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Garmin Forerunner 310XT In Depth Review

 

When the Garmin Forerunner 310XT was announced earlier this spring, it represented the next logical evolution from the Garmin 305. It promised many of the features triathletes were looking for, while also promising to still appeal to the single-sport crowds of runners and cyclists.

The big three features that most folks were excited about were:

1) Ability to go 20 hours on battery (compared to 10 previously)
2) New waterproofing (to swim with)
3) Integration with cycling power devices (to gather wattage)

Of course, that was just the tip of the iceberg.  How would the 310XT actually stand up to a month of pounding through multi-workout days?  And would it do all it’s promised?

Garmin sent me out a a trial unit for 30 days, and I went ahead and put it through it’s paces.  I swam, cycled, and even ran an Ironman marathon with it.  If you’ve read my review posts before, you know they are anything but short.  I try to cover every conceivable function and feature, and then see how well it performs outside the envelope.  I take a gazillion pictures along the way, record all the data and then try to offer the most comprehensive reviews possible. That’s just my DC Rainmaker trademark way of doing things.

As always, if you have any questions after reading it – feel free to post questions in the comments below, or e-mail me at the address on the right toolbar.  With that…let’s get onto the action:

Unboxing/Package Contents:

When the box first arrives, it’ll look a lot like this.  Well, actually, it should look exactly like this – unless the UPS man has already played with it.

Garmin 310XT Unopened Box Shot Garmin 310XT Unopened Box Shot - Back

Once you take all the parts out and spread them across a wide surface, you’ll have the following display of plastic baggies:

Garmin 310XT Unopened Contents From there, you’ll spend a few minutes debagging everything, resulting in this fine collection of parts:

Garmin 310XT Opened Contents Now you’ll notice a bunch of different plug attachments on the lower right hand corner.  This allows you to easily take the wall charger overseas (regardless of which side of the pond you started on).

But, let’s get all of the ancillary ‘stuffs’ out of the way, and focus on the things that really matter:

Garmin 310XT Opened Contents - Core ItemsAnd there you have it – the pieces that you’ll actually use.  You see four major items.  Obviously the orange thing is the watch itself.  And the strap-looking object is the heart rate strap.  Next is is the wall charger.  Now, you’ll notice the wall charger is actually two pieces – a USB cable and a charger unit.  This allows you to simply charge the unit via a USB port on your computer.  Lastly, you’ll see the little stick at the bottom.  This USB stick is a ANT+ wireless device that you plug into your computer to sync data back and forth.  I cover this a bunch in the software section, so I’ll skip the details of it for now.

As I mentioned, to charge the device you’ll simply use the charging cable above, and then clip it onto the back of the 310XT, like below:

Garmin 310XT Charging Clip Also of note is the new heart rate strap.  This new strap splits into two pieces like the old one – except that instead of being rubber like the old one, it’s a much more comfortable fabric design.  I cover the new heart rate strap later on in the accessories section.

Garmin 310XT Premium HR Strap Finally, here’s a few size comparison shots when the 310XT is put next to the Garmin 405 and 305:

Garmin 310XT size comparison to 305 and 405 Garmin 310XT size comparison to 305 and 405 You can really see how much thinner it is than the 305 in this shot below:

Garmin 310XT size comparison to 305

Ok, let’s get on with the show.  Time to power it up!

Initial Setup:

When you first power on the Garmin 310XT it starts by asking you a series of questions.  The Garmin 305 did the same thing – though it only really asked three questions, Monty Python style.  The 310XT however, asks more questions than a inquisitive three year old.  Ten questions to be exact:

1) Language
2) Time Format (12/24 hr)
3) Distance format (Miles/KM)
4) HR Monitor (Yes/No)
5) Select gender (M/F/Confused)
6) Enter Age
7) Enter Weight
8) Enter Height
9) Specify Activity Class
10) Specify Lifetime Athlete

Garmin 310XT First Power on, activity class Garmin 310XT First Power on, lifetime athlete

It’s those last two that are kinda interesting, specifically the “Are you a lifetime athlete?”.  This question is aimed at folks who have resting heart rates of less than 60, or who have trained for intensely for many years.  Though the manual doesn’t clarify what this setting actually impacts, a bit of poking around reveals it controls some of the calorie calculations.

So, after you’ve given the 310XT your life history, you’re finally ready to use it – and it offers some initial tips along the way:

Garmin 310XT First Power On

That’s it!  Setup only takes a minute or two.  Now that we have it all configured, let’s get on with using it.

Running:

The first thing you’ll notice when you go to put it on your wrist is that it’s smaller than previous Forerunners.  And lighter.  It’s also a bit more streamlined looking – it reduces the ‘running with a computer’ look some…though – let’s face it – you’re still running with a computer.

Garmin 310XT Switching Sports

Once you turn it on you’ll be able to select which sport your doing (by holding down the mode button for a few seconds).  This is nice in that it reduces the series of menu’s you used to have to navigate in past models.  The device will start in the same mode you shut it off in last time, so if you’re just a runner – it will stay in running mode.  This is also a great time to point out that the 310XT picks up satellite reception WAY faster than the 305 does.  A much appreciated improvement!

Now that you’ve selected you want to run…it’s time to run.  Simply press the start button, and off we go.

As you start running you’ll notice that the displayed pace starts to reduce down to your actual speed.  This takes a few seconds, as the GPS calculation needs to essentially ‘catch up’ to the exact speed you’re going.  This is important to call out though because many folks when they start using a GPS watch get really hung up on the fact that the speed fluctuates some.  That’s alright though, because the averaging works out, plus, once you even out your instantaneous pace won’t fluctuate by a ton.

Now let’s skip forward a bit into the run.  Perhaps it’s hot out, and your getting tired.  This is where the 310XT can help keep your pace on track.  Aside from the visual reminder than you’re slowing ‘off-pace’, you can also set audible and vibrating reminders.  Those are controlled via two methods:

Virtual Partner: This method allows you to configure the Forerunner to display ‘the little man’, which show shows you how far ahead or behind you are compared to a virtual person running the pace you specified.  For example – say you set the pace for 8:00/mile – and then you go off and run two miles at a 8:10/mile pace (thus a time of 16:20 instead of 16:00), it will now show you as 20 seconds behind the little man, as well as how far behind you are (by distance).  You can change the pace mid-run, though that will reset the counter.

Garmin 310XT Virtual Partner while running

Pace alerts via workouts: The 310XT offers the ability to set alerts for a variety of categories – such as HR and distance.  These alerts serve to remind you (audibly and via vibration, as well as a visual reminder) that you have reached a specific goal (such as 2 miles), or are over/under a given HR specification.  However, what’s missing here is the ability to set a pace alert – such as maintaining a 8:00/mile pace (with a slight variance of course).  It would be nice to have this feature built into the watch.  But, as a substitute, you can actually create such alerts via workouts in Garmin Training Center (software that comes with it).  It’s a bit roundabout, but you can do it:

Garmin Training Center HR Zones

Above, I set my speed zones (I can customize up to 10 of them with unique names/paces).  And below, I create a ‘workout’.  If I stray out of that specific zone, the 310XT will quite persistently remind me.

Garmin Training Center Create Workout

So before we got sidetracked into pace alerts, we were running along on a nice straight road.  But what happens if we duck into the tress?

Well, generally – nothing much.  The Garmin 310XT continues to work – even in the trees.  The only issues I’ve ever seen are on super-quick switchbacks such as in certain trail running scenarios, where the unit might not catch the fact that you’ve done a quick out and back segment and instead short you the distance.  Now interestingly, the 305 actually had an option to change recording rate but the 310XT does not (which, I’ll talk more about in the cycling section). But in general, running along a trail in the trees is no issue.

Next comes the buildings – how does it handle around those?  In most cases it’s fine.  The only issues I’ve ever seen were when I was running super-close to the edge of a tall set of buildings and it drops out temporarily.  But the cool thing is that the 310XT will basically ‘draw a line’ between the two known points.  So it’ll still capture the distance for you.

Same goes for tunnels.  Near my home there are tunnels that pass under a set of major freeways, and the trail I often run goes under the tunnels.  What happens in those cases is that signal is lost, the watch alerts me to this, and then I keep running.  When I get back into the open and the signal is recaptured (usually a few seconds after exiting the tunnel), it does the the same as next to buildings and interpolates the data points.  This is only problematic when the tunnels turn underground (as mine does), so I get shorted a tiny bit on distance on those runs.  I suppose it’s extra credit in the bank of training…

310XT Satellite Reception while in tunnel As you can see above, it’s not quite a perfect match to the tunnel, but it picks up the signal on either side without too much issue and pretty quickly.  The above is a screenshot from Sports Tracks (which I’ll talk about later in the software section).

Now that you’re running along, let’s talk about some of the buttons on the display – here’s the quick overview:

Garmin 310XT Buttons

The two buttons you’re most likely to press are the Lap/Reset and Stop/Start.  The Stop/Start button works to start your timer, as well as pause it (and stop it at the end of the workout).  Whereas the lap button allows you to mark specific laps (and reset the workout).  Now by default the 310XT will auto lap every mile, which means it automatically records one lap every mile.  You can change the distance for auto lap, or just shut it off.  I leave it off on mine, as I prefer to view all laps via software and can then view/filter them a million different ways.  In addition, I generally set laps (via the lap button) when I change zones or make some pace/HR change per my workout schedule.

Garmin 310XT Splits in Sport Tracks This allows me to do things like the above in Sport Tracks – where I manually recorded five different laps as part of my workout, with each lap representing a different heart rate (HR) zone I was targeting to hit.  This way I can see my average split pace for each lap (and thus correlated to each zone).

The two up/down buttons on the side allow you to rotate through different screens.  You can configure a number of different data fields per each screen, up to four fields (or as few as one).  You can set to automatically rotate/scroll through the screens, or you can manually scroll through via the buttons.  Also on the right side (lower) is the ‘Enter’ button to confirm setting choices.

Finally, on the left side we have the top left button to turn on/off the backlight, and the lower button to shift into a different mode and the menu system (to edit settings).  The light will automatically shut off after 15 seconds, but you can set it to stay on longer, or just stay on permanently.  When I do night runs, I just set it to stay on permanently.  I have a few pictures at night in the cycling section.

Lastly, let’s talk about treadmills.  The 310XT works just fine inside on treadmills – but it does require a small accessory – the foot pod in order to record pace (and thus distance).  The food pod allows you to run in situations where GPS doesn’t function, like inside a gym.  I have a whole bunch later in the accessories section on just the foot pod – so check out the details there.

Cycling:

Cycling is probably the most common sport outside of running that the 310XT will be used for.  And based on all my cycling thus far – it works quite nicely.  I’ve taken it on both my tri bike, as well as road bike – and it works equally as well on both bikes.  Now, I’ll talk about how to mount it a bit later, so for now let’s focus on some of the core features.

First up – once you choose to select a sport, you’ll be given the option to choose one of three bikes to ‘program’ into the 310XT.  This is useful if you have a mountain bike, a tri bike and a road bike.  Why would it matter?  Well, wheel size for one.  If you use it on a trainer, by setting the wheel size with a cadence sensor (accessory below) you can actually get accurate distance indoors.  So this allows easy switching between them.  Outside…it doesn’t really matter so much.

Garmin 310XT on Bike

Like running mode, you can select up to four screens to display at any one point in time, and you can also set to auto-scroll between the different screens.  Auto-scroll is actually a pretty nice feature that I only really started using because of writing this review.  Despite virtually all Garmin fitness devices having this, I never really found it practical.  But after doing a ride with it – it’s actually fairly nice.  You can set the scroll speed to display different screens at intervals of slow/medium/fast (2,4 and 5 seconds respectively).  It then rotates continually through those screens, with each screen displaying up to the usual four pieces of data.  Note this feature is offered in all modes (Running, Cycling, etc..).

