models may be rugged, I can't imagine a 7-year-old taking good enough care to not damage a smartwatch over that length of time.

Second, this technology improves at such a rapid pace that a smartwatch you buy today will have become obsolete much sooner. Imagine using a 10-year-old smartphone today.

As a result a lower-end watch with basic features that's replaced every year or two may be a better option overall. Some makes offer models that are specifically designed for youth. 


Superusers do not speak on behalf of REI and may have received
one or more gifts or other benefits from the co-op.

Hi @PatrickM,

I truly love and adore my Garmin Forerunner 245 Music. I'd just like to add a couple of tidbits to help you make an informed decision:

-In order to load music on the watch, you have to have physical mp3 files, or an active, premium (paid) subscription to Spotify, Deezer, or Amazon Music. I believe to add mp3 files, you need to have a Garmin desktop client for a PC/Mac, which is free to download from Garmin. All loading of music from subscription services like Spotify happens via WIFI. If you have older Apple mp3 files that are protected by Apple's proprietary digital rights management software (which you might have purchased from the Apple store around the time you bought a Gen 2 iPod), they won't be compatible with Garmin music devices. 

-While the battery life is great while I'm normally wearing the watch, or using GPS without music, the battery life is only about 4 hours while running both the music and GPS, so just for my peace of mind, I probably wouldn't use the music and GPS in the backcountry unless I bring a portable power source. I personally don't choose to activate phone connectivity for things like text message alerts, so I do end up getting more battery life as a result. 

Hope this information helps!

At REI, we believe time outside is fundamental to a life well lived.