Garmin Pioneer 255 Review: Great Running Watch

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Garmin’s flagship line GPS-enabled fitness trackers are staggeringly complicated. Also, the company refreshes the Pioneer models, so even those of us who test them for life sometimes have trouble keeping up. That’s a good thing—new features are always a plus—but it does Choosing the right model Challenge.

To further complicate your decision, Garmin added the Pioneer 255 in 2022. The latest model adds multiband GPS support, a barometric altimeter, and much-improved sleep tracking, among dozens of welcome additions. The result is a multisport, runner-friendly watch. At $350, it’s one of the best value watches in Garmin’s lineup.

New and remarkable

Photo: Garmin

For years I’ve been using the Garmin 245, which falls in the middle of Garmin’s flagship line and is mainly aimed at runners. With the release of the Pioneer 255, Garmin retired the 245.


As with any fitness tracker, how useful any of these will be for you depends on what you do. For reference, my workout routine is bodyweight based, with alternating walking and sprinting sessions throughout the week. I’ve also used the 255 for hikes, paddle boarding, and sleep tracking.

Like almost all non-touch Garmin watches, the Pioneer 255 has five buttons, three on the left side and two on the right. I find the buttons more reliable to navigate than the touchscreen models, but the main thing to note is that there’s no touchscreen. The watch face is fully customizable, with a good selection of default faces that you can use to customize to your liking.

There are a few new features worth mentioning, but the one I’m most excited about is sleep tracking. The Pioneer 255 tracks heart rate variability (HRV) and sleep stages and gives you an overall sleep score with a new Morning Report, including the company’s Physical battery Feature and daily greeting, weather and other notes. It’s similar to what Apple offers.


To test the accuracy of the Pioneer 255, my wife uses a ring to track sleep, and I used it for a few weeks. (The Pioneer has 19 days of use before it starts making recommendations based on the sleep data it collects.) To keep this review a reasonable length, the upshot is that she didn’t bother changing her Oura, through the company. disappointment path. Pioneer’s data largely matches Ora’s and is nearly as comprehensive. But it doesn’t track body temperature while sleeping and is missing some other features that Oura offers.

I really like my morning report, it’s a great way to get a quick overview of where you are in terms of training and what you want to do that day. The other thing that impressed me in the first week was the new auto-detection features.


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