Garmin Forerunner 15 – A great watch for the casual runner

THE GOOD The Forerunner 15 has both a GPS and a pedometer. It also includes an always-on display with a backlight, long battery life, a waterproof design, and is compatible with wireless heart-rate monitors.

THE BAD The lack of Bluetooth makes syncing to your computer and mobile device a real nightmare. The design isn’t all that fashionable and may be a bit bulky for some work environments.

THE BOTTOM LINE Its lack of Bluetooth notwithstanding, the affordable Garmin Forerunner 15 is otherwise a great health tracking wristwatch for runners.

Garmin Forerunner 15 Large, Black/Blue

Activity Tracking - Count your steps, calories and distance throughout the day. The inactivity indicator motivates you to move whenyou've been sitting too long; Long Battery Life - Up to 8 hours of ...

Made by: Garmin, Available: In stock
What would happen if you combined a GPS running watch with an activity tracker? You would get the Forerunner 15, the newest running watch from Garmin. The Forerunner 15 combines the features found in Garmin’s budget-friendly Forerunner 10 GPS running watch with its Vivofit activity tracker.

The Forerunner 15 is available in a variety of color combinations and two sizes. Technically the sizes are for a large wrist and a smaller one, but the color scheme alludes to different models for males and females. The large color options are black with blue accent or red with black, while the smaller color options are teal with white accents, violet with white, or black with green.

After choosing the size and color you would like, you must then decide on the packaging. The Forerunner 15 is available either with a heart-rate monitor ($200, £170, AU$250) or without one ($170, £140, AU$189). Both packages include the same watch, meaning you can purchase the heart-rate monitor at a later time or use an existing one (as long as it supports ANT+ technology).

With the Forerunner 15, you don’t have to settle for just an activity tracker. The watch tracks your steps taken, distance traveled, and calories burned. Where it exceeds is with Garmin’s GPS technology, which allows for accurate tracking of distance and pace when running. In addition to being waterproof up to 50 meters (meaning you can shower with it or go swimming), the Forerunner 15 includes an estimated 5 weeks of battery life in activity tracking mode or 8 hours with active GPS.

The Forerunner 15 is one of the most feature-packed activity trackers available today. It does have one major flaw, however. Despite being able to track your runs via GPS and your daily steps, the watch doesn’t include Bluetooth. This makes syncing to the Garmin Connect software, which is required to view detailed information about your workouts, a real hassle.

In a world where Bluetooth is found in forks and toothbrushes, it baffles me that Garmin decided not to include it in the Forerunner 15. Instead, the company forces users to connect the watch to their computer each time they want to upload their workouts.

Four pins on the back of the watch connect to a special dock that in turn connects to your computer. You will be required to download a special program, known as Garmin Express, on your Mac or PC to sync your data to the Garmin Connect website and mobile app (available on iOS and Android), and to also check for any firmware updates.

With a lot of activity trackers lasting only a few days, battery life on the Forerunner 15 is quite good. As mentioned above, the watch will last a whopping five weeks when using it solely as an activity tracker. The Forerunner 15 will last 8 hours with the GPS enabled, which is long enough for most people to finish a marathon. A small battery indicator on the left side of the display lets you know how much juice is left in the watch.

I found with a mix of light running (about 30 minutes a couple of times a week) and normal activity tracking, I was required to charge the Forerunner 15 roughly every two weeks. I occasionally charged it more frequently because the watch was already resting in the charging dock for syncing purposes.

As a rule of thumb, I tried to sync the watch with my computer at least once a week. Runs and daily step counts are stored on the Forerunner 15 for up to seven days, at which point the oldest workout will be replaced with a newer one. The watch also stores personal records, such as fastest mile, fastest 5K, longest run, etc., and will notify you after you set a new record.

There is a Run/Walk feature that can be used for interval training. You can set how long you would like to run and how long you would like to walk, and, when enabled, the watch will alert you for when it’s time to switch between the two. This is useful feature for new runners that can’t continuously run for long amounts of time. More experienced runners can also utilize the feature when doing interval workouts.

A Virtual Pacer feature allows you to set a specific pace you would like to keep during a run. When you are faster or slower than the designated pace by 5 or more seconds, the Forerunner 15 will alert you to either slow down or speed up. A similar feature, called HR Alert, will notify you when you are above or below your set heart rate.

