Anyone use a GPS watch for recording rides and trail runs?

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  • Anyone use a GPS watch for recording rides and trail runs?
  • Premier Icon cp

    I use a Garmin Forerunner 310XT for running and for duathlons/triathlons where the ability to pre-program the multiports and transitions is great. And the quick release mount is great, allowing a quick and easy swap from arm to bike. You can link to speed/cadence sensor and HRM. It has a pacing function.

    Downsides? Over what? I have an Edge 800 for rides, which has OS maps. You can’t do that with the Forerunner. It’s also not good at mapping in general – you get a breadcrumb crude map of where you’ve been, but no facility for showing any form of map. I’m fairly sure you can’t display GPX routes on it and follow the line.

    You can upload to Strava from the 310.


    garmin forerunner 405c
    touch bezel can be ‘touched’ by waterproof type fabric
    gps is v accurate
    battery life is fine for a day from full
    download to pc by wireless is nice
    upload from there to internet is good
    strava is for cocks
    phone gps is shockingly bad

    gave up using it for riding tho, still use it for running sometimes

    Premier Icon cp

    If so, please can we discuss pro’s and con’s and recommend some. I quite fancy one as fed up with my phone GPS innacuracies and failure to track/find satellites.

    Oh yea i’d like it to upload to strava, so do only Garmins do this?
    Needs to have running pacing options.

    Can I use a GPS watch as a compass / do some have a compass facility?


    310XT user here and I would strongly recommend the DCRainmaker website for reviews.

    Personally I am very happy with the 310xt, but you may want something else out of your GPS that this won’t do. Just be prepared for much reading on his site. His reviews are very in depth.

    Premier Icon wwaswas

    I have a 405 I use for running – the touch bezel can be a bit odd at times but mostly it’s fine.


    I dont know any watch that will do 1 second interval recording so for tight twisty singletrack i wouldnt reccomend a watch.

    My iphone 5 is way more accurate than my garmin forerunner 405 on the tight stuff and the same on normal XC stuff.

    Premier Icon ononeorange

    I use a Garmin 110 for riding, all I want is total distance / ascent and average speed which it does perfectly. I like it as it is essentially a wristwatch so I can largely forget about it / wear it during the rest of the day.

    For me, I have maps to navigate with and couldn’t give a **** about Strava! (So not very helpful for you, then).

    Mary Hinge

    310XT with QR and DCRainmaker are recommended by me too. You can drop routes onto the 310XT and follow the “pointer”, not as good as a map, but fine if you have a rough idea where you want to go and can carry a map as a backup.

    If you want mapping for the bike then probably the 800 or 810.

    I need a new handheld GPS for walking (to replace my ancient breadcrumb trail only etrex), and will probably get the 810 and use it for walking and cycling. 810 has the tracking facility which wifey wants me to get for my solo rides. (she fell for it 😈 )


    Yes. I use a Bryton Cardo 35. It works great. Cons are it is difficult to see the real-time readouts (speed, distance, cadance, heart rate etc.) when on your wrist, but you can get a handlebar mount for it. Also you are limited to what data you can show on the screen at the same time – only 2 items really. Also the battery life is not great with GPS on. It last a few hours, so OK for a single ride, but if you were out all day then it would not be sufficient. I only got it as I was training for a Triathlon, so wanted a single device I could use for running and biking, but if I were getting a device just for biking i’d get a proper bike GPS device.


    I have a suunto ambit. Its really good.

    Does 1 second recording, has 15 hour battery life with 1 second recording, or 50 hour life with 10 sec recording, and 30 days just functioning as a watch.

    It is water resistant to 100m.

    Will export to strava.

    hooks up to any ant+ heart rate belts, cadence pods etc

    will let you follow a route, track back to start etc

    It also lets you fully customise the info it displays via ‘apps’ , you can effectively write simple code to display what you want.

    an alternative to the ambit is the garmin fenix, its supposed to be pretty decent.


    I went for the 910xt, as I like to swim out on the coast too.
    I run a lot more than ride now, so the 610 might have been a better bet, but the 910 gives me plenty of options.

    I don’t bother with the course/mapping option, it’s too slow to redraw, and I usually know where I’m going … but even if I don’t I’ll work it out on the ground, and from reading around online I gather it’s pretty buggy anyway.