One of the most common questions I get about the 305 and 405 is if you can make the text bigger.  Like both of those watches, the 310XT allows quite large text by reducing the number of data fields per screen.  Above you can see four data fields on a single screen and below is an example of just one data field.  Interestingly, using just two data fields really doesn’t increase the size any more than four data fields.  As you can see below though – the speed of 17.0mph is easily read from pretty far away in single data field mode.

Garmin 310XT on bike - large display

Next up…Auto Pause:

Garmin 310XT on bike - auto pause

Another feature that’s not specific to cycling but is probably most useful in cycling is Auto Pause.  This tells the 310XT to automatically stop recording when you stop, and then resume when you start going again.  This is based on speed, and the speed is configurable if you’d like to increase or decrease the tolerance.  Now, a word of caution about this – in certain situations (like trail running or mountain biking), you may have more automatically paused points than you’d like.  This is because sometimes in cases such as switchbacks the GPS signal doesn’t catch that you’ve gone ‘out and back’, and instead interprets it as standing still – thus shorting you on the distance.  Generally not an issue on roads, but worthwhile pointing out.

Like when running, the Virtual Partner can be enabled while cycling as well.  This would help you maintain above a given MPH (or KPH) speed for the ride, and show you how far ahead or behind you are in comparison to your goal pace:

Garmin 310XT - Virtual Partner while cycling

Now, the 310XT records all sorts of interesting data about your ride:  Speed, elevation, heart rate and distance to name a few.  Further, if you add the cadence sensor – then it would record cadence as well.  All of this information is stored on a per ride basis, and then is downloaded into any number of compatible software applications (which I cover later).  From there you can slice and dice the data all sorts of interesting ways:

Garmin 310XT Cadence Graph on Garmin Connect

One new class of devices that the 310XT supports that previous Forerunner devices haven’t supported is power meters.  Power meters are developed by 3rd party companies that measure how many watts a cyclists is outputting at any given time.  This helps to give a truer picture of a cyclists given workout as it effectively accounts for speed-impacting variables like wind and terrain.  I wrote-up a good intro piece to Cycling with Power here.

Garmin 310XT Power Display Options (In the above photo taken while climbing, I have the data fields set to show power (watts) in the lower left corner, with grade in the upper right)

Since there is a ton of interesting little details about the 310XT and power meters, I ended up creating a full mini-section in this review under the accessories section.  For most of you reading out there, power meters aren’t likely in your future (or budgets), but for competitive cyclists and triathletes, power meters are becoming more common – and understanding the pro’s and con’s of using the 310XT with one is important.

One area that’s often asked is how does the device do at night?   This is one area that’s much improved since the 305.  The screen is far easier to read at a quick glance than the 305 was, as the backlight color was changed and the overall feel of the display is much cleaner.  Below are two photos – one from the saddle showing the brightness of the LCD (adjustable), and one closer up so you can actually read it.  Now, as a human you can easily see the numbers while seated, but my camera…not so much…at least without making the rest of the picture pitch-black – hence the two separate pictures

Garmin 310XT Nightlight on bike Garmin 310XT Nightlight

An final area I want to briefly point out is a change made between the 305 and the 310XT around recording of data.  In the past (i.e. 305), you can change the recording interval to be ‘Smart Recording’ (which saves battery life, but records less data, roughly about once every 4 seconds depending on a variety of factors), or you can set to ‘Every Second’, which…simply records every second.  This mattered for folks who were looking for very precise data.  One area that’s most common here is folks cycling with power meter devices.  In the 310XT this option was removed and only ‘Smart Recording’ is available.  This is a bit of an odd change given the longer battery life of the 310XT over the 305.  What’s a bit stranger though is that if you connect a power meter, the device will automatically switch over into 1-second recording.  Kinda odd to have the feature, but not allow you to manually enable it.  So it’s something to consider if extremely precise data is of significant importance to you.

[Updated 8/6/2011: Note that as of late May 2011, Garmin has re-introduced 1-second recording to the FR310XT product for all sports, regardless of power meter.  This can be enabled in the settings menu now for any activity.  Enjoy!]

So in summary for cycling – the device by itself performs extremely well.  There are however a lot of accessories (be it mounts, cadence meters, or power meters) that really help to gel the watch together.  I talk through all of these in the accessories section later on.

Swimming:

One of the biggest reasons you’d look to pickup the 310XT over an earlier model (such as the 305) is it’s inherent waterproofing capabilities.  While some earlier Garmin models had basic waterproofing, it was only to 3 feet and only for 30 minutes, further, it wasn’t designed to be warn on your wrist in the water – as the pounding action would effectively destroy the device over time.  So upon initial announcement that the 310XT was waterproofed to 30m (94.4ft), most triathletes were thrilled.  But Garmin soon made it clear that while the device was indeed waterproofed and could also be worn on your wrist while swimming – it wouldn’t accurately measure distance while swimming if worn on your wrist.  Further, it wouldn’t record heart rate data due to the ANT+ signal not being strong enough to penetrate water.

Now, this doesn’t mean the new waterproofing is useless.  In fact, far from it – it means that I no longer have to worry about my 305 in it’s Ziploc bag potentially dying an aquatic death because  water got in for an extended period of time.  To me, not having to worry about it is a huge advantage.

That said – what would happen if you wore it on your wrist?  Well, I set out to find out and put together a simple test.  I went to a nearby lake on one of my trips and made a simple triangular course between the boat ramp, and two docks at opposite sides of the lake. The loop is approximately a half a mile.

Garmin 310XT and 305 ready to swim!

To ensure I had a ‘control’, I took along a Garmin Forerunner 305 in my swim cap – just as I always do.  This would remain in the swim cap for the entire swim.  Next, I added a Garmin 310XT to the swim cap as well, right next to the Garmin 305.  Yes, I looked like a dork…thankfully nobody saw me.  For the Garmin 310XT I didn’t have to worry about a Ziploc.

Garmin 310XT and 305 in the swim cap

For the first lap, I’d just swim as usual with the two devices recording, here’s what the two tracks looked like:

Garmin 305 Track – Lap 1:

Garmin 305 in swim cap track

Garmin 310XT Track – Lap 1:

Garmin 310XT in swim cap track

As you can see, they’re basically the same.  The 305 (first one) probably made a slightly prettier track because I tend to breath to my right, and the 305 was on the right portion of my head.  For both devices though, I placed them towards the back of my head, to maximize exposure to the sky.  And just to show you what would happen if you perfectly placed the 310XT alone – here’s one I did this past weekend with just the 310XT in a race – it’s pretty darn nice:

Garmin 310XT in Swim Cap during race

Next up, on the second lap I went ahead and removed the Garmin 310XT from my swim cap and placed it on my wrist, just as if I was wearing it running.

Garmin 310XT sitting in water on wrist

Now, the second I placed my arm into the water, the 310XT beeped and warned me it had lost satellite reception (below photo shows my arm just below the surface of the water):

Garmin 310XT lost satellite in water

Despite that I pressed lap and went to town – swimming yet another loop of the circuit – with the 305 in the swim cap as a baseline, and the 310XT on my wrist:

Garmin 305 Track in swim cap – Lap 2:

Garmin 305 in swim cap

Garmin 310XT Track on wrist – Lap 2:

Garmin 310XT on wrist in swimming

Yikes!  Not only does the 310XT track look like I’m drunk, but it also measures the distance at more than twice the actual length.  This is because it’s losing reception each time it goes underwater, and only some of the time it gains the reception back during the stroke recovery.  But, the actual GPS acquisition hasn’t completed, so the accuracy is still +/- a few hundred feet – thus incorrect data points.

So, to summarize that – you really don’t want to wear it on your wrist if you’re looking for a smooth data track (or any useful data).  That said, it didn’t bother me with respect to my swim stroke at all, but I also wasn’t on an exact course trying to time-trial it either.

Next up – how does the heart rate strap pickup underwater?  Well, Garmin says it won’t – and I had no reason to not trust them, but I’m always up for a little test.  Now, I actually had the HR strap on the entire time for both laps.  So what did it record?

Garmin 310XT Heart Rate while underwater

Yes…basically nothing.  The only time it appeared to pickup my HR was when I had put my wrist next to the HR emitter – the below picture is actually taken underwater, looking down from my perspective – with the black band you see being the HR strap.  You can see the HR displayed in the lower right corner (along with the incorrect distance in the lower left corner).

Garmin 310XT Heart Rate while underwater next to strap

I had wondered if it might actually pick it up occasionally during the stroke as when your core rotates, the wrist comes pretty close to your chest during the pull.  You can see though that if you do place it close enough to the HR strap, it will pickup, but if you move it only about 6-8” further away (like below), nothing (I had HR configured to display in the lower right corner).

Garmin 310XT Heart Rate while underwater further away from strap

(Oh, in case you’re curious – all the water pictures were taken with an Optio W60 waterproof camera, which is what I use to take almost all the outdoors pictures I post.  Most of the ‘pretty’ shots were taken with a Canon Digital Rebel XTi)

So, in summary – while the 310XT doesn’t quite offer the true triathlete/swimmers aquatic device paradise, it’s making steady improvements towards it.  At the moment, I know of no device that can be worn on your wrist and track distance in an open-water situation – though the Polar’s can pickup heart rate while underwater because they use a different signal type.  That said, for me the biggest advantage of the 310XT over the 305 with respect to swimming is just the simple fact that I don’t have to worry about it.  I’ve killed a few Garmin 305’s in water due to prolonged exposure (multi-day sea kayak camping trip), and it appears this device would hold up much better – specifically the screen, which isn’t inset like the 305, so water can’t get in there.

Triathlon Notes:

I want to briefly touch on one area that’s unique to the 305 and 310XT – which is multisport mode.  This mode allows for semi-automated shifting from one sport to the next, such as during a race.  The 405 doesn’t offer this feature.  What this allows you to do is to setup the different legs of the race and then by simply pressing the lap button it will automatically shift to the next stage of the race and change the display to that corresponding sport:

Garmin 310XT Multisport ModeAs you can see above, you can choose to add in transition time.  Unlike the Garmin 305, the 310XT will now record transition times as well.  Each portion of the race shows up in Garmin Connect as a separate activity, such as the below from one of my recent races:

Garmin 310XT in Garmin Connect Multisport ModeAs you press lap on each stage of the race the watch will helpfully remind you what event you are supposed to be doing, in the event you get confused after the swim and try to go running instead of cycling.

Garmin 310XT Begin Bike in Multisport Mode When combining this functionality with the quick release kit I talk about later, you really have the perfect triathlon watch all in one device.

Other random activities:

As with virtually all the Garmin devices – and pretty much all GPS devices in general, you can do quite a few fun and interesting things with them.  For example, here’s a few quick ideas…

Tracking your flight route:

Garmin 310XT while on a plane flying

(Note the speed of 524MPH)

Here’s a portion of my flight from Seattle back to DC, the 310XT will easily capture the route, which you can then display in any of the software applications I note later on, or within applications like Google Earth.

Garmin 310XT GPS flight path

Garmin 310XT GPS flight path to gate

Geotagging photos:

Geotagging is when you add GPS information to photos you’ve taken.  Typically this is done by simply ensuring your cameras date/time matches your 310XT.  Then you can simply start a track (workout) on the 310XT and then later using Garmin Connect export out the GPX file.  GPX files are the internet standard specification for sharing GPS data between applications.  So once you have a GPX file you can do an unlimited number of cool things.  For example, once you have it you can easily sync it up to photos to automatically geotag photographs exact locations.  Applications like Picasa Web will automatically display your photos on a map.  Here’s one I did at the Boston Marathon this past spring using the 305 – which works exactly the same as the 310XT in this manner:

Garmin GPS Geotagging

Of course, you’re really just limited by your imagination.  With my 305 in the past I’ve gone on hikes, skiing, kayak trips, sightseeing, African safaris, long drives, etc…

Accessories:

Like all of the Garmin fitness devices, the 310XT is compatible with virtually every fitness accessory Garmin’s made thus far – including older model items as well.  In addition, the 310XT is compatible with numerous ANT+ devices.  ANT+ is the wireless protocol that the 310XT uses to communicate with accessories such as heart rate straps, but it’s also a industry standard, and a ton of sports related companies are starting to come out with products that can pair up with the Garmin 310XT (as well as other Garmin’s).

