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Garmin Forerunner 10 (FR10) GPS watch In-Depth Review

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Today Garmin announced the new Garmin FR10 GPS watch. This watch has one purpose, and one purpose only: To compete with the onslaught of $100 GPS watches. From features and functionality to sizing – everything is smaller than other Garmin watches. But, for those looking for a low-priced GPS watch that’s more durable than a cell phone – this line definitely opens up new options.

I’ve been using two units now for a bit, and have been able to get used to all their functions and how they work. Additionally, The Girl also has been using one. Appropriate since one of the two watches is smaller and targeted towards women. So how well did Garmin do in getting out this low-price GPS product? And how does it stack up against the other competitors in this space? Well, let’s dig in and find out.

Because I want to be transparent about my reviews – Garmin sent me two units to try out. These are final production units with final firmware. Once units are available in retail shops I send them back to Garmin and then go out and buy my own (to be able to support y’all in the comments section down the road). 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:

The Garmin FR10 is the first GPS watch from Garmin using a new half-sized box. Given how much space the other ones took up, this likely saves them considerably on shipping costs from the factories in Asia.

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Inside you’ll find simply the unit and the USB charging/downloading cable. It’s likely that this was a non-final box, so I suspect you’ll also find some additional paper junk down the line. But for now – you’ve got the two things you care about.

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First up is the watch itself, which comes charged though turned off. There’s three versions – the black/red one below, the green/white one (also below), and a pink version. No pink version below.

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Then we’ve got the small USB charging cable. There’s no additional power block for the wall, so you’ll need to find your own USB port somewhere. The USB charging cable is what’s also used to download data from the unit and upload it to Garmin Connect:

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Now, here’s an important item to note – the colors (flavors) are actually different sizes. Yup, seriously. Check out the watch bands and size of the face itself:

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The green watch is a touch bit smaller – enough such that the charging clips won’t match. For us (me and my wife), that’s a pain in the butt because we often have similar watch models and therefore on trips only have to worry about one of us carrying a charger.

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The USB charger attaches via a clip that snaps onto the back of the watch. Garmin continues to improve in this area. While this isn’t quite as secure as the most secure charging clip I’ve seen from Garmin (the new Fenix clip) – it’s still pretty solid. Definitely would survive being tied onto a ceiling fan and swung around.

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With everything unpacked, it’s time to do a quick size comparison before moving into actual use.

Size Comparisons:

As always, I like to put together sizing comparison with other units in the same rough price range. In this case, I’m looking at watches between $100 and about $130 that seemed appropriate. All but the Garmin FR70 have GPS. As a general reminder, these are all watches I’ve bought – so if it’s not there in the lineup, it’s likely because I don’t have one and haven’t reviewed it. Additionally, there’s only so much room on that rolling pin.

From left to right: Garmin FR70, Garmin FR10 (green/women’s), Garmin FR10 (black/men’s), Timex Marathon GPS, Soleus 2.0 (note: Soleus 1.0 is exact same casing, thus identical in size except colors are changed).

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Here’s a look at the thickness of each one. You can see that in general they get slightly thicker from left to right.

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And then again, inverted on the counter – so you can see the air gaps under each one.

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Many times I’m asked for what the watch sizing looks like on a small female – especially one with small wrists. Thus, ask and you shall receive. On her other wrist she’s wearing the Garmin FR310XT – which is her watch she normally runs with.

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As you can see, the green watch is a fair bit smaller. Though she notes she doesn’t mind the larger FR310XT size and simply has gotten used to it. But she’s more of a competitive athlete and wants the additional data.

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Overall I think Garmin did a good job at decreasing the size here for the women’s watch. Both of us would have probably preferred it be slightly wider if they could have made it thinner – but this certainly isn’t bad given the budget nature of it.

Update: April 2013: Garmin has also now added an orange version (Men’s larger size), as well as a purple and neutral version (Women’s smaller size). I took two photos of these and placed them next to their other similarly sized siblings:

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Running:

To start off with your run, you’ll simply tap the upper right button – which starts the GPS satellite acquisition phase. The first time this may take a minute or two, but as long as you’re starting in roughly the same place next time, it’ll be within about 15-30 seconds.

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After that, you’re pretty much ready to run! To do so, simply tap the start button again and it’ll start recording.

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You can configure two data pages on the FR10, each with up to two pieces (tied together) of information on them.

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The choices are as follows (they come in pairs, you can’t get one without the other, pick two pairs):

– Time/Distance
– Time/Pace
– Time/Calories
– Pace/Distance
– Pace/Calories
– Distance/Calories

Also, Pace/Speed can be displayed in one of the following formats (applies to all pace displays above, you don’t get to mix and match):

– Pace
– Lap Pace
– Avgerage Pace
– Speed
– Lap Speed
– Average Speed

(Note: Updated Sept 10th, 2013 with Average Pace additions)

So above, you’d choose one line which then puts the two data metrics on a single page. And then choose another line for your second page. Two pages total.  No more, no less.

While running, you’ll simply press the lower right button to scroll between the different data pages. Additionally, if you’ve got some of the other functions enabled (like Virtual Pacer) – that’ll show up as well as an additional data field. But more on that in a minute. Below is what the data fields look like while running:

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If you’d like to set a lap (marker/interval) – which triggers a lap being set. You can also set auto-lap, which I’ll go into in detail in a second.

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These lap markers are visible in both the device history, as well as uploaded to Garmin Connect.

Virtual Pacer Function:

Virtual Pacer allows you to specify a goal pace (i.e. 7:45/mile) and then the watch will alert you when you’ve gone too fast or too slow.

This feature actually works a bit differently on the Garmin FR10 than the rest of the Garmin lineup of watches. Neither better or worse per se, but a bit more simplified.

First, you’ll go into the Virtual Pacer menu and configure the pace you’d like to set. If you’re in miles mode, it’ll configure it in minutes/mile. If in kilometers, then minutes/kilometer:

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Once you’ve started your run, you’ll notice that you have an additional screen that shows your current pace and whether you’re ahead or behind the actual pace. There’s a tiny bit of lag built in (perhaps 5-10 seconds) – but that’s probably a good thing, as I’ll explain in a second.

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In addition, if you’re set to display one of the other data pages, then it’ll throw up an alert if you’re ahead/behind pace. As well as beep:

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What’s funny here is that I had set this before one of my runs – merely as a way to get pictures for the review and understand how it works – not so much because I wanted to run a 7:45 pace that run. But in reality, the darn thing was so persistent when I got off that pace, that I just didn’t want to hear it any more – so I ended up running a 7:45/mile pace that evening merely so I wouldn’t have to hear it anymore. It was far more persistent and loud than other units. Which I suppose is a good thing.

In an effort to show you what this looks like, I took this video running over the top of a bridge over the Seine. Because this wasn’t a flat bridge, I was slightly uphill at the start and then downhill towards the end – perfect for showing how the Virtual Pacer works:

Garmin Virtual Pacer Function Video

Now, this differs from other Garmin units which show you how far behind/ahead you are (in distance/time). Thus, not quite as much information as those, but also a bit more straightforward. Make sense? Good.

Walk/Run Function:

The walk/Run function is targeted at those who may be using training plans that incorporate walking into the long-distance running – typically for a short period of time like a minute. These plans have become vastly more popular in the last few years.

In the case of the FR10, you’ll configure a run duration (time only), and then a walk duration (time only). The watch will automatically alert you when you reach the end of either duration.

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It’ll simply repeat this over and over until you complete the activity.

This functionality was first introduced on the Garmin FR610 (a $400 watch), so I’m happy to see it drop down to their cheapest watch. Given the target audience, I’ve always thought it was odd we haven’t see it in later firmware updates for other mid-range watches (i.e. Garmin FR210) – maybe that’ll change now.

Auto Lap Function:

Auto Lap will automatically set a marker/lap at the end of a given time period – as defined by you. By default if you enable it, it’ll be every 1 mile. These laps then show up later on in history as well as Garmin Connect. Additionally, it’ll alert you during the run as you cross over the threshold of each lap (audibly/visually).

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Auto Pause Function:

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Auto Pause lets the watch take control of pausing the recording while your waiting to cross at an intersection. Whenever you drop below the speed threshold (roughly a slow walk), the unit will automatically pause the timer/recording.

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This is primarily useful if you’re doing a lot of city running with a fair number of stoplights/signs. Once you start walking fast and/or running again – it’ll kick back on and resume recording.