    I very nearly bought the Ambit, but the slew of training data and on-the-fly set up of the 910xt (vs. the need to be programmed via a workstation on the Ambit) won out this time – I can see an Ambit in my future tho’ :wink:. The Fenix still seems to be a product in beta, so I’ll give that a miss until it’s at version 2.

    Dunno about Strava, as I don’t use it. Garmin Connect works well for me, and of course, the 910 integrates perfectly. It produces GPX files, so it should port over ok, if not something like GPSBabel might help with the translation.

    Works fine on the bike, I’m only a slow ole’ tourist these days, so I don’t ride to ‘train’, although the 910 was designed with that in mind of course. I really only use it as a data-logger, so I wear it riding too, rather than fit it on the bars.

    When the time comes for a mapping GPSr, it’ll be a GpsMap 62STC I think (or whatever that becomes) – but that’s a whole other discussion.


    I’ve got a 610 & its been excellent. Use it for work (tracking haul routes) as well as sport…

    Battery life could perhaps be better but haven’t got any comparison with anything similar. Thought the touch screen might be vulnerable but so far so good.

    That sunto looks cooler though…. 🙁


    Do these watches eat batteries? Am i being a moron or do these have rechargeables? Also does the suunto download to google maps or similar to track your ride?


    I use a garmin oregon 450 mounted on my handlebars. A bit overkill for your requirements but it carries out geocaching duties too so have full os mapping too.


    310xt and an edge800 here (just retired an edge 305 too) very happy with both, but if you don’t want nav or cadence/hrm then a £99 job will be fine


    The ambit will give you 15 hours life at 1 sec recording interval, or 50 hours at 60 sec recording, or 30 days as a regular watch.

    It is recharged by plugging it into a usb charger/cable.

    By default the ambit downloads the data to a suunto website called, which lets you view tracks on google maps amongst other things,or you can export the track in a standard format and view in any of the usual apps (google earth etc)

    The ambit also records non gps data,eg heart rate etc and let you overlay this with the gps data


    Ive a Sunnto Ambit and like julians can wholly recommend it. Excellent watch and the online website v good.

    Premier Icon aracer

    I dont know any watch that will do 1 second interval recording

    My 910XT does, and I imagine the 310XT also as the firmware for that is very similar. Obviously the Ambit has also been mentioned.

    Very happy with my 910XT and often use it with Strava. Kind of wish I’d waited for an Ambit or Fenix for the battery life (not that the 910XT is poor at a quoted 20 hours, but that’s not enough for some events I might do), but they don’t appear to have the option to display 4 data fields at once, which I’d miss.

    Premier Icon cp

    the 310 does indeed do 1 second interval recording

    Premier Icon kiwijohn

    I use it a Garmin Fenix.
    Mainly just recording rides, especially exploring.
    Battery is more than adequate & i can link to my iPhone to see where I am on a map.


    Kiwijohn, How often do you have to recharge your fenix?


    I use a Garmin Forerunner 410 for both cycling and running. RRP was something silly like £350 with the hr monitor, but there were plenty of places selling them for around £130. It’s been a brilliant piece of kit. I upload the data to Garmin’s site and Endomondo. Tend to mount the watch to the bars on the bike using a bit of pipe insulation to pad it out a bit. Great bit of kit.

    Premier Icon kiwijohn

    It’ll easily do an all day ride or 2 or 3 shorter rides.

    Premier Icon variflex

    I guess it all comes down to want u want to do.
    I have a 910xt and use it for MTb and road (wrist for MTb and simply wrapped around bars for road)

    the reason i went for a watch is risk. stem mounted units are very easy to damage and or lose and I have never liked any of the flimsy mounts

    if u just need to see your distance, cadence, elevation etc and then download to connect or strava then a watch is fine. if u need to follow a route then u need something with a bigger screen so may have to go stem mounted.

    it’s swings and roundabouts so to speak


    I have the etrex 20, great bit of kit, lasts over 24 hours with good rechargeable batteries…

    Extrex 10 for £81

    Etrex 20 for £126


    I have been using an Ambit for 6 months. Great watch does everything you could need, but my first one developed a display and battery problem after only 4 months.

    I sent it back (DHL were useless) and got a replacement (I suspect a reconditioned one which isn’t good as its been next to someone’s skin) and it works fine.

