The Garmin Forerunner 955 Solar is a phenomenal fitness watch, ranking among the best we’ve ever tried. We love the design and layout of the watch, its UX is classic Garmin, and it’s stuffed to the brim with features. The solar battery also lives up to its formidable reputation, and the new Daily Readiness functionality is very useful. It’s fast becoming my go-to daily activity watch, and possibly my favorite Garmin yet.
Stuffed with features
Classic Garmin design
Native running power features need an additional kit
Touchscreen AND buttons seem unnecessary
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Two minute review
This is our full review of the Garmin Forerunner 955 Solar. We’ve gone hands-on with the brand new watch (and its smaller sibling, the 255s) to give you a comprehensive overview of its features. We'll save you a little bit of time and say this is the best Forerunner yet.
It looks good, chunky and rugged without feeling extraneous. It performs brilliantly, It tracks your metrics accurately, and it packages the information in a useful way that can strengthen your training protocol and improve your health and fitness.
Its GPS tools are excellent, with particular emphasis on cycling and running, warning users of upcoming inclines and helping them navigate through adventures off the beaten track, all with full-color maps and turn-by-turn navigation. This is supported by Garmin's multi-band GNSS abilities, which the Forerunner can access for pinpoint accuracy.
New features such as Training Readiness and older ones such as Garmin's Body Battery score help and support recovery effectively, counting down the hours until you're fully recovered and adjusting those calculations after each good night's sleep. Good recovery is essential for everyone from casual park runners to high-performance triathletes and ultra-runners, and the Morning Report on my recovery quickly began to inform my day's training.
This is all supported by a battery that lasts well over two weeks and 49 hours in GPS mode, supported by Power Glass solar technology, and loads of storage space for all your favorite music and routes.
In my three weeks with the watch, I honestly loved it. It's the best Forerunner, and maybe the best running watch, I've worn so far.
Garmin Forerunner 955 Solar: Price and release date
The Garmin Forerunner 955 is out now, with one version packing a Power Glass solar charging lens, which helps extend the Forerunner’s battery life, and another version without the solar lens.
The 955 Solar is priced at $599.99 in the US, £549.99 in the UK and $899 in Australia. The Forerunner 955 without a solar option costs $499.99 in the US and £479.99 in the UK, costing $799 in Australia.
Garmin Forerunner 955 Solar: Design
- Rugged, tough design
- Touchscreen and buttons
- Now-standard Garmin UX
The watch feels suitably hefty and rugged, and I’m not worried at all about taking it on the roughest adventures, but light at just 52 grams. It’s also comfortable on the wrist, coming as it does with a soft silicone strap perfect for swims (the watch, as you’d expect from a product geared towards triathletes, is 5ATM water resistant). The Garmin Forerunner 955 Solar shares a lot of design DNA with many of Garmin’s classic features, such as the metal casing and five-button functions.
Anyone who’s used a Garmin watch like the previous Forerunners, the Epix or Enduro will be familiar with the button setup: up, down and ‘light’ buttons on one side, and a 'confirmation' and a ‘back’ button on the other. With a 46.5mm screen and 260 x 260 pixels, everything is crystal clear and bright.
True HD would have been nice at this price point, but this isn't an Apple Watch and you're not playing games on here: the information is clearly presented and not stressful to read, and that's probably the most you can ask for a specialist fitness tool.
Like the higher-end Fenix watches, Garmin has also added a touchscreen here. This is my first touchscreen Garmin, and I found in my first few weeks with the watch I didn't often use the feature, sticking to the buttons which are perfectly fine to navigate on their own. Since then, I've begun to use the touchscreen and buttons in different settings, swiping left and right and keeping the buttons as tactile mid-workout controls.
There were exceptions, such as flicking through the options in my list faster, if I wanted to grab the weather or Training Readiness scores closer to the bottom, and maps to reorient myself with a thumb and forefinger.
Design-wise, the watch's UX and Garmin Connect orientation follow the pre-existing Garmin model, with few meaningful changes. If you've used a Garmin watch, and especially a Forerunner watch before, you'll be familiar with the customizable menu widgets, although the 955 gets a few nice new watch faces.
However, while there's no need to unnecessarily reinvent the wheel, there are a few changes here: such as the daily recommended workouts changing if you've got a race coming up. Pop your race into Garmin Connect, and depending on the length of the race and the time you have, GC will recommend you daily workouts, like a training plan generated on your wrist based on previous performance. A neat trick.
- Design score: 5/5
Garmin Forerunner 955 Solar: Features
- Big health and GPS tracking improvements
- Accurate when measured against rivals
- Useful recovery tools
The Garmin Forerunner 955 is full of just as many fitness features as the other premium Garmin watches, such as the Enduro and Epix ranges. To start with, it promises more mapping accuracy than ever, with multi-band GNSS and SatIQ technology offering tracking across several different satellite systems. During our tests, we certainly found the watch to be as accurate as any other benchmark we threw at it, testing it alongside a Polar watch and Google Maps on my Oppo phone.
You can set routes with turn-by-turn directions, so you don’t have to stop to think about where to turn next. Like other Garmins before it, you can set distance and time targets with the accompanying Garmin Connect app, and we particularly love having the Forerunner automatically calculate a circular route, guiding us through it back to our doorstep. The turn-by-turn directions were simple to follow, and the full-color map readouts worked just fine.
PacePro and ClimbPro offer on-route guidance, warning you in advance about challenging hills and elevations.