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I don’t tend to use this myself, as I’ve gotten fairly good at just pausing manually when I want it to (by pressing the upper right button on the unit), and then resuming manually. To each their own though.

Cycling:

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The FR10 supports cycling…but only just barely. Like a kid eating only about two bites of his vegetables. It supports cycling by merely supporting the ability for you to change the velocity metric from ‘Pace’ (i.e. 7:45/mile) to ‘Speed’ (i.e. 20MPH).

That’s it.

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It won’t record your workouts as ‘bikes’ for Garmin Connect to pickup, nor will it even tell you ‘Bike completed’ (it says ‘Run completed’) at the end. Of course, you can easily change the workout from run to bike later in Garmin Connect with a simple dropdown on the site.

Now, to be fair – this is no different than other units in this price category. And additionally, all of the functions noted above in the running section still work just fine in cycling mode. It’s just that for example, you can’t specify a Virtual Partner ‘Speed’ of 15MPH, rather, you’d have to enter it in as 4:00 min/mile.

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Still, if you cycle occasionally – or just want to use it around town, it works just fine for recording all your cycling data without issue. And, it’ll easily upload to Garmin Connect for later analysis. Since it records all the same GPS data as a watch four times it’s cost – it doesn’t really matter as much that it mis-categorizes it.

Note that the unit will NOT work with any ANT+ bike sensors (speed/cadence), nor any ANT+ power meters, nor any Polar W.I.N.D. cycling sensors. Really, no external sensors at all. Just wanted to clarify that point.

Waterproofing/Swimming:

Finally. Holy mother of cowbells finally. Someone at Garmin finally got it. They grasped that a GPS watch costing hundreds of dollars (or roughly a hundred in this case) should have the same waterproofing as one costing $15 at Walmart. As they say in New Zealand: Give that man (or woman) a chocolate fish!

And thus, the very first running specific GPS watch from Garmin to include legit waterproofing. None of this IPX7 garbage that they use on watches costing four times as much. Ironically enough, introduced on their cheapest GPS running watch.

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(You’re noticing the waterproofing to 50 meters deep)

This means it’s completely OK to swim with – something we tested out at the pool last week by swimming with it on our wrists the entire session. And happily, it worked just fine and has been working since.

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This also means that you’re completely cool with using it in the rain or other watery adventures – so long as you’re not below 50 meters. Now the real important part of this isn’t actually that you can swim with it. Rather, it’s that it stands a far better chance of day to day water survival – an issue with the IPX7 rated watches that while rated fine for use in the rain, tended to have issues more than those with higher ratings.

Of course, in the pool it’s doing nothing more than hanging out in ‘Indoor mode’ – so only tracking time as a lap meter. But still, better than drowning (the watch, not you).

Indoor Mode:

Speaking of indoor mode, I thought I’d briefly mention it. If you’re hanging out inside and just want a simple timer with lap/interval functional – and don’t care about GPS, then you can go ahead and just tap the lower right button when it starts searching for GPS, which will bring it to this screen:

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From there, simply tap ‘No’ to have it go to the timer start page. Note that you won’t get calories here, or distance, or pace, or anything else other than time. Since there’s no ANT+ sensor support, you can’t get other data streams to aid in those metrics. Make sense?

Backlight:

The Garmin FR10 includes a basic backlight on the unit. I wouldn’t exactly say that the backlight on the FR10 is terribly brilliant in comparison to some of the other Garmin watches (like the FR910XT). But it gets the job done and is more than enough.

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You can turn on the backlight by tapping the upper left corner button, which then turns it on for 10 seconds, before turning it off. You cannot set the unit to leave the backlight on.

You cannot adjust contrast or brightness on the watch either.

Accuracy/GPS Instant Pace Stability:

First, let’s start with GPS instant pace stability. This is how stable the instant pace feature is on the watch when you run at a near-perfect constant pace. Does the GPS show that same constant pace? Or does it waver like a flag in a hurricane?

It seems as over the past 1-2 years, GPS instant pace display across a number of companies has gone down the crapper, so earlier this summer I started doing videos on all units that I’m reviewing – letting you decide if it’s crap or not.

I think it’s fair to say after you see the video below – that you’d likely agree the FR10 is the most stable instant pace watch ever seen. Heck, it might be so stable you’d think it’s simply stuck on the numbers. But I’m really impressed. Check out the video:

Garmin FR10 Instant Pace example

Which leaves me with one question/comment/statement: Garmin, please take whichever developer fixed this and put him on a solo-project dedicated to fixing it on every other watch of yours. Really, a lot of people would be happier. Like crazy happier.

As for accuracy – we were generally satisfied with that too. I’ve taken it out for a few runs, including one with The Girl, where we both ran together and both with two watches. I ran with the Polar RC3 beta watch, she ran with her trusty FR310XT, and we both ran with FR10’s. At the end of the run, here’s what we say:

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In short, the numbers were:

Garmin FR10 Green: 8.54 (The Girl)
Garmin FR310XT: 8.54 (The Girl)
Garmin FR10 Black: 8.49 (Me)
Polar RC3: 8.37 (Me)

The Polar seemed to have trouble with two tunnels into the Louvre we took, where it didn’t seem to record the extra distance there both ways – as it tracked perfectly otherwise. This may be a beta bug, I’m waiting for the final production unit.

On another run, the numbers were almost spot on between my two units (9.62 vs 9.64 miles):

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Meanwhile, The Girl found that the FR10 struggled a bit in one specific section with very tight typical European style alley/small street between stone buildings (one-car width alley with 5-6 story buildings) – where the FR310XT tracked just fine – resulting in a bit of a discrepancy (8.23 for the FR10 vs 8.43 with the FR310XT):

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Overall however, we’ve found the unit to track well in most normal circumstances, enough that I’m just not worried about accuracy on the unit.

History:

The unit has a history menu on it which shows you past runs, as well as PR’s related to time and pace for your workouts.

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When you dive in you can view a given workout, including seeing all of its laps and splits for each lap.

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Then, it’ll show you PR’s such as your longest run, fastest mile, fastest 5K, fastest 10K and other bits of running trivia. However, they won’t pull from your existing Garmin Connect account – so it’ll only be stuff on this particular watch. Still, a nice nod to what we’ve seen on other watches like the Nike+ GPS that does this as well.

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I did see a few quirks in the history menu with duplicate days, which I suspect is that it just enumerates every activity separately on a given day, as opposed to grouping all (for example) Friday workouts. Kinda odd, but a minor annoyance more than anything.

Use as a day to day watch:

The Garmin FR10 works as a day to day watch as well. While the unit only has 5 hours of active battery life for activities, it will stay in standby (time displaying) mode for five weeks. Meaning that if you run with it a few hours each week, it’ll easily stay in normal watch mode the rest of the time.

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The watch will automatically display the time based on your current time zone, which is retrieved from GPS when you turn on the GPS receiver (to start an activity).

In addition to displaying the time, you can also configure a single alarm.

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For display of time, you can choose either 12 hour or 24 hours. You cannot choose to display seconds while on the main watch screen – only hour/minutes and Month/Date (i.e. Aug 28).

Various Settings/Configuration Options of Note:

Just to cover a few final items that don’t really fit in any other category:

A) You can change the language to a slew of included languages
B) You can change from metric to statue for distance and pace
C) You can change from 12 hour to 24 hour clock mode (as noted above)
D) You can specify your weight (but not age or height), which then provides very basic calorie calculations, though interestingly as you can see above – they were nearly identical to that of the Polar RC3 doing calorie calculations with the heart rate monitor on. Fairly impressive.
E) You can specify two data pages with two data fields per data. No more, no less. This is not Burger King.
F) That is all.

Downloading and Software:

The Garmin FR10 supports uploading of workouts to Garmin Connect, using the supplied USB charging cable. To start the upload process, merely connect the cable to the watch and plug it into your computer (Mac or PC):

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The watch will appear as a USB storage device – just like a USB hard drive/thumb drive.

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You can pick the files manually (which are in Garmin’s .FIT file format), or you can simply go to Garmin Connect and let Garmin Communicator (browser plugin) do the searching for you.

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From here you’ll click to either upload all new activities – or select specific ones. In my case, I usually just tell it new ones only. Within a few seconds the upload process is complete, and you can see the list of activities:

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To dive into a given activity, simply click ‘View Details’, which brings you to the main page for that given activity. Below you can see my Saturday evening run.

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Along the left side are the high level stats for the run – from overall time, distance and pace – to elevation information. Elevation information on the FR10 comes via the GPS track. Meaning that it isn’t actually done/measured in the watch – but rather Garmin Connect figures it out based on known elevation data, by using the route.