    So watch ace. Support rubbish, especially as they charged me for shipping, which I though was off since it took 4 attempts for me to get DHL to turn up!


    Ambit + 1,000,000

    Awesome watch crisp display, customisable data screens, compass, alto barometer, temp, excellent battery life, quick to charge, display in pos or neg and it will,even record the distance run even if you have just been on a treadmill as it has an internal accelerometer. Awesome awesome …… Love mine


    My second Ambit is going back with exactly the same display problem.

    Fenix it’ll be!!

    Premier Icon geoffj

    Garmin Fenix looks very nice


    Been very happy with Garmin’s forerunner 305,had one for 6 years up until last year & it was well & truly battered,a few offs had cracked the screen etc.Using it on a very wet day it water got in through the cracked screen & it stopped working.Phoned up Garmin & asked for a refurbed replacement(a mate had told me about this)& they sent one out as soon as they’d received my old battered one…I think it was around £50 for the replacement one….


    An other 310xt here, very happy with it.

    Premier Icon GavinB

    910xt here.

    You can just about get away with wearing as a day to day watch, if you program one screen to be time of day, and switch off GPS. Battery will last for a few days at a time that way. (It does look a bit ‘special’ though)

    Allows me to ride (and upload everything to Garmin Connect/Strava). Link to speed/cadence sensor and heart rate monitor. Running programs are simple to create and interval sessions for example are a doddle to set up. Oh, and you can swim with it in pools or open water, which is useful, if like me, you lose count of how many lengths you’ve done after about 10 mins.

    Thought about the Fenix and Ambit, but the swim functions won over here. Ambit2 has just been released, hence 1st gen Ambits are being discounted.


    I got a Bryton Cardio 35 which came in at about £160 including ANT+ HR monitor. Its great, feature wise its similar to a Garmin Forerunner 410. Battery life with GPS is about 3 hrs so not great for long road rides, but for 2 – 2.5hr MTB rides I do most frequently its fine. The Bryton web based site is pretty feature rich, but a bit clumsy. However you can export GPS data in whatever format you like to import into any other software package you may prefer. I’m not sure it has 1 second recording, but it does what it says on the tin so I can’t see any benefit to 1 second recording if it hasn’t got that feature other than to eat up more memory. I can’t say that when reviewing rides i’ve ever thought to myself the resolution of the data just wasn’t enough!

    Downsides to most watch based GPS devices – ergonomics – its more difficult to see the display when riding than a proper cycling computer. Accuracy – most cycle computers have a barometer to supplement the altitude recording whereas most GPS watches don’t. GPS is not brilliantly accurate in this regards and you can get some quirky effects with GPS alone (but I see the Suunto unit has a barometer), and of course the before mentioned battery life isn’t brilliant when GPS is in use. As a wristwatch it lasts months between charges though.

    The main reason I went for the Bryton over the equivalent Garmin, other than cost, was the Bryton is waterproof and I was training for a Triathlon at the time. The Garmin ones were not waterproof (or the models I was looking at weren’t).

    I would advise that unless you want/need a wristwatch unit for other activities such as running then get a cycle computer. They’re much better. However if you want/need a wristwatch unit that Suunto one looks the B’locks, and my dive computer is Suunto so they are quality units.


    FYI garmin forerunner 305 does 1 second recording. – we have one in the house(the girlfriends). screen is frustratingly small to read when on the bike !

    i use my garmin edge 500 on a 910 quick release watch strap. – doesnt do pacing in “min/km” though so not that much help – i just stick to 10kph


    Sadly the Suunto is pretty shonky in quality. My second is going back after 7 weeks; my first failed after 4 months. Their website has the cheek to claim the replacement isn’t under warranty anymore!!!

    Leave well alone!


    Well in fairness to ExtremeGB who I purchased it from, they’re mailing me a new Ambit2 as they were pretty disappointed with Suunto’s handling of the problem.

    Just hope this one will be better!!

    Premier Icon JasonDS

    Another poor experience with Suunto here. Claimed waterproof but mine broke down with a first go in the pool 🙁

    Premier Icon santacruzsi

    Hmm I have the ambit but touchwood mine has been fine and use it for everything ,so I can’t complain. Excellent bit of kit IMO


    I use my Edge 500 for both, I purchased a Garmin watch strap from Amazon that you can clip the Edge into.

    It looks a bit bulky but does what it needs to do.

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