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Attackpoint - performance and training tools for orienteering athletes

Discussion: Which current Garmin/GPS model to buy?

in: Orienteering; Gear & Toys

Nov 19, 2016 2:29 AM # 
My Forerunner 305 seems to be on its last legs. At the time when I got it, the 205/305 was pretty much the go-to model for orienteers, but there were only a few types available. With many new models since then, I'm curious which of the current or recent (still readily available) models people are using for orienteering now and how they like them. Suggestions of other brands are welcome too, but I definitely want a watch style with heartrate sensor capability and not a screenless logger.
Nov 19, 2016 3:34 AM # 
Forerunner 235 does the job. I don't know enough to give a great comparison to other models though. I'm a big fan of the wrist-based HR. Never liked the chest straps.
Nov 19, 2016 3:57 AM # 
FR 235 should also work with the chest strap from your 305 (at least it does with my FR 225). I also like the wrist-based HR measurement but get flakey HR readings much more often with the wrist than with the strap. YMMV. FR225 (and I assume 235) has much better battery life than the 305.
Nov 19, 2016 3:41 PM # 
FR220 is available with a HR strap that is more flexible/comfortable than previous straps I've used. (Not that I use mine much at the moment.)
Nov 19, 2016 4:08 PM # 
Mr Wonderful:
I'm happy enough with my refurb Fenix as long as I don't overfill it (i.e., occasionally empty trash on MacBook after deleting). $90 and you can just reuse your strap (I don't mind the straps, although 235 is tempting for one less thing to find when getting ready).
Nov 19, 2016 7:54 PM # 
I picked up a 235 in September when my refurbished 610 started de-charging and then went dead. (Got to get it back to Garmin) What I like about the 235 - much faster locating the satellites than my 610 or the earlier 405, very accurate with the 1 second waypoint recording option which I use for mapping, wire attachment to computer for downloads which again seems faster than the others that used wireless technology through an ant+ stick.
Also it is slim and has a nicer face and interface than the others. Virtually idiot-proof which I need.
Nov 21, 2016 5:49 AM # 
Gord when you say "very accurate" do you have objective comparisons with the real world? Telling a lie more often doesn't make it the truth:-) PS I need a wristwatch too. Does it do all the usual things?
Nov 21, 2016 8:56 AM # 
"Telling a lie moew often doesn't make it the truth" Those are pretty strong words. Find out for yourself whether it is a wristwatch, too.
Nov 21, 2016 9:04 AM # 
Does it receive US and Russian satellites?
Nov 21, 2016 9:06 AM # 
I'd suggest checking these three models: Garmin 910xt, Polar V800, Suunto Ambit 3 sport/peak. These still had proper antenna and it shows in forest.

Nov 21, 2016 9:14 AM # 
@Log - yes. Both GLONASS and GPS. Finds satellites way faster than my old 405 and seems to be more accurate to me. I am yet to wear it in the bush.
Nov 21, 2016 11:01 AM # 
How easy is it to batch upload your training runs into Attackpoint with the FR235?
Nov 21, 2016 12:11 PM # 
Very (not that I need to seeing as I'm only training once per week).
Nov 21, 2016 1:13 PM # 
I am having trouble with dual GPS mode on Ambit 3 Vertical -- it is precise but unstable. There were a few cases when the watch would completely miss a turn in a trail, and then go off with half-kilometer offset for another half-hour or just wonder in random directions. It does not happen when I turn GLONASS off.

Something like this:
Nov 21, 2016 8:43 PM # 
How easy is it to batch upload your training runs into Attackpoint with the FR235?

