Wrist-mounted GPS recommendations

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  • Wrist-mounted GPS recommendations
  • willard
    Member

    Ok, so here’s the deal…

    My trusty (but ageing) Garmin eTrex is proving to be a less than useful companion on walks and runs now that technology has moved on to USB and not serial and, as I am starting a lot of training for a long run, I would like to have something that records my runs that can actually integrate with modern computers and fitness tracking apps.

    The problem I have is that a lot of the running-orientated GPS units have a short battery life and require USB and a special clip thing to charge. I’f I am out all day, then these are no good to me if I want to take as little kit as possible. So, I either need a 24 hour plus battery life in normal use, or user-replaceable batteries.

    I’ve seen the Fenix and the Amibt and like the small form factor and the 24+ hour battery life, but I am _not_ liking the 300 quid price tags. The same thing with the 910XT; great training companion, but huge and pricey.

    The only thing that really seems to fit into the list of entrants is the Foretrex 401/301 which only has a 17/18 hour battery life, but uses AAA cells which I can replace on the go if I need to. Realistically, I’d need a spare set, although I might get away with one set.

    I’m not sure that I need a lot of integration with ANT+ or HRMs so a cut down unit like the ForeTrex seems to be more of a winner, but the geek in me likes the idea of being able to track that sort of data and that makes me think a FR310XT might be an option.

    Has anyone got any recommendations or other suggestions for consideration?

    Jamie
    Member

    Most ultra runners use 2x watches to get round the battery issue. This can be costly, although 2x Forerunner 305s might be cheaper than 1 910XT.

    Wearing 2x 305s may constitute a resistance workout, though.

    I have a 310XT, which can be had for £150-ish, and is good for 18-20hrs.

    teacake
    Member

    What do you want to use it for?

    Biking, running, ?
    Just to log your routes or for data during the activity?

    I have a Forerunner 610 -£200 from eBay.- and I use it to log bike rides and runs. It’s the closest to a watch you can get currently. Battery is only 8 hours but I don’t run more than 6 normally.

    willard
    Member

    Ok, so it’s going to be used for tracking routes/distance and data like pace and speed for runs up to about 40 miles in training and 69 on the day. HR data is not something that I had factored into this, but it would be interesting to track if it was of use to the training. I’m going to be breaking up the running with a bit of biking too.

    That said, I’d also like to be able to us it for GPS position fixing when out on exercise in the future, which is why the ForeTrex was on the list. I know a lot of people that use them and it seemed like a sensible alternative.

    Premier Icon simon_g
    Subscriber

    I’ve used a Forerunner 305 which has tracked happily from 8am to 6pm and still had battery in reserve.

    310XT as said can be had for £150ish and claims double the battery life of the 305. I wouldn’t have any qualms about life unless you’re wanting to use it for multi-day stuff. No-brainer if you’re in the market for a wrist-worn one.

    I’ve used the former for bike & run use for a few years (till I bought an Edge) and it’s great for tracking, plus some limited navigation – an arrow and a black line to follow. Unlike the etrex, no way I’ve found to get co-ordinates or grid refs for use with map & compass though.

    Foretrex I’d only consider if you needed replaceable batteries – they’re bulky things to wear on your wrist.

    teacake
    Member

    I didn’t read your post closely enough!

    My friend has the polar competitor to the 610 and I think it has a much longer battery life and the watch is very slim. It comes with a separate rechargable GPS unit with 20 hour life. I think it comes with a pouch you can fix to the top of a rucksack strap? I believe the watch battery last a long time as it’s only receiving data from the GPS and HR monitor, not actually going the GPS work.

    I think wrist mounted/fully integrated works well for shorter activities, but for longer days a separate GPS makes sense.
    Hope that helps?!

    hammy7272
    Member

    305 for me

    richardk
    Member

    The Fenix and Ambit are the only ones out there with 24hr + battery life currently (in watch factor).

    My 310XT comfortably did 13hrs this summer, and is faultless in tracking exercise. I’d prefer BT4.0 to ANT+ if I was starting from scratch, but that choice probably won’t be available for a year or so yet.

    Have a look through DC Rainmakers site for some tips on the trade-offs etc. From the reviews there, you may just have to pay the price of a Fenix.

    willard
    Member

    DC Rainmaker has been a bookmarked sit these last few weeks thanks to his Ambit vs. Fenix reviews! He really does go to town on them.

