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Garmin Forerunner 610 In Depth Review

FR610

The Garmin Forerunner 610 represents the next generation running watch from Garmin.  The watch builds on many areas that the FR405 and FR410 carved out – including a slim profile and advanced workout features.  But it also adds a number of heavily requested features, including some functions that had long been cut out of other Forerunner models.  Even more, it’s the first Garmin touch screen running watch.  But is a running watch the right place for a touch screen?  And does this next version of the Forerunner meet the needs of the vast runner demographic?  Well, stick around and I’ll explain.

Like all my reviews, they tend to be pretty in depth (perhaps overly so) – but that’s just my trademark DC Rainmaker way of doing things.  Think of them more like reference guides than quick and easy summaries.  I try and cover every conceivable thing you might do with the device and then poke at it a bit more.  My goal is to leave no stone unturned – both the good and the bad.

Because I want to be transparent about my reviews – Garmin sent me the Forerunner 610 for a period of 45 days as a trial unit.  Once that period has elapsed, I send the whole package to the folks in Kansas.  Simple as that.  Sorta like hiking in wilderness trails – leave only footprints.  If you find my review useful, you can use any of the Amazon links from this page to help support future reviews.

Lastly, at the end of the day keep in mind I’m just like any other regular athlete out there.  I write these reviews because I’m inherently a curious person with a technology background, and thus I try and be as complete as I can.  But, if I’ve missed something or if you spot something that doesn’t quite jive – just let me know and I’ll be happy to get it all sorted out.  Also, because the technology world constantly changes, I try and go back and update these reviews as new features and functionality are added – or if bugs are fixed.

So – with that intro, let’s get into things.

Unboxing:

Once you’ve got the Forerunner 610 box in your posession it’ll be time to crack it open.  Interestingly, Garmin has changed up their standard packaging with the FR610, opting for a black box instead of the more traditional blue-colored ones

Garmin Forerunner 610 Box

From there we’ll go ahead and get all the pieces laid out on the table.  The pieces are all individually wrapped in some plastic bags, so I’ll walk through them one by one after this.

Garmin Forerunner 610 Box Parts Unwrapped

After you’ve removed the plastic bags, here’s the end resultant:

Garmin Forerunner 610 Box Parts Unwrapped

Let’s get the less exciting pieces out of the way first (save the best for last, right?).  For that, we’ll dive into the power block.  This connects to the charging cable and allows you to charge the watch without a computer’s USB port.  It’ll also charge any other USB gadget you happen to have.  The US version comes only with the US power clip, so if you’re elsewhere in the world you’ll need additional power clips or a standard adapter.

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Next we have the even less exciting manuals and CD’s.  It’s largely just a pile of paper stuff that you’ll probably never read.

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Then we’ve got the ANT+ USB stick.  This is where it starts gettin’ good!  This USB stick wirelessly communicates with the FR610 via ANT+ and downloads your workouts.  It works quite some distance away (a few rooms away).  We’ll talk about it more later on.

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Then we have the latest edition of the premium soft strap heart rate strap.  There are two versions of the FR610 – one comes with the heart rate strap, and one doesn’t.  This is the strap you’ll get if you get the bundle with the HR strap.  I’ll talk more about the strap options later on in significant detail.

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Now…the good parts! First up – the charging cable.  You’ll notice that it has changed from watches of the past.  Instead of being the FR310XT/FR405/FR410 dual-prong style clip or the FR110/FR210 quad-prong clip, they’ve moved to a magnetic latch style system.

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This new charging clip uses small internal magnets to secure itself against the back of the watch.  In many ways it’s actually kinda like the Timex Global Trainer charging clip where it straddles both edges of the watch (except that one lacks the magnets).

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I asked the Garmin team why exactly the change from the previous charging cables.  They said that one of the issues they found with the previous clips is that while they worked for most folks, they found that if the charging cable/watch got accidentally moved then the charging could be disrupted – leaving folks without a charged watch at runtime.  The new clip using the magnets ensures that even if it gets bumped, it will still hang on and charge the watch.

Outside of the charging clip, we’ve got the watch itself.  The back is metallic (and magnetic), and the front is glass that’s slightly inset to (hopefully) prevent glass cracking issues like the FR310XT and the Nike+ Sportwatch have occasionally seen.

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On the sides you have three physical buttons.  The left hand side is the power/light button, that also doubles to trigger connection to the Tanita BC-1000 scale.

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On the right you have your standard start/stop and lap/reset buttons.

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Then you have two touch screen buttons that are near the edge of the screen.  On the bottom of the watch where you see the three blue lines, this acts as a way to toggle the menu and home screen.

And to the left at the 9’oclock position you have what would be a blue arrow that essentially performs both confirmation and ‘back’ functions within the menu’s.  On mine the button isn’t visible, but it’s still functional.  It looks just like a little blue triangle on retail units.

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Finally, the band itself is a slimmer black band, similar to that on the FR110/FR210 and much nicer than the older and thicker FR405/FR410.  It’s also interchangeable with a fabric soft strap accessory that you can purchase.

Size Comparisons:

The FR610 decreases the size from the FR405/FR410’s primarily through a thinner watch body and strap.  It doesn’t appreciably change the actual watch diameter.  Personally, I think this is fine.  The FR610 manages to allow you to squeeze in four concurrent fields (compared to three with the FR405/FR410), all while maintaining roughly the same size.  I think if you went any smaller you’d have to sacrifice either information or readability.

Comparing it to other Garmin units, you’ll see that the majority of modern Forerunner units have pretty much the same watch face size now.  The one exception being the multisport focused FR310XT (orange one), which maintains a larger profile (and far more features).

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Looking from left to right, the watches are the FR60, FR110 (FR210 is identical body), FR405 (FR410 is identical body), FR610 and finally the FR310XT.

The area you most notice the sizes is in thickness, where you can see the bulk of the FR405/FR410 and the FR310XT rising above:

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In general though, you’ll see most of the watches have now stabilized in the size department.

Initial Setup:

The initial setup process has been further reduced with each new Garmin that’s been released.  It used to be that there were about 10 Monty Python style questions it would ask you. Now it’s down to just a handful, mostly used to ensure you’re not stuck with a watch reading out a display in Ellinika.  Cause that would just be Greek to me…

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After you answer time format, gender and a few others, then you’ll be all set and ready to gather satellite reception. I found the FR610 incredibly quick when it came to reception – even faster than my FR310XT.  The first time after turning it on it took maybe 20 seconds to find satellites.  Then subsequent times upon turning it on were always less than 10 seconds.  The FR610 uses Garmin’s Hotfix technology to remember where you were last time and thus be able to remember where the corresponding satellites were that it needs to talk to.

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Once you’ve completed initial setup, the last item would be pairing any additional ANT+ sensors you might have.  For example, depending on if you bought the FR610 package with the heart rate strap, you’d want to pair that piece.  Additionally, if you bought a separate footpod for indoor treadmill use – you’d want to pair that too.  And finally, if you have an ANT+ bike speed/cadence sensor – you guessed it, you’d want to pair that as well.

With that – we’re ready to get on outside!

The Touchscreen:

Before we go for a run though, let’s talk about the biggest change to the watch – which is the new touch screen.  The FR610 builds on technology used in the newly released Edge 800 cycling computer which now includes a touch screen display.  These screens are unlike your typical phone touch screen though, and are designed to handle everything from rain to gloves.  You may remember some of the videos I put together as part of the Edge 800 touch screen review (linked above).  I decided to do some of those same tests to see how it fared.  First up though, is a quick video to let you get the feel for the touch screen.  As you can see, it works pretty well.  Sure there’s a few times where either I or the touch screen made a mistake – but in general I didn’t have many issues.

Here’s the first video just showing some general use wandering in/around the various menus:

Garmin Forerunner 610 Touch Screen Demonstration

Of course, the most common question is how does it perform with gloves?  Well, no problem – here’s three pairs of gloves.  I would have done this in one take, but I simply lacked the ability to get one of the pairs of gloves off in a timely manner.  No retakes here, just the way it is.  The first pair of gloves you’ll see is a common $1.00 cheap glove that you’ll find at every running expo in the world.  Also happens to be my go-to gloves virtually all fall and winter.  Then I’ll transition into a stiffer glove that I primarily use for cycling.  And finally…I go into the giant mitten.  Yes, a mitten.

Garmin Forerunner 610 Touch Screen Glove Test

As you can see, I generally didn’t have any problems.  Also keep in mind that once you start your run, there really isn’t too much of a reason to wander aimlessly through the menus.  You’ll primarily just be swiping left/right to change already configured display pages.

Finally, last but not least is how water affects it.  This evening during my run in the 84*F weather I got plenty soaked, much of that water ending up on the FR610.  In general it didn’t affect use of the watch.  However, I figure there’s no better test than simply taking it into the shower with direct water pressure and using the touch screen.  So here ya go – with water cascading down onto the watch and actively using the touch screen without issue:

Using the Forerunner 610 in simulated ‘heavy rain’ conditions.

All in all I found the touch screen to generally work as expected.  While one can certainly debate the merit of having a touch screen at all, I didn’t find it to detract from the watch.  Previously I found the older touch bezel design of the FR405/FR410 to take away from the watch’s functionality.  In the case of the FR610, it all seemed to flow pretty well.

Running:

With running being the main focus of the FR610, it’s time we got out and ran with it!  After you turn it on you’ll either be at the menu screen or the main training screen, depending on how much touching you were doing while you were turning it on.  Here’s what the main menu looks like:

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One of the first things you’ll want to do is to pick out your data fields.  For me personally, I use Heart Rate, Pace, Distance and Time.

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With the FR610 you can have up to four different pages of data, each with up to four fields (or as few as one field).  This is an increase from the previous 3 fields on the FR405/FR410.

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As you run, the data is not only displayed, but also recorded for later analysis.  Everything from pace to distance to heart rate to elevation, and even running cadence if you have a footpod, is recorded.

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In addition to configuring data that you can glance at you can also configure the FR610 to simply beep/display/vibrate at you should you run afoul of your pre-determined goals.  These are called ‘alerts’, and with the FR610 you can setup alerts for distance, heart rate, time, calories or cadence.

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In addition to the alerts I just noted, they’ve added a new feature – which is the ‘Run/Walk’ alerts.  What this enables you to do is to follow one of the many run racing plans that have you running for a set period of time (such as 10 minutes), and then walk for another set period of time (1 minute).

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You can configure both the run and walk times from any number between 00:00 and 59:59.  It’ll simply alternate back and forth and beep/vibrate/display a warning as you hit the run/walk intervals.  Note that you cannot specify a distance, only a time.

On my long run tonight I actually used this feature to remind me to intake both nutrition/hydration but also to do some drills I had to do every 10 minutes.  While a typical time alert would also work, this is better in that it reminded me essentially twice – once at the beginning of my nutrition period, and again by time I should be done.  Pretty useful stuff, even if I’m not using it for its intended purpose.

Another commonly used feature of past Garmins is the Virtual Partner functionality.  This feature allows you to set a specific pace (i.e. 8:30/mile) and then it’ll show you how far ahead/behind you are relative to that given pace. You can customize the speed/paces for both bike and run. It uses a little stick figure man to represent both you…and the pacer:

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However, a new addition to the FR610 is the Virtual Racer functionality.  This takes the simple pacer concept a step forward and allows you to race against your previous runs.  For example, if you ran a specific 10K course last week in 45 minutes, it’ll have the little stick figure man run your 45 minute pace, while you try to just barely edge him out at 44:30.  You can select any previous run from the list:

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But it gets even better in that you can download any activity from Garmin Connect to the unit and race against that.  For example – you want to head to the Boston Marathon and beat your friends exact time from last year?  No problem, just download his workout from Garmin Connect onto your watch, and then attempt to best him as you virtually run ahead or (as it may be), behind him.

In addition to pacing you can download any workout you create from Garmin Training Center to the FR610 as well.  This allows you to create some pretty complex workouts on the computer and then quickly transfer them to the watch to execute:

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Once the ANT+ agent transfers them to your watch, you’ll be good to go!

Of course, if you don’t want the complexity of Garmin Training Center you can simply create basic interval workouts on the watch itself.  You just define key pieces like work and rest intervals and you’ll be good to go.

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Speaking of resting… If you run in the city quite a bit, you’ll probably end up using the Auto Pause feature.  This functionality automatically pauses your run when you come to a stop – or fall below a given threshold speed.  While you’ll want to be careful in using this functionality in a race (because the real clock doesn’t stop), it’s an easy way to keep from forgetting to start your watch again after that stoplight.

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[Updated Section]: In addition to the watch monitoring your run it can also act as a guide when you’re lost. It does this through the navigation and saved locations area.  It does not unfortunately however have standard Garmin Courses functionality.  This functionality allowed you to download breadcrumb style routes to the watch to follow along.

The functionality is slightly different on the FR610 compared to previous Garmin watches.  Instead of offering a straight course following option it offers that functionality within the confines of the Virtual Racer component.  Meaning, there is no separate courses functionality like most Garmin watches.  While you can download courses from Garmin Connect and other sources, you cannot follow them with the little compass/breadcrumb.  You can however still choose to track back to start – allowing you to navigate back to the start of an activity.

Navigation itself is from current location directly to a saved location.  Saved locations must be entered in on the watch itself. Once you’ve chosen a previously saved location (or create a new one on the watch with lat/long), then you’ll be available to follow along with the compass on the unit.  It’s not quite like a car GPS, but rather more boy-scout-esque.  But it gets the job done.

Lastly, you can go ahead and create waypoints for specific locations – such as common places like ‘Home’ or ‘Where I parked my car’.  That way if all else fails on a run gone wrong, you can simply tell the Garmin to get ya back home.

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One final newly added area I want to cover is the re-introduction of 1-second recording mode.  Back in the FR305 days you as a user had the option to either record activity data using Smart Recording mode, or 1-second recording mode.  In Smart Recording mode it would attempt to reduce the recording storage needed and take samples every 3-6 seconds (on average).  Whereas in 1-second recording mode (known as 1s), it simply recorded data points every second.

After the FR305, that option went away.  1s mode was only available if you connected an ANT+ cycling power meter.  This lead to a lot of problems for folks that were only recording heart rate data and ended up with files that often had very few actual data points in it due to Smart Recording removing many of those data points.

Well, I’m happy to tell you the option is now back!

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Yup, you can now turn on 1s recording mode for the watch as a whole and all activities will be recorded at the 1-second interval.  If you open up the raw files, you can see the 1-second recording is indeed now in effect:

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Hopefully we’ll see this ported back to other Garmin units via a firmware update, I know both myself and many others would love to see that.

Backlight:

The FR610 includes a high contrast backlight that is easily readable.  You can change how long you’d like the backlight to display once tapping the power/light button:

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I prefer the backlight setting of ‘Stays on’, as typically if I’m running at night I just want it to be on when I glance down.  As you can see below, it’s plenty bright:

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Heart Rate Training and Calories:

One of the most popular areas aside from using the GPS functionality is the ability to record one’s heart rate while exercising.  The FR610 uses an ANT+ enabled heart rate strap that wirelessly transmits your heart rate to the watch itself.  Depending on whether you buy the FR610 bundle with the strap or without you’ll have the ability to do that automatically.  Here’s what the strap looks like:

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Once you’ve got the strap on, you’ll want to go ahead and pair it.  It only takes a second for it to find your strap.  After pairing it’ll remember your specific strap forever, and won’t pickup other people’s straps – so you don’t have to worry about interference:

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While exercising you can setup either heart rate alerts or heart rate zones if you so choose.  You can also display your heart rate in a variety of ways, from instant display to averages or zones.  Or you can simply record the data for later evaluation.  This data is then transmitted to Garmin Connect as part of your activity file:

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By knowing your heart rate, the FR610 can determine your calorie burn by utilizing 2nd generation Firstbeat technology.  Firstbeat is a method to evaluate your heart rate and determine caloric burn based on known parameters about you including age, weight, height and fitness level.  With this information it can estimate calorie burn for your activity.

This is then shown on the display of the watch (and an alert can be setup when you reach a given level), and is also transmitted to Garmin Connect for record keeping purposes:

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I put together an in depth post on calorie burn calculations with different Garmin watches over in this post, which I highly recommend you check out.

Screen Lock:

The FR610 includes a screen lock that you can unlock simply by swiping after you tap the screen.  Essentially it works just like an iPhone/iPod would.  The screen lock is activated when the watch goes into power save mode.  You cannot however activate it yourself.

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But unlike the iPhone it includes a cute little animation that shows a runner ‘evolving’ from crawling to runner, and eventually to collapsing again.  Nice touch!

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Using the watch…as a day to day watch:

The FR610 can be used as a day to day watch as well, and given its size – it fits quite nicely.  I personally found the previous generation FR405/FR410’s too bulky for that.  But this one has been holding down the camp on my wrist constantly now.  In normal time mode it simply displays the date and time:

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You can also create an alarm, should you have a reason you want to wake up (not sure why you’d want to interrupt your sleep though…):

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Cycling:

To be clear upfront, this watch is primarily designed for the running crowd.  But Garmin added in a number of features to make the cycling piece work just fine if you happen to swing both ways.  One of the biggest changes you’ll notice over past Forerunner watches is that virtually every menu setting has a separate area for both cycling and running.  Meaning they no longer have to share many of the same settings.  You can see this below as an example in one area where you set training pages for both bike and run separately:

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In addition to all of the running features noted above, the FR610 also includes support for ANT+ speed/cadence sensors that allow you to gather speed information while indoors on a trainer (or outside if you’d like), as well as cadence information about how many times the crank arm rotates per minute (RPM).

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This of course requires an additional accessory, the roughly $35 GSC-10 (or any ANT+ compatible speed/cadence combo sensor).  The sensor looks like this:

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I’ll talk more about the sensor in a bit.