Cadence/Indoor Speed Meter:

Perhaps the most well known accessory for the Garmin fitness line, this small device fits to your bike to offer cadence  which is how often you turnover the pedals, in revolutions per minute (RPM).  In addition, a small magnet affixes to a spoke on your bike wheel to give you speed if you’re indoors on a trainer (or if you’ve lost satellite reception in a situation like a tunnel).

Garmin Cadence/Speed Sensor Box

You can see the black Garmin cadence/speed sensor, the small silver speed magnet on the wheel, and then out of view is an equally span magnet on my crank (where the pedals are).

Garmin Cadence/Speed Sensor on Road Bike

The whole thing takes about 2 minutes to install with a few zip ties.  There are basically three components – the crank arm magnet, the back wheel spoke magnet, and then the small wireless devices that transmits data to the 310XT.

The good news here is that if you already have one of these from a previous Garmin device – then you’re good to go.  The ones that I bought originally for my 305 are compatible, as are virtually all of the ones Garmin has sold for any of it’s other watches/cycling computers.  The cost to purchase the cadence/speed sensor is $60 on Garmin’s site (or $38 on Amazon).

Finally, see my massive Speed/Cadence sensor post, for more than you ever wanted to know about this little device.

Heart Rate Strap (included or separate):

Depending on which version of the 310XT you purchase, the heart rate (HR) strap may or may not be included.  In the bundled version, the 310XT comes with a new fabric HR strap.  At first I figured this was just another gimmick, but in reality – this strap is WAAAY nicer than the older style ones.  So nice in fact that my girlfriend pretty much took mine hostage.

Garmin Premium Heart Rate Strap

The reason it’s so much nicer is that the fabric portion is now the majority of the strap – as opposed to the earlier models where a large chunk of it was rubber.  You can see the two straps below in the picture:

Garmin Premium Heart Rate Strap with Classic Style Strap

The new model uses little buttons (like on a coat) to snap into place.

Garmin Premium Heart Rate Strap Snaps

The only catch with the new HR strap is it’s pretty darn expensive.  A bit overpriced in my opinion, at $70 on Garmin’s site – but it’s only $39 on Amazon. Again, the good news here is that if you have an older Garmin fitness device – the old HR straps work just fine.  And the opposite is true as well (new ones work with old units).  The new HR straps work just fine with older Garmin’s, like the 305.  So that will save you some money.

Foot pod (for running indoors):

While the major draw of a device like a Garmin fitness watch is its GPS capabilities, the watch is still quite functional indoors.  The only trick is that by itself, the watch can’t track distance or pace indoors on a treadmill.  This requires a small foot pod accessory that you clip/tie to your shoe.  There are a bunch of different Garmin versions of this accessory for sale out there…and basically all of them will work with the 310XT.

I originally had this one that I used with my Forerunner 305.  Roughly the size of a beach ball, it certainly wasn’t inconspicuous.  Given I often wear my running shoes in airports and places like that, I was looking for something smaller than the below (old school style):

Garmin Old School Footpod

Around the same time the 310XT released, Garmin also released a new – and dramatically smaller – foot pod.  This foot pod is also backwards compatible with all previous Garmin devices, and the 310XT is compatible with all previous foot pods.  That said, check it out – pretty darn small:

Garmin New Style Footpod

Garmin New Style Footpod clip on shoeGarmin New Style Footpod Clipped on ShoeGarmin New Style Footpod Clipped on Shoe - Side profile

Unlike the previous one which requires you to interweave it into your running laces, the new one just snaps in place – taking all of 2 seconds to install.  It’s fairly waterproof too, which means you can take it outdoors.  Which is good – because that’s the easiest place to calibrate it.  When you calibrate the device initially you run 800m (half a mile) so it can figure out your running stride.  You can either use a track, or just have the Garmin use GPS technology to know when 800m is over.  After which, you can take it indoors and it’ll know how far you’ve gone on the treadmill.

Garmin New Style Footpod Clipped on Shoe - from above

(Note, the little arrow on the top should point forward when ‘installed’)

I’ve found that typically the foot pods are within about 1-2% distance-wise on my treadmill runs.  So if the treadmill says 1.00 miles, the foot pod may say .98 to 1.02 miles – well within the margin of error of the treadmill itself (yes, they aren’t perfect).  Also, one interesting change is that the new ones don’t require you to remember to turn them on/off to save battery (which is a quick user-replaceable item when the time comes).  They just automagically do it – which is nice.

One other item to note is that the foot pod measures running cadence (turnover) as well.  This is true of both indoor and outdoor works (even when the GPS is used).  Here’s what that looks like on a graph:

Garmin 310XT on Garmin Connect Run Cadence

Anyway, the foot pods are a bit pricey as well – so if you’re looking for function over form, try to pickup one of the older styles off of eBay.  Otherwise, the new versions are available for about $50 on Amazon.  They do work with any of the Garmin running watches, so if you have one from those – your good to go, and vice-versa.

Finally – see my massive foot pod post here for more details than you ever wanted.

Power devices (cycling wattage):

One of the huge draws to the 310XT for the cycling/triathlete crowd is the ability for the 310XT to accept power meter devices.  These are devices that measure a cyclists true effort of work as they exert energy to move the bike.  I wrote an introductory piece to cycling with power here.

The 310XT is compatible with virtually any ANT+ Power Meter.  This includes models such as the Power Tap, SRM and Quarq Cinqo.  And, over the past few weeks at major bike shows, numerous other ANT+ power meters have been announced which will hit the market over the next 6-12 months.  So expect this space to grow pretty significantly.

An example of one type of power meter is the Quarq Cinqo that I have, pictured below:

Quarq Cinqo Power Meter The Cinqo wirelessly transmits data to the 310XT, where it’s both displayed and recorded for later analysis.  From there you can view the data on Garmin Connect, as well as any of the other compatible software application.  Here’s an example of the data in Garmin Connect:

Garmin 310XT Power Data on Garmin Connect

Now this is where some of the 310XT’s weaknesses start to become apparent.  Garmin Connect isn’t really a very useful tool when it comes to power analysis.  Most folks who utilize power are really looking to get extremely detailed information, and Garmin Connect simply doesn’t deliver that.

[Updated 8/6/2011: Note that as of late May 2011, Garmin has re-introduced 1-second recording to the FR310XT product for all sports, regardless of power meter. This can be enabled in the settings menu now for any activity. I’ve kept the next section for historical context, and while it’s still accurate from a power meter standpoint, just be aware you can now enjoy 1-second recording in any mode.]

Further complicating the issue is how the 310XT works with Smart Recording.  Here’s a little snippet from a Garmin engineer on how it works:

“During smart recording the power during these intervals is accumulated. When a point is dropped the accumulated power is divided by the time to get an average power over that time interval. The definition of smart recording includes many variables with power being one of the items that can trigger the code to drop a point (after the accumulated power has reached a threshold). Turning and distance are other variables that can affect when a point should be dropped in smart recording.”

Now, what’s interesting here is that the Garmin 310XT actually automatically goes into 1-second recording mode when a power meter is attached (thanks Lisa for pointing this out!), and if you go and check out the TCX files, you can see the 1-second increment in times:

Garmin 310XT 1-second recording with power meter

Finally, the last area that the 310XT suffers in from a power perspective is the lack of ability to display what are called ‘Rolling averages’.  These are numbers that are displayed on the screen to show you the average of the last few seconds of power data.  When cycling with power, the actual power number is constantly jumping around (this is completely normal), one second it’s 258w, and the next it’s 198w.  This makes it difficult to train/race based on real time data.  So power meter companies instead offer a screen which ‘smooth’s’ this data into readable chunks – such as 5s and 30s views.  And in fact, the Garmin Edge 705 recently had this feature added.  But the 310XT did not, it only shows instantaneous power – which is much more difficult to read.  This seems to limit some of the on-bike usefulness of the 310XT when it comes to power meters.

[Updated 8/6/2011: Note that as of late Winter 2011, Garmin has added 3-second and 30-second power averaging to the Forerunner 310XT as well as the additional zero-averaging options, thus making it largely even with the Edge series devices from a power meter standpoint…which is pretty awesome! I’ve left the rest of this text as is for historical purposes.]

In summary, while the 310XT is good ‘functional’ as a power meter recording device, it’s really not ideal as of today when compared to the 705/800 or other power meter devices.  The good news here is that Garmin has added these features to the 705/800 line, which means that perhaps we’ll see them added to the 310XT line as well in the future (via free software upgrades, like the 705).  And again, if you don’t have a power meter, then this whole section is moot for ya.

Quick release kit/Cycling Mount:

The quick release kit is targeted at triathletes that want to be able to quickly remove the 310XT from the bike and take it with them on the run.  Now, you could do this all with the default wrist strap – but if you’re in the aero position for 5+ hours on an Ironman, the angle of your wrist makes it difficult to see the display at all times.  So for both cyclists and triathletes, the quick release kit offers an easy way to mount it on your bike.

The kit comes with basically three major pieces:

1) A new wrist strap (kinda flimsy)
2) A mounting piece for your bike (not flimsy)
3) A new clip for the back of the Garmin unit

Garmin 310XT Quick Release Kit Packaged Garmin 310XT Quick Release Kit Unpackaged

You simply use the little tool (included) to detach the existing orange wrist straps, and reattach a new (thinner) black wrist strap.  Then you re-attach just the metal pins to the black mounting bracket (see above, left hand side of photo) to the Garmin itself.

Garmin 310XT Quick Release Kit InstallationGarmin 310XT Quick Release Kit InstalledGarmin 310XT Quick Release Kit Installed with WriststrapOne problem that plagued the 305 quick release kit is it’s desire to occasionally release the watch while cycling along at 20MPH, thus sending Mr. Garmin flying through the air.  However, the 310XT does not have that problem.  The new quick release kit requires a 90 degree twist to unlock – and it requires a fair bit of twisting force to do so.  There’s no way in heck this thing is ever popping off.  And, by using the quick release strap, it’ll fit much more comfortably in your swim cap if you use it during a race or training

The only minor complaint I have about the quick release kit is that I found during transition in a race, it can be a bit hard to quickly pop on/off if you’re a bit rushed.  In addition, I think I prefer the orange wrist strap over the thinner but more flimsy feeling black one that’s included in the kit.  Here’s it attached to both my triathlon bike, and my road bike (I included tons of mounting pictures in the gallery at the end):

Garmin 310XT Quick Release Kit Installed on Bike Garmin 310XT Quick Release Kit Installed on Bike riding Garmin 310XT Quick Release Kit Mount on bike

That said, for triathletes, the quick release kit is a must.  It’s priced at very reasonably at $25 on Garmin’s site, or $15 on Amazon.

Note: I’ve included a bunch more photos of the mounting bracket and mounting options for both tri and road bikes within the gallery at the end.

