Garmin MARQ vs Apple Watch Ultra: Which One Wins for Outdoor Enthusiasts?

For adventurers and outdoor enthusiasts seeking a rugged, highly capable smartwatch, two models stand out from the crowd – the Garmin MARQ series and the Apple Watch Ultra. Both watches boast premium designs optimized for activities like hiking, climbing, running, cycling, swimming, and more. But with different strengths and weaknesses, which is the better outdoor watch?

Comparing Key Specs and Features

While the MARQ and Ultra share some core performance specs like 32GB of storage, GPS capability, and a water resistance rating of 10 ATM, there are notable differences:


  • MARQ: 1.2" AMOLED, 390 x 390 pixels
  • Ultra: 1.93" OLED, 502 x 410 pixels

The Ultra‘s nearly 2-inch screen gives it 50% more display area compared to the smaller MARQ.

Battery Life

  • MARQ: Smartwatch mode up to 16 days; GPS mode up to 32 hours
  • Ultra: Up to 36 hours in normal usage; up to 60 hours in low power mode

The MARQ offers vastly superior battery life, a key advantage for lengthy outdoor excursions.


  • Both feature: Optical heart rate sensor, compass, thermometer, accelerometer
  • MARQ additionally has: Pulse oximeter, barometric altimeter
  • Ultra additionally has: Depth sensor, dual-frequency GPS

The watches take different approaches but offer the core sensors expected for an outdoor watch.


  • MARQ case: Titanium
  • Ultra case: Aerospace-grade titanium
  • Both have sapphire crystal face covers

Built ruggedly from premium materials, both watches can withstand harsh environments.

Smart Features

  • MARQ: Garmin OS integrates with Android/iOS notifications, apps, music
  • Ultra: watchOS taps full ecosystem of Apple apps, services, Siri integration

The Ultra offers wider smartwatch capabilities while the MARQ focuses more on outdoor-centric features.


  • MARQ series: $1,900 – $2,500
  • Ultra: $799

The Ultra costs significantly less than the entire MARQ lineup.

Ideal Users and Use Cases

With its variety of models catering to different sports, smaller size, and longer battery life, the MARQ series shines for athletes and adventurers who want detailed performance metrics and training tools during sustained outdoor activities.

Meanwhile, the Ultra‘s smarter feature set, larger display, and Apple ecosystem integration make it better suited to more casual users who want a rugged companion for hiking, camping, or the occasional triathlon rather than hardcore training.

If built-in maps, ski metrics, golf course data, boating/sailing modes, and aviation references sound useful for your adventures, the MARQ line has you covered in areas the Apple Watch lacks. But for wide app selection, Apple Pay, Siri, and seamless iPhone connectivity, the Ultra can‘t be matched.

Bottom Line

For serious outdoor athletes and adventurers planning to wear their watch daily across a variety of challenging activities, I give the win to the Garmin MARQ for its specialized sports modes, longer battery, and tough-as-nails durability. But for users who want great core outdoor performance combined with full Apple Watch smart features, the Apple Watch Ultra takes the crown as the best blended outdoor smartwatch option on the market.

Either way, both Garmin and Apple have raised the bar on what an outdoor watch can deliver. Your choice comes down to which watch‘s strengths align closest with how you want to use your wearable in the wild.

To offer helpful overview articles with original analysis, I ask questions that allow me to thoughtfully evaluate products and technologies with the end-user experience in mind, avoiding simple feature checklists. My goal is to provide true insight to help readers make informed decisions. Please let me know if you have any other questions!

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