In addition to displaying speed/cadence sensor data, you can configure an entirely different set of data page views for just the bike.  This is pretty cool as it allows you to quickly swap back and forth without re-inventing the wheel data-field wise.  For example, while I’m riding I may be interested in both speed and cadence on one page, but more than two metrics on another.  You can mix and match just like you can on the running side.

Of course there comes the question of where exactly to place the unit.  Some folks prefer the simplicity of their wrist, but personally I like to have it mounted on the bike itself – mostly because that way I don’t have to constantly turn my wrist to see the data.

In that case Garmin sells a cheap little rubber mount kit that wraps around your bikes handlebars.  This works well whether it’s a road bike, mountain bike, or even a beach cruiser.  You can see the rubber mount kit here:

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And here I’ve got it wrapped around the bars:

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And finally, with the watch placed on the mount – just like you’d place it on your wrist:

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Note that because you have to wrap it around the rubber mount just like your wrist, it’s not super conducive to quick removal in places like a triathlon – so that’s something you might want to keep in mind.

Speaking of triathlons – if you happen to have a triathlon bike, you can still use the same rubber mount, except you may have to get creative about where you mount it.  For that there’s a few companies that make small arms that you can move watches onto.  FSA and UCM are companies that come to mind.  I quickly grabbed a slightly larger version of that mount, so it didn’t quite fit in between my aerobars (long about 2mm), so for the purposes of this photo I have it mounted to the side.  But it gives you an idea on the options there:

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As you can see, you’ve got a few options on a time trial bike.  In an ideal world Garmin would have created a quick release attachment kit for it that locks into the existing FR310XT and Edge 500/800 mounting systems…but, ya can’t win em’ all.

Side Note: Multisport mode/options:

Just as an ancillary note to the triathlon/cycling pieces above, it should be noted that the FR610 does not have a multisport mode like the FR305 and FR310XT do.  This means that you can’t do a swim-bike-run recorded event on a single file (including or excluding transitions).  Now they have improved this slightly over the alternative of ‘nothing’ by allowing you to quickly swap between running and cycling mode merely by holding the lap/reset button down to display a change sport dialog box:

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Swimming:

Despite the very protective looking metallic design, the Garmin Forerunner 610 is actually only waterproofed to IPX7 standards.  This means that it can be submerged in up to 1 meter of water for up to 30 minutes.  It also means that it’s not designed for active swimming on your wrist with constant pounding against the water.  The Garmin manual on page 39  warns against explicitly this task:

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I’ve previously killed IPX7 Garmin Forerunner watches due to wearing them on my wrist during an indoor swim (in less than 20 minutes).  If you’re looking for a fully waterproofed solution you’ll want to aim towards the FR310XT instead, which offers complete waterproofing down to 50 meters.

Now, just because it’s IPX7 doesn’t mean it can’t go out and play in the rain.  In fact, it’s more than fine in both the rain and casual water submersion (as you saw earlier with the shower video).  For example, I plunked it down in my bathtub for just under 10 minutes – and it came out just fine and dandy:

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If you’re looking to use the watch in a triathlon to measure the swim, you should leverage the swim cap method in order to gather accurate distance without killing the watch in the process.  Also, for more fun with IPX7 bathtub immersion of expensive gadgets, see this post.

Tanita Weight Scale Compatibility:

Like most of the modern Forerunner and Edge devices that Garmin has created lately, the FR610 supports ANT+ enabled scales.  At the moment, the only entrant into that category is the Tanita BC-1000 scale.  This scale measures your weight, body fat and hydration levels and then wirelessly transmits it to the waiting Garmin FR610.

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To trigger the two devices you simply hold the power button on the FR610 for a brief moment and it’ll go out and search for its ANT+ enabled scale friend.  Once it’s found the scale the BC-1000 will begin blinking, indicating its ready for you to step on.

Within about 5-7 seconds the scale completes the reading and transmits it back to the watch, where it appears on the screen:

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In addition to appearing on the FR610 screen, it then transmits that data to Garmin Connect the next time you upload data from your watch.  Once you’ve logged into Garmin Connect online, you’ll see your metrics within the health section:

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The two products together offer a fairly seamless way of gathering the data and tracking it within Garmin Connect.

Accuracy and Satellite Chip:

While I intend to put together a full accuracy report in the coming 4-6 weeks of all the new GPS fitness watch models out there (similar to before with precisely measured routes and varied conditions), I will say that I’ve seen no issues with satellite reception or accuracy on the FR610.  I’ve run on trails with fairly wooded tree areas on winding paths and it never dropped reception or produce weird paths showing loss of accuracy.

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The satellite chip itself is the the SiRF SiRFstarIV with the Instant Fix II technology, which makes the satellite acquisition process even faster than previous generations.  As I noted earlier, I’m finding that I can get satellite reception after turning on in less than 10 seconds in some cases.  Incredibly quick.

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Fitness Equipment (Gym) Compatibility:

While I don’t have a piece of gym equipment in my place that is ANT+ compatible, I have shown off this capability a bit in the past in previous posts.  What this functionality allows you to do is to link-up with ANT+ enabled gym equipment (typically Spin bikes and treadmills) and have it automatically and wirelessly transmit your performance data to the watch.

For example, on a spin bike it would transmit speed/cadence and even power (watts) – depending on the model. Note that it will record power, but won’t display it on the watch itself.  I demo’d a bit of this at Interbike this past year with the FR60 – one of the few watches that supports this functionality.

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While the number of gyms that have this equipment is incredibly small, it is pretty cool if you happen to stumble on it.  Here’s more information from my overview this past fall. Additionally, I spent some time at a local Gym using the FR610 to play with equipment there. For more information, see that post.

Accessories:

There are a number of accessories that can be purchased with the FR610 to extend its functionality.  Here’s a brief overview of all the options:

Running Footpod:

The footpod allows you to gather pace, distance and cadence data while both indoors or outdoors.  For example, if you’re running on a treadmill this would be required as GPS won’t show you moving.  Outdoors it’s useful if your route takes you through a tunnel where you’d lose GPS reception.

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The foot pod easily snaps right onto your shoelaces in a matter of a few seconds.  After which you’ll want to calibrate it on a track to ensure the highest level of accuracy.  I’ve found however that after correctly calibrating the footpod, I can actually get both GPS and footpod data to align exactly.  Pretty impressive.

You can pickup the footpod for about $50.  If you’re interested in learning more about the footpod, check out my ‘More than you ever wanted to know about the footpod post’.

Speed/Cadence:

If you plan to hook up the Garmin FR610 to your bike, you’re going to want to pickup the speed/cadence sensor kit to get speed, distance cadence while indoors on a trainer (and cadence outdoors).  The good news here is that these kits are relatively inexpensive (compared to the foot pod anyway), and they’re also fully compatible with every other Garmin fitness devices.

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This means that if you already have one for a different Garmin device – you’re good to go.  And if you get one now, and eventually upgrade your Garmin watch, then you’re still good to go. The speed/cadence kit can be picked up for about $35.

Heart Rate Strap:

Garmin introduced a slightly new heart rate strap with the Edge 800 – and that same strap has been carried through to the FR210, FR410 and now the FR610.  This new strap aims to reduce many of the spiking/dropout problems of some of the previous straps.  And based on my testing over the past 6 months – it does a pretty good job of this.  It’s reduced those problems for me by about 95%.  There’s still an occasional spike – but mostly they’re gone.

This new strap looks like this:

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However, be aware – there are still two older (more common) types out there, which compared, look like this:

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If you buy the bundled FR610 kit, you’ll get the fancy new strap 2010 automagically.  You can also pickup the 2010 premium version individually.

The previous heart rate straps can be bought individually for about $65 for the non-2010 premium soft strap version, and about $35 for the old school classic edition.

Tanita BC-1000 Weight Scale:

One non-Garmin accessory that integrates with the FR610 is the Tanita BC-1000 Wireless ANT+ Weight Scale.  This scale uses the ANT+ protocol to communicate with the FR610, allowing it to wirelessly record your weight and body fat readings, which are then transmitted to Garmin Connect.

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The scale retails for about $279, and you can find my full In Depth Review on the scale itself here.

FR610 Software:

The FR610 includes software that helps you analyze your activity after you’ve completed it.  Initially you’ll need to pair your FR610 with your computer using the ANT+ USB stick that’s included in the box.

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The pairing process only takes a second though and simply requires you to confirm the pairing on both the computer (PC or Mac) and the watch:

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Once that’s done it’ll automatically synchronize your workouts to your computer and to Garmin Connect (though you can disable the Garmin Connect piece if you choose).

FRDownload

Additionally, this same avenue is used for firmware updates – which occur usually a few times per year for most Garmin watches.  This allows them to deliver both bug fixes and feature enhancements.

IMG_0193

Once you’ve synchronized your watch, the data will be available on Garmin Connect to analyze:

Garmin Connect (free):

Garmin Connect is Garmin’s free web-based portal that allows you to manage and track all of your Garmin activity data.  Whether that be a run, a bike ride…or even flying in a plane.  If a Garmin created it – then you can pretty much see it on Garmin Connect.  Once your activity is uploaded, it’ll be available for detailed analysis here:

image

From here you can then scroll down and drill into many different metrics such as pace, heart rate, elevation and cadence:

image

In addition to the overview of each activity you can replay the activity, as if it were a short video:

image

The site also includes a larger calendar view that you can use to track your activities over time.  From here you can also switch to list view, if you just want a simple list of all your activities.

image

Garmin Connect has a number of other easy to use features such as setting up goals, tracking health information (as you saw in the Tanita Scale section earlier) and creating reports.  Perhaps the most useful aspect of Garmin Connect is the millions of activity files up there that you can search – allowing you to find routes anywhere in the world that you’ve travelled.  That’s how on a recent trip to the country of Jordan I found a workable cycling route…just by searching Garmin Connect.

In general Garmin Connect is targeted towards more casual users, whereas some of the next products I discuss are focused towards those wanting more analysis capabilities.

Training Peaks (3rd Party):

Training Peaks is one of the largest 3rd party software options.  They have two versions, one is free and one is subscription based.  Regardless of whether you pay, the entirety of Training Peaks is a website (except the device agent software you can install to upload files).  I use Training Peaks as my primary method of tracking my training efforts.  The major reason for TP over Garmin Connect is the advanced analytics.  Additionally, it provides a completely seamless conduit between myself and my coach – something that my other software favorite (Sport Tracks) can’t do.

While at the time of this writing Training Peaks doesn’t officially support the FR610 yet, it still works just fine.  I was able to simply select the watch from the right-side dropdown and it automatically grabbed the .TCX file to upload to Training Peaks (the FR610 creates both a .TCX and .FIT files, for backwards compatibility with older applications).

 

TPAgent

From there I was able to log-in and see my run without any issues at all:

image

If you’re looking for very advanced analytics in a web based form, there’s really no other option out there today that has as many features as TP and is completely web based.

SportTracks:

Another non-Garmin option is SportTracks.  SportTracks is a Windows only client application that allows you incredibly in depth analysis of your workouts.  Perhaps one of the biggest strengths though of SportTracks is the ability to allow community developers to extend the application with plug-ins.  As a result, there’s a ton of totally cool functionality that’s been added over the years (some for a fee).  SportTracks as an application has a free-mode with some limitations, and a paid mode for $35.

Because the FR610 exports out both .TCX and .FIT files, SportTracks has no problem consuming these files today:

image

Once imported, the files act just like any other activity within SportTracks – allowing you to slice and dice the data as you see fit:

image

If you’ve got a Windows based PC, I definitely encourage you to check it out (free or otherwise).

Summary:

The FR610 represents an update to the previous generation running focused FR405 and FR410 – but omits the troublesome touch bezel that both of those watches had.  The primary selling point of this series of device is the slim ‘watch-like’ design – effectively reducing the wrist footprint of the larger (and slightly more capable) FR305 and FR310XT.  With the FR610 maintaining that smaller form factor and moving to a much cleaner touch screen interface – it makes for a very compelling running watch.

When comparing the FR610 though to other running focused watches like the FR110 and FR210 though, you see a dramatic difference in features and functionality.  The FR110 and FR210 watches are designed for folks that want a simplified GPS-based running experience that essentially just tells you how far, how fast, how long.  Whereas the FR610 aims to offer advanced features like workouts, intervals and heavily customizable data fields.

To me perhaps one of the biggest (yet least noted) features is the re-inclusion of 1-second recording mode.  This has been a huge pain point for many Garmin users since it was removed after the FR305 back some years ago now.  I love the fact that they’ve listened and re-introduced this – and hope to see it return in the firmware for other watches.

So looking at who I’d recommend this watch for, you’ve got a few different categories:

1) The Triathlete: While the FR610 is certainly a great watch for the run leg, and a ‘good’ unit for the bike leg, I’d strongly recommend looking instead at the multisport FR310XT.  Yes, it’s a bit bulkier – but when it comes to the water (that’d be the first leg of the triathlon), there’s really only one option today in the Garmin lineup that’s completely waterproofed.  I know a lot of folks (including myself) were expecting this to be the FR310XT replacement, which it’s definitely not.  I don’t have a timeline for that unfortunately – but I’d be very surprised if we had to wait until next year – given the competition.  Given that tri season is upon us though – I’d just recommend picking up the FR310XT and not looking back.

[October 2011 update: The FR910XT was introduced as the new best of breed tri watch.]

2) The Casual Runner: The casual runner will be happy with either the FR610 (this watch), or the cheaper FR210.  In general the FR210 is probably a better entry level watch – but both devices are simplified enough where you’d be comfortable either way.

3) The Advanced Runner: The FR610 is really aimed at this market.  If you were previously considering the FR405 or FR410 – just ignore those two now and go with the FR610 – you’ll be quite happy.

4) The Cyclist: You want the Edge series of devices, check out the Edge 500 – it’s the best bet here.  If you want a crossover device, than go with the FR310XT.  While the FR610 does have cycling functions – it’s twice the price of the Edge 500.  Compared to the FR310XT, it’s the same price.  The FR310XT has more cycling functions than the FR610.

5) Someone that doesn’t fit in the above five categories: Check out my post – covering all the major categories here.

There will be two bundles of the FR610 available:

A) One bundle for $349 will include the watch, USB ANT+ stick, charging cable and the exciting manuals.

B) The other bundle for $399 will include the watch and the ANT+ soft premium heart rate strap, along with all the other goodies that come with the cheaper version.

Given the $50 price differential, if you plan to buy the HR strap at any point – it’s best to save the $5 and pick it up ahead of time.  If cash is short though, you can always buy any ANT+ HR strap later on (including the new 2010 premium edition one – just see accessories above).

As for availability, the watch will be available in ‘very limited quantities’ at both the London and Boston Marathon expo’s this weekend.  Beyond that it won’t be until May 6th that it’s widely available.

Comparison Chart:

Over time this comparison chart has slowly grown.  Your best bet is to simply click it and view it in all its full screen glory.  The goal here being to compare the most popular GPS based running watches that I’ve reviewed thus far.