AP can import directly from Garmin Connect. Doesn't get much easier, aside from the fact that AP doesn't store credentials so you need to supply username & password each time you upload.
Nov 23, 2016 11:01 AM # 
Amazon (at least in the UK) has FR235 on sale today. Just saying.
Nov 23, 2016 1:09 PM # 
Amazon UK has the 235 for 200 pounds, Amazon US $329.99. These prices don't anywhere near match the AU$299 I just paid at JB HiFi in Australia (AU$299 = 178 pounds and $US221). I bought it basically on Fletch's recommendation. My previous gps was FR305, the buttons fell out 2 years ago. So far the 235 is good, but probably way more complicated than what I need (I don't have a smart phone, don't want one). Satellites are very quick - 2-5 seconds with GPS + Glonass, HR seems to work well, matches what I've always thought my HR should be, and Garmin Connect download is good. I must start donating to AP so that my routes can be added :-)
Nov 23, 2016 7:23 PM # 
I used Garmin Forerunner 920 for 2 years - is still a top model.
Nov 23, 2016 7:35 PM # 
All sorts of Black Friday sales on many of the watches. If you don't know it, check out DCRainmaker's site for reviews on almost any watch. His latest Sports Gadget Recommendations was just released and his Product Review page is at - and note the link in the first paragraph to his 'Product Calculator'. All of this can help determine what watch would work best based on whether you only want it for orienteering/running or additional sports. Always a major factor is how easy it is to sync with the tools you use or want to use.
Nov 23, 2016 8:20 PM # 
I'm very happy with my FR735XT: Very light, wrist base heart rate sensor, multi sport mode (and the ability to create and modify your own sport mode). And you can use it as a daily watch: The Fenix2 or 900series are much to heavy and dominant.
Nov 24, 2016 12:12 AM # 
You know what bugs m most about Garmin Connect: Despite there being thousands, probably hundreds of thousands of orienteers wearing their watches they do not recognize orienteering as an activity listed on their drop down bar for editing activities and they don't allow write-ins..
Nov 24, 2016 3:03 AM # 
Hi gordhun, I was able to add orienteering under 'What I do' in my Public Profile in Garmin Connect.
Nov 24, 2016 9:09 AM # 
probably hundreds of thousands of orienteers

Ha! That's a good one.
Nov 24, 2016 9:49 AM # 
Hi simmo, this does not work.
I have for long time the record "orienteering" in my Garmin Connect profile, but still there isn't "orienteering" in the list of available types of activity :(
Nov 24, 2016 4:07 PM # 
Agree on the activity type, same goes for Strava though! Attackpoint wins out there...
Nov 24, 2016 7:57 PM # 
I really like my Suunto ambit3. Easy to upload and has orienteering as a training option :)
Nov 24, 2016 11:12 PM # 
Nothing beats FR305. You can replace the battery if it gets weak.
Or buy another one on ebay
Nov 28, 2016 9:35 PM # 
Agree with yurets. ("didn't think I'll see the day I type this :) )

But with one caveat. It is not waterproof. Over the years I went through 5 or 6 FR305 due to battery dying or getting it wet. One died just from a long run in the rain.

Finally I caved and got the FR 920XT. Waterproof, wireless uplaods, swim tracking. It was a nice upgrade reagarding quality of life features. Hope it lasts another 10 - 15 years :)
Nov 29, 2016 7:04 AM # 
Is there any reason people don't like the simple (and cheap) forerunner 15?
Nov 29, 2016 1:21 PM # 
Depends what you want to be able to do with it. I've got some FR15's that I use with my students at school. But they need a HR strap, can't set intervals for run training, take longer to find satellites, don't store extra activities in the memory etc etc

For what they do, they're not bad. They are very simple to use, which is important when working with kids!
Nov 29, 2016 2:51 PM # 
Ambit 3 peak/sport are kind of Suunto's FR205/305. A manufacturer trying to get GPS accuracy better and better and it then peaked mostly for gps chip manufacturer making significant improvement. Forerunner sirf2 to sirf3 made huge leap in accuracy, and case sirf5 if Ambit3 made major difference from Ambit and Ambit2 with sirf4. I suspect in both cases accuracy got way better than manufacturer originally though. And after that in models manufacturer has focused on getting watch smaller and slimmer and letting accuracy get compromised, they saw it was more than good enough. FR305 is still the most accurate Garmin watch in forest, and same with Suunto, recent models Traverse, AmbitVertical or Spartan does not quite seem to reach the accuracy of Ambit3 peak/sport in forest. I'd say at the moment it is hard to find better watch for O than Ambit 3 peak Nepal edition (slightly lighter than normal version for aluminum bezel). There is no color screen or touch screen, but it is accurate and bulletproof. But it may be pricey. I haven't tried Polar V800, that may be quite a workhorse too.
Nov 29, 2016 3:56 PM # 
Sort of changing the topic but I need help getting apps to work on my 920xt. I download the apps, Garmin Express says I have synced the apps to my watch, but for the life of me I cannot figure out how to access/use them. My understanding is that they should just appear as one of the activities. Has anyone figured this out? Thanks in advance.
Nov 29, 2016 11:32 PM # 
Love the FR 305....tried to change the battery but the contacts were corroded. Should have gone to ebay and tried to get another one, instead I went with the cheaper FR!% (waterproof and uses my 305 hr monitor)
re: dhdh....What's wrong with the 15?
Although the GPS locks fast its poor and needs a lot of route correction on route gadget, quick route, or anything does give you a general idea of where you were though...
The display is just big enough for my waning eyesight...again live the 305!
The distance is off quite a bit sporadically....I have compared identical runs that I have done for years with and without garmins and there is a very high degree of variability. I have compared laps of a local track and a local straight stretch of road both of which I measured by hand with a measuring tape ..only some times good.
(example..this summer I should have recorded 10 km for a 25 lap run but 10 km was measured by the FR15 @ lap 22!)
I'm learning how to "tweak" and live with the upload issues with AP...(I avoid garmin connect)

