Garmin vivofit versus Fitbit

Last year after reading lots of reviews, I bought myself a Garmin vivofit. Then in the summer I was sent a fitbit, so I have mostly been wearing both of them each day. I thought it would be good to have a comparison.

First up, the Garmin.

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That little red line is a hint that I have been sat down for too long!


Long battery life (a year).

Easy to wear (watch strap). (I did read reviews of the strap coming off, but this has never happened to me and as the strap clips in, I can’t really see how this has happened).

Fairly accurate with steps and miles (I have compared the distance after a morning run, eg parkrun, and it’s very close to my actual Garmin).

Uses the Garmin software/ website (which I already use with my GPS watch).

You can earn vouchers via

You can choose the display- time/ steps/ steps to goal/ miles/ calories, and easily flip between them.

The red line appears as you are inactive, and gets longer the more you stay still. I didn’t want a buzz or a flash or anything.


The app (you upload via bluetooth) seems to keep crashing, and I have had to re-install it several times on my phone

Annoying wearing two watches when I am running (but I want the steps)

I can’t see how to change the time, so when travelling I had to put my phone on wifi, then bluetooth, then synch it, and then the time would change. This was all OK until I didn’t have free wifi, and then I could not do it- annoying when I use it as my watch.


Now the Fitbit:

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I like the fitbit interface on the website.

They sponsor parkrun! Hooray! And somehow if you have a parkrun barcode you can get a discount.

Connects via a little USB thing in the laptop, does this automatically so no need to remember to upload.

You get a weekly email with your steps- this is interesting to look at and easier than logging on to the website.

Also earns vouchers via


Annoying to wear- you can clip it to your waistband, but I found it kept popping off when I went to the toilet. I tend to wear it in my pocket, but I don’t always have a pocket so sometimes have to clip it in my bra.

Not such an accurate step count (generally says more steps than Garmin).

It sends you personal messages on the screen (“You rock Maria/ Let’s go Maria/ Climb it Maria”-Climb what fitbit??  I find them annoying but I think they are meant to be cutesy).

Battery life is rubbish! One week! You get sent an email when it is about to run out, but sometimes I don’t see this until the evening, and it’s run out in the day.

You can’t wear it while it’s charging so you miss out on steps!

No constant display (which means the battery life baffles me even more)- you have to press a button and it then shows a picture (mine is of a flower), time, steps, floors (this is a very weird feature), miles, calories. You can’t leave it on one, and have to flick through (and endure more “motivational” messages) each time.

It doesn’t have an incentive on the screen- for example it doesn’t tell me when I reach my daily goal. I don’t mind this too much, but seeing as it is meant to promote being active, a + symbol or something would be good to show that you are now working beyond the goal.

No idea how to change the time. While away I plugged it into Andy’s computer, but that didn’t change it at all.

No reminder when you are inactive for a time. Sometimes if it is still, and then you move it, a “motivational” message appears, but nothing to say how close to your goal you are, or how long you have been inactive for.


So, as you can probably tell, I much prefer the Garmin, but I really like fitbit as a company (especially as they support parkrun). What would you look for in a tracker? Do you have anything to add to any of these lists?

*I bought the Garmin one myself. I was sent with fitbit in exchange for a post about Fitness First (which I published a while ago) with no request to review it. All opinions are my own.

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14 thoughts on “Garmin vivofit versus Fitbit”

  1. I’ve always wanted a tracker but I can’t really justify getting one. I’m sure I’d become obsessed with the data…that doesn’t matter to me as much now though. If I get a kick out of analysing various numerical values relentlessly, then it’s not inherently a bad thing…it’s just my personality.

    The Garmin does sound like the better option, and I do prefer its design as well. It just seems a bit more sleek and polished. Garmin software in general is just a nightmare though – I have enough trouble with Garmin Connect!

    1. I know, the Garmin software is awful! I keep needing to re-install the speedy garmin thing now, not sure why.
      If you love data, or get obsessed with it, maybe they are not so good!

  2. I’ve tried the fitbit flex and the jawbone, and much prefer the fitbit, although James used it for a while and the rubber band made his wrist break out in a rash! I keep meaning to start using it again, although I dread what it would tell me about my lack of activity and sleep!

    1. Yeah, I think I know already I don’t get enough sleep! I did wear them at night for a bit, but I don’t like things on my wrist so I kept waking up, which defeated the purpose a bit!

    1. I hope you like it! I liked the green strap, but then I thought at least grey was neutral so stood more chance of matching with what I was wearing!

  3. Having previously had a Fitbit, I do much prefer my Vivofit. That said, I haven’t tried the newer Fitbit so can’t really judge I suppose. I do much prefer the Vivofit display though as I can wear it as a watch which is so helpful. I hate having to look at my phone all the time (as I don’t really own a ‘proper’ watch). I also like that the goal changes depending on how much you naturally do. I tend to average around 12k steps so having a goal that pushes me higher than that works well.
    I’ve never had an issue with the Garmin app though. Sometimes it won’t download the data but that’s down to the server usually.
    (Your “climb it” comment made me laugh. Quite American I suppose!)

  4. I’ve been a fan of Garmin for a number of years and have just recently brought the Vivofit which I am liking a lot more than my mates Fitbit.

  5. Totally agree on the Garmin software, I find it really frustrating when I go to upload it and the thing crashes. Argh!
    I love my vivofit and wouldn’t be without it, I think it really helps me keep track of my movement and make sure I’m getting those steps in!

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