Function/FeatureGarmin Forerunner 610Garmin Fenix 6 SeriesGarmin MARQ AthleteGarmin Forerunner 45/45SGarmin Forerunner 945
Copyright DC Rainmaker - Updated October 14th, 2019 @ 2:54 pmNew Window
Price$349.00$599-$1,149$1500$199$599/599EUR
Product Announcement DateAPR 12, 2011Aug 29th, 2019March 13th, 2019Apr 30th, 2019Apr 30th, 2019
Actual Availability/Shipping DateAPR 15, 2011Aug 29th, 2019April 2019Early May 2019Early May 2019
GPS Recording FunctionalityYesYes (with Galileo too)Yes (with Galileo too)YesYes (with Galileo too)
Data TransferANT+ WirelessUSB/Bluetooth Smart/WiFi on Pro onlyUSB/Bluetooth Smart/WiFiUSB, Bluetooth SmartUSB/Bluetooth Smart/WiFi
WaterproofingIPX7Yes - 100mYes - 100m50 metersYes - 50m
Battery Life (GPS)8 Hours25hrs to 148hrs (depends on model)28hrs GPS, 48hrs UltraTrac13 Hours36hrs GPS, 60hrs UltraTrac
Recording Interval1-second & smart1S or Smart1S or SmartSMART RECORDING (VARIABLE)1S or Smart
Satellite Pre-Loading via ComputerNoYesYesYesYes
Quick Satellite ReceptionGreatGreatGreatGreatGreat
AlertsAUDIO/VISUAL/VIBRATEVibrate/Sound/VisualVibrate/Sound/VisualSound/Visual/VibrateVibrate/Sound/Visual
Backlight GreatnessGreatGreatGreatGreatGreat
Ability to download custom apps to unit/deviceNoYEsYEsWatchfaces onlyYEs
Acts as daily activity monitor (steps, etc...)NoYesYesYesYes
MusicGarmin Forerunner 610Garmin Fenix 6 SeriesGarmin MARQ AthleteGarmin Forerunner 45/45SGarmin Forerunner 945
Can control phone musicYesYesYesYes
Has music storage and playbackYes (Pro Only)YesNoYes
Streaming ServicesiHeartRadio, Spotify, Deezer, Amazon (Pro Only)Spotify, Amazon Music, Deezer, iHeartRadioNoSpotify, Amazon Music, Deezer, iHeartRadio
PaymentsGarmin Forerunner 610Garmin Fenix 6 SeriesGarmin MARQ AthleteGarmin Forerunner 45/45SGarmin Forerunner 945
Contactless-NFC PaymentsYesYesNoYes
ConnectivityGarmin Forerunner 610Garmin Fenix 6 SeriesGarmin MARQ AthleteGarmin Forerunner 45/45SGarmin Forerunner 945
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...)NoYesYesYesYes
Live Tracking (streaming location to website)NoYesYesYesYes
Group trackingYesYesNoYes
Emergency/SOS Message Notification (from watch to contacts)NoYes (via phone)Yes (via phone)Yes (via phone)Yes (via phone)
Built-in cellular chip (no phone required)NoNoNoNoNo
CyclingGarmin Forerunner 610Garmin Fenix 6 SeriesGarmin MARQ AthleteGarmin Forerunner 45/45SGarmin Forerunner 945
Designed for cyclingYesYesYesYesYes
Power Meter CapableNoYesYesNoYes
Power Meter Configuration/Calibration OptionsN/AYesYesN/AYes
Power Meter TSS/NP/IFN/AYesYesN/AYes
Speed/Cadence Sensor CapableYesYesYesYesYes
Strava segments live on deviceYesYesNoYes
Crash detectionYesYesYesYes
RunningGarmin Forerunner 610Garmin Fenix 6 SeriesGarmin MARQ AthleteGarmin Forerunner 45/45SGarmin Forerunner 945
Designed for runningYesYesYesYesYes
Footpod Capable (For treadmills)YesYesYesYES (ALSO HAS INTERNAL ACCELEROMETER)Yes
Running Dynamics (vertical oscillation, ground contact time, etc...)NoWITH RD POD, HRM-TRI OR HRM-RUN (NOT VIA OPTICAL HR)WITH RD POD, HRM-TRI OR HRM-RUN (NOT VIA OPTICAL HR)NoWITH RD POD, HRM-TRI OR HRM-RUN (NOT VIA OPTICAL HR)
Running PowerWith extra sensorWith extra sensorNoWith extra sensor
VO2Max EstimationNoYEsYEsYesYEs
Race PredictorNoYes, plus PaceProYesNoYes
Recovery AdvisorNoYesYesnoYes
Run/Walk ModeYesYesYesYesYes
SwimmingGarmin Forerunner 610Garmin Fenix 6 SeriesGarmin MARQ AthleteGarmin Forerunner 45/45SGarmin Forerunner 945
Designed for swimmingNoYesYesNO (PROTECTED THOUGH JUST FINE)Yes
Openwater swimming modeN/AYEsYEsN/AYEs
Lap/Indoor Distance TrackingN/AYesYesN/AYes
Record HR underwaterNoYes (with optical HR or HRM-TRI/HRM-SWIM)WITH HRM-TRI/HRM-SWIM (Soon with optical HR)N/AWITH HRM-TRI/HRM-SWIM (Not with optical HR)
Openwater Metrics (Stroke/etc.)N/AYesYesN/AYes
Indoor Metrics (Stroke/etc.)N/AYEsYEsN/AYEs
Indoor Drill ModeN/AYesYesN/AYes
Indoor auto-pause featureN/ANo (it'll show rest time afterwards though)No (it'll show rest time afterwards though)N/ANo (it'll show rest time afterwards though)
Change pool sizeN/AYEsYEsN/AYEs
Indoor Min/Max Pool LengthsN/A14M/15Y TO 150Y/M14M/15Y TO 150Y/MN/A14M/15Y TO 150Y/M
Ability to customize data fieldsN/AYesYesN/AYes
Can change yards to metersN/AYesYesN/AYes
Captures per length data - indoorsN/AYesYesN/AYes
Indoor AlertsN/AYesYesN/AYes
TriathlonGarmin Forerunner 610Garmin Fenix 6 SeriesGarmin MARQ AthleteGarmin Forerunner 45/45SGarmin Forerunner 945
Designed for triathlonNoYesYesNoYes
Multisport modeNoYesYesNoYes
WorkoutsGarmin Forerunner 610Garmin Fenix 6 SeriesGarmin MARQ AthleteGarmin Forerunner 45/45SGarmin Forerunner 945
Create/Follow custom workoutsYesYesYesYesYes
On-unit interval FeatureYesYEsYEsYesYEs
Training Calendar FunctionalityNoYesYesYesYes
FunctionsGarmin Forerunner 610Garmin Fenix 6 SeriesGarmin MARQ AthleteGarmin Forerunner 45/45SGarmin Forerunner 945
Auto Start/StopYesYesYesYesYes
Virtual Partner FeatureYesYEsYEsVirtual PacerYEs
Virtual Racer FeatureYesYesYesNoYes
Records PR's - Personal Records (diff than history)NoYesYesYesYes
Day to day watch abilityYesYesYesYesYes
Hunting/Fishing/Ocean DataNoYesYesNoYes
Tidal Tables (Tide Information)NoNoNoNoNo
Jumpmaster mode (Parachuting)NoYesYesNoYes
GeocachingNoVia GPS coordinatesVia GPS coordinatesNoVia GPS coordinates
Weather Display (live data)NoYesYesYesYes
NavigateGarmin Forerunner 610Garmin Fenix 6 SeriesGarmin MARQ AthleteGarmin Forerunner 45/45SGarmin Forerunner 945
Follow GPS Track (Courses/Waypoints)NoYesYesNoYes
Markers/Waypoint DirectionNoYesYesNoYes
Routable/Visual Maps (like car GPS)NoYes (Pro Only)YesNoYes
Back to startYesYesYesNoYes
Impromptu Round Trip Route CreationNoYes (Pro Only)YesNoYes
Download courses/routes from phone to unitNoYesYesNoYes
SensorsGarmin Forerunner 610Garmin Fenix 6 SeriesGarmin MARQ AthleteGarmin Forerunner 45/45SGarmin Forerunner 945
Altimeter TypeGPSBarometricBarometricNoBarometric
Compass TypeN/AMagneticMagneticNoneMagnetic
Optical Heart Rate Sensor internallyYesYesYesYes
Pulse Oximetry (aka Pulse Ox)YesYesNoYes
Heart Rate Strap CompatibleYesYesYesYesYes
ANT+ Heart Rate Strap CapableYesYesYesYesYes
ANT+ Speed/Cadence CapableYesYesYesYesYes
ANT+ Footpod CapableYesYesYesYesYes
ANT+ Power Meter CapableNoYesYesNoYes
ANT+ Weight Scale CapableYesNoNoNoNo
ANT+ Fitness Equipment (Gym)YesNoNoNoNo
ANT+ Lighting ControlYesYesNoYes
ANT+ Bike Radar IntegrationYesYesNoYes
ANT+ Trainer Control (FE-C)NoNoNoNo
ANT+ Remote ControlNoNo (can control VIRB though)No (can control VIRB though)NoNo (can control VIRB though)
ANT+ eBike CompatibilityNoNoNoNoNo
ANT+ Muscle Oxygen (i.e. Moxy/BSX)YesYesNoYes
ANT+ Gear Shifting (i.e. SRAM ETAP)YesYesNoYes
Shimano Di2 ShiftingYesYesNoYes
Bluetooth Smart HR Strap CapableNoYesYesNoYes
Bluetooth Smart Speed/Cadence CapableNoYesYesNoYes
Bluetooth Smart Footpod CapableNoYesYesNoYes
Bluetooth Smart Power Meter CapableNoYEsYEsNoYEs
Temp Recording (internal sensor)NoYesYesNoYes
Temp Recording (external sensor)NoYesYesNoYes
Compatible with Firstbeat HR toolsYesYesYesNoYes
SoftwareGarmin Forerunner 610Garmin Fenix 6 SeriesGarmin MARQ AthleteGarmin Forerunner 45/45SGarmin Forerunner 945
PC ApplicationGTC/ANT AgentGarmin ExpressGarmin ExpressGarmin Express (PC/Mac)Garmin Express
Web ApplicationGarmin ConnectGarmin ConnectGarmin ConnectGarmin ConnectGarmin Connect
Phone AppGarmin FitiOS/Android/Windows PhoneiOS/Android/Windows PhoneiOS/AndroidiOS/Android/Windows Phone
Ability to Export SettingsNoNoNoNoNo
PurchaseGarmin Forerunner 610Garmin Fenix 6 SeriesGarmin MARQ AthleteGarmin Forerunner 45/45SGarmin Forerunner 945
Amazon LinkLinkLinkN/ALinkLink
Clever Training - Save with the VIP programLinkLinkN/ALinkLink
Clever Training Europe (Save 10% with DCR10BTF)LinkN/ALinkLink
DCRainmakerGarmin Forerunner 610Garmin Fenix 6 SeriesGarmin MARQ AthleteGarmin Forerunner 45/45SGarmin Forerunner 945
Review LinkLinkLinkLinkLinkLink

Note: I’ve also gone ahead and uploaded the manual in PDF form, until Garmin is able to add it to their site.  You can download it here.

Pro’s and Con’s:

Finally, no review would be complete without the infamous pro’s and con’s section:

Pro’s:

– A GPS watch…that looks like a regular watch
– Adds 1-second recording option for all workouts
– Adds Run/Walk reminder feature (which can be used for all sorts of other things, like nutrition)
– Adds Virtual Racer feature, ability to race past performances/others
– Accurately tracks distance, heart rate, pace and a ton of other metrics
– Ability to change data fields at any time by simply pressing and holding data field
– Touchscreen works as advertised – no issues
– Connects to ANT+ foot pods and speed/cadence sensors for indoor workouts
– Connects to ANT+ weight scales and gym equipment
– Works as a normal watch (time/date/alarms) when not being used for fitness
– Wirelessly downloads workouts via ANT+ to computer

Con’s:

– Battery life is still limited at 8 hours
– Doesn’t support ANT+ power meters (cycling)
– Not fully waterproofed for swimming
– Lack of standard ‘course’ download and follow/review option
– Changed charging connector (some might see this as benefit, but I’m not convinced)

As always, thanks for reading, I appreciate it.  If you have any questions – feel free to post them below, I try to answer as often as possible.  Thanks!

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 items).  You can pickup the Garmin FR610 either with or without HR strap (and accessories). Then receive 10% off of everything in your cart by adding code DCR10BTF 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.

Garmin FR610
Garmin FR610 in funky new electric boogaloo blue color

Additionally, you can also use Amazon to purchase the unit or accessories (though, no discount on either from Amazon).  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 most places 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.

AccessoryStreet PriceAmazon LinkClever Training Link (Save 10% with DCR10BTF)
Copyright DC Rainmaker - Updated March 16th, 2016 @ 2:26 pm
2013 - DCR - Gear I Use: Run
Forerunner 610 Cloth Replacement Strap$20.00LinkN/A
Garmin ANT+ Heart Rate Strap (Classic Plastic Strap) - HRM1$37.00LinkLink
Garmin ANT+ Heart Rate Strap (Premium Soft-Strap) - HRM2$69.00LinkLink
Garmin ANT+ Heart Rate Strap (Premium Soft-Strap) - HRM3$50LinkLink
Garmin ANT+ Replacement HR Strap (for HRM3/HRM-RUN - just the strap portion)$28.00LinkLink
Garmin ANT+ Running Footpod (Mini)$45LinkLink
Garmin ANT+ Speed/Cadence Cycling Sensor (GSC-10)$35.00LinkLink
Garmin ANT+ Transfer USB Stick (large sized)$38.00LinkLink
Garmin ANT+ USB Transfer Stick (mini sized)$49TBALink
Garmin Bike Mount Kit (for mounting any watch onto handlebars)$10.00LinkLink
Garmin Forerunner 610 Charging Cable$16.00LinkLink
Lifesource UC-324 ANT+ Enabled Weight Scale (My recommendation)$109.00LinkN/A
Motorola ANT+ Speed/Cadence Cycling Sensor (Quick Install) - BEST!$55.00LinkN/A
Suunto ANT+ USB Transfer Stick (mini sized)$37LinkLink
Suunto ANT/ANT+ Running Footpod (good for both ANT types)$70.00LinkN/A
Tanita BC-1000 ANT+ Enabled Weight Scale$215.00LinkN/A
Wahoo Fitness ANT+ iPhone Adapter (for uploading workouts wirelessly)$40.00LinkLink

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. 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!

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980 Comments

  1. Anonymous

    I am really facing an itching when I wear the garmin 610, I really don’t have any ideas wt the back made of so I need a feedback before my hands get sick

  2. I’ve never owned a GPS watch and I’m leaning towards the 610. I’m training for the Disney marathon in January. I know Garmin Connect displays all the details of the run but I was wondering if I was able to review my pace for each mile on the watch after my run. Or, is that data only available in Connect?

  3. Yup, you can show per-lap data on the unit in the history section (which can show per-mile splits, assuming you enable autolap). Enjoy!

  4. Anonymous

    Seems like a good feature would be to have the ability to show last split metrics on one of the run screens. Is that possible in any way? If not what metrics on splits can you set it up to show while running.

  5. Anonymous

    have received a 3rd replacement unit because of rusty backside, i.e. 4th FR610. This 4th device start to raust again.
    Do you know if Garmin will refund my money or give an other device instead the FR610?
    I really like the 610 but it seems that my sweat is somehow agressive and I don’t want to pay so much onay for that quality of metall

  6. Anonymous

    Hi,
    I about to buy FR 610 but there are 2 commonly issues I really concern after I read on garmin forum,
    i. Battery – some owner has unable to charge the battery due to corrosion or discharge issue.
    ii. Strap pins loose after sometimes.

    Do anyone has these issues?

    BTW, great depth review.

  7. Mike S

    I bought a 610 based on your review and am generally very happy with it except for the strap. The Garmin strap leaves sore red weals on my chest after a 10K run. I’ve seen a few reports of this on the Garmin forums but not enough to assume that everyone has this problem. I dont know if it was a bad batch of straps or the way the strap fits certain people. Garmin have not responded on the issue.

    It appears to be the edge of the strap which is rough causes the problem. I’ve switched to an old polar strap and the problem goes away but data collection is not as good.

    Having looked at the new Polar straps they seem to be the same design as Garmin.

  8. Every once in a long while I’ll get something similiar from a strap. My fix is easy – simply take a small bandaid and wrap it around the very bottom of the strap. Sorta half on one side, and half on the other. It seems to reduce whatever rubbing is causing the problem for me, and then I’m back in biz again.

  9. Monica

    I love this GARMIN 610 GPS watch but have gone through three of them since March of this year. First one lasted a week and started to reverse charge. Second started to rust on the back of the case after about six weeks and subsequently have charging problems. Third just started flashing GARMIN and wouldn’t go back into normal operating mode. I am a 55 year old school teacher, and I am used to buying something and having it last for years. Thankfully, I purchased from a retailer who offered one year no questions asked guarantee. REI is a great merchant! Yesterday I did another return, but this time exchanged the one GARMIN watch for two TIMEX GPS HR Run Trainers for little additional cost. I live 200 miles from an urban area, so it gets pretty tiresome having the watch go bad and lose your training data, another long trip to town on the weekend, etc. I hope to have better luck with this next watch. And so far, my husband just loves his Run Trainer….

    • Silea Daniel

      I have the same issue about the backside corrosion. I’m in touch with Garmin to solve it, if you some adivses for me how to proceed further I would appreciate.

  10. Anonymous

    my 4th FR 610 was replaced with a FR910xt now due to rusty backside.

  11. Ray, is there a general countdown timer and can the vibrate function be used as a time-up alert for it? (I can’t find these answers anywhere in the Garmin literature.) Thanks. RP

    • Pipps

      I can now confirm that a general ‘vibrate timer’ function is possible with the FR610. Simply setup a custom display page displaying just ‘time’. Then setup an ‘timer alert’ and set this to whatever period you would like – e.g. 30 mins. When the timer reaches 30 mins, it will then vibrate. It will then continue timing until it reaches its next 30 min interval upon which it will vibrate again, ad ininitum. I have discovered this since taking the plunge and purchasing the FR610. I find this vibrate timer functionality a very useful tool when working at my desk during the day. The FR610 really is a very useful all-round watch.

  12. This comment has been removed by the author.

  13. AM

    Hello! I’d love if you could answer me this question:

    (A) What are my options for Garmin 1-sec recording watches?

    Is it just the 610 and the 310XT?

    I am looking to get a 1-sec recording watch (with HRM) for as cheap as possible (duhhh!) 🙂 I want the data rate, but I’m a beginner that doesn’t need anything more than easily accessible data at 1-sec rates (I’m also a data cruncher and cringe at adaptive recording).

    It looks like the 610 is 100 dollar more (400) than the 310XT (300). What are your thoughts?

    I do promise to buy it from amazon through your referrel link 🙂

  14. Today the options for running watches from Garmin with 1s recoding are:

    FR305
    FR310XT
    FR910XT
    FR610

    Between the FR310XT and the FR610 – they’re fairly similiar in the sense that the FR310XT has everything the FR610 has, except the run/walk alerts/feature. But otherwise – basically the same. And, in many places, the FR310XT has far more features in the cycling and swimming side than the FR610.

  15. AM

    Thanks Rainmaker – I’ll buy the watch through your referral link!

    310XT it is 🙂 (unless you’d some other brand with 1-s recording and easy access to data!)

  16. Nah, that’s the one I’d recommend given your situation.

  17. Paul

    Hi,

    Thanks for the detailed review.

    I’ve read loads of reviews about the back of the 610 rusting and turning green. Can you comment on that from your own and other users’ experiences?

    Also, the watch was released nearly a year and a half ago – how long do you think it will be until it is replaced/upgraded?

    Thanks

  18. Anonymous

    is it also for women or only for men

  19. Anonymous

    is it also for women or only men

  20. Anonymous

    Happy with my 610. Had it for half a year and it’s helpful. No problems with GPS; pretty close to distance and pace IME.

    Charging is a “be careful” operation. I just woke up to a zero battery watch this last weekend because even if you have the watch snapped into the magnetic holder, it is fussy about exact positioning to charge. Fortunately, it will charge up quickly, so I use as portable battery (usually reserved for my phone) pack and was upto 60% in an hour and a half. Enough for a 11 mile race.

