Garmin Fitness Monitors

Garmin is arguably an industry leader in the GPS and Fitness Monitor market. They simply do a great job at what they do. Sometimes the problems come into play when you start comparing the different models, and wondering why you’d want to purchase one over the other. Specifically in this post, we’ll compare their Fitness Monitors, in hopes of helping decipher which will best suit your training program, whether you’re training for your first 5K or you’re headed for a full marathon….or maybe a triathlon!

See the following chart for their current lineup of Fitness Monitors, and then we’ll dive into what each feature means to you, and you can decide which one will best serve your needs.

Model
GPS
ANT+
Heart Rate
Training Alerts
Wireless Upload
Swim Data
Garmin FR70
HR, FP, BSC
X
X
Garmin Forerunner 10
X
X
Garmin Forerunner 110
X
HR
O
Garmin Forerunner 210
X
HR, FP
O
X
Garmin Forerunner 610
X
HR, FP, BSC
O
X
X
Garmin Forerunner 310XT
X
HR, FP, BSC
O
X
X
Garmin Forerunner 910XT
X
HR, FP, BSC
O
X
X
X

Note: Under ANT+ you’ll see different acronyms.  Models that have ANT+ have different compatible devices.

HR = Heart Rate Sensor
FP= Foot Pod
BSC = Bike Speed Cadence

Next, let’s talk about why you’d want each model.  Everyone has different training goals, whether you’re training for a 5k to stay active, your first half marathon to get fit, maybe you’re training for a full marathon, or a triathlon possibly…each model offers something different for everyone.

 

Garmin FR70 Image

Garmin FR70

Garmin FR70: The Garmin FR70 is primarily a heart rate monitor with additional functionality.  First to note, it’s excellent for indoor training as it can connect with the optional Garmin Foot Pod and the Garmin Speed/Cadence Sensor.  These will allow you to get acceptable results for running and biking distance and cadence data, though won’t be as accurate as getting distance data from one of the GPS enabled watch devices.  If you’re primarily working out indoors, however, this will be an excellent product as you get all the benefits of Garmin’s free Garmin Connect website which allows you to track your progress online.

Purchase from Amazon: Garmin FR70

Garmin Forerunner 10 Image

Garmin Forerunner 10

Garmin Forerunner 10: The Garmin Forerunner 10 is an excellent choice if you’re looking to run outdoors and want distance and pace data at your fingertips. It is GPS enabled for accurate distance measurements, and it gives you data on your pace, time out, and even keeps tracks of your personal records to encourage you when you’ve made your longest run, or held your fastest pace during that run.  If you’re interested in having heart rate information, steer clear as it’s not an option on this device.  The Forerunner 10 is an extremely simple to use device, and is great for runners and walkers training for an event or simply wanting to keep track of their workouts.  Also compatible with Garmin Connect website which allows you to track your progress online.

Purchase from Amazon: Garmin Forerunner 10

Garmin Forerunner 110 Image

Garmin Forerunner 110

Garmin Forerunner 110: The Garmin Forerunner 110 has all the same functionality as the Forerunner 10, but this time adds the option to receive heart rate data as well.  This is done through a limited ANT+ receiver that will pick up information sent to it from the Garmin Premium Heart Rate Monitor which is sold as a bundled option, or if you already have one you can connect it separately.  This is a step up from the Forerunner 10 primarily for those who wish to train with their heart rate information immediately available.  This is also compatible with Garmin Connect website which allows you to track your progress online.

Purchase from Amazon: Garmin Forerunner 110

 

Garmin Forerunner 210 Image

Garmin Forerunner 210

Garmin Forerunner 210: The Garmin Forerunner 210 boosts the functionality of the Forerunner 110 in adding more functionality to the ANT+ Receiver, adding the capability to receive data from the Garmin Premium Heart Rate Monitor, the Garmin GSC 10 Speed/Cadence Bike Sensor for cycling data, as well as the Garmin Foot Pod to use when training indoors (or to gain cadence data indoors and outdoors).  With the help of the easy to use Garmin Connect website, the 210 will also let you setup custom or preset intervals to train to, allowing you do vary the intensity of your run or speed-walking workout with ease.  While reviewing data in Garmin Connect, the data from each interval is available for you to compare to previous workouts.

