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Product Review: The Garmin Forerunner 935 is everything you (probably) need!

Considering my last smart training watch was the Garmin Fenix 2, the Garmin Forerunner 935 was a welcome upgrade and has not let me down.

Summary

The Garmin Forerunner 935 has everything you need in a multi-sport training watch! Except for music? Do you need music from your watch?

A couple of screens from the Garmin Forerunner 935.

Pros

  • Lightweight.
  • Easy to setup and start using.
  • Loads of data available and customizable screens to show it. You can make multiple custom screens in every workout mode (as far I know), with data available such as 3-second wattage, average heart rate, average heart rate for the current lap, average pace, average speed, current speed, etc. etc. It’s a pretty long list.
    • One of my favorite customizable features is a metronome you can set when you run. You can set it to beep, buzz, or both, and choose the pace at which it beats (in beats per minute).
    • Another great feature is the heart rate zone warnings you can set. These will warn you when you hit the bottom or top of a heart rate zone – via beep or buzz. This has been great to keep me low during recovery workouts and high during interval sets.
  • Customizable faces through the Garmin ConnectIQ app.
  • Daily tracking – steps, sleep, and stairs. Not everyone loves this, but I do (“Serious athletes that get a watch like the Forerunner 935 don’t want to waste battery and screen space on something like steps” – I saw in a review one time). I disagree – I think these numbers serve as a good reminder for how much stress your encountering throughout the rest of your day.
  • Heart Rate Variability (HRV) and daily stress scores – HRV can be used as a good metric to determine your recovery level every morning. To use it with the Forerunner 935, you need a compatible chest-strap heart rate monitor. Even if you don’t have a heart rate strap, the watch will give you a daily stress score, which lets you know if you’re giving yourself enough time to recover throughout the day. I’ve found the latter to be especially useful during tough days at work. If it’s a real bad day, it even offers a breathing exercise to help you ease off.
  • Long battery life – I might charge it once a week? Maybe every two weeks? And that’s with the smart notifications turned on! I typically have it in training mode, connected to a trainer, heart rate monitor or more for 14-17 hours a week.

Cons

  • Wrist-based heart rate, not just with Garmin but in every watch I’ve seen, seems to be iffy at best. I trust it when I’m resting, when I’m sleep, or when I’m just walking around from here to there. It seems to be pretty consistent. But when I start working hard, it’ll spike way too high too fast, or drop off by 70-80 beats per minute out of nowhere. Fortunately, Garmin sells compatible chest-based heart rate monitors which are remarkably more consistent.
  • No music? I don’t mind this. You can’t listen to music while you race anyways. If I need music, I’ll use my phone. People also complain that watches playing music drains battery faster, strange…

Daily Activity Tracker: Steps, Stairs, and Sleep

I’m not going to get into this too much, because the title says it all. The Forerunner 935, on top of everything else, is also a daily activity tracker. For your night, it tracks your sleep cycles (light, deep, REM). For steps, it automatically adjusts your daily goals for you. For stairs, well it’s far more consistent than other trackers I’ve used. I’ve used trackers in the past that would say I’ve gone 2 flights of stairs when I had done 40, but on other days would count a flight for me getting out of my chair. While the measurement might not be perfect, I certainly don’t see the leaps I used to with other products.

Would I recommend it?

Absolutely. The Garmin Forerunner is thin, lightweight, and incredibly powerful. Not to mention is last generation’s model, so you can probably get a pretty good deal on one…

Categories: Product Reviews

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Matthew

I am, in order of priority: a husband, a dog dad, a software engineer, and a weekend warrior triathlete. A while back, I had started a blog about training, fundraising, and product reviews. It fell off the table, but we've picked it back up and are giving it another go! All feedback is welcome feedback. Please feel free to leave a comment on any post!

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