A couple of months ago I decided that it was time to try out the Garmin line of GPS products, specifically the Garmin Forerunner 310XT. I had been using Runkeeper’s App on my Android phone, but it was becoming more work than it was worth. The distance tracked was inconsistent, and my average pace would sometimes hover around 4:30 a mile (I wish I was that fast).
I would end up having to log onto their website and correct the information myself, which is a tedious task. After emailing Runkeeper multiple times with no response, I threw in the towel. I hadn’t spent much money on running in a while, and I believe you should reward yourself from time to time, so I starting looking at Garmin watches – The Ultimate Runner’s Tool.
There are many different Garmin watches out there, but a couple of models were suggested to me; the Forerunner 305 and 405. Both of them looked great, but… I wanted one that was water proof and would hold a charge for long periods of time. Finally, I found it – The Garmin Forerunner 310XT with its large orange body, sturdy strap, and long battery life. This was the watch for me! After reading several reviews, watching YouTube videos, and comparing prices, I made my purchase. I found it for a great deal at $165 from a store online. [Contact me for store information] I decided to go without the heart-rate monitor for now. I can always get one at a later time if I feel the urge.
- Waterproof to a depth of 50 meters, so you can wear it in the pool or the lake to time your swim
- Tracks bike and run data and sends it wirelessly to your computer
- Track your position, distance, and pace; add accessories to measure heart rate, power data and more
- 20 hours of battery life
- One-year limited warranty
Here’s what comes in the box:
- Garmin 310XT Watch
- Wall/USB Charger with optional adapters for going overseas
- Garmin ANT+ Stick for wirelessly synching your data
- Quick Start Manual (Online version here)
When you first power on your device, it will begin searching for satellites. If you are inside, it may take a minute. I have found that outside (on a sunny day), it can take as little as 10 seconds to lock into satellite positioning.
[Note: The first time it powers on, it can take longer to find your location. I should also mention that the Garmin 310XT has received better reviews over other Garmin devices in regards to GPS loading times]
Once it’s figured out where you are, it will ask you a series of questions concerning configurations and your personal fitness level; Language, Time Format (12/24), Distance Format (Miles or Kilometers), HR Monitor (Y or N), Gender, Age, Weight, Height, Activity Class, and Lifetime Athlete. The last one simply means – Have you been training for many years?
It also allows you to set up your screen to display the information in 1, 2, 3, or 4 fields of data. As you can see below, I have chosen 4 fields, with those fields being Time, Distance, Calories Burned, and Average Pace.
Charging is very simple. Just clamp the charger to the back of the watch, being sure that the metal pins make contact. Plug it into the wall or a USB port, and let it charge. I usually charge mine once a week, although the charge lasts over 20 hours. I typically don’t run over 4 hours in a week, unless I’m training for a marathon. So, I suppose one charge should last me an entire month!
This is the most important feature of the watch. In fact, it’s why you bought the watch in the first place. I am happy to report that I have no complaints with the tracking of my runs. All data (distance, time, pace, calories, elevation) seems to be extremely accurate.
There are occasional dips in numbers when the watch loses its positioning, but not enough to affect your overall stats. I can’t provide feedback on the heart-rate monitor, as I haven’t used one yet. However, from what I have read, the heart-rate monitor works great (just not in water). Below is some data from my recent marathon.
The ANT+ stick that comes with your device will allow you to synch your recent data, along with any history, to your computer. The ANT+ client (which you will install) on your computer, then sends the data to Garmin’s website under your user profile (which you will create). This all happens in usually less than 30 seconds. I love this feature. However, I would prefer if Garmin would take advantage of Bluetooth technology. That way, I wouldn’t have to put a stick into my USB port each time I completed an activity.
They could also use the same Bluetooth technology as a means to connect your device with your phone, sending the data to their website. Just my two cents on that! If you are a Runkeeper user, you can still keep your Runkeeper account, but have the new data automatically transferred from Garmin Connect.
A site called Garmin Sync allows you to have new data from Garmin seamlessly uploaded to Runkeeper. Although I completely despise Runkeeper’s smartphone app, I still use their website’s interface to keep up with the data and review each week’s progress. There is nothing wrong with Garmin’s site, except that their servers are a bit slower and can lag from time to time.
Looks & Design
Well, these watches certainly weren’t designed to be fashion statements, but the Garmin Forerunner 310XT is actually pretty stylish. I may be a bit biased (because my favorite color is orange), but I think they did a great job with this watch’s look, feel, and build. Everything is made with high-quality material, including the hard rubber strap. The body of the watch is large, but not more so than the 305 or 405. Keep in mind, that with all the battery life, memory, and GPS power, this watch earned its right to be big. Let’s face it, you’re basically running with a light computer on your arm. Speaking of light, the 310XT weighs in at a measly 2.5 ounces; not bad for all of that number crunching, time keeping, position tracking power.
I would highly recommend the Garmin Forerunner 310XT to anyone who is consistently putting in mileage every week and/or does a large amount of training. Triathletes would especially love this watch, due to its waterproofing and bike accessories (which are sold separately). I bought this watch for several reasons but one of the most important reasons was that it allows me room to grow.
Down the road, I may want to participate in triathlons. I may even go for an ultra-marathon in the distant future. With its battery life, the 310XT could last for races up to 100 miles! This watch should endure the years, no matter what I decide to do, or where I decide to go.
Do you use a Garmin GPS watch to track your activities? If so, which one? If not, what do you use? Lets us know!