When I first took my Garmin out of the box in January, I cooed to it like one would a newborn baby: I’ve wanted you for so long!
For the past few years, I had relied on the cheap (roughly $30) but finicky Nike + with my iPod Nano to determine distance and pace on long runs. I’d gotten it to a reasonable level of accuracy after long hours calibrating it on a track. Still, I found it would frequently crap out when I needed it most. After one particularly disappointing instance, when it lost my distance data halfway through what may or may not have been a 20-mile run leading up to the 2009 Marine Corps Marathon, I vowed I’d save up for a Garmin before my next distance event.
When I started Garmin-shopping, I was overwhelmed by the choices: Should I drop more than $300 on the sleek-looking Garmin Forerunner 405? Go super-cheap (roughly $125) and get the Garmin Forerunner 205? Personally, I found the 305, which goes for about $150 on Amazon.com, to be just right. This review is not intended to dis on the 405, but merely to suggest that the 305 is an equally viable, much cheaper option for those in the market for a Garmin.
You can find out all the technical gobbledygook for the various models on Garmin’s Web site. Here, I offer a list of random pro-305 factoids collected from running-store employees from here to Colorado, fellow runners and Garmin owners and my own experience:
- The 405’s screen does not like the rain, apparently, and will act funny if you run through a drizzle while wearing it.
- The 405 collects data from more satellites. The manager of a Fort Collins, Colo., running store assured me I wouldn’t notice the difference between a 305 and 405 in this category. Not that I’ve used the 405 to compare, but the 305 hasn’t failed me yet, satellite-wise.
- The 305 lets you upload your workouts to nifty Web sites that break down your run into maps and elevations and average paces and split times, just like the 405 does.
- The 305 is bulkier. I’ve found this to be an appearance thing; my wrist is pretty skinny, and I really don’t notice it’s there, heft-wise. If the bulky appearance bugs you, you should buy the 405. But keep in mind: If you didn’t have a ginormous watch, how would everyone know how cool you are?
Bottom line: I found the main difference between the 305 and 405 to be appearance. And yes, I would have liked a less bulky watch. But I didn’t care enough about the heft (which truly isn’t even that bad) to pay twice as much for the 405. On the other hand, spending an extra $25 for the 305 versus the 205 was an easy call.
Do you own a Garmin Forerunner? Which model? How’s that working out for you?