Perhaps the most useful feature is the watch’s Auto Pause and Auto Lap features. One of the pains of running in a city is having to deal with traffic lights. I find myself constantly having to stop my watch as I wait for the light to change and forgetting to resume it. The Auto Pause feature will automatically pause your workout when you stop running and will resume it when you start back up again. The Auto Lap feature will alert you when you reach a new mile and will include your average pace.

After tinkering with the watch for a few days I realized that you can also use it as a standard sports watch. You will have the option to disable GPS and simply use Timer Mode after clicking the down button when searching for a signal. This is helpful when you are having trouble acquiring a GPS signal, but are still interested in running. Without the GPS, the Forerunner 15 will be unable to track your pace and distance. That is unless you purchase a foot pod accessory that attaches to your shoe. This can be used for running on a treadmill, but you will be required to calibrate it by running outside before using it indoors.

Similar to the Vivofit, the Forerunner 15 reminds you when you are being lazy with a “Move” alert. The watch will beep ever-so-slightly when you haven’t walked at least 200 steps in the past hour. It’s a nice reminder to get up and live a little for those of us who like to relax on the couch all Sunday. For some reason, however, the watch will alert you to “Move!” even if you have exceeded your daily step goal.

Despite having vibrations and an alarm, the watch doesn’t include a silent alarm feature like the one found in Fitbits.

Garmin Forerunner 15 : Tracking

As an activity tracker, the Forerunner 15 is relatively straightforward. An accelerometer is used to detect how many steps you take, the relative distance you travel, and an estimate of the calories you burn. The Forerunner 15 also includes step goals that automatically adjust based on your previous days performance. All of this information is shown on the watch’s 55×32-pixel display, along with the time and date.

Acquiring a GPS signal takes roughly 30 seconds depending on your location. When testing the Forerunner 15 in midtown Manhattan, it took a little longer (sometimes up to 3 minutes) to find my location, compared to when I used it in rural New Hampshire.

Once the signal is acquired you’re ready to go. You can toggle through three different screens while in GPS mode: workout time and distance, pace and calories, or actual time and date. Unlike other Garmin models where the screens automatically rotate, you are forced to press the down button on the Forerunner 15 to cycle through. There are three options to choose from when ending a workout: resume the run, save it to the watch, or discard it.

Steps and distance tracking (sans the GPS) were relatively accurate. When walking on a treadmill for a mile, the Forerunner 15 was only off by 0.07 miles. With the GPS enabled, I compared the distance results to those on the website MapMyRun. As was the case with the finding my location, the watch performed better when I wasn’t running in a city. The results were only off by 0.09 miles, however, which is pretty good as far as GPS running watches go.

For those who opt for the heart rate, it’s the same model that Garmin has been using for years. It’s accurate, straightforward, and just works. In fact, it’s the same model that I use when testing other heart-rate monitors, such as those on theLifeTrak Zone C410, Samsung Gear Fit, and Galaxy S5.
Garmin Forerunner 15

Garmin Forerunner 15 : Garmin Connect

There are two pieces of software that are required to view your workout data from the Forerunner 15. The first is called Garmin Express, which, as I mentioned above, is used to check for firmware updates and sync your data to Garmin’s website and mobile app. The Garmin Express software is available for free for both Windows and Mac users.

The next thing you will need is Garmin Connect, the company’s cloud service for viewing, analyzing, and sharing your personal workout data. Garmin Connect can be accessed through either the free iOS or Android app, or through the company’s website. From here you can view detailed information about your past activities, create training plans and running courses, change your device settings, view your achievements and personal records, and connect with other Garmin users, among other things. The Connect app can also be linked with MyFitnessPal to track the food you eat and the amount of calories you take in.

Oddly enough, there is an option in Garmin Connect to manually input the time you went to bed and the time you woke up. You will then be presented with a rather messy chart that shows your movements during the hours you inputted. It appears the Forerunner 15 supports some form of sleep tracking to an extent, but it’s rather clumsy in its current form. Hopefully this is something Garmin will address in a future software update.


With GPS, activity tracking, a waterproof design, and support for more than 20 languages, the Forerunner 15 is one of the best watches for casual runners, or those interested in becoming a casual runner. The design isn’t all that fashionable and it may be a bit bulky for some work environments. If GPS isn’t an important feature for you, than the Forerunner 15 isn’t for you. I would recommend checking out its cousin, the more stylish Garmin Vivofit.

Despite the lack of Bluetooth, the Forerunner 15 excels in almost everything you look for when buying an activity tracker or affordable running watch. It’s accurate, it’s waterproof, it supports heart-rate monitors, and it has very good battery life.

