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The Garmin Venu 2 Plus offers a smartwatch experience that might alter the way you go about your day, should you go all-in on its offerings.
I never saw myself being a smartwatch junkie, but here we are. To me, the reality of wearable technology felt intrusive yet inescapable. I’m less the type that’s tech-obsessed and more the type to abscond into the wilds and avoid cell service at any cost.
So, it’s wild I find myself so obsessed with Garmin’s slick Venu 2 smartwatch. I actually got swept into the Garmin ecosystem by testing its Instinct 2 Solar, but I lamented the utilitarian and masculine vibe of the thing. I wanted to wear something that could go to a dinner party or on a run. For me, the Venu 2 Plus does the trick.
In short: The Garmin Venu 2 Plus is user-friendly, stylish enough for almost any scenario, and provides the kind of daily stats and information that can truly improve your life — if you so choose.
The Garmin Venu 2 comes in four models.
The 2S is the smallest of the Venu series, with a 40mm face ($399). Should you want a more substantial round face, the Venu 2 Plus ($449) offers a 43mm option, while the Venu 2 ($399) maxes out at 45mm. Additionally, the Venu Sq ($249) offers a more affordable square face, and with this shape, one might think of it as an Apple Watch dupe.
At the higher price point, the Plus presents the premium experience of the series. And this is the particular watch that I have in hand. It offers features including stainless steel hardware, animated on-screen workouts, and voice functionality for texting, calls, and access to Voice Assistant technology.
Though not specifically gendered, options across the Venu 2 series certainly cater to surface preferences that lean either masculine or feminine. The watch I wear is cream-colored with subdued gold accents, but darker neutrals including granite blue, powder grey, and black are available.
Beyond that, it’s the watch’s ability to pile physical data from your wrist to your smartphone that takes the cake. Personally, I love the Garmin Connect app, its options for bettering your health, and the wild amount of data it offers in the process. More on that now.
As someone who wasn’t entirely devoted to the idea of the daily wear of a smartwatch, I’m surprised to find myself a bit lost when I take it off.
Why? Instead of relying on my iPhone for timekeeping, I simply turn my wrist, and the Venu 2 Plus comes to life. On the face I’ve chosen, I’m able to see the date, time, my heartrate, the battery charge, and the steps I’ve taken for the day.
I found that knowing how much I’ve walked each time I check the time encourages me to keep moving, something my iPhone or internal clock never did.
Over the past few months, I’ve consistently hit my goal of at least 7,500 steps for the day, and often more than that. The watch celebrates with a little confetti buzz each time you hit a goal, which is a nice little dopamine boost in small moments. Gamification for the win, Garmin.
But the function of the watch that really holds me accountable is the data I’ve become accustomed to checking each day in the Garmin Connect app — most notably, my sleeping habits.
I’ve noticed a direct correlation between the days I’ve slept well (according to the watch) and how energetic I feel. And, in turn, the days it tells me I had a crappy night. Perhaps, dear friends, this is a placebo effect. However, the data seems to add up.
On those crappier days, I can see that perhaps I didn’t walk much the day before. I might not have gotten my heart rate up, or I know that I had one too many glasses of wine.
And present-me has started to think about how future-me might operate, thanks to these little nuggets of information.
Since wearing the watch, I’ve lost 12 pounds. I attribute this partially to the simple interactions of seeing how much I’m moving or not. And with feeling better and becoming more active, I decided to see how the Garmin Coaching side of the app might be able to help me keep going.
I’m on the road to running a 5K through the Garmin Connect app via Jeff Galloway’s plan. There are multiple coaches to pick from; I chose Galloway more on a whim.
A beginning survey lets you choose how much and what kind of running you want to do, then the app builds a program to get you started.
Thus far, it’s simple. The running plan is mapped out, easy to get to via the Activities section of the watch, and I’ve yet to run into major bugs.
And running isn’t the only coaching option. Built-in workouts from HIIT to strength to yoga and Pilates are available right on my wrist.
The Venu 2 Plus also offers voice activation and the ability to make phone calls via the watch itself, though personally, that’s not much of a sell for me. If you’re into that sort of thing, know that it’s there and it works.
I don’t have much to complain about with the Venu 2 Plus. The battery is phenomenal, though if it were infinite, I’d be happiest. Still, I’ll take what I can get.
I haven’t personally experienced bugs in either the training portions or the data collection. Though I will say that it did take me a while to figure out how to get to my coaching sessions within the watch itself. (“Idiot, go to the Run activity,” I say to myself now.)
The one issue I’ve had that drives me semi-nutty is that it sometimes takes a second for my watch face to tap on. If I’m in a hurry, or preoccupied with something else, and I have to tap the watch face a few times, it’s not exactly a nuclear meltdown but it’s been close.
I’ll also add that though the price isn’t root-level, it ain’t astronomical either. This is certainly a midlevel watch from Garmin, and at much less than half the price of an Apple watch for most options, I say it’s a helluva win.
Did a watch actually encourage me to get back on the health wagon after a few years of knee surgeries and recoveries, the induced antisocial malaise of the pandemic, and my steady edge toward the slouchy nature of American middle age? I think it did.
At the very least, it incentivized behavior by making data readily available at all times. Perhaps I’m simply a cog in the hamster wheel of Garmin’s refined data machine. If I’m able to run a 5K for the first time since 2017, I’ll be one very happy customer.
Listen, if getting a smartwatch is on your radar, this is one to seriously consider. Personally, I’m glad to have it on my wrist and at my beck and call. This is tech that can literally better your life by encouraging small behavioral changes via data; it certainly did that for me.
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Garmin’s second-generation Instinct series takes one of the brand’s most popular watches and — as you’d expect — makes it better.
Nicole Qualtieri has been writing about hunting, fishing, and the outdoors for 8 years.
From 2014-2017, Nicole worked for ZPZ Productions. There, she partnered with multiple hunting outlets and personalities on social media and e-commerce, including MeatEater, Randy Newberg, and Remi Warren. She also managed online communications for Backcountry Hunters & Anglers for nearly two years, and she spent six years prior in Corporate sales. Additionally, she served a year as an AmeriCorps VISTA volunteer in Bridgewater, MA, coordinating volunteers for a therapeutic recreational facility.
Based in Montana, Nicole is an avid hunter and angler. She’s a lifelong horsewoman and animal lover, and she’s recently ventured into the world of bird dogs with her young Boykin Spaniel, Bob.
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