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Garmin Vivoactive 3 Review – How Good Is This Watch For Hiking?


Article Categories: Gear
Article Tags: Hiking | Hiking Gear

Garmin is one of the top sports and fitness brands in the world. Their wearable tech for runners, bikers, hikers, golfers, and all types of other sports are well known, and used by some of the world’s best athletes. Here, we take a deep dive and review this watch not just for the daily use, but for hiking and running.

About Garmin | About The Watch | Our Review | Summary

You can purchase the Garmin Vivoactive 3 on the following sites:



About Garmin

Garmin is a worldwide organization with 65 offices around the world. They have a track record of some of the best GPS products in the world, and have great ethics and take part in socially responsible activities.

You can read more about Garmin here.

Our Testing Scenario

As avid runners and hikers in all seasons, this watch has been put to the test. We have done long trail runs, road races, walks, gym sessions, Colorado 14ers, fishing trips, and worked all day with it on our wrists. We’ve had it track our sleep, heart rate, mileage and even put the Garmin app to the test. If you have any questions about this watch, we’ll be able to help you out.

About The Watch

Technical Specs

Glass / Watchface MATERIAL Corning® Gorilla® Glass 3
QUICK RELEASE BANDS yes (20 mm, Industry standard)
PHYSICAL SIZE 43.1 x 43.1 x 13.6 mm

Fits wrists with a circumference of 127-204 mm

DISPLAY SIZE 1.2″ (30.4mm) diameter
DISPLAY RESOLUTION 240 x 240 pixels
DISPLAY TYPE sunlight-visible, transflective memory-in-pixel (MIP)
WEIGHT 39.0 g
BATTERY LIFE Smartwatch mode: Up to 7 days
GPS mode with music: Up to 5 hours
GPS mode without music: Up to 13 hours
MEMORY/HISTORY 7 timed activities, 14 days of activity tracking data

Additional Features

  • (Music Version) Download up to 500 songs to your watch, and connect with Bluetooth® headphones (sold separately) for phone-free listening
  • Garmin Pay™ contactless payment solution
  • Customized watch faces
  • 15+ preloaded sports apps, including yoga, running, swimming, strength training and many more; use preloaded workouts, or create and download custom ones
  • Monitor your fitness level with VO2 max and fitness age estimates, plus keep an eye on how you handle stress²
  • Battery life³: up to 7 days in smartwatch mode and up to 5 hours in GPS with music mode

Free Standard Shipping

Amazon, and Garmin and most distributers offer free standard shipping.


Garmin has a 30 day+ return policy as long as product is in original condition.

Our Review

Waterproof / Swimming

This watch is watch is waterproof up to 50 meters, so you’ll have no trouble swimming, snorkeling, diving, or showering with it on. The swimming functionality/workout is great as well, allowing you to track laps in a pool and time. As any other watch, the heart rate monitor doesn’t work well while the watch is submerged.

The touch screen also struggles a bit while the watch is wet, but with a quick dry off, it works great.

Battery Life

This is one of the main reasons we love this watch. If you want a watch that can handle long hikes or workouts with GPS turned on, or that you don’t have to charge every night, this is your watch. The battery will last around 4-6 days with average use. When in GPS mode, you can last 8-12 hours.

This means that if you are preparing for a long hike or workout where you want to track your GPS, you should charge the watch to full charge.

If you keep the GPS off at all times, you can stretch the battery life to about a week, which is fantastic.

The battery also charges quite fast, so in about an hour, you can fully charge your watch.


This watch is pretty comfortable to where just about 24/7. Occasionally, the strap will cause some irritation, in which switching wrists for a couple of days solves the problem. If you aren’t going to wear the watch all day, and to sleep, you’ll have no trouble wearing this watch and forgetting it is even there.

How Good Is Garmin Vivoactive 3 Watch For Running?

This is an awesome running watch. The GPS tracks your mileage, the accelerometer tracks your cadence, the heart rate monitor is quite accurate, and all of this data automatically uploads to the Garmin app where it can be connected to Strava, Map My Run, or just about any other app you love automatically.