The Garmin Forerunner 15 is available now for $170 (£140 in the UK, AU$200 in Australia) without the heart-rate monitor or for $200 (£170, AU$250) with it.

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Garmin Forerunner 15 Bundle Small, Black/Green


Activity Tracking - Count your steps, calories and distance throughout the day. The inactivity indicator motivates you to move whenyou've been sitting too long; Long Battery Life - Up to 8 hours of ...

amazon Garmin Forerunner 15   A great watch for the casual runner
Item Weight

1.3 ounces

Product Dimensions

0.6 x 1.6 x 2 inches

Item model number



1 Lithium ion batteries required. (included)

Display Size

1.12 inches

Display Resolution

55 x 32

Battery Life

840 hours

Overall, I like this GPS watch. I'm a petite frame of 5' but I am muscular so although the watch is bulky, it's not so colossal that it exceeds the big bulky trend of watches right now, although it is larger than I would prefer... but then again, all GPS watches that have the functions I want are much larger in general.After looking at several brands such as Soleus (which is much more affordable but basic) or Nike (which has a nicer look, more mainstream and trendy, but didn't have the options I wanted), I settled on a couple different models of Garmin because I preferred because of the display of my pace and the options of different information displayed. I was drawn to the Garrmin 110 because of it's sleeker dismensions but upon doing some research I found in reviews that that it did not do well with water... I'm a swimmer by trader, so that left me with the Garmin 10 vs. the 15. Both had heart monitor capabilities, but the deciding factor was that the 15 has an activity monitor built into it (like the fitbit or jaws) and I'm a tech geek by nature.After it arrived, I charged it with the cradle it it snaps into (and plugs to my computer) and it was pretty intuitive. It starts with a few personal questions and the rest I customized later after I did my first run and played with the Garmin online "Connect" which let me review my information.Read more ›
July 3, 2014
I am really loving this watch. I have had it for two weeks now, and could not be happier with it. I fits well which is typically difficult considering that I am 5'0" and have child sized wrists. Because I sleep on my arm on my stomach, I can't sleep with it on, but if you sleep on your back or side, you should be able to sleep in it no problem. I have run with it many times now, and the GPS works beautifully. It usually takes a 10-20 seconds to find the satellites, but that is to be expected in the most basic of Garmin's current GPS technology. I am using it with a Garmin HRM3 heart rate strap which I am also quite pleased with. My favorite feature is the virtual pacer. You can set a particular pace, and the watch will alert you if you have gotten ahead of or behind that pace. It has been a great feature for learning abut my running and pacing for my half marathon training. I use the GPS tracking 4-5 hours a week, and I have only had to charge it once since I got it. It charges when you plug it in to sync your data, and that is usually sufficient to keep it going. I also love the activity tracker feature. It counts steps and will supposedly have a sleep monitor in an update in the near future. The step counter is like any step counter that gets worn on the wrist, it sometimes counts arm movement when you aren't actually moving. It is the nature of the beast, so to speak. I have been very happy with the data I have received from it so far, and it seems pretty accurate. I also really like that it tells you to "MOVE!" when you have been stationary too long. The MOVE! goes away after you've moved enough steps (I think it is 200 for every hour that you've been stationary, but I'm not positive.) Anyway, overall this is a great watch for someone who wants the basics of running info and tracking for a decent price without a lot of frills and extras. I would highly recommend this watch to anyone.
July 23, 2014
This is my fourth Garmin GPS watch. I used this watch in a half-marathon last weekend, in which it rained the entire time, and this watch stayed connected to satellite the entire time. I was very pleased with its performance.In purchasing this model, all I wanted was a basic GPS to track mileage, pace, and elevation, with a combined heart rate monitor. The 15 keeps it simple and provides what I need in a compact watch. I miss the 4-metric screen view of my Forerunner 205 -- with the 15 you must scroll through to see miles, pace, and HR, but the watch actually fits my small wrists so I will take that as a trade-off. I'm not using the fitness tracker part, so I can't say how that works.My one complaint about this watch is the HR monitor strap. It comes with the standard strap, which is TOO BIG for me. I'm a little annoyed that I now have to pay extra to buy a strap that fits. Garmin should allow you to choose your strap size when you buy the watch, particularly the ones designed for women.
June 14, 2014
Garmin Forerunner 15 – A great watch for the casual runner
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