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On the right side of the activity page is further details about your run. First up is the map. You can switch between Google or Bing as a provider, and then change to the various mapping formats that each service offers (satellite, hybrid, street map, etc…).

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Continuing down the page is the pace graph, which shows your pace over the course of the run/bike.

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You can click over a given portion to see the pace, as well as highlight a section to dive into just that piece:

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Now what’s interesting here is that after the pace graph there’s actually no further graphs. Typically there’s also an elevation graph here as well – but for reasons that are somewhat unclear to me that’s been turned off for the FR10 (yet you’ll still see total elevation ascent/descent on the left).

Next up is the splits tab, which allows you to see split information for each of the laps that you either pressed, or had auto-set:

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Lastly, you can click on the ‘Player’ tab to click a play button and have your run/bike replayed for you. It’ll show your location on the map, and your corresponding speed up above, as well as the elevation at that point in time. This is why it’s a bit puzzling to me that the elevation map isn’t available on the other page like normal.

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In addition to single-activity analysis, you can also dive into a full calendar of all your previous activities, some basic activity graphing/reporting, and then also health graphing/reporting for connected weight devices (like the Tanita BC-1000 scale).

Now – what’s probably the most useful piece of Garmin Connect isn’t actually the activity logging itself – but the ability to search other peoples activities for routes, in particular, when you’re travelling outside your home turf. I’ve used this countless times to find running routes that might otherwise be in the middle of nowhere. But since there’s a gazillion Garmin users, and thus a gazillion people uploading runs – you’re pretty much bound to find a run somewhere.

Additionally, the PR (Personal Records) data that shows up on the watch also shows up on Garmin Connect. Though, I find it far from reliable. For example, it can’t seem to find any of my marathons, nor my 37-minute 10K PR or tons of 5K’s in the mid-upper teens. And why would it show the furthest distance as 9.6 miles when there’s clearly a half-marathon above it and dozens if not 50+ 20-miler runs? Sigh. As an FYI, cycling was just introduced yesterday as well.

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At the end of the day Garmin Connect is a good basic platform for sports activity analysis. It’s not really ideal for folks wanting more detail, or lots of analytic capabilities. But at the same time, the FR10 simply isn’t a watch too deep on details itself. Now, the FR10 does record a fair number of details, so you can go ahead and load your FR10 file into other apps (i.e. TrainingPeaks or Sport Tracks) and take it from there. Also, sometimes Garmin Connect can be a little bit buggy – but in general, I find it no more better or worse than other platforms out there from a bug quantity standpoint.

Accessories:

In short, the Garmin FR10 doesn’t really support or have any accessories. Since the unit doesn’t support ANT+ sensors, about the only thing you can buy for the watch is the standard Garmin Forerunner bike mount, which usually costs about $10.

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This allows you to wrap it around the handlebars of a bike and then wrap the watch around it as opposed to your wrist.

That’s about it on the accessories front!

Competitive Comparison Chart:

The Garmin FR10 clearly takes on the other ~$100 GPS watches in the market today. Head to head many of the core features and functionality aspects are very close. It’s the details that make the difference. Here’s a breakdown of where things stand (click to expand).

Function/FeatureGarmin Forerunner 10Polar Ignite GPSGarmin Forerunner 45/45SSuunto Spartan Trainer Wrist HRPolar M200
Copyright DC Rainmaker - Updated August 10th, 2019 @ 2:06 amNew Window
Price$129$229$199$279 ($329 for metal bezels)$149
Product Announcement DateAUG 28, 2012June 26th, 2019Apr 30th, 2019August 10th, 2017Oct 6th, 2016
Actual Availability/Shipping DateSEP 2012July 2019Early May 2019August 30th, 2017October 2016
GPS Recording FunctionalityYesYesYesYesYes
Data TransferUSBUSB, BLUETOOTH SMARTUSB, Bluetooth SmartUSB & Bluetooth SmartUSB/Bluetooth Smart
Waterproofing50 metersYes - 30m50 metersYes - 50 metersYes
Battery Life (GPS)5 HoursUp to 17 hours13 HoursUp to 30 hours6 hours
Recording IntervalSmart1sSMART RECORDING (VARIABLE)Variable1s
Satellite Pre-Loading via ComputerNoYesYesYesYes
Quick Satellite ReceptionGreatGreatGreatGreatYes
AlertsSound/VisualVibrate/VisualSound/Visual/VibrateVisual/VibrateVibration/Display (no audio/beep)
Backlight GreatnessOKGreatGreatGreatGood
Ability to download custom apps to unit/deviceNoNoWatchfaces onlyNoNo
Acts as daily activity monitor (steps, etc...)NoYesYesYesYes
MusicGarmin Forerunner 10Polar Ignite GPSGarmin Forerunner 45/45SSuunto Spartan Trainer Wrist HRPolar M200
Can control phone musicNoNoYesNoNo
Has music storage and playbacknONoNoNoNo
Streaming ServicesNoNo
PaymentsGarmin Forerunner 10Polar Ignite GPSGarmin Forerunner 45/45SSuunto Spartan Trainer Wrist HRPolar M200
Contactless-NFC PaymentsNoNo
ConnectivityGarmin Forerunner 10Polar Ignite GPSGarmin Forerunner 45/45SSuunto Spartan Trainer Wrist HRPolar M200
Bluetooth Legacy (pre-4.0) to PhoneNoNoNoNoNo
Bluetooth Smart (4.0+) to Phone UploadingNoYesYesYesYes
Phone Notifications to unit (i.e. texts/calls/etc...)NoYesYesYesYes
Live Tracking (streaming location to website)NoNoYesNoNo
Group trackingNoNoNoNo
Emergency/SOS Message Notification (from watch to contacts)NoNoYes (via phone)NoNo
Built-in cellular chip (no phone required)NoNoNoNoNo
CyclingGarmin Forerunner 10Polar Ignite GPSGarmin Forerunner 45/45SSuunto Spartan Trainer Wrist HRPolar M200
Designed for cyclingBarelyYesYesYesYes
Power Meter CapableNoNoNoYesNo
Power Meter Configuration/Calibration OptionsN/AN/AN/AYesN/A
Power Meter TSS/NP/IFN/AN/AN/ANoN/A
Speed/Cadence Sensor CapableNoNoYesYesNo
Strava segments live on deviceNoNoNoNoNo
Crash detectionNoYesNoNo
RunningGarmin Forerunner 10Polar Ignite GPSGarmin Forerunner 45/45SSuunto Spartan Trainer Wrist HRPolar M200
Designed for runningYesYesYesYesYes
Footpod Capable (For treadmills)NoNoYES (ALSO HAS INTERNAL ACCELEROMETER)YesNo
Running Dynamics (vertical oscillation, ground contact time, etc...)NoNoNoNoNo
Running PowerNoNo
VO2Max EstimationNoYesYesYesNo
Race PredictorNoNoNoNoNo
Recovery AdvisorNoNonoYesNo
Run/Walk ModeYesNoYesNoNo
SwimmingGarmin Forerunner 10Polar Ignite GPSGarmin Forerunner 45/45SSuunto Spartan Trainer Wrist HRPolar M200
Designed for swimmingNO (PROTECTED THOUGH JUST FINE)YesNO (PROTECTED THOUGH JUST FINE)YesSorta
Openwater swimming modeN/AYesN/AYesNo
Lap/Indoor Distance TrackingN/AYesN/AYesNo
Record HR underwaterN/AYesN/AYesYes (optical HR)
Openwater Metrics (Stroke/etc.)N/AYesN/AYesNo
Indoor Metrics (Stroke/etc.)N/AYesN/AYesNo
Indoor Drill ModeN/ANoN/ANoNo
Indoor auto-pause featureN/AYesN/ANoNo
Change pool sizeN/AYesN/AYEsNo
Indoor Min/Max Pool LengthsN/A20M/Y to 250 m/yN/A15m/y to 1,200m/yNo
Ability to customize data fieldsN/AYesN/AYesYes
Can change yards to metersN/AYesN/AYesNo
Captures per length data - indoorsN/AYesN/AYesNo
Indoor AlertsN/AN/AN/ANoTime
TriathlonGarmin Forerunner 10Polar Ignite GPSGarmin Forerunner 45/45SSuunto Spartan Trainer Wrist HRPolar M200
Designed for triathlonNoNoNoYesNo
Multisport modeN/ANoNoYesNo
WorkoutsGarmin Forerunner 10Polar Ignite GPSGarmin Forerunner 45/45SSuunto Spartan Trainer Wrist HRPolar M200
Create/Follow custom workoutsNoYesYesNoYes
On-unit interval FeatureNoSorta (offers structured workouts)YesYesYes
Training Calendar FunctionalityNoSorta (offers daily workoutsYesYesYes
FunctionsGarmin Forerunner 10Polar Ignite GPSGarmin Forerunner 45/45SSuunto Spartan Trainer Wrist HRPolar M200
Auto Start/StopYesYesYesNo
Virtual Partner FeaturePace AlertsNo (but can give out of zone information)Virtual PacerNoNo
Virtual Racer FeatureNoNoNoNoNo
Records PR's - Personal Records (diff than history)YesNoYesNoNo
Day to day watch abilityYesYesYesYesYes
Hunting/Fishing/Ocean DataNoNoNoNoNo
Tidal Tables (Tide Information)NoNoNoNoNo
Jumpmaster mode (Parachuting)NoNoNoNoNo
GeocachingNoNoNoNoNO
Weather Display (live data)NoNoYesNoNo
NavigateGarmin Forerunner 10Polar Ignite GPSGarmin Forerunner 45/45SSuunto Spartan Trainer Wrist HRPolar M200
Follow GPS Track (Courses/Waypoints)NoNoNoYesNo
Markers/Waypoint DirectionNoNoNoYesNo
Routable/Visual Maps (like car GPS)NoNoNoNoNo
Back to startNoNoNoYesNo
Impromptu Round Trip Route CreationNoNoNoNoNo
Download courses/routes from phone to unitNoNoNoYesNo
SensorsGarmin Forerunner 10Polar Ignite GPSGarmin Forerunner 45/45SSuunto Spartan Trainer Wrist HRPolar M200
Altimeter TypeNoneGPSNoGPSN/A
Compass TypeN/AN/ANoneN/AN/A
Optical Heart Rate Sensor internallyYesYesYesYes
Pulse Oximetry (aka Pulse Ox)NoNo
Heart Rate Strap CompatibleNoYesYesYesYes
ANT+ Heart Rate Strap CapableNoNoYesNoNo
ANT+ Speed/Cadence CapableNoNoYesNoNo
ANT+ Footpod CapableNoNoYesNoNo
ANT+ Power Meter CapableNoNoNoNoNo
ANT+ Weight Scale CapableNoNoNoNoNo
ANT+ Fitness Equipment (Gym)NoNoNoNoNO
ANT+ Lighting ControlNoNoNoNoNo
ANT+ Bike Radar IntegrationNoNoNoNoNo
ANT+ Trainer Control (FE-C)noNoNoNoNo
ANT+ Remote ControlNoNoNoNoNo
ANT+ eBike CompatibilityNoNoNoNoNo
ANT+ Muscle Oxygen (i.e. Moxy/BSX)NoNoNoNo
ANT+ Gear Shifting (i.e. SRAM ETAP)NoNoNoNo
Shimano Di2 ShiftingNoNoNoNoNo
Bluetooth Smart HR Strap CapableNoYesNoYesYes
Bluetooth Smart Speed/Cadence CapableNoNoNoYesNo
Bluetooth Smart Footpod CapableNoNoNoYes (+ Stryd Running Power Meter)No
Bluetooth Smart Power Meter CapableNoNoNoYesNo
Temp Recording (internal sensor)NoNoNoNoNo
Temp Recording (external sensor)NoNoNoNoNo
Compatible with Firstbeat HR toolsNoN/ANo--
SoftwareGarmin Forerunner 10Polar Ignite GPSGarmin Forerunner 45/45SSuunto Spartan Trainer Wrist HRPolar M200
PC ApplicationGTCPolar Flowsync - Windows/MacGarmin Express (PC/Mac)PC/MacPC/Mac (Polar Flow)
Web ApplicationGarmin ConnectPolar FlowGarmin ConnectSuunto MovescountYes
Phone AppGarmin Connect MobileiOS/AndroidiOS/AndroidiOS/AndroidiOS/Android
Ability to Export SettingsNoNoNoNoAutomatic via online
PurchaseGarmin Forerunner 10Polar Ignite GPSGarmin Forerunner 45/45SSuunto Spartan Trainer Wrist HRPolar M200
Amazon LinkLinkLinkLinkLinkLink
Clever Training - Save with the VIP programLinkLinkLinkLinkLink
Clever Training Europe (Save 10% with DCR10BTF)N/ALinkLinkN/A
DCRainmakerGarmin Forerunner 10Polar Ignite GPSGarmin Forerunner 45/45SSuunto Spartan Trainer Wrist HRPolar M200
Review LinkLinkLinkLinkLinkLink

