Garmin Forerunner 35: Review for Running, Ultra-Running + Hiking
For $120, I couldn’t be happier with the Garmin Forerunner 35 running watch. I’ve had it for 3 months of heavy use now and I am not kind to electronics. If you ever want a review done by a non-tech person who has zero interest in the care and keeping of her tech gear, I am your person. I will fling it into a backpack, bury it in dirty laundry, drop it regularly, forget to put it on because I am not a tech-oriented athlete… And it still passes my test in every way.
When I was looking for a new watch for running, I had a few main features I needed:
- Built-in heart rate
- Not a massive watch face since I wanted to be able to wear it as a regular watch/not feel like it was weighing my arm down while running
- GOOD battery life—the longer-lasting, the better
- Relatively inexpensive. I would have considered a $500 watch but since I am terrible with maintaining wearing any specific gear, I didn’t really want to spend a bunch on a watch I may forget to use.
What I love about the Garmin Forerunner 35:
- It doesn’t have a ton of bells and whistles (Yes, for me this is a pro—I hate watches that have a billion functions, it stresses me out)
- The battery life is super good
- It’s easy to sync and read
- The GPS is really accurate—my friend had a super pricey Suunto on a recent hike and we measured within meters of each other’s distance
- It’s comfortable—I have a TINY wrist and this fits fine!
- It’s CHEAP! Seriously, $120 is amazing for what you get.
What I don’t love about the Garmin Forerunner 35:
- No lap button: Of all the bells and whistles, this is the one I do actually miss a bit since now I’m actually doing workouts, but honestly, that’s not really a major miss
- No crumb trail: Again, not a huge deal and certainly not in this price range, but the Garmin crumb trail GPS feature that helps you find your way home on the higher-end stuff is pretty cool.
- The charger is weird. Not a huge deal and the same applies to all levels of Garmin watches, but I hate the clamp charger instead of a micro or mini-USB. It’s annoying to have yet another cord I have to carry around. But that was going to be true of most smart watches, so it’s not really a negative for this watch, more for watches in general
Running with the Garmin Forerunner 35
GPS is accurate, wrist-based heart rate is imperfect but seems relatively accurate. It won’t be as good as a chest strap but since I won’t wear a chest strap, it’s better than having no data! Honestly, this has been one of the most comfortable watches I’ve run with, it’s simple to use, it fits well, it’s easy to adjust and it syncs quickly and simply with my phone. I haven’t had any glitches while running, I haven’t had any problems with the app—this is probably the smoothest time I’ve ever had with a tracking device!
Ultra-Running with the Garmin Forerunner 35
It’s handled a 50K with heart rate and still finished with plenty of battery charge left. I love the built-in HR because even if it’s imperfect compared to a chest strap, there’s no way that in a race or trail run I would wear a strap, sports bra, run top and running vest all at once. That’s four layers, with three bands right under my chest and on my ribs. That’s WAY too much. Anyway, it’s been with me for several races now and been awesome. There’s nothing major to say about it, it records HR and GPS data and syncs it. Which is all I wanted.
Hiking with the Garmin Forerunner 35
I charged the Garmin Forerunner 35 on Thursday night, then we headed out Friday afternoon. I turned off heart rate monitoring, but didn’t change any other settings. We hiked, with the GPS on, for a total of 19 hours between Friday and Sunday. From Friday AM to Monday AM, the watch was on my wrist. Battery ended at 1 bar by the time I plugged it in—that’s over 4 days of regular watch-wearing plus 19 hours of GPS running and it still wasn’t dead!
In all, I HIGHLY RECOMMEND this watch if you’re a beginner, a non-tech lover who wants a bit more tracking, someone who breaks things/forgets to charge things often, or a veteran runner who just doesn’t need a ton of bells and whistles from their device.