Purchase from Amazon: Garmin Forerunner 210

 

Garmin Forerunner 610 Image

Garmin Forerunner 610

Garmin Forerunner 610: The next step up in the Garmin lineup is the Garmin Forerunner 610, for runners it’s somewhat like the golden mecca of all things awesome.  With a touchscreen display and wireless technology, it’s a definite step-up from the Forerunner 210.  It has all the same ANT+ functionality as the 210 allowing you to receive data from the Garmin Premium Heart Rate Monitor, the Garmin GSC 10 Speed/Cadence Bike Sensor for cycling data, as well as the Garmin Foot Pod to use when training indoors (or to gain cadence data indoors and outdoors).  With the Forerunner 610, you get added functionality through Garmin Connect to setup pace alerts in each individual interval you setup.  This has the 610 provide vibration alerts when you’re running (or cycling) too fast or too slow as well as if your heart rate is above or below a certain zone which you can customize.  The Forerunner also adds Virtual Racer to it’s options, allowing you to race against yourself…say you run the same route every Saturday, with Virtual Racer you can have visual feedback showing you whether you’re faster or slower than last time.  The touch-screen face is pressure sensitive, so unlike your super responsive smartphone, you need to press on the display with pressure, this sometimes throws people off when they first start using the 610 as we’re increasingly getting used to a resistive display on phones and tablets…this helps keep the 610 rugged and allows you to use gloves with it.  Also nice to note that this model includes an ANT+ USB dongle to wirelessly upload your workout information to Garmin Connect as soon as you’re within 10-15′ of your computer.

Purchase from Amazon: Garmin Forerunner 610

 

Garmin Forerunner 310XT Image

Garmin Forerunner 310XT

Garmin Forerunner 310XT:  The 310XT starts Garmin’s lineup of multi-sport watches, a triathlon training dream.  The unit allows you to switch between sports with the press of a button, so when you’re going from running to swimming to cycling, you simply hit the button to advance to the next activity and go.  The 310XT has swim functionality in that it accurately predicts swim distance and speed.  The GPS isn’t enabled while swimming, allowing you to use this for both indoor and outdoor swimming.  It still connects to the Garmin Premium Heart Rate Monitor, the Garmin GSC 10 Speed/Cadence Bike Sensor for cycling data, as well as the Garmin Foot Pod to use when training indoors (or to gain cadence data indoors and outdoors), making this the multi-sport watch for those who may not need tons of swimming metric data that the 910XT will have.   Do note that while swimming the 310XT does not collect Heart Rate data, swimming won’t hurt any portion of the unit or the heart rate strap, but because of the density of the water, there won’t be any heart rate data available.

Purchase from Amazon: Garmin Forerunner 310XT

Garmin Forerunner 910XT Image

Garmin Forerunner 910XT

Garmin Forerunner 910XT:  The golden mecca of all multi-sport fitness units that Garmin currently makes is the Forerunner 910XT.  The unit allows you to switch between sports with the press of a button, so when you’re going from running to swimming to cycling, you simply hit the button to advance to the next activity and go.  The 310XT has swim functionality in that it accurately predicts swim distance and speed.  The GPS can be enabled while swimming, allowing you to use this for both indoor and outdoor swimming.   With GPS functionality available while swimming on the 910XT, you can see a map of open-water swims on Garmin Connect after your swim.  Speaking of swimming, the 910XT has some extra data available post-swim.  It measures swim metrics such as distance, stroke identification, stroke rate, pool length, and even gives you a Swolf score to help gauge your swimming efficiency.  It still connects to the Garmin Premium Heart Rate Monitor, the Garmin GSC 10 Speed/Cadence Bike Sensor for cycling data, as well as the Garmin Foot Pod to use when training indoors (or to gain cadence data indoors and outdoors).  Much like the Forerunner 610, you can set the 910XT to alert you when you’re outside of preset customizable zones for speed or heart rate, you can have it tell you when you hit a certain distance goal, you can actually have your friend the 910XT remind you that it’s time for a snack…er…nutrition replenishment.  The 910XT also wirelessly sends all of your training data to your computer when you’re within range of the included ANT+ USB dongle.  Like tons of data no matter what sport you’re doing?  Meet the Garmin Forerunner 910XT, your new training partner that will give you more data than you ever knew existed.

Purchase from Amazon: Garmin Forerunner 910XT

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Posted in Cycling, Electronics, Fitness, Gear, Reviews, Swimming
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