The Fabric Strap (well…sorta):

In the past the Forerunner 305 (different) quick release kit actually included a fabric strap (for the 305).  This was probably the least known secret of the Forerunner 305 series, as the fabric strap was ten times better than the plastic strap.  But, there doesn’t yet appear to be a fabric strap directly available for the 310XT.  That said, after some curiosity I tried out the new 405/405CX fabric strap, and it kinda sorta works.  By kinda sorta I mean that it’s clearly not designed for it, but could be used in a pinch.  That said, I found it pops off quite easily (even if you use the right pins), so I wouldn’t really recommend it.  But I wanted to include it here for now, since I know someone would be curious.  You can see in the below photos how the strap is about a third of an inch too long, and bunches up below my wrist:

Garmin 405 Fabric Strap Kit Garmin 405 Fabric Strap Kit Installed with 310XT Garmin 405 Fabric Strap Kit on Wrist with 310XT

Tanita BC-1000 Scale:

The Tanita BC-1000 scale is a wireless ANT+ scale that synchronizes to both your 310XT as well as your computer – wirelessly sending your weight, body fat and other health related details right over just like red rover.  I reviewed this scale recently and have now updated this review (the 310XT) to include details about it, since it’s one of the few devices that can interact with the BC-1000.

The Garmin 310XT acts as a data repository for the scale data, which is then transferred to your computer when you sync the 310XT with the little USB stick.  Finally, that data is in turn sent to both Garmin Connect, and also the Healthy Edge software that comes with the scale.

You first need to enable pairing between the BC-1000 and the Garmin 310XT via the menu system, but it’s quick and only takes a second:

IMG_4253

Once that’s done, your set for any future synchronization with the scale.   With the latest 310XT firmware it’s super-easy to get your watch to see and talk to the scale (there were some earlier issues).  All you do is just tap the power button once briefly and it goes off trying to find it’s floor-bound friend – the scale:

IMG_4262IMG_4268

Once it’s found the scale, the scale will start blinking.  Simply step on the scale and your weight information is automatically transmitted to the 310XT within about 2-3 seconds.  Super quick.

IMG_4304

From there on your next synchronization it will go ahead and automatically sync that data to your computer and in turn to Garmin Connect:

GC-30dayGraph

GC-DailyMetrics

The Tanita BC-1000 is also compatible in much the same manner with the Garmin FR60 as well.  The scale is available from a few places including Amazon and costs about $280.  You can check out my full review of it here – complete with all the details you could ever want.

Summary of Accessories:

Here’s a quick table of all the accessories offered (or that work with) the Garmin 310XT:

Accessory Item/Description

Price

Garmin FR310XT Base Unit (without HR monitor)

$349

Heart Rate Strap (Classic Strap)

$25

Heart Rate Strap (Premium Soft Strap)

$45

ANT+ Cycling Speed/Cadence Sensor

$35

Quick Release Kit

$15

Fabric Strap (for Garmin Forerunner 405, but sorta works)

$25

Power Meters (PowerTap Wireless)

$899

ANT+ USB Stick

$33

Tanita BC-1000 Scale (my in depth review here)

$279

Bike Mount Kit

$13

Software Options:

Wireless synchronization (Garmin ANT+ Agent):

The first software component that’s required with the 310XT is the wireless synchronization piece.  Unlike the 305, this watch doesn’t actually sync with a USB cable (that’s only for charging now).  Instead it uses ANT+ wireless technology to synchronize.  You plug-in the little USB dongle into your USB port, and you’re good to go.

This in turn connects to the Garmin ANT+ agent software, which controls synchronization between your 310XT and your computer (as well as any other ANT+ devices, like the 405).  The software has made some major improvements since I first reviewed it when the 405 came out, with a steady stream of updates over the past 18 months.  The wireless experience is now basically seamless without any of the hiccups of the past, even on the newly released Windows 7.  Initial setup is easy and only takes a few moments:

Garmin ANT+ new device found with 310XT Garmin ANT+ Agent new pairing with 310XTGarmin ANT+ Agent sync with 310XTIn addition, the ANT+ Agent helps to manage firmware updates.  Firmware updates a pretty critical to ensuring your device is running the latest software.  There’s already been quite a few updates for the 310XT – fixing a bunch of initial bugs – so by using the ANT+ Agent, you’ll ensure your device is up to date.   Now, to be fair – you really don’t have a choice when it comes to using the ANT+ Agent software.  It’s the only way to get files off your watch.  You can decline firmware updates however.Garmin ANT+ Agent updating 310XT firmware

Now, one interesting thing is that many ‘advanced users’ may want to access the TCX files directly.  These are the files that can be loaded into applications like WKO+ and Training Peaks.  One semi-undocumented feature is that all of these files are actually in a simple folder in your user profile, located here:

C:UsersrainmakerApplication DataGarminDevices3629010465History
(XP/2000 users just replace “Users” with “Documents and Settings”, also note your Device ID will differ from mine)

Garmin 310XT ANT+ Folder StructureOh, and on a Mac, it’s located here:

Macintosh HDUsersusernameLibraryApp SupportGarminDevices

Pretty cool, huh?

That reminds me…Mac software.  The Garmin ANT+ Agent works just fine on a Mac, so you’ll be able to upload to Garmin Connect (below), without issue.

Garmin Connect:

Garmin Connect is essentially a web-based application that allows you to view your workouts, share them with others, and store them for late retrieval.  Garmin Connect first launched when the Edge 705 and Forerunner 405 came out.  And it was pretty rough at that point (and for quite a while afterwards).  But Garmin has made a bunch of good strides with it, especially since transitioning everything over from Motionbased.com into Garmin Connect.

When you wirelessly sync your watch, one of the options is to send the data to Garmin Connect automatically.  This is the easiest option, and it’s what I do.

Garmin ANT+ Agent Send data to Garmin Connect 310XT From there you’ll login to Garmin Connect, which will display a basic dashboard of your most recent workouts.  It’ll also alert you to any software updates for the device as well.

Garmin Connect Bike Route Map Overview

On the left hand side you’ll see your activities, which you can click on to display more information about each activity.  You’ll see you can also share any given activity with friends (or the whole world, as I have done below).

Garmin Connect Run Map

From there you’ll notice along the bottom you can change to the different views – showing such detail as Heart Rate, Speed, and depending on the accessories you have – Cadence, Power Data, etc…

Garmin Connect HR graph with 310XT

You can also click to display splits for each activity:

Garmin Connect Laps Listing with 310XT

While showing you tons of cool screenshots is worthwhile, it’d probably be more fun for you to play with it yourself.  So here ya go, three activities that I recorded this past weekend that you can interactively poke around at and play with all the features of Garmin Connect: Swim, Bike, Run.

Next up is the ability to see it all in a simple calendar format.  This is useful if you’re trying to understand how your training flows from week to week:

Garmin Connect Calendar View with 310XT data

Finally, you can generate reports, create goals and even track items like your weight and generate reporting based on that.

Garmin Connect Reports with 310XT data

One recent addition (in the last few weeks), is the ability to manually add an activity not recorded on the Garmin.  For example, if you go for a swim at the pool and just do laps.  You can see a list of upcoming features to be implemented, as well as recently implemented features here.  It’s pretty unusual for a software company to publish a list of features/fixes they are working on – so huge props to the GC team for doing it.

Now while Garmin Connect has made great strides as an all purpose workout tool and putting it in the category of ‘good’, I still think it has a ways to go with respect to being a ‘great tool’.  For example, when you look at swim workouts, the distance is in miles – not meters or yards.  Nobody enters in swim workouts in miles.

Garmin Connect Summary View with 310XT data

Also, I find that the site is fairly slow in general.  That said, as an all around workout planner I think it hits the target for the vast majority of the population.

Garmin Training Center

Garmin Training Center (GTC) is Garmin’s old-school style tool for placing data on the Garmin devices.  It also allows you to download data from it.  But, the reality is this tool isn’t being updated any more by Garmin aside from critical changes needed to support new devices.  And the reasons are plentiful – the tool is fairly antiquated and almost all of the functionality is on Garmin Connect, with the exception of loading workouts into the watch.

Garmin Training Center Overview Shot

As you can see below, the map functionality within the tool is extremely basic when compared with Garmin Connect (above, earlier):

Garmin Training Center Lame Mapping Ability So, while you will probably install GTC, it’s unlikely you’ll use it much.  That said, if you’re interested in learning how to download workouts to your watch – read through this post I wrote a bit back.  It goes through how to download workouts to all the major watches (and the 310XT works identically to the 305 in this respect).

Training Peaks:

One of the most common application used by endurance athletes and coaches is Training Peaks.  Training Peaks is in many ways similar to Garmin Connect – with the exception that it’s designed to allow coaches and athletes to interactively review and analyze workouts.  I use Training Peaks to upload my workouts daily so that my coach can then review and comment on them.  They have both a free version, and paid versions.

Training Peaks Calendar ViewWithin each activity you can drill down and review detailed information about any section you choose:

Training Peaks Graph view with 310XT Data

From the above you can see the summary of the highlighted section at the bottom of the screen.  As you can see, for detailed analysis of data – such as power data, TP is extremely helpful.  The above is a screenshot of the same bike race as the earlier screenshot in the Power Meters section from Garmin Connect – you can see the significant differences in detail offered.

Training Peaks also has a pretty useful dashboard that you can customize to display pods of data:

image

Training Peaks has updated their device agent software to now support the 310XT directly, so you can easily upload right from your desktop to Training Peaks.

Training Peaks Device Agent Upload

SportTracks:

Last but not least…SportTracks.  SportTracks is another non-Garmin option available to users of the 310XT.  It leverages the ANT+ Agent noted above to pull workouts into it.  SportTracks is completely free and put together by a huge community of sports enthusiasts, designed to support the maximum number of devices – including the Garmin 310XT.  Below is the main page of SportTracks.

Sport Tracks Overview ScreeenshotOnce you’ve selected a given activity, you can drill down into many of the different details of that given workouts, such as for example – power when cycling, like the below:

Sport Tracks Detailed Power Data SportTracks also allows you to generate customized reports 18 different ways to Sunday:

Sport Tracks Reporting and World Map View Perhaps one of the coolest features of SportTracks is the ability to install free plug-ins.  There are close to a hundred different plug-ins, offering all sorts of interesting features.  For example, one that I use automatically corrects the elevation based on NASA data, as GPS-based elevation is often filled with errors.   Check out all the plug-ins I use for Sport Tracks here.

Sport Tracks Elevation Correction Plug-in Go give it a shot though.  If you like the ability to endlessly analyze your data – I’d highly recommend Sport Tracks.

Comparison Chart:

Function/FeatureGarmin Forerunner 310XTEpson SF-810Garmin VivoactiveFitbit SurgePolar M400
Copyright DC Rainmaker - Updated July 29th, 2015 @ 1:17 pmNew Window
Price$170$349$249$249$179
Product Announcement DateAPR 2, 2009August 2014January 5th, 2015Oct 27th, 2014Sept 25th, 2014
Actual Availability/Shipping DateJUN 2009Fall 2014 to Spring 2015March 2015Dec 10th, 2014October 2014
GPS Recording FunctionalityYesYesYesYesYes
Data TransferANT+ WirelessUSB/Bluetooth SmatUSB/Bluetooth SmartBluetooth SmartUSB, BLUETOOTH SMART
WaterproofingYes50 meters50mATM5 (~50m), but no swimmingYes - 30m
Battery Life20 Hours20hrs10 hours GPS on5 hours GPS on (3-5 days in time/step mode)8 hours
Recording Interval1s or Smart1-secondSmart Recording (Variable)1-second1-second
Satellite Pre-Loading via ComputerNoYesYesNoYes
Quick Satellite ReceptionGreatDependsGreatSo-soGreat
AlertsVibrate/Sound/VisualVIBRATE/SOUND/VISUALVibrate/VisualYesSound/Visual
Backlight GreatnessGreatGreatGreatGoodGreat
Ability to download custom apps to unit/deviceNoNoYes via Connect IQNoNo
Acts as daily activity monitor (steps, etc...)NoNoYesYesYes
ConnectivityGarmin Forerunner 310XTEpson SF-810Garmin VivoactiveFitbit SurgePolar M400
Bluetooth Legacy (pre-4.0) to PhoneVia Wahoo Fitness AdapterNoNoNoNo
Bluetooth Smart (4.0+) to Phone UploadingVia Wahoo Fitness AdapterYEsYesYesYes
Phone Notifications to unit (i.e. texts/calls/etc...)NoNoYesText and Call notifications onlyYes (iOS only)
Live Tracking (streaming location to website)NoNoYesNoNo
Emergency/SOS Message Notification (from watch to contacts)NoNoNoNoNo
Built-in cellular chip (no phone required)NoNoNoNoNo
CyclingGarmin Forerunner 310XTEpson SF-810Garmin VivoactiveFitbit SurgePolar M400
Designed for cyclingYesNoYesYesYes
Power Meter CapableYesN/APotentially with Connect IQN/ANo
Power Meter Configuration/Calibration OptionsYesN/AN/AN/ANo
Power Meter TSS/NP/IFNoN/AN/AN/ANo
Speed/Cadence Sensor CapableYesNoYesN/ANo
RunningGarmin Forerunner 310XTEpson SF-810Garmin VivoactiveFitbit SurgePolar M400
Designed for runningYesYesYesYesYes
Footpod Capable (For treadmills)YesNo (has built-in accelerometers)YesNO, HAS INTERNAL ACCELEROMETERYes
Running Dynamics (vertical oscillation, ground contact time, etc...)NoNoNoNoNo
VO2Max EstimationNoNoNoNoSorta
Race PredictorNoNoNoNoCan estimate finish time during race
Recovery AdvisorNoNoNoNoNo (only if you have V800 too)
Run/Walk ModeNoNoYesNoNo
SwimmingGarmin Forerunner 310XTEpson SF-810Garmin VivoactiveFitbit SurgePolar M400
Designed for swimmingPartialNo (protected though just fine)YesNoNo
Openwater swimming modeYesN/ANoN/ANo
Lap/Indoor Distance TrackingNoN/AYesN/AN/A
Record HR underwaterNoNot wellNoSorta but not recommendedNo
Openwater Metrics (Stroke/etc.)Distance, no strokeN/ANoN/AN/A
Indoor Metrics (Stroke/etc.)NoN/AYesN/AN/A
Indoor Drill ModeNoN/ANoN/AN/A
Indoor auto-pause featureNoN/ANoN/AN/A
Change pool sizeNoN/AYesN/AN/A
Indoor Min/Max Pool LengthsNoN/A17M/18Y TO 150Y/MN/AN/A
Ability to customize data fieldsNoN/AYesN/AN/A
Can change yards to metersNoN/AYesN/AN/A
Captures per length data - indoorsNoN/AYesN/AN/A
Indoor AlertsNoN/AYesN/AN/A
TriathlonGarmin Forerunner 310XTEpson SF-810Garmin VivoactiveFitbit SurgePolar M400
Designed for triathlonYesNoNoNoNo
Multisport modeYesNoNoNoNo
WorkoutsGarmin Forerunner 310XTEpson SF-810Garmin VivoactiveFitbit SurgePolar M400
Create/Follow custom workoutsYesNoNoNoYes
On-unit interval FeatureYesYesNoNoYes
Training Calendar FunctionalityNoNoNoNoYes
FunctionsGarmin Forerunner 310XTEpson SF-810Garmin VivoactiveFitbit SurgePolar M400
Auto Start/StopYesYesYesNoYes
Virtual Partner FeatureYesYesNoNoVia Race Estimator
Virtual Racer FeatureNoNoNoNoNo
Records PR's - Personal Records (diff than history)NoNoOnly on Garmin ConnectNoYes
Day to day watch abilityNoYesYesYesYes
Hunting/Fishing/Ocean DataNoNoNoNoNo
Tidal Tables (Tide Information)NoNoNoNoNo
Jumpmaster mode (Parachuting)NoNoNoNoNo
GeocachingNoNoNoNoNo
Weather Display (live data)NoNoVia Connect IQ appNoNo
NavigateGarmin Forerunner 310XTEpson SF-810Garmin VivoactiveFitbit SurgePolar M400
Follow GPS Track (Courses/Waypoints)YesNoNoNoNo
Markers/Waypoint DirectionNoNoNoNoNo
Routable/Visual Maps (like car GPS)NoNoNoNoNo
Back to startYesNoYesNoYes
Impromptu Round Trip Route CreationNoNoNoNoNo
Download courses/routes from phone to unitNoNoNoNoNo
SensorsGarmin Forerunner 310XTEpson SF-810Garmin VivoactiveFitbit SurgePolar M400
Altimeter TypeGPSBarometricGPSBarometricGPS
Compass TypeGPSN/AGPSN/AGPS
Optical Heart Rate Sensor internallyYesNoYES
Heart Rate Strap CompatibleYesOptical HR sensor in unitYesContains optical HR SENSORYes
ANT+ Heart Rate Strap CapableYesNoYesNoNo
ANT+ Speed/Cadence CapableYesNoYesNoNo
ANT+ Footpod CapableYesNoYesNoNo
ANT+ Power Meter CapableYesNoNoNoNo
ANT+ Weight Scale CapableYesNoNoNoNo
ANT+ Fitness Equipment (Gym)YesNoNoNoNo
ANT+ Remote ControlNoNoYes for Garmin VIRBNoNo
ANT+ eBike CompatibilityNoNoNoNoNo
Di2 Shifting IntegrationNoNoNoNo
Bluetooth Smart HR Strap CapableNoNoNoNoYes
Bluetooth Smart Speed/Cadence CapableNoNonoNoNo
Bluetooth Smart Footpod CapableNoNoNoNoYes
Bluetooth Smart Power Meter CapableNoNoNoNoNo
Temp Recording (internal sensor)NoYesNoNoNo
Temp Recording (external sensor)NoNoYes (Tempe)NoNo
Compatible with Firstbeat HR toolsYesNoNoNo-
SoftwareGarmin Forerunner 310XTEpson SF-810Garmin VivoactiveFitbit SurgePolar M400
PC ApplicationGTC/ANT AgentWindows/MacGarmin ExpressWindows/MacPolar Flowsync
Web ApplicationGarmin ConnectYesGarmin ConnectYesPolar Flow
Phone AppGarmin FitiOS/AndroidiOS/AndroidiOS/Android/Windows PhoneiOS (now)/Android (Dec 2014)
Ability to Export SettingsNoNoNoNoNo
PurchaseGarmin Forerunner 310XTEpson SF-810Garmin VivoactiveFitbit SurgePolar M400
Amazon LinkLinkN/ALinkLinkLink
Clever Training - Save a bunch with Clever Training VIP programLinkN/ALinkLinkLink
DCRainmakerGarmin Forerunner 310XTEpson SF-810Garmin VivoactiveFitbit SurgePolar M400
Review LinkLinkLinkLinkLinkLink

Summary:

In summary, the Forerunner 310XT is a significant jump forward from the 305.  In my opinion it offers compelling new features, while at the same time polishing much of the user interface of the 305.  However, let’s go through a quick list of pro’s and con’s, before getting to the all important question of 310XT vs 305:

Pro’s/Con’s:

No review would be complete without this all important section, so let’s get on with it bubbling down many many pages of detailed information into about a dozen lines of text:

First up, the pro’s:

– Ability to last 20 hours
– Ability to stay underwater for extended periods of time
– Ability to connect to ANT+ Power Meters
– Smaller form factor (size)
– Wirelessly sync’s to computer (though, some also see this as a con)
– Cleaned up user interface
– Much faster satellite reception

And then the con’s:

– Waterproofing is more form than function
– HR, pace and distance don’t really work in the water
– More than double the price of the Garmin Forerunner 305
– Common power features missing [Update 8/6/2011: Addresses in Winter 2011 firmware update]
– No more fabric strap (though I see this likely changing)

But now the question everyone’s been waiting for – do you choice the 310XT or 305?  The answer is…it depends.

See, it depends on how you’re going to use it.  If you’re going to be solely using it for running and going less than 10 hours at a time, then there honestly isn’t a reason aside from cosmetics to purchase the 310XT over the 305 (or for that matter, instead of the 405/405CX – which are geared for runners).  That said, check out my almost as long Garmin 305 review (updated just earlier this summer) to help get an idea of the features there.

But if you’re a cyclist, triathlete or multisport person, then you need to dig deeper into the ‘depends’ question.  In particular – the following three items:

1) If you’re a cyclist/triathlete who uses power meters, then the 310XT, 500, 705 and 800 are your only choices, as those are the only current Garmin devices that can do ANT+ power meters.

2) If you’re a swimmer then I highly recommend looking at the 310XT merely from the convenience of not having to worry about the waterproofing.  While I’m a huge fan of the 305 in your swim cap, it is susceptible to water damage for prolonged periods.  The 310XT removes that worry from my life.

3) If you’re a runner who needs 10-20 hours of battery life, then the 310XT gives you that.  Same goes for competitors in an Ironman needing more than 10 hours of battery life on one watch.  Sure you can use accessories to extend that duration, but honestly, that’s kinda a pain long-term.

So with that, will I buy one?  The answer is simple: Yes.

Even with having the Edge 500/705/800 for cycling with power, I like having the ability to switch to the 310XT when it seems appropriate.  Further, I’ve found it’s so much easier to take it along on swims now that I don’t have to worry and fret about whether or not it will survive that aquatic adventure.  Finally I’ve found the device just far more polished than the 305 – even despite many of the fumbles with initial firmware revisions on the 310XT.

Hopefully you found this review useful.  At the end of the day, I’m an athlete just like you looking for the most detail possible on a new purchase – so my review is written from the standpoint of how I used the device.

I took a lot of pictures over the course of writing this review – 292 of them to be exact.  And I know that a lot of folks (like myself) like to see different angles of the product used in different ways.  So instead of just leaving them on my hard drive forever, I’ve taken a fair chunk of them and put them up in this little gallery above for you to be able to browse through.

Found this review useful?  Here’s how you can help support future reviews with just a single click!  Read on…

Hopefully you found this review useful.  At the end of the day, I’m an athlete just like you looking for the most detail possible on a new purchase – so my review is written from the standpoint of how I used the device.  The reviews generally take a lot of hours to put together, so it’s a fair bit of work (and labor of love).  As you probably noticed by looking below, I also take time to answer all the questions posted in the comments – and there’s quite a bit of detail in there as well.

I’ve partnered with Clever Training to offer all DC Rainmaker readers an exclusive 10% discount across the board on all products (except clearance and deep sale items items). You can pickup the FR310XT (without HR strap, or with HR strap). Then receive 10% off of everything in your cart by adding code DCR10LFW at checkout. By doing so, you not only support the site (and all the work I do here) – but you also get a sweet discount. And, since this item is more than $75, you get free US shipping as well. [Update: Currently the FR310XT is on deep sale, and doesn’t qualify for the additional 10% off, however, free shipping is still good!]

Additionally, you can also use Amazon to purchase the unit (all colors shown after clicking through to the left) or accessories (though, no discount).  Or, anything else you pickup on Amazon helps support the site as well (socks, laundry detergent, cowbells).  If you’re outside the US, I’ve got links to all of the major individual country Amazon stores on the sidebar towards the top.  Though, Clever Training also ships there too and you get the 10% discount.

As you’ve seen throughout the review there are numerous compatible accessories for the unit. I’ve consolidated them all into the below chart, with additional information (full posts) available on some of the accessories to the far right. Also, everything here is verified by me – so if it’s on the list, you’ll know it’ll work. And as you can see, I mix and match accessories based on compatibility – so if a compatible accessory is available at a lower price below, you can grab that instead.