This watch also comes with half marathon, marathon, and other training

How Good Is Garmin Vivoactive 3 Watch For Hiking?

This is a great beginner watch for hiking. It doesn’t have all of the best features of the top hiking watches, but still this watch is great. The GPS tracking, step tracking, and elevation gain and loss tracking work quite well. The long battery life compared to other smart watches enables you to GPS record for 10 or so hours straight, meaning you can get in some really long day hikes while tracking your GPS track.

Other top watches have the ability to download GPX files and display your location. This watch doesn’t have that capability, so if you are looking for a robust hiking watch with advanced map and gps capabilities, or multi-day GPS tracking, you may want to upgrade, but if you don’t need those features, this watch is great.

Heart Rate Monitoring

We were very impressed with the accuracy of the heart rate monitoring. Through manual checks, and other device checks, when at rest, or just walking around, it is almost perfectly accurate.

While vigorously exercising, like running, or hiking, or biking, it is still quite accurate. When hiking or running, if the watch is kept tight, it tends to be more accurate. We do occasionally see some discrepancies when the underside of the watch where it touches the skin gets wet. This can happen with lots of perspiration or rain. When compared to other watches that use this heart rate technology, it appears to be equally, if not more accurate. As with any athlete looking for precise heart rates during vigorous activity, a chest monitor is likely your best option, however this watch does quite well.


Simply put, this is a nice looking watch. It is small, sleek, and professional looking. Many athletic watches can be big and bulky, making them not ideal for every day use, but this watch can work in any situation. 

Daily Use

The comfort of this watch, sleep tracking, heart rate monitoring, step tracking, and easy automatic syncing with the Garmin app, MyFitnessPal, and other applications are as good as it gets. If you are looking to track your day to day activities, workouts, sleep, and heart rate, this is a stellar choice.

Email notifications, text message notifications, and phone call notifications are all great on this watch. While you can’t text on this, or view long messages, it is nice to get a preview of your message to know if you need to grab your phone or not. If you are on a run, you also have the ability to answer calls with the watch. The watch doesn’t have a microphone or sound functionality, but it is convenient to be able to answer a call without pulling out your phone.

There is also a function to find your phone if it is lost, which will make your phone make noise to help you find it.

Sleep Tracking

The sleep tracking is great, and automatically syncs to any app you’d like. It appears to be quite accurate in tracking how long you are sleeping, and how well based on your movements. It will also accurately track your resting heart rate while you sleep. You also have the ability to set an alarm via your watch.

Step Tracking

The step tracking is very accurate, and allows you to set daily goals for yourself. This is a great feature if you want to track your steps!


This watch is awesome. If you want to test out how you like having an every day smart watch that doubles as an athlete tracker, this is an incredible starter watch. It is great for day to day use, and also great for running workouts, tracking sleep, heart rate, and even checking texts.

If you don’t know if you’re willing to invest $600-$1000 for the top of the line fitness watches, this is a great watch to test to see how you like the functionality. This also makes a great day to day watch for the weekend warrior. It is comfortable, does an incredible job at tracking steps, runs, swims, bikes, hikes, your sleep, resting heart rate, workout heart rate, and does a lot of things just as well as the most expensive watches on the market.

It is also much smaller and more sleek, making it much better for day to day wearing than some of the larger fitness watches.

Max DesMarais

Max DesMarais

Max DesMarais is the founder of hikingandfishing.com. He has a passion for the outdoors and making outdoor education and adventure more accessible. Max is a published author for various outdoor adventure, travel, and marketing websites. He is an experienced hiker, backpacker, fly fisherman, backcountry skier, trail runner, and spends his free time in the outdoors. These adventures allow him to test gear, learn new skills, and experience new places so that he can educate others. Max grew up hiking all around New Hampshire and New England. He became obsessed with the New Hampshire mountains, and the NH 48, where he guided hikes and trail runs in the White Mountains. Since moving out west, Max has continued climbed all of the Colorado 14ers, is always testing gear, learning skills, gaining experience, and building his endurance for outdoor sports. You can read more about his experience here: hikingandfishing/about