In my opinion, the Garmin FR10 is actually at a bit of an odd price point. Had Garmin wanted to sweep the category, they would have sold it for $100 – like many of the other units. Instead though, they priced it $30 higher – which conflicts with some other GPS units (namely the Timex Global Trainer) at $130ish. Further, just $20 more and you’ve got a wealth of options in the $150 to $170 range – all with vastly more functionality (the TGT at $130 is also exponentially more advanced, but significantly larger).

(Note: I included the Soleus 2.0 in there since the price is often down in the $120 range, despite a retail price of $150)

The question is – can they get people to spend $30 more from $99 to $129? At the moment, I think the answer comes down to four additional features that the FR10 has that the other $100 watches don’t: Virtual Pacer, Run/Walk, Download History, and Auto Pause. The first two are most heavily targeted at runners newer to the sport, and thus runners most likely to purchase this watch. In short, would you pay $7.50 per feature over the $99 watches?

Now, I think if Timex were to come along and offer a download cable for their $99 Marathon GPS and have it upload to TrainingPeaks – it’d be a fairly competitive situation given the depth of TrainingPeaks compared to Garmin Connect. Meanwhile, the current download option on the Soleus 2.0 just isn’t competitive with anything given how horrible the software is.

Oh, and if you’re looking at the New Balance GPS Runner watch – it’s the same watch as the Soleus 1.0. Really, exact same watch, just they scratched off Soleus and put New Balance. So anything that applies to that, applies to the New Balance. Make sense?

Pros and Cons:

Here’s the quick and dirty version of what I think of the watch (for those that made it this far in scrolling):

Pros:

– Inexpensive, cheapest GPS watch Garmin’s made
– Legit waterproofing, up to 50 meters
– Easy to use
– Virtual Pacer, Run/Walk and Auto Pause included (usually on higher end watches)
– Garmin Connect upload capability
– Very very small, especially the women’s version

Cons:

– Two different sized charging docs could be pain for couples
– Only one user profile per watch (for calorie info)
– No ANT+ sensor connectivity for heart rate or indoor treadmills
– Cycling mode is so-so at best

Summary:

Overall I think the FR10 makes for a solid GPS watch for someone wanting to spend around $100. At that price point you’ll sacrifice functionality (even over cell phone apps), but you will gain durability and waterproofing. The Garmin Connect software suite is adequate for most beginner to intermediate runners, or advanced runners that don’t care about the analytics side as much.

At that price point ($100-$130) it clearly delivers more than any other GPS integrated watch out there, and I think the extra $30 over the $99 watches is worth it for the download, virtual pacer, and run/walk features.

Expect to see the Garmin FR10 in the Garmin store in Chicago near-immediately, and then in your local running stores sometime this fall. Given the units are done and the firmware complete – I don’t think you’ll see a delay like other watches. Just my guess.

Found this review useful? Or just want a sweet deal?

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 exclusive benefits on all products purchased. You can read more about the benefits of this partnership here. You can pickup the FR10 through Clever Training using the link below. By doing so, you not only support the site (and all the work I do here) – but you also get to enjoy the significant partnership benefits that are just for DC Rainmaker readers. And, since this item is more than $75, you get free US shipping as well.