What is brand new is some of Garmin’s innovative new software features such as HRV status, which provides detailed information of how your heart rate varied while you sleep, leading to more accurate sleep tracking overall. It forms part of the Training Readiness score, a revamped feature from previous models which acts like Polar’s Nightly Recharge or Fitbit’s Daily Readiness score, offering you a simple colored gauge to show you how ready for hard training you are.
Both these widgets are easily accessed in Garmin’s main widget menu by default, but they’re also served up to you in the Morning Report, a wrist-mounted morning digest including the upcoming weather, your sleep patterns for the previous night, and your Training Readiness score. The Morning Report details the weather, your sleep quality, and your Training Readiness score. This is a neat trick to instantly bring you into your day: should you attempt that long run, or wait and do some light accessory training?
It's a useful tool and helped me, more than anything else, adapt my training around my statistics over the last few weeks. A high Training Readiness score has pushed me to complete 10-mile runs on days I was only planning to do six or seven, and stopped me from taxing my body too much when I ought to be resting. On the last day of a trail running festival in west Wales, my push notification cited a very low Training Readiness score, when I had one more run left. That notification encouraged me to take things down a notch, and my body felt all the better for it
However, on the day in which I had a terrible night's sleep, I really could have done without this reminder. I knew I had an awful night's sleep, and I didn't welcome the notification. If you find yourself getting anxious about your health data, getting push notifications with sleep updates could end up being counter-intuitive, doing more harm than good. It also doesn't tell you much about how this Training Readiness score is generated, only that it involves your HRV status, sleep quality and Body Battery scores.
If you’re not in a position to alter your behavior based on the previous night’s sleep, or you have a big race coming up and you’re pushed a poor Training Readiness score, it's a shortcut to feeling terrible. Nevertheless, you have the ability to disable the feature in 'settings' if you don’t want the notification every morning.
- Features score: 5/5
Garmin Forerunner 955 Solar: Performance
- Battery life performs as expected
- Training modes and recommended workouts all useful
- Recovery tools are peerless
I loved every minute of training with this watch. It was intuitive to use, having worn multiple Garmins before this, and my GPS tracking and calories burned matched up well with my phone's GPS and the details collected on the MapMyRun app on my usual 6km testing route, so I'm satisfied to the watch's accuracy with its Multi-Band GPS software. Likewise, the heart rate accuracy matched up well with my Polar Vantage V2, my standard "everyday" watch.
The TracBack feature is great, allowing you to retrace your steps back to your start point, and although I used it on a route I knew well rather than when I was lost on the trail, I was pleased with the simplicity of it all. You only have to tap the route once you're all done on the Garmin Connect app to zoom in, with heat maps illustrating the points during which you ran slower and faster.
The training modes were great and easy to use, with daily predictions for different distances such as 5k and 10k, along with the recommended workouts, providing goals to hit, racing you against yourself. The training load featuring more prominently is also a good idea, telling you if you're currently detraining, maintaining your current load or providing a little push notification if you're overtraining. I had all of these pop up during my time with the watch.
As a runner, it allowed me to analyze my performance like never before. That's my main discipline, but if you're a cyclist and swimmer, the metrics here are equally impressive: swimming features both open water and pool functionalities with stroke count and average pool lengths in addition to time and distance.
The strength training mode was fine, counting my reps with reasonable (but occasionally glitchy) accuracy, but it remains a sore point on Garmin in general, and not necessarily the fault of the Forerunner as that's not what the device is for.
The solar charging battery was fine. It's not quite as powerful as the Garmin Enduro which had a frankly ridiculous time of 60 days, but the watch lived up to its promises of a 20-day charge with moderate use, using it on GPS mode for runs several times a week. I got sixteen days before the battery was running dangerously low, and I put it back on charge again, which took under an hour. If you loathe charging your smartwatch every few days, this is going to be one of the best multi-sport watches you can buy.
- Performance score: 5/5
Buy it if...
You're passionate about running, or triathlons
If your main discipline is an endurance sport, particularly running, the Garmin Forerunner 955 Solar is one of the best watches for you on the market right now.
You want a watch that lasts ages
At twenty days of battery life, the Power Glass puts in the work and really squeezes the most of the Forerunner 955's extensive amount of juice.
Don't buy it if...
You don't like running
Sure, it's a really comprehensive fitness watch. But if you're not hitting the streets or the trail, you're really not going to get the most out of this watch.
You want an entry-level watch
This is a premium fitness watch stuffed with features. If you're just dipping your toe in, consider one of our best fitness trackers instead.
If you only want to charge your watch a handful of times a year rather than once a month, this is the watch for you. No music capabilities, but the Enduro is fully kitted out for all manner of endurance athletes.
Polar Pacer Pro
The next evolution of my former "baseline” everyday multi-sports watch, the Polar Pacer Pro offers me tons of fantastic running metrics and a simple, pleasant interface, all in a sleek metal case with that satisfying big red button “go” button attached.
Matt is TechRadar's expert on all things fitness, wellness and wearable tech. A former staffer at Men's Health, he holds a Master's Degree in journalism from Cardiff and has written for brands like Runner's World, Women's Health, Men's Fitness, LiveScience and Fit&Well on everything fitness tech, exercise, nutrition and mental wellbeing.
Matt's a keen runner, ex-kickboxer, not averse to the odd yoga flow, and insists everyone should stretch every morning. When he’s not training or writing about health and fitness, he can be found reading doorstop-thick fantasy books with lots of fictional maps in them.