    I need bifocals to read, so I just use biscreens with 2 data points available. Easy to read at a glance and easy enough to swipe left or right to change data points.

    Even with the charging issue, I would buy this watch again.

  21. No mention of the biggest software design flaw?! Everytime the screen unlocks, the GPS activates and you have to turn if off manually, which often occurs if you’re just wearing it as a watch. Even worse, the GPS settings are under several layers of options…it should be on the same level as HRM…can this be fixed..?

  22. Andrew

    Hi RM

    Thanks for the reviews. Have read all you reviews on the 410, 310XT and 610. Yes, they are very long, but they are very well written and you cover all bases which is exactly what one needs when spending ones hard earned cash on such a thing.

    Two questions:

    1. You said one could expect a watch from Garmin which encases the 310XT capabilities but the size of the 410 or 610 in a years time. Been well over a year, any indication of when one could expect that?

    2. Then, if one isn’t due any time soon, can you recommend any other brand of gps watch (ie: what would be your ultimate gps watch)?

    Really appreciate any advise you can give.

    Regards,

  23. Hi Jason-

    You can simply just lock the screen while wearing as a watch, problem solved.

    Hi Andrew-

    Nothing has been introduced unfortunately. It’s essentially the FR610 or the FR910XT on the running side for Garmin, with the key differences really being advanced cycling (i.e. power), not being there on the FR610 (or the battery life.

    I think we’ll continue to see Garmin splice up the product lines, for better or worse.

    At this time, my overall favorite GPS watch is likely the FR910XT – simply due to the extra swimming features. But my overall favorite GPS running watch is the FR610.

    Enjoy!

  24. Paul

    Hi,

    So have you heard about the issue with the corrosion on the back of the watch? It seems to be very widespread, although I realise that probably more people write on a forum when they have something to complain about than when they’re happy with a product.

    I’d appreciate your advice/experience.

    Thanks.

    • Chris

      I bought my first 610 around last Christmas and had it for about eight months when it got very rusted and all the lettering wore off. Garmin replaced it with no questions (great customer service). The replacement came around Aug/Sep and the new one is already as bad as the one that I sent back. The first one was so bad it had charging issues, just waiting for this one to do the same thing.

      Other than that, the watch has been awesome and I only use half the features.

  25. I’ve heard of a handful of folks with it, most of them were from the initial block of FR610’s which Garmin said they fixed the issue – but it has seemed to persist. It’s unclear to me why it only affects certain people, meaning, it’s some form of reaction with either the persons skin, or their environment that seems to cause it.

    It hasn’t happened to me, and I’d suspect it’s likely only affecting low-single digit numbers (percentage wise) – but that’s just a random guess based on watching forums/etc. Like you said, only people that have an issue really ever post in forums.

    Hope this helps a bit!

  26. Paul

    Thanks – it’s useful to hear your opinion on it as you know a lot more about these things than me.

    Any idea when Garmin might replace/update the 610?

  27. I wouldn’t expect anything this fall. Perhaps in time for next spring. Most serious running watches from Garmin tend to be timed to roughly the Boston Marathon (April).

  28. I wouldn’t expect anything this fall. Perhaps in time for next spring. Most serious running watches from Garmin tend to be timed to roughly the Boston Marathon (April).

  29. Paul

    Thanks, that’s good to know.

  30. Do you think is would last a mud run type of event?

    I am doing tough mudder and hell runner and want a watch that I can train with and record the race with.

    I was going to go with the 210 but I do weights sessions and I want to record my heart rate and it seems you can only use the run activity on this watch and not switch the gps off and use it as a general workout?

    Regards

    Jonathan

  31. I think you’d be good – no problems there. I know lots of folks that wear them without issue on Muddy Buddy’s. When you get done, simply rinse off the mud with water and you’d be good.

    As for indoor – no problems at all switching off GPS. Simply tap the face of the watch when it says ‘Finding Satellites’, and it’ll go into indoor mode. In either scenario though, it’ll use the HR strap for calorie metrics indoors.

    Enjoy!

  32. Dylan

    I love your review, just got a forerunner for my birthday & was told to check out yr review instead of figuring out from the manual.
    keep up the great work!

  33. DC Rainmaker,

    Always been a garmin fan, and need to get a new watch to motivate me to start running again. Does anyone make a running program that I can upload to a running watch?

    Thanks

  34. Anonymous

    Same problem for me !! Very low quality on the back of the watch.
    The silver coating on the back was completely worn out after a few months of standard usage.
    This caused me a lot of problems with the skin on both my wrists (see photo below !) The green powder which then mix up with sweat is actually irritating my skin and it soar a lot (some chemical substances used for the coating ?)
    link to flickr.com

    This is not a cheap unit and, honestly, I would have expected a much better quality from Garmin.
    I can get the same quality if I buy some Chinese gadgets for 5 Euro.
    I sent an email to the Customer Service asking them to replace my unit, otherwise I’ll sue them for damages !!
    Never had this problem with Polar (AXN 700 Titanium and Rubber) !
    Max from Italy

  35. AM

    Hi Again! I’m poster #413 & 415. I got the 310XT but I found I can’t pull more than 8-9 hours of battery life!

    I have 1s recording turn on, GPS going, and the HR strap sending information….how much battery life should I be expecting?

    Is the ~20 hours for when I turn everything, including GPS, off?

  36. Has anyone had major issues with the 610 discharging or not charging. It is really frustrating especially when you think the watch is charging Friday night wake up Sat morning go to grab the watch and its compeletly dead. he discharging happens when you leave it on the charger to long. Very weird – I don’t like the magnet charger at all.

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  38. This comment has been removed by the author.

  39. Hi there!

    Thanks for all your reviews and tips.

    I’m about to buy a FR601, but before I would like to know how is the user alert during a customized and complex training plan (in the instant between the end of warm-up and the begging of the first especific pace run, for example).
    Can you help me?

    Thank you so much.

  40. Hi!

    Thanx for a great review, as always.

    I’m looking to buy my first gps watch. Primarilly i’m a runner but perhaps even more a tech freak and a data junkie.

    Probably it will be the Forerunner 610 that will end up on my wrist but I do have one question about this watch and the other forerunners:

    – can it record for example gym workouts, I mean calories burned and for how long etc?. And it would then show up as a gym workout, not a run. I know for example Motoactv has such features…

    Thanx again!!

    //Björn

  41. re: The Garmin 610 reviews & comments. Thanks for the in depth efforts – a wonderful source of info. I was wondering if Garmin is considering to add the multi-time zone feature found on the Fenix. I miss that very much as I travel overseas and frequently need at least two time zones. I really like the 610’s features for cycling and running, but old standard: use it as a regular watch lacks a needed dual time zone capability.
    d.m.watson@usa.net

  42. Unfortunately I wouldn’t expect them to add any new functionality to the FR610 at this point. 🙁

  43. graham neumann

    I really “WANTED” to buy this watch. Now I only “want”. Back cover and GPS issues made me disappointed. 910 is to big. 410 is quite old. God damn it.

  44. Stefaan

    Having owned the watch for 17 months now, I wanted to share my experiences with it…

    The major problem with the Forerunner 610 -and by extension all Garmin units-(I own the 405 as well) is the lack of build quality and sturdiness, the wristband in particular. I have the habit to wear a watch all day and don’t like to take it off for sleeping, while having a bath or showering.
    It became apparent to me that Garmins are clearly not designed to take such a “punishment”, if you could name it like that.

    I bought the unit last year in may and by the start of june the wristband gave in and had to be replaced. I nearly lost the watch in the event. By december, it had to be replaced again and now I’m looking at the fourth copy. The back of the watch shows obvious signs of oxidation and worst of all, water seeped in somehow between the layers of the touchscreen disabling it as a result. (I really wonder how that happened, I never exposed it to conditions which went beyond IPX7 -no swimming-, but the rubber fittings may have worn a little.)
    The watch ‘s been bricked. I tried and let it dry out in the oven at 55° for quite a while, but to no avail.
    While on the lookout for another HRM, I went back to the scratched “remains” of my 405 which too is on its fourth wristband (the fabric one now, which is a lot sturdier but equally ugly).
    While the functionality and stability of Garmin watches is good, the build quality and waterproofing is severely lacking, at least for my requirements. In my opinion, it is barely above “toy level”. The quality of the plastics and rubber are sub-par. They should use better materials such as Delrin for the housing and TPU for the band.
    Actually, it’s about time that a company comes up with a decent watch having a stainless steel body and dito wristband. A watch which doesn’t look as a toy and can be worn all day.
    I’m now considering the Suunto Ambit (having had better experiences with the T6 I had before I switched to the 405 in the spring of 2008).

    Oh, it just sprung to mind, the comfort belt is also not sufficiently waterproofed and it causes too much friction. I found the old style belt better in both respects.

    • George

      I can back up Stefaan’s FR610 experience with my own. Multiple wristband replacements and now some moisture somehow inside the touchscreen which is now useless. I dried out the watch using dessication bags and the watch came back to life, only to fail again after running in a slight rain. Obviously the moisture seal or housing has been compromised. How I have no idea. Looking now at the Ambit, though I wish I could stick w the Garmin Connect software which I’ve become accustomed to.

  45. A friend brought it with him the other day and I had a session with it.

    Satellite acquisition was very fast and nothing compared to my (now broken) Timex Marathon GPS (very bad device).

    The build quality was nothing extrordinary. The touch screen required “effort” to respond which made the whole interaction slow(er) than the classic button interaction.

    I more of a button type so I would rather get a 310XT instead.

  46. Great Review, DC! But have done any test on the watch performence and reaction to Track run? For many runner that a very important thing!

    Viktor

  47. Hi, Great review! I understand you ordered the external battery pack.

    I was wondering how was it? I’m thinking of getting one myself as I need more than 8 hours of battery.

    Can you keep the watch running while connected to the pack?

    brief review?

  48. Anonymous

    link to amazon.com can you review this GPS watch on Android OS please?

  49. Anonymous

    link to amazon.com can you review this GPS watch on Android OS please?

  50. Chadathin

    Hi,

    I was wondering if you have had any experience with some of the more common negative reviews? Such as the backplate rusting and the infamous “reverse charge?”

    Would you happen to know of any sure-fire fixes to these problems?

    • Rainmaker

      Hi Chadathin-

      No problem, here’s the most common issues I hear:

      1) Band breakage (specifically, the pin connection point breaks within the rubber/plastic).

      This has been fixed by Garmin in all units after roughly the summer of the first year. If you have a band/breakage issue you can ring up Garmin support and they’ll get it swapped out for free. Just confirmed this was still the case with a reader last week.

      2) Backplate discoloration issues

      This appears to be a highly personal item that affects some and not others. I know Garmin is aware of it, but I’m not sure of the current support stance (i.e. if they’ll swap it out/etc..). It seems like it has something either to do with environmental or something at the human level that causes it for some but not others. I don’t personally have this problem, but I have seen a small handful of people that do.

      3) Reverse charging

      I’ve heard of this very rarely (meaning, aside from a thread on the Garmin Forums). However, I have no doubt it exists if people are facing it. I haven’t heard of it happening to anyone I know in my day to day running clubs or friends. Again, I suspect though that if this is well known enough Garmin support will help here.

  51. Nick

    Hi, just wondering if 12 months + after its release it’s still a good option? Or is it worth waiting around (i.e. is there something new on the cards from Garmin? or anyone else in the GPS world at this price range) Cheers!!

    • Rainmaker

      I do think, it’s what I love using for running when not testing out other devices. I would expect a new FR610 replacement in late spring (announced around Boston Marathon in April, but widespread availability not until late May). Just based on typical Garmin 2-year refreshment. But I wouldn’t expect any major changes to functionality.

  52. Geoffrey

    With the prices dropping, what would you recommend for a runner who is moving from casual to advanced? The FR610 with HRM is being advertised at $300 by numerous retailers (I assume that would be $270 with your 10% discount at Clever Training). However, the FR410 with HRM is being advertised at $200 at numerous retailers with several currently offering Black Friday specials as low as $160 (Costco). I’m not sure I’m advanced enough to spend $300 for the FR610. Is the FR410 worth the $160 over the FR210 or is your recommendation still the FR210 or FR610? I know you recommended those above but was wondering if price drops affect your recommendation.

  53. Kate

    Re: Reverse Charging:

    I actually watched my 4 month old Garmin 610 do this. The numbers went from (whatever) down to 0 somewhat quickly despite the charger being attached. After it reached 0, I could not start it and contacted Garmin Support. They ran me through the obligatory “try this” checklist and then told me to send the Garmin back for repairs/replacement.

    I am now using a re-conditioned replacement Garmin. It works well enough but I have to have the charger in perfect position (e.g. with the watch/charger until draped over a jar with the watch straps hanging down) for the charge to actually work.

    I also had a problem with the first Garmin in that the straps would not stay attached to the watch. This was resolved by the replacement of the straps and pins complements of Garmin.

    All in all, I like the unit. Just waiting for the next bug to pop up…

  54. Aron

    Your reviews are amazing and subsequently influenced me into buying the FR610 which has changed my running and fitness life. It’s amazing what this one little device can do for motivating one’s psych. I have had the watch for about 3 months and haven’t had any major issues thus far (knock on the ole proverbial wood) other than the band pin trying to slide out.

    I do wonder though if there is a way to prevent the GPS from automatically turning on when you ‘wake’ the watch up when just using it as my daily watch. Sometimes I will swipe to wake it up on the Time screen so I can access a previous workout or something else and it seems the gPS automatically turns back on when I do this.
    Surely there is a way to keep it off when I purposefully turn it off?

  55. Steven

    Sorry if this has been answered before, but can someone tell me if the 610 can display cadence in real time as you run, or is it only saved for later viewing on Garmin connect, as does the 210?

    PS. I realise it has to be pared with the footpod to record cadence.

  56. Adam

    Mine is about 18 months old and is just finished. The screen response was geting worse and worse in the last couple of weeks, now it has just gone blank and no way to turn it on. The garantee is over so now it’s just a piece of rubbish.

  57. Aron

    Adam, does the place you purchase it from have any gaurantee/warantee?
    I got mine at REI and they will replace it at any time for any reason ..which is one of the reasons why I went ahead and purchased it. I just now started wearing it as my ‘daily watch’ so we will see how long it holds up

  58. Adam

    It was purchased by my friend during his holidays in Italy, at that time it wasn’t available where I live (in Poland), so it’s rather end of a story. But the display was getting less and less responsive withing the last weeks. No one had similar experience? Maybe this is a standard live cycle of such a kind of display.

  59. Adam

    Well, it seems that after my complaints the watch decided to wake up and seems fine.

  60. Kate

    Just watched my replacement Garmin 610 reverse charge to 0. I’ll keep you posted re: the response from the Garmin company…

  61. Rick

    Do you think a new revision of this watch is coming out in the Spring? I like the feature set of this watch but would prefer actual water-proofing, and with the cheap FR10 being water-proof I expect the next version of the geeky runners watch to be the same. I’d hate to drop the cash for the 610 only to have the new one come out a month or three later. TIA.

  62. Amy

    Hi,
    I am looking for a watch with a good altimeter and gps to use snowboarding. I want to be able to track vertical, distance, speed, and see where I have been throughout the day, especially while of piste or back country. I’m debating between this, the Fenix, and the Suunto Ambit. Realistically, the price of the Suunto is higher than I was hoping to spend, but if it’s worth it, I’d take the leap. Any chance you would share your thoughts?

    Thanks!!

  63. Steve W

    Rainmaker-
    I’m considering buying either the FR210 or the FR610. My main concern is: Can either/both of them do an interval workout as such:

    2×400 with 1 min recovery jogs
    2×800 with 2 min. recovery jogs
    2×1200 with 3 min recovery jogs
    etc….

    Thanks

    • Rainmaker

      Yes, via the straight interval feature you could do one of those individually. But, with the custom workouts you can go ahead and create that whole thing and send it to the watch.

  64. Silea Daniel

    I have purchased garmin forerunner 610, I have it for 3 month now, it works quite fine so far…I’m using it for running indoor and outdor. There is enough place for improvment though, like for indor bodybuilding for this price I would expect this function by default, but its missing. Nevertheless, the problem I have is that the backside of the watch is corroded, is copper with paint layer I think. I’m quite sure this issue can be confirmed by any owner of such watch. I have addressed the issue to garmin, they should reply soon, I will keep you posted.

  65. Taylor Harris

    DCRainmaker –

    Any insight into when Garmin will replace or update the 610 with a waterproof version? I have a 405 that freezes up in heavy rain or very high humidity. I run 90% of the time but would also like to record the occasional triathlon or be able to take it rafting or into the woods without having to worry about the tinder-footed little guy locking up.

    It seems to keep recording even when the screen goes out. Not a big deal unless you are running a race and want to keep an eye on your progress (happened to me on 2 half marathons). A reset will stop it recording and it generally uploads fine to Garmin Connect afterwards but this is pretty poor considering the lowest end forerunner is waterproof to 50 meters (vs far inferior IPX7).

    Until then I am holding onto my 405. The larger triathlon watches are too big for everyday wear and not a good fit.

    Thanks – Taylor

  66. Aston

    We bought two of these 610’s just over a year ago (one for my wife & I). Hers has been replaced once due to failure – just stopped working after a series of problems with start ups and mine has just been returned to Garmin after a couple of months of poor performance e.g. No charging, not starting or taking forever to start or going into a beeping death cycle. We are now waiting to hear if they will replace or repair mine. Seems to take them forever fix or replace these. Interestingly, the replacement my wife received is different (still a 610) to the one I have, a sure sign of issues. Still the same issues with corrosion on the bottom. For such. As expensive units, have certainly been a disappointment. If neither hold up, we’re likely to move to a different brand.