Garmin FR10 Lime Green (smaller women’s size) – Change drop-down to show color
Garmin FR10 Bright Pink (smaller women’s size) – Change drop-down to show color
Garmin FR10 Purple (smaller women’s size) – Change drop-down to show color
Garmin FR10 Silver/Black (smaller women’s size) – Change drop-down to show color
Garmin FR10 Red/Black (slightly larger, men’s variant) – Change drop-down to show color
Garmin FR10 Orange (slightly larger, men’s variant) – Change drop-down to show color

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

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 November 24th, 2014 @ 11:14 am
2013 Recommendations: Running GPS Watches
2014 Summer Recommendations: Running Watches
Garmin Bike Mount Kit (for mounting any watch onto handlebars)$10.00LinkLink
Garmin FR10 Charging Cable (Large)$19LinkN/A
Garmin FR10 Charging Cable (Small)$19LinkLink

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

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

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722 Comments

  1. Greg

    Hi,
    I run at nights mostly and I run faster than all of you here (*trash-talk)

    Is there a way to keep the light of the watch permanently on?
    Last night during intervals I had to click in on way too often while sprinting to keep the right current pace and it kills my focus with my right hand busy with the watch
    Thanks

  2. Amber

    Hi
    does this include a heart rate monitor?? Can you also download training functions onto the watch??

    • No, there’s no HR monitor on the FR10. And no method to download functions from site to watch. However, you can transfer completed activities from the watch to the site to view online.

  3. Matt

    Hello.

    I have got a Garmin 410 and my partner has just got in to running and is after her own.
    The fr10 looks spot on for her.
    My question is can I have 2 different Garmins registered to 1 computer and not get them mixed up when downloading to Garmin connect/Strava?

    Hope this makes sense.
    Cheers.
    Matt

  4. Rick

    First, make sure both are registered (mostly for updates). I have an old Forerunner 305 that I still use with the Garmin software on my computer as opposed to going on-line (like that better when traveling with iffy/expensive internet connections) and got my wife a FR10. We also have a new Garmin car GPS.

    The ‘Connect’ website recognizes the 10 and the GPS for updates and for uploading of data and you just select which you want to upload from and that will take care of things. If you had 2 10s I suspect it would look for the registration and device serial numbers and not confuse the two watches (both 10s).

  5. Craig

    I’m interested if anyone had compared the garmin fr10 to the new balance nx950? The NB is actually a little cheaper and allows 3 data points on the screen. But I’m not sure of NB quality even though it is a newer unit.

    • No, I haven’t. However, someone else asked recently, any my general recommendation in looking at that line (Soleus/New Balance/etc… all branded the same), is to checkout the comments here in the reviews on the Soleus watches, and the Timex Marathon GPS watch (same line, different branding). And then look at the comments above in the FR10 review.

      Given what you get for the extra $30, I’d strongly recommend going that route. I keep hoping we’ll see other mainstream GPS companies (Polar/Suunto) enter the budget GPS market…but thus far, no luck.

  6. Always the most in-depth review on the planet! Kudos, my friend. One question… is there a button lock on this watch to prevent inadvertent pushes during an activity? I can’t find anything of the sort in the documentation or online. Thanks!

  7. Oscar P

    @Jason – Nope, there isn’t a way to lock it. Although I should say that I tend to inadvertently push the buttons when I am NOT running. It has never happened to me during a run.

  8. Kevin M

    Great review.

    I have had one of these for over a year and I have yet to find a way of resetting the stopwatch to zero. It seems extrodinary that a function that must be in every other watch on the planet does not appear to be on a watch of this price. I would have thought that even the cheapest stopwatch made would have Start, Stop, Reset as the most basic functions.

    Have I missed something here? Only was I can get it back to zero is to come out of timer mode, re find satellites and start again.

  9. Rick

    Sorry that Garmin has decided that documenting the features and functions of its watches is just too much trouble. The ‘manual’ for the FR10 is truly a sad joke. That Rainmaker writes and documents what the watch can do better than Garmin itself is very telling.

    I looked at my Forerunner 305 manual (yes, a great booklet – with 70 pages and an index!) and it says reset on my watch is ‘press Mode and Lap/Reset’ will do it. There’s probably an equivalent (hold down the lower buttons on either side of your watch?) on the FR10 but Garmin just didn’t care to document it.

  10. Kevin M

    Thanks Rick. I have tried this previously and did so again following your suggestion but no luck. I have tried every combination of the buttons but I think it is just not an option they have built into the watch. Really seems a strange function to leave off.

  11. Nina

    WOW – wore the watch for the very first time today in a mini-tri (maiden voyage)….thought about the swim part but decided to go for it as it should live up to the 50m rating….was pleased that it didn’t miss a beat and in the pace mode it beeped at every 1km to allow me to put in my walk rest…wasn’t a loud beep so didn’t annoy others around me. Performed perfectly for what I wanted it to do and cant wait to use it in training and have a play with all its functions. Brought it in Orange from Wiggle and it is a very cool looking watch and not too big for a woman’s wrist. Thanks for the great review site as I really did my homework based on your data here. Keep up the great work.

  12. Susan

    Hi
    Thanks so much for all your knowledge. I am not a runner but my husband is and I am trying to get him a watch as a present. He currently has the Motorola but the GPS goes out a lot and it is only 1 1/2 years old. His needs are: Marathon training so a longer battery life, run/walk mode, GPS, waterproof from sweat, he loves the Motorola because it plays music but that would be his last “want” on his wish list. What watch should I buy?
    Thanks so much for your help!

  13. Shannon

    Can you set the timed beeps for this watch online with Garmin Connect?

    For example if my workout is:

    15 min warm up, 5×15 builds on 60sec. MS:5x(2min tempo/2 min fast/2min easy), 15 min easy.

    Can I set this workout up on my computer so that it lets me know when the next interval starts?

    Thanks!

  14. siks13

    my fr10 does not connect to computer/ it doesn”t recognise the watch, when i plug it in usb port. although i have installed the driver.
    the watch needs min. 3 minutes to find the satellites although i always start from exactly the same place!
    anx suggestions? tnx

  15. Craig

    I’ve been using both Nike+ and MapyMyRun apps on first an android phone and now an iPhone, and I’ve been very disappointed with the accuracy of the tracking.

    As a runner just starting out, it’s very frustating to be told by your device that your pace is good/improving/whatever, only to find when you get home (and study the workout) it isn’t 🙁

    So I think a proper GPL enabled running watch is in order, so thanks for the detailed review.

  16. Sam

    Hi

    Great review so I bought one for my wife. Worked fine then after one upload to Strava/Garmin refused to be recognised at all by my computer. Thought it was the unit so sent it back. New unit exactly the same problem. My Garmin Edge 500 working fine on same computer. I have uninstalled Garmin Express/Web updater etc and still won’t work. Any answers? Garmin Support on this matter very poor.

  17. Stein

    An excellent and in-depth review of the product.

  18. Stein

    I bought it today. Looking forward to using it

  19. Stein

    …but shall it take more than 3 hours to charge the batteries?? Has been plugged in now for about three hours and still charging….

  20. Vito

    if the screen of the Forerunner 10 becomes completely black What should I do? thanks in advance!

    • It depends on why it’s black. If it’s black because the unit is in a frozen state, then doing a hard reset can fix it. If it’s black though because the unit was dropped/punctured – then that’s a whole different ballgame. Either way, a quick call to Garmin Support should get you on your way.

    • Rick

      According to the FR 10 ‘manual’:

      Resetting Your Device:

      1 Hold the light bulb symbol button (manual shows a light bulb) for at least 15 seconds.

      2 Hold the same button for one second to turn on the device.

      If this doesn’t work then call Garmin…

  21. Kelli

    Thank you! Very informative and the Garmin Forerunner 10 suits my needs perfectly, but I have simple question: how do I turn it off? (to save the battery)
    Thanks!

    • Rick

      Hold down the light bulb button (upper left) and hold until you see the watch screen start to count down 3,2,1 and it turns off.

      I don’t use a FR10 but my wife does and I’m the ‘techie’ for it which means I read the manual (very inadequate – dcrainmaker’s review will tell you more about the watch and how to use it than the manual.

    • Kelli

      Rick – thank you!

  22. Sohit

    Hi, I wanna buy my first gps watch and am confused between the fr 10 and the 310 xt.
    Budget is not an issue here. I do long distance running and a little of cycling.
    Please advice on which of the 2 that I have stated is sturdier in the long run and useful for my profile

    • What about the FR15? It likely covers some of the gaps that the FR10 has that you’re looking at the FR310XT for? Now, on the flip side, if you do more cycling than just once a week or so, then I’d definitely look more at the FR310XT since it has a cycling mode and activities will be uploaded appropriately that way (versus you having to manually change them on Garmin Connect to cycling with the FR10/FR15).

  23. Frank

    Great review, thanks!

  24. Bob

    I’m a guy, but I’m thinking about ordering the women’s version. Is there any difference besides the size and the color options? I would prefer to where it casually as well as for sport. Is there any reason why I wouldn’t want a smaller version with all the same functionality? It’s still larger than a typical watch, right? Thanks.

