Gear review: Garmin Forerunner 305

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!

Me opening my new Garmin Forerunner 305 in January.

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?
My Garmin-photographing skills are apparently still subpar. Trust me: It was a great run!

The Garmin is big. For a $100 savings, I'm fine with that.

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?

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9 Comments

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9 responses to “Gear review: Garmin Forerunner 305

  1. “If you didn’t have a ginormous watch, how would everyone know how cool you are?” You crack me up! Totally agree though–I wasn’t willing to spend the money on the 405 and I’ve actually heard of people having random troubles with it because of the uber-sensitive screen. Plus, let’s be honest, it looks pretty sylin’ : )

  2. Joe

    Love my old one. I had the kind you had to strap the GPS to your upper arm and it transmitted wirelessly to the watch. I just ordered a 305 yesterday.
    Joe

  3. I own the forerunner 50, which I wear with a heart rate strap and foot pod. It took a few times to get the foot pod calibrated right, but now it works great. Sometimes if I’m doing speedwork or hills, it thinks I’m going a lot faster than I actually am because of my shortened stride/increased cadence. I’ll take it. 🙂

  4. I have the 305. I have had it for about 1.5 years now. I was actually going to get the 405 because I thought the 305 was too bulky… but when I tried on the 405 I couldn’t make it small enough to fit my wrist. It has really rigid sides right off the face of the watch, so the 305 ended up being a more affordable and wearable option for me.

    My friend has the 405… his does do a little better job of communicating with satellites than mine. We routinely go on a run where we run under a couple of roads through a small tunnel… mine loses the signal through it every time but his keeps it.

  5. Liz

    I have the 305 and generally I love it, can’t imagine life without it even though I only got it before my marathon training in the fall. My only issue with it is that it can take a while to find the satellite. If I can put it outside my house before I head out, then that’s fine but when I run or bike from my office that is not an option.

  6. Nice review. I have the 205 and will run it until it dies. I debated on getting the 405 until people talked me out of it.

  7. I have the 305 and while it’s a great watch, I actually would pay the extra $ to get a less bulky watch. This one is too bulky for me. But unfortunately, when I bought the 305, the 405 wasn’t out yet.

  8. I am on 405 the 4th. I feel obligated to wear it because I spent a ridiculous amount on it, but as my well document trials illustrate, this has been a rocky relationship … http://myrunshorts.com/2009/09/07/rewritten-by-machine/

  9. Glad you are enjoying your 305. I have been using a Garmin 305 watch for a few years now and couldnt be happier with it. In fact, I would be lost without it!

    Scott

    My Garmin 305 Review

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