  67. Christine

    Hi DC Rainmaker,
    I enjoy your posts and bought the Garmin 610 for running in early fall. Good watch! Now I’m ready to outfit it for a new road bike I’m buying. Was looking at your reference to the speed/cadence sensor in your blog: “This of course requires an additional accessory, the roughly $35 GSC-10 (or any ANT+ compatible speed/cadence combo sensor).” Then went to Amazon to order one. None of the GSC10 units I found indicate that they are compatible with the 610. Here’s one reference: “Product Description
    Compatible with Edge 305/705 and Forerunner 305/405” The other three units say roughly the same thing. I don’t want to buy a unit that won’t work with my watch. What’s your take on this discrepancy?
    Thanks
    Christine

    • Rainmaker

      It’s compatible. It’s simply that when the GSC10 originally came out it was pre-FR610 (by about 3-4 years), so the packaging hasn’t been updated since. 😉

  68. JP

    Hi DC Rainmaker,
    I appreciate your reviews and how thorough they are. I was wondering if you know whether the Garmin 610 with the footpod (or any other GPS watch) would work for measuring pace and total distance while playing indoor ice hockey?

    Thanks,
    JP

    • Rainmaker

      Unfortunately not, since it doesn’t take into account the speed of the skate across the ice. For example, if you just stop skating and glide – it wouldn’t register that.

  69. EternalFury

    I love the watch, but as far as Training Effect is concerned, it’s possible to get into a situation where it stops giving accurate results for no apparent reason:

    link to forums.garmin.com

    Garmin has been aware of the problem for almost a year, but has done nothing about it.

    I do not mean to spam, but I think it should be noted by potential buyers.

  70. Chris

    Fantastic review, it’s got me sold (especially with the cool white option out!)

    I may have missed the update so I apologise if this has been answered…how did the external battery work out?

    I’m looking to use this for ultras and wondering if charging on the move is an option? with a AA battery pack though as oppose to the official solar panel unit…anyone used one with any success?

    Thanks

  71. Richard

    Hi DC Rainmaker,

    Thanks for the great review 🙂

    I read your 910XT review and in it you mention using the watch in training mode with the GPS off but using the foot pod. I am looking at the 610 and wondered if it had the same functionality to increase the battery life? Generally I run marathons but once a year I run an ultra which takes anywhere between 8 – 10 hours depending on how it goes on the day. I thought the 910 was overkill since I don’t do triathlons but I don’t want to have the 610 and then not be able to use it for that race.

    Can you please shed some light on this or recommend a way forward?

    Thanks
    Richard

    • Rainmaker

      It would in theory get 8-10 hours on GPS, but that’s getting close (be sure light is off).

      I haven’t done the test with the FR610 on going with the GPS off. I may tackle a big batch of them this week, but just haven’t done it yet.

  72. Rhett

    I was talking to a Garmin rep at a marathon expo and he gave me the wink-wink/nod confirmation that a FR610 update is coming for the fall marathon season and will be fully waterproofed like the FR10. I was going to go with the 910 for the waterproofing, but I think I’ll stick it out with my android phone for six more months and then decide.

  73. Sam Cohen

    I see your FR610 review is almost 2 years old. What is the product life cycle for Garmin? I know they came out with the 910 after the 610, but when will they come up for a non-tri running watch to replace the 610. I have a 410 I want to change but don’t want to end up with a “old model” gps watch. It should not be important but it is.

    Thanks.

    • Rainmaker

      Typically 2 years. I don’t expect to see a FR610 replacement this spring, but in line with the previous comment above years – expect to see something more aligned to the fall.

      I suspect we’ll see lessons learned from the Fenix and Edge 510/810 updates applied to a 610 unit.

  74. Chris

    Hi DC rainmaker, I went ahead and bought the watch based on this review…after getting my head round how to interpret my pace without using the useless ‘instant pace’…I’m very happy – thanks for your guide on this

    apologies in repeating the question, I’m just struggling to hear anyone’s experience of using an external battery (like the garmin set I think you had on order)…just to add a few more hours to the battery life and make it ideal for ultras

    did you ever receive the kit? or ever try to charge whilst on the move?

    thanks again
    Chris

    • Rainmaker

      I’ll dig up the external solar battery out of the box and try it tomorrow. At present, it’s dark out.

      That said, it just uses the regular charging clip – which would be useful for charging on the move (despite what the press release says). So more like ‘charging while sitting at lunch’.

  75. Chris

    brilliant cheers

    it was more the the little rechargeable pack thing that seems to come with the kit I was interested in…seems to have a mini USB connector rather than the normal size one the battery charging clip uses? no pics I find seem to make it clear how it would be used with the 610

    the plan was either to get that power pack, or a little Duracell USB instant charger (if the current output is safe) and just use the cable that came with the watch and some elastic bands etc

    if you could possibly let me know if it can charge on the move mid recording/timing that would be great thanks…I know I should have probs got a proper ultra watch, but 99% of the time this watch will suffice!

    Chris

    • Rainmaker

      I have not forgotten… I finally found the second half of the solar charger last night (thus, dark). Today, I tried all day to get enough light into the panel for it to charge (it charges the battery, and then the battery charges the unit). Unfortunately, today was probably the foggiest day I’ve seen here in Paris since moving. Tomorrow is supposed to be better. It’s hanging up outside the window outside my desk, so as soon as it turns to blue (charging), I’ll test it out.

  76. Michael Eastwood

    Hi

    When you plan a route on Garmin Connect and upload that to the device, how does the 610 practically guide you through the route. I have the Edge 800 for my bike, is it similar to that without the mapping….A series of arrows I presume? And if so is it practical?

    Thanks Michael

  77. Rick

    Do you think the next versions of the running watches will have longer gps-on battery life, or is the 8-hour current standard considered “more than good enough” for running-specific watches? TIA.

  78. Patrick

    Ray, have you heard anything about a new back for the watch. The special edition now has a plastic back, and some reports seem to indicate that the regular watch (black model) also has a new plastic back. I have gone through 4 watches in the past year because the back corrodes, plastic is very appealing to me now! Of course, because my warranty is now over, it would mean a new watch 🙁

    • Rainmaker

      I think they are doing some changes there behind the scenes, due to complaints.

      In any event, as a few comments above noted, I’ve heard nothing but good things from folks who have called in to support with back corrosion issues, as well as discoloring issues. Even for folks who have had warranties expire (since most of the units affected were early units). Worth a try. 😉

  79. Ciarán

    Hi,
    Fantastic reviews! I was torn between the 310XT and the 610 but decided to splash the cash and get the latest model.
    Used the amazon link on the right hand side of your page also to get to amazon site, so nice for you to get a bit from amazon for all your hard, dedicated and very informative work!
    Thanks again!
    Ciarán

  80. David Champion

    Great reviews,very helpful…I am tirn between the 210 and making the plunge for a 610…I like INSTANT PACE,…Can you compare the visble fields that are available at one time between the two…I want to have time, instant pace, heart rate, and distance…is that possible with both of them?

  81. David Champion

    Thanks- So all four data fields are displayable at the same time for both?

    Also, I have had a 205 for many years, and the plastic strap went out last year, and I easily replaced it with what I feel is a better velcro wrist strap..it looks like the 210 has no ability to replace the strap..has this been an issue? It appears the 610 can have the strap replaced possibly?

    Thanks

  82. Christian Bauer

    My review after one year of extensive usage:

    I received my 610 in Feb 2012 and used it mainly for running and sometimes for hiking and ski touring with total ~2270km till now (~248hours).

    First the positive points:
    The touchscreen is working very well, als with gloves during skitours, while wet because of sweat there was never a problem with the touchscreen. And also the glas itself looks still very good with only one small scratch in the middle (I don’t remember the cause for it – maybe while a little climbing tour).
    Also the satellite reception is perfect and very fast – I moved several times over >1000km and the position was always found within a few minutes. Normally without a big change of the location the satellites are found within seconds.
    Also the wrist band ist still in perfect condition and doesn’t show up any usage signs.

    Now the negative points:
    Then the back of the watch looks really awful in the meantime. Due to sweat (and I guess thats quite normal while doing workouts) the printed signs and also the silver/grey plating has been removed.
    Thats something Garmin should consider to improve.
    Also the small pins of the charging adapter are not working always, as dust prevents the contact springs of the charger contacting the watch charge pins. Here the good thing that the contacts are gold plated and these are still in a good shape.

    What I miss with this watch:
    What I definetely missed bit is the lack of at least basic navigation to some waypoints.
    And what I would prefer to make it able to use it in water.

    And finally some pictures:
    Picture of front view
    Picture of back
    Picture of charger

    After this year of experience I still would buy it and also can recommend it to others.

    Hope these infos help you a little bit.

    br
    Christian (Austria)

    • Rainmaker

      Hi Christian-

      Thanks for the note.

      Just a quick heads up that Garmin will happily replace any FR610’s with the issues you noted on the back of the watch. 🙂

      Also, as you suggested, they’ve already changed the design. The units shipping now have a plastic backing as opposed to the metal backing.

  83. David Champion

    So if I order my 610 now, I will get the plastic backed model only? Is this when ordering from them directly? or from Amazon as well?

    • Rainmaker

      It’s a crap-shoot honestly. I think if you order from Garmin.com you have a very solid chance of it, but I’m not sure where Amazon.com stands in inventory. I know that they’ve been doing it for a number of months now though.

      And most of the issues I hear from people with the band are from the very original set nearly two years ago (or at least, their watches were from that set).

    • Ted H

      The 610 that I just got from Amazon has the metal back. It’s going back.

  84. Eric

    Love the reviews! I’m about to purchase a FR610, but have one lingering question that I haven’t seen addressed before. My current Polar HRM will give me my “Ave HR” and “Max HR”, once I complete my run. Does the 610 provide “Ave HR” and “Max HR” as well?

    • Rainmaker

      Yes, on the watch itself, within the History > Activities menu, it shows Average and Max HR for that run.

      Enjoy!

  85. Dom

    Hi, I am thinking of getting a garmin and after loking at many models, this appears the most suitable fore me. HOWEVER, does this watch show current lap time whilst running (not lap pace – which I couldn’t care about anyway!!). I am aware it shows me my lap time briefly once clicking lap, however was wondering if it showed me my current lap time once clicking lap (e.g. 2 stopwatches running at the same time). This way, I could create my own interval session with times on chrono mode rather than plugging in a session online/ on the watch. If this product does not, are you aware of any products that do?? Shame, as this seems like the only downfall about the watch. Thanks for the very informative review!

    • Rainmaker

      Yes, in fact, that’s one of the four data fields I have configured on mine as my ‘primary’ data page:

      Lap Time
      Lap Distance
      Lap Pace
      Heart Rate

      Enjoy!

  86. Ted H

    This watch really doesn’t fit well on small wrists. The way the strap wraps around a small wrist (or in this case, it does not “wrap around” a small wrist) causes it to sit high or sits away from my wrist. I am going to get a 910xt. I hope that one wraps around a small wrist better. The FR110/210 (which I used to have) and FR70 (which I also have) fits small wrists much better.

  87. Andrew T

    Before I ask advice, I’d like to say your reviews are the best on the internet. My friends ask me what watch to get and I give them my 2 bits but ultimately refer them here and they get their fix of research and info. Thank you for being so thorough and practical.

    My questions involves a recent posting my workouts to Strava in addition to Garmin Connect, my staple. The moving time / elapsed time issue screws up my paces big time as it does the calculation for pace per mile (running) based on my elapsed time. As an example, last night I ran 12 miles at around 7:05 pace, but with stop lights and such, it said my pace was 7:37 on Strava. Garmin Connect is accurate and my main training page, but Strava has become my social network for running if you will, and I’m unhappy about how inaccurate the splits are. Can I just turn off elapsed time?

    Thanks for your time!

    Andrew

    • Rainmaker

      No, it’s actually an incorrect calculation on the Strava side. They aren’t parsing the correct data fields there, and instead are just taking the start/stop times (based on GMT), instead of taking the actual activity time in the .FIT file. Strange, I’ll send those guys a note and see if they can fix it.

  88. pijot

    hi ray, have ur FR610 ever hang?…
    mine just hanged after it automatically transfer my workout data…
    now, i can’t even unlock, and press any button…
    what just happen to my FR610?…
    please help…

  89. john

    2 questions and im on my way to get it..

    – i run, swim and biking, but mostly doing weight training and or HIIT at the gym now, i love using endomondo via my android phone to record all my training data, since there a lot a of chalenge feature there. Can i still using the fr610 to record all my activity? i know it covered running and biking.
    I dont want to upload it to garmin connect and change all data, after that exports it to Endomondo, its just too complicated when you workout every day.

    – in the heart rate mode, does it alert when reach the maxium HRM?

    Thanks a lot Ray,
    awesome reviews as always

    • Rainmaker

      Yup, you can still record with the FR610 in the gym as well, no problem at all (you’ll need/want a HR strap though).

      Yes, it alerts at max HR set.

  90. john

    awesome.. thanks again !

  91. john

    hi there, im back (hope you dont mind)
    so i just got my 610 the other day, and was very happy about it.
    almost perfect.. until i discover something really bother me.
    Hope u can help me with this
    1. How to turn off the Power Save mode? everytime i use it, it just go off during the first 5 minute and that make the gps go disable, so you have to wait it until it turn back on again..
    I do a few research on google and found the issue is all over the 610 user.. hope garmin can fix it within the next firmware.
    2. When im doing weight trainning indoor, what mode should i use? bike or run? i just want to record my heart rate and want to see result in the Trainning Effects.

    Thanks again and again

    • Rainmaker

      Hello-

      1) You cannot disable it unfortunately. Just to be sure though, it only triggers if you’ve not started an activity (i.e. waiting at start of race). I wouldn’t expect to see any firmware changes there, as it’s been on the market for two years.

      2) Run is what I usually use for indoor, and then just tap the ‘finding satellites’ logo and tell it your indoors.

  92. Jim C

    I find annoying that they couldn’t make it fully waterproof, I’d be interested if there was there a plausible excuse for this fundamental design flaw? Serious oversight for this training tool to be flexible enough for people who want a little bit more out of an item like this. For example adventure racing and hill walking. It should be capable of covering these areas without further investment, after all how many watches do I need. one I would say.

    Great reviews, always very helpful

  93. pijot

    hi ray, i dunno whether u face my current problem or not, but i wish that u can help me…

    my 610 just can’t transfer data to the pc, the Ant+ agent status come out with error message “Last transfer with device Forerunner 610 on xx/xx/xxxx xx:xx AM failed.”

    please help…

    • Rainmaker

      There’s so many reasons why this could be. Typically it’s either a given workout that’s causing transfer issues, or the unit may need to be restarted (that often works).

      Failing that, I’d try looking around the Garmin Forums (http://forums.garmin.com), and/or ringing up Garmin support. Sorry!

  94. Egon

    Hello Ray,

    What an excellent review. You put a lot of effort in it!
    I was thinking to make buy a heart rate and GPS sports watch and would make a decision between the 310, the 610 and the 910.

    Based on this review I made up my mind and go for the 610.

    I will mainly use it for running and will upload the data to Strava as well.

  95. Paul Teini

    Now that we are close to Boston marathon time, do you have an update about Garmin planned replacements for the 610?

  96. Chris McClymont

    Hi Ray,

    Your product reviews are first class. The level of detail and knowledge you input is fantastic. I also enjoying analysing data and playing with gadgets. Having read all of your running watch reviews I went for a Garmin 610 and a few weeks in its already an epic addition to my running/cycling. Luv it.

    Thanks again

  97. I have one of the “new versions” with the back in plastic.

    It is ok and I just realized it after reading it on post. I thought it was still in metal.

    I have an issue …
    The watch presents a gap between the case/bezel and the edge of the LCD screen.
    I was looking into this review pictures and it seems to me that this is also an issue on the watch used in the review.

    Ray can you tell me if this is a flaw in the watch or is this “normal” ?

  98. Carlos

    Ray

    I have a picture in the following link
    After just one week it has already collected dirt.

    Is this really normal ?
    Sorry to insist but you are the most knowledgeable person I know !!!!

    link to imageshack.us

    • Rainmaker

      In looking at it, if you’re talking about the inner edge. I think that’s probably not natural. If you’re talking about the outer edge, that’s more normal. I’d definitely consider contacting Garmin Europe and they’d likely be more than willing to swap it out.

    • Garmin will exchange the watch.

      Thanks.

  99. Raymond_B

    Ray or other 610 users. I have a question about pace based workouts. It sounds kind of dumb, but does it matter how I format the min/mile range? Meaning if I want to run 7:45 does it matter if I format it like 7:30 to 8:00 or 8:00 to 7:45? Also I am assuming the 610 uses average pace/mile and not simply pace/mile? Hope that makes sense 🙂

    One last item, when you create and start a custom workout does it use any of your other alerts? Like a distance alert? I set my distance alert to 1mi and used a custom work out with a single 10 mile interval today, and it never notified me at the mile marks.

    • Raymond_B

      So I **think** the answer is yes it uses avg pace for pace based workouts. That would make sense. But it’s weird that none of my other alerts (like distance) work. Also auto pause doesn’t seem to work during the workout.

    • Raymond_B

      Also meant to add, thank you so much for the discount code on Clever Training. I used it, I hope it pays you back in some small way for your immense help!

    • Rainmaker

      Sorry, missed this one! But looks like you’re all sorted out. Thanks for the support on the Clever Training side!

    • Rainmaker

      For the distance alerts – are you setting those on the watch, or as part of a workout?

    • Raymond_B

      I set the distance alert on the watch, as well as auto pause. The first time I used the watch with no workout loaded they worked fine. But then I loaded a simple workout of 1 interval of 10 mi I get no alerts.