I like the looks of the 920...still out of budget range for now.
I don't like any of these smaller touch screen type more thing to go wrong
Nov 30, 2016 3:47 PM # 
What budget range are you looking for? 920XT is on sale for US$200 currently.
Nov 30, 2016 5:52 PM # 
Garmin Fenix 3 for me, best battery life. Used for a 12 hr AR race no problems. No HR built in, but has pretty much every other feature you could want. And you can pair it with a HR chest strap. The GPS is mostly reliable and accurate, only one hiccup where my data got corrupted out of tens of sessions.
Feb 23, 2017 6:09 AM # 
Weighing up the above, DCRainmaker etc, and got a FR235. OK as a watch, OK as a secondary mapping device. Frustrating tendency for my jacket sleeve to terminate recording. Is there a reason why wrist GPS's don't have a waypoint button (or is it there and I haven't found it, my random jacket jiggles have found pretty much everything else.) Somewhat uneasy about having to download thru a Garmin website, and I may not always have an internet connection. I read the Garmin privacy policy, couldn't see a single thing about their collecting all this info about my whereabouts and my heartbeats.
Feb 23, 2017 6:38 AM # 
Is there a reason why wrist GPS's don't have a waypoint button

Because everything after the FR305 seems to have dropped the concept of using them as a navigation device. The functionality is sometimes there, but it's buried in the menus.
FWIW, it's a trivial exercise to strip coordinates out of a GPX/TCX file for every time you press the Lap button, if you just want a way to mark positions.
Feb 23, 2017 7:04 AM # 
Thanks, I suspected there would be something like that, I'll give it a try.
Feb 23, 2017 7:45 AM # 
terminate recording: you may lock your device against accidental button press:

The nice thing about Garmin is that they let you access the fit files without going through Garmin Connect by mounting it as an USB device. Just plug it into your computer ant it will show up as a drive. Look for the *.fit files. You will need a tool to converti it to gpx (e.g. gpsbabel).
Feb 23, 2017 9:22 AM # 
Thanks again. I was put off by my ignorance of fit files. All I know and want is gpx.
Feb 23, 2017 9:36 AM # 
Couldn't you just upload to Attackpoint direct from the watch (after donating)? And then there is a gps or kml option export available. I don't think that goes through or needs Garmin Connect (but I could be wrong of course)
Feb 23, 2017 12:31 PM # 
Juffy wrote: FWIW, it's a trivial exercise to strip coordinates out of a GPX/TCX file for every time you press the Lap button, if you just want a way to mark positions.

If you use EasyGPS or ExpertGPS for Windows to download data from your Forerunner, it will create a waypoint every time you press the lap button, with stats on that lap. Both programs will save your FIT/TCX data in GPX format.
Feb 23, 2017 2:45 PM # 
I think you can also "generate" waypoints by stopping/restarting the watch. This method has worked on other Garmin watches I've owned.
Feb 23, 2017 7:37 PM # 
Terje Mathisen:
Using a Garmin watch for mapping is actually very easy:

Start the watch and start jogging through you area of interest, each time you get to an interesting feature you hit the split time button.

Afterwards you import the track log into QuickRoute (be it .TCX or .FIT) where those splits will show up as control locations.

Next you export the trip as a .GPX file which you can import into OCAD (or OOM I assume), and each of the control/split time locations will turn up as waypoints which you can point at and change individually into the proper symbol.
Feb 24, 2017 12:48 AM # 
It's no fun if you're not hacking XML files yourself. >_<

This discussion thread is closed.