AccessoryManufacturerStreet PriceAmazon LinkClever Training Link (Save 10% with DCR10LFW)More Info
Copyright DC Rainmaker - Updated December 1st, 2014 @ 9:47 am
Barfly Tate Labs Road/Mountain Bike Handlebar Mount (for all Edge units, FR310XT/910XT/920XT with quick release kit)Barfly/Tate Labs$25LinkLinkLink
Barfly Tate Labs Timetrial/Triathlon Bike Mount (for all Edge units, 310XT/910XT/920XT with quick release kit)Barfly/Tate Labs$37LinkLinkLink
PowerTap G3 ANT+ Power Meter (Hub)CycleOps/PowerTap$790 (hub only)LinkLinkLink
PowerTap Pro ANT+ Power Meter (Hub)CycleOps/PowerTap$899LinkLinkLink
Garmin ANT+ Heart Rate Strap (Classic Plastic Strap) - HRM1Garmin$37.00LinkLinkN/A
Garmin ANT+ Heart Rate Strap (Premium Soft-Strap) - HRM2Garmin$69.00LinkLinkN/A
Garmin ANT+ Heart Rate Strap (Premium Soft-Strap) - HRM3Garmin$50.00LinkLinkLink
Garmin ANT+ Replacement HR Strap (for HRM3/HRM-RUN - just the strap portion)Garmin$28.00LinkLinkN/A
Garmin ANT+ Running Footpod (Mini)Garmin$45LinkLinkLink
Garmin ANT+ Speed/Cadence Cycling Sensor (GSC-10)Garmin$35.00LinkLinkLink
Garmin ANT+ Transfer USB Stick (large sized)Garmin$38.00LinkLinkN/A
Garmin ANT+ USB Transfer Stick (mini sized)Garmin$49TBALinkN/A
Garmin Bike Mount Kit (for mounting any watch onto handlebars)Garmin$10.00LinkLinkN/A
Garmin Edge Series Extra Bike Mounts (2 sets in box)Garmin$10.00LinkLinkN/A
Garmin FR310XT Quick Release KitGarmin$20.00LinkLinkLink
Garmin FR405/405CX/410/310XT/910XT Charging CableGarmin$14.00LinkLinkN/A
Garmin out-front bike mount (For all Edge units, 310XT/910XT/920XT with Quick Release)Garmin$38.00LinkLinkN/A
K-Edge Garmin Handlebar Mount X-Large for Edge units (including Edge 1000)K-Edge$45.00N/ALinkN/A
Lifesource UC-324 ANT+ Enabled Weight Scale (My recommendation)Lifesource$109.00LinkN/ALink
Motorola ANT+ Speed/Cadence Cycling Sensor (Quick Install) - BEST!Motorola$55.00LinkN/ALink
Power2Max ANT+ Power MeterPower2Max$970 (no cranks)N/AN/ALink
PowerCal ANT+ Estimated Power MeterPowerTap$99LinkLinkLink
SRAM Quarq Cinqo (Original) ANT+ Power MeterQuarq/SRAMDiscontinuedLinkN/ALink
SRAM Quarq Elsa & RED ANT+ Power MeterSRAM/Quarq$1,600 (with cranks, no chainrings)LinkLinkLink
SRAM Quarq Riken ANT+ Power MeterSRAM/Quarq$1,200 (with cranks, no chainrings)LinkLinkLink
Stages ANT+/Bluetooth Smart Power MeterStages Cycling$699N/AN/ALink
Suunto ANT+ USB Transfer Stick (mini sized)Suunto$37LinkLinkLink
Suunto ANT/ANT+ Running Footpod (good for both ANT types)Suunto$70.00LinkLinkLink
Tanita BC-1000 ANT+ Enabled Weight ScaleTanita$215.00LinkN/ALink
Wahoo Fitness ANT+ iPhone Adapter (for uploading workouts wirelessly)Wahoo Fitness$40.00LinkLinkLink

Thanks for reading!  And as always, feel free to post comments or questions in the comments section below, I’ll be happy to try and answer them as quickly as possible.  And lastly, if you felt this review was useful – I always appreciate feedback in the comments below.  Thanks!

Finally, I’ve written up a ton of helpful guides around using most of the major fitness devices, which you may find useful in getting started with the devices.  These guides are all listed on this page here.

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856 Comments

  1. Michael

    DC Rainmaker,
    Several months ago, I purchased the 310 XT with HRM. On Saturday, during the swim portion of a triathlon, my wrist watch came dislodged and is now sitting somewhere at the bottom of the lake. Considering I still have my HRM and starp, if I purchase only the watch portion of the 310XT, will my HR data register with my current HRM or would I need to order the bundle again? Thanks in advance.

    Reply
    • Rainmaker replied

      Eek, bummer to hear that!

      But yes, the new unit will easily pair up with the older HR strap – no problems at all there. Simply go into the pairing menu and tell it to search for a HR strap.

      Reply
    • Michael replied

      Thanks for the quick response DC Rainmaker!

      Reply
  2. Patricio

    Hola ray, this watch can last more than 15 hours recording with only the GPS turned on?
    I read the last post from Michael who lost the watch during swimming, which wrist strap is more reliable to use during swimming?

    regards.

    Reply
    • Rainmaker replied

      Yes, you can get about 15 hours with GPS on. With GPS off you’re looking around 50ish hours.

      During swimming it’s not the strap itself that’s a problem, but rather in a triathlon with people whacking your wrist, etc… As a general rule, you’re risking it wearing either the FR310XT or 910XT on your wrist in a triathlon. It’s much better with the 910XT but not perfect.

      Reply
    • Patricio replied

      Gracias amigo

      Reply
  3. Alex

    Hi DC

    Great website, very informative. I need a new GPS watch as my 305 is about worn out and the only reasonably priced watch I can find to replace it is the 310xt. I’m concerned that its quite old now and should I wait for something else to come out. Can you recommend any other watches that are as functional as the 305/310 but in the £100-£150 price bracket?

    Reply
    • Rainmaker replied

      Yup, check out the recommendations guide from a few weeks ago: link to dcrainmaker.com

      I’d have no reservations in going for the 310XT. While it is a bit older, and won’t really receive any new updates – it’s still widely used and still supported by Garmin in case something breaks. Otherwise, you can see if you can find the Suunto Ambit2S in your area, as it’s another awesome deal.

      Reply
  4. Adam

    Hi Ray,

    not sure if it’s correct place to post this question, but as I own 310XT I will try here 😛
    I was wondering if Garmin is planning to introduce Recovery Time feature (available on newer devices) to Garmin Connect? As I understand it’s pure maths based on some activity data (HR, time, distance, etc…?), so it could be calculated in Garmin Connect after uploading any .tcx file from any Garmin device, am I correct?

    Any idea about that comming?

    cheers, Adam

    Reply
    • Rainmaker replied

      Today it’s all in the device though. I think we’ll eventually see more attention paid to those metrics on Garmin Connect, but likely only for newer devices.

      Reply
    • Adam replied

      why would it be available only for new devices? .tcx file is the same, no? So after uploading to Garmin Connect, it should be possible to calculate it from .tcx file from any device.
      I can understand that Garmin does not want to introduce it to Garmin Connect in order to have marketing point for newer devices, but somehow it’s not fair to cut functionality that is so simple and easily available for any device.

      Since You are much more into the fitness technology, do You know any online platform that does this kind of calculation from .tcx/.fit files? I am using only Garmin Connect and Strava, but there are so many more…

      BR/Adam

      Reply
  5. Mike VB

    I am thinking of upgrading my FR305 to the 310XT. I wanted to check out your photo album, but the link to the Skydrive album is not available.

    Is there another link?

    Reply
  6. sburstall

    This may be a bit more work, but are you going to one day list all the GPS watches on one table so everyone can get the comparison between ALL them at once? It would make it easier instead of having to slog through all the different reviews you’ve done to see just 5-6 GPS watches done at that one time.

    Reply
  7. GordM

    Hello,

    Intense reviews, great site.

    I have a 2.5 year old 310XT. After about 10-40 minutes 20 it loses contact with the speed cadence sensor and the heart rate sensor at the same time, the GPS and stop watch functions continue to work fine. I have it fully charged and have replaced batteries twice (Energizer and Duracell – good quality fresh batteries) on the sensors and have replaced the heart rate strap.

    Given that both sensors drop at the same time and have fresh batteries this looks more like a head unit problem. This also happens whether I am alone or in a group (i.e. no interference from anyone else’s unit).

    I am wondering if the 310XT has just worn-out or maybe I got a lemon. In the interest of full disclosure I have dropped it about 3 or 4 times over the life of the unit but only from about 2-3 feet standing still (i.e. not at high speed).

    If anyone has heard of such behavior and has a fix i would greatly appreciate it.

    Thanks,
    Gord

    Reply
    • Rainmaker replied

      Hmm, that sounds like something is going odd on with the unit itself, I’d ring up Garmin support and see if they can address it. You could try a full hard reset first, in case it’s just a software in a weird state sort of thing. But definitely not normal.

      Reply
    • GordM replied

      Thanks. I was also waiting on a response from Garmin when I posted the original question; since that time they also advised to do the reset. I did the reset, entered all my setup and preferences and re-paired the sensors, went on 2 hour ride and the sensors stayed connected so that appears to have cleared up the issue.

      When re-pairing i also re-read the manual about that process and noticed it said at least 10 meters away from any other sensor. I did do that, I am not sure if I did that last time – I have it on two bikes each with their own sensor, but 1 310XT so there might have been interference, not sure.

      Thanks for the advice, great site.

      Reply
  8. Mike R.

    Thanks for the thorough review(s.)

    This evening I picked the 310xt up on Amazon and used points built up on the c/c to bring the cost down to an even $100.

    I am sure I will like it as much as everyone seems to. Thanks again for the work you put in on these reviews, they really are helpful.

    Reply
    • Mike R. replied

      I forgot to add….it’s the version with the heart monitor.

      Reply
  9. Manas

    Hello Ray,

    First of all, a big THANKS to the detailed review. I have never seen such comprehensive review anywhere else on the internet. It has definitely made my life easy and help me make my choice of 310xt over the $120 costlier Forerunner 220 :)

    Before I make my purchase, I would like to know if the sync issue with the USB ANT stick has been resolved or does it still persists. I called up one of the ebay vendors and they confirmed that now Garmin is packaging the Micro USB ANT+ stick with 310xt. Does it help to resolve all the sync issues that have discussed in numerous comments above. Or is Garmin planning to upgrade the firmware for the same?

    Please let me know in case you have any idea on this. The watch has been lying in my cart for the past 3 days and i am just waiting for your reply before I hit the “Purchase” button!!!

    Thanks,
    Manas

    Reply
  10. Rob

    OK Ray, here’s an interesting one for you. I know this is an old device, and maybe not worth your while investigating, but you seem like the kind of guy who, like me, likes to get to the bottom of things. And maybe this is applicable to all Garmin units (at least, all Forerunner units perhaps).

    A friend of mine recently undertook a very long (600km) Audax ride using his 310XT. He had GPS on as normal, plus several ANT+ sensors paired (including a new Stages PM, as it happens). Now, obviously the battery is not going to last for the time required to cycle 600km, even if you switch it off when resting (unless you’re very quick!). So, he had to charge it a few times. No problem, I’ve found in the past that you can power down the 310XT happily mid-activity, then power it back up and resume right where you left off. So far so good.

    The snag is that, although the device itself worked swimmingly for the whole 600km+, displaying all the correct info on the unit (distance, time, average speed etc.), when the FIT file was downloaded, it seemed to only contain about half of the recorded data. I uploaded it to TrainingPeaks, which gleaned the correct total time & distance from the file, but only shows about half of the speed/power/cadence data. Strava showed only the recorded data time as the total activity time. (I guess Strava recalculates from the recorded data rather than ‘believing’ the FIT file.) On-unit, the device has recorded everything correctly, including little breadcrumb maps for each lap (stage) of the ride.