    • Raymond_B

      Well I called Garmin support and was told that indeed when you load an interval workout Auto Lap and Auto Pause will not work. That just doesn’t make sense to me and I am a bit disappointed in the watch. I did a long run yesterday and it was very hot so I stopped to drink, one time I stopped the timer and forgot to restart it. I missed a 1/2 mile or so of my workout.

  100. Alistair Wood

    Quite keen to get one of these but also would kick myself if an updated better version was released a month later. Has there been any sign of a next generation 610 (whatever that may be called) in the near future?

    • Rainmaker

      Nothing on the immediate radar. Most new watches we’ll see in the running space will be more focused towards the fall running season.

  101. Scott Buchanan

    Hey Ray,
    Never seen a question related to this and Google ‘wasn’t’ my friend when I did a search so was wondering if you knew…
    I’ve decided to start moving away from Apple and its products without going into detail I’m finding the walled garden and Apples increasingly obsessive control freakery just too annoying to continue. Many people I know have a Samsung Galaxy smartphone. Am about to pull the trigger on an S4 but was wondering what the deal is with support for Garmin products? Have the Wahoo Key for iPhone but can’t find a similar product for Samsung/Android. Any ideas on that or Android and Garmin in general? Have an FR610 and Fenix with Edge 810 or 510 to follow soon.
    Cheers

  102. Lukman

    Hi,

    Have you tried using the FR610 in bike mode but without the bike sensor? I mean it still has GPS sensors to work out speed and elevation and the heart rate sensor.

    Cheers

    • Rainmaker

      Yup, no problems at all there. Perfectly functional.

    • Luke

      Does it work with the bike mount? The literature I can find says the bike mount works with the 50, 405, 110, 310XT, 60, 301, and 401. I suspect the 610 isn’t included because it is newer, but wanted to double check…
      As always, your insight is much appreciated!

    • Yup, no problems. It’s really a very generic watch mount, and works with virtually every watch on the planet. I can’t think of a single watch that doesn’t work with it.

      Enjoy!

  103. Michelle

    Do you have any details on how to set the pace alert?

  104. Michael

    I am looking at 3 different watches, FR610, FR210 or motoactiv. I want it for running and maybe to replace my old etrex for biking. I have read many reviews that have said the garmins have had problems with the charging not working. Have you seen this? I like the features of the motoactiv but might not be a good everyday watch. I am leaning toward the 610. Do you know if you can change the watch band on the 210?

    • Rainmaker

      I know there were some problem units at one point, but I believe that’s been resolved. And for those that did have issues my understanding is Garmin is swapping out no questions asked.

      The FR210 and FR610 charging cables are not compatible unfortunately. The FR610 charging cable is a lone soldier compared to just about every other Garmin unit. :-/

      That said, it’s what I generally use day to day for running.

    • Raymond_B

      I picked my 610 up a month or so ago and have not had any charging issues at all. I really like the watch both for running and as an everyday watch. I just wished Auto Pause and Auto Lap worked when you load custom workouts…

  105. Arnaud

    Hi,
    Just purchased a FR 610 Yesterday and I’m already having problems transferring (complex) workouts to the watch either via connect.garmin.com which doesn’t work at all (altough ANT Agent says it is working). Or via Training center which works one time and doesn’t the next. I’m using a Mac with the lastest software versions of all… I’m a bit disapointed, the watch seems very promiseful but falls short when it comes to managing it out from the computer. Any solutions?
    Thanks, your site is great when it comes to infos/testing

    • Rainmaker

      Hi Arnaud-

      Have you updated the firmware on the watch by chance? Some of the older firmware versions have issues with the transfers. Also, one other thing to try is changing the USB port. I know it sounds silly, but many folks report success with it. This tends to be caused by some of the USB ports on certain laptops (i.e. Lenovo) that are yellow (charging only).

    • Raymond_B

      Arnaud, one thing I noticed that would make my watch behave like yours is trying to download multiple workouts at one time. When it happened I powered the watch off then reset it to defaults. I also stopped and started the ANT agent. After that it works fine when I download 1 workout at a time.

  106. Arnaud

    The firmware is – I believe – the latest: 2.80. I tried changing the USB port and it gave differences but it’s still not perfect. Also I just ran a 10K race with it but without a cardio belt on and it said that it was connected to the cardio! And now looking the results on connect.garmin.com even shows heart rate!!

    • Rainmaker

      Actually, that might make sense. By default the FR610 is likely going to be in a pairing mode looking for new HR straps. So it’s likely it actually just picked up the first HR strap it saw. 🙂 Somewhat surprisingly, you must have ran within range of that person the entire race. Consistency is good, right? 😉

  107. Kathy

    Just wanted to say thank you for all of the hard work you put into the reviews. After months of comparing watches, I finally decided to splurge on the 610. The customized training plan feature and Virtual Racer tipped me over to the 610, otherwise probably would have went for the cheaper FR10. Thanks for the discount as well, the $35 savings is something that I didn’t find anywhere but here!

  108. Charlie

    Fantastic stuff! Have read your reviews on 910xt and 610 multiple times and found them very informative. I’ve been to some sports shops to actually see how they fit on my wrist, and the shop assistants actually referred to your reviews! Anyway, I got two concerns regarding the 610. One is regarding the strap issue and the other is regarding the back cover (rust) issue. You’ve mentioned that both have been fixed. But is there a way that I can identify if the watch that I’m buying from the shop is the new improved one? Cheers!

    • Rainmaker

      Unfortunately there isn’t any way to identify straps at this point (as they transition from HRM2 to HRM3), even buying direct from Garmin.com isn’t a good bet. It’s almost better to buy the unit, and then explicitly buy the HRM3 strap (which is what you want). There’s not really any cost savings in buying them together anyway. :-/

  109. Philip McEvoy

    If the back of the watch is being changed from metal to plastic how does this affect the magnetic charging cable? Am I being stupid and missing something?

  110. Bob R

    My question is in regards to how the footpod interacts with the GPS. You mentioned that the footpod is able to continue to record cadence and distance when the GPS signal is lost momentarily; is this function not supported on other models such as the 210?

    The 210, I believe you mentioned, is also able to record cadence with the footpod in conjuction with the GPS turned on, does it also continue to record distance when the GPS signal is lost momentarily? I am looking for a watch for an intermediate runner and many races I do are in Chicago where the buildings obstruct the signal for part of the run. And the ability to record distance during these times is a high priority.

    Thank you in advance.

  111. Jan

    Hi, is it possible to charge the 610 just like you showed on the 305?

    Thanks.

    • Rainmaker

      Yes, however a few things to note. First is that the FR610 charging clip isn’t super secure, so any bouncing and it’s going to fall off. A rubber band might help however. You wouldn’t be able to wear it while charging, due to the charging mount.

      Also, when I last tried it, it put a charging indicator screen up on the screen. So you couldn’t see data, though it was still recording.

    • Jan

      Thanks for your answer. I’m gonna try it.

  112. Barry Titler

    My Forerunner 405 just pooped out and from everything I’m reading it’s pretty much unrepairable. I am looking for a replacement and have been happy with the Garmin products so I am bouncing back and forth between the 610 and 910. I do not anticipate using the watch while swimming so I expect the 610 will better meet my needs. The biggest question I have is whether or not to get the HR bundle. I still have the HR chest strap from my 405. It worked fine and actually allows for the internal battery to be changed when needed so I’d just like to make sure that I don’t spend the extra money if I don’t have to. I’m brand new to the DCR site but rally like the info available and appreciate what seems to be all the hard work putting it together…thanx.

    • Rainmaker

      Hi Barry-

      Nope, no need for the new HR strap, the FR405’s strap is fully compatible with the FR610. Enjoy!

  113. Hi.
    I have one question.. (didn’t read all comments though – there are too many 🙂 )
    Does Forerunner 610HR works with an older HR strap? I have this one:
    link to t0.gstatic.com
    I currently own a FR305 and it is a great watch (had it for 4 years). But, recently, buttons started failing. Mode and enter buttons are almost dead 🙁 and now I am looking for a decent replacement for my 305. FR610 seems like a next best thing…. I am curious about the HR strap though. Will my old HR strap work with the new 610? I want to buy watch-only package..

    Thank you for replying.

    Also, nice article!!

    Check out my blog too: Healthiack.

  114. Thank you for your reply. This is it then, I’m buying new FR610!

    Just one more question though. You are mentioning “spikes” when using classic (older) HR strap… I checked my older runs in connect.garmin.com and haven’t noticed any spikes with my HR graphs. Spikes began to appear with my latest runs. I am still using the same battery in my strap (more than 4 years), so I am assuming that those spikes occur because of battery going flat…

    Regards, MG

    • Rainmaker

      It could be the battery (4 years is a REALLY long time), though it also could be the strap itself. Try swapping out the battery first.

  115. Lisa Geller

    Love your reviews! Any idea how many custom workouts the 610 can store? Can’t seem to find this anywhere…

    Thanks
    Lisa.

    • Rainmaker

      Hmm, that’s a good question. I’d go with a fair number, since I’ve sync’d a number of them to the watch (most of my workouts automatically sync to it).

  116. Bryant

    Hi Ray

    Great reviews on your site, very helpfull indeed. Im currently looking at purchasing a gps watch for my partner who is a very competitive du-athlete.
    I looked at the 310xt but its is rather bulky for her small frame, do you think the switching between run/cycle mode on the 610 is practicle to be used during a race or is it better to go with the one button touch of the 310xt.

    Thanks

    • Rainmaker

      It’s not too bad, as assuming you had satellite lock – then it should only take a second to regain it. If you practice it a few times it’ll be quick.

  117. Fernando

    Hi Ray, first of all thanks! thanks for your website and your reviews… it has taken me a time to go through most of the reviews and information you have. Now following you on fb.

    I do have a few questions regarding your opinion on this watch, I am starting in this wonderful world of running and cycling. Not swimming at the moment, but who knows… the thing I have got from your reviews is that this watch will outfill most of my needs right now, i am worried if maybe too many functions i will not really use and maybe I should go for sth cheaper.

    No news about when Garmin is going to replace this 610, I have searched on the internet, and nothing found, as per some of the comments above I get the feeling that for maybe fall. But this watch will still be a good option even though the replacement is great right?

    Which other watch if not this one will you recommend for a beginner? I suppuse the 210 by you 2012 gadget review!!!

    Thanks again!!!!!!

    Regards

  118. Bob

    Ray,

    I am traveling in Seoul this week and just uploaded a run I completed this morning. When I did, the Garmin Ant Agent software re-uploaded every run I still had on FR610. When I looked at the Activities folder on my Mac, I noted that most of them were duplicated with the time stamp in the file name 13 hours off each other. Obviously, that has something to do with the time zone difference between where I normally run (east coast USA) and Seoul. With all of the travel you do, have you ever seen this happen before?

    • It’s funny, I see that a lot, but I’ve never narrowed down what exactly causes it to re-trigger everything. Had never even considered time-zones (it doesn’t always do it to me though when travelling, hence lack of considering time-zones).

  119. Bob

    Ray, I wonder if it does not always happen to you because once you have been to a time zone, the new files with the updated file names already exist so the Garmin Ant Agent does not redownload them.

    Either way, it is annoying and could easily be fixed. I will submit it as feedback to Garmin in their website.

  120. Leandro Quintanilha

    Hi

    I bought recently the 610 but I am a little bit disappointed with the device. I am having a lot of problems during the satellites search, it takes a long time to find it and in cloudy days it gets worse. Have you heard something about it?

    Thanks Leandro Quintanilha.

    • It sounds like the unit may just be hung up on a satellite it can’t reach anymore. Go ahead and do a soft reset and it should fix your issues. That won’t cause any data loss, it just resets the satellite cache.

  121. Hi everyone, greetings from Slovakia.
    I bought 610 last year in April. After 14 months I claimed it in Garmin Service becasue of corrosion/rust on the back. Garmin send me new model of 610, with differend back. It is made from different alloy (probably aluminum alloy). I think that problem is solved. They looks better and they are lighter too (one third lighter). Good Job GARMIN !

    And Ray ! I bought my first Garmin FR110 and then FR610 because of yours reviews, good job.

    • Yup, Garmin will swap out any FR610’s with corrosion/rust/discoloration issues, resulting in a new plastic-like backing.

    • AJ

      When you say any, do you mean even ones out of warranty?

    • Yes, out of warranty have been included thus far from what I’ve heard from many folks.

    • AJ

      I put in my request for repair, I’ll come back and see if it goes through. My 610 is well outside of the normal warranty period. Got an email back asking for an address. Thanks for the help!

    • AJ

      Everything is going smooth. Garmin Received, and is in the process of sending back a refurb. Watch was about 8 months out of warranty. This is one of the reason’s my Wife and I will never get a running watch outside of Garmin. Had several under warranty issues they handled, and now this. Thanks for the tip on the rusting. Much appreciated.

  122. Bluegrass Runner

    I need to replace my broken FR 305 and had settled on the 610. After reading all the bad things happening, I’m wondering if I’d be better off waiting until Garmin comes out with a replacement. Does anyone have anything GOOD to say about the 610 that would persuade me to go to REI and get one?

    • I really think all the negative comments are purely focused on the backing issue (responsible for discoloration, corrosion/rustlooking) – which Garmin has resolved in new units. They’ve swapped out the metal for a plastic-like material, which doesn’t have those issues. And those issues appear to be limited to certain skin triggers (for example, I still use my original one from about the time of this review, daily, without any of those issues). Whereas others could get a unit and see them within a few days or weeks.

    • Michael

      I have had my 610 for around 5 to 6 weeks and love it. I haven’t seen any issues with it yet. I love the ability to see 4 data fields which the less expensive models don’t have. Just make sure to get a screen protector with it, but I would say go get one.

  123. Bluegrass Runner

    Thanks for the positives! Looks like I can get a $50 rebate by sending them my dead 305 too!

    • Bluegrass Runner

      Forgot to thank you for all of the great reviews and information you have here! Great site and a lot of work!!!

  124. Lucas

    Hi,
    was looking at this unit, but then cant fins if it shows you altitude and meters gained whilst running/using ?
    Can someone recommend a unit that does the above ?

  125. Lucy

    Hello Ray,

    Thank you for all the great reviews! Quick question: have you heard when/if Garmin is releasing an updated/replacement unit for the 610? Not sure if I should buy now or wait until a new one comes out (if that is a month or two away). Thanks again!

    • Tom_dew

      Same here, I think this 2 years old product should be replaced soon ! At the moment In France, there is a Garmin special discount on few models, maybe it’s a sign that announce new models soon ? But let Ray tells us more about that !
      Thanks

    • As noted a few comments above, based on historical schedules, I think we may see something later this year. But whether that’s just a fall announcement, or fall availability is the real question. We’ve seen numerous instances of fall announcements, only to have availability be post-Christmas (i.e. some Edge units, Garmin FR910XT, etc…).

      In short, if you’re buying for training now, then I’d buy for training now and enjoy it today. There will always be something around the corner.

    • Lucy

      Thanks again!

  126. Mario

    I just got a FR610 from Amazon.fr and unfortunately, after charging the screen went blank. I tried to soft/hard reset the watch, turn it off, turn it on to no avail. I gave up and since it had just arrived in the mail, I sent it back for a replacement. I hope the next one works OK.

    Has anyone else experienced blank screen issues? Is this a known issue? I found some threads over at the Garmin forums but they were about the FR110.

    • Hmm, definitely not common, and not something I’ve seen before – especially if you tried the resets – which almost always fixes things. It sounds like support got you hooked up and swapped out though.

    • Mario

      I just received a replacement FR610 and it came with the newer Garmin ANT+ USB keys, which looks the same to the Suunto Movestick Mini. Nice!

  127. Emily

    My 610 went into power save during a one hour run this week. I’ve never seen it do that. I lost a whole mile before I discovered it, and of course all the information for those minutes, too. Anyone know if this is normal? Is there some setting to keep it awake during an activity? Thx

    • Hmm, that’s a bit odd. My first thought was that was the unit started? As in, the distance incrementing?

      I’d guess so. Beyond that, it almost sounds like perhaps the unit got stopped, and then went into power save after the usual 5 minutes. If you have auto pause on, I could see a very weird edge case where it stopped but didn’t start – but everything seems to point to the unit getting stopped, and then triggering auto pause.

    • Emily

      Thanks for replying – it was defintely on and tracking. The connect website confirms this. Unless I somehow bumped the button (unlikely, I think) while I was running, there’s no reason it should have been stopped. And I went in and checked settings, auto-pause was not on. Hasn’t happened since though, so I guess I won’t stress over it.

  128. Alex

    Hi,

    During the last 4-5 runs my hrm started on accurate levels, but after 20-30 minutes the recorded bpm went down to clearly inaccurate levels, like 90-100, while they would be normally 150-160. After that they even stayed fixed at 100 for minutes! I tried drying up the sensors in case it was a problem of excessive sweating but nothing seems to change.

    Has anyone else experienced similar problems? Should I ask Garmin to replace my premium heart rate monitor (soft strap)?

    Thanks.

  129. Derick

    Great review…but a year after buying a 610 I can’t get two hours of battery life out of it. I’ve never come close to the advertised 8 — the longest I ever saw was six, and it has dropped steadily since then. Horribly disappointing product.

  130. Karen

    Hi Ray, does Garmin FR610 give accurate heart and track readings like Polar RCX5?

    I decided against buying Suunto T4C since I didn’t notice that GPS pod is separate too, like RCX5 🙁 And both GPS pod and PC pod is not included in the package.