    • Purely color/size (including screen size), no technical/functional differences besides that. Initially the smaller sizes were more womanly colors, but now they’ve branched out into some neutral colors where it makes more sense.

  25. Paul K

    I have a green strapped FR 10 and it is very slow to find satellites. I would not buy this watch again because the rubber straps have separated from the connector that attaches the band to the watch. This is a terrible design the unlike materials (plastic to rubber) will never bond / fuse together thus seperates.. These straps should be recalled.

  26. Meg

    Thanks for this. It’s given me some much needed insight on my watch.

  27. Rick

    Sorry to hear about the straps – I suspected as much; Garmin has decided to turn out cheap (I see ‘inexpensive’ as a different thing) stuff these days. My old Garmin Forerunner 305 continues to run and it’s sad to think that Garmin will probably never again turn out quality products. The difference between old Garmins and the new ones is very discouraging.

    Garmin can’t even write or provide adequate documentation these days. My 305 came with a printed, bound book that provided excellent explanations of functions and how to make them work. The FR10 – practically nothing; several valuable functions of the FR 10 are hardly mentioned, let alone explained well enough for a normal person to understand and use them. The 305 had several watch band options and came with a nifty little tool to take off the bands. Now…well.

  28. Steve

    Sorry, this is probably a very stupid question, but here goes. How does the 10 calculate distance? Is it actual overground (or sea) distance, point to point, or is it the distance the watch travels ( e.g. If I’m swimming then the watch probably travels twice as far because my arm moves forwards then back with each stroke?)

    • Every 3-7 seconds the FR10 records a point. It simply calculates the distance between all those points.

      The movement of ones arm in a GPS devices has surprisingly never ended up actually mattering.

  29. Robby

    I just bought the FR10 couple days ago. I have one question. What is the best practice when the FR10 is not used? Should I keep it on or just turn it off?

  30. Steve

    Wow, so using it for swimming seems useless then, if it doesn’t accurately measure distance by the end of the swim? What it has seemed to do is possibly over calculate the distance, I.e. My distance displayed has seemed a bit longer than it would normally be for that time in a pool…

  31. Steve

    Thanks again

  32. Dee Jones

    Great comprehensive review. Have you had any issues with the back button (lower right) on either of your forerunner 10’s? My button just stopped working. I’ve done a reset, updated the software and still the button is dead. I’ve seen many other people report that their button has also stopped working. Next step for me is Garmin support.

    • I haven’t had any button stop working issues. In general, one thing to try is to place the unit in warm soapy water for about 10-15 minutes. Sometimes salt built-up happens in/around the button that can cause issues. That said, Garmin Support is likely your quickest route to a swapped out unit.

  33. Rick

    So Rainmaker and Ray Maker are now one and the same? Working now on lasers?

    • Funny, that reminds me – need to swtich it back. 🙂

      (For some strange reason, the Eurobike press registration site doesn’t permit pseudonym’s on presentation of articles that you’ve written…thus, I temporarily swap it over to get my creds registered and then swap it back. Go figure)

  34. christian

    @Raumaker “Additionally, the PR (Personal Records) data that shows up on the watch also shows up on Garmin Connect. Though, I find it far from reliable. For example, it can’t seem to find any of my marathons, nor my 37-minute 10K PR or tons of 5K’s in the mid-upper teens. And why would it show the furthest distance as 9.6 miles when there’s clearly a half-marathon above it and dozens if not 50+ 20-miler runs?” It may be due to the fact taht GC just take the information when it is upload: From GC website: “Connect only scans for a Personal Record the first time an activity is uploaded, so an edited activity won’t be listed as a Personal Record.”… In my case I upload 4-5 activiteies and synced 50 with tapiriik and they show NO personal record…

  35. Great as always. I’m looking for a replacement for my TomTom Runner, which is useless (#1) because of the oversensitive touch screen. (Admitted also by their tech support.)

    Something I’d like to see in your reviews is how the watch displays time when > 1 hr. E.g., the TomTom displays only HH:MM (MM:SS when <1hr) which makes it useless (#2) for trying to hit that PB in medium/long races.

    Should this be a standard feature in your super blog?

  36. Elisa

    I am looking for a basic GPS watch to use when I pace marathons. One small feature that is important to me is having seconds displayed even when run time goes beyond an hour. Does the 10 always show seconds, or does it show MM:SS for anything less than an hour and HH:MM for anything over? Any suggestions for other watches that would fit the bill without being too expensive? Thanks for all your great reviews, I always come here before buying a product!

  37. runLB

    Has anyone heard anything more about the issue where the FR 10 just stops accumulating distance in the middle of a run? I haven’t had it do that in probably a year, until today in the middle of a pace run. Not the ideal time to have it stop tracking mileage…. I just paused and restarted and it started adding to the mileage again, but I’d lost what turned out to be .44 before I realized it wasn’t accumulating mileage, only time.

    Elisa – Yes, it shows mm:ss during the run so you know where you are at.

  38. My unit is almost 2 years old and is starting to act really weird. 6 miles into an 18 mile run, it said battery low – despite being fully charged – and deleted the run entirely…then reflected an entirely full battery but wouldn’t connect to GPS any more. I’m assuming the watch is just fried, which is really unfortunate and I’m not sure what to do next. I think I want a longer battery life but every watch with longer battery life has a whole lot of confusing bells and whistles. I just want to know to know how far I’m running, how fast, and what my mile splits are. The F10 was perfect for that but if it’s just going to die in two years again I’m not sure it’s a good investment. Any thoughts?

    Thanks!

    • Rick

      Try this; usually works for me on my Garmin running watches. They just get funky sometimes.

      To reset the device:

      Power off watch (press and hold Light, device will count down and shut off)
      Press and hold Enter (top right) and Down button (bottom right)
      Press and release Light button to power device back on
      Release Enter after first beep
      Release Down button after second beep
      The reset on the Forerunner 10 is successful if the device finishes powering up and goes to the setup wizard. Try the steps again if the setup wizard does not appear.

      Leave the device outside with a clear view of the sky for a minimum of 20 minutes to acquire satellite data.

  39. Ungke_B

    If I disable the auto lap features and not pressing the lap button, can I mark/ make laps or splits in GC or any other 3rd party apps?
    I’m planning to disable all “auto” and turns off all alerts to improve battery life (hope that is possible).
    Thanks.

    • Some 3rd party apps support that, such as Sport Tracks or Training Peaks.

      That said, manually pressing the laps (or even auto lap), tends to have a fairly negligible impact on battery life. If you were doing pace alerts, and weren’t doing a great job at holding pace – that might have an impact. But just a single buzz every mile or so isn’t much.

    • Ungke_B

      Thanks for the reply, Ray.
      I did disable all autos and alerts and ran my first full marathon race. The watch lasted for 5h6m, true to what the specification says. Unfortunately I finished the race at 5h55m, so the watch only recorded 37km out of 42km. Can’t complain about the watch though, I guess I should’ve prepared my self better and ran faster, but for a first timer, the experience was overwhelmingly incredible 🙂 .
      Once again many thanks for your great site, reviews and replies.

    • Ungke_B

      And yes, turns out I can see my time splits in strava and endomondo, but not in GC. 🙂

  40. JACKY

    I am considering the fr10 as my fr305 is dying. I have only one question. your review shows only standard distance (miles), does it also display metric (kilometers)?

  41. Jackie ramsay

    Can I ask. I have a pink forerunner 10 want to use it in GPS mode in a triathlon. Can you have the lap function working when you want to push it not ever km mark?
    Love to hear how to do this please.

    • Unfortunately the FR10 doesn’t support a multisport mode, so the lap function will either be used as autolap, or, manual lap. So you could press lap to separate out the three chunks of your workout – swim/bike/run, or as many chunks as you’d like. But you won’t be able to show (for example), the bike segment in KPH while still having the run segment in pace (minutes/kilometer).

    • Tegs

      I have the fr10 but at times takes at least 20mins to find location is this due to bring old or is it fixable? I race with it but start running without time and pace which is not ideal. what do u recommend I do?

    • Sounds like a simple hard reset will fix it. What you describe is common when the unit gets a bad satellite cache.

      Cheers!

    • Rick

      To reset the device:

      Power off watch (press and hold Light, device will count down and shut off)
      Press and hold Enter (top right) and Down button (bottom right)
      How to do a ‘hard reset’:
      Press and release Light button to power device back on
      Release Enter after first beep
      Release Down button after second beep
      The reset on the Forerunner 10 is successful if the device finishes powering up and goes to the setup wizard. Try the steps again if the setup wizard does not appear.