    I did a little research. The 310XT owner’s manual says it has enough recording capacity for 20 hours of activity, assuming 1 data point (trackpoint) every 4 seconds. With a power meter paired, you get a data point every second (as you know). So, in theory, you can only record 5 hours of power data! That’s not the whole story though; people have recorded many, many more hours of activity on 310XTs than that without deleting old data for yonks. And, unlike older Forerunner units, the 310XT doesn’t overwrite old data without warning, apparently. See this thread for some empirical evidence gathering even you would be proud of:

    link to coolrunning.com.au

    So, thinking that the data was absent from the FIT file because it’d simply run out of memory, my friend checked his unit’s memory usage: just 26%! Something doesn’t quite add up…

    Is this something you’ve ever looked into before, for any Garmin unit? I know not many users are looking to record very, very long activities, but there are enough ‘ultra’ nutters out there for it to be a ‘scene’…

    Reply
  11. Hi DC!!
    I´m starting to train for triathlones. I´ve searched through all the comments above and read that there´s no way of making a multisport workout (at least that was your answer on 2009!). I´ve searched in connect and it doesn´t seem to have the option. Does this remains unchanged? Or has there been any change respect this subject? Do you know if they play to add that option in a near future? Is there a way to suggest garmin this?
    Thanks!!

    Reply
    • Ray Maker replied

      Still remains unchanged. The core breaking point at the moment is that Garmin doesn’t allow creating a swim workout (even on current/latest generation units).

      Reply
  12. Dennis J

    Grrrrrr…..the 310XT w/o HRM has been bouncing in price on Amazon and as of this it’s down to like $153. I’m tempted to buy at this price to replace my FR305. Used mostly for running and biking. Now I might add swimming. Or should I wait a few months and see what else comes out and what prices drop? Thanks!

    Reply
  13. Mike VB

    To add to Dennis J’s question: would the HRM from my FR305 work with the 310XT w/o?

    Reply
  14. EskimoPhil

    Hello
    I own a 310 xt for about 10 months now and use for 95% for Surfskitraining & Ocean racing ; I really like this device and strap it just like most surfskieers at the foot strap of therudder foot plate
    A lot of proffesiional padlers and worldchamps are using this 310 xt I noticed in some pic or videos
    ; now it’s clear why it is a benefit in order to the distance of your feet that the 310 is big and you can display big numbers ::
    Last week I talked with a local reseller who informed that the 310 was finisched and would probably be replaced by a new model .. but did’nt know what .. im a bit worried there becouse those round running models are totaly not ok for and nearly impossibel to read (to small numbers)
    Why do they terminate if thrue? a perfectly good device if it isn’t replaced by an even better one ..has to be seen yet .. Do you rainman or someone else know more about it since im looking to puchase in the near future a second device … ??? thnx on forehand and congrat with the awesome revieuw :-) :-) grtz from Belgium 😉 :-)

    Reply
  15. Viv

    Thank you for this blog. It is very helpful for complete understanding of the product.
    I’m considering buying 310XT now (200 CAD in amazon.ca) and I have a question.

    This watch is 5 years old tech by now. Is it still a recommended product?

    I’m intending to use this for cycling. I do play mostly tennis and use Vevofit. I’m happy with Vevofit, but it does not recognize cycling, instead, ironically, warns me that I’ve been inactive for that period 😉
    Also, please note, I’m on a budged.

    Reply
    • Ray Maker replied

      It’s still a very good product, especially at the $190ish USD or so price. I’d generally recommend it. Though, with the Suunto Ambit2 having its price dropped to $219USD in the last 45 days or so – that’s a bit of a better buy for triathletes because it also does indoor swimming.

      Reply
  16. Petroulias George

    Hello ,

    i have some problems with my 310 XT

    do you know how i can connect my 310XT with Garmin Training Center ??

    the second problem is …….ANT+ Agent is not recognize my device

    thanks for your time

    Reply
    • Ray Maker replied

      The ANT Agent software needs to be able to find the USB stick, and then on the FR310XT you need to enable the computer pairing mode.

      Reply
  17. Nick

    I still love my 310XT after 6+ months. Since my trusty old Macbook was getting too long in the tooth, and no longer supports a lot of web content, (let alone supported by Apple, heaven forbid!) I’ve gone to the Googlesphere with a Chromebook and Nexus 7 tablet. My question is has anyone tried to see if the Ant stick is recognized and will transfer info via Chromebook (ChromeOS)? Alternatively is there a work-around (adapter or something) to send via bluetooth or any other method? I know it’s all web-based after it uploads, and I can of course still use the old laptop. Other device recommendations that will accomplish the above also appreciated! Thanks all, happy training…

    Reply
    • Ray Maker replied

      Hmm, I don’t know around Chromebook. But you may want to start here in this post* and surf the comments and post there, since it’s all about non-PC/MC methods to upload:

      *This: link to dcrainmaker.com

      Reply
  18. Nick

    Thanks, I hadn’t stumbled upon that yet. I shall be a beta-tester for the Chromebook!

    Reply
  19. Petroulias George

    Pace alerts via workouts

    I created a custom workout :
    “Try to keep my speed in a certain zone”
    custom zone …..from 06:00 to 06:10 /km

    When my pace is out of these limits A SOUND notify me.
    BUT when the pace is within certain limits then the SOUND is continuous
    CAN YOU SAY me what arrangements have to do.
    also while the Garmin Connect these limits they look like 06:00 6:10, when σεντ το ΧΤ310 is displayed as 6:10 to 6:00
    thanks

    Reply
    • Ray Maker replied

      Loosen up your pace parameters. :10/KM is too tight. If your goal is 6:00-6:10, then set it for something like 5:45-6:25.

      Reply
  20. Joe

    Hey, Im a triathlete myself and im looking for new watch to train with, the 310XT seems like a better watch overall than the 305, but the 305 seems to work better in water, would you recommend one over the other?

    Reply
  21. NR

    Hi

    As I need to store / analyze my data offline, I installed SportsTrack3 (Free Version) as that was clearly the most recommended SW. But problem is that whenever I tried to import data from my 310XT, I get the following message :
    “could not initialize the required component: Garmin Communicator Plugin. The Component may not be installed correctly. To install the component refer to the following Garmin website:
    link to garmin.com
    Could not create ot initialize Garmin.DeviceControl(). Garmin Communicator Plugin NOT detected.” and the import failed.

    I have already installed Garmin communicator PlugIn v4.2.0.0 with Firefox v30.0 and Garmin Express 3.2.17.0 in my WindowsXP SP3 and 310XT is automatically syncing with Garmin Connect flawlessly.

    Can you suggest any solution.

    Thanking in advance

    Reply
  22. NR

    With reference to my earlier comment, pls note that 310XT is not syncing with Garmin flawlessly. It takes more than a hour to transfer 1 hour workout from 310XT to to connect. While transferring it shows > 3 hrs time remaining and then message “sorry we could not sync your device, please try again” which the Garmin Express does automatically and after nth try it was successful.

    Also everytime 310XT transfers weight @ 31/12/1989 5:30 PM with my other workout. But I can not find the same in the device, so that I can delete that record.

    I cannot see my training files at “C:\Documents and Settings\Admin\Application Data\Garmin\Devices\3880966344\History” earlier when ANT agent was installed, then all .fit files were in the same folder. But now with Germin Express .fit files could not be located.

    I shall highly appreciate if any one can help me with these problems.
    Thanks in advance

    Reply
    • Emmer replied

      I have the same problem as you with weight being transferred @ 31/12/1999. Unfortunately I have no solution and haven’t been able to find one.

      Thank you

      Reply
  23. Alexander Frings

    Had my wristband from the 405 altered for the 310xt, which works now like a dream! No excess band under the watch. Super legit.

    Reply
  24. Wendell

    Anyone know how I can sync from my history? I am going to be away for a couple of weeks without my computer and want to keep track of my activities then upload them to my Garmin Connect account. Today I wanted to test this capability by saving my activity from today to my history, and then when I connected my 310XT, it said there was nothing to sync.

    Reply
  25. Scott

    Thanks for the review. I’m trying to decide between this model and the FR15. Does this offer more display features than the 15?

    Reply
    • DC Rainmaker replied

      Yes, the FR310XT is in an entirely different category than the FR15. So far more customization and display capabilities, whereas the FR15 is fairly locked down.

      Reply
    • Scott replied

      Does the 310 have more display options vs the FR15? I saw the screens of the FR15 but couldn’t tell if there was more on the 310XT. What are essentially the extras on the 310XT can do the FR!5 can’t? Thank you so much for your help. This place has amazing information that really helps buyers find the best fit.

      Reply
    • DC Rainmaker replied

      Yes, far more. Check out the FR310XT review though for all the data pages available. The FR15 basically has only a couple of screens (per above), whereas the FR310XT has about 30-50 data fields and numerous screens you can configure.

      Reply
  26. Mike VB

    I pulled the trigger and have upgraded to the 310xt. I clicked on your Amazon link and saw they have it on sale for $155. I’ll get it on Tuesday and try it out on Wednesday.
    Thanks for the great information on this GPS watch. It is what convinced me to buy it.

    Reply
  27. Luke

    Hi DC,

    I’ve just purchased a 310XT & aside from it not acting as it would according to ‘quick set up’ guide, when running the ‘elapsed time’ continues to tick over after pressing the ‘stop’ button?
    Any info on this greatly appreciated.
    Keep up the good work.

    Regards from London

    Luke

    Reply
  28. Adam

    Start/Stop button during an exercise acts more like Pause/Start. It’s not stopping Your activity, just pausing. Therefore ‘elapsed time’ will continue running until You will actually end the activity (first stop and then ‘reset/lap’ button for 3 sec). You migth want to use just ‘Time’ field, not ‘Elapsed Time’ on Your screen??

    What exactly is not working according to ‘quick set up’ guide?

    Reply
  29. Luke

    Thanks Adam, I was worried I’d been sent a faulty unit: much appreciated.

    Sorry, probably wasn’t very clear there: the watch just didn’t go through the steps set out in the guide/on this site – perhaps it had already been fired up? No biggie, provided everything works out.

    Reply
    • Mike VB replied

      Luke, like you, I just bought a 310XT and had the same thoughts as I went through the set up. I think the guide kind of mixes what happens during the setup of the watch with how your Garmin Connect profile can be configured. For example, the training level chart they show is the set up guide is on GC. The only setting on the watch is if you’re a “lifetime athlete” or not.

      Reply
  30. JP

    Hi all athletes,

    I am getting this watch during the black Friday sale, can anyone able to advise the below :

    1) during normal wear, can the watch screen able to display large time/date just like sunnto large display of time/date clearly ? or just small corner (right side) which only shows the time (no dates) with top and left side only shows zero ?

    2) Does the HRM works, show your heart beats (constantly without losing) in swimming pool and in open sea ? So I assume that the heart strap also water proof.

    many thanks Tri-ing

    Reply
    • DC Rainmaker replied

      1) No, unfortunately not. It’s not meant to be used as a day to day watch.

      2) No, the HR won’t transmit through water more than an inch or so. The HR strap is waterproof itself though.

      Reply
    • Mike VB replied

      If you really want to display the time in a larger size, you can set one of the run screens, for example, to display only the time of day. But, there is no option to display the date.

      Reply
  31. Steve

    Hey Ray, great reviews. I’ve spent hours trawling through them the last few days.

    I note that this watch is now 5 years old, significantly older than most of its competitors. Is it worth looking at something newer? Or waiting a bit? Or is all the tech and functionality still on par with the newer units?

    I actually wanted something a bit simpler, started looking at a F15 ($168 on Amazon), primarily for running (but I am training for Tri) but at the prices these things are going for this watch keeps popping up ($168 including the premium HRM on Amazon).

    Cheers,
    Steve.

    Reply
    • DC Rainmaker replied

      It’s still a solid watch, though, the Ambit 2S is at $219 and has indoor swim support – so it’s really the one I’d recommend if you can. Plus, it looks a bit cleaner.

      If you’re looking at the FR15 lineup then that’s more of a running watch and not so great for tri’s. Just my two cents.