    Based from where I am, I can get the 210, 405/410, 610 almost the same price. with roughly $50 difference so it really doesn’t matter. Will use it for running, gym, and road/mountain biking. It’s not for triathlon, just a hobby/sport and I want to see my tracks too. Since I’m fairly new to biking (2 weeks), I can only get up to 15km for now. Will buy an HRM watch first before I buy ANT+ adapter for Iphone so I could see my cadence, HRM, etc there. That’s why I prefer Garmin so I could re-use my HRM when I pair it up with my phone.

    Thanks! 🙂

  131. meni

    I bought this watch a year ago after reading this article. Unfortunately some of the well known issues were not posted here – The backcover of the watch get rusty and makes your skin green !!! I have contacted Garmin and they told me it is a known issue and replaced it with a new watch. But guess what – the same thing happened ! So I called them again and they apologized and said they will replace it again, but this time with a plastic back cover. I am still waiting for the replacement watch, which I found out they will be sending a refurbished one instead of a new one under the claim ” it is brand new watch that we only replaced the cover but since we handled it we cannot call it brand new”. I bought chinese watches in less than 5$ which did not go rusty, so why a 399$ watch get rusty ? Last time I am buying Garmin , back to good old Polar !

    • Hi Meni-

      The discoloration issue doesn’t impact everyone (it doesn’t impact me for example, and I’ve been using my FR610 since I wrote this post, multiple times a week). It appears to be a reaction that happens in certain cases depending on the person. However, as noted in many of the recent comments above – Garmin will happily swap it out for one with a plastic backing – even for watches far outside of warranty.

      As far as being new, it really is pretty much new. You can read about the refurb process in my post here about it, but essentially it actually goes back to the same factory in Taiwan and gets rebuilt. link to dcrainmaker.com

    • Mario Oliveira

      I’m from Brazil and I’ve bought my 610 from an authorized israeli seller on ebay two months ago. Lucky bastard, it’s the last batch out there, with plastic back and stuff – checked the info with garmin personel. I’ve been using it consistently day in day out and it didn’t turned me into a Grinch!

      No rust issues too. It feels like a solid piece of technology to me!

      All I need to do now is to buy a HR strap. Can’t make up my mind between the last premium Garmin strap or the magellan one!

    • I prefer the Magellan, but the new Garmin HRM3 isn’t as bad as previous efforts. I still get issues in the first 8 minutes, but then it’s fine.

    • Moh

      I’m in doubt too!

      The more I read, the more uncertain I get. I could have just easily bought the Magellan one, but its transmitter pod looks a tad bulky to me. It’s silly, I know!

      Can’t make up my mind between getting a combo like Garmin HRM (or ANY other brand with a nice looking transmitter pod) + Polar Wearlink soft strap or the Magellan’s

  132. john

    hi buddy
    Big fan of your site, i recommend it to all my friends..
    anyway
    im about to bring my 610 for a mountain hiking in one day trip
    well its about 6 hours going up and 4 hours back to the basecamp, with the rest on the top, total about 12 hours on the trip. If i turn the gps on, how long does it going to last ?
    I really hope i could trace my track with it and watch it later on the pc or endomondo
    thanks ray

  133. Phil Bishop

    Hi Ray

    thanks for your reviews, no idea how you fit in work, training and writing these up!

    What’s your take on the special edition white/blue colourway please? I read it has a plastic cover on the batter so presumably answers the sweat-induced rusting & green wrist issues. Are there any other changes worth noting or is it purely cosmetic?

    Cheers

    Phil
    London, UK

  134. Andrew

    Great review, thanks. I’m looking at these watches. It’s clever technology.
    What gets me though is something low tech like the watch strap. The standard strap is a plastic one, which *will* break in a few months. My Polar had a flimsy plastic strap, which broke. But I replaced that with a generic velcro strap, costing very little.
    The design of the Garmin watch means that you can’t just put on any strap (correct me if I’m wrong). You need to buy the bespoke strap from Garmin.
    There’s also a soft strap available, which seems more durable. Why can’t the watch ship with that one? Oh right, yes, so they can gouge more cash from you! As if the thing wasn’t expensive enough.

  135. Raymond_B

    Have you actually seen a 610 in person? There’s nothing at all flimsy about the strap.

    • Andrew

      No but I’ve seen reviews that the strap has broken on it. I also thought my Polar strap was strong, but sure enough, it broke. Took a few months, but it snapped.
      Fact is, this doesn’t appear to be an easily replaceable part on the watch, and it was designed that way.

    • It wasn’t actually the strap itself that broke for some early adopters, but rather the pins connecting it to the watch face.

      That said, Garmin has been pretty good about swapping those out for free, as well as any folks with the earlier metal backing that caused some to

      For the band durability itself, as others here have noted, it’s pretty darn strong – way stronger than any of the Polar units I’ve used. I’m reasonably certain that if it weren’t for the connect to the watch I could probably put all 170+ pounds of my weight hanging on it and it wouldn’t snap.

      Like others, I’ve been using mine since I published this review, and still use it every other day.

  136. Raymond_B

    I’ve had my 610 almost exactly a year, no strap issues whatsoever. I run and cycle with it, and wear it every day. I’d definitely find a place that would let you inspect the watch in person before making any claims about the strap.

    • Andrew

      Ok, thanks for the advice Ray. @Raymond_B, I will try and have a look at a 610 up close, but just a slight concern after what happened to my Polar watch.
      But the 610 does look like a fantastic piece of kit. Just what I need to pace myself towards that sub 20 5k.

  137. Andrew

    I’d like to do interval training using the 610. For example, I would typically want to do the following –

    1k – run at 11 kph
    500m – run at 14.5 kph
    500m – run at 11 kph
    500m – run at 14.5 kph
    …repeat until 5k done

    Is this possible? Looking at the 610 user guide, the interval workouts are based on either time or distance, and I’m not clear on how, or if you can set the pace.

    • Daniel

      No worries, Andy, it is possible and easy. You just don’t set up an interval workout, but a custom workout for which you can specify also pace or heart rate as a target.

  138. Alistair Wood

    Great review which based upon I bought the watch. Been using some of the Training Plans from Training Peaks which by the way is a bit of a pain to get them onto the watch (compounded by problems on their server and then them sending the wrong plan manually). I have finished the plan now but still seem to be getting workouts on the watch, is there any way to clear these out without resetting the watch and loosing all the other setting? Are there any other sources for a range of training plans which make the process of getting it onto the watch any easier?

  139. OperationOne

    a simple setup question: is it possible to set up FR610 to use the footpod as the primary source for speed (and obviously cadence), and leaving the GPS still on (to have the track recorded)? or is a feature available only in FR310/FR910? thanks!

    • Yup, you can specify in the FR610. I wrote a post on doing just that while on a cruise boat actually: link to dcrainmaker.com

    • OperationOne

      thank you very much! i remember your “on the boat” post 😀 i’ll try my first full marathon in late October, and if Garmin don’t show up with a new FR610-ish watch update soon, i’ll buy one. i need some accuracy in speed and a full manageability for complex interval training. thanks!

  140. Joe Meehan

    Has anyone had any problem with the Garming 610 not charging when you plug it into the charger. I have to try putting it on there a few times before it actually “takes” and starts to charge. I’ve had the watch just over a year, and it has been flawless until now.

  141. John B

    Hi Ray,

    Brilliant review as always.

    I’m currently in the market for a new running watch, and the 610 seems to fit the bill perfectly. My only concern is the watch is over 2 years old now. Do you know if Garmin have a a replacement model due anytime this year / early next year? If so, I’d rather wait a few months and stump up the cash for a new model.

    Thanks

    John

    • OperationOne

      same situation here. i need to upgrade from FR210 as soon as possible, but at the moment there are no rumors about a new watch 610-like from Garmin…

    • I’ve noted a few times recently that Garmin is typically pretty good history-wise on new units at pre-defined times. I’d expect to see a unit or more this fall announced, but whether or not they are available is a different story. Garmin typically divides releases into two camps: Those that are immediately available (i.e. Garmin Swim), and those that take some time (i.e. Edge 800). For those that take some time it could be a few weeks, or 3-6 months. It really just depends on the product cycles and where development is.

      My general guidance is that if you want a watch to use for the fall running season (i.e. a marathon), then get the watch now and enjoy the benefits. If you’re looking at something for Christmas+, then consider waiting to see what pops up.

    • John B

      Thanks Ray, much appreciated.

      I think I’ll make do with my current watch and keep an eye out for any announcements.

  142. Raymond_B

    I thought I’d add a bit of trivia for folks wondering how much data the watch can hold. Today after my run when my watch went to sync it notified me that I was getting close to overwriting my oldest workouts. Looking at my PC I have 71 files totaling 150MB. My largest file is 7.8 MB. For me, a basic newish runner, it’s taken 3 months to hit this.

  143. Chad

    I am a little disappointed. I just got my new FR610 today and I hooked it up to charge and the battery percentage starting going down. Apparently this is a very well known issue.

    Is this something that can be fixed? I was able to finally get it to charge but it concerns me because people have this issue a lot and say it is due to corrosion on the battery terminals or a bad connection from the charger to the watch. My watch is brand new and I am hoping I didn’t waste my money.

    Anyone go through this and have a permanent solution?

    Thanks

    • Have you updated the firmware?

      Ultimately, if it charged and you aren’t seeing any issues (since this was just out of the box), I wouldn’t fret yet.

    • Chad

      I have updated from 2.7 to 2.8. So far so good but it seems like for a watch that is this expensive there have been many issues with corrosion, reverse charging, band falling off while running etc…

      My fr305 has been great for years and I hope I don’t regret the new fr610.

    • Good to hear. If you just bought a unit, you would have the plastic backing, which doesn’t have any corrosion/discoloration issues like the metal backing (and even those folks still get free swap-outs). The band issues were largely limited to the first few months before they changed the design (some 2+ years ago).

      Enjoy!

    • Chad

      I must have bought an older unit because it has the metal back. Do they swap it out even if it hasn’t corroded yet? I would definitely like to take care of the problem before it was a problem….. if that makes sense. 🙂

    • The corrosion/discoloration issues tend to pop-up pretty quickly if they’re going to happen. It’s based on a reaction with your skin. For example, I’ve had the same unit since roughly launch of the device, no issues. Whereas other folks will get it almost immediately. It’s just really a one to one item if it happens.

      It is odd though that you got a metal-based one. They stopped making those at least a year ago.

    • Chad

      I just finished my first 8 mile run with this new watch and it did a good job. The issue I am seeing is that when I got home the watch transferred the run to my computer using the ant+ stick, but after it transferred the run it started to “update the firmware” again.

      I updated the firmware on it yesterday but now every time the ant+ stick checks for new activity on the watch after it is done checking it updates the firmware again!! It takes about 10 minutes every time to update the firmware. How do I make it stop trying to update? The firmware is already at 2.80.

      This is very, very annoying.

      Any help would be appreciated.

      Thanks

  144. OperationOne

    pulled the trigger yesterday for a new FR610. in a short run test, everything goes fine: cadence and istantaneous pace from footpod, GPS track recording set to “on” for a workout later review, mini usb ant+ stick instead of the large old one, no issues with charge, fw 2.8 onboard when unboxed, paired without any issues with Garmin footpod and HRM and with a Bontrager cadence/speed sensor on my bike, no real issues with touchscreen handling (when running, tapping is the key! :D)
    display is only slightly less “bright” than FR210, maybe due to touchscreen hardware, but this is not a real problem at all. very happy 😀

  145. Anthony

    I am looking to upgrade from the 405CX to the 610 soon. I just wanted to confirm that the heart rate monitor that came with the 405CX (I think it is the one you labelled as ‘classic’ in your photo above) will still be compatible with the 610. Obviously I’d like to save costs and just get the 610 without HRM if at all possible.

    • Chad

      My 610 works with my heart rate monitor from my 305. Shouldn’t be an issue. Look on the back and see if it says Ant+. That is what it uses to communicate.

    • OperationOne

      if labeled as Ant+ (and that’s obvious), it will work. with FR610 i am currently using the one that comes with my FR210.

  146. Jeremy S

    Would it be worth picking up a refurbished 610 (comes with 1 year manufacturer’s warranty…found one for around $250) over a brand new 210…or trt 2.0…or TomTom?

  147. Pat Shea

    Have you seen any problems with the watch dropping satellite connection mid run and not picking it back up? I have had two runs on regular routes where I lost satellite lock, including 13 miles into a 15 miler.

    • Hmm, I haven’t. Try doing a soft-reset though, as that will likely solve any satellite connection issues (it clears the satellite database).

    • Arpan

      How long have you had this watch? My 305 ran into the same issue, dropped satellite mid runs and now completely stopped locking on satellites. Granted it’s few years old but seems like it’s a Garmin thing where GPS fails.

      I need to buy a new watch but still debating between 610 and Ambit 2 S.

    • On your FR305 – did you try resetting it?

    • Arpan

      Yes, I did master reset and Auto Locate as well. Neither of them helped. I ran in a downpour for couple hours, may be that damaged GPS chip/circuit. It works good with foot pod but it’s not quite accurate.

      Would you recommend FR 610 or Ambit 2 S? After my experience with 305, I am little nervous about buying another Garmin however from your review it looks like it’s a pretty decent watch. Mostly a runner but I bike commute to work, couple times a week, in Fall and lap swim few times a year. Thanks!

  148. Rob

    is the ant stick the only way to sync the 610? any other way to get the runs off?

  149. Jeremy S

    Curious about how sturdy the watch is. Unfortunately, I tend to bump into stuff a lot, and would feel pretty lame if I dropped the cash for this, only to accidentally break it. Thoughts?

    • Chad

      It seems to be pretty sturdy. I have only had mine about 2 weeks but no issues. I am one of those people who takes amazing care of it though so mine is treated very well.

  150. Chad

    OK, very interesting question here.

    I logged my first run today using the 1S recording option. I uploaded the data to Garmin Connect and when I look at the ‘Player’ tab in the run details I do NOT see data for every second. The data is still about 10 seconds apart from each data point. Also, the map of the run has just as many sharp edges as using the smart recording.

    I downloaded the .tcx file to make sure and there is data for every second. I loaded those files into a website ( http://www.gpsvisualizer.com ) and it does show nice smooth lines for the run. It obviously is loading all data points onto the map.

    SO, the QUESTION is why doesn’t the Garmin Connect site show all of the details from the data file? Why would they give the option to do 1S recording but not load all that data into the activities details view for the user to see? Am I missing something here????

    Any help would be appreciated.

    • Yeah, the player portion of the site does some smoothing – I suspect to be able to play things back quickly and smoothly.

      But otherwise, the data is still used there and recorded there for the remainder of the website. For example, HR averages and the like. Also, if you zoom in on the graphs you’ll see it’s displayed as 2s (likely again to speed display). Other sites show 1s data on graphs.

      Ultimately the key is that the data is recorded properly for use in summary and averages.

    • Chad

      Thanks. I did zoom in and the data is about 3 seconds apart. I guess that is better than the other runs showing about every 7 seconds.

      I don’t even really need or want the 1S data but just knowing that I can’t see it bothers me. 🙂 If you are going to give the option then let the user see all the data. Am I right?

  151. Leg

    Hi, as the 610 is getting old, (and my 305 is even older), do you expect something new from Garmin before Xmas?

    • I’ve noted a few times recently that Garmin is typically pretty good history-wise on new units at pre-defined times. I’d expect to see a unit or more this fall announced, but whether or not they are available is a different story. Garmin typically divides releases into two camps: Those that are immediately available (i.e. Garmin Swim), and those that take some time (i.e. Edge 800). For those that take some time it could be a few weeks, or 3-6 months. It really just depends on the product cycles and where development is.

      My general guidance is that if you want a watch to use for the fall running season (i.e. a marathon), then get the watch now and enjoy the benefits. If you’re looking at something for Christmas+, then consider waiting to see what pops up.

  152. Huey Counts

    I hoped to not have to bother you with this, but no other forum could help. And maybe I can’t be helped.

    I ran with my Garmn 610 on Tuesday. Everything was fine. It was at about 40 percent power when I was finished, so I connected to the charger.

    Came home form work Wednesday and grabbed it for a run. The screen was completely blank. I tried all the various methods to get it to come to life, but no luck.

    Today when I tried to turn it on, I did get a vertical line toward the left side of the screen. It faded away in a short time. And at various other times today I would try and would get either one veritical line or sometimes three of different thicknesses.

    Any suggestions at all?

    Thanks, love your site.

  153. Huey Counts

    I’ve tried all the resets possible, but nothing.

    Since it’s a totally blank screen it doesn’t react to anything I try — at least nothing that I can see.

    It just looks back at me with a dead screen. Or sometimes a couple lines.

    Dang it. Outside of a couple reverse charges it hasn’t cause me any problems in two years. And there was that silly pin issue on the band that I corrected.

    Aug. 24 was our two-year anniversary 🙂

  154. hans

    will the battery life go beyond 8hrs using foot pod (gps off)?

  155. Krumpet

    Two things that drive me nuts about the 610:
    1. It turns itself on very easily while I’m sleeping/in a meeting, and then buzzes really loud three times when it realizes it’s unneeded. Also, it drains the battery to be searching for satellites while I’m searching my inbox. Although the touchscreen is nice for when I’m actually working out, I would prefer it required something like ‘hold two buttons for three seconds’ to turn on. I dislike that my sleeve operates my watch more than I do.
    2. You can make workouts online, and then your watch will buzz at you and tell you what to do next. Cool, right? Unfortunately, it doesn’t actually display the parts of the workout that you programmed. So if you have a complex workout, say, alternating between running, strength exercises, and rest, it’s quite easy to get lost.
    Example:
    Program in 5:00 warmup, 3 x (2:00 interval, 1:00 other, :30 recovery) 1:00 interval, 5:00 cool down.
    Displays: warmup – run – run – run – run – run – run – run – run – run – cool down. Very not helpful.