    The thing with both the Ambit and the Fenix (and the 910 to some extent) is that they are just too over-featured for what I really want I guess. I ‘m really not sure I need HR data, but pace, speed and distance are a must. Maybe position too, but I’ll have a map or pace notes on me at all times.

    The worrying thing is battery life. The 310XT looks a damn good bargain at today’s prices, but I’m not going to be able to charge it during the race. I realise that’s only one day out of many, so it could be doable… But I’d like to use the same kit throughout training.

    GAH! Don’t make me buy two devices Internet!

    Jamie
    Member

    Could you not buy a 310XT, or whatever, and maybe borrow another device of a friend/relative for that one day’s event?

    willard
    Member

    Hmmmm. Good plan.

    Just been scouring the ForeTrex 401 manual. Looks perfect for military use, but does not have current or average pace metrics, just average speed. They’ve both got waypoints and bearings though, so from that point of view, the 310XT looks like a better choice.

    If only it had user replaceable batteries.

    Premier Icon zilog6128
    Subscriber

    The 310XT has a crapload of metrics, and a claimed battery life of up to 20hrs. I wonder if that is based on HRM not being used, or you could get even more life if that were disabled?

    richardk
    Member

    The HRM is short range, so its unlikely to have much impact on battery life. Biggest impact will be GPS and screen. You’ll probably get 20hrs in standard operation (GPS set to smart record, rather than fixed 3s intervals), and slightly less when using it with HRM

    willard
    Member

    And Handtec has them in stock new for 205 notes with the HRM. More than I really wanted to spend. Dammit. I should have thought about this when Amazon Black Friday was on

    Willard,

    The Forerunner 305 has a smart data setting which records changes in data as opposed to recording every second. I don’t know the techy details but the end result is that the battery life is massively extended.

    If other garmin units have the same feature, or other makes this may help you.

    It was something I only discovered after buying the 305 and reading the manual. Your 24 hour target may not be achievable, never tried, but I’ve used the 305 for 10 hour rides and still had plenty of juice.
    Happy to test it over the weekend and let you know the result.

    Premier Icon zilog6128
    Subscriber

    I should have thought about this when Amazon Black Friday was on

    They were on sale at the same price in the boxing day sales too, so they’ll probably be on sale again at that price at some point. It is a fairly old model (3 years) after all.

    willard
    Member

    To be honest, 24 hours is over the top for battery life. I’ll only be needing that once and if I need the full 24 hours, I’ll be disappointed.

    ne question to all the serious runners: Just how important is tracking heart rate? That and pace display seem to be about the only thing differentiating between the 310XT and the 401 right now (apart from 100 quid in price) and I’m seriously considering just going with the cheaper option unless I can find a really compelling reason to go for the 310.

    Will all the extra features allow meto train better?

    Premier Icon davetrave
    Subscriber

    If you’re about to go on tour or know somebody who’s on tour, or you/mucker is in Germany/Cyprus, get the 310XT shipped to BFPO VAT free…

    All my Garmin GPS gadgetry (bar the FR610 – secondhand off here) was bought last time I was overseas – Edge 800 for biking, Foretrex 301 for work (looped on to Osprey rather than on the wrist and dragging my hand around the sand) and geocaching/walking in the hills at home.

    teacake
    Member

    If this is a non stop 24 hours race, I’d say that an HRM is not very useful.

    Use it for training to test your fitness but as far as long distance racing goes, for 24 hours it’s about staying aerobic (mostly) and keeping the mental focus and calories/water/salts going in. The top guys at a lot of the extreme triathlon events (Norseman, Celtman etc) don’t use one.

    Good training tool/fitness checker, MAMIL’s plaything otherwise.

    Jamie
    Member

    How did I miss this being released?

    50hr battery life. Should be enough for the OP….although it looks very expensive.

    http://www.dcrainmaker.com/2012/10/garmin-fenix-in-depth-review.html

    willard
    Member

    I did look at the fenix, but decided that the cost was just too high, in the end going for the Garmin 310XT.

    The _only_ thing that has disappointed me with it so far is that there appears to be no way at all of pushing waypoints to the device. If you want to add stops, you have to save a random location and then edit them by hand to the place you want the waypoint to be. Which is pooh.

    Other than that, the fix is obtained very quickly, it traces my routes accurately, Garmin Connect is astonishingly good for a free training record site and the HRM fits well. Not bad for under a couple of hundred.

    All I need to do now is use all the training materials I have to get fit enough that I can do the race in under 20 hours.

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