      Reply
  32. edodudu

    hello!i bought 310XT few days ago and when i want to set up my user profile i only got:gender,age,weight,height and lifetime athlete but no activity class chart.anyone know why?

    Reply
    • Mike VB replied

      That confused me too. But I figured out the “activity class” can actually be set after you set up your Garmin Connect account. It is in the personal information setup screen.

      Reply
    • Eduardo Iglesias replied

      As far as I know, the Activity Class was removed from the Menu in the latest firmware updates, the 310xt calculate the activity class based on the history of real workouts

      Reply
  33. Dan Dricken

    Great review. I have a question about the function of this 310XT. I am looking at purchasing this for a training tool as I race motocross. I am looking for a device that can track all of the info this watch can, but I would also like to see real-time lap times. Does this watch have a function that it will “hold” your previous lap time for a certain amount of time. For example once I would set a lap point on a track, every lap I would pass that point I would like to be able to glance down and see what my lap time was, like a split timer. That way I can see real time if I were faster or slower than my “fastest lap.” Thanks for the help.

    Reply
    • DC Rainmaker replied

      Yup, you can set the ‘Last Lap’ time/option. And then for your laps, you can use ‘Lap by position’, which means that as you pass a specific position it would automatically trigger that.

      Note it won’t show the fastest lap though, just the last lap.

      Reply
    • Max replied

      Thanks for the reply. I am in the same situation, race motocross and looking for a tool to monitor heart rate and lap times.
      So it would be possible, for instance to set the watch to single display, show the lap counter and auto-scroll 5 seconds with the last lap? That would be really a perfect option.

      Reply
  34. NIck

    New issue here for me I’m hoping someone has a fix for. My 310 is shutting down “low battery” but when I plug it in to the computer it’s reading 71% charged. Happened twice now and kind of annoying. Any ideas on a fix please folks? Thanks!

    Reply
  35. Nick

    To answer my own question and help anyone else:
    1. Hard reset
    2. Discharge until dead.
    3. Charge.
    4. Discharge until dead again.
    5. Charge again.
    Seems ok now, been running for 12+ hours, so hoping for the best!

    Reply
  36. Nick

    17:45 is now the time from fully charged until fully discharged. Battery is still most definitely good!

    Reply
  37. Matt Cortez

    Years later I’m still using this post. I love coming here when I have a problem with one of my devises.
    Ray literally leaves no stone unturned.
    My man
    Ride or Die

    Reply
  38. Marcelo

    Thanks for all your review now I’m a proud owner of a 310XT and I bought it from amazon too
    thanks Ray

    Reply
  39. Hi !
    As this post is now kind of a forum :), I’ve been meaning to ask this : the more Garmin are upgrading their site and Connect application, the less my 310XT is able to sync. I’ve lost the ability to transfer Trainings about a year ago when the site upgraded and now I’ve been stuck for a week, since after the last update. This is obviously making me mad. Has anyone got the same problem? If so, has somebody found a solution?

    Reply
    • Alex Masidlover replied

      I had numerous issues from first opening my 310XT back 2 years ago with various incarnations of ANT Agent, Garmin Connect and Garmin Express. The most reliable combination so far seems to be a complete clear down of all Garmin files and libraries in all the places it ‘hides’ them and then install latest Garmin Express and use Garmin Connect modern. So far I get sucess about 80% of the time, usually I can fix a ‘stuck’ combination by removing the ‘Pending’ files from wherever Garmin Express has scattered them.

      I find the implementation of Garmin Express utterly bizarre. I’m a software dev myself and can’t comprehend how a piece of software which has had 2 iterations over 5 to 10 years (ANT Agent/Garmin Express) and appears to purely be used for uploading and downloading files can be quite so flaky…

      At work I use linux and have to use a non-garmin solution : link to github.com and I’ve never had to clear it down or reinstall it, sadly, although I haven’t checked recently, there isn’t a _reliable_ way of uploading anything e.g. courses, workouts or settings.

      Reply
    • Dewey replied

      I have been unable to get data to show up on Garmin Connect since April 7. I have uninstalled and reinstalled everything and did a reset on the watch. The watch seems to be transferring the data but nothing shows up on the computer. Very frustrating.

      Reply
    • DC Rainmaker replied

      Have you (or the others), tried contacting Garmin support? Again, this isn’t normal.

      Reply
    • Dewey replied

      I got a new laptop the other day so I thought I would try installing Garmin Express on it and seeing if a new computer made a difference. Lo and behold it worked! So I uninstalled GE on the computer in question, restarted it and voila! I have no idea why this worked, but it did.

      Reply
    • Dewey replied

      Should have mentioned that after uninstalling I downloaded GE again and installed it.

      Reply
    • Dewey replied

      Well, it seems like it will only work once! I have read in forums similar problems by other folks. The 310xt says it is transferring data, but nothing shows up on garmin connect now.

      Reply
  40. Matthew Ford

    HI, Great reviews btw.
    How many others are getting issues with fogging up/ condensation?
    Have had my 310 for a couple of years, training and competitions. Used it for the 1st time the other day in the pool and now it’s fogged up.
    Bought it from Wiggle.co.uk. It’s less than 2 years old so hopefully still under warranty. Just waiting to see what Wiggle say.
    I have tried drying it our with a hairdryer but still fogged and couldn’t see the display on my run last night.

    Reply
    • DC Rainmaker replied

      No, get it swapped out asap. Basically there was likely a hairline crack in there somewhere. Wiggle or Garmin support may try and tell you it’s normal, explain to them it’s not and to have it swapped out. Otherwise, it’ll sooner rather than later die.

      Reply
    • Matthew Ford replied

      Thanks so much for your quick reply….Yes I am pushing to have them swap or ideally refund then I’ll get a 920 :-)
      Cheers
      Matt

      Reply
    • Matthew Ford replied

      OK..latest…Wiggle (based in UK) are saying that Garmin only has a 1 year warranty! Is this the case?
      Not sure how much you know about Euopean warranty laws/ consumer rights, but I was sure we had at least 2 year warranties?

      Reply
    • DC Rainmaker replied

      Europe is indeed 2-years, per law. However, I’m actually not 100% certain if that covers the UK (it gets messy there when it comes to EU rules).

      Reply
    • Matthew Ford replied

      Yes, that’s what I left to go to Sweden! :-) Let me know if you’re ever over, I’ll show you around:
      I’ve had some advice from a friend in our tri club to write directly to Garmin and bypass Wiggle…I’ll keep you updated.
      Cheers
      Matt

      Reply
  41. Steve

    Hi, terrific review!
    I’ve just bought the 310XT. It seems I can’t pair it with Garmin Connect. I succesfully installed ANT+ agent, but -notwithstanding it reports that it transfered my activities on Garmin Connect – on Garmin Connect I found zero activities.
    Got a clue? Mine is just that Garmin Conncect reports that I can’t use Garmin Express on my MAC 10.6.8 (Snow Leopard)…
    Thanks in advance for any assistance!

    Reply
  42. Nick

    I had the same issue with Snow Leopard and believe your conclusion is correct. I think you’ll find the data files have been transferred to your computer though, and can be uploaded manually to any of the fitness sites like strava, training peaks, etc. That’s the way I’ve been able to view mine anyway!

    Reply
  43. Steve

    Hi Nick, thanks for your answer.
    Where should i find the data file? I have no problem to use other programs to display the workouts, but I have no clue how!

    Reply
  44. Nick

    Here is the path Steve: Macintosh HDUsersusernameLibraryApp SupportGarminDevices

    Once you navigate to it in “Finder” it remains sticky (until you browse elsewhere with Finder) so you only need track the folder down once! Hope this helps. To be honest, I’ve played with Connect and Express on a windows machine and we’re not missing much. (Above path mentioned under the “Software Options” section in the review too, along with some Training Peaks info, fyi)

    Reply
  45. Matthew Edwin Roberts

    Hello.

    Had my 310 for 18 months.

    When it switches on, it switches itself off after 3 seconds and that’s it. When you charge it, the charge meter shows it’s full charge and that disappears after 3 seconds and it switches off.

    I contacted Garmin, stated 1 year warranty had passed and repair would cost around £80. Sent it to Sat Nav doctor and they stated they can’t fix it after trying many things.

    Anyone have a similar experience, comments, help…please?

    Reply
  46. Philippe

    Can anyone help me with my Forerunner 310XT. I have two identical Forerunners, and after several years of use, both have stopped giving me altitude information – but ONLY on my Garmin Training Centre downloaded information! On the GPS itself, while running, I have the altitude, and on when I download to Garmin Connect, all the altitude info if there. I must have altered a setting on my Garmin Training Centre site.. but how do I get this back?? Anyone out there who can help?? Many thanks.

    Reply
  47. Jeff

    I don’t know if this will get a response or not but hopefully it will :-)

    I started using bluetooth headphones to listen to music while biking and running with my 310XT (I keep the volume low while biking so I can still hear things around me).

    Anyways, I noticed that I’d have interference while listening to music (would cut out continually like a record skipping). I thought it might be my phone location which was in my saddle bags but I noticed it even when it was attached to my waist.

    So then I tried turning off my 310XT and use the Garmin Fit app on my phone instead and the interference stopped.

    So obviously there is an issue between the 310XT and my bluetooth headphones. I’m using a Thump Xtreme but I had the same issue before when using some LG bluetooth headphones (which I sold since I thought they were faulty and now I know they weren’t).

    I guess there really isn’t anything I can do other than try another fitness device but I’m wondering if the 910XT does the same (maybe not if it actually supports bluetooth)?

    I can’t rely on the Garmin Fit app as the readings aren’t accurate. (For example today it showed me burning twice as any many calories and the cadence readings were really off).

    Unless I have a faulty 310XT but then I’m far off my warranty by now.

    Reply
  48. Carlos Goncalves

    Hello. I have a problem with my 310XT

    For two times, i was managing the activities on garmin connect, and i delete one activity by mistake. How can i do to import this activity from gps to computer again??

    Reply
    • CMV replied

      Hello Carlos, you can try forcing a “Transfer all” from the watch:
      Press Mode until you reach “History”, then scroll down to “Transfer all” and select it.

      Reply
  49. PHILIPPE WERGI

    Hello You all,
    Being back from a nice holliday at Tarifa (near Gibraltar) Spain with a lot of nice downwinds with an Epic Surfski
    Since a little more tah a year I monitor & record all my paddling activities fixing my Garmin 310 XT at my foot straps ..
    Sadly my Garmin was stolen on the afternoon on the 10th of june out of the trunk of the car at the Parking lot at the Beach of Valdevaqueros at Punta Paloma ..
    Not only do I lose a whole lot of data but mostly my best training partner :-(((

    Does anyone of you know maybe if there is a possibility of tracking the Device in any way by Garmin itself or something ..
    Since one of my best friends lives there nowadays it could be a posibitity of tracking down the thief ( a lot of other things where stolen too money two cellphones wallet with ID cards etC…

    I can assure you that my grattitude would be enormous and substantial if it should lead to the discovery of the thief … The orange color and need for open use and the resttricted places to use the device overthere for sport use could be a possibility .. knowing my best friend and his knowledge of the area and determination to hunt down the guilty one .. could make the differance .. !

    I thank everyone for any usefull advice on before .. :-) :-)

    Philippe Belgium

    Reply
  50. 8xlaxx

    Purchased a 310XT in May for $140 on Amazon. This unit is awesome and pairs well with all my bikes. Really pleased with the unit and I like the orange color,…it matches my POC gear nicely. Thank you DCRainmaker for the review. Hope to see you on the W&OD Trail some time!

    8xlaxx

    Reply
  51. Jayakanthan

    Hi… Is there a way to restore the deleted activity from 310XT? I deleted the activity by mistake before transferring it. Any help will be appreciated!

    Thank you in adavance

    Reply
  52. Roman

    Hello!
    Thanks a lot for the review.
    Is it possible to get the time i spend in each heart zone during workout?

    Reply

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