  156. Rob

    I want to have a pace alert so if I fall below a specific pace, the watch vibrates/beeps. Is the best way to do that to use a “virtual partner” and set it to the pace I want? Can i still see my other data fields (elapsed time/distance) when I use Virtual Partner?
    Thanks.

    • Yup, when you use Virtual Partner you can simply tap to see your normal screens.

    • Rob

      Wondering if i did something wrong. Set up the virtual partner per the instructions, started my run, and, nothing. Wasn’t until the 2 mile mark that I got a notification that I was ahead of pace and that was the only notification I ever go, regardless of my pace. I tried intentionally going above and below the pace I set to trigger an alert. Nothing. I was using both GPS and footpod (GPS as primary). Any tips or tricks you can recommend?

  157. Chad

    Another question: For the past few runs when I turn my watch on it will come up and ask me if I want to “Clear User Data?”. I choose no of course but I have no idea why this keeps happening.

    I have only had the watch about a month and it only has about 20 runs on it totaling around 70 miles or so. Could the watch be full already? I logged hundreds of runs onto my 305 and it never had any issues.

    I couldn’t find any documentation on this so I figured I would ask here.

    Thanks

  158. Ryan

    Thanks for the great review! Just ordered mine through clever training to support you and the website. Can’t wait to get it!

  159. jeff

    Good Review as per normal..
    Can the 610 turn on the backlight for a few seconds when it does an auto-lap update like the fr10 does ?
    The fr210 can’ t.

  160. James

    Garmin is about to release the Forerunner 620:
    link to sites.garmin.com

  161. jeff

    ah…man.. and i had made my mind up on the 610.. but seeing the 220 is waterproof to 50m and has a full graphic screen…10 hours GPS time ..i’ll wait for it. Thanks very much for the lead fellas !
    Can’t wait for the manual to see the rear spec…
    Rainmaker can you let out of the bag that you have tested the 220 ?….

  162. Hi All – here’s my hands-on look at the FR610 replacement, the Garmin FR620, enjoy! link to dcrainmaker.com

  163. myleftpeg

    many thanks for a great review. I have just purchased one. it is very up to date compared to my old 305 that I reluctantly had to retire due to the fact that it was becoming more supa glue and match sticks as the rubber started to evaporate. one problem though. I am trying to down load courses from Garmin connect and although it says its sent them I cant find them on my 610. what am I doing wrong

  164. Chad

    Does anyone know how to get the amount of time between laps?

    If I am doing speedwork and I run a lap for 1/2 mile, then rest a bit, then run another lap for 1/2 mile and so on…… how can I get the amount of time between laps? This would be the amount of rest time I took between laps. I am looking at the TCX data and I cannot find out how to get this data.

    Garmin connect does show a moving time and elapsed time, but this is the total time for the entire run.

    How can you get the elapsed time between laps?

    Thanks

    • You’d just press the lap button before starting the next one, and then it records that as a lap. That’s how I do intervals.

    • Chad

      The process is when you finish the interval, I push Start/Stop, then Lap. That way it records as a lap. Then I may walk for a minute or two and then I push Start/Stop to start my next interval. There is no record of the time or distance that was traveled during the rest period. Does that make more sense?

    • Yup, that works perfectly fine too. I just happen to record my rest time, purely so my coach can see how fast I’m recovering (watching my HR go down). But same technical concept.

    • Chad

      But if you don’t record the recovery time you get no insight into the amount of time taken between laps. That is my question. Maybe I’m not understanding your process. I could just record the recovery time which unusually do but for 440’s and 880’s I don’t really want the recovery time.

    • No, I record it, I just create it’s own lap for it.

      Thus:

      Warmup 15 minutes, press lap at end (Lap 1)
      2 minutes recovery, press lap at end (Lap 2)
      Interval #1, press lap at end (Lap 3)
      Recovery #1, press lap at end (Lap 4)
      Interval #2, press lap at end (Lap 5)
      Recovery #2, press lap at end (Lap 6)
      Rinse…repeat.

      When I look at it later in Garmin connect, it’s really easy to see my recovery vs work laps. And ultimately, the only thing that’s really being impacted is my ‘average pace’ for the entire run. Which, once you get past the ego-bruising thing of having it be slower, works just fine. 😉

  165. emiel

    hi dcrainmaker

    I want to replace my garmin forerunner 405cx I run for 5 years now.
    which watch do you prefer after your reviews and also looking at the prices:all with HRM
    garmin 610 € 269
    Tomtom runner € 220
    Polar RC3 GPS € 297

    your reply would be appriciated

  166. Aben

    The back of my 610 is very worn off and causes some minor skin irritations. I read somewhere (possibly here) that they will replace the back for free even out of warranty. I called Garmin UK and ‘they are not aware of that’ can anyone here help me how to get my watch replaced (I even ask for the cost and they said they can only replace the whole watch….)

    • I’d call back and push harder. Today (as of two weeks ago anyway), Garmin will replace any older metal-backed FR610’s with any of the following conditions (without any cost):

      Green discoloration on skin
      Red discoloration on skin
      Rashes/irritation on skin
      Corrosion on back of FR610 (metal backing)
      Discoloration on the back of the FR610

      If the rep you’re talking to isn’t budging, ask for a supervisor, or ask them to put you on hold and call/IM their friends in Olathe at the support desk there.

      Again, to re-iterate to other folks seeing this, they stopped selling those units 18 months ago, so if you’re in the market for one, they’re all plastic-backed now instead. The cause was the sealant over the metal basically rubbing off over time, and a reaction some people (certainly not all) had with the metal itself.

  167. Aben

    Your the best Ray, called again they are replacing it. cheers!

  168. Denis Bolduc

    Thanks for the really comprehensive review. I bought this watch in december 2011 and have had nothing but trouble. Allergic skin reaction to the heart strap, I have had the watch replaced four times because it woiuld just stop functionning. Cold dead. I have just returned once again from the service dealer who told me I am no longer on guarantee, so he would sell me a rebuilt watch model for 110$ and extended one year guarantee for 16$ extra. This was my fourth return ! I suspect Garmin has flooded the Canadian market with defectuous replacement watches. Very, very disappointed with this item, after all it was a 400$ initial price. Do not buy this product, simply unreliable. Before this GPS watch, I had a Polar AXN 300 for 8 years, with no problems whatsoever. I am in the market for a new GPS watch ( long distance trail and road runner, cross country skiing, biking,) Do you have any suggestions ?

    • I suspect you’re actually not having an allergic reaction to the HR strap, but rather, having chaffing issues which looks like a reaction. Here’s how to fix it:

      link to dcrainmaker.com

      And honestly, I wouldn’t be dealing with your dealer, but directly through Garmin for replacements – since they’ll ensure it’s not just reboxed product (some dealers will do that).

  169. Jeremy S

    I was really waffling between the 610 or waiting for the 220…but I buckled and went ahead and picked up the 610. It has some features that didn’t come on the 220 that I really would like plus, on a shallower level, I just like how it looks better.

    Can’t wait to try it out!

    Thanks for the awesome reviews. You provide more than ample info to help people make well educated choices in the running gizmo world 🙂

  170. Marco

    Hello Ray,

    good work as always.
    Like to follow your site, stories and reviews!
    I had just a question about the forerunner 610. This weekend I ran the marathon of Brussels and I usually use 4 screens (heart rate, distance, average pace and time)+ virtual partner. Is there a possibility to have also 5k marking as I’m auto-lap at 1k? This would be very useful to see how you’re pacing through the run and so you can adjust if needed. In garmin connect and garmin training center I also cannot find the option to separate in 5k blocks. I know in big marathons they do give you the times over your 5k’s.
    Thanks in advance!

    Regards,
    Marco

  171. Jeremy S

    So I’ve had my 610 for about a week now and I have to say I’m impressed.

    I’ve logged 4 runs with it and am loving it. I was a little disappointed about the amount of time it was taking to find a signal, but was pleasantly surprised this morning when it had a signal less than 10 seconds from turning it on (it has been extremely cloudy the past few days, but clear this morning).

    Being able to see the different data while running is keeping motivated to run stronger – which is awesome! Also love using the Garmin Connect site.

    Thanks for the amazing reviews and abundant information you provide in them. They have really helped me to navigate the world of running gadgetry.

  172. carlos nobrega

    hi, is the 310xt heart rate strap compatible with 610?
    thanks

  173. Konstantin Root

    Have you ever encountered problems with corrupted workouts on 610?
    I just run Amsterdam marathon and 610 corrupted this record – it shows time and distance in the watch, but opening details forces device to reboot.
    Garman ANT agent, Garmin Training center and TrainingPeaks does not see this workout. SportTracks sees it, but unable to download 🙁

    Mad as hell :(((

    • Most often, when this occurs there’s still a file transferred, it’s just in a folder called BadFit. If you swing over to the Garmin Forums, there are procedures outlined for fixing BadFit files, as well as folks that’ll typically help you in repairing them as well.

      Sorry!

  174. carlos nobrega

    hi,
    I read somewhere in your description, the new 610 cames with a different body of the first 610. What are the differences, because I want to buy a 610, but the latest version.
    thanks

    • Chad

      The latest version has a plastic back to avoid skin rashes and rust. If you find a plastic back I believe it is the newest. I bought mine about 6 weeks ago and it has a plastic back and no issues.

    • That’s correct. Only difference is backpanel is plastic now, and the pins were modified slightly to ensure the band stays on.

  175. carlos nobrega

    hi,
    thanks for the reply. I can’t find photographs of the new model. Chad, can send photos to nobrega.cdv @ netmadeira.com?
    thank you

  176. carlos nobrega

    is this the old version? link to imageshack.com
    and this the new version? link to imageshack.com
    is the new version lighter ?

  177. James

    Ray,
    Enjoy your reviews. With the 610 do you have to use the foot pod to get cadence?

  178. carlos nobrega

    I have a garmin 310xt. if I buy the 610, the 610 can read heart beats using the 310xt heart rate strap?

  179. Rob

    Any way to use the 610 on an exercise bike at the gym?

  180. some-dude

    Any idea if the garmin 610 that’s currently selling at amazon.co.uk are the new or the old version?

    Here are the product details:

    Product Dimensions: 1 x 1 x 1 cm ; 73 g
    Boxed-product Weight: 907 g
    Item model number: 010-00947-01
    ASIN: B0050HKOY0

    Thanks.

  181. Kelly

    Just in case someone stubbles upon this…I have had my 610 for awhile and noticed that the pace time would peg at a very fast time and get stuck there after running for a little while. Searching the web I found other people with similar experiences but no answers. After some experimentation, what it turned out to be was sweat coming in contact with the charging probes on the bottom of the watch. I put a couple of pieces of small tape to cover the probes and I’ve never had the problem again.

  182. Florian

    Hey,
    since my old HR-watch (Polar FT60) broke lately, I’ve been on search for a new one for quite some time now. Primarily I’d use it for rowing, but also for jogging and cycling. I’ve read your reviews for this one, the TomTom Runner, the Polar RC3 and also the Suunto Ambit, but as for now the forerunner is my favourite. Since the pricetag of the suunto one is rather high, it is also mostly out of the race, I’m most likely targeting something around 200€.
    I have read that you can configure time intervals on this one, but can you also somehow configure distance intervals? Also, can you set a distance and it starts the time right when you begin moving and stops after the given distance? Beside that, can you change the tag of workouts (like change it from “running” to “rowing” or else)?
    Finally, which watch would you recommend currently?
    Best regards from Germany
    Florian

    • Yup, no problems with distance intervals – I do it all the time. It starts as soon as the timer starts. So basically you’re just along the ride doing whatever it says.

      And yup, you can change the tag of the workout type afterwards on Garmin Connect (but not on the watch itself).

      Given the options, I’ve up until this point used the FR610 as my primary running watch.

      Enjoy!

  183. Florian

    Thanks so far!

    I’m about to order it right now, just two more questions: I think I’ve been a bit unclear above, I meant, if you, for example, want to record your time for a 2k race, can you just enter the distance and it will automatically start and stop the time after you start moving and when you reach your goal?
    I also read your preview on the upcoming 620 & 220, considering the price the 620 is not really an option for me, and compared to the 610 the 220 has far less features for approximately the same price, am I right?

  184. carlos nobrega

    any ideia how to mount 610 in the stem?
    thanks

  185. Sharyn

    Hi. Not sure if this question was asked. I know there is a garmin 620 coming out, but i think ill buy the 610 as i like the features. How do you think this would go doing tough mudders. (Obstcale race.)i dont do a lot and we are in and out of water quite quickly)

  186. Chad

    Ok. I went to upload my run from today and the watch uploaded every since run on the watch ( ~ 100 runs ). While the only new run was todays run it took about 15 minutes to upload the data to get the new run.

    i cancelled the upload and tried again. Even restarted the computer to make sure something funny wasn’t going on. It still uploaded every run.

    Is this something I can expect now in the future. It was very annoying to have to wait 15 minutes rather than about 30 seconds.

    Thanks

  187. Carolina

    Hello,
    Thank you for the great reviews! I am new to this gadhet worls and they have helped me a lot in trying to find the right watch for me. I was an amateur runner until now, done my first marathon and now really want to get into all this!
    I have been advised watches from Polar or Casio. Garmin was never mentioned and I have no experience with any of the brands. I would like an integrated GPS as don’t like arm straps on me. This unfortunately ruled out the Polar RCX5. The motivating FR910XT is a bit over the top for me. Now I am unsure between the Polar RC3 with integrated GPS or the Garmin FR610. What are the differences to consider? Is there a difference in material quality or longevity? Don’t know how to decide between them. Do you have any advice?

    Thank you for your time and support!! You have been of a great help up to now!!

    Kind regards,
    Carolina

    • I’d look at the FR610, FR620, FR220, FR210, Polar RC3, or Timex RUn Trainer 2.0.

      Given your background, I’d actually focus on the FR220, RC3, or TRT2.

      I’d go read the FR220 review and see what you think by the end of it. Ultimately, I think the FR610/FR620 watches are probably overkill based on what you’re looking for.

      Enjoy!

  188. Roland

    Forerunner 220 or 610 as the price is the same (A$299) at my local store. I am more of a beginner/intermediate runner who really do not need a 610/620 but given the price tag, which one do you think is more viable?

  189. Hi.
    One question regarding FR610 / FR910XT.
    My girlfriend has a FR610 and uses Garmin ANT agent to transfer data to PC.
    Can I use hers usb stick to pair it with my device as well?
    Can we use two watches and one USB stick?
    Thanks for replying.

  190. Andoni De Urutegui

    Hi.
    I´ve always been the kind of person that run every once in a while, i recently ran a 10k race and found myself in pretty bad shape, so i want to start running more frecuently and improve my fitness as well as my times. being a beginner, what kind of watch do you think i should get?? with a budget of $300 more or less…..i post my question here because i saw this watch (a bit too much for my needs, i know) refurbished by garmin them selfs at $218.
    Do you think that is a good deal?

    Great reviews btw!!! and thanks for the advice.

    • I think you’ll likely see a number of good deals over the next two weeks for Black Friday related deals.

      That said, $218 is a good deal, and it’s a solid watch – so you won’t go wrong there. If you think it might be overkill though, check out the new FR220 instead. It has almost all the same features as the FR610, except adds waterproofing, Bluetooth Connectivity and Live Tracking.

  191. Natalie

    I am looking for a new watch/heart rate monitor to train with. I have previously used a polar hear rate monitor however it now doesn’t read my heart rate correctly and spikes considerably, it also doesn’t have a gps funtion to give me distance.
    I have started running more over the past 12month and want to be able to see how many calories I am burning as I go as well as gps function so I can track my distance. I have been told the forerunner 210 doesn’t allow you to see the calories until you have finished the work out. Is this correct and in your opinion would I be better off with the forerunner 610?
    Your opion would be greatly appreciated.

  192. Natalie

    I asked for your opinion between the 210 and the 610 but I did just have a quick look at the 220 so what I should have asked was which watch/heart rate monitor would be best for monitoring distance travelled along with calorie burn as you work out?
    Thank you 🙂

  193. Stijn

    Quick tip for European readers: now on Amazon.de: Cyberdeal for the Garmin 610 incl. HRM for 199€.
    Thanks for the great reviews Ray!

  194. carlos nobrega

    Stijn, i can´t see, can you send the direct link?
    thanks

    • In talking with Stijn, this is for Cyber Monday. 🙂

    • Stijn

      It was a short (1 hour) deal part of Cyber Monday Week, which last from November 23 until 30. The 610 is back to it’s normal price now.

      You should see a “Cyber Monday Woche” link on the frontpage of amazon.de. From there it will show you the current and upcoming deals, including the remaining time and stock on each deal. The 610 or other gps watches might pop up there again in the coming week.

  195. Jeremy S

    I’m sure this has already been covered somewhere in the comments here, but I don’t have time to sort through them…This morning I had an issue (first one!) with my 610 that it was WAY off on tracking my distance and pace. It had me doing a 12+ minute mile when I was actually doing around an 8. Distance was lagging also. Hit 1 mile when I was actually around 1.5

    Maybe just a glitch and I should just wait and see if it keeps up. If it does, what route to I go to correct the issue?

    Thanks!

    • Chad

      Mine has been off the last few weeks as well. It seems to be incorrect for the first 1/8 of a mile or so and then corrects itself. Somewhat annoying. I have not been able to fix it. I make sure I have a good satellite signal before starting but it has my start position wrong. No idea why.

  196. Chad

    I am wanting to use my 610 to track my heart rate while sleeping. What would be the best way to do this?

  197. OperationOne

    this morning my FR610 showed on the screen a “low footpod battery” warning (after ca.135 hours of use). someone knows if there will be the same kind of alert from HRM? thanks 🙂