Garmin Forerunner 310XT Review

November 10th, 2010 by Craig Smith Leave a reply »

Pros:

  • Numerous custom screens, to view stats however you prefer
  • Powerful battery life for long events
  • Buttons and screen are easy to use and read while running
  • Accurate workout data
  • Exceptionally strong GPS
  • Truly waterproof

Cons:

  • GPS doesn’t work in water (although this isn’t possible)
  • Software and upload features could be better
  • Heart rate monitor not as accurate as competitors
  • Some breakage complaints upon dropping watch face-down

Review

Garmin Forerunner 310XTThe Garmin Forerunner 310XT is a GPS running watch specifically designed for triathletes and others who compete in long events: it is waterproof, both wrist- and bike-mountable, and boasts a battery life of 20 hours.

NOTE: Potential buyers should be aware that GPS signals do not penetrate water, and Garmin is straightforward about this limitation even in the product’s documentation. Nevertheless, some owners of the Garmin Forerunner 310XT give it poor reviews because their final GPS mapping is skewed in the water portion of their triathlon training. Swimmers who place the watch in the top of a swim cap do report better readouts than those who wear it on the wrist.

For the running segment, the GPS functionality of the Garmin Forerunner 310XT is powerful and accurate and earns some of the best reviews among GPS running watches. In addition to GPS location (latitude, longitude, and altitude), this watch records distance, pace, average pace, and heart rate. The heart rate is collected wirelessly from a heart rate monitor that comes with the watch (it’s also available without the heart monitor for about $50 less); an alternate, softer heart rate monitor can be purchased separately.

For the biking segment, this watch is compatible with an easy-dismount bike attachment and can also work wirelessly with a pedal unit to record and track cycling cadence.

For the swimming segment, this watch is waterproof to a depth of 50 meters. So even without GPS mapping, the Garmin Forerunner 310XT is appealing to lap and distance swimmers interested in tracking their speed and heart rate.

The screen of the Garmin Forerunner 310XT is large and very easy to read, even while running. It also has large buttons that make switching between views easy. The display can be customized ahead of time to show stats however the athlete prefers.

The data that is recorded can also be tracked by segment according to different sport modes. For example, if you plan to swim, bike, then run, you program those segments into the watch before you begin, and can start each segment as you go. It also records transition time, so you can see exactly how long you take to switch between each event of a triathlon.

Once recorded, the data will automatically transmit to your computer (set up ahead of time) once you’re within range. The data can then be tracked, monitored, and filtered as you desire, using Garmin’s included software (better for PCs than Macs) or whatever software you prefer.

Bottom line: The Garmin Forerunner 310XT is a powerful and robust waterproof GPS watch that does just about everything except map GPS routes underwater (which isn’t possible). Its display is easy to customize and it tracks pace, distance, heart rate, and GPS location. Collected data is wirelessly updated to a computer for tracking statistics. This watch is waterproof up to 50 meters and has 20 hours of battery power.

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