Monday, November 16, 2015

Garmin Updates / Solicitation of Advice

In the very near future I am going to write a for-real blog post with, like, actual updates about running and stuff. BUT, I haven't done it yet, and the GPS thing is time-sensitive, so I thought I'd just get it out there.


When last we spoke of GPS devices, I was feeling like the proverbial thirsty sailor lost at sea: Garmins, Garmins all around, but not a one that works (reliably). Although I am not a fan of the FR220 overall, that's what I had been using for most of my Santa Rosa training this summer because it's still perfectly fine when you just need to get a long run or easy run in & don't care about much more than pace and distance. For the last few months that hasn't been much of an issue since my cardio activity has been mostly limited to elliptical and walk/run intervals by time & effort, and I had also been wearing the FR220 for that because one of its good features is the programmable interval workout feature, which is perfect when all you need to do is jog comfortably for x minutes & then walk for 10-x minutes, wash/rinse/repeat.

Unfortunately, about a month ago I noticed that it was starting to seriously drop mileage. And I'm not talking about a couple of tens over ten miles or something. I'm talking about registering 2.1 miles when I know I've gone three. (You know how you know exactly where every mile marker is within 10 miles of your house.) I'm still using it for the interval timing feature, but reliably, the mileage is now consistently off by 20-40% every time. I suppose it's possible it's not the watch and my entire neighborhood has recently fallen into some kind of GPS black-hole/vortex, but as I don't have another reliable watch to compare it to, I can't be sure. (Phone apps for me have always been wildly inaccurate. Not as bad as the FR220 has been lately, but still too far off to be useful.)

Speaking of other watches, I've pretty much given up on my other two every being useful again either. My beloved FR305 only turns on reliably about half the time, usually won't charge, doesn't beep at laps anymore, and the wristband is broken in two places. My FR310XT had been the most reliable of the three for a while, but now it won't turn on at all.


Like I said, this isn't a super critical issue right now in terms of my running. I'm still walk/running it up using the FR220 interval timer, so I'm not even looking at pace, and I don't expect to be training in a way where I really need a reliable GPS watch until at least January. But the time of year for ridiculous sales on electronics and other consumer goods is upon us, and I have a feeling that if I'm on top of things I could probably get a good deal at REI or amazon or similar. But the trick is knowing what I want to get, so I can properly stalk it.

So my question is, do you have a GPS watch that you're loving right now? (I know some of you love the FR220, but it is just not for me, so I'm looking for something different.) I've seen that some people like the FR620, but it kind of looks like it might be in the same mold as the FR220 so I'm afraid it will still have all the features I don't like about the 220. The 910XT sounds like it might be the closest thing to my old 310XT, and there may be some good deals coming up on it. (The 920XT sounds like overkill, I think.) Another option is to just by another refurbished 310XT, which has the pros of being something I'm familiar with and significantly cheaper.

On the other hand, I'm finding myself more and more open to non-Garmin options given all the trouble I've had with mine in the last few years, so I'd love to hear if anyone has had a better experience with another brand.


  1. 310XT is what I am using and I love it. Still works great. Have you tried calling or emailing Garmin? You might be able to get yours fixed.

  2. I have a Garmin 610 and I like it except for one aspect - the charging. It has a cradle system and most times doesn't seem to realise that it's been plugged in until I give the terminals a shot of alcohol (dab a little metho on them). Then sometimes the charge goes down instead of up. This usually happens just before a big race and I freak out that it's not going to charge and I'll have to run naked. Once it's charged, though, I love it. Easy to work and navigate around.

  3. My husband used a really cheap Soleus, but it runs consistently short. It was under $80 on clearance, though, so not a big big deal; it's off a couple of tenths here and there. I still use my 305, but I use it rarely, so it's lasted well.

  4. How long have you had your 220? I have one that's nearly 2 years old and going strong but I should probably prepare myself for its eventual demise. It's the only GPS watch I've owned so I love it because it's such an upgrade from the drugstore purchased stop watch I was using previously.

  5. Suunto Ambit! I'm pretty sure I commented the same thing the last time you posted about watches 😉