      Leave the device outside with a clear view of the sky for a minimum of 20 minutes to acquire satellite data.

    • Rick

      Opps – ignore the ‘How to do a ‘hard reset’ line…that I was missing the header…

  42. Elio

    Awesome review, thank you so much, I’m going to buy it, orange is 99$ right now.

  43. Valerie Smith

    Has anyone used this with VeloPro? They use .FIT files, so I guess it should work.

    Val

  44. Sandy

    Hello, thank you for the wonderful review. I just bought the FR-10 and I’m a beginner runner. I use the run\walk intervals function now until I build up my endurance. I noticed that the watch only supports the intervals in time not distance, which I find hard to believe given the watch has the GPS… did I miss something in the set up? If indeed the intervals are time based only, what other garmin models (or other brands) in the $100-$150 price range would you suggest that would support the intervals “distance-based”?.

    Thank you!

  45. Amanda

    You should probably mention that this watch only fits bands made specifically for it and that these bands are fragile, they break in just a month or so if you wear it regularly.

  46. mendel reinitz

    thank u so much for the reviews on this product its been real helpful in deciding weather to buy it or not!
    but in your opinion is this watch good for a junior triathlete or should I look higher?

  47. Chris

    Hi, great review,

    I have been using the Forerunner 10 now for about 3 weeks, and whilst I agree with all your comments, I do have one issue, accuracy. I am not sure if the level of accuracy is lower than yours because your test was in Paris and mine in the back of beyond in Oxfordshire. However, when Garmin Connect displays my run overlaid on a map it rarely reflects where I actually ran. Do you you think this is largely down to the inherent inaccuracy of GPS i.e. within x metres or is there something wrong with my unit?

  48. von bonson

    I have had my Forerunner 10 for almost a year now and whilst I have found it to be a great watch I have noticed an unusual discrepency between the times run and the times that were uploaded to Garmin Connect of late. For example, last night I ran my quickest 5km and at the time I clicked over 5km, I looked at my watch and the time on my FR10 said 29:10. However when I uploaded the data to Garmin Connect, it listed the time as 28:28. Similar with the fastest time for 1km. I know it was only 5:40 whereas the info that went into Garmin Connect said it was 5:17. I hadn’t been taking times run all that serious at first as I’m a slow runner anyway but now I’m getting fitter and faster, these times are becoming important to me but it’s a shame the data is inaccurate and distorted. Is there any way the watch can be re-calibrated or is this a common problem others have found?

    • Any chance that’s ‘moving time’ versus total elapsed? And any chance you have auto pause on? That can sometimes false-trigger and cause those differences.

    • von bonson

      Thanks for the quick reply, but no – none of these runs had me stopping at all. But interesting that I do have auto pause on so maybe I’ll turn that function off for my next run and see if that makes any difference. Cheers.
      Have just read your review of the Forerunner 15 and I soooo want one of those. My one and only marathon took me just under 5 hours to complete and I’m training for another one this year and hope that I finish it closer to 4:30 as I’d be gutted if my battery cut out before I finished the run! And one of the major differences between the FR10 and FR15 is the battery life is 5 hours vs 8. It might be a blessing as I’m training hard to aim for a 4:30 finish so having the 10 over the 15 is probably making me train harder and more likely to achive a quicker finish!

  49. Ryan Wells

    I see the HR monitors won’t sync with the FR10 but can the HR data be off loaded directly from the HR monitor to a PC? I own a. FR10 and love it. I’m going to start using a HR monitor and would like to avoid the cost of upgrading watches.

  50. gre1g

    Hi all.
    Can I track my average pace per run during trainings? I am using current pace but would like to see what is my current pace for the whole run, if possible?

  51. Gary thogerson

    I’m not liking my Garmin forerunner, I cannot hear the beeps……so to me it’s useless… The “run keeper on my I phone gets me GPS location immediately. Sometimes on my Garmin, I have to wait almost 5 minutes..unless a way is found to increase volume, and make a faster GPS location, I won’t purchase another.

    • Rick

      Common complaint about Garmins for as long as I can remember (had a Garmin since 2007) and I have yet to see Garmin do anything about the volume. I suspect it has to do with either space in the watch for sound generation and/or a battery life issue. It’s usually a trade off for designers.

      I haven’t owned other brands so I don’t know if this is an issue with the other brands but you may find that they’re all dealing with this tradeoff the same way so before you purchase another brand you might want to get someone to show you the ‘beeps’.

    • runLB

      Keep the unit fully charged and you shouldn’t have problems acquiring satellites. The only time it takes me more than 5 seconds to acquire satellites is when it’s not fully charged. As for the beeps, I agree with others, I’ve never had a GPS from any vendor where the beeps are loud enough. Other Garmin units have the vibrate mode which helps with this, but unfortunately that feature didn’t make it into the 10.

    • As RunLB said, if you’re seeing more than 30-60 seconds with older units, then something is wrong.

      In most cases, doing a soft reset on the device will fix it. It sounds like a simple satellite cache issue is causing the issue.

      As for volume, I’m not really aware of many (any?) mainstream GPS watches that allow you to control the volume level.

  52. Lew

    I’d advise against writing off an entire brand due to the limitations you found with the lowest spec / cheapest model offered.

    I’ve owned a couple of Garmin running watches, as well as a Polar RS200SD previously. Volume has been roughly the same. Not difficult to hear if there’s no background noise, but difficult in a noisy environment. The simple solution is to choose a model that offers vibration alerts as well as audio.

    As for GPS acquisition times, 5 minutes seems abnormal even on a watch without ephemeris caching. You probably ought to talk to Garmin Support about that if that’s your usual experience and not an exaggeration. On my Forerunner 610 it didn’t cache and never took more than 15 to 30 seconds to acquire satellites, usually less. On my newer Forerunner 920xt it does cache and satellite acquisition is typically finished within seconds.

  53. Michael

    I realize this review is 2 years old, but I was wondering about the battery life of the watch? I didn’t see it in the review. I read some amazon reviews recently and some people had mentioned it died before the 5 or even 4 hour mark. Not good for the 4-5 marathoners (and beyond). Any thoughts on when you tested it?

    (I see the chart says 5 hours)

    Awesome review, and site…

  54. John E

    Many thanks for the in depth review. I have just bought the forerunner 10 and am disappointed at not being able to hear the alerts as I go from lap to lap. It sounds sometimes but not always. would value your view on this or indeed the views of other garmin users.
    Thanks,
    John E

  55. Horacio

    hello first time I plug my garmin fr10 in the usb port and executed the application garmin express and tells me there is an update available version 3.30 (GPS chipset type M4) but when trying to shoot me updated firmware bug is too large for the internal memory of the device. the current firmware is 2.40, some help to upgrade? thx

    • Generally try to do only one upgrade at a time (either firmware, and then GPS chipset), and then let the other complete.

      Failing that, double-check if there are any files in the Activities folder, and move them to your computer to make a little bit of space.

    • Horacio

      Thanks, I could solve the problem. is possible to turn off the clock?

  56. Peter

    Thanks a lot for this excellent review.

    While it is true that pace can be displayed only in one format, you might want to add that it is possible to view both your average pace and your current pace, thanks to the Virtual Pacer. (I configure the Virtual Pacer to a very high or very low pace, so it doesn’t bother me.)

    What is your opinion of this review, which states that the accuracy of the FR10 is grim? link to fellrnr.com

  57. Matthew

    what a great review, very helpful! many thanks

  58. Nelia

    Thank you so much for a great, easy to understand review. I am a new runner and very confused by all the sales person jargon…this explained exactly what the watch does and doesn’t do!

    Again….THANK YOU!

  59. Jack Schreibman

    I tried my Garmin 10 today for speed work. What is teh best field to use when doing speed work based om mintues not laps?

  60. runLB

    In general, I really like the 10. But I’m having a bit of a problem that I’m wondering if anyone else sees. Occasionally, it will not charge overnight and actually drains the battery. I put it on the charger, the triangle comes up (I look for that EVERY time I put it on the charger) and the next morning, nothing. The screen is blank. I can power it on and it will acquire satellite, but about 2 – 3 miles into the run, it goes low battery and then turns off. Very frustrating!

    This has happened 3 times now in the past couple of months. Every other time it’s fine and charges as it should, just occasionally it drops off to never never land when charging.

    Has anyone had this problem and know the solution?

    Thanks!

  61. JasonM

    I am wondering if I use this watch for running and biking, can it separate data? Such as fastest mile running and fastest mile biking? Or will only recognize single fastest mile which will be recorded on bike.

  62. Samuel Wilding

    I have a forerunner 305 and I love that I can load courses to my watch and then while running, I can go to the map view of the course and it shows me if I’m on course or not. Very handy on the trails. Can this watch do that?

  63. Claire

    Hi,
    For the time displayed while running, is there a way to display it in chromo mode (I interval-run a lot, and was wondering if I could stop/reset the time displayed every couple of minutes). It would be perfect if I could have the time running display and the current pace displayed at the same time like this watch does, but I’d need the option to stop the time and also reset the time displayed.

  64. giorgitd

    Refurb FR 10 for $50 today (17 July 2015).
    link to sellout.woot.com

  65. Bianca

    Amazing review thank you!! 🙂

  66. mike

    Great article and review, thank you. I am curious if the FR10 can be used simply for tracking distance on a bike while wearing it as a watch? I am guessing so since it is based on GPS? I run but also go for mountain bike trail rides and would like to keep track of how many miles I rode. I have seen a bike mount for this, but if I could just keep it on my wrist and have it accurately tell me how many trail miles I rode it would be great.

    Thank you

  67. Bryan

    Hi,

    Do you think it’s safe to use any iPhone or iPad USB charger? I would appreciate your advise.

  68. Rick

    I personally wouldn’t use a charger from one device and hope that it wouldn’t damage another device for which it was designed or intended.

    That said, I’ve heard of people charging their Forerunner that way but if your watch gets funky or goes dead that’s the risk you took.

  69. von bonson

    Hi, I have just discovered that my FR10 has a maximum lap count of 50. I did a 51km bike ride the other day and the last 2km were totalled together as the 50th lap. Do you know if the FR15 has a higher lap count or is it the same as the FR10? I am planning on doing more longer bike rides in future and I’d like a GPS watch that had more or an unlimited lap count (plus a bigger battery life than 5 hours that the FR10 has) so I think I’m going to be looking for a new watch all together but am not sure if all my prayers will be answered with the FR15 (which is quite reasonably priced) or if I should be looking elsewhere? Thanks.

    • Sam

      I would consider a second hand 310XT or 910XT if you definitely want a watch rather than a cycle computer. Cost will be about the same as a new lower tier watch and you’ll get loads more functionality. If you consider the FR10 is a running watch, 50 laps at 1k is ultra-marathon territory so you’d be wanting greater battery life anyway unless you are an elite runner.

  70. Rick

    FR15? I have no clue since we only own a FR20. Have you tried the Garmin forums?

    Good luck.

    RICK

  71. Sam

    I love this FR10 watch. I currently have a 910XT too but find myself often reaching for the FR10 for it’s simplicity and speed of acquiring satellites. I was particularly impressed using it at the track for club workouts. Coach prefers us to not fuss over data and try and run a bit more instinctively so this is perfect. Plus it measured the distance round the track very accurately which is a rarity.

  72. Paul

    Garmin Connect recently told me I was not going to be able to use the “old”interface after Dec 2015. The “new” Garmin Connect requires a plugin/addon application that won’t run on Windows XP.

    What other online or local hard drive PC applications are available for extraction and minimal analysis of data from my FR10 without upgrading my OS? Garmin Training Center doesn’t recognize my FR10, and the interface for uploading .fit files is really awkward, takes a lot of clicks and doesn’t prevent me from accidentally uploading the same .fit file twice. The manual file upload for other options I’ve checked so far are equally cumbersome.

    • You should be able to use Garmin Express just fine with the FR10. It’s a desktop app that automatically uploads to Garmin Connect.

      Also, both Garmin Connect online and the Garmin Express app will prevent duplicate uploads (it’ll reject it).

  73. Paul

    Garmin Express won’t run on Win XP.

    • Ahh sorry, that’s right. You can also try Sport Tracks, but I’m not sure if that supports XP either.

      I think you’re basically running up against the reality that Windows XP was released some 14 years ago. 🙁

  74. Greg

    Hi Ray – think I asked this question a while back but any idea if Garmin can (or might in the future) issue a software update so that you have to double press the GPS button (like the newer models 220 etc) to engage the GPS search? I now have my wife and son using one as well – they love it apart from the battery drain from accidently pressing this button when wrist is bent a certain way and not realising. I’ve upgraded to a 220 mainly for this reason and now never have the problem. If it’s and easy update for them it would be greatly appreciated (I’ve emailed Garmin as well) by many I’d think!
    Thx

  75. J Sullivan

    Hi
    I am not a tech person. Simply want a GPS watch for mileage. Have noticed that most watches mention running and/or walking. I hike mostly. Is the Garmin FR10 GPS watch adequate for hiking? Thank you for your timely attention to my question.

  76. Jesse P.

    I’ve been using the 10 for a few years and always liked it. Within the past few months the accuracy and tracking have been quite wonky, and I pretty always run the same route. Trees and small hills that didn’t use to affect the watch now do for some reason.

    Don’t know if it was a particular firmware update or what, or maybe something in my area. Looking for a replacement that has more features anyway.

    • Rick

      You might want to reset the watch.

      To reset the device:
      Power off watch (press and hold Light, device will count down and shut off)
      Press and hold Enter (top right) and Down button (bottom right)
      Press and release Light button to power device back on.
      Release Enter after first beep.
      Release Down button after second beep.

  77. Graham Sharp

    Thanks for a great comprehensive review. I have bought a Garmin FR10, and it fits the bill for me, I wanted simple and water resistant and got it. I was sick of phone apps dying for various reasons on long runs. I note that you found the Alert Tone on Virtual Pacer a bit of a nag. How loud does it sound to you? I actually can’t hear mine while running, not even sure if it is working (it is turned on!).

    • Rick

      I have a Garmin Forerunner 305 and my wife has the FR10 and both beeps are not very loud.

      I’ve heard that in order to ‘up’ the beep sound the drain on the battery would have to increase and apparently Garmin (makes sense to me as a a good tradeoff) chose to lean toward longer battery life vs a louder beep.

  78. Trudy Osmond

    The alert sounding for walk run intervals is very low. Can it be increased or set to vibrate at the intervals. Garmin Forerunner 10

  79. Chloe

    Hi,
    My sport is swimming only. . So the FR15 is no good for me?

    • No, I wouldn’t get a FR15. I’d look at something like the Garmin Swim (rather old), or the Vivoactive (a year old, but usually found on sale – perfect for swimmers).

  80. Kaushik Manjunath

    I know this is a very old review, but i started running seriously from this Feb.
    After 3-4 months of running with Phones, i have decided to switch to GPS watches. And as a student, it wasnt practical for me to shell out too much on a gps watch and while searching for Cheap but Good GPS watch, i stumbled upon this review.
    A very meticulously written , helping review. Thanks a lot !
    Hope you are doing well ! 🙂

  81. Emma

    I know this is an old review, but I’ve seen some retailers clearing out this unit for as little as $25 or $30. At that price point it’s a great first time GPS watch, even though it’s older and has limited functionality.

  82. tina D

    I am running out of battery in about 5 hours. Do you recommend changing the battery? Also, Is there any way to increase battery life past 5 hrs, perhaps with a different battery?

  83. Harmony M.

    Great review. I have the Garmin Forerunner 10 and just wanted to make sure I wasnt missing anything. By the way, the watch is also compatible with Training Peaks if that is of interest. I’m mad though that it doesn’t have elevation. 🙁

  84. Craig

    Hello-

    I realize this post is you know years old.

    My FR10 has been just fabulous…but I noticed that it has a faint vertical line going down the middle of the display. This only recently came up. It still works just fine and I’ve had it for other a year (it was bought refurb/used from eBay). It seems like that battery is been a bit more temperamental lately.

    Two questions-
    1. Is it probably in need of a new battery? Do you think that might fix the display issue; which at this point is more an aesthetics thing but I am concerned it could be a sign of an issue down the road. Honestly, just need this watch to see me through late October and it could be retired from duty. Maybe I can convince someone to get me a new watch for the holidays

    2. What battery goes in the FR10 (and would a jeweler/watch store be a good place to get it installed…frankly, I don’t trust myself and don’t want to brick it basically)

    Thanks so much

    • Rick Stevens

      I used this company (one guy): fixYourGPS.com

      He fixed my old Garmin 305 Forerunner (2007 model) with a new battery and some other issues.

      For your it may be better just to buy a new one…

      RICK